Saturday 11 June 2016

Let's talk about BBC Radio 4

Talking about James Delingpole...

When BBC reporters (et al) talk about 'blue on blue' attacks during the present EU referendum some of us politically-minded obsessives know what they mean. And some of you will easily be able to work out what I mean by calling James's Radio piece in last week's Spectator a definite case of 'Speccie on Speccie' attack. 

As soon as I read it I knew it was an attack on the Spectator's main Radio reviewer Kate Chisholm (who I've always felt is a good deal more New Statesman than Spectator in her political outlook). Dellers criticised those Radio reviewers who pretend that Radio 4 is endlessly fascinating, wonderfully civilised, often transcendent. He thinks it's usually mostly somewhat boring and irritating. And, as a regular listener myself, I think he has a point - though he deliciously overstates it for rhetorical effect.  

Our Kate obviously realised that it was indeed aimed squarely at her (despite not naming her) and her piece this week was a clear riposte. It began by saying, "Just to prove my esteemed colleague wrong" (despite not naming him), then talked about something other than how great Radio 4 is, and then said that there is something on Radio 4 she doesn't like, and then, pivoting round - her coup de grace - coming across another magical BBC moment (someone saying how great it is that "a black man" is now president of the USA) and hymning the wonders of Radio 4 all over again, triumphantly. It brought a tear to my eye. (I was pealing onions at the time).

James Delingpole's original piece was deliciously provocative and struck a chord with me. 

He finds Today "maddening", Mishal Husain biased, Woman's Hour "hateful" and "sanctimonious", Anita Anand the most irritating presenter on Radio 4, and the station's afternoon plays "the ne plus ultra of Radio 4 boringness". 

And I can see his point about all of those. 

He also finds Jim Al-Khalili's The Life Scientific "dreary" and Eddie Mair the second-most irritating person on Radio 4. 

But I disagree with him about both of those. I've enjoyed many a The Life Scientific, and was both amused and delighted to find so many of the otherwise strongly anti-BBC commenters below his piece also going out of their way to exempt the wonderful Eddie Mair from their criticisms. 

Thank goodness for people like Dellers though. Agree or disagree with them, or do both at the same time, but bless the non-BBC contrarians (especially the ones who are often right)!

1 comment:

  1. On Mair I'm with Delingpole (who can himself be wonderfully irritating, not least in his wish to proselytise for drugs that often f-up less privileged lives while at the same being all huntin' and fishin' and saluting Queen and Country).

    Radio 4 is an odd beast. Some of its output is superb. But the bits that are strangled by PC dogma are maddening or dreary. Desert Island Discs is a pertinent example. It is often good, but so freuquently these days because of the need to meet some Soviet style planning quota they have rather boring women you've never heard of coming on and saying nothing interesting or controversial. They say things like "I was working very hard on my PhD at the time and I would have the radio on in the background... and sometimes this song by Elton John came on." Yawn death syndrome!


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