A creature of the Beeb

You know those kids abandoned in the woods and brought up by wolves? Well, I was brought up by the BBC. By Radio 4, to be specific. I mean that about 75% of everything I know and believe was provided for me by an unbroken 8 or 10 hours-per-day Radio 4 habit. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. I think that a largish part of my generation got to be who they are courtesy of the amazing, precious and unusual breadth and intelligence of BBC Radio 4. It’s a liberal education in a little box (labelled ‘Sanyo’ or ‘Roberts’) and nowadays, of course, it’s a liberal education on the Internet (and on your Sky digibox).

Case in point. Last night on Radio 4: a sequence of three programmes – one after the other – so good and so varied as to take the breath away: First Cut, a lovely, illuminating documentary about the ‘cut men’, the magicians in the corner who magically heal boxers’ cuts and often keep them fighting when no one else could. Then, an utterly fascinating doc about animal sex selection. Did you know that, for every 100 human females, 105 males are born? Did you know that, in wartime, more human males than females are born? That birds and mammals produce more males in times of food scarcity, more females in times of plenty? After that, one of Charles Wheeler’s five moving programmes about the end of war, marking the 60th anniversary of VE Day. Essential listening.

Categorized as radio


  1. I cant agree with you more. Last night triggered the same comment and a thought that maybe I should go and be a long distance lorry driver in order to be able to listen Radio 4 all day.

    I just hope they never mess it up.


  2. There is one thing you learn and that is you can’t listen to R4 all day and all evening, because you get driven mad by repeats.
    One of my proudest moments was when Webmedia got the Archers website!

  3. Coming Home

    Indispensable listening. Coming Home on radio 4 – five personal interpretations of what the end of the second world war meant to people in Britain and across the world, Charles Wheeler. I’ve long felt deep sympathy for the fate of…

  4. This touched me somewhat – for although I never listened to Radio 4 “all day” – I sure did grow up with Farming Today and the Today Programme. My father perfected his English through the Today programme – and I grew up with a head start in English vocabulary because of it. I sorely miss Brian Redhead. And today’s Today is simply not the same as it used it used to be. But I am still fiercely loyal to it – and will not wake up to anything else.

    (Actually – I wake up to the UK theme – and although the tune is a little eccentric and quirky – I simply *know* that the world is still alright and that civilisation still exists when I wake up to the UK theme at 5.30am. The day I don’t wake up to it will be doomsday …)

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