Radio Archive

‘Islands of Abandonment’ on Radio 4

Cal Flyn’s Islands of Abandonment, which you’ll have seen mentioned here a few times, is Book of the Week on Radio 4 from 09:45 this morning.

Voices from ‘Osebol’ on Radio 4

I’ve now read Osebol: Voices from a Swedish Village. I finished its 800 pages in a couple of days — partly because they’re laid out like a prose poem, partly because they’re full of life and I didn’t want to stop. The author, Marit Kapla, was on Start the Week on Radio 4 this morning; you can catch up on BBC Sounds.

‘Jan Morris: Writing a Life’

A year on from the death of Jan Morris, Horatio Clare assesses her remarkable legacy and explores some of the myths she built up about herself and her life. Jan Morris: Writing a Life will be broadcast in the Archive on 4 slot on Radio 4 on Saturday (November 13).

A book of essays Morris prepared for posthumous publication, Allegorizings, came out in Britain at the start of this month (Faber, £14) and in the US in April.

Robert Macfarlane’s ‘Desert Island Discs’

Robert Macfarlane is a name that’s hitched often to the words “nature writer”. How would he describe himself? Sharing the soundtrack to his life today on Desert Island Discs, he told Lauren Laverne that, if profession were still something you had to state on a passport, his would be “Teacher”.

A blast of fresh air with Horatio Clare

Happy New Year. If you’ve started 2021 having to self-isolate (and even if you haven’t), I’d recommend escaping for an hour with Horatio Clare on his Sunrise Sound Walk, crossing “the land that the sea owns” to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which was first broadcast on Radio 3 on Christmas Day. Listen to it with headphones and you’ll get the full force of a “proper rushing wind”. Clare has also welcomed dawn in Lincolnshire along the Wash, but I’ve not yet had a chance yet to listen to that one.

Tunes to take you away

The writer Laura Barton, denied the open road in 2020, has been reliving some of her best trips through a playlist of 10 songs she has shared on Guardian Travel. As I’ve mentioned before, her journeys for radio are well worth seeking out.

Tune in for Ondaatje winner Robinson

Roger Robinson, winner of this year’s RSL Ondaatje Prize for A Portable Paradise (Peepal Tree Press), will be among contributors tonight to The Verb on Radio 3 (10pm), which looks at writing from the Caribbean diaspora. He is also the first guest to offer his choices in a new series of Poetry Please, starting this Sunday on Radio 4 (4.30pm).

Barton heads ‘Down By The River’

Laura Barton, who has presented some of the programmes I’ve enjoyed most on radio in recent years (Notes from a Musical Island, 24 Hours of Sunset and Laura Barton’s American Road Trip), takes to the water tomorrow. At 9am (with a repeat at 7pm) on Radio 4 Extra, she presents Down By The River: “From the squelchy trickle at the source of the Tyne, to the vast expanse of the Severn estuary… she explores the rivers of Britain to discover how they’ve shaped our stories and lives.” For details, see the programme page on the BBC website.

Sybille Bedford: a great life

Sybille Bedford (1911-2006), who was a travel writer as well as a novelist, a biographer and a journalist who wrote about criminals and miscarriages of justice, was celebrated yesterday in the Great Lives slot on Radio 4 (due to be broadcast again on Friday at 11pm).

  Bedford was nominated by the travel writer Sara Wheeler, who described her as “a dazzling writer and a free spirit [who] had a damn good time while she was about it”. Wheeler was in her twenties when she first encountered Bedford’s writing, in an account of her travels in Mexico, A Visit to Don Otavio. You can read an extract from that book on Telegraph Travel; it was part of a page I compiled recently that was designed to offer some literary release from the lockdown.

Leigh Fermor and company on ‘The Art of Travel’

The fruity tones of Patrick Leigh Fermor, who died four years short of his century in 2011, can be heard in a 1992 interview that’s now available again through BBC Sounds. He talks to Annette Kobak, recalling his walk in the 1930s with his “rooksack” from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople: “I’d got a pound a week, nothing else, and I thought I could just manage on that, you know, living very humbly, sleep out in summer, and doss down in  barns and that sort of thing, farmhouses in winter, and keep body and soul together…”

  Also featured in the “Art of Travel” slot are Caryl Philips, Colin Thubron, Tim Severin and Sir Laurens van der Post.