Simon Bates

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Simon Bates
Simon Philip Bates

(1946-12-17) 17 December 1946 (age 74)
Birmingham, England
TV presenter
Years active1971–present

Simon Philip Bates (born 17 December 1946)[1][2] is an English disc jockey and radio presenter. Between 1976 and 1993 he worked at BBC Radio 1, presenting the station's weekday mid-morning show for most of this period. He later became a regular presenter on Classic FM. He hosted the breakfast show on Smooth Radio from January 2011 until March 2014, and took on the same role at BBC Radio Devon from January 2015[3] until January 2017.[4] He was the first presenter of BBC Two's Food and Drink programme in 1982.

Early life and career[edit]

Bates was raised in Suffolk and Shropshire and educated at Adams' Grammar School before working for radio stations in New Zealand and Australia. Bates returned to the UK in 1971 to join the BBC, initially working for BBC Radio 4 as a continuity announcer and newsreader[5] and then joining BBC Radio 2 in 1972 also reading the news and announcing as well as presenting a number of music programmes including "Sweet 'n' Swing", "Night Ride", "Late Night Extra" and, from March 1974, "The Early Show".[6] Bates left BBC Radio 2 in January 1976 and joined BBC Radio 1 in May the same year standing in for Tom Browne to host the Sunday Top 20 show before presenting the Sunday morning show two months later

Broadcasting career[edit]

BBC Radio 1[edit]

Initially a weekend presenter playing new pop records, Bates took over the weekday mid-morning programme in November 1977 and remained for 16 years, with up to 11 million listeners.

Two long-running features of his programme were "The Golden Hour" and "Our Tune". Bates inherited "The Golden Hour" from Tony Blackburn. Listeners had to guess the year from records played and clues given by Bates.

"Our Tune" ran from 1980 at 11 am. Over Nino Rota's theme to Franco Zeffirelli's film Romeo and Juliet (1968), Bates read a sentimental story sent by a listener, ending with a record chosen by the correspondent. In "The Birthday File" Bates played music by stars celebrating a birthday.

Bates' programme featured Jonathan King to comment about music and interviewed stars at the BRIT Awards. In 1989 his summer series "Round The World" was broadcast from a different country each day. He went round the world in 67 days and raised £300,000 for Oxfam.[citation needed] Bates presented the Sunday afternoon Top 40 from 2 April 1978 to 26 August 1979 and from 8 January 1984 to 23 September 1984. He presented BBC TV's Top of the Pops regularly from 1980 to 1988. He presented the station's roadshow before retiring from the duties after his round-the-world trip in 1989.

When Matthew Bannister arrived to modernise Radio 1, Bates was thought to be under threat. Bannister says in The Nation's Favourite that he feared Bates's supposed subversive influence rather than his broadcasting style[citation needed]. Bates resigned in summer 1993 before the station could dismiss him, playing "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)" by Reunion as his last record .

Bates was on all five national BBC stations – apart from his stint at BBC Radio 1 and his broadcasts for BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 4, he also presented a Prom concert on BBC Radio 3 in 1987 and presented a digest of the daily papers on the original BBC Radio 5 (now BBC Radio Five Live) in 1990.

After Radio 1[edit]

After leaving Radio 1 he worked for Irish-based long wave station Atlantic 252, reviving "Our Tune" and then presented a TV version of the feature daily for BBC1's Good Morning with Anne and Nick in 1994–95 and later for Sky One.

During these few years he also became the face of the VSC often seen before films that had come out on rental video, describing the classification of the film. This was lampooned by comedians such as Harry Enfield[7] and Ben Elton. Bates appeared himself in a parody of these announcements in adverts for the video game Primal Rage.[8]

From September 1995 to April 1996, Bates broadcast for Talk Radio UK (now TalkSport) as the breakfast show presenter. He was then heard on London's Liberty Radio as mid-morning presenter until 1997.

In 1997, Bates joined Classic FM, presenting the weekly Classic Romance programme and was also heard on BBC Southern Counties Radio presenting a Sunday morning show until late 1998. In addition, between 1996 and 1998, Bates presented a show on the Classic Gold Network on weekday evenings. He then moved to London's LBC as breakfast host from 1999 to 2002.

Classic FM[edit]

Bates originally appeared on Classic FM in 1997, presenting the weekly Classic Romance show. In mid-2002 he was offered his first daily slot, presenting the drivetime show. From June 2003 he hosted the Classic FM weekday breakfast show and the one-hour "Classic FM at the Movies" programme, discussing films and film music on Sunday evening. In September 2006, his programme's hours changed from 7 – 11 am to 8 am – noon. In 2010 Bates was moved to mid morning (9 am to 1 pm) and shortly afterwards it was announced he left the station in January 2011 to present a show on Smooth Radio.[9]


As well as his daily show for Classic FM, Bates could also be heard on the Gold Radio Network every Sunday morning from 8 am to noon.

