The Hunt for the Gay Whale, Radio 4, Tuesday
The Heath Caper, Radio 4, Monday
Out of the closet with chimps, dolphins and Ted
When I was growing up we had an Alsatian called Ben. Ben was definitely gay. We tried to get him breeding, but he was so not interested. And he would only sniff boy dogs' privates. He might have featured in The Hunt for the Gay Whale, in which Hermione Cockburn looked at some of the 1,500 animal species who swing both ways.
The programme opened with "Birds do it, bees do it…", but the song could have gone on to mention male bighorn sheep, who bond by licking each other's genitals, river dolphins with their "penile fencing" and blowhole-related activity – and let's hear it for the bonobo chimps and their "freewheeling bisexual sex lives that are more Haight-Ashbury than Animal Magic".
The programme was at pains to stress that it's not really "gay" behaviour as such. Bonobo society is matriarchal, for example, and gals getting it on fosters cohesion. And some animals just aren't that fussy. As Alan Dixson, top dog in the bisexual-beast department, puts it: "There's no guilt, no cultural inhibition, so why wouldn't they do it?"
When I was growing up we had a prime minister called Ted Heath. Like Ben, he was gay – possibly. The Czech secret service apparently thought so, and Josef Frolik, who defected in the 1970s, wrote a memoir recounting a plot to blackmail Heath involving a virtuoso organist and the biggest organ in Prague.
In The Heath Caper, BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera teased out the truth – well, the probable truth, or definitely the possible truth. It turns out – maybe – to have been the work of British right-wingers to whom Heath was a raving socialist. They appear to have written passages into the book aiming to sully Heath's good name.
Corera spoke to a former MI6 man about George Kennedy Young, the spy-turned politician who seems to have been behind the scheme. Was he plotting against Grocer Heath? "Plotting's a nasty word," the spook chided. "'Preparing,' I prefer." There is no evidence, but it looks as if it was the work of Young. "Answers remain elusive," Corera concluded – but it was a terrific tale.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
- 2 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 3 Andy Murray takes to Twitter to show off his Christmas jumper
- 4 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 5 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
Madonna Rebel Heart: Pharrell Williams collaboration and 13 more songs leaked
Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Doctor Who Christmas special, review: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'