Traveller's Tree, Radio 4

Worse, even, than strangers' dreams – their holidays
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The Independent Culture

Heavily trailed is the new "interactive" travel show on Radio 4, Traveller's Tree, presented by Fi Glover. One such trail said something along the lines of "travel tips from people who actually know the country". What a novel idea, I thought. I normally turn to the completely ignorant for all my tips.

Well, I listened to it, when it was all about child-friendly holidays. And I listened to it last week, when it was about music-themed holidays. The "interactive" part of the show means that you can ring them up or email them with your banal suggestions. ("Try and make your way into what I would call the countryside.") Or, a sentence that really grabs you by the lapels: "I want to tell everyone about a website I came across last year."

To each person Glover says, "It's a great suggestion," insincerity ringing from her like a bell. I used to be in two minds about Fi Glover. On the one hand, she is a professional who Knows How Radio Works. On the other hand, she has a highly irritating manner.

I am now in one mind about Fi Glover. I want her shot. No, not really. I just want her off Radio 4. Put her on Radio 2 or 5 Live – she, and we, would be much happier there. As would this programme. For someone has not taken into account that hearing about strangers' holidays is several orders of magnitude more vexing than hearing about their dreams.

Rushed, patronising and smug, baselessly convinced of its own utility, but in the end nothing more than an insultingly amateurish vehicle for Glover's chirpy inanities, Traveller's Tree is, by a wide margin, the most breathtakingly awful programme I have ever heard on Radio 4. It makes Anderson Country sound stately, urbane, Reithian. It makes Home Truths look like one of Studs Terkel's great and moving oral histories. It makes Veg Talk sound like In Our Time. It is like being at a dinner party where everyone has to contribute an anecdote which reflects well upon their own superior good fortune and know-how. That's not my idea of a good time. Is it yours?

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