The Mike Harding Show, 7 – 8 p.m., Wednesdays, BBC Radio 2

Mike Harding

This is one of my favourite radio programmes, not least because of the sheer variety and unpredictability of the tracks that are chosen. No other regular show comes close to offering this spectrum of musical styles within the over-arching genre labelled “folk, acoustic and roots music”. Mike Harding is a warm and engaging performer, and his in-depth knowledge and enthusiasm for all kinds of folk music is palpable.

Within a single programme the listener may be treated to traditional instrumental dancing pieces, ancient folksongs of joy and lament, recent acoustic poems recounting the Jarrow Marchers or a lifeboat rescue, and light-hearted tales of lusty romance. What is most striking is that none of the music is bland – whether you like it or not it demands to be listened to. Without exception, all the performers featured play with a raw conviction and power (as well as extraordinary musicianship) about “ordinary” events and people which can be very touching.

It is very interesting to listen to music without expectations (very rare in my experience, so conditioned are we by background and film music). Listening to this acoustic kaleidoscope reminds me what it was like as a child to unwrap an unexpected gift.

You can listen to the programme by following the link below:-