Radio Highlights: Saturday 14 – Friday 18 March

A seriously cut down list on last week’s extensive homework …

Mark Steel’s in Town Radio 4 Wednesday 18 March 6.30pm
I spent an afternoon in the company of a former Radio 4 news editor extolling the virtues of radio over TV to an assembled crowd of shiny journalism trainees. It was a joy to listen to and reaffirmed my love affair with the medium. I’m hoping for lots of ambient sound, storytelling and useful reminder of what makes good radio in this particular piece about what makes the town of Skipton in Yorkshire distinctive, presented by Mark Steele. I hope I’m not disappointed. 

Woman’s Hour   Radio 4 Thursday 19 March 10.00am
Nora and Mira Award the Israeli/Arab-Israeli singing duo controversially representing Israel at Eurovision 2009 entry is focussed on in Woman’s Hour. Good to get some analysis of their contribution in on Radio 4. 

Crossing ContinentsIsrael’s Goodness Gracious Me Radio 4 Thursday 19 March 11.00am
With Israel & Eurovision appearing on Woman’s Hour before it, I’ve been hooked into a subject I would normally dismiss because I’m turned off by how complicated it is. Mukul Devichand seeks out contributions from the cast and writers of an Israeli TV comedy which picks out the humouress side of Arab lives in Israel. Interesting and challenging.  


If it turns out my conservative estimates as to how much radio time I have available this week change, I’ll update it here. So be sure to bookmark and check back. 



Radio Highlights: Saturday 7 – Friday 13 March 2009

Baseball and Me   Saturday 7 March 2009 Radio 4 10.30am

I have it on good authority from head-honcho, blogging-overlord-of-Radio 4 Mark Damazer’s blog that he’s a fan of the Boston Redsocks. No surprises then that this little half-hour on Simon Schama’s love of baseball has crept into the schedules.

Personally, if I was controller of Radio 4 one of the rules introduced would be a swift trip to the gallows for anyone who pitched the idea of anything sport-related to me. My second rule would be that a half hour of the schedules would be given over to my love of Eurovision every week and that I’d be able to produce the output.

(In proposing this I am at pains to point out that I am in no way bitter about the fact that Ming the Merciless Mark Damazer turned down my marvellous pitch for a radio documentary about the Eurovision a few years back. I dealt with this in an adult fashion not only snubbing Saturday Live with Fi Glover, but also encouraging as many people as I knew to do the same. I note with interest this plan failed and the programme is still in the schedules.) 


Desert Island Discs  Sunday 8 March 2009 Radio 4 11.15am
I’m not sure what to make of this week’s guest Richard Madeley. Unfortunate buffoon or all-round fundamentally misunderstanding husband of mother hen Judy Finnigan. I will listen to find out and report back.

REVIEW: Unfortunate buffoon Madeley is not. His anecdotes on Desert Island Discs were interesting and enlightening even if his musical choices remained safe. Madeley is the only person I know who can describe the music of The Eagles as “sexy”. It a[ppears he also used the opportunity to announce some professional intentions for the future ..


Bring me the Head of Philip K Dick  Sunday 8 March 2009 Radio 3 8pm

Jacks of all trade are generally looked down on at the BBC – certainly in my experience – so when someone has written, produced and directed a play, you can’t help wondering whether he or she is a controlling so and so. So it is with Radio 3’s Sunday night drama about a deadly futuristic weapon with the look of science of fiction writer Philip K Dick’s head which actually thinks its Philip K Dick’s head. Weird, wonderful and ultimately challenging. Who could ask for more?

We also have Sound Houses   Sunday 8 March 2009 Radio 3 9.30pm

Opportunity to hear Radio 3’s Sunday Feature (originally broadcast during the Proms season last year in the run up to the Stockhausen Day) about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop producer Daphne Oram.


Afternoon on 3  Tuesday 10 March 2009 Radio 3 3pm

Don’t bother with the rest of this programme, only the appearance of Benjamin Britten’s brilliant Piano Concerto performed by Steven Osborne. Forgive the crappy rendering of this video, but be sure to take a listen. The last movement is ridiculously silly and overblown but Osborne’s performance (this from the Proms in 2007) was a pyrotechnical hoot in what amounts to a foray into piano concerto writing that Britten really should have continued with. If we’re really lucky it’ll be 2007 gig we hear on Tuesday night. If it’s not I’ll be ringing Radio 3 Controller myself to complain.

