Chris Moyles announces departure from BBC Radio 1 breakfast show

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In the United Kingdom, radio personality Chris Moyles has announced his intention to stop presenting his breakfast show, The Chris Moyles Show, on BBC Radio 1 in September of this year, having presented it since January 2004. Nick Grimshaw, who is currently a late-night presenter at the radio station, has been appointed as his replacement.

Moyles, who presents Channel 4 game show Chris Moyles' Quiz Night, broke the record for the longest-running breakfast show on Radio 1 in September 2009, surpassing Tony Blackburn's record from September 1967 to June 1973. The Chris Moyles Show has also achieved two Sony Awards. Moyles hosted an edition of his show in March 2011, lasting for 52 hours, which raised £2.4 million for British charity Comic Relief. It was at the time the longest radio broadcast ever. From September of this year, Moyles is to portray the role of Herod in a UK tour of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Jesus Christ Superstar.

Cquote1.svg [Chris Moyles has been] the most successful breakfast show host in Radio 1 history Cquote2.svg

Ben Cooper, BBC Radio 1 controller

In July 2011, Moyles had signed a BBC contract, worth a million pounds, to allow him to continue presenting his show until January 2014. According to The Guardian, Greg James had been widely anticipated to take Moyles' position after his departure. Moyles said his position was "his dream job" and one he had "wanted since I was a child ... I know some kids want to be a professional footballer or a fireman but not me, I'm a geek and I wanted to be on the radio and I wanted the biggest radio show you could get and eventually I got it."

Moyles, who has referred to himself as the 'saviour of Radio 1', wished to "give [the listeners] a heads up and tell [them] that we are going to wrap it up" on his show. In a speech, Moyles said he has had "the best time of [his] life" and spoke of his belief that "it's almost time to go, and so we're off. I just wanted to let you know. A couple more months of us and then it's someone else's turn to have a go, so thanks for listening and I hope you stay with us until the end because I promise it's going to be brilliant."

BBC Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper considered Moyles to be "the most successful breakfast show host in Radio 1 history" and described him as "fantastic". Grimshaw said that he "love[s] Chris and have always looked up to him as one of the best broadcasters ever".

In contrast, Daily Mail columnist Paul Connolly criticised Moyles, calling him a "cultural barbarian" who "assault[s] our eardrums with drivel" and describing him as "deliberately, determinedly yobbish". There have been numerous occasions when Moyles has caused controversy, such as feeling the breasts of singer Melanie Brown live on air in June 2008 while providing a running commentary as he was doing so. After his appearance on BBC television programme Who Do You Think You Are? in January 2009, he remarked: "[U]nlike a lot of the Who Do You Think You Are? shows I didn't go to Auschwitz. Pretty much everyone goes there whether or not they're Jewish. They just seem to pass through there on their way to Florida." This caused the BBC to state in response: "[W]e regret that on this occasion his comments were misjudged and we are speaking to Chris and his team about them."

Moyles said in a May 2006 programme: "I don’t want that [ringtone], it's gay", prompting accusations of homophobia. In his defence, the corporation explained "the word 'gay', in addition to being used to mean ‘homosexual' or 'carefree', was often now used to mean 'lame' or 'rubbish'." The LGBT charity Stonewall subsequently awarded Moyles 'Bully of the Year' at their award ceremony that year. The Guardian also quoted him as saying in November 2006: "Yeah, I'm homophobic, I don't like the gays. Sorry, it just does my head in."

Cooper has reportedly been placed under pressure to try and decrease the age demographic of the audience of Radio 1. Having been told that the station should attempt to broadcast primarily to individuals aged between 15 and 29 by a BBC Trust review in 2009, a separate review by the body in June 2012 found that too many of its listeners were over the age of 30.

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Has Chris Moyles made the right decision?

Recent figures have suggested BBC Radio 2 breakfast show host Chris Evans is more popular than Moyles' programme. RAJAR statistics for the latest period indicate that Evans' programme received a peak of 9.2 million listeners every week on average while The Chris Moyles Show achieved a figure of 7.1 million at the same time. During the same period last year, Moyles' show was getting an audience of approximately 7.5 million.

Grimshaw, who is one of the presenters of youth programming block T4 on Channel 4, commented he was "super-excited to be hosting the iconic Radio 1 Breakfast Show, it's been a dream of mine since the age of 11 and to be honest it hasn't really sunk in yet." Cooper describes Grimshaw as a "great broadcaster with a passion for music and a mischievous sense of humour, which has made him a hit with our listeners" and believes he will be an "excellent" replacement for Moyles, "bringing a new generation of listeners with him."

File photo of Chris Moyles from September 11, 2009. Image: Rabbro.
File photo of Chris Moyles from September 11, 2009.
Image: Rabbro.
File photo of Nick Grimshaw (right) from November 21, 2009. Image: Katherine Oneill.
File photo of Nick Grimshaw (right) from November 21, 2009.
Image: Katherine Oneill.
Official logo for BBC Radio 1. Image: Gr1st.
Official logo for BBC Radio 1.
Image: Gr1st.

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