Today (Radio 4)

Sarah Montague goes dizzy at the thought of Cranford mittens.

An average Saturday on the Today programme (19 November, 7am), except with an even more than usually relentless sequence of reports on the abuse of sickness benefit, broken up by two vague featurettes on whether E still equals MC2 and the reopening of the case of the drowning of Natalie Wood (did her sopping felt nightgown act as a temporary life jacket? Where was Christopher Walken?)

Then back to the NASUWT joining the public-sector strikes when - with the show heaving towards 9am like the Titanic towards its iceberg - Sarah Montague's voice goes all what-the-fuck. "Although people have talked a lot about the programme The Killing - that it's the best television programme ever, etc - what they really want to know is whether the actress Sofie Gråbøl will be wearing the same snow­flake sweater tonight!"

Immediately we're down the line to a conspiratorial knitter in Sweden. "It's not been hot to knit for centuries. And suddenly now it's very much in to knit yourself stuff. It represents you have the time and resources to do something extra." Me, I'm all for looms pounding 24/7 because I find home-knitted garments depressing. When I was a child, they came from members of the parish, complete with flaps for private functions, or one's name spelt out across the back in silver thread, literally blazing with an implied significance, as if blessed by the very presence of God.

Then Sarah turns to someone called Graham who chairs the Knitting in Film and TV Awards. Just how popular is this Killing jumper? "People keep coming into my shop all the time, including my friend Jenny, and she doesn't even knit," shrugs Graham, stunned. "There are other popular knitted items inspired by telly, no?" asks Sarah, raising an interrogator's finger. "Oh yes," says Graham. "Cranford inspired a pair of mittens. There's a free download." Sarah pauses. "You can get a free download of the Cranford fingerless mittens?" "Yes." At which point Sarah admitted that someone had sent a knitted John Humphrys in to the programme, forcing one to imagine a complete knit-your-own-Today (with Nick Robinson pushing a needle through Robert Peston's soul).

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 28 November 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The rise of the muslim brotherhood