BBC Radio 4

    Choosing the 2011 Reith lecturer

    Choosing the Reith lecturer every year is one of the privileges of the job. It is a rather wonderful piece of patronage (for me, at any rate) and poses numerous challenges.

    I look every year for something original - and someone who is a good communicator. Topicality can be an advantage, but with some subjects it doesn't matter.

    I moved the Reiths to a different transmission pattern a few years ago - to 0900 with a Saturday evening repeat - to increase the audience and the lecturers' impact. It's a big occasion for Radio 4.

    So I'm naturally delighted to have seduced Antony Gormley for 2011. We began talking about it a while ago in his Kings Cross studio/workshop. It's a very large edifice and various sculptures at different stages of preparation are dotted around, being attended to by a small group of craftsmen - and women - who must have been tempted to say "look but don't touch" but with amazing politeness restrained themselves. It was a fascinating experience.

    Antony Gormley will be the first sculptor to be a Reith lecturer and, for that matter, the first practising visual artist to do so. He has, of course, broadcast before (quite a bit on Radio 3) and has much to say about art and culture. It is a mouth-watering prospect.

    Mark Damazer is Controller of BBC Radio 4


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