Chris Moyles set to move from breakfast to bedtime: but what would John Peel think?
Peel's support helped legions of new artists, while Moyles has based his DJ career on pranks
When Chris Moyles arrived at Radio 1, John Peel vowed to "take out" the abrasive newcomer with explosives. Now the deposed breakfast-show host is being lined up to take over the revered broadcaster's late-night new music slot, in a major shake-up at the BBC.
Bosses at the network have asked Moyles, who hands over the breakfast show to Nick Grimshaw next month after eight years, to take over the 10pm-to-midnight weeknight slot, which Peel dedicated to bringing innovative and experimental music to listeners.
The choice of Moyles as a successor to Peel may be be hard for some music fans to stomach. While Peel's support helped legions of new artists gain exposure, Moyles has based his DJ career on "laddish" humour and pranks .
Station executives argue that Moyles, 38, who has been accused of sexism and homophobia by critics, would be free to present an "edgier" programme for older listeners in the late-night slot. But the plan could prove a difficult sell to the DJ, since it may be seen as a demotion to a lower profile role for a star who enjoys just under 7 million listeners.
When Moyles joined Radio 1 in 1997, Peel called him "DLT-in-waiting", a reference to the "cheesy" DJ Dave Lee Travis. Moyles called Peel "Kenny Everett-in-waiting, because Kenny Everett's dead and it's only a matter of time before John pops his clogs."
"I thought about strapping explosives to myself and taking us both out", Peel admitted, said his widow, Sheila.
But Peel, who died in 2004, later conceded he "rather liked" Moyles after meeting him; Moyles in turn paid an emotional tribute to Peel on air, following his death in 2004.
Moyles is contracted to Radio 1 until 2014 and a source said: "The 10pm slot would allow Chris to do a different kind of show." Other options being considered by Ben Cooper, Radio 1 Controller, include a weekend show. But Moyles could leave his £600,000-a-year deal early and pursue radio opportunities in the United States. A Radio 1 spokesman said: "We are still in discussions with Chris about his future at Radio 1 and no decisions have been taken."
Sources close to Moyles say that he won't make any decision about his radio work for some time. He is about to make his stage debut as Herod in a new arena production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
When Peel died, his slot was initially taken by Bestival curator Rob Da Bank, who shared the late-night slots with Huw Stephens and Ras Kwame. Radio 1's mission to attract younger, teenage listeners lay behind the decision to replace Moyles with Grimshaw. Although retaining Moyles in a prominent role could boost listening figures in the evenings, it would still leave Radio 1 with an average audience older than its target 15-29 age range.
John Peel helped bands such as The Smiths and Joy Division gain mass exposure, and championed musical genres outside the mainstream. Moyles, from Leeds, recorded comic versions of songs by Kaiser Chiefs (I Predict A Diet) and Tom Jones (Big Bum) on his debut parody album.
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