Over the hills and far away, the Radiotubby comes out to play and tells his listeners they're "weasel slime". Chris Moyles might be the best DJ since Dave Lee Travis, and the rudest fat guy since Bernard Manning. "I don't wish to upset people," he confides. "But at the end of the day, * 'em"
Excuse me, you're speaking to the saviour of Radio 1, so show me some respect you little weasel slime. Come on, learn how it's done, monkey face, line two". It's 5.45am on a Thursday morning, and Chris Moyles has just got up to speed. On air today for over an hour and a half, it's time for the phone-in, What's the Word? Callers have to complete supermodel Caprice's sentence, "My video is called Caprice _____". Shrift is certainly short with any listener who thinks they don't have to make the effort, who doesn't shout the established greeting 'COME ONNNN!' or 'STRAP ON THIIIIIIIS!' Today's winner is a trucker in Leeds who shouts a lot and his answer makes no sense. "My next video is called Caprice does Buffy Davies" Throughout the show, Chris is tirelessly rude.
Suspects in just two and a half hours include Cleopatra ("morons"); Richard Littlejohn ("an absolute ____head"); Courtney Cox ("looks like a bag of old knackers"); recites his pleasure at Geri Spice calling him a "wanker"; he keeps referring to his (straight) producer as gay and is now in trouble with the 5.30am news woman, George. Yesterday he surprised her by putting her ex-boyfriend on air and letting them chat (he is a mutual friend). Today she is annoyed, despite Chris' reassurances: "I'm a friend on the inside." Her ex-boyfriend rings Chris, then rings her, then rings Chris back to confirm that she is not happy. "At least I didn't say she had big, pendulous breasts" he announces (off air), before turning to the Deluxe photographer who is snapping away - "Don't make me look gay, will you?"
Chris Moyles refers to himself as the saviour of Radio 1. There's quite a bit of evidence to back up his bravado. Since his debut in May '97 he's put on 250,000 listeners to his post-graveyard slot, got nominated for Sony's Radio DJ of the Year Award, been given the 10am-1pm Saturday programme and whenever he fills in for his holidaying daytime colleagues they
probably start checking the small print in their contracts.
Chris is 24, but his show belies his years - his experience, cynicism and penchant for le humour de toilette give him the aura of a grand master of invention. Yet this also lends an old-fashioned tone to his programme. A little like Chris Evans, but not so eager to please. A little bit like Bernard Manning, actually, but not so charmless. Chris' style harks back to the sort of 'personality' DJ that Radio 1 excelled at, and that Capital Radio thrives on, rather than the intense music-and-then-some 'after the break Shed 7's tour dates' style of the Jo Whiley and Steve Lamacqs of this world. Chris is, in essence, old school Radio 1 but with youth and enthusiasm on his side.
Radio 1 Controller Andy Parfitt poached him from London's Capital Radio, where he did a Saturday-night phone-in show for a year. Parfitt explains his appeal, "He's genuine. Our audience tell us they like people keeping it real. Chris doesn't pretend, when he's excited or funny it's really happening, he has a gift. He's a very funny man, the sort of bloke you want to go to the pub with".
Parfitt took the place of Matthew Bannister, the man responsible for chucking out the old-school Smashey and Nicey-style DJs and bringing in youngsters who actually liked music. Radio 1 was "music. And then some" as the ill-informed youthspeak of the posters told us. Gone was the mindless "and a funny thing happened to me on the way to the bathroom" style
commentary of the senior DJs. They were replaced with presenters who were young - and in many cases very little else. The Lisa I'Ansons, Nicky Campbells, Simon Mayos, Kevin Greenings and Dave Pearces didn't even have the cheese appeal of someone like Simon Bates, although they still had the same joke books. While in many ways creating a modern radio station is all about creating a brand, a homogenous identity with which people know where they stand, Radio 1 was in danger of sending its audience to sleep. While Parfitt may deny it, Moyles is a kick up the pants of Radio 1. He has become notorious for slagging off his daytime contemporaries: claiming that Nicky Campbell visits prostitutes, calling Mark Goodier's wife a "dog" and relentlessly teasing Simon Mayo. Indeed, there is something curious about a corporation putting so much faith in someone whose main shtick is running it down.
It's like if Tony Blair appointed Dennis Skinner as his party spokesman. Then again, it's an example of a classic corporate tactic: emasculate your critics by employing them - it kind of takes the fun out of rubbishing Radio 1 if they are paying people to do it for you. Nevertheless or perhaps because of this, Parfitt is backing Moyles big-time, "He's going to be a big star, in his own right and for Radio 1."
Chris Moyles is now asking the photographer to make him look thin. As a record plays he is trying to relate the early '80s Tip Top artificial cream advert to the assembled audience - off air. Our Saviour goes on air at 4am every weekday morning with his two disciples: 'Comedy Dave', sound engineer turned official pal and Ben Cooper; mentioned above. Neither can remember the talking fruitbowl of said commercial. It might be so early that even animals aren't up yet, but with Mr Moyles one is always convinced it's 7.30pm and the second round is just being bought. On air, we get a bit of banter about the Lynx advert where the weedy bloke in the lift stands next to a saucy woman. Ben fancies her, and wants to get her on the show. Chris talks about being sick in the back of taxis, does a burping thing and uses the phrase "stark bollock naked".
