Mayo (left) and Kermode (right) broadcasting live from Edinburgh in June 2009, with guest Bill Forsyth.
|Running time||120 minutes (since 2010)|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Home station||BBC Radio 5 Live|
|Hosted by||Simon Mayo|
|Edited by||Simon Poole (for Somethin' Else)|
|Original release||2001 (on radio);|
2005 (as podcast) - present
|Website||Official web page|
|Podcast||Official podcast feed|
Kermode and Mayo's Film Review is a radio programme with Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo, broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 5 Live on Friday afternoons between 3 pm and 5 pm. The show is self-described as the BBC's "flagship film programme", and features film reviews from Kermode, interviews with actors and other guests, and listeners' emails. The programme's Twitter handle, "Wittertainment", is a nickname for the programme itself.
The show is broadcast live on radio, accompanied by a live streaming webcam feed; each programme is available on BBC iPlayer and as a podcast. Individual reviews are available in an A to Z directory on the Five Live website, or as videos on YouTube.
This section needs expansion with: history between 2005 and 2009. You can help by adding to it. (May 2012)
Kermode and Mayo first appeared together on BBC Radio 1 in the 1990s. The current incarnation of the programme started on Radio 5 Live in 2001, as a "short review segment" on the Friday episode of Mayo's weekday afternoon show. Upon reuniting on Radio 5 Live, their relationship continued just as it had on Radio 1, with Kermode recalling his first words may have been 'And another thing...'.
In 2005, a podcast version of Kermode and Mayo's programme was made available, the same year that "podcast" was chosen by the New Oxford American Dictionary to be its word of the year; according to Brett Spencer, who worked for Radio 5 Live at the time, it was downloaded 42 times in the first week.
When Mayo started presenting BBC Radio 2's weekday drivetime programme, the movie reviews were kept on 5 Live, and expanded to two hours to become a show in its own right from 2 pm every Friday. In June 2011, it was announced that BBC had signed a two-year agreement for the programme to be produced by Somethin' Else Sound Directions; the company was selected following a competitive process that also included pitches from Hidden Flack, the talent management and production company whose clients include Kermode and Nigel Floyd The change after ten years was part of an effort by the BBC to have more of its radio shows produced from outside suppliers. The change became effective 7 October 2011; as of that date Simon Poole was the show's producer, Robin Bulloch was its editor, and Rowan Woods was the guest booker. As of July 2019, Simon Poole is the show's editor. Somethin' Else announced its intention to "'build the profile of the Kermode and Mayo brand online' with more podcast downloads and a 'new digital strategy'."
For the month of August 2014 the podcast was downloaded 1.6 million times, a monthly BBC Radio milestone exceeded only by The Archers. As of October 2014 the show was fourth on the BBC list of most-downloaded shows of the past decade, with 50.6 million.
The first hour of the show normally begins with a run down of the week's top ten films, with brief comments or capsule reviews from Kermode for films he has seen; Mayo reads comments and reviews from listeners on all of the films, and these are especially invited on films Kermode has not seen. The rest of the first hour features live or pre-recorded interviews with guests, usually actors or directors promoting an upcoming release. The second hour is devoted to full reviews of recently released films. At the end of each show, Kermode identifies his 'Film of the Week.' In February 2012, a new DVD of the week feature started, with Kermode identifying noteworthy DVD releases during the programme, and revealing his DVD of the Week on the podcast.
Throughout each show Kermode and Mayo engage in "on-air sparring" that has been compared to a "bickering married couple"; the decade-long partnership includes numerous in-jokes and ongoing arguments. Kermode's negative reviews are referred to by the presenters and fans as "Kermodean rants".
Various actors have made multiple appearances on the show, particularly Jason Isaacs, Michael Sheen and David Morrissey, and are referred to as Friends of the Show. During each programme, a number of these friends may be greeted in a list, beginning 'And hello to...'. Jason Isaacs is always the first on the list, having been a school friend of Kermode, but other people named in the past include Michael Sheen, David Morrissey, Stephen Fry and various English folk groups. When searching for "Jason Isaacs" on Google UK the phrase "Hello to Jason Isaacs" appears before the search results. The phrase has also made an appearance on The Jay Leno Show, having been inserted into various on-screen graphics.
