We're not entirely sure what BBC producers were expecting when they invited vicious songstress and recently crowned Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire PJ Harvey to guest "edit" the Radio 4 news program Today, but they seem to have gotten what they asked for. No, she didn't yelp the "Lick my legs! / I'm on fire!" coda from "Rid Of Me" or discuss the finer points of ringing sheep testicles. She did, though, invite WikiLeaks' Julian Assange aboard for a "diatribe" describing the Olympics as a "neo-liberal Trojan Horse," blast music by Joan Baez and Tom Waits, and chat with such curious characters as Dr. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Shaker Aamer, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee for whom Harvey released a song last year.
Fittingly, the United Kingdom is unanimously scandalized. Or so claims The Daily Mail in an article that goes to remarkably lengthy detail to say that this was the worst Today segment in 30 years, cluttered with "bizarre music and poetry and a string of left-wing rants." One member of Parliament tweeted that it was the "worst ever"; another Brit more gently termed it "rather unusual." So, success for Polly Jean?
As Stereogum notes, maybe not; Harvey began the show by saying she had "come to realize that a great deal of its content is about censorship in one way or another," which portends the possibility that her show was itself censored. We hope Harvey's burgeoning radio career doesn't squash the possibility of a Let England Shake follow-up in 2014.
You can listen to a few segments from the show here.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.