“Wow,” says Chris Moyles, in the opening moments of the last morning of his eight-year tenure at Radio 1 – the longest of any of its breakfast show hosts. “D’you know what? I’m just knackered, if I’m awfully honest.” “Are you?” asks one of his regular team, Dave, sympathetically. “Yeah,” says Chris, “the greatest emotion that’s filling my body is just tiredness. But I’m in a good place. We’re number one trending in the UK and we’re on the Red Button and we’re on BBC big screens around the UK and we’re on people’s phones across the UK and [almost an afterthought] we’re on the radio.”
All of which might well have been true but you’d never take Moyles’s word for it. As usual he sounds slightly mendacious. “Dave – did you go out last night?” he asks, ominous. “No, I had a quiet one,” answers Dave, apprehending Moyles’s play of tone. “Your eyes look tired,” needles Chris. Dave changes his mind. “Yes they are tired,” he nods. So consistent have Moyles’s stooges been over the years at establishing their irrelevance, it’s sometimes hard to blame Moyles for the way he has kicked them so shamelessly, only to be nice moments later, bestowing tiny privileges – allowing them in on the forehand drives of the conversation – so long as they always understood that these treats are revocable at the jailer’s will.
“I’ve had my teeth whitened especially,” says Chris, bringing the chatter back to him. “Oh, they look lovely,” coo the large co-presenting team, who are all in the studio. “Very white!” Tina steps in now, keenly. “OK so the hashtags for today guys are hashtag bye-chris-moylesshow, hashtag bye-dom, hashtag bye-tina, hashtag bye-dave, hashtag bye-aled, hashtag bye-chris. Let’s see if we can get them all trending . . .” There’s a silence as everyone taps away on their phones: less radio hosts than surveillance operatives in the back of a van. Moyles is by now shivering at the sweet memory of his reign – 11 million listeners in his prime! – and tracing a love-heart on the window.
“It’s a hard act to follow,” he sighs, entirely without shame. “Text messages are going crazy. We’re trending in the UK, we’re number one, guys. I don’t know how many messages we got yesterday but I remember looking over at one point and just seeing pages and pages of us . . .”