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The Shows: The Graveyard Shift

Radio 1 logo from 1994

Presented by
Mark Radcliffe
Marc Riley
Radio Station
BBC Radio 1
Monday to Thursday, 10pm-midnight
On air
25 Oct 1993 - 13 Feb 1997 (show continued for a further week after Mark and Lard left, presented by Stuart Maconie - their final show was 6 Feb 1997)

For those that were around at the time, The Graveyard Shift was and always will be, the best of Mark and Lard show.

It was at the forefront of the Britpop era, mixing music, culture and comedy to great affect and of course, gained a cult following.

The time-slot had been vacated by Nicky Campbell. Hotly tipped to take over from the departing Simon Bates, Nicky instead chose to leave the station for personal reasons (although he returned a few months later). His slow was given over to Mark and Lard to replicate the success of Hit The North.

Music with talking inbetween

The music policy had similarities to Out On Blue Six, but with the rise of Britpop, the programme was soon championing the wave of new bands hitting the nation as well, which made the music mix rather eclectic, especially on those days when the last 15 minutes were handed over to ambient music and whale noise!

If the music policy didn't make the show compulsive listening, there were the features - a steady stream of poets, comedians, film and TV reviewers and other cultural commentators were featured, to talk about anything and everything.

Then there were the book readings where a pop star would read excerpts of a book over a week - the books themselves varied enormously, even including Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree being read by Comfort (aka Simon Eugene) from Out Of My Hair.

And then there was the comedy sketches and quizzes that the pair would be best known for on their daytime shows although Dick and Ken The Snooker Men and the Three Second Memory Span Goldfish never made it to daytime. Oh and there was the Shirehorses.

It's drama on the radio

And almost all but forgotten, radio drama...

At the time Radio 1 was experimenting with a series of radio drama productions which included a Batman story. To compete with these high quality daytime productions, The Graveyard Shift featured versions that had been released on vinyl record in the 1970s, including notably bad versions of Batman and Star Trek.

Building up a cult following, the pair were even invited to stand in for Chris Evans on the Breakfast Show which resulted in some of the most surreal two hours of breakfast broadcasting you could find - if anyone could beat Match Of The Day where someone was invited to propose to their other half live on air and where the people involved were rarely enthused, and sounded exactly the same every day. With none of the restrictions of their later permanent slot on breakfast, the duo tended to spend two weeks messing around and having a great time.

Flying Solo

During much of the shows reign on air, Marc Riley tended to work only three of the four shows a week - mainly being absent on Mondays or Thursdays. His lack of presence tended not to be noted, although later on, pre-recorded segments explaining his lack of vocals were added.

Without his presence, the show tended not to descend into chaos as much, relying more on Mark's off the cuff comments rather than silly catch-phrases.

Moving on Up

With a reshuffle of the daytime impending in 1997, Mark and Lard persuaded the management to move them to drivetime - thus allowing them to work sensible hours.

The move was at their request, though naturally the loyal listeners were divided. Whilst most understood that the pair were moving on to bigger and better things, there was sadness that such a great show would be leaving the air.

On their final show, a crowd assembled outside New Broadcasting House in Manchester as the Graveyard Shift said goodbye to the UK.

Radio 1 would never be quite the same again.

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