Last week, Greg James told NME that he wanted his new breakfast show to be a constant testament to the power of the listener.
“The listeners should be on if they’ve got a good story”, he explained at the time. “I want it to be a show that’s not just for them, but with them too….It feels like a good gang to be part of. In many ways, my listeners are gonna be co-hosts of the show.”
From the moment that Greg James begins his Breakfast debut on Monday morning, it becomes immediately clear what he means.
SO…. we had: @gregjames chatting with a lion called Wallace
– Calvin Harris talking about problem vegetables
– a brand new Coldplay song
– and the Red Arrows doing a display on bikes, WITH SMOKE.
If you’ve ever met me you known I’m just about the happiest man alive right now. pic.twitter.com/zWJTqmZjMm
— Chris Sawyer (@ahchrissawyer) August 20, 2018
He’s only been on the air for 30 seconds, but the listeners have already been handed the important task of deciding that Avicii’s ‘Levels’ will be the show’s first ever song. It sets the perfect tone for what follows – a three-hour show that revels in the power of Joe Public.
This, of course, means that the show’s first guest is a world away from the glittering profile of a bonafide A-Lister who has been drafted in to cement the show’s kudos.
Instead, he opts for what must surely be the first ever interview with a lion on BBC Radio.
Catching up on @gregjames first show… and I have no idea why I’m listening to roaring lions while I’m cashing up at work ????
— Sean Rosney (@SeanRosney) August 20, 2018
— Matt Flood (@mattflood) August 20, 2018
Things get brilliantly surreal as he links up with Blackpool Zoo and the triumphant roars of Wallace the Lion ring out in the background. It’s the kind of segment that James clearly loves – and it works because he’s acutely aware of just how silly it is.
When a celebrity does eventually emerge late on, they come in the form of Calvin Harris, which provides the first chance for a household name to enter the listener-led world that he has created. It means that callers are given the chance to personally ring the Scottish superstar, providing that they can guess the missing digit in his mobile phone number.
As the correct digit is finally guessed, it proves to be one of the show’s funniest moments so far – Harris is understandably bemused as the listener explains how they’ve named their cat after him. The circus of silliness eventually reaches it apex with a bicycle display from the Red Arrows outside Broadcasting House and it proves to be a charmingly ramshackle end to the first day.
It couldn’t be a better start to life on breakfast for Greg James. If his predecessors risked isolating listeners with far-removed tales of celebrity culture, James is the complete opposite. Instead, he understands that listeners are the lifeblood – and he’s keen to get them involved at every turn. The result is a refreshing triumph, teeming with endearing silliness and essential tales of everyday life.
Long may it continue.