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Turn off the TV: Radio picks, August 1-7

Soho Stories Radio 4, Saturday 10.30am
Paul Jackson’s riveting story of the history of independent TV production hits the 1990s, when the “most successful political lobby in modern British history” persuaded the government to enforce a quota system on ITV and the BBC to ensure that at least 25% of their programming was commissioned from the independent sector.

The Saturday Play: Last Night, Another Soldier… Radio 4, Saturday 2.30pm
Bravo Two Zero author Andy McNab has penned this tale of Briggsy, an 18-year-old soldier just three weeks in to his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Injured during his first contact with the Taliban, his encounters with his fellow troops help him understand the lasting effects of war. Russell Tovey stars as Briggsy.

BBC Proms 2009: Prom 22 - A Celebration of MGM Film Musicals Radio 3, Saturday 7.30pm
I’ve been a bit remiss in plugging the Proms on Turn Off the TV, I must confess. What better place to start, though, than with a celebration of some of the best musical films in history? The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St Louis, Singin’ in the Rain — it’s like being in the company of old friends. Singers include the multi-talented Seth Macfarlane, creator of animated series Family Guy and American Dad!. Also broadcast on BBC2.

Elaine Paige on Sunday Radio 2, Sunday 1pm
EP’s guest this week is Patina Miller, who plays Deloris Van Cartier in the glorious Sister Act at the London Palladium. Incidentaly, the cast recording of Sister Act was released on Monday, and is available for MP3 download as well as on CD. I’ve been listening to it all week, and I honestly think it’s some of Alan Menken’s best work in years.

Classic Serial: Ruth Radio 4, Sunday 3pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s second novel scandalised society when it was first published in 1853 by landing firmly on the side of the fallen woman, an apprentice seamstress who turns the head of a society gentleman. Laura Rees plays Ruth Hilton and Rory Kinnear is Bellingham.

Tennyson’s Ulysses Revisited Radio 4, Sunday 4.30pm
In the year of Tennyson’s bicentenary, Sean O’Brien looks at this classic poem, the tragedy in Tennyson’s life that inspired him to write it, and the effects it has on readers today.

Bill Kenwright Radio 2, Sunday 5pm
Theatre impresario Kenwright sits in for Paul O’Grady.

Woman’s Hour Drama: Villette Radio 4, Monday-Friday 10.45am / 7.45pm
Anna Maxwell Martin stars in this ten-part adaptation, continuing next week, of Charlotte Bronte’s novel. Martin is Lucy Snowe who, orphaned and alone, head to the French town of Villette in the hopes of becoming a teacher.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Radio 2, Tuesday 10.30pm
Tennessee Williams is one of America’s greatest playwrights (if you can get tickets for A Streetcar Named Desire at the Donmar Warehouse at the moment, you should). British playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah explores the cultural, social and religious influences that made Williams the man he was, and looks at how his Mississippi upbringing is reflected in his stage works.

Between Ourselves Radio 4, Wednesday 9am / 9.30pm
Olivia O’Leary’s discussion programme which brings people with similar experiences together returns for a new series. In this first show, the subject is stand-up comedy. O’Leary meets two Asian comics, Shazia Mirza and Paul Sinha, whose families were against their chosen profession.

Billy Liar: 50 Years On Radio 4, Thursday 11.30am
Write Blake Morrison presents this tribute to Keith Waterhouse’s novel, later of course turned into a successful play and film. Novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford and comedian Barry Cryer pitch in to help put Waterhouse’s tale into context.

Electric Ink Radio 4, Thursday 6.30pm
A deservedly rapid repeat for this new sitcom which take a satirical look at the changing world of modern journalism. Robert Lindsay is on top form as the jaded print hack who rails against user-generated content, Twitter, video blogging and the like. Let’s hope a second series comes soon — and a television transfer shouldn’t be ruled out.

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