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Simon Schama on taking over A Point of View

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Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick 17:20, Friday, 12 March 2010

Simon Schama and Clive James

Sheila Cook is producer of Radio 4's weekly personal essay slot - A Point of View. Simon Schama takes over this evening for a 10-week run of the short programme that's been filling the gap left by Alistair Cook's America.

Simon and Sheila stayed on in the studio after Monday's recording to record this fascinating interview - exclusively for the blog. On what's different about writing for radio, Simon says:

This is more 'organised stream of conciousness', which is a danger really because Schama's consciousness is intensely disorganised most of the time but what you lose in formality I hope that everyone - including me - will gain in fun.

On the programme's legacy:

Alistair Cook... was amazingly good at discovering what seemed to be an incidental anecdote and then bolting it to a major theme that connects us all. If I can manage that with even a fragment of his genius for putting things together then I'll be happy.

And on possible themes for later essays, he warns us to expect some sport (although probably not baseball, which he's covered before) and teases us:

I'm sort of besottedly interested in singer-songwriter kind of pop music. It just may be that there's something interesting to talk about there. Who knows?

Listen to the interview:

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Steve Bowbrick is editor of the Radio 4 blog
  • The picture shows Simon and Clive James (another A Point of View presenter) in about 1970. It was taken by Mike Payne. Thanks to Clive James for permission to use it. There are some pictures taken in the studio here and a picture taken using my old-fashioned instant camera here.
  • The first of Simon Schama's ten programmes is transmitted at 2050 tonight and repeated on Sunday morning at 0850. You can listen again after transmission on the Radio 4 web site.
  • Listen to previous programmes by Clive James and Lisa Jardine on the A Point of View web site.


  • Comment number 1.

    This was one of the worst examples I have heard in this slot.

    Please tell Schama that he does not have Clive James's way with words.

    He also needs to find something to talk about. "Aren't I clever" does not add up to much.

    Ten programmes? Over to Radio 3.

    If you want a quick replacement, how about Joe Queenan?

  • Comment number 2.

    Must agree with the comment @ #1, the worst "A Point of View" I've heard thus far (and I've probably listened to most or at least a good majority), or should I say, what I heard as I eventually switched the radio off...

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree - I am a fan of Schama but he's in the wrong job here. There must be people more suited for this.

  • Comment number 4.

    The two editions of 'A Point of View' by Simon Schama have been dreadful - banal and uninteresting with painfully contrived attempts at levity. Please no more!

    I was not very impressed with the recent efforts from Clive James either - I prefer to listen to speakers who have some knowledge about the subject on which they pontificate, not just try to cover up their ignorance with smart-*ss comments.

    Lisa Jardine was much better - knowledgeable and interesting, but best of all was David Attenborough - his talks were superb little essays. Radio broadcasting at its very best.

  • Comment number 5.

    Listened to last weeks APOV (Sunday morning repeat) for the first time since mid March, Simon Schama just doesn't have what it takes, his delivery is so 'dead-pan' I was in danger of failing back to sleep - yes the subject was interesting, the words being read were interesting but the delivery was (still) awful. Sorry...

  • Comment number 6.

    Again, a very interesting subject/script but delivery was dreadful. Such was the dead-pan delivery, ends of sentences and paragraphs often became lost, can't say that I'm sorry for Simon's tenure has come to an end.


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