By BBC Radio 4

Seriously is home to the world’s best audio documentaries and podcast recommendations, and host Vanessa Kisuule brings you two fascinating new episodes every week.


Troubled Water - Episode 1

Are we running out of water? Britain may be known for its rain but, as our climate changes, there are warnings we could be closer than we think to our taps running dry. In this episode of Troubled Water, James Gallagher asks why our pipes are being pushed to the brink and what can be done about it, all from the comfort of his bathroom. Huddled in the loo, he talks to Professor Hannah Cloke, OBE, who predicts rainfall events through her work at the University of Reading, Dr Francis Hassard, from the Water Science Institute at Cranfield University, Andrew Tucker who manages water demand at Thames Water and inventor Garry Moore who shows how he's hoping to revolutionise our loos with his air-pressurised Velocity toilet. Presenter: James Gallagher Producer: Tom Bonnett
28/03/23·28m 48s

Sideways - Please I beg you.

When Ben Taylor receives a Facebook message from a stranger in Liberia, asking in badly spelled English for financial or business assistance, he quickly assumes it’s a scam. But instead of just ignoring the message, he decides to find out about the person behind it. In this episode, Matthew Syed explores what happens when you let your guard down and make a leap of trust. With author and Oxford University trust fellow Rachel Botsman, philosopher Julian Baggini, Ben Taylor and Joel Mentee-Willie. Presenter: Matthew Syed Producer: Eliza Lomas Series Editor: Katherine Godfrey Sound Design and Mix: Rob Speight Theme music by Ioana Selaru A Novel production for BBC Radio 4
24/03/23·29m 48s

Shock and War: Iraq 20 Years On - Episode 1

Why did the US want regime change in Iraq? Was it really about the threat of terrorists getting hold of weapons of mass destruction after the September 11th 2001 attacks, or was the desire much deeper? And what was the British government's reaction? Presenter: Gordon Corera Series Producer: John Murphy Producers: Ellie House, Claire Bowes Sound Designer: Eloise Whitmore, Naked Productions Production coordinators: Janet Staples, Brenda Brown Series Editor: Penny Murphy
21/03/23·19m 39s

A Documentary: By ChatGPT

What would a documentary made by ChatGPT sound like? This is it…well, with a bit of human help. Tech journalist and BBC Click presenter, Lara Lewington, explores the immeasurable possibilities of sophisticated AI technology and how it will change our lives - from doing students' essays to writing films, diagnosing health conditions to customer service. Lara will be testing how well it can help make this documentary, interviewing it, asking for the research. Can it write the script? She will be pitting her own journalistic skills against the technology everyone’s talking about - ChatGPT. Lara is our guide to stepping into this new era experiencing a giant leap forward in AI, not only by ChatGPT but from its competitors who are rapidly on its heels. She hears from experts how it is a tool that could become as ubiquitous as Google, used for enhancing human performance, not limiting it. Lara wants to understand what learning to live with this technology means in practice. How can we skill up and learn to use it smartly, to enhance our lives and careers? But it does have its problems. Yes, it can summarise reams of material in seconds. But it does get things wrong. There are also questions about its ethics, its bias and identifying the sources of the material it generates. Lara explores how this type of AI could transform job roles, creative output, and ways of thinking we once thought could only ever be performed by human minds. Presenter: Lara Lewington Producer: Fiona Walker Executive Producer: Katherine Godfrey Researchers: Mo Ahmed and Valeria Rocca Sound Design and Mix: Daniel Kempson A Novel production for BBC Radio 4.
17/03/23·29m 8s

Breaking Mississippi - Episode 1

This is the explosive inside story of James Meredith's battle to smash the system of white supremacy in the most racially segregated state in 1960s America. By becoming the first black person to apply to the all-white university of Mississippi – Meredith will draw in the KKK and JFK – and trigger the largest number of troops ever deployed for a single disturbance on US soil. Across 10 episodes and with US public radio journalist Jenn White as our guide - James Meredith takes us from his childhood in rural Mississippi where racism runs deep – to a pivotal flashpoint in US civil rights history that will be described as the last battle of the American Civil War. This could be our last opportunity to hear James Meredith tell this story in his own words and in a way that's never been heard before. Episode One: Divine Destiny Growing up in segregated Mississippi under Jim Crow laws - James Meredith's father tells his son he has a special responsibility in life. Presenter: Jenn White Producer: Conor Garrett Editor: Philip Sellars Original Music Score: Ashley Beedle and Darren Morris. Recorded @ North Street West Audio Engineer: Gary Bawden With special thanks to the University of Mississippi.
14/03/23·15m 11s

Homesick Planet

Much of an astronaut’s leisure time is spent staring back at Earth, they just can’t stop looking back at home. Major Tim Peake journeys into the misunderstood phenomenon of homesickness. Tim had never experienced it until he found himself looking through the copula window of the space craft, which orbited earth several times before reaching the International Space Station. The British astronaut spent 185 days, 22 hours and 11 minutes in space and during that time, developed a deep longing for home, particularly fresh air, nature and the colour green. But what is this powerful desire for home? Is homesickness a psychological illness? A cultural phenomenon? Or something else? Psychotherapist Sarah Temple-Smith who works for the Refugee Council believes the condition is widely misunderstood and its impact critically under-appreciated. She believes it’s a deep-rooted condition with existential consequences. Speaking to those who suffer from it, and those who study it Tim attempts to understand exactly what homesickness is: how it manifests, what it feels like, and the psychological triggers that underpin it. Produced by Kate Bissell and Gail Tolley Sound Design by Joel Cox Developed by BBC Scotland Productions Photo credited to Tim Peake/ESA
10/03/23·29m 27s

Life on the Edge of Oil

Situated 75-miles off the west coast of Shetland, the future of Cambo, a prospective new oil field in the North Sea, has big implications for Shetland. Cambo has become emblematic of the debate about fossil fuels. In 2001, an oil exploration license for the site was granted. In 2021, when public sentiment towards fossil fuels cooled, the project was shelved. But now, Cambo is being reconsidered once again... The war in Ukraine and fears over energy security have changed how we feel about oil and gas. But what's the problem that Cambo is providing a solution to? Will it give us better energy security? Will it enrich the lives of local people? Turns out, the answer is more complex than that... Shetland has directly benefitted from its relationship with North Sea oil. Unlike in the rest of the UK, the local council established something akin to a sovereign wealth fund. They made a proceed from every barrel of oil processed at Sullum Voe Oil Terminal. It's really positively impacted the local population, and as the cost of living crisis bites, the chance of a renewed boost to the local economy is hard to entirely reject, even in the face of growing environmental awareness. In this one-off doc, journalist Jen Stout assesses how the potential end of oil looks from Shetland's perspective. With contributions from historian Ewan Gibbs, energy researcher Miriam Brett, environmental lawyer Tessa Khan, energy transition expert Daniel Gear, former oil worker and councillor Billy Fox, and energy and climate change researcher James Price. Producer: Victoria McArthur Presenting and production: Jen Stout Research: Emily Esson Sound mix: Sean Mullervy Senior Producer: Peter McManus
07/03/23·29m 11s


The word “controversy” almost always accompanies any reference to ECT or electroconvulsive therapy. It has a dark history and remains a deeply contentious practice. For many, ECT is seen as outdated, forever linked with frightening images of medical abuse, cruelty and even punishment. But when Professor Sally Marlow met Dr Tania Gergel at King’s College London, she was forced to acknowledge and then reassess everything she thought she knew about ECT. Her friend Tania told Sally that ECT had saved her life on numerous occasions and that ECT is, in fact, the only treatment that can bring her back to health after episodes of severe depression, psychosis and mania. Tania is Director of Research at Bipolar UK. She’s a philosopher and an internationally respected medical ethicist. She also lives with a serious mental illness; an unusual mixed type of bipolar disorder, and during her last period of illness a year ago, Tania kept an audio diary. In this programme, Sally wants to test her own preconceptions about ECT and to find out about the group of people who describe ECT as having "given them back their lives". She delves into her own family history and talks to her mum, Kath, about the secrecy and shame around the mental illness of her Auntie Joyce, who received ECT in the 1960s. And she joins Tania in the ECT suite at Northwick Park Hospital with nurses Anjali and Kathy to understand how modern ECT is given, with anaesthetic, muscle relaxants and, as Tania says, much kindness. Retired social worker, Sue, tells Sally about the dramatic impact on her acute illness of ECT and clinician and researcher Professor of Psychiatry George Kirov, ECT lead for the Cardiff area, describes the group of patients for whom this treatment works. And Sally talks to the grandfather of American ECT, Professor Max Fink, now 100 years old, about the origins of electroconvulsive therapy. Throughout, Tania shares extracts of her audio diary in order to break down stigma around both mental illness and ECT. Producer: Fiona Hill
03/03/23·29m 0s

Woke: The Journey of a Word - Episode 1

Matthew Syed traces the history of a term that's synonymous with our era of angry debate.
28/02/23·14m 33s

The Privatisation of British Gas

Historian Phil Tinline explores why, 37 years ago, the Thatcher government privatised British Gas, how what followed has shaped today's energy price crisis - and what should happen next. Contributors: Professor Michael Bradshaw, Derek Davis, Dr Amy Edwards, Mathew Lawrence, Tim Lefroy, Sir John Redwood Producer: Phil Tinline
24/02/23·29m 20s

How Wars End

It seems like an impossible conundrum. Ukraine is valiantly defending itself against the man Boris Johnson called "a blood-stained aggressor" and fighting for survival in a war that is currently deadlocked. President Zelensky has warned that attempts at talks with The Russian Federation will fail, because Vladimir Putin cannot be trusted. So in the absence of a decisive victory or a negotiated settlement - what happens? James Naughtie investigates how other conflicts have come to a conclusion, in a bid to shed light on a war which has so far defied predictions. He will talk to key figures who have been in the room as peace deals are ground out - and visit the law makers in Washington DC who are the key source of defence funding for Ukraine. History may have lessons when it comes to a conflict for which there seems no end in sight. Presented by James Naughtie Produced by Kevin Core
21/02/23·28m 57s

Taiwan: Hyper-democracy

Taiwan is one of the world's youngest democracies. The first fully democratic presidential election was held as recently as 1996. But it's now being heralded as a place where digital technology is giving citizens a sense of direct engagement with political systems and law creation.They have a Minister of Digital Affairs, Audrey Tang, who has brought his computer software programming expertise learned in Silicon Valley to bear on the way in which ideas, petitions and suggested law reforms can be promoted by way of a website which boasts millions of users. The BBC's former Taiwan Correspondent Cindy Sui revisits the Island to try and measure the success of the website called 'Join' at a time when Taiwan faces very direct international pressures. But she also explores more established systems of local democracy, including the system of community chiefs or Li Zhangs and the 24-hour hotlines with their promise of a speedy response to any inquiry or report about issues closer to home. Western democracies have faced harsh criticism in recent years about sections of their populations feeling that their voices aren't being heard. Does Taiwan have lessons for its more established Democratic colleagues, and if it does, are they in the field of high tech or grass roots representation? Producer: Tom Alban
07/02/23·28m 56s

Why Coups Fail

Recently, in both Europe and the United States, there have been serious attempts to overthrow elected governments by force. History is full of examples of coups d'etat succeeding, going all the way back to Ancient Rome. But these latest coup attempts failed. And they left a strange impression: of events that were part-horrific, part-absurd. In this programme, the novelist and classicist Natalie Haynes takes three examples of power grabs from Ancient Rome - one by the military, one by senators, and one conducted by stealth - and uses them to try to make sense of recent events in France, Germany and America. With the help of leading scholars of the dark art of the coup, she probes why these assaults on power flopped, and what all this tells us about where power now lies. And she asks where the subtler threats to democracy are lurking, against which we now need to be on guard. Contributors include: Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Alexander Clarkson, Rory Cormac. Producer: Phil Tinline
03/02/23·28m 56s

The Boat Smugglers

The recent rise in migrant boat crossings between France the UK is being fuelled in part by the more sophisticated methods gangs are using to source the boats. Last year when they investigated the smuggling gangs for BBC Radio 4, reporter Sue Mitchell and former British soldier and aid worker, Rob Lawrie, were alongside border force officials as they seized all manner of dinghies used in the crossings. Today that haul looks very different: the makeshift supply has been replaced by a sophisticated business which sees boats manufactured in Turkey and transported across Europe to the beaches of France. This streamlined supply chain is big business and it’s enabled the gangs to rapidly expand the trade: bigger boats made specifically for these crossings are mass manufactured in Turkey and shipped straight into the hands of smugglers. It’s a complicated dodging of laws as they’re transported across Europe, with authorities slow to react. And it promises to thwart whatever deals are secured between Britain and France to intercept the Channel crossings themselves.
24/01/23·29m 14s

First Contact

For thousands of years we have gazed up at the stars and wondered: is anybody out there? The idea of meeting aliens has been the inspiration for countless books and films; for art and music. But today, thinking about meeting life on, or from, other planets is no longer dismissed as pure make-believe – it’s the focus of political consideration and cutting-edge space science. Farrah Jarral presents the story of the fantasy and the reality of preparing for first contact with extra-terrestrials.
09/01/23·44m 26s

The Crowning of Everest - Episode 5

2 June 1953. As the crowds line the streets to see their new Queen crowned, the news that Everest has been conquered is relayed over loudspeaker and adds to the excitement of the day. The Times prints its headline - the scoop delivered in secret code from the mountain. Edmund Hillary is knighted while the press clamour to know who was first to the summit. No better news could have reached Britain on the day of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It was a magical day that brought together a young Queen, her Commonwealth and her people in celebration. Presenter: Wade Davis Series producer: Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Sound design: Richard Hannaford Editor: Tara McDermott Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed and Helena Warwick-Cross
03/01/23·14m 40s

The Crowning of Everest - Episode 4

The world is waiting for news of success from the British expedition on Mount Everest. James Morris, later to become Jan Morris, is a reporter from The Times newspaper embedded with the team on the mountain. When news arrives that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay have reached the summit, he must find a way to get the news to London without it leaking to other journalists waiting in Kathmandu. Morris delivers the news via a secret code. As the climbing team make their way down the mountain crowds gather to greet the heroes. Presenter: Wade Davis Series producer: Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Sound design: Richard Hannaford Editor: Tara McDermott Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed and Helena Warwick-Cross
03/01/23·13m 49s

The Crowning of Everest - Episode 3

In 1953 the 9th British expedition to the top of Mount Everest finally reaches the summit. In the final team was a New Zealander and a Nepalese Sherpa. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay come down the mountain to a blaze of publicity. They were soon to become the most famous men in the world. To the team involved and the wider world the expedition was a British one, but Britain, New Zealand, Nepal and even India would lay claim to its success. Just as Britain was preparing Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation, the world would learn that Everest itself had been crowned. Presenter: Wade Davis Series producer: Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Sound design: Richard Hannaford Editor: Tara McDermott Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed and Helena Warwick-Cross
03/01/23·13m 50s

The Crowning of Everest - Episode 2

Britain has tried and failed to reach the top of Everest for decades. George Mallory and Sandy Irvine disappeared on the mountain in 1924. There were various British expeditions during the 1930s - all unmitigated failures. The Second World War interrupted the race to conquer Everest. But by 1951, with Tibet closed by communist China, a new unexplored route through Nepal was available. The Swiss expedition had nearly succeeded in 1952. The French are scheduled to climb in 1954. For John Hunt's British team in 1953 the pressure is on. It is now or never. Meanwhile, back in London, a different race begins. If the British get to the top it's the scoop of the century for whichever newspaper can report the story first. The Times pays £10,000 to have its reporter James Morris, later Jan Morris, embedded with the expedition. Presenter: Wade Davis Series producer: Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Sound design: Richard Hannaford Editor: Tara McDermott Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed and Helena Warwick-Cross
03/01/23·13m 53s

The Crowning of Everest - Episode 1

In 1953 Queen Elizabeth II is crowned. It's also the year that the British expedition makes an attempt to climb to the summit of the highest mountain in the world. The story of Mount Everest spans the life of the new Queen and beyond, from the height of the British Empire to the rebirth of Britain as a nation. In this episode, Wade Davis, explorer and anthropologist, looks at events taking place in Britain in 1953 and how the nation was poised for news of an Everest success as it planned for the coronation of a new monarch. Presenter: Wade Davis Series producer: Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Sound design: Richard Hannaford Editor: Tara McDermott Production co-ordinators: Siobhan Reed and Helena Warwick-Cross
03/01/23·14m 46s

6. Bad Blood - Newgenics

Are we entering a ‘newgenic’ age - where cutting-edge technologies and the power of personal choice could achieve the kind of genetic perfection that 20th century eugenicists were after? In 2018, a Chinese scientist illegally attempted to precision edit the genome of two embryos. It didn’t work as intended. Twin sisters - Lulu and Nana - were later born, but their identity, and the status of their health, is shrouded in secrecy. They were the first designer babies. Other technological developments are also coming together in ways that could change reproduction: IVF can produce multiple viable embryos, and polygenic screening could be used to select between them. Increased understanding and control of our genetics is seen as a threat by some - an inevitable force for division. But instead of allowing genetics to separate and rank people, perhaps there’s a way it can be used - actively - to promote equality. Professor Paige Harden shares her suggestion of an anti-eugenic politics which makes use of genetic information. Contributors: Dr Helen O'Neill, lecturer in Reproductive and Molecular Genetics at University College London, Dr Jamie Metzl, author of Hacking Darwin, Professor Kathryn Paige Harden from the University of Texas and author of The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality. Music and Sound design: Jon Nicholls Presenter: Adam Rutherford Producer: Ilan Goodman Clips: 28th Nov 2018 - BBC Newsday report, BBC Breakfast News / BBC Breakfast news report Chinese letter of condemnation / BBC Newsnight from 1988 on 10th anniversary of Louise Brown’s birth
24/12/22·29m 30s

5. Bad Blood - The Curse of Mendel

A key goal of eugenics in the 20th century was to eliminate genetic defects from a population. Many countries pursued this with state-led programmes of involuntary sterilisation, even murder. We unpick some of the science behind this dark history, and consider the choices and challenges opened up by the science today. In the mid-19th century, an Augustinian friar called Gregor Mendel made a breakthrough. By breeding pea plants and observing how certain traits were passed on, Mendel realised there must be units - little packets - of information determining characteristics. He had effectively discovered the gene. His insights inspired eugenicists from the 1900s onwards. If traits were passed on by specific genes, then their policies should stop people with ‘bad’ genes from having children. Mendel’s ideas are still used in classrooms today - to teach about traits like eye colour. But the eugenicists thought Mendel's simple explanations applied to everything - from so-called ‘feeblemindedness’ to criminality and even pauperism. Today, we recognise certain genetic conditions as being passed on in a Mendelian way. Achondroplasia - which results in short stature - is one example, caused by a single genetic variant. We hear from Professor Tom Shakespeare about the condition, about his own decision to have children despite knowing the condition was heritable - and the reaction of the medical establishment. We also explore how genetics is taught in schools today - and the danger of relying on Mendel’s appealingly simple but misleading account. Contributors: Dr Brian Donovan, senior research scientist at BSCS; Professor Tom Shakespeare, disability researcher at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and Dr Christine Patch, principal staff scientist in Genomic Counselling in the Society and Ethics Research group, part of Wellcome Connecting Science. Music: Jon Nicholls Presenter: Adam Rutherford Producer: Ilan Goodman
23/12/22·28m 37s

4. Bad Blood - Rassenhygiene

In the name of eugenics, the Nazi state sterilised hundreds of thousands against their will, murdered disabled children and embarked on a programme of genocide. Why? We like to believe that Nazi atrocities were a unique aberration, a grotesque historical outlier. But it turns out that leading American eugenicists and lawmakers like Madison Grant and Harry Laughlin inspired many of the Nazi programmes, from the mass sterilisation of those deemed ‘unfit’ to the Nuremberg laws preventing the marriage of Jews and non-Jews. Indeed, before WW2, many eugenicists across the world regarded the Nazi regime with envious admiration. The Nazis went further, faster than anyone before them. But ultimately, the story of Nazi eugenics is one of international connection and continuity. Contributors: Professor Stefan Kühl from the University of Bielefield, Professor Amy Carney from Penn State Behrend, Dr Jonathan Spiro from Castleton University, Professor Sheila Weiss from Clarkson University and Dr Barbara Warnock from the Wiener Holocaust Library Music and Sound Design by Jon Nicholls Presented by Adam Rutherford Produced by IIan Goodman
23/12/22·28m 44s

3. Bad Blood - Birth Controlled

Who should be prevented from having children? And who gets to decide? Across 20th century America, there was a battle to control birth - a battle which rages on to this day. In 1907, the state of Indiana passed the first sterilisation law in the world. Government-run institutions were granted the power to sterilise those deemed degenerate - often against their will. In the same period, women are becoming more educated, empowered and sexually liberated. In the Roaring Twenties, the flappers start dancing the Charleston and women win the right to vote. But contraception is still illegal and utterly taboo. The pioneering campaigner Margaret Sanger, begins her decades long activism to secure women access to birth control - the only way, she argues, women can be truly free. In the final part of the episode, sterilisation survivor and campaigner Elaine Riddick shares her painful but remarkable story. Contributors: Professor Alexandra Minna Stern from the UCLA Institue of Society and Genetics, Professor Wendy Kline from Purdue Univerity, Elaine and Tony Riddick from the Rebecca Project for Justice Featuring the voice of Joanna Monro Music and Sound Design by Jon Nicholls Presented by Adam Rutherford Produced by IIan Goodman Clips: Coverage of Dobbs v Jackson Supreme Court decision from June 24, 2022 including BBC News / CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford / BBC News Sarah Smith / audio of protesters from Channel 4 News. / Mike Wallace interviews Margaret Sanger, September 1957, from the archive at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin
23/12/22·29m 2s

