Magazine article The Spectator

High Hopes

Magazine article The Spectator

High Hopes

Article excerpt

Scanning the Radio Four Christmas, New Year and winter schedules gives rise to optimism that the network is now surerfooted than it has been for years. On the face of it, there appears to be some interesting drama coming up, too much to mention here; good readings, among them a 30-minute Just William story, The Sweet Little Girl in White, William's first encounter with Violet Elizabeth Bott, read and produced by Martin Jarvis, of course (New Year's Day); a range of history documentaries which sound promising though Radio Four has in the past dumbed down some of these. One has high hopes of the present controller Helen Boaden as she is not a zealous over-populariser in the sense of lowering the tone.

In January, followers of The Archers are promised, or threatened with, depending on your point of view, what the BBC describes as 'a cliff-hanging story-line told in a double-length episode' to mark the 50th anniversary of the soap; there's even Norman Painting who's played Phil Archer almost from the outset appearing on Desert Island Discs on Boxing Day. The Archers is still compulsive listening for its addicts, despite various attempts to suburbanise it and introduce unlikely themes.

Although I have my hunches about the January melodrama my guess is that breast cancer will claim the awful Ruth Archer some time during the year. When she had her mastectomy her friend Usha, the Asian lawyer, paid her a visit and asked to inspect the results. I thought it odd at the time but not being a woman assumed this was the way of things, but a friend, Venetia, an Archers buff, thought it preposterous. `If Tim [a mutual friend] had lost his cojones in an operation would you rush round and demand that he show you the evidence? Of course not.' I had to agree with her wholeheartedly.

I wonder how The Archers producers will handle the proposed ban on hunting. The scriptwriters have been serenely ignoring it (at the time of writing) even though it will cause more civil strife in the countryside than any other issue I can think of.

This time of year I go through readers letters and e-mails. The greatest response came recently when I wrote about the ending of Andrew Neil's Sunday breakfast programme on Radio Five Live. Ian Brown e-mailed to say that it was only during the summer that he discovered the programme and was aghast to learn that it was being dropped. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.