Thursday, 05 December 2013

Radio Review: 6 December

A rather baggy, but still fascinating, view of 1963

Written by Louis Barfe
It’s all Philip Larkin’s fault, of course. In his poem Annus Mirabilis, the dour librarian misanthrope declared that ‘sexual intercourse began’ in 1963, and ever since, disproportionate significance has been applied to the year. There’s a strong case to be made for 1962 being the real watershed – the Cuban missile crisis, The Beatles’ first single and the advent of satire on television in the form of That Was The Week That Was.

The latter was the peg on which Radio 2 hung That Was The Year That Was, a breezy look back at the events of 1963 in two hour-long parts, hosted by Michael Grade. The plan was for David Frost to present, but I’m afraid his death in August has dented even Frostie’s legendary work ethic.

In part one, we heard the wonderful Gillian Reynolds make a convincing case for her brother, a school friend of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, having inspired the Beatle haircut. She also recalled an earnest Guardian colleague touching the walls of the Cavern and declaring, ‘There is spirit here,’ and supplied a bravura rendition of the Donnelly’s sausages ad jingle from Radio Luxembourg. In part two, John Sergeant volunteered the fact that he’d been present when Martin Luther King delivered his ‘I have a dream’ speech. These were real pieces of insight.

Much of the rest was mere chuntering, though, and producers are docked a point for including Frost’s demolition of insurance fraudster Emil Savundra in the montage of TW3 clips. That compelling televisual event happened in 1967 on The Frost Programme. Like the original late and live TW3 very frequently did, it overran wildly. Many times I wish a half-hour show could be an hour long. In the case of both parts of this, the reverse applied.

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email: 

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