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Radio review: It’s . . . Wagatha Christie, Welcome to the Neighbourhood, and Anneka Has Issues

05 August 2022


Rebekah and Jamie Vardy leave the Royal Courts of Justice, in London, during the “Wagatha Christie” libel trial, in May. The case is the subject of It’s . . . Wagatha Christie, a podcast on BBC Sounds

Rebekah and Jamie Vardy leave the Royal Courts of Justice, in London, during the “Wagatha Christie” libel trial, in May. The case is the subject of It...

IT HAS been a week of high drama in the world of trash culture. Pity the BBC’s media correspondent Colin Paterson, who, on Friday alone, had to juggle the demands of the “Wagatha Christie” verdict and the final episode of Neighbours on Channel 5.

It says something about the power-shift in the entertainment world from TV to Twitter, that Paterson abandoned his interview with Jason Donovan and dashed to the steps of the High Court for judgment in the libel case between two footballers’ wives, Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney, who have been slugging it out on social media.

Never mind that the judgment was delivered online rather than in any courtroom. The High Court footage was mere eye-candy, and the great reveal was greeted by reporters desperately scrolling down a lengthy document on their smart phones. It seemed wholly fitting, under the circumstances, that Paterson’s TV report was disrupted by a protester declaiming against BBC “fake news”.

All of this made It’s . . . Wagatha Christie (BBC Sounds podcast, released Friday) essential listening. You can skip over the preceding 18 episodes, since this latest will give you all you need to know, as well as the sense of excitement that the best, and most absurd, celebrity stories generate. It matters little that the verdict turned out as predicted; nor that there is real money and real hurt involved. Just as, in the corporate world, litigation is an extension of business negotiation, so, in this case, the courtroom is another platform for celebrity self-promotion.

As one entertainment specialist commented here, Mrs Vardy will not lose out entirely: “She will be on Loose Women; that’s an easy booking!”

Social-media cat-fights are not the sole preserve of women dripping in Louis Vuitton. Local apps and message boards are alight with squabbles every bit as vicious as the great Rooney-Vardy encounter. In Welcome to the Neighbourhood (Radio 4, Wednesdays), the comedian Jayde Adams curates for our listening pleasure a selection of social-media threads from communities around our proud nation. “How do you get your laundry to stay smelling fresh?” asks a housewife in the Ribble Valley Appreciation Group.

First come some friendly suggestions; but, inevitably, the conversation turns dark. Go and ask your mum, sneers one; what has this got to do with Ribble Valley? demands another. Invariably, the questioner is left regretting she ever asked in the first place.

Not all our celebrities are such sensitive types. Take Anneka Rice, whose show Anneka Has Issues (Radio 4, Wednesdays) takes a no-nonsense approach to life’s challenges. Last week’s topic was therapy; and you imagine she’d rather bust a gut building a scout hut than spilling them on the psychiatrist’s couch. As evidence, she has a gem of an anecdote about faking her response to hypnosis to earn an extra fee from ITV.

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