Friday 7 March 2014, 15:25
The author of 'Disgusting Bliss: The Brass Eye of Chris Morris' reflects on the how technological advances fed the creative sound of the cult radio series Blue Jam.
Friday 7 March 2014, 17:24
As we were doing Spartacus this morning, Tom Morris, the producer, was spotting tweets coming in, many of which said “I’m Spartacus”. For those of you who don’t know, this was a scene towards the end of Stanley Kubrick’s film when all Kirk Douglas’s gladiatorial comrades adopted his name to protect him, and I suppose to put themselves in the same boat. Anyway, it seems to have caught on with tweeters UK. Pity we hadn’t time to mention the ballet by Khachaturian.
I think this is going to be a bits and pieces (who wrote that song?) newsletter.
Mary Beard told me after the programme that Crassus (he who said that no man can count himself rich unless he can afford a private army), the one who finally defeated Spartacus, had taken on the Parthians and himself been defeated. His head was severed and later used as a prop in a performance of The Bacchae at the Parthian court. A story like that is what I think, perhaps many of us think, classical historians are for.
The business of gladiators being...
Friday 7 March 2014, 15:25
Lucian Randall, the writer and Chris Morris biographer reflects on the how technological advances fed the creative sound of the cult series.
After 17 years, the comedy Blue Jam is back on the airwaves and, as listeners enjoy its long-awaited revival on BBC Radio 4 Extra, its creator Chris Morris also makes a return - on our screens as the foil in Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle.
He takes the role previously occupied by his old friend Armando Iannucci, co-creator of the classic news satire On The Hour and its TV transfer The Day Today, which has its 20th anniversary this year.Chris Morris on The Day Today
Chris Morris was famously not interested in fame. In the TV show Brass Eye, the precision of execution in his fake campaigns (the appeal for the elephant with its trunk stuck up its own bottom; the call to ban Cake, a ‘made-up drug’, that led to questions asked in Parliament) would not have been possible if he’d wanted stardom. Brass...
Friday 7 March 2014, 13:03
It was quite like old times last Sunday. Up before dawn, staggering around a BBC newsroom looking for coffee to wake me up before going into the studio. I did this for 12 years when presenting the Sunday programme for Radio 4. That production was rather more exhausting.The Old BBC North Building in Manchester
It was produced in Manchester (now its done in Salford), and I would travel up by train the day before, work until 10.30pm on scripts and interviews, be up and in the office at 5.30 am, broadcast from 7, and be on the train down south again by 9am. Often track repairs meant that we had to go on a bus between sections of railway line. I would get back home for a late lunch and fall asleep in front of the fire. (Susannah Reid knows what it is like.)
All this so I could sit alone in a studio and talk to my guests, nearly all of whom would be almost 200 miles away in London. I loved presenting the programme, but not the travelling, or the isolation. The production team of Radio 4's Broadcasting House, and its presenter Paddy O'Connell, have it rather easier. For a start they live near their work and their programme...
Thursday 6 March 2014, 09:04
Listeners to BBC Radio 4 are in for a surprise on Saturday 29 March when some of the nation’s best loved characters invade the station and take over the airwaves. As part of a full-day celebration of all things character, some of our nation’s finest creations will be pushing the regular Radio 4 presenters out of their seats and sneaking behind the guest microphones. There will also be a host live events taking place across the country.
Dawn French will be stepping back into Reverend Geraldine Granger’s shoes and heading out of Dibley to offer her alternative Thought for the Day...
Wednesday 5 March 2014, 13:28
Editors note: Writer Robert McCrum is the presenter of Radio 4's Publishing Lives which returns for a second series on Monday 10th March at 13:45.
My first series of Publishing Lives followed the careers of five great publishers -- John Murray, Harold Macmillan, Penguin’s Allen Lane, Geoffrey Faber and George Weidenfeld -- maverick outsiders, brilliant literary impresarios, and wily opportunists, but all men. As members of the Garrick, or as the formidable barons of the book trade, they reflected a world which, until very recently was clubby, small-c conservative and frankly chauvinist.
Friday 28 February 2014, 17:22
We were told that children learn to see by touch. So they begin by holding objects before they see and can discern objects. The blind child who regained his sight could not distinguish shapes and objects. For instance, he couldn’t distinguish between a dog and a cat until he picked up the cat and found that it was furry. On the other hand, the experiments are still going on with totally blind people. The evidence so far has come from children who were blinded by cataracts and had a tiny bit of sight or had gone blind. What happens with people who have been blind from birth?
Friday 28 February 2014, 17:11
I said to Naomi Alderman that I never thought I’d read in a novel the sentence, ‘Last night I dreamed I flew over Hendon’. But there it is, in her first (prize-winning) book Disobedience, and it brings you the flavour of the story. The sentence goes on, ‘The wind was around me, above and below and filling my lungs and beneath me Hendon was spread out.’ Some of Naomi’s favourite writers play with fantasy – she’s always loved Douglas Adams and Neil...
Friday 28 February 2014, 15:58
I’m not usually a fan of horror. There is enough in real life to sate any appetite I have for being scared stiff. Yet horror can be cleansing, even cathartic. How else to explain our feelings at the end of Coriolanus or even King Lear? My first introduction to horror was BBC TV’s Quatermass and the Pit which quite put me off ever wanting to visit London, where the pit was located. Later, I found the daleks in Dr Who pallid in comparison.Quatermass and the Pit - The Martian monster hovering over the Haunted House...
Friday 21 February 2014, 17:52
Today we’ve launched two new Twitter accounts that help answer one of life's eternal questions, 'What's about to start on Radio 4 or 4 Extra?'
If you follow @NowOnBBCRadio4 and @NowOnBBC4Extra you’ll receive a tweet just before the next programme is on with a link to listen online if you’re not near a radio. Scrolling back through the timeline is also a useful way to catch up with programmes you might have missed.
We know that many Radio 4 and 4 Extra listeners use Twitter to find out what’s on the station but we’re not able to tweet about every programme from @bbcradio4 and @bbcradio4extra. We hope that this automated service will help listeners miss less of the great array of programmes on the two networks.
It also means that we can we concentrate on developing the main @bbcradio4 and @bbcradio4extra accounts as places where we can highlight more hidden gems and clips, share photos and talk with our listeners.
Follow us on Twitter:
Friday 21 February 2014, 13:14
It’s a pity we didn’t have time to go into the application of eugenics in Communist countries. Adam Kuper at least flagged up China, but there’s an awful lot to be said about Russia. Perhaps another programme? And perhaps in that next programme we can talk about the submerged but persistent hints of eugenic solutions around the “civilised” world today. I have a feeling that some people still are of...