Thursday, 19 July 2012

Radio Reviews: 20 July

The last rites from Bush House, and a devil may-care attitude to the Olympics…

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-newBWAs I type these words, I am listening to Iain Purdon reading the last news bulletin from Bush House, being vacated by the BBC World Service after 72 years. I visited once, years ago, and my main recollection is of the overwhelming brownness of its rabbit-warren corridors. I'm also recalling expanses of hessian, although that might be a false memory. I do like a bit of hessian.

The WS's new home is bright, open-plan and built for modern broadcasting. Nonetheless, I suspect everyone who worked at Bush will miss it. I admit that I'm welling up as I listen to Purdon bid farewell to the old cocoon. Hang on, what's this? Mark Thompson sticking his oar in? A miracle. My eyes are drying suddenly and my mood turns to anger as the worst BBC director general in living memory hijacks the moment. Having presided over swingeing cuts to the Service and being generally useless, his valedictory presence sticks in the throat. Be away with you, man.

And now a choice of viewing or listening. Over on BBC Two, Twenty Twelve is satirising the Olympics, while giving viewers the queasy sensation that it is uncomfortably close to the truth. On Radio 4, we have the joy of a two-parter of Andy Hamilton's Satanic sitcom Old Harry's Game. Hamilton himself plays Lucifer, his cynical tone perfect for a man who is jaded by the evil he's wrought, with sterling support from the likes of Jimmy Mulville as the amoral Thomas and Annette Crosbie as the deceased historian Edith.

The Devil has decided to stage a rival event called the Infernal Olympics, described as 'like the original, but without the corruption or the travel chaos'. The organisation will be an internal job, enlisting some of the Greeks who arranged the games in ancient times, when all the competitors were male and largely naked. They're none too happy about the prospect of women taking part, and clothed women at that, deeming it to be against the Olympic spirit. When it comes to funding, they recommend seeking handouts. 'You didn't pay for the games by raising money from taxes?' asks Crosbie's character. 'Edith, they're Greek,' the Devil replies, knowingly. The half-hour was made even more delightful by the suggestion that David Starkey is headed for Hades in pretty short order if he continues annoying people at his current rate.

Old Harry's Game, BBC Radio 4, Thursdays at 6.30pm.


Surreal comedian Kevin Eldon comes to BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 31 July at 11pm in Kevin Eldon Will See You Now. Known for his work with Stewart Lee and Richard Herring, the radio outing is a prelude to his forthcoming, muchanticipated BBC Two show.

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

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