Sunday, March 18, 2007

Political Short Stories on Radio 4

Every afternoon at 3.30pm on Radio 4 you can listen to a new series of political short stories called "More Tales From Westminster". They include stories by the Guardian's Michael White, the Daily Mail's Quentin Letts, Tory would-be MP Louise Bagshawe, the Sunday Herald's James Cusick and ex ITN political editor John Sergeant.

White's tale wonders what would have happened if Gordon Brown had become PM in '97 instead of Blair. Would Blair now be plotting to get rid of Gordon? Letts's story is a dark comedy about a provincial Citizenship teacher who comes up to Westminster for the day and is horrified by what she finds (he gets in a gentle dig at his old target, Speaker Michael Martin). Bagshawe's story features a fat Labour MP who bears more than a passing resemblance to Gwyneth Dunwoody. Cusick imagines what might happen if a royal Prince ran for Parliament. Sergeant story features a spin doctor who likes to unbutton girls' blouses with the words "trust me, I'm a spin doctor".

How did the Westminster hacks find the medium of the short story? "I know some people think we write pure fiction anyhow," says Letts, "but I found it extremely hard work. We had just 2,000 words to play with - that's all you get for a half-hour slot on Radio 4 - and it's quite an act of compression. For my own story I tried to imagine what an outsider thinks of the House of Commons on his or her first visit. I suspect many of them leave feeling vaguely suicidal. Mike White's idea is a brilliant bit of coin flipping. All of us except John Sergeant have our stories read by professional actors. John got to read his own story partly because he has such a distinguished voice, partly, I suspect, because he got double pay that way."

Surely not.

9 comments:

Laurence Boyce said...

I thought the BBC was totally evil?

Iain Dale said...

Not at all. I have never said that and never would. The BBC does many wonderful things. But it is also legitimate to question its self-admitted liberal worldview.

Laurence Boyce said...

Well I think that the BBC is totally evil anyway, but then I can shoot from the hip with gay abandon. But how might the BBC be reformed? In his interview, Robin Aitken seemed to imply that this might be possible, but then his analysis suggested some pretty fundamental fault lines. Incidentally, I think that the problem is far worse on the radio. I don’t even possess a television, but can watch a bit of Channel 4 via the internet and, of course, 18 Doughty Street! But where are the alternatives on the radio, apart from the dreadfully blokey talkSport? Take your pick of James Whale or George Galloway – no thanks! Mike Dickin was OK (ish) before he died.

Anonymous said...

Hope it's a bit more to the point than their 11.00 news last evening with a quote from Shadow Chancellor-OLIVER LETWIN!

Anonymous said...

The lunchtime story on news was that the Cons should be doing much better.ConHome beleive Kellner is wrong-many out in the real world will agree with Kellner.
Maude offered the thought that the North would be sorted out by popular northener WH-but it still begs the question of why this didn't happen when he was leader?

Voyager said...

More and more political pollution of the airwaves. We used to have Afternoon Theatre in the 1970s but now it is POLITICS as drama to bore everyone to death

Anonymous said...

Maude offered the thought that the North would be sorted out by popular northener

"Popular Northerner" ? Ha Ha . Only to Southern ponces...Hague is a fully-paid up member of the Westminster Self-Serving Careerist Class.....Labour's Secret Weapon

Anonymous said...

I can tell you now that if Gordon Brown had been Labour leader in 1997, Labours majority would have been much lower (try 70, rather than 170) and I very much doubt Labour would still be in power now.

Labour grossly underestimate just how good Blair has been for them.

Steve said...

Does anyone know if the stories will be repeated at a time when those of us who keep normal working hours can listen (and please don't tell me about downloads etc)

Thanks