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Feedback: The New Elizabethans

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Roger Bolton Roger Bolton 09:08, Friday, 24 August 2012

Roger Bolton

This week, to mark the return of Feedback, I am going to discuss one of the programme's most closely guarded and expensive secrets. Who writes the script? Is it the overpaid presenter, ie me, or the underpaid and overworked producer (who is standing over my shoulder as I write this)?

The reason for raising this controversial, not to say embarrassing, issue is because this week some of our listeners have asked whether Jim Naughtie has written all the scripts of his series the New Elizabethans, and if so, whether he is responsible for the factual errors in some episodes. (To be fair, lots of people wrote in to say they loved the series as well).

Well of course, we at Feedback never make mishtakes and so need never apologise so that is not an issue, but what about the question of authorship? The New Elizabethans is a series of essays and we are assured that all have been written by the Bard of Aberdeen himself.

Feedback is rather different. It is a multi item programme driven by listeners and the producer sees everything you send in. She and I then discuss what we should feature but the final decision lies with the production team.

After I have done the interviews or discussions the producer decides on the running order and then does a draft script, containing the essential information.

I then turn it into, (well I was going to say " a vastly improved and finely polished masterpiece" -but she is still standing behind me) , er Bolton speak.

However, I would never agree to say anything I fundamentally disagreed with, and as I get decently paid for working less hard than the producer, its right that she should get the credit and I should take the blame.

Anyway back to that master wordsmith Alexander James Naughtie and his New Elizabethans.

In Feedback this week I talked to his producer and to one of his subjects, Professor Stuart Hall.

Next week on Feedback, well, I don't know yet, that is up to you.

Happy Listening,

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.


  • Comment number 1.

    I have not listened to many editions of the New Elizabethans, but I have enjoyed the ones that I have heard. Today's edition about John Hume and David Trimble was an informative and well-scripted reminder of the twists and turns of Northern Ireland politics. I am not sure, however, that it was right to contrast Trimble with the "bookish" Hume. I think Trimble might have a copy of Goethe on his bookshelf.

    In the episode about George Best it was quite a revelation to learn that Jimmy Greaves' transfer fee to AC Milan in 1961 was only £1,000 - more than his annual earning in England the previous year!

    Concerning Feedback, mixing and stirring paint is one thing but creating a masterpiece is something else. I would guess, however, that the Feedback producer's script would not need much changing. The producer would know what Mr Bolton would and would not be prepared to say. But what about the use of music in the programme? I liked the Vangelis music this week. Almost imperceptible at first.

  • Comment number 2.

    I refer to the interesting transmission "New Elizabethans" which I understand is Mr Naughtie own pet project.

    One glaring omission so far is that of Edward Heath, the British Prime Minister who has, as the result of his consistent and energetic endeavours managed to take this country into the European Community (now the EU).

    This great historical change which is recognized as significant for everyone in Europe, has put an end to the continuing historical decline of Britain.

    That fundamental change has engaged the UK in common decisionmaking by all governments and people at European level. Many issues like free movement of people, the environment, the economy, free trade, transport, energy, foreign policy and common standards with have been tacled with substantial benefits to all.

    Is there any particular reason that Mr Naughty has omitted Sir Edward Heath's individual contribution - or does this Broadcaster and presumably the panel advising him believe that other Europeans will ignore this snub to him? If others are to continue to take the UK seriously due credit needs to be given to the only Prime Minister who really understood us and Europe.

    It may be unpopular to recognize his role but this omission seems more patient of policy under Elizabeth I, than that under Elizabeth II.


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