News

DAVID BLUNKETT Found Invaluable Companionship at Radio 4 – Until He Kidnapped Her Left


All my life, I’ve relied on radio, and on BBC Radio 4 more than anything else. From my days as a student, throughout my political career until today, it has been my favorite source of news and entertainment.

This Thursday, the House of Lords will debate the future of the BBC. I will not be able to participate, because I chair another meeting: but if I can, I will be a praise of the company.

But I also have some strong criticism. Radio 4 has become so determined to address cultural diversity, gender issues, and identity politics that it forgets about universal inclusivity.

People who live outside a narrow class of wealthy professionals with strict correct opinions, almost all of whom are in London, no longer feel included in the station.

If you’re not part of the self-proclaimed urban elite, you’re unlikely to hear your opinions reflected. The BBC seems to ignore the obvious fact that the ‘B’ stands for Brits – and its mission is to broadcast to the entire country, not just some of the trendy streets around Islington.

Radio 4 has become so determined to address cultural diversity, gender issues, and identity politics that it forgets about inclusiveness.

Listeners of Looe, Lerwick and Lowestoft also want to be informed and entertained through programs related to their lives. And even though I’m challenged in my attitudes, I’m tired of feeling too old, too regional, or too traditional when I listen to Radio 4.

Now every aspect of the station seems to be obsessed with preaching at me. Even the Food Program devotes most of its time to criticizing British taste buds for being too monotonous and monocultural.

If Radio 4 thinks the food on my plate should be involved in the culture wars, I almost wonder why I bother running at all. Increasingly, when I do, the station gives me another reason to grumble.

It’s never truer than when I was listening to comedy shows. What I want is a good laugh and maybe a few words I can share with friends. What I get is stand-up comedians competing to show their Brahm.

Many contributors to The News Quiz and The Now Show believe situations are mandatory and jokes are optional. From some, there is no mockery or harm, only ridicule.

Others offer arms of intelligence, but these are widely spaced among the dismal paradoxes about government policy. By the end of the half hour, I feel like I’ve been forced to work really hard in order to get a few chuckles.

I miss the evil of The News Quiz as I did with Alan Coren and Linda Smith, when politicians of all shades acted fairly and none of the participants cared about appearing virtuous.

Many contributors like The Now Show think attitudes are mandatory and jokes are optional

Many contributors like The Now Show think attitudes are mandatory and jokes are optional

And while the jokes were trivial, Friday night weekends were a regular treat — lines of jokes come so quickly that if you laugh at one, you’ve missed the next.

Shows of this type have disappeared from the airwaves, often replaced by self-immersive and self-centered programs that interest no one but the presenters.

When Tim Davey became general manager in September last year, he told his staff his priority was to ensure that BBC productions “represent every part of this country”.

It was the right message – but it didn’t happen. Instead, it is clear that we listeners are expected to be concerned only with the current obsession with cultural politics, and to confine any laughter to permissible subjects.

Common sense tells us this won’t work. The more the BBC strives to be in good standing, the more the rest of us will stop.

I very much hope Radio 4 rights the same soon. After all, the station was a cornerstone of my life, even in the days when it was still called home service.

One of my first memories is of my mother taking me to dance a waltz around the front room of our house in Sheffield to themed music from The Archers, when I was no more than four years old.

David Blunkett found companionship on BBC Radio 4 as a blind man but is now criticizing the station for the wake ups it has taken in recent years.

David Blunkett found companionship on BBC Radio 4 as a blind man but is now criticizing the station for the wake ups it has taken in recent years.

Of course, I’ve loved the show ever since. This tacky tone, dated gently, never fails to fill me with warmth. I listened wholeheartedly even during the early months of lockdown, when the storyline went terribly wrong.

It is an important part of our national heritage and my family’s history as well. When my first of four sons were born in the ’70s, I tried to do my share of babysitting—and I remember freaking out because the kids thought they could cry at the shooters.

I did what my mother did, and my two youngsters danced around the room, releasing the tune as I tried to listen to the dialogue.

Recently, I was asked to name my favorite Archers episode and picked one from that era: when Chula Archer (Judy Bennett) went outdoors one summer evening with boyfriend Simon from the local paper. The call in the middle of a cornfield—”Simon! Farmers hate people like you trampling on it!”—then I wondered if he had a picnic blanket in the car.

Simon’s response was, “I don’t think the National Farmers’ Union is too concerned about cornfield edges.”

I loved the innocence of this scene, with its echoes of Cider With Rosie, as well as the subtle way it reflects the increasing influence of women’s liberation. Although Simon was the first to suggest the tissue paper, Shula took control and ordered a rug. It’s a perfect illustration of how good drama responds to social change, without trying to dictate it.

This is the latest scathing attack on the company in recent years due to perceived bias and vitality

This is the latest scathing attack on the company in recent years due to perceived bias and vitality

However, every Radio 4 drama I’ve heard lately fails to make sense of it. The scenarios are educational, the characters lecture me and the facts feel like propaganda. I’m not amused, I’m culturally re-educating with all the subtlety of a steam hammer.

News providers are no better. They start preaching – and end up screaming more often.

This is not a new trend. I first noticed this in my capacity as education minister over 20 years ago, when I warned that standards were slipping.

“I fear that the joy of a lifetime will be replaced by second-rate plays and poor productions that try so hard to be clever that they often seem to reflect the need to satisfy a certain quota,” she wrote since 1999.

At the same time, she warned that listeners hate the torrent of sponsored ads advertising upcoming features. Not that I was right about both — standards have fallen for 20 years and those trailers are more annoying than ever.

It is a shame that the BBC did not listen to our complaints at the time. Those of us who criticize Beeb are always her biggest fans, because we’re the ones who care enough to talk.

Younger, fickle listeners don’t bother pointing out issues – they just tune in and listen to the podcast instead. The aunt is often her worst enemy: she closes her ears to those who want to offer constructive criticism.

So let me give some advice. Please, Radio 4, remember the patient – but often angry – audience that has stood by you faithfully all these years.



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button