. . . but Radio 1 'ban' is no fun for Status Quo

The rock band Status Quo yesterday began legal proceedings against BBC Radio 1, claiming the station has issued a "blanket ban" on producers playing its records. The group's lawyers issued a writ for breach of contract and made an application for a judicial review over whether the station's alleged playlist ban is unlawful.

"Someone seems not to like us at Radio 1," said Francis Rossi, the band's lead singer. "But the staff are not paid to be taste-makers. They should play the current Top 40, which is their remit."

The row is being seen by Radio 1 as a reflection of the changing face of the station: where once Frankie Goes To Hollywood's single "Relax" was banned for referring to oral sex and the Sex Pistols's "God Save The Queen" was deemed unsuitable for airplay in Silver Jubilee year, bands are now more likely to be censored for being uncool than for swearing, drug-references or anarchist lyrics.

"There have been a number of occasions in the past two years where we have not playlisted records in the charts, including Mr Blobby, Michael Barrymore, Michael Ball, Robson & Jerome and Cliff Richard," said a Radio 1 spokeswoman. "Unlike everyone else Status Quo don't seem to have noticed that there have been a few changes at Radio 1 ... We do not slavishly follow the Top 40."

A statement from Status Quo, whose collaboration with the Beach Boys "Fun Fun Fun" went straight into the chart at number 24 this week, said: "Fortunately, as the current charts reflect ... we do not depend on Radio 1 alone for our success or indeed our survival."

Declaring that the head of Radio 1's production department, Trevor Dann, had acted unlawfully, the band's statement continued: "Our application for a judicial review is based on the belief that every record of every artist should be given fair consideration and that Mr Dann is abusing his power by unilaterally declaring that Status Quo do not suit the demographic of Radio 1 FM's audience." The group's guitarist, Rick Parfitt, said: "We don't mind if people don't like our records - many people don't like our records. We all have different tastes and Radio 1, which is run on licence payers' money, should reflect that."

The breach of contract, over which the band is suing, relates to two verbal agreements Status Quo alleges Radio 1 made in 1992 and 1993. Status Quo claims that when the station was attempting to persuade the band to headline its 25th birthday party and to appear at Radio 1 roadshows the band was promised "all reasonable consideration in relationship to their playlists and broadcasts" as an "inducement".

Although Radio 1 confirmed that "Fun Fun Fun" is not on its playlist, the station no longer ban records as such. Friday afternoon meetings of producers and Mr Dann decide the records for the next week and the list is published the following Monday, when bands can see whether their single has made the playlist. The station found that banning records, as in the case of "Relax", has had a tendency to catapult a single to number one.

Censored singles

Five successful songs struck off Radio 1's playlist since 1993

Robson and Jerome: I Believe

John Alford: When Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Mr Blobby: Mr Blobby

Michael Barrymore: Too Much For One Heart

Cliff Richard: Misunderstood Man

Five top songs Radio 1 banned before 1993

Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Relax

Sex Pistols: God Save The Queen

BMX Bandits: Serious Drugs

Paul McCartney: Give Ireland Back To The Irish

Nirvana: Rape Me

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