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Audio Drama Review


Fry's English Delight
Series 4


Presented by: Stephen Fry
RRP: £13.25
ISBN: 978 1 4084 6877 7
Available 08 September 2011

Stephen Fry explores the highways and byways of the English language in these four programmes, as heard on Radio 4, that cover The Mouth; Brevity; Persuasion; and Class...

These four episodes of Fry's English Delight were originally broadcast between July and August 2011 on BBC Radio 4.

Episode 1, The Mouth, examines why the human food processor and word processor are housed in the same unit. Fry take you inside "this hole we call cake" - the most important part of speech.

Episode 2, Brevity, is a celebration of the miniature in English. It features Tim Vine talking about the one liner; Kelvin MacKenzie on the beauty of headlines, the lost art of telegram writing and an English haiku. Good things, it would seem, really do come in small packages,

Episode 3, Persuasion, explores how lawyers, advertisers, salespeople and market traders reflect on the way language can be used to change people's minds and behaviour. Is persuasive language capable of seduction? And does Peter Stingfellow have the answer?

Episode 4, Class: Are we still 'bovvered' by the issue of class in the way we use language? Ian Macmillan takes a Yorkshire view of class and speech, and there's a word he still can't say...

The episode format is fairly standard - Fry chats with various experts in different fields in order to offer up a little food for thought. So here he looks at why we evolved with such a peculiar mouth that is used for breathing and eating (surely a dangerous combination that could easily cause choking). As a keen tweeter, he also examines why brevity in the English language seems to have almost become an art form - with comedians and newspaper headlines relying on it. Next he talks with salespeople and lawyers in a bid to see if people really can persuade us to part with our money, or change our minds. Finally Fry looks at why our preconceived views of class are so important - however it was a shame he didn't interview any British Airways pilots. I always find it interesting on flights that when the announcement comes over: "This is your captain speaking" that they always have posh voices and this seems to relay an air of calmness. I think most passengers worried about flying would be a little concerned if their captain had a Yorkshire accent: "Aye Up! This is yer Cap'n yapping" (before you e-mail to complain, I'm originally from South Yorkshire).

So, an interesting collection of episodes that are well worthy of your time.



Darren Rea

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