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12 October 2022

Fi and Jane: live and uncensored

Former BBC stalwarts Jane Garvey and Fi Glover have moved to Times Radio. Is it more of the same?

By Rachel Cunliffe

It’s getting hard to keep track of the BBC heavyweights who have broken free of Broadcasting House and can now be found opining elsewhere. There’s The News Agents trio Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall, who have just launched their weekday podcast on LBC (where the New Statesman’s own Andrew Marr also has a flagship show), while Andrew Neil has found a new home grilling politicians on Channel 4.

So there were some eyebrows raised at the announcement that Times Radio had lured Jane Garvey and Fi Glover, two women who have spent a combined 63 years at the Beeb and have hosted Fortunately, one of its most popular podcasts, since 2017.

Why did they leave? Whatever the internal politics are at W1A, the official reason is that this – a live Monday-to-Thursday afternoon show, reacting to the day’s news – is a genuinely exciting proposition. Glover says the pair “have talked about ourselves as much as we want to, and we found the offer of a return to solid journalism appealing”, while in the trailer for their new show Garvey compares the difference between live radio and podcasting to “swimming naked in a pool and doing it in a wetsuit”. 

Still, the set-up will be familiar to Fortunately fans. While the topics are now sourced from stories in the Times, the draw remains how engaging the hosts are to listen to. In the debut episode, they riffed on everything from hotel costs in Liverpool on Eurovision weekend to public information campaigns on saving energy.

Admittedly, it’s a little jarring to hear them discuss civilian casualties in Ukraine and the threat of nuclear war just after trailing an interview with Jamie Oliver, but Garvey and Glover are experts at segueing from soft to hard topics while keeping the tone appropriate and the pace smooth. Political insights come sandwiched between interludes of cosy fireside chit-chat.

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There’s nothing special about the format – except that it is still vanishingly rare to have a national news programme fronted by two women. Maybe that’s the lesson the BBC should take away.

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Jane Garvey and Fi Glover
Times Radio, Mon-Thurs, 3pm-5pm

[See also: The podcast Hoaxed packages suburban trauma as grim entertainment]

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This article appears in the 12 Oct 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Will Putin go Nuclear?