April 25, 2005

On the multitude glories of BBC Radio 4

I've been getting complaints that I haven't blogged in some months. I think I probably don't actually think that much which limits my potential output. Maybe I could start putting up playlists from my RaW shows to up the blog rate, but for now I shall praise the best radio station in the country (And, given the generally held assumption that Britain is best {See Flanders and Swann, and um, UKIP}, possibly the world).

Today, whilst driving back to campus from teaching practice, I heard a short 15-minute programme about roadsigns. I'm such a R4 fanatic to know this was in fact a repeat, but I hadn't heard it the first time round, so I was grateful for the chance. And it was brilliant. Nowhere else in the British media could you find an interesting story from such an apparently mundane subject; I don't believe it could be done as well, or indeed would be done at all.
In the series, the presenter looks at various aspects of driving that we perhaps forget. No doubt there will the be well-known story of cats eyes at some point – note I've left out an apostrophe, as I don't know where it goes. Do we have multiple cats helping road safety by having their occular organs ripped from their heads, or is it one GM eye-regeneration cat? Where was I?

Oh yes, the programme. Well, it had lots of fascinating interviews and explored the time around when we built our first motorways, and the government decided we needed a complete overhaul of our signage. One of the designers spoke about the colours they used (The now familiar blue, green and white) and drawing the images on warning signs. Much was made of the man at work who seems to be opening an umbrella. It was expertly made, with little intrusion of a narrator, rather letting the skillfully interviewed experts tell you the story. This is quite ironic, as there's an awful lot of narration on TV documentaries, yet this aural medium managed to do without it to a large extent.

Other highlights today included Today. The 8.10 interview was with Jack Straw, who was grilled, pan-fried, roasted, crucified, cut into shreds and boiled down to a thick paste and then spat out by Jon Humphreys. His pathetic avoidance of the questions was literally shouted down in a way even the God Paxman wouldn't dare resort to. It was exciting stuff, and my grip on the steering wheel tightened and tightened in frustration and anger at the Labour parliamentary candidate (and Foreign Secretary) in question. That, though, is a whole other blog…

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  1. Just a quick point, Jack Straw isn't an MP at the moment as there's no Parliament for him to be a member of. Anyway, I apologise for my über-pedantry.

    25 Apr 2005, 18:52

  2. Yes, Radio 4 is excellent. One of the few outposts of the media which hasn't pandered to the lowest common denominator. Long may it continue in its present form!

    25 Apr 2005, 19:00

  3. Duly noted, Luke, an egregious oversight (As opposed to an error – I knew that really). I apologise. I believe I'm right in saying that he still occupies a cabinet post, however. Although the cabinet doesn't sit, if something important happens there's still a government, right?! Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    25 Apr 2005, 19:15

  4. Yep, there's still a government, just not a Parliament.

    25 Apr 2005, 19:48

  5. Best radio station? Andrew Andrew Andrew… I suspect you need to direct your acquaintances here here

    25 Apr 2005, 19:54

  6. Incidentally, did I forget to mention that ANDREW LAY is in line to WIN AN AWARD for his radio talent at that page? Please vote for RaW in Best College Station and the 7 other RaW people in line for awards. You can vote once a day, every day for the next 40 days…

    25 Apr 2005, 19:56

  7. Yes I too am a fan of Today – always good to wake up to THE news agenda of the day..and Marcus Brigstocks hilarious election skits at 8.40. But speaking of news readers called John/Jon, what do people think of Channel 4 News' fake party political broadcasts? I think they're entertaining, but whats their point?

    27 Apr 2005, 19:05

  8. Andrew Lay

    Ah – is that where Marca Brigstock's gone?! Last week, I heard him and Al Murray an hour earlier, and then they were gone. I was greatly disappointed. But now I know, I'll "listen again

    27 Apr 2005, 23:13

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