Radio 4 in Cheltenham and the Nick Clarke Award
Last week R4 was dominated by Chilean miners and Cheltenham chatterers. The most original take on the miners' story must go to Broadcasting House on Sunday which read from Edgar Allan Poe's tale about being buried alive. Further unintentional echoes reached me, in an item that moved me to tears, from an underground bomb shelter in Coventry in John Waite's Pick of the Week when Michael Logan spoke of what happened to him and his family that day so long ago.
I spent the run up to the week in Cheltenham at the literary festival feasting on some of Radio 4's cultural gems and thinking about my former colleague, Nick Clarke, missing again his familiar voice on Radio 4. I was privileged to work with Nick on occasional current affairs programmes and his character and principles infused his programmes- the best broadcasters bring all of themselves to the airwaves; that is partly why they become a real presence in the lives of listeners, and especially so with the intimacy of radio.
Nick's twin sons, Joel and Benedict, helped me read out the winner of the annual Nick Clarke Award for the best broadcast interview in the last year. It was PD James for her Today programme interview of the BBC Director General Mark Thompson. The crowd talked in the coffee shops and gardens about "Andy" and "Eddie" and we recorded programme after programme to capacity audiences in a huge tent: Start the Week, Open Book, Bespoken Word, Afternoon Readings, The Music group and The Nick Clarke Debate.
Eddie Mair got Tessa Jowell to think aloud about trying for London Mayor in the next election and Mariella Fostrup delivered my aside of the week to James Ellroy in an extraordinary Open Book interview. Ellroy talked about his memoir 'The Hilliker Curse' in which he describes his obsessive pursuit and domination of women following his mother's murder and insisted that he had now atoned - "So you say" was Mariella"s deadpan riposte.
Gwyneth Williams is Controller of BBC Radio 4
- Listen to the award-winning interview, published here on the blog last week.
- The picture shows Nick Clarke at work in the World at One studio in March 2002.