Where’s the F in News, new on Radio 4, is ‘an energetic, intelligent female-anchored show with a female panel’, according to its BBC description, of ‘fresh and funny challenges’. I listened to the latest episode. The panel of two comedians, one restaurateur and the Labour MP Jess Phillips were unanimous in their prejudices. The subjects were: vegetarianism (good, unless producing food that tastes like meat), Brexit (bad), Jacob Rees-Mogg (bad), Theresa May (bad/robot), parliamentary traditions (bad), Sir Christopher Chope (bad), new Girl Guide badges (good because they’ve abolished the ones for ironing and vermin control and introduced ones for ‘protesting’). I’m glad we had been informed that these were fresh and funny challenges, otherwise I might not have known. What did make me laugh was the underlying thought behind the programme: ‘Look!’ it seemed to say: ‘This proves that women can be just as rude (see our risqué title) as men, and even though they’re women, they can anchor a show all by themselves and have only women on it! And it can be an intelligent show too!’ Decades ago, there was a Radio 4 programme for women called, unforgettably, The Petticoat Line. I promise you it was less patronising to women than Where’s the F in News.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, which appears in this week’s issue