I feel a brief introduction is needed before I start. I’m Dan, a friend of Jonathan’s who has been charged to help keep this popular and entertaining blog running while Jonathan suns himself in the Eastern Mediterranean. I have a tough task master in Jonathan as his observations and criticisms as any seasoned Assistant blog reader will know are always sharp and accurate.
So not wanting to rock this reliable old boat too much I’ve opted to draw your attentions to an article in…. wait for it… today’s Guardian.
Oxford stage type Dominic Dromgoole today opted to draw the readers attention to the plight of the BBC’s most listened to Radio soap. No, not the polite and rurally informative Archers but the GP surgery based multicultural touch all bases drama Westway. Not familiar to most radio listeners in this country unless they happen to have a digital set, as it is played on the World Service (in the middle of the night on Radio 4). Insomniacs may well be familiar with it however. I include myself in the number that are. It’s clunky Shadows-esque theme music has woken me from near sleep on a number of occasions. Followed by the annoyance I feel at the cheery hammy acting (a tough feat to pull off on radio) which keeps me awake for the next 25 minutes as I seriously consider turning over to BBC Southern Counties Radio in the hope of some sleep inducing stale conversation and hoping that I don’t get Phil Collins. So I’m not a fan and admit to feeling pleased when first I heard of its demise. I thought the World Service would be the better for it.
I was however wrong. Not because Westways good. Dromgoole seems to think that just by the virtue of it being Multicultural and being written by ‘bright young talent’ a great radio show is made. It isn’t (think very internationalist daytime soap set in a London GP’s surgery and you’re someway there). In my opinion its awful but apparently according to Mr Dromgoole 35 Million people around the world disagree and I see no cause to argue.
He also raises concerns about the gradual creep of the World Service turning into a 24 Hour News service. I share his worries, there’s no need for another, even with the reach that the WS has. The BBC’s bland and unloved News 24 service shows the pointlessness of a public broadcaster going down this avenue. The World Service is strong when it is varied in output and more loved around the world for it. It is a hugely important source of not just news but information and entertainment to people of all backgrounds, languages and nations. Please BBC don’t cave into the latest trend statistics of the Islington media set on this one, oh and please keep Westway.
[blogging by Dan]