- 5 April 2015
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
The new boss of BBC Radio 3 says he plans to revive the classic 1970s series Pied Piper, which introduced young listeners to the world of music.Presented by David Munrow, the fondly-remembered show covered everything from medieval music to prog rock.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Radio 3 controller Alan Davey said he was keen to commission a modern version.
"Young people are growing up with an open mind about various kinds of quite complex music," he said.
"It's not classical music, but it's not pop music, either. The step into classical music would be quite easy for them if they were to encounter it in the right way."
Davey took over from Roger Wright in January, and has been listening to archive tapes of Pied Piper, which ran for 655 episodes between 1971 and 1976.
Although the programme was predominantly aimed at children - and was used in school music lessons - Munrow's enthusiasm for music infected people of all ages.
But the series ended suddenly when he died at the age of 33.
A modern version would not be able to run a week-long series on the Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos, as Pied Piper did, Davey admitted, with radio increasingly having to compete with TV, mobile phones and social media for young people's attention.
Alluding to this he told the Sunday Times: "Keynes [the economist] wanted to set up the Arts Council in 1946 as a bulwark against American movie culture. But American movie culture is pretty good, and it's become an art form in itself.
"What Keynes didn't anticipate was the proliferation of the possibilities for people, and the real implication of leisure time and the possibilities there."
In a wide-ranging interview, Davey also noted that changes had been made to Radio 3's breakfast programme - notably by dropping calls from listeners, which have proved contentious with some members of the audience.
Presenters will no longer read the news headlines during the show, although the half-hourly bulletins and summaries from the BBC newsroom remain.
"It is to give the presenters more chances to present the music," Davey explained.
"We will still have hour and half-hour bulletins - people are saying they still need some kind of pointer in the mornings."
The changes, although subtle, will please critics who felt the station was being "dumbed down" as it sought to engage audience interaction, with some branding it "Radio 2.5".
They also coincide with a recent BBC Trust report, which said Radio 3 must make sure it is "distinct" from rival stations like Classic FM.
"While Radio 3 overall is a distinctive station, in terms of its approach to classical music and mix of other programming, there are some parts of the schedule where similarities exist," the BBC's watchdog said.
"Radio 3 should seek to increase choice for radio listeners by minimising any programmes and features that are similar to Classic FM's. It should focus on its strengths, by maximising its distinctiveness across its whole output, without sacrificing the combination of expertise and accessibility that has been achieved in recent years."
Mr Davey said that, under his stewardship, the station would not be "chasing ratings".
"If you concentrate on doing the best you can do and offering quality day in and day out, people do find you and they do appreciate it."