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5 Live relishes the start of a long sporting summer, while Radio 4 hosts a very different party – for Ulysses

Euro 2012 5 Live | iPlayer

In Our Time R4 | iPlayer

Euro 2012 has arrived, the beginning of a long sporting summer, and 5 Live is starting to enjoy itself. Nicky Campbell is presenting Breakfast from various cities in Poland and Ukraine. Early in the week, he was fastidiously correcting Mark Chapman's pronunciation of Donetsk; by Thursday, he was in full-on holiday mood. "We are surrounded by fountains. Fountains of water that become fountains of lager later." I imagine Nicky in a sombrero (it's very hot out there). Maybe Speedos. Hmm. Let's stop that chain of thought.

On Thursday, he asked co-presenter Rachel Burden, back home in Manchester, how many England flags she had seen flying from cars. Rachel said one. "Really?" said Nicky, disappointed, before moving on.

Nothing is going to ruin his good time. A man who never stops working, he's sniffed out some nice local stories: chatting to Swedish fans on why they support Denmark; interviewing a feminist campaigner on why she feels there's a conspiracy between Uefa and Ukraine to promote that country's sex industry. (All so much more enjoyable than the news in the UK. Not even hacks are interested in Leveson's "ooh so that's what a journalist does" questions any more.) And Rachel Burden, too, is flourishing. Presenting Breakfast and, when Nicky's away, the phone-in Your Call, has proved a learning curve that's very steep. After a slow start, she's yomped it.

5 Live has some new commentators for the Euros. My favourite is the never knowingly positive Chris Waddle. "I can hardly hear a word you're saying!" he grizzled before the England v France match on Monday. Graham Taylor mentioned that he thought Scott Parker was a consistent player. "Hmm," harrumphed Waddle, "he has too many touches for me."

(For those younger readers who may not be familiar with Chris Waddle's career, he was a genius footballer who played for Spurs and Marseille. He was also a pop star – I know! Those things were allowed back then – known for his mullet and his 1987 duet with Glenn Hoddle, Diamond Lights, which was about a lady with "eyes that freeze like ice". A bit like Frozone in The Incredibles, I imagine. Waddle is as sane as anyone can be who blames missing a vital England penalty on a chance meeting with Uri Geller and Michael Jackson before the match.)

Waddle is paired with 5 Live stalwart Alan Green for live match commentary. Green likes a grumble, too. The pair of them moan like billyoh, in stereo. Before every game, the stadium PAs are switched to deafening blockbuster drama mode. Above the racket, Green and Waddle sound like two grumpy mums bitching over the Bacardi in the kitchen of a full-on teenage party.

"He's had some wear out of that shirt over the years," sniffed Waddle, during Germany v Holland. "Oh, and he falls over! Stupid boy, he should have concentrated," said Green. And: "We don't need the artificial stuff in the build-up to every match; let the fans create the atmosphere." Is there no one to soothe Chris and Alan's pain?

The joy of listening on the radio, of course, is the time-lapse. You get the action several seconds before the TV, so you can enjoy the moanathon and then rush to the telly to see the goals.

Over on Radio 4, everything was gearing up for a more intellectual game: a day-long performance of James Joyce's Ulysses, live from Dublin, yesterday (too late for me to review) – 16 June is the day on which Ulysses takes place. I'm not sure quite why this had to be live, but the BBC does love an event that unites. I wonder how many of us were inspired to listen in full?

As preparation, on Thursday's In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg got three academics to discuss Ulysses. We were told that it is "the great book of peace"; that it is a "realistic book, ultimately"; that it makes not only Leopold Bloom the hero, but the reader, too; that it is not a "despairing vision of chaos and disintegration" (as it was originally viewed) but, instead, a laugh a minute.

"Can you give the listeners a notion of that humour?" asked Melvyn.

An academic tried to convince us that Bloom's constant search for women to lech over was hilarious. "The scene where he's looking at Gerty MacDowell and he masturbates…"

I don't know. Sometimes what Radio 4 thinks is funny and what I do seems several worlds apart. Back to Chris Waddle, I think. Read More

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