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CMU Beef Of The Week #236: Tom Binns v Simon Bates

By | Published on Friday 12 December 2014

Simon Bates

It just occurred to me that some of our readers might not know who Simon Bates is. And that seems like a terrible state of affairs. Terrible. So I will take it upon myself to educate you. You may thank me later.

Simon Bates is a man. No, more than a man, he is a legend of broadcasting. He’s almost a mythical beast, it’s hard to believe that Simon Bates even exists in real life. And how has he achieved this status? ‘Our Tune’, that’s how.

‘Our Tune’ was a feature launched on Bates’ Radio 1 show in 1980, in which he read some weepy story a listener had sent in over Nino Rota’s ‘Love Theme From Romeo And Juliet’. That’s this, by the way. You might like to play it on a loop as you read the rest of this article. Or you might like to stop and listen to one such weepy story. Here’s one. Yes, large portions of that story do seem fantastically inappropriate to be used as light entertainment 20 odd years later, don’t they? Basically as a preamble to a song request. But the 90s, man. They were like a different time. Or something.

Anyway, as you can hear, Simon Bates is a very sensitive man. A sensitive man who has used the sad stories of his listeners as the basis for his career for more than 30 years. Because he loves those listeners. And they love him. Everyone’s in love right now, oh my god I can’t even etc etc.

Another broadcaster is a man called Tom Binns. He’s also a comedian. He tells jokes. He mainly tells them in character – either as a medium character called Ian D Montfort or a hospital radio presenter character called Ivan Brackenbury. Two characters. One of whom once made a playlist for CMU. He also says things as himself, like in 2010 when he was presenting a Christmas Day show on Birmingham radio station BRMB and cut off a broadcast of the Queen’s speech, saying: “two words: bore ing” (an incident which got him sacked). Like I say, he’s a joker.

Now, you might think that I’ve just talked about two men who have no connection to each other. But that just shows that you have a terrific lack of trust in me as a storyteller, and I find that quite upsetting, if you must know. Because there is a connection. A connection I was just about to come to before you bloody interrupted me with all you talk of me dragging this out and not getting to the point. You don’t have to read this, you know. Can I continue? Good. Thank you.

Where was I? Oh yes. Tom Binns is married to Liesl Soards. Liesl Soards is a radio producer. In fact, she used to produce Simon Bates’ show on Smooth Radio – the station he left earlier this year, before recently announcing that he would re-emerge on BBC Radio Devon in January.

In the latest edition of his podcast, Binns told a story about how Soards’ relationship with Bates came to an end prior to him departing Smooth. Tom Binns has a podcast, by the way. I didn’t mention that before. But he does. And in the latest edition, he explains: “Everyone thinks of [Bates] as Mr Compassion, but what they don’t know about him is what a focussed broadcaster he is … Liesl was the producer on his show, and her mum got ill, in fact she was diagnosed with cancer and Simon was just fantastic every day, saying, ‘How’s your mum, is everything alright? If there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know'”.

There’s that sensitive guy we all know and love. Binns continues: “Eventually it got to a situation where the end was very close, the doctors said it was only a matter of days, so Liesl went to her boss and arranged to take some time off”.

Seems pretty reasonable. Binns then reads out an email from Soards to Bates, in which she explained that she would be unable to come to work for two days later that week, but that she’d arranged two other producers to cover for her while she was away. And then comes Bates’ apparent response to this email, which allegedly went like this: “Sorry Leisl, that’s outrageous and unfair on me. I simply can’t have a producer who isn’t there when she feels like it. And equally, I can’t have a producer who arranges for a deputy without asking for my agreement”.

After this Binns reveals that Soards was sacked shortly after the exchange. So it doesn’t seem like Bates is quite as sensitive a man as someone (I forget who) led us to believe. The exact term Binns uses to describe the DJ is “cunt”.

Although a fairly throwaway item at the beginning of the podcast, it apparently attracted the attention of The Sun and Mail On Sunday, who approached Binns about it but decided not to publish anything once he had refused to comment. “There’s one thing being funny in a podcast, there’s another running off to the papers”, he said on Facebook.

Binns did give a comment to radio industry news service Radio Today though, saying of the incident: “I’d like to apologise to my wife for talking about a private matter in my podcast. She is a very talented and creative producer and unlike me she has an incredible capacity to rise above things like this and did not wish me to make this public”.

He added: “I would also like to apologise for using the word ‘cunt’ in relation to Simon Bates. It was a totally unnecessary thing to say, as anyone who has read or heard his reaction to my wife taking a few days holiday to spend time with her dying mother would have naturally come to that conclusion themselves”.

Simon Bates has apparently not listened to the podcast, so offered nothing on the matter himself. But he and you can hear it all here.



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