In and Out of the Kitchen, Radio 4, Friday
Book of the Week, Radio 4, Monday-Friday
Archive on 4, Radio 4, Saturday
Comic kitchen diaries stuffed with tasty nuggets
Thanks to having young children, I'm more familiar than I'd like to be with the early work of Miles Jupp, known to vast legions of minors as Archie the inventor in Balamory.
Since then he's been busy establishing himself as a regular radio presence, and on the evidence of In and Out of the Kitchen, life after CBeebies superstardom should hold no fears.
It purports to be the diary, written for publication, of a somewhat minor celebrity chef, Damien Trench. Radio 4 comedy generally leaves me deeply disappointed, but this was a delight, beautifully written, and unafraid to bite the hand that feeds it. "Washing up with Radio 4 this morning there was a terrific documentary about socks, their origins and their uses – quite a heavy topic in the wrong hands but delivered with a very light touch. Well done BBC!"
We follow Trench as he makes an awkward contribution to another radio doc, about French beans, while back at home he and his partner are seeing in the New Year by finally committing to each other. "We've been umming and ahhing about it for a while but we've decided: we're to go ahead with our extension ... Anthony is determined that we move our relationship on to the next level." I know I say this a lot, but you should hasten to the iPlayer.
For me, Book of the Week is often ruined by some decorated thespian or other who doesn't trust the words and feels they have to turn in a performance. Far better for the author to do the job – as demonstrated by Jeanette Winterson's rendition of her memoir Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?. The usual choice would be someone like Lindsay Duncan or Juliet Stevenson, smothering the text with actorly pauses and tics. Instead, Winterson read with brio, brilliantly and artlessly.
Her adoptive mother dominated Winterson's first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and she described the awkward first telephone conversation after publication. Mrs Winterson was damning: "It's the first time I've had to order a book in a false name!"
Twenty years ago yesterday, Robert Maxwell drowned, and in Archive on 4 Steve Hewlett marked the date with an entertaining account of his rise and fall. (The image of him peeing off the roof of the Mirror building while waiting for his helicopter will linger in the memory.) Alastair Campbell recalled Maxwell's near-pathological self-importance, which for all his wealth was essentially Mittyesque: on a trip to Ethiopia to distribute food, Maxwell was dissuaded from making the drops himself. When Campbell got back to Addis Ababa there was a note from Maxwell: "My work here is done. I have gone back to London to resolve the miners' strike."
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