The BBC is trying to kill its jazz listeners

I wish I had caught the edition of Desert Island Discs the other day on which Bruce Forsyth was the guest. From what little I have seen and heard of Bruce Forsyth, I think he probably has an interesting taste in music. I remember seeing him once in a TV programme about a top-flight piano tuner, who tuned the pianos of many po-faced classical performers.

(He paid a visit for example, to the pianist whose name I can never remember - the one who is the spitting image of Roy Hudd - Alfred Brendel, that's the one - and when he had finished with Brendel's piano, he asked him to play a chord of C. Brendel sat down as if he were about to start a Beethoven recital and almost prayed with his eyes closed as he plucked a majestic chord of C out of it. Perhaps it is impossible for classical pianists to play even a scale without putting on all that agony.)

Not so Bruce Forsyth, who rippled a few nifty chords on his retuned piano, said it was very nice and launched into a funny story about Erroll Garner. It was the one big bright spot in the programme.

That is not why I wish I had caught him on Desert Island Discs. The reason I wish I had heard him lies in a letter from Simon Woolf of London SE4, who says:

"Dear Miles Kington,

"In case you are looking for more ammunition in your campaign against the BBC's woeful neglect of jazz, you might like to check out the re-run of Bruce Forsyth's Desert Island Discs on Friday. It was something of a surprise that Brucie's first choice was Bill Evans playing "Emily", but even more of a surprise to hear (or, are my ears playing tricks on me?) the LP going round at 45 rpm ...!"

Well, I am afraid Mr Woolf's letter got to me too late for me to hear the Forsyth repeat, so I cannot verify his suspicions. I could of course have telephoned the Desert Island Discs office to check, but past experience has not encouraged me to expect satisfaction. I once rang to inquire why they had played the wrong record on John Boorman's Desert Island Discs (Boorman had requested one jazz record and they had played a different one) and to ask whether the guest actually heard the records he had requested, but they would answer neither question.

What is odd is that this seems only to happen to jazz records. Or at least it isn't odd if you subscribe to my theory that the BBC is doing it deliberately. The fact is, that jazz listeners are never satisfied. Faced with our complaints, the BBC has two options. To meet our complaints or get rid of us. My theory is that the BBC has adopted the latter strategy and is trying to kill off the troublesome jazz audience.

This is being done in two ways. One is to induce terminal fatigue by putting on Jazz Notes on Radio 3 at half an hour past midnight, so that anyone who wants to listen has to get up in the middle of the night and start ageing prematurely. The other is to induce sudden death in pedantic jazz listeners by making deliberate mistakes of a kind which they know will produce heart attacks.

I am not just thinking of playing records at the wrong speed. I have noticed several other strange examples recently. I am thinking of an announcement in the Radio Times the other day that saxophonist Lester Young had made his debut in 1956. (It was actually around 1936.)

I am thinking of Michael Rosen on Pick of the Week announcing with great delight that he was going to play a record of "Maple Leaf Rag" that Sidney Bechet had recorded with Louis Armstrong in 1924 and then playing a quite different record of the tune that Bechet recorded nearly 10 years later in 1932 with Louis Armstrong nowhere in sight.

I am thinking of the other day when I did for once sit up late enough to catch Jazz Notes and heard Digby Fairweather back-announce a Benny Goodman record by saying it was a marvellous version of "Rosetta". But it wasn't. It was a not particularly marvellous version of a tune called "Yardbird Suite". Yes, Goodman did refer to the tune of "Rosetta" in the first chorus, but the rest of the time everyone else played "Yardbird Suite", which has a quite different tune and a quite different middle eight, as Digby Fairweather would have known if he had listened to the record.

Or if it was not so late at night that he too was half asleep and mistake- prone.

Or if he had not been instructed, along with Michael Rosen and the rest, to slip in as many mistakes about jazz as possible to induce the sort of apoplexy that will kill off pedants like me.

I warn the BBC. I have instructed my solicitor to sue them for millions of pounds should I be found dead in front of a radio. And, if I should die with a radio nowhere near me, to drag one over and switch it on.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballIt's not a game to lose, writes Paul Scholes
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Early Years Teacher - Jan 2015 - China

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Position: Early Years TeacherRequired: J...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Primary Teachers required - Cardiff and the Vale

£95 - £105 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: KS1 ...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes