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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Friday, 9 August 2013

BBC Radio London's cussing policy: what a load of c**p!!

Do not get me wrong (and do not forget that this is a phrase always used when you're about to say something bad about something)....no, honestly, I mean, really, I do love my local BBC radio station. That is BBC Radio London 94.9 fm, plugged.

But - BUT - why do they have to be so craven about the poor dear English language?

Why when some fired-up guest or phone-in listener gets carried away and says something like, "Well God knows what Dylan thought he was doing but  his singing was a pile of crap" does Robert Elms have to jump in with massive apologies and reprobations, "he means a pile of rubbish, sorry about that, sorry, you know you musn't say that"....blah, blah.

I feel so sorry for Mr Elms and his fellow daytime presenters, they have to do this so often, these well-handled apologies. What percentage of their listenership is really going to be offended? The Robert Elms Show is well known to have  massive following among London cab drivers, who are famous for their delicate linguistic sensibilities. God forbid we should cause a stampede of outraged taxi drivers to their GPs for tranquillisation, having heard  Doug from Lewisham say "shite" live on air.

So why can't people use these words on BBC Local Radio when on BBC Radio 3 or BBC 4 TV they can - and most certainly do - throw fucks and cunts and shits  around at will all night long? I don't get it. OK, so they are doing this late at night - but so what? Do all impressionable people go to bed at 9pm?

Are they saying that a local radio audience is not capable of understanding or dealing with colloquialisms?  If arse and cunt were good enough for Chaucer, are they not good enough for daytime radio and TV?

Background to this rant:

I love BBC Radio London. I have relied on it for decades. As GLR it used to give me Charlie Gillet and some wonderful black music shows. I spent whole nights in the darkroom with crazyall-night phone-ins as background - a bit like being tuned in to the Samaritans at times.

Now it's survived another round of cuts,  has slimmed and tensioned itself for the Cameron era. It still has some great stuff, but also...well, also.

I am a sort angry addict of the Robert Elms Show. I think Vanessa Feltz is perfect and brilliant for the early morning news agenda and phone-in stuff, and the handover to Elms is always a lesson in how to to do this sort of local radio splice or segue.

I say local radio - but in truth this station has a bigger and better audience than most national radio stations. This much is apparent (a) in the outcry the BBC experienced when it planned to chop most of the daytime programming, and (b) in the quality of guests that Elms, etc, attract.

The Elms show occupies the lunchtime to early-afternoon slot. It is a show with a loyal following and  a sort of clubbable, rathe blokeish atmosphere. It's understood that the main thing we are all going to be talking about or listening to is London itself. In case this sounds just too much like a diamond geezer fm, Elm also has a great roster of regular expert contributors.

Elms is smart and a good presenter, very smart as you'd expect of the 1980s Blitz club boy, the chief face of Face magazine.  I don't love Robert Elms but I do take my hat off to his reinventions of himself and his very well-turned radio skills. Check out his interview with Ginger Baker if ever you doubt this.

Maybe it's my age but I feel I know him, I instinctively know that we will disagree on a lot of things and agree on many others. Thank god for these institutions - Feltz, Elms, the Listed Londoners, the Four-fers, the Cover-to-Covers.

Thanks also for the scatty, crazy 1960s dolly-bird, only partly reconstructed, Jo Good. She's another blog entry on another day, another treasure in the making.

But as for this antedeluvian ban on crap and shit and arse and suchlike - well - to effin' hell with it!

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