Sunday is a brilliant day for radio

I realised that Sunday is quite probably the single best day of the week on BBC radio. Here is a list of what I listened to yesterday ‘live’ and what I’ve recorded for future enjoyment.

12.00 midnight Radio 2 – Bob Harris

9.00am Radio 4 – Broadcasting House

A topical news-based magazine programme with a competition that I enetr once in a blue moon, when i know the answer. It would be wrong to say that I only listen, waiting for the return of Fi Glover.

10.00am 6 Music – Cerys Matthews

11.15am Radio 4 – Desert Island Discs

This week, the guest was Jonathan Agnew. For a 70-year old programme, it’s doing very well, going form strength to strength. Dare I say it: I think Kirsty Young is the best ever presenter.

1.00pm Radio 2 – Elaine Paige

Much of the programme is predictable, Lloyd-Webber, Les Mis, common or garden songs from musicals, but now and then, a great tune turns up. But if not, hearing Elaine’s unique chuckle/chortle brightens up even the dullest, greyest Sunday.

1.30pm Radio 4 – Lyrical Journey

This week, the subject was Eddi Reader’s song ‘Patience of Angels’, written by Boo Hewerdine. I remember when the record first came out in 1994(?): I’m sure Eddi Reader appeared on GLR many times to promite the record, though sadly, I have no such recordings.

3.00pm Radio 4 – The Real George Orwell

‘A journey exploring the man Eric Blair and the writer George Orwell’ – drama and stories written by and about George Orwell.

3.00pm Radio 2 – Johnnie Walker’s Sounds of the ’70s

4.00pm 6 Music – Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service

6.15pm Radio 4 – Pick of the Week

A good way of finnding some interesting programmes that I would have missed otherwise. I usually hear it in time to get something off the iPlayer, but there have been several misses over the years. They have played one of my suggestions, once. Although I suspect many listeners nominated the same item.

8.00pm Radio 4 – Feedback

Though I usually try to catch this programme on its first outing on friday evening. It’s the radio version of ‘Points of View’ only much better. Ancompliants about (or indeed praise for) the BBC and its output is welcome here.

10.00pm 6 Music – Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour

He read out one of my emails once and so immediately became my number one topmost favourite radio presenter DJ of all time, ever. But apart from that, this, along with all the other 6 Music shows today, quite easily ticks the box that says ‘they place the music you don’t know you want to listen to’.

11.00pm Radio 2 – The David Jacobs Collection

Old time records, most of the songs predate even my parents’ era, but every now and then there’s a real gem, and the fact that it’s 60 years old really doesn’t matter. I met hime once, at Kingston Readers’ Festival. He asked for directions to the lav.

I also caught bits of Paul O’Grady, Clare Balding, Michael Ball, Russell Davis, Mary Anne Hobbs and 1.5 seconds of the Archers theme tune, that being how long it takes to jump across the room the switch to 6 Music.

Loose Ends, Desert Island Discs, Cerys Matthews

Well that was a strange Sunday morning. I heard Broadcasting House OK but a long, long-distance phone call to my daughter, newly arrived in Sydney, meant that I missed both Cerys Matthews on 6 Music and Desert Island Discs on Radio 4. I usually hear one or the other, but this week, I shall look forward to hearing both while at work.

Desert Island Discs – this week’s guest is Tim Minchin.

Cerys Matthews – 6 Music – this week, Cerys celebrates the written word with Trembling Bells and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy live. And next week, her guest is Anaïs Mitchell, who as I’ve mentioned before, we saw in concert a couple of years ago so I look forward to that too.

But I am listening to last night’s Loose Ends mainly to hear Alison Steadman. We saw her just last week on stage at Kingston’s Rose Theatre in the newly revived (and revised?) Michael Frayn play called ‘Here’. I found it hard to watch, I couldn’t emapathise with the characters, but there’s nothing wrong with some challenging theatre once in a while. It’s on at The Rose until next Saturday, 12th May, so buy some tickets now.

Also on the current Loose Ends is actor Richard Wilson and top mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, both of whom are sort of heroes of mine.

Loose Ends – Radio 4.

