Michael Vestey

Mercy killing

Mercy killing

The good end-of-year news was that Home Truths on Radio Four (Saturdays) is to be taken off the air in the spring. Unfortunately, it seems likely to be replaced by something similar. The new show, says Mark Damazer, the network controller, ‘will continue to feature the sometimes extraordinary experiences of its listeners’. Damazer explained that the late John Peel’s ‘unique personality’ was bound up with Home Truths and now it was time to look for a different programme. I must say I hated it when Peel presented it and I don’t feel any differently now.

The only good thing about it for me was that it was sheer bliss not to have the radio on for a whole hour; in fact, more than that because what follows, Excess Baggage, presented by Sandi Toksvig, is almost as ghastly, though nothing else on Radio Four quite matches the awfulness of Home Truths. Since Peel died, it’s been presented by a number of people and something about the programme makes them utterly and embarrassingly self-indulgent. Forcing myself to listen to one before Christmas, I managed to get through to the end, though there were many twitchy-finger moments, only to hear the presenter David Stafford sing, ‘There’s No Business Like Showbusiness’, presumably to tell his audience that ending a programme is just part of showbusiness, really. It didn’t seem to matter that he can’t sing and that dogs and cats across the land must have scurried for cover.

The need to fill almost an hour with the most anaesthetising trivia means items have to be of interminable duration. A man droned on about how his brother’s ashes had been stolen in a bag at Heathrow and how the lost-property office managed to reunite them with him after five years.

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