Stuart, you’re starting the new-look Radcliffe and Maconie show without Mark because of his illness. How is he getting on and when can we expect him to join you?
He’s doing great. He’s pre-recorded a couple of his Radio 2 Folk Shows. His treatment has finished, and he’s in recovery. I mean, it’s a slow and difficult process but he’s in good spirits. He’s been around this week and hopefully will be up for his first live Radcliffe and Maconie in February. The listeners have got a few weeks just with me and then then the old team will be reunited, which will be wonderful.
We’ll look forward to that but for now it’s just you: have you ever presented a show this early before?
I’ve never done it regularly. I’ve sat in on breakfast shows. I’ve deputised for Terry Wogan and Shaun Keaveny, so I’ve done it for short periods but never as a regular gig. I have to say it will be a bit of a shock to the system, but sometimes shocks to the system are good things. I’m past the age when I’m out all night on a Friday night.
How’s the preparation going? Does it feel like a new show?
Well, yes, it does. We’re going to continue elements of what we’ve done before, but I’ve been keen that we don’t set it in stone. Having said that, we’ve got quite a lot of things planned, plus some old favourites that will be coming with us — The Chain and Tea-Time Theme Time. People will still be having a cup of tea at nine o’clock on a Saturday morning, I’m sure, but I am in the market for better suggestions for what we can call it. I’m also conscious that we’re taking over from Mary Anne Hobbs and that she would include quite a bit of left-field music and I think we’ll keep that going, certainly in the first hour of the show.
Are there any specific new features you can tell me about?
We’ve got one we’re calling Sampled Underfoot. I’m aware that there might be a generational relationship going on at that time on a Saturday morning — that younger listeners might know a Kanye West or a Drake record, but only their mum or dad might know what it is they’ve sampled. So we’ll play the two records together. And we’re reviving the “First, Last and Everything” feature that Mark had on his solo Radio 2 show a few years ago — with people telling us about the first record they bought, the last record they bought, and the record that means everything to them. It just seemed perfect for the new slot. it’s a nice, self-contained thing and in Salford Media City we’re perfectly placed for politicians, footballers, poets, people from all walks of life, to come on the show and contribute. We’ll have guests from music and guests from beyond music. Right now I’m on my way to interview Will Poulter from Black Mirror.
What else are you up to? I know you have The Freak Zone on 6 Music and you’re writing another book, yes? Called The Nanny State Made Me?
That’s right, yes. I was very aware that for 40 years we’ve had this dominant kind of narrative in our political discussion which is that in the 1970s Britain was a mess, that the state was a bloated failure that had to give way to private enterprise. I think this is an idea that’s been almost entirely discredited by what’s happened in the past year or two.
So the book is going to be me trying to redress the balance a bit, saying that the post-1945 welfare state was actually a magnificent institution. It’s going to be kind of a love letter to the benevolent state. You know, I don’t want my state to make my curry or my pop music, but I do think the state might be best to run the schools, the hospitals, the prisons, the national parks.