With less than a month to go before the radio industry’s annual Sony Awards, Danny Baker, right, yesterday delivered one of the broadcasting highlights of the year with a comeback show that began with the words: “I’ve been very poorly but now I feel prime.”
After seven months off-air fighting cancer, he announced his return with characteristic humour by playing 1938’s MyWord, You Do Look Queerby Stanley Holloway. “You look like a man with one foot in the grave,” went the song.
The first time Baker’s loyal listeners heard his voice was more than seven minutes into the show as, over a background of his theme tune The Candy Man, he could be heard ruminating on why other nations do not refer to the planet as “Earth”. It was sufficiently oddball that it will have reassured the audience he had not departed for somewhere more celestial.
“Earth, isn’t it ‘egg’ in French?” he asked his on-air team. The approach of the radio industry Oscars was not lost on Baker and he made it into a running gag. “Here I am, three weeks away from my sympathy Sonys,” he said, teasing Frank Skinner – who is nominated for three awards – by saying he would have to wait until next year for his big moment.
Baker, 53, told listeners to his show on BBC Radio London that he had lost two and a half stone and was not able to consume solid food. “I won’t be able to eat for at least a year.” He claimed he had been tempted to return with a sentimental show, but couldn’t resist his usual radio Vaudeville, mixing strange tales of false legs, playing the Wacky Races theme tune or a “lost classic” from Cilla Black, reminiscing over hischildhood obsession with David Bowie and airing a ribald jingle: “Up Your Butt, Coconut!”
He did take time to thank the listeners for their Get Well cards and will be returning to BBC Radio 5 Live on 21 May. As for the Sony Awards, he is indeed nominated in two categories (best interview and best speech personality). But, he jested, his illness might win him something more prestigious. “I think they’re going to give me a lifetime achievement award.”