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Radio 4 at the Edinburgh Festival 2013

Friday 9 August 2013, 16:01

Caroline Raphael Caroline Raphael Commissioning Editor, Radio 4 & 4 Extra

Caroline Raphael, Commissioning Editor for Radio 4 & Radio 4 Extra discusses Radio 4's involvement with the Edinburgh Festival 2013. Find out details of all broadcast shows from the Edinburgh Festival, or discover more at the BBC at the Edinburgh Festival website

  BBC at the Edinburgh Festival BBC at the Edinburgh Festival

Friday morning. Leaving soon for Edinburgh. Edinburgh in August, the city of three seasons in a day, so whatever I pack won't be right most of the time. I'll be seeing over 70 shows - not sure when I'm supposed to eat. I go with high expectations of each and every performance so why stop for lunch when you can dash through the overcrowded streets to squeeze into another small airless room for an hour to be entertained. Or not.  

As the days go on a noise builds up around certain shows: reviews, Twitter, the opinions of those you trust. Names you've followed for a year or so doing their first big solo show will be even better than you dared hope; others... oh, well.

From August in Scotland to a series on Radio 4 is a long sometimes rough voyage but with that end in mind some of this year's successes should start to appear on programmes and we will keep talking about them and with them.
These conversations will start in a rainy/sunny/freezing cold Edinburgh. For most of the next year if not longer these shows will be reference points that I and producers will come back to over and over again. 

If you are going to the Fringe then you'll have already spotted many of the names that frequently enliven our airwaves including: Andrew Maxwell, Arthur Smith, Bridget Christie, David Sedaris, Fred Macaulay, Jenny Éclair, Marcus Brigstocke, Mark Thomas, Milton Jones, Mitch Benn, Nicholas Parsons, Richard Herring, Sandi Toksvig, Sarah Millican, Stephen K Amos, Susan Calman, The Horne Section and Tom Wrigglesworth

What of the Radio 4 signings you might just be less familiar with? 

Aisling Bea was the second woman ever to win the prestigious So You Think You're Funny? competition last year, but she had already been commissioned by Radio 4, alongside Yasmine Akram, for a very idiosyncratic retelling of Irish legends (Irish Micks and Legends). The first series was nominated for a Chortle Award and it will be returning next year.
Catriona Knox is a third of The Boom Jennies whose girl's own adventure series Mission Improbable is returning to Radio 4. She's a fine comedy actress and her charming if occasionally unhinged characters are a delight. 

Beat poetry, stand up and rock music hit Radio 4 this summer in The Lach Chronicles and you have a chance to see Lach live in his adopted home town of Edinburgh. 

Mordrin Macdonald 21st Century Wizard was the Scottish wizard who found spells and cosmic fights for wizard supremacy a chore – he would rather be making jam. Catch David Kay (who wrote and performed Mordrin) if you can – he's doing just two shows.

Hal Cruttenden's eponymous comedy about a house husband will be on air in 2014 and you have a chance to see last year's show that had me in tears. Good tears.

James Acaster did a lovely comic short story for our Edinburgh Comic Fringes last year. He has a deceptively mild laid back style, a curious mind and a rather vivid imagination. His one off about bread for Radio 4 has spawned a forthcoming series. Not all about bread!

All the stars of forthcoming Radio 4 sketch show Small Scenes - Henry Paker, Mike Wozniak and Sara Pascoe - are doing solo shows this year. 

Tim Fitzhigham should have been a gentleman explorer. He delights in restaging historical challenges. For Radio 4 he recreated an old wager involving pigeons, trampolines and cricket balls and more are coming. 

John Osborne tells stories. He's told us of his John Peel record collection; love lost and won, the charm of newsagent window advertisements. In Edinburgh this year he remembers a day spent at the seaside.

The state of our financial markets is not always a laughing matter but in 2014 the waspish Simon Evans will be Going to Market on Radio 4 and proving otherwise.   

Just as Edinburgh finishes Colin Hoult, a fine comedy actor stalwart of many shows, has his first name above the title show on Radio 4. His creepy Carnival of Monsters started as an Edinburgh show a few years ago. 

And from Radio 4 Extra's The Comedy Club come Peacock & Gamble. They describe their act as an hour of electrifying stupidity. I'd say electrifying joy and theatricality. Ray Peacock will be presenting a three hour special on his hero Les Dawson on 4 Extra in the autumn. 

Discover our shows from Edinburgh plus some of Radio 4's finest comedy talent in the Comedy at Edinburgh collection. 

You can also see what the rest of the BBC is up to on the BBC at the Edinburgh Festivals website

And, follow some of the names that enliven our airwaves via Twitter: @andrewismaxwell, @ArfurSmith, @fredmacaulay, @jennyeclair, @marcusbrig, @markthomasinfo, @themiltonjones, @MitchBenn, @Herring1967, @SarahMillican75, @stephenkamos, @SusanCalman, @hornesection, @tomwriggleswort@WeeMissBea, @catrionaknox, @Halcruttenden, @JamesAcaster, @HenryPaker, @mrmikewozniak, @sarapascoe, @timfitzhigham, @JohnOsRadioHead, @TheSimonEvans, @wheeliemancrow (Colin Hoult) and @peacockgamble

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    Comment number 1.

    The BBC is become it seems as a Roman Circus. Sanity banished to the Fringe?

    Just as in Rome there is some method behind the madness, a commissioning of old trusties to play second fiddle to Nero's idea of democracy.

    The real idea of democracy, first trampled in Greece, since abused for millennia, now being rediscovered as necessarily rule of, for, by the EQUAL people, again has come under spurious attack, care of the BBC's Point of View.

    Roger Scruton, a writer and philosopher, discusses 'democracy' assuming the concept to be fairly realised wherever elections and votes are held, allowing himself the conclusion that 'more than democracy' is required to protect what logically should be agreed as actually the foundations of democracy.

    For 'the people' to rule (rather than their dictator or dictatorial elite), we have to give our informed agreement to enduring state protection of equal political expression, naturally of our equal freedom in markets of influence, essentially in speech (including funded campaigning), and in those other 'goods & services' by which our material 'demand' directs today's industry (and our investment in and protection for tomorrow).

    Having no idea of certain worth in his 'democracy of votes', having no idea of our being meaningfully 'representative' of each other, seeing the kinds of fate that even the best of societies suffer - even if cushioned by wealth - Scruton is naturally at pains to call for the emulation of (unbeknown) democratic freedoms: equality before the law (inadvertently excluding judgements in equity); personal property (the oppressive we might suspect less inadvertently smuggled-in); speech and opinion (restriction and abuse equally to be feared, wherever the individual is vulnerable, wherever the social order is morally indefensible); and legitimacy of opposition (acknowledged as unaffordable "in times of emergency", but seen as ensuring "civilised government", vainly without reference to the viability of our 'civic' life together).

    Scruton desires that we should be possessed of "a reverse gear". What better than that to be expected from the choices of a free people, every individual free to speak and act 'in conscience'? We should do as Scruton finally suggests, "examine what democracy actually requires", rather than accept his blinkered view of democracy as damned by the centuries of its virulent mockery.


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