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BBC Radio
Posted on Friday 5 July 2013 at 10:00 pm

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio Vol. 23

Welcome to the new (and hopefully improved) Rachael's Week in BBC Radio! I've made a few formatting changes based on how I'm having to rethink my downloading due to the demise of Radio Downloader, the new downloading program I've got running, and what I saw as the advantages and disadvantages of the previous "Week in" format. If you want to know how I'm downloading programs without Radio Downloader, I've made several posts as I've worked my way through that process, but the hopefully final statement on a new downloading setup until BBC changes things again is here.

As to these posts, one of the biggest changes is that I'm cutting back on standing subscriptions to the running programs such as Afternoon Drama and the like and will instead be pulling in only specific episodes that sound of interest to me and will be integrating discussion of those in with the other programs. I'll also only be mentioning what panel shows are currently airing rather than anything and everything that has ever aired. The other big change is that I'm restructuring based on one-shots versus multi-episode programs for both listened to and downloading with multi-episodes on downloading further divided into those airing in a short time (such as five episodes at the rate of one a day for a week) and multi-episode programs airing over several weeks (such as a six-episode sitcom airing once a week for six weeks).

This is the post that should have gone up last Sunday, 30 June. I just spent so much time fixing the downloading situation that I couldn't get this done, too. I should be back on track now so there should be another post on Sunday.

Listened to 23 to 29 June:

With a Little Help from My Friends: This was a mini biopic (can you call an audio program a biopic?) about Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles. It was far too short to really get into the complicated issues in this man's life, his fights with depression and drug addiction, his homosexuality in a time when that was still illegal in the UK (it became legal in England and Wales the year Epstein died of a possible accidental drug overdose or a possible suicide), the anti-Semitism he faced, etc., but it touches on them all and makes you care about him. If you're interested in the Beatles, the 60s, sexuality, or drug addiction, it might be worth a listen but otherwise not so much.

v. by Tony Harrison: I'm not sure how I feel about this one. v. is a poem that was written in the mid 1980s. The program starts with a documentary on the history of the poem: why he wrote it (graffiti on his parents' graves and the social unrest that represented), the larger issues contained in the poem (racism, sexism, the crisis of the '80s involving things like Thatcher and the closings of the mines, football culture, etc.), and the initial response to the idea of airing the poem on television due to the poem's very frequent use of explicit, strong, offensive language of every variety. That's about half this 45 minute or so program, then the other half is the poet reading the poem. I really liked the first half but then by the time it got to the poem, I didn't feel like I was as interested anymore because i already knew everything it was going to say. Maybe if the poem had come before the documentary I would have been more engaged with the poem itself, but as it is I kind of felt like I would have liked it all more if I'd stopped listening at the halfway mark.

Multi-Episode Programs

Thorndyke - Casebook of a Forensic Investigator Series 1: I'd previously listened to series 2 of these stories about a fictional contemporary of Sherlock Holmes created as a more plausible detective with more realistic methods. There was a different reader here than in the other series, but both are perfectly fine. The stories are interesting in that they are more about the exact methods of the criminals or others and the technical and scientific details of how the detective could solve them. That doesn't always make for the most engaging of stories and there are a couple here that just couldn't keep my attention (episodes 3 and 5 in particular), but some are good stories (4 was my favorite but really all the rest were good).

The Interview: This is a collection of five short stories connected by the theme of interviews of some shape, form, or fashion. They are by different people and read by different people and with most such anthologies are a very mixed bag. There was one I didn't care for at all and a couple that were OK but nothing spectacular. My two favorites were episode 3, Scissors, Paper, Stone, about a rock cutter mistaken for a terrorist and the first one, The Nut House, about a gunman and his absolutely oblivious hostage. Scissors, Paper, Rock is a heavier story and you need to be in the mood for it, I suppose, but The Nut House was just pure fun from start to finish.

Cabin Pressure 3:4 - Ottery St. Mary: I sprained my ankle on Friday. Again. I felt the need for some sympathy on that front and decided re-listening to this episodes of Cabin Pressure in which Martin suffers a similar fate would do the trick. :)

The comedy panel shows I listened to this week were Just a Minute 66:5, Wordaholics 2:5, and The News Quiz 81:1. They were all perfectly fine episodes of their shows and entertained me nicely, but there's nothing spectacular worth calling out for special praise except to note this was the first News Quiz after several weeks off so that automatically makes me extra happy.

Downloading 30 June to 6 July:

John Antobus - How I Met Franz: A repeat from the mid '90s. This radio play is described as a "modern fairytale" and is about a weird housing complex with odd residents and guests such as the caretaker building his ark for a flood and a singer who is always in the shower.

Afternoon Drama - Cherry Blossom Whisky Company: A Japanese woman with one Scottish ancestor travels to Scotland in search of whisky and maybe part of her own heritage and identity. Could be interesting.

Afternoon Drama - The Climb: A radio play about three men with some kind of disability (Down's Syndrome, blindness, and dwarfism) attempting to climb Blackpool Tower before the police can stop them. I'm mostly interested because Warwick Davis is in it.

One-Week Multi-Episode Programs

Robert Harris - Fatherland: I really enjoy this novel. It is an alternate history of the 1960s in a world in which Germany won WWII and Hitler is still alive. It is a bit contrived in parts, but overall I'm a big fan of the book. I'm excited about the adaptation.

Classic Serial - J. B. Priestley - Bright Day: I've got several dramatizations of Priestley novels and am generally a fan. This is just one more, though I don't know much about it specifically.

Multi-Week Multi-Episode Programs Starting This Week

My First Planet: A science fiction comedy about misfits trying to start a new space colony. Misfits attempting something makes for some of the best sticoms when done well (see Cabin Pressure), but is far more often done poorly and painfully, in my experience. Here's hoping this one is the former or at least not an extreme version of the latter.

Beachcomber... By the Way: This is a repeat of the first series of an old and decently long running sitcoms. I don't know much about it except that it has John Sessions and I like him.

Paul Temple and the Gregory Affair: Paul Temple was a golden age (1940s and 1950s, I think) radio detective series. The Beeb sometimes reruns the original old episodes and sometimes makes new versions of lost old episodes based on scripts and trying to recreate the older sound. This 10-episode arc is one of the latter runs.

Says on the Tin: Sitcom about an American advertising man moved to London. Hopefully that means hilarity shall ensue.

The comedy panel shows airing this week are I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and The News Quiz.

Anything good y'all listened to recently or looking forward to next week? Any thoughts on my new layout?

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