Continued issues somewhere in my digestive tract, coupled with meetings in London, have caused a brief (but, much appreciated by its readers) lacuna in the relentless stream of drivel emanating from this blog. Seasoned Fish-watchers will know how serious matters had become if I admit that I have been off my food for several days – though normal (even enhanced) service has finally been resumed.
Prior to this haunting of my alimentary canal by a particularly vexèd poltergeist (or such is the diagnosis I am choosing to believe), there had been a brief alteration in my pattern of external, evening entertainment. As you will know, most of my nights-out involve some sort of musical production (very much not of the form traditionally thought to be favoured by the Friends of Dorothy). On the few occasions I go to see music for the young, I find myself feeling like some sort of revenant as the entire audience is under 25 (except for the few parents, or those acting in loco parentis, who still seem younger than me). On the far more frequent occasions when I am enjoying (soi disant) classical music, the vast majority of the audience is over 70 (and usually well over) bar a few people in their late teens or early twenties that I assume (on the basis of almost no evidence) to be music students. There has, as a result, been some mystery as to what the folk of Cambridge do of an evening in the long years between 25 and 70. I know, in my (unelected) role as an uncle, that children can be quite time consuming, and anecdotal evidence suggests they can be quite reluctant to leave home these days, but 45 years stuck indoors “sitting” one’s issue does some rather a long time. Where were the missing demographic?
Last Thursday, I finally found some of these missing generations when I went to see Punt and Dennis at the Corn Exchange. I guess the audience were mostly Radio 4 listeners – though, perhaps oddly, no-one apparently over 70 and a surprisingly large scattering of the under 25s. Perhaps the BBC Trust should take note, I suspect Radio 4’s reach into the allegedly all-important youth market may be larger than their “study” has indicated – though I note there was no corresponding push from the Trust to force Radio 1 Xtra to improve its offerings to the over 70s (which I, for one, think would be much more entertaining). However, I seem to have digressed (again), the key matter of note was that the vast majority of the audience were from the missing demographic. The middle-aged (and, I assume, middle-class) have little interest in music but are willing (and able) to push the boat out and pay for child-minding if Radio 4 stalwarts come to town.
Could this be a money spinner for the Beeb in these times of declining licence fee income? Some of its shows already tour the country – but others remain firmly fixed to their studios. The PM Roadshow anyone? And surely it is long past time for You and Yours to hit the road? (And never come back).