Radio 2 in Edinburgh

Last year, regarding Simon Mayo broadcasting live from the Edinburgh Festival, I tweeted the following:

I make silly declarations like this from time to time, without really thinking about making them happen. But it did happen this year, and I didn’t have to hitchhike or sleep on a park bench!

I applied for tickets to all of the Drivetime shows in Edinburgh, and told myself that if I got them, I’d definitely go. When I got an email to say that I had been successful for the Tuesday show, I set about working out the best way to do it. In the end, time off work and money considerations meant that I was only able to stay for one night, and I was going to have to travel by coach. I ended up travelling through the night, both there and back, and I can’t say that it was the most wonderful experience of my life, but it got me to Edinburgh for a relatively small amount of money!

All of the BBC events at the Edinburgh Festival take place in a big blue tent at Potterrow. I obviously don’t know the city well at all, but the Potterrow area is part of the University of Edinburgh, as far as I know. As well as the tent, the BBC had set up an area that had a bar, food, a big screen, a children’s area, and a ping pong table! It was a great atmosphere; particularly on Monday when the sun was shining – I sat outside for a while with some people I know from an online group, and watched people coming and going. The only famous person I saw was Rory Bremner, but I’m given to understand it’s a good place to spot BBC personnel! It’s completely free to enter as well, so even if you don’t have tickets for a BBC event, you can still go along and have a drink or something to eat.

I managed to get a ticket for Monday as well as the one I had for Tuesday, so I got to see two shows being broadcast! For someone who is a) a radio geek, b) a Radio Two geek, c) a Simon Mayo fan, and d) a huge Drivetime fan, this was a pretty big deal. Imagine for a moment getting to see one of your favourite radio shows being made; it’s a pretty big deal!

My photos aren’t great, but of course I think it’s more important to savour the moment than to take thousands of photos. The show comes live from Edinburgh, so it follows a similar structure to what is on the radio everyday. As well as the star of the show, we also got to see Matt Williams and Bobbie Pryor at work; two of the team who do sport and travel respectively, and Claire (who you can see in the above photo), who is the producer. I realise this means nothing to anyone who doesn’t listen religiously like I do!

~ Coolest necklace ever, right? Yeah, I know. ~

~ Jo Caulfield and Bridget Christie ~

~ Fred MacAulay and Adam Hills ~

~ Shaun Keaveney, who was a bit drunk on one day (according to him), and a bit hungover on the other (I love him) ~

~ Gyles Brandreth and Joe Lycett (his show is called That’s the Way, A-ha A-ha, Joe Lycett. Best show name ever) ~

~ Andreya Triani, who was the musical guest on Tuesday, and who has the most incredible voice. Her album is ace. ~

~ On Monday, a couple of contortionists came in and did some contorting on Bobbie. ~

~ Mr Mayo ~

I also saw Arthur Smith and Lost Voice Guy doing confessions, the latter of whom was hilarious. You can watch it here, and I’d recommend doing so, because it really is very funny!

Spending seventeen hours on a coach over the course of two and a half days just to see four hours of radio might seem odd to some people, but I am so so so so so glad I went. If the BBC are allowed to return to Edinburgh next year, I’m planning a return trip; I want to be there for the whole week, and see more shows!

I will be writing another post about Edinburgh; I did do some other stuff other than Radio 2 stuff!

The Bookish Side of Life #3

If you know me but at all, you’ll know that there are two things I love (almost) more than anything: books, and Radio 2. Today, those two things collide in spectacular fashion, as the best radio station in the world (ever) celebrates Radio 2 Book Club Day.

For us bookworms, we don’t have the pleasure of seeing our favourite hobby discussed on television very much. There will be the odd documentary, and a season of programmes if it happens to be the anniversary of a prominent author, but there’s no regular programme where books are reviewed and discussed, or authors interviewed. One of my favourite programmes of recent years was My Life in Books, which ran for two series, and featured various well known people talking about the books that have influenced their lives. It was such a novelty to watch a show that featured people talking passionately about the books that they love, but the last episode aired in March 2012, and aside from repeats, it doesn’t seem as though it will be coming back.

