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.
As the battle rages between the American and British military PR over which brigade is being the most effective force for change in Afghanistan, it’s easy to forget that this proud country has its own ideas about what it needs in the future.
A frock that shocks, a terror-filled red coat and diamonds of seductive power are all promised next week in an alluring late-night series on Radio 3 (produced by Duncan Minshull).
You might be forgiven for thinking that the cuts to broadcasting have already been implemented, with nothing but Mozart on Radio 3 and the Bible on Radio 4 on Sunday.
There’s been much grumbling in the shires about Radio 3’s 12-day Mozart marathon.
It’s so unnerving, knowing there are going to be two big surprises tomorrow night (2 January) on The Archers, but having no idea what’s in store.
We might actually be glad of the time difference over in Australia this Christmas, so that we can switch on to Aggers and co.
It’s the juxtaposition of ‘u’ on ‘u’ that did for Jim. According to scientific study, a sequence of words with the same vowels in the same place can trip us up, as poor Jim Naughtie discovered on Monday morning.
Phew! We’ve just had a narrow escape, if reports are true that the Today programme has been ‘in talks with’ Katie Price, aka Jordan.
Thank heavens for radio, and its ability to survive the depredations of new technology (even the botched introduction of DAB). Channel Four’s much-hyped adaptation of William Boyd’s novel, Any Human Heart, is just so lazy, letting the images do all the work, without bothering to create a coherent or dramatic script. A radio dramatisation of the book would have had to work much harder to ensure that the characters were brought to life. No fancy costumes or fabulously elegant settings to tell us where we are, and in what decade. No tricksy graphics at the beginning, either. Just plain words, carefully crafted to lead the listener through the narrative.
Could there be subtle changes taking place at Radio 4 HQ? Late last Friday night, A Good Read was dropped in favour of a repeat of a half-hour profile of the extraordinary Burmese campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi.