Saturday 3 May 2014

Thank you for the days


They say everyone's a critic but, in spite of that alleged fact, vanishingly few of us ever get an invite from the BBC to vent our critical feelings on any of the corporation's arts review programmes. 

That blindingly obvious thought crossed my mind whilst listening to tonight's Saturday Review on Radio 4, and I intend to get partial revenge on them for that upsetting fact here in this very blog-post.

Now, I haven't listened to Saturday Review for years, so this was an encounter with a friend/work colleague/ex I haven't seen for years.

I used to be a regular listener though, and I've always liked Tom Sutcliffe.

I also used to be a devout watcher of The Review Show/Newsnight Review on BBC Two. 

I watched it from the days when Mark Lawson usually had the 3 Ps - Allison Pearson, Tony Parsons and Tom 'It's Simply Appallin' Paulin - on the panel. John Carey, Germaine Greer and others gradually became regulars too. I could bear them all [and the left-wing bias], however infuriating they could sometimes be (especially Tom Paulin)... least until Ekow Eshun became a regular...

....Oh dear, Ekow Eshun!...

His utter pretentiousness, dumbness-dressed-up-as-high-intellectualism, and way of yakking over everyone else if they chanced to disagree with any of his pronouncements-from-on-high was so irritating that he began spoiling The Review Show for me - and the mere mention of his name at the start of the programme would make me rush for the 'off switch'What was once an unmissable programme for me because a highly missable one as a result. 

Well, that's the story I've told myself for some time about why I stopped watching it.

[Another part of my rationalisation for that is that Kirsty Wark's increasing role in presenting the programme probably didn't help much either.]

That may be a false memory on my part though as I've got no comparable explanation for why I stopped listening to Saturday Review. 

Was it because I became fed up of the same old crowd of nay-saying, pompous, left-liberal people appearing on it, week in and week out? 

Or was it that it coincided with a rise in right-wing political feeling on my part? A feeling that coincided exactly with my increasing alarm about BBC bias? Was it that I became so engrossed with the issue of BBC bias - especially after finding the Biased BBC blog and then starting blogging about BBC bias myself - that my viewing/listening horizons shrank drastically? Hence, goodbye Saturday Review?

Probably the latter.

Anyhow. And whatever.

I, therefore, missed the fact that Newsnight Review dropped Kirsty and got that nice bee-keeping Martha instead, and even embraced right-wingers - yes, yer actual right-wingers on a BBC arts review programme!!!!!! well, one right-winger anyhow - in the shape of James Delingpole, before being banished to BBC Four and finally dropped for good. 

I rather regret having stopped watching it. I'd have liked to have seen Dellers holding his own amidst the usual kind of Review critic.

So, in that spirit, and tempted by seeing that they were going to review a musical about The Kinks (I like The Kinks), I tuned in to tonight's Saturday Review on Radio 4...

...only to find that Ekow Eshun was on the panel.

[I was going to post about this earlier but I went into shock and have only just come round, thanks to the miraculous properties of smelling salts.] 

Oh, the Fates were cursing me!

There he was again, Ekow Eshun, talking pretentious twaddle, rabbiting over everyone who disagreed with him, being illogically negative...

Anyone can be illogically negative. I've been illogically negative about Ekow Eshun here perhaps.

...Oh dear, Ekow Eshun!...

And there was a left-liberal American on the panel too [Meg Rosoff], just as there always used to be.

Still, at least the other guest, Northern Irish novelist Lucy Caldwell, was more genuine-sounding, open-minded and life-affirming. And Tom Sutcliffe was as good as ever.

For what it's worth, Lucy liked the Kinks musical, Tom thought it got better as it went along, Meg wished it had been more political and Ekow talked total bollocks about it.

Ah, happy days, I'm finally back in the wonderful world of BBC arts review programmes!


  1. Ekow Eshun...what the heel has this man ever done!
    Is he a Frost?..rising without trace, and to nobodys knowledge re how he manages to get there?
    Is he a Trevor Phillips or Mike?...just a shoo-in on account of skin tone?
    Is he a Bonnie Greer or a Paulin...a pointless aimless controversist who has seen plenty, but can actually not do anything to any ability...just see it and create a souffle around others work?
    Or is he a Ted Rodgers?...a man who you wonder actually is here FOR...with no clue about what is written by way of job description on his passport?
    What is the man for?

  2. PS..what a song! Cherish this great writer whilst he lives.


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