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Has 5 live changed your life?

Thursday 13 February 2014, 14:28

Louisa Compton Louisa Compton 5 live Daytimes editor

Steve Evans - interviews from Richard Bacon programme

To mark 5 live’s 20th anniversary, on 28th March, we’re asking “Has 5 live changed your life?”

The network has had the privilege to share so many special experiences with people over its 20 year history. There have been interviews that gave listeners goosebumps; interviews that kept people listening in their cars long after they’d arrived at their destinations; and even interviews that changed lives.  

In 2013 we first met Steve Evans, who shared his journey of living with terminal cancer; in 2011 ‘Rachel’ a doctor, told us her story of alcoholism; and in 2012 footballer John Harston’s told us his experience of testicular cancer, that inspired a listener to seek help for what was found to be a small cancerous lump.

These stories provoked a lot of reaction from listeners, and now we are looking for more listeners whose lives are different after hearing something on air, from any 5 live programme. If you have a story you want to share, please email Victoria@bbc.co.uk.

Thousands of listeners have contacted Victoria Derbyshire’s show over the last three years, since the first intimate moment in February 2011 when ‘Rachel’, not her real name, publicly revealed her addiction:

I have been drinking today and I admit that fully.”

“Can I ask you how much?”

“I’m not sure, this sounds really bizarre, I’ve been drinking cans of Guinness because I think that’s got vitamins in it.”

“How long have you been drinking to this level for?”

“I’ve been drinking heavily for probably about 10 years now…I just want to let people know alcoholism is a disease”:

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Her telephone call prompted one of the biggest reactions from listeners 5 live has ever had, to the extent that whilst in a rehabilitation programme in Halifax, Rachel met a woman who said was there due to hearing Rachel on 5 live:

“I knew I’d heard your voice before, I heard you on the radio, you’re the reason I’m here.”

Some of the messages we received:

“Please tell Rachel that she may have saved my life today.”

“I have been a heavy drinker for the last two years and have been diagnosed with depression, I have been sober for the last 10 days and your programme has just strengthened my resolve to stay sober and get my life together.”

“I have little doubt, if this interview could be heard by a wider audience it would be better than any government alcohol abuse advertising campaign.”

“Thank-you for doing the interview with Rachel today, I listened mostly in tears, it sounded exactly like my late wife.”

Steve Evans

When Steve Evans shared his experience of living with terminal cancer with Richard Bacon, hundreds of listeners responded through emails, texts and tweets. Steve died on January 16, at the age of 52.

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To me, Steve took on our fears of terminal illness, pain, death, loss and being scared of all of the above - but he made it no big deal. He normalised it.  He assured us that it is okay, that whatever the outcome life is bigger, the journey is just that & whatever our outcome we will be okay...What a guy! Anon

@Simon_Caley:            @steveevans51  you have made me want to be a better human being through your chats with @richardpbacon one journey ends, another begins #rip

Steve, what a remarkable man I was waiting for scan results on my bowel when I first heard him, seriously ill, I found out I had a to have part removed, Steve kept me strong, as he said there is always someone worse off, luckily it wasn't cancer, after major op I'm ok now, he was so brave and his family too, the worry my family went through, my heart goes out to them R.I.P Steve. John, Wakefield 

I am totally inspired and humbled by both Steve and Stephen's positivity and frankness towards their illness. Just incredible and I wish them all the best for the future whatever that holds for them. My mum died aged 54 from a brain tumour, which was a harrowing experience and I wish we as a family could have embraced a positivity and energy for life in the same manner that Steve seems to be. Sarah, Derby

A few months ago you talked to Steve just after I had been told I have cancer and I sent a text to say how he inspiring I found him and he still makes me drive on and look on the bright side may his god bless him and thank-you.  Anonymous

John Hartson 

Former Arsenal and Celtic striker John Hartson told Richard Bacon about his treatment for testicular cancer. Ben Pilling, 28, from London, checked himself out after listening to a podcasted version of the interview in 2011, and was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The two men met in January 2013:

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Were you inspired to make a change because you heard someone else tell their story? Did our coverage of a news story make you do something about the issue concerned?

Perhaps you were inspired to have a health check; perhaps you met your future husband or wife at a 5 live event; or maybe you were inspired to change something in your life as a result of an interview you’ve heard?

Whether you've given something up - or taken something on, we'd like to hear from you. So much has changed in 20 years. But how are you different? And did we have anything to do with it?

If you have a story you want to share please email Victoria@bbc.co.uk or write in the comments below



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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I realise I may be in a minority with this view, but Five Live changed my life by turning me away from evening TV and toward the quality speech based offerings of the likes of Fi Glover and the excellent sports coverage or the original landmark style of 606 (sadly a pale imitation of the Danny Baker style)

    I find it bizarre that the management think that it's one of it's main contributions over the last 20 years is the misery laden style of the examples above that Derbyshire & Nolan seem to revel in. These are actually the type of issues that are turning me and my friends away from the station these days as the station seems to want to wallow in misery.
    In this week's flood coverage, Derbyshire seemed audibly disappointed that people were just getting on with life!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    First, Congratulations! I cannot believe that it's been 20 years already -- I remember when Peter and Jane started winning awards at (age 5? 7?). (And, by the way, my 5Live life is much impoverished by the loss of JG (as, I suspect, is Peter's)).

    I listen via livestream from the States, so, sadly, I don't have access to everything you offer. But I have been very significantly enriched by having the access I do have. I am particularly devoted to Rhod Sharp, Mark & Simon, Peter Allen, and Richard Bacon, and, obviously, their related broadcasts.

    I would happily pay the annual licensing fee to have the full coverage -- to be able to push a button and have the BBC in my radio, my television, wherever. Thank God for livestreaming is all I can say. I fear the people who bitch endlessly about the BBC don't know what they have. Although I am a firm supporter of the First Amendment right to free speech, they need to be dumped in the middle of Kansas (where I am not) for five minutes, and it would shut them up forever. I am wild about NPR and PBS, here, but their futures are always at risk, which causes them to fund raise relentlessly in the present.

    So, congratulations and thank you so much for enriching my life.

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    Comment number 3.

    Yes there have been many wonderful moments but these fade in to the rather politically biassed depress-fests of Victoria and Nolan. The latter particularly spends half an hour a night on awful stories that although may have a good ending, can be so downright boring as he churns through his research and his often faux sympathy just is a turn off. There are many bright moments but unfortunately you have to be listening full time to catch them. I am afraid taking Savage on to your sports team was a terrible mistake, and although you clearly wanted a shock jock approach from him, I am afraid he is a turn off.
    Now has it changed my life? Yes. From being someone who would listen 24/7 I have become someone who picks the odd hour here and there to avoid Nicky's jokes, the ruination of a decent radio reception by Rachel's voice problems, Victoria's constant gloom and harping style, Bacon full stop (although loved that late night programme), Rachel's impossible posh news delivery which is so sneering, so I am left with Sheila and Drive. Your political bias was on air last night when Nolan tried and failed to get people to agree with him and I therefore turned as usual to World Service. During the day I listen to Radio 4. So yes my life has changed. I actually am more informed, better entertained, and generally less annoyed with what I listen to. The problem is this post will be removed because 5Live cannot cope with dissent. The fact that so few people now post on here is because usually there are no blogs so the habit of looking is gone, and secondly the free speech we all used to enjoy in the popular message boards has gone.

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    Comment number 4.

    Fivelive changed my life by giving me a station I could listen to all day. No more though. It has gone so rapidly downhill in the past few years. I'm now down to a bare minimum of football coverage (Monday Night Club is superb) and dipping into Breakfast and Drive.

    What a line-up there used to be - Fi Glover, Anita Anand, Simon Mayo. Since then the station has lost its way. The tabloid approach has increased, the obsession with celebrity a sure sign of dumbing down. Bacon has been unlistenable for years with his predictable line up of comedians I've never heard of and constant discussion of TV programmes I've never watched. Shelagh was great on Breakfast but her own show is like an extended Women's Hour / You and Yours - all medical and financial stuff. I might as well be on Radio 4.

