Gaisford, Sue, The Independent (London, England)
HE WAS a large and pasty person in powder-blue; she was a bulimic hippie, selling lavender in the Pyrenees. They met, fell in love, had three children and moved to Cornwall to live happily every after. Why on earth did they let Michael O'Donnell come visiting?
Perhaps they thought they had nothing to hide, but Dr O'Donnell is a bloodhound on the trail of self-deception in Relative Values (R4), even when his subjects, this time the Guinness Taylors, seem transparently frank. Jonathan Guinness, Lord Moyne, is a stout, vague-sounding peer, veteran of a couple of marriages and father of eight children. "Shoe" Taylor is a butcher's daughter from Lancashire - a loud, committed fruitarian. She has, in her time, been an apprentice butcher, a hairdresser, a circus elephant-rider and an inmate of Holloway. She's not remotely fussed about his wives: "They've strings of wifeys and wifelets,
the Guinnesses," she chortled.
As so often in this series, it was the children who spilt the beans. Warm, motherly Shoe was praising her 13-year-old daughter's art: "Diana, this is lovely work," she gushed, as Diana muttered "Did it in the first year". "No really," she continued, not listening, "I'm so proud of you." Diana is not a Mitford granddaughter for nothing. "I did it in the first year," she insisted, so that everyone could hear. Her brother picked up the theme. Sometimes his mother really gets on his nerves. That's just what O'Donnell wants to hear. When pressed, he said that she had been known to give him shepherd's pie for supper when he'd already had it for lunch. Dear oh dear, and her a fruitarian.
The old butcher was roped in for a comment. His daughter has come a long way, probably, from selling tripe. Anyway, she clearly baffled him. "Our children went to chapel and our Susan was in plays . . . but, there you are. No accounting for affairs of the heart." Nor for welcoming Dr O'Donnell into your life. He's probably on the look- out for more families for his next series. Don't let him near your children. He'll make riveting radio of them.
Affairs of the heart dominated two more programmes this week, both re-tellings of old stories. Tony Robinson tackled A Midsummer Night's Dream for Musical Tales (R3). The 17- year-old Mendelssohn's music shimmered behind his unravelling of the intricate, amorous plot, which he described as worse than Neighbours. His Puck was a tribute to Baldric and his Bottom to Eddie Grundy, and his cheerfulness was irresistible. After a brief warbling interlude of fairies singing "Ye spotted snakes", he sighed appreciatively "Lovely voices, fairies".
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Publication information: Article title: Radio. Contributors: Gaisford, Sue - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: September 11, 1994. Page number: Not available. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.