Steve Wright in the Afternoon is the name given to English DJ Steve Wright's afternoon radio shows. It first ran on BBC Radio 1 from 1981 to 1993 and then on BBC Radio 2 since 5 July 1999. The shows were and still are the most popular on each station, and the Radio 2 version (which is broadcast from 14:00 until 17:00 Monday to Friday) is often referred to as The Big Show.
Radio 1 version
Steve Wright in the Afternoon originally started on Radio 1 in 1981 where it ran successfully for a number of years until ending in 1993. Steve Wright then worked on other shows for the network before leaving the BBC for several years. In this period, he worked at Talk Radio, and at GWR presenting a networked weekend show. He finally moved back to the BBC at Radio 2 in 1996. He started as a weekend presenter hosting a Saturday morning show (later taken over by Jonathan Ross) and Sunday morning's Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs. Steve Wright in the Afternoon was revived in 1999 following a shake-up at Radio 2 and Wright now presents the show every Monday to Friday from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. It has built up a huge following and was given its own podcast in 2006 as part of a trial period. This is still available every week with highlights from the show.
Characters and sketches created for the show included:
- Mr Angry (from Purley): usually ranting down the phone line, ending with "...it makes me so angry... I could throw the phone down!" followed by the receiver crashing down.
- Diamond Geezer: supposed DJ/mixer, and voice for the track "Mr Spoons" (David Spurr)
- The "Down-the-Pan" Daleks: two 'retired' Daleks in improbable domestic situations
- 'Easy Life'
- Dr Fish-Filleter: source of much innuendo about fishy fingers, etc. Had his own 'jingle' sung by Steve and his Posse when the interview had ended ("Fillet of Fish, Fillet of Fish. O' Give me Fish to Fillet!").
- The "Horrible Voice"
- The Boss: a gentleman with a very deep Caribbean voice who only ever said "yes Sir, Mr Wright sir" to everything he was asked.
- Edward the Garrulous Fencing Champion: his catchphrase is "I epee you"
- Mr Food ("...and that's before my tea!")
- Gervais the Hairdresser ("Keep your tongue out!")
- Hopeless Weather Girl: a parody of the brand of 'bimbo'-esque weather girls seen on British television in the late 1980s. She doesn't know much about meteorology.
- Maggot – an odd character with a high pitched voice.
- 'Mick and Keef': not the real Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, but impersonations (played by Phil Cornwell, who later did the characters in Stella Street). Bill Wyman also made occasional appearances.
- David Bowie: again, not the real David Bowie but an impersonation; "Bowie" frequently asked "tell us what the time is" (adjusted slightly at Christmas to "tell us what the Christmas time is").
- Linda Lust: her catchphrase is "Spatula" in a sultry, sensual voice.
- Llama Man: Spoof signature tune: "Llama man, Llama man, does everything a llama can. He can bleat! He can trot! He's got everything a llama's got."
- Motorcycle Courier – who left his motorbike running and would scream "SIGN 'ERE PLEASE!" from his motorcycle helmet regardless of what was asked of him.
- Mr Mad: , would phone in, refer to Steve as "Pal" and would ask "Guess where I'm livin' today?" then proceed to name improbable locations (like inside the mace of the House of Commons or inside Paul McCartney's guitar); then would end the call with vocal whistles and beeps and his catchphrases were "Ravin' mad, pal!" and "Check up from the neck up".
- Mr Paranoid
- The Parking Man – constantly shouting two instructions 'You're Alright, You're Alright' and 'Left Hand Down' to someone trying to reverse their van into a parking space outside the 'window' of the studio. Would sometimes end in a calamitous crashing followed by silence and then 'You're Alright!'
- The Car Cleaner – would phone, but would be impossible to understand anything he (Wright) was saying as he would be cleaning his car. The noise of the vacuum would drown out the majority of the conversation, leaving only innuendo-based snippets.
- Pretentious Music Journalist: supposedly based on a number of 1980s rock/pop reviewers (perhaps especially Simon Reynolds, David Stubbs and Paul Oldfield of Melody Maker), he reads a little too much into a band's songs with over-complex and artistically pretentious monologues where a simple explanation would suffice, e.g., "They generate a sonic cathedral of sound" means "loud".
- Sid the Manager: supposedly Steve Wright's agent, a genial but often confused duffer
- The Men of Kent
- Voiceover Man – converses with Steve and 'the posse' about everyday events in the style of an MFI/DFS television advert voice-over.
