The Week In Radio: PMQs prove that Victoria's the true voice of the people

 

Victoria Derbyshire or Jeremy Vine? It's a bit like asking whether you're a cat or a dog person. If you are disposed to radio phone-in shows then chances are you have a preference. Personally, I'm with Derbyshire. This isn't through any great admiration for her broadcasting style, but more a reflection of my intense allergy to Vine, whose smug, sing-song voice is like kryptonite to my soul. I'd do anything to avoid listening to him goading callers into bellowing about how the country has gone to the dogs and that prison is too good for 'em. When I clock him on the radio in shops or cafés I have been known lunge at the offending equipment, sending small children and old ladies tumbling in my wake.

This week, however, I decided to face my fear. More accurately, I thought it might be time to compare what it is both Derbyshire and Vine do. On the face of it, they have a lot in common. Both enjoy top billing on Radio 5 Live and Radio 2 respectively, and are recipients of Sony awards for their ratings-busting discussion programmes. Both presenters have backgrounds in journalism and ostensibly reach for a similar audience – middle-class, Daily Mail-reading types who love nothing more than spouting moral outrage from their armchairs. They are, it is supposed, the voice of the people, presenters we can rely on to ask the right questions at the point when the rest of us have abandoned rational discussion and resorted to lying face down on the floor and wailing "Not fair!"

In the last week, both Vine and Derbyshire have been talking about nurses, whose collective reputation has taken yet another battering after David Cameron declared that their approach to caring in hospitals needed to change, with the focus on patients rather than paperwork.

Vine was quick to stoke the embers of indignation on Radio 2, barking: "How can a politician tell a nurse how to do their job?" and asking his callers to climb on their soapboxes and address Cameron directly, which they duly did. Vine clucked his agreement throughout, and went so far as to hope that Helen, a long-serving nurse from Cranbrook in Kent, would be there to tend him on his deathbed. "Let's make a date," he oozed. Then he lobbed in a firecracker from a listener who deemed today's nurses "too posh to wash", at which point you imagined thousands of hospital workers downing tools and taking themselves off to the staffroom to punch a wall.

Over on 5 Live, Derbyshire, a woman who would remain calm even if her hair was on fire, took a more measured approach, rarely interrupting contributors as they struggled to articulate their irritation at the Prime Minister. She talked to seven nurses, male and female, whom she kept on the line in order that they could talk to each other, and who generally agreed that the real problem lay in staff shortages. We all know that Derbyshire has teeth as an interviewer, as last year's conversation with Ken Clarke on the subject of rape demonstrated. But in this instance, she stepped back and let the nurses steer the conversation.

Whether you prefer Derbyshire and Vine perhaps depends on whether you prefer a bit of orchestrated argy-bargy or the sense that you have stumbled into a group therapy session where everyone remains polite and has their say. Sensational or sensible? I can see the appeal of both, though I'm sticking with Derbyshire. A good interview isn't always about provoking, needling and cajoling. It's about knowing when to shut the hell up.

Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Latest stories from i100
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.

    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015