~ Photo by Janaina C. Falklewicz on Flickr ~

So, we have to turn to the radio to get our bookish fix. Luckily, BBC Radio have obviously realised that people like hearing authors talking about their books, and other people talking about the books they love, and so there’s rather a lot of choice. The Radio 2 Book Club takes place on the Drive Time show every other week, and features the team discussing a new book with the author, and a selection of listeners’ comments. (I keep hoping to get picked as a reviewer, but I’m still waiting.) The featured writers vary from experienced authors with a large bibliography to explore (John Boyne, Jo Nesbo and Robert Harris, for example), to exciting debut novelists. I’ve recently reviewed The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker, and We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride, both of which were Radio 2 Book Club choices, and both of which I loved.

Radio 4 is also committed to regular programmes about books, with Bookclub with James Naughtie, and Open Book with Mariella Frostrup. I don’t listen to either as often as I should, but a huge archive of episodes are available for both shows, and I have plans to download some to listen to on the bus. I expect my ‘Want to Read’ list to go through the roof! There’s also the Book at Bedtime and Book of the Week, which have featured some crackers in the past, and are definitely responsible for many items on that aforementioned list.

So, as I mentioned, today is Radio 2 Book Club Day. There’s stuff going on all day: a ‘battle of the bards’ was on Chris Evans this morning, Jeremy Vine has Howard Jacobson in to contribute to the ‘What Makes Us Human’ series (you should catch up on some of the previous speakers if you haven’t heard them already). Then Simon Mayo’s Drivetime show is coming live from Cheltenham Literature Festival (somewhere I am determined to go sometime!) with David Nicholls, Michael Rosen, Rachel Joyce and Charlie Higson. Bookworms everywhere can rejoice!

As you can see, Radio 2 and Radio 4 have us covered pretty well between them with all things books. I’m sure I’m not alone in my love of hearing people talk passionately about books. I love finding out about the best new books that are on their way, and I love discovering classics that have shaped people’s reading and writing habits. And everyone knows that radio is better than television anyway.

Radio 2 in Hyde Park

Most of the people reading this blog probably know me quite well, and therefore are aware of my love for Radio 2. When I realised that I could spend a day in the same vicinity as just about the entire Radio 2 staff, and hear some decent music into the bargain, I was all for it. I bought a couple of tickets, convinced Anna to come with me, and waited patiently!

You may remember that I recently wrote a guest post for Penny in which I said that I was trying to strike a better balance between taking photos and experiencing things, and that came to bear at Hyde Park. I know that as a blogger, I should probably put more premium on taking great photos, but the truth is that my camera isn’t great, and even if it was, I don’t see the point in standing there and taking twenty photos of each act, only to bring them home and have a load of photos without anything to do with them. So I snapped a few shots with my little camera and my phone, and then just enjoyed the day!

Chrissie Hynde, who was the first act on. She did a lot of new stuff, but also did I’ll Stand By You, and Don’t Get Me Wrong, which I love. She’s amazing, of course.

I was so excited about seeing Bellowhead, because I only discovered them within the last year, and I think they’re amazing. When I was describing them to Anna, I said, “They’re all stompy and clappy,” and I stand by that description. If you haven’t heard them, definitely check them out. My favourite song of theirs is Gosport Nancy, it gets me up dancing every time!


I really couldn’t decide if I wanted to buy a programme, because they were £7, and let’s face it, a waste of money. But they came with a Radio 2 lanyard, and I really wanted one, so I just did it! In the end it was handy, because it gave me all the timings, and I needed them to work out when to move from the main stage over to the BBC Introducing stage. And now I have a Radio 2 lanyard to go with my Radio 2 badge.


I took a photo of the bar, because Anna and I actually had an alcoholic drink. If you knew us but at all, you’d know how unusual that is!

And then we had a cup of tea, and all was well with the world.

