Monday, 30 November -0001

Radio Reviews: 11 May

Not everyone likes Bacon...Chronicles of village life Witless and distracted, Radio 5 should give this presenter a good grilling

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-newBWNowadays, particularly on the internet, if you dare to venture a criticism of something, some smart Alec will reply 'If you don't like it, don't listen/watch/shove it up your nose'. There's a lot to be said for this approach, not least in terms of keeping blood pressure low, but the idea of only being allowed to express positive opinions is odd, and it is tested to the limit by the presence of Richard Bacon on Radio 5 Live. I could probably muster up some faint praise if I put my mind to it. Let's see. I quite liked him on Blue Peter. There you go. On radio, though, he's another telly person who can't quite cut it.

Last week, listeners were presented with the uncomfortable experience of Friends star Matt LeBlanc practically interviewing himself. Bacon claimed to have watched and loved the first series of LeBlanc's TV show Episodes, returning soon for a second run. However, instead of using his knowledge of the show to engage with LeBlanc on its finer points, he made the actor explain the premise of the series at length. If I were a cynic, I'd be inclined to think that Bacon had never read a press release, let alone watched an episode of the programme.

On the same show, he was also bested effortlessly by Swiss footballer Ramon Vega talking about Roy Hodgson. Vega, who played under Hodgson for Switzerland, said he was a good choice for England manager and that the Switzerland job experience would serve him well. Bacon queried whether the positions were comparable and hinted that Switzerland was a minor footballing power. Vega made a comment about the England team's record since 1966, but did it so gently and sweetly that it was impossible to take offence, still less to disagree.

Some radio presenters talk too much. Bacon doesn't suffer from this, but what little he does say comes across as distracted and sometimes witless. He is an exponent of the audible smirk, as if he thinks what he's saying is really funny. When he's reading the list of what's coming up later in the programme, he has a tendency to pause awkwardly in mid-sentence as if he's forgotten how it ends. He doesn't really engage with his guests. It's as though he's not really paying attention to his show. And if he's not, why should we?

Richard Bacon, BBC Radio 5 Live, Monday to Thursday, 2pm to 4pm.


Congratulations to BBC Radio Norfolk's afternoon presenter Stephen Bumfrey, who completed his third London Marathon in six hours and 46 minutes, raising over £5,000. Radio Norfolk colleague Helen McDermott was to have taken part, but owing to injury, had to withdraw.

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

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