You and Yours Monday 9 March Radio 4 12pm

The only reason I’m listening to this is because I understand there’ll be a piece on the collapse of the 4×4 gaz-guzzler market. The opportunity to sneer at all those idiots who are pumping loads of unnecessary gases into the atmosphere merely because they have the means to do so is an opportunity too good to miss.


Click On Monday 9 March Radio 4 4.30pm

It’s like Rory Cellan-Jones’ blog on the radio without Rory Cellan-Jones. Click On returns for a new series and kicks off with a piece about You Tube and how it costs more money than it makes. Interesting.


Front Row Monday 9 March Radio 4 7.15pm

Piece about the state of undercover tv reporting on Front Row this evening. Will listen to impress my colleagues at work at the editorial meeting the following morning.


Adventures in Junk Tuesday 10 March Radio 4 11.00-11.30am

Sometimes the radio listings will yield something begging to be listened to without so much as an on-air trail. So it is here. The first adventure playground opened in Denmark in 1943 as resistance to the Nazi occupation grew. This programme will provide you with interesting facts to impress dinner guests with, although the Nazi angle may limit the social situations in which you attempt to impress people, admittedly.

Chi Chi – Panda Ambassador Wednesday 11 March Radio 4 9pm

A chance conversation overheard by yours truly drew my attention to this very programme. During the conversation one member of BBC staff said to another “Yes, Chi Chi the panda is on-air next week?” Quite apart from the fact that the person was actually revealing something in next week’s schedule before they should have done, it did raise the inevitable question, “can Chi Chi actually speak ?” The fact that Chi Chi has actually died didn’t get uttered at any point during the earwigged conversation.


Front Row Friday 13 March Radio 4 7.15pm

Contrary to what the listings tells you on /programmes I have it on good authority that writing God David Hare’s latest creation – a monologue about political divisions in the Middle East – will be reported on in today’s show.

Radio Highlights: Sat 28 Feb – Friday 6 March 2009

Away from home and working late this week, I need to plan my listening to provide some welcome relief and take my mind off any bouts of homesickness I might suffer from. Thus I commit to the following perceived radio gems in the coming week.

The Talented Mr Ripley / Saturday 28 February 2009, Radio 4, 2.30-3.30pm
Happy to confess that I haven’t actually seen the film or read the book. But going on the way I totally got into listening to hour long segments of the radio dramatisation of To Serve Them All My Days this time last year, I’m relishing the opportunity to listen to Patricia Highsmith’s novels over 5 weeks.

The Bottom Line / Saturday 28 February 2009, Radio 4, 5.30pm
Evan Davies hosts a discussion about the future of computing and Microsoft vs. Google amongst other things. I’m looking forward to hearing about the thorny issue of cloud computing in the hope I might hit upon some rouse to sabotage the growing popularity for cloud computing.

Stand-Up With the Stars / Sunday 1 March 2009, Radio 4, 1.30pm
Comic Relief has landed on Radio 4. It was inevitable. In this little number, Evan Davis, Libby Purves, Peter White and Laurie Taylor try a spot of stand-up for the charity. I will be listening for all the wrong reasons.

Woman’s Hour / Monday 2 March 2009, Radio 4, 10.00am
I’ve recently basked on a Twitter and Facebook holiday. It’s been bliss. Life has returned to normal. So in a bid to see whether I’m missing anything (it certainly doesn’t feel that way) I’ll be listening to Woman’s Hour doing social networking in Monday’s programme.

Front Row / Monday 2 March 2009, Radio 4, 7.15pm
Leslie Garrett joins Katherine Jenkins and James Taylor to talk about singing live in large arenas. I’ll listen and pass on any tips I think UK Eurovision representative Jade Ewen might need.