We went over to see Ward Thomas on the BBC Introducing Stage while Paloma Faith was on the main stage. I like Paloma Faith, but I love Ward Thomas, and I was so happy that I got to see them! I’m going to see them on their Homegrown Tour with The Shires in November, but there was no way I was missing the chance to see them here. They were incredible; so smiley and lovely, and their music is just amazing. They sound as though they have flown straight in from Nashville, while they are actually from Hampshire, and they got the whole crowd clapping and dancing. They are just awesome, and if you want to take a look at their performance of their song Push for the Stride, you can see the video here (I can see my hat in the video!). As you can see from the photo, I also got to see Janice Long. I thought it was going to be Bob Harris who was introducing them, but it wasn’t him in the end. I was only slightly disappointed.


Ward Thomas liked my photo on Instagram too. I’m totally in love with them.

Jeff Lynne’s ELO were the headline act, but unfortunately we had to leave about fifteen minutes into their set so I could catch the last train. To be honest, we probably could have stayed another twenty minutes, but I hate panicking about getting home, and so I was much happier to see a few of their songs and then leave. We were also quite a distance from the stage, and although they sounded great, I was happy to wait until I got home and watch them on the red button. I was hoping I’d hear either of my two favourite songs, Livin’ Thing or Don’t Bring Me Down, but when it got to the time we had to leave and they hadn’t played either, I just gave up. As we were leaving, Livin’ Thing started! So I heard it as we left the park, and I had a good old sing along, and then I did so again when I watched it again!

I had a really great day; great music, great company, and perfectly nice weather. Also, I got to see a lot of Radio 2 DJs, and that’s never a bad thing!

A Love Letter to… BBC Radio 2

Dear Radio 2

My love for you is not something I am particularly shy about. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love to listen to Radio 2, because I go on about it all the time.

My enthusiasm is something that is ingrained, because while I was growing up, you were the constant soundtrack to my life at home. My mum loved the radio, and Radio 2 was her station of choice. As a housewife, and with six children to bring up, she seemed to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so the radio went on first thing in the morning, and stayed on until she was finally able to sit down and watch some television in the evening. This habit has rubbed off on me; while I don’t spend all day in the kitchen, when I am at home, the radio goes on and stays on. I also listen a lot on the iPlayer Radio app – Chris Evans wakes me up, and Janice Long accompanies me as I fall asleep.

For me, your appeal lays in the DJs. Radio 2 is full of men and women (though too few women between 6.30am and 8.00pm, I have to say) who really know their stuff. They know about music, and they are seasoned professionals when it comes to radio broadcasting.  I’ve had a think about it, and I think my top five are:

  • Simon Mayo (but of course)
  • Bob Harris (runs Mr Mayo a pretty close second)
  • Chris Evans
  • Janice Long
  • Liza Tarbuck

So along with the DJs, who feel like friends because of the amount of time I spend listening to them (and the fact that I go out of my way to try and get all of them to mention me on air – so far I’ve got Simon Mayo, Janice Long and Steve Wright on that particular list!), I do of course love the music you play. Sometimes I think that certain songs stick around on the playlist for marginally too long – Coldplay’s A Sky Full of Stars and the Englebert Humperdink and Cliff Richard duet, to name but two. But generally, I think the music is wonderful: the perfect mix of classic and modern. Real variety, unlike a certain commercial station whose tagline is ‘More Music Variety’, and then seems to be a loop of the same twenty or so songs. .

And of course, we now have the Playlister button, something that has made my life immeasurably more fun. I know this isn’t a Radio 2-specific innovation, but it’s where I use it the most, because my radio/app/online player is tuned to Radio 2 more than anything else. Much, much more!

I love you, Radio 2. Never change. Or if you do, make changes that will ensure you remain the best radio station in the world (but never take Simon Mayo off. Drivetime wouldn’t be the same without him), and I’ll promise to love you forever.

Love Jane

A Love Letter to… is an ongoing series in which I profess my love for something or someone.