Gary Davies is a UK radio broadcaster, born 13 December 1957 in Manchester. Davies began his career in his home city with Piccadilly Radio in 1979 before being recruited by BBC Radio One in 1982. His time at the station is best remembered for his fronting of the weekday lunchtime show (the "bit in the middle") from 1984 until 1992.

Davies left the BBC at the end of 1993 and joined Virgin Radio early the following year. He moved away from broadcasting in the late 90s to launch Good Groove, a music management, production and publishing company.

In May 2018 Davies returned to BBC radio to take over the presenting duties on BBC Radio 2's Sounds Of The Eighties, replacing host Sara Cox [4]. He had previously deputised for Cox for a one-off show on 9 July 2017 [5].

Radio One Career

In late 1982 BBC Radio One restored its broadcasting hours to midnight at the weekends, creating new shows in the evenings instead of switching the live feed to BBC Radio 2. Additional personnel were required to fill these extra hours, so Gary Davies was hired at the same time as Janice Long, to join another recent recruit in Pat Sharp. The trio were introduced to the Top Of The Pops audience on 2 December 1982. A month later, Davies would make his debut on the programme as a presenter alongside Long.

Davies began his Radio 1 career by presenting a two-hour programme on Saturday evenings from 10 pm, making his debut on 4 December 1982 [6]. Long also made her debut on the same night, presenting the 7:30 - 10 pm show immediately prior to this [1].

In March 1984 Davies took over the weekday lunchtime show of 11:30 - 14:00 from Mike Smith, having served a daytime apprenticeship by presenting a Friday afternoon programme, 2 - 4:30, from 7 October 1983. From Monday 1 October 1984 the programme moved to 12:00 - 14:30 in the schedule, before finally alighting on a settled slot of 12:45 - 15:00 from Monday 30 September 1985 [7] for the remainder of Davies' tenure. In July 1991 the programme was rebranded "Let's Do Lunch". Gary was also a regular presenter of the Radio One roadshow in the summer months.

During his time at the station he was considered to be something of a heart throb, by management if nobody else, status that he seemed happy to live up to with his permanent tan and "Young, Free and Single" catchphrase.

In March 1992 Gary was moved to the weekends to present the breakfast show. His weekday afternoon slot was taken over by Jakki Brambles. In addition he fronted a new three-hour show on Sunday evenings from 10 playing tracks from albums, or "laid back music" as the contemporary trailer had it. His voice was still heard on daytime weekday Radio 1 during 1992 and into 1993 however, as he continued to present the summer roadshow and also sat in for Jakki Brambles and more often Steve Wright during this period.

Although contracted until April 1994, Davies decided to leave Radio One at the end of 1993 after expressing unhappiness with the changes introduced by new controller Matthew Bannister, which saw a number of established names leaving the station and his own Sunday evening show getting the axe in the shake up [8]. He presented his last programme on Sunday morning, 19 December 1993 [9] before leaving the BBC.

Relationship with John Peel

Peel seemed to be reasonably well disposed towards his daytime colleague, although he admitted feeling bemused by the attention that Davies garnered from young women.

On 20 May 1985 Peel revealed that he had borrowed money from "Gorgeous" Gary Davies, enabling him to go and buy records. "Thanks Gary, you're a pal." he says.

On one occasion during the Eighties [2], Peel travelled to Brighton to write a review for the Observer newspaper of Gary Davies presenting the Radio One Roadshow:

"Gary was very much the pin-up boy of Radio 1 at the time and his every winsome smile at the audience drew shrieks of appreciation from the fans." (Margrave Of The Marshes, p103).

This was an experience that Peel would later claim had left him mentally scarred (20 September 2000).

On his programme of 05 September 1992, John had some mischievous fun airing a Gary Davies jingle ("Hi this is Gary Davies. Do you like music like this?") before some of the more abrasive tracks in his show. [3]

In April 1993 Peel spent a celebrated week sitting in for Jakki Brambles in Gary Davies' former early afternoon slot. Gary himself happened to be deputising for Steve Wright on the following programme in the schedule, resulting in some affable handovers between the pair, although they were not perhaps on the "matey DJ chat" level that Davies was expecting on the evidence of the recordings.

