Friday, February 16, 2007

What I am listening to at the moment

For the first time in several months I remembered to tune in to BBC 7 on Wednesday night at 7pm to listen to Round the Horne. I love these shows and although Round the Horne and its predecessor Beyond our Ken were first broadcast back in the 50s and 60s I still find them immensely funny and enjoyable. There has never been better radio comedy in my opinion, or at least I haven't heard it if there has. I like Round the Horne's bizarre cast of characters from Rumbling Syd Rumpo to Julian & Sandy to Charles & Fiona and it doesn't matter how many times I hear the sketches, they're still funny. Personally, I feel it works so well because the humour is so quintessentially English. Its of the saucy postcard variety with much double entendre, slapstick and occasional satire. There is nothing outrageously offensive in the humour and it is so well performed that Round the Horne never fails to impress and leave me laughing like a drain for 30 minutes. Must remember to tune in again next week!

One of the other pleasures I've found recently on the radio is the Moral Maze on BBC Radio 4 - 8pm Wednesdays, although I normally catch the repeat at 10.15pm on Saturdays. The basics of the programme is that Michael Buerk is joined by a panel who cross-examine expert witnesses on a chosen moral issue of the week. The debate is often fascinating and always intelligent. Recent weeks have included debates on gambling and the Catholic Church's stand on gay adoption. Although there is rarely a consensus reached by the end of the programme on the issue being discussed, what I enjoy is the fact that it challenges the witnesses and their arguments in an intelligent and forthright manner and often makes me evaluate and reconsider my own opinions.

Earlier on Saturday nights on BBC Radio 4 at 8pm is the Archive Hour. This is not always a programme I tune in for and I first listened last year with a programme reflecting on the development and history of Milton Keynes. It was a fascinating trawl through the radio archives, with interviews with locals back in 1967 who were both apprehensive and fearful of the coming of the new city. Interestingly, the presenter who made a point of visiting Milton Keynes, found that contemporary residents largely like the place and while much was lost, including many acres of fertile farmland and village life, the overall view was that Milton Keynes had brought many more benefits than disadvantages.

Also on Saturdays between 5-7pm is Classic FM at the Movies, which I seem to most weeks miss or only catch the beginning or end of. This is a great programme for someone like me who loves movie scores because it covers not just recent releases but the classics as well from the golden age of Hollywood. It does tend though to play too much of the popular excerpts from scores when it would be nice to hear the less well known pieces and occasionally to hear a full score.

During the week, depending on what time I get home I either listen to the irreverent Ronnie Barbour on BBC Three Counties Radio or Smooth Classics at Seven on Classic FM. The latter is a perfect soothe to a hard day!

Sunday evenings at 6.30pm on BBC Radio 2 have become one of the highlights of the week for me. Alan Titchmarsh presents Melodies for You, which is basically and excuse for him to play a selection of his favourite music for two hours each week. I really enjoy this show, its perfect for a Sunday evening, sublime and beautiful music interspersed with measured chat.

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