I confess to being a great fan of Bill Buckley. He has a style all his own, openly gay and sometimes camp, he has developed a warm rapport with his loyal late-night listeners who are evidently fond of the man. He presents a staggering 4 hours of broadcasting each night, from Tuesday to Friday (1am – 5am on LBC) and has recently added a Sunday slot! Is he on Monkey Glands?
Born in Birmingham in 1959 (but still sounding surprisingly young), Bill Buckley started his career as a newspaper journalist and came to fame on television in 1982 with Esther Ranzen’s “That Life”. The birth of BBC’s breakfast TV offered him another forum for his talents and introduced us to his musical side, a treat for any lover of witty, topical song. Looking for some R and R, Bill presented BBC’s “Holiday Programme” and later Radio 4’s “Breakaway”. He says the job was hard work, despite everyone’s false assumption that it’s basically being on holiday with a camera, but he loved it anyway.
What has all this to do with food, you wonder? Well, Bill’s Sunday programme (3pm – 5pm on LBC) is devoted to just that. He has a real love of food broadcasting and is also a food writer, being a member of the Guild of Food Writers, an accolade of which he is deservedly proud. This lad can cook a bit too! In spring of 2005, he won the London week of C4’s cookery and party-giving competition, “Come Dine with Me” and has also cooked professionally on television on several occasions.
He loves cooking for friends and recently treated some of them to cucumber vichyssoise; salad of marinated herring, beetroot, avocado, apple, toasted walnuts and rocket with horseradish cream; poached chicken with mustard and lemon sauce and roasted roots; trio of homemade (yes, from his own home!) ice creams – chocolate, coconut and rum, clotted cream with caramelised pecans. Not too shabby, huh?
I couldn’t be more pleased to find Bill with his own foodie radio spot with LBC’s Food and Drink programme. His knowledge and genuine interest in the subject are evident. His skill has even enabled him to present entertaining wine-tasting segments that don’t need to resort to exaggerated gargling or use of a sound-enhanced spittoon!
Although being an accomplished food professional himself, he remains in touch with this core audience of enthusiastic amateurs. He interviews his guests with charm and consideration, especially those who are radio guest virgins, enabling them to give of their best. He asks questions that we would ourselves like to ask if only we weren’t so shy. Those questions that we think might sound daft or show our ignorance of all things culinary (“Is it OK to use my son’s terrapin to make Mock Turtle Soup?”), Bill can ask on our behalf.
Bill Buckley’s Sunday stint is an audience-participation food magazine, so of course he loves to hear from his listeners. Each week his choice of guests reflects topical issues, new and views. He invites not only the usual suspects from the pantheon of celebrated chefs and experts but offers, equally, a platform for little-known food producers, innovators and writers. You can listen live online and find podcasts of previous programmes on LBC web site at www.lbc.co.uk .
So next Sunday afternoon, pour yourself a big mug of tea, throw the cat off your comfy chair and tune in to the youthful intonations of our boy Bill. That’s what I’ll be doing!
[* Note: Bill’s career has moved on since this article was written. ]
Interview by Chrissie Walker © 2018