Magazine article The Spectator

Evolution, Not Revolution

Magazine article The Spectator

Evolution, Not Revolution

Article excerpt

On the whole, Radio Four has had some good controllers over the years, the better ones being those who introduced gradual change. The two who were the least successful in my view both tried to rearrange the furniture after moving in; I'm thinking of Ian McIntyre in the late 1970s who, one felt, wanted to return radio to the 1950s, and, in the 1990s, James Boyle, who, enslaved by focus groups, brought in many pointless changes. He was succeeded by the successful Helen Boaden and last year Mark Damazer replaced her.

Wisely, perhaps, he hasn't said much about his plans for the network, though he does have a few in mind. He gave an inconclusive interview in the Radio Times last month and answered listeners' questions and concerns on Feedback on Radio Four last week (Friday) without giving much away. It became clear, though, that there would be no revolutionary change; he believed more in evolution. Having said that, I was caught out by Boyle's participation in the same programme some years back when he soothingly indicated caution and respect for Radio Four only to set about it with an axe. Damazer told the presenter Roger Bolton that any changes he made would be phased in over the next year or so. 'We know perfectly well that, if you disrupt the schedules too much, too quickly, the audience doesn't like it. But the trick with Radio Four is to keep ringing the changes in some areas from time to time so that the network isn't in standstill mode.'

He made the fair point that Radio Four now doesn't sound like the Radio Four of ten or 20 years ago. Nor should it if it wants to remain in touch with its audience. In response to a moan from a listener that the daily consumer affairs programme You and Yours was too repetitive and, at an hour, was far too long (a Boyle legacy), he disagreed. He wouldn't be reducing its duration, because its audience figures and approval rating had increased. I used to listen to this whingers' programme when it lasted half an hour just to see how much money pressure groups and claimants of all kinds were demanding from the government to rectify some grievance or other, but now I find the programme rather tedious. It's a pity he won't cut it.

A listener complained about the often dire comedy in the difficult 6.30 spot between the Six O'Clock News and The Archers - exempting Just a Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue - which he described as 'childish material produced by entertainers . …

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.