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Friday, 16 February, 2001, 15:20 GMT
Ode to the Golden Hour

One of the pillars of modern British broadcasting, Radio 1's Golden Hour, this week finally packed away its stylus. What sort of Top 10 line-up would be a fitting tribute?

10. Do You Remember The First Time? - Pulp
Well, probably not. And if by any chance you do, you're very unlikely still to be listening to Radio 1. As this extract (below) from a copy of the Radio Times of 1978 shows, not only is the Golden Hour already a fixed point of the output, so are the giants like Tony Blackburn and the Hairy Cornflake (aka DLT)...

Radio Times from 1978
9. Smooth Operator - Sade
...and Simes, the DJ formally known as Simon Bates. He joined Radio 1 in the late 1970s, and was on for hours every weekday until he left the station in the "reorganisation" under Matthew Bannister in 1993. Famed more for Our Tune, the chance for traumatised folk to share their pain with the nation. We shared it. The website of the station for which he currently works says, apparently without irony: "The Sunday Times placed him at number 97 in its Top 100 Icons of the Twentieth Century. Click here for a full size picture of Simon." Big respect.

8. Lunatics Are Taking Over The Asylum - Funboy Three
Think of the Golden Hour and you just can't help thinking of the golden days of Radio 1. Tales of these days are endless fun, as Simon Garfield's book The Nation's Favourite about the upheaval at the station showed. The book was superbly turned into a one-man show by Alex Lowe. (Tales of fellow DJs waiting in underground car parks to beat up Golden Hour hosts were the choice extracts)

Simon Bates
Simon Bates: Larger than life. But what was the year?
7. Happy Hour - The Housemartins
So Simon Mayo took over the morning slot and with it, the Golden Hour, when Simon Bates left. Having had a very successful five years hosting the breakfast show, Mayo helped reposition the station and became a reliable fixture when all around was in chaos (Steve Wright quitting, Chris Evans coming and going, etc). At one stage Mayo, known by some as the Vicar of Radio 1, was described by NME as the Radio 1 DJ it was all right to like. Pulling a regular audience of more than 6 million, he had an increase of 625,000 listeners in the last quarterly figures.

6. It's A Mystery - Toyah
Nothing stands still, though. Perhaps teetering under the weight of the Smashie and Nicey legacy, the Golden Hour went through a number of "rebrandings", and ended its days actually called The Mystery Years, in which two half-hour selections of old records were played, and which the audience were invited to guess. We knew what it was, though. It was the Golden Hour. (Just as we always knew, when Radio 1 flirted with calling itself 1FM, that it was always Radio 1.)

Simon Mayo
Simon Mayo: All right to like shock
5. I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me - Nik Kershaw
Pass into golden oldie land is a hazard for former Radio 1 DJs. Mayo, 42, said recently: "There's always the chance you'll end up playing oldies on a station in Swindon." So Simon Mayo is taking the alternative route by following Nicky Campbell and Kevin Greening on to BBC Radio5Live. He will be presenting an afternoon news and sports show.

4. Come Together - Beatles
The world where there were only a limited number of TV stations (four) and national radio stations (four) meant unless, as a younger person, you were listening to a local station, you had to be listening to Radio 1. And even though it is enjoying high listening figures at the moment, those days of being alone in the market and a shared experience for nearly everyone of the same age are over.

3. This Is The Modern World - The Jam
Chris Moyles on Roadshow in Brighton in 1999
So the Golden Hour goes the same way of the Radio 1 Roadshow - into history
So Radio 1 had to be a broad church, playing "oldies" as well as new pop and John Peel (see the Radio Times cutting again). If you want to hear "oldies" nowadays, there are really quite a lot of places you can go for them. Whole radio stations, in fact.

2. Don't You Forget About Me - Simple Minds
Well, who knows? A classic format may well have such an enduring appeal that when, in five years time there is a huge retro 1990s revival, the Golden Hour may be able to stalk the airwaves once more.

1. Don't Look Back In Anger - Oasis
Ah, they were good times, really. This was the final record played in the Golden Hour/Mystery Years on Friday by Simon Mayo. Seems fitting, really.

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16 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Mayo's Radio 1 farewell
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