Podcast

Seriously...

A rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds, introduced by Rhianna Dhillon.

Episodes

  • Driven to Distraction

    Feb 15 2019

    Are we really more distracted than ever before? Historian Rhys Jones explores the history of distraction and how previous generations have fought back We are often told we are in the middle of a distraction crisis - big tech companies have learned how to monetise procrastination and are stealing our attention from us. Yet Rhys Jones explores how, throughout history, there has been an interplay between people who try to take our attention from us and people who resist - from 18th century worries ...more

  • Behind the Scenes: PJ Harvey

    Feb 12 2019

    John Wilson follows PJ Harvey as she creates the score for a new West End theatre production of All About Eve. Singer songwriter Polly Jean Harvey is the only artist to have twice won the Mercury Prize for Album of the Year – for Stories from the City, Stories From the Sea in 2001 and Let England Shake a decade later. After 12 critically acclaimed albums and more than 25 years as an international touring artist, she is now focussing on her work as a soundtrack composer, having written scores fo...more

  • Paris Blue

    Feb 08 2019

    Jazz writer Kevin Legendre explores the encounter between American modern jazz and the French New wave in Paris in the late 1950s and 60s. Paris in the civil rights era was a hub of artistic collaboration as well as a kind of political refuge - a destination for American jazz musicians escaping racial prejudice and turbulence at home, finding new creative encounters abroad. As segregation raged in the US, artists from Miles Davis and Bud Powell to Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk felt liberated ...more

  • American Civility: Year Zero

    Feb 05 2019

    America today is an uncivil society with a President who calls for his opponent to be locked up, a legislature that seems to be interested only in partisan shouting, not governing, and with large chunks of the media egging on the bad behaviour. This state of affairs didn’t happen overnight. Michael Goldfarb traces the current era of partisan gridlock to the midterm election of 1994, when the Republicans led by Newt Gingrich took over the House of Representatives. His view of politics, it's the w...more

  • Pausing Puberty

    Feb 01 2019

    Britt Wray investigates the drugs used to delay puberty in children questioning their gender. A growing number of children in Britain are being seen by the NHS Gender Identity Development Service. Referrals have increased from just over 200 in 2011/12 to nearly 2000 in 2016/17. The question of why so many children are struggling with gender identity, and how society should react, arouses strong emotions and heated debate but, in this programme, scientist Britt Wray leaves those questions aside a...more

  • Powers of Persuasion: How Britain Learned to Sell

    Jan 29 2019

    Designer Wayne Hemingway examines 100 years of British advertising on film and television, with special behind-the-scenes access to the one of the world’s largest advertising collection at the British Film Institute. Wayne follows advertisers’ first hesitant steps into both the big and small screen. It was a time when America was the global player. Beginning with films as early as 1900, he discovers how Britain carefully set itself apart from global advertising trends, crafting a model perfectly...more

  • How To Burn A Million Quid: Rule 1

    Jan 28 2019

    Bill sets off on a mission to shake up the music industry by causing chaos and confusion.

  • Millennials in the Workplace

    Jan 25 2019

    Beanbags! Beanbags are what Millenials want from a job - along with free food and the lofty idea of ‘making an impact’. That’s what academic Simon Sinek's video about "Millennials in the Workplace", enjoyed by over 10 millions viewers, would have you believe. Everyone born between 1980 and 2000 are hobbled by a thin skinned sense of entitlement, weak education, coddling parents and an addiction to social media - and therefore, are terrible to deal with in the workplace. But does that idea of the...more

  • Searching For Swimming Pools

    Jan 22 2019

    Writer Charles Sprawson reflects on his life as he copes with advancing dementia. Charles Sprawson is the author of Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer As Hero - a romantic history of swimming and a memoir of his own adventures in water. Now 77, Charles has vascular dementia and lives in a retirement home. But even as he grows increasingly frail, he can still be found wandering the corridors looking for swimming pools, opening doors in the hope of finding shimmering water to plunge into. Th...more

  • Annalisa Is Awkward

    Jan 18 2019

    What are we all so awkward about? Annalisa Dinnella explores this slippery emotion. Can she and a group of comedians outsmart awkwardness - and should they even be trying? Annalisa has 5% vision and regularly navigates the fog of other people’s awkwardness. Research from the disability charity Scope reveals that 67% of British people feel uncomfortable speaking to a disabled person. While Annalisa sees awkwardness as a daily - and sociologically fascinating - annoyance, she knows full well that ...more

  • I Feel for You: Narcs and narcissists

    Jan 15 2019

    At a time when we're being told we need more empathy, some experts claim that narcissism - empathy's evil twin - is on the rise. Narcissism has vaulted off the psychotherapist’s couch, sprinted away from the psychiatric ward, and is now squatting in the mainstream of popular conversation. Social media seems obsessed with "narcs", and with detecting narcissism personality disorder in people. It may or may not be a coincidence that we ended up with an apparent world-class narcissist in the White H...more

  • I Feel for You: Empaths and empathy

    Jan 15 2019

    Empathy is the psycho-political buzzword of the day. President Obama said - frequently - that America's empathy deficit was more important than the Federal deficit. Bill Clinton said "I feel your pain", and Hillary urged us all "to see the world through our neighbour’s eyes, to imagine what it is like to walk in their shoes". Many people have taken up the idea of empathy with gusto, and the United Nations has poured money into virtual reality films that led us allegedly experience the world of, ...more

  • Behind the Scenes: Marianela Nunez at Covent Garden

    Jan 11 2019

    As she prepares to perform two roles in a new production of the classic "White ballet", La Bayadere, the Royal Ballet's charismatic Argentinian-born principal dancer, Marianela Nunez shares her life behind the scenes. Marianela Nunez is considered one of the greatest ballerinas in the world, combining passion and flare from her Argentinian background with discipline and experience from her many years with the Royal Ballet. As she celebrates 20 years dancing with the company, she takes Radio Four...more

  • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward - Episode One

    Jan 09 2019

    From H.P. Lovecraft: The investigation into a mysterious disappearance.

  • Let's Raise the Voting Age

    Jan 08 2019

    In 1969 Harold Wilson's Government lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Fifty years on, with calls for votes at 16 gaining support, Professor James Tilley explores not just whether reducing it further makes sense, but if arguments could be made for raising it back to 21. As most other areas of the law restrict the rights and responsibilities of 16-year-olds, why should voting buck the trend of our rites of passage into adulthood happening increasingly late? Former Labour leader Ed Miliband offe...more

  • Apollo 8

    Jan 04 2019

    Six months before Neil Armstrong’s ‘one small step’ came humanity’s giant leap. It was December 1968. Faced with President Kennedy’s challenge to land a man on the Moon before the end of the decade, NASA made the bold decision to send three astronauts beyond Earth orbit for the first time. Those three astronauts spent Christmas Eve orbiting the moon. Their legendary photograph, "Earthrise" showed our planet as seen from across the lunar horizon - and was believed to have been a major influence o...more

  • The Power of Twitter

    Dec 25 2018

    How did Twitter, invented to allow friends to keep track of each other's social lives and interests, become a key forum for political debate? And what effect has the social media platform had on the nature and quality of public life? Presenter David Baker speaks to the man who taught President Trump everything he knows about Twitter, the head of President Obama's social media campaign, and Twitter's own leader on strategy for public policy, to explore the real effect that it has had on politics....more

  • Introducing Life Lessons

    Dec 20 2018

    Young UK adults talk about the issues that matter most to them - and why they should matter to all of us. A new podcast from Radio 4.

  • Contracts of Silence

    Dec 18 2018

    'Gagging clauses' - NDAs or non-disclosure agreements - have been rarely out of the headlines in recent months. High profile cases in business, politics and celebrity life have prompted calls for an outright ban, particularly when used to cover up apparent sexual impropriety. This programme explores the rise and rise of the NDA. Who uses them, why, and when? Are they an invisibility cloak, helping the rich and powerful to silence victims of their bad behaviour? Or are they a vital tool for those...more

  • Pursuit of Beauty: The Spider Orchestra

    Dec 07 2018

    The Berlin-based Argentinian artist, Tomás Saraceno, trained as an architect. He was struck by the beauty of spider webs, their structural intricacy and began making them into sculptural works. Then he realised that every time a spider tugs a string as it spins a web, or moves along the silken strands, this causes vibrations. Using microphones and amplifiers it is possible to hear the tiny music they make. The different species create various sounds - bass, treble, percussion - and the result is...more

  • Pursuit of Beauty: Dead Rats and Meat Cleavers

    Nov 23 2018

    The sounds of casting, chiming, singing and clanging are fused together to make a magical sound track to the story of how meat cleavers have been used as musical instruments for over 300 years.. Growing up in Suffolk, Nathaniel Mann, heard stories passed down by his grandma about a tradition of the village Rough Band, made up of pots and pans, iron and metal implements, including meat cleavers - delivering a sort of sonic warning to anyone stepping out of line, committing adultery or behaving in...more

  • Pursuit of Beauty: Art Beneath the Waves

    Nov 16 2018

    Artist Emma Critchley meets filmmakers, photographers, sculptors and painters who are drawn beneath the sea to create underwater art. Julie Gautier performs a graceful, lyrical ballet on the floor of the deepest pool in the world. Without a tank of air or mask, she dances magically through crystal-clear waters across a sunken stage. In the azure waters of the world, sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor uses the seabed as his canvas. He has installed hundreds of life-sized, concrete people on the sea f...more