- The Perv: heard tapping at the window calling "Yoohoo! Hello Stevie! I'm in the corridor..." and describing his startling attire.
- Damien the Social Worker
- Ruth McCrum from Northern Ireland who told Wright "you've got the perfect face for Radio"
- Fred Crosswell, the cinema manager
- The Geese, out-of-control Canada geese loose in the studio; "can we get the geese out of here please".
- John Bowl, based on the journalist John Cole, who would often lose his temper with Steve, addressing him as a "dough head", and would also always say "Listen, young man, I'll have a little bit less of your lip".
- Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros, a stuntman who attempted remarkable feats with a staggering lack of success.
- Malcolm from the Arts Council, a well spoken Arts Council official, who would address Wright as "Stephen" and threaten to pull the show's funding when the DJ teased him.
- Mr Contestant, a hopeless call-in quiz-show contestant who would always blow the final part of the answer under time pressure and end with the same nonsensical answer, like "Name the 4 Mutant Ninja Turtles"... "Donatello... Michelangelo... Rafael and, erm, ahhhh" "Got to hurry you" "...eerrmmm, ohhhhhh Hartley Hare!"
- Dave Double Decks. An over-enthusiastic local radio DJ "Haha, yess indeeedy !" was his catchphrase. created by Dave Lea (EMI)
- Archie Wivell, his chain-smoking joke writer who could be heard coughing and scribbling, then starting to chuckle.
- The Newsagent: He would usually forget to bring the newspapers with him for Steve to read, despite this being his job. He would sometimes recite a list of occupations he wanted to have, but then immediately counter each by stating he wouldn't want to do what was required of that occupation. Examples: "I want to be a brick layer, but don't want to lay bricks.", "I want to be a farmer, but don't want to farm", "I want to be a chicken, but don't want to lay eggs." He had flatulence and throughout his chats with Steve, he would loudly blow off several times, saying "excuse me" each time.
Radio 2 version
The Big Show follows the zoo format, with Steve Wright as the host, and co-presenters Tim Smith and Janey Lee Grace, as well as input from news and travel presenters on the day. There is also a character called 'The Old Woman'; when she appeared on the show, listeners did not know her identity, but many rumours circulated on the internet as to who she was. On 9 November 2016, Steve Wright confirmed the death of Joyce Frost from Dagenham, aka 'The Old Woman', thereby revealing her true identity. Other spoof characters include 'Barry from Watford' (the octogenarian lifestyle coach - played by the actor Alex Lowe) and 'Elvis', who until 2014 appeared in the feature Ask Elvis.
The show begins at 14:00 after the news with the show's main theme. Unlike most shows, it is well established as being a "brand", with its own unique style of presentation, although Steve regularly uses the standard BBC Radio 2 jingles along with jingles unique to the show, written and performed by AJ Music Productions. Guests regularly appear on the show, often to plug a new TV show or movie.
When other presenters fill in for Wright, the stand-in host does "their own thing", rather than replicating the normal show. The show's theme and jingles are not played, and otherwise regular features (such as the factoids) are not used. For example, the most recent stand in Mark Goodier has been known to use an instrumental version of Chic's "Happy Man" as background music, and during the 3–3:30 pm slot he plays six songs, one from each decade from the 1960s onwards, plus two chosen by the listeners, all of which relate to a theme, such as weddings or water. In the past, stand-in presenters have included Mark Radcliffe, Aled Jones, Craig Charles, Liza Tarbuck, Dale Winton, Richard Allinson, Sara Cox, Chris Tarrant and Tony Blackburn. More recently, alongside the aforementioned Mark Goodier, the regular stand-in hosts have been Patrick Kielty, Jo Whiley, Ore Oduba, Gary Davies, Chris Tarrant, Jonathan Ross and Al Murray.
Some regular features include:
- Guest interviews, usually 2 or 3 per show.
- Non-Stop Oldies: a mixtape of around six songs submitted by a particular listener, often with sentimental value. Contrary to the segment's name, some of the songs played are not necessarily classified as oldies by the general public, as songs from as late as 2009 have played during the block. The songs are played with almost no breaks although that changed in 2017, Steve now does play adverts for other shows on Radio 2 & tell listeners about getting requests in for his Sunday Love Songs on a Sunday, from 3:00 to 3:30 pm every day.
