I love Wimbledon, as I wrote last year but this year I’m fuming over the BBC’s coverage. Every evening at eight o’clock, there’s a programme called Today at Wimbledon, presented by John Inverdale. It’s there to help people who’ve been at work all day catch up on matches and hear some punditry from experts. Firstly, eight o’clock is too early for such a programme because play is still going on. Secondly, the guests are insulted. Two days ago, Tracy Austin and Boris Becker were forced to sit outside in the cold and rain. Every time they started to say anything interesting, Inverdale cut in to say they had to go to (fill in boring match involving some boring British loser). This was just rude.

Yesterday’s programme was the limit. It had hardly started when they moved live to the Sharapova match and showed it for most of the rest of the programme. Point one: I had to mute the TV because of the shrieking. Point two: *the match was being shown on the red button*, so the Beeb was in effect showing it in parallel. Meanwhile, Tracy Austin and John Lloyd were left with nothing to do. I was furious and read my book. Later I switched over for the ten o’clock news. Quite an important news day you might think, with the remarkable events is Northern Ireland. What was on? B****y football! I went to bed in quite a temper.


There’s something on Radio2 almost every evening this week, some programmes timed to be on just as I’m dropping off to sleep. So thank goodness for the iPlayer. Last night’s offering was Nashville Cats: the Making of Blonde on Blonde. It was presented by Bill Nighy. Normally I could listen to him reading anything but here I felt his voice added little. TBH it was a prog for geeks or people who are very keen on Al Kooper (and nothing wrong with that). It was worth hearing just to be reminded what a great album Blonde on Blonde is or, as the script put it, ‘arguably Dylan’s greatest LP’. Singles, EPs and LPs; another world.

As well as these music programmes, there’s short stories on Radio4 in the afternoons and No Direction Home on TV. Sometimes, I’m really glad I was around in 1966.
poll )
Quite a bookfest on the BBC at the moment and I’ve been joining in with some of it. All the programmes are mentioned on the linked page. I started with Faulks on Fiction, in which the curly-haired one began with ‘The Hero’. This plodded along on the lines of : "Faulks is a hero on account of his barnet, his ability to walk and talk at the same time and his excellent ‘noddies’." There was not an original or interesting thought in the whole programme and it was incredibly shallow (BBC2) compared with Birth of the British Novel (BBC4). I’d never heard of Henry Hitchings and he’s less easy on the eye than Faulks but his look at eighteenth century novels was very interesting, particularly on Richardson and Sterne.

Scheduled well after my bedtime was In Their Own Words, a compilation of interviews with British novelists; I recorded it to watch the next day. If you click on the link to the programme it tells you exactly when each piece was recorded and how long it lasted. I disliked the narration but was fascinated by the subject matter. Several of the clips I had seen before, such as Evelyn Waugh being interviewed by John Freeman on Face to Face. Many were quite new to me; I’d never seen or, more to the point heard, Elizabeth Bowen or Aldous Huxley. It was a wonderful glimpse not only of dead authors but of a different culture, one of clipped accents, no holds barred questions (ever seen Mark Lawson Talks To…?) and people smoking while being interviewed. There was no George Orwell, of course, because the BBC wiped all the tapes.

Where today is there a programme like Monitor? You’d think things had dumbed down, perish the thought! (OK, Arena puts out some good programmes.)

A curious feature of these three programmes was that Martin Amis popped up on each one with something to say. I don’t mind that at all; like his father he’s a good critic. Speaking of Dad, here he is. To save you even that trouble, see below for that same 1958 interview with Simon Raven. The presenter is Huw Weldon.

BBC News - Bob Dylan lyrics go under the hammer in New York

This 'post to LJ' feature saves a lot of bother! Would I bid if I could afford it? Probably not. Why doesn't the BBC provide a code for embedding the video?
I recently filled in a survey about the BBC. I complained a lot but every time a box came up for ‘I’m glad the BBC exists’, I ticked it. Now, from half my friends’ list, comes
I’m proud of the BBC by wonderful Mitch Benn.

A kind soul has made a list.
the list )

Radio 2 must do more to appeal to older listeners, says BBC Trust | Media | guardian.co.uk

Straight from the Grauniad via 'post to Live Journal'! Never say I don't keep up.
Fact I didn't know: Radio 2's remit is to appeal to an audience of people over thirty five. Heh. The Trust's report says that the average listening age, currently fifty, must not be allowed to drop. Particular effort must be made to regain the lost audience of people over seventy five.

