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"Tintin's guide to journalism", Radio 4, November 17th 2007

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Harrock n roll
#1 · Posted: 9 Oct 2007 16:40
Apparently, there will be a radio programme called "Tintin's guide to journalism" hosted by by Mark Lawson. Michael Farr is one of the interviewees. The 30 minute show is to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday November 17th at 10:30am.
Moderator Emeritus
#2 · Posted: 13 Oct 2007 22:42
Sounds very interesting indeed, and rather different. I wonder what the content will be like.
#3 · Posted: 1 Nov 2007 14:25
Is there a live stream for it?
#4 · Posted: 3 Nov 2007 11:50
Is there a live stream for it?

Yes, you can listen to Radio 4 live on line. (If you google the words "BBC Radio 4", I think you'll get to their website easily enough. You might need to download one of the recommended Radio Player or Real Player sytems, but that's easy too, and free.)

And you can also listen (or re-listen) to most BBC Radio programmes at any time you want for up to a week after a programme's original broadcast time, using the BBC's on-line Listen Again facility. (You'll find this on the website.)
Harrock n roll
#5 · Posted: 6 Nov 2007 20:00
Here is some more information on the show from the BBC press office:

To mark 100 years since the birth of Hergé, the creator of Tintin, Mark Lawson tests his theory that the comic books were the inspiration for a generation of young reporters, in Tintin's Guide To Journalism.

Mark discovered his love of Tintin in a French class at the age of 11, when his teacher handed round photocopies of one of the Tintin tales. He recalls being impressed by the young boy reporter and believes, subconsciously, the idea of a vocation took hold.

Mark also speaks to other journalists to find out if they, too, were influenced by the comic books.

Photo journalist Nick Danziger says: "My parents tried to stop me travelling by reducing my pocket money, but that didn't prevent me. My inspiration was Tintin, the Belgian comic-strip character. He was my hero."

Former Daily Telegraph Editor, Charles Moore, says: "I find that almost everything I imagine about the Balkans, or believe about the virtues of monarchy over fascism, derives from King Ottakar's Sceptre."

Former Reuters reporter Michael Farr, who met Tintin's creator Hergé before he died, was subsequently inspired to begin writing a series of books about "the patron saint of journalists", Tintin himself.

Tintin's Guide To Journalism
Saturday 17 November
10.30-11.00am BBC RADIO 4
Presenter/Mark Lawson, Producer/Miles Warde
#6 · Posted: 18 Nov 2007 14:15 · Edited by: jock123
Well it was a good little programme, if a little similar to the Real Lives segment they did in the last couple of years.
Anybody else listen to it?

Update: My mistake on the title of the previous programme. It was of course Great Lives, not Real Lives
#7 · Posted: 18 Nov 2007 15:37 · Edited by: Balthazar
I listened to it (except for the middle ten minutes when I was away from my radio.)

It was nice to hear Michael Farr's reminiscences of meeting Hergé, and there were a few other interesting contributons too. But for me, the programme was marred by the constant use of clips from a rather corny old Tintin radio serial that was first broadcast in a children's Radio 4 slot, in the late eighties or early nineties, I think. This serial consisted of hammy actors using an irritating "hey, this is a comic book adventure and this is for kids, so let's do it all like an am-dram pantomime" style of performance, with awful synthesized music adding an extra layer of cheapo naffness.

And because of the script adaptations made for this radio serial, the clips used often contradicted the points being made about the actual Tintin books in this radio programme's commentary. For instance, just as Mark Lawson was pointing out how Tintin rarely sems to file any copy as a journalist, we got a montage of clips from the radio series, with a breathless Tintin sounding just like he was filing reams of copy (a devivce used by the radio serial to summarise the previous episodes). And to illustrate someone's point about how inventive Haddock's simulated-swearing insults were, they used a clip of the Haddock actor (who had a bizarrely fruity Donald Sinden-like voice) making one of Haddock's least remarkable and least memorable insults in all the books - merely calling one of the Thom[p]sons a "dim-witted numbskull" or something like that.

I suspect that the producer thought that the basic subject matter wouldn't be "accessible" enough to a wide audience unless he padded the thing out with these radio serial clips. (A patronising way of making radio and TV, but a common one.)

