Sunday, 29 December 2013

Comment: Enough, detox bores. Why don't you get a liver?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the fun is almost over, folks. It's that time of year when heady excess gives way to needy self-flagellation. Because no sooner has the Advocaat been drained and the last Lindor unfurled that someone starts banging on loudly about their internal cleansing rituals – involving kale, wheatgrass, and similar middle-class foodstuffs – and entreating all within hectoring distance to join them in their annual detox.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Radio column: British Borgen

"Why?" I howled at 30-second intervals during Borgen: Outside the Castle, this week's wholly pointless spin-off of the Danish television series on Radio 4. Three episodes in and I'm still at a loss.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Radio column: Why World Service and Radio 4 led the field on Mandela

When a political giant and beacon of freedom dies, it is only natural that there will be a period of tribute and reminiscence. Late last week, sandwiched between the pre-prepared retrospectives across the world's media, there was no shortage of politicians, pundits and pop stars paying effusive tribute to the late Nelson Mandela, even when some of those selfsame politicians, pundits and pop stars had previously been on a jolly to South Africa paid for by an anti-sanctions lobby group; or voted against resolutions calling for Mandela's release; or broken the boycott of an apartheid regime for their own financial gain.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Radio column: Tangled up in Dylan

Bob Dylan, I can take him or leave him. Sorry, but it's true. Oh I get that Bob is a big deal. You can bang on all you like about how he's a peerless songwriter and poet and maverick who changed popular culture for ever, and I will nod sagely in agreement.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Radio column: A Little Britten

Let me begin with a disclaimer in the hope that it will absolve me from the daft, the ignorant, the downright imbecilic statements that are likely to follow. My knowledge of classical music is, to put it generously, sketchy. What I know about Benjamin Britten, the subject of Radio 3's latest season devoted to a single composer, wouldn't fill a Post-it note.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Radio column: The child victims of war

"I must go to bed now as we have an early start in the morning," wrote 12-year-old Joyce Henderson in her diary on 31 Aug 1939. "Tomorrow, I become an evacuee and it's all because of something called war."

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Radio column: Jewel in the BBC crown

I can't remember the first time I heard From Our Own Correspondent on the radio. What I do recall is that it was part of the background noise of my childhood alongside the Blue Peter theme tune, the sound of farmyard animals and the words: "You're not going out dressed like that."

Radio column: More torture than teenage kicks

"It's kind of kicking off," said Radio 1's Matt Edmondson, half an hour into his preamble to the annual Teen Awards that had already seemed to last for three days. "This is amazing, there are pop stars literally everywhere," panted his co-presenter Jameela Jamil, as if she had just clapped eyes on the Virgin Mary and not Jade from Little Mix.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

'How can you get into trouble for saying what is true?' Joan Collins talks man troubles, twerking and the problem with society today

I meet Joan Collins in Claridge's, because, let's face it, where else do you meet this long-serving star of stage and screen and epitome of old Hollywood glamour, who has more recently branched out into books and one-woman shows and – wait for it – her own brand of wigs?

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Radio column: Medical marvel gets the right treatment

I'm still trying to work out how, this week, I came to be transfixed by a podcast on the subject of tumours. There are, I'm sure, cheerier ways to pass a weekend, such as shaking the crumbs out of the toaster or tying down one's dustbins in preparation for the not-quite storm of the century.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Essay: Why Lady Gaga still deserves our applause

It’s a rite that has sustained the arts since time immemorial: the delirious hyping of bright new stars as they first emerge, only for them to be flayed alive for daring to reach the top.

Book review: Autobiography, By Morrissey

“It’s time the tale were told,” sang Morrissey on The Smiths’ “Reel Around The Fountain”, and almost 30 years later he has finally done it in a mammoth memoir that, on account of appearing as a Penguin Classic, has caused a commotion well before publication. Few could really be surprised; this is typical Morrissey hubris, similar to the time that he insisted his solo records go out on EMI’s HMV imprint, which then dealt exclusively in classical music.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Music review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Brighton Dome

There is a school of thought that says rock is a young person’s game, that when a musician reaches a certain age, their choice of career ceases to be either interesting or dignified. Nick Cave, along with his peerless supporting cast of Bad Seeds, blows such notions sky-high.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Radio column: Hitting the high notes

In the early years of rock'n'roll, any young British musician hoping to make their mark on the world relied on radio to get them to the top. And when I say radio, of course I mean the BBC. Because, whether you were accustomed to playing to one man and his dog in a suburban boozer, or packing them in at the 100 Club, it was there that the "arbiters of musical propriety", as Pete Paphides called them in Radio 4's Auditioning for Auntie, got the final word as to whether your music would be heard by the masses.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Radio column: A lecture that is passionate and fun

"This must be the first time in the 65-year history of Reith," said Sue Lawley, introducing the Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry, "that a cross-dresser has been the lecturer."