Sunday, October 08, 2006

Radio to die for

Non - UK readers must forgive me. I write this as I listen to Mark Tulley's "Something Understood" on BBC Radio 4. It's a programme so depressing that suicide would seem a merciful release, if the alternative was to have to listen to it for more than about one hour. Bloody hell: Tully's even put on a piece by Benjamin Brittan, sung by that dreadful Peter Pears. Before "Something Understood" , the most depressing radio show was, undoubtably, "Sing Something Simple", which used to come on the Light Programme/ Radio 2: if you've never heard it, consider yourself lucky. It involved a choir singing depressing songs by Steven Foster and others, accompanied by Jack Emblow's accordian. Someone said: "hearing 'Sing Something Simple' was the first time I realised that - one day - I would die".

The Archers, You and Yours, and anything on BBC Radio 4 that purports to be "comedy" are also on my list of worst-ever radio. But the ultimate prize must surely go to the late, unlamented Home Truths: surely the most twee, self-satisfied, middle class vomit ever to be broadcast. If you heard it, you'll know exactly what I mean: posh people giggling about going to the toilet and/or farting. Bring back the drunken bloke who did "The Fleet's Lit Up!", I say.

As I said, overseas readers must forgive me (although you can get Radio 4, if you try: some of it is quite good!): I had to get this off my chest. Radio 4 is a bit like Public Service radio in the US, except it's paid for by a universal licence charge. And the awfulness of certain Radio 4 programmes has driven me over to BBC Radio 3 (the "classical music" channel), thus educating me in Shostakovich, Stravinsky and Schoenberg.

On the plus side, BBC radio introduced me, as a kid - over steamy Sunday lunches - to the wonders of Tony Hancock, Kenneth Horne and...Julian and Sandy: anyone remember them?


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