The Week In Radio: Dragon turns his fire on our modern malaise

After the past week, we could probably all answer GCSE questions on employment and support allowance, child benefit and defence budgets. But as the spending review sank in, it was Radio 2 that ventured the most interesting question of the week. Can Money Make You Happy? was a title that was never going to need a spoiler alert. Presented by the thoughtful dragon Duncan Bannatyne, it was a probing and rather inspiring documentary.

Though it will come as no consolation to anyone who is having their benefit cut, the consensus was that money is not called "the root of all evil" for nothing. But given that Britain accounts for two thirds of all European credit card debt, it's a lesson we still need to learn. Among the more interesting interviewees were Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, who explained the Jewish idea of money being like fire.

"Fire is wonderful – it can light up your world, heat up your world, cook up your world – but it can also destroy your world. Money can make you happy, but it can also make you unhappy."

Though we always suspected being rich is not all it's cracked up to be, it was a surprise to find Max Clifford lining up against it. "Most of the rich and famous people I work with over the last 40 years, I would say very few are happy. Their perception of being rich with a big home and car inevitably brings them into company with people who have two big homes and three big cars, then there's someone with a yacht or a plane."

Bannatyne believes the current situation may be changing our psychological relationship with money but the problem, said the psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, is that our identity increasingly resides in our possessions. "Emotions need to be projected on to things – the new phone or new shoes. We can always spend money on stuff but stuff has personality and gives a meaning to identity so that's why it has become more visceral."

Identity problems, of course, are nothing new. In something of a Saturday night coup, Radio 4 got Michael Sheen, who will play Hamlet at the Young Vic next year, to examine why the role, at 1,495 lines the longest Shakespeare wrote, holds such fascination. Playing the Dane was wonderful, with Hamlets past talking us through their techniques. Henry Irving, who put the ham in Hamlet, was notorious for inserting odd pauses and had "a hard caustic voice like a jet of carbolic acid". Kenneth Branagh had his Hamlet surrounded by mirrors, because "in a naff symbolic way, Hamlet is going through the play looking at himself, examining himself". John Simm warned of the moment all Hamlets dread. "You just say, 'To be...' and you hear the whole audience say, 'Oh here we go...'"

The most revealing contribution came from Jonathan Pryce, whose 1980 production, famously, was without a ghost. Hamlet's father was spoken by Hamlet himself, an idea Pryce got from The Exorcist. He explained that his Hamlet came shortly after death of his father, who had been attacked in his own grocery shop. "I felt I'd absolutely missed this opportunity to have this relationship with my father and I began to conjure him up in my head."

I tried hard to resist The Fry Chronicles on Radio 4, the latest instalment from a man who has taken the Socratic idea about a life unexamined to heart. But it was of course perfectly pitched, intelligent, amusing and endearing. This week it was Stephen Fry's celibate years, in which an all-consuming passion for Apple Macintosh stood in for sex. It is amazing to hear that Fry lies awake reflecting on his lack of achievement. Where that leaves the rest of us just doesn't bear thinking.

jane@janethynne.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform