CAPITAL RADIO - The First Mad Year!
Part VI - MONTY MODLYN.
I used to drive and operate the radio car quite often for Monty Modlyn, the cockney comedian and vox-populist.
We would typically arrive at a shopping centre and start to bother people. One such occasion we visited a major fruit and veg market (see photo, right) and invited the market traders to try various delicacies normally enjoyed exclusively by the upper classes. Chocolate ants, bees in honey glaze, something or other in aspic... all quite revolting.
We were live, no time delay or any of that namby-pamby stuff they use to censor radio these days. Monty gave some of the bees to one guy, who tried them, and then asked him what he thought.
"Only the toffs eat shit like this," said the trader.
Notice the price of potatoes in the photo: 5 lb for 12p! About one-eighth of today's price.
Monty took pride in his knowledge of East London. Sometimes after finishing the vox pops he'd take me to some little cafe in the middle of the East End. It was very Jewish. The menu would have blintzes and gefilte fish and so forth. I mainly drank tea and watched the antics of the locals.
On one occasion Monty invited me back to his house. He had a bust of himself on a plinth in the hallway, which I thought was pretty unusual. He drove an enormous American "landboat" type car. He complained that the bonnet was so long that he had to drive it out of his gate and occupy part of the road, of course, without yet being able to see what was coming, and had had a few accidents caused in that way.
On another vox pop we visited Edmonton shopping centre (photo, right) and took with us two or three model girls. They were very lovely blondes, but all the way there and back gossiped endlessly about the most trivial things imaginable. I could easily see that they only had three brain cells between them.
These vox pops were really a pleasant break from the routine back at Euston Tower.
Monty died in London, on the 6 May, 1994. He was 73.
From his obituary in The Independent, I've taken the following snippet:
Modlyn was also one of the original team on Capital Radio when the independent local radio station started broadcasting in 1973, most often found out in the street asking people's opinions on different issues, and he hosted a phone-in show on LBC, the London news and information station.
Endless work for charity, especially the RSPCA, led to Modlyn being appointed OBE in 1983, but he was plagued by ill-health during his last 10 years.
"Monty was the epitome of the fat, jolly man, a bit of a Danny Baker of his generation,' recalls the disc jockey Dave Cash, who worked with him at Capital Radio. 'He was the vox pop king. If we wanted anything, however bizarre, he would always say , 'Yeah, I can do it' "