Simon Mayo Radio 2

No-frills food chat from a thoroughly decent bloke.

Lawrence Dallaglio's interview on Simon Mayo Drivetime (16 May, 5pm) - promoting his book of Italian home cooking recipes - was a masterclass in straightforward, decent blokeness. Dallaglio's signature dish is a no-frills spag bol ("Not many people would say they don't like that. Other than vegetarians, clearly"). He had few shockers up his sleeve ("Sunday roast is typically English") and sympathises with those who fear the unknown ("Balsamic vinegar is something quite exciting").

Why a cookery book? asked Simon. "We have to eat," reasoned Lawrence. "We spend a lot of time eating." Beyond a frozen pea risotto ("Fresh peas would be even better"), he was puzzlingly hard to draw out on actual dishes and recipes - he did mention minestrone soup - but was funny when recalling Berlusconi once phoning him and inviting him to play for Milan. "Berlusconi," says Mayo slyly, enjoying the word, as though it were flavoured with salt and onion. "Whatever happened to him?"

“God knows," says Lawrence, fast and deadpan. "Throws the odd party, apparently."

The first in a new series of the brilliant Ramblings (21 May, 6.05am, Radio 2) - Clare Balding with a microphone stuck on her fleece accompanying walkers - was recorded in Heptonstall, West Yorkshire, among a dozen local people fond of its native Ted Hughes, and Sylvia Plath, long buried there. Balding is exceptionally good at plainly describing a scene: "We're just sheltering slightly by the beech trees on our left, and looking through them we can just see bluebells shining brightly." Or "There's a great contrast through all of these trunks to up on the wide expanses here, where all I can feel is sky." It sounds obvious, but it's a rare skill.

For a while everyone walked, buffeted by mad winds, stopping to observe some hairy wood ants ("They're probably looking for stuff") or to wait if someone fell over ("ooh - ow"). While most chattered in the background, others spoke intimately about Hughes and Plath, sadly, amazedly, kindly, giving the half-hour the feel of a long walk. He knows/The day has passed/For reunion with ancestors . . . /As the fragments/Of the broken circle of the hill/Drift apart. ("I don't really think it was the place for a beautiful American in her twenties.") l

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 30 May 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Hands up who knows how to fix our schools