Eighteen months ago, Chris Moyles told an interviewer that he could "kick anybody's arse" on the Radio 1 breakfast show, after it emerged that the slot had lost half a million listeners when it was hosted by Sara Cox. The cockiness was evident again yesterday when Moyles began his debut on the most prestigious slot in British pop broadcasting with a five-minute-long spoof rock anthem proclaiming him "the saviour of Radio 1".
Meanwhile, in The Guardian, Moyles offered a more modest - and probably more realistic - assessment of his prospects, saying that a downward trend in ratings was inevitable as media outlets proliferated and that he had no expectation of being able to reverse it. After the initial burst of vanity, the first morning's broadcast was characterised by similar restraint.
When news of his promotion from the Radio 1 weekday afternoon slot was released in October, the media coverage was determined mainly by his reputation for boorishness.
In 2002 he was criticised twice by broadcasting watchdogs - first for declaring on air that when the singer Charlotte Church reached the age of consent he would like to "lead her through the forest of sexuality"; and then for expressing a desire to rip off the head of the disc jockey Dr Fox and "pooh in his neck".
The most tasteless remark he came up with yesterday concerned the singer Pink, who was, according to Moyles, "a bit rough... but I would" (that is, presumably, would "lead her through the forest of sexuality"). Terry Wogan once criticised Moyles for shows that were "sometimes in doubtful taste". Moyles sang a song about Wogan's wig. But yesterday, Moyles was, by his own standards, a pussy-cat. The show's highlights included a live interview with Victoria Beckham, who was speaking by phone from Spain, in which Moyles congratulated her on the high chart placing of her new single, told her how much he liked the song, and elicited the admission that her children eat toast for breakfast. Michael Parkinson could hardly have been more deferential.
There were few novelties in terms of format, either. Moyles promised to bring a little unpredictability to the show by playing a record from his own collection: he selected Change by the Lightning Seeds, familiar from car adverts and unlikely to shock. A competition, Car Park Catch Phrase, was a not-very-interesting verbal version of the television gameshow Catch Phrase.
All in all, it was a surprisingly amiable, yet anodyne three hours. Moyles has learnt not to rock the boat; but he isn't going to stop it sinking, either.
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