Posts Tagged ‘Today programme’

Happy Birthday Today!

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

As BBC Radio 4’s flagship “Today” programme celebrates its 60th anniversary, I’m reminded of the time nearly 30 years ago when I got to interview its then star presenter – Brian Redhead. I had been commissioned to put together a lavishly produced 24 page brochure for an art exhibition called “Artists in National Parks,” staged at the Victoria and Albert Museum (otherwise known as the V&A) in London. The artists chosen to depict Britain’s National Parks included Anthony Eyton, Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy, and apart from interviews with each (all telephone), I amassed a collection of quotes from celebs of the day, including “Last of the Summer Wine’s” Bill Owen, David Bellamy, “Treasure Hunt” presenter Anneka Rice, TV journalist Julian Pettifer and royal photographer Lord Lichfield.

But my main full-page interview was with the president of the Council for National Parks – Brian Redhead. As this was going to be a bit more in depth, he agreed to be interviewed in London. And so it was that we met in the foyer of Broadcasting House just after he finished the programme at 9 am, and we went into an adjacent hotel where he very kindly bought me breakfast. He was rubbing his hands together with glee because he’d just interviewed Norman Tebbit and “really stuck the knife in!”

I was nursing a broken wrist at the time, and he was most sympathetic, particularly as I had to tape the interview without making notes. It occurred to me then that while his stock in trade was interviewing people (and making politicians very uncomfortable), he probably didn’t actually get to be the subject of an interview himself that often. We enjoyed a very leisurely meal while he waxed lyrical about the National Parks, and how he hoped this high profile art exhibition might help raise their profile. He also had some deliciously waspish things to say about his co-presenters Sue MacGregor and John Humphrys, but that’s maybe something for my memoirs!

Getting it right

Friday, December 4th, 2009

I had to snigger as I listened to BBC Radio 4’s “Today programme” this morning. For a kick-off, John Humphrys managed to get a time-check wrong, telling us it was 24 minutes to nine when in fact it was 24 minutes to eight. Having spent many hours myself in BBC radio studios, I still wonder why they use clocks with analogue faces. One can understand how it might be possible to get it wrong when you’re under pressure, whereas a digital clock really doesn’t give you that possibility. Still, maybe they think the nation works better in the morning with that extra frisson of excitement, thinking it’s an hour later than it really is.

Then just after eight they did a story on the current climate change controversy, referring to the University of East Anglia in Norwich as a “relatively obscure university in East Anglia”. Now I appreciate it was a script written by someone else, but come on! Even before the current hoo-hah about leaked emails, the UEA’s Climatic Research Unit was world-renowned.

And it was at the UEA that Malcolm Bradbury set up his creative writing course over 40 years ago, the first of its kind in the country, and still regarded as the best. John Fowles, Harold Pinter, Doris Lessing, Iris Murdoch, Arnold Wesker and Claude Simon have lectured here, and alumni include Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Susan Fletcher and Adam Foulds.

And where was it that Sir Robert and Lady Lisa Sainsbury donated their extraordinary collection of world art, housed in the Norman Foster-designed Sainsbury Centre? The University of East Anglia. Relatively obscure? I don’t think so.