Performance on 3 / Monday 2 March 2009, Radio 3, 7.00pm
Clearly there’s going to be a bit of a scheduling clash with Front Row (above) but it’s ages since I’ve heard a regional orchestra that isn’t either a BBC or part-funded BBC band. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra always seemed rather good in the past. Are they now? A fairly safe programme of accessible repertoire from the Lighthouse in Poole, Dorset.

Night Waves / Monday 2 March 2009, Radio 3, 9.15pm
Everyone’s favourite irritatingly intelligent, well-informed and unsmug radio presenter Matthew Sweet isn’t presenting this edition of Night Waves. Instead it’s Bidisha talking dance with studio guests Sylvie Guillern, Robert Lepage, Russell Malipant and Alexander McQueen about a new Sadler’s Wells collaboration called Eonnagata. I’m sharpening my pencil and retrieving my notebook in preparation …

Readings from Bath / Tuesday 3 March 2009, Radio 3, 3.30pm
Series of three short stories from the Bath Literature Festival kicking off with a short from Pippa Haywood. There aren’t enough short stories around it seems to me, at least not on radio.

Schoenberg’s Gurreleider / Tuesday 3 March 2009, Radio 3, 7.00pm
As challenges go this is one of the more demanding ones as far as I’m concerned. The Philharmonia Orchestra play Schoenberg’s seminal work. It’s a tough one. But I’m ready for something tough and challenging to listen to.

Performance on 3 / Wednesday 4 March 2009, Radio 3, 7.00pm
The BBC Symphony Orchestra runs over some Strauss, the Chopin Piano Concerto (a personal favourite of mine) and Ravel’s La Valse in a concert recorded at the Barbican last week. Nice.

I will also be watching Newsnight Review to see what the panellists thought about Doctor Atomic opening night .

Radio highlights: Sat 21 – Fri 27 Feb 2009

From my big bucket of radio titbits (well, let’s be honest, I usually only listen to Radio 3 or 4) I offer the following

The Saturday Play: The Lady In The Van
Saturday 21 February 2009, 2.30pm
Those frightfully important people at Radio 4 know only too well that Saturday afternoons are the best time to get stuck into a juicy play. Alan Bennett’s autobiographical play features this afternoon starring Maggie Smith. We love Maggie Smith, we do. >>
 Review [The Stage]

Desert Island Discs: David Walliams
Sunday 22 February 2009, 11.15am

There’s a cartoon picture of Little Britain star David Walliams in the Radio Times this week sporting a swimming cap. It reminds me of his Comic Relief effort to swim the channel for charity. That reminds me of a possible reason why Mr Walliams is on DiD. Comic Relief will soon be upon us … 

Archive on 4: Agony 
Saturday 21 February 2009, 8pm
You’d think I’d have a life and not be in on a Saturday night. Well, I don’t. So given that I’ll be in I’ll be listening to Jenny Murray explore the world of agony aunts and uncles, quite possibly because I did at one point in my teenage years engage in an exchange of letters with an agony aunt. (Be sure to listen to the full version on iPlayer if you miss it at transmission).

Drama on 3: The Time Machine
Sunday 22 February 2009, 8pm

Memories of reading HG Wells’ classic tale during english classes at school come flooding back whenever I think of The Time Machine. Now there’s a radio play even longer than the Saturday Play for me to indulge in. Nice. >> Review [The Stage]

It’s My Story: the Boxing Civil Servant
Monday 23 February 2009, 8pm

What posessed a 50-year old Department of Transport civil servant to launch herself into boxing promotion exactly? Journalist Jackie Ashley finds out. I hope the billing in the Radio Times doesn’t let me down.  

Cabin Pressure
Tuesday 24 February 2009, 6.30pm
Radio 4 Controller recently defended the number of repeats on the network on his shiny new blog. He seemed rather robust. Personally, I don’t mind repeats on Radio 4 so long as that which is repeated is good. Gentle and corny stuff in this series being rerun from July 2008. 

Seven Days
Thursday 26 February 2009, 8pm

Interesting piece of swiftly-turned around 30 minute radio journalism following people who have suffered as a result of the economic crisis in Stoke on Trent.