Smooth Radio[edit]

On 17 August 2010, it was announced that from January 2011 Simon Bates would take over as host of the Breakfast Show on Smooth Radio, leaving Classic FM after 13 years of broadcasting.[9] Bates' show replaced local programming on a number of regional radio stations and began on 4 January 2011, except for Scottish stations which continued with locally produced shows.[10] He brought back both "The Golden Hour" and "Our Tune" to the show.[11] "The Golden Hour" airs every day from 9 am to 10 am as it did originally, while Our Tune airs each morning at 8:40 am. Other features in the show include the Thousand Pound Minute, where listeners must answer ten questions correctly within 60 seconds to win £1,000.

In September 2012 the radio industry news website Radio Today reported that Bates had started to present a separate breakfast show for Smooth Radio's sister station, Smooth 70s. Smooth Radio did not publicise the show, but confirmed Bates was providing "a little content" when asked about the programme. The content was "voice tracked" from the main breakfast show.[12]

Bates left Smooth Radio on 21 March 2014.[13]

BBC Radio Devon[edit]

Bates, who as of 2014 lives on a farm in mid-Devon, started hosting the BBC Radio Devon breakfast show from 6:30 am to 10 am on weekdays from 12 January 2015. He also featured the Golden Hour from 9 am to 10 am, the years ranged from 1956 to 2004.[3][14]


Bates left BBC Radio Devon on 8 January 2017 to "move on to other things." Gordon Sparks took over the breakfast show.[4]

On 2 October 2017, Bates participated in Radio 1 Vintage, doing an interview about his time on BBC Radio 1.[15]


In 2020, Bates hired to do the voice over for Channel 5's weekly countdown of the 30 biggest selling singles of one year in the UK (known under a number of titles such as Britains Favourite 80s Songs, The 90s Greatest Hits 1990 -1999, Britain's Biggest 90s Hits and Britain's Favourite 90s Songs).[16][17][18][19][20][21]


  1. ^ "MR SIMON PHILIP BATES director information. Free director information. Director id 902111372". Company Check.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 February 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b Barton, Lyn (2 December 2014). "Simon Bates to join BBC Radio Devon as new voice of breakfast". Western Morning News. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b Martin, Roy (8 January 2017). "Simon Bates leaves BBC Radio Devon Breakfast". Radio Today. Archived from the original on 23 October 2017.
  5. ^ Tracy, Sheila (1983). Who's Who on Radio. World's Work Ltd. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0-437-17600-2.
  6. ^ "BBC Genome Project". Simon Bates with The Early Show. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  7. ^ "BBC Video Ident - 1990's". Archived from the original on 8 July 2015 – via[unreliable source?]
  8. ^ VHS Video vault (24 January 2017). "Primal Rage advert - Simon Bates" – via YouTube.[unreliable source?]
  9. ^ a b "Bates quits Classic for Smooth". Radio Today. 17 August 2010. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  10. ^ Mahoney, Elisabeth (5 January 2011). "Radio head: Smooth Simon Bates". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  11. ^ "Smooth start for Simon Bates". Radio Today. 4 January 2011. Archived from the original on 23 January 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  12. ^ "Simon Bates takes on a new breakfast show". Radio Today. 12 September 2012. Archived from the original on 14 September 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  13. ^ John Plunkett "Simon Bates dropped by Smooth Radio" Archived 2 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine, theguardian, 24 February 2014
  14. ^ "BBC Radio Devon - Simon Bates". BBC. Archived from the original on 11 March 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  15. ^ "BBC Radio 1 - Radio 1 Vintage, Simon Bates: Interview". BBC.
  16. ^ "Britains Favourite 80s Songs: 1987 (S2EP8 Channel 5 Fri 23 Apr 2021)". 19 April 2021.
  17. ^ "Britain's Biggest 90s Hits".
  18. ^ "My5".
  19. ^ "Britain's Favourite 90s Songs Season 1". Radio Times.
  20. ^ "Official Top 40 best-selling songs of 1996".
  21. ^ "Viacom International Studios UK".

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Tom Browne
BBC Radio 1
chart show presenter

2 April 1978 – 26 August 1979
Succeeded by
Tony Blackburn
Preceded by
Tommy Vance
BBC Radio 1
chart show presenter

8 January 1984 – 23 September 1984
Succeeded by
Richard Skinner