6:18 AMkitchen radio
#The week in radio – Beats 1; Bunk Bed; Crisis in the Curry Kitchen
Crisis in the Curry Kitchen (Radio 4) | iPlayer
Last week, the BBC made several announcements about itself, but let’s ignore the whither Wimbledon palavers and keep to the ones that affect radio. Early in the week, Radio 4 revealed the highlights of its new radio season (Lauren Laverne doing a series of Late Night Woman’s Hour shows with Jane Garvey; Glenda Jackson returning to acting in a Zola adaptation: great). The next day, Woman’s Hour published its influence list (top three: Nicola Sturgeon, Anna Wintour, Angelina Jolie). And then, on Thursday, we were told the BBC would be shedding more than 1,000 jobs. Everyone seems resigned to the government getting rid of the licence fee, so it’s chopping early.
Meanwhile, riding high as always on its hog of Shiny Stuff We Don’t Actually Need, Apple launched Beats 1 radio on Tuesday night, an internet station that you access via iTunes. Its star presenters are Zane Lowe, Julie Adenuga and Ebro Darden, all of whom are excellent. Still, under the circumstances, it’s a little odd to hear how much Beats 1 has ripped from the BBC. The production values are Radio 1 (Zane took a couple of producers with him); the guest presenters are musicians such as Josh Homme, a very 6 Music touch; and the playlist itself is 1/1Xtra/6. And there’s even a feature called Headphone Moment – a staple of Lauren Laverne’s 6 Music show.
Adenuga is my favourite: she plays the music I like and she’s a lovely, upbeat listening presence. (I wonder if the BBC tried to tempt her away from Rinse FM before Apple did?) Her show is mostly music, but she also has interviews, which are much shorter than you might expect, probably because the interviewees are unlikely to be known by Americans. So on Wednesday night’s show (repeated on Thursday morning), Adenuga talked to singer Lianne La Havas. Mancunian MC/DJ crew LVLZ and Jamal Edwards. main man of SBTV. People might just about have heard of La Havas and Edwards, but the daft and multifarious LEVELZ are still quite underground. Adenuga tried to get them to explain the difference between Manchester and London. “It’s a rainy place… There’s not as many suits… It’s proper flourishing…”
Hardeep Singh Kohli, presenter of Crisis in the Curry Kitchen. Photograph: Rex Features
On Apple, there’s a lot of emphasis on how the world is listening and I like the idea of Adenuga blasting grime across the planet, of the world getting down to Stormzy and JME. Plus, she’s up for a wider range of British music, spinning one of my new favourites from LA Priest. so hooray to that. But you know what? All those listeners across the world could be hearing that music already on the BBC for nothing if they listened live. Also, Apple is strange about schedules, DJs and tracklisting, making them all ridiculously hard to find. You have to go to a Tumblr account for the schedule, and it doesn’t list everyone. So Becca D, aka Becca Dudley, is busy doing her stuff for Beats LDN, but she doesn’t get an online picture or a namecheck. And a non-affiliated Twitter account, @Beats1plays, has started listing all the music that’s going out there, because Beats 1 itself doesn’t do it.
At its worst, Beats 1 is mainstream, a slightly better Kiss FM. But at its best, Adenuga and co are the real deal. If they get more time to talk, as well as play, if they’re allowed to turn Beats 1 into an actual radio station, rather than a series of well-curated shows punctuated by Maccy D ads, then Apple will truly be taking on and taking over the best of the BBC. And the BBC won’t have the money to put up a fight.
Over on Radio 4, the new series of Bunk Bed is up and running. What a funny – ha ha and peculiar – show this is. Peter Curran and Patrick Marber lie in their beds and chat about stuff for 15 minutes. That’s it. It makes me laugh a lot. It’s their little hmms and mmms, the pauses between subjects, the deadpan delivery. And the topics. Last week we had whether celebrities have changed the way they wave for photographs, why Curran got a beating with a wooden spoon from his mammy… Though it seems casual, there’s clearly a lot of thought behind it, particularly from Curran. Last week he played Marber some Napalm Death. He took it well.
I can imagine Bunk Bed existing without a licence fee, as a series of podcasts, but what of the one-off documentary? Last week, with Crisis in the Curry Kitchen . Hardeep Singh Kohli presented a lovely example about a genuine problem: the UK is running out of qualified chefs to work at curry houses, because the government, in its mad anti-immigration panic, has made it near impossible for any chefs from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to qualify for a visa. There are specialist academic and apprentice institutions – curry colleges – but it’s proving difficult to get people to sign up. Everything’s changing, folks: get used to it.
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