Mark Radcliffe ‘surprised’ to lose BBC show during cancer

Mark Radcliffe has said he was surprised to be bumped from his BBC 6 Music afternoon show while undergoing cancer treatment at the end of last year.

The radio presenter’s programme with Stuart Maconie was moved to Saturday and Sunday mornings in order to give Shaun Keaveny the 1pm weekday slot, as part of a reshuffle in which Lauren Laverne became the station’s breakfast show host.

“We felt … surprised,” Radcliffe told the Radio Times. “And disappointed. Some of the things [BBC management] have done mystify me still, but actually, in terms of my health, it’s probably better not to have to do three hours a day, five days a week.”

Radcliffe, 61, agreed to stay with Maconie even as the show dropped from five to two days a week – a move he said was “like renewing our marriage vows”.

The Cheshire-based Radcliffe was diagnosed with head and neck cancer at the end of last year, requiring the removal of tumours from his neck and mouth. He is now in remission. The illness forced him to spend several months off air, during which time Maconie broadcast on his own.

Radcliffe, who is promoting his new book, Crossroads, on moments that changed music, told the magazine that he had become more upbeat after his illness. “People always say: ‘You’ve got to stay positive.’ Easier said than done. But when it comes to the crunch, what’s the alternative?

“Everybody sneers at John Lennon, imagining there are no possessions while he lives in his big, white house. I found myself being quite kind to him [in the book], because surely part of life is about thinking: we can get through this. It made me a more positive person … At first, I was a bit like a religious zealot. People would say: ‘I’m not sure about this new Radcliffe, where’s the cynical one?”

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BBC 6 Music reaches 2.3 million listeners a week, according to the latest audience figures, more than tune in to Radio 3.

The broadcaster also said he looked back on his ill-fated brief stint on the Radio 1 breakfast show during the 1990s as half of Mark and Lard as a “blip” and suggested he was much happier with the 6 Music show and his Folk Show on Radio 2: “I’ve never been a big deal – more of a medium deal.”



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