This morning was the first time I’d been inside the new and/or still-being-rebuilt BBC Broadcasting House in London. It appears to have an interior colour scheme of red, black and white. Very clean and trendy, though those three colours feel unsettlingly more Third Reich than Lord Reith. It was also slightly unsettling to see a notice at the entrance of the Radio Theatre declaring:
PLEASE NOTE. Strobe lighting and smoke effects are used in this theatre.
I know I’m knocking on a bit and the various media are allegedly rapidly converging, but this seemed going a little far for BBC Radio, even by the surreal standards of the late Director Fuhrer John Birt. Strobe lighting and smoke effects?
I was at the the BBC Radio Theatre to see the recording of a debate entitled on the info sheet I Love…? but listed on the BBC website as The Greatest City on Earth. Basically a set-to on whether London, New York, Mumbai or Istanbul is the best city. No mention of Edinburgh, then?
Professor Laurie Taylor chaired a surprisingly feisty debate which included Jake Arnott, writer of the superb semi-fiction crime books The Long Firm (filmed by the BBC) and He Kills Coppers (filmed by ITV)… and the always surprising American comedian Lewis Schaffer of whom more in the weeks to come.
Watching Lewis is often a rollercoaster ride. He’s more self-destructive than a shower of lemmings and many are the comedy cliffs I have seen him plunge over. He is Bill Bryson with attitude or Woody Allen on acid. But always charming and I am always surprised by his ability to ad-lib well-thought-out punchlines. A natural for factual-based TV and radio shows. Let’s just hope he figures out what his Edinburgh Fringe show is going to be about before August. He has been doing try-outs for it twice weekly in Soho since (I think) last November. He is a potentially great comedian who is already worth the price of admission. Certainly worth tuning in to hear The Greatest City on Earth – Radio 4 next Monday morning, 12th July, at 09.00, with a shortened version broadcast on Radio 4 at 21.30 that same evening.
As far as I am aware, there will be no strobe lighting and no smoke effects during the broadcasts.