Friday, 30 March 2012

Radio reviews: 30 March

For answers to this and other questions, there’s no better place than radio

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-newBWThe hour between 11am and noon on BBC Radio 4 is home to some its best programming: light, quirky, thoughtprovoking documentaries and comedy. North and South: Across The Great Divide is a fi ne example of the former, as writer Ian Marchant traces the offi cial line of the NorthSouth divide from Cleethorpes to the Severn, questioning attitudes as he goes. Near Cleethorpes, people thought they were in the Northeast – admitting that some regarded them as Midlanders.

Marchant is an agreeable chap, and gets the best out of everyone. By the time this appears, the final part will still be on iPlayer, and I recommend it.

At the other end of the day, Radio 2 shone a welcome light on the musical side of Dudley Moore's career in Dudley Moore's World Of Jazz, presented by trumpeter Guy Barker. An extract of Moore's recording of Grieg's Piano Concerto proved he could play all the right notes in the right order.

Moore was also a brilliant jazz pianist, and his longtime drummer Chris Karan recalled him transcribing a fi endishly complex Oscar Peterson solo, notefornote, and playing it while waiting for the band to arrive. As Karan entered the room, he assumed it was Peterson's original record, then realised it was Moore.

Usually, the focus of anything about Moore is the comedy, and Peter Cook gets all the attention. Cook was a ceaseless fount of invention, but many of Moore's interjections and asides in their work are perfectly chosen and timed – I'm convinced his musical background helped a great deal. If Cook was the star soloist, Moore was a superb accompanist. There was a little too much about Moore's marriages and his lifelong dependence on analysts – as if the programme was commissioned on the proviso of the 'sad clown'.

I heard the strangest thing on You And Yours. It seems that every time supermarket plans are announced, there is a robust protest, especially if Tesco is behind it. But there is a district in Bristol where the residents are crying out for one. Despite having a butcher, baker and greengrocer, making it sound like a 'shop local' shangrila, they really wanted a supermarket. It was a shame the butcher, baker or greengrocer were not invited for balance.

North And South: Across The Great Divide, BBC iPlayer

You And Yours, weekdays, 12 noon, BBC Radio 4




BBC Radio 4 has commissioned a drama about the making of Dad's Army from Roy Smiles, whose play Ying Tong covered the heyday of the Goons. Dear Arthur, Love John is set for transmission in May, with Anton Lesser as John Le Mesurier and Robert Daws as Arthur Lowe.

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