In praise of Fi Glover

This Saturday will be Fi Glover’s last ever Saturday Live.  I can’t claim to be a disinterested party in this, given that I was part of the team that launched Saturday Live back in September 2006.  And the experience is hard to forget.  We took over the 0900 Saturday slot from the mighty John Peel and Home Truths.  And to say the audience was unreceptive is putting it mildly.  We pretty much got hate mail – by text, email, letter.  If twitter had been big back in 2007 we’ve have got hate tweets too.  They criticised Fi’s pronunciation, the theme music, the fact we had once looked at them in a funny way…  But we ploughed on, and then the audience grew to like us a bit more, and Fi took the show from being good, to very good, to Gold Sony Award-winning good.

Fi Glover

Fi Glover

Fi Glover is a rare thing among presenters.  Not just someone who will take a script or interview and make it better (you’d be surprised how many presenters can’t even do that).  But someone who will also surprise you.  Week after week.  With a quip, or a wicked aside, or a killer question.  She’s arch, intelligent, funny, warm and genuine, and BBC Radio 4 won’t be the same without her.  In announcing Fi’s departure R4 Controller Gwyneth Williams said she’ll be back on the network very soon.  I hope so…  In the meantime tune in to the last Saturday Live with Fi Glover at the helm on 2nd April on BBC Radio 4.  BBC – BBC Radio 4 Programmes – Saturday Live.

A documentary that matters

My first ever blog.  So I’ll start with something that matters – a programme I Exec produced recently for Angela Robson at Pearlworks Productions, and which was broadcast on BBC Radio 5Live on Comic Relief night.

Helen Skelton

Safe & Sound is  a documentary about young women – girls really – who were sexually exploited in Derby by predatory gangs of men.  It could have been a horrific listen, but it’s not.  It’s shocking, yes.  And there are no happy endings.  But it’s made bearable by the people involved.  By the love and loyalty of the parents, who have picked their daughters up and tried to put them back together.  And by the fiercely determined workers at a tiny charity called Safe and Sound, funded by Comic Relief.

It’s genuinely moving, but provokes a sense of outrage too, that this is happening to women across the UK.  Presenter Helen Skelton brings a gentle but no-nonsense tone to the piece, saying that if her mum was listening she’d probably think it couldn’t happen to her – “but it can, can’t it?”.  There’s a great review of it here Radio review: Safe and Sound | Television & radio | The Guardian and if you’d like to listen again then you can still do so if you’re quick at  BBC – BBC Radio 5 live Programmes – Tony Livesey, Comic Relief Special.  It starts about 3 minutes in.

I won’t say ‘enjoy’.  It’s a tough listen.  But it’s a great documentary about a subject that is too grim to get a lot of press coverage.  So bravo to BBC Radio 5Live, Comic Relief and Pearlworks, and especially to Emma, Lauren and Louise, who were brave enough to tell their stories, and who are still fighting back.