Latest Reviews

The Sunday Times 14.6.20

Hearing Architecture. “An outstanding programme… The American architect Chris Downey lost his sight, suddenly. After a month he went back to work, rethinking his professional purpose for the benefit of blind and sighted people alike”

The New Statesman 10.6.20

Hearing Architecture. ” An edition of Art of Now that taught me a lesson or two. After losing his sight in his forties ­after the removal of a brain tumour, Downey assumed he’d have to abandon his line of work, but has instead thrived ­designing “acoustically dynamic buildings”

The Spectator 19.6.20

In The Studio – Demond Melancon. “I’m not usually taken with experience-art-in-progress programmes, but can highly recommend one about Demond Melancon, ‘The Bead Master of New Orleans’, which goes out on the BBC World Service next Tuesday.

In it, Wendell Pierce, of The Wire, visits the studio of Demond, a portraitist and carnival-goer, who heads one of the so-called ‘tribes’ of the Mardi Gras Indians, the ‘Young Seminole Hunters’, who parade in fantastical outfits influenced by Native American traditions. Every day, Demond performs what he calls ‘the needle dance’, sewing thousands of beads and feathers on to costumes for Mardi Gras. ‘I know my needle, and I know me, but I’m going to sew till the gristles come off my fingers.’”

The Times 03.5.20

Between The Ears – Songs of The Mojave Desert. “Themes of cultural deracination and ecological vandalism were probed in a thought-provoking edition of Radio 3’s documentary strand Between the Ears: Songs of the Mojave Desert. Expertly and sensitively produced by Victoria Ferran, this transported us to the Fort Mojave reservation, a stretch of mountainous desert that spans California, Arizona and Nevada, the threatened Colorado River running through it. The poet and activist Natalie Diaz and her 91-year-old uncle, Hubert — the last fluent Mojave speaker, also a singer — were our guides to a spectacular landscape, its wildlife and a culture enmeshed in that geography. It was moving without being hectoring.”

The Radio Times 25.4.20

Archive on 4: Malcolm Mclaren, Spectacular Failure. “This is a fun and heavily stylised spin on Mclaren’s frenetic life that the great svengali would have embraced.”

The Radio Times 28.12.19

Wild Music. “A poet John Burnside, and a composer, Erland Cooper, meet on Orkney and something magical takes place, inspired by the stunning landscapes, Neolithic monuments, heavy rains, gale-force winds and a wealth of local folkore. Inspired by the lives of ancient Orkney-dwellers, the pair create music and words that transport listeners to a time and place of faeries, seal people and disappearing islands. This is something really special.”

The Observer 28.12.19

Wild Music “Despite a surfeit of strong competition, my highlight of the week was Wild Music, an unadulterated paean to elemental nature as it thrives in remote, rainswept Orkney… Stirring Stuff”

The Sunday Times 23.12.19

“Judy Garland – The Final Rainbow. “A superb archive hour. The producers Victoria Ferran and Susan Marling, for the independent Just Radio, found their own eyewitnesses to Garland’s final season at the Talk of the Town, in London, in 1969. Here was Rosalyn Wilder, then the young production assistant whose job was to get Garland on stage every night. It was a very particular and glamorous stage, the capital’s equivalent of Las Vegas or the Folies Bergère, surrounded on three sides by a dinner-and-show audience, dressed up, demanding, there to see big names (Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr) in cabaret. Here was Garland, a megastar, but down on her luck, a brilliant performer but perpetually broke, dependent on pills, notoriously nervous. Wilder watched her, learnt, talked Garland into the confidence needed to get through her act without pill-popping.Here was Dave Lee, Garland’s London accompanist for years, witness to her “incredible ability to pick the wrong man”, but watching in wonder at how brilliantly she talked to the audience. “When she was happy, she was wonderful,” he said. “The best performer I ever worked with. Meticulous.” He’s 93 now, but, as he spoke, our Now melted into his Then. This became a landmark portrait.”

The Radio Times 10.12.20

Judy Garland – The Final Rainbow. “In this outstanding documentary, we hear from Renee Zellweger and director Rupert Goold, of Judy, the new film about Garland’s late-career burnout. There are also testimonies from Rosalyn Wilder, impresario Bernard Delfont’s assistant, and Michael Hirst, general manager of Talk of The Town in 1969 as well as a wealth of archive. A programme that may astound those unaware of the way in which Hollywood studios often chewed up and spat out the stars they had created.”

The Spectator 19.10.19

Akenfield Now “Akenfield Now, on Radio 4, followed local sixth-former Anna Davies as she surveyed the landscape afresh. The highlight of this richly textured, hour-long documentary (produced by Ned Carter Miles) was her conversation with Blythe himself, now 96.”

The Times 07.10.19

David Cannadine: Across The Religious Divide “Historian David Cannadine gives a compelling half-hour audio essay arguing something important: that while we tend to classify conflicts around the world as having been fought on religious grounds, that’s not always the case and there are often much more complicated issues involved.”

The Telegraph 26.05.19

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s Age of Emulsion “..the most joyous radio I heard this week, The Age of Emulsion with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (Radio 4, Saturday), an archive-strewn history of how DIY seduced us all. There were some fantastic archive clips illuminating class, politics and British decorating anxiety, including from Margaret Thatcher on the satisfaction of hanging her own wallpaper. The post-war dawn of DIY was the most fascinating bit, as we heard of women who took home the drills they’d learned how to use in factories during the war, and approving Fifties TV voice-overs detailed householders ripping out original Victorian fireplaces and replacing them with practical cupboards.

Llewelyn-Bowen was the ideal guide, and much more likeable on radio than he is on TV. He was knowledgeable, funny, and with an infectious sense of the absurd (he described his time on Changing Rooms as “design meets panto”, with genuine respect for anyone’s desire to improve where they live. He expressed sadness that, in recent years, DIY has faded and been replaced by GSI (“get someone in”), and DIY stores have been struggling. “Today the Age of Emulsion seems like a distant dream,” he concluded in wistful tones. I may repaint the wardrobe in his honour.”

The Guardian 14.7.19

When Parents Split. “In a powerful report, Philippa Perry explains how children caught up in bitter divorces can end up unjustly rejecting one of their parents on the basis of lies peddled during the break-up. The human cost is fully explored in a programme revealing how easy it is to manipulate a young mind”

The Irish Times 20.04.19

A Psalm for The Scaffolder “A poet? The rest of my family might not consider it a job, jokes Kim Moore. But a poet is who she is. Her poem – A Psalm for the Scaffolder – is tender. It is a psalm for all of them – including the ones who don’t like heights but spend their whole lives hiding it. Her family has grafted their whole lives and she grafts too, but differently.There is a hint of the Seamus Heaney poem, Digging, about it. The love shines through.I stumbled upon this on the car radio the other day and found it hauntingly beautiful.”