Alternative presenters take over the show while Kermode and Mayo are away. For a number of years, the most regular replacements for Kermode were former Radio 1 critic James King, and Boyd Hilton (television and review editor of Heat magazine) and Nigel Floyd (film critic for Time Out magazine), commonly referred to as Boyd & Floyd. Current stand-in reviewers include Daily Telegraph film critic Robbie Collin, Radio Times film editor Andrew Collins and Independent contributor Clarisse Loughrey. Replacements for Mayo have included Al Murray, Colin Paterson, Zoe Ball, David Morrissey, Jo Whiley, Colin Murray, Edith Bowman, Richard Bacon, Ben Bailey Smith and Sanjeev Bhaskar.
Alongside the regular show there have been a number of special broadcasts. These include an annual 'Review of the Year' show, prerecorded and broadcast on New Year's Eve, during which Kermode names his best and worst films of the year, a Christmas Quiz, broadcast on Christmas Eve with special guests and recorded with a live audience, and occasional outside broadcasts (for example, from the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, a 2009 broadcast from the Edinburgh International Film Festival, or during sporting events when Mayo's show comes from the location of the event).
On its 10th anniversary, the show was broadcast from the new BBC MediaCityUK in Salford featuring film music played by the BBC Philharmonic. As part of the performance of the score from Midnight Cowboy, Kermode played the harmonica solo with the orchestra after volunteering at the roundtable discussion, not realising the part required the chromatic harmonica rather than the diatonic harmonica, the instrument he plays. After the broadcast on Radio 5 finished, there was more discussion and music on sister station BBC Radio 3 later that evening. The music for the broadcast was chosen by guests for a special roundtable discussion, released as a bonus podcast, except for one decision (between the music for Jaws and Indiana Jones) which was opened to the public for a text vote with the winner (Indiana Jones) being announced on Friday 27 May. The guests for the roundtable discussion were Andrew Collins, Paloma Faith, Richard Wigley and Robert Ziegler.
Other 10th Anniversary extras, during a month of special programming (in May and June 2011), include a 'Best of', broadcast on 29 May 2011, presented by Hugh Bonneville, an appearance on the Richard Bacon show on 31 May 2011 discussing the beginning of the partnership and four online videos.
In 2010, Kermode and Mayo developed a Cinema Code of Conduct, which was presented as a guide to cinema-goers as to the best way to behave while watching a film. During the development of the Code, listeners were invited to submit suggestions for what should be included.
The Cinema Code of Conduct consists of the following rules:
Kermode and Mayo have also appeared on The Culture Show with a segment called 'The Screening Room', held in various locations, where films were discussed with an audience before clips of those films were shown. Kermode also has a blog on the BBC website, called 'Kermode Uncut', where he invites discussion from viewers and often continues or begins discussions which relate back to the radio show.
During his review of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Kermode made a passing comment that it was so similar to the Harry Potter franchise it might as well be called 'Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins'. Listener Jeremy Dylan then took this title and produced posters, a trailer and, eventually, an independent film based on the concept, with Stephen Fry as narrator. Following the basic structure of the Harry Potter books, where the main character discovers special abilities and goes to a special school, the script contains a multitude of references to Wittertainment jokes and themes.
In 2015, Kermode and Mayo co-authored a book called The Movie Doctors, published by Canongate Books. The title is a reference to a joke on the radio show regarding Mark Kermode being a 'real' Doctor, having been awarded a PhD from the University of Manchester in 1991, while Simon Mayo is a 'fake' doctor, having become Doctor of Letters after receiving an honorary degree from the University of Warwick in 2005.
And in radio terms a 10-year double act is something worth celebrating - especially when it has grown from a short review segment into a two-hour show and survived Mayo's move to Radio 2 (he returns each week in order to keep their show together going).