An account of our visit to the 2002 Sony Radio Academy Awards
follows. Be warned. It’s quite long.
Arriving at the Grosvenor
is a heady adventure at the quietest of times, but arriving at the door alongside a variety of limousines and chauffeur driven cars, surrounded by men wearing bow ties and ladies in the most sparkling of dresses, it finally seemed that we were among our kind of people. As the gathered group of press photographers began clicking and flashing in our direction, we struck appropriately alluring poses and prayed we didn’t have lipstick on our teeth. It was only when the photographers started waving us out of the way that we noticed Nicky Campbell standing behind us in a startling tartan suit.
Flashing our media passes
at the many bouncers that littered the entrance, we swanned down the stairs and stood gasping as all around us, celebrities air-kissed other celebrities, and living legends milled around with media luvvies, every one clasping drinks and commenting on each other’s shoes. The Liquid News team were relaying a live broadcast for the first half hour, grabbing celebrities as they walked in to the room and asking them a variety of inane questions. We watched with huge amusement as Ricky Gervais forgot what “live” meant, and said a bold and rude word on the telly, for which he was immediately bundled off by waiting henchmen and reprimanded to within an inch of his life.
As each nominee - and with five nominations in each of the 28 categories, that’s a lot of nominees - walked in to the room, they were called over to another area where they had to pose for their “winning” photos, in order that these could be released with speed for the first papers in the morning. We spent the first hour wondering where the heck everyone had got their drinks from as we searched in vain for either someone we knew or someone who could get us alcohol. The room was packed shoulder to shoulder with living breathing celebrity, so it’s probably mildly surprising that the first moment we completely lost it was not when we spotted John Peel, Terry Wogan, Tim Brook-Taylor or Luke Goss, but when Mike Smith and Sarah Greene walked past. Lingering momentarily so that Nicky Campbell could squeeze past us for the third time, Susan confessed that she’d always had a crush on him. Temporarily stunned by this information, I forgot to enjoy walking past the legend of Stuart Maconie, but soon remembered where I was when I spied the entire I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue team standing in a circle.
Having checked out the seating plans, we noticed that the Xfm
tables were almost as far away from the stage as we were - which we decided was probably not a good sign. As the ceremony began, we saw that Chris Smith had opted to wear a pale blue number, which we also took as not being a particulary good indication that he’d be allowed on the winner’s podium.
We sojourned to the Media Room, sharing the space with identical twin brothers working for Radio 1, two freelance journalists, and someone from Teletext. The first half of the award ceremony meandered by, as we were still devoid of alcohol, and all the awards that we were really interested in - Breakfast show, Comedy, Entertainment etc. - were held over for the second half. For each category, shows are awarded Bronze, Silver and Gold Sony Awards, with the Gold Award winners being allowed the opportunity to stand on stage and embarrass themselves by thanking their Mums. The first half was a very reserved affair, as apparently the alcohol drought wasn’t merely limited to the media section. Susan revealed herself to be very adept at guessing which show was going to win which award, but our game was soon stopped by the revelation that, as media scum, we were given a full list of winners for each half before the winners themselves knew if they’d won. We considered running down and telling them all, but decided against it, and instead amused ourselves by trying to find a bottle opener when at last the free beers arrived.
Half way through the night, dinner is served to each of the tables, and the awards are put to one side as the serious business of eating and drinking begins. We had a quick wander to the nominees enclosure, where we found the Xfm Breakfast Session
morosely picking at their racks of lamb. They informed us that, not only had they not won a Sony Gold, they hadn’t won a blind thing, but we assured them that being nominated was more important than actually getting a prize. They didn’t look convinced, so we skulked off and went to find some more beer.
Fortified with drink and the sight of the strangely shaped Sugababes, the second half of the awards ceremony flew by. True to their word, the Xfm lot didn’t win a thing, but their nomination achieved load roars of approval from the gathered crowd. Presenting another prize, James Nesbitt also had a word or two to say about the excellence of their show, and it was from our vantage point on top of the balcony that we could see the growing threat of chaos that was emanating from one particular table. As they yelled among themselves above a not particularly loud background, we realised this was the marauding gang from Kiss FM, headed up by the balding, middle aged, bespectacled white man known as Bam Bam
. When Terry Wogan went up to accept his prize for the Breakfast Music Award, one of the ample ladies from the table launched herself at the stage, and proceeded to clasp on to our Terry with all her might and scream “Bam Bam!” as he desperately tried to shrug her off and finish his acceptance speech with dignity. As the Kiss FM table cheered her, the rest of the room looked on in growing horror.
The last award of the night went to the Godlike Genius of John Peel, just for being him, who made our mascara run when, half way through his speech, he burst in to tears as his wife joined him on stage. The entire room gave a rapturous standing ovation as he battled on with his thanks, and then, as slowly as it had started, the awards ceremony came to an end.
Emboldened by the beer and with the glitz and glamour of the night going straight to our heads, we ran about grabbing interviews with all and sundry, asking the same inane questions we had heard the Liquid News lady use with such great success. Among the celebs we schmoozed, we spoke to Marcus Brigstocke, star of the nominated Think The Unthinkable, who was plain wonderful; we spoke to Melanie Hudson, who seemed confused by our very presence; and we spoke to Alan Yentob, when we asked if there was another series of Fist of Fun
in the pipeline. We then decided the time was right to go dancing.
We danced, we strutted, we were hip to the beat, and we were joined by the likes of legendary Mike Smith, who can still move it like a young ‘un, and his lovely wife Sarah Greene who is skinnier and prettier than both of us, despite being both our ages put together. We were also joined by the lovely lady from Bend It Like Beckham who encouraged Susan to dance while she was trying to work on taking notes. We were much amused by the sight of Christian O’Connell lurching about and becoming increasingly drunk, with Roque and Chris chasing him round the building, both looking increasingly concerned, given that they all had to be on air in less than six hours.
When we lost sight of any one famous, we decided it was probably time for us to make our excuses and leave, and we were spurred on to this decision by the fact that they turned the music off and the lights up. We crawled in to bed an hour and a half later to grab an hour’s sleep, before our date at the Xfm studios the following morning.
To be continued…