Radio is more representative of middle England than TV

15 October 2013

Greetings from the 2013 Radio Festival, in Salford. I’m here to take part in a debate about whether or not radio reflects the opinions and concerns of a broad enough tranche of the public. It certainly does a better job of this than TV; Radio Five (especially Nicky Campbell) and some of the local stations seem to reflect the views of middle England pretty well. Still, on Radio Four, you get the bien pensant toss rammed down your throat, almost without variation, which is a shame.

There are problems enfranchising the silent majority, though: they tend to be silent. This is most obviously evident on BBC1 Question Time, for example, despite the pretty rigorous lengths they go to in order to find a sort of “representative” audience. I remember doing a series of Today programmes off-base and one in particular was presented live from Dover in front of an audience. Dover was, apparently, in ferment over the levels of immigration in the town; fights, resentment and so on. But the audience didn’t even mention it and when we brought it up replied with: ‘Oh, absolutely bloody lovely people, pleasure to have them here.’

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  • Lungfish

    there have been a few musings in the papers on why the scum daft working majority point of view has been ignored for the past forty years.

    • Lungfish

      That Dominic Lawson in that bloody awful ‘Daily Mail’ seems to be a reasonable bloke. I shouldn’t think he’s taken off his frozen gloves on a building site at five thirty in the morning though. In fact, isn’t he the heir to the throne of the Lyons tea shop empire. The first world war cheer leader , c’mon lads, sign up an buy a cake

  • peter

    The BBC/Guardian definitely does not reflect my views in the context of news output.

    • Lungfish

      spiteful and nasty comment.

      • Lungfish

        bon soir

      • peter

        It is strange how the most innocuous comment such as mine, on Mr Campbell, can give rise to your use of the words ‘spiteful’ and ‘nasty’. For heavens sake, how am I being spiteful or nasty. I offer an honestly held opinion on Mr Campbell, or perhaps you think that I am being spitefuI and nasty about the BBC/Guardian as well as Mr Campbell. Or, maybe, you object to my having a better view of LBC Very strange!

        Any chance of some clarification?

        • Lungfish

          I was not serious!

          • Lungfish

            The BBC/Guardian represent a minority opinion, but carry and punch above their weight thanks to MY tax. IE, people who struggle out of bed with creaky joints, smelly breath and scrape the ice of their windscreen.- Sorry Peter!

          • peter

            mmmmmm! Interesting. So what was the point of the comment? Never mind, don’t bother to reply, life is definitely too short.

  • David

    Are you kidding me?! Nicky Cambell is a massive wanker.

  • Cornelius Bonkers

    Rod, “Middle England”? What do you mean? The people who really don’t get a voice are those who are most effected by immigration but are too inarticulate to be considered worth TV OR RADIO bothering about. How many of the Dover or Dagenham disenfranchised working class read the Spectator? You call yourself a socialist (why?) but maybe you’re just like the rest of the Paxmanistas who control what gets aired. Commodifying Irony is amusing for us and obviously profitable for you, but really, is it enough? Come on Rod, how about getting a proper job and doing something worthwhile with your talents?

  • DazEng

    NICKY CAMPBELL?????? Give me a break!

  • DougS

    I have to admit to being addicted to BBC’s Question Time (like a rabbit in the headlights) – I never miss a transmission.

    Mostly I’m looking out for:

    How biased the audience is – generally about four to one in favour of the ‘left’
    How loaded the panel is – with left leaning types
    How carefully they’ve weeded out the awkward (to Lab/Lib) questions
    How fastidious they’ve been with questions guaranteed to embarrass Tory or UKIP panelists
    How strongly DD protects the lefties and attacks the righties
    How many times Caroline Lucas and Shami Chakrabarti appear

    I know that it’s going to be painful every time – but I just can’t help it!

    • Eddie

      I remember being addicted to QT in the 80s when I was a teenager and a loonie leftie.
      The audience (and panel) were often or even usually biased then, against the Tories and Thatcher, pro-leftie, way more so than the general population.
      And what happened? The Conservatives won 4 elections in a row.

      • Lungfish

        tory boy nasty rascist fuck your mum peedo club. I wa

        • Lungfish

          can’t complete that comment I’m afraid Eddie!- too nasty

          • Eddie

            I’m just amazed you got it past the mods!

