RADIO g _ - ( file? ) Playing away ire
“Drop your iodhpurs and smell the coffee - this is Ten Pounds and a Box ‘ of lllppers,’ intones the announcer in a ; dinner-jacketed, World Service sort of 1 voice. Total nonsense? You bet - this i is the sound of boys together having a , laugh about their favourite subject; ;' football. The biggest joke is that they, ; collectively Martin Clones, Paul Brennen and Ian Michie, managed to sneak into a Radio 4 studio to record this collection of silly voices, Roy of the Rovers pastiche and Boys’ Own adventure. 3 The six-part story is set in the Shuffle and Skittle, a traditional pub I somewhere in the north east. The landlord Mick, a former third division goalie, is something of a local celebrity as holder of the record for the most own goals let in. He was also j notable for the strangest transfer fee I in footballing history - ten pounds and - a box of kippers. llow retired, Mick is doing what so many footballers have a ‘
Ten Pounds and a Box of lllppers: the glory days when men wore proper shorts
§ compulsion to do when they hang up
their boots - buy a dodgy boozer. And
that’s where this fishy story begins . . . Glunes, most recently seen in the
sitcom Men Behaving Badly, and his
I buddies have devised an entertaining
piece of comedy which should lower
‘ the tone of Radio nicely. (Eddie Gibb)
Ten Pounds and a Box of lllppers
f starts on Thursday 2 February at 11pm
on Radio 4.
I Life in the Fast Lane: low I Have The Set (Radio Scotland) Fri 27 Jan. 12.20pm. Trainspotters of the open road come under ; the microscope, as Joanna Hall rounds off the last in this series about cars with a look at the people who collect them. I Postmark: A Letter to Gandhi (Radio 3) Sat 28 Jan, 1.02pm. Mark Tully, longtime India correspondant for the BBC. reads the letter he would have written to Gandhi, were he still alive, in this new four-part series that invites guest presenters to ‘correspond’ with their all- time soulmates. Next week Peter Preston. the much maligned editor-in-chief at The Guardian writes a letter to Carl Bernstein ' and Bob Woodward. the Washington Post journalists who exposed the Watergate scandal in the early 70s. I The Essential Mix (Radio 1) Sat 28 Jan, midnight. Hitting the decks on this week‘s Mix is DJ Andy Weatherall aka Lord Sabre and mixer of the fastest beats on the ; floor. I Mavericks: Bob Dylan (Radio 1) Sun 29 i Jan. 7pm. Legendary hippy bard Bob Dylan is this week‘s maverick rock ‘n‘ roller. but was he poet or poseur, asks DJ Mark Radcliffe. The programme features comments from Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, Mary Travers and Dylan himself. I The Protestant Mlnd (Radio 4) Sun 29 Jan, 6.30pm. A new series from Radio 4 which attempts to part the seas of British propaganda about the people of Ireland, and in particular the stereotype of the typical Northern Irish Protestant as stubborn. negative and puritanical. The ﬁrst programme ‘Believing’ comes from Professor Mary McAleese, a Roman Catholic who recently co-wrote a report on sectarianism for the Irish Council of Churches. I Oster's Blues (Radio 3) Mon 30 Jan, 4.30pm. Music historian Professor Harry Oster plays the unique recordings of black American singers and musicians which he made back in 1955. They led to the discovery of unknowns like Roosevelt Charles, Guitar Welch. Otis Webster and Robert P. William, and Oster tells the stories behind their songs. I llovelties (Radio 3) Mon 30 Jan,
9.35pm. If you're one of those people
who can’t communicate with your family of a morning until you’ve had at least
' three cups of tea. Spare a thought for a ; time when the great British cuppa was an
expensive luxury. In the first of these ten
? minute slots on the ‘novelties’ of our time, ' Chris Nicholson talks to a ‘tea expert’
about the arrival of the great brew in
Britain back in the 17th century. I Way Down South (Radio 4. FM only) ; Tue 31 Jan. 10.02am. Country and
western songster Hank Wangford gets back to his spiritual roots. and heads for the home of the original cowboy - South
5 America. First stop is Argentina and
, Uruguay. where Wangford finds there
‘ ain‘t too much left of those old cowboy = dreams.
I America Atomica (Radio 4) Wed 1 Feb. 8.45pm. In this new series. John Slater chronicles the history of America's troubled relationship with the atom bomb. The series kicks off with ‘Guinea Pigs‘ in which Slater presents the latest evidence that for over 50 years American citizens have been the subject of nationwide radiation tests carried out without their
I Why Bother? (Radio 3) Sat 4 Feb, 9.40pm. Just in case you haven’t done enough of it in the past week or two, here’s another chance to mourn the loss of the late. great comedy genius of Peter Cook. this time in the guise of Sir Arthur Streeb Greebling. the deviant aristocrat. I Giant lllllersl Scottish Cup, 1967: Rerwick Rangers 1 - Glasgow Rangers 0 (Radio 5 Live) Mon 6 Feb, 7.35pm. Of all the cup wins in history, this is the one you (10!: 'r mention to a true blue fan of the Glasgow Rangers. Legend has it when the results came through, ‘Grandstand’ thought it was a mistake on their teleprinter. Sammy Reid, the player who scored the winning goal, Jock Wallace, one time player manager at Berwick, and Tony Langman. who reported the game are among those who look back in amazement.
