Preview: Radio choice

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THE SECRET OF THE FLESH

Mon 9.45-10am R4, and daily to Fri

Listeners to Radio 4 have been enjoying something of a Colette-fest. Now we get the abridged biography - five mornings of shameless antics from France's favourite hussy, the woman described by the writer Andre Gide as one who understood "the least-admitted secrets of the flesh". Rebecca Front is the reader.

THE LATE BOOK: WAITING FOR THE DARK

Mon 12.30-12.45am R4, and daily to Fri

Ivan Klima's novel is set in Prague at the time of the 1989 Velvet Revolution. It's the story of Pavel, a TV cameraman uncomfortable with the limits set by the regime, who dreams of one day making a film that will tell it like it is. After the collapse of Communism, however, he finds himself just as uneasy with the new world. David Calder reads.

STANDING ON TIPTOE Mon 2.15-3pm R4

One-time ballet dancer turned actress Rebecca Saire wrote this play about the often destructive struggle to make it to the top in a cut-throat profession. Saire plays Anna, a young dancer who works hard but privately knows she hasn't got the makings of a soloist. Jill Balcon plays her mother, who pushes her daughter to the brink.

AN ENGLISHMAN, A SCOTSMAN, AN IRISH MAN AND A WELSHMAN Tues 11.30am-12 noon R4

Switch off anyone who finds nationalist jokes offensive. Stay tuned and you enter a world in which which Scots are mean, the Irish are dim and the Welsh can't talk of anything but rugby. The question is, are such stereotypes merely sustained or are they created by comedians? Simon Fanshawe tussles with such notions and along the way, we all have a good laugh. First, he spotlights the English.

ROYAL CONCERT Wed 7.30-9.45pm R3

An ancient rule of classical music programming decrees that any event attended by an HRH will be stuffed with middle-brow tunes. But if it's pops you want, this is some concert: a Rach 2 from pianist Katherine Stott, Handel's rousing Zadok the Priest and everyone's favourite blood-sacrifice music, Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. Barry Wordsworth achieves the feat of conducting four choirs at once.

BILLY BUDD

Thurs 6.55-10.15pm R3

Benjamin Britten's dark and powerful opera, set on board a ship during the French wars of 1797, comes live from the Barbican with a best-of-British cast. Baritone-of-the-moment Simon Keenlyside sings the title role; the prime of our male singing talent supports, including tenor Philip Langridge, bass John Tomlinson and baritones Alan Opie and Matthew Best. Richard Hickox conducts. Quite a production.

IN TUNE IN THE GARDEN Fri 5-7.30pm R3

Radio makes its first foray into the newly refurbished Royal Opera House with a programme of live music and interviews from the Floral Hall. Affable Sean Rafferty also takes soundings from the new studio theatre, the rebuilt stage with its state-of-the-art machinery, and bends an ear to the man they call the Turnaround King, director-in-chief Michael Kaiser.

SINGING THE FISHING

Sat 10-10.45pm R3

Forty years ago the BBC broadcast a documentary under this title which lauded the wild romance of the sea. Its mix of interviews with trawlermen and original ballads caught the special relationship the British have with their surrounding waters, and became a radio classic. This experimental re-mix gives a harsher picture. With fishing stocks depleted, the industry in crisis and suggestions of drug abuse, there is little to celebrate. But those who work with the sea still respect and fear its power, as these recent interviews and brand-new ballads by composer John Miller make plain.

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