The Red Line

Written by Louis Barfe

It’s unusual these days for any BBC Radio programme to not be on iPlayer, but George Michael: The Red Line (R2, Wednesdays, 10pm) is one such programme. This absorbing two-parter has been assembled from a lengthy interview the much-missed pop star gave to Kirsty Young. Indeed, it is billed as his last interview. Listening to his voice,  I couldn’t help but wonder whether he knew he wasn’t much longer for this world. He sounds, quite frankly, very ill indeed. However, this made the first part, in which he talked about meeting his lover, Anselmo Feleppa, then losing him to Aids, almost unbearably poignant. He explained that his court case with his record label, Sony, was partially made possible by Feleppa’s illness.

For one thing, he had no intention of working while nursing Feleppa, and the court case was something constructive to do. For another, the injustice of watching a loved one fade away made him angry about the record industry and determined to fight for fairer contracts.

In the end, he lost the case and ruminated that contracts these days are, if anything, worse than the ones he signed in the 1980s. In the interview he comes across as the kind, funny, generous man it’s universally said he was. Meanwhile, Young is the perfect companion and it comes across as an agreeable, revealing chat. You can always tell when Young really likes a castaway, and it sounds like she adored him.

One thing that is on iPlayer is Noma Dumezweni’s series, The Gamble, about risk and creativity (R4, Wednesdays, 9am). Last week’s edition, about self-revelation in art, was bracing – particularly performance artist Bryony Kimmings encouraging audiences to cut off and share clumps of their pubic hair as part of her Edinburgh show on STIs.

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