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Feedback: Are big radio events worth it?

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Roger Bolton Roger Bolton 15:00, Friday, 16 September 2011

The shadow of the last controller of Radio 4 still hangs over the network, not least in the form of an eight-hour dramatisation of Vasily Grossman's epic Russian novel, Life and Fate.

Life and Fate cast shot

Some of the cast from Radio 4's production of the epic Life and Fate

To be honest I had never heard of it, but ex-controller Mark Damazer insists that it is one of the greatest 20th century novels, and he commissioned dramas and documentaries about it before he left for a new life at an Oxford college.

Even so are such blockbuster radio events worth it?

That's one of the issues we looked at this week, and I had hoped it would give me the opportunity of meeting two of the stars, not Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant, but Janet Suzman and Greta Scacchi. But I was disappointed.

Also this week we report on the latest outbreak of discontent among some Radio 3 listeners who think "their" network is using too many gimmicks in the attempt to attract new listeners.

"Don't alienate the ones you already have", is their message to the Controller of Radio 3, Roger Wright.

He is coming onto Feedback in a few weeks so do let me know what you think about the changes he has just made to his schedule.

Meanwhile here is the Feedback feature on Life and Fate.

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Roger Bolton presents Feedback


  • Comment number 1.

    This is worth it - Grossman was a great European writer - hidden in the Soviet system - it's time to understand his merit.

  • Comment number 2.

    Mr Damazer is history and I wish Feedback would desist from making any references to him. He admitted in one interview that he didn’t even spend large chunks of his childhood listening to the radio. At least Ms. Helen Boaden’s pushchair had aerials wired into the hood and handles + alternators attached to the wheels. Sadly, Ms. Boaden is now only remembered as the controller responsible for the R4 ‘bongs’ incident.

    How about Jeremy Howe and Alison Hindell toddle off to their local library and read the works of Oliver Heaviside? I bet none of the arts graduates within Feedback or Radio 4 have ever even heard of him, let alone considered a dramatisation of his life and phenomenal discoveries.

  • Comment number 3.

    Depends on the content. Frankly Radio 4's idea of 'comedy' between 11.00 and 11.30pm is shocking. Last night; 15th Sept 11 till a very tiring 11.30 (when would it end) with 'VERY OLD PRETENDERS' was just noise, it was difficult to hear the dialogue and when I did it was simply not funny. And what about, what is it, MORDRED THE WITCH? It must rank as the most useless programme on the planet, the BBC should be sued under the trade's descriptions act. I think there is only one late night comedy worth listening to at the moment.

  • Comment number 4.

    I am not sure if I will be able to listen live to all episodes of the dramatisation in one week, but I will be able to use the iplayer to ensure that I listen to them in order in my own time. Mr Damazer was known for his good judgement in commissioning programmes, and I have no reason to doubt that this dramatisation will not be good listen. Also, Kenneth Branagh is an excellent director and actor and he would not have accepted the part if he had any doubts about merit of the book.

    Russophiles might like to read the contributions of the Russian-speaking historian Frank Ellis on the following blog - https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2011/09/andrew_marr_-_life_and_fate.html

    ON the subject of Radio 3 and the changes made to the early morning schedule I have to disagree with the "cultural vandalism" slur. A lot of the whingers who yearn for Wagner's Ring cycle and the like on Radio 3 have large libraries of CDs that they could play in the morning if they object so much to human interaction. Radio 3 still caters for the music aficionado; however, a lot of us in the morning are unable to sit around listening to a full sympathy. Roger Wright should not cave in to this small band of vocal discontents.

  • Comment number 5.

    Meanwhile here is the Feedback feature on Life and Fate.

    I'm sure I'll be a big fan of Life and Fate, and I appreciate hearing about the dramatisation, but doing promotional features really isn't Feedback's role in my view.

  • Comment number 6.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 7.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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