The Week In Radio

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The Independent Culture
FILM DIRECTOR John Franken-heimer once blew up an entire catering wagon on the set of Grand Prix to galvanise a grandstand full of dozy extras; as Michael Caine said in The Italian Job (Century of Cinema R2, Tuesday): "You're only supposed to blow the blahdy doors off."

Hungry troops can become very demoralised, especially at the mercy of the weather; the Finnish army of 1939 (Climate Story R4, Tuesday) destroyed Russian field kitchens, then skied back into the forests as diesel froze and guns shattered in minus 50C. Stalin's troops outnumbered the Finns five to one, but lost 250,000 men in three months. Meteorologist Franz Bauer told Hitler that a third extreme Russian winter was statistically impossible, so Operation Barbarossa started in the mud of the late summer thaw, and froze to death as 1942 began colder than ever. American unease at German starvation in the ghastly winter of 1947, with Communism seen as inevitable, led to the huge cash injections that kick-started Germany's postwar renaissance.

Games For a Change (R5, Monday) dealt with the continuation of the struggle by other means. In Ulster, for example, despite efforts at school level, religious polarisation feeds off sporting ties and hampers interaction between communities. Protestants play rugby, Catholics Gaelic football - and that's that.

Last week's Why Can't Asians Play Football?, dealt with another paradox: despite increasingly international recruitment, there are no Asians among Britain's thousand or so professionals, largely due to the same kind of lazy hatred which has always dogged black players.

In the First World War, soldiers' "hysterical blindness" under bombardment was triggered by adrenalin (Raging Hormones R4, Tuesday) as their bodies tried to prepare for the unthinkable. Hysterical Blindness would have been a good alternative title for All Too Human (R4, daily), George Stephanopoulous' account of five years' spin-doctoring for Bill Clinton. He found life "dirty, draining, depressing", but rejoiced after a Hilary pep talk, - "now I was a true believer!" - and told the eight year-old daughter of a Clinton driver who talked to the press: "Your father is a really bad man". An unmistakably cloacal bouquet hangs over this memoir which no amount of Ivy League brio can mask; if ever a man put the poo into poodle, this is he.

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