The end of Mark and Lard as we know it

Posted on 23 February 2004 in Radio (No comments)

The news that Mark and Lard are to leave Radio 1 is sad, but not entirely unexpected. They've been the subjects of the internet rumour mill for several months no doubt surred on by their own on-air comments. It's been as obvious as the fact that a "carry on" follows a "stop". In a Jim MacDonald styleee. Their musical tastes didn't fit in with the new urbanitte music policy, and their listeners tended to be on the older side. Add to that the fact that they're both now over 40 (you can't be over 40 on Radio 1 unless your John Peel or Annie Nightingale).

So when the news finally came out yesterday, I can't say I was surprised to hear it. What did surprise me is that they're planning on going their separate ways - Mark Radcliffe to BBC Radio 2 and Marc 'Lard' Riley to BBC 6music.

The rumour mill had it that they'd be moving to Radio 2 - it being the place where old Radio 1 DJs get put out to stud if the BBC still wants them. Personally I could never see it. I didn't think the duo - hosts of The Biggest Show - would work on there. I always thought 6music would be a fair better place for the pair to go together.

But as it is, they're not going together.

A little bit of history.

The pair started working together when Marc Riley came in to plug some records on the old Radio 5 show Hit The North around 1990. Marc ended up being a regular fixture on the show and they became close friends, and in 1993 the pair moved to Radio 1 presenting The Graveyard Shift, and they've been at Radio 1 ever since.

So in a way, the fact they're splitting is not surprising when you think about it. It's been a long time together - time to do something different. In one of the few quotes from them on the matter, Lard said it was always the plan that when they left Radio 1, they'd go their separate ways. Lesley Douglas, controller of Radio 2 and 6music said in the press release, that she'd been talking to the duo for several months. One can't help but wonders how long they spent trying to persuade the pair to stay together! No doubt we'll find out one day.

The Boys Are Not Back In Town.

Mark Radcliffe is an accomplished solo presenter, having presented shows on Radio 1 prior to the Graveyard Shift, as well as writing and presenting a plethora of series for Radios 1,2, 4 and BBC7. He's a talented and witty presenter - although his witt is a lot more understated than the more blatent mayhem that he's known for doing with Lard. He'll no doubt do well on Radio 2, and whilst he'll probably still be playing music he doesn't like every now and then, it is at least livable.

Whilst he has had many years of being a sidekick behind him, Marc Riley (as we should probably start calling him) has had much less of a solo career, bar a small number of documentaries and a show on the old Radio 5. Only once did he present solo on Radio 1 - an edition of the afternoon show which featured Damon Albarn as a guest and a few tape recorded pieces of Mark Radcliffe. So its not surprising that of the pair, he's going to the quieter climbs of 6music - it being somewhere where he can do his stuff and find his style in relative piece.

It's also the more interesting station with a playlist that fits a lot better with the pairs musical tastes, and more creative fredom in musical choice. I for one can't wait til he arrives in April to see what delights we get to hear.

Optimistic Speculation.

Whether it's the end full stop of Mark and Lard, well I can't help but feel it's a little to early to say. It's quite possible that the pair will do bits and bats together in the future, but they've also got to prove to the world that they can do solo work successfully. But it's not unknown for people to make a decision then to change their minds later on - Absolutely Fabulous for example has been laid to rest several times. Maybe the right vehicle will come along and they'll grasp it by the horns.

But if it does happen, it's likely to be a few years away. Still, guess I'd better get replacing that Radio 1 preset on my radio set with Radio 2. Don't worry - 6music is already in there.

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