Much better than counting sheep…

by Pseud O'Nym

This week has provided me with two examples of excellent and dire radio. As noted elsewhere in this blog, by radio I mean of course Radio 4 or the World Service. Anyone who suggests there is any other radio station worthy of their ears is clearly using their anus as a mouthpiece.

Let me start with the dire example first.

This occurred on last Sunday’s eddition of ‘The World This Weekend’on Radio 4 presented by Mark Mardell, who is someone I had hitherto held in high regard. However, last Sunday he interviewed Jacob Rees-Mogg concerning the decision of Nissan to produce their new diesel car in Japan instead of at the their plant in Sunderland. Whilst Nissan also announced that there would be no job losses at the Sunderland plant and indeed, that they were fully committed to producing cars at Sunderland, they nevertheless mentioned that the uncertainty surrounding Britain’s exit from the Europe was a factor in their decision-making. Mardell seized upon this point, conducting the interview with the same subtlety as one might plunge a live electrical cable into a bath that you were in. Whatever one’s opinions of Jacob Rees-Mogg – and mine certainly are not complimentary – he acquitted himself more than reasonably by the underhand tactics of calm, reasoned argument coupled with a grasp of detail, all which was in stark contrast to Mardell’s constant hectoring.

However, it was when Jacob Rees-Mogg mentioned the agenda that he thought the BBC had been promoting, namely accentuating the most negative and calamitous aspects of withdrawal from the European Union that Mardell quickly shut him up, only for Jacob Rees-Mogg to reiterate the point. This infuriated me so much that I nearly smashed my computer on which I was streaming the broadcast in anger at Mardell’s obnoxiousness.

Had I done so, I would have missed the rather excellent episode of ‘The Real Story’ that was broadcast on the World Service last night between 4am and 5am. Why was I listening to the radio at such a bizarre hour? You might well ask! It had been suggested to me that a way for me to get back to sleep after waking in the night, was to turn the radio onto sleep mode. No pun intended, but unfortunately, whenever I had tried this tactic something arouses my attention and puts any idea of sleep to bed. That one was intended!

I  woke up at 3am and there were a few programmes on the World Service that were interesting but not captivating.

That all changed with ‘The Real Story’, which examined the consequences of the Iranian Revolution and the grip on power exercised by the clerics. It presented challenging and conflicting viewpoints, all expressed with clarity and wonderfully moderated by Rithula Shah, from Radio $’s ‘The World Tonight’ She was everything Mardlell wasn’t, incisive and inclusive, affording all the participants the time to express opinions that are rarely heard on Radio 4. One of them being the assertion that whilst the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are dictatorships, none of them incurs the same level of hostility from the United States that Iran does. It was ambitious in its scope and it delivered. When it was over it was 5am, The World Service turned back into Radio 4 and the surreal poetry of ‘The Shipping Forecast