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Films on Radio 4

Monday 16 February 2009, 15:52

Mark Damazer Mark Damazer

For a while we've been thinking about film on Radio 4.

We do a fair amount about film - but I think we could do more without toppling over. So that's why The Film Programme (podcast) now has a Sunday repeat in addition to the Friday origination. Francine Stock presides. I like the programme more and more. We spend some time using DVD releases as a way of exploring the back catalogue - and the interviews tend to be far less centred on the single subject of the film about to be on release - and more on a life's work. This week's piece with Bruce Robinson (of Withnail and I fame) is a classic of its kind.

I had thought about adding the question: 'What film would you take with you to your Desert Island?' to the Desert Island Discs climax - but I have not yet convinced myself it will work. It would if everyone chose a film that was widely known (The Sound of Music etc.) but I think it runs the risk of misfiring if every week Kirsty has to unravel the plot and the meaning of a more obscure film.

But we will be doing a big series on films - probably - in 2010. We haven't done that for a while.

And tonight on Front Row comes Mark Lawson with Clint Eastwood - a small portion of which ran on Today this morning. Appetising.

Comments

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    Comment number 1.

    On Desert Island Discs the media in question (music and books) are items that can be understood over the radio. By definition, films cannot. Don't bother with the question; you'll end up having to expand it to TV shows too.

    With regard to the Film Programme, you neglect to mention that it's Sunday repeat has replaced The Learning Curve. So I think you ought to stop thinking about how to (further) increase film coverage and look at how to replace discussion of education issues.

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    Comment number 2.

    Must admit I was surprised, when walking from one room to another, to notice something chaned. What was going on?

    After a bit of dabbling, once I found the right button, I could see that the DAB broadcast was in Mono. I felt sure it was in Stereo earlier today (all afternoon, before I went out briefly before PM).

    So, what's going on? When did it switch from Stereo to Mono, and more important, WHY?

    I knew that it sometimes changes when there's cricket on -as if R4 LW isn't enough, it also gets coverage on Five Live - do they have the same commentary team, or do they use a separate set of seats to jet off to the West Indies ? So was it Cricket today?

    I see entries adjacent to R4 for "Parliament" and "World Service" but these always show 'station off-air' so why doesn't the BBC get shot of them being listed if they're never used?

    While I'm at it, have seen that other countries are using DAB+ (and Australia launches their nationwide digital service this year on DAB+ with no mention of DAB even existing).

    Given the UK and just a tiny handful of others are using DAB, are we paying over the odds for these radios, because there isn't the economy of scale and yet another reason why cars have not been fitted with DAB as standard in the UK - so the commercial stations don't see the take-up of DAB use either and we've seen plans for stations cancelled after stations went live, or even before they get on air... and without them, listeners don't get to hear the BBC choices and have to go out of their way to go for DAB... whereas if every car had been fitted with DAB/FM/CD for the past 5 years there'd be significant numbers of listeners and DAB sets in the field.

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    Comment number 3.

    anonymous2009. thanks. I suggest however you direct a comment like this to our Future Media/Technology team. James Cridland has written a recent blog post on audio quality online and answered many comments about our multiplatform radio coverage.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/02/better_audio_for_bbc_radio_onl.html

    or Jack Schofield has covered this issue on his technology blog at the Guardian (with quotes from James Cridland).
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2009/feb/16/bbc-internet-radio-aac

    Jem Stone (host)

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    Comment number 4.

    And @anonymous2009, you might like to know that your comments here are quoted at some length in both the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph today. Daily Mail: http://tinyurl.com/MailRepeats Daily Telegraph: http://tinyurl.com/TelegraphRepeats

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    Comment number 5.

    Film is an interesting subject to tackle on radio, Mark. At the proms, for example, film music tends to prove extremely popular. Whenever they do a prom dedicated to film music, it always sells out. As something of a promenader, even I sometimes find it difficult to get into the Royal Albert Hall on such occasions. It does raise some rather interesting questions about the nature of the 'film' medium. Film scores are obviously composed to be appreciated alongside visual images (and dialogue), and yet, they can often be appreciated just as well on their own.

    Although you would expect film reviews to work better on television than on radio, the more abstract nature of radio sometimes works to radio's advantage. You can say much the same about the visual arts in general. They should not really work on radio as well as on television, but very often, they work far better. Of course, if you listen online, you can combine radio with 'vision' using appropriate links, for example, watching clips of the films under discussion.

    In retrospect, cinema emerged as one of the greatest art forms of the twentieth century, if not the very greatest. As a medium, it can combine great art with great popularity. The arrival of the internet at the end of the twentieth century has opened up a completely new range of 'multimedia' possibilities. Radio, for example, paradoxically works very well with film. 'Caligari', for example, was particularly interesting on Drama on 3.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00f4rdf

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    Comment number 6.

    Thought for the Day.

    I was thinking about how someone in a position like Mark sets up a blog and says he wants to hear people's ideas, but then ignores them and goes on to talk about his own ideas, which programmes he likes, which ones he wants to fiddle with.

    You've got a serious problem to resolve Mark. Your clumsy attempt to justify Thought for the Day have revealed your own ignorance, prejudice and partiality, without doing anything to explain the position in terms that are acceptable to anyone who doesn't share your approval of religion. You've insulted a considerable section of your audience, the TFTD slot itself is an insult.

    This isn't going away.

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    Comment number 7.

    Mark, I can't believe you are even kite-flying a change to Desert Island Discs !! Is this your idea of an early April Fool Joke ? People have only just recovered from scrapping the early morning UK Theme...

    What next, 'tweaking' the rules of 'Just a Minute' to allow repetition ?

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    Comment number 8.

    @3 Jem - many thanks
    @4 Thanks - had spotted Jem's links separately.

    On the subject of Front Row and the film/book discussion programmes, something which is carefully avoided is giving away too much of the plot ("spoilers").

    Wonder why, in recent years (unless someone can say for certain it happened 5+ and 10+ years ago), the continuity announcers are forever "revealing" what will be on The Archers, both just before the programme, and immediately after.

    I happen to listen, but surely (unless there's expected to be some concern over content) the audience should not need to be 'tempted' to continue listening with hints at the plot of the afternoon play or serials.

    A year or so ago, there was a series of Friday afternoon plays with a theme about cake making. Cannot recall all of them, but the ending of the first was 'announced' during the introduction by continuity.

    If there are so many minutes to fill, make the programmes an extra minute, so continuity need no divulge the plots, several times a day!

 

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