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Reviewed: Assorted programmes on Radio 4 and Radio 3

Listening on a loop.

Assorted programmes
Radio 4 and Radio 3

From my sick bed, everything sounded suspiciously, lip-curlingly familiar. With the single exception of the actor Adrian Lester talking about playing Rosalind in As You Like It when he was 23 (Who Was Rosalind? 4pm, 18 February). After weeks of failing in rehearsals with Cheek by Jowl “pretending to be a girl” he realised that if he was actually “a girl like him” he would feel predominately flatchested, tall and insecure, and then he immediately found the crucial speed of the part. (Ted Hughes: “The real power of a play is never in the language – though the language might make it a powerful poem. The dramatic power is always in the action.”)

But surely familiar was the episode of The Essay on winter walks, with the writer Deborah Levy working her way up London’s Holloway Road in a thick snow pleasantly dulling passing petrol fumes. She considered the bygone journey taken by cattle and sheep down this road towards the meat markets of Smithfield (geese also made this journey on foot, their delicate feet coated in tar and sand as makeshift shoes). Levy described the first recorded deliberately frozen food, a chicken optimistically stuffed with snow 400 years ago by a man who then died of a cold before being able to fry up the winglets, which even fast-food naysayers have to admit are incontrovertibly from actual chickens and delicious, however down-in-the-beak.

Yes, this was familiar! Was this a repeat? A high and mighty exchange with the Radio 3 press office as soon as dawn broke sought reassurance that The Essay, the five-weekly late-night short monologues going since 2007, is not now leaning on repeats because of the cuts. (That’s approx 1,200 essays, I calculated through the night, Nancy Drewishly narrowing my eyes. Hmmmm, that’s a lot of potential repeats. This trend must be exposed!). Turns out that winter walks was not in fact a repeat, although next week’s series on the subject of insomnia is, and that there have always been repeats of The Essay, but they are not remotely on the increase. Always been repeats? I’ve never noticed a single one!

I only tell you this to assure you how alert your correspondent is as she sits on the sofa flicking between Magic FM and Radio 4 Extra (radio reviewing at its purest) wearing the profoundly inconvenienced expression of the hard at work.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 25 February 2013 issue of the New Statesman, The cheap food delusion

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SRSLY #13: Take Two

On the pop culture podcast this week, we discuss Michael Fassbender’s Macbeth, the recent BBC adaptations of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Cider with Rosie, and reminisce about teen movie Shakespeare retelling She’s the Man.

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

Listen to our new episode now:

...or subscribe in iTunes. We’re also on Audioboom, Stitcher, RSS and  SoundCloud – but if you use a podcast app that we’re not appearing in, let us know.

SRSLY is hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s web editor and editorial assistant. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

The podcast is also on Twitter @srslypod if you’d like to @ us with your appreciation. More info and previous episodes on

If you’d like to talk to us about the podcast or make a suggestion for something we should read or cover, you can email srslypod[at]

You can also find us on Twitter @srslypod, or send us your thoughts on tumblr here. If you like the podcast, we'd love you to leave a review on iTunes - this helps other people come across it.

The Links

On Macbeth

Ryan Gilbey’s review of Macbeth.

The trailer for the film.

The details about the 2005 Macbeth from the BBC’s Shakespeare Retold series.


On Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Cider with Rosie

Rachel Cooke’s review of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Sarah Hughes on Cider with Rosie, and the BBC’s attempt to create “heritage television for the Downton Abbey age”.


On She’s the Man (and other teen movie Shakespeare retellings)

The trailer for She’s the Man.

The 27 best moments from the film.

Bim Adewunmi’s great piece remembering 10 Things I Hate About You.


Next week:

Anna is reading Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner.


Your questions:

We loved talking about your recommendations and feedback this week. If you have thoughts you want to share on anything we've discussed, or questions you want to ask us, please email us on srslypod[at], or @ us on Twitter @srslypod, or get in touch via tumblr here. We also have Facebook now.



The music featured this week, in order of appearance, is:


Our theme music is “Guatemala - Panama March” (by Heftone Banjo Orchestra), licensed under Creative Commons. 



See you next week!

PS If you missed #12, check it out here.

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

Anna Leszkiewicz is the New Statesman's editorial assistant.