DAVID BLUNKETT found priceless companionship in Radio 4 - until it was hijacked ...

DAVID BLUNKETT found priceless companionship in Radio 4 - until it was hijacked ...
DAVID BLUNKETT found priceless companionship in Radio 4 - until it was hijacked ...

All my life, I have relied on the radio, and BBC Radio 4 most of all. From my days as a student, throughout my political career and right up until today, it has been my favourite source of news and entertainment.

This Thursday, the House of Lords will be debating the future of the BBC. I won’t be able to take part, because I’m chairing another meeting: but if I could, I’d be loud in my praises of the Corporation.

But I’d also have some stern criticism. Radio 4 has become so determined to address multicultural diversity, gender issues and identity politics that it forgets about all-embracing inclusion.

People who live outside a narrow class of well-off professionals with rigidly right-on opinions, almost all of them in London, no longer feel included by the station.

If you’re not part of the self-proclaimed metropolitan elite, you are unlikely to hear your views reflected. The BBC seems to ignore the obvious fact that ‘B’ stands for British — and its remit is to broadcast to the whole country, not just a few fashionable streets around Islington.

Radio 4 has become so determined to address multicultural diversity, gender issues and identity politics that it forgets about all-embracing inclusion

Radio 4 has become so determined to address multicultural diversity, gender issues and identity politics that it forgets about all-embracing inclusion

Listeners in Looe, Lerwick and Lowestoft also want to be informed and entertained, with programmes relevant to their lives. And though I’m all for having my attitudes challenged, I’m fed up with feeling that I’m too old, too provincial or too traditional when I listen to Radio 4.

Every aspect of the station now seems obsessed with preaching at me. Even The Food Programme devotes most of its slot to criticising British tastebuds for being too staid and monocultural.

If Radio 4 thinks that the very food on my plate must be co-opted into the culture wars, I almost wonder why I bother switching on at all. Increasingly, when I do, the station gives me another reason to grumble.

That’s never more true than when I’m listening to the comedy shows. What I want is a good laugh and maybe a couple of one-liners I can share with friends. What I get are stand-up comedians competing to parade their righteousness.

Too many contributors to The News Quiz and The Now Show believe that posturing is obligatory and jokes are optional. From some, there’s no irreverence or mischief, just sneering.

Others do deliver shafts of wit, but these are widely spaced between grim harangues about government policy. By the end of half an hour, I feel I’ve been made to work too hard for a smattering of chuckles.

I miss the wickedness of The News Quiz as it was with Alan Coren and Linda Smith, when politicians of all stripes were fair game and none of the panellists cared about looking virtuous.

Too many contribitors on the likes of The Now Show believe that posturing is obligatory and jokes are optional

Too many contribitors on the likes of The Now Show believe that posturing is obligatory and jokes are optional

And though the jokes were hit-and-miss, Week Ending on a Friday night was a regular treat — with punchlines coming so fast that if you laughed at one, you missed the next.

That sort of show has vanished from the airwaves, replaced very often by self-indulgent and self-centred programmes that interest nobody but the presenters.

When Tim Davie became director-general in September last year, he told his staff that his priority was to ensure BBC output ‘represents every part of this country’.

It was the right message — but it isn’t happening. Instead, we listeners are apparently expected to

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