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The News

Actor and comedian Miles Jupp, host of Radio 4's 'The News Quiz', and radio news presenter Kathy Clugston read poetry and prose about the news media, with music and archive clips.

From early morning radio bulletins and a daily paper, to TV and social media, The News is at the centre of our lives. It shapes conversations. It affects our mood. This edition travels from the 19th century, when newspapers were seen as noble messengers, to the 21st, with 24-hour rolling news on every screen.

Comical newshounds in novels by Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Trollope, populate the first half of the programme, and poets Carol Ann Duffy and Wendy Cope point a cynical finger at the tabloid press. Then the mood darkens as Siegfried Sassoon's WWI soldier humours a naïve war reporter, and Joan Barton poignantly recalls watching the outbreak of WWII on a cinema newsreel. John Adams wrote his opera Nixon in China, inspired by the president's 1972 visit and the mythology surrounding it. Meanwhile the gut instincts and determination of investigative reporters Bernstein and Woodward were eventually to bring Nixon down.

Music, poetry and archive clips reflect key moments in history, such as Paul Simon's moving Seven O'Clock News/Silent Night, as Dr Martin Luther King visits Atlanta and America anticipates five more years of war in Vietnam, and Roger Woddis's outcry against the UK race riots in 1981. 20 years later, Andrew Marr watches the 9/11 terrorist attacks unfold in real time on a 24-hour rolling news service.

We hear themes used for news programmes by Malcolm Arnold, John Williams and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and incidental music for plays and films, such as Samuel Barber's School for Scandal and Bernard Herrmann's score for Citizen Kane.

Newsreader Kathy Clugston and Miles Jupp, host of BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz, are the readers for a special edition of Words and Music exploring the evolution of how we get our news.

Producer Helen Garrison.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:00

    John Malcolm arr. Ivor Slaney

    Non Stop

    Performer: L’Orchestre Devereux, George Devereux (conductor).
    • Guild Light Music GLCD 5131.
  • George Crabbe

    THE NEWSPAPER (extract), read by Miles Jupp

  • 00:00

    Johann Strauss II

    Morgenblatter [Morning papers] - waltz Op.279 (extract)

    Performer: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Reiner (conductor).
    • RCA LIVING STEREO 60177.
  • Shane Leslie

    Fleet Street, Read by Kathy Clugston

  • 00:00

    Gustav Holst

    The Planets - suite (Op.32); Mercury, The Winged Messenger

    Performer: London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski (conductor).
    • LPO0047.
  • 00:00

    Bernard Herrmann

    Citizen Kane -The Original Motion Picture Score; Kane's News Office/ Carter's Exit/ Chronicle Scherzo

    Performer: The Australian Philharmonic Orchestra, Tony Bremner (conductor).
    • Preamble PRCD 1788.
  • T. S. (Thomas Stearns) Eliot

    Airs of Palestine No. 2, Read by Kathy Clugston

  • Evelyn Waugh

    Scoop (extract), Read by Miles Jupp

  • 00:00

    Leroy Anderson

    The Typewriter

    Performer: Alasdair Malloy (typewriter), BBC Concert Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin (conductor).
    • Naxos 8.559357.
  • 00:00

    Frank Loesser

    Guys and Dolls; Runyonland Music / Fugue For Tinhorns

    Performer: Stubby Kaye (Nicely-Nicely Johnston), Johnny Silver (Benny Southstreet), Douglas Deane (Rusty Charlie), Original Broadway Cast Chorus & Orchestra, Irving Actman (conductor).
    • Naxos 8.120786.
  • Carol Ann Duffy

    Poet for our times, Read by Miles Jupp

  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman

    The Yellow Reporter, Read by Kathy Clugston

  • 00:00

    Samuel Barber

    The School for scandal - overture (Op.5) (extract)

    Performer: Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi (conductor).
    • Chandos CHAN 8958.
  • Anthony Trollope

    The Warden (extract), Read by Miles Jupp

  • 00:00

    Edward Elgar

    Falstaff; The King Arrives

    Performer: BBC Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Davis (conductor).
    • Teldec 4509984362.
  • Wendy Cope

    How to deal with the press, Read by Miles Jupp

  • 00:00

    Malcolm Arnold

    4 English dances - set 2 for orchestra (Op.33), no.1; Allegro non troppo

    Performer: London Philharmonic Orchestra, Malcolm Arnold (conductor).
    • Lyrita SRCD201.
  • Barry Norman

    And why not? (extract), Read by Miles Jupp

  • 00:00

    Leoš Janácek

    On an overgrown path - book 1 for piano, no.5; (They gossiped like swallows)

    Performer: Charles Owen (piano).
    • Somm New Horizons SOMMCD028.
  • 00:00

    Steve Reich

    The Cave; Typing Music Repeat

    Performer: Steve Reich Ensemble,Paul Hillier (conductor).
    • Nonesuch 755979327-2.
  • 00:00

    Scott Joplin arr. Itzhak Perlman

    Easy Winners

    Performer: Itzhak Perlman (violin), André Previn (piano).
    • EMI Classics 7471702.
  • Siegfried Sassoon

    Editorial Impressions, Read by Miles Jupp

  • 00:00

    Stanley Black

    Pathe News Fanfare

    Performer: Unknown.
    • KPM 84 CD.
  • 00:00

    John Tavener

    Eternity’s Sunrise (extract)

    Performer: Patricia Rozario (soprano), Academy of Ancient Music, Paul Goodwin (conductor).
    • Harmonia Mundi HMU907231.
  • Joan Barton

    First News Reel: September 1939, Read by Kathy Clugston

  • Roger Woddis

    Frontline, Read by Kathy Clugston

  • 00:00

    Paul Simon

    Seven O'Clock News / Silent Night

    Performer: Simon & Garfunkel.
    • Universal.
  • 00:00

    John Adams

    Nixon in China; News has a kind of mystery (extract)

    Performer: James Maddalena (Richard Nixon), Orchestra of St Luke’s, Edo de Waart (conductor).
    • Elektra Nonesuch 9791772.
  • Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

    All the President’s Men (extract), Read by Miles Jupp

  • 00:00

    Errollyn Wallen

    Photography; i. Vivace

    Performer: Orchestra X, Nicholas Kok (conductor).
    • NMC D221.
  • Michael Frayn

    Towards the end of morning (extract), Read by Miles Jupp

  • 00:00

    Philip Glass

    Façades (extract)

    Performer: Philip Glass Ensemble.
    • Sony SBK64133.
  • Carol Ann Duffy

    War Photographer, Read by Kathy Clugston

  • 00:00

    Alonso Lobo

    Versa est in luctum

    Performer: Tenebrae, Nigel Short (conductor).
    • Signum SIGCD248.
  • Hortense King Flexner

    Foreign News, Read by Kathy Clugston

  • 00:01

    Django Bates

    Three English Scenes; i. Good evening…Here is the news

    Performer: Human Chain, London Sinfonietta, Deigo Masson (conductor).
    • Argo 452 099-2.
  • Andrew Marr

    My Trade (extract), Read by Miles Jupp

  • 00:01

    John Baker

    PM – Computers in business

    Performer: Radiophonic Workshop.
    • Trunk Records JBH028CD.
  • David Mason

    Daytime, Read by Kathy Clugston

  • 00:01

    John Williams

    The Mission Theme (Theme for NBC News)

    Performer: Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles, John Williams (conductor).
    • Sony SK89364.
  • 01:15

    Jacques Castérède

    Sonatine for trombone and piano

    Performer: Peter Moore. Performer: Jonathan Ware.


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