I’ve never had a worse morning. I got hit by a car once, walking down High Holborn on the way to work. I’ve vomited my stomach lining into a gutter at 8am due to an apocalyptic hangover while my shirt sleeves dangled about my wrists. Then there was the time I mistakenly locked my better half in the flat, and the time a water pipe burst and flooded the carpet and there’s also the time a swift flew into my front room through an open window at dawn and proceeded to dump birdshits all over the fittings.
All of these pale in comparison, wilt into insignificance and transform into memories of better times when I think back to this morning, June 24th 2008 and the 50 minutes I spent with George Lamb and his zany pals in their 6 Music podcast as I rode the bus into work. My headphones have never had to handle such drudgery.
Lamb and his cronies get a lot of stick for their banter-based show. A lot of people have accused 6 Music of selling out in going for a populist option when they appointed the ex-T4 and current Big Brother’s Big Mouth host.
Conversely, Lamb has been lavished with a Sony award for his services. Mind you, looking at the competition, Jonathan King could have returned to the airwaves and beaten Lamb as the other nominees were largely small-fry. Lamb was the only DJ on the list who’s regularly on national radio and who has adverts on the TV plugging his show. Apart from Kelly Osbourne, who everyone hates anyway.
I like 6 Music, but I’m not precious about it. I find the DJs are occasionally a little bit too muso for my liking but more often than not, one song in three is half decent. 6 Music is undoubtedly a good thing.
The appointment of Lamb for three hours a day is not something that ever bothered me, what with old muggins ‘ere being at work all day and only ever tuning in to the station in the morning or evening. I watched the furore develop from afar – websites starting up decrying the Lambster, other websites starting up and championing him. All this fuss over a Channel 4 presenter with a new radio show? It reminded me of Russell Brand’s ascent from Big Brother’s Big Mouth presenter to small-time superstar – buried deep in the late night schedules then rising on the strength of his popularity to greater heights on the strength of goodwill. Brand hasn’t got websites devoted to disliking him, but he’s certainly got detractors. Maybe this was what Lamb was experiencing… I wanted to give him a chance, at least. So I downloaded his new podcast. Is George Lamb an exciting new voice?
In the event, no. 50 minutes of Lamb’s podcast, with music removed for legal reasons, has confirmed that we’re not dealing with a Russell Brand phenomenon here. We’re not dealing with a Dermot O’Leary either. We’re not even dealing with a Vernon fucking Kaye. We’re dealing with an inept, unfunny shambles fronted by a man with a haircut for a personality and backed by the bottomless cackling of his posse of berks.
I can’t begin to describe how inane it all is. Not inane in the sense of something going nowhere but everyone enjoying the ride. Inane in that nothing is being achieved. No humour. No anger. No sadness. Just nothing. Just minutes, seconds and milliseconds popping by and never coming back as Lamb stutters his way through heavy-handed links, nicked jokes that weren’t funny the first time round and interviews with people who, like the rest of us, are just too smart to find any of this shit funny.
We start off with Lamb and his producer gloating about their award by way of introduction. Giggling at their own jokes, they talk like little kids with catchphrases they’ve invented for the playground that’ll last for a day of bullying before evaporating like humourless silent fart-puffs. Then we’re into the main content. I think it’s a week’s worth of content – 15 hours then – all condensed into 50 minutes (which says a lot considering Adam & Joe manage 30 minutes of material from three hours and Collins and Herring get a solid hour from improvising).
Anyway, here are the standout bits:
- They work their way into a feature where they’re asking people to call in if their name is Aubrey. Sure enough, two people called Aubrey call in. There are no laughs to be found. One Aubrey says his name helps him to get the girls. The other is the Editor of Total Film and he plugs his magazine. The world continues to rotate.
- A film review feature with ‘Philippe De Barnsely’ is essentially a northern man talking with scant knowledge about any of the films he’s just seen. Lamb and his pals ask him how many fags he smokes a day. He replies that he smokes two packets. Everyone laughs and I can’t work out why – because northerners smoke fags? There are no laughs to be found here, either. By now you’re weeping stomach acid from dilated tear ducts and the babble in your ears refuses to stop.
- An interview with The Rascals, a solid enough Wirrall based beat combo. Lamb makes some stereotypical scouser gags when he’s not stumbling over his scripted lines and finds himself able to form a coherent sentence. The Rascals man is affable and basically says ‘yeah!’ a lot as he’s not given time to respond to any of the jibes. They play a song which is cut out due to licensing laws at the BBC. This makes this whole slot completely pointless.
- Lamb and his Producer giggle and snigger, unable to speak as they promote their smashing idea for an anti-festival called… wait for it… Give-it-a-rest-ival! A brilliant play on words that thoroughly deserves three or four minutes of uninterrupted, self-satisfied chortling at their own brilliant gag – one an eleven year old would abandon on the grounds of utter moribundity.
- A chat with an unremarkable member of the unremarkable band Dirty Pretty Things results in him agreeing not to appear at their non-festival which, in case we’d forgotten, is called the Give-It-A-Restival. A joke which bears repeating five or six times in case you still hadn’t figured out the subtle wordplay. By now the listener with a functioning brain is praying for the frontal lobotomy his fellow listeners must’ve endured to put up with this shit.
- Finally, an interview with a sheep-shearing expert powers the highly amusing observation that Alan Shearer’s name has semantic similarities to the term ‘sheep-shearing’. The interviewee is baffled and is clearly wondering precisely what it is that’s meant to be so funny. So am I, as it happens. This section goes on for days. Rigor mortis begins to set in.
And then it’s over. It feels like days have passed. You’re more wrinkly than you were before – as though you’ve bathed for weeks in someone else’s urine.
I’m only glad I didn’t subscribe, as that might’ve aided their ride up the iTunes podcast charts. According to the blurb, ‘it took a while but the podcast is finally here’. So we have to ask ourselves why did it take a while?
The idea of podcasts from the BBC is that existing radio shows are pared down to the essentials. Music is removed so that the banter can be distilled and the jokes will rule the roost. Problem is, with Lamb there are no jokes. There isn’t really any banter either – it’s just a few borrowed catchphrases being repeated back and forth as the crew pat one another on the back. The process would involve choosing which smug guffaw to include over which conceited cackle… so editing this must’ve been a nightmare akin to polishing the proverbial turd.
I urge you to continue in your ignorance of George Lamb.