UpAndHappy! is the name under which I make my TV and Radio programmes these days – as “UpAndHappy! Productions”. But, it actually started life as the name of my radio show way back in the last century.
In 1999 I had been with Beacon Radio for 10 years, and I was at that point working full time in the very 80s cream-and-green decorated Commercial Production department upstairs at the back. By that point, I had worked in every department to some degree and I’d had experience of virtually every job that there was to do in a radio station. I didn’t join Beacon to be a presenter, I was just interested in all aspects of broadcasting. Inevitably I drifted into various forms of presenting from being in the background, to co-presenting bits and pieces, to preparing and reading various news/travel/weather items etc…
At this point a friend, Andy Walters (his family and my family go way back to the 60s!) was involved with a voluntary organisation called the Wolverhampton Community Radio Association (WCRA) which itself had been running since 1986. It had more recently transformed into a Training company (WCRT), and ran occasional Restricted Service Licence (RSA) or short-term local radio stations under the banner of ‘Challenge FM’ (named after a funding initiative from Wolverhampton Council during the 1990s). WCR had recently been awarded a license for a full-time low-powered AM (LPAM) radio station to cover the Wulfrun College, soon to be known as the City of Wolverhampton College. Stations like this were cropping up all over the country, with the idea being that although the station broadcast “to the college”, in actual fact, the simple physics of AM radio meant that it could be picked up further afield, making it (unofficially) a proper community radio station for Wolverhampton.
I watched this process with interest and after talking with Andy, he invited me to do a programme on a Monday Night. Though I’d had no major aspirations to be a presenter, I did have an idea of what I’d want to do. Those who know me, as will anyone who had read other articles on this website, will understand that I loved Tiswas when I was little and so I’d always harboured a notion that if I ever go the chance to present, that was the style I’d aim for. Not necessarily the over the top funny stuff that they did, simply the irreverent approach of not taking anything seriously, that’s all.
So I thought I would need a programme name. There wasn’t really a compulsion for programme names in regular radio because they were mostly music programmes so the most you would get would be along the lines of “<presenter name> on <station name>” or “The <presenter name> Show”. I was going to run some fun regular features and so it was going to be a ‘Programme’ rather than a ‘Show’.
But what to call it.
I have a folder at home with my original programme notes in. It’s currently inaccessible but from memory, I went through a few ideas…
“The Totally Awful Pretend Grown-Up Radio Show” or “TAPGURS” (you can see the Tiswas influence in this name).
“Pushchair FM” or “Wheelchair FM” (that one would probably offend)
Nothing really felt right, but then I re-read my description and something sprang out… “…music style: nothing too heavy, just plenty of up and happy tunes…”. And there it was, I’d already named it without realising it. I stylised the phrase as “UpAndHappy!” and there it was.
And so UpAndHappy! was born!
I actually wrote a potted history for my UpAndHappy! website, so here it is, from May 28th 2004…
“UpAndHappy!” is the name of the show, and why on earth not! The initials U.A.H. can be pronounced “Oooh-Aaah” if you’re so inclined to do so! I am sometimes, but that’s my own personal business and not for worldwide consumption on the net.
I’m Lee B (Lee Bannister) and I got the title of the show by accident really – dropped a brick on my foot and went “OooAhhggghhh”.
No not really ….
The first show was transmitted live from the Newhampton Arts Centre on Monday 4th October 1999, at 7pm. The show moved to Saturday mornings at 10 from 4th December 1999 where it’s been every Saturday since.
The first series ran until April 18th 2000, returning with a brand new look on Saturday 6th May.
“D’Puds” joined the show in September 2000: “Puds” was Rob Wood, a colleague from my day job at Chrysalis Radio (Heart FM & Galaxy).
I suggested that he came on the show one week and he stayed for 2 years (!) to take the mickey, and laugh at the jokes (or not as the case may be).
He comes from Cannock and supports the Wolves. Good Man, Sir!
The second series concluded with a Christmas Special on Saturday 16th December 2000. After the New Year’s break we returned for a third series with some brand new bits and pieces on Saturday 6th January 2001.
Then in April 2001, I was joined by my girlfriend Nikki Reynolds, who became “The Nikkster”, and added her own unique style to the show as she brings us her ‘Word Of The Week’ and the “Love At Eleven” amongst other things. We got engaged in September 2001 you know!
The beginning of the 4th series coincided with WCR broadcasting on FM as well as 1350 AM during September 2001, and “UpAndHappy!” Kicked off a 5 hour live outside broadcast from the Family Open Day at the Wulfrun Campus of the City Of Wolverhampton College, on Saturday 23rd June 2002.
Then the 5th series began in September 2002 with a whole new look, new features and the brand new Arrows logo! At the time of writing we are the longest running programme on WCR am, 3 days ahead of Steve Morris’s “Roots And Branches” which began on Thursday 7th October 1999.
‘UpAndHappy!’ with Lee B and the Nikkster, plus our friends Puds, Vacuum Andy, Barometer Bob, Mystic Nik, Sydney Hammer-Thong and Andre Le-Pip, tries to live up to it’s name each week, kick starting your weekend hopefully with a bit of a laugh like those good old Saturday Morning kids Telly Shows.
What Was In The Show?
It was a mix of “up and happy” tunes – basically anything I liked, and nothing I didn’t – coupled with a numbers of features, some straight and some silly.
There was Cookery Corner in which we’d read out a recipe with a twist.
Rob (Puds) was a bit of a gourmet, and so he brought a number of recipes with him each week.
The idea was that we would visit the ‘Cafe Puds’ and even if you are complete rubbish at cooking, you could easily follow the recipe and knock something up in no time!
In later years I continued with Cookery Corner after Puds left, and found myself in the company of a squeaky french chef… but that’s another story for later.
Next was the NewsRoundUp – I’d found the theme tune to John Craven’s NewsRound, and I was desperate to use it somehow, so I found a stash of ‘strange-but-true stories from a number of old books, and fashioned them into a radio bulletin, under the NewsRoundUp banner.
Even then I was reading the News! Both Cookery Corner and the NewsRoundUp lasted for many years on UpAndHappy!
Rob/Puds was fond of Easy Listening music and so he created a section called Lounging Around in which he’s simply choose 3 of his favourites, and we’d occasionally take the mickey out of them.
And finally, instead of reading the weather like normal radio presenters, we decided to ’employ’ our very own weatherman – Barometer Bob who we would send up to the roof each week to have a look at what the weather was doing whilst peering through his Window On The Weather. Oddly enough regardless of whatever the forecast was, it was always surprisingly windy up there, and virtually every single week our Barometer Bob would get blown away, though he would always return in time for the following week. Strange, that. Also you may think he looks a little like Rob/Puds, but Barometer Bob actually carried on for much longer and after Puds left, Barometer Bob started looking like me. Even stranger…
Along with the usual mix of Music, Movie and TV news that’s how the original version of the UpAndHappy! Radio Show came about and shaped-up. It changed quite a bit over the years, so watch out for another article all about how it evermore subconciously followed in the footsteps of the almighty Tiswas and got straaaaanger still (that’s a clue) …
I do have a few recordings of some of the early UpAndHappy! programmes, but they’re buried away on old audio cassettes. As time goes on I plan to digitize them and you’ll be able to listen to them here and on the UpAndHappy! Radio Show archive is on Mixcloud. Fill yer boots, and there’s more to come…
NOTE: All of the images on this page are the exact same images I prepared for the very first version of the UpAndHappy! website between 2000-2002. So they’re a mixture of word-art, animated gifs (!) and very small jpgs.