Thursday 6 March 2014, 09:04
Radio 4 hijacked by a Character Invasion
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 on the Today programme, written especially for Character Invasion by Richard Curtis, and Chris Packham will be reporting from the streets of New York for Tweet for the Day, hot on the trail of Avis Giganteus - a large, conspicuous and highly vocal species – commonly known as Big Bird. And who knows what Lynda Snell, Marvin the Paranoid Android and Roy of the Rovers will get up to when they storm the studios.
Beginning with a new production of Hamlet - often thought of as the definitive character portrayal - starring History Boy Jamie Parker and broadcast over five afternoons in the...
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.
My producer, Melissa FitzGerald and I knew, as we edited some wonderful audio material into shape, that - enthralling as all this was turning out to be - there was another, equally vivid strand of literary life to explore: the role of women in books.
Robert McCrum with Ursula Owen
This new series of Publishing Lives sets out to remedy that omission, and I have to say that Melissa and I are delighted with the strange, and often moving, stories we have discovered. In the process, we have not only paid tribute to some truly great 20th century women whose influence on the world of books was decisive...
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?
The whole business of colour is fascinating. As Will Ayliffe said in the programme, colour doesn’t exist in the real world. What has happened is that our brain has found a way to distinguish these wavelengths, one from the other, with bewildering subtlety. No wonder that physicists call the brain the most complicated thing in the universe.
It’s interesting that Newton, who found out so much about colour, did not set out to find anything at all about colour, but just to explore white light. But by doing two experiments with his prisms – one with white light and one with a separate colour – he transformed...
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...
Friday 21 February 2014, 11:51Suzanne Vega at the 2014 Folk Awards
So there I was in Bellowhead’s dressing room at the Royal Albert Hall, surrounded by empty bottles of champagne, caviar and lines of white powder. Draped upon the chaise longues, in the glow of low level lighting which added to the deep red of the carpet and the velvet walls, were scores of groupies waiting for their personal interviews with the band.
Well that’s the fantasy. The reality was that the dressing room was closer to one you would find allocated to an away team at Hackney...
Thursday 20 February 2014, 08:20
Monday 17 February 2014, 09:53
Six young people have joined Radio & Music Production, the BBC department which makes many of the key programmes for Radio 4. They’re already bringing new ideas and a fresh approach. Can they help attract younger listeners to the station?
Ailish Tucker is 18 and working with the team making the In Touch programme. “For fear of sounding like a hopeful on the X-Factor, I am passionate about radio and for as long as I can remember it has been a dream of mine to work in the radio industry”.
Eighteen year old Edward Jankowski spent a year volunteering at Bolton FM while he sat his final...