You can rely on 'Radio Times' to get it wrong

We in Britain like to have Aunt Sallys. We like to have convenient targets for our contempt. Comedians, especially, like to have convenient targets for contempt. They like to make jokes about mothers-in-law, and Scunthorpe, and British Rail sandwiches, and French plumbing, and Simon Dee...

But everything changes, even Aunt Sallys, though I didn't know this when I was a lad. When I was a lad, you could have predicted that British rail sandwiches would be laughed at for ever. "As limp as a British Rail sandwich." "Is he dead, Inspector?" "As dead as a British Rail ham sandwich, Sergeant." Phrases like this were thought to be funny enough never to die, and the men who made them could not have predicted that one day two amazing things would happen: one, that the sandwiches on railway trains would become very good, and two, that British Rail would cease to exist.

This, in itself, is not enough to stop the British treating British Rail sandwiches as an Aunt Sally. The British love their Aunt Sallys so much that reality has very little impact on them. We still think that French lavatories are primitive, despite the fact that the superloos which represent the cream of our sanitary sanctums are a French import. We still think that Scunthorpe is a byword for dullness, despite Private Eye's valiant effort to replace it with Neasden, and despite the fact that none of us has ever been to Scunthorpe. In the teeth of all the evidence, we still think that mothers-in-law are tyrants, and that Scotsmen are mean, and that trains are stopped by leaves on the line, that phones are plagued by crossed lines, that The Guardian is full of misprints.

That was an interesting Aunt Sally, the idea that The Guardian led the world in misprints, because it was a quite modern Aunt Sally, and quite localised, limited to middle-class media folk - not the sort of joke you'd hear made much outside London. But the perception that the paper was full of misprints was very widespread in the media milieu, partly because it was funny and because for a while it was true. I can remember a startling example of it in real life. Philip Hope-Wallace, a Guardian columnist, had a plaque unveiled to him in El Vino's wine bar in Fleet Street, above the chair where so often sat. He was flattered but objected mildly to the management that they had spelt his name wrong on the plaque - Phillip instead of Philip.

"Impossible!" said the management. "Why, we even checked the spelling with The Guardian!"

The myth was so widespread that The Guardian became wittily known as the "Grauniad". Whether because of this reputation or not, I do not know, but the paper is now pretty free from misprints and as well proof-read as any paper I know. This may be all right for The Guardian, but it is unfair on those of us who need an Aunt Sally for misprints, a paper to which we can refer jocularly as a byword for spelling mistakes.

In the absence of any other candidate I would like to nominate the Radio Times.

The immediate reason for this is personal, in that the RT recently spelt my name as Miles Kingston.

But this is not an isolated case. Stung by my own misfortune, I have started keeping a sharp eye on the Radio Times and have noticed some very odd errors in this once fine organ. Not so long ago they printed the name Harry Carpenter when they clearly meant Humphrey Carpenter. They referred to Reggie Nadelson as "he" when "he" is actually a woman. They brought us a film starring a man called Kevin Kilne, though I think they actually meant Kevin Kline. And last week they told us that one of the guests on Radio 4's The News Quiz would be Francis Whelan. In fact, it turned out to be Francis Wheen. Wheen was on the programme again this week. But in the Radio Times he was listed as Francis Whelan yet again. The old "Grauniad" in its heyday would have been proud of getting the same name wrong two weeks running.

Even BBC announcers are being misled by the Radio Times. The other night there was an edition of Jazz Notes on Radio 3 at the usual barbarous time of 0030, which I listened to because I happened to be up late that night, and because it promised a review of recent records by the interesting musician Deirdre Cartwright.

"In a few minutes we'll be getting Deirdre Cartwright's round-up of new records," said the announcer, before playing a short Satie piece to fill the gap.

"Well," said presenter Digby Fairweather a few minutes later, "the Radio Times billing promised you a visit from Deirdre Cartwright, but we have had to postpone that because we are bringing you a concert from Birmingham."

So the Radio Times got it wrong. Fair enough. The Radio Times gets things wrong. What was amazing was that the Radio 3 announcer also got it wrong only two minutes before the programme and had no idea what was coming next.

He must have been reading the Radio Times.

A great error.

If you spot any misprints in the "Radio Times", they will find a good home in this column.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
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

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a friendly, confident i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Primary Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: At Tradewind Recruitment we are currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: Physics Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment is currently working ...

Recruitment Genius: Case Manager - Occupational Therapist / Physiotherapist

£28000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee