Smashie and Nicey

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Smashie (right) and Nicey (left)

Mike Smash and Dave Nice were two fictional television characters who first appeared in the early 1990s TV sketch show Harry Enfield's Television Programme. They were played by comedians Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield respectively.

They are parodies of a certain style of ageing celebrity BBC Radio 1 disc jockey who started out with the station in the 1960s and stayed there until the mid-1990s. The characters incorporated the personalities, character traits and lifestyles of several different real life DJs. The characters reference such DJs as Tony Blackburn, Dave Lee Travis, Simon Bates, Alan Freeman, Mike Read, Peter Powell, Noel Edmonds and Jimmy Savile amongst others.

Enfield's parody of Radio One's increasing irrelevance to the youth audience it supposedly catered for was a factor in 1990's controller of Radio One Matthew Bannister's decision to terminate the employment of many older presenters.

The characters had their own TV special in 1994 in which Enfield retired them, reflecting the changes at Radio One. However they returned for Comic Relief in 1997. Whitehouse and Enfield also reprised their roles to present a special edition of Pick of the Pops in 2007, commemorating the 40th birthday of Radio 2 following the death of Alan Freeman.[1] They have been called "one of the great comic creations of our time"[2]

Development[edit]

Harry Enfield stated that his choice of characters for his show was a calculated move to gain the biggest possible audience, by creating archetypes people could relate to. Whereas he aimed many of his characters at a young audience, Smashie and Nicey were created for a segment of the programme designed to appeal to "older people". Enfield described them as "a bit more highbrow" than the other characters.[3]

Character profile[edit]

"Smashie and Nicey" are two disc jockeys working at Radio Fab FM, a parody of BBC Radio 1. Each sketch would involve the two talking a stereotypically, obsessively self-regarding disc jockey spiel: reminiscing about their careers, modestly shrugging off their many works of "chairidee", and generally being bland and irrelevant, before putting on their favourite record, "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" by Bachman–Turner Overdrive. The characters reference a stereotype of late 80s Radio One DJs, in that they are egotistical, bland, and out of touch with their younger listenership.

Mike Smash[edit]

Mike Smash, played by Whitehouse, was loosely based on Tony Blackburn, although he resembles Noel Edmonds and Mike Read in appearance, his vocalisation had similarities to Mike Read and pop star Cliff Richard. His DJ persona is shown as more lightweight and chirpy than Nice, although he is revealed as a troubled individual in private. The television special introduced elements of Noel Edmonds and Jimmy Savile into Smashie's character, with the Nice character played out similar stories to those from the lives of Mike Read, Bill Grundy and Kenny Everett.[4] In the 1994 TV special, reflecting real events at Radio One, the DJs were sacked from Fab FM, in a manner that deliberately mirrored Simon Bates' and Dave Lee Travis' departure from Radio 1, being replaced with young, 'irreverent' DJs. They were banished to "Radio Quiet"[5] and left to reminisce about the good old days and try to pretend to themselves that they were still a powerful cultural force. One notable catchphrase used by Smash was "lodda work for cheriddy [charity]".[6]

Dave Nice[edit]

Quasi-Australian-accented ageing rocker Dave (short for, it was eventually revealed, Davenport rather than David) Nice was a mixture of the then Radio 1 Rock Show presenter Alan Freeman (whose radio persona deliberately bordered on self-parody) and Simon Bates, with elements of Dave Lee Travis and Tommy Vance. Nice — played by Enfield — was portrayed as more aggressive and angry than Smash, liking heavy rock and being very opinionated. In the 1994 TV special Smashie and Nicey: The End of an Era he was shown to be a misanthropic alcoholic, and of ambiguous sexuality. Later he was outed as gay, and in later years became more aggrieved and bigoted, complaining about immigrants.

Appearances[edit]

The characters first appeared in Harry Enfield's Television Programme in 1990 and continued to appear in the series for four years. The characters became very popular, appearing in adverts, featuring on their own compilation album, Let's Rock,[7] and presenting the 30th anniversary special edition of Top of the Pops on New Year's Day 1994, They were deliberately dropped by Enfield in 1995 after the changes at Radio 1 had rendered the satire pointless, although they returned for Comic Relief in 1997.

Whitehouse and Enfield also reprised their roles to present a special edition of Pick of the Pops on 30 September 2007, commemorating the 40th birthday of Radio 2 and following the death of Alan Freeman.[1] Dale Winton made the opening announcement but was quickly evicted by Smashie and Nicey who proceeded to play the top 40 from 27 September 1967.[8] During the show Nicey accidentally confessed to being gay (which was previously alluded to in the 1994 special, and may be an allusion to Alan Freeman's admission, also in 1994, that he had been bisexual before he became celibate). At the end of the show he emotionally begged the Controller of BBC Radio to give him a job, "even if it's only on Digital Radio 8" (a fictional station).

1994 TV special[edit]

A TV special named Smashie and Nicey: The End of an Era[9] was shown on BBC1 in 1994. The special began in the 1960s, with Nicey presenting Blue Peter and dancing on stage with Freddie and the Dreamers in doctored footage of the band's appearance on the show performing "You Were Made For Me", interviewing The Beatles, and becoming a DJ on offshore station "Radio Geraldine" where Smashie was initially his teaboy. It combined elements from the careers of several real DJs, with Smashie seen hosting a Saturday night TV show modelled on Noel's House Party, and having turned his show into a plea for his wife (named specifically as "Tessa") to come back after she had left him, repeatedly playing Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey" (Tony Blackburn did precisely this in the mid-1970s when his wife, the actress Tessa Wyatt, left him). Similarly, Nicey was revealed to have advertised "Deptford Draylons", alluding to Alan Freeman's ads for Brentford Nylons, to have interviewed the Sex Pistols (in doctored footage of their famous interview with Bill Grundy) and to have fronted The Dave Nice Video Show, a parody of The Kenny Everett Video Show. Freeman himself made a cameo appearance, as did Blackburn, David Jensen and John Peel.

Relevance to Radio 1 at the time[edit]

The sketches proved very popular, largely because they genuinely reflected the image that Radio 1 had at the time. Much of the station's output was widely considered dull and unchallenging, and the average age of both listeners and presenters had risen above thirty, when it was intended to cater to a young audience.[10] When Matthew Bannister arrived at Radio 1 in 1993 with a mission to rejuvenate the station, he referred directly to the characters in stating that his goal was to rid it of its "Smashie and Nicey" image. Whitehouse later expressed his unease after being congratulated by BBC Director-General John Birt for assisting this process stating that Birt was a greater menace than any of the DJs who were "harmless".[citation needed] In 1993, Dave Lee Travis commented on the characters in Q magazine, saying "This Smashie and Nicey crap that they keep bringing up. Is that funny? It doesn't raise a smile with me."[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Plunkett, John (26 June 2007). "Smashie and Nicey return for Radio 2". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Rampton, James (20 September 1994). "The Paul Whitehouse Experience". The Independent. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (25 September 2010). "Harry Enfield: 'I don't like doing me'". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "Smashy and nicey, the end of an era". YouTube. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Smashey and Nicey – Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse". YouTube. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "The Paul Whitehouse experience: He was the blond one with the big teeth who did a 'lodda work for cheriddy' - Smashie to Harry Enfield's Nicey. What was his name again? It's a question that won't be asked if Paul Whitehouse's new show is as big a hit as James Rampton predicts". The Independent. September 20, 1994. Retrieved January 29, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Let's Rock With Smashey & Nicey". Amazon. Amazon.com. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Smashie and Nicey – Radio 2 Pick of the Pops – No Songs – Just the Chat – Part 2 of 3". YouTube, 21 Apr 2010. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Smashie and Nicey: The End of an Era". BBC iPlayer: BBC 2 programmes. BBC. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  10. ^ Garfield, Simon (1999). The Nation's Favourite. England: Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-19735-4.