Saturday Live, Bob Harris Country, Cerys Matthews, Mahalia Jackson

Saturday Live is growing. From the coming weekend, it will be 90 minutes each week, so it’s not only more of the same but also it will include what used to be Excess Baggage, which is no longer a separate entity.

As explained before, I usually listen to the programme a while after the broadcast, sometimes maybe weeks after. The benefit of this is that I can fast forward through those segments that I’m not particularly interested in. It has to be said, though, that this is a very rare occurrence.

Right, this week’s first long-lengtyh, extended Saturday Live will include the usual features: this week’s Poet is Luke Wright and the Inheritance Tracks are those of Cilla Black. Guests include David Cassidy and Patrick Duffy, ideal for those (like me) who were around in and still have affection for the 1970s. Presenter Richard Coles will be joined by Sian Williams.

Saturday Live on Radio 4.

My workday experience was enormously enhanced yesterday and today by listening to Bob Harris Country. I’m a little bit behind with the show, so I’ve only just caught up with his 1960s Special. And to use one of Bob’s own favourite words, it was ‘amazing’! At several points during the show, I thought he’d been cherry-picking from my parents’ own (albeit limited) record collection. Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash were all available at home during my childhood.

Usually, Radio 2 shows are up on the iPlayer for 7 days, until replaced by the following week’s show. But the good news is: as I write, there are many previous programmes up there. Which is good news for me. Bob alluded to a previous programme from a few months ago, a 1950s special. Well, I missed that at the time, but I now look forward to hearing it. (That one was 27/10/2011, by the way.)

Bob Harris Country on Radio 2.

On last week’s Loose Ends, Cerys Matthews poke about the documentary she’d made for Radio 4, called ‘Conjuring Halie’, about the delightful gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson. I can’t recommend this documentary enough. I’ve often said that despite being the nation’s major speech station, Radio 4 does come up with some of the best music documentaries.

Conjuring Halie is repeated on Radio 4 tomorrow, Saturday 5th May at 3.30pm, and will be on the iPlater for a week after that.

Conjuring Halie – Mahalia Jackson – on Radio 4.

Loose Ends on Radio 4.

And finally: if you donated material to the national archive and then, thirty-odd years later, find one of the items up for sale on eBay, you’d be a bit miffed, right? Well, this happened to J. David Goldin, from Connecticut. But he did the right thing: he tracked down the thief, who is now serving time.

Read the full, heart-warming story here in the Washington Post.

Ceryl Matthews on 6 Music

Sunday’s a funny day. Some weeks, I get up early because I just can’t get back to sleep. Other weeks, I have a nice, long lie-in. The radio keeps me company of course. The first appointment is with Broadcasting House on Radio 4. Then it’s a challenge to switch over to Cerys Matthew on 6 Music before the Archers’ theme starts.

Yesterday’s programme was broadcast live from the Maida Vale studios, with listeners, actual members of the general public, in attendance. Yes, of course I would have liked to have ebeen there, but, well, I forgot to apply for tickets.

But if I had been there, and Cerys had asked me how long I’d been listening to 6 Music, I would have proudly announced that I was there right at the start. Having no DAB radio, I listened to Phill Jupitus’s first Breakfast show on March 11th, 2002, online, via a dial-up connection.

All kinds of music, including blues, reggae, music from the Balkans and Bolivia, and poetry (I don’t think I’ve heard e e cummings poetry on the radio before: he was a favourite of my teenage self) all presented by an enthusiastic musician. And I’ve always had a soft spot for a Welsh accent, since I fell for Mary Hopkin. Those were the days.

In a nod to the late 1960s Jimmy Young Prog, Cerys occasionally gives us a recipe, usually for something unusual, esoteric, foreign. For example, haggis. Although us veggies are catered for too.

Here’s Cerys’s page.

I was delighted to find a recording of Cerys from about 1995, when, as a member of the great band Catatonia, she was on GLR with Jeremy Nicholas. If I wasn’t scared of BBC lawyers, I’d put it up here somewhere. (Oh, OK, and if I knew how to, that would help.) 

 

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.