Other recommendations included urging Radio 2 to put more public service content including "social action" campaigns in its daytime output
Good grief, the last thing I want from R2. Haven't they noticed everyone switching off You and Yours? And The Jeremy Vine Show is *dire* as a means of discussing topical issues. Half the time the man has no idea what he's talking about.

while comedy programming should be "refreshed" and "better differentiated" from comedy on BBC Radio 4.
Since comedy on R4 is currently dire, this is a Good Thing.

Hang on, I know what the over seventy-fives need: The Light Programme.

Need I point out that although I heard this story on the radio news, it was impossible to find anything about it on the BBC news web site?
Woke up this morning, switched in the radio; it was just coming up to six o'clock. The first news item was that Terry Pratchett 'wants a tribunal set up to help those with incurable diseases end their lives with help from doctors.' (Quote from BBC web site.) Why was this considered to be the most important story in the world at that moment? Because it's the subject of a Panorama programme on BBC 1 this evening of course, schoopid. I wish Sir Terry no ill, quite the reverse but a) I don't want to wake too early and then hear talk of assisted suicide and b) it isn't news. So I switched off again. I may soon give up Radio 4 altogether, I'm so sick of its mission to depress.

Normal service, i.e. January books, will be resumed later.

Why the head banging? It’s due yet again to the complete and utter uselessness of the BBC Radio web site! I knew that this Sunday, 31st January, there was to be a reading at 7.45 on Radio 4 of Jennings' Little Hut. Now, how hard would it be to ensure that typing ‘Jennings’ into the ‘Explore the BBC’ box would bring up any relevant programmes? No such luck! What you get is ‘Garth Jennings, director of Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy’ and pages of other irrelevant information. I Googled ‘Jennings BBC Radio’ and the programme came up, first hit here. Why Google rules the earth. I know I’m always going on about this but I’ll continue to do so because it’s so frustrating and it’s my money that pays for the rubbish site. Anyway, heads up for Jennings.

Switch from Radio 4 to Radio 7 at 8 o’clock to hear a reading from Alison Uttley’s A Traveller in Time. For those who don’t know it, this is a time slip story where the action takes place in the same house but split between the twentieth and the sixteenth centuries. It’s rather sad. There’s a very brief synopsis here.

I've just completed the BBC Trust questionnaire about BBC One, Two and Four. It took me a while to find it so I'm helpfully providing the link: it's here.

It's not one word answers but plenty of space to say what you like, so only bother if you have time. Hmm. This discriminates against semi-literate, inarticulate people without internet access. That must be against their rules.
For a long time now I've been irritated by news bulletins which begin, 'The BBC has learned...', as if the same story were not all over the papers. This morning I have heard already:
'The BBC has learned...'
'Figures obtained by the BBC suggest...'
and the final straw, on the 9 a.m. bulletin 'BBC weather forecasters report that there were strong winds in the Highlands last night.'
a) This is news?
b) No one else noticed?

BBC Rant

Apr. 5th, 2009 08:58 am
I've just been lstening to Sunday Worship on Radio 4. I'm rather a traditionalist and this was the kind of service I would normally expect to dislike; instead, I found it inspiring. So I wanted to find out who the preacher was who spoke so well, and where the service was taking place. Naturally my first port of call was the BBC Radio home page. There followed several minutes' frustration and some **!!%%&&** quite inappropriate to my Palm Sunday mood.

Every time I look at this page it has changed and for the worse. At one time you'd go to the Radio 4 home page, see programmes A-Z, find your programme and the information required. Now, the whole thing is geared to Listen Again and podcasts. Worse, when I clicked on today's programmes, I was told, 'Sorry. No programmes are being broadcast at the moment.'! It took me any number of clicks to find what I wanted (here) and that was from an external link.

I could write to Feedback with my complaints but having heard the patronising response poor old Roger Bolton gets from the BBC producers and execs. to whom he puts listeners' complaints, I don't think there's much point. For this I pay my licence fee.
I complained yesterday evening about the rescheduling of LD and have just received this answer.

We note your disappointment at the changes to the BBC One schedule on 04 December. We raised this issue with BBC One Scheduling, who have responded with:

"Little Dorrit billed on 04 December was replaced in order to show Shannon: The Mother of All Lies: A Panorama Special, following the conclusion of the trial of Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan today at Leeds Crown Court.

The conviction of Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan is to be of huge public interest and we were keen to reflect this by broadcasting this programme.

We're fully aware that making late changes to the schedules can cause disruption and annoyance and we don't take these decisions lightly.

BBC One listings information was updated online and on the electronic listings guides from lunchtime on 04 December as soon as the decision to move the programme was made. There was also an on air announcement alerting viewers to the change in programme billings.

