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

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SRSLY #107: Emoji Movie / Quacks / Perfume Genius

On the pop culture podcast this week: The Emoji Movie, the BBC period comedy Quacks and the Perfume Genius album No Shape.

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

Listen using the player below. . .

. . .or subscribe in iTunes. We’re also on StitcherRSS and SoundCloud – but if you use a podcast app that we’re not appearing in, let us know.

SRSLY is hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s head of podcasts and pop culture writer. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

The Links

Events! Tickets for the Game of Thrones quiz from here, for the live episode at the London Podcast Festival here and for Caroline's podcasts and social media workshop here.

The Emoji Movie

The trailer.

Robbie Collin's (very funny) review.


The show on iPlayer.

No Shape by Perfume Genius

The album on Spotify.

Laura Snapes' review at Pitchfork.

For next time:

We are listening to the radio drama Love in Recovery. Find some episodes on the BBC Radio iPlayer, or the whole series as an audiobook on Audible.

If you’d like to talk to us about the podcast or make a suggestion for something we should read or cover, you can email srslypod[at]

You can also find us on Twitter @srslypod, or send us your thoughts on tumblr here. If you like the podcast, we’d love you to leave a review on iTunes - this helps other people come across it.

We love reading out your emails. If you have thoughts you want to share on anything we’ve discussed, or questions you want to ask us, please email us on srslypod[at], or @ us on Twitter @srslypod, or get in touch via tumblr here. We also have Facebook now.

Our theme music is “Guatemala - Panama March” (by Heftone Banjo Orchestra), licensed under Creative Commons. 

See you next week!

PS If you missed #106, check it out here.