Word of mouth: talking about Shakespeare

You’ve unwrapped all the presents, eaten and drunk far too much, and you’ve spent all your money in the sales. There are still a few days to go before New Year’s Eve, and if you can’t stand the radio and TV re-running the events of 2011, this may be just the moment for listening to some intelligent conversation.

If so, here’s a link to Shakespeare-related episodes of Melvyn Bragg’s Radio 4 programme In Our Time, each one with a particular theme and a handful of experts to discuss it. Stuart Ian Burns has done a creditable job of gathering these together. I was amazed to see how many there are, and what a range of subjects they cover. The contributors are always good communicators and the programmes make fascinating listening.

If you want something more general, my favourite quick fix is the radio series A Point of View, which broadcasts on Friday evening with a Sunday morning repeat. The programme fills the slot taken for decades by the veteran journalist Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America from which he retired only weeks before his death in 2004. A Point of View has a number of contributors, but for my money is specially good when the speaker is my heroine Lisa Jardine. In a mere ten minutes she moves from history to science, music, art and literature, always relating her subject to something personal or current, with elegance and wit. Inevitably, Shakespeare often gets a passing mention.

 She’s in the middle of a run of programmes just now and I recently discovered that not only can you listen to the programmes again,  but her pieces are transcribed here.

I’m aware that the BBC’s Listen Again is not accessible for people outside the UK so I’m pleased to be able to recommend a source that anyone can access. I recently also discovered that she’s published two books containing a selection of her pieces.

 Her posts are never on a single subject, but here are links to the last two broadcasts, rather loosely about firstly climate change, and Christmas carols.

These are the links to the transcript of the climate change post and the Christmas carols post.

If you’re not a fan already, I hope you enjoy them!

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3 Responses to Word of mouth: talking about Shakespeare

  1. Mairi Macdonald says:

    I do so agree with you about Lisa Jardine, and A Point of View is required Sunday listening for me. Despite exceptional TV programmes of late – Frozen Panet, Great Expectations, Sherlock – if I had to give up one of radio or television, radio would be the service I couldn’t manage without. Like Shakespeare, the spoken and written word free the imagination

  2. Jo Wilding says:

    I caught Lisa Jardine’s end-of-year broadcast by chance on Friday which was about the use of royal glamour in times of austerity. She moved from the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton back to Elizabeth I’s use of ostentation in her dress to boost “national confidence in the solvency of her regime”, and how at New Year the queen encouraged “a carefully constructed policy of gift-exchange with senior members of her court”. The broadcast included a delicious description of Elizabeth’s stunning dress in the Armada portrait. I saw the painting (one of three versions) at Montacute House while on holiday in September – it’s one of the wonderful National Portrait Gallery collection of Tudor portraits displayed there. It was so dazzling that I went back for a second look on my way home!

    • Sylvia Morris says:

      Thanks for this comment. I too enjoyed this broadcast by Lisa Jardine. I don’t think we’re nearly attuned enough to the messages that people would have got from these amazing portraits.

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