FEATURE: Living the Dream: Cillian Murphy, Rob Delaney and Martin Freeman: The Glorious BBC Radio 6 Music Guest Mixes




Living the Dream

IN THIS PHOTO: Rob Delaney presents his final show for BBC Radio 6 Music tomorrow (30th June) at 2 p.m. - completing a popular four-week run/PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Martin for GQ

Cillian Murphy, Rob Delaney and Martin Freeman: The Glorious BBC Radio 6 Music Guest Mixes


I am not sure why Cillian Murphy…

 IN THIS PHOTO: Cillian Murphy stood in for Guy Garvey (and his Finest Hour show) and has since been replaced by Rob Delaney and Martin Freeman/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

left BBC Radio 6 Music because, listening to him cover for Guy Garvey on Sundays, and it sounded like he was a pig in his proverbial. I wanted to explore this subject again – guest D.J.s on BBC Radio 6 Music – because it intrigues me greatly. Joe Talbot from IDLES has just stepped into the breach to cover Iggy Pop for a one-off and, more and more, BBC Radio 6 Music is opening its doors to some big names. The regular cast of presenters are loyal and great but one of the problems with that reliability is you know that you are going to get; the same sort of shows which, whilst comforting, are not as flexible as they could well. By that, I mean shows are beholden to playlists and a sense of structure and, nicely, with guest appearances, there is a bit less order and some interesting touches. Murphy was due to step in for Guy Garvey for another month I think but, for some reason, he is not presenting anymore. Two new names were drafted in to complete Garvey’s show: Rob Delaney and Martin Freeman. The comic actors are each doing a one-month stint and, whilst Garvey finishes up in the studio with Elbow, they have a chance to spin their favourite songs on Sunday afternoon. If you have not tuned into Delaney at 2 p.m. then you can catch up here - because next week (7th July) is his last show. I do hope he is invited back because, as he has already shown, Delaney has a natural warmth and humour; he knows his music and has provided some entertaining shows.


Rather than have the regular BBC Radio 6 Music playlists running through the shows, Delaney has been free to select what he wants and, through the weeks, he has played a bit of everything. You can look back at the songs he has spun already but, in his final show, I am interested to see what he will give us. Of course, following on from Delaney is Martin Freeman. Freeman has done some work with BBC Radio 6 Music before, and with Eddie Piller, has presented some shows. I know Freeman loves his Jazz and he is a Beatles nut. I am not sure what sort of music Freeman will play on his four shows but it will be exciting what he has coming up. I was a bit wary of celebrities/non-regulars on the station and, perhaps, it was nothing more than a bit of jealous. After all, anyone who loves their music would kill to be in the same place as them so, driven by some professional envy, I was unreceptive at first. Delaney has done a really great job and I am sure Martin Freeman will be a big success. There have been other big names presenting on BBC Radio 6 Music before. The station does its Wise Women shows at Christmas and Laura Marling has been one of the names who has had her own show. It is great to hear someone different come in and diversify the station a bit.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Martin Freeman will take over from Rob Delaney after his (Delaney’s) final show tomorrow/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images Europe

I think BBC Radio 6 Music has created a brilliant balance with its regulars and guests and, as Delaney hangs up the headphones, it is time for Freeman to come in. Whereas Delaney had his own presenting style and was a rather laidback and cool dude, I think Freeman will inject more energy and approach his stint with a more academic stance – maybe talking more about the songs and digging into them. It makes me wonder, going forward, whether the station should offer more of these opportunities. Murphy was very popular with listeners and, as I have explained before, it is a shame he is gone. I do think the station should offer out regular guest spots at the weekend because it is nice hearing an assortment of familiar voices and discovering what music drives them. A lot of the stand-ins have been men so, from the world of music, T.V. and beyond, it would be good to hear more women come in. Alongside their regular Paperback Writers features (where literary figures talk about the music dear to them), I think listeners would get a real kick hearing others like Rob Delaney and Martin Freeman present. Delaney has been great so I hope he is allowed to return and maybe do a few more shows in the future. Regardless of the plans of BBC Radio 6 Music, hearing non-D.J.s, as it were, inspires me. We get the impression that, in order to make it onto a big station, one needs to go down the conventional route – learning the craft and starting at local radio before moving your way up.

