By Stephanie Billen
An ambitious edition of
(Sunday, Radio 3, 5pm) travels back to the birth of music as presenter Tom Service investigates the ancient sounds of palaeolithic caves and Roman arenas. Acknowledging that there is much we cannot know, he hears from archaeologists, historians, composers and instrumentalists discovering how bone flutes can produce anything from melody to scream, and how echoing caves may have inspired call and response. Just as interesting are his observations on how composers have imagined the music of history through the music of their present. He also suggests we know more than we think – our voices, breathing, hands and feet creating “the sounds of our deep past”.
“Unless you are born and bred here you are never local,” semi-jokes one of the Devonshire walkers in the first of a new series of (Thursday, Radio 4, 3pm). Still, Clare Balding discovers a touching shared history between relative newcomer Amy and friends Jenny and Anna as they walk across Hembury Fort, near Honiton. The three began to walk their dogs together after meeting at the school gates and Jenny explains how debilitating thyroid problems led to a new beginning when she and Anna set up a dog-walking business. Comic interludes are provided by Golden Doodle Nigel.
Historian and Zionist Simon Schama was three when the state of Israel was born in May 1948. In
(Friday, Radio 4, 11am) he offers a fascinating if controversial view of its history, at one stage comparing the mass exodus of Jews from Middle Eastern countries in 1948 with the displacement of Palestinians. Both sides of the debate may take some comfort from his interviews with EcoPeace, an organisation bringing together Palestinian and Israeli environmentalists.
A rewarding two-parter
(Friday, Radio 4, 11.30am) traces the origins of some of the star’s classic sketches and characters, offering rare material from Wood’s archives and tapes including her private notes on promising overheard conversations. Presenter Rebecca Front is a fan who can also take a step back; she is at her best dissecting Wood’s hilarious use of language, which was sometimes all her own but often rooted in the rhythms of northern speech.
Victoria Wood (here as Bren in dinnerladies) gives up her secrets. BBC