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.