There is plenty worth listening to on the radio, even on an August afternoon when TV seems to show only sport, sitcoms and old movies.
Student Essentials is a service that BBC Radio offers to help A-level students make the best choices on the basis of their results, which will be announced on August 17 (August 10 for Scottish Highers). First, what to do if grades are worse - or better - than expected? The broadcasts move on to the transition to higher education, paying for it, resits, clearing and the pros and cons of a gap year. There will also be advice on how to cope with living away from home and dealing with parents' expectations.
The centre of the Student Essentials network, presented by Steve Wright, will be on Radio 2, linking up with Radios 1, 4 and 5 Live, as well as with BBC local radio and television. A free phoneline will be open from 8am to 8pm from August 10 to 26 (0808 100 8000) and a guide to further education appears on the Essentials website at www.bbc.co.ukradio2 and Ceefax page 700. Highlights of the radio element include entire days of programming on August 10 (Scottish Highers) and August 17 (A-levels), and Sunday Surgery Results Specials (Radio 1) on August 20 and 27 at 9pm. The Ian Payne Show (afternoon, Radio 5 Live) will be following a group of students from anticipation (August 14), to results (August 17), and also discussing university life (August 18).
Meanwhile, for those who don't yet have A-levels to worry about, the Afternoon Play on Radio 4 offersdramatisations of children's books, starting on August 7 with Jacqueline Wilson's The Bed and Breakfast Star, with a 10-year-old heroine, Elsa (played by Victoria O'Donnell), who loves corny jokes. On August 8, the play isBetsy Byars's The Midnight Fox, about a boy packed off for the summer to his uncle's farm. Then, on August 9, we have Noel Streatfeild's The Growing Summer, a magical tale about four children sent to Ireland to stay with their Great Aunt Dymphna. All at 2.15pm.
August is the month of the Proms, with Proms Millennium Youth (see Artbeat, page 18) and an emphasis on Dmitri Shostakovich. He is Composer of the Week from August 7, on August 6, Gerard McBurney analyses his Eighth Symphony (Radio 3, 5.30pm) and on August 7, Donald Macleod discusses the political and historical background to his work (Radio 3, 9am).
Music is also part of the story of an 18th-century Guinean slave, which Nick Darke tells on Radio 4 on August 5 (In Quest of Joseph Emidy, 2.30pm). Enslaved in Brazil, Emidy was taken to Lisbon, where he learned the violin. From there, he was kidnapped by the commander of a British frigate and eventually arrived in Cornwall, to become a composer and music teacher.
Other offerings which might appeal are the Classic Serial (this week, Room at the Top, Radio 4, August 6, 3pm), a documentary on Egyptian music (Radio 4, August 8, 1.30pm), The ABC of Vitamins (Radio 4, August 8, 9.30am) and the Book at Bedtime (from August 6, Turgenev's Home of the Gentry).