The Sound of Fear, Radio 4, Tuesday
One to One, Radio 4, Tuesday
Is that a voice from beyond? Or Lyse Doucet?
What makes a sound frightening?
If we hear footsteps during the day, it's just somebody walking; hear them at night, and it's a different story. It's all about context and in The Sound of Fear, Sean Street – a poet and a Professor of Radio, no less – explored the ways in which sounds get not just inside our head but also under our skin.
The musician and writer David Toop recalled lying in bed as a child and hearing the creaks houses make at night: "I heard a sound in the bedroom, and I could hear it circling round my bed." He says, "we hear with our ears but we listen with our mind".
There were fascinating insights into how perception of sound is as much subject to cultural influence as perception of anything else. The historian, David Hendy, recounted how discombobulating many found the advent of radio broadcasting. It came in the wake of the First World War, when millions had had to grieve without a body to bury, and the resulting spiritualism craze was all about apparently disembodied voices: now there was a genuinely disembodied voice in the parlour.
Street assembled a battery of experts – including a neuroscientist who's been working with a sergeant-major whose parade-ground roar starts at 115 decibels then gets louder – but Toop was best value. "Sound is always disappearing," he said. "As soon as you make a sound it has gone ... that connects us with a sense of loss – to me, sound is always intimately connected to death." I can safely say I'd never looked at it that way before – the best testimonial a programme can have.
I was sorry when Radio 4's morning interview strand was canned. Now two of the replacements are with us: Jim Al-Khalili's The Life Scientific, and One to One, the first series of which features the BBC's Middle East expert, Lyse Doucet, talking to Afghan figures of import. On Tuesday, she met Saad Mohseni, who over the past decade has improbably built a media empire in that disturbed country.
It felt like a chat between, if not old friends, then at least old acquaintances: relaxed and amiable, but with Doucet willing to challenge him. His critics, she said, believe that if it all goes horribly wrong he'll go back to Dubai and run his empire from there. "I probably will. It's true," he conceded. Indeed: if the Taliban get anywhere near to power, people like him will be on every proscribed list going.
It was also an instructive glimpse into a world most of us only think about now when a British soldier is killed. When Mohseni allowed footage of a female singer, dancing on stage, to be transmitted on Afghan Star, his version of The X Factor, she was forced into hiding and he received death threats. Now she is a genuine Afghan star, dancing on stage, without a veil. Quite an achievement. "What's your next challenge?" Doucet wondered. "Surviving, I think."
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Licence fee: What is the BBC charge – and how will the changes affect you?
- 3 This is what the photographer has to say about the picture of a weasel riding a woodpecker
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Poldark star Heida Reed says show is not that racy: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
Glastonbury 2015: Coldplay will not headline but Florence Welch might play, says Emily Eavis
Kanye West drops 'All Day', music video to come from Steve McQueen
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'