Not in front of the children

RADIO

CALL ME a prude, but this week I've had enough. No, I don't mean the obscenities in Howard Barker's Victory (R3), of which more later. I mean, of all things, Radio 2.

It has rugby-tackled geriatric sex. The zealous Social Action team, dedicated to revitalising an ageing audience, has done great work in the past, but there is a limit, to both energy and taste - or there was. Few people care to imagine even their parents in flagrante, but when it comes to their grandparents' erotic practices, well, for one listener at least, it was taking frankness too far. And it's hard to believe that many pensioners could have listened without terminal embarrassment.

With her usual gym-mistress heartiness and appalling head-cold, Claire Rayner egged them on. And all day Honor Blackman introduced salacious titbits from "ordinary" people's bedrooms, whispering through a granite grin. A widow in her eighties boasted of her orgasms and a previously impotent man described the vacuum device that allowed him to function astonishingly: "I mean, blow me, I can remember when it was all over in a few minutes, but now we can go on for hours."

The programme was called Affairs of the Heart, but that organ played second fiddle to the prostate. Doubtless, the idea was benign: indeed the helpline had 2,000 anxious calls on the first day, but how many of them were from people starting to panic that they should abandon Scrabble for wild and lustful romps? It could be quite dangerous.

An impudent rider to all this came when Adrian Mourby revealed Whatever Happened to the Big Bad Wolf? (R4), in which Leslie Phillips, as the eponymous villain of many a fairy tale, justified tying up Red Riding Hood's Granny by suggesting that the old girl was a bit of a goer and rather enjoyed these, ahem, adult pastimes. His is the authentic voice of the raffish roue, all saucy chortles and wounded plausibility. Surrounded by R4 standard sounds, like the urgent music of File on Four and a testy John Humphrys, this was a gorgeously silly squib - and, after all, it was only a story. Even the wolf himself didn't really believe in the S&M granny.

So to Victory. R3 was bracing itself for a jammed switchboard from an outraged audience, but didn't get a single call. Indeed, after the first shock, the foul language lost impact with repetition. The play starred the magnificent Juliet Stevenson as the widow Bradshaw, whose husband's body had been dug up for public display by henchmen of the restored Charles II. She was unpredictable, fierce and unflinching, however disgusting things became. And they did. With its utterly unromantic - and historically dubious - view of the far-from-merry monarch, and black message of greed and disgust, the play outstripped its own vocabulary in inventive degradation. It was a relief to switch off the imagination.

The word Bradshaw was once synonymous with a railway handbook: a brand- new naughty word. Misprints in the current timetable provoked inventive brilliance from Dave Quantick on Loose Ends (R4): confused train-spotters mingled with the lovers whose Brief Encounter was spun out unendurably by the non-arrival of the train, while Auden's Night Mail became derailed.

The week's other preoccupation was with metrication. The punsters have had fun with killer-grams and mega-hurts, but I was caught out by some serious-sounding instructions on Classic FM. Alan Mann declared that, by law, things would have to change on his Sunday programme. He could no longer announce records, as an ounce was a forbidden measure: the nearest equivalent was a telegram, so he'd use that. We should have the information by Monday.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

    £13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

    £18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

    Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

    £20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power