  • Ghosts in the Machine

    Oct 30 2018

    Laurie Taylor investigates the people who hear the voices of the dead in recorded sounds - and uncovers the strange and haunting world of auditory illusion. Believers in EVP, or Electronic Voice Phenomena think they're hearing the voices of the beyond - messages captured in the throb and static of white noise. Laurie Taylor's a rationalist - he doesn't go in for this mumbo-jumbo. But whilst the peculiar world of EVP may not be evidence of the afterlife, it does show how we're susceptible - far m...more

  • The Supercalculators

    Oct 19 2018

    Alex Bellos is brilliant at all things mathematical, but even he can't hold a candle to the amazing mathematical feats of the supercalculators. Alex heads to Wolfsburg in Germany to meet the contestants at this year's Mental Calculation World Cup. These men and women are the fastest human number crunchers on the planet, able to multiply and divide large numbers with no need to reach for a smart phone, computer or calculator. So how do they do it, and is it a skill that any of us can learn? Alex ...more

  • The Art of Now: Border Wall

    Oct 05 2018

    Donald Trump's pledge to build a "big beautiful wall" along the US-Mexico border has inserted a political urgency into the mainstream art world and made the Latino experience a point of inspiration for many. Seven artists working on either side of the border wall, from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Gulf of Mexico in the east, describe their work and how recent US immigration policy has helped to shape it. From music, to sculpture, virtual reality and performance art, the Art of Now explor...more

  • The Eternal Life of the Instant Noodle

    Sep 28 2018

    How instant noodles, now 60 years old, went from a shed in Japan to global success. What is the most traded legal item in US prisons? Instant Noodles. According to the World Instant Noodles Association, 270 million servings of instant noodles are eaten around the world every day. Annually, that's 16 to 17 portions for every man, woman and child. At the turn of the millennium, a Japanese poll found that "The Japanese believe that their best invention of the twentieth century was instant noodles."...more

  • The Ballad of the Blade

    Sep 25 2018

    The story of knife crime, told in verse by the weapon itself. Why do teenagers carry knives? How does it feel to live in a world where that's normal? How should we respond to the moral panic generated by the current wave of youth crime? Momtaza Mehri, Young People's Poet Laureate for London, presents a verse-journey into the thoughts and feelings of those for whom knife crime is an everyday reality. Perpetrator or victim, armed or defenceless, all the lines blur in "Ballad of the Blade" - a poem...more

  • The Sound Odyssey: Nadine Shah travels to Beirut

    Sep 21 2018

    The Sound Odyssey is a new series in which Gemma Cairney takes British artists for musical collaborations in different countries around the world, hearing the musicians in a new light, and exposing their artistic process as they create something new in different and unfamiliar surroundings with an artist they have never met before. In the first of a series of journeys Nadine Shah a British Muslim artist travels to Beirut, to collaborate with Lebanese singer songwriter and musicologist Youmna Sab...more

  • Intrigue: The Ratline

    Sep 19 2018

    A story of love, denial and a curious death. Philippe Sands investigates the mysterious disappearance of senior Nazi, Otto Wachter, and journeys right to the heart of the Ratline.

  • What Happened Last Night in Sweden?

    Aug 28 2018

    In February 2017, President Trump made a speech to his supporters. He moved on to the topic of immigration and Sweden. "You look at what's happening last night in Sweden," he told the crowd at a rally in Florida. "They took in large numbers; they're having problems like they never thought possible". This confused the Swedes because they hadn't noticed anything happening on that Friday night in their country. What Trump was referring to was a Fox News report he had seen about immigration and crim...more

  • The Five Foot Shelf

    Aug 21 2018

    According to Charles W. Eliot - President of Harvard and cousin of T.S. - everything required for a complete, liberal education could fit on a shelf of books just 5-feet in length. In 1909 the first volume of the Harvard Classics were published - and grew to become a 51-volume anthology of great works, including essays, poems and political treatises. But what if people today from all walks of life were asked to recommend books to be included on a five foot shelf? Which books do they think might ...more

  • Game Changer: Fortnite on 4

    Aug 14 2018

    If you are a parent, you probably do not need an introduction to Fortnite Battle Royale. It's the online video game that's been absorbing the minds and time of millions of children and young adults since its launch last September. To the uninitiated, it's an online shooter game that has elements of The Hunger Games movies and the building video game Minecraft. In each match, 100 people are air-dropped onto a cartoon-rendered island where they run around searching for weaponry, building defensive...more

  • The Infinite Monkey Cage

    Aug 13 2018

    In a special edition of the science and comedy podcast to mark the 100th episode, Brian Cox and Robin Ince reminisce about their favourite moments from the show.

  • Pop Star Philosophy

    Aug 07 2018

    Broadcaster and comedian Steve Punt scours the archives to exhume the often pretentious and opinionated philosophical outpourings of pop stars through the ages. With the help of music journalists Paul Morley, Kate Mossman, DJ and record producer Ras Kwame and surprising soundbites from the archive, Steve explores the concept of the pop star as philosopher. From pop star hobbies, to politics and theories of aliens and the Illuminati, Steve explores the attempts of pop stars to make sense of a...more

  • In Search Of Sovereignty

    Aug 03 2018

    The American satirist Joe Queenan goes in search of sovereignty. He wants to know what it is, what's it for, and how old it is "Now I know this is a big issue for you all right now. Over here we've been fighting over sovereignty since the eighties. The 1780s. But I still don't really understand what it is, nor why it's making everyone so mad." With contributions from Professor Richard Bourke, editor of Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective; and Edith Hall the author of Aristotle...more

  • The Silence and the Scream

    Jul 31 2018

    Donegal is an Irish county where silence is a virtue. You can find it in the desolate landscape, the big skies and far horizons - but silence can be found in the people too. Maybe it's discretion or reticence. It could be shyness or a kind of wisdom. So when radical free-thinking commune, The Atlantis Foundation, set up home in the remote Donegal village of Burtonport in the mid-1970s, it seemed like an unlikely choice of location. Led by charismatic Englishwoman Jenny James and inspired b...more

  • Could the PM Have a Brummie Accent?

    Jul 27 2018

    BBC political correspondent Chris Mason examines the changing accents of politics and politics of accents, with help from politicians, language experts and an impersonator. The programme examines the ways that stereotypes and prejudices can be loaded onto accents, how the voting public responds to different voices, and what politicians can do and have done about it all. With the help of the archive, the former Labour leader Neil Kinnock and former Conservative minister Edwina Currie reflec...more

  • Out of Tredegar

    Jul 06 2018

    Michael Sheen explores Aneurin Bevan's roots in Tredegar. A spectre is haunting Tredegar. It feels a little like that at least. This town high in the South Wales Valleys is understandably proud of its most famous son and makes the most of his memory. Aneurin Bevan was born in Tredegar in 1897. And he was the local MP there until his death in 1960. Memories of Bevan still populate the streets. Aneurin Bevan was a coalminer at the age of 13. He was a troublemaker with a stutter. An autodi...more

  • Pink Rabbits and Other Animals

    Jun 22 2018

    The writer and illustrator Judith Kerr has created some of our best-loved books for children since publishing her first, and perhaps most famous book, 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea', which celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Judith's life has always inspired her writing, from fleeing Nazi Germany as a child, a story she told in 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit', to the peculiar family cats whose adventures she chronicled in the Mog series. Now 94 years old, Judith is still hard at work, still ...more

  • The Sisters of the Sacred Salamander

    Jun 15 2018

    A convent of Mexican nuns is helping to save the one of the world's most endangered and most remarkable amphibians: the axolotl, a truly bizarre creature of serious scientific interest worldwide and an animal of deep-rooted cultural significance in Mexico. The Sisters of Immaculate Health rarely venture out of their monastery in the central Mexican town of Patzcuaro. Yet they have become the most adept and successful breeders of their local species of this aquatic salamander. Scientists marve...more

  • Pursuit of Beauty: Slow Art

    Jun 08 2018

    So - how slow are we talking about, when it comes to art? French anarchist vegetarian artists Elizabeth Saint-Jalmes & Cyril Leclerc rescue snails bound for the cooking pot, and display them as a sound and light installation - Slow Pixel - before setting them free. To watch illuminated snails crawl across a concert hall for 6 hours is one way of bringing your heart beat right down! Twenty-two ash trees, shaped and sculpted as they grow quietly for 40 years, in a secret location; an exti...more

  • Commuterville

    May 29 2018

    It is 175 years since the word "commuter" was used for the first time. (The word does not in fact describe a traveller, it describes a transaction: regular travellers on the railroad into Manhattan were given the opportunity to "commute" their individual tickets into a season pass. Ever since, commuters have been both travellers and revenue stream.) Today our great cities inhale and exhale millions of commuters, who start their journey in the darkness of winter mornings in the suburbs, resurfac...more

  • A Church in Crisis

    May 22 2018

    Since Ireland's independence, the Catholic Church has played a preeminent role in defining morality south of the border. However in recent decades, its position as moral arbiter has come under attack. Congregation sizes have fallen dramatically, and constitutional referenda have legalised contraception, divorce and gay marriage despite the vehement opposition of the Catholic Church. As Ireland goes to the polls to vote this time on abortion, William Crawley asks could this signal further decline...more

  • Is Eating Plants Wrong?

