Sunday 4 October 2015

Look who Edward Stourton got to meet!

Having been somewhat out of action in the past couple of weeks or so, I've missed out on my weekly ramblings about Radio 4's Sunday, where I complain about what Edward Stourton said to the bishop ("David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, that's a lovely pair of creamy buns you've got there, but am I right in thinking that you believe the government's benefit changes to be wrong in principle as well as being harmful in practice?").

Last week's edition was a particularly odd one for me to have missed, given that I've long said, with some evidence to back it up (if I say so myself), that the programme often feels like audio version of the liberal Catholic magazine The Tablet - given the programme's intense focus on Catholic matters and the overwhelmingly liberal perspective it takes on most issues. 

I've even joked on a few occasions that Edward Stourton (the liberal Catholic Tablet trustee who is the programme's main presenter) has come to sound like a Pope Francis groupie, given the good press he gives the present pontiff (unlike his predecessor) and his tendency to open the programme with the words, "Pope Francis..."

Anyhow, back to last week's edition - a Sunday special devoted to just one subject. Here's what it was about:

Yep. As someone once said, "You couldn't make it up!"

Except for the occasional Christmas/New Year special or live broadcast from a mosque (or a one-off immigration edition), a 'special edition' of Sunday tends (by my close reckoning) to mean an edition devoted to something Catholic-related. We've had 'specials' to mark Pope Benedict's visit to the UK, the anniversary of Vatican II, the inauguration of Pope Francis and the beatification of John Paul II. And now, as I say, came this 'special' devoted to Pope Francis's visit to the United States.

Is it a harmful bias? Probably not, It's even a bit surprising and strangely endearing. But a bias it very much appears to be nonetheless, doesn't it?

To be fair, last week's programme was both interesting and quite balanced. Only the closing, summarising discussion was wholly given over to liberal Catholics (in the old way of Sunday)..

Then again, me finding it interesting probably says a lot more about me than it does about the listening Radio 4 public at large. 

Such things do interest me. The BBC's own research, however, shows that I'm not a typical Radio 4 listener in that respect. Most of them aren't interested in religion very much at all, it seems:


  1. OT, but "Countryfile has just featured Morecambe Bay and right on hand was a local lass to inform us that "It is always sunny in Morecambe ". More BBC Bias !

    1. I've been watching it. It's the most impartial BBC broadcasting I've seen in years!...

      ...except they kept saying that it was one of Britain's least-known coastal treasures.


      Morecambe Bay is the star of the BBC's Autumnwatch and is agreed by all (especially the Scots) to be the UK's finest stretch of coastline bar none. (Even Nicola Sturgeon said the Western Isles are "crap" (her word) in comparison to Morecambe Bay. Fact!)

      Ooh, Jack Scout now on 'Countryfile'! I was there a couple of weeks ago, blackberry-picking. My bottom sat where Anita Rani's bottom sat. Didn't see her or any other Strictly Come Prancing types there though. So she missed out on a Morecambe-style tango:

      Forward with your left, forward with your right, lead your lady into the quicksand, feet together, dial 999, move left to meet right, to the left with your right, repeat, get rescued, thank the emergency services...

    2. Ha ! Thought my comment would get you going ! I would certainly say it is the best bit of coastline in England. Can't say I agree with Nicky, but then I don't agree with her on anything, and doubt if she has ever been to the Western Isles anyway.
      As a bird-watcher , I was especially pleased to see Leighton Moss. My Dad took me there when I was in my teens to try and see Bittern but no luck. No luck at Minsmere either. They are fiendishly difficult. Then some years ago, I was driving in the Lake District in Turkey and one walked across the road right in front of my car !


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