Radio: St Martin's passion

Have I got news for Neil and Christine Hamilton. Martin Bell, the Independent MP for Tatton, has abandoned neutrality. He doesn't believe in it any more. In The Truth Is Our Currency (R4, repeated today at 6.15pm), Bell was specifically talking about television news, but the criticisms he made of its values helped to explain his recent trajectory from observer of the conflict in Bosnia to combatant in the Battle of Knutsford Heath.

Bell has spent 35 years working in the most powerful news medium yet invented. He was trained, he told us in urgent, I'm-under-fire-here tones, in the great BBC tradition of objective and dispassionate journalism. But now that he's hung up his flak jacket, some flak can be fired at his previous employer. "Objective? I use my eyes and ears and mind and store of experience, which is surely the very essence of the subjective." His point is that journalism is "a business of truth and consequences", and the reporting of an event on TV necessarily becomes a factor in what happens next - "It even decides the rise and fall of governments" - and that journalists cannot but help becoming involved.

What Bell wants is a "journalism of attachment" which does not flinch from showing bloodshed, violence and grief - or that the person reporting these things might be moved by them. Detachment is impossible. " How were we meant to report on genocide?" he asks. "Were we meant to declare that it was none of our business? It was all of our business!"

Bell describes himself as "battle-softened", but this was strong, indignant stuff. In this first programme of four, he did little more than set out his stall, with a line of argument that was underpinned only by anecdotal evidence and which drew some precariously subtle distinctions (he was for impartiality but against objectivity; for balance but also for subjectivity). Never mind: when it comes to the truth, you don't need to be a voter in Tatton to know where Martin Bell stands.

Good and evil and the power of forgiveness configured in Your Place or Mine? (R4). In Camloops, British Columbia, "Lynne", a single grandmother, was raped in her mobile home. Two months later, her attacker returned to her doorstep - this time with red roses, by way of An Apology. She was terrified. For the next five years, she did not open her windows, "not even a crack on the hottest afternoons in summer". She felt dirty, ashamed, and wondered, quite unreasonably, if she had somehow been "promiscuous". Even worse, no one really seemed to believe her - the flowers were pretty far-fetched. Not only in the most literal sense had the rape violated her virtue.

Four years after he raped Lynne, "Dan" was sentenced to 18 years in a maximum-security jail for his attacks on her and four other women. His psychiatrists asked his victims to take part in his rehabilitation. Only Lynne agreed, out of an almost pathetic gratitude that at last someone accepted that she was telling the truth (the rapist, of all people, knew what he'd done to her that night).

There were things she wanted to know too. Like, why me? Dan explained with disturbing candour. He'd sought out mother-figures as his victims. "You could trust me with your children or wife, but older women ..." Lynne reminded him of the mother of a friend who had abused him when he was four. But, "I knew I'd picked the wrong person. She wasn't this bitch."

Hugely compassionate and utterly self-deprecating, Lynne was more like a latter-day saint. When they met - for the third time - she told Dan how being raped had affected her. "I was able to take those feelings of fear and put them on to him. So that I could feel free again." Her catharsis enabled his. "I didn't have the right to forgive myself until she gave me permission," said the disconcertingly self-possessed Dan, convinced now that he has become a different person. By the end of that meeting, Lynne said, "There was so much love in the room. We all hugged. Which isn't meant to happen in a rape case."

In this impressive, compelling CBC production, Lynne and Dan largely told their own extraordinary story. The reporter, Tricia Naylor, joined the dots between their accounts, but never hijacked their course, The testimonies were deftly juxtaposed. When Dan forced himself on Lynne, she believed she was going to die, while he thought she was "just a tasty little snack". Perhaps that's what Martin Bell means by balanced and subjective.

The Today programme (R4) has often been accused of being unbalanced and subjective, but not benign - which is how it has sounded since the election. Last week you could almost see a Cheshire cat smile spreading across the face of John Humphrys as he interviewed the Deputy Prime Minister and found himself haranguing (or rather, chatting up) not Michael Heseltine but John Prescott.

That sense of novelty and astonishment lingered in the air in Radio 5's coverage of The Queen's Speech. The script hadn't changed - the Palace of Westminster had been searched for gunpowder, Black Rod was sent to summon the rabble, men in frock coats with Alice-in-Wonderland titles walked backwards, the Queen told us what "My gevenment" would do - but the characters had. There were the members of the Cabinet - "It is an effort to remember to call them that" sighed Peter Allen, contentedly - but there wasn't room in the House of Lords for all the other Labour MPs. Quite a few of them remained in the Commoms during the Queen's Speech: Dennis Skinner, Tony Banks ... and, on the back benches, a new Labour member, doing her make-up. Now that's a sign of balance.

Sue Gaisford returns next week.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    BI Manager - £50,000

    £49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

    BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

    £48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

    VB.Net Developer

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

    SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game