Today, Radio 4, Tuesday
The Simon Day Show, Radio 4, Thursday
Talking and Not Talking, Radio 4, Tuesday
Tell us all the nice things, do, Mr Cameron
Sunday 24 April 2011
Sometimes Today's big political interviews make for uncomfortable listening, as some politician or other gets a good kicking. But there's always the overriding thought, "Yeah, but they deserve it," as they're skewered on some big issue of the day. John Humphrys and Jim Naughtie may be abrasive, but it's in a good cause.
On Tuesday, with the Prime Minister captive at the mic, Evan Davis – no Humphrys or Naughtie, he – had clearly decided he was going to stamp his supposed authority on proceedings. The way to do that, you'd think, would be to have lots of killer points and advance with courteous persistence.
Then there's the other way: assemble a bunch of relatively abstruse points of lesser national and international importance and advance by dint of hectoring, interrupting and laughing derisively every time the PM is allowed to open his mouth. It all seemed such a wasted opportunity. The subjects covered were dissent in the coalition, NHS finances, recycling-centre charges (!) and the royal succession – while the big stuff slipped out of the back door to avoid the waiting press.
Voting reform was off limits, "siloed off for another interview". But why didn't Davis ask him what the hell we're doing in Libya? Why didn't he seize him by the throat and hiss: "Your politically motivated cuts will lay waste to the United Kingdom! Discuss!"? Why didn't he ask why a government that received 36 per cent of the popular vote is setting itself out somewhere to the right of Jeremy Clarkson?
Look on the bright side, though: the Egregious Ineptitude of Evan Davis (which really should be the title of something) has given me the chance to record my first 1/5 rating since starting this gig. I feel like a proper critic.
The Simon Day Show comes from one of the unsung heroes of The Fast Show on TV, but it's a more laid-back pleasure. He takes a different character each week, kicking off with glum Yorkshire poet Geoffrey Allerton – a free-verse McGonagall and author of a not-very-miserable misery memoir: "Once I came downstairs wearing just my long socks and my dad threw a jar of Marmite at me .... He went into the garden and took out his frustration on the rhubarb."
If that's a slow-burner, Laura Solon'sTalking and Not Talking is rapid-fire and harder-edged and shows that BBC comedy is still alive and kicking. I liked Dargon the alien invader falling foul of health and safety legislation, and the posh MP – "When I was Minister for Rural Affairs I had to visit over two farms." And I loved the former East European tyrant over here looking for work: "People used to call me 'Olga the aaaaagh!'" She'd have had Evan Davis for breakfast.
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
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