The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio: Absolutely fatuous

What happened to the drinks sideboard as a item of furniture; the mighty Katherine Jenkins possibly looking less attractive without her make-up; what appears to be a Wickes-sponsored section on power tools - just some of the unbelievably boring conversati

The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show
Absolute Radio

“What do we all think now that Becks has retired, then?” asks Christian O’Connell, the presenter of Absolute Radio’s Breakfast Show (weekdays, 6am) – and, as of 13 May, the first radio personality to win ten gold Sony Awards, the sector’s most prestigious accolade. “I mean, it’s big news,” he insists. “Front page of every single newspaper – looking dashing, as ever.” A brief silence as O’Connell contemplates Beckham, the ultimate figure of fiction. “It is big news,” concedes his co-host, Richie, like Auden considering Freud, “but I found that once he’d left the Premier League, I was kind of like, ‘OK, fine, go and have your fun,’ and then there was America and I was like, ‘OK, you know . . .’ and then France.” More drinking things in.

“Then I saw Chris Waddle yesterday,” expands Richie, his voice growing daring, “and he said, ‘Good player – but wouldn’t have said great.’” Typical Waddle. How a man with hair universally agreed to more closely resemble a psychological dysfunction can say of anyone, least of all Theo Walcott, “He doesn’t have a football brain,” is beyond me.

“Oh, really?” counters O’Connell, “because I would have thought you could say he was a great player” – and so on, proving that Beckham is simultaneously the most underrated and overrated player of all time. Also that people knock him not just because they are annoyed at the way he always hurled himself into self-promotion but because of the way the media consistently sold him as great, even during the times when he wasn’t. The whole thing is unbelievably boring – I apologise for even bringing it up.

But then The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show is unbelievably boring. This conversation – deemed to be so electrifying that it headlines the weekly Absolute podcast – was one of several equally boring conversations: what happened to the drinks sideboard as a item of furniture; the mighty Katherine Jenkins possibly looking less attractive without her make-up; and what appears to be the usual Wickes-sponsored section on power tools, all topped by Ian Wright thoroughly running the dangers of self-parody concerning the Premiership season. “The top end has been fine,” confirmed Wright, from a deep place in his unconscious soul. “The middle section has been good. And obviously . . . the bottom. You know what I mean?”

Newton Faulkner and Gary Kemp in the studio with Christian O'Connell (centre) in the Absolute Radio studios in London. Photograph: Getty Images.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 27 May 2013 issue of the New Statesman, You were the future once

Show Hide image

Why a Keeping Up with the Kardashians cartoon would make genuinely brilliant TV

The Kardashians are their own greatest satirists.

You’ve seen Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kourtney and Kim Take Kyoto, and Kylie and Kendall Klarify Kommunications Kontracts, but the latest Kardashian show might take a step away from reality. Yes, Kartoon Kardashians could be on the way. According to TMZ, an animated cartoon is the next Kardashian television property we can expect: the gossip website reports that Kris Jenner saw Harvey Weinstein’s L.A. production company earlier this month for a pitch meeting.

It’s easy to imagine the dramas the animated counterparts of the Kardashians might have: arguments over who gets the last clear plastic salad bowl? Moral dilemmas over whether or not to wear something other than Balenciaga to a high profile fashion event? Outrage over the perceived betrayals committed by their artisanal baker?

If this gives you déjà vu, it might be because of a video that went viral over a year ago made using The Sims: a blisteringly accurate parody of Keeping Up with the Kardashians that sees the three sisters have a melodramatic argument about soda.

It’s hysterical because it clings onto the characteristics of the show: scenes opening with utter banalities, sudden dramatic music coinciding with close-ups of each family member’s expressions, a bizarre number of shots of people who aren’t speaking, present tense confessionals, Kim’s ability to do an emotional 0-60, and Kourtney’s monotonous delivery.

But if the Kardashians, both as a reality TV show and celebrity figures, are ripe for ridicule, no one is more aware of it than the family themselves. They’ve shared teasing memes and posted their own self-referential jokes on their social channels, while Kim’s Kimoji app turned mocking viral pictures into self-depreciating in-jokes for her fans. And the show itself has a level of self-awareness often misinterpreted as earnestness - how else could this moment of pure cinema have made it to screen?

The Kardashians are their own greatest satirists, and they’ve perfected the art of making fun of themselves before anyone else can. So there’s a good chance that this new cartoon won’t be a million miles away from “Soda Drama”. It might even be brilliant.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.