Wednesday 1 December 2021

Even Libby Purves is slamming Radio 4

Even former Radio 4 stalwart, ex-Midweek presenter and self-declared ''life-long loyalist and listener'' Libby Purves - though in many ways as 'BBC as can be' in her outlook - sees that David Blunkett has a point about her favourite channel BBC Radio 4. 

In her latest Times column she says that the BBC shouldn't ignore him, and although she thinks it's ''not all the way there yet'' she obviously thinks it's a lot of way there when she agrees with him that ''if [Radio 4] starts thinking that its mission to educate is largely moral and progressive, that information should be skewed towards this and entertainment come a poor third, it is in trouble.''

It's a problem, she says, when ''fine issues...overwhelm the casual, accidentally met joys and surprises of the schedule, drag guilt into comedy and make drama predictable and drear''...which sums up the problem pretty well.

''Radio 4’s screechingly left comedy grates often'', she adds, and new Radio 4 dramas are usually ''dismal''. 

She concludes, ''David Blunkett, I feel your pain.''

It's bad enough for the BBC when a serious Labour 'big-hitter' like Lord Blunkett expresses the concerns we've been expressing over the years, but when Libby Purves - of all people - comes out in support of him then the BBC ought to take heed.

Dropping 'below the line', the highest-rated comment below Libby's piece says, ''I used to say Radio 4 was worth the licence fee on its own. No more. I have switched it off. I am fed up with having propaganda rammed in my ears''. And this is at The Times.

The second-highest-rated comment said, ''I can't help myself, and I know it's silly, but whenever I switch on radio 4 I listen to the first 10 words I hear. Invariably they are about race, gender or climate. Try it.'' 

It's the kind of experiment I like, so I tried it around 9.06pm tonight and didn't hear anything about those three things in the first 10 words, though in the first 20 words I heard ''ash dieback'', which is similarly depressing. But the phrase ''climate change'' duly arrived just over a minute later, so I'm giving that to the Times's second-highest-rated commenter as being near enough to be considered a bullseye.

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