11 FEBRUARY 1944, Page 14


Sut,—Mr. Bowater seems irrationally violent and wholesale in his attack on the five minutes "prior to" (I take it this means before) the 8 a.m. news. I do not often hear this news or what precedes it myself, but I sometimes do, and know it can be both good and bad ; it all depends on who takes it. I am told by a listener of taste and judgement that the accusations are on the whole quite unjust, that there are few affected voices—much fewer than in churches and chapels—and only occasional offensiveness. The best addresses seem to be given by Anglican bishops and canons, and by members of the Religious Broadcasting Committee themselves. As to the " canned " music (I suppose canned means recorded), it is ordinary serious music, with no special aptness to crematoria. Every alternate week there are prayers and reading instead of an address ; the reading is as a rule good, and few of the voices show emasculated exhibitionism. I report these opinions for what they are worth. Of course no programme taken by a number of different people can be on a uniform level, and of course many people dislike all religious programmes. But defend us from "children's voices in a hymn "! Unless Mr. Bowater means trained choristers. Untrained children's voices are painfully shrill, discordant and out of tune, and at such an hour would be worse than crowing cocks or cheeping birds. On the other hand, I cannot grasp Mrs. Martin's argument that getting the breakfast and doing physical exercise conduce to an amiable reception of this or any other programme. These activities, however necessary the former may be, are both irritating and unwholesome so early in the day.—Yours truly, ROSH MACAULAY.