V RADIO Sound and VISIOII Rivals or ﬂirtatious cousins? Catherine Fellows examines the relationship between radio and TV, the subject of a
BBC2 Arena special: Radio Night.
It goes rather against the grain to give over jealously guarded radio space to that pushy young sibling. television. But then again, one musn’t be too grudging: ifyou’ve seen the adverts for Arena 's forthcoming Radio Night. you’ll know that the bumptious box has been making amorous advances towards his venerable precursor in broadcasting. In fact. not only is he devoting a weighty four and a half hour chunk of his time to radio, he has been working hand in hand with her over the past ﬁve months to produce a totally new infant medium: Radioviston. Throughout the evening of Saturday 18 December, BBC2 and Radio 4 will be interacting in a way that has never been seen or heard before. Tune in your radio and you will literally hear it. personiﬁed in the voice ofJosie Lawrence, yelling across the room at the TV set, which will respond equally vocally in the shape of Peter Cook. David Attenborough will be shedding light on the habits and histories of these vociferous creatures, whose squabbles will soon give way to a series of sixteen short ﬁlms all of which use the two parallel media to deal with different aspects of radio in different ways. Everything is here, from scientiﬁc explanations of the workings of the radio wave to a dramatisation of the revenge of a redundant Spot FX man.
‘lt’s made me change the way I think about making TV programmes, it nothing else because of the extraordinary way radio layers sound.’
Items include interviews with venerable radio broadcasters Alistair Cooke and Mark Tully: an investigation into the ﬁve pirate radio stations on a single East London housing estate; and the strange and tragic story of the man who used radio to fake a round-the- world sea voyage. while all the time bobbing up and down in the Atlantic. lan McKellen will be ruminating on the Seven Ages of Radio; there’ll be forays into the worlds of airwave eavesdropping and sports commentary; a reconstruction of Sunday lunch in the 505 with the inevitable Famin Favourites: and, for the ﬁrst time ever, a chance to see those desolate coastal outposts — Viking . . . Finisterre . . . North Utsire . . . - as those liturgical names are intoned during Radio 4‘s inevitable midnight shipping forecast.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of the two media being used interactively is TV Theft, a programme produced
Peter Cook: the voice of the TV
jointly by Radio 4’s Mary Price and BBC TV's John Silver. It takes a whimsical look at the history of talent poaching, most marked in the ﬁeld of comedy. As Silver explains, many of the aural and visual tricks that he has incorporated actually came about as means of overcoming problems. ‘We had to work out ways of making the television complement the radio gags but not compete with them. We could hardly just have had a still ofa wireless set — except of course when we have Alan Partridge on the soundtrack saying ‘Let me out. I wanna be on telly!’ One example of the way we dealt with it comes after Ray Gallon. who wrote Hancock Is Half Hour, has been talking about how radio stimulates the imagination and TV does not. We play a clip ofthe Goons sketch where they’re launching the Albert Memorial into space. and on the screen isjust a shot of a ﬁre. The TV turns into a hearth — something in the room you might be looking at while listening: then,just as you hear the exploding sound ofthe Albert Memorial taking off. the image suddenly jumps from a wide shot to a close up. It’s very subtle. but I think very effective.’
If radio has traditionally been a breeding ground for talent and ideas — largely because it is so much cheaper to experiment with — the production of Radio Night has itself been a great source of inspiration to both the radio and TV teams involved in it: ‘lt’s made me change the way I think about making TV programmes,‘ says Silver, ‘if nothing else because of the extraordinary way radio layers sound. Conversely, my radio co-producer says that her experience is already affecting the way she edits.’
That is not to say that this unprecedented collaboration hasn’t involved a few battles, says Rosemary Tratt, post-production co-ordinator: ‘Put two creative people of different media together in a cutting room and they’re both going to ﬁght their corner pretty ﬁercely.‘
As for whose side, ifany, the Radio Night comes down on, Peter Cook’s rendition of ‘Anything you can do I can do better’ is something of a refrain for the evening as a whole. But in John Silver’s programme at least, Spike Milligan has the ﬁnal word: according to this master of both media. ‘Television can equal radio. but it can never surpass it.’
Radio Night is on BBC2 and Radio 4 front 8pm on Saturday I8 December.
Highlights or radio programmes over the testive period, compiled by Catherine Fellovrs.
I live From the Met - Fidello (Radio 3) Sat l8 Dec. 6.30—9.20pm. Beethoven’s only opera is brought by satellite live from New York. Welsh soprano Anne Evans sings Leonore. the heroic wife of Florestan (Ben Heppner), who is held as a political prisoner by Don Pizarro (Robert Hale).
I Stand by tor Action (Radio I) Sun l9 Dec, 7-8pm. Andy Kershaw brings his distinctive talents to bear on Gerry Anderson’s priceless creations: Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Stingray.
I Storyline (Radio Scotland) Mon 20 Dec, l2.03—l2.l8prn. lain Cuthbertson reads the ﬁrst of the week’s excerpts from Royal F lash. George MacDonald Fraser’s second novel given over to the uproarious antics of outrageous anti-hero Flashman. I Silence ever lockerbie (Radio 4) Tue 2] Dec, 7.20—8pm. File on Four marks the ﬁfth anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am ﬂight 103 with a special in-depth documentary. Despite promises from on high. the perpetrators of this horriﬁc crime have still not been brought to justice. Gerry Northam looks at the possibility that this has more to do with government pragmatism than lack of evidence.
