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‘The Shipping Forecast’, ‘Six Continents’, ‘From our own correspondent’, ‘Breakfast on 3’, John Peel, ‘Alistair Cooke’, ‘Children's Hour’, ‘Uncle Mac’, ‘The Navy Lark’, ‘Hancock's Half Hour’, ‘The Today programme’, ‘The Proms’, John Peel, ‘Gardeners’ Question Time', ‘The Brains Trust’, ‘Round Britain Quiz’, ‘Take It From Here’, ‘The News Quiz’, ‘I'm sorry I haven't a clue’, ‘The Early Music Show’, ‘Late Junction’, ‘Front Row’, ‘The Shipping Forecast’, ‘Just a minute’, ‘File on 4’, ‘Test Match Special, ‘Pick of the Pops’, Jack de Manio and John Humphreys — but most of all John Peel and ‘The Shipping Forecast’.
Lying in a tent in the Hebrides in 1974, listening to the rain beating down and the BBC announcer reading out the Scottish Shipping Forecast, ‘Machrihanish, Tiree …’. Driving around in the car anywhere, anytime, and flicking on Radio 4. Fascinating facts about far-off places or little thought-about things to relieve the tedium of motorway driving. Sunday lunchtimes long ago: family around the table, giggling to Ha-ha-ha ‘Hancock's Half Hour’, or to Leslie Phillips’ ‘Left hand down a bit’ in ‘The Navy Lark’. Queries about cotoneaster and alliums on ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’. Brian Johnstone discussing cakes sent in by listeners to ‘Test Match Special’.
The BBC just is. Even more than the NHS, it is the institution that defines us, feeds us. It is assailed from all angles by those who are jealous of it and want to destroy it: most of all by Rupert Murdoch. He would impose his values on us, which are not the values of ‘File on 4’ and ‘I'm sorry I haven't a clue’. We won't miss it till it's gone.
Wake up to ‘Breakfast’ on 3; get ready for bed to ‘Late Junction’. With no advertisements in between. Priceless.
Radio 2, the old ‘Light Programme’. Its music was once for housewives and the deeply untrendy. Except that now its music is very much my music: Mike Harding s folk music; the country music of Bob Harris, and Nick Barraclough.
Yes, I know some that I've mentioned predate Radios 1–4, but it is all of a piece. Where did the old ‘Home Service’ stop and the new Radio 4 start? A change in name, that's all. And Radio 1 forced by the pirates.
‘Round the Horne’. Kenny Everett. But most of all John Peel and ‘The Shipping Forecast’.