Charming Robbie Williams swings by for a cosy Christmas treat on Radio 2
The Week in Radio: Williams was quick on his feet, and willing to cover mishaps with self-deprecating humour
Wednesday 25 December 2013
Where Christmas television schedules tend to cleave to old favourites – giving us specials, period dramas and the return of sitcoms past – radio prefers to mimic our real-time Christmas experience by handing the controls to a bunch of guest presenters, rather like that unfortunate moment when Uncle Dave decides that he’s the best DJ in the world after a couple too many glasses of wine.
This year’s guest crew included both the traditional (Cliff Richard running down his favourite festive hits on Christmas Eve) and the rather more louche (Iggy Pop’s Rockin’ Rebels on 6 Music on Christmas Day), with Radio 2 giving everyone from French and Saunders and Miranda Hart to Glee’s Matthew Morrison the chance to showcase their taste.
The most interesting guest booking, however, was that of pop tartlet turned self-described national treasure Robbie Williams, who took over Dermot O’Leary’s three-hour Saturday afternoon show.
Williams, who hosts his own radio show on his blog, is clearly a fan of the form and had put obvious thought into ensuring that his guest spot stayed true to conventions. Thus there were games (pick your favourite potato, a psychiatric test, a brief appearance from Williams’ wife to call him out on his latest idiocy); some jokey if slightly awkward banter with Rizzle Kicks (during which Williams trod perilously close to middle-aged uncle trying to be down with the kids territory); more comfortable sessions with comedians Jimmy Carr and John Bishop; and an eclectic mix of songs which ran the gamut from Dolly Parton to Lorde via Chas & Dave, Al Green, and, brilliantly, Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John”. There was also time for Williams to give the odd plug or three for his new album – yet they were carried out with enough self-mocking good humour to make it hard to get too annoyed.
He also chose to book his dad as his main guest on the show – thanks to Jack Whitehall, father/son acts are all the rage these days – and Williams Snr turned out to have a nicely dry sense of humour, putting up with a psych test, gamely taking part in a quiz and describing his youthful brush with semi-fame.
These sort of cosy afternoon shows tend to stand or fall with the host, and Williams was pretty impressive: quick on his feet, willing to cover mishaps with self-deprecating humour, genuinely interested in his guests, and unlikely to scare away regular listeners. The perfect Radio 2 host in fact. Yes, he was a little bit too pleased with himself at times, but if he ever wants to give up the day job, then a career in afternoon radio surely awaits.
The stress of preparing Christmas lunch was considerably alleviated by the sonorous tones of James Osterberg, aka Iggy Pop, who presented the first of his guides to his favourite music at 1pm today (part two follows on New Year’s Day). Featuring everything from Link Wray and Jerry Lee Lewis to The Last Poets, Rockin’ Rebels was a fascinating peek into the mind of one of rock’s last originals, allowing Pop to reminisce about everything from the first time he heard the great protest song “A Change is Gonna Come” (“I was in a student apartment with a beautiful, slightly older and strapping Irish-American lass who wanted to educate me”) to his early days in The Stooges (“I didn’t really want to go to school and sign up for a lifetime of drudgery”).
Finally, a recommendation: Boxing Day finds the surviving members of The Clash presenting This Is Radio Clash on 6 Music – an entertaining, quirky, always interesting two-hour guide to their favourite tunes.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 2 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 3 Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
- 4 iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
- 5 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
Suicide Squad's Margot Robbie: Jared Leto's now more petrifying when out of his Joker make-up
The Girl in the Spider's Web, David Lagercrantz, review: Stieg Larsson's heroes return in a thrilling new intrigue
Game of Thrones season 6: George RR Martin made showrunners name Jon Snow's mother before letting them adapt books
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn