In which The Author contacts the BBC again
BBC Radio 4 has a long-running show named Feedback, a radio equivalent of Points of View, where listeners can raise issues of concern with the presenters and/or producers, Chaired by Roger Bolton, it goes out weekly throughout much of the year, and is always entertaining listening.
Over the past couple of weeks, one topic has emerged which is generating more heat than light. Some listeners have been disappointed, or even angered, by the presence of documentaries about popular music. Some of them think that an interesting discussion between John Wilson and Robbie Williams should have been shunted onto a different channel – or, preferably, not aired at all.
The next edition of Feedback, to be broadcast this Friday, is going to be a special show devoted entirely to the subject of music on Radio 4. With this in mind, I’ve just put my satirist’s hat on and sent the following email:
Dear Mr Bolton
May I say that I agree wholeheartedly with your recent correspondents on the subject of music infiltrating the BBC’s flagship wireless channel. Every time I switch on my trusty valve set, some dreadful cacophony issues forth to assault my unwary ears.
I think it’s high time that the BBC remembered why Radio 4 was established in the first place – to offer people ‘intelligent speech’, well away from crooners, dance bands and popular beat combos. Why, only two weeks ago I was unfortunate enough to encounter a documentary about a modern composer named Benjamin Britten. It was, in my opinion, quite unlistenable. I’m quite sure that his oeuvre is to some people’s tastes, but I am fairly sure that he will never gain the stature of Mozart or Beethoven.
My recommendations are as follows: first, the controller should start by cancelling that so-called ‘quiz’ Counterpoint. The proper home for this programme is Radio 3 – or, at a pinch, Radio 2 – as each edition includes several excerpts of recorded music. Similarly, Desert Island Discs should be transferred to a new home. Each edition by its very nature includes musical recordings, and its presence on Radio 4 seems to run contrary to the station’s avowed remit.
That done, he should go further. I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue also includes musical interludes, and should therefore be dropped from the schedule immediately. Furthermore, please drop the unnecessary piano introduction to Just a Minute. As a work by Chopin, that piece belongs firmly to Radio 3.
He should not stop there. It is not uncommon for scenes in The Archers to feature background music, especially if the action takes place in a pub. This unwanted intrusion of popular music into a speech-based drama must cease immediately. The same applies to other comedy and drama serials, which often feature short snatches of music. Take them all away!
While I am on the subject, it cannot have escaped your notice that regional accents of all descriptions have been allowed to infiltrate the network. That might be acceptable in a dramatic presentation, where these voices would naturally signal the presence of working-class people and/or undesirables. In serious programming, there is no place for anything other than the Queen’s English. Moreover, it appears that women have been given positions as announcers. This is outrageous! Let them clean the studios and bring the tea trolley by all means, but keep them well away from the microphones.
I will apologize for the nature of this communication. I no longer trust the Royal Mail to deliver letters on time, and therefore I have asked my grandson to send this by something called ‘e mail’ (whatever that is) rather than committing it to who-knows-where.
I trust that should you choose to read this on your programme you will, of course, be wearing a dinner jacket at the time.
Yours faithfully (and with tongue only slightly in cheek)