This week’s best radio: happy 100th birthday to Ella Fitzgerald

David Hepworth
On song ... Ella Fitzgerald in the 1950s. Photograph: Getty

Doubtless you’ve made special plans to mark what would have been the 100th birthday of the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald. If you require company, it’s provided by Remembering Ella (25 April, 8pm, Radio 2), hosted by Leo Green, which should glide smoothly into Ella Fitzgerald: The First Lady of Song (25 April, 10pm, Radio 2) in which Petula Clark narrates her life story. Earlier in the day there’s Ella Fitzgerald: A Glorious Noise (25 April, 11.30am, Radio 4) with singer Mara Carlyle and a host of others celebrating her imperishable style.

Cathy FitzGerald’s documentary Mirrored, which was made for the World Service, gets another airing (27 April, 11.30am, Radio 4). FitzGerald’s programmes probe gently, which works better on the radio than anywhere else. Here she simply invites a number of people to inspect themselves in the looking glass, to say what they see and how it makes them feel. There’s a surprising amount of pain involved. There’s a schoolgirl who would set her clock early to allow enough time to apply foundation and a mother in her 50s describing the pangs she feels on seeing the clothes that once looked fabulous on her now looking fabulous on her daughters.

History is written by the victors. The victors in daily life tend to be those who live longest. Keeping In Touch (22 April, 3.45pm, Radio 4) is a drama presenting Joan Bakewell’s side to the story of her affair with Harold Pinter, which inspired his 1978 play Betrayal. Charlotte Riley and Colin Morgan play the lovers. Before that, Olivia Colman and Andrew Scott star in a repeat of the Radio 4 adaptation of Pinter’s original (22 April, 2.30pm, Radio 4). On the subject of recent history, Jonathan Freedland fronts an excellent Archive hour devoted to The 90s: A Holiday from History (22 April, 8pm, Radio 4), which goes to show just how easily the pace of change makes us forget the recent past.

Unjustly Maligned is a neat idea for a podcast. Antony Johnston invites a believer to make the case for a cultural artefact that consensus tends to deride. Thus you get people singing the praises of everything from Pretty Woman to the game of cricket. Of course, the whole point about consensus is it changes. However, it’s the essential unfairness of the premise that makes these conversations spark.

The increasing use of noise-cancelling headphones suggests more people are keeping the outside world at bay listening to immersive audio. Twenty Thousand Hertz investigates the role of audio professionals in our daily lives, from the engineering that ensures a car door closes with that reassuring finality to the Foley artists of Hollywood who synthesise the sounds of marine life using old kitchen equipment gathered at the pound shop. They take it seriously, for good reason. As one of them says, “hearing is feeling”.

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