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Paper Monitor

11:03 UK time, Monday, 19 July 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The sound of stiletto heels being sharpened could be heard on Sunday night, as female newspaper columnists readied themselves for attack.

The news last week that BBC Radio 5live was to devote 60 minutes to what it called Men's Hour was greeted with derision by Fleet Street.

The Daily Mail's Jan Moir was not alone in asking: Why do blokes need a bloke programme of their own on Bloke Radio?

So Sunday's debut show, which you can still catch on iPlayer, provided rich pickings for these hungry attack dogs.

Among the guests were choreographer Louis Spence and former SAS soldier Andy McNab, making it the first party to feature these two men on the same guest list. And the topics included infidelity, Robert Mugabe's moisturiser and homophobia in football.

The papers had to first think whether this was a topic suitable for female or male review.

The Independent gave it to both. Jane Thynne wrote: "Do men really talk like this when left alone? Men's Hour felt needy, unsexy and really likely to have low self-esteem. Think of Top Gear, then imagine the exact opposite."

And her colleague Tim Walker was equally disappointed: "Men's Hour seems petrified of feminist reprisals, and thus intent on emasculating its guests with such topics as a nasal spray that cures polygamy."

Andrew Billen in the Times thought it showed promise - "more bearable than Top Gear" - but his colleague Sarah Vine called for it to be scrapped.

There were grander ambitions at play, according to Zoe Williams in the Guardian, who can sense a "new experiment in radio, forcing people to talk about things that perhaps they talk about all the time, but you don't often get to eavesdrop".

Gender-orientated broadcasting is a minefield, it seems.

Which makes being non-gender-specific a blessing, muses Paper Monitor.

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