2. Bad Blood - You Will Not Replace Us

"You will not replace us" was the battle cry of white supremacists at a rally in Charlottesville in 2017. They were expressing an old fear - the idea that immigrants and people of colour will out-breed and replace the dominant white 'race'. Exactly the same idea suffused American culture in the first decades of the 1900s, as millions of immigrants arrived at Ellis island from southern and eastern Europe. The 'old-stock' Americans - the white elite who ruled industry and government - latched on to replacement theory and the eugenic idea of 'race suicide'. It's all there in The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald's novel set in 1922 - which takes us into the world of the super-rich - their parties and their politics. Amidst this febrile period of cultural and economic transformation, the Eugenics Record Office is established. Led by Charles Davenport and Harry Laughlin, it becomes a headquarters for the scientific and political advancement of eugenics. By 1924, the eugenically informed anti-immigrant movement has triumphed - America shut its doors with the Johnson-Reed Act, and the flow of immigrants is almost completely stoppped. Contributors: Dr Thomas Leonard, Professor Sarah Churchwell, Professor Joe Cain Featuring the voices of David Hounslow, Joanna Monro and Hughie O'Donnell Music and Sound Design by Jon Nicholls Presented by Adam Rutherford Produced by IIan Goodman Clips: BBC News, coverage of Charlottesville protests, 2017 / CNN, coverage of buffalo shooter, 2022 / MSNBC, coverage of buffalo shooter, 2022 / Edison, Orange, N.J, 1916, Don't bite the hand that's feeding you, Jimmie Morgan, Walter Van Brunt, Thomas Hoier / BBC Radio 4 Great Gatsby: Author, F Scott Fitzgerald Director: Gaynor Macfarlane, Dramatised by Robert Forrest.
23/12/22·29m 0s

1. Bad Blood - You've Got Good Genes

In this 6-part series, we follow the story of eugenics from its origins in the middle-class salons of Victorian Britain, through the Fitter Family competitions and sterilisation laws of Gilded Age USA, to the full genocidal horrors of Nazi Germany. Episode 1: You’ve Got Good Genes Eugenics is born in Victorian Britain, christened by the eccentric gentleman-scientist Sir Francis Galton. It’s a movement to breed better humans, fusing new biological ideas with the politics of empire, and the inflexible snobbery of the middle-classes. The movement swiftly gains momentum - taken up by scientists, social reformers, and even novelists as a moral and political quest to address urgent social problems. By encouraging the right people to have babies, eugenicists believed we could breed ourselves to a brighter future; a future free from disease, disability, crime, even poverty. What, its proponents wondered, could be more noble? The story culminates in the First International Eugenics Congress of 1912, where a delegation of eminent public figures from around the world gather in South Kensington to advocate and develop the science – and ideology – of better breeding. Among them Winston Churchill, Arthur Balfour, the Dean of St Pauls, Charles Darwin's son, American professors and the ambassadors from Norway, Greece, and France: a global crusade in motion. But amidst the sweeping utopian rhetoric, the darker implications of eugenic ideas emerge: what of those deemed 'unfit'? What should happen to them? Contributors: Professor Joe Cain, Daniel Maier, Professor Philippa Levine, Professor Angelique Richardson Featuring the voices of David Hounslow, Joanna Monro and Hughie O'Donnell Music and Sound Design by Jon Nicholls Presented by Adam Rutherford Produced by IIan Goodman Clips: Trump addresses a rally in Bemidji, Minnesota in 2020, C-Span / Trump on his German blood, Kings of Kallstadt 2014, directed by Simone Wendel, produced by Michael Bogar, Mario Conte, Inka Dewitz, Thomas Hofmann / Julian Huxley - Heredity in Man, Eugenics Society, 1937
23/12/22·29m 28s

The Susurrations of the Sea

The Susurrations of the Sea is a collaboration between the poet Katrina Porteous, who lives right next to the North Sea in Beadnell, Northumberland; radio producer Julian May, who grew up close to the Atlantic in Cornwall; and with the sea itself. They gather the variety of its sounds, from gentle susurrations as the tide moves over mud, to the steady roar of surf and mighty waves crashing onto rocks. They weave these with the words of people who, more than most of us, listen to these sounds. Melissa Reid is a visually impaired competitive surfer at Porthtowan in Cornwall. The writer Lara Messersmith-Glavin grew up on a salmon seiner, fishing out of Kodiak Island, Alaska. Lara recalls how the sounds of the sea brought fear as well the comfort. David Woolf, in Orkney, who works on wave energy projects, tells the life story of a wave, and considers the role of the oceans in the climate crisis. Stephen Perham, rowing his picarooner out of Clovelly harbour, shows how, when fishing for herring without an engine or any modern equipment, learning the sounds of the sea is essential. The susurrations of the sea are culturally important, finding their way into language and music. At his piano the musician Martin Pacey illustrates how Benjamin Britten captures these in his Sea Interludes, and how these reflect mood and character. For Stephen and Katrina the words people use to describe that sea are themselves sea susurrations. Katrina writes a new sequence of poems in response to the sounds of the sea and these run through the programme like breaking waves, a choppy sea and an ocean swell. Producer: Julian May
20/12/22·28m 11s

A Bad Guy with a Gun

A bad guy with a gun. At 09:30am on the 14th December 2012, the staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School locked the school's doors, a security precaution they took every day. At 09:35 a gunman shot his way through a glass panel and entered the school. By 09:40am twenty children and six adults were dead. Surely something so horrific must be an isolated incident? It wasn’t. Since that day there have been active shooter incidents at almost 1000 schools and colleges across the US. In 2022 alone 47 people have been killed and 118 wounded by gunmen in American schools. We’ve all seen the aftermath of the shootings, the grieving families, the marches, the vows of ‘never again’ yet it does happen, again and again. America has a complicated relationship with guns, less than half of households claim to own one yet there are estimated to be 393 million firearms owned by American civilians. That’s a lot of guns. So where did it all start and why does the threat of gun violence provoke some politicians to loosen gun restrictions rather than increase them? It all starts and ends with a bad guy with a gun. Producer: Lizzy McNeill Narrator: Alison Shultes Editor: Penny Murphy Studio Manager: Rod Farquhar Thanks to the following for the use of their archive: The Revolutionary Institute The Nation Rifle Association TED x Boulder, Aaron Stark. Tiktok Cassie Walton
16/12/22·28m 3s

Falling Stars

In the history of science, many individuals are honoured by having technical terms named after them. To modern sensibilities, this is sometimes regrettable. Poet Dr Sam Illingworth looks at the challenges of scientific terms named after people we perhaps wouldn't celebrate today. Who gets to choose them anyway? It's one thing to quietly change the name of a scientific prize, a research facility or a lecture theatre. But how would you rename an element or a famous equation? With a book, a record or a painting we can choose to leave them on the shelf if we so wish, but some scientific names seem as hard-wearing as concrete... Photo: The Pillars of Creation as captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope/JWST Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI Written and presented by Sam Illingworth Produced by Alex Mansfield With contributions from: Dr Emma Chapman, University of Nottingham author of "First Light" Sam Kean, historian of science and author of "The Disappearing Spoon" and "The Icepick Surgeon". Prof Natalie Bann, University of Victoria, British Columbia Derek Robertson, artist, co-author of "Bho Bheul An Eòin / From The Bird's Mouth" Derek's exhibition of the project is at the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh until Dec 31st 2022.
09/12/22·29m 57s

When Reality Breaks: Demystifying Paranoid Schizophrenia

Growing up in Canada, her father's delusions and paranoia gave Julia Shaw a front-row seat into an alternate reality Believing "they” were out to get him – including everyone from aliens to the Bin Laden family – he would later email her, warning that she too was targeted by those monitoring him. He believed that doctors too were part of the conspiracy - so has never had a diagnosis from a psychiatrist. Witnessing her father experiencing a parallel "reality" inspired Julia to look into the mind and she had a "lightbulb moment" at university studying psychology when she first heard a description of paranoid schizophrenia. We hear from Julia and her mum as they meet up, driving through Canada. The well-known "positive" signs of a psychotic episode like hallucinations, paranoia and deluded thoughts can feel frightening to witness but Julia learns how the some families find it hardest to live with the "negative" symptoms like a Iack of motivation and difficulty in concentrating. Julia talks to families who understand the demands of living with someone who has serious delusions – to hear what helped them to look after themselves as well as their loved one. We hear from Philippa whose son had his first episode of psychosis when he was at university. Although he now has the right medication to control his symptoms he struggles to motivate himself and a troubling side effect is weight gain which puts him at risk of physical health problems. Kate was only 11 when her cool, older brother Sean first showed the signs of schizophrenia. After numerous spells in hospital she remembers how he struggled to look after himself back in the community and became homeless, sometimes going missing Both women found support from Rethink Mental Illness, a charity which helps people severely affected by mental illness to improve their lives. Kirsty was 8 years old when she started going to workshops with her dad at the Our Time charity, which supports any child with a parent affected by mental illness. She says that role play and talking openly with others about mental health helped to prepare her for when her dad had a psychotic episode on her 13th birthday: although it was frightening she recognised the signs and knew that they wouldn't last. Another concern for Julia was the increased risk for family members who might inherit a disorder like paranoid schizophrenia. Dr Rick Adams explains how the risk is higher - at around 10%, it does mean there's a much higher likelihood that she hasn't inherited it. One voice Julia feels is missing is that of the person who hears voices and believes them: she hasn't been able to reach her father. Instead she talks to Ashley who's 25 and is living with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Ashley explains how her voices were always male and it it's not a good idea for loved ones to tell a person having hallucinations that they're not real: they have to find this out for themselves. She says that educating herself about mental illness and her faith have helped her to keep calm, along with support from her family. Like the other families she's spoken to Julia feels guilt about her father and wonders if she could have done more to help him - but hearing about support from charities makes her hopeful. And despite all the difficulties, she also recognises how he has passed onto her a love of learning and to stand up for herself. Presenter: Julia Shaw Producer: Paula McGrath
29/11/22·29m 7s

The Name Is DeSantis

You may not know who he is - but you should. Under Donald Trump Ron DeSantis rode the MAGA wave to to the governor job in Florida. For some, he's a "smart Trump". For others, a "troll" who, with a series of eye-catching stunts and pronouncements, has dominated headlines and is now viewed as a serious contender for the Republican nomination in 2024. From transporting migrants to the millionaires' playground of Martha's Vineyard to taking on Disney over so-called "Don't Say Gay" legislation, this is a politician who has weaponised the culture wars to enormous effect. For liberals, he's a cruel, socially awkward bogeyman, to his supporters, a resolute strongman turning the tide against corrosive wokeism. James Naughtie profiles the man who, if he does turn his eye to The White House, may have to take the gloves off with the man who many say made him - Donald Trump. The programme features Fernanda Santos of Futuro Media, Mike Binder of the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab and Rick Wilson, founder of The Lincoln Project. Presented by James Naughtie. Produced by Kevin Core.
08/11/22·29m 7s

Disaster Trolls - Episode 1

Daren is haunted by his experience of the Manchester Arena bombing. So why do people taunt him with conspiracy theories which falsely claim the attack didn’t happen? On 22 May 2017, a terrorist bomb was detonated in the foyer of the arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people and the bomber. Daren, who had been in the audience with his son, rushed to help the injured. He has lived with the trauma of that night ever since. But to Daren’s disbelief, it wasn’t long before sinister claims began circulating online, wild allegations that the attack was faked. He and other survivors were accused of being “crisis actors” paid to play a part in a massive deception by evil forces in the government. So who is propagating these baseless claims? In this BBC Radio 4 podcast, the BBC’s disinformation and social media correspondent Marianna Spring, investigates how survivors of UK terror attacks and tragedies are targeted with horrific conspiracy theories, online abuse and threats. Some are even tracked down offline too. Now they want answers and justice. Across this series - and in this episode - there are graphic descriptions of violence. This episode contains audio from Richard D Hall’s website. Presenter: Marianna Spring Producer: Ant Adeane Editor: Ed Main
04/11/22·16m 7s

Music to Scream to - The Hammer Horror Soundtracks

Curse of the Werewolf, The Brides of Dracula, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell – films from the height of Hammer Films’ prolific output in the late 1950s and 1960s. Many of the horrific music soundtracks, carefully calibrated to set the pulse racing, were composed by leading British modernists of the late 20th century. Hammer’s music supervisor Philip Martell hired the brightest young avant-garde composers of the day – the likes of Malcolm Williamson (later Master of the Queen’s Music), Elisabeth Lutyens, Benjamin Frankel and Richard Rodney Bennett made a living scoring music to chill the bones to supplement their concert hall work. Prising open Dracula’s coffin to unearth the story of Hammer’s modernist soundtracks, composer and pianist Neil Brand explores the nuts and bolts of scary music – how it is designed to psychologically unsettle us – and explores why avant-garde music is such a good fit for horror. On his journey into the abyss, Neil visits the haunted mansion where many of the Hammer classics were made, at Bray Studios in Berkshire, and gets the low-down from Hammer aficionado Wayne Kinsey, film music historian David Huckvale, composer Richard Rodney Bennett, and one of Hammer’s on-screen scream queens, actress Madeline Smith. Producer: Graham Rogers
28/10/22·29m 0s

Desert Island Discoveries - Lauren Laverne and Vick Hope

Lauren shares handpicked gems from the Desert Island Discs back-catalogue with Radio 1 presenter Vick Hope, including Bob Mortimer, Maya Angelou, Joe Wicks, Sophia Loren, Tom Hanks, Dame Pat McGrath and Sinéad Burke.
24/10/22·31m 32s

The Other Black Door

Jack Fenwick explores how the think tanks and pressure groups behind the black door of an anonymous building in Westminster have shaped the last decade of British politics - and asks how they might shape the next few years. For this programme Jack has spoken to more than 50 current and former government insiders about how the organisations based at 55 Tufton Street have influenced British public life. He reveals how organisations including the Taxpayers Alliance, Brexit Central and the Global Warming Policy Foundation helped set the narrative on issues such as austerity, Brexit and climate change. He tracks how some of their ideas become government policy, explores the issue of whether the rules governing these organisations need to change and, with a new Prime Minister in Number 10, he asks how the ideas developed behind one black door might influence policy behind the most famous black door in Britain. Producer and presenter: Jack Fenwick Assistant producer: Maddy Trimmer.
14/10/22·29m 10s

Ugandan Asians: The Reckoning

General Idi Amin seized power in in Uganda in 1971. His brutal dictatorship is synonymous with the deportation of the country's 80,000-strong Asian population fifty years ago this year. As the popular story goes, Asians built the economy and the country. Then a brutish African leader exiled them from their adopted homeland. Some 28,000 arrived in the UK in the summer of 1972. The story of industrious, virtuous Asian families being thrown out for no reason and succeeding against all odds, has been endlessly recycled according to Ugandan-born journalist and broadcaster. But, she argues, though powerful and moving, it is incomplete and simplistic. Their story in East Africa has much more humble beginnings and goes as far back as the Victorian era. The colonial rulers had set Asians up to be the buffer between them and and the lowly black Africans. At the time native Ugandans had little or no education, little or no knowledge of how to do business, to access loans, trade etc. Asian middlemen ran everything and were seen as the oppressors. Among the reasons Amin gave for their expulsion were that they were exploiters who made no attempt to integrate with black African Ugandans and that they invested their profits abroad rather than in Uganda. Even though black Ugandans suffered most under Amin - the so-called "Butcher of Uganda" tortured his own people and killed an estimated million of them during his eight-year rule - yet there was still a sense of liberation when the Asians left. These, according to Yasmin, are inescapable truths - truths that Asians wished to forget but black Ugandans never have. Some still maintain that for all the terrible things Amin did, they finally got their country back. Yasmin delivers a sharp reappraisal of this secret history and delves into the forgotten, concealed past from which the Ugandan Asians do not escape without blame. Producer: Mohini Patel
11/10/22·29m 12s

5. The Great New Game

Misha Glenny explores the world of rare earth metals. In this final episode he hears how Russia's interest in Ukraine might be partially motivated by its huge mineral deposits. Guests: Rob Muggah is a co-founder of SecDev, a Canadian data, science and open intelligence company focused on mitigating risks and strengthening resilience. Dr Samuel Ramani teaches politics and international relations at Oxford University and is the author of two upcoming books on Wagner’s activities. Dr Julie Klinger, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences at the University of Delaware and author of Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes. Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Hugh Levinson Sound engineer: James Beard Production coordinator: Janet Staples
30/09/22·15m 11s

4. The EU's dependency on China

Misha Glenny explores the world of rare earth metals. He asks whether the EU can end its dependency on China's supply of critical raw materials to fuel the green transition. Guests: Olivia Lazard, fellow at Carnegie Europe. Maros Sefcovic, Vice President of the European Commission Dr Julie Klinger, author of Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Hugh Levinson Sound engineer: James Beard Production coordinator: Janet Staples
30/09/22·14m 25s

3. The Super Magnets

Misha Glenny explores the world of rare earth metals. Neodymium is vital for wind turbines and electric motors but can the world become less dependent on China to supply it? Guests: Dr Julie Klinger, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences at the University of Delaware and author of Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes. Ian Higgins, managing director of Less Common Metals. Paul Atherley, chairman of Pensana. Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Hugh Levinson Sound engineer: James Beard Production coordinator: Janet Staples
30/09/22·14m 33s

2. The Hidden Paradox

Misha Glenny explores the world of rare earth metals. Reducing CO2 emissions requires critical raw materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel but mining and processing them can pose a serious threat to the environment. Can we solve the paradox? Guests: Dr Julie Klinger, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences at the University of Delaware and author of Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes Teresa Ponce De Leao, chief executive of the Portuguese National Laboratory of Energy and Geology Henry Sanderson, author of Volt Rush Guillaume Pitron author of Rare Metals War Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Hugh Levinson Sound engineer: James Beard Production coordinator: Janet Staples
30/09/22·14m 32s

1. The Magnificent Seventeen

Misha Glenny explores the world of rare earth metals and other critical raw materials. They are vital for the future of technology and the green transition. But some see China's monopoly on production as a major global threat. In the first of five episodes, Misha finds out what the 17 rare earth metals are and hears about their weird and wonderful applications. He also discovers how China has managed to dominate the mining and refining of them. Guests: Dr Julie Klinger, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences at the University of Delaware and author of Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes Sophia Kalantzakos, Global Distinguished Professor in Environmental Studies and Public Policy at New York University and the author of China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Hugh Levinson Sound engineer: James Beard Production coordinator: Janet Staples
30/09/22·15m 54s

Will the US and China go to war over Taiwan?

A recent visit to Taiwan by Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has heightened tensions between the US and China. America has accused China of dangerous military provocations in the region. China has warned the US not to play with fire. Add to all that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and concerns that China could be contemplating something similar in Taiwan, and it’s time to ask the question: Will the US and China go to war over Taiwan? Contributors: James Lin from the University of Washington and expert on Taiwanese history Dr Yu Jie, Senior Research Fellow on China, Chatham House
16/09/22·29m 6s

The Dark Side of Direct Sales

Big money, glamorous work trips abroad, and becoming your own boss - the world of door-to-door selling and chugging on the high street has been rebooted for the social media age. The industry has been around for decades, but revenues have seen a boost over the last few years and it is now worth £2.6bn a year in the UK. Some direct selling firms in the UK are jumping on the popularity of trends such as hustle culture to recruit young, ambitious people into entry-level jobs in ‘marketing’ or ‘management’ and to work with big, well-known, clients. But as Lora Jones finds out, the reality is very different. She finds keen young people who have been sold the dream, only to find themselves working 80-hour weeks - for low rates of pay. So how exactly is that possible - and what's the set-up that can reel in so many hungry young recruits? And what protection do they really have from exploitation? Reporter: Lora Jones Producers: Jim Booth, Samantha Everett, Nalini Sivathasan Researchers: Star McFarlane, Jade Thompson Executive Producers: Gail Champion and Kim Rowell Production Manager: Jon Briest
13/09/22·37m 56s

5.The Fatal Night

The Bhopal gas tragedy was the world's worst industrial accident. Tens of thousands of people died and many more suffered long term illnesses when lethal methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide plant in the city in central India on 2nd December 1984. For the previous two years one man had been predicting that Bhopal was an accident waiting to happen. Forty years ago this month the Bhopali journalist Rajkumar Keswani wrote his first article warning of the dangers posed by safety lapses at the plant. During a dogged investigation pitting him against political power, corporate money and the indifference of the media and public opinion, he never gave up. This cinematic documentary series tells his story for the first time. Episode 5. The Fatal Night As the city slept on the night of the 2nd December 1984, a huge leak of lethal methyl isocyanate escaped from the Bhopal Union Carbide chemical plant. Keswani realises his worst fears have come to pass. All his warnings have been ignored and now people are dying in their thousands before him. Union Carbide refuses to divulge what gas has been released and hospital doctors are helpless, not knowing what treatment to administer desperate patients. After the tragedy, Rajkumar Keswani is honoured with India's most prestigious award for journalism. In his acceptance speech he said he was receiving this award for his greatest journalistic failure. Narrator Narinder Samra Written and researched by Anubha Yadav and Radhika Kapur Music and Sound Design by Shreyan Chatterjee Studio Mix Donald McDonald Producer Neil McCarthy
09/09/22·15m 6s

