January 06, 2005

On the passing of Humphrey Carpenter

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/oxfordshire/4147389.stm

I learnt of Mr Carpenter's death yesterday whilst listening to Radio 3's In Tune, of which he was a former presenter. I haven't been a Radio 3 listener for long enough to remember him on that particular show, but I shall certainly miss his soothing, friendly yet slightly mischievous vioce on Radios 3 and 4. It was the latter that he had worked for most in recent years, presenting a programme called Brief Lives, which was essentially a biography/obiturary programme, a medium to which he was particularly suited as he had written several.

On Radio 3 he established In Tune, the "drivetime" show on the network, and created the sort of relaxed but knowledgable atmosphere I can only dream of when presenting on RaW (Wednesday 7pm and Monday 11pm, if you're interested). The programme has gone from strength to strength in the same vien with its current presenters. In fact Sean Rafferty seems to me a bit like an Irish version of Carpenter. He also pioneered Night Waves, a nightly Arts programme, which is so unashamedly high-brow it could hardly be made anywhere but on the BBC.

The amusing thing was, when looking for his obituary on the BBC website, I struggled to find it, as its title referred to the writer of the Mr Majeika children's stories. I confess I didn't know this, but did know he edited the Oxford companion to Children's Literature. He was also a talented musician ona variety of instruments. So, an exceptional broadcaster, writer and musician, knowledgable in all areas of the arts, and indeed religion (His father was Bishop of Oxford) – a polymath if ever there was one.

I have considered attempting getting into radio, and as I mentioned above, present on RaW. If I could ever be like Humphrey Carpenter, I would be happy, and need go no further. The loss to British radio to my mind is as big as when John Peel died. He may not have been as well known, but there are some people will miss him terribly. I am one.

Times Biography


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