The episode of 'Little Dorrit' can be seen on the Sunday night omnibus at 18.15hrs.

We would like to apologise to those people who were expecting to watch 'Little Dorrit'".

Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact us.

So we have to catch Sunday's omnibus edition. How many people check 'electronic listings' just in case their favourite programme might have been cancelled? I spent a fruitless time yesterday evening looking for just this information.
What has the BBC got against Little Dorrit? It started on a Sunday evening, then was moved to two bitty weekday evening slots. I'm glued to it but I've overheard people saying they couldn't follow it, lost interest and so on and I'm sure this was due to the scheduling. This evening I was looking forward to sitting down with my knitting and watching the recording, only to find that it had been replaced by an hour-long programme about the Karen Matthews case. Why? It's hardly World War III! This was such a late decision that even my digi recorder wasn't up to speed. I'm spitting mad and quite unreasonably disappointed but I suppose I'm in a minority. Grump.

Gratuitous picture of apple blossom in the garden today, nothing at all to do with Jane Austen.

Yesterday evening I watched Miss Austen Regrets, Gwyneth Hughes' drama about Jane Austen and marriage. This was a very stylish and thoughtful production, based largely on Jane Austen's letters. What a fine actor Hugh Bonneville is! Olivia Williams was very convincing as Jane; she looked clever, as she surely should. I was shocked by how little the character wore. So thin as she was, you'd think she'd be freezing cold yet she was less well covered than her young niece. I was relieved when she put on a shawl. I haven't seen Becoming Jane, so can't compare the two films but I'd take a bet this one was better. I had low expectations, was totally absorbed by it and in tears at the end. So, back to the texts and for anyone who hasn't read it, Claire Tomalin's excellent biography.
A while ago I wrote about Darcey Bussell introducing a performance of Swan Lake on television. I've just noticed that the programme is being shown again on BBC4 this evening.
Now that Tom Stoppard is 70, BBC Radio has been having something of a Stoppardfest. Listening to Pick of the Week while I was cooking this evening I heard part of their broadcast of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Ah me, I saw the original production at the Old Vic and still have the programme.
What a disappointment. Last night's episode of Life on Mars was the worst yet. Sam and Gene were sidelined in order to devote an episode to Annie and make her look good: failure. Worse, in a series which has been very accurate in its period detail, someone accused the police of 'institutionalised slackness'. What? In 1973? I don't think so.
Radio 4's Loose Ends is a programme which has reached the end of its life IMO but yesterday I stuck with it, hearing that Philip Glenister would be on. I was doubly rewarded as, instead of the usual dire singer-songwriter (where do they find them?) they had wonderful Eddie Reader.

Yes folks, the Gene Genie
returns to our screens in Life on Mars on Tuesday evening and I can't wait. My worry is how on earth they will keep Sam's story interesting? For the whole of the last episode of the first series I was shouting at him to for goodness sake stop crying and arrest his awful father. No question who is the star here and there was a hint yesterday that Gene may go on to have an independent series, set in the eighties. How will that work? Life on Mars depends a lot on the tensions between attitudes then and now. Without 'now' there's no irony, so it's just retro. Hmm, we shall see. I'm also wondering if there will be any explanation of the Twin Peaks elements in the series, by which I mean the girl in the TV and the Jamaican barman.
This is apparently how some people have described Swan Lake. The BBC's new Tchaikowsky season got off to a cracking start yesterday with The Magic of Swan Lake, introduced by Darcey Bussell. Isn't she lovely? This was followed by a performance from the Mariensky Theatre in St Petersburg. I recorded it to watch later and still haven't seen it all.

When I was a child we had the ballet music on a set of 78s. As we had few records and played them a lot, I know the music very well and Tchaikowsky was my introduction to classical music. Like many women, I suspect, everything I know about ballet I learned from Ballet Shoes and Lorna Hill's 'Wells' books. Even now, watching these professional dancers, I can imagine Posy Fossil in the wings, criticising their footwork. Checking my Lorna Hill books I found that of fourteen titles in the series, five feature Swan Lake. I've put scans of some of these, with other ballet books from my shelves, in a gallery which you can view here. You'll need to click on the images to see them properly.

Hate ballet? Have a laugh with A Bullet in the Ballet by Caryl Brahms & S J Simon and its sequel Six Curtains for Stroganova.
All day long I have been irritated by Radio 4's news bulletins referring to 'the British historian David Irving'. Applied to him, the word 'historian' should be placed firmly in inverted commas. So I was pleased that at 8 p.m. the news editors had substituted 'writer' for historian. I wonder how many complaints they had?



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