    May 15 2018

    Are plants rather cleverer than once thought? Scientists from around the world are claiming that plants cannot just sense, but communicate, learn and remember. In an experiment in Australia, plants appeared to learn to associate a sound with a food source, just as Pavlov's dogs linked the sound of a bell with dinner. In Israel they've found that plants communicated a message from one to another, and that the information was then used to survive drought. In British Columbia and the UK researchers...more

  • The Opt Out

    Apr 20 2018

    In 2014 Polly Weston's sister Lara died. She had just turned 22. Lara and her family had never discussed organ donation, and she wasn't on the register. But when the family were asked if they would consider donation, they said yes. Out of the tragedy of her death, medics managed to donate her organs to four women, while her eyes saved the sight of three men. In February a bill passed its second reading in Parliament to say that England would seek to move to an organ donation opt-out system - ...more

  • The Turban Bus Dispute

    Apr 17 2018

    Journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera returns to his home town of Wolverhampton where a battle raged over the right to wear the turban on the buses in Enoch Powell's constituency at the time he made his Rivers of Blood speech. In 1967 Sikh bus driver Tarsem Singh Sandhu returns from his holidays wearing a turban and a beard, both against the uniform regulations. The Wolverhampton Transport Committee insists rules are rules and there will be no exceptions, so Mr Sandhu enlists the help of a P...more

  • The Vet with Two Brains

    Apr 06 2018

    Adam Tjolle is a vet with two brains - who once starred on the BBC's Animal Hospital. His second brain - in reality a slow-growing tumour - was discovered by accident on a scan when he fell off his bike. The presenter of the programme, his friend (and psychologist) Claudia Hammond is really interested in what's going on inside his head, so has kept a record - before and after the life-changing surgery. Adam's biggest fear is losing his memories - so he asks friends and family to send patch...more

  • The Art of Now - Band Politics

    Mar 30 2018

    BBC 6 Music's Chris Hawkins listens to new music every day - and he's noticing a trend. More and more of the bands he plays on the station are writing about politics. Acts like Nadine Shah, Cabbage, Idles and Life are covering topics as diverse as The NHS, the refugee crisis of 2016, austerity and rail privatisation. Chris visits the performers to ask them what is fuelling their music, considering whether supposedly radical bands are operating in a form of musical filter bubble - singing radi...more

  • What Are the Odds?

    Mar 20 2018

    Rajesh speaks with Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University who has been collecting stories of coincidence since 2011. Rajesh wants to find out why he is so prone to coincidence. Along with discovering mind blowing coincidences Rajesh sets out on an experiment to see if he can seek out coincidence and he's very surprised by the results. David Spiegelhalter believes its not that these things occur, it's that we notice them. As well as giving an opportunity to study probability and...more

  • Mums and Sons

    Mar 11 2018

    The relationship between mothers and sons as depicted in the arts is complex and, as anyone familiar with Medea's story will attest, not always terribly positive. As Lauren Laverne discovers, however, there are many examples of stories, films and dramas in which the love between mums and sons is very much celebrated, and as a mother of two boys herself, Lauren is very keen to unpick the particular facets of the relationship as depicted on page, stage and screen. She meets Sophie Ellis Bext...more

  • The Bald Truth

    Mar 06 2018

    For thousands of years, bald men have been the subject of ridicule. As a result they've felt ashamed and have resorted to desperate measures to hide their condition. During the decades when hair style was a cultural battleground between youth and the establishment, the balding man was at the bottom of the heap. No prime minister since Clement Attlee has been bald. But increasingly, bald men are coming out of the closet and shaving their heads - and some women too. Research shows that bald men ar...more

  • In the Wake of Wakefield

    Feb 27 2018

    Twenty years ago, in February 1998, one of the most serious public health scandals of the 20th century was born, when researcher, Andrew Wakefield and his co-authors published a paper in the medical journal The Lancet suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. As we know, in the years that followed, Wakefield's paper was completely discredited as "an elaborate fraud" and retracted. Attempts by many other researchers to replicate his "findings" have all failed and investigations uneart...more

  • Behind the Scenes: Dawn Walton

    Feb 23 2018

    Dawn Walton, artistic director of Eclipse, the black theatre touring company, was bored of only ever coming across three black stories in British theatres - slavery stories, immigrant stories, and gang stories. She knew there was a far greater range of stories out there and she wanted to tell them. Revolution Mix is the result - a programme of new plays inspired by 500 years of black British history and it will be the largest ever presentation of black British stories performed in regional theat...more

  • A Brief History of Cunning

    Feb 20 2018

    How cunning is Donald Trump? In Queenan on Cunning, the satirist Joe Queenan explores a word rarely associated with the current President of the USA. "From Odysseus to Bismarck, via Brer Rabbit and Machiavelli's The Prince, there's a fine tradition of tricksters and hucksters, but where does the Donald fit in the mix? You need patience, intelligence, forward planning - some of these are Trump-like qualities. Stress on the some. But he's by no means a modern day Odysseus. Not much of a sa...more

  • Inside the Killing Jar

    Feb 16 2018

    The work of the entomologist very often involves the killing of insects in large numbers. This happens in the search for new species in the exploration of the planet's biodiversity and in ecological investigations to monitor the health of wild insect populations and the impact we are having on the environment. But the methods of entomologists have come under criticism. Last August presenter and entomologist Adam Hart was involved in a citizen science project aimed at surveying the abundance a...more

  • Find Me a Cure

    Feb 13 2018

    Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia or CLL, is the most common form of leukaemia. It's a disease which kills. The most common treatment is with chemotherapy. If that doesn't work, most patients can only expect to live for another few years at most. But there are dramatic developments with new targeted treatments which are less toxic than conventional chemotherapy. In this programme, reporter Simon Cox follows a medical trial based at St James' hospital in Leeds which uses a unique combination of dr...more

  • The Death of Illegitimacy

    Feb 09 2018

    Illegitimacy once meant you were a 'bastard'. The MP Caroline Flint wants to know what the word 'illegitimate' means now. Caroline has always been open about her unmarried Mum having her when she was 17 years old and that she had her first son before she got married. Caroline describes her own family's story as a Catherine Cookson novel. There are suspicions that her widowed great-grandmother had an illegitimate child. Her grandmother's older sister had an illegitimate child during WW1 with a...more

  • Inside the Brain of Gerald Scarfe

    Jan 30 2018

    The brain - the final frontier. Radio 4 is setting out on an exploration of the creative mind. Gerald Scarfe's drawings have intrigued and alarmed for more than fifty years but where do his ideas come from? Professor Vincent Walsh of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience has a theory he wants to pursue. Vincent is an expert in the workings of the visual brain; he thinks that two specific areas may be talking to each other in an unexpected way, resulting in recognisable faces being mixed up ...more

  • From the Steppes to the Stage

    Jan 23 2018

    From the nomads of the vast steppe - to the glamour and adulation of the stage. Kate Molleson unravels the story of Mongolia's remarkable rise to being an opera superpower. And, in this special double bill, producer Steven Rajam joins Rhianna Dhillon to discuss the making of the programmes. Mongolia is becoming a global leader in opera singing - and completely breaking the mould. Young nomadic herders and horsemen are being plucked from the vast plains and taken to Ulaanbataar - where they'...more

  • The Dawn of British Jihad

    Jan 16 2018

    Before 9/11 British attitudes to partaking in faith-inspired armed combat were... different. British Muslims travelled freely to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burma and Kashmir for a few weeks or months, and then returned home to their day jobs or studies - few questions asked. In this programme, Mobeen Azhar sheds light on the people and organisations involved in this early wave of British involvement in Jihad - the youth organisations which helped send hundreds of young Brits to fight ov...more

  • Good Luck Professor Spiegelhalter

    Jan 12 2018

    Rhianna Dhillon brings you another seriously interesting story from Radio 4. This week, luck. Whether we believe in luck or not, we do use the word- a lot! More as a figure of speech than an article of faith perhaps but some do pray for luck, others fantasise about it - and bad luck or misfortune is a staple of comedy Can luck be said to exist as some force in our lives and if so, what is its nature? How have people thought about luck in the past and what's changed today? Can you bring...more

  • Why the Moon, Luke?

    Jan 09 2018

    Luke Jerram is that rare bird, a genuinely popular yet acclaimed contemporary artist. And he's obsessed with the moon. So he's made one: seven metres wide featuring 120dpi detailed NASA imagery, and he's taking it around the world. This is his story, as well as the moon's.. Every day Luke Jerram cycles to his studio across the river in Bristol and watches its dramatic changes. It has the second highest tidal range in the world and it's the moon that makes this happen. Luke's become fascinated...more

  • The Far Future

    Jan 05 2018

    How do we prepare for the distant future? Helen Keen meets the people who try to. If our tech society continues then we can leave data for future generations in huge, mundane quantities, detailing our every tweet and Facebook 'like'. But how long could this information be stored? And if society as we know it ends, will our achievements vanish with it? How do we plan for and protect those who will be our distant descendants and yet may have hopes, fears, languages, beliefs, even religions that...more

  • Thinking Outside the Boxset: How Technology Changed the Story

    Dec 29 2017

    For centuries tales were shared around the camp-fire; modern settlements share data via wi-fi. But what hasn't changed across the ages is our passion for histories and information - we shape and make sense of our lives by telling stories about what has happened to us, and relax by reading or seeing fictions about the lives of imagined characters. From cave-dwellers to millennials , stories have been organised in pretty much the same way - with a beginning, middle and end, although, in contempora...more

  • The Power of Sloth

    Dec 26 2017

    Zoologist and founder of the Sloth Appreciation Society, Lucy Cooke, unleashes her inner sloth to discover why being lazy could actually be the ultimate evolutionary strategy. The explorers of the New World described sloths as 'the lowest form of existence', but sloths are actually some of the most enduring of all tropical mammals. They make up one third of the mammalian biomass in rainforests and have survived some 64 million years - outliving far flashier animals like sabre tooth tigers. ...more

  • Iceland's Dark Lullabies

    Dec 22 2017

    Dreaming of a Dark Christmas, in Iceland At the darkest time of the year in Iceland scary creatures come out to play. Storyteller Andri Snær Magnason used to be terrified by his grandmother's Christmas tales of Gryla the 900 year old child eating hag and her thirteen troll sons - the Yule Lads - who would come down from the mountains looking for naughty children in the warmth of their homes. These dark lullabies partly hark back to a pre-Christian Christmas when people worshipped the Norse go...more

  • The Unconscious Life of Bombs

    Dec 19 2017

    Historian and psychoanalyst Daniel Pick of Birkbeck College, University of London tells the story of how aerial bombardment - from Zeppelins to B52s, from H-Bombs to drones - has made the unconscious mind a field of battle. Daniel explores how, in the shadow of the First World War, Freud turned his analytical eye from desire to the 'death drive', and how psychoanalysts probed what might happen if another war came. Would survivors of mass aerial bombardment hold up psychically, or would the...more

  • Mysteries of Sleep - Sleepwalking

    Dec 12 2017

    Why do some of us do bizarre things in our sleep? Like riding a motorbike, using a shoe to 'phone for a pizza or even having sex while sleeping? These are complex behaviours and yet sleepwalkers aren't aware of what they're doing and often have no memory of their strange night-time activities. These sleep disorders are known as non-REM parasomnias and include conditions like night terrors and sleep eating. So why does it happen? Sleepwalking usually occurs during deep sleep, when something...more

  • The Glasgow Boys: Chaos and Calm

    Nov 29 2017

    Byron Vincent joins the Violence Reduction Unit in Glasgow to see how they turn young men away from lives of violence and chaos. Three years ago, after he discussed his own violent and chaotic youth in a Four Thought talk on Radio 4, Byron was invited to come and speak at the VRU. Since then he has been back several times - now he experiences the unit's work directly. Byron spent two weeks embedded in two of the VRU's programmes, from watching the scheme's participants working in food trucks...more

  • Where Are All the Working Class Writers?

    Nov 24 2017

    "The more we reinforce the stereotypes of who writes and who reads, the more the notion of exclusivity is reinforced. It takes balls to gatecrash a party." Kit de Waal, published her first novel, My Name is Leon, in 2016 at the age of 55. She has already put her money where her mouth is - using part of the advance she received from Penguin to set up a creative writing scholarship in an attempt to improve working class representation in the arts. Kit knows that - as a writer from a working ...more

  • Close to the Edit

    Nov 07 2017

    Filmmaker Mike Figgis explores the story of edited film, audio and culture, and how the simple process of cutting and splicing has changed the way people view the world. We are living in an age of the edit. From the jump-cuts of Eisenstein and Hitchcock, to the fractured narratives of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, from the cut-and-paste sounds of musique concrete and hip-hop, to the sensibility of social media (to say nothing of the radio feature itself), it's the edit - the cut, the sp...more

  • BONUS: Russia – 100 Years on from Revolution

    Nov 06 2017

    A century ago, the Russian Revolution took place. It was a seismic event that changed the course of the 20th century. In this special, bonus episode of Seriously…, we visit four cities closely linked to the events of 1917. With Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg as our guide, we travel the 4000 mile journey across Russia, asking if the repercussions of Red October are still being felt today. Steve also reveals to Rhianna Dhillon more of the stories he discovered on his way from St ...more

  • Savitri Devi: From the Aryans to the Alt-right

    Nov 03 2017

    Savitri Devi-devotee of Hitler, proponent of Hindu nationalism, associate of both the British BNP and the American Nazi party-was a prolific author and energetic member of the international Nazi network after the Second World War. Now, her paeans to the mythical Aryan race and apocalyptic theories of history are circulating once again, revived by European white nationalists and the American alt-right. Born in France in 1905 to an English mother and Greek-Italian father, Savitri Devi moved to...more

  • The Trainspotter's Guide to Dracula

    Oct 31 2017

    "3 May. Bistritz. Left Munich at 8:35 P. M, on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late." The first line of Bram Stoker's Dracula makes it clear what the novel will be about: trains. As the book begins, the English solicitor Jonathan Harker is travelling across Europe by train, en route to meet his mysterious new Transylvanian client, complaining all the way about the late running of the service. "It seems to me that the further E...more

  • Political Violence in America

    Oct 27 2017

    The events in Charlottesville were just one example of the sharp rise in the number of violent confrontations in America between far-right white nationalists and left-wing groups known as 'antifa' - short for "anti-fascists". Those on the right claim they're fighting to defend free speech or other deeply held American principles. But their opponents say they're promoting extremism and a brand of racial division far out of line with mainstream thought. Fights that once took place between t...more

  • Who's Looking At You?

    Oct 17 2017

    Once upon a time, total surveillance was the province of George Orwell and totalitarian states, but we now live in a world where oceans of data are gathered from us every day by the wondrous digital devices we have admitted to our homes and that we carry with us everywhere. At the same time, our governments want us to let them follow everything we do to root out evil before it can strike. If you have nothing to hide, do you really have nothing to fear? In Who's Looking At You , novelist and occ...more

  • Dads and Daughters

    Oct 13 2017

    The relationship between fathers and daughters has been the subject of countless cultural explorations down the centuries, from Elektra's distress to Bonjour Tristesse. Some of them are idealised ('To Kill A Mockingbird', 'All the Lights We Cannot See'); some highly damaging and dysfunctional ('This is England', 'The Beggar's Opera'); some, as any A'Level pupil who's studied 'King Lear' can attest, are both. What is clear in all these cases is just how particular and powerful the relationship ca...more

  • It's Just a Joke, Comrade: 100 Years of Russian Satire

    Oct 10 2017

    The Russian Revolution unleashed a brand of humour that continues to this day. In this two-part series, comedian and Russophile Viv Groskop explores a century of revolutionary comedy and asks how it continues to shape the national psyche. The series will rediscover comedy of the Revolution: Bolshevik satire, early Communist cartoons and jokes about Lenin, as writers, satirists and comedians recall the jokes and cartoons shared by their parents and grandparents. Viv will investigate the b...more

  • Passing Dreams

    Oct 03 2017

    A portrait of singer, songwriter and truck driver Will Beeley. The myth of the road is deeply rooted in America - it's the thing that delivers escape, promises freedom, fuels new hopes and, once upon a time at least, thoughts of a new nation. And it provides its own opening onto the vastness and variety of the country today. The distances can be dizzying. And these days Will Beeley spends more time on the road than he does at home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city in the desert, with Rout...more

  • My Muse: Lynne Truss on Joni Mitchell

    Sep 29 2017

    Not everyone appreciates the tonalities, lyrics or even the shrieky voice of Canadian artist and musician Joni Mitchell but in a dusty class room in 1971 Lynne Truss decided she loved the writer of Woodstock, Big Yellow Taxi and Both Sides Now. It was a bond forged in the face of the frosty indifference of fellow pupils in Miss Cheverton's music class at the Tiffin Girls School in Kingston Upon Thames. Even Lynne is slightly mystified when she was asked who was her muse that, as a person most...more

  • Art in Miniature

    Sep 26 2017

    Tiny bathers relax in a puddle of oily water on a pavement; a galleon sails on the head of a pin, a dancer twirls next to a mote of dust under a microscope - Dr Lance Dann, lover of miniature worlds, crouches down on hands and knees to better observe the world of tiny art. Prompted by advances in technology, and the enduring wonder of things created on a really, really tiny scale, Lance Dann follows his own obsession with the miracle of miniature art. Knocking on the tiny doors of creators f...more

  • My Secret Wig

    Sep 19 2017

    Lots of people wear wigs, and go to great lengths to keep them secret - but why? Perhaps it's because the hair on top of our heads means so much to us. It's a crucial part of our identity, the person we see when we look in the mirror, so what happens when it's not there? It's a question Brian Kernohan has asked himself. Yes, his hair's thinning a bit on top, but it's his secret - until his hairdresser points it out. Brian wouldn't dare suggest a wig - even though he's always wondered if he co...more

  • PowerPointless

    Sep 15 2017

    With more than 30 million presentations being given around the world every day, PowerPoint has become the single most ubiquitous tool for presenting ideas. Yet it's the software many of us love to hate - vilified for simplifying the complex and complicating the simple. 30 years on from its commercial launch, Ian Sansom asks, 'What's the real point of PowerPoint?' as he embarks on what surely must be a world first - a PowerPoint presentation for the radio. How do I move this on to the next...more

  • Queens of Chapeltown

    Sep 05 2017

    After the violence directed at black people in Nottingham and Notting Hill in the 1950s, and the naked racism expressed in Smethwick during the 1964 general election, a group of pioneering West Indians came up with a simple and defiant riposte: Carnival. In Queens of Chapeltown, Colin Grant goes behind the scenes of Carnival to its Leeds West Indian HQ in Chapeltown - amidst the glue guns, sequins and feathers - to capture that moment of extraordinary transformation, 50 years on: the birth o...more

  • Diana: A Life Backwards

    Aug 31 2017

    Marking the 20th anniversary of her untimely death, Archive on 4 presents a unique and moving portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales - her life documented in reverse chronology. Diana, Princess of Wales was arguably the most famous - and most photographed - woman in the world. Her life has been exhaustively discussed and disassembled in the media both before and since her untimely death on 31st August 1997. As the anniversary of that tragic event approaches, is there anything truly new for us t...more

  • The Edge of Life

    Aug 29 2017

    Suicide is the number one killer of men under-50 in England and Wales. A 'zero suicide' approach to prevention first devised in Detroit is now changing attitudes to care in the UK. Merseyside is leading the way. Radio 4 gains exclusive access to a healthcare authority being transformed from the inside-out in a bid to treat suicide as a preventable condition and to bring lives lost down to 0% by 2020.

  • Grayson Perry: En Garde

    Aug 22 2017

    Grayson Perry goes backwards in the archive in search of the moment the avant-garde died. It's a century since Marcel Duchamp submitted his artwork called Fountain to an exhibition staged by the Society of Independent Artists in New York. Fountain was a urinal -- not a painting of a urinal or a sculpture, just a urinal, bought from a Manhattan hardware store and signed R.Mutt. The Society of Independent Artists rejected Duchamp's provocation and the original object was lost. Nowadays D...more

  • Driving Bill Drummond

    Aug 18 2017

    Bill Drummond is many things. As well as an artist, a writer and former pop-star - he's the owner of an old curfew tower in Northern Ireland which he runs as an artists' residency. Last year some poets from Belfast's Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry stayed there and Bill published their collected work in a little black book called The Curfew Tower is Many Things. Except for a poem the award-winning Belfast poet Stephen Sexton wrote. Apparently that one went missing. So Bill has left two pages...more

  • A Brief History of the Truth

    Aug 01 2017

    It's time to travel down the rabbit hole of truth as American satirist Joe Queenan explores a murky world of fake news, prejudice and alternative facts. "Recent politics have shown that the truth is no fun," he explains. "It's like a vegetable your mother makes you eat. Yes it may be nourishing, but it tastes terrible." With archive contributions from Donald Trump, Doris Lessing, Jeremy Corbyn, Peter Mandelson and Theresa May; plus new interviews with Mark Borkowski, Edith Hall and Julian Bag...more

  • The Pigeon Whistles

    Jul 28 2017

    The sound of music flying through the air, carried on the tails of pigeons. "I knew it was a noise maker, but it was the only thing in the museum that I had no idea what it might sound like. Because it works in a way no other instrument does. No other instrument physically moves around you in space, flying overhead, and that seemed like magic". Inspired by the Chinese pigeon whistles in the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, Nathaniel Robin Mann decided he wanted to revive the ancient art of pi...more

  • And Then There Were Nun

    Jul 25 2017

    What is life like for nuns and monks today? With a lack of new blood coming into the traditional monasteries and convents, Bishop Martin Shaw supports some of these aging communities in their painful final days as they are forced to leave their homes. His role as an official visitor, is also to receive the vows of any new nuns and monks joining religious orders, and to hear the concerns and complaints from each community. Sister Giovanna, Sister Clare and Brother Samuel, who are all from differe...more

  • 999 - Which Service Do You Require?

    Jun 30 2017

    999 was the first emergency telephone number in the world when it was launched on June 30th, 1937. Within the first week, more than a thousand calls were made to the service with one burglar arrested less than five minutes after a member of the public had dialled 999. Impressive stuff. But there were teething problems... In the early days, only those wealthy enough to own a telephone could hope to avail of the service. Exchange room operators complained of stress caused by the raucous buzzers...more

  • Port Talbot Paradiso

    Jun 27 2017

    Actor Michael Sheen explores the history of Port Talbot's Plaza Cinema. A beautiful art-deco building , first opening in 1940, the Plaza was the heart of cinema entertainment for the people of Port Talbot for decades - a place where Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins watched everyone from George Formby to Bogart and Cagney and where, growing up in Port Talbot in the 1970s and 80s, Michael Sheen had his early encounters with the film industry in which he would thrive. But as well as charting ...more

  • Butterbeer and Grootcakes

    Jun 16 2017

    Aleks Krotoski takes her seat at the table to explore the amazing world of fictional food made real. Food is not a new force in fiction, but increasingly fictional food is finding its way onto the table. And fan communities from the new breed of modern cultural canon aren't just nibbling on Laura Esquivel's devastating quail in rose petal sauce from Like Water for Chocolate, but also tucking in to fried squirrel and raccoon from The Hunger Games, Sansa's lemon cakes from Game of Thrones, or d...more

  • When Women Wore the Trousers

    Jun 13 2017

    Laura Barton explores the little known story of a pioneering group of women who unknowingly challenged conventional notions of femininity and their working roles. The Pit Brow Lasses worked within the collieries of 19th century Wigan, Lancashire. Their unique re-appropriation of men's 'breeches' worn underneath hitched up skirts was originally adopted as a functional response to working within mines. These early adopters of trousers reached a similar degrees of notoriety that street-style stars ...more

  • Miss Simpson's Children

    May 12 2017

    The story of how one woman offered refuge to leading intellectuals fleeing from the Nazis, helping transform the cultural and intellectual landscape of Britain and the United States. Shortly after Hitler came to power, an organisation was set up in Britain to help academics who were being thrown out of their jobs in Nazi Germany. It was called the Academic Assistance Council. The council's assistant secretary, Esther Simpson, became its dynamic force. She called all the refugees she assisted her...more

  • The Invention of the USA: Borderlands

    May 09 2017

    Just two centuries ago, no one had a clue where the borders of the USA actually were. Hemmed in by the Atlantic, the Appalachian mountains and Canada to the north, early Americans could only dream of the massive territory Donald Trump and his government control today. So why is the border with Mexico where it runs today? For that matter what fixed Canadian border? The answer to both questions is war. Misha Glenny and producer Miles Warde travel across Texas and into Mexico to find out what d...more

  • The Organ Beauty Pageant

    May 05 2017

    Is it fair to find your own kidney donor on the internet? UK patients who need new organs are using social media to advertise their plight and appeal directly for a Good Samaritan who's willing to share their spare kidney with a stranger. As Lesley Curwen discovers, the development of such appeals on social media has caused consternation among some in the transplant community. They fear a competition to attract donors amounts to an unsavoury beauty contest, in which only the most plugged-in ...more

  • Trump at Studio 54

    Apr 28 2017

    Frances Stonor-Saunders explores how the young Donald Trump stormed into Manhattan from the outer boroughs in the late 1970s and headed straight for New York's most outrageous nightclub. He didn't dance, didn't drink, and didn't take drugs. So what was he doing in the cocaine-fuelled hothouse of the Disco revolution? And what was the link to Roy Cohn, infamous attack dog of the McCarthy era, go-to Attorney for the Mob and the man Trump was happy to call his mentor? Producer: Fiona Leach Rese...more

  • A Woman Half in Shadow

    Apr 18 2017

    Zora Neale Hurston. You might not recognise her name. She was an African American novelist and folklorist, a queen of the Harlem Renaissance and a contemporary of Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. But when she died in 1960 she was living on welfare and was buried in an unmarked grave. Her name was even misspelt on her death certificate. Scotland's National poet Jackie Kay tells the story of how Zora became part of America's literary canon. Alice Walker wrote in her collection of essays ...more

  • Rock Transition

    Mar 31 2017

    For centuries musicians have defied gender boundaries to create some of the most evocative and provocative art and music. Journalist and culture critic Laura Snapes joins the dots of a fascinating musical history that encompasses musical icons such as Ma Rainey, Little Richard, Lou Reed, the Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones and Madonna, and looks at how today's musicians use music and performance to express who their own gender and sexuality. In recent years the issue of gender and identity has ...more

  • The Mind in the Media

    Mar 21 2017

    If you ask the author, Nathan Filer, when he first came into contact with mental illness, he'll tell you it was in 1999 when he first became a psychiatric nurse. But, like many of us, he'd actually met it much earlier : through film, drama and the news. Like many of us, his understanding had been shaped by how the media chose to portray it. But he quickly realised how very different real life was to fiction and the reports. Now he asks what does that difference do to us - both as a society a...more

  • Moving to the Red Planet

    Mar 14 2017

    As we dream of sending humans to Mars, the psychological problems of a mission loom large. As part of Radio 4's Mars season. Claudia Hammond investigates the mind-set behind the desire of those of us who want to colonise the red planet. What does it take to survive the confines of a 9 month journey and the enclosed pod-like environments that mission leaders envisage will be the housing needed to occupy this inhospitable planet? Claudia meets the wannabe Martian explorers who've been sampling...more

  • 1917: Eyewitness in Petrograd

    Mar 10 2017

    Emily Dicks visits St Petersburg to trace her grandfather's teenage memories of the excitement and fear of the 1917 Revolutions - as preserved on a never-previously-revealed tape. This extraordinary recording - kept in family archives - describes the lives of ordinary people caught up in the political turmoil between the two Russian Revolutions of 1917. Henry Dicks was the son of an Estonian-based Englishman, sent to school in Petrograd during the First World War. He recorded his memories...more

  • Writing a New Caribbean: Under the Surface

    Mar 07 2017

    A picture of the Caribbean, as seen by a new generation of writers and poets. Elisha Efua Bartels talks to Trinidadian writers Sharon Millar, Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw, and Andre Bagoo about the sense of place in their work. For Sharon Millar, author of the short story collection 'The Whale House', the landscape and colour of Trinidad is always the anchor, and she often explores the cultural interaction and foot traffic between the island and Venezuela, only 7 miles away. Elizabeth Walc...more

  • Radioactive Art

    Mar 03 2017

    Radioactive waste can remain dangerous to humans for 100,000 years. Nations with nuclear power are building underground storage facilities to permanently house it, but how might they mark these sites for future generations? The nuclear industry is turning to artists for creative solutions. How might artists create a warning that will still be understood and heeded so far into the future? Radioactive Art meets artists whose work deals with issues around nuclear legacy, and visits the nuclear agen...more

  • Mark Steel Does Hip Hop

    Feb 28 2017

    Mark Steel loves Hip Hop in foreign languages. Even though he can't understand a word; he loves the energy and attitude. In this programme he hopes to persuade you that far from the violent, misogynistic 'anti-music' it is sometimes thought to be by its critics Hip Hop is where it is at for young people all over the world today.The simple combination of a beat and words has proved itself endlessly adaptable and it has taken root in cultures from Iceland to Iran from Tanzania to Taiwan. When p...more

  • Intrigue: Murder in the Lucky Holiday Hotel

    Feb 26 2017

    A true story of death, sex and elite politics in China.

