Why I love . . . Kermode and Mayo
Image © BBC
In this week's Why I love, sub-editor Alistair Strayton tells us why he chooses to spend his time with Kermode and Mayo...
I’m the kind of chap who can sometimes bristle at convention. An iPhone? Not for me, Mr Carphone Warehouse salesman – I’ll go for that Palm Pre I’ve been reading about. Twitter, you say? I’ve gone against Apple before – I’m signing up for Ping. Oh, and I’m currently championing Windows mobile 8 – sorry, Microsoft.
But I don’t always play the contrarian and am happy to sing the praises of the established big boys if warranted. That’s why I’m unashamed to declare my enduring love for the Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo film podcast – the undisputed king of the genre.
There is certainly more to the Sony-award winning ‘Wittertainment’ podcast than simply the interviews or film reviews – though the times when the clearly-passionate-about-film Kermode, often goaded by Mayo or listener promptings, embarks on an epic ‘Kermodian Rant’ are always a much-anticipated highlight.
Over the years, the duo have inspired a cultural meme (even Google are in on it – try it), written a cinemagoers' code of conduct that has actually been adopted by some independent theatres and even brought a man out of a coma (listen from 05.55).
The low-level bickering between the hosts is part of the podcast’s charm and is best likened to that of a long-married couple, though where both parties are clearly, deep down, still in love. Kermode’s opinionated, bombastic style contrasts with that of the more laid back, yet sometimes acerbic, Mayo, with the latter appearing to see his role as keeping the former in check.
The interaction and connection with listeners is key to the show’s success. Audience input plays a major part in the programme, with listeners’ texts or emails often used to steer on-air conversation. Over time, other digital platforms have been embraced – such as Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr and Twitter, with the latter often being used to source audience micro-reviews or contributions to an ongoing gag – further cementing the community spirit generated by the show.
In the visual – and now the digital – era, the audio medium has shifted from its original role as an entertainer to one of offering the audience companionship, something you look forward to spending comfortable time with. Mayo and Kermode offer that in spades – and you get the odd film review too.
Oh…and Hello to Jason Isaacs.