Radio: What real men have under their jeans

The Critics

My first tights were so long that the toes had to be folded seamily underneath: they came up to my armpits and crumpled like a bloodhound's forehead at the knees. They were a nasty brownish colour called American Tan, though it was closer to Old Wooden Spoon. I'd long forgotten them until I heard them described on Susan Roberts's enormously enjoyable Wardrobe (R4), which does what teenagers love doing, ferreting about in people's bedrooms, to discover the astonishing clothes they must have once worn.

Yesterday, as you guessed, it was tights. A succession of cheerful women described how they adorn their limbs - with the hideous white shiny tights that turn legs into lardy pork sausages, the sheer burgundy ones that go with a Volvo and homebaked bread, the itchy fish-nets that they hope look sexy. One frugal female cut her laddered ones up horizontally and filled a drawer with grim black socks, hundreds of hairbands and, yuck, knickers - and a granny uses them for straining curd cheese.

Just as it was becoming really cosily girly, we heard from a big butch biker whose life was transformed by wearing black woolly tights under his jeans (though he dreaded being involved in an accident). And then all the men joined in. Women's tights are worn by policemen, by garage mechanics - damn it, by Superman. And they didn't even get round to ballet dancers.

Pity the poor undergraduate who can scarcely afford a pair of tights. A Degree of Desperation (R5) revealed the lengths to which they are driven by poverty simply to stay the course. The image of the government-subsidised layabout has disappeared, as the level of the average grant has fallen by a quarter in the last decade, and parents are less willing or able to make it up.

With everyone chasing ill-paid bar-jobs, the quickest way to subsidise a grant is prostitution. It was tragic to hear the stories of the girls who an- swer blatant advertisements in student magazines: they risk blackmail from the agencies and disease and injury from unpredictable and sometimes violent men, just to pay the rent. One Madame remarked that the only difference between her regular girls and the students was that one group showed off Versace jeans and the other bought books. Carla Romano's excellent documentary gave a sobering picture of a society that so undervalues its future that one in eight students is forced by poverty to drop out, and the average debt borne by a graduate in the year 2000 will be pounds 8,000.

Now for two new efforts in the quiz/panel game business. A charmingly diffident Paul Nicholas chairs Mad about Musicals (R2), in which local amateur choral societies display their knowledge and singing skill. My daughter once came to our village concert wearing a Walkman, which illustrates the problem with this. It is much more fun to sing in such things than to listen. They are good, these people, but not that good, and you find yourself squirming with embarrassment for them. As one lot gave Oklahoma more than they'd got, even Nicholas was heard to mutter that he feared, for one awful moment, that they'd do the whole show.

Still, I don't much mind amateurs showing off if they're enjoying themselves. At least they were competing, and new to the medium. The unmistakable nasal tones of Ken Livingstone introduced I'm the Queen of Sheba (R4), a pointless game about telling lies. He started by saying that he was Leonard Cohen and I wished he had been. A team of familiar panellists produced obviously prepared answers to questions about famous old liars like Richard Nixon. There were funny moments, but precious few: the air was heavy with euphemisms for avoiding the truth and references to the Livingstone obsession with newts. The chairman vilified Americans at every opportunity, justifying himself by the fact that they couldn't vote for him. Hattersley, Mellor, Livingstone ... why can't these MPs do a bit of governing instead of hogging the microphone? Oh all right, perhaps not.

The 50th anniversary of R3 kicked off with a day of celebration on Sunday, with Controllers past and present reminiscing and rejoicing in between some remarkable archive recordings and live concerts. Jubilation continued on Monday, when the delightful Catriona Young took over from Paul Gambaccini, bringing a new grace to Morning Collection. During the week, Reputations looked at five early Third Programme broadcasters. The programme about Nikolaus Pevsner, author of the monumental work The Buildings of England, was thorough and instructive, if a little austere, like the man himself. The most telling detail was that his favourite food was spaghetti, merely because it could be eaten quickly.

The best programme was about Elizabeth Bowen. Even the voice of the legendary Patricia Hughes sounds ordinary compared with hers, as she insisted that novels must hev ection end keddictahs. Yet she was proud of her Irish roots, and had an appealing streak of delinquency about her. She must have been more of a keddictah than any she invented.

A taster for Russian Revelations (Classic FM) told the extraordinary story of the hoard of some 400,000 tapes stored under false names in a large Moscow building. Major soloists and composers, like Prokofiev and Richter, who worked under the iron fist of Stalin, can now be heard for the first time, in electrifying performances. It promises to be a ravishing series.

Finally, the best play of the week came, as often happens, from the World Service. Steven Dunstone's Brenda and Dennis See the World was a picaresque morality tale about a gauche, idealistic couple seeking Paradise and finding universal pollution, narrated by an all-powerful, wryly cynical Timothy West. You could catch it again this afternoon at 5.30: it will almost certain- ly make you laugh.

Suggested Topics
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

    C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

    £55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

    AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

    £450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?