Magazine article The Spectator

Radio Dream Team

Magazine article The Spectator

Radio Dream Team

Article excerpt

It's like being a fly on the wall (or maybe an earwig) at one of those fantasy dinner parties where a group of people who intrigue, infuriate or fascinate us are brought together just so we can see how they will get along.

6 Music, as a Christmas treat for listeners, has put Bradley Wiggins and Paul Weller behind the same mike and given them a record player (definitely not a CD; these two are seriously vinyl) and two hours of airtime to fill.

What's the favourite lyric you've ever written? Bradley asks Paul. Quick as a flash, Paul replies, 'Two lovers kissing amongst the scream of midnight.' Not quite Wordsworth, but that 'scream of midnight' does resonate.

Can you name one song that means more to you than any other? Paul asks Brad.

'"Live Forever" by Oasis, ' affirms Bradley.

'As a 14-year-old it gave me confidence. The idea of getting out of the city and achieving something with your life.'

When Wiggins gives up his bike (not for four or five years, he promises), he could always take up radio. He's got a great voice, with perfect pitch and always right on the beat. He and Weller don't say much between tracks. Just enough. Words matter to them;

not only music and sideburns. The best way to listen to their programme on 6 (at lunchtime on Boxing Day) will be with the door firmly shut against the family and the volume up as high as it will go.

Elsewhere on radio this is most definitely an Austerity Christmas, light on specials, big on keeping to the budget. Back in 1923, Lord Reith promised 'Northern listeners' they 'may be lucky enough to skate to wireless music - if the ice holds'. The schedule for that first wireless Christmas was stuffed full of dance music, Dickens and Shakespeare.

Imagine the excitement back then of having your own ready-made entertainment in the house, after centuries of relying on charades and booze to keep the peace.

'The loudspeaker, ' writes Reith in the Radio Times for Christmas 1923, 'is so ready to oblige when wanted. . . . He doesn't feel hurt if a cracker is pulled in the middle of a song, or offended if the son grows riotous during his performance.'

It's a bit odd to burden the loudspeaker with gender but you can see what Reith means. Where would we be now without our gadgets to release us?

Grimm Thoughts on Radio 4 promises to breathe life into that 15-minute slot just before the lunchtime Archers, which so often doesn't quite work. Fifteen minutes is a long time to fill if you don't have enough vocal character or passion. Marina Warner, who calls herself a mythographer, talks with authority, enthusiasm and such grace about the dark, often peculiar, forest-fuelled tales, first published by the German Grimm brothers 200 years ago. …

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