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BBC Radio
Posted on Sunday 21 April 2013 at 11:04 am

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio Vol. 13

Listened to this week was Agatha Christie (Miss Marple), Lady Detectives, and Medical Detectives.
Next week I'm most looking forward to mostly historical fics and adaptations from the usual running programs like Afternoon Drama and Saturday Drama and one Terry Pratchett adaptation.

Note: Some of the stuff I'd scheduled to download the last two weeks, hasn't been pulled in by Radio Downloader. I haven't checked to see what actually aired but I'm assuming anything not downloaded didn't actually air due to all the coverage of Thatcher displacing normal programming. Anyone else noticed something similar?

News of Interest: BBC Radio is going all-out for the World War I centennial starting next year. They've announced that they'll be doing shows dramatizing the lives of soldiers and life on the British home front during the war. The soldier one is only going to be for a few weeks every year for the four years of the war, but the home front one is going to be daily shows (Monday to Friday anyway) for at least six months of each year for the four years. That's close to real-time! I'm intrigued by the idea and will certainly try to check in with it from time to time, but there is no way I'll be able to listen to all of it and I'm skeptical they will be able to sustain anything of quality, anything more than a novelty trick, for that long, but I've never been into running soaps kind of stuff that others love and maybe that is the intended audience.

I use a program called Radio Downloader to download hours of stuff every day (I can't recommend RD enough) and will possibly never listen to a great deal of it. I often listen to things for the first time months after they air. Because of that, I do two things in these BBC Radio posts.

(1) Listened - I'll discuss all the shows I listened to this past week. Some of these may be newly aired things but many may have aired months ago or, if they're things I sought out to buy, might not have aired for years. I will include links to the BBC website for everything and to AudioGo for anything available for purchase. AudioGo is the official site for BBC Radio and is almost always cheaper than iTunes, Amazon download, etc. If you don't already have an account there and want to enter my email (brattyjedi at gmail dot com) as the recommender the first time you buy something, I can get points good towards free downloads :) If something isn't available for purchase, you don't have it downloaded, and based on my comments on it you'd really like to listen to it, let me know and I might be able to help.

(2) Downloading - This will be kind of a look ahead to what I've set up to be downloaded in the upcoming week with thoughts on why I selected it.

Listened to 14 to 20 April (mostly in order of preference, best to worst):
Miss Marple - The Murder at the Vicarage
I'm not a huge Miss Marple fan, not sure why, but I enjoyed this one. The mystery was interesting and played out well. The supporting characters were generally well done. Overall, definitely worth a listen.

The Lady Detectives
I've listened to three of the four stories included in this collection. The Redhill Sisterhood by Catherine Pirkis was disappointing, It was pathetically obvious what was happening all along and the characters weren't overly interesting so not much to recommend it. Mr Bovey's Unexpected Will by L Meade was much better. The broad outlines of the mystery were a bit obvious, but it was still unusual and the details were less so. I don't know if there are more stories involving this detective that would make her better done, but I kept feeling like I was being told that she was fascinating and never really able to see it myself. The Golden Slipper by Anna Green was a pretty good story but not exactly my taste. It was a good mystery with some well-done characters, but the characters were mostly ditzy high society teenage girls and I don't particularly care about giggly rich girls fawning over each other's jewels and dresses.

The Medical Detectives
I listened to all four of these stories, all based on true stories. Death in the Parish (episode 1) and The Epping Jaundice (Episode 3) were fairly similar "mysteries." In both cases, there are a couple of doctors trying to use the clues of symptoms, outbreak patterns, etc. to find the cause of a disease. I liked Epping Jaundice a bit more, but there were both ok one-shot medical mysteries. The Last Infirmity (episode 2) should have been like the other two, a couple of doctors tracking the source of a disease, but it failed in many ways. First and foremost for me, it is about figuring out what causes yellow fever in Cuba and the play largely goes "White doctors struggle and get nowhere and finally deign to consult a local doctor who tells them he knows what causes it. White doctors do experiments that prove the local guy knew what he was talking about and take things just barely half a step further so clearly they are the genius heroes and let's all not ask any questions about how the non-white guy actually figured it all out." I know that's how it all played out at the time, but just because people at the time marginalized the contributions of non white guys doesn't mean people today telling those stories should continue to do the same. Far less importantly, this story was also less about anything resembling deduction (presumably because all that was done off stage by the non white guy) and more about lab science. The final story, The Stranded Eagle, was a bit of a medical mystery but more of an adventure story with that tacked on. It was a good story, but not quite what I'd been looking for.

Various Episodes of Panel Shows
Just a Minute Series 65 Episode 8: Last week's episode was so lovely this one almost had to be a letdown. But it really wasn't. There was a great selection of guests - Jason Manford in only his second appearance which became a running joke, Paul Merton, Graham Norton and Sue Perkins - and was laughing like crazy throughout. Well done.

The Unbelievable Truth Series 11 Episodes 1 and 2: Two fantastic episodes of absolute nonsense. The second was my favorite (I will deny that was simply because John Finnemore was a guest) but they were both great. Not that actually playing the game for points ever matters in these shows, but I noticed in these episodes more than most that players can get screwed by what facts they're given to slip in. I can't remember who or what topic now, but there was definitely someone who I could have spotted all five truths just because they were facts I already knew.

The News Quiz Series 80 Episodes 1 and 2: Episode 1 was fantastic. I fully admit when Thatcher died one of my first thoughts was "Thank any gods that might exist that the News Quiz is coming back this week!" and they didn't disappoint. They covered it and a few other topics quite hilariously, focusing more on the reactions of people and the media coverage than on their feelings towards Thatcher, though that did pop up. Week 2 wasn't nearly as good. They spent a great deal of time on Thatcher's funeral and even said that it was pretty bad when an old lady's funeral was the funniest news item of the week but they just didn't have much to work with (jokes about the Boston bombing, for example, wouldn't have worked at all!).
The News Quiz back episodes at Audio Go

Downloading 21 to 27 April:
Terry Pratchett - Only You Can Save Mankind
Adaptation of a Terry Pratchett sci-fi novel. Yay!

RL Stevenson - Kidnapped
Adaptation of the pirate adventure story.

John Mortimer - Mr Luby's Fear of Heaven
Dramatization of a novel about an atheist who wakes up in a hospital under God's big toe. Or something like that. Sounds pretty absurdist, which is one of my preferred comedic styles, and is by the same man who wrote Rumpole so I'm totally on board.

Dario Fo - Accidental Death of an Anarchist
Another supposedly absurd and darkly comedic play, this one about the death of a man in police custody, which is certainly an unusual choice for a comedy.

Adam Dalgliesh - Cover Her Face
A PD James mystery. I have another Dalgliesh dramatization downloaded that I haven't listened to yet. So much stuff, so little time!

Alan Ayckbourn - The Revengers' Comedies
I;m intrigued by this. I've heard about it as an experimental play that didn't really go anywhere because it played in two parts on consecutive nights and audiences wouldn't commit to that, but I don't actually know much about the plot or anything. It is supposedly another dark comedy, which appears to be the theme of this week.

Don't Start Series 1
So glad they're re-airing this which doesn't explain how I missed it since it actually started airing this past week. I have series 2 and have been waiting to listen to it until I could get series 1. The premise of this sitcom, by and starring Frank Skinner, is just a couple fighting about the most ridiculous things, which doesn't sound all that great but it received favorable reviews and is supposedly full of witty and intelligent rhetoric which sounds fantastic.

Another sitcom, this one about a happy bachelor who wakes up in an alternate reality where he has a wife and children.

Running Dramas
BBC Radio has several weekly or daily programs that do various original radio plays or dramatizations. The main ones are Afternoon Drama, Friday Drama, Saturday Drama, Drama on 3, BBC Cymru Wales Drama, BBC World Drama, 15-Minute Drama, Classic Serial, and The Wire. This week I'm most looking forward to what should be a fantastic version of the Terence Rattigan play The Browning Version as the Saturday Drama and a series of plays about the Plantagenets in Classic Serial (along with the continuation of the Walter Scott adaptations with David Tennant). A few Afternoon Dramas this week sound pretty interesting: a two-part mystery adventure called Devil in the Fog and a historical fic piece called A King's Speech about George VI's stammer like the similarly titled recent film. Also, they will be re-airing a couple of the Rumpole's with both Timothy West and Benedict Cumberbatch. I already have them, but great chance for anyone else to grab 'em. I think the two they're airing are the first two with Cumberbatch and the next ones up on my to listen list as I've finished all the just West ones that I have.

Standing Panel Show Subscriptions
Whatever episodes of the following panel shows happen to air in any given week are always on my download list: Act Your Age, Heresy, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, I've Never Seen Star Wars, Just a Minute, The Museum of Curiosity, The News Quiz, The Unbelievable Truth, Dilemma,Wordaholics.

Anything good y'all listened to recently or looking forward to next week?


failte_aoife at 8:12 pm on 21 April 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I listened to two of the Medical Detective stories (Dead in the Parish & Epping Jaundice) and...well it was OK, they were of course well made but I'm just not that much into medical history so I wasn't overwhelmed.

Some re-runs of Act your age were on so I started with that, too and while I loved almost all the guests & regulars so far, most of the rounds encourage one-liners and short jokes in general and I usually prefer people like Dara O'Brien or Ed Byrne who tell longer stories with a nice punchline. Less laughs per minute but overall funnier for me. Still it's nice for when you want something that doesn't requite 100% focus.
Similar with 'It's your Round', I'm also just catching some re-runs there. It's enjoyable and also has some guests who aren't frequent guests on the other shows I listen/watch so it's a nice-change.

My thoughts about News Quiz/Thatcher were very similar. Glad I'm not alone ^^

Thanks for thze shout-out about the Classical Serial. I somehow had subscribed to most other dramas but not this and Walter Scott and the Plantagenets always sound interesting.
bratty_jedi at 2:42 pm on 22 April 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Medical Detectives is one of those things where I find myself thinking "For people who like this kind of thing, this is exactly the kind of thing they would like." By which I suppose I mean well done examples of something that just isn't necessarily my thing. I'm glad I listened to them as they were interesting little stories, but I seriously doubt I will ever re-listen to them.

Act Your Age definitely feels like people just performing snippets of their stand up routines and encourages shorter jokes even from that. It isn't my absolute favorite of the panel shows but I listen to it from time-to-time. I really just love Jon Richardson as I can completely relate to his anal retentive hang ups so I'm in it for him more than anything.

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