Welcome to London 1958

So, the Tour de France is over and I think we all did very well. Congratulations to Bradley Wiggins for becoming the first Brit ever to with Le Tour – its 99th outing. And also to Mark Cavendish for winning the final stage on the Champs Elysées. And to me for watching more of it on TV this year than, probably, ever.

And now of course we’re into tthe Olympics. We’ve already watched the Mens’ and Womens’ Cycling Road Race out on the road near Hampton Court and we’re looking forward to the Time Trials on Wednesday over at Hampton Court Palace. We have tickets for the Water Polo (yes, honest) in a couple of weeks’ time. Other than that, we’ll watch some of the other sports on TV until interest waivers, or naff or inept commentary or inane or disrespectful interviews drive us away. Yeah, well, I mean, it was amazing.

But what’s going on on radio? There’s a ‘new’ Tony Hancock sketch on Radio 4 Extra which I’m looking forward too.

BBC Radio 4 Extra – Hancock’s Half Hour, Welcome to London 1958.

The Proms are in full swing but I have discovered that listening to a classical music concert while I’m out walking the streets doesn’t really work. The volume has to be quite high so you can hear the quiet passages and then of course, it’s far too loud during the loud sections. But at home, I’ve enjoyed again some Beethoven symphonies so far and some strange music by Sibelius.

BBC – Proms – BBC Proms homepage.

If you’re quick, ie, within 10 hours or so of pressing the ‘Publish’ button on this thing, you can listen to a dramatisation of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I haven’t heard it yet: I’m saving it for a rainy day.

Treasure Island.

 

 

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Le Tour de France

Well, on the whole, I prefer radio to TV. And I’m not much of a sports fan either. But these three weeks each year are a bit different chez Radio Top Soup.

The only sports event I choose to watch pretty much from start to finish every year is the Tour de France. Coverage on TV has increased over the years. I know, I could always have paid a subscription  to watch the event, but paying for any TV goes against the grain: there are higher financial priorities.

It used to be on Channel 4, and has now migrated to ITV4 but with the same group of commentators, Paul Sherwen, Phil Liggett, Chris Boardman and Gary Imlach.

At the time of writing, two British riders are leading the tour, Bradley wiggins and Chris Froome, both from the Sky team. World champion Mark Cavendish is also a member of this team. All three have so far won a stage of this year’s tour.

And a fourth British rider, David Millar, won today’s stage, the longest this year.

Congratulations to all of them. And good luck to Bradley and your sideburns, we hope you reatin the leader’s yellow jersey right up to Paris in 9 days time.

Coverage of the Tour is available on Radio 5 Live Sports Extra but i feel, in this case, radio commentary is a second best.

Given the amount of British succes this year, I’ve often had to leap across the room to turn the radio off as the news reader announces ‘the latest on the Tour de France’. If I haven’t yet watched, I don’t want to know how it ends!

Tour de France on ITV4.

The Offocial TdF site.

Radio 4 (etc) – Ziggy Stardust Memories and Ulysses

We’ve been away for a while. Up in the Lake District, since you ask. Absolutely stunning scenery, of course. Sunshine helps but we had some rain too. Sorry I didn’t send a postcard, but I hope this will make up for it.

Ullswater

There’s a lot of catching up to do as far as this blog is concerned.

I’m still listening to, and enjoying, Ulysses as broadcast of Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago. It seems to have been well-received by most, going by newspaper reviews and the Feedback programme. (Apart from it disrupted the usual Radio 4 schedule.) And so, far, I’m enjoying it too. Am I more likely to go and read the book now? Hmmm, who knows.

It’s the 40th anniversary of the release of David Bowie’s top album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The album is, of course, being remastered, remixed and re-released. But I’ll stick with my original 12″ vinyl album for now, thanks! Played at maximum volume, of course.

There are at least two documentaries on radio about the album. The latest was on Radio 4 at the weekend. Midge Ure explores the story behind the ground-breaking album.

BBC – BBC Radio 4 Programmes – The Stardust Memories.

Previously, there was a documentary presented by Gary Kemp. It was broadcast in three formats: a half-hour version on the World Service, an hour long version on Radio 2 but the longest, two-hour  version was on BBC 6 Music. In it, Gary explores the story behind the ground-breaking album.

