Stories: Hooray! I'm a Single Parent, Radio 1, Monday An Everyday Story of Afghan Folk, Radio 4, all week

Single parents speak – and they're not all feckless wasters

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The Independent Culture

Every time I think of single-parent families, up pops Peter Hitchens into my mind. An affliction, some might say, though I rather enjoy his adamantine contributions to the perpetual debate about the state of the nation.

The conservative commentator likes to bang on about the detrimental effects on society of hordes of fatherless children stalking the streets (for which he largely blames successive governments). I can't imagine he's much of a Radio 1 listener, but I'd like to think he might have made an exception in order to catch the deeply encouraging Hooray! I'm a Single Parent, part of the Stories strand that has come up with a succession of very good documentaries.

Produced by 14 BBC 2012 Community Reporters, all young people from east London trained for the occasion, it was a finely crafted corrective to the notion (not perpetrated by Hitchens, incidentally) that single parents are all feckless wasters using their wombs to get keys to a nice council flat.

It was obviously highly selective – there must be some feckless wasters out there – but what shone through was how, as parents, singletons are no different from the rest of us. "I want her to have the things I didn't have" was a typical quote, and what parent, married, partnered or otherwise, hasn't had that thought?

An Everyday Story of Afghan Folk is an English version of a Pashtun soap opera. It was billed in one paper as "the Afghan Archers", which, given the recent ramping-up of the melodrama quotient that has enraged Ambridge addicts, isn't a world away from the truth. Except that there are no warlords in Borsetshire (no, Matt and Brian don't count); Felpersham does not operate under tribal laws, and you don't hear such lines as "I know how much you like hashish" down at The Bull.

It was enjoyable stuff, concerning the dubious decision by warlord Akhbar Khan to grant refuge in his household to double-murderer Lash-kar, ex-cellmate of his younger son. In the kitchen, meanwhile, three generations of womenfolk fought between themselves, one of them widowed and "ill with child". One thing's for sure: Jill Archer wouldn't stand for it.