Steve Wright (DJ)
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|Birth name||Stephen Richard Wright|
26 August 1954 |
Greenwich, London, England
|Show||Steve Wright in the Afternoon|
|Station(s)||BBC Radio 2|
|Time slot||14:00–17:00 weekdays|
|Show||Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs|
|Station(s)||BBC Radio 2|
|Time slot||09:00–11:00 Sundays|
|Website||Steve Wright in the Afternoon|
Stephen Richard "Steve" Wright (born 26 August 1954 in Greenwich, London) is a British broadcaster, widely credited for creating the zoo format, with its zany, multi-personality approach. He presents 'Steve Wright in the Afternoon' and 'Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs' on BBC Radio 2. He rose to prominence in the early 1980s while working with Peter Dickson on BBC Radio 1. His childhood ambition was to work in the entertainment business. After a variety of jobs, Wright got his big break in the 1970s at the legendary Radio Luxembourg, where he presented his own nightly show before joining the BBC in 1980 to present the Saturday night slot on Radio 1. He famously moved to daytime on Radio 1 in 1981 with 'Steve Wright in the Afternoon' which revolutionised radio by introducing the zoo format to the UK. Wright has won a stackful of awards, including Best DJ of the Year as voted by readers of The Sun, the Daily Mirror Readers Poll and by Smash Hits in 1994. In 1998, he was awarded TRIC Personality of the Year for his radio programmes.
After moving from the afternoon show to the breakfast show Wright decided to leave Radio 1 in 1995, he was unhappy with the plummeting listening figures of the station due to its restructuring under Radio 1 controller Matthew Bannister, which led to many of the more established DJs leaving the network. In February 1995, he presented a weekend show on the newly-launched Talk Radio. He rejoined the BBC again in April 1996 on Radio 2 presenting 'Steve Wright's Saturday Show' - a morning show of celebrity interviews and music - and 'Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs' which still features the country's favourite love songs and delivers dedications. In 1999 following a shake-up at Radio 2 'Steve Wright in the Afternoon' was revived, which still of course combines top celebrity interviews, Non-Stop Oldies, Factoids and chart hits, every weekday afternoon. On BBC Television Wright has hosted Home Truths, The Steve Wright People Show, Auntie's TV Favourites, Top Of The Pops and TOTP2.
The son of a company director, Wright was educated at Eastwood High School, near Southend-on-Sea, Essex. In the early 1970s he worked behind the scenes at Radio 2, as a Gramophone Librarian. He started broadcasting in 1976 at Thames Valley Radio Radio 210 in Reading, Berkshire alongside Mike Read. In 1979 he joined Radio Luxembourg, and then BBC Radio 1 in 1980, presenting a Saturday evening show, then Saturday morning before moving to Steve Wright in the Afternoon from 1981.
In 1984, Wright took over a Sunday morning show entitled Steve Wright on Sunday, which meant he presented weekday afternoons Mondays to Thursdays only, with Mark Page and Paul Jordan presenting Friday afternoon's show. In 1986 his Sunday morning show ended, and he returned to five afternoons a week.
Steve Wright in the Afternoon on BBC Radio 1
The show became known in its Radio 1 incarnation for its cast of telephone characters created and performed by Gavin McCoy, Peter Dickson, Richard Easter and Phil Cornwell.Like his mentor, Kenny Everett, Wright went out of its way to be irreverent, including stories taken from the Weekly World News. The success led to a hit single, I'll Be Back, released under the name Arnee and the Terminaters. In later years the style changed, dumping most of the characters and instead having a "zoo" format, with spoof guests and comedy sketches. A "posse" of producers and radio staff joined in. This format was new to British radio and marked the beginning of the marginalisation (and eventual departure) of several established Radio 1 DJs over the years that followed.
Characters and sketches
Characters and sketches created for the show included:
- Mr Angry (from Purley): usually ranting down the phone line, ending with "...it makes me so angry... I could throw the phone down!" followed by the receiver crashing down.
- Diamond Geezer: supposed DJ/mixer, and voice for the track "Mr Spoons" (David Spurr)
- The "Down-the-Pan" Daleks: two 'retired' Daleks in improbable domestic situations
- 'Easy Life'
- Dr Fish-Filleter: source of much innuendo about fishy fingers, etc. Had his own 'jingle' sung by Steve and his Posse when the interview had ended ("Fillet of Fish, Fillet of Fish. O' Give me Fish to Fillet!").
- The Boss: a gentleman with a very deep Caribbean voice who only ever said "yes Sir, Mr Wright sir" to everything he was asked.
- Edward the Garrulous Fencing Champion: his catchphrase is "I epee you"
- Mr Food ("...and that's before my tea!")
- Gervais the Hairdresser ("Keep your tongue out!")
- Hopeless Weather Girl: a parody of the brand of 'bimbo'-esque weather girls seen on British television in the late 1980s. She doesn't know much about meteorology.
- Maggot – an odd character with a high pitched voice.
- 'Mick and Keef': not the real Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, but impersonations (played by Phil Cornwell, who later did the characters in Stella Street). Bill Wyman also made occasional appearances.
- David Bowie: again, not the real David Bowie but an impersonation; "Bowie" frequently asked "tell us what the time is" (adjusted slightly at Christmas to "tell us what the Christmas time is").
- Linda Lust: her catchphrase is "Spatula" in a sultry, sensual voice.
- Llama Man: Spoof signature tune: "Llama man, Llama man, does everything a llama can. He can bleat! He can trot! He's got everything a llama's got."
- Motorcycle Courier – who left his motorbike running and would scream "SIGN 'ERE PLEASE!" from his motorcycle helmet regardless of what was asked of him.
- Mr Mad: , would phone in, refer to Steve as "Pal" and would ask "Guess where I'm livin' today?" then proceed to name improbable locations (like inside the mace of the House of Commons or inside Paul McCartney's guitar). Then would end the call with vocal whistles and beeps and his catchphrases were "Ravin' mad, pal!" and "Check up from the neck up".
- Mr Paranoid
- The Parking Man – constantly shouting two instructions 'You're Alright, You're Alright' and 'Left Hand Down' to someone trying to reverse their van into a parking space outside the 'window' of the studio. Would sometimes end in a calamitous crashing followed by silence and then 'You're Alright!'
- The Car Cleaner – would phone, but would be impossible to understand anything he (Wright) was saying as he would be cleaning his car. The noise of the vacuum would drown out the majority of the conversation, leaving only innuendo-based snippets.
- Pretentious Music Journalist: supposedly based on a number of 1980s rock/pop reviewers (perhaps especially Simon Reynolds, David Stubbs and Paul Oldfield of Melody Maker), he reads a little too much into a band's songs with over-complex and artistically pretentious monologues where a simple explanation would suffice, e.g., "They generate a sonic cathedral of sound" means "loud".
- Sid the Manager: supposedly Steve Wright's agent, a genial but often confused duffer
- The Men of Kent
- Voiceover Man – converses with Steve and 'the posse' about everyday events in then style of an MFI/DFS television advert voice-over.
- The Perv: heard tapping at the window calling "Yoohoo! Hello Stevie! I'm in the corridor..." and describing his startling attire.
- Damien the Social Worker
- Ruth McCrum from Northern Ireland who told Wright "you've got the perfect face for Radio"
- Fred Crosswell, the cinema manager
- The Geese, out-of-control Canada geese loose in the studio; "can we get the geese out of here please".
- John Bowl, based on the journalist John Cole, who would often lose his temper with Steve, addressing him as a "dough head", and would also always say "Listen, young man, I'll have a little bit less of your lip".
- Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros, a stuntman who attempted remarkable feats with a staggering lack of success.
- Malcolm from the Arts Council, a well spoken Arts Council official, who would address Wright as "Stephen" and threaten to pull the show's funding when the DJ teased him.
- Mr Contestant, a hopeless call-in quiz-show contestant who would always blow the final part of the answer under time pressure and end with the same nonsensical answer, like "Name the 4 Mutant Ninja Turtles"... "Donatello... Michelangelo... Rafael and, erm, ahhhh" "Got to hurry you" "...eerrmmm, ohhhhhh Hartley Hare!"
- Dave Double Decks. An over-enthusiastic local radio DJ "Haha, yess indeeedy !" was his catchphrase.
- Archie Wivell, his chain-smoking joke writer who could be heard coughing and scribbling, then starting to chuckle.
The BBC Radio 1 Breakfast show and beyond
Wright and his Posse moved to The Radio 1 Breakfast Show in 1994. He also presented a BBC TV series, The Steve Wright People Show, from 1994–95. He resigned from the Breakfast Show in 1995 due to differences with the BBC Radio 1 management after the station was restructured by new controller Matthew Bannister, which led to many of the more established DJs leaving, or being sacked, around this time. He was picked up by the new commercial station Talk Radio, where he presented a Saturday morning show and also presented a syndicated show on Sunday mornings on various commercial stations in the UK.
