Monday, 30 November -0001


There’s a display of gems on the radio, from Roger Moore’s passions to pantomime dames

Written by Louis Barfe
Over the holidays, my longest period of exposure to the wireless is when I’m slaving away in the kitchen on 25 December to produce a groaning board of what Tony Hancock called ‘assorted belt strainer’. The choice of accompaniment is paramount.

I’ll be with Radio 2 all morning, braving Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart’s Junior Choice despite having fundamental issues with the presenter since reading his terrible autobiography, and catching the start of Paul O’Grady’s Little Crackers. Then, at 12.30pm, I’ll retune to 5 Live for a festive compilation of highlights from The Danny Baker Show.

Later, at 6pm on Radio 2, I’ll be recording There Is Nothing Like A Dame. I bet I can sell that to you in just 10 words. Here goes: a history of the pantomime dame, presented by Christopher Biggins. There, what’s not to like about that?

Meanwhile, in the run-up to the main event, I’ll be unlikely to miss Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen in conversation with Johnnie Walker On Sounds Of The 70s (R2, Sunday 14 December, 3pm), or André Previn as Radio 3’s Composer of the Week (15 to 19 December). We’re promised some of his rather wonderful jazz work (never mind composing, he’s a heck of a good pianist too) and some warm words about his time on TV with Eric Bartholomew and Ernest Wiseman.

Running across the same week, Radio 4’s 15 Minute Drama, which tends to be wildly variable in quality, will be Just A Girl by Mark Davies Markham. This one’s about a family adjusting to the idea that beloved son Ben is really darling daughter Amy. Then on Friday 19 December, King Albert’s Book begins on Radio 4 at 3.45pm, with Kenneth Cranham, Tim McMullan and Harriet Walter reading from a book compiled by the likes of Rudyard Kipling in the summer of 1914 as a fund-raiser for the beleaguered Belgians.


Back on Radio 2, Toe Knee Black Burn (as he will always be known to me) begins his three-part tour of America’s great Soul Cities on Monday 22 December at noon. Away from the corny gags, Blackburn really knows his stuff when it comes to Motown and Stax, so it’ll be a treat. As will Alan Bennett’s Death Of An Orchestra (R4, 16 December, 11.30am), a documentary about the demise of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra.

On 23 December at 10pm on R2, there’s a show that’s right up my street in all but one signifi cant detail. Big Band, Big Man is the story of bandleader Billy Cotton, who died 45 years ago, and is a star of olden light entertainment it’s still permissible by law to like. Great. Ah, but the presenter is Fearne Cotton, whom I can’t abide. She’s his great-niece, admittedly, and hopefully the presence of Roy Hudd bringing Old Bill to life will make up for any shortcomings.

After Christmas Day, there will be plenty left over, both in kitchen and on the radio. On Radio 2 on 27 December at 4pm, Johnnie Walker covers Paul McCartney’s decade as leader of Wings (‘The band The Beatles could have been’, in the words of Alan Partridge) in What Macca Did Next. The show features rarely-heard interviews with McCartney, former band members and the producers who worked on the recording sessions.

On Sunday 28 December at noon, Michael Berkeley’s guest on R3’s Private Passions will be Sir Roger Moore. I’ve always had a soft spot for Sir Rog, especially since I learnt that he is, like me, an afi cionado of the pork pie. I’m hoping that this will rate a mention here.

The season will also be a chance to catch up with podcasts, not least John Dredge’s impressive and daft Nothing To Do With Anything – but in broadcast radio terms, I’ve been saving the best until last. On New Year’s Day, 6 Music will be taken over for two hours from 7pm by Lemmy from Motörhead. Obviously, you’ll be aware of this already, as I know you’re all massive Motörhead fans, but I thought it worth flagging up just in case.

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email:

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