The Third Leader: Radio days

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The Independent Online

So, how was it for you? A day without the likes of Today, The World At One, and Newsnight. A day without Humphrys, Clarke and Paxman. A day lacking in visible and audible incredulity, polite firmness, less polite firmness, raised eyebrows and voices, interruption, exasperation, disdain and unconvincing protestations of respect.

So, how was it for you? A day without the likes of Today, The World At One, and Newsnight. A day without Humphrys, Clarke and Paxman. A day lacking in visible and audible incredulity, polite firmness, less polite firmness, raised eyebrows and voices, interruption, exasperation, disdain and unconvincing protestations of respect.

Well? Come on, be honest: it was a welcome period of silence, a bit of a relief from the hectoring and the havering, wasn't it? And yet I found myself suffering withdrawal symptoms as severe as any reported at Westminster, where many MPs were reduced to wandering the streets, approaching bewildered strangers and urgently demanding, "please, let me finish!"

Take the lack of Today, for example. There was clearly a clever neo-Birtian agenda at work in the choice of replacement programmes, packed as they were with subliminal messages: "Disruptive Dinosaur Tactics," represented by Ken Clarke, yesterday's man, on jazz at a disorientatingly unjazzy hour, talking about Dizzy; "Continuity Despite Disruption," symbolised by the reassuringly familiar hesitation, deviation and repetition of Just a Minute; and "They Don't Know What They're Doing, These People," summed up by I'm Sorry, I Haven't A Clue.

Slick. Excellent programmes, too. Those last two were, of course, very funny. But that was it: they were too funny. In the morning, we need to grumble as the presenters grapple gamely with the infamous "light items", usually involving animals, hesitant interviewees, unmetropolitan activities, and sometimes all three. In the morning, we need to sigh at the brave but endearingly unconvincing attempts at a bit of clever repartee. This is how mornings should be. Welcome back. Do you know, I think I almost missed Garry Richardson.

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