One way to fill the sports slot

Related Topics
We tend to listen to the Today programme on Radio 4 each morning in our house, or rather we tend to have it on, because my wife thinks I listen to it and I think she listens to it. Left to our own devices, we each of us tend to turn it off by and by.

I tend to turn it off when a cabinet minister is sitting in the radio car, answering questions which he hasn't been asked, and my wife turns it off whenever the sports news arrives.

''Why is there a regular five-minute slot for news about sport every day?" she said to me recently, mercifully cutting across someone who sounded like Douglas Hurd talking about somewhere suspiciously like Bosnia. ''There are millions of people like me who are left cold by sport who have to sit through this five minutes of tedium.

''And it's not even news about sport, it's just speculation about sport. They ask people about their chances of beating Brazil or they wonder whether, if somebody's knee responds to treatment in time, he will be picked for the whole 90 minutes. That's not news! That's pub chat! Why don't they have regular five-minute slots on things I'm interested in, like arts?''

''What sort of thing would you like to have reported in a five-minute arts news slot?" I said. ''If you're not careful, they'd just have speculation on how Stephen Fry's knee is doing under treatment.''

We often have chats like this during the Today programme. Whoever said that radio killed the art of conversation was dead wrong.

''It would be nice to have updates on things like the theatre," she said. ''After the first-night reviews, you never hear about plays again. You never hear whether business is good or bad, whether the star is getting drunk or not, which famous actor has started forgetting his lines, stuff like that.''

''That's not news, that's gossip.''

''Nothing wrong with that. It beats speculation on whether someone is going to manage Arsenal anyway.''

She's right, I thought, as I found myself listening to some Euro-rebel MP being interviewed on whether he thought a leadership challenge would be mounted to Mr Major in the autumn. And then it hit me. The reason we should cherish the five-minute sports slice is nothing to do with sport. It's because it's one of the very few moments on the Today programme when the interviewers do not get the chance to speculate on leadership challenges, defeats in the House, falls from power, cabinet shuffles, by-election sensations and all those other things which seem so sexy to Today interviewers.

It's not the only moment, of course. There's also the weather forecast. When the presenter says, ''And now, it's over to Bob Gingham at the London Weather Centre for a look at the next 24 hours ...'' and Bob Gingham starts by saying, ''Well, it's looking rather cold and damp almost everywhere in Britain, I'm afraid ...", it's not too fanciful to imagine the presenter back in the Today studio longing to interrupt and say, ''Yes, Bob, but who do you blame for this cold and damp? Do you think the Government has been in power just too long to get warm, dry conditions going? Will heads roll for this dank period? And if it goes on too long, will you be calling for an inquiry?''

And it's high time for a new-look Thought for the Day. Here's the Bishop of Surbiton: ''You know, when I was preparing this Thought for the Day my glance fell on a painting of The Last Supper, and I couldn't help feeling, in a very real sense, that Jesus and the twelve disciples were much like a prime minister and his cabinet. And I wondered if Jesus ever felt that he was due for a cabinet reshuffle?

''He had had the same team together during his entire ministry, and it must have occurred to him from time to time that fresh blood might be needed. Was Judas Iscariot, for instance, really the right calibre for a cabinet minister?

''Well, we now know that he mounted a very untimely leadership challenge to Jesus, and that in exercising his thirty-pieces-of-silver share option, he was in danger of rocking the boat, but it could be said that this was exactly what Jesus was planning for, and that when Judas, a sort of Euro- rebel in his own way, urged Jesus to go for sovereignty in the here and now ...''

Stranger things have happened.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Performance Consultant Trainee

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Consultant trainee opportunit...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - (Full marketing mix) - Knutsford

£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Knu...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A picture posted by Lubitz to Facebook in February 2013  

Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder

Simon Calder
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, presides at the reinterment of Richard III yesterday  

Richard III: We Leicester folk have one question: how much did it all cost?

Sean O’Grady
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world