The best thing on the radio last week was, without question, Kind Hearts and Coronets. You may have missed it because it was on Radio 4 Extra, the poor, forgotten relation of the BBC’s main channels, which many regard as merely a Radio 4+1 for yesterday’s replays, when it is in fact home to the drama and comedy archive. Like the BBC4 TV channel, which is sadly ceasing commissioning, it hosts the sort of intelligent programmes people really enjoy, to the consternation of those who dismiss them as ‘old’.
Fittingly, for Radio 4 Extra, Kind Hearts is all about a poor, forgotten relation who strives to reclaim his place within a family unwilling to acknowledge his existence. Adapted from the Ealing Studios screenplay of 1949 starring Alec Guinness, the radio drama, first broadcast in 1996, is one part Wilde to two parts Conan Doyle.