Leap for PM

Tonight’s the night: Leap for PM on PM on BBC Radio 4.

The programme will be presented by Eddie Mair and Robert Peston. I can’t decide whether I want their so-called feud to be over. Or whether there’ll be a bust-up invoking mental images from the movie Women in Love…

Listen to the PM Programme on Radio 4 here.

And to all the girls planning on asking that question on this 29th February: good luck!



Robert Elms – BBC London

I’ve been listening to Robert Elms on and off for nearly twenty years, since he was on GLR and Loose Ends on Radio 4, for instance.

Because of work commitments, I rarely manage to hear a whole show, but I did today.There was a section talking about television. Not TV programmes, but about the technology and the fact that we in London will experience the digital switchover in April. the end of an era: no more analogue TV, all digital.

Maxwell Hutchinson was on today too. He’s been a regular guest for as long as I can remember. He shares a high level of enthusiasm for London, its history, its people and places. Maxwell is an architect and can probably tell you about almost every single building in the city.

And today’s guest was Meat Loaf who has a new record out, which sounds pretty good, entitled ‘Hell in a Handbasket’. Yes, who would have guessed that Meat Loaf would have the word Hell in an album title!

Another feature that I like is Listed Londoner, in which a person of note answers 15 questions about London, what they like and don’t like about this wonderfully interesting city of ours. Yesterday, the Listed Londoner was one of my favourite actors, Timothy Spall, so I am downloading that from the iPlayer since a reliable source described to me as being one of the best ever.

I have met Maxwell a couple of times: once when the statioin was GLR, and once when it was named LDN.


Robert can be annoying at times though, it must be said. He famously doesn’t like the Beatles, on the basis that they wrote some children’s songs. Nothing wrong with not liking the Beatles of course, but he doesn’t have to keep telling us: that’s what makes us think he’s just being controversial for the sake of it. And he tells us what kind of shoes he’s wearing a little too frequently.

Other than that, he fits the BBC bill pretty well: he’s entertaining, informative and educational.

RL Stevenson – Kidnapped

Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson, has been one of my favourite stories ever since I was given an abridged, children’s edition for Christmas when I was about 7 or 8.

It was the year of grace, 17– … is how I remember it starting, so I was intrigued from the very beginning by the lack of precision in the date. Although I doubt that I thought of it in those terms at such a young age.

I also enjoyed the serial on TV in the mid 1960s, shown at Sunday tea-time, as all good serials ought to be.

Yes, I’m sure my Mum being Scottish helped build my interest, but after watching that serial on TV, I wanted to visit the Scottish highlands and see the glorious landscapes for myself. If Scotland is that gorgeous in black and white, it must be really stunning in colour…

I’ve subsequently enjoyed the full-length, unabridged novel a few times, as well as the sequel, Catriona. Plus, I’ve watched some other TV and film adaptations. But nothing will ever surpass my experience of that first (now nearly 50-year old) teatime serial.

Yet, often, radio drama can do a pretty good job too. So it was with great pleasure that I found Kidnapped being serialised on BBC 4 Extra. It’s four one-hour long episodes, starring David Rintoul (currently in The Iron Lady with Meryl Streep) and Paul Young.

BBC – BBC Radio 4 Extra Programmes – RL Stevenson – Kidnapped.

Needless to say, I no longer have my original book, but I can visualise it, so if I find a copy on eBay or something, I’ll be very happy.

BBC World Service celebrates 80th birthday

This is becoming a very interesting year for anniversaries and special events.

Never mind the Olympics in London later on, nor the Queen’s diamond jubilee. They’ll be great in their own way, I’m sure. But there are a few much more significant anniversaries from the point of view of this particular blog!

I’ve already mentioned the 10th birthday of BBC 6 Music, and the concert I’ve been unable to acquire tickets for. More here, straight from the horse’s mouth.

And it’s also the 70th anniversary of Desert Island Discs, which was celebrated earlier when each of the BBC local radio stations broadcast a special programme featuring Desert Island Discs from some of their listeners, along with, in some cases, some heart-breaking stories. Some more here. In particular, you may recall the anniversary guest was Sir David Attenborough.

