The Week In Radio: The appeal of Perry's trip is all in the mind

One of the programmes I most miss from radio past is In the Psychiatrist's Chair. It is a mystery to me why this format, which gave a riveting insight into the minds of numerous public figures, has no effective replacement today. No-one who heard them could forget the sessions with David Irving, say, or Les Dawson. And it's not as if no-one needs a shrink, as any radio phone-in will testify. Could it be, perhaps, that we just know ourselves too well? Take as evidence Grayson Perry and his teddy bear.

In common with many admirable people, Grayson continues to cherish his teddy bear, Alan Measles, but less commonly the celebrity potter also dresses in the style of a young girl called Claire, with baby-doll dress and hair ribbon. Marry these elements to a pink motorbike and a road trip to Bavaria and you have what must have seemed a Radio 4 scheduler's dream. Except, curiously, it wasn't.

Posited as a reflection on the nature of art and pilgrimage, Grayson on his Bike sounded like a shrink's fantasy. But perhaps because Perry is married to a psychotherapist, this programme was more like Honey, I Shrunk Myself. Everything about it was knowing. The bear for example, was "my surrogate father, on to him I projected all positive male qualities, the carrier of my own manhood in my childhood years". The trip was not just a jolly but "a work of art". Then there were other problems. Alan Measles, while no Aloysius, was given an aggressive mockney, which made him less endearing. The crew had a silly chant. It rained a lot. It was difficult to work out what was going on.

Yet on the great big elephant in the room – Perry's transvestism – there was less psychological insight. Changing out of his leathers into something more comfortable, in this case "a nice little floral number", our hero ventured out. "It's always a thrilling moment, stepping out of my hotel room in my frilly frock," he said. "I'm always surprised how pleased people are to see a 50-year-old man in a little girl's dress." Realistically, the admirable thing about cross-dressers is the way that they provoke and endure the outrage of others. So if Perry really thinks the gawping hordes are merely "pleased" to see him, his powers of insight are falling short. A baffled German bystander was more to the point. "Is British humour, yes? A joke?"

Not that dressing up in ridiculous costumes is exactly alien to Germans, as can be seen at the Oktoberfest, for which millions of Germans don lederhosen and dirndl. In Oktoberfest! John F Jungclaussen, UK correspondent for Die Zeit, whose velvety voice I could listen to all day, gave a fascinating account of how young Germans are increasingly relaxed about wearing the trademark costume. "People from all over Germany now revel as Bavarians and for me that is a sign they no longer associate the celebration of folklore with their Nazi past," he said. "It's simply great fun."

Less fun were the experiences of the concert pianist Lang Lang, whose Desert Island Discs should be required listening for any child moaning about piano practice. Taken by his father to Beijing in conditions of extreme poverty, it seemed the nine-year-old's genius would go unrecognised. "I had a teacher who said, 'You simply won't make it. You have no talent.' My father went nuts. One day he asked me to jump off the building. I tried to destroy my hands, beating the wall. I didn't talk for a long time."

Guiding him through this trauma was Kirsty Young, plainly aghast but unflappable as ever, and perhaps the nearest thing to a radio shrink we have.

jane@janethynne.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
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.

    Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

    Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

    ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
    Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

    Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

    Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
    'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
    BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

    BBC Television Centre

    A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
    Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

    My George!

    Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
    10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world