radio 3 round-up
Friday 22 March 1996
Before more cynical listeners are tempted to retort that there are already quite enough serendipitous sequences on Radio 3 - what with those more or less continuous record selections from 6am to midday and that ramshackle early-evening formula In Tune, which really does deserve consigning to outer darkness - it is worth considering the advantages of the new extension. As Macleod suggests, it will "offer more airtime for particular areas of enthusiasm which we know that the audience has for parts of the daytime schedule: early music, world music, organ music and jazz, for instance."
More bizarrely, after 17 June, schools programmes are finally being banished from their early-afternoon patch to the small hours - which, if it makes for yet more serendipity in an extended Midweek Choice, will also allow for longer Friday editions of the often revelatory Mining the Archives. Meanwhile, the late-evening repeat of Composer of the Week, one of the more serious casualties of the rejiggings of recent years, is being reinstated.
Yet these modest gains remain contingent upon the more mysterious questions of "Why?" And "For Whom?" One presumes that Radio 3's audience research has disclosed a real need, though demands for a night service could hardly be said to have dominated the latest outcries over the direction of the network. Maybe those musical insomniacs who most yearn for such an extension have felt too exhausted by day to phone or write in. Maybe the demand comes rather from night workers finally driven crazy by the easy-listening gobbets and infantile adverts of Classic FM.
In any case, it is difficult to imagine more than modest audiences for serious concerts in the middle of the night (unless that reflects a prejudice of listeners, like this one, whom nothing short of Election Special can keep awake much beyond 11.30pm). Could it be, for all the recent talk of "accessibility" and "user friendliness" - and the sometimes insultingly silly ways in which these precepts have been put into presentational practice - that Radio 3 has allowed itself to fall back unequivocally upon the old ideal that great music ought to be made available, no matter what the ratings!
If so, it is none too soon. Under the pressure of its commercial paymasters, Classic FM seems to be steadily shedding its more exploratory slots, such as Contemporary Classics - long gone - and Classic Verdict, soon to go, while plugging the same old bits of Vivaldi and Orff ever more relentlessly. Of course, that is what a lot of people want - just as they want Van Gogh's Sunflowers on their table-mats. But it ought to remain a major function of Radio 3 to suggest what they might want if they got a chance to hear it, and that, in turn, ought to remain as much a function of the established daytime schedule as of the new night-time one.
Take Composer of the Week, whose removal from its old morning slot has not, one gathers, bumped up the 9am ratings. If Radio 3 really considers this a "flagship" programme - as it certainly should after last week's superb series on Guillaume de Machaut - then it ought to be going out in prime time. Not at midday, when most of the working population is unable to hear it, or at 11.30pm, when many of the same listeners will be too tired to take it in, but surely in a slot such as 6.30 to 7.30pm in place of the utterly dispensable In Tune.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Young Preston fan has play-off hero Jermaine Beckford's shirt stolen from him at Wembley - which then appears for sale on Gumtree
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people