Murdoch hearings; Prom 8; Late Junction – review

Rupert Murdoch seemed less old on the radio, while the Proms offered a little too much information

Murdoch hearings (5 Live) | iPlayer

BBC Proms (R3) | iPlayer

Late Junction (R3) | iPlayer

So that's what a foam pie sounds like. At around 5pm on Tuesday, during 5 Live's uninterrupted coverage of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport interviews with Rupert and James Murdoch, there was a sudden "Nonononono!", an "Oh! Oh!", some rustling and then a quiet "Out-RAY-geous". A pie in the chops and no Benny Hill music, no "Quack Quack Oops", not even a swanee whistle? Where's Steve Wright when you need him?

Peter Allen, sitting outside the Commons with a view of Westminster Green (useful!), along with John Pienaar, filled us in with information as they received it. (Though Twitter got there quicker, and funnier: comedian Simon Evans informing that "Mr Murdoch's carer" had been arrested "simply for trying to get his rice pudding to him on time".) Just 10 minutes later, we were back to hearing James Murdoch's corporate robot drone, boring all listeners into dulled defeat.

It's interesting how differently the Murdochs came across on radio as opposed to TV. With visuals, many seemed to have sympathy for Rupert Murdoch, simply because he looked old. On radio, however, the News Corp CEO sounded far from doddery: on the contrary, he seemed decisive, impatient, unwilling to join in with James's talk-everything-out stalling tactics and clearly unused to answering – rather than asking – questions. Murdoch the Elder's long pauses made for very strange radio, however; and, as for his habit of slapping the table… Well, let's just say the image it conjured up was not of his hand hitting the desk, but a more intimate part of his ageing anatomy. Whack! There it was again. And, whack! Eeeww. At one point, I thought he was cleaning the table with it.

Shall we move on? This year I have resolved to get into the Proms. And if they're all like Prom 8 last Wednesday night, my resolution will be a doddle. It was a Czech-themed evening, with Dvorák's cello concerto and a piece called Ma vlást – My Country – by Smetana, played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Jirí Belohlávek. Both were wonderfully dramatic, ravishingly beautiful pieces. I enjoyed Tom Service's presentation, fluent and fact-packed without being rushed, and flexible enough to cope with an encore, after the Dvorák, from the star cellist. (Actually, I enjoyed that sombre solo more than the Prom itself.)

However, the Proms Plus Literature section in the interval almost had me turning off: rarefied, academic, it was the type of wordy Radio 3 analysis that wrings music dry, despite the section being recorded in front of a live audience. When 3 gets overly explanatory it's hard not to feel talked at, rather than to, and it makes me feel as resentful as a schoolgirl forced to attend detention. Maybe I'll be more attuned by the end of the summer.

Also on Radio 3, Late Junction gave us some selected highlights from last weekend's Latitude festival. Latitude's polite alternativism and Late Junction's eclectic nature are an obvious fit, and Max Reinhardt, hopping between gigs and backstage, an easy-to-like presenter. Unfortunately the show began with an extended session from folkie Alasdair Roberts, who makes the kind of hiccupy auld croon-wail that sends me screaming to Jessie J. Oh well. After a while that stopped and we were rewarded with two lovely interviews, with Linton Kwesi Johnson and Lyle Lovett ("I like your hat," said Lovett to Reinhardt, which discombobulated him). Also a gorgeously creepy 20-minute piece from Bela Emerson, who plays her electric cello backed up with loops. At one point, it sounded like her cello, and she, were being eaten alive by very active woodworm. Just my kind of sound.


Miranda Sawyer

The GuardianTramp

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