The Week In Radio
Saturday 24 April 1999
Start the Week (R4, Monday) is helmed by the new, reluctantly aggressive Jeremy Paxman. Paxo egged on the redoubtable Carmen Callil over her browbeatingly partial selection of "Best Novels of the last 50 Years". Sveltely bridging the audio gap between Germaine Greer and Tallulah Bankhead, Callil has a voice built for radio - cruel and chocolaty. Her objection to science fiction as a genre was "boredom", and she swept aside the hapless science writer Robin Baker, author of Sex in the Future and apologist for universal IVF, with "nothing will stop people fornicating" - his point exactly, he murmured from beneath the table.
Another dislocated particle, Peter Snow, is battling to restrain his natural bounce as radio's successor to the lugubrious Magnus Magnusson on Mastermind (R4, Monday). Far from Newsnight's meticulously prepared battle sandpits and stats charts, Snow nevertheless manages to invest lists of arcane trivia with a greying pep. To hear him giving the answers to passed questions on The Beach Boys was to hear a grown man refuse to admit that he will never learn to tap-dance; the "n" in "Surfin'" was admirably enunciated, but "Let's Get Away for a While", a recondite title, admittedly, was transformed into a kind of sinister scoutmasters' refrain. Infinitely happier with "Aircraft of 1939-1945", he rattled off the phrases "Operation Bodenplatter" and "Vickers Wildebeest" with nostalgic relish.
For the last word in natural authority, another repackaged veteran, the matriarchal cookery writer Marguerite Patten, surely takes the biscuit, so to speak. Discussing the period 1910-1919 in her Century of British Cooking (R4, Sunday), she noted the availability of pine-nuts long before today's gastro-thug chefs fricasseed them with chorizo, scallops, balsamic vinegar and chard, and announced that with these, "your nut rissoles will be delicious", less a prediction than a command, one felt.
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
Pottermore: JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story featuring 'greying' 33-year-old wizard
JK Rowling to publish new Harry Potter story online for Halloween
Fury, film review: Brad Pitt stars in visceral and brutally ugly drama that reminds us war is hell
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
David Cameron refuses to pay 'completely unacceptable' £1.7bn EU bill