  • A Brief History of Lust

    Feb 21 2017

    Does what makes the heart beat faster really make the world go round? Oh yes. Welcome to a new history of lust presented by the American satirist Joe Queenan. From Helen and Paris of Troy to Bill and Monica via Rasputin, Edwina Currie and John Major, this is a tale of life as a bunga bunga bacchanal. With contributions from historian Suzannah Lipscomb, classicist Edith Hall, plus Agnes Poirier, Joan Bakewell (of course), Caitlin Moran and Richard Herring on Rasputin; a specially composed new p...more

  • A Brief History of Failure

    Feb 14 2017

    "Success is not final, failure is not fatal," said Winston Churchill. The American satirist Joe Queenan thinks he might be wrong. In this archive hour follow up to his previous programmes on Blame, Shame, Anger and Irony, Queenan rails against the very idea of failure. His sharpest attack is reserved for the supposed romance of defeat. From Braveheart in Scotland via the heretic Cathars in France to the pretend soldiers in Virginia still re-enacting the American Civil War, Queenan explores wheth...more

  • Late Returns

    Feb 10 2017

    The writer Nicholas Royle is a passionate supporter of libraries and a devoted bibliophile. As a young man his passion for books was so strong, in fact, that some of the books he borrowed from libraries didn't manage to find their way back to their homes on the library shelves. Now, over three decades on, Nicholas is finally doing the right thing and returning the books to the places he first encountered them - Manchester, Paris and London - hoping to avoid any hefty fines in his attempt to stra...more

  • Tunes from the Trash

    Feb 07 2017

    Just outside the Paraguayan capital city of Asuncion lies the town of Cateura. It's an impoverished settlement ranged along the banks of a stinking, polluted river, in the shadow of a giant landfill site. Many of its inhabitants scratch a living by reclaiming objects from the endless ocean of garbage to sell. Recycling of a kind. But for the last ten years the residents of Cateura have been part of a recycling project of a much sweeter sort. La Orquesta de Instrumentos Reciclados de Cateura ...more

  • Meet the Cyborgs

    Feb 03 2017

    Frank Swain can hear Wi-Fi. Diagnosed with early deafness aged 25, Frank decided to turn his misfortune to his advantage by modifying his hearing aids to create a new sense. He documented the start of his journey three years ago on Radio 4 in 'Hack My Hearing'. Since then, Frank has worked with sound artist Daniel Jones to detect and sonify Wi-Fi connections around him. He joins a community around the world who are extending their experience beyond human limitations. In 'Meet the Cybo...more

  • Generation Grime

    Jan 31 2017

    Radio 4 explores why the music genre of Grime has blown up in the UK in the last few years by following Wales' Astroid Boys on their recent UK tour. Once just the sound of the London underground, Grime's popularity has spread all over the country and is now the biggest youth culture since Punk. Cardiff's Astroid Boys are set to become Grime's next big thing - they've just signed a record deal with Sony imprint Music For Nations and their track Dusted has been picked up by wrestling giants WWE as...more

  • Laura Mvula's Miles Davis

    Jan 27 2017

    Singer-songwriter and composer Laura Mvula meets jazz musicians Jason Yarde and Laura Jurd, and music broadcaster journalist Kevin Le Gendre, to discuss her musical inspiration, the visionary American jazz musician Miles Davis. 'He has always been and will always remain one of the greatest inspirations of my musical life. To me he was and is an icon, a pioneer, the unique innovator. He never held himself back - maybe that's what first attracted me to him and his sound'. Picking up on the...more

  • I, by the Tide of Humber

    Jan 24 2017

    BBC coverage of Hull City of Culture will be extensive across 2017. At its very start, the award-winning poet Sean O'Brien reflects upon why his native city, its waterscape and landscape, have inspired poets past and present. The programme features a specially commissioned new poem from Sean - a three-part memory-piece, which is also a love-song for Hull, its surroundings and their metaphorical resonance: ........The great void Where the land loses track of itself, And the water comes ...more

  • On a Knife Edge

    Jan 20 2017

    This hospital based youth violence work is taking place in the four London major trauma centres and Producer Sue Mitchell was given exclusive access to follow what happens. The charity, Redthread, now has teams in each of the trauma centres and their youth workers will be alongside victims from the point that they walk, or are stretchered, in. They're away from their communities and alienated from peers and this surreal period - 'the teachable moment,' as it's known - is seen as being an effecti...more

  • Exonerated

    Jan 13 2017

    John Toal meets former death-row inmates Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle at the retreat they have set up in rural Ireland to offer restorative treatment to other victims of wrongful conviction in order to help them back to a normal life. Peter Pringle was sentenced to be hanged in Ireland in 1980. Sonia 'Sunny' Jacobs was sentenced to the electric chair in the United States in 1976. Sunny was accused of killing two police officers at a highway service area in Florida. Peter was accused of kill...more

  • Hiraeth

    Dec 09 2016

    Poet Mab Jones explores the concept of 'Hiraeth' in the poetry of Wales and further afield Hiraeth, a central theme of Welsh language poetry and song, is a feeling of something lost, a long time ago, whether national identity or a once-important language. It has deep roots - some link it to the loss of self-determination in 1282. It has no equivalent in English, often translating as 'homesickness', but incorporating an aspect of impossibility: the pining for a home, a person, even a nationa...more

  • The Green Book

    Dec 06 2016

    In the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, travelling in the United States was fraught with difficulties if you were black. At best it was inconvenient, as white-owned businesses refused to serve African American motorists, repair their cars or offer them hotel accommodation. At worst, travel could be life-threatening if you walked into the wrong bar in the wrong town. That's why in 1936 Victor H Green, a Harlem postal worker, published the first edition of The Green Book. The guide listed h...more

  • Bursting the Social Network Bubble

    Dec 02 2016

    Bobby Friction has started to realise that his day-to-day online activities are not only being monitored but in some senses manipulated. How often he interacts with specific friends, pages or sites sculpts and filters everything and everyone he comes into contact with online. Since the Brexit vote and the US election these bubbles have become a really big issue - with talk of fake news, post-truth politics and online communities increasingly divided. When, like Bobby, you decide you've had enou...more

  • GCHQ: Minority Report

    Nov 29 2016

    The domestic challenge facing Britain's biggest secret intelligence service. What's stopping members of the ethnic minorities from playing a key part in Britain's spy network: discrimination, loyalty or simple old-fashioned prejudice? DJ Nihal Arthanayake, Five Live and Asian Network presenter, gets rare access to GCHQ, the government's secret communication headquarters in Cheltenham Spa. He talks to staff from the black, Asian and ethnic minorities and hears from members of those communities ou...more

  • Being Bored: The Importance of Doing Nothing

    Nov 22 2016

    Is boredom under threat? There are more TV channels than we can count, Smartphones keep us engaged around the clock, and the constant white noise of social media coerces us to always 'interact'. In fact, there is so much to stimulate our everyday lives in this digital age that we need never be bored ever again. So do we still need to be bored? And what would we miss if we did eliminate boredom completely from our lives? The happily bored Phill Jupitus takes a creative look at our attitude to ...more

  • Steve Earle's Songwriting Bootcamp

    Nov 11 2016

    Legendary country singer-songwriter Steve Earle unveils the secrets of composing a great song. Every year he runs a four-day intensive training session in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Journalist and aspiring songwriter Hugh Levinson joined around 100 other would-be balladeers to see what they can learn both from Steve and his fellow teacher, Shawn Colvin. Listen in to stories of dreaming, methadone, guns, jail, death and betrayal. All the good stuff. Producer: Smita Patel.

  • Butterfly Mind

    Nov 08 2016

    Can a Shaman cure writer's block? David Greig goes on a very personal quest in an attempt to find out. David Greig is one of our most respected and successful playwrights. He's also the Artistic Director of the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. But he is suffering from writer's block; he is 'exhausted, like a mined out mine'. He's tried many a cure, without success, and now he wants to visit a Shaman to see if there is a solution to be found somewhere in the spirit world. As quests go, it's ...more

  • Searching for Tobias

    Nov 04 2016

    In 2008 Chloe Hadjimatheou was covering Barack Obama's first election campaign when she came across a 15 year old black boy in a Mississippi trailer park. Back then the young Tobias was full of potential and had big dreams of becoming a policeman. 8 years later, Chloe goes in search of him to find what became of him. Did Tobias ever fulfil his wishes and has he prospered in Obama's America? Produced and presented by Chloe Hadjimatheou Editor: Penny Murphy.

