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Read this: 31/07/2020 Radio 4 Feedback

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31/07/2020 Radio 4 Feedback…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts, don't you miss this what's inside the party should be rather than punishing someone's been to couples therapy studio at home alone in BBC comedy coping to just get on with it like the rest of the country had to adapt really quickly so I think it's just the adrenaline then need to sort of keep working that kind of kept us going and the audience was so supportive actually, I think those early days, but has that support waned the executive in charge of the News Quiz Julia McKenzie joins me to discuss comedy and a covid-19 weather just a minute will return now that it's legendary presenter Nicholas Parsons has finally left the stage and a BBC 12 million-pound diversity drive-in.

Music has at least one listener extremely sceptical.

They're only going to achieve this aim by discriminating against people who don't fit into one of these categories e.g.

White straight able-bodied middle class mate.

I'll put that charge to the BBC's director of radio and education James Purnell later in the program and did we do listeners in our out of your comfort zone feature really uncomfortable this week with James knocked his letter to America I felt it was all over the place really I didn't understand why he was on a train because we don't get to hear much about the journey or what he was saying out of the train window we didn't get to hear from any other passengers find out more a little later in this edition of feedback.

The News Quiz is not what it was.

Can you spot the Difference this was then I like to visit Rory Stewart the little one has been popping up invited to go and meet him is on social media if you seen this Kew Gardens right and my kids so that I know it was like I said of rubbish version of Pokémon go now no studio audience and the panelists in different places that was in place was working everyone was broadly speaking happy with Jacob rees-mogg, cos he is the ghost of Victorian politician who haunts parliament and can't existence is this the future Julia McKenzie is the creative director of BBC Studios audio production company owned by the BBC which makes many programmes including the News Quiz

Happy quotes when the pandemic first struck the Now Show news Jack were were broadcasting at that point when lockdown struck so we immediately had to convert the Now Show to a show An Audience with Steve Paddington 2 Hugh Dennis sitting in their respective homes and the Conservatives all coming from their individual homes, so it was initially early days, but we had to be helpful for finding out this different strengths of people's Wi-Fi the suitability of the places that they were broadcasting from and then you know from then we just had to do the entire series of news quiz was remote you know the producer was a different place.

You know you specifically then about the News Quiz because it requires a live studio audience or did do and that was an essential element of the programme the response the waves of laughter the comedians going off on a river.

They were getting a response from the studio audience that stop dead and it created some problems at least in the view of Lucy Reynolds I have loved the news quiz for kids, but what I was hearing was not recognizably the same program.

I'm assuming that due to concern about the lack of a studio audience that participants have been encouraged to laugh at what it's saying so to make up for the lack of audience laughter.

It became very hard to listen to I suspect that my partly be due to technical issues with not having the quality of microphone and sound and that you would have in the studio.

Did you make mistakes you think in those early days having to cope with without a studio audience you're writing you don't write a quest as gagging you write it in a more intimate casual way and the same with the performances you ideally don't want people projecting let you would in the theatre so all of that.

What's do we have a different panel every week as well, so it wasn't as though you had one set of people all kind of growing together to do you ask your the participants on the panels to loft ladder teach others jokes of be a bit more generous in order to compensate for the absence of studio audience to do that is quite a tight one genuine friendships out there and they all could see that it was a charging an unusual situation, so the warmth between them was genuine and not artificial and they generally found each other funny and I was listening and laughing along as well as I was going on my Sudan famine government allowed this thing on my headphones.

It's always been will the BBC you don't do canned laughter.

We really tempted in his exceptional circumstances to put canned laughter on to be honest because

You just can't take disembodied laughs and slap them on at the end of jokes.

I think it would been totally in my view but doesn't mean when this serious comes back.

You've learnt things should you be able to practice? Would you try and use a virtual audience or something like that dino select the number of people to listen at home to recordings and play the laughter at any in initiatives like that.

You think that you could recreate a little more of that audience feel and response to do the monkeys.

Save you some of that technology and I think other people in Radio 4 experimenting as well, so we'll certainly look at that there is certain challenges anyone listening who was used zoom over this will know that.

There's a delays and other issues and so basically seen how that all works when it comes together when we going to have performers of waiting for the laughter finish and all of that.

Experimenting and reopened having a look at what might sound good cos I add external use quizzes do out in September do at my what you've been doing in exceptional circumstances is Lynn Armstrong just wanted to say thanks so much to Angela Barnes for the very excellent recent series of the News Quiz I'm a long-term fan of the show and was sure how it would work in lockdown with no audience the panelists have been brilliant, but Angela's Perkins mix with her cynicism and dry sense of humour has been perfect for carrying too difficult time.

It's really worked and I was delighted.

She just one of the many hosts.

You've been using on new quiz and it's obviously difficult when I'm much love presenter like miles to put in before that Sandi Toksvig left, but they always get used to new presenters.

Are you close to making a decision?

So will be the if you like permanent presenter of news quiz or are you heading to this idea of using a number of presenters? We just try something different with going for free post because you may remember that the previous year we did try series where we had a arrange a different host, but it is hard just you know it's a tough show to get right.

There's a lot of plates to spend as the Host along and to be funny and United Kingdom courage all the panel members and engage with your audience so we thought rather than just give people one opportunity would give them a whole renovate each Mr Kumar Angela Barnes Mandy's ultimate all have a very distinct different type of comic Sensibility is so we thought that variety would be nice for the audience.

So I don't know we'll go with one host in the future.

Whether we will try a mixture as I say the conversations are ongoing but it was nice to try something different for such a long established show another.

Phone very long serving presenter and whatever listeners wants to know what's going to happen to that show Dr Anthony Edwards following the death of Nicholas Parsons is just a minute going to continue.

I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue did so after the death of Humphrey lyttelton, so I don't see why not surgery McKenzie is just a minute going to continue and that if you have the decide to go ahead with it.

Have you also decided on who will present it.

Well, you know Nicholas Parsons was one in a million.

I absolutely loved working with him.

He was Extraordinary Gentlemen as well as host of just a minute which is a fantastic show I think because of coving it's just sort of knocked out so much about ordinary planning work starts return to normal but obviously going to return to this question.

I'm thinking about it.

Very hard.

He what he was much love big shoes to fill but I hope you will have some news probably by the end of the year of all things.

Is one of the most nerve-wracking things replacing a major presenter seems to have been up to Central to a show because if you get it wrong in are you in danger that show itself so who replaces is a major major decision is yeah, it's always a challenge and not just confined to comedy shows thank you ever long-running shows on Radio 4 and it's his decision we should have over often as well presenters.

Don't come fully formed.

You know they evolved over time so you no one talks about so Sandi Toksvig or ever celebrated presenters, but don't come from episode 1 series 1 it takes them awhile to especially when it's such an iconic show to feel that they have the right to mould it themselves if you know what I mean, because the listeners feel like they only 12 so we just need to think about it carefully and think about how we might want to evolve the show and and give that a host of whichever long-running sure it is just a bit of creator.

Interpreter if they wish you dream presumably like all our listeners dream of a full audience in the Radio Theatre and gales of laughter blowback towards the panelists in your comedy shows it would be lovely to each other's company and not be worried about someone who coughs seats down from you or whatever just took off.

I think Josh is just so many people coughing and that's just in in peacetime.

Is it worth so you can imagine now have tents you feel if people were coughing around you so I think that's just the pandemic is still out there in the virus is still unfortunately jumping from person to person.

So yes, we all look forward to that time when we can we can fill out theatres again and just have a wonderful shared experience of

Together a mental that Julia McKenzie thank you very much and please do let us know your thoughts about that interview BBC comedy in general and anything to do with BBC Radio this is how you can get in touch you can send an email to feedback at alright.

Let the addresses feedback PO Box 67234 London se1p 4ax you can follow activity on Twitter by using at BBC R4 feedback or you can call us and leave on 03345 standard landline charges apply, but it could cost more and some mobile networks all these details are website.

Each week, we're asking to BBC Radio listeners to step out of their comfort zones and listen to a program that would normally be on their radar this week.

We have Jesse from London and gym Streatham from Kirkby-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire will speak it does Islands I would Desert Island Discs and I also like the Unbelievable Truth and The Listening Project and what about you? What's your top 3 Broadcasting House on Sunday morning like Jesse I'm a big fan of the Unbelievable Truth and then all of the drama output particularly these series curious under the stars is a big favourite of mine asked you to listen to James knocked his letter to Amir on the world service sex episode 3 all of them available on sounds Jessie could you describe a program explain what it's about because didn't seem to me to be a letter to America it was more.

A letter from America or remembering America because he was travelling on the train in America and then it kind of turned into a bit of an essay and in some points a bit of a rant talking about the past and not much about the train journey at all.

So that was my take on it in American history and Katrina caused the waters the surge as never before breaking through the Levy is that was supposed to keep them out Americans watched one of their own helpless in the face of disaster at the mayor asked the Federal Government for food because he couldn't feed the people maroon by The Flood it's quite a short program.

Obviously gym doctors reminiscing about his 50 years of visiting and working in the state and like the train journey Eva's on it was just very meandering.

Skirted over a lot of separate issues, but just in such a little detail it was very vague.

Well it lasted 10 minutes and the stretch was broadly Chicago on a train journey down to New Orleans and talking about Katerina that dreadful disaster that stop the turning ending Up In Memphis there was some nice music or I thought of some nice as it was going but it didn't seem as you suggest to have a a central message.

I mean it's very difficult with his relatively short letters or to build up to some point at the end Jessie did you think that he delivered on the as it were coming to a conclusion that was quite interesting and significant.

No, I didn't I felt it was all over the place really I didn't understand why he was on a train because we didn't get to hear much about the journey or what he was seeing out of the train window we didn't get to hear from any other passengers and he didn't really explain why.

Is there a what he was doing one of the points you made was that when he tried to talk to people on the train about politics.

They didn't want to talk about it that the train in away was in escape and he tried to suggest that actually the real America or certainly another side of America is best found on a train rather in there.

Are the heated offices in Washington so did you get that real sense of another America Jess I didn't really to be honest because I I spent most of the program trying to work out what he was doing aware.

It was going and initially when the program started and he said he was travelling across America by train.

I was quite excited because I've done that myself back in the 90s when I was 19 and it did give me a different view of America and I met some really interesting people so I was quite disappointed not to hear more from somebody other people on the train.

I know they said they didn't want to talk to him about trump, but I didn't feel we really got to talk to anyone about anything.

I didn't do it was all reported speech wasn't he he talks about hurricane Katrina New Orleans that the beggar who disappeared Elvis the opioid epidemic and then Obama with and without his cigarettes have just skirted over so many issues in such a way that it was the highest the high speed train because it covered a lot in 9 minutes with no doubt whatsoever well if I try and defend it.

I would say if not he is regarded as one of the finest words.

It is the detail was interesting.

I mean I thought you know the account to Obama in 2004 running to be senate and Jim saying well.

There's no chance any other store to be in 4 years time his main problem, was it he had to get out of the church where he was based very frequently because you couldn't stop smoking I mean I thought that was a great.

I could I wouldn't have got otherwise.

That took me back to encounter in 2004 in a church on the south side of the city with a young state legislator unknown to the country at large skinny guy with a funny name is he called himself who was running for the US senate days and then the work I mean that the title must have been carefully chosen across with an Alistair Cookes letter from America and this was a custom not his letter to America and it did have that literary sy2, it likely Alastair Cook Pro and a custom not his brilliant on book club this just so soft that I come back to soft and Holly's is only work.


I think that the title is a question mark as a question about typing it because if you think someone is writing from the UK to America a letter to America it would be about the UK explain the UK

To America just as Alastair Cook explained America to the UK this was a letter to America about America and I don't know if America would learn anything from it didn't Jesse no.

I don't think it would I agree? I didn't really understand the title.

I I assumed it was a reference to letter from America which I've never heard but I couldn't understand why America would want to hear what James Doherty say about them the other thing by the title of course 2.0 reminds us of the peerless Alistair Cooke letter from America giving that unfortunate comparison to make about this program because Alastair Cook customer both have those literary connections, but I'll stick up was a lot more biting and hard-edged and Jim Naughtie supposed to say where you out of your comfort zone, which really implies.

Would you listen to it again Jessie at would you listen to another letter to America from gym? I'm afraid not.

If it had been what I initially was expecting some sort of travel diary and descriptions of the train journey and the people there then yes, but not in its current format.

I was inspired to listen the first two episodes in gym says early Doors self-analysis comes naturally I've worked in America and and some Americans I got some very great American nation.

I wouldn't say self-analysis comes naturally when make America great again.

It's primary purpose.

I think that's a no from both of you then if you're not going to revisit Jim and Jesse thanks very much for giving us your trenchant opinions that was just a good from London and Jim Stretton from Kirkby-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire and do let us know if you would like to be put out of your comfort zone.

For the next 3 years BBC Radio and music is committing 12 million if it's existing budget towards diverse and inclusive content if all goes to plan 15% of the workforce will be from black and Asian ethnic minorities people with disabilities and those from working class backgrounds the BBC will also work with it's independent production companies to achieve targets by the end of 2023.

He is what one Mr have to say about the announcement Stephen Bloom is misguided and irrational firstly they've been doing it for you.

Anyway, so really don't need to start now and secondly.

They're only going to achieve this aim by discriminating against people who don't fit into one of these categories e.g.

White straight middle class men if the BBC is saying that racial or sexual discrimination is fine in some cases that is an interesting view, but I don't fancy explaining it to my children as I generally tell them that discriminate.

Always wrong address too much points is the director of BBC Radio and education James Purnell thank you for joining us James to put the first of Steven's points species been committed to diversity for sometime.

It's got a better record than most organisations at why do you need this further drive, but we are proud of what we've we've achieved and I think we have come to compare well however, you know we get a significant amount of public money every year we want to be the best.

We possibly can and said that means having a workforce.

That's diverse and making programs which have the whole country and we must discriminate ever.

We would never do so but we know that for BME people for example they find it harder to get into the BBC in promoted.

We've had similar things from disabled colleagues people from working class backgrounds, so those groups.

We want to make sure that we gonna leave the same kind of progress that we have in the past with.

Example where the BBC is now prettymuchit gender parity in terms of its workforce in the particular with on-screen at Talent it the same for the parts of the country would have very different largely whites a difference to the centre of London Manchester places like that in London I think 40% of people have a baby background.

So there's a danger that people invaded the country and listen to a representation of the society which they don't recognise all they feel disassociated with that very much one of the BBC's commission system understand each other whatever background we come from and we examine how the country is changing.

We talk about another difficult issues that sometimes arises, but we also have stories with United and inspire.

I think if you take a programme about the long we did last week.

We've talked about race in the context of the 68 election that would have appeal to a wide range of people on the television.

I may destroy you.

Written by a black create a woman that would have inspired and lots and lots of people about her struggles to sexual violence so I think you can tell universal stories.

I would accept your point if we were only making Story one group of the population, but that's not the case we have been doing an awful.

Lot to try and make sure we represent the whole country.

That's why more than half of the boost employees are now outside of London so this is a banner to a universal car still we have to represent and tell stories that everyone this is about trying to create the fact that the somebody's people who will not doing that for well enough yet, and what about Stephen second point I mean he's concerned about the existing BBC employees who aren't classified as a diverse maybe very talented only worried that we gonna lose some favorites because they don't fit the bill.

No, that's not right illegal to discriminate against them.

This is about making sure the people who have not been able to join the BBC and get promoted in the way that they should be able to treat a fairly so this is about with all of

Processes that promotion posters making sure the exactly saying that they don't discriminate against any particular group in a week u-value existing staff and will continue to develop them, so they can prosper as we saw this in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd the parts of the BBC that had a really diverse team really got that issue fastest and came up with some brilliant benefits of the audience and having a diverse workforce in terms of the programs that they had and what about the classes too because Paul McDonagh has this to say why does Sophie of The Regular presenters on Radio 4 from the state education and around any stated UK two presenters on the flagship News programmes does the BBC not believe in state educated Talent well James Burton you and I went to grammar school, but they're awful lot of people who went to Huddersfield Oxbridge in front of microphones at the BBC answer and many believe a disproportionate number so they do worry that working-class people have.

Have a very tough time getting through the BBC so that is something that we are targeting is part of this works as I say one of the three characteristics.

Is it from a working-class background? It's recognise the BBC is leading the way we published data on at work forces socioeconomic background.

So you know what their parents did where they went to school when they were the first go to university and is part of this will make a commitment that we can do improve the performance chances of that group and they also be including love commitment that 12 million pounds of our commissioning budget will be devoted to these areas whatlisten, because most care about is the quality of the programming and they may say what are the important that you have all these things but cold on the most important that things we have brilliant people make programs irrespective of their background.

Is there a danger that you may be as they would perhaps a very political correct but actually produced some quite dull programs for the we would have found if we done that and I would.

Find me show them that the best program to come out to think about how Society is changing the stories that come from that what it means what it's like to live in Britain today looking back at the history of our country and where we come from and where games are right.

I really promise that everything we doing here to do.

What is right in terms of our workforce but also what is the most creative and I think we're going to be brilliant programmes coming out to the solicitor about to get a new director-general in September we know there are further cuts down the line.

Are you saying that this commitment continues regardless of what happens what budget socket and sound of this policy will be in whatever yes, absolutely James Purnell the BBC director of radio and education and that's it for this week next week will be talking to Alison in Dell phone with the head of all drama for the BBC and now radio foreskin mission editor for drama and fiction do let me know what questions do you have for her until then keep safe keep separate.

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