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.

I’m back

It’s been a while, but I’m back, and I am pleased to suggest a few things to look forward to on the radio next week.

A new series of Johnnie Walker’s Long-players. The first episode features Peter Gabriel’s album ‘So’. Everyone’s favourite track is, I’m sure, ‘Don’t give up’, a duet with Kate Bush. It’s on BBC Radio 2 next Tuesday, 2nd October at 10pm.

Here it is.

There are some clips from the first series here.

Over on BBC 4 Extra, there’s a mini fest featuring Kenny Everett.

On Monday 1st October, a Captain Kremmen serial – 25 episodes in all.

Tomorrow, Saturday 29th September, Here’s Kenny – Old friends help Mark Paytress delve into the life of a true radio pioneer, and unearth some surprises!

If you can tear yourself away from the radio to watch some TV, on Wednesday,  3rd October, there’s Best Possible Taste – The Kenny Everett Story on BBC4.

Meet David Sedaris on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday 30th September at 7.15pm. He is a very funny writer, very dry at times, and always tells a good story.

Meanwhile, I still have a backlog of The New Elizabethans to catch up on, and fortunately, all 60 episodes will remain on the iPlayer for a year.

I also have a few Proms to listen to plus several episodes of Rogue Male which was on 4 Extra during August and September.

It’s hard keeping up when there’s so much sport on TV – and I’m certainly not the biggest sports fan in the world. But what with the Tour de France, Olympics, Paralympics, Vuelta a España and the Tour of Britain, I reckon that’s my ration for the year.


Johnnie Walker’s Sounds of the ’70s

This show has a different feel to Sounds of the ’60s, but each brings back memories of a different period of my life.

In the most recent programme, Johnnie Walker talks to Mike Oldfield in depth abouthis first album, Tubular Bells, which is almost 40 years old now. It’s 0on the iPlayer untilk Sunday and I can thoroughly recommend it.

JW’s Sounds of the 70s – Radio 2, Sunday, 3pm

In a previous incarnation, Sounds of the ’70s was presented by Steve harley from Cockney Rebel. I suppose it’s been renamed Johnnie Walker’s Sounds of the ’70s to avoid confusion. Which is why there was a TV series recently, entitled Sounds of the ’70s, apparently edited from its original transmission in the1990s(?)

Anyway, back to Johnnie Walker. His next Sounds of the ’70s programme celebrates the work of The Carpenters.

Can’t get enough Johnnie Walker? Well, he has a webiste at which he “opens the door to an alternative view of the world featuring inspirational and radical thinkers dedicated to improving life on Planet Earth.” Always interesting to hear an alternative point of view.

Alt Johnnie

Catch up

Well, I’m catching up on a bit of a backlog. Always will be, I suppose, since many of the shows I want to hear are on late at night.

But, as I write, Tuesday 14th February, 2.30pm, I’m listening to Robert Elms on BBC London 94.9. I’ve been listening to his show, on and off, for, crikey, it must be twenty years or so, since he first arrived at GLR. His knowledge of and interest in all things London are contagious. Today’s show, being on St Valentine’s day, include more love songs than he usually plays, but that’s OK.

Speaking of Robert Elms, it was he who introduced BBC London’s ‘Your Desert Island Discs’ show on the 70th anniversary of the Radio 4 programme devised by Roy Plomley. It featured eleven listeners and their choices of desert island disc with, in a couple of cases, a truly heart-breaking story. Robert himself said that one of the interviews was the hardest he’d ever conducted. The musical choices were interesting, I couldn’t have predicted any of them, I don’t think. I did wonder how he’d cope if one of the contributors had chosen a Beatles song. Robert’s notorious for his dislike of the Beatles, thinking they’re vastly overrated.

I listened to the Radio 4 ‘Soul Music’ programme that featured Gresford, The Miners’ hymn. This tune was written to commemorate the mining disaster in Wales in 1934 by a Durham miner. I was unfamiliar with the tune, but it is indeed very moving.

Last year, ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris compiled a series of 16 programmes to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the TV show The Old Grey Whistle Test. I downloaded the whole OGWT40 series with a view to listening to it while on holiday over Christmas. Well, I heard a few episodes, and I am slowly catching up on the rest! And very interesting it is too. There’s a nice mix of chat, replays of the original sessions together with newly recorded sessions. The latest revelation is Midge Ure’s new, acoustic version of ‘Dancing with Tears in My Eyes’. It’s no longer on iPlayer, but I’m sure it will be repeated sometime, probably on BBC 6 Music.

And finally (for now): I listened to Johnnie Walker’s Long Players – the one about Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. And I didn’t break down in floods of tears as I thought I might. Rather, I enjoyed Johnnie talking with David Hepworth about the album. Both Elton and Bernie Taupin contributed to the programme. But ultimately, it was wonderful to be reminded of what a great album this was. Yeah, some songs are better than others, of course, but after eleven years, maybe it’s time to listen to the whole thing from start to finish.

Johnnie Walker’s Long Players

Sometimes I hear a radio programme and it blows me away, it melts my heart and soothes the soul.

Former pirate Johnnie Walker has a new series on BBC Radio 2 in which he discusses some of his favourite albums from the 1970s. The first episode featured Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane by David Bowie. Both of these have been my favourite Bowie album at different times in my life, so it was a joy to hear the songs again and the chat between Johnnie and his guest David Hepworth.

I listened to the programme this morning while on delivery. Usually I rush to get finished as quickly as possible. But two or three times today, I just had to stop and listen, paying full attention.

Any time something like this comes on that makes me wish I’d been there at the time must have something going for it.

I’d forgotten that Rick Wakeman played the piano on Hunky Dory, for instance. And it hadn’t occurred that David and Angie Bowie were a ‘celebrity couple’ before the concept really existed.

This show is one I’ll keep forever because it was brilliantly entertaining and informative – and it left me wanting more. (Yes, I know, I can always play the records at home!)

I might find the next episode more difficult to listen to. It’s about Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, from 1973. I’ll probably listen in the privacy of my own home. Why? Well, this was the last album that my wife Sarah and I listened to, the night before she died. I’ve not listened to it since, and it’s been nearly 11 years. But when one of the songs is played on the radio, I still get goosebumps.

Johnnie Walker’s Long Players, BBC Radio 2, next Thursday at 11.00pm. And the previous show is here on BBC iPlayer until Thursday. Highly recommended.

PS I have a Johnnie Walker story, a David Hepworth story, a David Bowie story and an Aladdin Sane story – but I’ll save those for another day, when this blog has settled down and I have a better idea of what I’m doing here.

PPS I named this blog Radio Top Soup on Day One in a moment of desperation because all the other names I thought of were already taken. I now have a better name (I think) so as soon as I find out how to change it in WordPress, I shall do so. Meanwhile, don’t change those bookmarks.