The Cuckoo on Radio 4 was, sadly, yet more of the same from the BBC Natural History Unit.

A white English male with a boring way of expressing his passion. And there was only him. Not one other human voice. There were a few different acoustics, so he didn’t always sound the same. But the speeches were long and unbroken. He made a nice sound once, and he created a visual image by mentioning his wife once, but everything else was bland and descriptive. Well, maybe it wasn’t, but nothing engaged enough to stick. What were the take-aways? The cuckoo lays eggs. That’s more or less it. Oh and I got an email while listening, which was relatively exciting.

Thankfully it wasn’t all just spoken language. The programme’s strongest element was its rich soundtrack. Immersive, layered and composed. This is the great strength of BBC Natural History Unit radio productions. I found myself trying to filter out the expert and listen just to the background. Now, I genuinely mean this: the programme would have had more tension, more storytelling, and been more engaging, had they accidentally broadcast a mix without any narration. Add in a few useful points of speech, perhaps from this man but preferably from someone with energy, and it could have been fantastic.