BBC tongues wag as loud-mouth Moyles goes Awol

But suspicions were rife that Moyles had gone Awol after spending the previous day watching his football team Leeds United lose to Watford in Cardiff, missing out on a place in the Premiership.

Instead of handing over to Moyles at 6.55am, early morning hosts JK and Joel, whose own show starts at 4am, stayed on and presented the breakfast programme with the help of his regular team. That left the duo fronting a mammoth six-hour session. Sources suggested Radio 1 had not expected the absence of its star breakfast presenter.

Moyles' sidekick "Comedy Dave" sounded bemused as to the DJ's whereabouts, telling the audience: "We have tried ringing his home - nothing. His phone is switched off. The honest truth is I don't know. This is what we call organic radio." Listeners were encouraged to contact the station if they had any information as to the whereabouts of the missing DJ.

At 9.45am, Moyles finally called the show to say that he had left a message on his producer's voicemail.

A Radio 1 spokesman said: "It was a pre-planned, on-air joke. We knew it was going to happen. He had a day off because he was going to see the football in Cardiff. I don't know how long it's been in the diary, but I think it's been in quite a long time. The question was, could we do something fun with that on air. It gave the team something to work on."

Correspondents to the Radio 1 message board did not appear to believe the station's insistence that it had decided to make a joke of Moyles' day off. "Show some respect to your bosses and listeners by making an effort to turn up for work - if not, then go back to Radio Leeds and work the graveyard shift," said one.

"Nice to know I have helped pay for a prat to take the day [sick] just because he is unwell with a hangover. Nice one Chris! Like to see our money being put to good use," said another.

Last week, Moyles, who beat Jonathan Ross and Chris Evans to win the Sony Entertainment Award earlier this month, lived up to his reputation for being controversial when he clashed with Hollywood actress Halle Berry.

Berry accused the self-proclaimed "Saviour of Radio 1" of having a "racist moment" live on air.

The X-Men star objected when Moyles adopted an American accent and attempted to impersonate "a big, fat, black guy" as part of an exchange with her co-star Hugh Jackman.

When she inquired: "Are we having a racist moment here?" Moyles immediately denied the accusation, explaining that he simply could not put on an American accent.

But later, the radio presenter said that Berry was "a lovely woman, but slightly defensive". He added "'Are we having a bad interview here?' Yeah, I definitely think so. It's very disappointing, but oh well, I'll never see her again."

The interview was not included on Moyles' weekly podcast, a selection of highlights from his show.

Radio audience figures released earlier this month revealed that between January and March, Moyles lost 340,000 listeners compared to the previous quarter. Year on year, he boosted his audience by 143,000.

Moyles started his career at Aire FM in Leeds, and joined Radio 1 in 1997 and took the breakfast slot in 2004.

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