Radio - Rachel Cooke

No one with a brain would find Russell Brand funny. He is dumb and hateful, and must be stopped

Kelvin MacKenzie, the former editor of the Sun, is presenting a two-part series on 5 Live called World Cup Scandals (Saturdays, 7pm). I was dying to write about it, but no preview CD arrived before my deadline. As its name suggests, 5 Live does not much trade in previews. So, instead, I contented myself with thinking of amusing captions for the photo, sent out by the BBC press office, of Kelvin in his studio with Faria Alam, ex-squeeze of Sven-Göran Eriksson.

Most of these were along the lines of "What were you thinking, you daft bint?", only ruder (that's him to her, obviously). My favourite had Kelvin saying: "I used to hate the BBC, but now I'm on it, I think it's bloody brilliant - don't you, love?" MacKenzie, a one-time CEO and chairman of the Wireless Group, owner of the egregious TalkSport, has railed against the BBC and its so-called monopoly for years, yet here we find him behind one of its microphones. Odd, this.

Still, I suppose you can't blame him. Considering what we know some BBC radio stars to be earning, I expect MacKenzie was made an offer that his agent couldn't refuse.

I think he's a good signing. His new column in the Sun may not be up to much, but he has always been an entertaining talker. At Radio 5 Live, he is surrounded by so many irritants (Alan Green, Graham Taylor, Anita Anand) that I find the idea of him - don't laugh - oddly sane and soothing.

Not that irritants are confined to 5 Live. Perhaps someone could explain to me the attraction of Russell Brand, the comedian who presents a Big Brother spin-off on E4 and, now, a Sunday show on BBC6 Music (10am). I cannot fathom why this programme should have pitched up on super-sophisticated, grown-up 6 Music. No one with a brain could possibly find it funny. Brand spews out a vile stream of consciousness, which, when I last listened, involved a mighty use of the word "poo" and the expression "I'm free!", trilled in the style of Mr Humphries in Are You Being Served?. I also caught a graphic riff on a theme of auto-asphyxiation. He is dumb and hateful, and must be stopped.

So, for laughs this past week, I was left with Radio 4. Luckily, it never lets you down. The trick, however, is not to listen only to shows designated as "comedy". In A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Despatch Box (Sunday, 10.45pm), for instance, Marcus Brigstocke examined the stand-up style of politicians. Though some MPs - ie, William Hague - did trot out funny lines ("I'm not saying it was a tough school, but it had its own coroner"), it didn't make me snigger half so loudly as the latest Woman's Hour drama (29 May to 2 June), Ottoline and Bertie, a panting account of the affair between the Bloomsbury socialite Lady Ottoline Morrell and the philosopher Bertrand Russell. This is (unintentionally) hilarious. What a pair: conceited, self-obsessed, emotionally incontinent. Plus, dear Bertie had halitosis.

Bertie was something else. First, the smoothie described his new lover as looking "like a horse". Then he told her that he did not think her at all clever. Finally, there was his blithe announcement that he was sleeping with another woman.

He maintained there was nothing he could do. "I do find the lure of sex too strong for me," he complained, as if testosterone were a gale and he a silk handkerchief. I laughed at the thought. The old creep might have been able to talk his way out of infidelity, but all the philosophising in the world can't render sour breath sweet.

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