Listen With Others

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4006 – We Interrupt This Programme… by Phi – Setter’s Blog

Posted by Listen With Others on 21 Nov 2008

This time I can be perfectly clear where the idea came from – my desk calendar, which recorded the 69th anniversary of the broadcast last year.  ‘69,’ I thought, ‘how ungainly’ – followed by ‘But that means a more suitable anniversary next year’.  (If there’s anyone sniggering about 69, by the way, they can stop right now.)


The next thing that came was the Welles/Wells link – I couldn’t think of that being exploited anywhere else before and in the context of this radio show it seemed unmissable.  (It also seemed the sort of gimmick that might well fall out of the gridding process without too much work – choose that unchecked letter, and that light becomes a word you can either add or subtract an E to or from.)


What else?  Well, ‘broadcast’ was an obvious anagram indicator, so anagramming the title of the book/show was indicated, and with it the idea of ‘…the programme broadcast’ in the preamble.  The final component took a little longer to mature, but felt particularly pleasant when it came – the types of programme that might be interrupted, with the interruptions forming the same message picked up by listeners to the Welles broadcast.  (And it has only just this minute – here, in this blog – occurred to me that here I am blogging a Listener puzzle about the radio.  So now you know what didn’t go into my thinking.)


Once the interruption idea had been hit upon, it only remained to choose the types of programme – actually quite a limited list if you wanted generic one-word descriptions.  I was pleased to note, however, that the descriptions I chose all had ‘other’ definitions.  I fiddled a little with the mix of programme and interrupting letters till I’d got a selection that looked reasonably friendly for DLM purposes (they weren’t, of course).  And then it occurred to me that it might be fun to make each of the DLM clues refer to a different type of interrupted programme – which proved to be quite a tricky thing to do.  I kept struggling with a DLM and allowing myself a few ordinary cryptic clues for relaxation, and in the end I still had two DLMs as the last two to write.


Perhaps this is why the puzzle’s progress felt odd – a lot of the way through I felt rather gloomy about the puzzle, but as I finished typing it up for submission, I looked through it, and suddenly thought it held together pretty well.  Off it went, and the first editor sailed through it, spotting the theme perhaps a little too early, and asking for one clue to be modified.  The second editor emailed back to say it had been accepted.  When I replied saying I thought having to alter only the one clue was my smoothest acceptance yet, he said that I’d see that he’d had a much different solving experience from editor No. 1, principally through not latching on to the theme quickly (and having a less clear recollection of it when he did).  But as he’d filled the grid correctly before resorting to Google, it had got through. 


So that rather whetted my appetite for seeing what the broad mass of solvers would make of it…

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