"The problem is that Radio 4 hasn't developed a really huge zeitgeisty show since Little Britain," says radio critic Will Hogkinson. "That's what Radio 4 is all about. I love shows like Ed Reardon's Week, but it could have been on air at any time in the past 10 years. They're still struggling to find that great of-the-moment comedy troupe."More from Stephen Armstrong in Media Guardian (free registration required).
"There's a very cosy, middle class, middle-aged feel to a lot of what's on air at the moment," says Vanessa Haynes, who develops comedy for production companies such as Celador. "Talent who get a show on Radio 4 tend to soften around the edges a bit."
Some argue that it is all about the dosh - "broadcast comedy would suffer if Radio 4 went away," says one agent, "but it pays so little that it's impossible for a writer or performer to focus without another income stream, so I see it as an intermediary level rather than an end in itself." Others think the industry has changed and Radio 4's role is unclear.