The Critics: When broadcasters suffer fools gladly

RADIO

OK EVERYBODY, relax. It's all over. James Boyle has retired to the Highlands to refine his knowledge of plumbing; John Humphrys is to become Chief Druid in Perpetuity, and Jill Archer has seduced Joe Grundy and discovered a cure for farmer's lung. The Home Service is to be reintroduced.

Well, we can dream. Especially if April Fools' Day coincides with the dying gasps of the old Radio 4. Mind you, when newspapers announce that a woman had consensual sex with Bill Clinton, it's not easy to establish who's fooling whom. Still, here are a few radio April jokes. I think.

A perfect prank is always plausible. Midweek (R4), forever the last refuge of the terminally weird, produced a man who would introduce a happy gas into the Millennium Dome. It will render all visitors blithe and blissful and, like fluoride, it will be beneficial and undetectable. If we insist on staying grumpy, gas-masks will be available at the door. He sprayed some of the stuff noisily around the already giggling studio. Only Libby Purves, at her most head-girly, claimed to be unaffected.

Kevin Greening and Zoe Ball (R1) staged a savage row, ending with Zoe sobbing and storming out, while on Talk Radio's Breakfast Programme Kirsty Young announced that a Hollywood film is to be made of the Teletubbies (Christopher Biggins was earnest about the challenge of his role: "I think I can bring a lot to La La ... this could be my big break"). On Breakfast with Bailey (CFM), however, the joke was on Nick Bailey, who innocently read out a traffic report about a bus service between Portsmouth and Ryde (yes, it's on the Isle of Wight).

Apart from the last, these merry japes are all too believable - but I've got a horrible feeling that the repellent "Snoozipaws" dog-warmer described to Debbie Thrower (R2) really exists. And I want to believe the woman on Start the Week (R4) who said that the notion of the one-eyed giant Cyclops springs from the remains of mini- elephants in Crete.

Enough frippery. With inverted serendipity, Reggie Kray's request for parole was refused just as a play reminded us of the scary days when the Krays were free. Frankie Mitchell was a huge, violent, unpredictable murderer, son of a cattle-slaughterer. His father had told him that when a cow is killed it gives one last twitch before it dies, a Jump to Cow Heaven (R4). His own last twitch happened when the Kray twins sprang him from Dartmoor and he spent two weeks in an east London house - before disappearing forever.

Reggie Kray now longs to settle in East Anglia. In Gill Adams's play, Frankie (David Troughton) has similar dreams of a rural paradise where he can lead a normal life. But this "mad axe-man" isn't going to survive. His minder, John (Andrew Tiernan), tries to placate him, ridiculously, with Battenberg cake. But Mitchell demands a woman. When Lisa (Anita Dobson) arrives, a strangely tender, unlikely romance develops between them.

The play celebrates the heartening possibility that some kind of love, however frail and imperfect, might flower in the thinnest, poorest soil. It was directed with tangible, hand-wringing tension by Kate Rowland.

Now, we're off into the virtual world of electronic know-how, beginning with Jon Ronson's investigation of the credit card, Flexible Friend or Foe (R4). Ronson sounds like a timid poet or a newly-ordained deacon, but he's stilleto-sharp. He found a girl who was once the Imelda Marcos of bed-linen, building up colossal debts - that is, until a salesgirl phoned Barclaycard and was instructed to "cut up the card in front of Madame".

The astonishingly plummy inventor of plastic money has clearly retired on the profits. He's happy now and has "washed it all out of me hair" - I could swear I heard the slurp and clink of his decanter. Ronson then interviewed the head of Visa UK, a man nervous of speaking without his PA's permission: "Do we say that, Camilla?" he kept asking. In Florida, a beach-bum called Lin has a collection of 10,000 of the things. Heaven knows why but it makes the languid Lin happy.

The most stimulating listening of the whole week was Michael Kustow's Dionysius and the Mighty Mouse (R3). Homer called the orderly Apollo the Mouse God: did he guess at the existence of a computer mouse, summoning everything tidily on a screen, to be viewed by an isolated individual? In the endless opposition between these extremes, Kustow is for Dionysius in all his dynamic intoxication, as representing sociable activity, live theatre, the real thing. He saved his greatest scorn for a wedding held in a cyber cafe, where the parties were in different countries and the bride celebrated by kissing the screen ...

Which leads us to Silicon Sex of a Virtual Nature (R4): unsatisfactory, as you might imagine. This was a short, late play about an unlikely e- mail affair between M Bankment and Millie Narium and that was the best joke. There was a whole wasteland full of random references, mixing uneasy memory with a sleepy desire for repose. What a cruel month April is.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

    £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

    Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map