Review: Dangerous Visions: Face to Face with J.G. Ballard

BallardRadio 4 Extra, June 16

The soundtrack from Jeremy Isaacs’ interview with Ballard, first broadcast in 1989.

In an unusual move for Radio 4 Extra (but one which I hope will be repeated in future), a television soundtrack is being aired on the channel – the station thrives off repeats of the radio versions of TV series (Dad’s Army, Yes Minister etc.) but these were rerecorded with the visual gags either explained or removed. This is the unadulterated conversation, and for this particular series, it works well, allowing the listener to concentrate fully on Ballard.

I’d be very interested to know if those involved with the Dangerous Visions, both on their factual and fictional programmes, listened to this before starting work, given that the season is a tribute to Ballard’s work. His defences of some of the excesses of his work are interesting, and his comments about the characters in his books, which comes towards the end of the interview, explain a lot – to him they were like case studies from a book. He was interested in the kind of psychopathy that they displayed, rather than, as he put it, how they liked their petit fours.

Some of his comments were frighteningly prescient: his comments about the voracity of 24-hour news channels and the false perspective that they can lend to events were spot on, and he eagerly looked forward to a permanently available tickertape of news (hello, Google news…)

Verdict: A half-hour programme that will infuriate and enlighten. 8/10

Paul Simpson



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