He returned to the BBC in 1996, when he joined BBC Radio 2, presenting Steve Wright's Saturday Show on Saturdays 10 am-1 pm and Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs on Sundays 9–11 am. In July 1999, Steve took over Radio 2's weekday afternoon show (from Ed Stewart) and he was also the voice of and writer for the retro pop show on BBC television, Top of the Pops 2 between 1997 and 2009. The last episode of TOTP2 he presented was the Michael Jackson special broadcast on 27 June 2009; Mark Radcliffe presented the next episode, which was the 2009 Christmas special broadcast on 23 December 2009.
BBC Radio 2
Wright presents Steve Wright in the Afternoon for BBC Radio 2 on weekday afternoons from 2 pm to 5 pm and Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs on Sundays between 9 and 11 am. He presents the former with Tim Smith and Janey Lee Grace (who occasionally appear as relief presenters on the station), as well as traffic reporter Bobbie Pryor. Another frequent contributor was "The Old Woman", played by Joyce Frost. On 10 November 2016 the BBC announced that Frost had died the previous week.
Wright is said to earn £440,000 a year at Radio 2.
The Steve Wright in the afternoon show features:
- 'The Non Stop Oldies'
- Celebrity interviews
- 'Factoids' These are diverse nuggets of information.
- 'Do You Remember'
- 'Serious Jockin' ' Every Friday, from 4:15PM, Wright plays a mix of Hi-NRG anthems from various decades under the 'Serious Jockin' banner.
A popular feature that disappeared in summer 2007 with the start of the BBC investigation into 'rigged' contests (there was no suggestion Wright's show was involved) was "The Big Quiz", a general knowledge quiz in which a challenger took on the current champion (referred to as the 'champnio' or 'champine') to win prizes. Each had a time limit to answer questions, the round ending with the first incorrect answer. Winners were given a selection of prizes, building up if they remained 'champnio', whilst the loser gained a 'Sustificate of Muppetry' if they did poorly.
Sunday Love Songs, which Wright presents on his own, between 9 and 11, features items including Contact, I Just Met, Getting Hitched and Chocolate and Flowers. The music played has a romantic feel. Wright occasionally features dedications and requests for partners in same-sex relationships.
"Love the show"
A feature of Wright's radio shows are letters or emails from listeners. Almost all feature the phrase "Love the show". Wright's initials have been adapted into "SWs to you", an abbreviation used by correspondents of fellow Radio 2 presenter Sarah Kennedy. It means "Love the show". Other Radio 2 presenters have parodied it: Terry Wogan bemoaned the lack of such encouragement in his correspondence, occasionally reading listeners' letters which said "Love Steve Wright's show", while listeners of Chris Evans once added "Love the snow" to messages. During a stint sitting in for Wright, Mark Radcliffe jokingly told off listeners who started messages by saying how much they loved the show. Overnight presenter Alex Lester's listeners end their correspondence with "Love the shoe". Listeners to Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's film reviews on Radio Five Live frequently end correspondence with "Love the show, Steve". Correspondents to Colin Murray's Talksport show frequently end with "average show, Colin".
Wright was married to Cyndi Robinson, an American and mother to his two children. They are now divorced. Wright currently lives in a central London flat and a house in West Sussex. Wright is allergic to feathers and also baked beans.
- Steve Wright Steve Wright's Book of Factoids, HarperCollins Publishers (UK), (2005) ISBN 0-00-720660-7
- "Radio 2 – Presenters – Steve Wright". BBC. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- The Steve Wright People Show, IMDb, accessed 23 June 2011.
- "'Old Woman' on Radio 2's Steve Wright show dies". bbc.co.uk. 10 November 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
- Daily Telegraph – Wogan is number one in BBC radio rich list
- Parry, Ryan (4 August 2011). "Steve Wright: inside the weird world of the Radio 2 legend".
- Steve Wright in the Afternoon, BBC Radio 2, 4 April 2016 at 3:40pm
- Steve Wright on Internet Movie Database
- Steve Wright in the Afternoon at BBC Programmes
- Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs at BBC Programmes
- Radio Rewind: Steve Wright – profile, pics and audio clips – BBC Radio 1
- Radio Rewind: Steve Wright – profile, pics and audio clips – BBC Radio 2
- 'Sid the Manager' site