BBC News – Record ratings for digital radio stations

Here’s the news article straight from the horse’s mouth:
BBC News – Record ratings for digital radio stations.

But in summary, BBC 6 Music, the Asian Network and Radio 4 Extra have all gained more listeners during the last three months.

Absolute Radio has the highest proportion of listeners tuning in via digital means rather than analogue, FM.

In London, Capital Radio beat RAdio 1 at breakfast time. Chris Moyles’s final quarter saw a continuing decline in his audience.

Overall, it appears that radio continues to attract more listeners and for longer periods each week.

I’ve never been asked but I know my listening habits are well above average. As I’ve said before, there is literally not enough time for me to listen to everything I want to. Yes, I still find time to watch TV, but that is seldom as satisfying. Homeland is great, though, very intense.

But given the time constraints, I’m afarid I didn’t even try to listen to Radio 2’s collection of Beatles programmes broadcast during October. As big a Beatles fan as I am, after all this time, i think I’d rather listen to their music than listen to even more people talking about them and their stories and their influences.

Last weekend’s Bob Harris show was brilliant, from my point of view. He played records by so many of my favourites: Frank Zappa, The Shadows, Steely Dan, Ruarri Joseph, Sam Cook, Tasmin Archer, John Lee Hooker, not to mention studio guests Robert Cray and Martin Stephenson. Here’s the playlist. Never let it be said that Bob Harris doesn’t play folk music! As I write, there is a day and a half to listen to the programme on the iPlayer.


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.


BBC Radio 4 Extra – Geoffrey Household – Rogue Male

Two hours in the garden today as the temperature reached 30°C was plenty. The thunderstorm that began five minutes after I came indoors was welcome, but now that the rain’s stopped, it still feels hot and clammy. Too hot to do anything other than listen to the radio.

I am delighted to see that Rogue Male is about to be repeated on BBC Radio 4 Extra. This is another of those stories that I like to re-visit every now and then, in whatever format: the origonal novel, the TV dramatisation from the late 1970s or an audio version such as this.

Michael Jayston is a fantastic actor, and he has the perfect voice for the tension- (not action-) packed story. Even though I know how it ends, I’ll be on the edge of the seat again by the time we get there.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t so taken with the sequel, Rogue Justice. I thought that was just a very episodic story of someone crossing European borders, meeting rebels in the various countries, and managing several escapes from capture.

But Rogue Male is well worth listening to: highly recommended, especially if you are unfamiliar with it.

BBC Radio 4 Extra – Geoffrey Household – Rogue Male, Episode 1.

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.



Can’t beat a nice long lie-in on a Saturday or a Sunday

Unusually for me, I am staying up late 4 nights out of 5, but I managed to get a few days off work, so I have plenty of opportunity to catch up on my sleep. I usually get up at 5am for work, so late nights are generally a no-no. But due to circumstances, here I am, out on Thursday (pub-style quiz at the local dramatics group), out on Friday (Rosanne Cash at Union Chapel), out on Saturday (farewell party for younger daughter who is soon moving to Australia) and out again on Monday (Robyn Hitchcock performing his 1984 album I Often Dream of Trains).

Today, Tuesday was warm and Springlike, and the newsman just told me that March had been the third warmest ever. Then the weathergirl told me it was likely to be very cold tomorrow and we may have sleet or snow.

Meanwhile, on Saturday and on Sunday morning, after I woke up, I listened to a few hours of radio. And not a bad collectiuon of programmes, either: I can recommend them all.

As I write, there are still 4 days to listen to a fascinating programme about Mozart and the many fake compositions attributed to him, some in error, some deliberately. The main nugget I came away with was, that Mozart wrote Super Trouper by Abba. Great stuff, have a listen to Faking the Classics.

I think the Garrison Keillor Radio Show has been broadcast here in the UK since BBC 7 (now 4 Extra) came into being almost ten years ago. It’s a lovely, gentle mix of story-telling and music, mainly bluegrass. Very relaxing.

I listened to most of Barry Took: Mr Point of View in bed that day, but I had to get up to eat, so I caught up with the final hour or so later on. It’s Barry’s autobiography, in a nutshell. I think it mentioned just about every comedy show on radio and TV for the last forty years. I was very fond of Barry Took, and think it’s odd that he’s best remembered now for presenting Points of View. That can’t be right, surely?

Sunday morning is mostly comedy.

The Horne Section is a new production, and last Sunday we heard the last of 4 episodes.

Then there are two sitcoms form the 1950s, which I like to think my folks listened to at the time.

Take it From Here features the very loud (for those days) Jimmy Edwards and a very young June Whitfield.

But this week’s episode of Meet the Huggetts is a classic – at least to me. On the grounds that it reminds me of someone very close to me…

But the comedy stops at 9.00am when I switch to Radio 4 for Broadcasting House. Well, it doesn’t completely stop, as the presenter Paddy O’Connell can be very funny, but this newsy magaziney programme is a good way to catch up on some of the week’s serious news but also to look at the lighter side of life (as they say). The newspaper review is usually so good, I have no desire to go out and buy a Sunday newspaper: it confirms that I’m not really missing much.


Some follow-ups

Well, I had a bit of a moan the other day about The Today Programme and why I don’t/can’t bear to listen to it any more. It seems I am not alone.

This week’s Feedback included a section in which my problems with Today were discussed by other listeners.

BBC Radio 4 Feedback

BBC Radio 6 Music, as they now seem to be calling it, has celebrated its tenth birthday (again) with a show on London’s Southbank Centre. Highlights are being broadcast this very evening on 6 Music, at 10pm. And highlights will be shown on the TV Red Button channle during the week.

6 Music at the Southbank

Johnnie Walker’s Long Players has come to an end, but I’m sure there’ll be another series soon.And I wouldn’t be surprised if the first series is repeated at some point, maybe overnight on 6 Music. The last programme featured Some Girls by the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells a Story.

Johnnie Walker’s Long Players – sadly no longer on iPlayer.

It’s hard to keep up with all the good stuff on 4 Extra,even though I receive the newsletter every week

Garrison Keillor’s Radio Show is always entertaining, a couple of good stories and, unusually for 4 Extra, some good music content, mainly bluegrass.

Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men on the Bummel is very funny, and a 3-part radio serialisation has just begun. Well, I say ‘just’ You have a day to grab the first episode on iPlayer.

I’m not as big a fan of science fiction as I used to be, but I do enjoy some old favourites, so I’m looking forward to listening to JG Ballard’s The Drowned World which started a repeat run this week.

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.

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.

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.