The Week In Radio

Different ways of doing the Lambeth talk

All roads seem to have led to Lambeth this week. If you're even an occasional listener of Radio 4's, you can't have missed the trailers for From Calvary to Lambeth (8pm Tuesday), with Michael Buerk intoning in a voice more suitable for advertising the motion-picture experience of a lifetime, "When Desmond Tutu talks, the world listens" (if that was really true, would he have to be advertising the programme quite so heavily?).

As with many modern cinema trailers, as well, this one gave away too much plot: the former Archbishop of Cape Town would, we were told, be issuing a plea for the Anglican church to think less about sex – which in the Anglican church almost invariably means homosexual sex – and more about the really pressing issues of poverty and disease.

This was indeed what the former archbishop said, with great eloquence, so that while he didn't surprise the listener, he didn't disappoint either. What did disappoint was the way the interview was framed, with counter-arguments put by an array of Anglican (or, in Ann Widdecombe's case, ex-Anglican) conservatives, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey: the thrust being that you can't pick and choose which bits of the Bible you want to obey, and it is quite clear in its condemnation of homosexual practices.

The arguments are familiar, as is the accompanying litany of crises: the elevation to bishop, in the US, of the openly gay priest Gene Robinson, the threat of African churches to split from the Anglican communion. The problem lay in the balance – with all those conservatives, you could easily have run away with the notion that, on this issue, Tutu represents a tiny tolerant minority within the Anglican church. But maybe David Coomes, the producer, took it for granted that one Tutu versus half-a-dozen small-minded fundamentalists was a fair fight, which isn't unreasonable.

The sad fact is that Lambeth, in religious terms, is now largely associated, thanks to the Lambeth conferences of Anglican bishops, with an unholy fudge of assertive bigotry and tame liberalism. But Lambeth has its wild side: 200 years ago, William Blake was seeing angels in his garden there, experimenting with sexual freedom and writing visionary, often savage and peculiar religious poetry.

This week saw his 250th birthday, which Radio 4 has been marking with some oddly insipid programmes, including, as Book at Bedtime (10.45pm weekdays), Tracy Chevalier's Burning Bright, set in the house next door to Blake's in 1792 and, going by Monday's opening episode, very pure tosh. Much more satisfying was The Poet of Albion (11.30am Tuesday), a feature in which the excellent Jenny Uglow explored Blake's political radicalism; I got a particular buzz from Tom Paulin's close reading of "The Tiger" ("Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright..."), arguing that it is crammed with mythic echoes and enthusiasm for violent revolution.

The other big Blake celebration worth catching is Tam Dean Burn's heroic project of reading Blake's entire written works, originally supposed to finish by this week but thrown off schedule when Resonance FM went off air over the summer. Now Resonance is back with a much better transmitter, so that listeners in central London, as well as people with web connections, can catch Burn's Blake on Thursdays at 3pm, repeated Sundays at 11.30pm; and there are still a few weeks to go.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson will star in Seth MacFarlane's highly-anticipated Ted 2

film
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 'Gone Girl'

film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?