Robert Hampton

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31st August 2010

It’s Rosie the Nosey Neighbour!
Posted by at 6.09pm | Fun, Music, Radio | No responses

Here is a short coda to my Brighton trip. On the train home I was listening to more Adam & Joe XFM podcasts from 2006. Unbeknownst to me, this included this hilarious discussion of R Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet album, which caught me unawares and induced helpless laughter in me.

Aware that I was getting strange looks from my fellow passengers, I tried to stifle my laughter. My attempts only resulted in a coughing fit, which earned me even more strange looks.

Adam and Joe must be two of the most entertaining people on the radio. I really wish they’d hurry up and return to their 6 Music show.

28th February 2010

Big Blundering Cutbacks
Posted by at 11.10pm | In the News, Radio | 1 response

The BBC is reportedly axing 6Music and the Asian Network (actually they’re axing far more than that, according to the leaked report which the Times gleefully printed). My exposure to BBC 6Music has been limited to the Adam and Joe podcasts, so on the face of it I shouldn’t be bothered by the threatened closure. But I am, and I will try to explain why.

The BBC’s digital channels have long been a target for the corporation’s enemies. In the early days the Daily Mail criticised the BBC for wasting money on channels which no-one watched (and, given that BBC Choice launched in September 1998 before any digital TV receivers became available for the public to buy, they did briefly have a point). Last year, Sky boss James Murdoch criticised the BBC’s expansion. And of course there is a long list of BBC Three programme titles ready to be dropped into a Richard Littlejohn piece at the right point.

The BBC’s radio stations generally, meanwhile, have come in for criticism from commercial rivals. This ignores the fact that, almost without exception, commercial radio is total crap (or should that be Absolute crap?) with unimaginative playlists, annoying presenters, far too many adverts and “local” stations which are often broadcast from a playout server 200 miles away from their licence area. And that’s just music radio, not speech — if BBC Radio 4 closed down tomorrow, would GCap Media step in with their own replacement?

The real problem here is that no-one (including, it seems, BBC management) knows what the corporation is supposed to be doing. Is it supposed to broadcast entertainment and information for the masses (in which case, CLOSE IT DOWN because commercial channels can do that) or is it supposed to broadcast niche programmes of interest to a small minority (in which case, CLOSE IT DOWN because satellite or cable channels funded by subscription can do that)?

My own view is that the BBC is funded by everyone, and therefore has the opportunity (and in fact a responsibility) to be all things to all people. That’s why I’m trying to avoid a “How can the BBC axe (x) when they spend millions on (y)“-type post (where (x) is a show I like, and (y) is probably Top Gear), because programme (y) is going to be of interest to someone, even if it’s not me. Stations like 6Music and the Asian Network are an essential part of that “something for everyone” mix.

The Tories, unsurprisingly, welcomed the move. An incoming Conservative government (I know, I’m scared too) is likely to impose far more radical cuts on the BBC (and everything else, for that matter), so this could just be the start of a very painful period for Auntie.

18th April 2009

All this, AND he advertised dog food
Posted by at 1.41pm | In the News, Radio | No responses

Very sad news about Clement Freud. I remember the first time I tuned into Just a Minute on Radio 4. It would have been 1999-ish and I was listening purely because a few people on a Whose Line is it Anyway? forum were raving about it.

The first voice I heard was the lugubrious tones of Freud, and at first I thought all my suspicions, about Radio 4 being a home for dull upper-class people, were true. But then I listened more, and soon he was delighting me with the incredibly funny things coming out of his mouth, all delivered in that brilliantly deadpan manner.

This Just a Minute blog has some of his best lines.

23rd March 2009

Posted by at 1.32pm | Radio | No responses

You can argue till you’re blue in the face about the merits of the Licence Fee, but as long as Chris Moyles reigns at Radio 1, using his position to make juvenile, stupid, bigoted comments, anti-BBC campaigners have a solid counter-argument.

Chris Moyles has been censured by Ofcom for condoning negative stereotypes of gay people, after the DJ made what the media regulator ruled were derogatory comments about Will Young on his BBC Radio 1 breakfast show.

Moyles changed the lyrics of two of Young’s songs, Evergreen and Leave Right Now, and sang them in “an effeminate and high pitched voice”, according to Ofcom.

What will it take for him to be sacked?

1st January 2009

2008? More like Two Thousand and GREAT!

January was marked with a sentiment many Liverpudlians expressed in the final months of 2007, namely that while we wanted Capital of Culture year to go well, there was a nagging suspicion that it would go awry.For me, this question was resolved by the spectacular opening ceremony, spoiled only by Ringo Starr mouthing off on Jonathan Ross’s show.

Meanwhile, on the blog, I started a new regular feature, Hampo’s Book Club — if I interpret the word “regular” strictly, the next installment is due a week next Tuesday. I also took time to laugh at the nasty mobile phones sold by TJ Hughes, before getting incredibly maudlin and deciding to hide from Google, a daft decision which I swiftly reversed.

