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BBC radio plays have an underappreciated history of bringing people across the country together

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When my personal lockdown became “slow release” a couple of weeks ago I went to the theatre for the first time in 20 months. It was a matinee, absolutely packed. I lurked around, watching people crowd in, beaming. A couple of days later I went to another theatre, another dazzling performance, another capacity audience hanging on every word from the stage, each note from the band.

Two days later I went to a Prom. Unlike the two theatres, the Royal Albert Hall had socially distanced seating yet the audience attention was just as intense, the performance equally excellent. At each, the sense of connection between performance and audience, a shared pleasure in the work being performed, was almost palpable. It set me thinking.

It isn’t as if we have been starved of performance over the past 20 months. BBC Radio 3 has gone on mounting live concerts around the country even when they’ve been obliged to perform to empty seats. On Saturdays and Sundays Radio 3 has had plays and features that made me remember the network’s record in encouraging talent.

Radio 4, with a........

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