Year In Review saw Jack Ellis and Ian Sheard make their way through music history, one year at a time.
They didn’t go straight through though, that would have been far too easy. Instead, they went randomly through, picking years alternately between them each week, and not revealing what year was in review that week until 30 minutes into the show, a part that they liked to call “The Big Reveal”. Listeners were invited to guess the year, the closest winning the incredible prize of the respect of the hosts. This system was open to some abuse, notably by Jack, who in the first 10 weeks he chose picked every year in the 1970s, a move he would later regret. Jack and Ian ended up doing 52 episodes (which is quite nice when you think about it), with all but a small handful going out live despite their original timeslot of 1-3AM on a Saturday. The good work they did saw them promoted through the timeslots, culminating in the last stretch of the show going out at 9-11PM on Thursdays.
Beyond “The Big Reveal”, the show had such features as “Which One Was Number One”, and “Ian’s Album Of The Year Of The Week”. W1WN1 was a simple game: Jack would play 3 songs back-to-back-to-back and it would be the job of the listening audience, as well as Ian the listening presenter, to tell him simply which one was (in whatever year was in review that week) a UK Singles Chart #1. It sounds simple enough but Ian was improbably bad at it, with one particularly galling failure resulting in probably the most infamous moment in Year In Review history, “The Wham Walkout”, in which Ian stormed out of the studio such was his annoyance.
Ian’s Album Of The Year Of The Week carried with it much less stress and tension; Ian would pick an album and go into a bit more detail than usual for the show, talking about the albums’ context within the bands’ history, the wider context within history, and specific details about the album that the average person might not know.
The final thing YiR liked to do every week was end on the Christmas Number One of that year, regardless of how well or otherwise it fit into the show. So in the 1980 show, they played a lot of AC/DC, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Saxon, and Ozzy Osbourne, and ended on St Winifried’s School Choir singing “There’s No-One Quite Like Grandma”.
This history would be incomplete without reference to the third member of Year In Review Ella Wydrzynska, the “YiR Elf”, who for some reason chose to listen in almost every week and gave the boys useful quality control tips (more often than not just the sentence “STOP TALKING”), and whose assistance made Year In Review far greater than it had any right to be.
The final ever Year In Review was a 5-hour special entitled “The Ultimate Year In Review In Review”, where the boys went through every year they’d done, chose one song from that year, and played it, talking a bit about why they chose that song specifically and what it meant to them. This show started at 1AM on a Saturday, a throwback to their original start time, and was a bit of a mess after the third hour or so.