Simon Mayo

Simon Andrew Hicks Mayo (born 21 September 1958)[1] is an English radio presenter and author who has worked for BBC Radio since 1982. Mayo was the presenter of Simon Mayo Drivetime on BBC Radio 2 between January 2010 and May 2018 and is, with Mark Kermode, presenter of Kermode and Mayo's Film Review on BBC Radio 5 Live. Mayo was the presenter of a revamped drive time show on Radio 2 with co-host Jo Whiley which was broadcast from 14 May 2018 to 20 December 2018. Mayo presented the last show solo the following day, which marked the end of his career on the station after 17 years of broadcasting.

Simon Mayo
Simon Mayo (41543482744) (cropped).jpg
Mayo in May 2018
Simon Andrew Hicks Mayo

(1958-09-21) 21 September 1958 (age 62)
Hilary Bird
(m. 1986)
ShowThe Album Show
Station(s)Greatest Hits Radio
Time slot1 pm – 4 pm Sunday, Monday – Friday, 4 pm – 7 pm
ShowEssential Albums
Kermode and Mayo's Film Review
Station(s)Scala Radio
BBC Radio 5 Live
Time slot3 pm – 5 pm, Saturday
2:30 pm – 4 pm Friday
CountryUnited Kingdom

In 2008, Mayo was recognised as the "Radio Broadcaster of the Year" at the 34th annual Broadcasting Press Guild Awards,[2] and the "Speech Broadcaster of the Year" at the Sony Radio Academy Awards, receiving the latter for his "ability to paint colourful pictures of location and event and his ability to bring the very best out of his guests, encouraging conversation and interaction between them while skilfully nudging and controlling them" and for being "a master of light and shade, handling serious and lighter issues with aplomb."[3]

Mayo is also a published author.[4] His works include a book titled "Confessions", based on the Confessions slot from his radio shows.

Early lifeEdit

Mayo's parents, Derek Mayo (born 1929, died 2001) and Jill Mayo, were both school teachers. He attended St John's Primary School in Croydon, Surrey, the Arden School in Knowle (for one term), Solihull School,[5] an historic independent school in the West Midlands and Worthing High School in West Sussex which was then a state grammar school for boys.[citation needed] He graduated from the University of Warwick in 1980, with a degree in History and Politics.[citation needed]

Early careerEdit

His mother had undertaken part-time work in radio, and having occasionally experienced it with her, Mayo had wanted to work as a studio manager. But as a result of a frequency deficiency in his left ear, he failed the required hearing test, and refocused his career on presenting.[6] Mayo spent some time honing his skills at Southlands Hospital Radio,[7] and then worked for five years as a presenter with BBC Radio Nottingham from 10:45 am to 2 pm, followed by Dennis McCarthy. With a Radio Nottingham colleague he developed a programme format called Globe Phone and sent it to Johnny Beerling, Head of Radio 1, who offered him a job.[8]

He joined BBC Radio 1 in 1986, presenting a two-hour Saturday evening show from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. In October 1987 he progressed to the weekend early slots from 6 am to 8 am and then became presenter of the weekday evening show in January 1988, which went out from 7:30 pm to 10 pm. Five months later he was offered the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show, regarded as the most prestigious presentation job in UK radio.[9][10]

The Radio 1 Breakfast ShowEdit

Mayo spent five years presenting Radio 1 Breakfast on BBC Radio 1. Throughout his tenure on the breakfast show, which was based on a "zoo" format, Mayo was joined by news anchor Rod McKenzie. newsreader stand-ins include Peter Bowes. The show went through a series of sidekick weather and travel presenters, including Carol Dooley, Sybil Ruscoe, Jackie Brambles, and Dianne Oxberry. Weather and travel news reader stand-ins include Mayo's Radio 1 colleague Lynn Parsons, Caron Keating (from Blue Peter and Songs of Praise), and Philippa Forrester (from CBBC). The show's producer was Ric Blaxill who also made regular speaking contributions.

He started his first breakfast show by playing "Somewhere in My Heart" by Aztec Camera, which was preceded by a montage of previous breakfast show hosts and then Mayo himself saying 'It's me, Simon Mayo, good morning.'

The programme became known for various features, including On This Day In History, soundtracked by a looped version of George Michael's "I Want Your Sex", and the long-running cryptic game The Identik-Hit Quiz, where Mayo and his co hosts would 'act' a short scene which cryptically led listeners to the title of a hit song.

He also ran his Confessions feature where members of the public sought absolution for their (often frivolous or humorous) "sins", and it moved to a television series in later years. Mayo had already presented the dilemma show Scruples for BBC television, and had joined his BBC Radio 1 colleagues on the host roster for Top of the Pops.

Both On This Day In History and Confessions spawned spin-off books.

Due to frequent plays from Mayo, several unlikely hit singles reached the UK charts, including "Kinky Boots" by Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman; "Donald Where's Yer Troosers?" by Andy Stewart; and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", sung and written by Eric Idle. For helping Monty Python have a hit with the latter 13 years after it first appeared on the soundtrack to The Life of Brian, Idle presented Mayo with a model bare foot, in the style of the animated version which used to end the opening titles to the TV show.

Like all of Radio 1's high-profile presenters of the time, Mayo would take his turn to spend a week in a coastal area of the UK during the Radio 1 Roadshows which occurred for three months of the summer. For a short while, he also presented an additional weekend show for the station on a Sunday afternoon and provisionally titled O Solomon Mayo – to cover for the absent Phillip Schofield, who was working in the West End.

Radio 1 mid-morningsEdit

Mayo officially gave up the breakfast show in 1993, though he had been on an extended period of paternity leave when the announcement was made. His stand-in Mark Goodier was his replacement.

Mayo took over the station's mid morning slot in October 1993 where he remained until February 2001. In addition to this, in May 1994, Mayo also presented Simon Mayo's Classic Years, where he got to play two hours of classic pop tunes. The show originally went out on a Sunday lunchtime from noon till 2pm, but in November 1994 went out from 10 am till noon on Sundays. This lasted until October 1995.

In January 1997, Mayo made a brief return to the breakfast show for three weeks when Chris Evans was dismissed, but both Mayo and BBC Radio 1 ruled out the possibilities of a permanent return to the programme. On his first morning as breakfast stand-in, Mayo read out an email from a man who had emigrated to New Zealand four years earlier and had arrived back in the UK that morning, and was "delighted to hear you're still doing the breakfast show".

In 1999 Mayo broke a world record by broadcasting for 37 hours in aid of that year's Comic Relief. This record was broken by Chris Moyles and Dave Vitty on 17 March 2011, when Chris and Dave were doing a 52-hour broadcast.

Mayo remained on the mid-morning slot until he left BBC Radio 1 in 2001, seeing breakfast-show presenters Mark Goodier, Steve Wright, Chris Evans, Mark and Lard, Kevin Greening, Zoë Ball and Sara Cox, come and go from the slot, but the slot went to Jo Whiley.

His final show was on Friday 16 February 2001, and before signing off, he said: "One of the reasons I'm not going to do a DLT is that I've nothing to complain about at all – though as I'll still be employed by the BBC it'd be a stupid thing to do. I always thought as a kid working at Radio 1 would be the most fun and the best place for any presenter to work and I still think that's true."[11] His final track played on BBC Radio 1 was Ace of Spades by Motörhead.

BBC Radio 5 LiveEdit

I always thought I'd like to go back to music. But I also loved exploring a subject from scratch to interview a nuclear physicist. The [5 Live] job was a bit like an Open University degree course. The longer I did it, the more I realised how little I know, which is part of ageing.

— Mayo, after his move to Radio 2 Drivetime[12]

In May 2001, after 15 years of broadcasting with BBC Radio 1, Mayo joined and moved on to another national BBC station, BBC Radio 5 Live to present an afternoon programme.

Mayo began broadcasting on BBC Radio 5 Live every weekday from 1 pm to 4 pm, where he remained until 18 December 2009. He was on air in 2001 when the 9/11 attacks took place in the United States, broadcasting live as the events unfolded.