Next up is the BBC World Service, which is 80 years old this year. There is some interesting special programming on February 29th, described here: BBC World Service celebrates 80th birthday.

The World Service will be moving out of Bush House at the end of the year and will join radio colleagues in the equally iconic Broadcasting House.

I have been inside Bush House a couple of times. Once was when GLR were temporarily based there while its Marylebone High Street studios were being refurbished for the benefit of GLR’s replacement, BBC London Live. And then there was a Radio Academy event at which luminaries such as Nick Ferrari and Nick Higham discussed radio phone-ins.

Oh, and one day, I was walking by and spotted through the window the top band Busted being interviewed for a TV show. (Whatever happened to Busted?!)

Busted being interviewed for a 'Celebrity Chat Show'PS It’s Fi Glover’s birthday on February 27th, she’s 21 again, so send her a suitable message 😉

Fire alarm at MediaCity

For the third or fourth time, fire alarms were set off in the BBC’s new HQ outside London, the presumably state-of-the-art and definitely very expensive MediaCity in Salford.

There was of course no fire and nobody was hurt, so we can have a bit of a laugh about Nicky Campbell being cut off again. But to play the same ’emergency interview’ shows a lack of imagination!

Fire alarm at MediaCity forces BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio Manchester off air | Manchester Evening News – menmedia.co.uk.

Online sales of UK radio shows possible

This is interesting. If radio programmes can be sold easily to other broadcasters world-wide, then we’ll all benefit.

BBC 4 Extra broadcasts drama and comedy from fifty years ago right up to date. It’s mostly old BBC material, but a notable exception was a series of programmes starring Kenny Everett, from his days at Capital Radio in London.

I’m sure there would be a lot of support for the BBC acquiring drama from the USA, Australia and New Zealand, for instance, whether current or vintage (is that the right word?).

And the Beeb can maybe make some money by selling their own product too.

But, as I’ve said before, there are not enough hours in the day to listen to everything I want to hear already…

The Stage / News / Online sales of UK radio shows on the cards.

The Story of Pop

I just came across this series being re-broadcast on BBC 6 Music.

The Story of Pop, presented by (the late, great and much missed) Alan Freeman.

No idea how I’ve missed it, and all its promotional trails for 32 weeks, but there you go: there’s just too much radio to listen to!

I’m listening to episode 33, yes, 33, named ‘Philly Groove’ in which he celebrates the music that emerged from the city of Philadelphia and in particular the Philadelphia International record label.

Now I know I’m old, but I can remember a series on Radio 1 in 1973 also named The Story of Pop. If I remember correctly, it was a 13-part series, broadcast on a Sunday afternooon, and accompanied by a nice glossy magazine. At this point ‘pop music was only 18 years old. Yes, i know, it epends on how you define ‘pop’ and ‘rock’n’roll’ etc, but at this time, the mid 1950s was fairly well accepted, given Rock Around the Clock and so on.

But this new series is a massive 52-parter, but not having heard it either when first broadcast in 1994, nor more recently on 6 Music, I don’t know if it’s an extension of the original, or a whole new enterprise.

Here’s the 6 Music Story of Pop page. It’s on at 3am which is no use to me (I’m pushing up the zeds for another couple of hours at that point) but follow the links, each episode is on iPlayer for the usual  7 days.

Online radio: last.fm

I thought I’d listen to last.fm tonight whilst doing my online business, paying bills, answering emails, wasting too much time on Twitter, getting cross with the government again.

Today, last.fm suggested I type in, amongst others, Gotye. So I did. It’s not playing solely music by Gotye. No, what I get is so-called ‘Gotye Radio’, so that’s songs by Gotye plus other music which is similar, or music that I might like as well. I can’t work out if it’s generated automatically or if somebody at home his compiled the ‘playlist’ for this particular ‘radio station’. Anyway, these are the tunes I’ve heard so far:

Gotye – Smoke and Mirrors
The Jezabels – Long Highway
The Basics – Have Love, Will Travel
Ball Park Music – IFLY (nsfw)
Sparkadia – Animals
Josh Pyke – Middle Of The Hill
Seeker Lover Keeper – Sinner (my favourite so far)
Selah Sue – Raggamuffin (the most unusual and captivating)
Emma Louise – he broke my heart

They were all OK, but none jumped out really, so they’re not on my ‘must buy’ list. Maybe I’d get a different selection on another occasion. I have in the past bought albums on the basis of hearing just one song, so who knows? And some tracks claimed millions of previous plays. Is that an exaggeration? In any case, I wonder what that translates to in terms of royalties for the artistes in question?

Maybe I just have a bad connection to the internet, but there was an awful lot of buffering. Oh, OK, my computer’s quite old too, so I probably don’t have the best set-up in the world, but I can usually listen to streaming radio without a problem.

For this reason, and because there are so many other options, I probably won’t set up an account here and create my own playlist. Or ‘radio station’. But it’s good to drop in now and then and hear some new tunes.

Last.fm is here.

Earlier today, I was listening again to a few episodes of OGWT40  and it got me thinking about a few things. I think I’ll pursue that line of thought next time. That’s the Old Grey Whistle Test 40th anniversary series hosted by Bob Harris on Radio 2 last Autumn.


Sunday morning on 6 Music etc

Sunday morning is pretty lazy for me. I usually wake up to BBC 4 Extra and Take It From Here, a comedy series first broadcast in 1958. Written by Frank Muir and Dennis Norden, it’s still funny, but may be a little slow by today’s standards. Some of the one-liners are brilliant.

This morning I also heard an episode of Parsley Sidings. This sitcom featured many of the actors from Dad’s Army, but it sadly didn’t leave me wanting more.

Broadcasting House is my weekly fix of news on Radio 4. Hosted by Paddy O’Connell, it covers some of the stories I might have missed during the week in a more light-hearted way. Well, usually. Some stories of course juat can’t be treated light-heartedly. There’s a weekly competition which entails identifying a news story from the way suggetsed by a collage of sounds. Over the years, I’ve worked out maybe half a dozen. But, no, I’ve never won the prize of a jam spoon, or whatever it is now.

But really, the highlight of Sunday mornings is now Cerys Matthews on BBC 6 Music. As with most of the music programmes I enjoy, you just can’t guess what will be played each week. I like the mix of some familiar stuff with new music. This morning, her guest was Martha Reeves. Now I remember hearing Martha, with her Vandellas singing Dancing in the Streets on the old pirate stations, nearly fifty years ago.  Yes, unbelievably, I am that old.

And at noon, I’m looking forward to hearing John Cooper Clarke sharing some of his favourite music in 6 Music Playlist. I’ll be recording that for future enjoyment as I have things to do and places to go where listening to the radio would be difficult.

So, one morning, three different radio stations. So far.

Listen to BBC 6 Music live here.

Here’s the BBC 4 Extra Schedule.

Broadcasting House on Radio 4.


Celtic Connections 2012

Celtic Connections is, I believe, the first music festival of the year. Actually, it’s described thus:

“Scotland’s premier winter music festival. Held in Glasgow and featuring favorite acts and the best new talent in more than 300 events over 18 days including concerts, ceilidhs, workshops, club-nights, and talks.”

I’m in England so I don’t see or hear much about the festival, but I did catch some of the output on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 3.

But again <rant mode on> radio is treated badly compared with TV.

As I write, just one of the Radio 3 programmes is still available on the iPlayer. This is due to the default 7 day limit. However, there is a lot of video available. Which is great. Much of the festival was shown on TV in Scotland. but not here in England. So while it’s great to see it online, it would have been nice to see some, at the time.

This morning, I listened to Gerry Rafferty Remembered, a tribute to Gerry who died about a year ago. I was surprised that I recognised so many songs, even though I haven’t heard them for many years. But it was a lovely show, very respectful, and I’ll keep it for a while, even if the BBC can’t.

I’m also (very belatedly) listening to the four World on 3 programmes broadcast on Radio 3. There were two programmes on Radio 2, but I only heard one of them.

It’s possibly a moving target, but this is the BBC’s Celtic Connections homepage so nip over there, and catch at least some of it while you can.