The ABC of the BBC - BBC Radio Poetry Program - cheops
( from http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jul/16/bbc.radio )
Radio 4 has commissioned poet Wendy Cope to write a series of verses about the BBC to examine how public attitudes to its services have changed since a similar volume was published 80 years ago.
Cope's verses, called The ABC of the BBC, were aired on Radio 4, 80 years after Eleanor Farjeon, the composer of the hymn Morning Has Broken, wrote a collection of the same name.
Farjeon's book, adorned with illustrations of children going to bed, the winged god Mercury delivering the news and of gentle rural hamlets, displays a more respectful attitude to the BBC.
However, Cope's poems reflect the public's less reverential attitude to the modern BBC.
Her work focuses on adultery in BBC soaps, unkind comedians, and aggressive and self-righteous interviewers.
The first poem in Cope's collection, called A is for Archers and Adultery, focuses on the "adulterous behaviour" in the long running Radio 4 soap opera.
Another echoes familiar public grumbling about changes to the Radio 4 schedules and celebrates the "angry middle classes" who "rise up and say 'No more!'".
Cope's poems include a verse called U is for Unbearable which has the subtitle "Things that make me switch the radio off".
Talk of scary medical conditions,
Cliches from the mouths of politicians,
Interviewers whose self-righteous tone
Suggests they have the right to cast a stone,
Too much aggression early in the day
(Just press a switch and it will go away),
Reporters whose command of English grammar
Deserves a beta minus or a gamma,
Comedians making unkind jokes about
A person's looks. No thank you. Count me out.
Actors being actorish, and worse,
The voice of Dylan Thomas reading verse.
However, some of the dozen poems that Cope has written so far are also gentle tributes to the BBC.
B is for Bach is a paean to Radio 3, which broadcast the complete works of the composer in 2005.
Cope, who first came to prominence with her 1986 volume of parodies of famous poets called Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, ends B is for Bach with the line "long live the radio station".
C is for Closedown was written after Cope spent time with Radio 4 announcer Alice Arnold in her BBC studio just before the network closed down for the evening with its customary mix of the shipping forecast, the musical medley Sailing By and the national anthem.
Farjeon's poem C is for Crystal is typical of her volume and contains references to the "little magic box", a radio, which is "cased in with windows clear/ It has a Fairy who unlocks/ Sweet secrets into my ear".
Another poem, L is for Licence, which is accompanied by an image of a 1920s "flapper" waving a radio licence happily in the air, expresses what would be to some modern ears a peculiar delight in the BBC's annual licence fee charge to its listeners.
I saw a blithe maiden go skipping so gay.
"Whither away, maiden, whither away?"
"Kind sir I must go
To the nearest PO"
(She answered) "with 10 silver shillings to pay.
For a licence costs only 10 shillings you know,
A licence costs less than a penny a day!"
Cope's radio producer, Julian May, said that not all her poems would be read out on the Radio 4 programme but insisted that the less flattering ones would be aired.
"This is interesting for all lovers of the radio. While the Farjeon tells us a lot about attitudes to the BBC in 1928, and the BBC's values, Wendy's poems will tell us a lot about people's relationship with the radio now and the values that surround the corporation," May added.
"There's much less reverence and a much more questioning attitude to the BBC and we have to face that," he said.
"What I'd love now would be for Wendy to complete her alphabet of poems and for the BBC to commission an artist like Quentin Blake to do illustrations and to publish a book as beautiful as Eleanor's, but funnier."
One episode of approximately thirty minutes.
Produced by Julian May.
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2008.
Type : mpeg 1 layer III
Bitrate : 128
Mode : joint stereo
Frequency : 48000 Hz
Encoder : Lame 3.98
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