A selection of my recent pieces from The Telegraph, including live music coverage, podcast columns and radio reviews.
In June 2005, Apple launched a version of its iTunes software with a new feature which Steve Jobs confidently termed “the next generation of radio”. The technology in question was an innovative but little-known format called podcasting, which had been developed within the hacker community in the early 2000s, and which made it easy to distribute and download series of audio programmes online. A decade on, and Jobs’s confidence has been borne out. People, in their tens of millions, have been won over by the delights of a medium that allows them to freely download shows from around the world – made by lone amateurs and venerable organisations alike – and to listen to episodes whenever they please. Podcasts are thriving. Here are 10 of the best.... continue reading
Listening to Today on Radio 4, and later 5 live Daily, as they covered the attacks in Brussels, I was struck by an unsettling sense of déjà vu. It felt like hardly any time had passed since the last time the networks went into the same breaking-news mode, after the Paris attacks. The audio signature was the same then as now: phoned-in eyewitness reports, presenters struggling under a deluge of information, rising death tolls, the wail of sirens in the background. How much more familiar can this get, I wondered.
In other saddening news, last week marked five years since the first shots were fired in the war in Syria. TV news showed the conflict in wide angle: on every channel there were infographics charting the areas held by the different sides in the war, explanations of the fractious geopolitics that underpin it, lists of the figures of casualties and refugees, sombre discussions of what might happen next.
Syrian Voices (Radio 4, Monday-Friday) was a reminder that radio can do things differently. Rather than survey the war from above, it sent the award-winning foreign correspondent Lyse Doucet out to meet people who were surviving on the ground. It was as fine a piece of reportage as has been heard this year; bold, humane, affecting, full of details that lodged in the mind...continue reading
Twenty-five years ago, Primal Scream’s euphoric, sample-laden third album, Screamadelica, caught the zeitgeist of Nineties rave culture and catapulted the Scottish rockers into the mainstream. Back then, it would have been difficult to imagine the band – whose appetite for a rock and roll lifestyle was the stuff of legend – lasting much beyond the second summer of love, let alone well into the next century. But here they are in 2016, touring in support of their 11th album, an enjoyable, contemporary sounding synth-driven record called Chaosmosis, looking as lean and gig-ready as a band half their age... continue reading
Back in mid-October, Lynda Snell (played by Carole Boyd) announced that Calendar Girls - Tim Firth’s comedy-drama about a Yorkshire Womens’ Institute group who go nude for a charity photo shoot - would be the Christmas play in Ambridge this year. If you’ve listened to The Archers at all in the interim, you’ll likely have heard talk of it, with issues of casting, direction, staging and costume (or lack thereof), colouring almost every scene in which Lynda has appeared.
Last night, the Ambridge production of Calendar Girls made its radio debut in a feature-length adaptation by The Archers’s editor-in-chief, Sean O’Connor. Billed as “a fully produced Radio 4 drama that can be enjoyed by fans of radio drama and Archers listeners alike”, it only managed to deliver on the “fully produced” front, and was as grand a turkey as has been served this Christmas... continue reading