Ian Burrell: Adam Buxton – the quirky radio star breaking into the mainstream - Opinion - Media - The Independent

Ian Burrell: Adam Buxton – the quirky radio star breaking into the mainstream

Media Studies: The nice thing about our radio show is that we get to be childish

Is the mainstream finally ready for Adam Buxton? Tonight he's nominated for two Sony awards with his long-time radio partner Joe Cornish and his touring show Bug has finally been given its own television slot by Sky.

If you want to know what the fuss is about, take a look on YouTube. Buxton has his own channel where you can find clips of him apparently discussing politics with Bono over the phone or dressing in lycra and a mask to ridicule the crudity of American pop star Gwen Stefani with a pastiche video about her bowel movements. The channel also hosts a 20-year-old film of Adam, Joe and Louis Theroux, who were all friends at London's elite Westminster School, dancing insanely to the Deee-Lite hit "Groove Is in the Heart" in a bedroom.

Buxton, 42, doesn't see Cornish so much these days, now that the latter has had film success as director of Attack the Block. So their BBC Radio 6 Music show on Saturday mornings is an opportunity to catch up. "We are sort of filling each other in on what we have been up to," says Buxton. Because the pair are such old friends they have an instinctive humour which delights critics. They are shortlisted in both the "comedy" and "entertainment" categories at the Sonys.

But it's still a niche listen enjoyed by those who have been charmed by their quirky features and humorous songs, which evoke the traditions of music hall but have cultural references to contemporary Britain. Buxton, who has been a guest presenter on BBC2's Never Mind the Buzzcocks, finds making such ditties "all-consuming". "I'm not a good singer and not a good musician by any standards but singing and making music, even in my own retarded way, is amazing. It's like being on heroin and makes you feel incredible."

After five years on air, the show (which won Sony Gold for Best Comedy in 2010), is increasingly dependent on the interaction of its audience. "There's a whole set of features and catchphrases that have developed that they will get involved with and they know the kind of stuff that we find funny. At first we wouldn't read out that many emails but now it's the backbone of the show."

Bug, which Buxton has presented as a live show since 2007, is based on his fascination with the genre of music video. For the Sky series he has made his own visual clips, such as "The Amazing Music Video Song", a compendium of music video clichés such as people moving backwards or singing on rooftops. He knows his stuff, having once directed a video for Radiohead. Another Buxton clip, "The Counting Song", was inspired by the experience of introducing his three-year-old daughter to numbers. "It starts off teaching children how to count and ends up being a litany of all the things that make life s***," he comments dryly.

The Sky programme and the success of the 6 Music show will bring greater exposure but Buxton would be wary of the big time of Radio 2. "The nice thing about our radio show is that we get to be twattish and childish and I don't think it would work in the mainstream. A wider audience would say 'They haven't learned a craft of any kind, why are they allowed on the radio?' It's like with bands, I like bands that are weird and marginal, you feel as if you have discovered them yourself and they are your own private friends."

Thirty Club: Publicity's bad when you're a secret society

In normal circumstances, front page photographs of Kate Middleton and headlines such as "Kate a Dream in Cream" (Daily Telegraph) and "Kate the Vamp" ( Mail) would be seen by the organisers of an advertising function as evidence of success.

But the elite membership of the Thirty Club were less than pleased by the sight of paparazzi on the pavement outside Claridge's on Tuesday evening. These individuals – and there are indeed 30 of them – are the type of folk who have no need for personal publicity. Indeed the very attraction of the Thirty Club is its privacy – the number one rule is that you say nothing about what takes place at its events.

The club was set up in the 1920s, giving it a historic grandeur that is rare in an industry which many think began with the Mad Men era. Such is its potency as a forum for networking that the club is referred to within British adland as "The Clan".

Members are allowed to bring one guest – often the client they most wish to impress. The club is currently headed by Bill Muirhead, executive director of M&C Saatchi, an agency close enough to the royals to persuade Prince William to address members last week. William's late mother, Diana, and Princess Anne are among the club's previous speakers, although such details are supposed to be a guarded secret.

Student's mag bucks the trend

They say the lads' mag is dead. How then could a third-year psychology and journalism student produce a title in his bedroom that is shifting 36,000 copies per issue at £2.65 apiece and is being stocked in WHSmith?

Jon Devo, 25, a student at City University in London, has gone back to a basic diet of glamour girls and sport with "heDD" but hopes it will one day be sold alongside "GQ".

i.burrell@independent.co.uk

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