I see that Will Self is being lined up as a “writer in residence” at BBC Radio Four. I think this is very good news. Self is an excellent writer and while obviously of the left, is not doctrinaire or predictable in his views. He has wit, he is well-read and very clever. Good luck to him. I commissioned Will to do an essay every week for the Today programme back when I was editor (1998-2003). They were invariably funny, provocative and beautifully expressed; he takes such a pleasure in using our language.
But I alternated Will with Freddy Forsyth, who I fancied was a similarly iconoclastic voice, but from the Right. The essays came to an end because the top brass couldn’t abide Freddy, banging on about the EU or immigration or taxes every other week. I was asked by managers to end his slot countless times. In the end I got so weary of the battle that, shamefully, I gave in and Freddy was dropped, with Will as collateral damage. I notice that this time around there is no attempt to balance Will’s views. I suspect the notion of balance did not remotely occur.