The Great British Faith, Radio 2, Monday
No Angel, Radio 2, Saturday
It's an odd world when 2 becomes 4
I'm not sure I approve of Radio 2 straying beyond its brief.
Shouldn't it be spending all its time on music? There's enough of it around, for goodness sake. And, unless it's offering something that Radio 4 isn't, what's the point? Plus, it might be driving out talent: the two programmes spearheading the break-out last week went out at 10pm, a slot that might have persuaded Mark Lamarr to stick around.
Did either serve up anything distinctive? The Great British Faith saw Radio 4 stalwart Hardeep Singh Kohli visit three cities to gauge the nation's relationship with The Almighty. In the first instalment, last Monday, he went to Cardiff, and it was immediately apparent as music burbled under his intro that Radio 2 is trying to do something different. The hour-long programme was punctuated by about half a dozen tracks played virtually in their entirety, such as "The Girl from Tiger Bay", the song written for Shirley Bassey by the Manic Street Preachers, and a fantastic track from Tom Jones's gritty, bluesy new album.
It turned out to be as much an evocative historical portrait of Tiger Bay as a spiritual check-up, which was fine by me, and Singh Kohli is an engaging interviewer. But apart from the musical padding, was it anything you wouldn't get on 4? Absolutely not.
The other non-musical offering was No Angel, which was squarely in the tradition of Radio 4 sitcoms in that it was rubbish. Martine McCutcheon and Ricky Tomlinson were wasted on a promising set-up – she's a harassed radio chat-show flunkey, he's her guardian angel. When they were together you could forget the pedestrian script and the lack of laughs. When Clive Anderson was on, as the chat-show host, you couldn't. His scenes were excruciating: he needs to get back to the day jobs.
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