February brought us Liverpool: The Number Ones Album, a compilation of covers by — it has to be said — mostly second tier Liverpool artists. The good (Anthony Hannah’s cover of Relax) mingled with the bad (Connie Lush?) and the just plain entertaining (The Scaffold!).

I championed the humble semicolon, before spending an uncharacteristic three hours outdoors exploring the Wirral peninsula, and jolly nice it was too. Sun and Cloud returned for one of their occasional appearances.

In the news, the Children’s Commissioner said that maybe damaging children’s hearing wasn’t the best way to get rid of scallies hanging around outside corner shops, and a predictable knee-jerk reaction ensued. A brilliant photo appeared on Flickr of two smashed up Merseyrail trains.

Read the rest of this post »

10th December 2008

Round Up – Kills the Roots, Guaranteed!

I know, I haven’t blogged for over a week. I’M BAD AT THE INTERNET. But now I’m back, ready to post items which may be of interest. Or not.

  • One of the main roads into Liverpool City Centre has been closed after a sewer collapsed underneath it — normally this would be of no interest to me whatsover, but the same sewer passes directly under the railway line I use to travel to work on a daily basis. Despite the heroic efforts of United Utilities, St Michaels station floods every time there’s a light drizzle and yours truly has ended up on an Arriva bus in a traffic jam on two separate occasions.

  • John Barrowman apologises for exposing himself on a Radio 1 show, following a complaint by a person who clearly doesn’t understand the concept of radio.

  • Remember RISC OS, the computer operating system which was great when first released in 1988, but struggled to keep up with Windows and was eventually left in the dust? It’s now available to download for a fiver. Sadly in today’s market it’s still overpriced by about £4.50, but the nostalgic may relish the opportunity to have a legal copy to plug into an emulator.

  • Steve Coogan says his Liverpool show got bad reviews, not because it was a half-arsed performance, but (of COURSE!) because the Scouse audience hated Mancunians. The reaction locally was… predictable (although to be fair, for once Paddy Shennan has a point).

  • Many people have suspected as much for some time, but now it’s official: The Simpsons is over as an icon of subversive pop culture. How do I know? The Daily Mail has run an article praising the show.

  • Staying on the same subject, the Mail on Sunday has decided to launch its own music label, or as Paul McInnes puts it on the Guardian music blog: “As if belonging to one industry with a death wish wasn’t enough, now the Mail wants to get into another!”

    The new label will be called Mail On Sunday Sounds (MOSS) and launched with a free giveaway of a CD by a Gospel choir. Contrary to rumours, they won’t have any recordings featuring Mick Jagger or Keith Richards, because MOSS gathers no Rolling Stones.

29th October 2008

Tarnished Brand
Posted by at 9.43pm | In the News, Radio | No responses

It has its own sidebar on the BBC News site, and approximately one million pointless blog entries on MediaGuardian — the Brand/Ross “phone prank scandal” is officially big news. It’s even attracted a comment from Gordon Brown, who apparently has nothing more important to focus on. Everyone else seems to have weighed in, so here are my thoughts on the matter.

I quite like Russell Brand. I never listened to his Radio 2 show, but I’ve enjoyed much of the stuff he’s done on telly (Ponderland was a pleasant surprise, and he was one of the best guests to grace the panel of HIGNFY this year). This isn’t the first time he’s crossed the line, but I can’t imagine that the Daily Mail will get their wish and see him disappear into obscurity.

However, despite what the majority of Radio 1 listeners apparently think, I don’t think Brand and Ross’s antics were funny or clever. Yes, comedy should be all about challenging preconceptions and pushing boundaries, but this didn’t do that — it was just… well, stupid.

Has the BBC over-reacted in the face of a tabloid witch-hunt? Yes, but they did themselves no favours by hiding behind bland statements from anonymous spokesmen for days, while the corporation’s enemies were demanding blood. The BBC’s slowness to respond has allowed the tabloids to fuel the story with plenty of good old-fashioned hysteria.

Now its time to get a sense of proportion: at this moment Google News reports 4,115 articles about this kerfuffle. Meanwhile people are dying in wars, losing jobs, and having their civil liberties taken away — can we start reading about that on the front pages please?

25th August 2008

Clue do you think you are?
Posted by at 5.23pm | Radio | No responses

Some very good news: I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue will continue.

Whether the show will succeed without Humphrey Lyttelton depends very much on who they get to take over. I can’t think of anyone who could match his deadpan delivery.

25th April 2008

Samantha has to nip off now…
Posted by at 11.49pm | In the News, Radio | No responses

Humphrey Lyttelton dies at 86

I remember reading an article about I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue which stated, “Humph could read the dirtiest single-entendres as if they were shopping lists.” His deadpan presence in the chair was surely a massive part of Clue‘s enduring success.

It’s very rare that a single person’s death affects an entire broadcast network, but I think it’s true to say that Radio 4 will be much poorer for his absence.

Not much more I can add really. Here’s the BBC’s obituary.

22nd April 2008

I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Presenter
Posted by at 1.30pm | Radio | No responses

One less reason to carry on living:

The spring series of BBC Radio 4’s comedy show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue has been cancelled after long-serving presenter Humphrey Lyttelton was admitted to hospital.