Regular listeners to Radio 4 may be in for a shock next Tuesday, as the station is to conduct an experiment that’s never been attempted on the station. They’re going to attempt to make a programme that doesn’t use the phrase ‘class background’. Not even once. And certainly not every 30 seconds, as is the current custom.
Regular listeners to the station will know that Class Background is the foundation on which every single Radio 4 programme narrative is built. Anyone tuning into the station for the first time only has to wait a few seconds, before the phrase is used. Sometimes it’s preceded by the word ‘working’ sometimes ‘middle’ and on occasion the word ‘upper’ is used in conjunction in combination with ‘class background’ but one aspect of very show remains a constant. Social status must be identified, stereotyped and pigeon holed constantly. The words are always spoken by a speaker with an upper middle ‘class background’ – usually called something like Polly.
The experiment may not prove to be popular with listeners however. ‘It sounds ghastly’ moaned one typical listener. ‘I blame the working classes.’