The programme generally combined topical debates, interviews and reviews. It came live from Westminster each Wednesday for live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions, with discussion and debate afterwards with political correspondents and MPs. The programme also featured Mayo's old BBC Radio 1 sidekick Mark Kermode reviewing the new movie releases each Friday afternoon. The banter between Mayo and Kermode in this section of the programme was described by both men as "wittertainment at its most wittertaining." (The neologism wittertainment is a portmanteau of witter and entertainment, and was coined in a – now deleted – Wikipedia entry.[13] However, Kermode and Mayo took note of the article before its deletion and have since been using the term regularly to refer to their show.[14][15][16])

In a May 2008 interview with The Guardian, Mayo mentioned he "signed a contract for the next two years" and was uncertain whether he would still be at BBC Radio 5 Live when it moves to City of Salford.[17] It was later confirmed that Mayo was to move to the BBC Radio 2's drivetime slot, though he will also continue to host a weekly two-hour film review show, Kermode and Mayo's Film Review, on BBC Radio 5 Live with Mark Kermode.[18]

In May 2009 Mayo and Kermode won a Gold Sony Radio Award in the Speech Award category, due to continued good work and passion for radio[19]

BBC Radio 2Edit

In addition to his daily programme on BBC Radio 5 Live, from October 2001 to April 2007, Mayo hosted the Album Chart show each week for BBC Radio 2. Alongside this, on 2 January 2006, he presented The Ultimate Music Year for the station, where listeners got the chance to vote for their favourite year for music. He has also presented many Sold on Song projects, presented the Top 100 Albums and provided holiday cover for Johnnie Walker on Sundays. From April 2007 – April 2008 Mayo took over the Radio 2 Music Club every Monday night from 11:30 pm to 12:30 am.

In January 2010, Mayo took over from Chris Evans on the Drivetime show,[20] noting he was "very lucky to be given a second chance in such a high-profile slot."[12] The programme included a number of regular daily features including a "Nigel's Recipes", "Confessions", "Homework Sucks" and "The Showstopper". Every Friday he hosted "All-Request Friday" where listeners rang the show and had their favourite song played on the radio after a short interview. The show ended on 4 May 2018 after 8 years, as Mayo was to begin hosting a revamped drivetime show with co-host Jo Whiley from 14 May 2018. On 22 October that year, the station announced that Mayo would be leaving BBC Radio 2 altogether after a backlash against the change, with Whiley moving back to an evening slot. Their last show together aired on 20 December, with Mayo presenting his last show after 17 years with the station the following day.[21]

As his opening theme Mayo used the 2003 recording by Jools Holland and Prince Buster of the 1948 song "Enjoy Yourself" by Carl Sigman and by Herb Magidson. Later editions of the show have also used the popular 1950 hit version by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians. Incidental music includes "Light My Fire" by Edmundo Ros.

In May 2011, Mayo won a Sony Award for "Best Music Show" for his work and that of his team on the BBC Radio 2 drive time slot.[22]

On 21 December 2018 Simon presented his last show on BBC Radio 2 it being an All Request Friday which featured his jingles which were previously used on his Drivetime show. The last song to be played was "Bring Me Sunshine" by Morecambe and Wise.

Scala RadioEdit

On 4 March 2019 at 10am Simon launched the new classical music digital radio station Scala Radio. He now presents his Essential Albums show on Saturdays. The morning show pioneered a feature called the 'joybringer': a medley of classical music interspersed with recordings submitted from listeners that 'brought joy'. Mayo played out his final show with Morecambe and Wise's Positive Thinking as a passing reference to the reassuring and upbeat nature in which the show sought to engage with its audience, especially through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Greatest Hits RadioEdit

Mayo returned to drivetime radio show on Greatest Hits Radio on Monday to Friday, and he still presents his Album Show on Sundays.[23]

Other workEdit

BBC Radio 4Edit

Mayo presented Act Your Age, a panel game for BBC Radio 4, first broadcast on Radio 4 on 27 November 2008.[24]

Television projectsEdit

Between 1995 and 1998 Mayo presented a TV version of Confessions, based on the hit feature from his BBC Radio 1 breakfast and mid-morning shows.

Starting in 1999 he was the original presenter of National Lottery game show Winning Lines on BBC1 until 2000 when he was replaced by Phillip Schofield in 2001.

