A couple of posts back, Ian Hough made a comment which made me wonder: How could someone living abroad easily get a flavour of what it’s really like to be here?

And a good option (I think) would be listenening to The Rob Ellis Show on Capital Radio…

If you haven’t come across it, Capital is a national station playing a tragically tight and repetitive playlist of current ‘dance’ music. Me and the kids listen in the car because we like to hear some of the songs we hear at roller-skating each week. The adverts are generally woeful, particularly the ones for Capital’s own events (and of course the personal injury compensation ones.)

The Summer Time Ball ads earlier this year were a perfect example. Aired hundreds of times each day, they went something like this:
‘Nah nah nah nah nah!
You can’t go to this event becauses it’s sold out,
And anyway it’s in London,
But guess who’s on… ‘

– cue a long list of superstars.
I lost count of the times I switched channel during Summer to avoid these adverts.

The Rob Ellis Show is the regional breakfast show for the North West… and it is often very funny… and makes the repetitive playlist and tedious adverts worth suffering in the mornings.

The show’s name implies a one-man show, but actually it’s a team effort with Rob, Rachel, Wingman and Producer Gorgeous all chatting on air.

I hated The Chris Moyles Show on Radio 1, and Chris Evans’ various ‘zoo format’ shows, because of the intense sycophancy around the named stars, and the need those stars clearly had of always being top dog, even though they couldn’t survive without their respective entourages. But Rob Ellis doesn’t use his co-presenters as stooges. Everyone seems to be equal-ish (although this can’t quite be the case as the show is named after Rob) and there are no undercurrents of bitchiness… they all seem to genuinely like each other.

Their chat must, to some extent, be pre-rehearsed, even though it generally sounds spontaneous. I’d love to be a fly-on-the-wall when they work out what they’re going to chat about each morning… Do they all ring or text each other of an evening? Or does Rob arrive at the studio clutching hastily scribbled notes, or printed hand-outs for his co-presenters?

The most entertaining conversations are generally about everyday things, either from their home lives or work. They sometimes gossip about the celebrities they’ve met on the show, but they’re just as likely to enthuse about some completely eccentric ordinary person they’ve come across… like the woman banging pan-lids together during the Manchester Marathon, for instance.

Over a year ago, Cheryl Cole was on the show, and Rachel and Rob chatted afterwards about how Cheryl had tried to flirt with Producer Gorgeous but he wasn’t having any of it… and then they played an audio clip to prove it. It was hilarious and subversive. Presumably they gambled that Cheryl would never hear about it, being long-gone on her whistle-stop promotional tour. And more recently, their Danny O’Donoghue fake laugh loop (which they spliced together following his interview) took the shine off his celebrity status without being untruthful.

You don’t find this stuff on the Capital website. You have to listen to the show to hear it. The stars wouldn’t like it much but luckily they’re far too busy and important to listen to regional breakfast shows so it’s all good.

What is most striking is the contrast between Capital’s plasticness as a brand, and the Rob Ellis Show team’s realness… they just refuse to get too much above themselves, or take themselves too seriously. In these days when everybody wants to be a celebrity, they don’t seem to be impressed by that possibility.

I wonder if Rob ever says to his team… Remember, people like listening to us because we’re normal, so don’t act like a celebrity! And this must be difficult sometimes, because after quite a few years doing the breakfast show, they are well-known in Manchester, and people must see them as celebrities to some extent. It’s a fine line to tread but Rob and his team have been pretending to lead completely normal lives very successfully for quite a few years now, and it works for me.

Here’s a clip of Rachel on the subject of pork pies versus spam:

I wonder if The Rob Ellis Show could work on Radio 1? Or would going national stretch the tension between normality and actual stardom to breaking point? The team couldn’t do any worse than R1’s current offering, that’s for sure, and it would be great if they could stay here and be based in Salford.

Btw Rob, if you ever read this, whatever happened with the frightening tale of The Slappy Hands?

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Postscript Early 2016

When Rachel went on maternity leave (in 2015, I think) the show really suffered. And then when she came back, the camaraderie sounded forced.

Also, by then I’d discovered Chris and Emma on GAYDIO – they are really lovely and entertaining, although I keep losing the signal.

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Postscript Very Late 2016

Rob Ellis Show seems to be good again… which must mean Rachel’s recovered from the stultifying shock of new parenthood and is now back to her old self… the moral compass of the show… the lynch-pin.