RADIO phone-ins, rather like social media, tend to offer a skewed notion of what the public actually thinks. But there was a striking unanimity on Tuesday morning after the news broke of the email  invitation confirming the Downing Street drinks party in May 2020.

On 5 Live Nicky Campbell said that 99 per cent of those phoning in were condemning what had happened and also condemning the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was reported to have attended. There was a similar level of disgust on Stephen Jardine’s show over on Radio Scotland.

Perhaps inevitably, the anger for many was tied to grief. Dave from Bolton rang in to tell Campbell about his 25-year-old daughter who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in December 2019 and was in hospital in an isolation ward with Covid at the time of the Downing Street party.

“We saw the news last night and my wife just sat there breaking her heart, absolutely breaking her heart,” Dave told Campbell.  On Radio Scotland Jardine read out a text from one listener who said simply: “On the day when the government drinks party was going ahead one listener simply said I was watching my brother dying on an iPad.”

Callers to Radio Scotland were mostly of one mind. The Prime Minister has to go. On 5 Live Guto Harri, a former adviser to the Prime Minister, suggested that it needn’t go that far. What he had to do, Harri suggested, is come out, apologise profusely and eat a lot of humble pie. “I can see why he’s an ex-adviser,” the next caller suggested.

On Tuesday BYOB was trending on Twitter for obvious reasons. Coincidentally, in the first episode of a new series of Word of Mouth on Radio 4, Professor Lynda Mugglestone explained that the acronym could be dated back to 1916. Wonder if David Lloyd George’s PPS sent any invites for Downing Street garden parties that May?

Shall we look for some distraction from all this pain and anger? On Wednesday, Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse turned up on Radio 4 to celebrate the life and legend of Fred Astaire in Oti Mabuse’s Dancing Legends.

It would have sounded just as home on Radio 2, to be honest. Rather confusingly, the programme began with an extensive examination of the CV of guest Matthew Bourne, the choreographer of the all-male Swan Lake.

He spoke very eloquently and at length about dance, dancers and the stories you can tell with the body before finally getting around to talking about Astaire.

What followed was a quickstep through Astaire’s career. Mabuse took some tap lessons, spoke to a film historian and in passing learned about his genius.  Astaire’s legacy, Bourne concluded, is simply that he made us “feel like we all could dance like him.” If only, Matthew, if only.

Random radio joy of the week came last Saturday on Radio 3’s This Classical Life when conductor and composer Eimear Noone explained to Jess Gillam that she always plays AC/DC’s Back in Black before she goes onstage to gee herself up.

“Would the boys from AC/DC be nervous right now? No, they wouldn’t. They’d go out and have a fantastic time.”

Listen Out For: Nature Bang, Radio 4, Monday to Friday, 1.45pm. Becky Ripley and Emily Knight on the science that underpins the natural world.

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