BBC Radio 4

    Feedback: Roger Bolton interviews Radio 4's controller Gwyneth Williams

    BBC Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House, London

    There is an expression floating around the internet at the moment, plucked from a number of American magazines. It's "pulling a Gwyneth" and refers to that somewhat eccentric actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

    Well on Feedback this week we pulled our own Gwyneth - Gwyneth Williams - who as Controller of Radio 4 has introduced the most significant changes to the network's schedule since James Boyle, well over a decade ago.

    In private his successors will tell you that they were grateful for many of the changes he made, but at the time there was a huge uproar and shortly afterwards the man, nicknamed McBirt, retired to the quieter waters of Leith and the world of Scottish arts.

    His next two successors, Helen Boaden and Mark Damazer concentrated on the programmes and those who make them.

    Now Gwyneth Williams, driven in part, some suspect, by the need to make economies, but also by a genuine belief that The World at One needs more time, and that her network needs more science and less Americana, has refashioned the schedule she has inherited.

    Quite a number of those who have contacted Feedback approve of what she has done, but a larger number worry that Radio 4 is now too dominated by news. They point out that between 6am and midnight over a third of the Radio 4 output is news or news related.

    "We already have 5live", one wrote. "We don't need another rolling news station". I put the concerns to Gwyneth Williams when we met this week. (By the way the name Gwyneth, Welsh of course, means "white, fair, blessed". Well I can confirm that she is white and fair. You can decide on the third attribute.)

    Here is our discussion.

    Please let us know what you want Feedback to look into, and remember, the BBC Trust's consultation on Delivering Quality First ends on 21 December.

    Make sure your voice is heard.

    Roger Bolton presents Feedback


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