A great new series on the World Service
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.
‘You have to live.
Amid all the chattering about hacking it’s a relief to discover that some things don’t change and yet still, surprisingly in these tainted times, proffer sterling quality.
My favourite fact of the week is to have discovered that in the UK there are 2,500 species of eyebright, 2,500 different varieties of that dainty, slender-stemmed flower, with its bright white trumpet.
Is Glastonbury over yet? If not, can it be very soon please? On Jo Whiley’s exciting new evening show on Radio 2, the poor woman can still barely finish a sentence without referring to ‘Glasto’ or ‘the Pyramid Stage’ or whatever it’s called, where everyone who played was brilliant, as everyone always is in Jo’s world.
‘To be speaking to you through the BBC has a very special meaning for me.
All eyes will be on Andy Murray this week and perhaps next, but 50 years ago it was British women tennis players who were on top, with two of them fighting for the trophy in the final at Wimbledon.
It’s the small things that drive you mad.
It must be a fix, surely? The list of tunes voted online ‘by the nation’ as the eight favourite ‘discs’ we would like to be marooned with on a desert island is the dullest, most unoriginal, least controversial combination we listeners could possibly have come up with.
It’s all in the voice.
‘We will know one day why it happened,’ said the mother of Helga Mosey.
That interview with Kenneth Clarke, QC, was not so much a disaster for his political career as yet another knockout blow to the possibility of hearing honest answers from leading politicians.
What are we supposed to make of those odd pictures of Osama bin Laden sitting crouched in a dingy, undecorated concrete room watching something blurred on a small TV screen? Is this really the face of jihadist evil? These were the questions behind this week’s provoking 15-minute drama in the From Fact to Fiction slot on Saturday (Radio 4).
‘She hung up and ended the interview,’ said John Humphrys on Saturday morning’s Today programme (Radio 4), sounding rather bemused.
Trust a radio critic, she who is paid to listen, not to rely on the wireless set in her car for information when stuck on a highland road miles from anywhere in a jam that stretches far into the horizon in both directions.
Five clever updates of Old Testament stories filled Radio 3’s late-night speech slot this week and revealed just how difficult it is to make these stories work in a contemporary setting.
It’s a two-way genre, radio, Janus-faced, going forwards while at the same time looking backwards, flexible enough to adapt to the internet world but also still wallowing in the wealth of its archive.
Diaries and letters tell us a lot about how people lived from day to day yet there’s often something missing.
Whatever lay behind Radio 3’s decision four years ago to reduce the number of live concert broadcasts to a mere handful, it cannot have been the recent phenomenal success of ‘live’ relays from the Met in New York to local cinemas.
Soul Music is already into its 11th series on Radio 4 (Tuesdays, after lunch), but it just gets better and better.
Amid the fear and drear of cuts, and yet more cuts, Radio 3 has offered its fans an adrenaline boost by suddenly announcing a huge increase in the number of ‘live’ performances on the station.
Best line of the week on radio by a league was Stuart Maconie’s when he said, talking about the pop group Abba, ‘The girls stuck it out, on stage and in the studio, the words of their ex-husbands’ perfect three-minute psychodramas bursting on their tongues like acid bonbons.’ Maconie was turning over the history of the break-up song, not as you might expect on Radio 2, the old Light Programme, but on heavy-thinking Radio 4, home to news, current affairs and ‘radical economics’.
Recent events in Egypt have exposed not just the chasms in our understanding of what’s been going on in the countries of the Middle East, but also the effects of changes in how the BBC is spending the licence fee on reporting ‘fast-breaking’ stories.
All this talk about cuts might not be such a bad thing, if it forces us to think about what really should not be left to rot and wither away for lack of funding.