Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Show Goes on for Elaine Paige: Why Has the Arch-Witterer Survived Radio 2's Revamp?

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Show Goes on for Elaine Paige: Why Has the Arch-Witterer Survived Radio 2's Revamp?

Article excerpt

When I was tipped off that Lesley Douglas, the controller of Radio 2, had revamped the station's Sunday schedule, I could hardly contain my excitement. Deep in my gut, I felt that she must have decided to do something about Elaine Paige: namely, despatch Paige to her Surrey mansion (or wherever she lives--for some reason, I can only picture her in a vast, red-brick house with a faux-Roman portico) and restore Russell Davies to his rightful position, with a longer slot more worthy of his fine talents. (At present, he gets an hour in the afternoon: Paige, the arch-witterer, gets half an hour more.) But, no. Paige survives. Meanwhile, in the evening, guess who now has his very own show? Oh, only Alan Titchmarsh, the TV gardener and--deep breath--novelist.

Bear with me, because this is complicated. To make way for Alan, as from this Sunday (28 January), Your Hundred Best Tunes will be axed after 47 years and Sheridan Morley moved elsewhere, so that Titchmarsh can have the Melodies for You show. I notice with a sinking heart that Davies will now pop up at 9pm, and still only for an hour. His Sunday-afternoon slot will be mopped up by a longer Pick of the Pops, as hosted by Dale "I'm the Colour of Korma" Winton.

Now, I hold no brief for Your Hundred Best Tunes, which has been presented by Richard Baker since 2003 and is as crusty as a tramp's toes. Nor will I grieve for Morley, who is so pompous and plummy, I often wonder if he wears a velvet DJ to the studio. But still, these changes are unfathomable. Paige is awful: boring and amateurish. She can introduce the most exciting show tune in the world, and still I feel like doing nothing more than sigh. So why, when the furniture was shifted, did she stay standing, like some teak sideboard no one could be bothered to move? Titchmarsh is another witterer. I can just about deal with him when he's talking bulbs, but I really don't want to hear his thoughts on Bizet. …

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