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
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
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.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...