The trial run that spells tribulation RADIO

Talk Radio Importance of Being Earnest / R4 Mouth of a Demagogue / R3

At a time when new radio stations have started to breed like fruit- flies having fertility treatment, test broadcasts are becoming a familiar part of listening. There was a time when a new station would blast the airwaves with selections from Mantovani and James Last. Classic FM broke the mould with recordings of birdsong and passing cars, a simple ploy that won the station enormous goodwill before it had even started.

Talk Radio has done something slightly different, replaying clips of its presenters explaining their philosophies of life and broadcasting (not as melodious as birdsong, but with a comparable intellectual content). With one exception, this philosophy can be summarised as "Ooh, I'm so crazy." The exception is Caesar the Geezer, who claims to be normal but comes across asmildly psychotic ("I'm a strict father. I believe in bringing back caning at school. I believe in capital punishment"). The only question that puzzles me is: what are these broadcasts designed to test, apart from your patience?

Possibly it's unfair to prejudge Talk Radio; but on this showing, there is a depressing irony in the fact that it is starting up 100 years to the day after the first performance of The Importance of Being Earnest, an event celebrated in last night's new production on Radio 4. There were no big surprises here; but then with a play like this, in which half the dialogue is glued together with quotation marks, it's hard to know how you can freshen up the lines without alienating the audience. You could hear the effort to make the dialogue sound new-minted in Judi Dench's Lady Bracknell, pausing for breath before pronouncing her big lines, and at times sounding as if she were in the final round of The Generation Game, spelling out unfamiliar fragments of script hidden in Bruce Forsyth's armpit.

Pointing out an irony isn't the same as suggesting that Talk Radio should try to imitate Wilde. Leaving aside the fact that Terry Christian isn't up to it, 24 hours of epigrammatic perfection seven days a week would be wearing. Populism and elegance rarely go hand in hand, and when they do the results can be disastrous. An instance of this was described in Simon Armitage's versified feature Mouth of a Demagogue, Eyes of a Poet (R3, Friday), a study of Victor Grayson, radical socialist MP for the Colne Valley before the First World War, whose rapid rise to political stardom and equally speedy, alcohol-assisted fall from grace were capped by a mysterious disappearance, possibly arranged by the secret service.

You didn't get much of an idea of it from some limply dramatised episodes here, but Grayson was evidently a phenomenal public speaker, with tremendous charm and matine idol looks. If you had to pick a modern political figure to compare him with it would be Robert Kilroy-Silk. These days, unfortunately, the secret service isn't so on the ball.

Robert Hanks

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Britain's Got Talent judges: Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
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
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
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
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.

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral