Sue perkins

Why wasn’t Gyles Brandreth chosen to host ‘Just a Minute’?

Turn aside if BBC Radio 4 isn’t your thing, still less its panel games. But for those of us who grew up with ‘Just a minute’ there was one obvious and outstanding candidate to replace the late Nicholas Parsons, who gave every indication that he was immortal until he was actually cut off at the age of 96. And it wasn’t the person who actually got the job. The obvious candidate was Gyles Brandreth – though if you’d put in a case for Andy Hamilton, the other genuinely funny man on radio, I’d give it serious thought. But Gyles didn’t get it, nor did Andy. Sue Perkins did. Brandreth is measurably

Riveting documentary about a remarkable man: Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War reviewed

First shown on BBC Scotland, Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War (BBC4, Wednesday) was the documentary equivalent of a William Boyd novel, showing us a 20th-century life shaped by 20th-century history. The programme was made by Harry’s granddaughter Carina, who’d been eight when he died, and known him only as ‘a lovable, frail, blind old man’. But then she came across 400 carefully labelled reels of film in the family shed, together with an equally well-organised collection of diaries. Exactly — or even vaguely — when this discovery took place was one of many details that Carina tantalisingly failed to disclose. (Now and again, we did see her