On 19 June 2001, in response to an email from a listener asking for information about an Eighties DJ called Gary, Peel recalled:

"That would be Gary Davies, almost certainly I would have thought. Young women used to hang around the entrance to Radio One just to catch a glimpse of Gary as he went in and out. I was obviously going in and out myself from time to time and I was always being stopped by people who'd say, [adopts funny accent] "Can you tell us what time Gary Davies is coming in please?" and I'd say, 'well... no to be perfectly honest. We don't really share an awful lot of secrets and we don't live together or anything, so I can't answer that question.' [adopts accent again] "Oh you just won't tell us will you?". They used to get fantastically angry."

Mentioned On Shows

  • 20 January 1988: After playing a track by the Sugarcubes, Peel claims that he heard Gary Davies play it on his daytime show.
  • 15 May 1989: Peel complains that that studio is too hot, blaming Gary Davies for habitually turning up the heating.
  • 20 June 1992: Trailer for the Gary Davies Sunday evening show, promising 'pure quality' music. Peel immediately quips, 'but for now, back to impure quality.'

Top Of The Pops

Peel Totp

Gary Davies appears on TOTP on 20 November 1986

Peel and Davies never hosted the programme as a duo. They both featured in the multi-DJ Christmas Day episode on 25 December 1985 (TOTP), but did not appear together on screen. Peel's contribution was filmed separately with regular co-host Janice Long.

The following year witnessed this witticism in the closing comments at the end of the episode from 28 August 1986 (TOTP), also co-hosted with Long:

  • Long : "Gary Davies next week on his own."
  • Peel : "Yeah, nobody will work with him!"

Gary Davies made an appearance on the programme the next time that Peel and Long co-hosted. On 20 November 1986 (TOTP), Davies popped up in the closing minutes along with the Radio 1 roadshow stalwart Smiley Miley, to plug their Initiative Test fundraising exercise in aid of the charity Children In Need [4]. Feigning surprise at their sudden appearance, Peel amusingly announces him as "Barry Davies".

Gary Davies Tribute

To celebrate the 50th birthday of Radio 1 in October 2017, Gary Davies was amongst many former DJs who recorded interviews, extracts of which were used in hour-long tribute programmes broadcast on a Radio 1 Vintage digital pop-up station. During his interview [10], Davies spoke of his memories of Peel:

"I didn't really get to see John Peel that much. Obviously during the day he was around in the offices, planning his show. He was a very lovely man. I don't know whether he frowned upon the pop daytime DJs, but he never really showed that. He was great. He was just very friendly, very nice. I guess the most times that I would have spent with him - we used to have a really bad Radio One football team which he was part of [laughs] and I was part of so I used to see him quite a bit then."

Sounds Of The Eighties Tribute

To commemorate the fourteenth anniversary of John Peel's death, the episode of Sounds Of The Eighties broadcast on 19th October 2018 featured a 'Peel's 80s Champions' mastermix, comprising artists from the decade associated with the Peel Show. During the programme Davies warmly described his late colleague as "a superb bloke".

External Links

  1. Pat Sharp had made his debut in September 1982, sitting in for Steve Wright's afternoon show for a week [1] before settling into the 6 am Sunday slot on 5th December [2].
  2. A possible date for this event is 13th August 1987, according to the Radio Times genome [3]
  3. Peel wasn't alone in having fun with his colleague's jingles. In his autobiography "No Off Switch" (pp. 261, first edition hardback issue, 2011), Andy Kershaw gleefully describes airing the "Ooh Gary Davies" jingle prior to playing tracks by the American gospel singer, the Reverend Gary Davis.
  4. They were competing against another Radio 1 duo comprising Bruno Brookes and - of all people, given the charity involved - Jimmy Savile.