Friday, 4 June 2010

Radio versus Television

I feel morally reprehensible, as I haven't updated this thing in a while, but I did have to bury two lambs. My family briefly opted to turn the art of grave-digging into some sort of surreal spectator sport. I felt like some sort of key character on a particularly morbid live episode of Garden Force (This wouldn't actually be any less inappropriate than the episode where they redid Mandela's garden, although the jaunty tune would perhaps seem a bit out of place, but they could do a "Neighbours" and play the same tune, slowly). I half-expected Tommy Walsh to pop up and offer to put in some decking (I wonder if they put in some decking for Mandela? A lovely set of railings round the edge?) for me, and Charlie Dimmock to suggest a water feature.

Anyways excuses aside, I haven't seen anything shockingly bad on television, or anything I haven't commented on, so I've been listening to the radio. Radio 4 to be precise. I'm pretty certain that comes with a free subscription to The Guardian, but I thought "Hey, I like it, and The Guardian isn't bad!". Previously, I listened to copious amounts of Jon Richardson (Briefly Russell Howard too, and of course, Matt Forde) which I will kindly link you to to peruse at your pleasure. I am the epitome of generosity at times.

Anyways, he left and I panicked. "Where will I get my radio sustenance?!" I squealed meaninglessly into the night, my cries unanswered until, quite by chance, I found myself staring at a radio playing a Radio 4 comedy and enjoying it. Since then I have been hooked, listening to at least one show a night (Last night's gem was The Very World of Milton Jones, a fantastic, yet hit and miss radio adventure) before I go to bed. At 11, like every other radio 4 listener in the land.

The man to thank for my new escapades in radio-land is Charlie Brooker, and his frankly magnificent "So Wrong It's Right" show. I particularly enjoyed the episode before this one. Sorry. I'm too late. But if you caught it too (You won't have. It's on the RADIO.), wasn't it great? And that bit with the swimming pool? Haha, yeah!

Perhaps this will teach you, you television addicts. Radio can be good. Disgustingly, radio is seen as a portal into television, no more, no less. A testing ground for shows. If I were to be bold, it's like a circus, where a tiny audience of producers watches each act, then picks some, and takes others out the back to be put down. "So Wrong It's Right" would be picked. The Archers has not been, but the Queen said she liked it, once, about 30 years ago, and now everyone looks into its little sad old eyes and can't summon up the strength to put it out of its misery. "Stop making me dance for television executives" it cries, hopelessly, "They'll never pick me! They have Emmerdale now!". Disgustingly, that's the most popular thing on the iPlayer Radio beta site. That means your nan has found the internet and found The Archers and installed flash more often than you have bothered to listen to a radio programme.

The equivalent for television would be a Panorama special on the rising price of haemorrhoid cream being the most popular thing on iPlayer. "

"The Archers is the most listened to Radio 4 non-news programme, and holds the BBC Radio programme record for the number of times listened to over the Internet, with over one million listeners." - From Wikipedia. The radio is amazing, why is it only for the elderly?! I refuse to believe anyone under 80 listens to The Archers.

This has descended into a personal attack against The Archers. It's not really that appalling, but I feel it's indicative of a vastly under-utilised BBC Radio, dedicating 150 minutes a week to The Archers, which could probably be used on more magnificent radio like Civilisation. Sadly, although it was great, I only caught the last of the series. On Radio 7, because that's their comedy channel (No, I didn't know the BBC had a comedy channel either. I thought it was Radio 1, since that's a JOKE. Boom, that's a zinger. I listened to a brief interview between Eminem and Fearne Cotton, before I nearly deliberately crashed my car to make it end).

This isn't really television versus radio, they are vastly different mediums, but the BBC really should invest more heavily in radio. Stop just making more stations (1, 2, 3, 4, 5live, 6music, 7, 1extra (one Radio 1 is enough, thanks) and then BBC Asian and stuff) and make higher quality radio. It's really quite cheap to do, and really lovely.

And YOU. Yes, you. Listen to the radio. It's good. Honestly.


  1. Thank you for a balanced view on the benefits of radio. Since turning 30 and having children I have been listening more and more. I like the shows on at 4:30 each afternoon, particularly Material World and Case Notes. I have started to time my washing up so that I am in the kitchen at 6:30 to listen to the comedy. I am also a Guardian subscriber, but unfortunately it is not free for Radio 4 listeners (although it should be!)
    Definitely a cross-over appeal.

    I am a strong advocate of radio listening- it is far less intrusive than TV. Radio 4 is about the only part of the Beeb to escape the dumbing down process, although it is not completely immune to this nefarious decline.
    I also listen to Radio 5Live for sports commentary and opinion(and it is bloody opinionated).
    My guilty secret is listening to Talk Sport.
    I consider it part of a process I call 'Know Your Enemy'.
    It helps me to understand the bigotry and prejudice that is so prevalent in men of a certain type.
    (Plus it is always first with football transfer rumours).
    I really enjoyed listening to John Gaunt when he lost his job and was defended by Shami Chakrabarti. His voice is like a dark, oozing poison. He criticised Shami so many times for promoting our vital freedom. He then had to eat his words and form an uneasy (unholy?) truce with her when he was sacked for something he said. You could hear that it stuck in his craw when he had to admit that she had a point about the importance of freedom of speech. Ha!
    I have found your blog to be both amusing and erudite. You have a nice way with words.
    I shall come back.

  2. ps Charlie Brooker is God of the Misanthropists. His miserable face (and voice) always cheers me up.
    That is a compliment, BTW. He is a Funny Man with a dark but honest perspective.