I Earshot (Radio 5) Tue 2| Dec,
10. lOpm—midnight. Presenter Steve McKenna hosts a Christmas party live from Glasgow. Tne guests, including Duglas Stewart from BMX Bandits. Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub, Justin Currie from Del Arnitri, Monica Queen from Thrurn, and Clare Grogan. will be invited to belt out their own renditions of their fave festive raves. Anything — from Nat King Cole’s ‘Christmas Song' to Big Star’s ‘Jesus Christ’ — could happen.
I Arthur’s Knight (Radio 3) Tue—Thurs
2 l—23 Dec and Tue—Thurs 28-30 Dec, 10.35-1 1.30pm. Norman Rodway, Diana Quick and John Nettles star in this six- part dramatisation of Sir Thomas Malory’s magical collection of stories, Morte d 'A rthur'. The weird and wonderful tales of Sir Gawain and Sir Modred are fairly well known, but not so those of Sir Accolon. Sir Erec and Sir Perceval . . .
I Eddie Mair live (Radio Scotland) Fri 24 Dec, 8.30—10am. lt’s Christmas Eve and Eddie’s pulling on his tights for this star-studded. radio version of Peter Pan the panto. Eddie, of course. plays the boy who never grew up, and heads a cast of likelies including Nicholas Parsons, Anna Raebum. Julian Clary. Katie Boyle and Kirsty Wark.
I lllltli Wishart’s Year (Radio Scotland) Fri 24 and 31 Dec, l.O3-2pm. in this two part review of 1993, Ruth Wishart is joined by among others, Lord Healey, lngrid Seward (editor of Majesty magazine), Keith Aitken (leader writer with The Scotsman), Sir Bernard lngham, and Seona Reid (director of the Scottish Arts Council).
I Silent llight, lonely lllght (Radio Scotland) Sat 25 Dec, l.O7-l.30pm. Lest we forget as we tuck into our Christmas dinners, presenter Jane Robinson takes us on an aural tour around the streets and hostels of Scotland - the hauan of the country’s thousands of homeless, who are given a chance to deliver their Christmas messages.
I Tintin: The Gestation emerald (Radio 5) Sun 26 Dec. 10.05-10.55am. Radio Five and the Radiophonic Workshop have collaborated to bring Trntin, Snowy, Captain Haddock and Co to life for this ﬁfty-minute Christmas extravaganza. A famous opera singer loses her priceless emerald: only Trntin can sniff out the thief. . .
.The List l7 December l993-l3 January I994 85
I Arcadia (Radio 3) Sun 26 Dec, 6.30pm. Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, recently premiered at the National Theatre. is said to have restored his reputation as an exceptionally gifted dramatist. it is a comedy and literary thriller which manages to interweave sex. landscape gardening and chaos theory and romp freely between the years 1809 and 1989. The cast members are Felicity Kendal, Bill Nighy and Harriet Walter.
I Storyline Extra (Radio Scotland) Mon 27 Dec, 8.15-8.30am. Robbie Coltrane brings Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled hero Philip Marlowe to life, in the ﬁrst of a new two-pan mystery penned by Simon Brett.
I The World Tonight (Radio 4) Mon 27. Tue 28 and Wed 29 Dec, lO—lO.45pm. Award-winning reporter Misha Glenny explores the depressing state that Europe ﬁnds itself in as 1993 draws to a close. In the three programmes he will focus in turn on Germany, Poland and the Ukraine.
I loud & Proud on Ice (Radio I ) Tue 28 Dec. midnight-l2.30am. One-off, festive ‘best-of’ Load & Proud, the summer series which was Radio l’s ﬁrst positive gesture to gay listeners. The programme will include interviews with Neneh Cherry. Armistead Maupin, and Leah Bracknel - Emmerdale Farm’s ﬁrst lesbian; as well as an aural ﬁounce around some of Britain’s gayest parts and a review of the year that was from a gay perspective.
I EJ. on Trial (Radio 4) Wed 29 Dec. 8-8.45pm (and Radio Scodand. 30 Dec. 6.15—7pm). In this BBC Scotland production. intergalactic attorneys Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest call upon expert witnesses in the long-running case of the missing extra-terrestrial. lf planets like ours are two a penny, other life forms are more than likely; but if they exist, why haven’t they got in touch?
I The llsual Suspects (Radio Scotland) Fri 31 Dec, l0.03pm—l2.15am. Peter Boston and Janice Forsyth present a grand Hogrnanay party live from Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms. The line-up includes bands The McCluskey Brothers and The River Detectives, and performance poet Liz Lochhead.
I A Drunk Man looks at the Thistle (Radio 3) Fri 31 Dec, 10.15—11.30pm. Plum New Year’s Eve slot for this musical rendering of MacDiarmid’s epic poem dedicated to Scotland and the reinvigoration of the Scots language.
I The Classic Serial - Waverley (Radio 4) Sun 2 Jan, 2.30—3pm. The ﬁrst of a four-part dramatisation of Sir Walter Scott’s most famous novel, sees Edward Waverley, a young English ofﬁcer serving with the Redcoats, travel north to the
' Highlands of Scotland. the land that is to
win his heart and cause him to switch allegiance to the Jacobites. With forty-one speaking parts in a single episode. this is one of the largest productions ever to come out of the Edinburgh studios.
I Womantolk (Radio 2) Wed 5 Jan. 8.03—8.30pm. Catriona MacDonald presents a portrait of Orcadian twin sisters Jennifer and Hazel Wrigley. Still teenagers, the twins are fast gaining a reputation for invigorating playing of ﬁddle, piano and guitar, incorporating both traditional Orcadian influences. and those of Irish, American and Shetland folk.