Radio: One of the nicest old hippies I've ever heard

I remember a fantastically irritating advertising campaign for radio somewhere which said that as a medium radio had the edge over TV because "the pictures are better". This is not strictly speaking true but you know what they meant. For example, say the words "Radio 2" to yourself and you get a fairly vivid picture of what that station is like. All DJs and announcers are handed a cardigan when they are hired (which was shortly after the invention of the cardigan), and there are strict instructions against original thought and music that will drive our youngsters mad with boogie-woogie jungle rhythms. Margaret Thatcher always liked appearing on Jimmy Young because no one with a brain has ever listened to Jimmy Young for more than three seconds.

The BBC noticed that this was hardly an image calculated to entice new listeners, and has been plugging away for some time now at implanting the suggestion that Radio 2 is in fact vibrant, hip and, these days at least, a Margaret Thatcher-free zone. We may have to wait a while to be one hundred per cent sure that she won't, like Arnold Schwarzennegger's Terminator, be back, but it does seem pretty safe to twist the dial that little extra bit to the left.

For example, there has been a series going out in which Mark Kermode, a nice young film critic, interviews movie directors. In direct and humiliating contradiction of my fears that he would cobble together a list of barrel- scraping obscurities, he managed to get the likes of Robert Redford, Kenneth Branagh, Nora Ephron, Brian de Palma and Terry Gilliam. Like a moron, I missed all of these except the last one.

Now Gilliam is hardly my favourite director (I think he lost it after Time Bandits, and his mission seems to be to furnish the visual imaginations of people who have little of their own) but Kermode thinks he is the bee's knees and it would be a dull world if we all thought alike, apparently. (He thinks Brazil is one of the best 10 movies of all time. Go figure.) He also got a fascinating interview out of his subject - well, not exactly fascinating, but it was a perfectly pleasant way of spending half an hour, and you left it with an enhanced respect for Gilliam - and, indeed, Kermode, who kept himself very much in the background. You forgot, at times, that there was an interviewer.

We learned that Gilliam is basically an old hippie, in the nicest sense of the term, who makes the kind of movies that hippies make in their garages, only with a budget of $50m, and that his wife says he makes the same film over and over again. We also learned that he handles the pressures of the movie system with his personal integrity intact. (Although it was perhaps telling that the programme skated quite swiftly over The Fisher King). But the nicest surprise to dawn on you was that this most manically visual of directors was being interviewed, very successfully, on the radio. A TV interview would have been stuffed with images. As it is you could conjure up your own while you listened.

There's a new series of Harry's Game on Radio 4, 6.30 on Wednesdays which allows you to conjure up pictures of hell, because it is set there. Andy Hamilton plays the Devil and James Grout plays the Professor, who although dead does not believe so and imagines that he is just suffering from an unusually protracted hallucination. This premise, difficult to sustain when you are getting into your third series, has been quietly dropped so they just steam along with some jokes, which are always funnier when dealing with the Four Last Things (ie, death, judgement, heaven and hell). Heaven doesn't feature much but was described in the previous series as "just like Scotland, only without the midges. And the Scots, of course".

Andy Hamilton has one of those voices, a sort of nasal leer, which makes everything sound funny; he also writes the series and I hope the BBC appreciates him and pays him his weight in gold every week. (Maybe not gold. But something nice, at least.) Harry's Game is a neatly modulated version of all those old folk stories in which people try to outwit Old Nick; and even if it is not exactly Dante, we do get comic peeks at serious matters - retribution, sin, and the unusual ubiquity and phenomenology of Jill Dando.

"Do you often take on the form of Jill Dando?" asks the Professor at one point. I'll let you into a secret, Professor," says the Devil. "There is no such person as Jill Dando." I don't know how that looks on the page but it was delivered impeccably on the radio.

Meanwhile, in Borsetshire, the scriptwriters' war against reality continues. Have you noticed how no one in Ambridge has extramarital nookie these days? (And, for a farming community, it is a trifle low on the suicide rate.) For a few days they teased us into thinking that Sid Perks was having a bit on the side, but if we'd thought about it for a second we should have realised it could not be so. Sid is not only anaphrodisiacally thick, he's also gay, as his too-loudly-protested homophobia attests. Best line of the week came from Elizabeth, to Nigel: "We've tried reason, and that didn't work. We're just going to have to kill your mother."

Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
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.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?