Times are changing on the BBC Radio breakfast shows. A little more than two weeks after Greg James replaced Nick Grimshaw on The Radio 1 Breakfast Show, Chris Evans shocked the nation by announcing that he would step down from his own show after eight years to re-join Virgin Radio. If the bookmakers are to be believed, Radio 2 may be about to appoint its first ever permanent female breakfast DJ, marking an important progressive move for the station. Yet, any change of host is likely to change the show’s feeling and could upset the listeners.
However, any regular listeners who are worried about which direction the shows may go in the hands of a new custodian can take solace in not only Evans’ success in replacing the legendary Sir Terry Wogan, but also James’ earlier shows after taking over from the affable Grimshaw. Bringing with him features from his four o’clock show, such as the ’10-minute Takeover’, James has overcome nerves during his first week on the job to produce one of the best radio features in recent years: ‘Pass the Pasty’.
James received a call on the previous Friday from a caller, Sarah, in Aberdeenshire,who delivered the upsetting news that she had never tasted the delicious flavour of a true Cornish pasty. Determined to help all of his listeners, James, the well-known doer of good, who has cycled the length of the country in his ‘Pedal to the Peaks’ challenge for Sport Relief this year, donned his hero’s cape once more and formulated a spectacular mission to gift Sarah with a present to remember.
Kicking off his Monday show, James revealed his intentions to deliver a pasty from Padstow in the depths of Cornwall to Sarah in Aberdeenshire over the course of the week, hoping to finish the challenge before his show ended on Thursday morning. Enlisting the help of his nationwide audience, James undertook his challenge with great eagerness, matched only by the willing participation of all listeners that offered to help the hitchhiking pasty on its odyssey.
Over the course of four days, the pasty edged its way, bit by bit, closer to its final destination, experiencing a wide range of adventures, riding on the world-famous Flying Scotsman train and even speeding its way down a ski slope.
Eventually, the pasty’s date with destiny arrived and it was still an agonising distance away from Sarah’s house. Yet, suddenly a path made itself clear and a willing volunteer was found to drive the pasty to the door. Cue a denouement so tense that even Shakespeare, or perhaps the EastEnders writers, would have struggled to write it. The crowds began to flock to Sarah’s house, complete with a regiment from the Royal Scots and a bagpiper to give the pasty “a proper Scottish welcome”. James could hardly contain his excitement in the studio, communicating with his correspondent on the ground to keep his eager listeners aware of the latest updates.
As the minutes ticked away, the nation awaited for the pasty’s arrival, and it became less and less likely that it would come before James’ 10 o’clock cut-off. The tension continued to build second by second until at about ten minutes before 10, the pasty was finally delivered to its Aberdeenshire terminus. The nation breathed a collective sigh of relief that the journey of the past four days had not been futile; James had triumphed in his quest and the pasty would be tasted
Thankfully, Clara Amfo delayed her own show to allow the nation to listen to Sarah digest her first ever Cornish pasty, granting the local delicacy her seal of approval and completing James’ ambitious task with appropriate absurdity. Such inventiveness from James grabbed his listeners’ attention, stamped his authority on the show and brought together the Great British public in all that makes it brilliantly ridiculous.
Image: Airman St Class Lausanne Morgan via Royal Airforce Lakenheath