4. Bhopal on the Brink of Disaster

The Bhopal gas tragedy was the worlds worst industrial accident. Tens of thousands of people died and many more suffered long term illnesses when lethal methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide plant in the city in central India on 2nd December 1984. For the previous two years one man had been predicting that Bhopal was an accident waiting to happen. Forty years ago this month the Bhopali journalist Rajkumar Keswani wrote his first article warning of the dangers posed by safety lapses at the plant. During a dogged investigation pitting him against political power, corporate money and the indifference of the media and public opinion, he never gave up. This cinematic documentary series tells his story for the first time. Episode 4. Bhopal on the Brink of Disaster Keswani decides he must get the attention of law makers and show them his evidence. His safety concerns are raised in the State Assembly but the labour minister at the time bats them away giving Keswani the sense that Union Carbide is unimpeachable. He then petitions the Supreme Court of India, but gets no reply. Feeling somewhat defeated and with increasing financial woes, Keswani decides to take a steady job at a newspaper in a nearby city. But soon enough his conscience drags him back to Bhopal where he writes to the editors of national newspapers. He gets a big break, publishing a comprehensive account of his findings in a leading national daily. He waits for a response. Narrator Narinder Samra Written and researched by Anubha Yadav and Radhika Kapur Music and Sound Design by Shreyan Chatterjee Studio Mix by Donald McDonald Producer Neil McCarthy
09/09/22·14m 9s

3. Friendly Business

The Bhopal gas tragedy was the worlds worst industrial accident. Tens of thousands of people died and many more suffered long term illnesses when lethal methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide plant in the city in central India on 2nd December 1984. For the previous two years one man had been predicting that Bhopal was an accident waiting to happen. Forty years ago this month the Bhopali journalist Rajkumar Keswani wrote his first article warning of the dangers posed by safety lapses at the plant. During a dogged investigation pitting him against political power, corporate money and the indifference of the media and public opinion, he never gave up. This cinematic documentary series tells his story for the first time. Episode 3. Friendly Business The more Keswani investigates the more he finds a cosy relationship between Union Carbide and local politicians and journalists. He's determined to expose the nepotism he uncovers but yet again, his written warning to the city falls on deaf ears. His friends and family don't believe him either, apart from his wife. Money troubles don't help. But Keswani is sure he has truth on his side, and sets his sights on the highest court in the land. Narrator Narinder Samra Written and researched by Anubha Yadav and Radhika Kapur Music and Sound Design by Shreyan Chatterjee Studio Mix by Donald McDonald Producer Neil McCarthy
09/09/22·14m 15s

2. The Smell of Grass

The Bhopal gas tragedy was the worlds worst industrial accident. Tens of thousands of people died and many more suffered long term illnesses when lethal methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide plant in the city in central India on 2nd December 1984. For the previous two years one man had been predicting that Bhopal was an accident waiting to happen. Forty years ago this month the Bhopali journalist Rajkumar Keswani wrote his first article warning of the dangers posed by safety lapses at the plant. During a dogged investigation pitting him against political power, corporate money and the indifference of the media and public opinion, he never gave up. This cinematic documentary series tells his story for the first time. Episode 2. The Smell of Grass Keswani digs deeper and discovers that a town planning order to relocate the chemical plant to an industrial zone, away from densely populated areas, was ignored. Union leaders smuggle him into the factory where he sees first hand the lack of safety controls and general disrepair. He learns more about the chemicals being manufactured as pesticides inside Union Carbide and understands the danger if they were to leak. He sits down to write his first 'Rapat' newspaper article under the headline 'Save, Please Save this City', and waits for a response. Narrator Narinder Samra Written and researched by Anubha Yadav and Radhika Kapur Music and Sound Design by Shreyan Chatterjee Studio Mix by Donald McDonald Producer Neil McCarthy
09/09/22·14m 15s

1. A Friend Dies

The Bhopal gas tragedy was the worlds worst industrial accident. Tens of thousands of people died and many more suffered long term illnesses when lethal methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide plant in the city in central India on 2nd December 1984. For the previous two years one man had been predicting that Bhopal was an accident waiting to happen. Forty years ago this month the Bhopali journalist Rajkumar Keswani wrote his first article warning of the dangers posed by safety lapses at the plant. During a dogged investigation pitting him against political power, corporate money and the indifference of the media and public opinion, he never gave up. This cinematic documentary series tells his story for the first time. Episode 1. A Friend Dies Keswani is the kind of journalist who finds his stories on the ground, talking to people in his native Bhopal. One evening he learns from his friend Ashraf, a worker at the Union Carbide chemical plant, that there are regular safety lapses and leaks. Shortly afterwards, Ashraf dies when he's exposed to lethal gases. A grief stricken Keswani decides he must find the truth behind safety concerns at the plant. But when questioning government officials he finds nothing but support for the multinational company that had chosen Bhopal as its base. He hears more worrying accounts from local union officials and when they are published in a small article, retribution follows. Keswani feels sure that something troubling is going on behind the scenes. Narrator Narinder Samra Written and researched by Anubha Yadav and Radhika Kapur Music and Sound Design by Shreyan Chatterjee Studio Mix by Donald McDonald Producer Neil McCarthy With thanks to Down To Earth
09/09/22·15m 22s

Recalculating Art

Art by women is literally undervalued. The highest price achieved by a contemporary female artist is $12.4m, while it is $91m for a man. If a painting is signed by a man it goes up in value, signed by a woman it goes down. We might expect this historically, but as the majority of art students today are women, why is there such a gender value gap now? To untangle this mystery, Mary Ann Sieghart enters a thrilling world of glitzy, high-stake auctions and make-or-break gallery decisions. She lifts the lid on the opaque world of art valuation, explores how punters react to genderless AI art, and uncovers historic collusion and contemporary bias. She asks if male artists are actually better than women and why, in the bible of the art world today, there is just one woman mentioned, as a footnote. Pinning down work being done to level this playing field, Mary Ann talks to the galleries showing more works by women, discovering powerful women shifting the attention and canny investors who are realising maybe it is just the right time to buy. Featured in the programme are: Frances Morris, director of Tate Modern; Prof of Finance, Renee Adams; from Sotheby’s Helena Newman and Marina Ruiz Colomer; philanthropist Valeria Napoleone, Bellatrix Hubert from David Zwirner gallery; author Helen Gorrill, art curator Naomi Polonsky, and the London Art Fair. Producer: Sarah Bowen
30/08/22·29m 13s

Leeds: Life in the Bus Lane

Rima Ahmed takes the bus into Leeds and tries to find out why it is “the biggest city in Western Europe without a mass transit system”. Rima meets passengers, campaigners and history buffs as well as local politicians to delve into why the city has had so many failed attempts to improve its public transport system since its tram was abolished in 1959. Leeds was a transport pioneer - it introduced the first electric trams and trolleybuses in the country. In the 1970s and 80s, local councillors proudly declared Leeds “the motorway city” hailing the building of a massive urban motorway right through the city centre. In the 1990s, Sheffield was already building its supertram network and Leeds was also asking government to fund its own version. Despite funding being approved in 2001, £70 million had been wasted by the time Leeds’s supertram project was pulled by Transport Secretary Alastair Darling in 2005. A “trolleybus” scheme mooted in 2012 was also scrapped. Now, the citizens of Leeds have been told that, if they are lucky, they may get a new mass transit system by 2040. Work may begin sometime by the end of the decade. In the meantime, the commuters of Leeds continue to live life in the bus lane. Presenter: Rima Ahmed Producer: Johnathan I'Anson Sound mix: Craig Boardman Production Co-ordinator: Janet Staples Editor: Nicola Addyman
23/08/22·28m 58s

Inheritors of partition

In homes across the UK, partition is not history but a live issue for its young descendants. Over the course of a year, Kavita Puri follows three people as they piece together parts of their complex family history and try to understand the legacy of partition and what it means to them today. She connects with a young man who goes to the Pakistani village where his Hindu grandfather was saved by Muslims; a woman who has always thought of herself as British Pakistani but a DNA test reveals she also has roots in India; a woman with Pakistani heritage and a man with Indian heritage plan their wedding and realise that their families actually originate from within an hour of each other in the Punjab. Five years after the award-winning series Partition Voices, Kavita Puri explores the 75th anniversary of the division of the Indian subcontinent through three stories from the third generation in Britain.
16/08/22·43m 7s

Generation Games

Can video games change lives? And, if so, how? 50 years after the arrival of Pong, gamer and writer Keza MacDonald considers what gaming has done for us. Using the rich BBC Archives, she explores how video games grew from a niche pursuit to a cultural phenomenon which stokes the imagination of, and offers agency to, those who fall for its charms. Games now influence who we are, what we think and how we act. Keza speaks to collectors, competitive gamers, psychologists, games designers and, mostly importantly, gamers young and old to find out what impact games have had on us. We hear about the deep relationships that millions cherish with Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Donkey Kong, and illustrate the entanglement of life and gaming that is increasingly impossible to sever. Presenter: Keza MacDonald Producer: Gary Milne
02/08/22·57m 49s

Welcome to Rwanda

The government has described Rwanda, where it intends to send some people who arrive illegally in the UK, as "one of the world's safest nations". But this small, landlocked country in east Africa divides opinion. To some, it’s the Singapore of Africa, with a burgeoning economy, clean streets and gleaming skyscrapers. It’s also heralded for having the highest proportion of women parliamentarians in the world. But to others, Rwanda is a frightening and repressive place. In this programme, Victoria Uwonkunda looks at what’s happening in the country of her birth, which she fled as a child during the genocide of 1994. Is this country a developmental model for the rest of the continent – or an autocratic and ruthless state?
29/07/22·38m 42s

Evacuated to Russia

More than a million refugees from the war in Ukraine have ended up in the arms of the enemy, Russia. Have they been rescued? Or illegally deported in another Kremlin war crime?
26/07/22·29m 33s

The Long History of Argument - Ep 3

Rory Stewart explores the strange human phenomenon of arguing and why it matters so deeply to our lives in a new series on BBC Radio 4. Argument became the way in which we answered the deepest questions of philosophy, established scientific rules, and made legal decisions. It was the foundation of our democracies and the way in which we chose the policies for our state. Rory grew up believing that the way to reach the truth was through argument. He was trained to argue in school, briefly taught classical rhetoric and he became a member of parliament. But the experience of being a politician also showed him how dangerous arguments can be, and how bad arguments can threaten our democracies, provoke division and hide the truth. In this episode, Rory explores why our democracy and humanity may depend on rediscovering how to argue well. Producer: Dan Tierney.
19/07/22·28m 41s

The Long History of Argument - Ep 2

Rory Stewart explores the strange human phenomenon of arguing and why it matters so deeply to our lives. Argument became the way in which we answered the deepest questions of philosophy, established scientific rules, and made legal decisions. It was the foundation of our democracies and the way in which we chose the policies for our state. Rory grew up believing that the way to reach the truth was through argument. He was trained to argue in school, briefly taught classical rhetoric and he became a member of parliament. But the experience of being a politician also showed him how dangerous arguments can be, and how bad arguments can threaten our democracies, provoke division and hide the truth. In this episode, Rory explores how modern Europe turned against argument and where arguments go wrong today. Producer: Dan Tierney.
19/07/22·29m 7s

The Long History of Argument - Ep 1

Rory Stewart explores the strange human phenomenon of arguing and why it matters so deeply to our lives. Argument became the way in which we answered the deepest questions of philosophy, established scientific rules, and made legal decisions. It was the foundation of our democracies and the way in which we chose the policies for our state. Rory grew up believing that the way to reach the truth was through argument. He was trained to argue in school, briefly taught classical rhetoric and he became a member of parliament. But the experience of being a politician also showed him how dangerous arguments can be, and how bad arguments can threaten our democracies, provoke division and hide the truth. In this episode, Rory explores why speaking and arguing well were seen for millennia as the key to a good education and the cornerstone of civilisation. Producer: Dan Tierney.
19/07/22·27m 55s