I Act Your Age (Radio 4) Wed 8 Feb. 10.02pm. Life begins at 40 and other birthday card clichés are considered in this new series that looks at those landmarks of a lifetime — 18.30.40 and 65. This week, the programme talks to over 40 people and ﬁnds out if turning 18
I was all it’s cracked up to be. (Ellie Carr)
With time-and-motion fever blowing through the corridors of John Birt’s BBC, everyone — from the lowliest paper clip acquisitions clerk up to senior managers with keys to the executive washrooms — is under scrutiny. Performance indicators rule and foreign correspondents, it seems, are not exempt.
In popular fiction the role of the foreign reporter based in overseas bureaux was to keep a clean nose and a clean safari suit at the ready in case the balloon went up unexpectedly. Coups and natural disasters tended to be the only events big enough to dislodge domestic politics from the news running orders; both are generally loud enough to rouse even the hardest- drinking hacks from their slumbers. And if they do happen to miss out on that ‘Small Earthquake in Chile — A Few Dead’ story, there’s still a good chance of winging it by blaming the lack of wire facilities.
But if they ever existed, those glory days chronicled in Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop are over. The BBC, conscious of newsgathering organisations like the aggressive CNN challenging its position as the world’s best known broadcaster, is trying to squeeze more out of the foreign wallahs. Which brings us to Correspondent (BBCI), a new magazine programme. based on a similar Radio 4 idea, that gives television reporters abroad the chance to file stories with more background and human interest than hard news bulletins usually allow.
The first edition was fronted by BBC foreign editor John Simpson in Bosnia, who shattered any illusions about correspondents sitting around swilling club sodas in ex-pat bars. Simpson’s own report on a Muslim school teacher voluntarily joining the army found him in the midst of a family making its own entertainment, blitz style. by singing folk songs. ‘It became honiny clear that it was my turn,’ said Simpson before launching, bizarrely, into a rendition of ‘Any Old Iron’. Dodging sniper fire might have seemed preferable.
Correspondents main story was from the BBC’s man in Africa, George Alagiah, who sent back an excellent report on South Africa’s recently constituted Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is, effectively, investigating apartheid’s guerilla war crimes on both sides. No politicians were given the chance to sound off — the issue of ‘truth or retribution’ was examined through the eyes of Steve Biko‘s widow, a doctor present at the time of Biko’s fatal beating by police thugs, and, that bell-weather of middle- class opinion, members of an all-white golfclub. It wasn’t a long report —
barely fifteen minutes — but that was
just enough time to get beyond the
sound bites of the Nine O'Cloek News, which is dominated by graphic interpretations and studio-anchor-to~ man-in—Burberry breathless immediacy. Correspondent is BBC reporting at its best — balanced, relevant. and above all human.
So farewell then. Jim Taggart. ‘Whit the hell are ye on aboot, Jean?’ That was your catchphrase. In the final episode ofTaggart (Scottish), filmed just before Mark McManus died last year and screened this week, it was clear a) what a star he was and b) the shell of a man he had become in his last days. In the touchingly-titled ‘Prayer for the Dead‘, Taggait's boss was laid up with a warning heart attack, but it was clear who was really dying.
For the three hours of this story, he was on screen for only a handful of minutes, and during that time said hardly any more words. But when he was off screen, Taggart’s presence was enough to centre the storylines and give the other actors something to revolve
around. In Iuvvie speak, which McManus himself would never have used, he was their motivation. Above all, McManus had the ability to pop up with killer one-liners, like this word of caution to Jardine: ‘Look, the public can be funny about vicars and religion — ifyou get it wrong they’ll crucify you.’ That’s why he will be missed so much.
For a couple of series Jackie Reid and Michael Jardine, Taggart’s grudgingly- trusted lieutenants, had been handed a more central role as ill-health kept McManus from the set. Now they're on their own. but there needs to be a radical rethink if the show is to avoid becoming a painfully hollow Charade.
Taggart was already looking a little tired before McManus’s death — the plots too frequently resorted to far- fetched cases involving ritual abuse and the occult, which tojudge from the Evening Times are not crimes that unduly tax Glasgow’s thin blue line. Losing that sense of place seems like a move in the wrong direction; if Taggart has lost one major star. it still has another - the city itself — that should be given more lines.
Taggart needs a back-to-basics overhaul, with a few strong plotlines. rather than the tangled web of coincidence that dominated recent series. We watch police procedurals because we like the details, not for the broad sweeps of a Hollywood thriller every week. So far Reid and Jardine have existed, the odd flirtation aside, only in relation to theirjob and, particularly, their boss. It’s time to flesh out the characters and spend more time on writing convincing dialogue. In short, this pair of flat-foots need to get a life. (Eddie Gibb)