Friday, 20 April 2012

Radio reviews: 20 April

Richard Madeley’s stand-in stint for Chris Evans was more turn-off than turn-on

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-newBWI had the misfortune to catch a few minutes of Richard Madeley standing in for Chris Evans the other day. That was all I could stand. On previous occasions when I've heard Madeley on BBC Radio 2, horrified fascination and disbelief have kept me tuned in for as long as half an hour. This time, however, I could feel the will to live exiting my body with each link, and I had to escape.

Madeley is a terrible radio presenter. He talks at the listeners rather than to them. Every banal utterance is delivered as though it is a masterpiece of profundity and wisdom. Without his TV profile, he'd be lucky to secure a berth as tea boy at Hospital Radio Rutland. We must also take his crimes against music into consideration. On a previous stint, I heard him introducing his 'free choice' – the solitary record that Radio 2 had permitted him to choose for himself. He'd plumped for Bad Love by Eric Clapton – one of Clapton's worst songs – declaring that he thought the guitar solo was better than Layla. Really? I bet even Clapton struggles to remember the guitar solo from Bad Love.

I knew I had to flee when Madeley declared that he preferred Geri Halliwell's woeful cover version of It's Raining Men to the original by The Weather Girls. That's like saying a photocopy of a gateau tastes nicer than the actual cake. It ismany radio presenters' worst fear that their holiday stand-in will outshine them and, ultimately, do them out of a job. On that basis, Chris Evans's job must be the safest gig in broadcasting.

So, at one end of the scale we have Madeley doing his Alan Partridge tribute act, and at the other Eddie Mair, weekday presenter of BBC Radio 4's PM. Mair is wry, witty, subtle and intelligent. He can do frivolous items without smirking audibly (a rare gift in broadcasting), then get to the heart of a serious story, changing gear without a crunch.

Today's a good programme, but the interviews are often needlessly gladiatorial. When Mair interviews politicians, he asks the right questions and gives them the space to answer, rather than trying to claim a scalp. He then spots holes in their argumentsand brings them up gently, often to devastating effect. He might very well be the best current affairs broadcaster in the business.

PM, BBC Radio 4, Monday to Saturday, 5pm.



Classic fm

Former Late Night Line-Up presenter Joan (now Baroness) Bakewell has joined Classic FM for a series of three Sunday-night programmes entitled Joan Bakewell's Lovers. The programmes will concentrate on the romantic entanglements of famous composers and how they affected their work.

Follow Louis on Twitter: @LadyWireless or email him at:

Louis also has a new blog on

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