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BBC Radio
Posted on Sunday 23 March 2014 at 12:11 pm

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio 2014:12

Listened To: The new Rumpoles (duh) and a couple of old Two Pipe Problems, plus the usual new and random old panel shows.

Coming Up: There's lots of good stuff this week, in part because of the Character Invasion thing Radio 4 is doing on Saturday, with some buildup throughout the week. Several dramatizations (Dickens, Dumas, Dante, etc. - or should that be detc.?), a new version of Hamlet with Jamie Parker, and a Live version of the original Hitchhiker's Guide are among the highlights for me.

Listened to 16 to 22 March:

Yay Rumpole! I mean, I pretty much beat y'all to death already with my excitement over these two new Rumpoles, right? I listened to them Friday and Saturday and very much enjoyed them. For anyone not familiar with Rumpole, the basics are he's a lawyer with an antagonistic relationship with his wife (She Who Must Be Obeyed), a complete disrespect for authority, especially most of the judges before whom he tries cases, and a fierce determination to give the best defense possible for anyone accused of a crime and to defend the Rights of Englishmen such as innocent until proven guilty, trial by jury, etc. These two episodes are a two-parter, not two stand alone episodes as they've got a lot of character development and Rumpole's personal life problems going on uniting the two episodes and then separate criminal cases for the specific plots of each episode. I enjoyed them quite a bit, but did miss Timothy West's elder Rumpole's running commentary on Benedict Cumberbatch's younger Rumpole as I expected. These two aren't my favorite Rumpoles ever and given the character-driven nature of them are probably not the best starting point for someone new to Rumpole (I can give suggestions and files for that - just ask), but comparing them to other Rumpoles is almost unfair given how much I love the series. Despite not being the best (nor the worst for that matter) of Rumpole, they're still among my favorite of all BBC radio programs.

Two Pipe Problems
I listened to the two 2009 episodes of this series. They were both OK, similar to the new Rumpoles neither the best nor the worst of the series. Two Pipe Problems, again for those unfamiliar, star two semi-retired actors living in a community for old entertainers of all varieties and solving the occasional mystery. The two detectives once played Holmes and Watson together in a long-running radio and shorter-lived TV shows and had a massive falling out so they sometimes get along and sometimes hate each other, but always the one who had played Holmes thinks he is the genius detective and the one who had played Watson is the real brains. The two episodes I listened to here were OK. They were fun but I had some serious continuity issues with one of them (they made a character previously always enthralled with nobility into a republican out to see the end of the monarchy just for a plot device and a few laughs).

Comedy Panel Shows

Just a Minute 68: 6
One of the better episodes this series, I thought. A good mix of panelists they cut loose and had some fun.

News Quiz 83: 6
A pretty good episode overall. The best and worst elements both came from the same stunt: due to the Sport Relief fundraising all the participants had to ride exercise bikes for the last half of the program. Listening to them all wheezing and panting while trying to tell jokes was kind of hilarious, and David Mitchell was on the panel and got it a lovely mini-rant on the subject as he's wont to do and as I always enjoy, but then it just dragged on too long for me.

I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue 53:3 and 4
I listened to a couple of random old episodes of this, from 2010, I think. They both had Sandi Toksvig as the random guest joining the regulars. I love her. :-) They were pretty good episodes of one of my favorite panel shows, though one had Swanee Kazoo in it, which is probably my least favorite regular segment there and always just bores me.

Downloading 23 to 29 March:


Radio adaptation of a stage production of a 1950s play about the working class and social turmoil. That's always my kind of thing.

Recordings Recovered from the House of Leaves
A dramatization of part of the novel House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski. I've never read the book, but I've heard good things about its unconventional style and blending of genres. I'm not sure how well what little I know of the book would translate to a radio version, but perhaps that's why this is only part of the novel.

CW Hill - Killing Maestros
Radio play about a cursed conductor. I'm in it for Bill Nighy.

Alan Plater - The Gallery
A comedy about an art gallery, exploring regional and class prejudices.

Noel Coward - The Better Half
Adaptation of a Coward stage play about a man considering but refusing to start an affair and his wife gently prodding him to do it in hopes it will make them both happier or perhaps for other reasons.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy LIVE
The living members of the original H2G2 radio play tour with a live stage version of it and this is a broadcast of that live show. The voice of the book is always done by a guest performer and John Lloyd is doing that here.

Daily Multi-Episode Programs Starting This Week

A new version of Shakespeare's tragedy. I love Hamlet. I'm not sure about Jamie Parker in the role. I like him, but I'm not sure he screams Hamlet to me. We'll see.

Mikhail Bulgakov - The White Guard
Dramatization of a 1920's Russian novel or a play adaptation done by the author. I've read another of Bulgakov's novels (The Master and Margarita) and really enjoyed it. This story sounds good and again timely: Russian Revolution, Russian Czarists, Ukrainian nationalists, etc. all fight over control of Kiev and all of Ukraine.

Weekly Multi-Episode Programs Starting This Week

Sarah Dunant - Sacred Hearts Omnibus
Dramatization of a modern novel about a young woman in renaissance Italy placed in a convent by her family and seeking to make her own way as much as possible. This is also available as the 15 Minute Drama this week and next.

Charles Dickens - Oliver Twist
Dramatization. Self-evident, I think.

Alexandre Dumas - The Three Musketeers

The Divine Comedy
Ditto with the addition of one episode per each part of Dante's trilogy. I question all of Inferno in one compared to Purgatorio and Paradisio.

Natalie Haynes Stands up for the Classics
This is supposed to be a series of comedic mini lectures on various classical works, starting with Petronius and the Satyricon, which I read a very long time ago and barely remember. I have a feeling it is going to turn out to be one of those things that I think sounds good but turns out to be lame or not what I was expecting. Worth a shot, I suppose.

Comedy Panel Shows
News Quiz and Just a Minute are running new episodes.

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

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