THERE was a lot about dads and granddads this week - and the
clip of the week came from an unexpected source. Anybody who still
needs reassurance that Chris Evans has made the transition from
cocky TV presenter to charming Radio 2 star should listen to his
interview on Saturday Live (Radio 4, last week) about the
joys of reading to your children.
It would be a hard-hearted person indeed who did not well up -
as Evans himself did - at the recollection of a childhood without
bedtime stories. Which only goes to show that long exposure to the
nation's favourite radio station makes softies of us all.
Zak Ebrahim, on the other hand, is no softie. When people ask
him about his father, he feels disinclined to give the expected
answer: "But, in the end, he's still my father, and I love him."
The man in question is El-Sayyid Nosair, an Egyptian American who
was involved in a number of Islamic extremist crimes in the United
States, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
Ebrahim was being interviewed by Matthew Bannister on
Outlook (World Service, Thursday of last week) to promote
a book, The Terrorist's Son: A story of choice. The clue
is in the title: Ebrahim is clear that his father made choices,
influenced, for sure, by his circumstances - not least, his losing
his job and getting in with the wrong crowd. But, ultimately, his
actions represented moral judgements entered into freely.
Most gripping was the formation of impressions in the mind of a
young boy. When did Ebrahim start to think that his father was
acting more strangely than the other adults he knew? At the age of
seven, the boy asked his father how he had become such a "good
Muslim". The answer stuck in Ebrahim's mind: it was when his father
came to the US and saw how steeped in corruption it was.
In the wake of the Edinburgh Festival, Radio 4 gets to benefit
from the work of fresh, eager comedians who still think that the
BBC is a good gig to have. Thus Tom Wrigglesworth - Utterly at
Odds with the Universe (Radio 4, Wednesday of last week)
filled an early-evening spot that might otherwise have been taken
by one of those tired comedies that had outstayed their
Wrigglesworth's revised Edinburgh show is about his relationship
with a grandfather who taught him the finer points of DIY, and how
not to drive; and a philosophical method unique to Yorkshire.
"Falling is not the problem," one of his epigrams ran. "It's the
landing you need to worry about."
The set had some great material; but, at its heart was a
heartfelt encomium to a much loved relative, pitched at just the
right level so as not to be mawkish - just as to hear Evans
actually cry would not be half as effective as hearing him almost
Space allows for only a brief thumbs-up for last week's
Beyond Belief (Radio 4, Mondays); a more topical episode
than usual, which discussed the survival of religious pluralism in
Iraq. In its great wisdom, the BBC has now made it available to
download for longer than the usual one week; and this is certainly
one to revisit. No laughs here, I'm afraid; and a good few