BOOK REVIEW / Idol speculations: 'Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play' - Ben Watson: Quartet, 25 pounds

BEN WATSON loves Frank Zappa. 'The most brilliant (and least understood) artist in rock,' it says here, 'one of our great 20th-century composers'; and that's just on the book-jacket. For those of us who, faced with the choice between listening to any of Frank Zappa's recordings and eating a large piece of mouldy cheese, would start to feel distinctly peckish, Watson has got a good deal of convincing to do.

LONG RUNNERS / No 36: John Peel

Age: hard to pin down - Peel started with Radio 1 in 1967, under various labels (Top Gear, Sounds of the Seventies, Night Ride); started being billed simply as John Peel some time around 1971.

Obituary: J. A. Speak

John A1exander Speak, surveyor: born Eccles 12 May 1905; died Weybridge, Surrey 7 May 1994.

Portrait of the artist as an impressionist

'BE YOURSELF . . .' muttered Alan Bennett, as he was having his portrait painted, ' . . . baffling injunction - what they mean is imitate yourself'. He obliged, in a delightful, meandering programme which flirted ingeniously with self-parody and ideas of likeness. It was Alan Bennett to the life - not the real man, that is, but the created sensibility the name conjures up; wittily morose, deflating, both amused and angry in its nostalgia.

RADIO / Signs of misdirected youth: Robert Hanks puts his finger on the pulses of Radio 3 and Radio 4

There aren't many sounds more uncomfortable than Radio 3 trying to widen its appeal. This doesn't necessarily reflect badly on Radio 3 - if it was seriously competing with Radio 1, something would have gone pretty awry - but that thought doesn't make its efforts at popularisation any less painful to listen to.

Right of Reply: Is it old or bold?: Mark Ellen, the managing editor of the new 'older' rock magazine Mojo, answers his critics

'Strangelove was poleaxed by the revelation that Q magazine's publishers have identified an even older audience than the one they already have, and have launched Mojo for those who view the Grateful Dead as modern subversives. Wouldn't Dodo have been a more appropriate title?' Dr Strangelove, Evening Standard.

The Way I was: The fan who became my friend: John Peel

John Peel, DJ, tells Nicholas Roe of the 7ft German who walked into his life

TELEVISION / Funny, funny, funny

THERE was something so poignant about the imperfect English. This, in the end, was what the appeal boiled down to - the slight fumbling of pronunciation, the tiny and touching moments of grammatical incoherence. Without that, we probably wouldn't have warmed to David Vine half as much as we used to.

Veterans take radio awards

TONY BLACKBURN'S was the first voice broadcast when Radio 1 was launched, he has been on air for nearly three decades, is 50 this year and yesterday was named Best Contemporary Music Breakfast Show Presenter in the 1993 Sony Radio Awards, writes Martin Wroe.

TELEVISION / BRIEFING: Cataloguing hatred

FOR superstitious reasons, BBC- TV reporter Martin Bell only ever walks clockwise around the corridors of the Holiday Inn in Sarajevo. This is just one of the facts revealed in 'Tales from Sarajevo', a strong LATE SHOW SPECIAL (11.15pm BBC2) about coverage of the war in former Yugoslavia. Roland Keating, the producer, has assembled testimony from many journalists who have reported from the front line of this most vicious of conflicts. The combatants seem to have no qualms about firing on reporters. Kate Adie recalls checking to see if her foot was still there after being hit by shrapnel, and ABC anchorman Sam Donaldson laments the death of his producer, David Kaplan, shot in the back by a sniper. Bell himself was shot and had to be flown home. Apart from staying alive, the principal difficulty for journalists in covering such a complex struggle is separating right from wrong. As Adie puts it, viewers want to know 'where are the good guys?'.

Opinions: Who cares about Madonna?

SACHA CAREY, sales assistant: I don't care about her sex life or her sexual fantasies any more than she cares about mine. I'd like to sit her down and force-feed her with my thoughts on men, sex and the meaning of life until she was bored to tears. Then I'd show her all my old holiday snaps, just to show her what it's like having someone else's life rammed down your throat.

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