Radio 2 – Ziggy Played Guitar (not availble to re-play)

World Service – Ziggy Changed my Life (still available to listen again)

6 Music – Ziggy Changed my Life (not available)

Plus there was a Ziggy Stardust evening on BBC 4 last Friday. I nearly missed it, being, as I was, otherwise occupied up in the Lakes. But a quick check reveals the following still on the iPlayer:

David Bowie at the BBC – in concert at the Radio Theatre (2001 I think)

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – Ziggy’s last ever show, July 1973

David Bowie and the Story of Ziggy Stardust – Jarvis Cocker explores the story behind the ground-breaking album

The Genius of David Bowie – his songs performed by others

That’s enough TV I think: you’ll be getting square eyes, as my Mum used to say.

Jarvis Cocker, Joe Strummer

It seems a bit strange to write about Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Supplement programme on 6 Music, just after it’s finished for a while, but it was good and when he returns in September, I’m sure it will be just as fantastic. I love his selection of music, nothing too taxing, some relaxing tunes, and all delivered in a very relaxed manner.

The final show in this run was broadcast on 1st April, and the last song played was David Bowie’s Laughing Gnome, which made me chuckle away. Until, that is, it stopped mid-song. Yet again, the iPlayer did not deliver the whole programme. Grrr, as they say.

His guest on the show was Kathy Burke, there to promote her new TV series, Walking and Talking, to be shown on Sky Atlantic in the Summer. I won’t see it, as I don’t subscribe to this channel, but it sounds fun, and I’m sure I’ll catch it on DVD at some point.

Anyway, she told the story of when she was a teenager, and she bumped into Joe Strummer at Euston Station. She asked for his autograph on her music paper, but he then berated her for cutting the word Clash onto her arm. Since that day, she’s not cut herself and certainly hasn’t had a tattoo.

But it reminded me that a long time ago, at a Save GLR gig in The 100 Club in London, I met Joe Strummer too. I asked if I could take his photo, and he said, “Yes, but you’ll have to take the lens cap off first”.

He really was a top bloke: great music as well as providing health and photographic advice.

This year is the 10th anniversary of Joe’s death and to celebrate, we can look forward to the Strummer of Love, a festival to take place in Somerset, in August, just before what would have been his 60th birthday.

But back to Jarvis Cocker. He’s back with Pulp and currently touring America. Well, he kept that under his hat! Pulp are triumphant at Radio City Music Hall.

Meanwhile, as far as we 6 Music listeners are concerned, we’ll have A Month of Sundays with Karl Hyde after which we can look forward to John Cooper Clarke in the 4pm-6pm slot on BBC 6 Music.

Jools Holland on Radio 2

Broadly speaking, this weekly programme is in two halves. The first half hour is usually old records, jazz, boogie-woogie, music from the 1920s up to the 1950s. And in the second half, there’s usually a guest talking about their music and playing a couple of tunes.

Last week’s guest was Judie Tzuke whose voice is as delicious as it was when we first heard her all those years ago. If you’re quick, you can catch this show on the iPlayer.

Jools performs with his rhythm Section, I guess a few members of his Big Band. I can only imagine how crowded the studio is.

I also like Later with Jools on BBC2 TV I think there are two series each year plus a special Hootenanny show for new years eve. This is, I think, the only ‘live’ music show on TV at the moment, not a bad replacement for The Old Grey Whistle Test, but it would be nice it it were on every week!

Meanwhile, the radio show is very entertaining and informative, exactly what the BBC should be doing.

Actually, I’m a little cross with Jools. Back in 1999, he said he would chain himself to the piano in the basement to protest against the demise of GLR. He didn’t do so … and look where we are now.

So that’s Jools Holland on Radio 2 Monday nights at 11pm.

Shoestring

It was 1979 when we first met Shoestring, the private eye turned radio presenter in the BBC TV series. Eddie Shoestring was played by Trevor Eve, whom I’d had previously seen in a stage musical about the Beatles, called John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert. The songs were performed by Barbara Dickson, and a splendid time was indeed guaranteed for all.

Well, today, I watched the very first episode of Shoestring again. It was full of surprises.

First, I’d forgotten what it’s like watching Trevor Eve acting but not shouting. Waking the Dead? He certainly tried.

Second, one of the other characters was played by William Russell. Even after all these years, I recognised him as being one of the Doctor’s first three companions in the very first series of Doctor Who, from 1963.

And third, I was surprised to see the Phone-in Girl was played by Pippa Sparkes. Who is currently the travel / traffic girl on BBC London 94.9.

I can’t say it was action-packed: by modern standards, it was very slow, but sometimes, after a hard days’ work, that’s what you need.

I’m looking forward to subsequent episodes, you never know who’ll turn up!

In totally unrelated news: Two years ago, it was facing shutdown. Now, about to celebrate its 10th birthday, 6 Music is Britain’s biggest digital-only radio station and a champion of authentic sounds. How did it do it? Well, this article in today’s Independent attempts to answer the question.