Whistledown Newsletter – No 5. September 2005
All eyes are on South East London as the mammoth Ashes summer comes to its denouement down the road at The Oval, but we’ve had a vintage summer of our own here in sunny Borough. Thank you for all your kind comments on THE REUNION. This third series has given us a super range of programmes from the bristling bonhomie of the Not the Nine O’Clock News team to the desperately poignant Sarajevo Siege reunion which we recorded on location in Bosnia. And the reviewers have been on top form too. “It is the only programme designed as a summer stand in (for Desert Island Discs) that regularly outclasses the original,” said The Sunday Express, and Gillian Reynolds in the Daily Telegraph was positively lavish. “A fine, very well produced series, sometimes funny, sometimes newsy, gossipy or shocking”, she said “and what signs and seals it all is the care, intelligence and experience of Sue MacGregor”. So say all of us.
You’ve just chance to catch the last two programmes in the series this week, and looking further ahead we’re celebrating the life of a Jamaican national treasure, hearing about the plight of Second World War veterans living in Zimbabwe and recalling the time when the cream of the pop world united for the Socialist cause. All that, and a new series of QQ too: you lucky people!
BBC Radio 4, Friday 9th September 9.00 am & Sunday 11th at 11.15am.
On Friday, you can catch the repeat of our Reunion of the Twyford Down protestors. Produced by Emily Williams, we hear how they chained themselves to the undercarriages of JCB’s, and took on the might of the Thatcher Government in order to protect a precious stretch of chalk down near Winchester. From committed environmentalists to the Donga tribe and local Tory councillors, Sue MacGregor explores what united such a disparate band. Then on Sunday, we take you back to 1958 and the founding of Edinburgh’s Fringe festival. Producer, Kate Taylor has managed to get them back together for one day only, and with veteran comic Arnold Brown also in attendance, there are stories of great theatrical happenings, the birth of stand-up and the story of one performer recreating Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 in the back of a Hillman Avenger.
MISS LOU AT RADA
BBC Radio 4, Friday 9th September 11.00am
Louise Bennett is a Jamaican institution. She taught Harry Belafonte how to sing Day-O, re-invented the Jamaican pantomime dame and even inspired the young Bob Marley with her “Ring-a-Ding” TV programme. Although it is her poetry which is probably her greatest legacy, there are plenty of sides to Miss Lou worth exploring. In MISS LOU AT RADA, her friend the theatre director Yvonne Brewster (herself a recent guest on Desert Island Discs), tells the story of how she gained a scholarship to RADA and then forged an acting career. She starred in the very first all-black radio drama, became a familiar voice on the World Service, taught Muffin the Mule how to cook rice and peas and was seen in numerous BBC television dramas. In the early 60’s, she returned to her native Jamaica, and became a household name first as the star of Jamaican radio’s “Lou and Ranny story” and then through her pioneering poems in Jamaican patois. Caroline Hughes, produces this wonderfully refreshing slice of a life of the Caribbean nation treasure.
BBC Radio 4, Thursday, 15th September 8.00pm
The cost of living in Zimbabwe is spiralling out of control. Inflation is unpredictable and almost vertical, a loaf of bread costs two weeks wages, medicines are out of the question and rents are prohibitive. In this bleak economic climate, Adam Fowler exposes the dilemmas facing pensioners on fixed incomes that are now worthless, who feel some allegiance to Britain but who have been left behind by Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Some are scraping crumbs from the supermarket bread cutter to survive, others have lost all their savings, but should Britain feel responsible for their plight?
Anna Scott-Brown produces a moving account of ordinary people facing a bleak future.
BBC Radio 4, Thursday, 15th September 3.00pm
Stewart Henderson returns to BBC Radio 4 with a sparkling new series of Questions Questions – the programme that sets out to answer all those curious queries that nag us in the night.
Now in its eighth series, QQ has become something of an institution on Radio 4 thriving on a diet of questions both unusual and everyday - from how do you become a shaman to why does love give us the butterflies. You can send in your teasers to firstname.lastname@example.org
Producers: Emily Williams and Sarah Cuddon
RED WEDGE: THE THIN END…
BBC Radio 4, Saturday, 17th September 10.30am
John O’Farrell goes back twenty years to recall the days of Red Wedge, the coalition of pop musicians – including Billy Bragg, Paul Weller and The Communards – who campaigned for a Labour victory in the late 1980’s.
Twenty years on from the launch of Red Wedge, we tell the story of the musicians and entertainers who joined forces to try to galvanise young voters into voting Labour into power in the 1987 General Election. Producer Louise Adamson examines the idealism of their campaign – as well as its absurdities – and asks whether pop and politics should ever be allowed to mix. And, we remember the sounds of the Eighties, with music from The Communards, Paul Weller, Billy Bragg, Madness, The Smiths and many more.
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