    As I write this, I'm listening to Fighting Talk, which used to be one of the funniest things on radio. The wonders of webcam show me Jonathan Pearce, not cracking a smile, reading a script, with an atmosphere lacking all the anarchic ad-libbing humour of Colin Murray's year. Can't believe it, but the decline of FiveLive has sent me to TalkSport to listen to Colin's excellent weekday morning show.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Just now

    I've listened to 5 live since day one, and recently, It's becoming less and less. I don't care about radio awards 5 live has attained. This is just back slapping stuff for the presenters. In recent years 5 live has become 'Dumb' Dumber by the day. Poor presenting, has made the station unlistenable during some portions of the day. I'm not sure why it's happened, why presenters like Richard Bacon have become popular or how Rachel Burden became a presenter at all. Both are poor for different reasons. Burdon repeatedly mucks up 'Reading out loud' as she tries to read what is coming in on her computer screen. She coughs more times than is healthy and perhaps needs to visit the a doctor to find out why. Recently I witness Campbell asking a Russian spokesman about Russia stance on Gay people - Unbelievably - Campbell actually accused the Spokesperson of being Gay because he objected to Gay people. I was gobsmacked by such an asinine question. Maybe Campbell would feel differently if asked if short people should only be employed by the Circus, as he is such a short pants. Rightly, the spokesman shot him down eloquently. What an idiot. Richard Bacon has reduced afternoon 5 live to a long episode of a channel 4 magazine show. Nonsense feature like Chart the week, The Moan in. Dross, all of it. Bacon is a child, he has come up into media by appearing in shows like. 'Lets go in a supermarket and eat food from the shelves until thrown out' This kind of rubbish does not belong on national radio. Who is coming through? Who are the presenters of the future? If this is their benchmark, how can presenting maintain an acceptable level of coherence. It's dire, fortunately for 5 live the alternative are virtually non existent. Talk Sport is repugnant and Colin Murray should fit in perfectly 606 has become a comedy, where the presenters cut people off if they don't agree with what is being said. I'm sick of hearing extremely poor spoken English. There are "No 'Balls in sport presenting anymore' Rather we endure the sycophantic ramblings of Chapman, Payne and Pougatch - should have been team of solicitors huh? There is no inventiveness. The shows are predictable and the analysis is mind - numbingly -dull.

    I suppose I'll just continue tuning out whenever I feel myself grinding my teeth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Interesting set of comments. I listen mainly to 5Live, Radio 2 and 6Music. I can't do 4. It's for people who make a virtue out of disowning television and I can't handle that kind of snobbery. It has changed my life inasmuch as I no longer take news reporting particularly seriously, partly owing to the fact that since becoming unemployed 11 years ago and subsequently working from home I tend to have the radio on all day, from sparrowfart until Horlicks, rarely watching television. I have heard news stories germinate from next to nothing early in the morning or from some inane observation or piece of spin on the Nolan show and grow out of all proportion throughout the ensuing day. It is disturbing to see how the station occasionally manipulates a nothing story into a full-blown crisis to such an extent that occasionally I can even be heard sympathising with the most venal and weasel of politicians as they attempt to answer a manufactured and baseless question without opening themselves up to the kind of criticism or incrimination that stems from an inability to answer 'a' (because there isn't really an answer) so by implication they must be guilty of 'b' and 'c' (the premise of any Nolan/Derbyshire show). The bright spots for me in all of this are - and in the face of previous opinion here - the Breakfast Show, which I've enjoyed more since the move to Salford, as I enjoy the self-deprecation and low-brow wit shot through with some surprisingly perceptive observations; and Drive, when I catch it, with Peter's world-weary delivery chiming well with my own character.

    I mentioned Salford - it's taken time but finally a network has realised that there's a world outside London. Waking up on Thursday to hear Rachel Burdon breathy tones coming from Platform 6 of Crewe Station, not 800 yards from where I'm sitting was, to say the least, surprising and I nearly ran down there with some linctus. It must have been galling for Londoners (of which I am historically one. I escaped over a decade ago) to realise that this non-descript and run-down semi-northern town was as much of a hub to the country as their own godforsaken hell-hole and I do believe this regionality has informed the network with a different and welcome awareness.

