Things I Learned From the Radio Last Month Holiday Special

In which The Author brings you a bumper bonanza of bizarre facts

  • Alexander Korda’s 1940 fantasy epic The Thief of Bagdad was the first film to employ the blue-screen technique for special effects. (Front Row, Radio 4, July 19.)
  • Charles Lamb, Thomas Love Peacock, and both James and John Stuart Mill were once employed as clerks by the East India Company. (Lucy Kellaway’s History of Office Life, Radio 4, July 22.)
  • The German-born Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann was a prisoner of war twice. The second time, he was captured by two British soldiers, one of whom said, ‘Hello Fritz, fancy a cup of tea?’ (Last Word, Radio 4, July 21.)
  • In Tudor times, it was common for a royal birth to be attended by over a hundred people. The birth was not considered to have officially taken place until it was confirmed by both the Home Secretary and the Archbishop of Canterbury. (1500 BST news bulletin, Radio 4, July 22.)
  • For fear of ridicule, water company spokesmen very reluctantly admit that they employ dowsers to discover new aquifers. (The Bottom Line, Radio 4, July 20.)
  • According to Michael Buerk, ‘If we weeded out [the work of] every drunk, deviant or libertine, we wouldn’t have much left to read, look at or listen to.’ (Trailer to The Moral Maze, Radio 4, July 31.)

And finally…

  • The most welcome thing I’ve heard this month was the sentence, ‘And that was the last in the current series.’ (Continuity announcement after My First Planet, Radio 4, July 18.)
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