The Radio 4 Blog
Today is a really big day for all of us who enjoy being able to choose a radio programme to listen to according to our mood and listen to it wherever we are. I know I am not alone in doing this because over 17 million podcast episodes from BBC Radio are already being downloaded every month in the UK. The only problem with our marvellous podcasts is that they only exist for a relatively small proportion of Radio 4's output and even less on other networks.
With the release this week of the new version of the iPlayer Radio app on Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, it will be possible to download almost all of our programmes and keep them on your device to listen to whenever you want, for 30 days from their first transmission.
For Radio 4 listeners - like me - this means you can choose to take a much greater range of drama and comedy with you than ever before. This applies to all networks, so it is particularly exciting to have the new app in time for the BBC Proms - for the first time in its 121-year history this outstanding season of concerts can be yours to take with you and listen to anywhere... the Proms in your pocket.
The app has been designed to make this whole...
Editor's Note: You can listen to Feedback online or download it here.
In February of this year, John Whittingdale, the Chairman of the Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport called for a 'full and frank debate' on the future of the BBC and all aspects of the broadcaster. In order for this to happen, he said, 'we are calling on Government to seek cross-party support for setting up an independent review panel now on the 2017 Charter, so that the process is as thorough, open and democratic as it can be.'
Most observers, me included, assumed that this would mean a debate about what services we, the public, want the BBC to provide. Then there would be a proper costing of them, before another period of consultation when licence fee payers would be able to discuss what they were prepared to pay and how.
However, in a pre-budget coup the Chancellor, George Osborne, decided to divert the responsibility for an aspect of Government social policy, the provision of free TV licences to the over 75s, to the BBC at an initial cost of around a fifth of the BBC’s income. Some critics said it made the Corporation an arm of the Department of Work and Pensions.
The Director General of...
Jim Naughtie presents Bookclub on BBC Radio 4
We took Bookclub to Derby Book Festival for this month’s programme, because it’s always worth celebrating something new, and this was the city’s first book festival. Judging by its debut, it will find a permanent place in the calendar - very well organised, with enthusiastic audiences and a great crop of writers.
We got a group of readers together in the Déda dance centre, which is a remarkable space, to talk to Jon McGregor. I only just avoided an on-air howler with Jon, who, because he lives in the East Midlands I was going to describe as local. The trouble is that he lives in Nottingham which, although only a bike-ride away for him, is the object of so much rivalry in Derby that it might as well be on the moon. So, with relief, we turned to his novel If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, written just after the turn of the century when he was in his twenties, and a dazzling book.
To play with time as he does - events don’t occur in a linear way - and to refuse to give most of the characters names, are very bold steps for a young novelist. But he was clearly in a brave mood: he told us that he wanted to write a plot-less story, to prove that a novel can work in a deeper...
In times of conflict, language is highly contested. As well as military battles there are propaganda ones as well.
If a government bombing raid causes the death and maiming of innocent civilians how much more comfortable is it to use the term 'collateral damage'?
Terrorists wish to be called ‘freedom fighters’ or ‘soldiers on active service’, though of course they can be all of those; their bosses sometimes refer to themselves as members of an ‘army council’, and give themselves grand sounding titles.
Some paws for thought...
Could your cat break the internet? Next weekend on BBC Radio 4, the comedian Susan Calman explores why the internet loves cats. To celebrate this, we want you to tweet us pictures of your moggie enjoying their favourite Radio 4 programme- maybe Desert Island Whiskers, The Shipping Pawcast or You and Claws?!
Don't worry, we will share our cat-tastic favourites with you in the purrfect fur on 4 gallery.
Send them to @BBCRadio4 using #R4Cat. That’s @BBCRadio4 and don’t forget to include #R4Cat.
Tom the cat in Macclesfield
On Wednesday I was in Tunbridge Wells in Kent. I wasn’t looking for the legendary “Disgusted” correspondent of the town but for the location of a BBC hostile environment training course.
In the past journalists covering conflicts and wars may have been rather cynical about such exercises; now they are increasingly becoming targets and there seem to be fewer clearly defined front lines, such courses are taken much more seriously. It is not just death and serious injury that face today’s reporters, producers, camera...
We discussed political bias this week, in particular the coverage of the recent general election campaign. The BBC’s Director of News, James Harding, had already said that the electoral coverage had been “infected” by misleading polls and that as a result there had been too much “coalitionology”.
He also said that he was “astonished by the ferocity and frequency of complaints from all parties” during the election campaign. Well I am astonished that he was astonished. It has always been a tough period for the...
Henry Marsh’s Do No Harm is an unusual book - a doctor’s diary that explains the humanity involved in the practice of medicine, and the consequences of understanding that. Among them, that it is good to realise that there is frailty in a surgeon like anyone else, and that there are worse things than death. Marsh is a neurosurgeon, now 65, and his story - put together over many years and part personal history as well as a meditation on a hospital life - is given excitement by the way it describes the...
Jim Naughtie presents Bookclub on BBC Radio 4
When this month’s group of readers met Hisham Matar to discuss his book In the Country of Men, we talked about Gaddafi’s Libya, where the story is set, and what it’s like to be young in a world of secrets that you can’t unravel. The book is a picture of what it’s like to live in a closed society, with fear on the doorstep. But we also spoke about writing. Hisham, whose book brought him worldwide attention and was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, wanted to explain how he went about constructing a...
It seems rather discourteous of us to leave you before the end of the election campaign, when several listeners are only just managing to restrain themselves from smashing their radios with frustration about some of the election coverage, particularly bad tempered interviews.
By the time we return I assume a government of sorts will have been formed, either a coalition or a minority one with pledges of support from smaller parties. One of the issues which will surface early will be the future of the BBC and the licence...