    • Lungfish

      old news, yawn. been like that for twenty five years

    • Lungfish

      gave up watching it four years ago and have am healing slowly

  • Daniel Maris

    Radio is an inherently civilised medium, focussing the mind but allowing us the space to reflect and imagine.

    • Eddie

      Yes, for example, on radio you can’t ‘hear’ that ‘focusing’ looks much better with just the one ‘s’.
      You do, however, have to put up with a massively disproportionate representation of the ‘vibrant and diverse’ population we now all apparently celebrate like Winterval every day (oh I wish it could be…NO, stop it, you’re making my chuddies ache…)
      It always amuses me listening to manhating hour on Radio Four Bore, where a feature on some woman promoting a book or record, is followed up by a piece of Bengali women making samosas in the shape of burkas in Bradford to help community relations (how?), then a piece on cancer or thrush or women’s ‘down belows’, then ending with an inner city rapper girl with all the poetry of the contents of Shakespeare’s bedpan, and finally ending with a 5th rate drama serial about either something to do with special needs, or something American (usually with shouty women who get abused by those nasty non-women called men), or perhaps something about lesbians in the inner city…

  • MSturdy

    and surely the Daily Mail, like it or not, does a better job than either. The Daily Mail reflects the largest and most coherent tranche of otherwise silent public opinion in the UK.

    • Eddie

      Yes, and it is mostly read by women and is ‘the’ women’s paper – something Herr Harman and the Guardianista women refuse even to acknowledge – women are much more conservative than men, big C and small.

  • Alexandrovich

    “… despite the pretty rigorous lengths they go to in order to find a sort of “representative” audience.”
    Too subtle for me Rod, even though I read it several times.

    • notme3

      they send out open invitations to activist organisations to come and bulk up the audience. You dont get normal people, every single person in the audience has an axe to grind.

      • GeeBee36_6

        ‘every single person in the audience has Marx and the grauniad’

        Too bloody right they do…

  • Hexhamgeezer

    R5L is our kitchen radio of choice (being a bit thick an’ that) and I can tell you that it is only marginally less gratuitously offensive than those @rsewipes on the Today s#itefest.

  • Agrippina

    Agreed Radio5 live seems to put most folks on, but not many RP voices. Radio4 is hopeless only one view they like to peddle and it has got worse since Ms Anand took over. She appears to upset the listeners most weeks, she always tells them they are there to chat with her, but I thought people rang up because they had a view following the Any Q’s part of the equation.

    LBC is interesting because people from the Caribbean community (fought in WW2 and rebuilt our country) ring in to complain about overcrowding and recent immigrants treating them unfairly. It is obvious it is not a black/white issue but settled Brits v recent immigrants.

  • roger

    The radio is still the place to be, though I have to use the internet to get it.
    I have lived for decades without ‘the goggle box’ in the corner and it is really liberating. It is also cheaper.
    who was it who said ‘ I like the radio more than TV, the pictures are better’.

    • therealguyfaux

      Dunno, but the one I’ve always heard is “Radio– it must be believed, to be seen.”

      • bhutanbeau

        Another was: BBC Radio…you can see for miles.

  • Peter Stroud

    Not much wrong with Radio 3. Though I think the Third Programme had the edge.

    • mathias broucek

      Really? It has dumbed-down hugely which has reduced rather than boosted audiences…

  • bwims

    I suggest you take another trip to Dover Rod. Times have changed a bit.

    • rodliddle

      I suggest you take a trip to Darfur.

      • Eddie

        How about Dartford? It’s even worse.

  • Austin Barry

    “But the audience didn’t even mention it and when we brought it up replied with: ‘Oh, absolutely bloody lovely people, pleasure to have them here.’”

    As a general rule, the silent majority’s views are precisely the opposite of those which garner the most yelps and frantic applause of a BBC studio audience:

    Panelist (in rising peroration): “I think most people would be quite happy to practice FGM on their daughters, if it meant that community cohesion would benefit.”

    Cue furious applause from earnest audience, as the home viewers reach for their sick bags, blood pressure pills and a large scotch.

  • In2minds

    The BBC, George Osborne is in China trying to get them to buy up chunks of the UK, would the Chinese state broadcaster like to own the BBC I wonder?

    • monty61

      Don’t give the buggers the idea of flogging it off ….

  • Pootles

    Radio 4? All down hill since the Home Service replaced ‘D**k Barton, Special Agent’ with the damn’d ‘Archers’ – now an everyday story of the totally implausible. D**k Barton was more true to life.

