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Feedback - Hackney Weekend

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Roger Bolton Roger Bolton 16:30, Friday, 22 June 2012

Roger Bolton

King Henry 8th had a palace there, and principal members of his court, such as Sir Ralph Sadleir, had their houses in the surrounding area.

In 1727 the author of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, said that "This town is so remarkable for the retreat of wealthy citizens, that there is at this time near a hundred coaches kept in it", and Defoe couldn't help repeating the crack that "there were more coaches than Christians in it".

He was talking about what is now Hackney Central, only a few miles away from London's West End, but an area associated with high levels of gun crime, high unemployment and social deprivation, where large numbers of kids seem to hang about street corners with seemingly little to do, as police cars speed by, their sirens blaring. In short it is not the place that a late middle aged, middle class, white man would usually go, but I am very glad I went.

For a start the main thoroughfare, Mare Street, has been revitalised.

The Hackney Empire Theatre, home of early 20th century variety, has become a 21st century venue, hosting drama, opera, and comedy productions, and across the way there is a multiplex cinema with coffee bars and meeting area.

This may be a veneer, but it is an attractive one, and it is here that the BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra Academy is mounting its three week Take It On initiative, urging young people in the area to Get Inspired and Get Involved.

There are free practical workshops on fashion, music, film, radio, gaming and journalism, comedy and business.

All this, of course, leads up to Radio 1's Hackney Weekend where mega stars like Jay Z and Rihanna are performing.

I wanted to find out whether such an initiative does reach parts of the country the BBC normally neglects, and whether there was a danger of raising expectations which could not be fulfilled.

Here is our Feedback report:

Also this week I talked to Ben Cooper, the newish Controller of Radio 1 about his plans. I asked him for his reaction to the BBC Trust's instruction to lower the average age of his audience, in other words getting rid of some of his older listeners.

Here is our interview:

By the end of next week white smoke should be seen emerging from Broadcasting House on the appointment of a new BBC Director General.

Do let us know what you think of the appointment, when it is made, and what her, or his, priorities should be.

Thanks for listening - and reading.

Roger Bolton

Roger Bolton presents Feedback

  • Listen again to this week's Feedback, get in touch with the programme, find out how to join the listener panel or subscribe to the podcast on the Feedback web page.
  • Read all of Roger's Feedback blog posts.



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