The Bid, Radio 4, Friday
The Frozen North, Radio 3, Thursday

England expects – but has no chance against Fifa

England's failed bid to host the 2018 football World Cup seems like an odd choice for a radio play – all that exposition.

There was indeed a lot the listener needed to know in order to have a clue what was going on in The Bid, and it relied heavily on a voice-over.

Purists baulk at what's often seen as a crutch – and on film narrative elements can be told visually, whereas on radio there isn't that option. (I didn't get where I am today by not knowing that.) There were some unnecessary bits, though: early on, the England bid team finish watching the Panorama programme exposing Fifa corruption that the BBC helpfully scheduled a few days before the vote. Cue voice-over: "Andy Anson, chief executive of England 2018, and Geoff Thompson, the bid team's chairman, respond to what they've seen." There was surely a more economical way of doing it than that.

The cast list was slightly distracting, seeing that John Sessions was playing both the FA smoothie David Dein and the ogreish head of Fifa, Sepp Blatter – in one scene, simultaneously, making you wonder if he recorded them separately or did the whole thing in one take. Even more distracting was the contribution of James Hurn, who nicely carried off the extremely unlikely doubling-up of David Beckham and Prince William.

Expository clunkiness and this oddity apart, it was a story well told. The bid was characterised as being hopeless almost from the start; the play's central thrust seems to be that, in political matters, people rarely say what they mean, and that our bid team was naive and foolish to be taken in by promises of votes.

In the event, England got a disastrous two votes, one of them from their own representative. As the voice-over put it, "Five of the executive committee said they had voted for England. Four of them were lying."

Radio 3's interval talks are often things of beauty, and Thursday's, The Frozen North, was a perfect example. An English-language version of a Finnish programme looking at the changing seasons inside the Arctic Circle, it was a seductive, delicious listen, full of the crunch of feet on snow, and reindeer herders with rich, deep, soothing voices.

A Sami writer, whose name sounded like Gerta Wallop, though I'm sure it's not that, took a poetic approach to the months of unbroken darkness. Electricity changed things, she confirmed (it came in 1973) – but not necessarily for the better. Before that, everything had to be done in the daytime. "Electric light is tiring," she said. She likes to go outside and savour the blackness. "You have more room for your thoughts; you can choose your own way much better in the darkness than in the light."

One of the programme's makers concurred. "Darkness creates philosophy," he said. "Maybe it's easier to live in the moment."

Spring is like a liberation, we heard, and when the light comes back, they get together and they drink. "They are very awake, very alive, very joyful," one man piped up, "and part of that joyfulness is alcohol." I've never experienced days without end, but I couldn't have put it better myself.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Film review Tom Cruise, 50, is still like a puppy in this relentless action soap opera

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Off the wall: the cast of ‘Life in Squares’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Books And it is whizzpopping!

Arts and Entertainment
Bono throws water at the crowd while the Edge watches as they perform in the band's first concert of their new world tour in Vancouver

MusicThey're running their own restaurants

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
    Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

    Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

    David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals