The Week In Radio: It's great that Feltz has answered the call from Radio 2

It's a fine art, presenting a phone-in. Like politicians, presenters face the daunting occupational hazard of having actual contact with the public, however chatty, deranged or boring they may be. It was Peter Cook who first realised that you could call in and say just about anything you liked, live on air, as long as you weren't obviously obscene. He spent many happy evenings between 1988 and 1992 calling Clive Bull's late-night LBC phone-in, posing as Sven from Swiss Cottage, a bipolar Norwegian fisherman engaged in a fruitless search for his estranged wife and talking about fish. You can still hear some of these meanderings on YouTube. "You sound a bit depressed," says Clive, unnecessarily.

It would be hard to imagine Vanessa Feltz tolerating depressed Norwegians. Her manner is brisk and non-patronising. Unlike some hosts over at rival commercial station LBC, she does not court outrage, or insult the intelligence. Inevitably, being a morning presenter on BBC London means that she has to focus on "the stories that matter to the capital", ie roadworks – "41,078 permits issued since January to dig up our roads!" But Feltz's world is about to expand dramatically beyond traffic cones when in January she takes over the Radio 2 early morning show vacated by Sarah Kennedy, who vanished without warning in August.

"I'm not going anywhere. I'm just going to be presenting the baby breakfast show as well, plus my afternoon job at Greggs and a paper round," she assured Radio London listeners cheerily, before kicking off a debate on immigration.

But while this is a great and timely move for Feltz, the big question is, can she do cosy? Bob Shennan, Radio 2's controller, might call her "the ideal companion to our millions of early-bird listeners", but those struggling awake in the very earliest hours require very gentle handling. Kennedy's audience, who called themselves the "dawn patrollers", enjoyed an eccentric world of nicknames and whimsy. They loved Kennedy, who referred to herself as Bunty Bagshawe and had five cats, and defended her when she was targeted for slurring words and suffered jibes about alleged drinking. What will they make of Cambridge-educated Vanessa, who is crisp and uses words like "solecism"? It's impossible to imagine Feltz adopting a silly nickname or sympathising with Kennedy's story that she nearly ran over a black man until he opened his mouth – a remark for which she was rebuked. If anything, Feltz would seem more at home on Radio 4. Her Monday debate topic, "Is it time to put grammar back on the map?" is the closest subject to Radio 4 hearts. The other question is how soon doing both shows, and deputising for Jeremy Vine, will tire her out. My hunch, though, is that Feltz will go far, Radio 2 is lucky to have her and she is a welcome female complement to the impressively intelligent line-up of Simon Mayo and Jeremy Vine.

Today, you might discuss your problems on a phone-in, but 100 years ago they did things differently. In 1910 Gustav Mahler, finding his wife having an affair with Walter Gropius, took a four-hour walk around Leiden with Sigmund Freud. Radio 3's Walking with Freud was an inspired cross-disciplinary chat between composer David Matthews and the psychoanalyst Anthony Cantle. Poor Alma Mahler came off worst. She might have called her husband a psychopath, but Cantle said it was her who was "almost impossible" to live with. "She had a palpable narcissism and was histrionic in the extreme." The Mahler marriage meltdown made for a gripping listen. Back then, the details were tucked away in memoirs, but today, one fears it would be all over the gossip mags. Both sides would do books. You might even find people discussing it in a late night LBC phone-in.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
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.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living