Feature

BIG-ging up British: Radio

My wife thought I was having an affair. Why else would, as she put it, "the world's least domesticated human being" start volunteering for chores that he's always detested?

Yet I've been cooking, cleaning and last Sunday, for the first time ever, I picked up a hoe. (Well, that sort of hoe anyway.)

The only affair I'm having is with a Roberts RD 41 digital radio. This wondrous invention is the radio equivalent of Sky+. It lets me record my favourite programmes and listen to them whenever I want, so unloading the dishwasher has become a lot less tedious since Mark Radcliffe and Danny Baker started helping me.

And there, in a nutshell, is what makes radio so wonderful. While every other medium demands your undivided attention, radio allows you to get on with other things. I'm not quite old enough to remember the boats that rocked, but I've loved radio since I was a child. In a world before Walkmans, I was never far from a transistor, never far from broadcasting heroes such as John Peel, Kenny Everett and Roger Scott.

It was radio that fired up my lifelong love of music; it broke both good news and bad (for a QPR fan, it was usually bad). And, as I sat at the wheel of my first Cortina, it advised me to avoid the jams on the North Circular.

Professionally, I love it even more. Blessed as I am with the visual flair of Helen Keller, radio and I were made for each other. If you like to write, it's the purest and most satisfying medium of all - the only one that lets the listener fill in the blanks. Which is why, on radio, the pictures are always better.

It's also the most natural form of communication. If you have a juicy bit of gossip, do you ring up your friends and tell them? Or do you send them a 48-sheet poster? Every message from every advertiser is just like that piece of gossip, and radio is often the quickest and most effective way of putting it about.

In what we're now rather tired of calling the "current climate", more and more clients are becoming attuned to its speed, flexibility and value. I love that speed and immediacy. Lacking the patience to be a creative director, I have no desire to manage if I'm still fit enough to play. I just want to make ads and radio allows me to make plenty.

I could never bear the stultifying slowness of making TV commercials, with everyone from research respondents to the client's wife lumbering in with their tuppence worth. With radio, this seldom happens. A brand new piece of work can be recorded and ready to run in less time that it would take for the lighting cameraman to finish his bacon sarnie.

Radio is creativity concentrated. The way everything is compressed into such a short space of time keeps you fresh and inventive. It makes you rely on your instinct and, unusually for this industry, it makes you rely on words. The written word is more important than ever. E-mailing, texting, blogging, even rap music all bear testament to that.

And once you've written your words, some very fine actors will be more than happy to come and read them for you. Call me shallow but I'm thrilled at the prospect of working next week with Danny Glover, Christian Slater and Charlotte Rampling.

Before that, however, I've got Jazzie B's Funky Dread show from last Saturday loaded up on that lovely new radio.

And there's a pile of ironing with my name on it.

For more information and to enter the BIG awards, visit campaignbigawards.com

PAUL BURKE'S FIVE FAVOURITE THINGS ABOUT BRITAIN ...

The sunshine. Happiness is just a reaction to gratitude and, since beautiful weather is rarer here than in other places, we react accordingly. We always hear about how, in Italy or Spain, they have such a "lovely, relaxed attitude to life". Well, when the sun comes out, so do we.

The lack of nationalism. I'm half-Irish and never am I more embarrassed about this than on St Patrick's Day. Your nationality is a mere accident of birth, so saying "I'm (insert nationality here) and proud of it" is a bit like saying: "It's Thursday and I'm proud of it." The British (or the English, anyway) are refreshingly free of this.

The Routemaster bus. My mum was a clippie on the Number 16 from Cricklewood to Victoria. Early one morning, my dad was the sole passenger and that romance on a Routemaster is the reason I exist. Once they're back on the streets, I will, like thousands of others, start travelling by bus again.

Private Eye. If anything characterises the British spirit of intelligence, satire and silliness, it's the "fortnightly lampoon". Ridiculing the pompous and exposing liars, cheats and crooks, the Eye can be an oasis of sanity in a world gone mad.

Great big supermarkets. They get a pretty bad rap, which is often richly deserved. But, come on, they are fantastic. I may not want to buy an avocado, a frying pan or a 14-inch flatscreen TV at three in the morning, but I love the fact that I can if I want to.

Topics