Back in the 1980s, Sundays were rubbish. You might think that they are rubbish now, but believe me, you haven’t seen anything. Back then, shops were not allowed to open on Sundays – apart from little, charge you an arm and a leg for everything, corner stores, pubs and bars had to close at 10pm and there were only 4 television channels to choose from.
Sunday evenings were, therefore, the pits. In fact, Sunday evenings were so bad that most students stayed in and worked. That bad.
The evening only had two redeeming features. The first was the coverage of the previous week’s American Football, but that only covered the Autumn term (that’s ‘Fall’ to those of you who come from countries where most of the population find ‘autumn’ a bit difficult to spell).
The other was the Annie Nightingale Show on Radio 1. Bear in mind that FM reception didn’t reach this country until the early 90s and that you therefore had to listen to Annie through the crackles of the Medium Wave band – 275MW or 285 MW, in fact – and you’ll understand just how brilliant the show was. In fact, I cannot think of another radio show that has been consistently as good.
What made it so good was that it played the kind of music that most people wanted to hear without being as far out as Peel could be at times. Plus Peel’s show was on when most of us were in the Students Union watching bands, whereas the Nightingale show was at a perfect time for most of us, as it finished just before we needed to head to the Union for the last hour of drinking.
The show even had its own language. The biggest insult was to call someone a ‘Durannie’ and, because the listener input all came from letters, the arguments could range over several weeks.
I had a letter read out on the show once. It was my second ever brush with fame. And, needless to say, it was read out on the one week that I couldn’t listen, as I was at a family event in Banbury. I even remember what the letter said:
The saxophonist on Hazel O’Connor’s ‘Will You’ is Wesley McGooghan. What kind of Durannie are you not to know that?
Yes, I was that proud to be a very very small part of the show. (I still am, just ask my wife)
Annie Nightingale ended the show in, I think, my second year at university. Which was fine by me, as in my third year I didn’t have any classes on a Monday and was often away on a Sunday night anyway. She’s still on Radio 1, though, and just celebrated 40 years at the station with a party that featured sets from the likes of Fatboy Slim, Primal Scream and the latest white boy rapper from London, Professor Green. But no Hazel O’Connor, which was clearly an oversight.