In 2005 he presented a series "The Big Dig" on BBC TV about allotments in the Rhondda Valley contrasted with others in Highgate, London.[25]

Mayo hosted a revival of the classic quiz show Blockbusters, which began airing on Challenge on 14 May 2012 until 3 August 2012.[26]

He was the announcer for the concert celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee on 4 June 2012.


Confessions, based on the hit feature from his BBC Radio 2 drivetime show, and his former BBC Radio 1 breakfast and mid-morning shows.[27] was released in October 2011. The book is a compilation of the best confessions sent to the show by listeners.

Mayo's debut novel, Itch, was released on 1 March 2012. The titular protagonist is a fourteen-year-old boy who discovers a previously unknown chemical element.[28] The Guardian has called it 'a great and thrilling book with an easy to read storyline that will help kids to understand elements!'[29] His second novel Itch Rocks was released in February 2013 [30] and the third instalment, Itchcraft, came out in September 2014.[31]

His first young adult novel, Blame, was published in July 2016.[32]

Mayo's first novel for adults, Mad Blood Stirring, was published in April 2018 and received mixed reviews. It is a historical novel set in Dartmoor Prison in 1815. Clare Clarke, for The Guardian, said: "With its huge, amorphous cast and little interior characterisation, its pages rich with Shakespeare’s poetry and the rousing gospel music for which Block 4 was reputedly renowned, the dialogue-heavy Mad Blood Stirring reads more like a first-draft film treatment than a finished novel. Mayo has served up all the ingredients he could find, but longer cooking would have given it greater depth and subtlety of flavour." The novelist John Boyne said: "Bristling with energy, written with passion, Mad Blood Stirring is a joy to read."

Radio creditsEdit

  • BBC Radio NottinghamThe Simon Mayo Show 10:45 am – 2 pm, 1982–1986
  • BBC Radio 1:
    • Saturday evenings 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm, 1986–1987
    • Weekend early mornings 6 am – 8 am, late 1987
    • Monday–Thursday evenings 7:30 pm – 10 pm, January – May 1988
    • Breakfast Show 6 am – 9 am, May 1988 – September 1993
    • Mid Morning Show 9 am – 12 noon, October 1993 – February 2001
  • BBC Radio 5 Live:
    • Afternoon Show 1 pm – 4 pm, May 2001 – December 2009
    • Kermode and Mayo's Film Review Friday 2 pm – 4 pm, January 2010 – May 2019; 3 pm – 5 pm, May 2019 – March 2020; 2:30 pm – 4 pm, March 2020 – present
  • BBC Radio 2:
    • Album Chart Show Monday evenings 7 pm – 8 pm, October 2001 – April 2007
    • Music Club Monday nights/Tuesday overnight 11:30 pm – 12:30 am, April 2007 – April 2008
    • Drivetime Monday – Friday 5 pm – 7 pm, 11 January 2010 – 4 May 2018
    • Jo Whiley & Simon Mayo – Monday – Thursday 5 pm – 8 pm; Friday 5 pm – 7 pm, 14 May 2018 – 21 December 2018
  • BBC Radio 4Act Your Age 6:30 pm, November – December 2008
  • Scala Radio:
    • Monday – Saturday mid-mornings 10 am – 1 pm, 4 March 2019 – 26 February 2021
    • Essential Albums. Saturdays 3 pm – 5 pm, 3 April 2021 – present
  • Greatest Hits Radio:
    • Album Show. Sundays 1 pm – 4 pm, 6 September 2020 – present
    • Drivetime Monday – Friday 4 pm – 7 pm, 15 March 2021 – present

Personal lifeEdit

Mayo was educated at Solihull School, a boys' Independent school in the English West Midlands, and Worthing Sixth-Form College, West Sussex. He subsequently graduated from the University of Warwick, Coventry, with a degree in history and politics.[33] While at university, he was a presenter on the student radio station, Radio Warwick.[34] In 2005 the university awarded him an honorary Doctor of Letters.[34]

Mayo is married to Hilary Bird, who had worked at Radio Nottingham since 1984 on Action Line, and also worked for BBC Radio 2 as a producer for Canon Roger Royle and later Don Maclean on Good Morning Sunday from 1987 to 1990.[35] The wedding took place on Saturday 11 October 1986 at St Helen's Church in Burton Joyce, Nottinghamshire. They have two sons and a daughter. Mayo is a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur,[36] and lives in London.


