Saturday, 4 July 2015

This is the voice of Anita Anand



I find Any Answers a weird programme to listen to because most of my focus is unstoppably drawn to Anita Anand [no, Grant, not in that way!]...

...and specifically to how she is reacting to each caller.

I actually find Any Answers quite a tense listen at times as a result, especially if Anita strongly disapproves of something the caller is saying. (Am I alone in that, given how much her reactions dominate the show?)

And it's never hard to tell if she strongly disapproves of what the caller is saying. 

The first sign is usually an uneasy noise of some description (a seemingly infinite variety of sceptical single words, long or short intakes of breath, 'ers', 'ohs' and 'ooohs', etc, delivered with all the insistence of a panicky blackbird, usually followed by a swift interruption (often the first of many)...

...and, oh yes, that doubting and somewhat moralistic tone of voice she effortlessly slips into when someone makes too 'controversial' a statement (for her tastes)...

...and then the challenges (putting the 'correct' BBC Radio 4 line of thinking), and - occasionally - the closing-off comments that distance her yet further from what the caller said...

...All of that.

The past couple of editions have had a fair few of those awkward moments. Callers who made 'controversial' comments about Muslim leaders and Muslim countries in particular (on both editions) have received the full 'Anita Anand Disapproval Treatment'. She was onto them like a rodent up a tube for carrying off rainwater and/or sewage.

This full 'This is the voice of the [BBC] Mysterons' effect was highly evident on both programmes...

...the same voice (in silent mode) that I think of whenever I think of Any Answers - well, ever since the Prebble Report recorded that Any Answers routinely censored 'controversial' callers

In case any of you missed that at the time, here's what the BBC-commissioned report revealed:
According to a former producer of Any Answers? who worked on the programme ten years ago, people ringing in to the telephonists who act as a first filter for the programme would probably have found that, if they said they wanted to come on air and say immigration was too high or was harming the country, they would not make it through to the next filter and on to air. 
Nowadays, thankfully, some of them do get on to air. What such thought crimimals have to face instead is the 'impartial' incredulity and calmly-expressed moral disdain of Anita Anand.


****

Today's edition had a section of the Greek crisis. Anita's first caller - who (from personal experience) argued that the Greeks actually have a lot of money hidden away from the state under their pillows - received the full force of Anita Anand's moral disapproval. 

Interestingly, the following caller, who went off on a rant about the evils of international capitalism, got noticeably more leeway but also found himself on the receiving end of some of Anita's disapproval - doubtless for going too far. She asked him to meet the other "extreme", as she put it (i.e. the previous caller), in the middle by agreeing that the Greeks ought to have paid their taxes (rather than avoiding and evading them) - a very BBC compromise!

5 comments:

  1. If your focus is on "Obama" Anand , you may consider medical help. I haven't listened to "Any Answers" since Jonathon Dimbleby days, but found it tense then , so God knows what it is like now.

    I should imagine the Greek state has money away as well. I wonder how the BBC will report the Greek Finance Minister accusing the country's creditors of terrorism ?

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    1. That calls for an extra Google image to be added to the post, Grant!

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    2. No, please, I didn't mean that. Have mercy !!!

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  2. I thought exactly the same. The first caller on Greece had lived there for 25 years but Anand clearly didn't like to hear of affluent Greeks dodging tax. The second and Marxist caller seemed to have no experience of Greece yet knew it was all a plot by predatory capitalism.

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  3. It's a shame that she really doesn't seem to have settled into the programme - after three years! - and is not really organised in her presentation. She (with perhaps the current producer) has completely lost sight of what the programme is about: hearing the public answer the same questions as the panel. That, in turn, has led to her treating it like a general phone-in show, which it is not. That may be the reason for her arguing with callers or could be as you suggest, a built-in liberal and/or BBC line on certain issues that leads her to try to correct or subvert anything that does not meet the approved criteria. It appears that, increasingly, Anita tries to set one caller against another. Now, that I would have thought, is a distinctly illiberal way to behave.

    It is where we are. A shame as that used to be one of my 'must listen programmes' on R4.

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