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29 December 2010

Poles apart

If the Beeb's cosiness isn't enough, look further afield.

By Antonia Quirke

The prospect of Colin Firth editing Today aside (28 December), Radio 4 doesn’t come more Christmas-cosy than Merry Christmas Morris Minor! (Christmas Eve, 11am), a tribute to the British jelly-mould-cum-car with glowing orange figures for indicators and a speedometer that looks like a clock genteelly placed on a mantelpiece. The programme promises a “choir of Morris Minor Horns plus distinctive raspberry for the exhaust” in a special rendition of “Jingle Bells”.

Those looking for a show with fewer ducks flying up the shoulder of its pullover might appreciate Radio 3’s Lunchtime Concert (Christmas Eve, 1pm), in which the Canadian maestro Louis Lortie ends a year of Chopin celebrations by performing none less than all of the composer’s études. But if you want to escape the pom-pom barrage of special programmes entirely, you should turn to “A” Net Station (anetstation.com) on Snow Hill Island, Antarctica, whose sole nod to Christmas appears to be its selling of a Special Expedition Parka online. On “A” Net Station, one is pretty much – whatever the day or time – guaranteed an extended rendition of Sinatra’s “Somewhere in Your Heart”, except played by Paul Carrack, or possibly the station’s DJ on his melancholy Martin D-45 (“Though they’re only dreams/Some day they may all come true”).

He will doubtless still be playing it by Monday 27 December, when Bedfordshire’s Biggles FM (bigglesfm.co.uk) embarks on the season’s most calming exercise: brewing beer live on air. (Mind you, your correspondent can generally recommend nothing quite so soothing as simply logging on to the Planet Rock website and scrolling through the current stories. How could “Steve Hackett Trapped in Bus: farcical scenes as former Genesis man traps himself in tour bus but STILL makes it to the stage on time” not keep a person steady when a crisis bursts?)

As usual, however, station of the year is Two Lochs Radio (2lr.co.uk), whose seasonal one-offs include a live relay of a Christmas service from the Isle of Lewis, and up to ten hours of local interviews (“We’ve had a lot going on”) celebrating another year of peerless broadcasting to the remote Gairloch and Loch Ewe areas of Wester Ross. A recent caller to the station confided he was tuning in from Abu Dhabi. Who can blame him? l

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