Richard Bacon webchat and video
BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Richard Bacon joined us at Mumsnet in June 2013 to discuss his career, fatherhood, the Blue Peter scandal and his new memoir, A Series of Unrelated Events.
Q. NigellasGuest: Why did Help! disappear? I don't miss it at all, but I just wonder why it stopped. Also, do you miss anything at all about the late night show? Obviously it was a good move for you to do the afternoons instead, but is there anything about the late night programme that you preferred?
A. Richard Bacon: Two really good questions. Help! disappeared because the BBC trust took it away for not being 'newsy' enough. For the record, I think it was a terrible decision by the BBC Trust. I miss a lot about the night-time show. We created a real club there in which it felt like I knew all the listeners personally. The night time show, if I'm honest, is more enjoyable to present. It's just on at the wrong time of day. There's only so long you can get home at 2am for.
Q. cm22v077: Why have you written the book? Is the Blue Peter scandal in there?
A. Richard Bacon: I enjoy writing, I've read a few columns in the past and that's why I did this. The first chapter is called Cocaine and Lots of It. Let me recommend that. The chapter, not cocaine. I go into some detail in that chapter on the effect that had on my upstanding, criminal defence lawyer father, and I hope that chapter is an interesting insight into what it's like for a family to be at the centre of a media scandal.
Q. DevaDiva: Do you prefer TV or radio, and why? Also, what do you really think about the relocation to media city? Do you ever have lunch in the Blue Peter garden?
A. Richard Bacon: That question comes up a lot and it just depends on the job. Some jobs in radio are better than some jobs in telly and vice versa. Some jobs in telly are very boring. Pound for pound, a big live TV show is more exciting than most live radio shows. I agree with the principal of the BBC better representing the country and therefore I agree with the principal of setting up the office in Salford, but I can't pretend it suits my life. I live in London and it's really hard to overstate how much I love London.
Q. champagnesupernovahg: What are the best and worst things that have happened to you since being on TV that aren't in the book?
A. Richard Bacon: It is true that a lot of the worst things that have happened are in the book. The nicer things are that when you've been around for a bit or have a media profile of any sort, the world of getting tables in restaurant and theatre tickets becomes a bit less complicated.
To be honest, I will have to refer you to A Series of Unrelated Events. The chapters A Back of the Head, Cocaine and Lots of It and Twas Five Nights Before Christmas represent the worst and most ridiculous things that have happened to me in this industry.
Q. nettie: I know you've done a lot of work surrounding young people and politics, do you think it is important to try and make politics more engaging for the general population, and do you see yourself as the young person's Andrew Neil?
A. Richard Bacon: I don't intend to go into news and current affairs full time, so I don't see myself as the young Andrew Neil. I think young people are engaged by politics but tend to pick up on single issues.
I follow politics religiously and the more I follow it, the more I've come to dislike the tribal way that politics is structured. I think younger people will be less and less bothered about calling themselves Labour or Conservative, but that's not saying they won't be engaged with politics. They care about stuff, they just don't want to sign up to a whole package, which parties offer you.
Q. partystress: I love the ba-bye! I only get to hear it once a week, but it is one of my highlights. Given that your life must be quite 'starry', how do you stay sounding so normal?
A. Richard Bacon: It's an act. I'm not that normal. My life is quite 'starry' and actually I tweet about none of the most interesting things that happen to me as I think it would make people realise that the life I lead is a bit, to use a Nigel Farage phrase, 'metropolitan elite'. The Telegraph once put me in the 'smug metropolitan elite' and I thought it was one of the nicest things anyone's said about me.
Thanks for picking up on the ba-bye, a lot of people don't like it. Now I know that you do, I promise not to drop it.
Q. majjsu: Is there a quote or a motto that you try to adhere to?
A. Richard Bacon: I have a number of catchphrases, slightly military ones, which date back to my time in the Combined Cadet Force at school. I use 'at ease' and 'as you were'. I don't really have a motto but I have always been driven by a desire to have fun. I got into the media quite young, when I was 17, so I've got 20 years behind me now. After two decades at this gig I can say that it has been an enormous amount of fun. Quit whatever job you've got now and come and get a shallow job in the media.
Q. jillfiona: My nine year old son is your biggest fan, he listens to your podcasts (not always entirely appropriate) and often recites bits of the before and after show briefings. He'd like to know if you played any instruments when you were at school.
A. Richard Bacon: I played the saxophone, drums, piano and trumpet, and I really wish that I'd kept them up. It was a mistake to stop any of them. If you put in the hard work as a child all of that will come easily to you as an adult, and life would be much more fun if I could play the piano effortlessly. Jill, your nine year old son is clearly really clever. I'm not just saying that because he picked my podcast, but Radio 5 Live is full of smart material and current affairs, the average listener is 51. Your son is 42 years ahead of schedule. Congratulations, tell him I love him and thank him for lowering the average age of the audience.
Q. Pagwatch: Which interviewee on your Radio 5 show was least like their on-screen persona? Is John Simm as fantastic as he seems to be?
A. Richard Bacon: The answer is actually John Simm because he's incredibly un-intense in real life. All the characters he plays are very intense and he is the exact opposite of that.
Q. harryhausen: How do you cope when you realise quite soon into an interview that the interviewee isn't going to say much and is quite closed and coming across as grumpy?
A. Richard Bacon: Paul McCartney's son came on and barely said three words and that was a car crash. I just talk a lot myself. Sometimes if it's a really long interview and I've asked a lot of questions, I'll re-ask questions I've asked in the beginning of the interview and re-phrase them. You can now look out for this technique when you listen to the show, which you'll be doing during your break from reading A Series of Unrelated Events.
Q. BettyTurpinEyes: You seem to have a knack of relaxing your interviewees with a laid-back style of questioning, which often leads to some really unexpected admissions. What do you feel has been your biggest coup in terms of getting a subject to talk about something that you may not have expected them to before you met?
A. Richard Bacon: It is true, I think that you can sometimes get people to open up by being laid back. It's the opposite of the John Humphreys approach. I remember Chris Evans really opening up in a long interview I did with him. There are times when I've been too laid back and not pressed a point enough, but it's an afternoon show and I want to create a tone and a world that people want to visit both as guests and listeners.
Q. bleedingheart: Do you think your reaction to certain topics in the news has been affected by becoming a father? I've listened to you for a long time and I think you've matured a lot in the past two years.
A. Richard Bacon: Yes, I think that's true. Some listeners are quite sarcastic about the amount I mention my son, but I've always been a presenter who talks about his own life a lot so when that's the biggest thing in your life it's hard not to mention. I think I have matured in the last couple of years, but I still go out far too much. But I think on air I probably, when I'm not sounding hungover, have tried to sound a bit more mature. I'm glad you've noticed.
Q. NeddyNibbles: What's been your biggest surprise at becoming a Dad?
A. Richard Bacon: I've got a very laidback wife so my life hasn't changed as much as I thought it would. However, it is very restrictive on how much you get to do as a couple out of the house. I really miss going to a restaurant on a whim with Rebecca, ditto the cinema, ditto friends' houses. I still do a lot of those things, but sadly without Rebecca. If you have a baby, and you're struggling to go out as much as you used to, can I draw your attention to a new book called A Series of Unrelated Events.
Q. whattodoo: Do you have a five, 10 or 50 year plan? Has your life, roughly, followed what you set out to achieve? Any questions you wished you'd asked after the interviewee has left?
A. Richard Bacon: For much of my life I've never been that ambitious or had that much of a long term plan, but that's all started to change. When you have a kid you realise that you have to have a long term plan as in 10 years, which seems like a long time to me, Arthur will only be 11. So my plan for the next few years, and here's something I've not told anyone else apart from my wife, is to move to New York. The exact city quite a lot of people tell you not to go to with a baby or toddler, that's where I'm going.
Q. cm22v077: What was it like growing up with the last name Bacon? What's the best nickname you've had because of it?
A. Richard Bacon: As I was quite confident at school, I didn't really get ridiculed. Michael McIntyre calls me Bacofoil. Having worked on things like breakfast shows, it's always handy having a name that lends itself to pork-based puns. Sadly, I forgot to do any bacon based puns in the chapter headings of my new book, A Series of Unrelated Events.
Q. tethersend: I quite like you but I'm not sure why. Can you think of a reason? I've tried, but no luck.
A. Richard Bacon: All of the answers to that question are contained within the covers of A Series of Unrelated Events. Some people seem to like me because I've led quite a chaotic, hapless existence in which quite a lot has gone wrong.
Q. ViviPru: Eh up duck. Being born and bred Nottinghamshire, as am I, I have to ask; did you ever put fairy liquid in the slab square fountains?
A. Richard Bacon: I don't remember doing that, but if I did it would have been one of the least criminal things I did during my time in Nottinghamshire. Thanks me duck.
Q. Eastpoint: Why do you hate dogs and pets so much? Especially as your mum loves her dog so much.
A. Richard Bacon: I don't actually hate them. I used to have a running joke on my radio show about wanting all dogs to be put down. I don't actually think that, just that about two thirds of them should be put down. I don't really think that. I do love dogs and grew up with dogs but I have quite a hectic London life and our lifestyle doesn't really suit having dogs. I just like to wind my Mum up by talking about how much I hate dogs.
Q. JaquelineHyde: Just wondering how excited you are about the mighty Stags return to the football league?
A. Richard Bacon: The only football match in my life I've ever really enjoyed was when the Stags won the Freight Rover trophy at Wembley in 1986. Since then no football has lived up to that moment so I don't really follow the game. I think it means an enormous amount to the town and it's a great achievement for the previously ridiculed female Chief Executive of the club. I hope she rewards herself with a copy of A Series of Unrelated Events. I'm really happy for Mansfield.
Q. Shakey1500: Are you still nervous of Mumsnet now? Lovely, aren't we?
A. Richard Bacon: Turns out you're all really nice and ask rational questions. This is not the Mumsnet of folklore. It turns out that Mumsnet is a rather lovely place to be.
The biscuit question
Q. Shakey1500: Do you munch on some biscuits during the show? If so, what type?
A. Richard Bacon: I'm going to evade answering this question in the hope of generating a fraction of the publicity that Gordon Brown did when he came here to Mumsnet Towers and shamefully avoided answering that question.