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Radio Review: 3 July
For a while now, Eddie Mair has been needling Robert Peston whenever he appears on PM. Getting his name wrong is one strategy (‘Robin Pesto’ being a favourite of mine), and when subtlety fails, Mair defaults to outright hostility. I’ve always assumed...
As a long-standing fan of the American writer Joe Queenan, I was looking forward hugely to his Brief History Of Shame in the Archive on 4 (Saturday, R4, 8pm). However, at the beginning he warned that it wasn’t likely to be as funny as his previous...
Radio Review: 19 June
This week sees the start of another very welcome tranche of In The Psychiatrist’s Chair repeats on BBC Radio 4 Extra, following last year’s run. It kicks off with Billie Whitelaw’s interview with Professor Anthony Clare, originally transmitted in March...
Cultivated Rose
SUMMER Now comes the season for a lunch outside, a jug of Pimm’s, with friends and neighbours there, and gorgeous plants and flowers on every side and fragrances and birdsong in the air. And here’s the best excuse for never cooking. Why bother during...
Radio Review: 12 June
Listening to the BBC World Service the other day as I shifted furniture, I heard one of the funniest things to cross my lugholes in ages, followed by one of the most sobering and harrowing. The hilarity came as a result of Nick Bryant’s report in...
Purrfect Poems
Kitty: What She Thinks of Herself, William Brighty Rands (1823-1882) I am the cat of cats. I am The everlasting cat! Cunning, and old, and sleek as jam, The everlasting cat! I hunt vermin in the night – The everlasting cat! For I see best without the...
A Shore Thing
Fifty years ago, large groups of children from youth organisations across the country took to their neighbouring cliffs and lit the hundreds of ancient fire beacons that have been used since the Iron Age to warn of seaborne disaster. But this time,...
Radio Review: 5 June
One of my common complaints about radio documentaries is that they’re often too short to address the subject adequately. So, I was overjoyed that BBC Radio Sheffield had given Bernie Clifton two hours on Bank Holiday Monday to cover the story of...
What are you working on at the moment? I’m doing a play called Love Me Tender, based on the life of Elvis Presley. It’s a long time since I’ve done a musical and I decided to do it because the script was so good. What is your greatest fear? Peanuts –...
Radio Review: 29 May
Oddly, a radio documentary is probably the perfect medium in which to explain the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile area in the United States completely devoid of radio waves. The lockdown, which has been in place since 1958, is there to...
Radio Review: 22 May
So, we do know who’s running the country after all, and the licence fee is under threat yet again. I’m a staunch defender of the licence fee. Direct state funding would be dangerous politically, and a subscription model would either result in massively...
The right royal highs and lows of GRANDPARENTING
Prince Charles has expressed his delight at becoming a grandparent, and although I can’t quite imagine him changing nappies or wiping runny noses, I am sure he will be an excellent grandfather in other respects – kindly, fun and indulgent. As a...
Radio Review: 15 May
At the time of writing, I had no idea who would be running the country. Of course, the Tories won but sitting there on election day, I did know that Adam Cumiskey, one of the duty editors running Radio 4’s results coverage, went to work in a tabard...
Radio Review: 8 May
You can do a lot with 15 minutes on radio, which is why it’s always painful to hear inept broadcasters filling air time with guff. I’ll refrain from naming any names, but certain local radio phone-in hosts plying their trade not a million miles from...
Radio Review: 1 May
Nowadays, it isn’t enough for a political interview to be a bruising experience. If it goes badly for the interviewee, it’s called a car crash. Often I listen back to encounters that have been branded as such and think that they weren’t as dramatic as...
Radio Review: 24 April
Room 101 in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was inspired by a dull meeting room in Broadcasting House, but what was it about Room 105 that had BBC Chairman Marmaduke Hussey ‘choking on his smoked salmon’ when MP Chris Mullin asked about it at a...
What are you working on? Another series of The Hotel Inspector, and I’ve finished shooting for a new BBC Two series, which combines my love of food and business. I’m looking forward to some new projects starting this spring, too. When are you at your...
Radio Review: 17 April
The Easter weekend wireless harboured two music documentary treats. First came It’s All About The Bass on Radio 4 (still available on iPlayer), in which Ellin Stein (maker of a rather fine Tom Lehrer documentary I reviewed a while back) spoke to...
Radio Review: 10 April
There’s an old rule among radio presenters: never let the bosses hire a stand-in who outshines you. Sadly, in the case of Steve Wright these days, that’s just about everyone, but Jonathan Ross coming in as his holiday relief must have Wrighty looking...
What are you working on at the moment? My latest project is an Astro Alert system that sends you an email each time something in your personal birth chart is live, loaded or a liability. I’ve been researching and designing this for eight years. Finally...

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