The Week In Radio: When sex and the city make for a heady mix

One of the pet complaints of licence- payers, right up there with Jonathan Ross's salary and people who start their sentences with "so", is the idea that the BBC is too London-centric. 5 Live is relocating wholesale to Salford in an attempt to convince people that the BBC genuinely cares about the non-Oyster card classes. So I can only assume Radio 4 is aiming to correct any lingering London-envy with its current season celebrating the capital.

Anyone expecting the National Gallery and the Tower of London was in for a bit of a shock. The London season honed in on the reality of life in an overcrowded, multicultural city, and the Chelsea Flower Show this wasn't. File On 4, for example, had Jon Manel in a stab-proof jacket on immigration raids with the police. There are an estimated 200,000 illegal migrant workers in London and plainly the system depends on them, but these moving interviews illuminated the Canute-like task that immigration officers face. Brazilian Carl, who drives a van and has false documents like other people have loyalty cards, was a sunny optimist. "My life is very good, maybe I'm living here all my life. You working for one week you have big TV, one month you have car. All your dreams come true!" Felipe from Colombia, by contrast, was in tears. He came after the earthquake in 1999, hasn't seen his children in three years and even pays tax. "It's hard to be judged a criminal when all I'm doing is the best for my family. Is cleaning toilets a crime?"

Next up was sex workers. London Street Cries was an intriguing format in which voices from the 19th-century poor were contrasted with the underprivileged of modern London. And the undeniable result was that, although misery has continued unabated, the 21st century has injected some entrepreneurial variety into the oldest profession. One woman led us round her north London "work space", as proudly as any participant on a property programme. "We're sitting in the dungeon now, where I have a St Andrew's Cross because a lot of people enjoy restraint, and lots of things to hit people with, some of which are very painful," she said chirpily.

The admirably cool Catherine Stevens, "prostitute and dominatrix" who made the move from work in the voluntary sector, fretted that prostitution tended to be stigmatised. "Most of the people are really nice guys. They're my friends. Some of my family are not particularly thrilled about my work, that's fine. It's just not the right job for them."

And what else makes London special? Oh yes, knife crime. Over at London's Biggest Conversation, home of Nick Ferrari on LBC, they were debating victims and perpetrators of gang violence. "Let's be honest, they're nearly all black, though not all, before you call screaming at me," said Ferrari, in a stab at balance. Unlike, say, the Today programme, where a black gang member is as much a rarity as an elephant at the court of George III, Ferrari had a queue of people, parents of knife victims, and members of the black community, lining up to give advice on the topic. Typical was Connor who complained "these young people are so selfish. The only thing is to bring back National Service." Not so unlike the Today programme after all then.

Knife crime featured prettily heavily in the life of Edward the Third, focus of a wonderfully atmospheric Early Music Show on Radio 3. Sprinkled with motets and a lovely piece for mediaeval harp, this was an insight into a king who was "more responsible for the idea of England as a nation than anyone else is". After a troubled and blood-soaked childhood, Edward had 12 children, so according to the historian Ian Mortimer, "mathematically he's probably an ancestor of everyone of English descent living today." It was also Edward who made English our lingua franca. What would he make, you wonder, of the fact that there are now more than 300 languages spoken in London today?

Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
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.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    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