Sunday, November 02, 2008

Just When You Thought It Was Safe........

With Russell resigned and Jonathan suspended, BBC Radio must surely now be safe for a middle-aged gentleman like myself, particularly one who mostly sticks to the safety of the erstwhile Home Service.
Well no, actually.

I often listen to Radio 4 in bed, sometimes falling asleep with the radio still on and being rudely awoken at 1 am by the strains of Sailing By and the start of the World Service feed.
On Friday evening, I had not quite fallen into the arms of Morpheus but Morpheus was certainly edging over to my side of the bed when I was jerked back to consciousness by talk of sodomy and oral sex.
But Today in Parliament hadn't even started yet. This was the supposedly gentle aural nightcap of A Book at Bedtime.
Someone called Piers was on his knees simulating fellatio on a chap called Edward. What's more, he was doing this in front of an Archbishop. Happily, this wasn't our own Beardy Williams who has suffered quite enough gay-related trauma of late. It was a 14th century prelate and this was the story of Edward II and his lover Piers Gaveston, as fictionalised in a book called The Ruling Passion by David Pownall.

It's read by David Horovitch in the dry, supercilious tones of Bill Nighy on the Yorkshire Tea commercial, the tone and the diction meaning that he didn't make a meal of the fellatio. And it least it was fellatio, which one suspects would not be the term of choice for Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross.
There's a chance that using the Latin term rather than English vernacular might have allowed more innocent listeners to picture Piers demonstrating a fencing move to Edward although that would not explain why the Archbishop left the room in fury and disgust.

Fury and disgust was not my own reaction. But gay old liberal that I am, I neither expect nor desire to have sexual imagery piped into my bedroom by Radio 4, even in the context of a 14th century historical drama. Not least because it feels like 700 years since someone was on their knees in front of me simulating fellatio.
(Actually it was 1974, backstage in a London theatre. I was eating an egg mayonnaise sandwich at the time and the simulator was passing the time till curtain up with some improvised mime. No archbishops, either stage or real, were present but I think Timothy West's father dressed as an undertaker walked past with a disapproving frown. Happy days, as they say.)

By placing this in the (sort of) public domain of a blog, perhaps it will be picked up by the Mail or the Sun.
Thousands who didn't hear it can complain to the BBC.
There'll be Questions in the House.
The Director General will have to resign.
And Edward II and Piers will be pulled off prematurely.
Oh, what fun!


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