And I found Mark Lawson's linking commentary a bit bland, as I often do. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but It's hard to believe he was inspired to go into journalism by as exciting a jounalist as Tintin (this being the whole premise of the programme). Mark Lawson's area and style of journalism seems more inspired by the smooth guy interviewing Castafiore on the settee in the Castafiore Emerald (is it Willoughby-Drupe?)

But maybe it's just me. I'm not trying to put anyone off listening to it. Like I said, there was just about enough interesting stuff to make it worth listening through the padding. And maybe there was more good stuff in the middle section that I missed. I'll listen to that bit on my computer, when I've got a minute.

Edit (an hour later):
I've just listened to it again, including the bit I'd missed before, and I think I was a little hard on it. The radio serial clips that irritated me are used less in the middle of the programme, and Mark Lawson's presentation maybe isn't as bland as I suggested. (It probably only seemed a bit bland because I wasn't hearing much I didn't already know.) And there was some interesting stuff in the section I'd missed, such as Hergé himself being interviewed (in English) on the BBC.

There are a few irritating innacuracies, such as someone's statement that the only emotional relationship or friendship in the books is between Haddock and Tintin; and that this relationship lacks any real depth, with Tintin merely tolerating "the old soak"; and that because of this lack of emotional depth, girls and women aren't drawn to the Tintin books. All of this is clearly complete nonsense in every respect, but sadly went unchallenged.

But, as Jock said, not a bad little programme overall - better than my first, incomplete listening led me to think.
#8 · Posted: 19 Nov 2007 11:37 · Edited by: jock123
for me, the programme was marred by the constant use of clips from a rather corny old Tintin radio serial that was first broadcast in a children's Radio 4 slot
Really? I've always quite liked the radio show, and there hasn't been much against them when discussed here previously.
It's always good to get another point of view on such matters!
You're quite right that the programme did seem to offer what should more correctly have been designated personal opinion as "fact", especially when discussing things like the relationships between characters.
Interesting too that you brought up the inappropriate use of the "filing copy" narration to illustrate the contention that he wasn't much of a journalist.
Nobody addressed the fact that while it may not play well to journalists that he isn't forever running to post stories, looking for a type-writer or trying to get to a 'phone to ring the office, it would play even worse for the average reader (any reader in fact) if Hergé had stuck in such mundane issues. It is much easier to accept that, as the books exist as de facto examples of Tintin's adventures, these are his reports, and that the copy-filing and story writing takes place off the page.
#9 · Posted: 19 Nov 2007 13:47
Thanks for the link for the discussion thread on the radio serials, Jock. Looks like it's just me who didn't like them much, so I accept I'm in a minority of one! I suppose these things come down to personal taste, with what seems like hammy overacting to one listener being perfectly good expressive acting to another. Maybe it depends on how how closely it matches the Tintin, Haddock etc we heard in our heads when reading the books as a child. Maybe I don't even hear the dialogue as voices at all when I read the books, so that any actor's voices are always going to jar with my reading experience.

It is much easier to accept that, as the books exist as de facto examples of Tintin's adventures, these are his reports...

I think you've hit the nail on the head there. I think it's set up in the beginning of the very first story that the Petit Vingtieme is sending it's young reporter Tintin to report on the Soviet Union, and it's thus sort of implied that what follows is effectively his report for the magazine's readers, told in comic strip form (a sort of pre-dated version of presenter-led TV travel documentaries, as if Tintin was being followed around by an invisible camera man, like Michael Palin is these days.)

This conceit that Tintin's adventures are journalistic reports for the Petit Vingtieme become less strongly implied as the series goes on of course, as his subsequent adventures become more narratively structured and less travelogue-like in form. However, as long as the adventures were appearing in a weekly magazine, maybe readers just took it for granted that Tintin was still sort of reporting for the Petit Vingtieme and that the adventures they were reading were, in effect, his reports. Once Tintin became read primarily in book form, I guess that all remnants of this concept would have vanished completely, making him seem hardly a working journallist at all to today's readers.
#10 · Posted: 20 Nov 2007 00:10
as long as the adventures were appearing in a weekly magazine, maybe readers just took it for granted that Tintin was still sort of reporting for the Petit Vingtieme and that the adventures they were reading were, in effect, his reports.
That's another very good point: I think the letters page of the Journal actually showed a picture of Tintin bashing away at a manual type-writer or similar, and he had an editorial function in that way which presumably implied that he was busy about the office when not chasing down crime rings and smugglers. As you say, take him out of that context, and indeed he may appear to be less the journalist than he was...

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