Arts review of the year - Radio: The lost sons of our wars live on in their playlists


Top of the bill, and recipient of this year's This Is Why I Pay My Licence Fee Award, is Jeremy Vine's five-programme series marking Armistice Day, The Songs My Son Loved.

Interviews with mothers of young soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, interspersed with their favourite numbers – even the jauntiest of which took on a new, haunting resonance – it was one of the most moving things I've heard on radio.

Unexpected delight of the year

It's a crowded podium for this award, and I really can't choose between them: teenage Aboriginal rappers the Wilcannia Mob in Australian Rap, the other-worldly ice-guitar music in Richard Cole's The Music That Melted, the other-worldly fence-wire music in The Wire – all brilliant examples of the BBC's ability effortlessly to expand one's horizons. Not just the Beeb, though: the extraordinary sounds produced by the Bermuda Test Transmissions team on Resonance FM in June were the soundtrack to the apocalypse.

Comeback of the year

He's been gone for far too long, so Andy Kershaw wins hands down. He reappeared following a difficult few years alongside the excellent Lucy Duran in Music Planet, a sister programme to TV's Human Planet. I doubt there's a human being on Earth from whom he couldn't extract an interesting conversation. Now he needs his own show, sharpish.

Turkey of the year

Today man Evan Davis beat all-comers on this one. The best way to interview any politician, not just the Prime Minister, is, I'd venture, to ask penetrating questions politely but firmly. Davis chose to subject David Cameron to a barrage of mediocre questions with the hectoring tone of an exasperated parent. And another thing: I wish I didn't know that his nipples are pierced, and that he apparently smiles enigmatically when asked if he has a Prince Albert; it's very distracting.

Clanger of the year

This goes to the decision by Bob Shennan, the new Controller of Radio 2 and 6 Music, to shift Mark Radcliffe's and Stuart Maconie's wondrous show from Radio 2 in the evening to 6 Music in the afternoons. There's always iPlayer, but live radio should be listened to live. My evenings took a serious turn for the worse.

Biggest laugh of the year

Shared by Mark Steel, and his evergreen Mark Steel's in Town, and Miles Jupp's In and Out of the Kitchen, the diary of a not-as-successful-as-the-others celebrity chef. They're the joint-second funniest blokes on the radio in 2011, behind ...

Total star of the year

David Cain, scourge of bedbugs the length and breadth of the land. Hardeep Singh Kohli – one of the best broadcasters around – met him in his series 15x15, 15 minutes and 15 facts on a different word for each programme – in Cain's case, "mattress". He had a slow, painstaking manner that was pure Mike Leigh. I'm not saying he should have his own show, but I'd love to hear a programme devoted to him. Runner-up: the theatre director Adrian Brown, who spoke to Mark Lawson on The Rattigan Versions, part of Radio 4's excellent season marking the playwright's centenary. Lawson asked him about the bad old days, when being gay was a dangerous business. "Well, Mark, you say that," he replied, "and people say, 'Oh, what a terrible time, Lily Law breathing down our necks, and the shadow of prison bars' – not at all! We had a wonderful time and there were wonderful parties ... we had much more fun than anybody else." Go, boy.

Listener of the year

Had to be Jonathan from Swansea, who suggested in a talkSPORT phone-in that perhaps presenter Matt Forde might not be entirely to his satisfaction. "You are a talentless liar, a shameless, sycophantic sell-out with a jelly spine and a mush mind," he began, and for a full seven minutes he played his way into the ranters' pantheon, culminating in: "You're the reason we had the riots!" Jonathan from Swansea, you're a star.

Arts and Entertainment
By Seuss! ‘What Pet Shall I Get?’ hits the bookshops this week
Arts and Entertainment
The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after Enola Gray and her crew dropped the bomb
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Elliott outside his stationery store that houses a Post Office
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Film review Tom Cruise, 50, is still like a puppy in this relentless action soap opera

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

    Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

    Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'