RADIO / Signs of misdirected youth: Robert Hanks puts his finger on the pulses of Radio 3 and Radio 4

There aren't many sounds more uncomfortable than Radio 3 trying to widen its appeal. This doesn't necessarily reflect badly on Radio 3 - if it was seriously competing with Radio 1, something would have gone pretty awry - but that thought doesn't make its efforts at popularisation any less painful to listen to.

The Music Machine is certainly a more creditable attempt than most. This is a daily magazine specifically aimed at younger listeners, and timed to attract the post-school audience. The first programme, last Tuesday, got off to a bad start: the theme was pulse, a concept Tommy Pearson proceeded to define negatively by interviewing Annie Nightingale - the pulse, you realised, being what The Music Machine didn't have its finger on. Annie Nightingale is not precisely a youth cult these days (I'm not sure that she ever was, precisely); and she sounded slightly unsure what she was doing there herself. After that, things picked up considerably. The programme suffers from over-eclecticism - balancing every classical extract with a bit of African drumming or jazz or rock, to show that, hey, music is music, right? - and at times it moves jerkily, inserting too many soundbite interviews that block its momentum. But Pearson seems a jolly sort of fellow, without ever sounding quite as desperately perky and zany as David Owen Norris used to on The Works, and the explanation of metre in music was interesting and intelligible.

The question is, who is expected to listen to it? If you're listening to Radio 3 already, you probably have the intellectual mandibles to chew something meatier than this. If you aren't, will 15 minutes of self-consciously young programming sandwiched between choral evensong and In Tune turn out to be the right bait?

To be fair, Radio 3 sometimes gets it right: Mixing It, on Monday evenings, is a snug half-way house for people who used to like John Peel but now find that some of the stuff he plays is just too darn noisy. Mixing It still plays its fair share of studenty art- house cacophony - a good example last week involved a hot-wired CD player, managing to expand the first couple of bars of the Beach Boys' 'California Girls' to 10 minutes of migraine-inducing thuds and deconstructed chords - but the odd spot of musical harshness is offset by the gentleness of the presentation. Robert Sandall and Mark Russell were cruelly ridiculed in a listener's letter a couple of weeks ago as 'The Smashie and Nicey of the avant-garde', which seemed unfair: their enthusiasm is never insincere, however inexplicable.

On the other hand, the urge to send them up is strong; they're not always immune to it themselves (how else do you justify a remark like 'Not many weeks go by around here without a reference to John Zorn', except as self-parody?). Still, even granted that it may make you pine for the transparent musical logic of Mantovani or James Last, Mixing It has shown that Radio 3 can broaden its appeal sacrificing its lofty identity.

Meanwhile, as Radio 3 evolves, Radio 4 is adopting a policy of retrenchment, going for humorous panel games and more humorous panel games. (The 'more' in this case refers to the number of games, not to the humorousness.) This week saw the launch of two new ones: Women's Troubles (Wednesday) and Darling, You Were Marvellous (Thursday). The theme of Darling, You Were Marvellous is elusive - 'Creeping beneath the underbelly of the celebrity world,' according to Sandi Toksvig, which didn't leave you much wiser. Still, the basic purpose - to make smutty jokes at the expense of well- known actors - is clear, and the first night went respectably well.

Women's Troubles has already attracted almost universal opprobrium for the bumptious, tiresomely facetious chairing of Frances Edmonds, and I'm not prepared to swim against the tide on this one. There's a Wildean air of expectation about her every remark - the sense that she thinks you'll wish you'd said this - that makes you want to tear things, living things, with your teeth. After hearing her a few times co-presenting Radio 5's afternoon programme, it seemed a fair bet that she'd be going down with the Radio 5 ship.

That said, the (all-female) panel was on fairly snappy form, and the theme is easy to work out - all about how to solve problems - even if it isn't always brilliantly sustained. To be honest, you get the impression that the format was just contrived around the title. Maybe we should just be relieved that they didn't pluck up the nerve to call it Menstruation.

Arts and Entertainment
The crowd enjoy Latitude Festival 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
'I do think a woman's place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.'

Is this the end of the Dowager Countess?tv
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn