Murray's mint

A cool head in trying circumstances: that's Jenni.

Woman's Hour
Radio 4

On Woman's Hour, the 22-year-old Scottish actress Karen Gillan - aka Doctor Who's controversially miniskirted assistant Amy - was promoting a forthcoming Prom, the precise nature of which she'd been struggling for a while to nail. "The Doctor Who Promenade concert," tried Karen again, "it's, er, basically, all the music from the show, and there's going to be some sort of classical music that's kind of erm related to time travel in some ways. Or something like that." Jenni Murray wasn't exactly thrilled by this précis, but she was amenable.

“But what are you hoping to achieve with the Prom, Karen? To draw young people in to classical music?"

“Erm, I guess so," nodded Karen, rather taken with the idea. TRRRRING trrring durrrahh eourwwww! The unmistakable clamour of a BlackBerry
with ringer set to Pinball rousing itself from deep inside a Mulberry Alexa. Jenni's head whips round. "That's a mobile phone," she hisses. "And we did check it was off before - didn't we?' Cut to the producers' box at Broadcasting House, full of necks suddenly tree trunks of despairing muscle (your reviewer has seen the Woman's Hour studio, and it is literally crammed with two kinds of producer: those staring through the glass manically, as though cresting in the middle of a three-day binge, and those ripping articles about foreign horrors from Amnesty International magazine). "Heeehaaaaaheeeeee!" gasped Karen, shrieking and blowing her cheeks out like Dizzy Gillespie. "Is that your alarm?" continued Jenny, omni-dominant. "It is, isn't it? This is the time you normally get up!"

“Teeeeeeeeeeeeee!" burst Karen, helplessly, her peepy tone implying extreme youth and non-stop emotion, nights in forgiving bars doing impressions with wigs, stuff like that. She was the loveliest thing to have happened to Radio 4 in weeks. There was a chaotic silence, during which time, possibly, Jenni - like Stalin with Finland - toyed with letting the whole thing go. Courage, Murray!

Karen Gillan. Aung San Suu Kyi. Whatever. "Karen. Being Doctor Who's 'companion' - it's a very, very important role on British telly. How's the attention been?" (One couldn't help but admire the way Murray delivered the word "companion" - that slight prissy inflection, carrying with it the suggestion of something seedy that could be rootled out if she could be arsed.) Karen instinctively realised that the serious bit of the interview had arrived and it was time to dig deep. "It's been mental," she concluded. "Completely mental."

Hard to know where to go from this high point of analysis. Best mention Tom Baker. "Were you familiar with the show before?" asked Jenni. A pause. "Well, if I'd seen a Dalek I'd definitely know what one was. Yeah. No. And then in the first episode the Doctor meets her and doesn't come back for 12 years and she's like, 'I've met this magical man in a magic box,' and it's just really weird." Men with their magic boxes not coming back for 12 years. That's Woman's Hour in a nutshell. TRRRIng trrring. "We're going to kill that phone, aren't we?" said Jenni, stonily. "It's off now," whispered Karen, mouthing almost imperceptibly into her fingers: "Oh. My. Godddddd . . ."