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The Shows: Hit The North

Radio 5 logo from 1990

Presented by
Mark Radcliffe (until Oct 1993)
Marc Riley (until Oct 1993)
Mark Kermode (from Oct 1993)
Radio Station
BBC Radio 5
Wednesdays (initially Tuesdays), 10:10pm-midnight
On air
28 Aug 1990 - 23 Mar 1994

The original Radio 5 was a very different beast to the modern day Five Live.

Originally launched as a kids and sport station in 1990, the late night slots were taken up with music programmes broadcast from different parts of the UK. From Wales came Rave, which featured Rob Brydon - best known now as his character Keith Barrett, from Marion and Geoff. And from Manchester there was Hit the North with Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley.

At the time Mark was producing outside broadcasts for the BBC and wasn't keen on moving to the front of the microphone, but somehow he was persuaded and Hit the North was born. Meanwhile Marc was a record plugger and after hanging around far too much, was given a gossip column on the show.

Of course there was no gossip, and the pair ended up bantering between records - a double act was born, and the programme even got nominated for a Sony Award.

Hit the North was aimed to be a showcase of northern bands, which meant that the programme was right there at the birth of Britpop - Pup, Half Man Half Biscuit and The Boo Radleys all performed on the show, and the show featured the first ever radio sessions from Cornershop in January 1993, and in July 1992, the very first radio session of a young band called Oasis.

As well as the music, the daft sketches and insane quizzes which the duo would become famous would also begin. They even did a roadshow in Grange-over-Sands with an audience of about five people.

The show built up a loyal audience and a cult following, and in October 1993 the full team were moved over to do Radio 1 to take over from Nicky Campbell.

Hit the North remained on Radio 5 for another six months, now in the hands of Mark Kermode - later to be better known for his work as Radio 1's resident film critic. However sadly Radio 5 was to be closed down in 1994 to make way for a new sport and news station called Radio Five Live, and Hit the North finally ended on 23 March 1994.

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