Driven To Distraction

By Louis Barfe

There’s no reason to assume that Jo Whiley and Simon Mayo don’t get on with each other. They’ve worked in the same bits of the BBC for 20-odd years or so, and they probably exchange Christmas cards. equally, though, there’s no earthly reason to assume that putting them together on air is a good idea. Especially not when one of them has been uprooted from her own long-running show, and the other has had to budge up in his timeslot to make space for her.

I’d like to report that my fears about the new Whiley and Mayo drivetime show (R2, weeknights, 5-8pm) were unfounded, but based on what I’ve heard of the combination so far, it sounds like two true professionals trying to make the best of a bad decision caused by management cluelessness and fudging. It sounded awkward, forced and almost too chummy. In the first show, there were contributions from Whiley’s old sidekick Steve Lamacq and Mayo’s filmic chum Mark Kermode, telling Mayo about Whiley and vice versa. Mayo gamely admitted that as a child he had a special jumper that transformed him into a German child called Peter.

Whiley and Mayo have said that they will be swapping who works the desk on an hourly basis, which is only fair, but I can’t help but suspect that there will be long stretches where they each present the show solo, while the other puts their feet up at home. I hope it settles down, but I’m not holding my breath.

Still, let’s count the positives of the new Radio 2 schedule. We might have lost The Organist Entertains, but at least we’ve got a live late-night show back, and a decent presenter in OJ Borg (weeknights, midnight-3am). It was always mildly depressing when the repeats kicked in at midnight, especially for insomniacs. At least now there’s someone actually there.