  1. ^ "Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Film Reviews Podcast 17th May 2013". BBC. 4 April 2008. Archived from the original on 6 August 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  2. ^ "BPG TV and Radio Awards". Broadcasting Press Guild. 4 April 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  3. ^ "The Speech Broadcaster of the Year". Sony Radio Academy Awards. Archived from the original on 6 October 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2008.
  4. ^ "Simon Mayonnaise – Author". Archived from the original on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  5. ^ Jardine, Cassandra (23 May 2008). "Award-winning Simon Mayo – smooth, with a gentle bite". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 24 July 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  6. ^ "School Report – Simon Mayo: BBC Radio 2 star interviewed by School Reporters". School Report. Archived from the original on 20 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Seaside Hospital Radio – History". Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  8. ^ Nottingham Evening Post, Saturday 3 June 2000
  9. ^ "Chris Moyles: Radio 1 saviour?". BBC News. 7 October 2003. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  10. ^ Hanks, Robert (6 January 2004). "Chris Moyles, The Radio 1 Breakfast Show". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 7 August 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Mayo's Radio 1 farewell". BBC News. 16 February 2001. Archived from the original on 18 April 2003. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
  12. ^ a b Gerard, Jasper (9 January 2010). "Simon Mayo on the move to Radio 2 and his new Telegraph column". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 January 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  13. ^ Fitzgerald, Brian. "Wittertainment". University of Limerick. Archived from the original on 23 March 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  14. ^ McCabe, Gordon (9 February 2007). "Wittertainment". McCabism. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  15. ^ Braithwaite, David. "Blog entry: Wittertainment's rules of cinema conduct". BBC. Archived from the original on 24 July 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  16. ^ "The Show's Twitter Account: @wittertainment". Twitter. Archived from the original on 6 October 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  17. ^ Pool, Hannah (29 May 2008). "Question time: Simon Mayo on why Five Live is criminally underrated". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 16 September 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  18. ^ Plunkett, John (15 September 2009). "Simon Mayo confirmed as Chris Evans's successor on BBC Radio 2". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 12 February 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  19. ^ "The Sony Radio Academy Awards". Archived from the original on 15 May 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  20. ^ "Sir Terry to leave breakfast show". BBC News. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  21. ^ "Simon Mayo and Jo Whiley Radio 2 Drivetime show to end". BBC News. 22 October 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  22. ^ "Sony Awards 2011". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Act Your Age, Series 1". BBC Radio 4 Extra. 2015. Archived from the original on 6 January 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  25. ^ "Details of The Big Dig". Archived from the original on 25 April 2013.
  26. ^ "Simon Mayo named as new host of Blockbusters remake". Metro. 6 February 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  27. ^ "Confessions". Random House. 13 October 2011. Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  28. ^ "Itch". Random House. 1 March 2012. Archived from the original on 31 May 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Itch Rocks". Random House. 28 February 2013. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  31. ^ "ItchCraft". Random House. 11 September 2014. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  32. ^ Mayo, Simon (9 May 2016). "Simon Mayo tells us about his YA debut: Blame". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  33. ^ "University of Warwick 'Notable Alumni'". Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  34. ^ a b "Mayo to be made honorary doctor". BBC News. London. 11 July 2005. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  35. ^ Greenstreet, Rosanna (26 May 2011). "My first home: Simon Mayo". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 24 July 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  36. ^ "Simon Mayo Biography". BBC Radio 2. Archived from the original on 2 November 2007.

External linksEdit

Media offices
Preceded by
Mike Smith
BBC Radio 1
Breakfast Show Presenter

Succeeded by
Mark Goodier
Preceded by
Chris Evans
BBC Radio 2
Drivetime Show Presenter

Succeeded by
himself with Jo Whiley
Preceded by
BBC Radio 2
Drivetime Show Presenter

(with co-host Jo Whiley)
Succeeded by
Sara Cox