Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Art of Living Dangerously: Saturday Live Is about as Risky as a Padded Playpen

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Art of Living Dangerously: Saturday Live Is about as Risky as a Padded Playpen

Article excerpt

The issue of trailers is a vexed one for listeners of Radio 4. Gillian Reynolds, radio critic at the Daily Telegraph, is always complaining about them. She believes that they leave audiences heartily sick of new programmes even before these go on air. My feelings are mixed. Sometimes, I'm all in favour. In the case of the brilliant Uncovering Iran season, surely the more people who were made aware of it, the better. In this instance, however, the trailers in question were quite enticing (though I could have done without the season also being plugged on Today, as if its mere existence were hot news). It's only when the trailers suck that I feel my blood pressure rise.

Which brings me neatly to Saturday Live (Saturdays, 9am), the long-awaited replacement for Home Truths. I started to fear for Saturday Live when I heard the trailer for it--a coquettish little teaser that left me feeling queasy. In case you were lucky enough to miss it, it featured the show's presenter, Fi Glover, "chatting" about her new vehicle, as if over coffee and a Mr Kipling's. I guess this was meant to come over as intimate and inviting. To me, it just sounded horribly coy. And Glover managed to say almost nothing about what might be on offer. At one point, she announced that, yes, it would be "very much live". Eh? Either a programme is live, or it's pre-recorded. In any case, how dumb does Radio 4 think we are? It's called Saturday Live.

If, as I suspect, the words "very much" were meant to suggest an edge of danger, Glover was sadly mistaken. At first listen, the show is about as dangerous as a padded playpen. Now, it is possible that Saturday Live will, in time, be worth listening to; it might even become an institution. As I write, however, this does not seem very likely. It has been in the planning for ages, yet the studio guests for the launch show were--wait for it--the ubiquitous Carol Thatcher, and a man who long ago negotiated with the terrorists in the Iranian embassy siege. …

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