Now that's what he calls music

RADIO

In an Aldershot cafe in the Sixties, Alan Clayson watched two bus conductors spend their entire lunch-hour and a satchelful of silver playing one record, their faces alight with the kind of vacant ecstasy once reserved for a public hanging. The song? "Jack the Ripper", by our longest-serving political leader, Screaming Lord Sutch.

Clayson knows all about Death Discs (R2), which he calls mood music in the jugular vein, one of pop's most enduring and comic styles. We get heated about a film like Crash, but we once merrily sang along to "The Leader of the Pack". It's not surprising we enjoy these things, Clayson opined, when the first song we ever learned was about the decapitation of three disabled rodents. This was high kitsch documentary, funny and informative. I was delighted to learn that, in the sequel to the film The Lion and Albert, the little lad is revived, jeopardising the pounds 9 pay- off, whereupon Pa Ramsbottom sends him back to the zoo to see what the tigers can do.

More gruesome and less amusing was Change of Heart (R4), in which Tom, a fundamentalist Christian, is led astray by the promiscuous Marie. Both are medical students and, when Marie is run over by a drunken driver, Tom freezes her body and performs a heart transplant. Marie returns reluctantly from Paradise, having become far more crazily fundamentalist than he ever was, determined to murder the driver who killed her.

The plot, while enjoyably twisty and original, was full of holes. Also, the dialogue between Marie and her best friend, both supposedly intelligent women, was trivial and unconvincing. When the friend discovered that Marie had been re-animated, she gasped, vacuously, "Womb envy!".

Surgery is threatened and knives noisily sharpened in The Merchant of Venice (R4), but a woman blessed with better lines saves the day. This was a patchy production in which noises off often obliterated the words. It was saved by Warren Mitchell's superb Shylock, by Sam West's ardent Bassanio and by a couple of royal suitors for Portia's hand who hammed up their tiny parts as if baked in cloves and breadcrumbs.

There was more court-room melodrama in The Trials of Marshall Hall (R2), introduced by the thin, weary voice of John Mortimer. A long murder case was compressed into half an hour, narrated in quaintly dated prose: "On a chill spring night in 1894, an emaciated woman, old before her time, approached a drunken man in the Euston Road..." A very posh Tom Baker, old before his time, played the great advocate with lofty disdain. Richer in ironic parody than emotional tension, it made entertaining, if undemanding listening.

A brief pause now to catch a carp. Or not. Alas, Fishing for Doubters (WS) failed to convert me. Yes, of course Dan Shepherd usually gets one. We believe him, and we understand how he loves to loll on a grassy bank by a sunlit lake and dream of Hemingway and Isaac Walton and of, one day, ensnaring the vast, shadowy creature which has just wriggled off his hook. It was that long, you know, and probably weighed, oh, 50 pounds?

Back to the real world and Monday mornings, when, thank goodness, Fergal Keane's new series has replaced the interminable, intolerably tedious memoirs of Roy Hattersley. No Man Is An Island (R4) began with a measured, affectionate, unsentimental look at Ireland, as a prelude to this great correspendent's further talks about ethnic hatred. It promises to be compulsory listening.

Another new four-parter, to which I hope to return, is Liz Lochhead's wonderfully enjoyable celebration of women's magazines. She has been In the Grip of the Glossies (R4) since before she could read, and can still recite the colour combinations recommended by Women's Weekly for a knitted bobble-hat: salmon-and-donkey, brick-and-lemon, bottle-and-duck-egg...

Finally, I'm thinking of offering the chance of writing this column to anyone prepared to make a large donation to BBC Children In Need. Go on, you've always said you'd do it better than I do. And when considering your bid, remember that, for the privilege of producing Jimmy Young (R2) for one day, Robert Knapman of Devon has paid pounds 7,100.

Suggested Topics
News
Howard Marks has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, he has announced
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
Rowan Atkinson at the wheel of his McLaren F1 GTR sports car
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us