 PHOTO CREDIT: @akeenster/Unsplash

That is truer of regular live shows but, for the pre-recorded guest slots, not as much technical know-how is needed: simply being able to link the songs and keep the listeners entertained is the main thing. Rather than have to sweet throwing to the news at the right time and deal with callers; get the right faders primed and all the other responsibilities involved, it seems more casual and less stressful when you hear someone like Rob Delaney on BBC Radio 6 Music. I know my shot will never come or, if it does, we are talking many years in the future. Rather than assume responsibility for a full-time show and get up at ungodly hours, there is something dream-like when you can pre-record a show and have the once-a-week thing happening! I have already got into the nerdish position of formulating my own playlist, you know, just in case that emergency call comes through – God knows how bad things would have to be if I was on the list (although it would be a very natural and cool thing for me)! I have really enjoyed Rob Delaney’s run and he has opened my eyes to some new tunes and artists. Like all radio shows and presenters, it is not just about the music. One gets to know a bit about the person behind the microphone and why that music matters to them. Every song holds personal relevance and, to me, that comes through when you hear people like Murphy and Delaney speak so passionately.


 PHOTO CREDIT: @markusspiske/Unsplash

So, then…it is going to be interesting seeing what Freeman does and, as I mentioned, I am one of those people who would love to do a one-off; a dream-come-true-like fever-dream where I can play all those tracks that have shaped me. On the 1,000,000/1 shot I actually have the chance one day, I won’t reveal which songs will open and close the show but, like so many music-loving nerds around the world, we would all love that chance to crank out the tunes and explain to the willing listeners why music moves us! Opening your channels (no pun intended!) to new talent and broadening the schedule not only provides freshness and these unique shows but it provides future mobility. Who knows whether BBC Radio 6 Music will shore up some time during the weekend for guest mixes; where people from film and the arts can come and talk about music important to them. My ultimate dream is actually being in the same seat as Rob Delaney and (soon-to-be) Martin Freeman and there is that mix of delirium and frustration that you’d have. It’s unbelievable to think you can broadcast to thousands of people and, for two/three hours, play the songs you want. If you were there for a week or a month(or longer) there is this dilemma: Which songs do you include and, invariably, which do you have to leave back at home?!

 IN THIS PHOTO: St. Vincent (Annie Clarke) would be a perfect fit for a BBC Radio 6 Music run of shows/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Whatever you have going on, bid a fond farewell to Rob Delaney on 7th July at 2 p.m. and, from the same the following week, tune in and see what Martin Freeman has to offer. I wanted to write about this same subject again because, having spent time with Rob Delaney and thrown away some of my reservations regarding new faces coming in, I wonder where this might take BBC Radio 6 Music – and other stations for that matter! I, and many, would welcome more names into the station and, so long as there were women among them, it would get me hooked. I do not often listen to BBC Radio 6 Music on Sunday but I would be more invested if a new format/space was opened. As with the dilemma of selecting which songs you’d pick if you had your own show, which names would you want to present? Joe Talbot was solid when standing in for Iggy Pop and I would love to hear St. Vincent spin her favourite tracks. From the world of film, comedy and the stage, I know there are some big names, from the U.S. and U.K., that would do a great job- I can think of a couple of great female directors in the U.S. who, I am sure, would provide a compelling show. That is all speculation and musing but I have loved listening to Cillian Murphy and Rob Delaney hit the decks and, as Martin Freeman prepares to take to the chair, I am sure a whole new wave of listeners will be tuning into BBC Radio 6 Music for the first time. I am sure there are countless fans of the station who would relish the chance to get their own slot and, really, it all comes down to that question regarding the opening track:

 IN THIS PHOTO: Guy Garvey will be returning to present his Finest Hour show later in the year/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

WHAT would you go for?