A celebrity entertainment presenter with no radio experience has been chosen to co-present a new show in Radio 1’s late night "specialist music" slot made famous by John Peel.
Alice Levine, who works for MTV and presents Big Brother’s Bit on the Side will host a new show in the 10pm-to-midnight slot with Phil Taggart, a Northern Irish broadcaster who made his name presenting the best new music from the province for Radio 1.
The BBC said that the Monday to Thursday programme would be an “energetic mix of specialist and upfront new music”. The slot, previously held by Nick Grimshaw, who left to present the Radio 1 Breakfast Show, will continue to champion “new music”, the BBC said.
Chris Moyles, the former Breakfast Show host, is believed to have turned down a role in the late-night show, which will have a new focus on “entertainment and guests”.
Omagh-born Taggart won the BBC/Skillset Young Broadcaster of the year award and began presenting two years ago on BBC Radio Ulster’s Across the Line programme. He has been the voice of BBC Introducing in Northern Ireland and filled in for a number of Radio 1 presenters.
The BBC said Levine was “new to the world of Radio”. She made her breakthrough “rubbing shoulders with showbiz’s finest” in a Bebo online entertainment show and has hosted her own series on MTV.
She has captained a team on Channel 4’s chart music panel show Pop Up Pop Quiz.
Levine, from Nottingham, said: “I’m so glad Phil, and his encyclopaedic knowledge of music, will be by my side. The prospect of starting in this slot, which has been hosted by so many DJs that I admire is a big deal and I can't wait to get started and put our own spin on it.”
Taggart said: “I’ve been a total Radio 1 geek since I can remember, religiously listening to the chart show and to John Peel on my battered little stereo. It’s a total privilege to be given two hours, four days a week to play brand new music that I am really passionate about and the fact I am doing it with Alice is a complete dream job. She’s sharper than a safety pin and genuinely funny.”
Along with Grimshaw’s move to breakfast, the changes are designed to help bring the average age of Radio 1’s listenership down from 32 to the station’s target audience of 15-29 year olds.
Veteran Peel listeners may question whether the youthful new late-night duo will give airtime to the experimental and uncommercial artists championed by the legendary broadcaster, who held the slot for almost 30 years. However the BBC argues that the Peel ethos is also now ingrained in 6 Music’s mix of unsigned bands and classics from the archive.
Annie Mac has been confirmed as the new solo host of the 10pm-midnight Sunday night show on Radio 1.
Ben Cooper, Controller at BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra, said: “With Phil, Alice and Annie we have a great set of talented DJs who will continue to champion the best in new music.”