Some thoughts of mine from 2003-2004: Festive listening- Christmas 2003.
As ever there was a good selection of programmes over the Christmas and New Year period. The first programme to set the festive mood for me was Garrison Keillor's weekly variety show, coming from New York.
It had the usual blend of folksy singers and groups, with some nice seasonal tunes. There were some poignant, and some just downright funny, reminiscing of Christmas past in the Keillor household. Poverty and a church collection for the family when Garrison was a child, and the year that he managed to burn the turkey to a frazzle, and set the tree ablaze with hundreds of candles. Tall tales or not it is magical stuff.
Christmas songs and tales from Lake Wobegon wound off a great show. With a choice of hearing the show in the UK on the World Radio Network, BBC Radio 7 or the Internet I plumped for the middle option, 'watching' the show on BBC 7 via Freeview digital tv. That was on the Saturday night before Christmas, and I heard sections of the repeat in the small hours on my bedside radio.
Christmas carols from Kings College Cambridge ushers in Christmas for many around the globe. DAB station One Word played a selection of carols from Kings as fillers in its programming over the festive season. BBC Radio 4 also looked at the history of the broadcast in a half hour production.
Christmas Day, 0715, some lovely music on Radio Prague, in Czech, choirs singing. I didn't find much else on shortwave at the time, but with children eager to get at those stockings, time was at a premium. I seemed to miss out slightly on shortwave at Christmas this year, probably distracted by my first Christmas with DAB Digital Radio. You can't beat shortwave though and the variety and multilingual, multi cultural programming. I wish it got a wider press.
Tony Hawk's 12 Days of Christmas was on BBC 7. I assume it was first aired on Radio 4 in 2002. A very inventive and funny 30 minutes, with Tony trying to get hold of all of the things mentioned in the song to give his girlfriend for Christmas. Ornothologist and ex-Goodie Bill Oddie was on hand to help with some of the many feathered birds required. The Nine Ladies Dancing came courtesy of a dance agency, providing Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aquilera lookalikes. A trip to the House of Lords managed to get some of the less senile peers actually leaping, in turn for a donation to charity.
The Masterson Inheritance had two Christmas editions on BBC 7. This improvised show from the mid 1990s with Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence et al, is often a bit hit and miss, but the 'Stuffing of the Mastersons', set in Victorian times, worked well, intertwining Dickensian myth and post modernist humour.
A marathon 3 hour session on the morning and evening of 27th and repeated again at dawn on the 28th had James Follett talking about some of his radio plays, Men, Martians and Machines, with examples being broadcast (BBC7 again). His work was new to me and the Earthsearch series was especially chilling. The storyline in summary is: Earth has disappeared when the grandchildren of astronauts on a space ship launched from earth try to return home. The guardian angels (on board computers) want to gain control of the earth, but the four grandchildren, raised by the angels, and now adults, rebel. Series Two sees them colonise a planet called Paradise, which doesn't live up to its name for long.
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