The critics RADIO; Frankness in Bosnia, luvvieness with Frank

SOME OF YOU may find what follows disturbing. So James Naughtie warned the Today (R4) audience on Monday, and again on Tuesday. What did they do, those who feared disturbance? Change stations, switch off? Those of us who risked it on Tuesday heard how much more searingly disturbed were the sad, soft- spoken Gloucester siblings, children of the Wests. But on Monday disturbance was an absurdly feeble word for what followed: I can't find one strong enough.

Alan Little is in Sarajevo again, where peace and joy are supposedly restored, but where the memory of grotesque suffering can never be eradicated. It was unforgettably distressing. The boy who came home to find his father and brothers blown to bits and tried desperately to reassemble them may never, poor child, be free of the nightmares in which, again and again, he tries to mend his family. And nor, to some extent, will we who heard Little's compassionate, weary witness.

A cliche often used, prophylactically, about that ferocious internecine war is that there were no heroes or villains, that everyone involved was somehow guilty. But Little does not trade in cliches: he prefers the awkward truth, and for him there are at least two heroes. One is Farouk, condemned to a wheelchair by a bullet that split his spine, yet refusing to allow himself to hate anybody, even the man who shot him.

The other is Yasmina, who was a 24-year-old doctor when Little first met her. Since then she has grown old through daily sniper-dodging to perform emergency surgery under fire, and she has had enough. Now she is leaving her city because, she says, her mind is damaged and her trust destroyed. One can only hope that wherever she settles she finds peace. She has earned it.

Little is a seasoned campaigner, beaming strong light on a murky world. Newer to the game is Anne Enright, who presented last week's Four Corners (R4). She had a drink in Senegal and told us about it. The previous day 51 people had been killed not far away, but nobody seemed very bothered, because "this was Africa". Her account of swallowing brackish gin with the only three white people in town - a precise Frenchman, his wary wife and a world-class drunk - was rather better than Somerset Maugham on a good day. She should go far, and keep in touch.

Instead of gin, some people reach for chemical comfort. In Shelf Lives (R4) Nigel Cassidy considered the runaway success of the latest version of bottled sunshine - but, as the song asks, is it pain or is it Prozac? This unsatisfactory mini-documentary failed to answer that and other, more serious questions, like how we distinguish between "good", prescribed drugs and the other sort. And can we be sure of the long-term effects of any of them?

Now for this week's birthday. Frank Sinatra is 80 and Sinatra, A Master at Work (WS) explained why we should care. In a fascinating analysis of his vocal development, Bob Holness described the grim determination and aggressive ambition that drove the gifted young singer to develop his remarkable phrasing and breathing techniques, what Sammy Cahn calls "lyric projectionability". Dozens of snippets of songs illustrated the polishing process until, though you liked him no better, you couldn't help but admire him.

And who do you think this is? "A dignified individual who giggled when he saw his little girl performing in ballet ... a misunderstood man who would get a worried look in his eyes when the bills came through each month". No? Well, it's Frank Sinatra, the Other Side (R2). As described by his son in a 100-per-cent-treacle tribute, the singer was a gentle, home-loving daddy who would smile his delighted welcome when children burst into his bedroom, who liked nothing so much as sitting painting in his lovely home, while Frank Jr enjoyed his "toddling years".

There's a bit of a problem here: Frank Jr was, he recalls, wearing "knee- pants" then; many years later he was taken to the Oscar ceremony wearing his very first pair of long pants. Did anyone ever buy the child sensible clothes? But accuracy comes way behind adulation in this gloriously ghastly schmaltz, which tiptoes airily over dishonesty, infidelity and divorce while a clarinet mournfully massacres Mozart. Listeners should beware: this show runs for six weeks. For now, here is the devoted son with "my own personal message to Dad. I love you buddy, and I'm so proud of the man you are that I might just bust my buttons". Bust away, Frankie, but do it somewhere private.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
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

    Recruitment Genius: Retail Supervisor

    £17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fragrance store are lookin...

    Langley James : Desktop Support Analyst; 1st Line; Moorgate up to £23k

    £20000 - £23000 per annum: Langley James : Desktop Support Analyst; 1st Line; ...

    Recruitment Genius: Retail Sales Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This fragrance store are looking for enthusias...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting and rewarding role ...

    Day In a Page

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible