Thursday 20 February 2020

Radio 4: Signs of Hope??

I see that Radio 4 is planning a shake-up of its content, one that will 'bring joy and optimism to our audience'. Producers have been urged to give 'a platform to exciting new thinkers' and 'widen the range of people whose thinking we take seriously', rather then relying on a familiar 'ideas establishment'. This does, on the face of it, seem to show some dawning awareness of what's wrong with Radio 4, and why so many who, like me, used to love the network now find much of its relentlessly 'woke' output quite unlistenable. Is Radio 4 actually thinking of letting voices from the broadly-defined 'right' become a normal feature of everyday discourse rather than token presences and aunt sallies? Does it mean that the BBC's notorious editorial policy on 'climate change' will be scrapped? Will Woman's Hour cease to be a radio version of the Guardian women's page? Will 'gender issues' and such preoccupations slide down the agenda? Don't hold your breath.
 The trouble is that the BBC, an elite institution with a built-in metropolitan left-liberal bias, cannot perceive its own bias, because it cannot consider it possible that any sane or civilised person could  hold views divergent from the left-liberal consensus (despite the evidence of successive general elections, the Brexit vote, Trump's victory, etc.). This is not the ideal position from which to start 'widening the range of people whose thinking we take seriously'.  However, we must live in hope – and there are hopeful signs in other elements of the planned Radio 4 shake-up: it seems they don't want any more programme ideas involving impressionists, improvised comedy, spoofs or parodies of broadcast shows, 'satire', panel games or chat shows. They've also decided that it's a good idea to do classic dramatisations 'straight'. Amen to that.

Meanwhile, I'm off to Mercia again for a few days...

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