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The Shows: Radio 1 Breakfast Show

Radio 1 logo from 1994

Presented by
Mark Radcliffe
Marc Riley
Radio Station
BBC Radio 1
Weekdays 7-9am
On air
17 Feb 1997 - 10 Oct 1997

It had all been planned. Jo Whiley would move to lunchtimes. Mark Goodier would go to weekends. Mark and Lard would take his place on the drivetime show. Kevin Greening would go and build a new cult late night show in the old Graveyard Shift and Mary-Anne Hobbs would join Steve Lamaq on the Evening Session.

Shame it didn't quite work out like that.

Let's throw a spanner in

It was Chris Evans who threw the spanner in the works. His problem with Fridays when he not only presented the Breakfast Show, but he hot footed it over to do TFI Friday for Channel 4.

Finding it a grueling schedule, he decided to ask for Fridays off at Radio 1 - a demand which the management decided not to agree to. Whilst four day week breakfast shows are more common in the US, they've never been prominent in the UK and Radio 1 wasn't going to start the trend.

Relationships with the Radio 1 management went lower and lower and in the end, Chris tended his 90 day notice on a Friday

Being suspicious that Chris wouldn't turn up the following Monday, Kevin Greening was on standby to fill in and sure enough that day at 5:10, DJ Clive Warren was found by the production team to let them know they wouldn't be in. Kevin Greening was dragged from his bed and the Chris Evans era at Radio 1 came abruptly to an end.

All this left the station in serious limbo. Simon Mayo was drafted in as a short term breakfast presenter with Kevin Greening moving to fill Simon's show. But the question of a long term replacement was still on peoples lips. There was no obvious successor for the breakfast show working at the station.

Who to do the show?

Mark and Lard had filled in for Evans in the past but were still reasonably unknown when Mark Radcliffe received the phone call asking them to do breakfast. Even with their past stand-in experience, it was still a big gamble.

Mark originally turned the request down, but after much persuasion, the duo decided to try one last tactic - a big price in money. Unfortunately it backfired. Instead of turning them down, the management said all right.

Whilst Chris Evans's show was the first Radio 1 breakfast show to be produced by an independent production company, the Mark and Lard version became the first to be broadcast from outside Manchester. It also became probably the only Radio 1 breakfast show to ever try and do poetry on the air.

The stunts and gimics came out - in their first week they gave away a van. The silly quizzes and sketches that had been a bit part of the Graveyard Shift were increased to help fill the time. The Shirehorses were really brought to the front line.

But ultimately even the most hardened Mark and Lard fan knew and the pair themselves knew, it just was never going to cut the mustard. A revamp after three months did nothing to stop the stream of listeners leaving the show.

And then... everything changed.

It was the middle of summer and Mark and Lard were off on holiday for two weeks. The nations favourite stand in DJ, Kevin Greening was in charge - released from the shackles of his drivetime show.

Then at the beginning of the second week, there was a car crash in Paris. At half past four on a Sunday morning, the Radio 1 obituary process was put into action. Diana, Princess of Wales had died.

There probably wasn't a broadcaster in the UK who was fully prepared for the mass outpouring of grief and emotion that hit the UK. For any other royal family member, it would have been laid to rest pretty quickly, but it wasn't. Even by the end of Kevin's second and final week on the breakfast show, the station didn't feel confident to put Mark and Lard back on the air and the duo were kept of the air for a week longer.

The final nail

In many ways it was the final nail in the coffin and shortly after it was announced that the show would be going to Kevin Greening and Zoe Ball. With Nicky Campbell about to join Radio Five Live, the pair were offered the 2-4pm afternoon slot.

With the pressure off, the last few weeks of the breakfast show became relaxed and carefree until on 10 October, the show ended after only eight months on air.

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