Afternoon Play: This Repulsive Woman
Friday 27 February 2009, 2.15pm

A fictional story inspired by recent events recorded the week before transmission. Impressive. 

The Verb
Friday 27 February 2009, 9.15pm
Yet more drama for me this week with an edition of Radio 3’s The Verb featuring new short radio dramas sourced from the BBC Writersroom initiative.  

TV & Radio for the next 7 days

This posting is one borne out of necessity. What follows are my viewing and listening intentions for the next seven days. Now all I have to do is programme the damn Sky+ box to record it all. I’m not sure I can be arsed now I’ve committed all this to delicious. Maybe I’ll just stay in to watch and listen instead.

Sunday 15 February, Radio 4: Classic Serial – Scoop
Satire on journalism in a dramatisation of Eveleyn Waugh’s work. Starring Tim McInnery (the bloke from Blackadder amongst other things) and Rory Kinnear.

Sunday 15 February, Radio 3: Drama on 3 – Harold Pinter
Tasty rerun of Pinter’s 1993 play Moonlight with a broadcast of his 2005 radio piece Voices. Always very interested in hearing stuff specifically written for radio.

Sunday 15 February, BBC One: Damages “I Lied Too”
Sunday night crime stuff in the return of Damages starring Glenn Close. Didn’t watch the first series but will drop in to see whether I can pick this up.

Sunday 15 February, BBC One: The Victorians – “Painting the Town”
Victorian history delivered by Mr Paxman via his love of painting.

Monday 16 February, Radio 3: Lunchtime Concert
Live broadcast of an all Bach programme of violin music played by Alina Ibragimova from the Wigmore Hall.

Monday 16 February, BBC One: Who Do You Think You Are? – Rick Stein
I wouldn’t normally watch it, but Who Do You Think You Are? has featured a handful of interesting people over the past few years. Stephen Fry was one and now this one with bipolar sufferer Rick Stein. Expect very few laughs.

Monday 16 February, Channel 4: The Gangster & the Pervert Peer
What is it that’s so intriguing about the Krays? Violent thugs terrorising individuals in order to wield power who had relationships with all sorts of unusually important and high profile people. This programme examines a relationship with a Tory peer.

Tuesday 17 February, Radio 4: Talking about Lionel
I’ve never been absolutely convinced about how good Oliver! the musical really is, especially given it’s presently box office sales. There is however something compelling about Lionel Bart – the composer’s – sad life, documented here by Eddie Mair and various contributors.

Tuesday 17 February, Radio 4: Musical Analysis – Ravel
Continuing Robert Winston’s excellent series exploring how illness effected a composer’s output (Gustav Mahler was especially good, it has to be said), this week the professor examines dementia sufferer Maurice Ravel.

Tuesday 17 February, More 4: Here’s Johnny
Multiple scelrosis sufferer Johnny Hinkleton uses his illustration skills to help escape the effects of his dibilitating disorder. Gritty, difficult stuff to watch. A valuable insight, I’m sure.

Wednesday 18 February, ITV1 – The BRIT Awards 2009
I may watch this … merely for research purposes you understand.

Wednesday 18 February, BBC Two: Trouble in Amish Paradise
Amish communities are fascinating and I don’t know enough about them.

Thursday 19 February, Radio 4: The Life & Death of Sarah Kane
Twenty eight year old playwright Sarah Kane died after committing suicide four days after writing her play 4.48 Psychosis. Before that she’d written Blasted, a play about the Balkan Conflict for which she was originally criticised. It’s now regarded as a classic. This documentary sees contributors who knew Kane give an insight into her life.

Thursday 19 February, BBC Four: Britain’s Best Drives
A programme devoted to driving routes up and down the country as featured in motorway guides from 50 years ago. Doesn’t leap off the page does it? Maybe not. But then it doesn’t need to. It’s on BBC Four and sometimes us humble viewers like the simple ideas.

Thursday 19 February, BBC Four: Penelope Keith & The Fast Lady
Penelope Keith isn’t on television enough. Here she tells the story of motoring lady Dorothy Levitt and her journey in 1905 from London to Liverpool. Cue lots of shots of rural countryside (surely?) And .. ooh look. It’s in HD too.