Friday, 21 July 2017

Summer radio

There’s so much to listen to while the sun shines (or doesn’t)

Written by Louis Barfe
At the time of writing, Donald Trump is still President of the United States of America. But, looking at the news, I admit he may have been impeached by the time The Lady hits the shelves. In an age of so-called ‘fake news’, it’ll be interesting to hear what Joe Queenan puts forward in A Brief History of the Truth, the American humorist’s latest contribution to the Archive on 4 strand (Radio 4, Saturday 22 July, 8pm). Louis-Barfe-colour-176

This Sunday (23 July) is an embarrassment of riches. Actor Paterson Joseph – who would, by common consent, make a brilliant Doctor Who – talks to Michael Berkeley about his Private Passions (noon, Radio 3). He starts with Tchaikovsky’s setting of Eugene Onegin, having read Pushkin as a young autodidact bunking off school in public libraries. He chooses a fair old smattering of fine jazz, such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Charles Mingus. It’s a spiffing selection.

Later, on Radio 4, comedian Julia Sutherland explores the idea of comedy that goes where laughs might be scant in It’s Funny and It’s True (7.15pm). One of the people she speaks to is the brilliant, profane Scottish comic Janey Godley, who has turned Donald Trump-baiting into an art. In her comedy, Godley is unflinching in addressing the fact that she was abused as a child and later married into Glaswegian gangland. It’s raw, bracing stuff, as you’d expect, and, yes, it is very funny indeed.

From 8.30pm to 11.30pm, Radio 3 has an evening of shows dedicated to artist and critic John Berger, whose 1970s TV series, Ways of Seeing, continues to influence ways of seeing and thinking about art.

On Tuesday 25 July at 7.30pm, Radio 5 Live sets aside two hours for Our TMS to mark the 60th anniversary of Test Match Special, as listeners and the TMS team tell their tales of the programme, among them, sailors who listened to Geoff Boycott’s hundredth century on the HMS Ark Royal in 1977.

An archive treat follows on Radio 4 Extra on Wednesday 26 July at 10.30am, with an outing for one of Armando Iannucci’s Radio 1 shows from the early 1990s. I was an avid listener at the time and will be listening again.

The season Gay Britannia marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and Born This Way (Radio 2, Wednesday 26 July, 10pm) looks a treat. Andrew Scott, probably best known as Moriarty in Sherlock, looks at pioneering gay figures in popular culture like music hall star Fred Barnes. Later, author Jon Savage, Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters and Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet explore how, from The Kinks to the New Romantics, musicians played with boundaries of masculinity.

Although not part of Gay Britannia, another show celebrates ex- Frankie Goes To Hollywood frontman Holly Johnson. It’s fitting he is first to join fellow Liverpudlian Janice Long for her new series A Long Walk With… (Radio 2, Wednesday 9 August, 10pm), as they amble around their home city, trading memories of first records (Telstar by The Tornados), first concerts (Bowie at the Empire), first bands and nights at the legendary postpunk club, Eric’s, that spawned groups like Echo and the Bunnymen and The Teardop Explodes.

I’ll forgive the almost Partridgean pun of the title, as the show’s a cracker, and it’s funny to hear Johnson sounding more Scouse than he ever has in interviews. When he made his condition public in 1993, the idea that anyone with HIV would still be alive, fit and well nearly quarter of a century later would have been met with disbelief from most. It is a constant source of delight to me that Johnson is still very much with us.

Louis on Twitter: @AlanKelloggs or email: wireless@cheeseford.net



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