View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

What the dog hears

BBC Radio 3’s unnarrated day in the life of Honey the Labrador is 30 minutes of head-emptying canine comfort.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

I’m not sure exactly what is slow about BBC Radio 3’s “slow radio” series. It began five years ago, as a sibling to BBC Four’s set of “slow TV” programmes, which included a three-hour tour of London’s National Gallery with no voiceover, music or sound effects, and a film of a two-hour narrowboat journey along the Avon. (These, in turn, were inspired by the popularity of slow TV in Norway, where the broadcast of a seven-hour train journey from Bergen to Oslo became an unexpected success in 2009.)

The equivalent radio slot has broadcast a six-hour collage of the voices of people living with dementia and “sound portraits” (atmospheric background noise) from different places around the world. More recent episodes have sped things up: this latest one compresses a day in the life of a dog into a 30-minute programme. Not so “slow” then, but retaining the essential everyday quietness of the real-time programming that preceded it. “Mundane Radio” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

[See also: How the front door became a British status symbol]

Our guide to the world at dog level is Honey (a 15-year-old fox-red Labrador, but you’d only know that if you had read the programme details). We hear her snoring, padding around the house, chomping down her breakfast, and strolling through the park. Humans occasionally enter the soundscape to offer her treats or praise her for sitting nicely while her hair is brushed. A neighbour explains to a child that Honey is more than 100 years old in dog years.

The result is hardly thought-provoking listening, but it’s not intended to be – it should be the opposite: mindless, head-emptying. There is something vaguely calming about the snuffles of Honey’s breath, the tweeting of birds around her. But even the most immersive soundscape can’t compete with the sensory pleasures of real dog ownership: my partner and I respond to every unexpected noise from our dog – the strangled one he makes barking in his sleep, his strangely exasperated sighs, the high-pitched whisper emitted mid-yawn – as if it were a priceless gift. And where is the fun in a pet you can’t pet?

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Slow Radio: A Day in the Life of Honey the Dog
BBC Radio 3, 3 July, 11.30pm; now on catch-up

[See also: Careering review: How to sell your soul for clicks]

Content from our partners
Labour's health reforms can put patients first
Data science can help developers design future-proof infrastructure
How to tackle the UK's plastic pollution problem – with Coca-Cola

Topics in this article : ,

This article appears in the 06 Jul 2022 issue of the New Statesman, The Last Days of Boris Johnson

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU