The Critics' Awards 1998: Radio - Open your eyes to the airwaves
Sunday 27 December 1998
It was a turbulent year. Classic FM got a new boss and a new address and attracted 5 million listeners - without introducing much new programming. Talk Radio has changed hands, image, and several presenters once again. At the BBC, it was musical chairs: Jenny Abramsky became director of radio, and Mark Byford managing director of the World Service. Andy Parfitt took over at R1, and Roger Wright has slipped into Nick Kenyon's chair at R3.
At R4, James Boyle's new schedules have become part of life. They attracted predictable, if often hysterical, flak which has distilled into widespread dissatisfaction with tacky quiz shows. Roger Mosey at R5 and Jim Moir at R2 are consolidating their positions. Besides the sport, R5 has produced some compelling documentaries, such as Who's Driving You Home Tonight?, and R2's Social Action Project team produced the useful year-long series, Cancer and You. My favourite programme on R2 was John Florance's enchanting study of the tuba, Beyond Tubby, and, despite Moir's introduction of younger, trendier presenters, I couldn't have survived without Terry Wogan, whose relaxed, witty charm and batty listeners remain the glory of the station.
Best features came from Roger Fenby at the World Service, whose sound- pictures glow like Rembrandts. His series on the universality of painting, The Likeness of Being, was a scholarly yet accessible reminder that humanity is unfettered by artificial boundaries. The IoS radio drama prize was hell to choose: it is shared between Andrew Rissik's magnificent trilogy about the Trojan Wars, Troy (R3), and Lesley Bruce's Vox Bopp (R4), which wove magical patterns out of the mysterious summer of the Hale-Bopp comet. The prize for best drama serial goes to Enyd Williams, for her splendid production of The Hound of the Baskervilles (R4).
Two venerable men soldiered grandly through the year, as through many before. This is a new award, for veterans, and it is shared between Derek Cooper and Alistair Cooke. Cooper's The Food Programme (R4) continues supreme in its field, praising the excellent and condemning the spurious, while Cooke retains the incisive brilliance of a young man, informed by the experience of 90 years. At only 52, Woman's Hour (R4) has lost none of its edge and wins the best magazine prize. The best new series is the daily Sound Stories (R3), an innovative way of presenting classical music. And the greatest survivor of all is I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue (R4), which has properly become the best sort of cult: hooray for Humphrey Lyttleton. Despite all the gloomy grumbling, radio is thriving. Keep listening.
Programme of 1998: R3's Danube Week
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 London council removes 'unacceptable' Stamford Hill posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 4 The response to my Pizza Express review has been overwhelming, and taught me a lot about journalism
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'