My first week at Radio 4
"Unforgettable, that's what you are..." Mark Damazer's 'Inheritance Track' on last week's Saturday Live was characteristically charming and fluent, hinting at the warmth that makes him my friend as well as the highly successful Radio 4 controller that he has been for the last six years. He leaves the network in excellent shape with record audience figures. He is indeed a hard act to follow in a line of talented controllers including Helen Boaden who now runs News.
But I take heart because Radio 4, like all civilised institutions, belongs to no-one, is constantly evolving and drawing on the talents of all who contribute to it. It will thrive as long as we stay true to its history and add to its richness. I have been hugely sustained and cheered in my first week by programmes that have filled me with pleasure.
I have been in and out of Broadcasting House studios and I can honestly say that committed, creative and talented programme-makers are everywhere. And we all want for audiences what we have always wanted: more - to quote Matthew Arnold - of "the best that has been thought and said in the world"- and sometimes, let me add, a laugh. Lucky Radio 4 listeners and lucky me.
My Radio 4 aside of the week comes from auctioneer Alan Judd on Today describing some letters from Oscar Wilde: "journalists and auctioneers are very similar; we take a small story and try to make it big...".
I will try to keep you posted here on the blog as Mark has done and will look forward to reading your comments.
Gwyneth Williams is Controller of BBC Radio 4 and Radio 7