Music Planet, Radio 3, Thursday
Haiti and the Truth About NGOs, Radio 4, Wednesday
World Have Your Say, World Service, Tuesday
Time for a shark-slaughtering song? Welcome back, Andy
Sunday 16 January 2011
Andy Kershaw relayed a bizarre personal fact during his return to the BBC on Thursday.
In the late 1980s he was approached to present Songs of Praise: the suits, it transpired, had heard all the gospel music he played and assumed he must be a God-botherer. He set them straight and concentrated instead on bringing us the world's musical glories, a service interrupted by his tribulations of the past few years. Now he's back, with all his old spirit and gusto.
His revelation emerged during Music Planet, the series he's co-presenting with Lucy Duran tied to TV's Human Planet – they go wherever the film crews go. He kicked off in Papua New Guinea with a shark-slaughtering song. I say slaughtering, but thanks to the local method of fishing, which involves lassoing rather than hooks and nets, fewer are landed than "a slaughter" suggests.
While Duran investigated the thrilling bagpipe music of Galicia (if you think "thrilling" and "bagpipes" don't belong together, go to iPlayer), Kershaw went further into the Pacific, to the Solomon Islands where the evangelical Deep Sea Canoe Movement has its home in the Forest Cathedral – and where they've been singing the praises of the Lord, without a break, since June 2006 – the world's longest gig. Beat that, Ken Dodd.
Kershaw, right, began to get back into the swing a year ago when he reported from Haiti, after the earthquake. Twelve months on, it's still a mess, as Ed Stourton found out in Haiti and the Truth About NGOs, which was shocking in its detail about the self-perpetuating profligacy of the global do-gooders' army. Aid is an unregulated industry in which, basically, anything goes. Even before the earthquake there were more NGOs in Haiti than anywhere on earth. Yet Stourton asked a woman as she queued for her weekly water allowance what she thought of the aid-givers. She had no opinion, she said, "because we've never seen any".
Amy Chua's book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother has been making waves with its draconian Chinese child-rearing philosophy, and World Have Your Say, the World Service's global phone-in, had a lovely exchange between a Chinese dad who is a Professor of Medicine in Pittsburgh, and his daughter, Ting, in Brooklyn. Having been raised Chua-style, Ting said she didn't agree with it.
"I know you don't agree!" dad chided. "You must listen to your parents! We have the wisdom of an entire civilisation that has lasted 3,000 years!" You can't argue with that.
Having praised The Archers for getting back on track after a shaky 60th, I've done a reverse-ferret and turned the damn thing off. Getting rid of Nigel, one of its most life-affirming characters, was a huge mistake, I soon realised, and the aftermath of his death has been just grim. If I want grim I can watch EastEnders.
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