World service

What’s the problem with BBC Arabic?

It’s easy to forget that your BBC licence fee does not only fund content that you and your family consumes. In addition to the output aimed at domestic audiences, your annual payment of £157.50 funds a host of foreign language services aimed at projecting British impartiality and soft power overseas. The largest of these is BBC Arabic. Launched as a radio station in 1938, it was the first of the BBC’s non-English experiments, and the most successful. Today encompassing television, radio and online, the channel reaches more than 40 million people every week. That’s both an influential audience and a shedload of British money. So it should come as a

I’ve lost patience with podcasts and their presenters

‘To be recognised and accepted by a peregrine,’ wrote J.A. Baker in 1967, ‘you must wear the same clothes, travel by the same way, perform actions in the same order. Like all birds, it fears the unpredictable.’ Sitting around in the same old clothes, performing chores in the same order, travelling by no way at all, I’ve found comfort in Baker’s assurance that I may at least prove attractive to birds in my slovenly purdah. Sir David Attenborough read The Peregrine beautifully on Radio 4 just before Christmas, but if you were too busy steaming puddings to listen, you may find this a good time for enjoying the series online.