    But if you mess with the imperious Danny Baker like BBC London did I'll tune out for good. And if you've got any sense you'll get Fi Glover back for good.

    Finally, please employ some subs on your website. "While" and "whilst" are not the same thing. If you can substitute "whereas", it's "whilst".

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    The channel is definitely worse now with it's incessant blokesy view of the world. Mr Bacon introduces endless subjects and people that have little relevance to any but Mr Bacon and I imagine London media types.
    Peter Allen keeps the ship afloat thank goodness.
    Film reviews by two chaps that are so far up their ***** are not good.
    And sport - the next presenter that says ' England Captain....' without any reference to which sport he is talking about should be sacked.
    And the adverts for other programmes - lots of commentators in a row shouting - not good.

    Sort yourselves out chaps , it used to be a listenable station.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Brilliant, Radio 5 opens up its '20 year Anniversary' article to comments and every one is negative. Mind you I doubt if they'll notice, I've emailed and sent letters to the BBC about the Radio 5 output before and have never even had an acknowledgement.

    Radio 5 has changed my life. In the last couple of years, and due primarily to the incessant self-congratulatory advertising every ten minutes, the hysterical commentary clips every other ten minutes, and unlistenable presenters such as Nolan, Adebayo, G Richardson and Pougatch to name just four, I have discovered the joys of Radio 4.

    Mind you I wouldn't want to get too complacent. Sports commentary clips are now finding their way all too frequently onto Radio 4 as well. I'll give it five years before the whole thing goes to pot.

    An honourable mention though to the wonderful and incomparable Rhod Sharp.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I enjoy 5live, but admittedly don't get much chance to listen nowadays. Over the years, my favourite shows were, Breakfast with Nicky & Shelagh, Late night with Tony Livesey, Fighting talk with Colin Murray, (5live Sports extra) Test Match cricket with the great Jonathan Agnew (and of course Geoff Boycott), and best of all, Drive with Peter Allen and Jane Garvey. Pssst, Richard Bacon, are we allowed to mention the SHH? I really enjoy the occasional 'Not Just Cricket' with Greg, Jimmy & Swanny, should be on more regularly. Similarly, 7 Day Sunday's début season with Chris Addison at the helm was brilliant, and although still entertaining, hasn't quite reached those heights.
    Currently, I wouldn't miss John Pienaar's Politics show, and always keep 5live sport specials on the iTunes feed, so I don't miss anything.
    Happy 20th 5Live!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I only have to hear Victoria Derbyshire's "voice of doom" and I'm gone...
    I'm all for social awareness, don't get me wrong, but do I have to be left depressed every day?
    Where's the balance?

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I wish to add Nolan to my list of "turn-off's" - I can't believe I neglected to mention him. A truly lamentable presenter. One other thing, why are the BBC mouthpieces for the likes of Martin Lewis - Multimillionaire hysterical self promoting money guru? Edwina Currie, failed shock politician. why on earth is she allowed to promote her brand of 'Edwina land' rhetoric? Via the Nolan shift.

    After some thought, I can only come to the conclusion that 5 live has progressively become worse with the popular rise of social media - The "Text us Now" culture of presenting seems to be the norm. How did they manage before Twitter and Facebook? It's easy to hear how over- scripted the presenting has become as most presenters obviously can't present without access to Google and Wikipedia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    The brief for contributing here is how the station has impacted on my life. It's not a forum to rant about who and what you like!

    In a world where, in reality, we seem to have less and less access to the law makers, politicians and sporting stars, speech radio gives us a chance to have our say, and sometimes to confront the people who drive us mad. That freedom is something that 5Live delivers brilliantly and should not be forgotten.

    I have contributed to many programmes on 5Live, and have had my say on many issues and, I like to think, added a different perspective.

    Many years ago Stephen Nolan gave me the courage to discuss a most personal issue that had been bottled up for 40 years. To have that opportunity was invaluable, and helped me emotionally. It may have helped others who tuned in to realise that they are not alone and can confront even the most grave issues without being judged.

