Friday, 02 June 2017

Radio Review: 2 June

An atrocity on air, and a unique English voice

Written by Louis Barfe
As news about the Manchester Arena attack came through, I was listening to Iain Lee on TalkRADIO (weekdays, 10pm- 1am). Lee had been on fine form, fielding calls aboutLouis-Barfe-colour-176 the ‘Monday Mindflip’ as listeners guess what Lee’s wildly eccentric mother is describing, and dealing with regular caller ‘Buttery Clive’. Then, reports began to filter through, and Lee acknowledged them on air without speculating.

Somehow, he and producer Katherine Boyle fed information through as it came, while keeping the tone relatively light. However, as the scale of the atrocity grew more obvious, Lee steered listeners to a soft landing. A heart-on-sleeve broadcaster, he was clearly affected by the news, but he handled the situation with great sensitivity. Unlike The Two Mikes – Graham and Parry – who followed. Speculating wildly, they added ‘we don’t know if that’s true’ after each brainguff, as if it made anything better. At least, Phil Williams on 5 Live got it right, with Colin Patterson reporting live from the scene.

Thankfully, joy can still be found and it abounded in Andy Partridge’s contribution to The Voices of… (Radio 4, Saturdays, 3.30pm). I’ve been a mad-keen fan of his band XTC for decades, and Partridge is one of the cleverest, funniest people in pop.

In Alan Hall’s beautifully assembled show, Partridge went through having a mentally ill mother who threw away his toys (he replaced them all when an adult), hating books at school but becoming an autodidact when they were optional, finding his singing voice – with a distinct Swindon accent – and writing just one song (Easter Theatre from Apple Venus Volume 1) that he feels gives Paul McCartney a run for his money. I’m sure Paul would be far more generous and point to numerous Partridge songs that meet his standards.

Louis on Twitter: @AlanKelloggs or email:

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