The ‘Happy Monday’ Special on Radio 4. An hour I’ll never get back.

I have just been through the worst hour of ‘comedy’ that I ever had to endure on Radio4. Normally, with BBC Radio’s flagship station, you can be sure that you will be treated to brillant writing, intellectual sparkle and diaphragm shaking jokes, so the 60 minutes I just to endure where even more disappointing. In front of a live audience, whipped into an artificial frenzy by hyperactive but unfunny host Michael McIntyre, a series of comedians (what was poor John Culshaw doing there? And when did Stephen K. Amos lose his mojo?) were allowed 5 minute stints, interrupted by songs by ‘The Feelings’, ending with an embarassaging ‘pubquiz‘. Nevertheless Kudos to newcomer Ed Aczel:¬† Tellingly, this newcomer was by far the most interesting and funniest of the lot.

One can only hope that the shows this ‘special’ was supposed to advertise are better than this forgetful hour.

Disappointing, to say the least.

TV-licensing in the UK, providing the best TV in the world

Lacking a TV, last night the best girlfriend and I watched the highly entertaining, strangely gripping, though utterly pointless Polar Challenge by the BBC’s Top Gear crew (and a plethora of support vehicles) on the BBC’s Iplayer, uninterrupted by commercials. Prior to that, we laughed our heads off listening to the Radio 4’s The Now Show (conveniently served onto my Ipod via the miracle that is podcasting). On my way to the airport I got competely immersed in the stories of the second world war codebreakers in Bletchley park. My day outside work is pretty much scheduled around my favourite Radio 4 programs, all free of advertising. After living in New Zealand for so long, having to endure pretty much the worst TV that is on this earth I truly enjoy the miracle that is the BBC: TVNZ and its competitors (yes, even though John Campbell is an utterly charming, enthusiastic and at times even funny presenter, he can only do so much with the stuff his editorial team is dishing him out. And while Carol Hirschfeld might be one of the most intelligent and the most attractive woman in television, even she can’t make 30 minutes of lame ‘current affairs’ more interesting. Please, John and Carol: more Paxman than Susan Wood) show mainly regurgitated American light entertainment, interrupted by 17 minutes of (loud and cheap) advertising per hour, with bloated news shows that find Paris Hilton more interesting than elections in France and a tractor falling over in Temuka (with interviews with the farmer, his wife, her cousin, the ambulance driver and the minister for occupational health) more interesting than the political crisis in Pakistan. Documentaries ? Either you would get the excruciating ‘human interest’ stories a la 20/20, or shoddily researched, sensationalist fodder from such sensasionalist¬† 30 minute shows like Close Up. But you get what you pay for.

So here I pay my 140 pounds per year (which equates to roughly 40 pence per day) and I do it happily.

40 pence a day for Clarkson, John Humphreys and the Now show? A bargain.