    I remember the channel it in its first incarnation. Where is Martin Kelner? What a star he was. Yes, Fi Glover was brilliant too, and the chemistry between Peter Allen and several of his colleagues has been informative and entertaining. I have no interest in films at all, but testimony to their creative communications genius is that Mark and Simon's Friday afternoon programme is that it one of the week's highlights.

    I used to work in radio, and one station I spent time with had the slogan of: It's Good To Have a Radio Station As A Friend. 5Live has become the ultimate in delivering that, and the BBC's management should value that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    David Longman's observation is pretty much the only one that has anything positive to say.

    Fair enough.

    The reason those others have taken the time to list why they believe Five Live is so terrible is because they believe just that. It is terrible.

    20 years on it has become tired, predictable and formulaic. Management (mostly recruited from within) hasn't the gumption to be radical and when do make a move that might seem daring or sparky - like getting Savage as a football pundit - the result is horrendous.

    Sport is increasingly the Mark Chapman show - I must assume he is local or comes cheap - and so much of the remaining output has me reaching for the off switch that I can hardly be classed as a regular these days. All very depressing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I listen to 5 Live quite a lot. I live in Philippines and I tend to listen to the late night shows in the morning. I like it when Nolan is giving a politician a good old grilling but sometimes he is like a dog with a bone, taking one idea and spending 3 hours going over it endlessly. He comes across as a real person with a lively sense of humour. Unfortunately almost all the guests and most of the presenters use the the phrase, 'you know', endlessly. I think a beeper should sound if they use more than once per minute and after two beepers they should be shouted at.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Crewedaddy: " I can't do 4. It's for people who make a virtue out of disowning television and I can't handle that kind of snobbery."
    Complete rubbish. Try listening to it. That may change YOUR life! Rachel Burdon's breathy tones? She has a voicebox problem. She ruins DAB quality and although I can hear everyone else clearly, I cannot pick out what she is saying at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    I used to listen to 5 live almost all of the time when it was fresh and new. The afternoon slot maintained the high standard until collapsing with the narcissistic Richard Bacon. I now only listen to the occasional live game of football on 5 Live. But yes - it changed my life - I found other things of interest to listen to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    An example of how poor Five Live has become? Yesterday evening's football commentary.

    Robbie Savage was the appointed 'expert summariser' at the match. Heaven help us.
    He has nothing going for him. No presentation experience, a quite dreadful voice, poor grasp of English and furthermore - no opinions.

    After the game when one would have hoped for expert comment (mostly on City's chances in the second leg) Pougatch went straight to fan phone in and tweet (the lowest common denominator of local radio coverage) and we could hear Savage whittering away in the background repeating over and over again 'no chance!'

    It was truly dreadful; a lost opportunity simply because the producer appointed completely the wrong people to support the match commentator.

    This is why it's increasingly a turn off option.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I would like to add to my previous comment. Twice in the last year I have written to Ministers on two different issues. I have discovered that in neither case did the letters reach the offices of the Ministers - nor the Policy teams. They were replied to by a correspondence team - in other words, I was unable to express my views to the people who could bring about change in policy etc. Yet my voice - your voice - can be heard by the nation via 5Live. That, may I suggest, is a hugely important role for the station.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    As an update to my earlier mails:

    Read that Richard Bacon is to be offered a role on an ITV TV programme no one watches ....

    Robbie Savage has offered to 'not work again' if Man City overcome Barcelona.

    Is there a God after all?

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    I love 5-Live... It's always my first choice for radio. I love the sport commentary, Fighting Talk and most of the debates.

    But, I would love to see 2 things. More diversity. When doing radio documentaries take a few risks! Radio 4 do this amazingly well. The range of topics is so diverse and often abstract with them. Football is not the only sport! There's waaaaay too much banter on football. There should be much more on the fringe sports. Britain has many world class athletes ruling their sport globally and never receive any recognition. I'd guess that 70% of the sporting talk on 5-Live is based around football and that is 40% too much.

    The second thing is change the way they do radio phone in's. Debates are very rarely solvable with the question they ask at the beginning; "Is it this or that?", most often it's a million things and a combination of all of them. The debate deserves more scrutiny so maybe they should debate less things and spend more time on each of them.


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