* Update – Unbelievably, Test Match Special LW listeners also missed the climactic moment when England won the Ashes series in Sydney, again because of the Shipping Forecast – in fact each one of England’s three Test Match innings wins was completed in the 12:45-1am slot when LW listeners are taken to Dogger.
It might become a “good luck” totem for the team. The next occasion England are struggling for a breakthrough wicket, R4 schedulers can shift to an emergency Shipping Forecast. When listeners return, it’s high-fives in the field and Aggers informing the audience that they’ve missed something quite important.
Australians would describe the previous 24 hours on Radio 4 as “pretty ordinary behaviour”, what with the Naughtie lapse, Andrew Marr’s gratuitously offensive language and The World At One’s failure to distinguish a Lib Dem MP from an imposter (see Beehive passim).
But missing the climactic moment of an England Ashes win in Australia on Test Match Special has to be a hanging offence.
With nine wickets down and Aussie batsmen tumbling left right and centre, someone has to take a decision about the Shipping Forecast due at 12:55am.
England are poised to win a historic victory by an innings and more. Even the hardiest seafarers would understand that delaying the forecast by 10 minutes so that Long Wave listeners, the heart and soul of Test Match Special down the years, can witness the climax of the Adelaide Test, is the right thing to do.
But common sense, or a night editor asleep at the wheel, fails to prevail, so R4 Long Wave sends listeners to a rather mundane forecast, with the inevitable results.
By the time normal service is resumed, Swann has taken the winning wicket, celebrations are in full swing and listeners have been let down.
Eventually, CMJ interrupts the ongoing TMS discussion, which has been continuing on digital channels uninterrupted, to tell his audience they’ve missed the winning wicket: “Sorry about that.” The final knockings have been broadcast on Radio 5 Live if anyone cared to switch over.
It’s not an error Sky Sports would make. Of course viewers saw every ball live and its dedicated coverage has made history the days when live Test Match coverage had to make way for golf, tennis, racing or the News, albeit at a price.
Yet a sufficient number of licence fee payers still do rely on TMS and R4 Long Wave for their live Ashes fix to make their interests worthy of some consideration.
Critics have detected that the Test Match Special is itself descending into self-parody.
If the basic interests of the radio-listening cricket fan to hear the climax of a vital Ashes Test Match, on the final day, when the end is predictable to anyone who understands the sport, are denied, maybe it’s time to hand the baton over to TalkSport or a dedicated commercial operator? – if they can hold off the adverts when an England victory is nigh.
Is Radio 4′s new Controller Gwyneth Williams a cricket fan? Another question for her to answer after a day of editorial failure at the highest level for her channel.