  • Keepsake for My Lover

    Nov 01 2016

    'Like talking on the phone but a thousand times more thrilling,' voice recording booths invite you to 'hear yourself as others hear you' by entering a weird machine to cut a record. Once a technological novelty, these recordings leave a unique legacy and a wonderful world of audio peculiarities, which serve as a vital reminder for how we communicate today. Once a staple of seaside resorts and arcades, famously used in the films Brighton Rock and Badlands, they returned to prominence when Jack...more

  • A Cello in the Desert

    Oct 25 2016

    Winner of this year's prestigious BBC/RGS dream journey award is Nina Plapp who sets off from the Isle of Wight with her cello 'Cuthbert' en route to India via Transylvania in a search for the roots of gypsy music. Nina is a cellist from a large musical family and the energy and rhythms of gypsy music have always mesmerized her. Cuthbert, now 167 years old, has played in many an orchestra and was most recently under the guardianship of Nina's great aunt Bebe. After a family send-off, Nina ...more

  • Gunning For Education

    Oct 18 2016

    On 1st August 2016, Texas became the first big American state to allow students aged over 21 to carry concealed handguns on campus. Ian Peddie explores the impact of the new law. This change is seen by many as a litmus test and, despite a few smaller states already having similar laws, where Texas goes America often follows. As with all American gun debates the issue is divisive, with many seeing this moment as pivotal in framing the nation's political and cultural relationship with weapons....more

  • Arthur Russell: Vanished into Music

    Oct 04 2016

    The writer Olivia Laing presents an imaginative portrait of Arthur Russell. Arthur Russell was a cellist, a composer, a songwriter and a disco auteur. He was active in the New York downtown scene of the 1970s and was a frequent collaborator with the likes of Allen Ginsberg and Philip Glass. Although extremely prolific, his inability to finish projects is often cited as part of the reason that very little of his music was released during his lifetime. When Arthur Russell died in 1992 his Vi...more

  • The Villain in 6 Chapters

    Sep 30 2016

    Exploring characters from literature, stage and screen, actor Toby Jones celebrates the mercurial world of the villain. There are the characters we love, and then there are the characters we love to hate. Some of the most memorable ones in drama and fiction are villains and our relationship with them can be deeper than the characters we're supposed to be rooting for. In this programme we tell the tale of this love - hate relationship with the baddie and discover that the villain is more th...more

  • Songs for the Dead

    Aug 19 2016

    Keeners were the women of rural Ireland who were traditionally paid to cry, wail and sing over the bodies of the dead at funerals and wakes. Their role was to help channel the grief of the bereaved and they had an elevated, almost mythical status among their communities. The custom of keening had all but vanished by the 1950's as people began to view it as primitive, old-fashioned and uncivilised. Now, broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir sets out to ask what's been lost with the passing of the keen...more

  • Frightened of Each Other's Shadows

    Aug 16 2016

    It's part of contemporary life we experience but are ashamed to discuss. But Nihal Arthanayake wants to talk it: about the things that are left unsaid. The empty chair next to a person from an ethnic minority on a packed bus or train. That anxious glance, or downright hostile gaze. Nihal hears from people from around Britain about how the threat of terrorist attacks is making us all frightened of each other's shadows; charting the emotional landscape of Britain at a time of heightened anxiety an...more

  • Stalking under Scrutiny

    Aug 05 2016

    'Stalking' - repeated, unwanted contact or intrusive behaviour from another person which causes fear or distress - affects huge numbers of people. The public perception is that only celebrities are the victims of stalkers, but over the course of their lives twenty per cent of women in Britain will have been stalked. It is often, though, difficult to confirm stalking and to take action against its perpetrators. Stalkers range from the socially inadequate to delusional and psychotic; but they are ...more

  • You May Now Turn Over Your Papers

    Jul 08 2016

    Cambridge Classics professor, Mary Beard, tells the intriguing story of the history of exams and asks what are exams really for. In her quest for an answer, she scales the rooftops of King's College, Cambridge, grills a well-known comedian in Latin and discovers Charles Darwin was a terrible student more interested in finding beetles than doing his exams. Mary delves into the world of exams past and present in the company of comedian Richard Herring, roof-walker and academic, Katherine Rundel...more

  • Roald Dahl: In His Own Words

    Jul 05 2016

    With the help of his granddaughter Sophie, Roald Dahl tells his own remarkable story in the style of one of his much-loved books. Illustrated with newly discovered archive recordings and songs and music exclusively recorded by the cast and musicians in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre in London, this Archive on 4 marks the centenary of the writer dubbed 'the best storyteller in the world'. The programme contains excerpts from interviews with Roald D...more

  • In Wales the Ball is Round

    Jun 17 2016

    Football is the Welsh national sport. Yes, you read that right. Comedian and writer Elis James gives a polemical appraisal of football's role in constructing modern Welsh identity. (1/2) The story of football in Wales tells a richer, geographically-wider, more socially-inclusive national story than rugby, the country's much vaunted "national sport". The Welsh football story has long embraced crosspollination from ethnic communities, the influx and growth of industries other than coal and stee...more

  • While My Guitar Gently Bleeps

    Jun 14 2016

    A plumber eating a mushroom, and a spiny mammal jumping on a golden ring - you'd be forgiven for thinking these actions would make pretty indistinct or ambiguous sounds. But comedian, writer and musician Isy Suttie discovers why - thanks to Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog - they're some of the most evocative sounds of the 1980s and 90s. Along with these sounds, the plinky plonky music of early video games buried itself inside a generation of ears growing up among Commodores, Ataris, Segas and...more

  • Moss Side Gym Stories

    Jun 10 2016

    Moss Side Gym Stories - Part 1: Moss Side is a small neighbourhood just outside of Manchester's city centre. In the 19th century Elizabeth Gaskell, inspired by the area, made her literary debut with the novel Mary Barton. She described Moss Side as a place of rural charm where Victorian workers and their families came to talk, play and relax. By the later part of the 20th century, the green fields that Gaskell knew had been replaced by housing estates, and Moss Side's reputation for riots, ga...more

  • Life Under Glass

    May 31 2016

    At Coney Island amusement park between 1903 and 1943 there was an extraordinary exhibit: tiny, premature babies. 'Dr. Martin Couney's infant incubator' facility was staffed by nurses in starched white uniforms and if you paid a quarter, you could see the babies in their incubators. Journalist Claire Prentice has been following the story and tracked down some of those babies, now in their 70s, 80s and 90s, who were put on show. She discovers how Dr. Couney brought the incubator to prominence i...more

  • The Camera Never Lies

    May 27 2016

    Does documentary ever really tell the truth? BAFTA award winning filmmaker Molly Dineen examines the concept of truth and the creation of narrative in documentary film making. Robert Flaherty's 'Nanook of the North' is considered the first documentary ever made, and much of it was specially set up for the cameras. We think that modern 'Scripted Reality' is a new phenomenon, but does it have its roots in the earliest days of documentary? We look at the making of a documentary, from idea, to ca...more

  • The Power of Cute

    May 24 2016

    Zoologist and broadcaster Lucy Cooke explores the science behind our seeming obsession with all things adorable. There has been an explosion in interest in cuteness, particularly online, with an ever growing number of websites dedicated to pandas, kittens, puppies and of course babies. If you are feeling a bit down in the dumps, what better way to brighten your day then looking at some cute baby animal frolicking about. But what is it that makes these creatures so darn attractive to us and can y...more

  • Return to Subtopia

    May 13 2016

    The distinguished architectural writer Gillian Darley retraces the story of "Subtopia", one of the most significant architectural debacles of the post-war era, and considers its long shadow. Her story starts with Ian Nairn, the maverick young architectural journalist, who invented the word "Subtopia" in the mid-1950s, when the Architectural Review ran a campaign against unsightly clutter and the blurring of distinctions between town and country. Nairn drew upon a recent road journey he had...more

  • The Force of Google

    May 10 2016

    Google dominates internet searching across most parts of the globe. The algorithm which produces its search results is highly secret and always changing, but is crucial in influencing the information we all obtain, the viewpoints we read, the people we find out about, and the products we buy. It dominates the market because it's so effective. Rivals find it difficult to compete. But however good the algorithm, however carefully crafted to give us what Google thinks we actually want, is it rea...more

  • For Better or Worse

    May 06 2016

    Writer and activist Peter McGraith married his long-term partner David in March 2014, the first gay wedding registered in the UK. Two years on he meets gay and lesbian couples and speaks with them about their relationships - why did they decide to get married? Or stay in a civil partnership? And why, for some, will marriage never be an option? Peter explores what kind of effect marriage is having on gay and lesbian couples... and how it might be affecting us as a society, for better or wor...more

  • The Drop Out Boogie

    Apr 22 2016

    There can surely have never been so much pressure on young people to go to university and get a degree, but while for many it remains the best option for securing a decent future, many thousands of others choose to leave higher education and make their own way instead; nearly 25,000 students dropped out in the last year figures are available. Laura Snapes is a journalist who dropped out of two different universities herself, deciding she'd be better off trying to forge her path in her chosen car...more

  • How to Turn Your Life Around

    Apr 05 2016

    What does it take to succeed if you are born into poverty and neglect? Two people who have done just that explore whether it was down to personality, circumstances or plain luck. Why do so few people manage it? Byron Vincent, a writer and poet, and Dr Anna Woodhouse, a university lecturer and outreach worker, talk to experts to try and discover if their own triumph over lives that were blighted by abuse, drug addiction, homelessness and hunger could have been predicted. They talk to experts a...more

  • Suck It and See

    Apr 01 2016

    Grammy Award-Winning songwriter Amy Wadge fell in love with the harmonica after winning one in a fancy dress competition (she was dressed in a bin liner!). Now she investigates the history and potential of the diatonic instrument, a European the toy which in the hands of expert players became the iconic sound of the Mississippi Delta and the Chicago Blues. Not bad for what was originally a child's toy produced then, as now, in Germany! As music historian Christoph Wagner explains, the very fi...more

  • The Women Who Wrote Rock

    Mar 29 2016

    Kate Mossman tells the story of the long-overlooked female pop and rock writers of the 1960s. As a music journalist herself, when Kate entered the profession she found herself surrounded by men - men who had very definite ideas about how it should be done... writing for monthly magazines that were aimed at men and covering artist who were mainly men. The whole industry of writing about 'serious' popular music seemed to have been established in the late 1960s and the mid-1970s with the writer-...more

  • The Returnees

    Mar 25 2016

    On an August bank holiday in 2014, Shiraz Maher at the International Centre for Study of Radicalisation at Kings College London received an email sent by a disillusioned British jihadist from Syria. "We came to fight the regime and instead we are involved in gang warfare. It's not what we came for but if we go back to Britain we will go to jail. Right now we are being forced to fight - what option do we have?" The man in his twenties claimed to represent dozens of other jihadists' desperat...more

  • The Actors' Gang & The Actors' Gang on the Outside

    Mar 22 2016

    A two part Seriously following actor Tim Robbins and Rajesh Mirchandani and the theatre programme the Actors' Gang in Norco prison. Part 1: The Actors' Gang Just outside of LA in the Californian desert, presenter Rajesh Mirchandani joins 'Shawshank Redemption' star Tim Robbins as he leads acting classes with the segrgated inmates from Norco prison. Rajesh witnesses the transformation of inmates, from tough gangsters into respectable men and gains a unique insight into some of America's tou...more

  • The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band: Anarchy Must Be Organised

    Mar 18 2016

    2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band going "professional" - kick-starting the chaos with a performance on the bastion of psychedelia and avant-garde: Blue Peter. The legendary Neil Innes looks back at the influence and influences of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and the collision of art, humour, music, language and anarchy that permeated the band's career. Archive interviews and performances accompany new interviews with Legs Larry Smith, Rodney Slater, Vernon Dudley ...more

  • Tim Key Delves Into Daniil Kharms and That's All

    Mar 15 2016

    Daniil Kharms (1905-1942) is one of Russia's great lost absurdists - a writer whose world still alarms, shocks and bewitches more than half a century after he died in prison during the siege of Leningrad. In his short, almost vignette-like writings, nothing is sacred or as it seems. His narrators dip in and out of moments, describing curious, often disturbing events before getting bored and leaving his characters to their fates. Old ladies plummet from windows, townsfolk are bludgeoned to dea...more

  • A Brief History of Disobedience

    Mar 11 2016

    "Oh my goodness, look at that sign over there. Keep Off The Grass. Makes me wonder who put it there. Makes me wonder why I should keep off the grass. And it makes me want to go on the grass!" American satirist Joe Queenan presents A Brief History of Disobedience, the follow up to his programmes on Blame, Shame, Anger and Irony. He travels in time from the Old Testament to Tarrytown, his home in suburban New York. He aims to discover the importance of not doing what we are told. So let your life...more

  • Glad to Be Grey

    Mar 08 2016

    Professor Mary Beard is a distinguished Cambridge Classical scholar with a string of highly-regarded books on Ancient Rome to her name, so it's slightly irksome to her that she is almost better known for her long grey hair. In this highly-authored documentary, Mary Beard investigates a growing reluctance to embrace grey hair. Starting in the Mayfair salon of "hair colourist to the stars", Jo Hansford, she's informed that her hair is "dreadful" and given a personal consultation by Jo hersel...more

  • Laverne in the Willows

    Mar 04 2016

    Lauren Laverne has long been a firm fan of Kenneth Grahame's classic children's book 'The Wind in the Willows', in particular that most sparky of characters Mr. Toad, whose desire to have everything and anything new makes him such a vibrant fore-runner of the modern consumer. Lauren sets about telling the story of the book and its creator, Kenneth Grahame, who came up with the adventures of Mole, Ratty and friends as bedtime stories for his headstrong young son Alistair - thought by many to be...more

  • Six Degrees of Connection

    Mar 01 2016

    Is everyone in the world really connected by only six links? A famous experiment by social psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s claimed that it took on average only six steps for a message to pass between two strangers in America. Since then the idea has become part of popular culture. But is it true? And if so, does it matter? Julia Hobsbawm investigates how social networks work, whether we should all pay more attention to our network connections, and whether governments can use socia...more

  • Musical Variations: The Life of Angela Morley

    Feb 26 2016

    Stuart Barr uncovers the colourful career of British composer and transgender pioneer, Angela Morley. In 1972, Wally Stott's transition to Angela Morley made front page news. Wally was famous. He was composer for the Goon Show and Hancock's Half Hour, and music director to stars like Frankie Vaughan and Shirley Bassey. "TV Music Man changes his sex" screamed the headlines. Where would Angela go from here? Stuart talks to Angela's friends and colleagues to discover how she made her mark in the...more

  • Batman and Ethan

    Feb 19 2016

    Ethan was born blind. He's now a 10 year-old boy who collects sounds on his 51 dictaphones, composes music, and performs on stage in concerts. Until now he's been home-schooled, but last year he was offered a place at St Mary's Music School in Scotland - one of the best in the country. The problem is he struggles to get around. This is where Batman comes in. His real name is Daniel Kish and like Ethan he's blind. He's a master of echolocation. He makes clicking noises - like a bat - to build...more

  • Reaction Time

    Feb 14 2016

    "Your breasts look fantastic in that dress." From abysmal chat-up lines like this, to love at first sight in Victoria Train Station, BBC Radio Four listeners have some incredible relationship stories. Reaction Time broadcasts them to the nation, in a programme composed entirely of smartphone contributions from the public. BBC Radio Four shouted out for stories about love on social media - gave out the reactiontime@bbc.co.uk email address and received poignant, funny and downright odd tales -...more

  • Jarvis on McCullers

    Feb 09 2016

    The writing of Carson McCullers has perhaps never been as popular or acclaimed as that of contemporaries such as Harper Lee and Tennessee Williams, but nonetheless she remains one of the most remarkable and individual writers to come out of twentieth century America. She only wrote a few works, in large part because rheumatic fever left her paralysed in her left arm, and she was beset by ill health and alcoholism for many of her fifty years. Her writing style was enormously sensuous, filled ...more

  • Gay Bombay

    Feb 05 2016

    Why is homosexuality still illegal in the world's so-called largest democracy? In his celebrated family memoir 'And All is Said', historian Dr Zareer Masani made no bones about his own homosexuality and the problems it posed growing up in the India of the 1950s and '60s. Much seemed to have changed in the intervening half century. But with a renewed Hindu nationalism dominant in both political and cultural life, Zareer returns to Mumbai (formerly Bombay) to find out whether growing acceptance ...more

  • Herland

    Feb 02 2016

    In 1915 women could neither vote, divorce nor work after marriage, yet in that same year the American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman envisaged a revolutionary world populated entirely by women who were intelligent, resourceful and brave. Her great science fiction novel Herland tells the story of three men who crash land on an island where the men have died out; women reproduce by parthenogenesis. Until Gilman's book was published, most visions of utopia, though turning the world on its head,...more

  • Raising the Dead

    Jan 26 2016

    For the past few decades music teacher and pianist Francesco Lotoro has been collecting music written in concentration camps from the Second World War. Francesco's life is entirely given over to recovering the creations of composers and performers, many of them Jewish, who died in the camps. A massive amount of music was written in camps. Classical music by established composers, but also songs, symphonies, sonatas, operas, lullabies, jazz riffs often scribbled on old sacks, toilet paper or scra...more

  • Deciding Fast and Slow

    Jan 22 2016

    What is it really like to make decisions affecting millions of people, knowing that a mistake might be pounced upon instantly and your career left in tatters? Government ministers face this challenge every day, and now under ever-rising pressures - not just 24 hour news, but also hugely influential social media and far stronger demand for more open and accountable decision-making. Elinor Goodman finds out from senior politicians, civil service leaders and their advisors how government ministers ...more

  • Work Is a Four Letter Word

    Jan 08 2016

    Many of us have grown up with the belief that a strong work ethic is a positive thing, and that by contrast idle hands are the devil's playthings. According to Professor Andrew Hussey, that argument makes very little sense. Starting off with a line from the Cilla Black song 'Work is a Four Letter Word' he offers a powerful counter-argument by navigating the ideas of, among others, Bertrand Russell, John Ruskin and the Situationists in France, whose graffiti slogan 'Ne Travaillez Jamais' - never ...more

  • Miles Jupp and the Plot Device

    Jan 05 2016

    How many stories are there in the world? According to William Wallace Cook, dime novelist and prolific producer of American pulp, there were precisely 1,462 and in Plotto, his "Master Book of All Plots", he anatomised them all in the service of struggling writers everywhere. Plotto, published in 1928, was nothing less than a manual of fictional devices, intended to sit on a writer's shelf between the dictionary and the thesaurus. Any writer stuck for inspiration could leaf through Plotto to disc...more

  • Brain Tingles

    Dec 29 2015

    The comedian and actor Isy Suttie sets out to explore how creativity is influenced by the mysterious and medically controversial phenomenon ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). Ever since she was little, Isy has been experiencing what she and her family describe as 'head squeezing' - a euphoric, incredibly relaxing version of goose bumps that starts around the head or face and travels around the body. A few years ago she realised not everyone got this feeling, that it's got a name - ASMR...more

  • Hippy Internet - The Whole Earth Catalog

    Dec 22 2015

    Sukhdev Sandhu travels to the epicentres of countercultural America in Woodstock and San Francisco to tell the story of a book of hippy philosophy that defined the 1960s and intimated how the internet would grow long before the web arrived. With Luc Sante, Eliot Weinberger, Kenneth Goldsmith, Ed Sanders, Lois Britton, and Fred Turner Producer: Tim Dee.

  • Inside Putin's Russia: The Rosenberg Reports

    Dec 20 2015

    How is Russian President Vladimir Putin perceived by the people in his own country? How is his intervention in Syria shaping the public mood? In a series of reports, Steve Rosenberg investigates Putin's Russia. From December 2015.

  • The Art of StarCraft

    Dec 15 2015

    Stephen Evans goes deep into the Milky Way to look at the phenomenon of StarCraft and reveals how, in South Korea, it is more than just a computer game and is a key part of the rapidly growing multi-billion dollar world of esports. Worth over $620 million globally, with a worldwide audience of over 135 million people, esports are now big business, and in South Korea much of this thanks to the impact of certain computer game called StarCraft. StarCraft is essentially a sci-fi, military-based real...more