"Did you just say...?" questions Dave as we go into a record.
"Uh?" says Chris, suddenly worried that his wrists are going to be slapped by the Powers That Be. "Well," he reasons, "the only people listening to the show are probably stark bollock naked."
However, some bigwigs have been listening in. Tonight's the night of the annual Sony Radio Awards. Jo Whiley has also been nominated by an industry panel for Best DJ. Chris is convinced she's going to win, because "she's a media darling at the moment". He is warning listeners he may not come in tomorrow, as he's going to be drinking a lot. Chris is suddenly getting a lot of attention, being the only Radio 1 DJ who seems to have any personality, who actually has the gall to say what he thinks. He enjoys getting up people's noses, he does it for a living. Forget the music, man, he was born to give offence. Strangely, Chris has only had one complaint upheld, after a woman-caller faked an orgasm on air. "I personally get pissed off about it," he says, "Because what's the world coming to when a woman can't fake an orgasm? Girl power, know what I mean? It was probably a man complaining 'cause he'd never heard one before."
Chris is sitting at his desk, upstairs in the Radio 1 building. Quite frankly it is a horrible place. An old BBC lot near Broadcasting House loaned out to the youngsters. The offices are a complete mess. The two studios are in the basement. "It's a crappy building," says Chris. "The
air-conditioning doesn't work and when the tubes go by the studio rattles. If you're doing a link on air you can literally hear the rumble."
He refuses to start the interview until he has stopped playing Space Invaders on his computer, as he says he is doing extraordinarily well. On the floor by his chair is a plastic bowl with a black Lycra bra in it - two gifts from 'fans'. On the cupboard behind are some jars containing pretend foetuses suspended in brightly coloured water, and a dildo. Each from fans, or "the
nutters" as he refers to them as. Moyles has stood in for holidaying DJs on many of the Radio 1 shows now. He does a Sky 1 show called Showbiz Weekly. He's doing a week of the Radio 1 roadshow in August. He's got a platform, and he's going to stand on it. For a very long time indeed, until the whole world takes notice - as the Saviour of broadcasting. "We try and do the best show we can every day," he says. "To make each show better than the last. To make sure it's the best show on the air so we can get the best slot, wherever that is."
Chris wanted to be Benny Hill when he was a child; he loved watching him on the telly "That was my first inkling of showbiz," he says, but he remembers it was hearing Gary Davies on the radio and thinking, "what a great job to have", that revealed his true vocation. He loved Steve Wright In The Afternoon, a show which got moved to the Breakfast slot in 1994 for a year,
then Steve left and Chris Evans took over. Moyles was a "nice jolly happy-go-lucky friendly kid.
I'm really textbook; I was the joker in school. My french teacher once said to my mother, 'There's no problem with Chris, just that he doesn't do any work. He'd be excellent at French if he actually cared. He's more interested in staring out of the window and shouting, "It's snowing!" to the rest of the class." He joined the cub scouts "for about five minutes... but I thought it was rubbish" and hated sport. He didn't go through a rebel phase and at one moment was certain he was adopted. "I was absolutely convinced. I just thought I was so different to my parents they couldn't be my real ones."
Chris first got his DJ break in Top Shop in Leeds, at 14. Every Saturday afternoon, while the resident DJ used his Leeds season ticket, Chris would be Entertaining the shoppers. He enjoyed the job, the DJ booth was just by the girls' chang ing rooms and he used to watch "Sharon shuffling out in a skimpy dress to show Tracey".
Around this time he worked on Hospital Radio with a bunch of other whippersnappers. It wasn't the spot to perfect his shock-jock technique. The worst thing he did, he remembers, is pee in a coke can because the toilet was too far away.
He got five GCSEs then joined Radio Aire in Leeds. He did the Saturday late show and filled in for people on holiday From Radio Aire he went to Luxembourg, then Radio Trent, where he was dropped. "The boss told me it wasn't working out. He was an arse. It was a * great show."
Over the next couple of years he worked on two other locals, spending his time sending out tapes to other stations at an incessant rate. A radio insider tells that Greater London radio have "a whole cupboard full of Chris's tapes". After sending one such tape Chris went to see Capital Radio, London's popular, commercial chart-orientated station. They offered him a job "in Portsmouth or somewhere" so he declined the offer. Eighteen months later, they proposed he take over the late-night Saturday show. After a year at Capital he got the call from Parfitt and took Radio One's early morning shift.
"I'm a breath of fresh air" he says, continuing our interview over breakfast in the hotel next to
Broadcasting House. He is chewing on a bit of bacon. "They need me to come and kick the station up the arse, that's what they hired me to do. What do I bring to the station? Me and my little world, everything that goes with it including big breasted women, crap competitions, the word crap - been missing for far too long - dwarves, dwarf tossings off bridges... my world. I'm the saviour of broadcasting." He doesn't smile.
