Thursday, 16 August 2012

Radio Reviews: 17 August

Louis Barfe on a strange connection… and a presenter he cannot see the point of

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-newBWRadio exists to educate, inform and entertain. It did all three at once on last week's edition of The Film Programme, with an aside about the month Ivor Novello spent in prison during the Second World War for fiddling his petrol coupons. It transpires that one of Novello's fellow inmates was a young deserter by the name of Francis Fraser. The mind fairly boggles to think of Novello in the chokey with Mad Frankie Fraser, the notorious 'dentist' of south London's Richardson gang. The actor Michael Simkins said on Twitter that he was convinced there was a two-hander play here begging to be written.

Sadly, the odds of Daily Mail journalist Quentin Letts ever educating, informing or entertaining me are slim to nonexistent, as I can't abide the man. I know lots of people do like him, I'm just not one of them. Avoiding his writing is easy. Whenever he pitches up on television, I turn the set off. Not over. Off. I need the silence to process the full horror of what I've witnessed, however briefly. Now he's back on the radio. What's a critic to do?

He comes across as the summit of smugness. He is the humourless person's idea of a wit. He underlined his disdain for the BBC by putting himself forward for the job of director-general, promising to put an end to the Corporation's decadence. He is also the sort of person who lobbies corporate sponsors of the arts to withdraw funding for a theatre production on the basis that he doesn't like it.

As if his woeful material wasn't bad enough, I dislike the forced jollity with which he delivers it. The voice makes what he is saying sound vaguely like humour, but on closer inspection, it contains not one iota of comedy. As a radio critic, I felt I should give the opener of the fourth series a chance, but I lasted eight whole seconds (take that, Usain Bolt) before deciding that my blood pressure triumphed over my professionalism. Giving a radio programme featuring Letts a title like 'What's The Point Of...' is asking for trouble. It seems Letts's sole point is to get on my nerves.

His presence on radio bothers me, as does the fact that part of my licence fee is ending up in his pocket. But I'm not going to lobby the BBC to ditch him. However, I would ask the Corporation why it's giving him work when he clearly despises everything it stands for...

What's The Point Of... is on BBC Radio 4, Wednesday at 9am.


Chris Moyles will bid farewell to the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show on Friday 14 September, with new host Nick Grimshaw taking over from Monday 24 September. Moyles has hosted the show since 2004.

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

Louis also has a new blog on

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