The Sarah Kennedy casebook

Doggedly clingling onto her slot like a petulant barnacle, it appears Radio 2’s resident Old Mrs Clutterbritches is immune to the upheavals visited upon her so-called colleagues. If fate and bad timing has anything to do with it, by posting the following guide to better understanding – and preparing for – what is still archaically referred to as the Radio 2 Dawn Patrol, the show will be summarily axed from the schedule tomorrow.

1) VAUXHALL CROSS
Sarah lives a three-minute walk away from her studio, but chooses to drive into work because there is a road between her flat and Broadcasting House. Her journey involves navigating a busy intersection of London called Vauxhall Cross, a junction that has no interest or relevance to 95% of the population, but because she gets stuck in traffic jams that she preposterously claim last “up to four hours – it’s a total violation of my civil liberties”, be ready to hear her drone joylessly on about it every single bloody morning without fail.

2) “THE MUCH BELOVED”
Aka Mr Sarah Kennedy. Though he is talked about incessantly his real name is never revealed. Thanks to Sarah’s frequent outbursts of indiscretion, however, it’s been possible to ascertain a) he seems to be about 30 years younger than his wife, b) he is obsessed with ultra-macho adventure sports and, worse of all, c) he wears Y-fronts with holes in which are over two decades old. There was also a rather grisly incident a few years ago when, suffering from some kind of eye infection that had left him – as far as you could tell from the garbled explanation – half blind, “The Much Beloved”‘s suffering was prolonged for another two weeks when Sarah accidentally smashed the only bottle of eye drops they had in the house.

3) “BUNTY BAGSHAW”
Sarah’s nickname. Which she coined herself.

4) JINGLES
There aren’t any. Sarah doesn’t like any of the standard Radio 2 jingles with her name on them, so she rather arrogantly makes a point of not playing them, then talks about not playing them, all the while neglecting to say what the show is or which station you’re tuned to, making it even more likely – and dangerous – of finding yourself listening in to her programme and not realising it.

5) THE DAILY MAIL
No sniggering at the back there. It was of no real surprise to discover this was Sarah’s newspaper of choice, though her patronage of Associated’s TV Cream-baiting light-fingered nemesis can and does reach astronomical proportions. There’s always room for something from the letters page, even if it’s 7.33am and both the news and Wake Up To Wogan are waiting to begin. As for the paper “review” at 6.50am, headlines and stories appear to be selected only if they chime in with Sarah’s pronounced opinions (see below), while everything else is dismissed as “daft” or “really, really, frightening.” She also has an irritating tendency to say “well, that story is being covered in the news bulletin so I won’t mention it”, thereby removing the entire point of a paper review in the first place. Suffice to say that said reviews, to all intents and purpose, always sound like they’ve been prepared “in a bit of a rush”.

6) PEDANTRY
Sarah once played the sublime ‘Never Let Her Slip Away’, and every time the title was mentioned in the lyrics she interrupted the song to shout out “Split infinitive!” There has never been a more infuriating three minutes of radio broadcasting in the history of this country.

7) SOUND EFFECTS
Like a snotty nine year old who’s just discovered a button on their school music room Casio keyboard which when pressed makes a sound like a fart through a megaphone, Sarah’s fondness for her sound effects tape is unflinching. If a reader has written in about their pet cat, in a flash the airwaves will be filled, not with gentle purring of a kind to rouse you from your sleep, but a din of screeching which Sarah then pretends to “talk” to like a simpleton. A crowing cockerel announces the arrival of the seven o’clock news, because obviously the sound of the pips is too confusing for listeners. The best chance to hear the full works, however, comes during the…

8) TRAVEL NEWS
This is clearly Sarah’s favourite part of the entire show. How she loves obscuring important roadworks information with the deafening sound of a pneumatic drill – just the thing to wake you from a deep, peaceful slumber. Is that the sound of bagpipes? Why, there must be a traffic jam somewhere in Scotland. Meanwhile any hold ups in Greater London are, of course, entirely the responsibility of “Mayor Ken – and he’ll get what’s coming to him.”

9) SARAH’S SOAPBOX
The amount of editorialising that goes on during this show beggars belief. Other presenters, never mind producers, have been sacked for far less. Asylum seekers? “This island is full to bursting, there’s no more room.” Myra Hindley? “She’s where she belongs now – in hell.” The Countryside Alliance? “I’ve cleared all my spare bedrooms if anyone wants to stay over after the next march.” In truth what’s most maddening is not so much the nature of the opinions she holds (which she’s perfectly entitled to) but the manner in which she expresses them: in public, relentlessly, and forever bordering on the slightly hysterical. The absolute limit is when she’ll carry on voicing her views while a decent record is playing. Shut up woman, there’s someone singing!

10) THE “LOVE HATE” SONG
Finally, the one slot in the show which used to be actually quite impressive. This was where Sarah self-consciously played a novelty record nominated by listeners of the kind that you either, well, love or hate. Stand-out offerings included ‘Shut That Door’ by Larry Grayson, ‘The Court Of King Caractacus’ by Rolf Harris and ‘Three Little Fishes’ by Frankie Howerd. Even here, though, Sarah could not help but ruin what was her one decent feature, which she did either by making bogus vomiting noises on-mike all the way through, or laughing like a drain all over it. And for a good fifteen minutes afterwards. And throughout the following morning’s show. Grrrr.

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3 Responses to The Sarah Kennedy casebook

  1. Five-Centres says:

    You’ve missed out something that really grates with me.

    Whenever she reads out a ‘kids say the funniest things’ letter, which she does a lot, she goes into a kind of 1950s bunged up nose prep school effect little girls voice, which I find most irritating, though she does it rather well.

    Otherwise, I agree with what you say. How does she get away with it?

    That said, I find he strangely relaxing.

  2. Rich says:

    Can’t stand the woman.

    But I must take issue with the Never Let Her Slip Away ‘split infinitive’ pronouncement being the most annoying thing on radio. I find that when Steve Wright plays Come Up and See Me by Steve Harley, he plays ‘hilarious’ sound effects during the gaps in the music. But he claims he’s allowed to do it ‘Because Steve’s an old mate of mine’. Just for that alone I’d like to pull his brains out through his nose.

  3. Emma says:

    The fact that the silly mare gets all Daily Mail on the ass of the wondrous
    “The Son of Hickory Holler’s Tramp”
    should be enough to get her chained up for good in the deepest, mustiest janitor’s cupboard in Broadcasting House.

    Oh and the putting-on-the-sprouts-for-Christmas running non-joke.

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