George Lamb: the defence

The BBC 6 Music presenter is actually quite groovy. Shame about his sidekicks

The George Lamb show on 6 Music (Mondays-Fridays, 10am-1pm) continues to inspire more than 3,000 signatures in an ongoing campaign. They all think he's thick. But he's easily the best thing on a station run and peopled by stiffs. Sure, George is insecure (he's still mentioning the Sony Award he won in April) and yet when he calms down - say, an hour into the show - he can be quite groovy.

Not so his immaculately vacant supporting cast, primarily the two gimps that sit with him in the studio flannelling devotedly. Although not as bad as Jonathan Ross's Radio 2 show gimp Andy Davies (an impossible ask), Mark and Mickie are nonetheless pitiful characters. Mickie, an American, gives off waves of insecurity so powerful that George is forced to say things like "We love you, Mickie! You're so good back-referencing yesterday's show there!" in the same unconvincingly OTT way a boyfriend might just before he does something he knows he shouldn't, like bang your sister.

Then there's the show's resident book reviewer, Alex, who goes under the monicker Ernest Hemingway, presumably because she only ever thinks in extremely short sentences. "The thing about books," she mused recently, "is that they can either be amazing, or really really rubbish." George quickly got her talking about something else, possibly her past. "Yah," she said, "it's so weird. In 1992 I was listening to Galliano and the Cranberries."

"You were having a bad one, then," murmured George sympathetically. But Ernest - with the determination she will doubtless apply to perfecting her Victoria sponge at future village fetes - forged ahead, particularly dazzled by the thought of Hari Kunzru, "who is now, ahm, kind of, a proper prize-winning author and the like". George plonked Morrissey on the turntable and asked listeners to text in about the various ways they'd skived off work. But then the text system went down. We could always use the Listen Again facility. But that wasn't working either. ("6 MUSIC: DIGITAL AND ONLINE!")

Soon after, Martha Wainwright came in to play. "I have to admit that I've lost my mind," she said, yawning. "I'm surprised I have any pants on at all." At home in Brooklyn, Martha never wears pants and her flatmate never wears a top. "I'd like to come round to yours for tea," said George. "Will you play for us, please?"

"I wish I were a singer," sang Martha, strumming her guitar. "I wish I was a dancer dancing for your love. Do da oo ah ah huh huh eryaaa." Jesus, was this ever radical stuff! She was so amazing, it was agreed, that everyone on the station talked about her non-stop for 24 hours, and even Lauren Laverne managed to stop licking Elbow's whoopsie on the breakfast show momentarily to pay her a compliment.

The next day a girl called Julia came in to review the telly ("It's soooo lovely. It's sooooo brilliant"). George, trying to stay pro-female here, said he didn't appreciate it when men look at totty on the street like women are just "great big juicy hamburgers". "That's nice of you," breathed Mark, floored by his hero's soul.

“Yeah. Just call me Emily Pankhurst,” said George, turning to REM for succour. Next week Nietzsche plays live. Ernest Hemingway brings quiche.

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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 02 June 2008 issue of the New Statesman, Bobby and Barack