BBC hires stay-at-homes to present the arts

BBC hires stay-at-homes to present the arts


norman lebrecht

September 19, 2017

The television version of BBC’s Front Row will be presented by a restaurant critic, a media analyst and a World Service journalist who loves watching films.

Two out of these three say they never go to theatre (or, by implication, opera and concerts) because that’s when they are putting their kids to bed.

Who at the BBC is responsible for such challenging, counter-intuitive casting decisions? Is the entire corp now an extended version of the comedy show, W1A?




  • Alexander says:

    live performance can never be understood via watching it on a screen unless performers’ energy machine is invented ( or something in a way) … so sitting-on-sofa critics are like food tasters with their tongues covered with latex pads , just my opinion, of course …they might be good for a virtual reality era 😉

  • Buxtehude says:

    This retreat from the concert-hall and from live-everything is a massive trend; calling it names won’t change a thing. Tourist traps, summer fests and teenage massings apart, technology has stripped the auditorium of every element but live-ness and for most that’s just not worth the hassle and expense. Classical music will need to find other bases in future, though what exactly I don’t know. (That, and more Martinu.)

    • Steve P says:

      Excellent insights. And agreed on Martinu as well.

    • Joe Penhale says:

      Cost of attending concerts and operas in London, or Vienna etc for most way too expensive with Sterling down the pan so DVD and Blue Ray on a settee with a glass of wine is the lo cost option, unless you want to risk Ryan!

    • John Borstlap says:

      The Martinu is a good point. And there are some others too. But whether they would increase live concert audiences is questionable. The hope is that at some point people will get tired fo all those sterile, artificial gadgets and want to experience the Real Thing. I do most of my musical consumption via recordings and internet, but the times I attend a live concert are confirming again and again that no technical simulacrum can rival the real sound of real instruments, in spite of unfortunate aspects like a bad place in a hall or the orchestra badly balanced. There is in the real sound a quality which cannot be reproduced. It is as with smartphones et al: they are nice and addictive for a while for many people, but in the end you get used to it and begin to feel the artificiality of the medium as something sterile.

      If the performing culture’s existence would be garanteed by government, and attendance subsidized so that tickets are not expensive, more people could be lured into the concert halls. In an ideal world…. etc. etc.

  • Dave says:

    W1A a “comedy show”?

    Closer to reality than you’d know, especially if you’ve never dealt with The Corporation and its job-for-life middle management.

    • David Nice says:

      Yes. I wasn’t laughing much, probably because – apart from the irritation of several over-caricatured characters – it rang true.

      La Badi of World Service horror comes close to the appalling Siobhan IMO. I think the best way to handle the programme is with one line paraphrasing the dismal G Coren: ‘I found it too stressful to watch’. True in my case, which is why I won’t be tuning in. Even The Late Show wasn’t quite as awful as this one promises to be. At least we had the mostly annoying G Greer as the one who touched opera with a bargepole.

      • Dave says:

        The character whose catchphrase is “that’s a good idea; we must think about that” seems to be based on a certain R3 middle manager, who conveniently either forgets the “good idea” or appropriates it as her/his own.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Probably all appropriate candidates have fled to the continent.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Sound like it will be like watching Gogglebox, listening to the ill informed opinions of Joe Soap. Why would the BBC inflict them on us?

  • Disappointed says:

    Is this blog private? Seems same old faces on all the time, rather boring letting them hog cyberspace all the time. Others have more interesting and relevant views! BBC is no longer a culture icon. That started once black ties were no longer worn and radio 3 replaced third programme, my valve wireless still works.