Most Fridays I have the same idea for a blog post that, for various reasons (usually a combination of forgetfulness/tiredness) I never actually end up writing. The post is about encouraging people to listen to Simon Mayo’s Friday evening ‘Drivetime’ show on Radio 2. If you’re familiar with Mayo’s Friday afternoon film review show on Radio 5 with Mark Kermode, then let me start by saying that it is nothing like that. Whereas his film show often has an air of surrealism, with rambling sardonic commentary to which Mayo is the fall guy, the Friday night drivetime programme is straightforward, wholesome family listening. The premise is that it is an all-request playlist, with only people who ring in getting to ask for a song. This usually involves small children nervously trying to ask for Stepphenwolf Born to be Wild (with parental prompting going on in the background), women asking for songs that remind them of their partners (I Need a Hero, Bonnie Tyler, and I’m So Excited, the Pointer Sisters, were two that were picked last week – the latter for someone getting married this Saturday and the former by a woman waiting for her partner to return from a week working away), and families embarking on a weekend break where they are meeting up with another family – presumably they are hoping that the other family, in another car in another traffic jam on another motorway, will be listening and hear their shout-out. Thrown into the mix are reader texts about what they are up to and what their plans are for the weekend.
If it all sounds a little bit twee and naff, then that’s because it is. But that is also where its strengths lie. It is the most heart-warming, reassuring couple of hours that one could ask for. With all the talk of ‘broken Britain’ and general media pessimism about the state of British society and particularly British families, this show is clear proof that the doom-mongers haven’t got it all right. Out there are still hundreds of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of families, going about their usual, unremarkable, entirely ordinary lives and taking great joy and delight in doing so. It makes you smile. If you’re lucky, it makes you think of your own childhood. Take a listen later, from 5pm on Radio 2, if you can.