Voices From The Past

It’s always a delight when a reassuring voice from broadcasting past turns up in the present. So it was when Desmond Morris featured in
last week’s edition of Natural Histories (R4, Tuesdays 11am, repeated Mondays 9pm), devoted to the mighty leopard.
The great zoologist regards the leopard as ‘the ultimate cat’, making lions and tigers ‘appear overblown’. He explained that they’re solitary, secretive creatures, and recalled his first sighting of one in the wild, hiding in trees on a filming trip in Kenya. His driver noted the animal languishing ‘arrogantly’ by the side of the road in a matter of fact way, but Morris was so amazed, he insisted they stop so he could take a picture. Quite a contrast to the cruel, vulgar idiots who pay to kill animals on synthetic safaris.

The programme looked into the various reported sightings of black leopards on Exmoor. Big cat expert Rick Minter is certain that they are out there in the wilds of the British Isles, due
to what he called ‘random irresponsible releases’. Also, it seems that, far from finding it alarming, the general public is thrilled and oddly reassured by the idea. Maybe they’re around on the golf course when I’m walking my dogs.

Many years ago, a chum put me on to a book called Yours Truly, Pierre Stone by Sam Bain, the dark comic tale of a showbiz stalker. Since then, Bain’s had a lot of success writing TV comedies like Peep Show and The Thick of It. Joy of joys, he’s revisited Stone for a radio adaptation, and hearing the Tess Daly-fixated Stone (played by Alex Macqueen) being ejected from the Strictly Come Dancing studio audience for muttering was one of the funniest bits of radio I’ve come across in ages.