25 SEPTEMBER 1942, Page 13


Sta,—I perceived one lone shaft of brightness in last week's gloomy reading. A letter in The Spectator fiom Mr. B. J. Francis Picton burst like a bomb and dissipated my own shocking memory of the hideous caco- phony which the B.B.C. had presented in all solemnity as " Brazilian Music." This masterly explosion of invective cheered my spirit—musical sanity was at last roused and rampant.

It is but another example of the B.B.C.'s poor psychology in pro- gramme building, not merely in terms of quality but also (as in the present case) in presentation, with all the stupid ballyhoo about a " musical" abortion. When we remember that never in the history of broadcasting was there such a tense and anxious Europe listening in to our stations, avid for any scrap of comfort or new hope, it is distressing to find that we could administer nothing better than forty minutes of distracted shindy and use a magnificent orchestra to perpetrate it. If we wish to get the measure of a man, we are usually content to let him talk; by listening we assume we can size him up. We are not always correct. We cannot help being somewhat fearful, however, if the over- run peoples of Europe, who still look upon these islands as their last citadel of hope, measure our potentialities by the sounds that reach them from the B.B.C. transmitters. The more sensitive home listener has long ago left his radio to long silences, but when tuning-in a short time before the News Bulletin, particularly the Midnight News, one is appalled at the slush that the B.B.C. seems to think is the best prelude to news, particularly when the European listener is impatient for any new crumb of information. It seems to occur to nobody that something sober, sturdy, and typically British would always be a better curtain- raiser to important news than that the robust qualities of Britain at war should be represented by adenoidal crooners and dago dance bands and the awful purility of lacrimose organ players. At its best it is very bad stage management. In terms of sound, Big Ben with his measured sonorous tones may well represent the bell metal of a sturdy forthright race, but Big Ben has a few moments only to act as a corrective to the welter of spineless, shameless noise which can never raise our stock abroad nor refresh us in our tasks at home.—Yours faithfully,

" Beech Dale," Illingworth, near Halifax. JOHN MULROY.