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BBC radio 3...

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Arborbridge
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BBC radio 3...

#657185

Postby Arborbridge » April 1st, 2024, 9:53 am

... dumbing down continues, and I do not like it!

This weekend the excellent Martin Handley presented his last show. He's been a delight for 20 years with his gentle voice, and detailed knowledge he brings as a conductor himself. I always listened when I could on Sunday mornings.

Now this perfect fit for radio 3 has been put out to grass (I gather they will throw him a few bones to make up for it) and replaced by the useless Tom Mackinney and his cheeky chappy ingnorance.
It's unlikely that I will listen anymore, since I've already decided to turn of his other presenting efforts a long time ago.

This is part of a trend which has been in play for at least 15 years, so only part of a turnover, one might say, but the replacements often have less musicianship and detailed knowledge than the generation before.
A sad state of affairs, in my view.

Incidentally, I'm not entirely against change. The Saturday program (This Classical Life) with Jess Gillam some may not like either - in fact I didn't like it initially as it the format relies on two people talking over the music, something very annoying. However, I have come to appreciate it because these are real musicians talking about their own subject and it is full of nuggets of information. Not only that, but Jess's cumbrian accent is worth hearing and she and her guests seem always to have a joyful time, which also makes my day better than it was previously.

Arb.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657204

Postby stewamax » April 1st, 2024, 11:00 am

Raises the obvious question of whether presenters on the radio - as opposed to TV where their age is more obvious - are moved aside because of what they say, how they say it (too posh perhaps, but rarely too regional or ethnic), or simply whether their voice sounds ‘too old’ if that is possible. Voice, unlike physical appearance, ages very slowly, although singers may need to drop down a semitone or three.

I recently listened to a recording of a short talk in 1931 by economist Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) and wondered whether someone with his acknowledged brilliance and enviable command of English would be allowed a slot on the radio today, given his very upper-middle-class diction.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657226

Postby Arborbridge » April 1st, 2024, 12:19 pm

stewamax wrote:Raises the obvious question of whether presenters on the radio - as opposed to TV where their age is more obvious - are moved aside because of what they say, how they say it (too posh perhaps, but rarely too regional or ethnic), or simply whether their voice sounds ‘too old’ if that is possible. Voice, unlike physical appearance, ages very slowly, although singers may need to drop down a semitone or three.

I recently listened to a recording of a short talk in 1931 by economist Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) and wondered whether someone with his acknowledged brilliance and enviable command of English would be allowed a slot on the radio today, given his very upper-middle-class diction.


I'm sure it is a factor. Some of that I understand could be based on what comments are received "in the post" - whether broadcasters' voices find favour or not. That's not so bad, but I do not like the feeling that some of this is being engineered by people in grey suits who say we "must" have this or that to make the station "relevant" - whatever that means.

If a successful presenter like Martin Handley has been doing the job for 20 years and is popular, is taken off air on a whim, then it is very harsh indeed and probably will gain nothing as regards listener numbers.

A man's career can be snuffed out simply because some new broom wet behind the ears wants to make an impression. Something similar happened in the Archers. A new producer came in from East Enders (!) and decided to shake things up, so Nigel Pargetter was made to fall off the roof in a very clunky plot twist. The actor had been a firm favourite for 27 years and his career was curtailed on a newcomer's say so, someone who had little knowledge of Archers' history. The actor in question, Graham Seed, was later in a play in which his character tried to destroy Radio 4, but failed when he fell off a roof - so I guess Graham had a good sense of irony and was a good loser.

In an interesting aside, while looking up Graham Seed, I notice he published a "tweet" yesterday in which he also decried the passing of Malcolm Handley from Radio 3.


Arb.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657227

Postby bluedonkey » April 1st, 2024, 12:20 pm

My only gripe about R3 is Tom Service.

Martin Handley did say that 20 years was far longer than any other engagement he has had. Perhaps the departure was amicable.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657229

Postby Arborbridge » April 1st, 2024, 12:26 pm

bluedonkey wrote:My only gripe about R3 is Tom Service.


Yes, rather marmite - but he does have a detailed knowledge and musical training. Unlike Petroc, whom I like - but he is in effect an "amateur" musically, who has picked it up through experience as a broadcaster.

Martin's departure could have been amicable, but I suspect that he is the kind of guy who would behave amicably anyway, but keep his thoughts private.

Arb.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657297

Postby bluedonkey » April 1st, 2024, 5:08 pm

I would take slight issue with you over the provenance of R3 presenters. I don't need someone with highly advanced musical qualifications or experience. Perhaps if you have that sort of advanced background you would appreciate a presenter with similar capabilities, but that's not me.

Another thought: when you listen to a CD etc at home, you can just enjoy the music, so what does the presenter bring? A little bit of background description about the music about to be played and then "just put the music on please Petroc".

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657612

Postby stewamax » April 3rd, 2024, 9:53 am

But when the presenter is someone with both a deep understanding of a subject and the ability to explain it in (moderately intelligent) layman's terms, they are like gold - whatever their age.

Although not about music, try watching (or listening) on YouTube to 92-year-old Roger Penrose explaining some of the most recondite subjects in existence - the consequences of the abstruse mathematics behind cosmology and quantum mechanics - in lucid well-crafted sentences tailored to the viewer or listener and delivered in a current RP but not over-posh diction.
I'm just envious!!

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657617

Postby Arborbridge » April 3rd, 2024, 11:03 am

bluedonkey wrote:I would take slight issue with you over the provenance of R3 presenters. I don't need someone with highly advanced musical qualifications or experience. Perhaps if you have that sort of advanced background you would appreciate a presenter with similar capabilities, but that's not me.

Another thought: when you listen to a CD etc at home, you can just enjoy the music, so what does the presenter bring? A little bit of background description about the music about to be played and then "just put the music on please Petroc".



Well, we might as well just have Tichmarsh doing everything, then.
I couldn't agree less. I really appreciate knowing that the person presenting a program has a detailed knowledge of the subject, whatever that may be, and isn't just one page ahead of me in the book. I'm applying this not just to classical music, but history, archaeology and all the arts and sciences. Even if one knows about a particular piece, there's nothing better than picking up snippets of information of which one was not aware previously - otherwise, as you say, just go and put a CD on - or stream endless wallpaper "light classical" music.

If I feel the presenter is trying to give me information but knows less than I do, it all becomes a sham.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657620

Postby Arborbridge » April 3rd, 2024, 11:07 am

stewamax wrote:But when the presenter is someone with both a deep understanding of a subject and the ability to explain it in (moderately intelligent) layman's terms, they are like gold - whatever their age.

Although not about music, try watching (or listening) on YouTube to 92-year-old Roger Penrose explaining some of the most recondite subjects in existence - the consequences of the abstruse mathematics behind cosmology and quantum mechanics - in lucid well-crafted sentences tailored to the viewer or listener and delivered in a current RP but not over-posh diction.
I'm just envious!!


I guess some celebrity brushing up on the subject would do it these days to make it "relevant" and pull in a younger audience, so they think. In the 60s and 70s - yes, when I was young - we didn't have "personalities" but erudite people explaining things, and didn't need any further excitment than the subject itself and an expert explaining it in a way which came alive.

I don't believe all are young have brains which have turned to pudding - in fact, I know the opposite is true - so it's a shame we treat them as though that's the case.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657633

Postby stewamax » April 3rd, 2024, 12:03 pm

it's worth comparing the different presenter styles of Roger Penrose, Jim Al-Khalili and Brian Cox - all three with fine scientific credentials, and the latter two being of similar age (Penrose is significantly older). Nobel Laureate Penrose is arguably the greatest living mathematical physicist; Cox was formerly a pop musician. All are FRS.

I can happily listen to all three because they know what they are talking about, and they make an effort to pass on their understanding to lesser mortals like me without condescension.

But this thread made me wonder how much the appeal of the style (and age) of the presenter was related to me - my age and background: my age is somewhere between that of Cox and Penrose. So I can easily imagine that Cox's demotic style and light Lancastrian/Mancunian accent would appeal more to younger folk, and that programme chiefs might take this into account. But that does not excuse dumbing down, using presenters with superficial knowledge who try to kid me that they are experts.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657636

Postby Arborbridge » April 3rd, 2024, 12:23 pm

stewamax wrote:it's worth comparing the different presenter styles of Roger Penrose, Jim Al-Khalili and Brian Cox - all three with fine scientific credentials, and the latter two being of similar age (Penrose is significantly older). Nobel Laureate Penrose is arguably the greatest living mathematical physicist; Cox was formerly a pop musician. All are FRS.

I can happily listen to all three because they know what they are talking about, and they make an effort to pass on their understanding to lesser mortals like me without condescension.

But this thread made me wonder how much the appeal of the style (and age) of the presenter was related to me - my age and background: my age is somewhere between that of Cox and Penrose. So I can easily imagine that Cox's demotic style and light Lancastrian/Mancunian accent would appeal more to younger folk, and that programme chiefs might take this into account. But that does not excuse dumbing down, using presenters with superficial knowledge who try to kid me that they are experts.


All are fine presenters - and there are many more (we could all draw up a list*) - which makes it all the more remarkable that program managers should employ the "Tichmarshs" of the world outside their area of expertise.