Schools Apart

Film and theatre producer Anwar Akhtar, Director of the educational charity Samosa Media, visits schools exploring diversity and the curriculum and asking questions about difficult topics such as segregation and the importance of an inclusive education. A Mancunian and first generation son of Pakistani immigrants, Anwar traces his career development to his school days at Loreto College in the 1980s. Educated with students from a range of multicultural backgrounds, he developed a sense of belonging. But he worries that some second and third generation youngsters from minority backgrounds have not had the same positive, inclusive experience. He has watched as many struggle, feeling marginalised and isolated. He considers why their experience has been so different from his own, exploring the problem of communities living and schooling apart from each other, focusing on the Pennine mill town of Oldham, a few miles from where he grew up. Anwar wants to explore solutions, how schools can help divided communities connect to each other. He revisits Loreto college to explore lessons from his own background. He looks at a radical integration project in Oldham in which segregated schools were merged. And he considers the central role of curriculum diversity in helping build a shared identity for young people, talking to pioneering teachers at two London schools, Stepney All Saints and Lilian Baylis in Lambeth. At the heart of the programme is Britain's island story, the shared solidarity and cultural capital which built the modern nation. If young people feel included in that story, and are helped in school to connect to it, we can help divided communities come together and help children fulfil their potential. Producers: Tom Edgington and Leala Padmanabhan
12/07/22·28m 58s

Ceausescu's Children

Today, the actor Ionica Adriana lives with her family in the North Yorkshire countryside - but her life could have turned out wildly different. Until the age of two-and-a-half, Ionica lived in an orphanage, in Transylvania, north-western Romania. From 1965-1989, the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu enforced a strict set of policies to set about vastly increasing the Romanian population. But widespread poverty meant it was impossible for many Romanian parents to look after their newborn children - and so many ended up in state-run institutions, where they received little care and attention, and where they were left in dirty clothes, to feed and fend for themselves. Ionica returns to Romania to uncover her past and the history of Ceaușescu’s barbaric orphanages. She explores what childcare and protection looks like in Romania today, meets someone who grew up in the state system his entire childhood and has an emotional encounter of her own. Producer: Sasha Edye-Lindner A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4
05/07/22·29m 6s

London on the Line

This summer marks a decade since the 2012 Olympics - a moment of national pride when London represented Britain on the global stage. Ten years on from those Olympian heights, the capital is struggling. Scarred by the pandemic and entrenched inequality, London faces challenges which are often overlooked or ignored. Meanwhile a cultural backlash, an anti-Londonism, threatens a crisis of confidence - at a time when the city's success looks far from guaranteed. London expert Dr Jack Brown, who was born and still lives in the Olympic borough of Waltham Forest, talks to fellow residents about life in the capital. He hears from those who defy the 'liberal metropolitan elite' stereotypes - those who stay local and rarely, if ever, venture into Zone One, those of deep faith, and the gentrifiers who now can't afford their rent. He asks why London has attracted, magnet-like, so many negative associations, and how views of the city might change. Can London recapture the spirit of 2012? Can capital and country be at ease again? Producer: Emily Craig Executive producer: Leala Padmanabhan
07/06/22·28m 57s

The Dancer and Her Shoe Maker

A dancer at the top of her career can't do her job without the skill and attention to detail of their shoemaker. Francesca Hayward is a principal dancer for the Royal Ballet and Bob Martin is her shoemaker. It’s a very personal choice for a dancer to settle on the perfect shoe - each maker is different - and so once they've found one, they rely on the maker of that shoe for their whole career. Pointe shoe making is a dying craft which has recently been given heritage craft status in the UK. There are not many people left like Bob. This programme takes you behind the curtain to peep into a world of craft, sweat and determination. Rich in ballet music, this is an uplifting real life fairy tale of two people connected by a shoe. Producer: Catherine Robinson for BBC Audio Wales and West
03/06/22·29m 7s

Bound to the Mast

Why are people with mental illness committing themselves in advance, when well, to treatment that they know they may want to refuse when they become unwell? Sally Marlow investigates. Juan was diagnosed with bipolar in his late teens. In the decade that followed, he suffered an episode of severe mental illness once nearly every year, plagued by intense paranoid thoughts that distorted his thinking. Each time this happened, it got to the point that he could no longer care for himself and he was detained or ‘sectioned’ under the Mental Health Act for his own safety. Juan has enjoyed good mental health for the past three years and he hopes that it will stay that way. But, as a precaution, he has joined a pilot study taking place at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. It's part of the reforms to the Mental Health Act which are underway to give service users more control, when well, over what happens to them when they become seriously ill. Sally Marlow talks to Juan who, as part of the pilot, has written an advance choice document. In this he summarises what it was like for him when he was unwell and how he’d like to be treated if it ever happens again. The document can include a range of preferences, within reason, such as which medication a person might prefer while in hospital and a request for admission earlier in an episode to avoid reaching crisis point. The person records their preferences when well so that they can be read and acted upon by the health professionals treating them if they become unwell in the future. Where reasonable, their preferences must be followed. This might seem straightforward but, as medical ethicist Tania Gergel explains, some people may choose to include a so-called ‘self-binding’ element, saying “this is what I want to happen, and when I’m ill over-rule me even if I say otherwise”. The powerful image of Odysseus bound to the mast to resist the Sirens’ song, captures the overwhelming role that distorted thinking can play in mental illness, and the therapeutic potential that binding oneself to a treatment decision in advance might have. It’s hoped that advance choice documents, including this 'self-binding' element, will help people who have fluctuating periods of mental ill health, such as those with bipolar, and a recent survey of hundreds of people with the condition largely agree. PRESENTER: Sally Marlow PRODUCER: Beth Eastwood
27/05/22·29m 22s

5. The Future Will Be Synthesised

What do we want the synthetic future to look like? It’s seeping into our everyday lives, but are we ready? We need a conversation about the legal, policy and ethical implications for society. Deepfakes’ murky origins are in a form of sexual image abuse that is being used against hundreds of thousands of people, most of them women. Presenter and synthetic media expert Henry Ajder speaks to journalist Sam Cole, who first reported on deepfakes in 2018. She uncovered a Reddit forum sharing pornographic videos with the faces of famous Hollywood actresses transposed on to the bodies of porn performers. Since then the technology has become much more accessible and ordinary women have become the target. Henry interviews a woman who was targeted with deepfake image abuse, and considers what we can do to protect citizens from synthetic media’s malicious uses. Interviewees: Sam Cole, Vice; Noelle Martin, campaigner; Jesselyn Cook, NBC
20/05/22·14m 59s

4. The Future will be Synthesised

If anything can be a deepfake, perhaps nothing can be trusted - and politicians can take advantage of the so called "Liars' dividend" by dismissing real media as fake. In satire, deepfakes have already had a controversial impact, targeting politicians, business leaders, and celebrities. Meanwhile, convincing deepfake audio and video have the potential to create a new wave of fraud where faces, voices and bodies can be stolen. These malicious uses of deepfake technology started out targeting celebrities and people in the public eye, but have become a mainstream challenge for cyber security professionals and ordinary individuals whose images have been used without their consent. Deepfakes can be used to defame or discredit people - but on the flip side, the cry of ‘deepfake’ could undermine trust in the use of video evidence in the justice system. What can we do to protect citizens from synthetic media’s malicious uses? And might there be some positive applications for deepfakes in politics? Interviewees: Sam Gregory, Witness; Nina Schick, author; Victor Riparbelli, Synthesia
20/05/22·15m 21s

3. The Future will be Synthesised

If anything can be a deepfake, perhaps nothing can be trusted - and politicians can take advantage of the so called "Liars' dividend" by dismissing real media as fake. In satire, deepfakes have already had a controversial impact, targeting politicians, business leaders, and celebrities. Meanwhile, convincing deepfake audio and video have the potential to create a new wave of fraud where faces, voices and bodies can be stolen. These malicious uses of deepfake technology started out targeting celebrities and people in the public eye, but have become a mainstream challenge for cyber security professionals and ordinary individuals whose images have been used without their consent. Deepfakes can be used to defame or discredit people - but on the flip side, the cry of ‘deepfake’ could undermine trust in the use of video evidence in the justice system. What can we do to protect citizens from synthetic media’s malicious uses? And might there be some positive applications for deepfakes in politics? Interviewees: Sam Gregory, Witness; Nina Schick, author; Victor Riparbelli, Synthesia
20/05/22·15m 57s

2. The Future Will Be Synthesised

Ever since the 2018 mid-term elections in the US, people have been sounding the alarm that a deepfake could be used to disrupt or compromise a democratic process. These fears have not yet come to pass, but recently deepfakes of Zelensky and Putin were deployed as the Ukrainian conflict escalated. How much disruption did these deepfakes cause? How convincing were they? And are they an omen of things to come? Could deepfakes enhance disinformation campaigns that already cause significant harm? Presenter and synthetic media expert Henry Ajder unpicks the most recent deepfake video and speaks to a journalist who reported on an unusual news report which used a deepfake news presenter to attempt to spread disinformation in Mali. Interviewees: Kateryna Fedotenko, Ukraine 24; Sam Gregory, Witness; Catherine Bennett, Le Monde/ France 24
20/05/22·14m 51s

1. The Future Will Be Synthesised

What do we want the synthetic future to look like? It’s seeping into our everyday lives, but are we ready? We need a conversation about the legal, policy and ethical implications for society. Deepfakes’ murky origins are in a form of sexual image abuse that is being used against hundreds of thousands of people, most of them women. Presenter and synthetic media expert Henry Ajder speaks to journalist Sam Cole, who first reported on deepfakes in 2018. She uncovered a Reddit forum sharing pornographic videos with the faces of famous Hollywood actresses transposed on to the bodies of porn performers. Since then the technology has become much more accessible and ordinary women have become the target. Henry interviews a woman who was targeted with deepfake image abuse, and considers what we can do to protect citizens from synthetic media’s malicious uses. Interviewees: Sam Cole, Vice; Noelle Martin, campaigner; Jesselyn Cook, NBC
20/05/22·15m 11s

The P Word

Is the use of the ‘P’ word ever acceptable? Prompted by the recent allegations of racism at Yorkshire CCC by cricketer Azeem Rafiq, Rajan Datar and producer Rajeev Gupta go on a journey of personal exploration. Like many South Asians in the 1970s and 80s, Rajan was routinely called the P-word as he walked to and from school, but a new generation of young British Asians say they now claim the word and it can be used within the community as a sign of power. Rajan finds out for himself how true this is and does a context in which the use of the word is acceptable actually exist? Produced by: Rajeev Gupta
15/04/22·29m 55s

Am I That Guy?

Scottish writer and broadcaster Alistair Heather is not proud of some of his past interactions with women. In a previous job as a builder’s labourer, he would watch and laugh as co-workers wolf-whistled and cat-called passing women. In the street, on trains, in cafes, bars and other public places, he would see it as his right to approach and talk to women. He knows that in behaving like that he has contributed to women and girls feeling excluded and unsafe. Now he wants to find out what he should be doing to help change the culture for the better. Alistair discusses ‘locker room talk’ with former Aston Villa youth player and Dundee United Hall of Famer Seán Dillon, challenges an old friend and explores Police Scotland’s much-praised campaign which urged men to address their attitudes to women with a hard-hitting viral video telling them: “sexual violence begins long before you think it does. Don’t be that guy". Producer Dave Howard Researcher Carys Wall Sound design Joel Cox
12/04/22·29m 41s

The Witches' Pardon

From allegations of cursing the king's ships, to shape-shifting into animals, or dancing with the devil, three centuries ago witch-hunting was a mania that spread right across Europe. But nowhere did it exert a greater grip than in Scotland, which had an execution rate five times higher than England's. It remains an example of just how vicious sexism and misogyny - exacerbated by superstitious beliefs and religious extremism - can be. Now campaigners are on course to win an official pardon for the estimated four thousand - mostly women - tried as witches. Leading QC Claire Mitchell, known for her prominent role in the Lockerbie appeal, is also fighting for an apology for all those accused, and for a national monument to mark the state-sanctioned atrocities she calls "the greatest miscarriage of justice in Scottish history." Claire Mitchell and co-founder Zoe Vendittozi hope that First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon will issue a formal apology. But will she? And why does it matter? Once again 'witch' is a name being levelled at women, usually in high profile cultural or political roles. It's not unusual to see figures like Hillary Clinton, Nicola Sturgeon, Professor Mary Beard, in twitter memes with green faces, stirring cauldrons and wearing pointy hats. Dani Garavelli takes a fresh look at the history and at why women were so often accused of being witches. She explores the campaign which has gained mass traction across the UK and Europe, and spawned a copy-cat campaign in Catalonia. Which power structures were being maintained then, and which ones now? Producer: Caitlin Smith Presenter: Dani Garavelli Sound Design: Joel Cox
01/04/22·29m 5s

Sir Alex Ferguson: Made in Govan

BBC Radio Manchester presenter Mike Sweeney and former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson go back a long way. They used to play football together and bonded over their love of music from the sixties. In this edition of Archive on 4, they sit down together to talk about Sir Alex as a young man and the influences which shaped his extraordinary career. Sir Alex reflects on his upbringing in Govan, the tenements where he lived and the people who first believed in him. He reveals how his early experiences as a working man left him with values that last to this day. He tells Mike about the magic of first playing football, and reflects on the ups and downs of his playing and coaching career and their impact on what came next. Moments from the BBC Archive help Mike tell Sir Alex's story. Presented by Mike Sweeney. Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Camellia Sinclair. Mixed by Michael Harrison.
29/03/22·58m 6s

Cold as a Mountain Top

WH Murray was one of a pioneering group of climbers in Scotland in the 1930’s, establishing new routes in Glencoe, Ben Nevis and The Cuillin. But it was one particular mountain that he loved – and climbed – the most; the iconic Buachaillie Etive Mor at Glencoe. This was the last mountain he climbed just before leaving for war in 1941. Murray was captured in the African desert but his life was saved when he uttered the words, ‘Cold as a mountain top.’ The German officer was also a mountaineer and took him prisoner instead of shooting him on the spot. During his imprisonment in Italy and Czechoslovakia he wrote the seminal ‘Mountaineering in Scotland’ completely from memory, recalling the intimate details of climbs he undertook in the 1930’s. The book has been a talismanic text for climbers like Robert Macfarlane. He's turned to it often, particularly when the cold of the mountain top has felt very far away during recent periods of confinement. In this immersive audio voyage, Robert returns to Murray’s beloved Buachaille with 'Mountaineering in Scotland' by his side. Produced by Helen Needham in Aberdeen. Readings by Cal MacAninch. Sound design and composition by Anthony Cowie. Sound consultation and mixing by Ron McCaskill. Our mountain Guide was Richard Parker. Thanks to Robin Lloyd-Jones, WH Murray's biographer, for help with the preparation of this programme.
25/03/22·28m 55s

Women in Stitches: The Making of the Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry is coming to Britain in the near future. It’s among the world’s most famous works of art, but it's also a mystery: no one knows who made it. The stitching, though, is full of clues. Abigail Youngman seeks to reveal the truth about the lives of the women who stitched it, to unpick the secrets they left in plain sight, in the margins of the tapestry. The Bayeux Tapestry records great historical events but its humanity is in the details: the little boy holding his mother's hand tightly as they flee their burning home; scenes of sexual violence; bawdy jokes at the Normans' expense. Scholarly opinion is divided, but some think it was stitched by Anglo-Saxon women who had experienced war and occupation first-hand. The main panels were probably designed by an Important Man (hence the focus on battles, on big sexy horses – surely the BMWs of their day – and political propaganda). But the margins of the tapestry may have been left to the imagination of the stitchers themselves: probably English women. This 'freehand' marginalia tell a different story, sometimes undercutting the message of the Norman conquerors in surprising ways. We can imagine the camaraderie and humour of the women sewing it, talking, about their personal tragedies, the terror they survived, the soldiers who were husbands and sons. Read this way, the Tapestry becomes a tantalising portrait of a group of women who are largely unrepresented in history, speaking to us vividly from a thousand years ago. Abigail Youngman uncovers fascinating and intimate details of these women's lives with the help of Dr Alexandra Makin, Dr Daisy Black, Dr Christopher Monk, Professor Gail Owen-Crocker and Dr Michael Lewis. Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery
11/03/22·28m 59s

5. The Lowball Tapes – Hunting the Truth

The public had a chance to find out the truth about the Libor scandal in 2012 – but somehow they didn’t. Andy finds secrets kept from MPs and even the juries in the rate rigging trials. Can he find out where the instructions to lowball really came from? Presenter: Andy Verity Producer: Sarah Bowen Music: Oskar Jones
03/03/22·15m 7s

4. The Lowball Tapes – The Overseers

Who was responsible for Libor? It was hailed as the world’s most important number but who was looking after it and were the custodians behaving with integrity? While traders went to prison for rigging interest rates were there orchestrated manipulations of Libor by far bigger players? Presenter: Andy Verity Producer: Sarah Bowen Music: Oskar Jones
03/03/22·15m 39s

3. The Lowball Tapes – The Whistleblower

Pressure is put on a reluctant trader to manipulate interest rates. But where are his instructions coming from? As Libor begins to feel like a lie, Andy is given a flash drive with some incendiary audio recordings. Presenter: Andy Verity Producer: Sarah Bowen Music: Oskar Jones
03/03/22·16m 11s

2. The Low Ball Tapes - The Trails

Andy Verity investigates the secret history of Libor, asking did the right people go to jail? Were the rate rigging trials about law and the evidence, or were they show trials to appease public anger towards banks? Producer: Sarah Bowen Music: Oskar Jones
03/03/22·15m 13s

1. The Low Ball Tapes - Arrested

The secret tapes the authorities, on both sides of the Atlantic, wouldn’t want you to hear. Andy Verity, the BBC’s Economics Correspondent has audio recordings, kept secret for years, which reveal evidence that could upend the received version of the biggest scandal since the financial crash. We might have thought that the rate-rigging bankers, ‘the LIBOR manipulators’ were justly jailed in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, but over 5 episodes, Andy questions the traditional narrative. The Lowball Tapes exposes evidence, much of it kept out of the trials, to show how they were instructed to give a falsely low LIBOR rate, ‘to lowball.’ Outraged, some of the traders turn whistle-blowers; but rather than stopping the deception, the whistle-blowers find themselves pursued. In interviews with convicted traders, including one on the run, Andy hears how it appears blame for manipulating LIBOR was shifted onto junior traders, while those higher up escaped prosecution. Did the world fail to see the truth at the time? We’ve acquired a huge cache of exclusive evidence - recorded phone calls, confidential internal emails and witness statements - which suggest maybe it wasn’t just the market that was rigged. Can he find out who was pulling the strings and where the instructions ultimately came from? Producer: Sarah Bowen Music: Oskar Jones
03/03/22·15m 20s

Art Came in the Night

Kevin Harman is an Edinburgh artist best known for creating 'situations', such as borrowing all his neighbours’ doormats to create an installation, smashing the window of an art gallery and transforming rubbish in skips into sculptures. In this programme he explores what happens when public art and people clash and gets a sense of what it's like when 'art comes in the night'. Whilst working on his own installation in Govan, he ponders what success and failure really mean in the sometimes controversial world of public art. Some public art is loved, some even defended from packs of roving art dealers, some is brushed off with indifference, or grumbling about wasted tax money. But when art comes out of the galleries and is splashed on the wall of someone's house or stuck outside on a shared stretch of grass the community can't help but be changed by its presence, and the art is at the mercy of those surrounding it. Kevin meets architect Lee Ivett who, in 2017, embarked on a new project in Govan, a huge sculptural installation constructed from ropes taken from the former shipyards. Within 48 hours it had been burned to ashes by local teens. Although always intended as a temporary installation, community anger at large pots of money being given to artists erupted, stoked by articles in the press. But was this destruction simply vandalism or a sign that some important local needs weren't being met? Artist Nicola Atkinson has created public art all over the world, including recently in Dunfermline. She talks to Kevin about different ways she's found to engage with communities and cautions against the scandalisation of public art which can disempower artists and undermine the idea that art should be for everybody.
25/02/22·28m 43s

A Recipe for Love

What makes us feel in love? And can we make ourselves feel it? Biomedic Sophie Ward sets herself the deluded task of making a scientifically-accredited love potion, with the help of neuroscientists, evolutionary anthropologists, aphrodisiac historians, and a smell scientist who really likes pumpkin pie. Ingredients: a neurochemical cocktail of oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin and beta endorphin, a metaphorical "good egg", a splash of kindness, a cup of communication, five figs, an entire tiramisu, a punnet of stewed plums and a stick of liquorice. Prescribed by the following doctors of various disciplines: Dr Anna Machin, Dr Helen Fisher, Dr Viren Swami, Dr Kate Lister and Dr Alan Hirsch. Produced by Becky Ripley
22/02/22·29m 26s

Episode 5

Negotiations between the UK and Iran to settle an old debt and allow Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to return to her family in the UK take a new turn. But the United States creates a fresh obstacle to her release. Presenter: Ceri Thomas Producer: Matt Russell Original music: Tom Kinsella A Tortoise Media production for BBC Radio 4
14/02/22·15m 7s

Episode 4

Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, begins his public campaign to win her freedom. And the British government explores some creative solutions for paying off a debt it owes to Iran. Finally, in 2019 the UK and Iran head to the table to negotiate a deal for Nazanin’s release. Presenter: Ceri Thomas Producer: Matt Russell Original music: Tom Kinsella A Tortoise Media production for BBC Radio 4
14/02/22·14m 30s

