Saturday, February 23, 2008

Radio 4 Swears to Recapture its Middle Class Base

This has to be one of the great Guardian intros.
'BBC Radio 4's controller, Mark Damazer, last night rejected the view his station panders to middle class tastes, saying that bans on language such as "piss, bugger or shit" had gone.' 
Since when did the middle classes not use piss, bugger or shit? In my experience the words are as bourgeois as a giant, 4X4 baby buggy or an uncontrollable fondness for seabass (halibut is better). Anyway, Damazer was responding to one Jane Garvey, a Woman's Hour presenter, who had said the station has 'a massively middle class bent'. I can't imagine anything anywhere in the observable universe more middle class than Woman's Hour, but, as usual, what do I know?
Of course, the big point is - why in the name of all that's halibut is there anything wrong with providing one radio station for the middle class? Every other station except for Radio 3 is for the working class. Nothing wrong with that, but, unless La Garvey wants 4 to be all about Ascot for the toffs or all about pop and football for the proles, then it's hard to imagine what she wants 4 to do. Perhaps she wants it all to be like Woman's Hour - an incoherent, journalistically sloppy melange of ill-thought out social and global concern, galumphing frivolity and massively dull interviewees. Worth a try I suppose.


  1. Yes, Bryan, a radio station for any class is a good thing. But to broadcast to a middle class must be the thing of nightmares. For every time you think you have a grip on the term it vanishes like mist. Overall the term seems more subjective than objective, but as you say, only the halibut knows.

  2. bream appears to be the substitute of choice and is inferior - I shall give halibut a thought.

    ''Every other station except for Radio 3 is for the working class. Nothing wrong with that..''

    well, I couldn't disagree more. Anyway, I thought the radio carve-up was around age groups, not class - the four stages of man.

  3. So, has a massively middle class bent, become a byword for iniquity? Are we taking pride in the fact that bans on language such as piss, bugger or shit have gone, preferring democratic pluralism at any price, to cultural (middle-class) elitism, and the death of the English language from vernacularism, poverty and sheer neglect...?


    P.S.: Progressive stages of certain diseases, including neuro-syphilis, organic psychosis and dementia praecox manifest many of the symptoms now common in advanced cases of social proletarianism - i.e.: the dumbing down of an entire culture.

  4. Woman's hour is annoying though it has it's moments (like when you were on it Bryan). I regularly listen to Xfm, Radio 1 etc and find it relaxing to switch over to some boring intellectual/political discussion as the day ends. I'd probably stop listening if they started swearing on it - kind of like your Dad and Mum trying to act all cool and hip.

  5. How about a radio station just for prudes? It could cover public issues using Victorian slangs and insults:

    "You, Mr. Damazer, are a coxcomb and a popinjay!"

  6. Criminy, Bryan, but I want to tune into this show now!

    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"