Monday, June 11, 2018


Another quote from Lord Hall's Birmingham speech "And I’ve committed to an equal split of men and women across our airwaves by the same year [2020]". Take that alongside Gillian Reynolds' Sunday Times thoughts on the new Jo and Simon Show on Radio 2, still uncomfortable as a pair and causing waves on social media.

Radio 2 listeners are angry about their new weekday drive-time show. Why, they want to know, has Simon Mayo been joined by Jo Whiley? They love him, can’t see the point of her. So they are signing petitions, posting comments on the website, sending cross letters. “As usual,” Jayne Wills wrote in these pages last week, “the BBC has moved without thinking.” 

Now there, Jayne, you are wrong. A great deal of thought has gone into this move, some of it gender-political. For years, Radio 2 has held back from having women regularly present big daytime shows. Yes, Vanessa Feltz stands in as holiday replacement for Jeremy Vine, and sometimes Zoe Ball replaces Chris Evans, but afterwards they’re packed back into their off-peak boxes. 

Pairing Whiley with Mayo thus seems logical and practical. Alas, to date, it isn’t magical. That may change. I doubt it, but it might. Meanwhile, we are stuck with them, and they with each other, for at least a year, when either the ratings dictate a change or one of them will get a better offer. Let’s hope it’s not Mayo.

Radio 2's main hosts are all men - Chris Evans, Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine, Steve Wright fill ten and a half hours of peak-time each weekday. Vanessa Feltz broadcasts for 90 minutes from 0500; Sarah Cox for two hours from 2200 - both only do four days. Another bloke - O J Borg - fills two hours from midnight, four days a week. At the evening edges of the weekday schedule, there's Bob Harris, Jamie Cullum, Mark Radcliffe, Jools Holland, and Gary Davies, balanced against shows from Cerys Matthews, and repeats of Elaine Paige's Sunday programme.

The road to 2020 is hard, and Radio 2 made a slow start. It would be terrible if rumours that Simon Mayo was offered a year's salary to pursue another career route were true. They should have got on with it sooner, and elsewhere in the schedule. 

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