Who we are

“The Verb is my dream job”, says Ian MacMillan, who was asked to present the programme seven years ago, out of the blue. “And it’s the nearest thing I’ve ever had to a job,” he adds. He clearly enjoys his only job enormously, though his idea of presenting it naked has yet to be realised – as far as the radio audience knows…


Radio 3’s eclectic programme on poetry, literature and performances of all kinds featuring words is beloved of teachers and taxi drivers alike. Originally broadcast on Friday nights at 10 pm, episodes are still available via BBC iPlayer Radio. The episode broadcast on 14 July has Ian making his maiden appearance at Glastonbury, where he takes up the challenge to write and perform a poem inspired by the festival itself.

‘Eclectic’ is certainly an accurate description, as the programme’s output ranges far and wide. There are some brilliant ideas for teachers to use, and presenters and contributors alike have a great time playing with words, ideas and music.

If people making fun of your accent gets your goat (or even gert), you’ll be pleased to know that such vowel play has a terminology all of its own – goatfronting. Ian’s vowels come in for scrutiny in a clip from that programme, and there are numerous others, including a seven-minute digested version of Jane Eyre by John Crace. For teachers using social media as a means of inspiring students, there’s also a ‘Tweet-off on the Tyne’ between Ian and writer, actor and filmmaker Miranda Keeling.

The Verb’s BBC microsite is packed with news, features and podcasts and can be found here.

Clips can also be found here.