Written by Radio


I found this week’s Feedback on Radio 4 very entertaining.
A correspondent had written in to complain about the use of a particular piece of incidental music in several different drama and documentary series on Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra across a single evening.
That piece of music in Facades by Philip Glass…

Now here’s the thing. I first became aware of it when I heard it used as the theme music for Nick Fisher’s excellent series of Julie Enfield mysteries (one of which is being repeated right now on Radio 4 Extra – the Feedback correspondent didn’t mention that one).
At the time – and this was the mid-nineties – short of knowing someone at the BBC, there was little way of finding out what the music was. I assumed that it was composed especially for the series. The Radio Times wasn’t a great deal of use either.
Kids – we didn’t use to have Shazam!
Then one day I heard it used as the bed of a report on Newsnight. I phoned the BBC helpline (not that one), but the nice lady only had more common requests. Eventually I did manage to email someone at Newsnight and a production assistant told me! It was by Philip Glass and called Facades.
Now all I had to do was track it down. I found it in the classical section of the Virgin Megastore near Tottenham Court Road station. It was on a recent compilation album called Minimalist (now sadly unavailable – at least on Amazon. However there’s a decent Glass compilation that includes it called The Essential Philip Glass).
The Julie Enfield series ran for a few more series, and I’d discovered not only a new piece of music, but a new type of music.
Incidentally, what’s Nick Fisher writing for radio – if at all – these days? Is he the same Nick Fisher who was on Saturday Live last week? And I’d love to track down The Wheel of Fortune that was broadcast in 2001 simultaneously on Radio 3 and Radio 4 over two nights, with listeners choosing which version they heard.