Radio is a frequently ignored medium, except for those airwaves transmitting what Noel Coward referred to as ‘the potency of cheap music’. But for those of us of a relatively serious bent – better late than never, I hear the plaintive cry – BBC Radio4 is invaluable; the more so, since you can now tune in online anywhere in the world. I immediately and loudly exempt the execrable ‘light entertainment’ programmes (apart from I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue) that infest the 18.30gmt slot; but I daresay somebody enjoys them. And some of the news programmes have been sliding downmarket alarmingly of late – there was even an item recently on a pop-group (whatever that is?) called The Beetles.
But transmissions like Start The Week, Today, News At Ten, Front Row, The History of Ideas, The Life Scientific; and above all, In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg’s marvellously informative weekly exegesis, on myriad subjects and personalities, are unlike anything I have heard in my wide and distant travels. Indeed, friends and colleagues across the world occasionally tell me of the joy of hearing one of the above, or other fine BBC sourced programmes that they’ve caught on their local networks, or via the internet.
These are worth the price of the TV licence alone, without the inconvenience of having to watch the box, apart from the occasional footy, of course. And by the way, live football is one of the few ‘proper’ TV programmes, in the original sense of the word – ‘tele’ (Gr: far away), and ‘vision’.
Another regular BBC wireless programme, now in its umpteenth series, and well worth a listen is Great Lives. Presented by Matthew Parris, a former Member of Parliament, and one-time 2hrs 32mins marathoner (London 1985 – an hour faster than the all-time next best Parliamentarian), the programme due to go out next Tuesday, December 9, at 16.30gmt is going to be particularly worthwhile; since it features my old mate, the comedian Arthur Smith, and mygoodself, talking to Parris about Emil Zátopek.
Some of my correspondents have taken to calling Zátopek, Saint Emil. That is the measure of the man’s legacy; though researches for my next book have thrown up some as yet unconfirmed caveats…. But that’s another, later story.
Great Lives will be repeated on Friday, December 12, 23.00; but is now available for download as an mp3, on the BBC iplayer – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04tjft0
(photo: Ladislav Sitenský)
PS, continuing mass spam means that posting a comment, however insulting, will not be seen; Globerunner will be upgraded shortly.