    • Pootles

      Can you believe it ? I had to ** out the middle bit of Richard Barton’s name in order to get past the auto-censor. What t f.

      • bwims

        And yet Liddle can use the F-word in his stuff.

        • rodliddle

          Mr Liddle to you.

          • Icebow

            Surely Sir Rod is only a matter of time.

            • David Lindsay

              Or a People’s Peer?

              • Icebow

                My approach to Lords reform would to be examine records for attendance of life peers, and change the status of an appropriate number to honorary (title retained, attendance and voting rights rescinded), so as to eliminate the current
                bloatedness. Personally, I’d bring back all of the hereditaries as a part of the exercise, if only on the ground that anything that enrages Nick Clegg must be good.

                I dare say that room for a Lord Liddle could be found (just visualizing him in that robe), though I’ve no idea whether it would be quite his scene. Nor am I sure whether ‘Baron Liddle’ would seem appropriate, so would tend to favour his being created a viscount (to the delight of his firstborn son if he has one).

              • Cornelius Bonkers

                Not so far-fetched I feel!

              • Lungfish

                oh jeez, not you, nutjob pontificator

          • gelert

            Lord Liddle has a certain ring to it.

          • Lungfish

            shuddup liddle, don’t be so offended!

            • Lungfish

              I was a forty a day Marlboro man to nothing. you must try these e-cigs. It takes a bit of experimentation..the superkings will kill you. try it you daft git. Tim Rice told us you are a hero of our times so we want twats like you to live long and prosper. just try it.

              • rodliddle

                I’ve tried, I’ve tried. Did Tim really say that? Surely he was being ironic.

                • Lungfish

                  No, he was on the telly with Andrew O’NKneel- I’v now gone 68 days straight without a tobacco. When you get beyond half a century you must look in the mirror, gravestone yellow teeth, saggy skin, and questionable sexual prowess. Yes Tim was wearing a coat of many colours on daytime Andrew O’neill and did actually say ‘Rod Liddle, a hero of our times’. Just ask O’neill (the only credible person on the beeb)

                • Lungfish

                  it was the Andrew marr show actually

          • Lungfish

            oh don’t start that again

  • Colin Forbes

    Would someone please explain why it is necessary to have a ‘Radio Festival’ and how much it is costing the licence-fee payer through the BBC’s support of the ‘Radio Academy’ which is behind this jamboree? I suspect another ‘grand day out’ for broadcasting big-wigs on six-figure salaries at anyone’s expense but their own.

    • Eddie

      All BBC staff were offered massive bonuses to bravely go where no BBC executive has gone before (except to observe the strange species called the ‘northerner’). Half those offered the cash turned down a move to Salford. The BBC spared no expense on their new ‘media city blob’ or whatever they have up there – all pretending to be Hoxton and Islington oop north – and guess what, it will never work, because a lot of overseas actors etc just do not see the point of leaving London, Britain’s only international city, to go up to some pointless provincial backwater oop north. It reminds me of one of the characterless cities built to house governments – Cranberra or Ottawa. Still, the BBC is the closest thing to communism Britain has ever had, undoubtedly.

      Personally, I get sick and tired of hearing Manchester accents on TV drama – so much so, if I do hear one, I switch off. What about Birmingham, Sheffield, The West Country, East Anglia? What about all the places in southern England that never get an airing (the south in not all rich London pads or inner city ethnic-worlds).

      All ignored, for endless Mancunian-itis – because BBC drama and Granada TV drama have HQs there and they just lazily use the local locations and actors. Also there is bias in writers and producers.

      The same used to be true to the endless Scottish-itis of TV, esp on Sunday evenings, but now it seems to be getting better. Sadly, there is still way too much Manchester on TV.

      • gelert

        Give me a Manchester accent over Belfast any time.

        • Eddie

          Yes, the Belfast accent is as harsh as an armalite on the ears, granted.
          Though Sam Neill is doing a rather wonderful version of it in the BBC2 Peaky Blinders drama at the moment (best drama on telly for ages). That is set in Birmingham which is rare for TV dramas – they all seem to be set in Manchester, Liverpool, Scotland and fictitious cockery enclaves of an East London which is more like Bangladesh than England these days.
          Maybe it is just the omnipresence of the Mancunian whiny sneer that puts my back up – you cannot escape it!

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