* mine would include, but not be restricted: Helen Castor, Dan Snow, Alice Roberts, David Starkey, Mary Beard, Howard Shelley, Lucy Worseley, Waldemar Januszczak ( a classic marmite person), Simon Sebag Montefiore, Simon Schama (who actually speaks in properly constructed sentences!), Hannah Fry.
One other feature I've realised about my list is that I bvelieve they all talk directly to camera and do not appear to be talking to someone else just off screen.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657653

Postby didds » April 3rd, 2024, 1:29 pm

Arborbridge wrote:One other feature I've realised about my list is that I bvelieve they all talk directly to camera and do not appear to be talking to someone else just off screen.



wouldn't that be a directorial decision though?

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657688

Postby bluedonkey » April 3rd, 2024, 4:30 pm

We've moved on from presenters of classical music tracks.

When the credits roll for say a Brian Cox program, I think I see him listed as presenter but someone else listed as "script writer" (or some equivalent wording). That then begs the question, what skills does the presenter require in those circumstances?

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657706

Postby stewamax » April 3rd, 2024, 5:37 pm

bluedonkey wrote:When the credits roll for say a Brian Cox program, I think I see him listed as presenter but someone else listed as "script writer" (or some equivalent wording). That then begs the question, what skills does the presenter require in those circumstances?

In Cox's case, perhaps explaining to the script writer what to write.
Penrose just talks.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657707

Postby Arborbridge » April 3rd, 2024, 5:47 pm

didds wrote:
Arborbridge wrote:One other feature I've realised about my list is that I bvelieve they all talk directly to camera and do not appear to be talking to someone else just off screen.



wouldn't that be a directorial decision though?


Yes, probably just become the fashion, but not a good one, in my view. Like actors who mumble.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657710

Postby Arborbridge » April 3rd, 2024, 5:56 pm

bluedonkey wrote:We've moved on from presenters of classical music tracks.

When the credits roll for say a Brian Cox program, I think I see him listed as presenter but someone else listed as "script writer" (or some equivalent wording). That then begs the question, what skills does the presenter require in those circumstances?


I'm not too bothered about that. Presenting is part acting, part research and preparation. It must be many years since anyone just appeared live and spouted off as the mood took them. I hear Patrick Moore was good at this, and getting the timing spot on to the second, but there's some sense in having a clearly written narrative rehearsed beforehand. Does anyone ad lib these days? Did many ever? I heard Parkinson talk about his interview with Frankie Howard - he rehearsed every ad lib and he wouldn't come into the studio until every sentence was scripted.

As for who writes it - I'm not too bothered, provided it is good. I wouldn't mind betting that many of the ones I mentioned have a heavy hand or complete control over what is said and they sometimes get a book out of it later! I can't imagine Simon Schama not writing his own material or Brian Cox not specifying really exactly what needs saying.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657732

Postby Mike4 » April 3rd, 2024, 9:15 pm

stewamax wrote:But when the presenter is someone with both a deep understanding of a subject and the ability to explain it in (moderately intelligent) layman's terms, they are like gold - whatever their age.



I still mourn the elbowing-out of Raymond Baxter as a presenter of "Tomorrow's World". As an 11-year old I loved the way he talked to me personally at a level I understood, unlike his successors who seemed to be professional 'presenters' just churning out what they'd been told what to say, with no innate understanding of what was being shown.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657758

Postby bluedonkey » April 4th, 2024, 7:47 am

In sport on TV, there has been a replacement of sports journalists with ex-players. John Arlott and Neville Cardus wouldn't get the job these days.

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657759

Postby servodude » April 4th, 2024, 7:52 am

bluedonkey wrote:In sport on TV, there has been a replacement of sports journalists with ex-players. John Arlott and Neville Cardus wouldn't get the job these days.


That's hardly recent though? Even at my tender years I have had to endure Ian St John, Jimmy Greaves, Jimmy Hill etc

...they even gave a job to the walking vacuum of personailty that was Alan Hansen

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Re: BBC radio 3...

#657800

Postby stewamax » April 4th, 2024, 10:45 am

There is nothing amiss - quite the contrary - with honing one's presentation skills. Some even recognise what marketable traits and oratorical quirks
they have and deliberately emphasise them: Winston Churchill and Patrick Moore are well-known instances - and both wrote their own material.

There have been a few, a very few, presenters that I could listen to for their skill as presenter, with their having obviously done a prodigious amount of homework. Richard Dimbleby is a case in point: does anyone remember his BBC coverage of Churchill's State funeral? Just him; four solid hours of unbroken excellence.

What turns me off is shallowness: all presentation, but having expertise in their field that would not challenge an intellectually impaired amoeba.


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