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Marc Riley, aka Lard

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Marc Riley is one of this country's brightest stars. Together with his long term side-kick, The Hapless Boy Scrawn (aka Mark Radcliffe) he revolutionised night-time radio bringing features art, poetry, film, comedy and television to the masses, ably linked with arse jokes and farty noises. His charm and wit has lead him from the murky depths of nighttime Radio One, to a show which has one of the biggest audiences in history.

A young Marc Riley

It all started quietly for Marc. As a member of The Fall he participated in many radio sessions. It was during The Fall's second session for John Peel that he first met his future side-kick, producer Scrawn, also known as Mark Radcliffe.

Unfortunately, lead singer, Grumpy Git Mark E. Smith was jealous of Marc's enormous talent, and chucked him out of the band.

Undetered by this minor setback in his glittering pop music career, Marc formed a new band where his guitar playing skills could be truly appreciated, and Marc Riley And The Creepers was formed. Showing what great taste in music he has, John Peel invited them in for a session or two.

However the Creepers disbanded in 1984. The exact reasons are unclear, but many in the bad thought, that despite Marc's enormous talent, success was remote, even with music god John Peel behind them. The attempt to sell the idea of a greatest hits package was soon shelved when it was pointed out that the band hadn't had any.

So Marc moved on and in 1986 started working on the comic Oink! - a Viz style comic for kids. Marc helped write the story lines and even appeared in some himself. However fluctuating sales figures led to the magazine's demise and in 1988, Marc was out of a job.

Meeting Up With Mark at Radio 5

Luckily Marc landed on his feet and a few years later, while working in an A & R department of record company 4AD, Riley was offered a job presenting on national radio. The show, based in Manchester, was to be called Hit The North and was to be part of (now defunct) BBC Radio Five's night-time schedule of programs from different regions. It was to star Riley and Timperly's favourite son, Frank Sidebottom.

Alas, there was also a catch. Marc would have to train Scrawn in how to be a good radio presenter, following Scrawn's near disastrous attempts to fill in for Mark Goodachre on the Radio One Evening Session. This was not a task for the faint hearted.

Shake-up At Radio One

Despite the drag factor of Scrawn, Marc became slightly popular with 'the kids' and in a major shake-up of Radio One which saw Nicky Campbell, Simon 'Housewife's Choice 'Bates and 'Whispering' Bob Harris leave, Marc was given the Graveyard shift.

The show relished in obscurity for some time until people actually realised that Radio One did still broadcast at that time of night, and 'the kids' caught on to the show, where they found Marc's enormous talent, and his wonderful ideas of bringing art, poetry, comedy, live music and farty noises together in one. And boy did they love it.

The show went from strength to strength, and this eventually led to Marc being asked to fill in for Chris Evans while the breakfast jock was on holiday. Support slot after support slot lead to heightened interest in the graveyard shows. The success also lead to Marc to grow a goatee beard that my girlfriend thinks looked quite good but I think just made him look old...

On The Move Again

Marc Riley with goatie

In another big shake up of Radio One, it was announced that Marc had received a promotion and was to be moved to Drive-time. This never happened, owing to the Ginger Wonder deciding to leave. Marc was given the plum job of presenting the Breakfast show, along with Scrawn.

The move lead to a radical change in style. The more in-depth features that adorned the Graveyard shift had to go, but a small poetry slot was retained as well as the quiz shows that Marc and Scrawn had developed on the night-time show. The rest of the show consisted of Riley trying to present quality, classy early morning radio, while Scrawn butted in with his arse jokes.

Despite the set backs of Scrawn, the Breakfast Show remained popular, and quality items like Music To Watch Girls By (Scrawn stands at the window to see if anyone has turned up in a halter neck top) and Fat Harry White's star sign slots (hosted by the famous romantic singing god) became popular across the nation. Of course, not everyone found it to their taste, but as Scrawn rightly said, "Sod the southern pansies."

Perhaps this was their downfall. The show was just too popular, and Radio One's management decided they couldn't cope with the amount of listeners they had. In the end it was decided to move Scrawn and Lard to a safer, quieter slot, in order to give the commercial stations a bit more of a chance in the ratings. Riley moved to High Tea And Tosspots on October 13th and settled in well.

High Tea And Tosspots

A very bad picture
of Marc Riley

Marc and Scrawn have been there ever since. Their success at Breakfast has continued into their afternoon slot and the show now has the biggest audience share of any show on British Radio. But then that's probably because only about five people listen to the radio in the afternoon and two of those listen to Radio Four...

However in a brave bid to pinch those 2 listeners, Radio One management are promoting the duo from February - giving them one hour less to lie in in bed in the morning, when the show will move to the new 1-3pm afternoon slot. No doubt further promotion to the prime weekend breakfast slots are just round the corner.

Ultimately though, the Breakfast Show however has not lost it's influence on the nation - it helped spawn the Shirehorses, of which Riley is a founder member, and Marc and Scrawn have even entered the glamorous world of shop openings!

Over the years he has been on air, Marc has proved himself to be an unstoppable force in British radio. As well as providing decent, top quality entertainment for the masses, he has helped highlight poetry on the air-waves (for which he has been widely acclaimed) and has made a generation look beyond Boyzone and the Lighthouse Family in the music stakes. He is truly a genius and may God strike me down if this is not the truth.

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