Radio Times columnists romped home to success at the 31st annual Sony Radio Academy Awards last night.
Stuart Maconie was nominated in the music radio broadcaster category, while both Colin Murray and Eddie Mair got a golden gong for best sports programme (the Olympics, pretty hard to mess up) and speech radio broadcaster of the year (where Eddie’s competition included Danny Baker and Nicky Campbell). But Mr Mair was overseas and could not attend – so what did he miss…?
Apart from the predictable back-slapping and bottom-licking – it’s an awards ceremony, that’s what happens – it was actually a decent night out. The warm-up act while we munched on our starters was some chap called Robbie Williams. He turned out to be as good a stand-up as he was a singer. “I looked at the place settings when I was doing my rehearsal this afternoon and the only name I recognised was mine,” he quipped, winning over the audience of predominantly unknown industry bods with his facetiousness.
He complained that he was too old and too fat to get played on Radio 1 anymore before quoting a line from his recent single Candy: Hey ho here she goes, Either a little too high or a little too low. “How four-year-old do you want it, Radio 1,” he snapped, causing much hilarity among the appreciative crowd.
There was a moment when we thought he’d come over all sincere and serious when he appeared to credit the radio for his success. “It’s my oxygen as an artist. All you radio people are why I’ve currently got four or five houses.” He’d trumped us again. If he ever gives up the day job there’s definitely a career in comedy in waiting.
And then the awards proper began. How do you follow Robbie Williams? Impossible. And so some people who no one had ever heard of (Dan and Phil) won the audience award – they were young, have a show on Radio 1 and, I suspect, motivated legions of youths in darkened bedrooms to vote for them via anti-social media.
Gemma Cairney, another Radio 1 talent, took to the stage to accept her award for best documentary and revealed she’d been mistaken for Emili Sandé by an out-of–touch (more likely drunken) guest who’d been fooled by her giant quiff.
The biggest ovation of the night went to Danny Baker, winner of the best entertainment programme, who opened his acceptance speech with a barbed aside to BBC London, who sacked him at the end of last year. He went on to note wryly that accepting gongs was commonplace for him these days: “I’ve won three of these recently and I thought it was a sympathy vote because I had cancer, but this doesn’t feel like that.” Cue another huge round of applause.
Dermot O’Leary used the potty-mouth-language trend instigated hours ago by Robbie Williams and continued in pretty much every acceptance speech, but you could sort of see why he was astounded to pick up the gold for best music programme. “I’m in the same category as a f****** Rolling Stone, for god’s sake,” he said in reference to one of his competitors, Ronnie Wood, whose Absolute Radio show is normally the guaranteed awards juggernaut.
Finally, we got to the award where I had been on the judging panel – breakfast show of the year, 10 million plus listeners. Of course I knew who’d won but, until this point, I’d have had to kill you or myself if I told you. I was so worried about talking in my sleep that I’ve been going to bed with a pair of socks in my mouth. The gold was awarded to Radio 4’s Today Programme, not just for John Humphrys’s interrogation of George Entwistle – the BBC’s director-general stepped down hours afterwards – but this was a major contributory factor in the judges’ decision. Humphrys revealed that the Today team were listening in on a web-stream at a pub round the corner.
I suggest that all guests do this next year. With house plonk at £40 a bottle it’ll be a much cheaper way of ensuring a hangover the next day at work. I need to go and lie down somewhere quiet and dark now…
Jane Anderson is Radio Times radio editor