Simon Bates

Simon Bates
Simon Bates
Born 17 December 1947 (1947-12-17) (age 63)
Occupation Radio DJ
Employer Smooth Radio

Simon Bates (born 17 December 1947, Birmingham) is a UK disc jockey and radio presenter. Between 1976 and 1993 he worked at BBC Radio 1, presenting the station's weekday mid-morning show for most of this period. He later became a regular presenter on Classic FM. In January 2011, he took over as host of "The Breakfast Show" on Smooth Radio.


Early career

Bates was raised in Suffolk and Shropshire and was educated at Adams' Grammar School before working for radio stations in New Zealand and Australia while still a teenager. Bates returned to the UK in 1971 to join the BBC, initially working for BBC Radio 4 and then joining BBC Radio 2 in 1973 presenting the Late Night show, before presenting the Early Morning show in 1975. Bates left BBC Radio 2 in January 1976 and joined BBC Radio 1 in May the same year standing in for Tom Browne to host the Sunday Top 20 show before presenting the Sunday morning show two months later.

BBC Radio 1

Initially a weekend presenter playing new pop records, Bates took over the weekday mid-morning programme in November 1977 and remained the presenter for 16 years. The least flashy and garrulous of Radio 1's principal broadcasters, with an avuncular appearance (sober clothes, large glasses), Bates nevertheless became popular, attracting up to 11 million listeners. His voice — essentially a sped-up, slightly Americanised version of the standard Received Pronunciation associated with BBC Radio 4 — was unusual in that most Radio 1 DJs of the time had a more informal 'DJ' voice.

Two long-running features of his programme were particularly well known: "The Golden Hour" and "Our Tune". Bates inherited "The Golden Hour" from his predecessor, Tony Blackburn. The listener had to guess the year from records played and clues given by Bates.

However, the "Our Tune" feature, which ran from 1980, became a daily 11am fixture of his Radio 1 show, and is the element for which it is best remembered. Over the background of Nino Rota's theme to Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 film Romeo and Juliet, Bates would read a story sent by a listener. The story invariably had a theme of tragedy, often starting with a happy courtship but followed by a disaster such as illness or death. The story would conclude with a record chosen by the correspondent. Although some bemoaned the feature's mawkish nature, a number of spin-off albums, featuring songs chosen by listeners, were released.

A third, less well-remembered feature was "The Birthday File", in which Bates would play music by stars celebrating a birthday.

Bates afforded regular airtime to Jonathan King to comment about the music scene, and was always the presenter sent by Radio 1 to interview stars at the BRIT Awards. In 1989 he did a summer series called "Round The World" in which his show broadcast from a new country each day — the idea being that he would go round the world without flying within 67 days, an aim in which he was ultimately unsuccessful (he had to fly over Saudi Arabia) although he did raise £300,000 for Oxfam and it did only take 78 days. This won him awards, though cynics claimed he did it to avoid being given one of the BBC Radio 1 roadshows, and Bates himself has since effectively confirmed that suggestion. Bates' daily reports ran for only half an hour — Mike Read stepped in to present The Golden Hour during this period while the rest of the morning was taken up by the roadshow.

Bates also had two runs presenting the Sunday afternoon Top 40, from 2 April 1978 to 26 August 1979 (during which time the Top 20 was extended to the Top 40 on 12 November 1978) and 8 January 1984 to 23 September 1984. He presented BBC TVs Top of the Pops regularly from 1980 to 1988, and presented the roadshow — which he came to despise — every summer for many years until 1988, on one occasion insisting on wearing long trousers when it was compulsory to wear shorts. After his round-the-world trip in 1989, he was exempted roadshow duties during his last four summers at the station.

Bates worked on the mid-morning slot until 1993, seeing breakfast-show presenters like Noel Edmonds, Dave Lee Travis, Mike Read, Mike Smith and Simon Mayo come and go. He was not the most popular member of staff at Radio 1. John Peel was fond of repeating that he formed a posse with David Jensen and Paul Burnett to attack him in the car park but admitted they never actually confronted him.

When new controller Matthew Bannister arrived at the station intending to shake-up its safe feel and modernise it, Bates was one of the presenters thought to be under threat. Bannister's comments in the book The Nation's Favourite indicate that he feared Bates's supposed subversive influence rather than his broadcasting style. Bates resigned before the station was able to sack him.

Bates was heard on all five national BBC stations — apart from his stint at BBC Radio 1 and his broadcasts for BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 4 (unusually before he joined the pop network), he also presented a Prom concert on BBC Radio 3 in 1987 and presented a digest of the daily papers on the original version of BBC Radio 5 (now BBC Radio Five Live) in 1990.

After Radio 1

After leaving Radio 1 he worked for Irish-based long wave station Atlantic 252, reviving "Our Tune" and then presented a TV version of the feature daily for BBC1's Good Morning with Anne and Nick in 1994-95 and later for Sky One.

During these few years he also became the face of the VSC often seen before films that had come out on rental video, describing the classification of the movie. This was lampooned by comedians such as Harry Enfield and Ben Elton.

From September 1995 - April 1996, Bates broadcast for Talk Radio UK (now TalkSport) as the breakfast show presenter. He was then heard on London's Liberty Radio as mid-morning presenter until 1997.

In 1997, Bates joined Classic FM, presenting the weekly Classic Romance programme and was also heard on BBC Southern Counties Radio presenting a Sunday morning show until late 1998. In addition, between 1996 and 1998, Bates presented a show on the Classic Gold Network on weekday evenings. He then moved to London's LBC as breakfast host from 1999–2002.

Classic FM

Bates originally appeared on Classic FM in 1997, presenting the weekly Classic Romance show. In mid-2002 he was offered his first daily slot, presenting the drivetime show. From June 2003 he hosted the Classic FM weekday breakfast show and the one-hour "Classic FM at the Movies" programme, discussing films and film music on Sunday evening. In September 2006, his programme's hours changed from 7-11am to 8am-noon. In 2010 Bates was moved to mid morning (9am to 1pm) and shortly afterwards it was announced he would be leaving the station in January 2011 to present a show on Smooth Radio.[1]


As well as his daily show for Classic FM, Bates can also be heard on Gold (radio) Radio Network every Sunday morning from 8am-noon.

Smooth Radio

On 17 August 2010, it was announced that from January 2011 Simon Bates would take over as host of the Breakfast Show on Smooth Radio, leaving Classic FM after 13 years.[1] Bates' show replaced local programming on a number of regional radio stations, and began on 4 January 2011.[2] He has brought back both The Golden Hour and Our Tune to the show. The Golden Hour airs every day from 9-10am as it did originally, while Our Tune airs weekly on Monday and Friday mornings at 8:40. Other features in the show include the Thousand Pound Minute, where listeners must answer a series of ten questions correctly to win £1,000.

A Revival

In addition to Classic FM shows, Bates presents a revival of his classic feature from Radio 1 "Our Tune". "Our Tune at Noon" can be heard every Monday–Friday at 12.00 Midday, syndicated on commercial stations across the UK.


  1. ^ a b "Bates quits Classic for Smooth". Radio Today. 17 August 2010. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  2. ^ Mahoney, Elisabeth (5 January 2011). "Radio head: Smooth Simon Bates". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 1 April 2011. 

External links

Preceded by
Tom Browne
BBC Radio One
chart show presenter

1978 - 1979
Succeeded by
Tony Blackburn
Preceded by
Tommy Vance
BBC Radio One
chart show presenter

Succeeded by
Richard Skinner

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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