Comment: Tune in to Radio Einstein - a relatively new station
The writer and broadcaster Terence Blacker contributes a twice-weekly column on a wide range of social, cultural and environmental issues. He is the author of four novels, of prize-winning fiction for children, and has written a highly praised biography of the brilliant reprobate Willie Donaldson.
Monday 02 August 1999
And, no, our programming is not the result of a "focus group" initiative! Instead, Einstein has arranged a series of informal briefings across the social spectrum, talking to senior therapists at the Tavistock Institute, Friends of the Hayward Gallery, a first-night audience at the Almeida Theatre and a creative writing workshop at Hampstead Library. So much for those who accused us of working from a narrow marketing base.
More seriously, we have been accused of lacking originality - even of pilfering existing programmes in our search for material. To give the lie to these allegations, we are proud to give Independent readers an exclusive insight into some of the programmes in the pipeline at radical Radio Einstein.
Literary Home Truths. We hope to lure John Peel away from his current career backwater to present a programme revealing heart-warming insights into the domestic life of great writers past. Whether it is Leo Tolstoy writing seven drafts of War and Peace for the sheer of pleasure of seeing his wife, Sonya, transcribing them again and again; the second Mrs Strindberg's waking up on her wedding night to find her husband's hands around her neck (he had been dreaming of his first wife), or Mrs Simenon patiently providing her husband with his regular lunchtime sexual release, this will be a family show in the true sense of the word.
Gardener's Question Time. Where can I find a gardener? Can one get cut- price help from refugee centres? What is the best way of getting planning permission for a second garage? These and other questions will be answered by Einstein's panel of experts.
Sir Vidia Behaving Badly. Adapted from Paul Theroux's hilarious account of his long, troubled friendship with VS Naipaul, Radio Einstein's first sitcom will follow the misadventures of two writers who travel around the world becoming increasingly jealous of one another. Neil Morrissey and Saeed Jaffrey play the ill-matched scribblers.
The Choice. Every week on Radio Einstein, an agonising everyday choice will be explored by a celebrity guest. To launch the series, Lord Bragg recalls the moment when he was offered the chance of a peerage in an institution whose existence he had always opposed, and the many seconds of heart searching that it caused. In future programmes in the series, Sir David Hare will discuss the agony of writing for Hollywood, Mr and Mrs Jeremy Corbyn will discuss private education, and Martin Amis will explore whether it is obligatory for a serious novelist to live in America.
Far-flung Flett. The BBC has Floyd; Einstein has Flett! Every week, Keith Flett, the man of a thousand opinions, will be travelling the country revealing how you don't need particular intelligence or knowledge to rustle up enough strongly held points of view to fill several letters columns in national newspapers.
Analysis. When is it right to go into analysis? How much should one expect to pay for an 50-minute session? John Cleese hosts Radio Einstein's weekly shrink-tank.
Just a Post-Structuralist Minute. In this wacky word game, Einstein's resident team of eggheads - Jonathan Miller, Umberto Eco and Will Self - join in a battle of wit and erudition to see who can speak for longest without anyone else having the remotest idea what they are talking about.
The Holroyds. In our daily serial, Michael reveals that he is facing a problem with an imminent Sunday newspaper profile by Lynn Barber, while his author wife, Margaret, is still depressed by a favourable review in the TLS for her sister Antonia. Meanwhile, their neighbour Sir Peter frets about the transfer of his latest Tom Stoppard revival from the National to the Duke of York's, while loveable senior novelist Beryl prepares for a weekend in the country at Germaine Greer's farm.
The Einstein Book at Bedtime. Dr Kit Preston believes that the use of verbs signifies imperialist cultural assumptions at odds with writers' true intentions. Following the success of his verbless version of Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell and Joseph Heller's Something, Fiona Shaw will be reading Preston's reworking of Elizabeth Smart's By Grand Central Station I Down And.
After Midnight. What is time? Can infinity be measured? An open-ended studio discussion.
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