Lloyd Evans Lloyd Evans

Ill-disciplined and self-indulgent: The Guilty Feminist podcast reviewed

Plus: listening to the clumsy drama The BlackRock Girl, I worry about Radio 4

Deborah Frances-White, presenter of The Guilty Feminist podcast. Image credit: Anna Gordon / eyevine

With theatres shut, radio must lighten the darkness. The Guilty Feminist is a wildly popular podcast performed by Deborah Frances-White and guests. In the episode of 23 March, the presenter hoped the superbug would cure our mania for business trips to ‘Philadelphia for a meeting about key performance indicators… Don’t fly to see people you hate. Fly to see people you love.’ She was probably unwise to dabble in medical predictions. ‘I hope Boris catches coronavirus so badly he needs to be sequestered on a desert island with no loo roll.’

Her co-presenter, Sindhu Vee, mocked her children’s frailties and her own. One of her young daughters announced her intention to become a feminist lawyer while the other said she wanted to be a mermaid. ‘I high-fived the one who wanted to be a mermaid.’ Preceding the hour-long podcast came an appeal for cash. Frances-White begged listeners to send her £2.50 per month so she can carry on ‘making lemonade out of patriarchal lemons’. The advert laid it on thick. ‘It’s been an unqualified blessing,’ she oozed, ‘performing, learning, laughing and growing.’ The appeal went on for four solid minutes which made it one of the longest advertisements I’ve ever sat through.

Radio lacks the important cues that theatre is subject to and this leads to ill-discipline and self-indulgence

And there lies the key difference between radio and live theatre. There’s no instant feedback on radio, no umbilical connection between performer and audience. On stage, an actor can see which playgoers are fidgeting, yawning, texting or dozing. And it’s obvious, after the interval, how many of the audience have failed to return. Radio lacks these important cues and it leads to ill-discipline and self-indulgence.

A lot of people recommended a political satire, Capital, about a team of bungling civil servants trying to implement a referendum decision to reintroduce the death penalty.

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