Radcliffe & Maconie at Thor’s Tipi

On Friday, York played host to Radcliffe and Maconie’s annual outside Christmas broadcast, with the pair of Radio 6 DJs taking up residence in Thor’s Tipi on Parliament Street.

By Graeme Smith

Photos by Andy Argyle

Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie usually present their BBC Radio 6 Christmas broadcast from Manchester’s Christmas Market, but chose to take it over the Pennines to York this year, no doubt thanks to a lot of work put in by the city council’s Make It York team. The audience huddled around the roaring fire took it on faith that the pair were being genuine when describing the atmosphere in York as being much more ‘genteel’ than the “rugby scrum with mulled wine” of Manchester.

For the punters in Thor’s Tipi, this wasn’t just a chance to get a behind the scenes look at how two radio favourites put their show together, but also a chance to get up close and personal with some big-name guests and performers. Appearing on the show were the Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon, Heaven17’s Martyn Ware and Maximo Park’s Paul Smith, as well as local legends Rick Witter and Kate Atkinson.

Add to that performances from Field Music & The Cornshed Sisters and fiddle-player Eliza Carthy, it was set to be a cracker.

Radcliffe and Maconie opened the show with a chat with Shed Seven’s frontman Rick Witter. It was perhaps obligatory, with Rick being perhaps York’s most famous musical son. Joining Rick was his own son, Duke, who is following in his dad’s footsteps as frontman of his own band The Serotones. In among talk of new Shed Seven material on its way next year, there was time to discuss a pair of gold trousers (the first addition to the Rock and Roll Trouser Museum, having been stolen back from 1331) and an appearance from a pair of giant maracas.

Following Rick was a performance from The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon, who got things festive with a rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen as well as an acoustic version of Tonight We Fly. There were hints at a new Christmas song on its way next year and then perhaps the best comeback of the programme. When presented with the fact that Davina McCall had picked his track on Desert Island Discs because of the “darkness of the lyrics” Neil replied he was a fan of “the darkness in some of her programmes.”

As well as the big-name guests, Radcliffe and Maconie brought in some familiar faces of local establishments to give them a bit of a boost. There were interviews with the Jorvik Viking Centre, which is due to re-open on 8 April following last year’s flooding and York Chocolate Story, who exclusively announced that next year’s exhibition will celebrate 250 years of Terry’s.

Also representing York on the programme was novelist Kate Atkinson, who was born and raised in our city and whose breakthrough novel Behind The Scenes At The Museum is based on Castle Museum. She held a very interesting conversation with our hosts around the general ‘spookiness’ of York, particularly growing up in the ‘50s, as well as how this year’s nobel prize going to the wrong songwriter. In Kate’s opinion, it should have been Leonard Cohen.

Closing the programme was a dynamic performance from folk singer and fiddler Eliza Carthy, who raised the Tipi’s roof with a hand-clapping, boot-stomping, lively cover of Euon Mccall’s Fitter’s Song and the suitably seasonal The Holly And The Ivy. It rounded off an astonishingly entertaining afternoon full of great joy, great company and great atmosphere. Well done to Make It York and Thor’s Tipi for bringing Radio 6 to York, and Mark and Stuart will be welcomed back anytime.

BBC Radio 6’s Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie broadcast from Thor’s Tipi on Friday 16 December 2016