Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Another enigma - Terry Christian

To BBC Radio Manchester for a very early start. For a few years I've been asked to come on the breakfast programme a couple of times a month to fill a slot called Manchester Money. It's at the painfully early time of 06:45, which means a 05:30 alarm call. And so after Friday's sternish defence of one unpopular broadcaster who divides opinion - Andrew Neil - I was going to wade in on behalf of Terry Christian, the breakfast presenter on BBC Radio Manchester.

The breakfast programme is an important part of the overhaul of the station. It has sought to be more urban and Manchester, rather than suburban and Bury, presumably. Getting the original gobby Manc to present the breakfast show is key to this. He now has a cult following. The ratings initially bombed, apparently. Now they've climbed back up again.

So, you get to the studio, the producers look stressed and look at you hopefully that you've come up with something to talk to Terry about. I look through the proper business stories I've got and it dawns on you that a discussion about the corporate strategy of United Utilities just won't work on a two way with Terry at all. In the car I've already heard him trailing a story about tall buildings in Manchester, so that's got to be worth a natter. While Terry presses buttons and tells musical anecdotes about some of the middle of the road music he's forced to play he tells you he doesn't even like the skyscrapers story and doesn't want to do it. Yes, he does, he's changed his mind.

In the end we talk about the takeover talks for Dubai International to buy Liverpool Football Club. He loves that. And can't resist mentioning the criminal classes in Liverpool. I talk about why foreign owners want a piece of the action. I mention that the sale of internet video rights could be a licence to print money if clubs do this themselves, rather than sell collectively. Terry likes this, he even manages to get in a sly reference to how this will expose "ickle city".

The tall buildings story had me describing how the city has changed. I can't think for the life of me what the trigger is, but I like these chances to talk up Manchester. Terry wants to know what this building will mean to someone in a council house in Beswick. Jobs, jobs, jobs I say and time is up.

This was a safe day. It played to his strengths as a broadcaster and the relief on the producers' faces was very evident.

Terry's appeal is the enormous chip on his shoulder. His hidden talent is his incredible retention for detail about culture, music and sport. Sometimes I've seen him check himself, worry that he's come across as vaguely intellectual for a moment and so reverted to "default Terry" and slagged off Scousers instead. It makes him edgier than a normal BBC broadcaster. But he's one of those people that if he ain't your cup of tea, then he just ain't.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Terry Christian is a knob