Thursday, 8 July 2010

The softer side of Today

Despite all its faults, I very much enjoy my fix of the Today programme on weekday mornings. This BBC Radio 4 show is probably technically a news magazine programme, but it is known for hard hitting political interviews, anticipating the content of reports due out later that day, and not being shy about tackling difficult issues.

However, the Today programme has a soft side - you might even say a flabby underbelly. Expose it to an artist, literary author, or classical musician and the presenter (particularly if it's James Naughtie) goes to pieces. Gone are the incisive queries and probing investigation. Instead there's a mix of awe and reverence. Do we get sharp digs at subsidies for the arts when times are tough? Nope, just more reverence.

I mentioned this on Twitter a while ago and Dave Bartram commented that they take the same approach with scientists - but it's not really true. They are more positive with scientists than politicians, but they are happy to talk about scandals and funding. You certainly don't get the sort of approach Jim Naughtie took to Placido Domingo a few days ago. I was waiting for him to say 'Can I lick your boots, Mr Domingo.' Scientists certainly don't get that soft 'I think I'm in love' voice the artists and musicians are treated to.

What I'd love is if they had a reversal day. Where they gave all the over-funded, over-valued artists a hard time, asking them to justify their existence, and instead of grilling politicians about the budget or cuts to schools, said something like: 'Oh, your performance in the chamber yesterday was magnificent, Mr Cameron. How do you feel when you stand up on the floor? Do you have to prepare yourself mentally with special exercises before taking on Prime Minister's questions?'

Now that would liven things up.


  1. I hope you're kidding that the arts are over valued and over funded. That's all.

  2. Short and sweet!

    I'm not saying they are or they aren't. Just that the standard approach with politicians is to attack everything they do, so suggesting it would be refreshing to take that approach with the arty types, and to take the fawning approach with the politicians.