Cater's Choice

Nick Cater's round-up of this week's sector-related offerings on radio.

Nick Cater
Nick Cater

With digital radio, web channels, podcasts, 'listen again' services and that old standby, discreet earphones from the portable in your pocket, what was once merely radio is having a bit of a resurgence and finding new audiences. And even in the face of financial cuts and squeezes, the offerings from the BBC demonstrate the quality of its output. 

For those dealing with children and contracting with councils, there is both the bitter and the sweet on Radio 4. Today, Sally Phillips returns in the excellent comedy series Clare In The Community. And on 22 January, File On 4 investigates the NSPCC's claim that as many as two children a week are dying at the hands of parents or carers. The latter asks whether welfare agencies are still failing to learn the lessons of past tragedies.

The Minute When Your Life Stops, on Radio 4 on 18 January, is a docu-drama about suicide. Interwoven with a play about a family whose father and husband commits suicide are interviews with real people coping with the loss of friends and relatives. The programme tracks their emotional journey through shock, anger and guilt towards their acceptance of what has happened.

Desert Island Discs, on Radio 4 on 20 January, features Rory Stewart, the ex-SAS man, former deputy governor of an Iraqi province and one-time private tutor to princes William and Harry, who set up a charity in Kabul. I wonder if presenter Kirsty Young will ask him about the contradictions and confusions of a foreign ex-soldier from an invading western power leading an effort to teach traditional skills when Afghan civilians might do a rather better job if they were given a little hard cash.

It is the draw of cash, along with the push of a life of oppression, that often drives migrants and asylum seekers to endure bravely a tough journey to an uncertain future. Jenny Cuffe reports in Desperate Dreams on the trials faced by those from sub-Saharan Africa heading north across the desert, hoping to reach Europe. The programme follows 25-year-old Ghanaian Alfred Kofi, who tells of being robbed at gunpoint and seeing a childhood friend die of thirst on his journey through Africa. Catch it on the BBC World Service on 21 January.

- Contact Nick Cater at

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