The BBC Radio Gloucestershire breakfast show presenter looks back on the station’s 30th Anniversary
We’ve been taking a nostalgic look at the past three decades as BBC Radio Gloucestershire celebrates 30 years of broadcasting across the county. One of the inspiring aspects of such a reflection is the realisation of how much has changed across the region. Much has been achieved in infrastructure, business and tourism since we started broadcasting to the area. Part of my role is to hold decision-makers to account and sometimes poke a stick into areas where a lack of movement and action is frustrating my listeners. However, it’s just as important to highlight the positive areas of growth and a journey back to 1988 certainly focuses the mind. So when Princess Anne declared BBC Radio Gloucestershire “On air” in 1988, what didn’t we have that we take for granted in our everyday lives today?
For example, the A417 bypass. When I first commuted to work in the mid 90s it took one hour fifteen at rush hour along the A417, through Brockworth and Hucclecote into the city of Gloucester. Now that journey takes 50 minutes. Same for commuters around Stroud who now have the Ebley bypass and the once-clogged Bristol Road has been eased with the South West bypass. Thirty years ago we didn’t have any universities. Now we have three. The University of Gloucestershire was a teacher training college and we can now add Cirencester and Hartpury to the mix. Also on the list is the stunning transformation of Gloucester Docks with the Quays development. We now have a wind turbine at Nympsfield; the Coopers Edge development; the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps based at Imjin Barracks, formerly RAF Innsworth; Cam and Dursley and Ashchurch Stations; the award-winning Old Spot pub in Dursley; the massive expansion of the Cotswold Water Park; Waitrose in Stroud; professional rugby; the GCHQ Donut; Cotswold airport; junction 11a; and the Second Severn crossing. Finally let me end with a list of local companies who weren’t even born in 88 but my, how they’ve grown…
Pulling teeth in Cheltenham
One of the joys of conducting numerous live interviews day in and day out is the delicious possibility of occasionally being taken totally by surprise by a guest. It can be a politician revealing something they hadn’t intended to, a listener sharing a nugget from their lives that leaves you speechless or a celebrity sharing a juicy anecdote that warms the cockles. Author Joanna Trollope joined me during the Cheltenham Literature Festival and I wanted to steer her in the direction of her love for Gloucestershire and how she felt about her home county. Unprompted she told me of her trips to Cheltenham in the 50s. A journey to the spa town involved putting on their Sunday finest and dressing for the occasion. Her big treat was being taken for a cake in Fullers as long as she didn’t bite the dentist!
Tyler the tiger
“Come on Tyler… come on… come on.” My high octane screams achieved the usual result. Within seconds my faithful lurcher Tyler jumped up, dived onto me as I lay on the sofa and licked me all over expecting his usual walk. I had to let him down gently as the Tyler I was screaming at wasn’t my faithful hound. It was in fact Tyler Roberts who was on my TV playing for my beloved Leeds United and was about to score his third goal with a 30-yard screamer against Hull. Tyler came to my attention recently when a friend found out my shameful secret of being cursed with a love of Leeds United. She then causally mentioned that her grandson had just signed for Leeds for £2million. Talk about dropping a bombshell. She went on to explain that Tyler grew up in Gloucester and played for Tredworth Tigers. He was spotted by West Brom and then snapped up by Leeds. After a few injuries to our first choice strikers, Tyler got his chance and has shown the Championship his undoubted quality. For my radio programme I went training with the Tredworth Tigers who are thrilled with the emergence of their old boy and are loving the extra interest in their inner city club from kids wanting to follow in Tyler’s footsteps.
Now if Carling did book clubs…
My wife is part of the best book club in the world. Every month we have the same conversation that goes a little bit like this…
“Don’t forget I’m out tonight, its book club”
“Have you read this month’s book?” “Not all of it”
“First few pages”
“Won’t the others suss out you haven’t put the effort in?”
“Nah, they read less than me” “How long do you spend talking about the book?”
“About 10 minutes”
“Drink wine, sometimes gin, gossip then watch a movie”
Early bird offers
I’ve had no end of teasing over the past year for thinking my silver wedding anniversary was last year. I wrote last month about my increasing habit of being early for everything. One of my chief tormentors has been the editor of Cotswold Life. Imagine my joy when he asked me to tip him off about the subject matter of the next day’s show. In his mind he was due in to co-host the next day and wanted to get his head around what might come up. A quick peek in the diary revealed he’d got his dates wrong and was not due in for another month. I could have let him know about his mistake and confirmed him for a month’s time or I could let him come in anyway and expose his dozy time-keeping live on air. I’ll leave you to guess which option I chose.
Mark in his Leeds United away strip, 1976/77