My 15 seconds

So there I was, recording today’s Quote…Unquote S53E02 off iPlayer after grabbing The Unbelievable Truth S19E02 earlier. One minute in, my eyebrows like to shoot off my head as host Nigel Rees and Charlotte Green open the show with…well, me and a quotation I sent him last year. Pretty cool.

I wrote five years ago of the strange enmity UK comics seem to have for the show. I still hear it derided a few times a year and I still don’t understand. This is a 53-series programme panelled by the likes of Douglas Adams, Graham Linehan, Peter Cook, and John Lloyd. Sheesh.

Once every several weeks, I hear some comedian or other on a Radio 4 show or TV panel show slag off “Quote…Unquote”, a panel show also on Radio 4. Most make dismissive comments, but some seem to despise the programme with a passion, which puzzles me because I like it. It’s not my favourite Radio 4 programme (that’d be “The News Quiz”, which itself slags off “Quote…Unquote” approximately every fourth programme), but I always listen to QU and can usually identify about half the quotations before they’re through reciting them. There’s good humour and good stories in most episodes.

Why do all those comedians hate it so, and with such bizarre frequency? It’s a minor show that airs only very infrequently – six episodes a year in recent years – yet I hear more negative mentions of it in any given year than the number of QU episodes that aired that year. Is it simply because they know none of the quotations and are perhaps made to feel small, or did presenter Nigel Rees line up all their dogs in a row and run them over with a steamroller years ago?

Podcasts I like

This is my current BeyondPod subscription list. I listen – mostly in the car over Bluetooth – to every episode from about two-thirds of these and selected episodes from the rest.

99% Invisible

Food Programme

Fresh Air

From Our Own Correspondent

Futility Closet


Kitchen Cabinet

More or Less: Behind the Stats

NPR: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

NPR: Car Talk

NPR: Planet Money

NPR: Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

Radio Diaries


Reply All

Science Weekly

The Allusionist

The Bugle

The Gist

The Infinite Monkey Cage

the memory palace

The Mountain Stage

The News Quiz Extra There is no podcast for the Extra version, so I record this from iPlayer with Cool Edit when it’s published Mondays at about 8pm ET.

This American Life


You folks must know some great ones I’m not aware of, so feel free to note them in the comments.

Non impediti ratione cogitatonis

100505E-MAGLIOZZITom Magliozzi, co-host of NPR’s “Car Talk” along with his brother Ray until 2012, has, alas, left us. There was never a purveyor of cornier jokes, nor an equal to his infectious laugh that never failed to get me chortling along.

There aren’t many people whose mere mention so easily brings a smile to so many, but Tom and Ray have been on that list for decades – read some of the comments on that NPR article for the proof. A lot of listeners didn’t have cars or even care one whit about cars, but tuned in because the show was more about people and relationships than it was about spanners and tappets. A large part of it, too, were cheesy jokes and the brothers’ good-natured rivalry.

I still listen to the show in repeats because I love unrepentant wise-arses. I happen to be one myself.

tom-magliozziThe title? Tom’s motto: Unencumbered by the thought process.

“I came to this country in 1979 and got hooked to the Car Talk ever since. Tom and Ray made America better than what I had imagined it to be. Thank you.”