Many people have a regular religious experience on a Sunday. For some it's a church service, for some it's a nightclub, for some it's a 6am pitch at the car boot sale, while for others it's the EastEnders omnibus. For me it's tuning in religiously to the weekly Top 40 chartshow on Radio 1. Well, it's that or Songs of Praise and the Antiques Roadshow for heaven's sake.
Nothing quite beats the gradual unveiling of the nation's musical taste, record by record. How high will that new record enter? Who on earth is buying that rubbish? Who will be number one this week? If that record's at 3, and that one's at 2, then can I work out who's left? Of course, the charts are far less of a surprise than they once used to be. Midweek chart positions get leaked heavily in advance, so any change at the top of the charts is now heavily signposted beforehand. Records hardly ever climb the chart any more, they just crash in high and plummet like a stone. And if you miss the rundown, now there's teletext and the internet to fill you in, rather than having to wait until the repeated highlights or the newspapers on Monday morning. Twenty years ago you either tuned in your transistor at the time or you missed it.
In true chart style, here's a reverse rundown of the Top 5 longest-serving singles chart show presenters of all time:
5)David Jacobs (5 years, 1957-61, 1963) It may be hard to believe, but he really was hip and trendy in his day.
4)Tom Browne (6 years, 1972-78) He was so laid back you thought you were listening to Radio 2, or even Radio 3, instead.
3)Bruno Brookes (7 years, 1986-94) Real name 'Trevor' - heaven knows why he thought Bruno would be an improvement.
2)Mark Goodier (9 years, 1994-2002) Has reached the grand old age of 40 and so has been pensioned off to Classic FM.
1)Alan Freeman (10 years, 1961-62, 1964-72) The great grandad of Pop Pickers, and the definitive presenter - not half!
Tonight is Mark Goodier's last time presenting the new Top 40 chart on Radio 1, so it's the end of an era. He may not have been the most exciting DJ in the world, but on a show like the Top 40 a lack of personality actually helps. It'll be a sad day when the DJ is more important that the records, a lesson the commercial radio Network Chart would do well to learn.