There are several things to consider when I pick the playlists for my show.

I'm playing to a broad spectrum of people: every age, all manner of opinion and any amount of musical taste.

The timings are crucial. It's the norm to play between eight and ten tracks in any hour, and I try and get twelve away, but plan for fifteen (gives us a bit of leeway).

An opening song should change your palate from the previous show and hint at what's to come. If I get the opening track right, the rest just flows.

The time of the show is crucial; what are people doing while they're listening and what would I want to listen to in their position?

I like to assemble the tracks so one somehow fits with the next and work as a continuous hour as if there were no talking in between. Sometimes I reply on one song with another, personal sport.

Music changes energy.

I can't bear a trite lyric: sometimes this can be overlooked, but rarely.

The length of a song is important, anything over four minutes has to tick a lot of boxes before I'll put it in.

Liza Tarbuck on how to create a playlist

Playing 'The Stripper' makes me laugh; somebody somewhere has an adventure because that track has comes on

I'm not a fan of computerised drums, likewise an organ can lose its appeal within minutes, but there are exceptions.

Some older songs may be offensive to someone listening and unless there's a tongue-in-cheek element to them, they don't get in.

I love a purist and will hunt definitive music down on the premise the appeal could stretch and inform. Difficult tracks are often aided by what you put before and after them, or setting them up with interesting notes.

The seasons play their part too. As does the time the show goes out, we need different things from the radio at different times of the day or night, some music doesn’t feel right. . . (this could be cobblers though, ‘listen again’ and all that.)

There are people whose musical taste I admire unquestioningly and I love it when they tip me off.

I like a memory jog.

I'm allowed (my rule) to play some of my favourite tunes a few times a year, listening to them on the BBC studio equipment can take my breath away. It's part of the reason I do the show.

I listen to what's playing everywhere I go. How does it makes me feel? Shops have people whose job it is to keep you in there with a good soundtrack.

Playing 'The Stripper' makes me laugh; somebody somewhere has an adventure because that track has comes on.

I'm mindful of the shows that follow mine and I can lay a foundation for them to wet the listeners' whistle . . . similarly I like to end on a high - it's helpful for the following show.

Moaning people are rarely helpful and I avoid them when I can. I am always allowed to moan.

You either 'get it' or you don't. Worrying about dissent only waters the product down; I'm a hard taskmaster, I take my job seriously, and as a creative, detail is key.

I consider it an honour to have my own show on BBC radio. 

If the music is good the rest of the show takes care of itself. 80% of a live show is about how it’s received by the listeners on the day, you have to guess or steer unknown moods. I don’t always get it right.

Remastered tracks from the 90’s are often quite flat – I tend to avoid them.

Sometimes the musicians are so involved in a song it gives the music an emotional life, ensuring its longevity. 

Some weeks I’m so excited by a track I can’t wait to play it and gauge the reaction.

I’m mindful that I’m imposing my taste on people, but it’s lucky that music is so enjoyable . . . mixing it up’s good.

You gotta have soul.

  • I An Distracted by Everything




    Comments sent in by my listeners:

    'Once I took some black puddings out of the freezer only to find a mole! I had found it in the garden and intended to send it to Chris Packham for Springwatch' Mrs D

    'My mum said women of a certain age shouldn't wear beige jackets as from the back they look like a baked potato.' Lorna - Edinburgh

    Travelling back in time:

    I don't want to be a killjoy, but I remember a time before duvets were the norm, so I'm already apprehensive. And bearing in mind the lack of female toilets now, basic needs are going to be tricky.

    Stylish Snippets:

    Children, drunks and leggings NEVER lie

    The Atom Bomb

    The idea of 'the bomb' had me awake for years. I felt it might be up to me to get the cellar ready, but Mum was rather casual about the whole thing

    I am genuinely distracted by everything, and I don't think I'm alone in this. I consider my love of distraction a thing to be cherished.

    Like the annuals of my youth, this book is filled with puzzles, activities and mental musings. I hope that every page tickles your fancy. This book might be a perfect conversation starter at a dinner table, or the last thing you're flipping through before bed. I promise that you'll laugh at least once.

    So here we go. I am passing my distractions on to you.


    The fans who have been distracted by Liza's book . . .

    'It's wonderful!' Harry Hill

    'The perfect gift' Dawn French

    'Utterly glorious' India Knight

    'I do love Liza Tarbuck so' Miranda Hart

    'National treasure' Sue Perkins

  • Buy the book

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