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
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

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

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game