Wednesday 14 November 2018

Dil's playful personality makes hardline topics easy listening

Daragh McManus

Good causes are often a hard sell. Terms like 'inclusive', 'equality', 'access', 'rights' and 'social justice' can make people clam up their ears.

We all do this; it's human nature. There's no worse insult, in today's postmodern world, than to be called po-faced or humourless. Part of your brain thinks, "Ugh, another worthy-but-dull lecture reminding me of something I already know and making me feel bad for never doing much about it."

This reflexive bias makes the job done by Dil Wickremasinghe on Global Village (Newstalk) even more impressive. The show covers all those worthy – but potentially dull – topics, like racism, multiculturalism, homosexuality, mental health, disability, ethics in business.

It's difficult to sell something like that to listeners (I must add, it shouldn't be difficult – we should care about these things – but being realistic, it is). It's difficult to make it entertaining, lively and alive; to make it fun.

Yet Dil does so. I think it's mostly down to her personality: she's funny, playful, enthusiastic and interesting.

Born in Sri Lanka, she's got a colourful background and a varied professional history: as well as being a broadcaster and social justice advocate, she's done stand-up comedy.

In short, she's anything but po-faced, humourless or dull. And neither is her show, whether or not the topics listed above are your particular cup of tea.

From social science to hard science, and BBC Radio 4's great new series Seven Ages of Science, in which Lisa Jardine explores the history of British science from the Restoration period onwards, paying special attention to its relevance in daily life nowadays.

We're only on episode one of seven, and already I love it. I'm a sucker for science radio anyway, and am forever wailing here about how there should be more of it. I literally can't comprehend why someone doesn't find this stuff fascinating.

This is reality, folks! The very core of it, being worked and transformed by human ingenuity. If you're looking for the face of God, you might just find it in the epic brilliance of minds like Newton and Einstein, or the unfathomable mysteries of the universe: things we know, and can prove, but will never truly understand because it's all just so damn strange.

dmcmanus@independent

Irish Independent

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