Magazine article The Spectator

Radio: Eskimo Day; Foxes; Music Extra

Magazine article The Spectator

Radio: Eskimo Day; Foxes; Music Extra

Article excerpt

Bashing the BBC often becomes a popular blood sport in times of political instability, and especially if the left is weak and un-able to defend itself. You only have to think back to the period when Margaret Thatcher was leading the Tories and lambasting Auntie to recognise that there is some truth in this aphorism. It's not surprising, then, that we're going through another phase of repeated attacks on the BBC's impartiality, the unfair advantage provided by the licence fee, its 'dumbing down' to satisfy a broad audience.

Those of us who rely on listening to the radio to keep us sane in a mad, mad world need to rally round and keep on insisting why we so love and admire the Corporation if we want it to survive as a publicly funded institution. Not specifically for its news -- although we should never, ever take for granted the fact that the BBC always sets out to be impartial, and can usually, although not always, be trusted to be so. Not for all the programmes on its schedules -- the list of those I could happily never listen to (or watch) again would run to several pages. But for the simple fact that the BBC and its programmes are always there, always promising an opportunity to discover something new or provide respite from everyday cares, or simply to reflect our lives as they are, providing that peculiar consolation of recognition. The reason why so many of us are still tuning in to the BBC is that through its seven radio stations it offers everything from news to live chat, via live sport, live music, live theatre, and at whatever time we might be listening. Sometimes it gets it wrong; that's inevitable with such a broad and unwieldy portfolio. But who can match it at its best?

This week on Radio 4 you could have tuned in on Saturday afternoon and discovered a rare treat from that master of dramatic interplay Jack Rosenthal, much missed from the TV schedules for plays like Bar Mitzvah Boy and The Knowledge. In Eskimo Day (directed by Marion Nancarrow), set in 1966 and adapted from Rosenthal's original script by his daughter Amy, two sets of over-anxious parents accompany their children to Cambridge for an interview. Will either of them be accepted at Queen's college?

Perhaps predictably, to create comic dissonance, one set of parents is from Blackburn, the other from Cheltenham. But Rosenthal was far too canny and sharp-eyed a writer to be content simply to make the clash of class and accent the point of his play. He understood that what was really significant was what the parents shared, not how different they might appear on the surface. …

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.