Radio 1's Stories slot ups its game with politically and socially charged documentaries


Back in the middle ages, Radio 1 documentaries used to be disaster zones, full of thirtysomething men talking down to teenagers while said teenagers sat heaving with embarrassment. You hoped that sometime before the end, Chris Morris would finally reveal himself and the presenters would leave silently to collect their P45s.

Lately, though, the station has upped its game with a series of thoughtful politically and socially charged documentaries chronicling the frontline experiences of our youth. The Monday night Radio 1's Stories slot is a prime example. Yes, there have been instances when, during 10 Moments That Made Pharrell Williams, or The Story of Ed Sheeran, the nation would have been better off getting an early night. But we've also had Jameela Jamil talking about how students are turning to sex work, Professor Green talking about suicide and Gemma Cairney reflecting on feminism in music.

This week's episode, Staying Out, came courtesy of Paris Lees, the journalist, presenter and equality campaigner who, through experience and hard-won wisdom, knows more than most about issues affecting young people.

Here she explored the problems faced by young offenders and how best they can stay out of prison after release. Ten years ago, when still in her teens, Lees herself was sent to a young offender institution for taking part in a robbery. Here she recalled the terror of leaving court and climbing into a prison van. She also remembered how, when she emerged from prison, she was given a curfew and shown the exit with no guidance as to what to do next. "It's [about] slowly rebuilding your life," she reflected. "But you don't start off whole. It's very unstable."

The figures were stark. We learned that 73 per cent of people who have been in custody go on to commit more crimes within a year of being released. In January last year there were 1,500 under-18s in custody. Out of those, 20 per cent had harmed themselves and one in 10 had attempted suicide.

Lees' empathy was palpable as she talked to fellow ex-offenders and reflected on the knockbacks, the suspicion and the temptation that comes with the first months out of jail. She also met mentors and volunteers, many of whom had been in similar trouble as teens, trying to stop ex-offenders from reverting to their old ways.

It was a sad subject simply and affectingly explored. I wondered about the wisdom of so many musical breaks (do 16-to 25-year-olds really have such short attention spans that they need their shows sliced into bite-sized portions?) but the interviews were heartbreaking, and the issues very real.

This week BBC 5 Live announced its new autumn schedule. With the imminent departure of Victoria Derbyshire, Richard Bacon and Shelagh Fogarty, a rejig was clearly in order though the announcement that there would be no more solo female presenters aside from Eleanor Oldroyd (for just an hour, mind) on Fridays was just depressing. Shouldn't presenters be hired on merit not gender, many of you cried on Twitter? Well, that would be ideal if it was a level playing field to start with, but look at the figures provided by the pressure group Sound Women on gender balance and you will find it is not.

Adrian Chiles and Peter Allen were the big appointments for the daytime schedule. Yes, there were plenty of women in the new line-up, all of them (bar Oldroyd) co-presenting with men. This sends out a sad if familiar message that female broadcasters are not capable of steering a show by themselves and it's the male listeners that should primarily be catered for. Back to "Radio Bloke" then.

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
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.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own