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.
Two dramas, two very different plots and personnel. One was political, the other intensely personal. Both were new, commissioned for radio, and defiantly worth paying the licence fee for.
The talk is that we’ve yet to experience the cuts that will have to be implemented to balance the nation’s books, but on the quiet, in suburban backstreets, behind closed doors, along cultural throughways and byways not often visited we know that they’re already happening, big time.
It’s one of the most haunting sounds I’ve ever heard — the plangent wail of a female Sufi singer from Afghanistan.
A rare but threatened species, in dire need of a campaign to save it from extinction, could be heard on Saturday night.
Jude Kelly missed a trick when she set off in search of that very British creation, the battleaxe, for this week’s Archive on 4.
‘She goes off to the Maldives. That’s all I can remember about her,’ laughed Alan Bennett as he struggled to recall the name of the Australian physiotherapist he’d invented for his TV play about Miss Fozzard and her feet.