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 year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there