What on Earth is going on at 'Today'?

It’s 7.49pm. I’ve bought the Christmas food, made two dozen mince pies, cleaned the flat, been to the library and bought more food, but I’m still angry. Furious even. It must be a middle class, middle age rite of passage that one spends way too much time being annoyed at Radio 4 and this morning’s Today programme wound me up even more than usual.

First it was “Thought for the Day”. Let’s leave aside the whole issue of why there’s a slot in a news programme for smug men and women to tell us how to live our lives, and why that slot is reserved solely for smug men and women who believe in the existence of imaginary beings. That annoyance is simply every day’s baseline of Today fury.

This morning it was the Bishop of Liverpool making a case for why the Church of England should remain part of the state. Again, we’ll leave aside whether he’s right or utterly wrong about this and merely ask… why the hell is this on the Today programme? It’s bad enough we’re subjected to a few minutes of sanctimonious religion every morning, never mind donating the slot to someone to air their baseless political views about keeping our supposed democracy nominally beholden to a sodding church. Come on! I don’t want to get all green ink and “what’s my license fee doing paying for this” but I’m getting dangerously close.

And calm… this was just the warm-up after all.

The 8am headlines brought the news that the Pope has said, to quote BBC News, “saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.” Sometimes I think we’re going back in time. The headline news took this at face value and didn’t offer an opposing soundbite but I bade my time and at 8.20 am my patience was rewarded when [a presenter who is nameless on the website] introduced a segment on the topic.

Did I say I was rewarded? I meant poked in the eye. No, both eyes. She introduced two guests, the first was Joanna Bogle from the Catholic Times. Fair enough. Who, I wondered, would be countering the argument… Cristina Odone, ex-editor of the Catholic Herald. Oh, strange. You can listen to it here.

For crying out loud, I’m listening to it again and Bogle’s plain backward righteousness is driving me nuts. I hoped Odone, who was last on Today less than a fortnight ago, would counter this with some, you know, blinding common sense. But no, she goes on about how talking about sex isn’t very “media savvy” for the Pope. Bogle hogs the slot, managing to sound utterly certain about what she’s saying without actually saying explicitly what we all assume she’s saying about homosexuals.

What on Earth is going on at Today? Could they find no one to call this out for the shit it is? Have all the researchers gone on holiday already? It’s a disgrace, a disgrace that someone as influential as the Pope can peddle this crap and have no one oppose him. What are you people doing every morning? Are you scared of offending Catholics who, one hopes, should be as ashamed of their leader as I am? If we have to endure John Humphrys giving every poor interviewee the third degree over far more mundane stuff than this are you not going to expose this claptrap for the hateful, divisive nonsense it is? I know you want to maintain some “balance” but a smidgen of courage and enquiry wouldn’t go amiss. Do your job.

I’ve never complained to the BBC before and I hoped I’d never have to, but today I did. Maybe I’m middle aged or something, but I’m still furious.


  • Bravo, sir, bravo. Radio 4 is one of the things I miss most about the UK (I've been gone 6 months), but I'm distressed to hear this. I'll be interested in seeing what effect your complaint has.

  • She was also on the BBC News channel later in the day where she was terribly embarrassing to even watch. Louise Minchin struggled to get her to answer any of the questions or even stay on topic. It made the LGBT guy being interviewed as the counterpoint appear much much better, even though he was given, IMO, a slightly harder time.

  • Bogle is an awful, right-wing bigot whose Daily Mail-informed views are little different to those of the BNP.

  • Of course, you could be here, where the closeted (probably) and homophobic evangelist Rick Warren is going to speak at Obama's inauguration and nobody seems to think anything about it.

  • Yeah, I should count myself lucky... I guess when many things seem broadly OK idiocies like this stick out so much more.

  • Coming in a bit late into this as I've just listed to the podcast of this episode. I kept feeling that Cristina Odone, while fawning ("a great theologian like Benedict..."), was about to say "he's a great thelogian, but...he's wrong", but she didn't ever get there. Joanna Bogle kep banging on about how humanity was all about men being men and women being women, but she wouldn't be honest and say that she (and the pope) felt that homosexuality was just plain wrong and we would be better off without it.

    She seemed to imply that people were causing these problems to society by choosing not to conform to the normal man/woman relationship. What world does she live in?

    She also made a point that we would all die out because we weren't having enough children! At least she is keeping to the party line there!

  • Coming late to this too...

    This is why you should switch to Magic FM. Today is too stressful for a morning.

    Did I ever tell you about the two times I was interviewed on the Today programme? Ahem. Another time...

  • Phil, you are plainly talking about yourself when you call people bigots talking crap. Such cowardly, gutless religious vilification as you come out with is every bit as bigoted as the greatest bigot on the planet. If this is your idea of being "liberal" then it is about as convincing as calling Joseph Goebbels a liberal. Your idea of "balance" is just about as laughable. The disgrace on this page, Phil, is you. Go back to your cave and take your stone-age myopia with you. You don't just need a poke in the eye - a kick in the pants would be more appropriate.

  • Thanks for the comment Ras, although you do seem a little confused. I'm not sure what "religious vilification" you're referring to. Maybe it's because I don't believe in the gods that religious people believe in? What would you rather I do?

    I'm also not sure why you think this is my "idea of being 'liberal'". I never called myself a liberal and don't know that I would.

    My idea of balance is to have at least two people of opposing viewpoints, much as we have here. What's yours?

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Tuesday 23 December 2008, 7:56pm

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23 Dec 2008 at Twitter

  • 5:30pm: Despite festivities, still fuming.
  • 2:21pm: Making the mince pies, listening to the tunes, ho ho ho.
  • 1:43pm: Darn... two CDs of backed-up old applications from a few years ago fail to read properly. Should have kept them moving...
  • 10:37am: Sharpening elbows for festive trip to Waitrose. Have I forgotten anything off the list?
  • 9:38am: @alanconnor About the show's apparent inability to find anyone to provide a view opposing the Pope's crazy one on homosexuality.
  • 9:35am: Joining @smagdali in writing middle class, middle aged complaints to the BBC about Today. http://tinyurl.com/5fxcuw
  • 9:04am: Oh dear, Elgato's EyeTV forums have been hacked: http://forums.elgato.com/ Looks like the hackers have emailed all users. Not good.
  • 8:33am: (No idea why that other Twitter was @spaceboy. Weird.)
  • 8:32am: And don't get me started on 'Thought for the Day' today. Nothing more than blatant free advertising / propaganda for the C of E. Shocking.
  • 8:29am: @spaceboy Come ON Radio 4, you couldn't find someone to give the Pope's message the hammering it deserves!? That was feeble and appalling.