Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4) | BBC Sounds
Today’s Guest Editors (BBC Radio 4) | BBC Sounds
The night is coming (BBC World Service/BBC Radio 4) | BBC Sounds
Mary Anne Hobbs interviews with Terry Hall – (BBC 6 Music) | BBC Sounds
Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theater Podcast: Terry Hall |
Terry Hall on Piccadilly Radio, 8 April 1985
Say goodbye to the in-between period between Christmas and New Year – it was lovely, wasn’t it? Great for moochy listening, and there was good sound to accompany low-rumble family rows / lazily picking leftovers / sitting in a three-hour queue to charge your electric car because trains no longer exist.
Desert Island Discs offered us ex-Desert Island Discs host Kirsty Young interviewed by the current Desert Island Discs host Lauren Laverne. (Young retired from top radio job in 2019, due to chronic pain from fibromyalgia and rheumatism.) Laverne, who suffered from unfavorable comparisons to Young when she started (unfairly, in my opinion ), gave Young a great introduction, reminding us that his guest has done much more in his career than this excellent concert. She guided Young through other parts of her life – I enjoyed her story of reporting on 9/11 – and it was nice to remember that, beneath that delightful voice and girl-headed grace, Young is a journalist. So did Laverne, who pressed her naturally private guest about what her illness has done to her identity and got a telling response. Both women wear their presentation expertise so lightly that we forget it’s there.
Another pillar of Radio 4: Todayguest editors two weeks later, a tradition that began 19 years ago. This year’s week started off quietly enough, with Lord Ian “Beefy” Botham in charge on Boxing Day. He asked his former cricket mate David Gower to investigate how best test match cricket and one-day releases can work better together. Overall, Botham Today was… OK: a bag of rags, covering cricket, small charities, grouse shooting, advances in leukemia cures. Like passing the time with a golf club. The data-focused show presented by GCHQ chief Sir Jeremy Fleming on Thursday was as dry as a biscuit without cheese.
However, Jamie Oliver gave us a great show on Tuesday. A born communicator with a one-way mind (how food and nutrition can improve lives, especially children’s lives), he used his program to get his point across, taking several interviews himself. It also drew big names, including George Osborne and Tony Blair, asking the latter how Oliver could best work with politicians to achieve his goal of free school meals for every child whose parents are on Universal Credit. Good product.
And Wednesday’s program, edited by Nazarin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was a triumph. Like Oliver, Zaghari-Ratcliffe has focused on one subject – freedom – and, like him, she is a natural communicator. As a former prisoner of the appalling Iranian authorities, held hostage for six years until her release in March, she has brought to the fore the regime’s treatment of its citizens. The little moments hit hard. A conversation about humor between British-Iranian comedians Omid Djalili and Shaparak Khorsandi left Khorsandi upset when she explained that her cousin couldn’t sleep on her back at the moment, because of the air pellet injuries she got. she had suffered while demonstrating. In another section, Zaghari-Ratcliffe cooked a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi which she used while incarcerated, alongside Ottolenghi himself. He asked her about cooking in prison, and her answer was complicated: she liked to cook meals for her daughter Gabriella when Gabriella visited her in prison, but, over time, Gabriella refused to eat her food. . Zaghari-Ratcliffe also spoke of her hunger strike, her pragmatism – “You risk everything you have, which is your life” – more moving than any hysterical.
Over the past half hour, Zagari-Ratcliffe spoke to Andy Murray, one of his heroes. When she was first taken hostage in 2016, she was placed in solitary confinement; after a few months, she was allowed to watch television. She had two channels: on one, a stupid soap opera, and on the other, sports. She saw Murray win Wimbledon and that pushed him forward. Murray, an emotional man, was overwhelmed and then broke down in tears as he considered what Zaghari-Ratcliffe went through. Me too. The three hours of his show are worth listening to.
More Radio 4: Last week gave us a World Service afternoon drama version The night is coming (listen to the WS podcast instead). A folk-fantasy book from 1973, The night is coming is set around the winter solstice, and it was an ambitious adaptation (by Robert Macfarlane and Simon McBurney of Complicity), dripping with high-profile dramatic types from McBurney to Toby Jones. Oddly, the episodic and magical story felt like being in a video game: our young hero, 11-year-old Will, moves from one configuration to another arbitrarily. He meets people called the Walker or the Lady, who give him important gifts. One minute he’s staring at a huge white horse, the next he’s on it, not sure how. The innovation was mostly in the sometimes scary sound design, including a scary, tinnitus-triggering high-pitched whine at the very start. A bit pompous, but fun, and anything that includes the Wild Hunt mythos suits me.
Just room for some recommendations for Terry Hall fans bowled over by his sudden death. Mary Anne Hobbs did a nice long interview with Hall on 6 Music in 2019, and the channel re-aired it. There’s also an episode of the Richard Herring podcast where Hall talks about some of the darker times in his life; and a 1985 show where he took over from Timmy Mallett as DJ at Manchester’s Piccadilly Radio for one night. The latter is a real time machine, both musically and in the way Hall speaks. Have fun, it’s later than you think, etc.