The Critics - Radio: Home truths? I'll give him home truths

Radio, a medium whose practitioners crave love and attention like anyone else, has its own Oscars in the form of the Sony Awards. This is a big black-tie shindig in Grosvenor House, London, only slightly warped in that when you want to sidle up to someone famous, you have to listen out for their voices rather than look out for their faces. Apart, of course, for that noted radio personality, Caprice. She had to be there because no media event can strictly be said to have taken place without Caprice's appearance at some stage in the proceedings.

So, how many things do you think happen in radio that are worthy of awards? The answer is 31. This seems quite daunting and you wonder if they can get through them all in one night - bear in mind that each award has to be announced by a different guest. But when you consider how many things go on in radio, and how many stations there are, 31 seems reasonable - although you do wonder about some of the categories.

The Station Branding Award, for instance (hotly contested by Surf 107, Classic FM and Radio 2; the winner was, of course, the very memorably branded Classic FM - I think). Or the Short Form Award. This last - beating the other nominees, Lily's Years (Radio Nottingham) and Violence in the Home (102.5 Clyde 1 FM) - was won by the little inserts that go in John Peel's Home Truths. That programme, which has been ruining my Saturday mornings for some months now, picked up three awards in all, and for a while it seemed as if we were watching John Peel Night. One of his prizes was even presented by Feargal Sharkey, who used to be the lead singer of one of Peel's favourite bands, the Undertones.

That was actually a bit surreal - as when Farming Today won the News Award, or The Enthronement of 7th Bishop (sic) from Radio Merseyside won the Event Award. For what Peel was being praised for is, in my opinion, the worst thing he has ever done: an overstretched piece of whimsy which wastes valuable airtime on the eccentric, the cute, the plucky and the earnest. The common link is that all these characters come from and illustrate ... the family. And that's it. The show runs the gamut from Funny Names Families Have for the Remote Control to Our Son Was Banged Up in a Thai Jail for Smuggling a Small Amount of Dope. As such, it is like those fantastically irritating and presumptuous circular letters that certain families send out every Christmas, and one could have foretold - if one was of a grimly ironic disposition - that the man who plays some of the most avant-garde (which means, in some cases, horribly unlistenable) music on the airwaves should now become the nation's cuddliest man, saviour of our most threatened institution, supposedly.

And, with his three awards for Home Truths, it would seem that this is now official (I once rang up the BBC to ask, miserably, how long the show's run was going to be, and they said, for ever and ever). There was a time when I would have given Peelie my last Rolo, but until Home Truths is silenced it stays in the tube. But I feel like a voice in the wilderness. For one programme - albeit one that seems to last all day - to win three Sonys in one night is quite out of the normal run of things, and a huge public pat on the back.

Peel's demeanour, of course, was impeccable - he does, at least, have beautiful manners, would appear not to know the meaning of the word "conceited", and was one of two men who felt cool enough not to wear a tie to the proceedings (the other was Andy Hamilton, who won the Comedy Award for Old Harry's Game, although he is going to have to replace the Jill Dando joke he made in the first programme of the new series when it goes out again). But one day it is all going to go wrong, and the BBC will realise that they have overused Peel in a way we haven't seen since the days when Terry Wogan did everything.

Even Zoe Ball (Winner of The Nation's Thanks for Not Being Chris Evans) is cutting back on her work these days. (She's surprisingly tall, I discovered.) But the strangest part of the evening was when Paul Gambaccini took the stage.

Gambaccini has one of those cosy mid-Atlantic accents which used to be very much in vogue a couple of decades ago; at one point, in a kind of spoiler operation designed to poach some of Classic FM's unfussy listeners, he was deemed worthy of presenting a show on Radio 3, which drove its audience almost insane with rage and despair. Anyway, Gambaccini, who I always thought was blandness personified, made a snorting rant of a speech which made free and frequent use of a word beginning with "c" which you can only quote in full in the papers if it appears in a Tony Harrison poem. (And which, incidentally, is about five times more offensive to Americans than it even is to us.)

I can't remember much of what he said, as it was getting late by this stage and I had dropped my pen in astonishment, but you got the impression that years of being nice behind the microphone had finally got to him, and there was something he very much wanted to get off his chest.

Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
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
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.

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    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