How does the corporation react to you being rude about other DJs? "Have I been rude?" His eyes are wide and mouth open. "To who?" Simon Mayo. "We praise him to the ground... I may have mentioned his church background and the fact that he smells of church because he's always in there. Luckily he laughed."
And Mark Goodier? "I genuinely can't remember what I said." Hm. "Somebody told me what it was and I'm sure I wouldn't have said that, because I've never met Mark Goodier's wife... Apparently I said his wife was a bit of a dog. Don't bring that up - Mark's just about calmed down about the whole thing."
Nicky Campbell? "Nicky was upset because I said something about him and prostitutes - 'he visits prostitutes but he doesn't get the right idea because he goes for a chat and wastes the opportunity'. It was hardly an amusing line, I must admit. But he heard about it and had a bit of a go at me in front of the office in front of everybody one day"
And you were rotten about teasing George the newsreader about her ex-boyfriend, and now she's upset. "It doesn't make matters easy when you've got Dave reminding her about what I said yesterday which she actually didn't hear until Dave mentioned it. That pissed me off 'He said you were a fat cow!' - cheers Dave.
"I don't wish to make people upset," he con tinues, eyes still wide. "But at the end of the day * 'em. If you take yourself that too * seriously then you deserve to die in hell anyway. Nicky Campbell should know better than to have a go at me because I'll ruin the guy's career. Apart from that... I believe his marriage is going very very well. This time round."
Of course, Chris gets hate mail. And the nutters. "All the stereotypes. A woman writing to us completely off her head; thought I was her ex boyfriend. We have a stalker, a crazed fan who comes to the pub and sits with us. He has a shrine in his bedroom to Dave and myself. He looks like the lead singer of Hanson; he's a double."
Chris spends his afternoons in the boozer, wnting stuff for the next show. (He's friends with lots of the people at Radio1 so the glamorous Zoe Ball and the man on before him, Clive Warren, often join him for a pint.) Most DJs rely on scriptwriters to come up with little items, collect newsworthy stories and compile quizzes etc. Most of this, says Chris, he does himself. Today the team have a hangover, after spending an impromptu seven hours in the pub from 3pm the day before. Even at breakfast, Chris is talking about why 999 is the number for the emergency services, like he's still in the pub. He can't get round the fact that it was originally created to calm people down, because it takes the longest to dial on an old-style phone. Chris, one imagines, has always got to be right.
According to Parfitt, Radio 1 research has dis covered the listeners have picked up on this dog with bone quality too. "Sometimes he goes on and on following the same point... he won't let go" During the show, Moyles keeps looking to myself and the photographer to see if we are getting the jokes. "You're very quiet, aren't you?" he frowns. Despite the eager confidence, there's a side to him that is very nervous. I tell him that some of his show could be taken as sexist. He calls women dogs, and he enjoys humiliating newsreader George on air. Just like your crap boss might do before you take him to court, eh?
He looks serious.
"You're reading too much into it if you start to think along those lines. Male, female, fat, thin, dwarf, tallest person in world... doesn't matter If you've got a spot we'll point at it. Some of it is obviously pretty stupid, deliberately over the top, some of it people don't get. Dave called women 'chicks' once and someone complained. But Dave called them chicks." Dave is not, it has to be said, a particularly macho sort of man.
Chris already has his satellite TV show and the next step for him is proper television ("and some advert voiceovers before I'm famous so no one knows it's me"). DJs never become properly famous until they get on the box. The only thing Chris is concerned with is being able to control his own show - to create it himself. With his comedy being hardly of a surreal nature, such as that of former radio voices Chris Morris and Victor Lewis Smith, there'll be plenty of
TV offers. However, his jokes are ancient. Today they include one about a tattoo on a penis and a lobster going into a pub. He tells this to Kevin Greening on the Breakfast Show, who is waiting for the ever late Zoe Ball to turn up. "I'll be your bitch" wails Chris, rather a little too eagerly. He doesn't "do" dinner parties, he still gets excited by the free booze at aftershow parties for bands. He doesn't go drinking with Chris Evans. Asked whether he can see himself as a business-man with his own production company he replies:
"Not yet, but I can see it happening - but only to make money". Do you want to make money?
"Yeah, I do. I want to be comfortable, but I'm not in it for money, that's coincidental... I don't now
where I'm going. I'd like to stay at Radio 1, maybe do TV, maybe write a book...
The Saviour of R1 has to rush off. He's got a lot of meetings today. One with the Roadshow people, during which he has warned he is going to ask for a crane, just because he wants one. Then he has to film this week's Showbiz Weekly, then he's going home to iron his trousers and have a kip before the Sony Awards (he comes second to Whiley). He walks to the lifts in the hotel and spots an awful canvas on the wall - white with four carefully placed slashes on it.
"Modern art - it's a load of crap, isn't it? I had a conversation with my brother about it and he said that that's the point, that anything can be art. And I was just totally stumped, I couldn't say any thing to that."
A rare instance, indeed.