First timers now the old timers

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The Independent Online
"We're the no hair people," joked Pete Myers, 58, introducing the cast of original BBC Radio 1 disc jockeys assembled on the steps of All Soul's Church outside Broadcasting House.

A bit of thinning on top was to be expected. It was, after all, 30 years since they had struck the same pose for the launch of Radio 1. Now they were recreating the scene for BBC2's "rockumentary": The Radio One Story, to be screened later this year.

"Only someone with a diseased imagination could have thought it possible," said John Peel, 58, the only surviving record spinner at Radio 1. He sat beside Mike Ahern, 54, who holds the record for the shortest tenancy of any Radio 1 slot. The pair were asked to present a programme called Top Gear, but after one hour it became clear that Mr Ahern was not the man for the job. "He was fantastic. I was awful," he explained. "He's right," Peel agreed.

Some were clearly feeling their age. Terry Wogan, 59, remarked: "It'll probably take me 10 minutes to get out of this position. I'm surprised we don't all need wheelchairs." Others, such as Pete Murray, were taking the prospect of retirement in their stride. "I've always been retired," said Mr Murray, 72, who hosts an LBC phone-in between playing golf four times a week and tennis twice. "I've never over exerted myself, put it that way, so it won't be much different."

Robin Scott, 77, who was in charge of launching Radio 1 and Radio 2, surveyed the scene. He wore his 30-year-old cardboard "I'm a Radio 1 one upman" badge and clutched faded cuttings of his finest hour as he considered how a certain carrot-haired character would have gone down then. Chris [Evans] would have been way ahead of the time," he began tactfully. "That style of having the gang in the background and the hurly burly atmosphere is not one I would have gone for. ... It was all in-jokes. You couldn't hear half what he was saying."

Tony Blackburn, 54, first to go on air in 1967, with the words: "Welcome to the exciting sound of Radio 1" before putting the first record on the turntable: "Flowers In The Rain" by The Move, was last to pitch up at the photo call. "Is this it?" he said, rushing onto the steps.

Perhaps he was referring to some notable absences from the class of '67, not least the much-missed Kenny Everett, who died of Aids in 1995, and the late Mike Raven and Barry Aldiss. Johnny Moran, Mike Lennox, Dave Rider and David Symonds were unable to attend the picture recreation yesterday.

Arts Notebook, Long Weekend, page 4