The Week in Radio: More torture than teenage kicks with the X Factor also-rans


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The Independent Culture

"It's kind of kicking off," said Radio 1's Matt Edmondson, half an hour into his preamble to the annual Teen Awards that had already seemed to last for three days. "This is amazing, there are pop stars literally everywhere," panted his co-presenter Jameela Jamil, as if she had just clapped eyes on the Virgin Mary and not Jade from Little Mix.

For all their feverish reports of non-stop amazingness, there was something distinctly amiss in Edmondson and Jamil's Sunday afternoon coverage of the Teen Awards at Wembley Arena, an event seemingly invented with the aim of extending the careers of X Factor also-rans for one more desperate day.

There was the fact that, as Edmondson revealed sadly, they were not actually mingling with the great and the gormless of contemporary pop at all. Instead they were marooned in a makeshift studio hidden behind a curtain backstage and "away from the action". There was also the pleading desperation in their voices as they remarked: "We're here all afternoon... and we've got four hours to fill. So we're going to need your help."

I hardly need point out that I am not a teenager. These awards, and Edmondson and Jamil's commentary, were clearly not for my ears. When you reach a stage in your life when you remember your own childhood in distant monochrome, and the sight of adolescents with their trousers wedged under their bum cheeks sends you into a fog of despondency, you can be sure that you are no longer Radio 1's target audience.

Even so, listening to these two put-upon presenters wedged into a cupboard, feigning excitement and playing pre-recorded dashes to the red carpet, in which Jamil babbled stream-of-consciousness nonsense at Rita Ora, Little Mix and Pixie Lott, while Edmondson fed excruciating gags into her earpiece for us all to hear, made me feel overwhelmingly sad. Our kids deserve better.

"Let's hope no one falls off the stage," Jamil piped up at one point, inadvertently giving away the fact that she was silently willing someone – anyone – to do exactly that. Because a pop star with multiple bone fractures and mild concussion would truly have solved all her problems.

It turned out that this first hour of prattling was merely the amuse-bouche to the main event which found them adding their "commentary" to live coverage of the Teen Awards. Now I'm no fan of awards ceremonies. Dull to attend, tedious to watch on television, on radio they are surely the very definition of pointless.

So without the dubious benefit of seeing the daft outfits or the hordes of screaming teens, what were we left with? A series of pop stars making mushy speeches and singing out of tune in the corner of a big shed. It's almost impossible to imagine the instructions given to Edmondson and Jamil by producers prior to the show that resulted in them telling us what was happening on stage five seconds after it had happened with no trace of flair or wit, and frequently wittering over the event's actual hosts, Rita Ora and the Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw.

If you had strayed on to Radio 1 at this point, you might perhaps have imagined some strange interference from a pirate radio station in which the presenters were simply muttering to themselves, quite unaware that the mic was on.

For me, it was like listening to a party going on across the street, complete with the sound of demented youngsters bellowing "this is sick". If you were there I'm sure it was all manner of, er, sick. If you were listening on the radio, it was absolute bloody torture.