I have to admit I'm not a big BBC Radio 3 listener. Shocking I know, but true. If I find the station on the car radio once in a while while scanning for something else, I will tarry a very little while, but usually move on. Truth be told, if I'm listening to the BBC I'm more of a Radio 4 person - I've just enjoyed Woman's Hour and still find it hard to start my day without my compulsory dose of the TODAY programme. I also, by the way, regularly do BBC World Service (why not when you suffer from insomnia?) and Magic!
However, a friend and colleague, Liz Babbs, poet and author, secured tickets for a recording of BBC Radio 3's 'The Verb' last Friday so I found myself in the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House in London in an audience which was, to say the least, eclectic! A middle aged woman in an anorak sitting shoulder to shoulder with a young couple, the girl sporting bright red dreadlocks. A good splattering of folk obviously in their later years but a good number of young'uns, trendy and smartly dressed. Their love of literature and performance and comedy the common factor. The only difference, perhaps, where they might go after the recording. The older guys straight home; the younger ones, maybe, off to a club or bar. I'll leave you to guess where I ended up.
For those of you who don't know The Verb is 'Radio 3's cabaret of the word, featuring the best poetry, new writing and performances...'
The Bard of Barnsley, the very funny Ian McMillan hosts and this week he was on stage with Whitbread Poetry Award winner Bernard O'Donoghue and author Stella Duffy, who read a specially commissioned piece. The Verb 'word spy' Alex Horne presented a history of The Chinese Whisper with audience participation (practised in advance) and the 'acerbic duo' Ginger and Black performed 'musical comedy with a dark side'. My only disappointment of the evening was that Ian didn't present one of his own poems.
I've sat in some TV audiences and also been part of many many audience programmes for radio and TV as part of the production team (both BBC and ITV). But this was a first for me....sitting in a radio audience for what was basically a poetry and prose evening. And it was amazing! The tickets were free and I'm thinking now I need to sign on to the BBC shows website to see what else is on offer in the way of free tickets for performances. Obviously, judging from the size of the audience, this is no secret!
The programme was recorded 'as live' and recording started at 7.45pm and 45 mins later we were in the street plodding up in the wind and rain to Oxford Circus tube station. Yes, you guessed it - on the way home! I didn't make it home for the 10pm transmission but it's up there on the BBC IPlayer for the next few days. The Verb! Enjoy!