The Week In Radio: Still the No 1 news show for a new world order


There's a certain type of listener that organises their day around what's on the radio. The Today programme might haul them out of bed on a weekday morning and see them through breakfast and ablutions, while lunch might be accompanied by Jeremy Vine declaiming about cuckolding vicars. For me, Friday evenings aren't complete without a glass of wine and the sound of Jonathan Dimbleby on Any Questions quietly banging his head on the desk at being called David for the 874th time.

Mess with the radio schedules and you mess with the natural order of things. It can cause our circadian rhythms to go haywire. Never mind the killer viruses and tidal waves depicted in modern-day disaster movies. Shift the Today programme by a few hours and the consequences would be apocalyptic. It would be like the opening scene of 28 Days Later. The streets would be empty; society would collapse.

If the country didn't quite fall apart with the announcement that the venerable lunchtime institution World at One would go from a half-hour to a 45-minute daily broadcast, there was a sizeable swathe of listeners, many of whom could be heard huffing down the phone on Feedback, who were very cross at this imposed shift in the pattern of their day.

But while you could understand their dismay, you can also sympathise with World at One and its increasingly desperate efforts to cram current news events into a slot created in innocent times (well, the late Nineties) when all we had to worry about was melting ice caps and whether Starbucks coffees were getting too big.

Take the current eurozone crisis. Given that my comprehension of my tax bill usually rests on my accountant explaining it using apples and bananas, conveying Europe's economic problems so that I can understand it is going to take more than half an hour. Then again, the BBC business editor Robert Peston's position at the forefront of any economic discussion might have had a greater impact on the decisions of schedulers, given the extra time required to accommodate his elongated vowel sounds.

So what did the all-new, extended World at One bring us? In the first episode, it tried to woo doubters with a Bill Gates interview in which the usually unflappable Martha Kearney came over all unnecessary in the face of such unadulterated wealth and power, and a conversation with Ai Weiwei. But just when you started to worry that they were simply trying to dazzle us with famous cultural dissidents and munificent gazillionaires, there was a debate, spread over two days, about youth unemployment with the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, broadcast from the Pembury estate in Hackney.

Duncan Smith was audibly moved by the difficulties facing working-class Londoners, at one point all but promising to personally find a job for one articulate but dispossessed young man. In terms of highlighting inner-city deprivation, Panorama couldn't have done any better.

World at One would, of course, have been unable to accommodate such a debate within its old half-hour slot. While objectors to the new scheduling arrangements have argued that radio is already awash with news programmes, from Today and PM on Radio 4 to the rolling news and sport behemoth that is 5 Live, each has a different style and function. World at One's job has always been to bring a level of depth clarity to selected news issues without recourse to hysteria or hectoring, and now, with these issues being ever more complex and fast-moving, it has the time to do this.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
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.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine