Magazine article The Spectator

Caving In

Magazine article The Spectator

Caving In

Article excerpt

We should be worried. The announcement that BBC 6 Music is going to be saved from the cost cutter's axe may sound like a victory for Everyman, as opposed to the mindlessness of the Jobsworths in Finance. But the money to keep Lauren and her team going will have to come from somewhere, and the most likely target, as ever, will be those departments whose budgeting can't be accounted for in noughts and crosses. Will there be enough money in the pot to fund the ambition of series like The History of the World . . . ?

What will happen to the World Service, whose output of drama and documentaries has already been drastically curtailed on the basis of 'not enough money'.

In these recession-hit times, the future of those things from which our hearts and minds are shaped is at stake. Do we really want to see the creativity of our thinkers, musicians and programme-makers thinly spread over a quantity of radio stations? Why, when BBC 6 Music has been saved for its million or so listeners, has the Asian Network been given the chop - with its far more significant potential of reaching out to the millions of British people of South Asian extraction? The noisy repartee of the Asian Network's DJs jars on my ears - and maybe on the ears of the audience it is meant, but fails, to reach. Maybe there has not been enough commitment to the station? Certainly, it has failed to rally the kind of celebrity endorsement which has been given in recent weeks to 6 Music. But wouldn't its survival somehow be a more creditable outcome? A provoking acknowledgement by the fledgling BBC Trust of the ways in which Britain has changed in the past few decades, rather than an uninspired caving in to the screeching demands of the Twitterers?

On London Nights this week (Radio 4), the novelist Andrea Levy has shown a refreshing diversity of thought in her late night portraits of the capital, buzzing with life under the purple skies of a balmy June evening. Levy grew up on a redbrick council estate close to Arsenal's football stadium, earning sixpence a time for minding the cars of those soccer fans too foolish to realise that by 'minding' she meant pocketing the money and skiving off home until the noise of the crowd warned her that the game was over. …

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