I love Radio4! Just been listening to The Museum of Curiosity (Series 13 Episode 1) in which Benjamin Zephaniah gave an impassioned case for donating Tai Chi. It was great even though some of what he said was disputable!
Yang based styles, for example, are not always slow. Yes, the hand form is mostly done in a slow and controlled manner but some moves, such as Double Hand Sweep Lotus Leg, are quick and besides I do the whole form much quicker on a chilly winter morning than a warm summer’s evening!
As for it not being an effective martial art and “you would be better off doing Kick Boxing or Karate”, that may be true of his Chen style but my Sifu Dan Docherty, his Sifu Chen Tin-hung and several elder brothers in Tai Chi have demonstrated that a full system of Wudang, Practical Tai Chi Chuan is. (N.B. WPTCC is in the Yang/Wu family lineage NOT Chen family despite the name – see ‘The Complete Tai Chi Tutor’ by Dan Docherty for detailed lineages etc.)
Also listened to Start the Week with Andrew Marr interviewing Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens and Homo Deus. Well worth a listen though they don’t mention Tai Chi!