- Factoids: short items of trivia. This segment spawned two books; Steve Wright's Book of Factoids in 2006 and Steve Wright's Further Factoids in 2009.
- Barry from Watford: Approximately once a month, "elderly lifestyle guru" Barry from Watford (actually actor/comedian Alex Lowe) visits Steve and delivers his take on popular culture.
- Hands up: Steve asks 2 or 3 questions between his first and second song with a round of applause in the studio such as "Hands up if you are liking the warm weather?".
- Big Shout-Outs: Listeners send Steve messages via text or email. If the message is sensible and entertaining it may be read out. The likelihood of your message being read on air is greatly increased if a phrase such as "Absolutely loving the Big Show" is included in the message. This feature is particularly enjoyed by bored workmen; spoof messages are often sent on behalf of their colleagues.
- Serious Jockin': In mid-2014, Wright introduced a new Friday feature, Serious Jockin' (with no G), where he plays tracks, often disco music and house music, back to back with listeners' texts and emails. He invites listeners to send in their "no G puns", which he reads out on air; for example, "I'm playing my electric guitar; serious rockin'". The music ranges from 1950s to the present day and has an iTunes and BBC Music playlist. Wright focuses on a mix of Hi-NRG anthems from various decades under the Serious Jockin' banner. During this segment of the show, Wright often refers to himself as DJ Silly Boi. Whenever DJ Mark Goodier fills in for Wright, he does a similar feature called "Serious Mixin'" which starts fifteen minutes earlier than Wright's block and is throughout the week instead of just on Fridays.
Steve Wright in the Afternoon is occasionally punctuated by voice impressions of famous people, such as Donald Trump ("This is the bigliest show" / "No fake news!") and Jeremy Vine ("Just another reminder not to miss Eggheads tonight, the best quiz" - in reference to Vine's frequent references to Eggheads - which he presents - at the end of his own radio show, which precedes Wright's). Wright himself often performs impressions of his Radio 2 colleagues - such as Tony Blackburn, Bob Harris and Jools Holland - when publicising their shows. Also, since 2019, a group called the 'ordinary people' are heard, most notably on the run-up to the news at 3pm.
Wright often mentions his disdain for red trousers, which is signalled by a jingle of him shouting the phrase "Red Trousers!" with shock and fear, then screaming as a snippet of the Dragnet theme song plays in the background.
When Wright reads out shout-outs from listeners who are in France, he often reads the shout-out in an exaggerated French accent with clichéd accordion music playing in the background. When he reads a shout-out from listeners in Spain, he often plays stereotypical Spanish-style fiesta music during the shout-out.
Features of Steve Wright in the Afternoon that have been discontinued are:
- "Do You Remember?": Once or twice a week, the team (normally two or three of Steve, Tim Smith, Bobbie Pryor or Janey Lee Grace) reminisced on how things were when they were growing up, often in a humorous fashion. Subjects discussed included TV programmes, cars, household appliances, food, shopping and travel. Listeners also often sent in suggestions to contribute. It was shortly discontinued.
- The Big Quiz: A popular feature that disappeared in summer 2007 with the start of the BBC investigation into 'rigged' contests (there was no suggestion Wright's show was involved). It was a general knowledge quiz in which a challenger took on the current champion (referred to as the 'champino' or 'champine') to win prizes. Each had a time limit to answer questions, the round ending with the first incorrect answer. Winners were given a selection of prizes, building up if they remained 'champino', whilst the loser gained a 'Sustificate of Muppetry' if they did poorly.
"Love the show"
A frequent feature of Wright's shows are letters, texts or emails from listeners. Almost all feature the phrase "Love the show". Wright's initials were adapted into "SWs to you", an abbreviation used by correspondents of former fellow Radio 2 presenter Sarah Kennedy, meaning "Love the show". Other Radio 2 presenters have parodied it: Sir Terry Wogan pretended to bemoan the lack of such encouragement in his correspondence, occasionally reading listeners' letters which said "Love Steve Wright's show", while listeners of Chris Evans once added "Love the snow" to messages. During a stint sitting in for Wright, Mark Radcliffe jokingly told off listeners who started messages by saying how much they loved the show. Overnight presenter Alex Lester's listeners end their correspondence with "Love the shoe". Listeners to Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's film reviews on Radio Five Live frequently end correspondence with "Love the show, Steve". Correspondents to Colin Murray's Talksport show frequently end with "average show, Colin".