Radio in 2008: Hello Bob, adieu Humph, good riddance George

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The Independent Culture

This column's smash of 2007 was Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour. I'm afraid it's déjà vu all over again, to coin a phrase. The music, mostly drawn from the mid-century hinterland of American popular music, may be an acquired taste, but it's presented by the wisest man on radio. It's not too big a leap to imagine that, for many, Dylan's legacy will not be restricted to his own music.

My runners up would be Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie on Radio 2: once I'd discovered this show, there was no more telly for me from 8-10pm Monday to Thursday. Once you've got past Radcliffe's habit of beginning every sentence with "erm, er..." it's a constant joy. The chemistry – including regular guests Noddy Holder and Sid Griffin – is perfect, and items such as The Chain, "the longest-running thematically linked music-based item on the radio", are a delight.

And a special mention for Radio 3's Late Junction, which, having been shoved up later in the schedule a while back, feels like an endangered species. Radio 3, please don't repeat the massive howler you committed when you got rid of Mixing It. Late Junction is the home of all the music you don't hear anywhere else. It's the shining jewel of late-night radio; leave it alone.

Big Bang Day, when Radio 4 devoted most of its schedule to the opening of the Cern Hadron Collider, was also quite brilliant – the kind of thing that makes you fall in love with the BBC all over again.

Turkeys of the year

All radio comedy. All of it. Without exception. OK, apart from I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and Just a Minute, obviously. How does Radio 4 get away with it? In a civilised society it would be possible to withhold the corresponding portion of the licence fee. The Now Show, Ed Reardon's Week, Cabin Pressure, Happy Mondays, The Single Life, Double Science, The Unbelievable Truth, Rudy's Rare Records, Clare in the Community – especially Clare in the Community – all of you, get out of my mind!

Runner-up is The Afternoon Play on Radio 4, another running sore, especially when they get British actors to play Americans. Shouldn't there be a law against that?

Face of the year

George Lamb, love him or loathe him. I say "love", but I can't find any evidence of it anywhere. Petitions, on the other hand, have been sent to BBC 6 Music to have him removed from the schedules forthwith, preferably as painfully as possible. As someone who finds the concept of zoo radio about as appealing as sharing a small cage with hyenas, I've caught his weekday show only for the purposes of research – can he really be that bad? Well, yes, he can (though whether he's any worse than Chris Moyles is a moot point). Certainly, all that gabbing and gassing makes a mockery of the "Music" bit of BBC 6. In May, he won the "Rising Star" category at the Sony Awards, and I hate to say it but they're probably right.


There was proof in April that there is no God. For if He exists, He would surely have conferred immortality on Humphrey Lyttelton. I don't know if I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue will return, but even now, months after his death, the idea seems unthinkable.