Gabby Logan Radio 5 Live
Rudy's Rare Records, Radio 4
Brains and humour, a nice antidote to the Archers' bore
Sunday 02 March 2008
I received an email from Radio 5 Live's publicity department last week. "Gabby Logan returns to Radio 5 Live for a new Sunday show combining her skills in presenting across news and sport," it said. That is the dialect of the tribe these days, so you can't really grumble. My first reaction was, "so what?" My second was, "and who's Gabby Logan anyway?" The name was slightly familiar, a dim presence on the fringes of my consciousness.
A bit of Googling, and I am not much the wiser. She has wanted to be a TV presenter since the age of 10, and "gained eighth place in Rhythmic gymnastics representing Wales at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland" (thank you, Wikipedia). She also has a pleasing countenance, but that is irrelevant as far as radio is concerned.
In the end, I listened to her Radio 5 Live Sunday show, even though Sundays are sacrosanct to The Archers omnibus, Desert Island Discs and the repeat of Just a Minute. But there has been rather too much of Heather, Ruth's incredibly irritating mother, on The Archers, and I thought it might be a good idea to break out of a rut. Besides, "Gabby" is pretty much the most appropriate of all names for a radio show host.
Gabby Logan's show is a mixture of, we are told, "chat and comment on the week's big stories", a formula about as off-putting as the list of ingredients on a bottle of Sunny Delight. I hear, to one side, the spectre of Alan Partridge clanking his chains, particularly as Radio 5 Live considers sporting events to be "big stories". It was last Sunday, the day of the Carling Cup Final, and so we had Phil Daniels as a studio guest, because he supports Chelsea. And had been in EastEnders, apparently.
So far, so boring. But it had not all been like this. She had as a co-presenter, or sidekick, or something, a Scottish comedian called Des Clarke – who was actually pretty good. And earlier on there had been some talk about government plans for immigrant workers – and the general consensus was that these people should be treated humanely. (It might be bad luck, but whenever I hear Victoria Derbyshire's weektime phone-in on R5, I always get the hangers and floggers. What a pleasant change this was.) It was ... well, it was delightful.
Anyway, for a first-time broadcast it all went pretty well. There was one comedian who did his stuff down a phone line who should think about his act a bit, but on the whole there were no first-day nerves and Logan proved herself to have a brain and a sense of humour. I'll be returning to The Archers today but the moment I hear Heather's voice, I shall go back to Gabby.
Meanwhile, another new comedy on Radio 4: Rudy's Rare Records. This is a patchy comedy starring Lenny Henry, about a son who goes to Birmingham to take over his hated father's record shop while the latter recovers from a supposed heart attack. (The father, it turns out, is dissembling about this.) In it, we are asked to believe that Henry's character is a geeky weed who likes nothing better than filing records in alphabetical order.
The problem is that everyone in this country knows that Henry is actually built like a brick shithouse, and has little of the geek about him. Not that this is the show's greatest problem. That would be the overall lack of really good jokes. It's not bad – but that's because it's the situation that's interesting, not the comedy.
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