Radio Review

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The Independent Culture
Everyone should have 15 seconds of fame, so step forward Julian Meerah, the boy who pulled away the comedian Jo Brand's chair as she sat down on her first day at school and so "started a bit of an irritation with men". Apparently, the young Brand - shock! - wet her knickers in the Infants and had an unsuitable first boyfriend ("I wouldn't have minded if she'd come back with a lorry driver," said her mum, "but some supercilious, public school-educated, over-indulged young man....")

Jo was picked on by teachers and her parents divorced. Once, within 24 hours, her flat burnt down and she lost her job. But this seems to have been an isolated moment of drama in her early life.

The first part of Relatively Speaking (R4 FM) revealed all the above last night and, though detractors may find such revelations banal, I was gripped. The series' idea is simple - and bears a suspicious resemblance to the Sunday Times magazine's Relative Values. A celebrity and a relative (here Brand's social worker mother Joyce), talk about how they get on. Radio is perfect for this. In the magazine, for a start, you have to look at what's often a hideously smug family photo - columnist X with (surprise) his columnist daughter Y.

But, on the radio, even a voice as distinctive as Jo Brand's soon detaches itself from her media persona and, touchingly, the mother-daughter relationship, not the stardom, takes centre stage. In fact, when it comes to celebrity, radio is so democratic a medium that by the end it is not Jo but Joyce - firing on all cylinders about her daughter's long-departed boyfriend - whom one longs to hear speak next.

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