*** DEBUG END ***

Radio review: Different, Lent Talks, and Kafka’s Dick

06 April 2023


Different with Nicky Campbell (Radio 5 Live podcast, released Tuesday) featured an interview with Theresa Cheung, a dream expert

Different with Nicky Campbell (Radio 5 Live podcast, released Tuesday) featured an interview with Theresa Cheung, a dream expert

OF ALL the ways to ingratiate yourself with an interviewer, there are surely few more powerful than to announce that you have already met in a dream. This was Theresa Cheung’s strategy — and, being a dream expert, she knows whereof she speaks. It worked; and so affected was Nicky Campbell, on Different (Radio 5 Live podcast, released on Tuesday of last week), that he went on to riff a song on the subject.

Ms Cheung’s life has unusual trajectories. She grew up home-schooled by her astrologer mother, then studied theology at King’s College, Cambridge, with the intention of going into the priesthood. She had a great anecdote about the chapel reading prize, where she bemused the judges with her characterisations. We heard nothing, sadly, of what dampened her vocational enthusiasm; and now she casts her spiritual net wider.

“We are all psychic,” she says; and a dream is never “just a dream”. We all have within us a “night poet” who reveals to us in wonderfully creative symbols our sub-conscious desires and anxieties. Nothing new or outlandish there; and, in discussion of her specialist subject, Ms Cheung turned out to be mainstream, credible, and — based on the way in which she interpreted a recent dream presented by Campbell — pretty good at her job.

Her dreamscapes are not metaphysical: they are located within the mental topography of the dreamer, and all characters and situations are their projections. All of this is fairly standard psychiatric methodology. Notwithstanding the title of this podcast, it emerges that Ms Cheung is not really so different after all.

In its fragmented character, Lent Talks (Radio 4, Wednesdays) have supported the hypothesis, recognised by anyone who has tried to convene a sermon series, that coherence operates in inverse proportion to thematic rigour. This year’s series has taken the Lord’s Prayer (rebranded “The People’s Prayer”) as its connecting thread, each contributor notionally taking a segment on which to expatiate.

But, with what seems like a very loose curatorial oversight, the offerings have been consistent only in so far as (almost) all have reflected on personal experiences of pain and loss, and yet without any particular commitment to the guiding text. This is not to deny the potency of some of the essays: Zoe and Andy Clark-Coates (8 March, still on BBC Sounds) and Nadiyka Gerbish (29 March) are particularly strong. But one is bound to wonder why, in this of all strands, the BBC feels unable to offer something more definitively theological.

The dreamworlds of Sydney and Linda enjoy dramatic and hilarious incarnation in Kafka’s Dick, Alan Bennett’s play from 1986, which, in turn, was brilliantly realised in a new radio production (Radio 3, Sunday). The play star a dream team led by Toby Jones and Mark Heap, and the bizarre plot involves Kafka and his friend Max Brod popping up in the suburban living room of one of his biggest fans. Whoever dreamt this needs expert help.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available


Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)