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A change of name for the BBC and a change of schedule for Radio 2

Friday 29 November 2013, 17:21

Roger Bolton Roger Bolton

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Editor's Note: You can listen to Feedback online or download and keep

A couple of weeks ago we discussed the problems the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation would face in covering the Scottish Independence referendum, and what would happen to the BBC if there was a ‘yes’ vote.


Well now we know, because in its White Paper on Independence the SNP says that it plans a separate Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS), to be funded by a separate Scottish licence fee. The new service would make its own programmes and would also buy some from what remains of the BBC (would the Corporation have to be retitled the E (nglish) W(elsh) and N(orthern) I(rish) Broadcasting Corporation?)

Of course this assumes that the EWNIBC would do deals as favourable as the ones that now exist for Scottish viewers and listeners via the BBC, and that the sums available to a SBS from within Scotland would be sufficient to maintain the existing services.

The last thing the BBC’s Director General wants is for his organisation to be drawn into the argument. He will have enough on his hands covering the debate without participating in it.

However if you want to write to us about anything to do with the coverage of the Referendum campaign we would be delighted to hear from you.

It is always difficult for an organisation to report upon itself. In this week’s programme I had to interview my own boss at Whistledown Productions, which produces Feedback, about another of his series, ‘A History of Britain in Numbers’. The content has been widely praised, but some found the use of music off putting - in fact some switched off. I hope listeners feel I treated him as I would any other.

The main part of this week’s programme was given over to an interview with the Controller of Radio 2, Bob Shennan. His station is the most popular in the UK but ‘uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’. As a public service broadcaster he has to maintain his station’s popularity but also ensure that it caters for an older audience and provides music not regularly available on commercially funded stations. As a result of his most recent schedule changes lovers of big band music and easy listening worry that their music does not have much of a future under Bob Shennan. Is that true?

Here is this week’s Feedback feature on Radio 2.

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Next week I am off to Ambridge, aka the Mailbox in Birmingham, to talk to the Archers’ Archivist for a feature for the final programme of this run.

One of her jobs is to ensure that characters do not act out of character. I’ll ask her whether Nigel Pargetter really was the sort of man who would climb up on a roof.

Do let me know what you would like me to find out.

Roger Bolton


Listen to the week’s Feedback

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    SBS - Could this mean a role for Sean Connery? "Please take a seat, Commander Bond."

    I was tuning my radio on Friday looking for Radio 4 and got confused by the voice of James Naughtie. I spent an hour with him.

    I had no problem with the 4 piano notes repeated on A History of Numbers until after I listened to Feedback! Every time I heard them last night straight away I thought: "These are the piano notes that a lot of folk dislike." Not only this, but I started thinking that they were played more frequently than suggested by the man from Whistledown. Did he seek to deceive the Feedback audience by using an average figure? You see, this is how I am thinking now. Feedback is responsible for spoiling my enjoyment of what was a very informative and entertaining series.

    It is interesting that no one from Desert Island Discs would come on Feedback to answer questions on the edition featuring David Miliband. I think I know why. Some weeks ago Mr Bolton revealed his previous relationship with Kirsty Young. It is pure speculation, but perhaps Ms Young advised her team of the potential dangers.

    A sure-footed appearance by Bob Shennan. It would be perverse to ditch very successful presenters simply because they are male.

    The Archers - Why is there to be another run?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Magnificent piece of radio broadcasting by Mr. Bolton on this week’s programme. He sounded as though he was wearing a Jerry Rubin [1] headband with Ted Nugent playing in his headphones! This was better than a Chris Dunkley broadcast :)

    Concerning the very bad manners of ‘Desert Island Discs’ (refusing ‘Feedback’s’ request for an interview), the legendary DID MB community reviewed every programme for the best part of 6 years (could be longer). The DID team never even offered one ‘thank you’ in all that time. The board was closed down with just 1 hour’s notice, accompanied by a statement to the effect that it was closing due to low posting levels. I had taken the precaution of logging all postings and it was in fact the most popular of all the R4 messageboards. I hope Morrissey wasn’t greeted with such rude snootiness when he was a guest. Anyway, a million thanks to Mr. Bolton and the Feedback team for doing their best to respond to the listener’s letter.

    The example above illustrates how most R4 producers and editors always ignore Feedback’s requests for an interview and so I must defend Mr. Prest. a) for turning up for his interview and b) IMO Mr. Prest is one of the most talented R4 producers around and one could tell from the timbre of his voice how seriously he takes his work. Supply side radio is desperately important and so I welcomed Mr. Prests’s superior experience in this area. Mr. Bolton’s blog would have been buzzing with rage if he’d chosen a pop song (e.g. ‘Living by Number’ – New Music) to accompany the programme’s contents. R4 listeners can be so unpredictable, I had expected loads of letters to ‘Feedback’ when Enid Blyton’s ‘Faraway Tree’ [2] was TX’d last Christmas (due to the repetitive music), but they appeared – like me - to have enjoyed the broadcast enormously.

    Not sure if one’s allowed to rave on this blog about anything on the World Service but I reckon Woman’s Hour would double its listening audience if it featured more interesting women such as: ‘Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase’ ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p01jcpvn/The_Documentary_Betty_in_the_Sky_with_a_Suitcase/ ) (part of ‘The Documentary’ series). Haven’t a clue who this woman actually is, but I’ve no doubt that she could have an even more successful second career within the world of radio.

    Mr Brian Sewell is also an exceptionally interesting broadcasting talent. I would nominate him as the narrator of a series entitled: ‘History of the UK Auto Industry’. He wrote a brilliant column in the Independent some time ago in connection with this and I found it compulsive reading. Mr. Quentin Wilson would be my second choice as presenter if Mr. Sewell isn’t available. Also more mysterious female economists on R4 would be most welcome – always a red letter day when Ms. Frances Cairncross, together with her Velecotte Venom [3] voice, hosts an economics related programme. I would like to see a more profound analysis of both the dollar – and the gold market. How about a prog. on the phenomenal growth of ETF’s and their inherent dangers?

    P.S. When can we expect an interview with Ms. Boaden? You could have a jokey intro ‘……….we have had a lot of letters from listeners expressing dreadful disappointment that you missed your R4 controller’s departing interview……..’

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Rubin
    [2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pm8r8
    [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velocette_Venom


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