Say yes to Sunday nights

Bob Harris has all the cool of a wised-up older brother.

Bob Harris
Radio 2

If, as Einstein wrote, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, Bob Harris is probably mad. But really, don't knock a man who hollers "Yes!" 600 times in the course of a three-hour show, unasham­edly, even after everyone in the western world once wrote him off as the inspiration for The Fast Show character whose enthusiastic catchphrase - "Nice!" - was delivered in close-up to camera following universally dreadful modern jazz acts. Harris's Sunday-night show on Radio 2 ("a moderately eclectic mix of mostly British and American rock and country") is perfection - although your correspondent must admit to having found herself humming along recently to something that turned out to be Wings.

In a nutshell, Harris, now 65, has turned into that nice next-door neighbour prepared to sit and play records while you drink the house dry, saying, "After this, I know exactly what I'm going to put on because Graham Nash was behind it and it's absolutely fantastic," the vinyl neatly lined up against the wall, Bonnie Raitt and Joan Armatrading as back-up. His playlist last Sunday (8 May) was incredible. Johnnie Guitar Watson with "Space Guitar" from 1954. Link Ray's "Rumble". Black Joe Lewis. Big Head Blues Club's "Come On In My Kitchen". And a song with lyrics that went: "Tutti frutti special raspberry/cherry smash lemon/tree I wanna go to Mars." Yep, catch him on a good week and Harris's music is unbeatable. It's the music played by the devastating older brother who came to visit the guy you were seeing in the hall of residence and who sat watching you through slit eyes, his foot keeping time while everyone waited for something to happen.

Please don't curb your yeses on my account, Harris. Robbie Robertson - previously of The Band - was on the other night and even though some of what Robbie said was pretty unclear, Bob, bless him, had his head around it. "I come from Canada," - "Yes absolutely yep yep yep" - "so I could write 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' and they couldn't!"


“I mean, they would come around like row-row-row-your-boat and it became a construction of an idea and I was very happy!"

“Yeah! Yesssss. I bet you were . . ." l

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.