Episode 3

In early 2016, the United States secured the release of some of its citizens imprisoned in Iran. Months later, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was taken hostage, caught up in the backdraft of the US deal. Her fate and the decades-old issue of an unpaid debt finally collide. Presenter: Ceri Thomas Producer: Matt Russell Original music: Tom Kinsella A Tortoise Media production for BBC Radio 4
14/02/22·15m 51s

Episode 2

A deal for the UK to sell tanks to Iran was cancelled after the Islamic revolution. The company behind it is owned entirely by the British government - International Military Services. Even today, it may hold the key to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release. Presenter: Ceri Thomas Producer: Matt Russell Original music: Tom Kinsella A Tortoise Media production for BBC Radio 4
14/02/22·15m 8s

Episode 1

What’s the key to bringing home Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British woman who has been held hostage in Iran for almost six years? And how closely linked is Nazanin’s release to a tank deal debt more than 40 years old? In episode 1 of Nazanin, former Today programme editor, Ceri Thomas, explores the origins of the debt, the apparent corruption which surrounded the deal which created it, and its long, difficult legacy. It’s a story which begins in the freewheeling 1970s when the need to ‘grease the wheels’ of big arms deals seemed barely controversial, and when the Shah of Iran and a notorious middleman known around Whitehall as ‘Mr 1%’ were able to pocket millions in commissions paid by the UK. And it leads back to the fate of more than one hostage today. Presenter: Ceri Thomas Producer: Matt Russell Original music: Tom Kinsella A Tortoise Media production for BBC Radio 4
14/02/22·14m 47s

Paris-Zurich-Trieste: Joyce l'European

The Irish cultural industries have in recent decades managed to turn James Joyce into a valuable tourist commodity - 'a cash machine', 'the nearest thing we've got to a literary leprechaun.' Joyce would surely have disapproved. "When the soul of man is born in this country," he wrote, "there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets." That is precisely what he did, leaving Ireland behind and living more than half his life across Continental Europe. As Anthony Burgess put it, "Out there in Europe the modernistic movement was stirring," and by placing himself in the cultural cross-currents of cities like Trieste, Rome, Zurich, Paris & Pola, where he experienced the early rumblings of Dada, Psychoanalysis, Futurism et al, Joyce became a part of an endlessly plural social and linguistic explosion, far removed from the monolithic oppressiveness of Ireland. Backed up by interviewees including Colm Tóibín, John McCourt and Liv Monaghan and illustrated by rich archive recordings, Andrew Hussey argues it was the deliberate rupture of leaving home - taking up "the only arms I know - silence, exile and cunning" - that allowed Joyce to develop the necessary breadth of vision and literary skill to write his greatest works. The Dublin of Ulysses itself becomes, according to Tóibín, 'a Cosmopolis... another great port city like Trieste." For Hussey, who has himself lived and worked as a writer in Paris for many years, Joyce was not only a great pathfinder, he also offers an inspiring trans-national vision of Europe and the world just at a time when borders are tightening and the darker shades of nationalism are once again looming large. Produced by Geoff Bird
01/02/22·59m 10s

Room 5 - Episode 1

‘He was interested in why I was so attached to this penguin’ Bex is at university when she starts feeling anxious and overwhelmed. As Bex deteriorates, doctors are in a race against time to diagnose her. And that’s where the penguin comes in. In Room 5, Helena Merriman interviews people who - like her - were changed by a diagnosis. Written, presented and produced by Helena Merriman Composer: Jeremy Warmsley Sound Design: Eloise Whitmore Production Co-ordinator: Janet Staples Editor: Emma Rippon Commissioning Editor: Richard Knight #Room5 With special thanks to Rachel Roberts, principal viola with the LSO End song: Miffed by Tom Rosenthal If you have a story you’d like to share you can email:
28/01/22·30m 11s

Bloody Sunday: 50 Years On

Fifty years ago on 30 January 1972, a day that came to be forever known as “Bloody Sunday”, soldiers of the First Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, shot dead 13 civil rights marchers in Londonderry/Derry. Peter Taylor tells the story of that day with a mix of his own unique archive and new interviews from those on all sides about what the events meant then and still mean today - including a rare interview with Lord Saville, who carried out an exhaustive 12 year Inquiry into the events of that day. Bloody Sunday was the moment that changed the history of the conflict in Northern Ireland. It saw the re-birth of the IRA with hundreds of new recruits joining in the immediate aftermath of that day's events. And it was the spark which ignited and intensified the so-called Troubles, which left 3600 dead and tens of thousands injured. Producer: Jim Frank Editor: Penny Murphy
25/01/22·57m 58s

Night Watch

At night women say goodbye, telling each other "text me when you're home". We carry keys between our knuckles, avoid dark streets, cross the road, then cross back again, keep looking over your shoulder. In Night Watch, four women from different parts of Britain share stories of street harassment. Woven through this feature is a new, specially commissioned poem by Hollie McNish. The murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa compounded the perception of city streets as male spaces- unwelcoming and unsafe for women, and other marginalised groups. Is this the way it's always been? In these raw and unfiltered accounts women will hear their own experiences echoed back in others' words; stories of shouted insults, rejected come-ons, intimidation. Featuring the voices Nosisa and Alison Majuqwana, Aggie Hewitt, Katie Cuddon, Alice Jackson the co-founder of Strut Safe, author Rebecca Solnit, author and moral philosopher at Cornell University Kate Manne and design activist Jos Boys. If you've been impacted by any of the issues raised in this documentary contact details for support organisations can be found in this link: Producer: Caitlin Smith Poetry: Hollie McNish Sound Design: Joel Cox Executive Producer: Peter McManus
18/01/22·29m 8s

The Lullaby Project

Felicity Finch reports on a pioneering project that sees members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra working alongside inmates in HMP Norwich. The aim is to workshop, draft and perform personal songs that will help establish a bond between offenders and their children. A lullaby is the most immediate of musical forms. The singer is a parent, the audience a child. The communication is intimate and helps form intangible bonds. A reality of prison life is that those bonds are, to a great or lesser extent, broken. The Lullaby Project, run by the Irene Taylor Trust, is an attempt to create all the positives of that parental link, without undermining the reality of prison life. Felicity has been given unique access through the Irene Taylor Trust, to follow their artistic director Sara Lee. Sara and a group of musicians made three visits to Norwich prison to help the inmates write lyrics and work on ideas for melodies and rhythms that will result in lullabies that can be recorded. The process is rewarding in itself, but it also encourages inmates to reflect on the nature of their relationship with their children, and how they would like to be perceived by them. Similar projects have been tried in both the USA and the UK, but following the pilot this is the first time the media has been given access to the process. Felicity follows the process from the early and very nervous engagement between musicians and prisoners, through to the astonishment and delight at what emerges from the collaboration, a delight felt on both sides.
14/01/22·29m 1s

A Family of Strangers

How a simple DNA test turned a world upside down, leading to profound questions of identity. When 71-year-old Philip was given a genetic testing kit for Christmas, he assumed he would stumble across an ancient line of nobility or a novel identity to latch onto. Instead, he found himself unravelling a mystery with more twists and turns than a spiralling strand of DNA. David Reid meets an extraordinary group of people who sent in DNA samples and tested negative to the question: “Who am I?” Join them on a moving, funny and thought-provoking journey as they dig through layers of family myth and secrecy to unearth the incredible story of their origins. Produced and presented by David Reid Editor: Hugh Levinson Production Coordinator: Jacqui Johnson Sound: Tom Brignell
28/12/21·38m 25s

The Army Girls

80 years after female conscription, the final few tell their extraordinary World War Two stories as part of the ATS. By war's end, 290,000 women of all backgrounds had served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. It may have had a less glamorous image than its naval and air force counterparts but the ATS was by far the biggest military service for women. Initially the ATS had a reputation for dull demeaning work. That changed in 1941. In December of that year, for the first time in British history, young single women had to join Britain's war effort. Their choice of jobs expanded dramatically. Dr Tessa Dunlop unpacks some of the controversies that accompanied putting girls, en masse, into military uniform. With a rich cast of veterans she examines the impact and legacy of Britain's female army. Class, comrades, conflict, loss, love, work - for a generation of young women military service was life-changing. Presenter: Dr. Tessa Dunlop Producer: John Murphy Archive in the programme from BFI National Archive and British Pathe
24/12/21·28m 49s

A Line in the Water

At the start of 2021 and the implementation of Brexit, a trade border was created between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. What does this mean for ordinary people who cross the Irish Sea? And where exactly is this border anyway? Neil McCarthy boards Stena Line's ferry 'Embla" which plies a daily and nightly course between Birkenhead and Belfast. He talks to passengers, and crew, lorry drivers and historians, crossing this body of water that both separates and binds the two islands on a search for the elusive line in the water. 'Meridians' written and read by Mark Ward Sound design by Phil Channell Produced and presented by Neil McCarthy
14/12/21·37m 43s

The River Man

100 years ago the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, bringing to a formal end the Irish War of Independence and ending centuries of British colonial control. During the war members of the IRA were pitted against the Royal Irish Constabulary, the British Army and the notorious Black and Tans and Auxiliaries. It's a story of divided loyalties and the unresolved traumas of war, with resonance today as Britain and Ireland struggle to address the legacy of the more recent violence of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. In an investigation into the fate of one man, James Kane, the River Man, executed by the IRA a century ago, by men he knew and who liked him, Fergal Keane explores some of these issues. Why did they kill him and what were the consequences for his family and his executioners? Producer: John Murphy
07/12/21·38m 3s


Will Self tells the story of his black bin bag... from his back door... to its final destination. It's the story of a modern-day dump - an extraordinary, alien, nauseating world - where, instead of being buried, the rubbish will go up in smoke. Voices of waste workers intermingle with the rubbish in a go-round of garbage, scored by Jon Nicholls. There are the bin men who believe 'you just gotta get in the groove' as they walk ten miles a day, to 'pick up a bit of crap, sling it in the back of the lorry and take it down the dump'. There's the weighbridge clerk at the sorting facility taking pride in separating the 'sheepy recycling from the goatish garbage' to load it onto enormous steel containers. Boatmen on the Thames steer these huge barges, bright orange in colour, past the great landmarks of London in 'a cockney pas-de-deux danced with detritus'. Downriver, the bag arrives at its destination - a giant industrial incinerator where ten thousand tonnes of waste are going up in flames, at temperatures of 850 degrees. 'Some people are mesmerized by it', we hear. Will's black bag meets its 'fiery and apocalyptic end'. It's a raw, unnerving look at our relationship with our waste. Sound designer: Jon Nicholls Producer: Adele Armstrong
03/12/21·29m 4s

Could I Regenerate My Farm To Save The Planet?

Regenerative Farming is gaining traction around the world as a means of increasing biodiversity, improving soil quality, sequestering carbon, restoring watersheds and enhancing the ecosystems of farms. The shepherd James Rebanks, author of English Pastoral, is on a quest to find out if it is possible to adopt these methods on his farm in the Lake District. He meets leading proponents of these methods in the UK, US and Europe and discovers how mimicking natural herd movements, stopping ploughing and adding costly chemicals could make his farm economically sustainable. This is becoming an urgent question as not only is the global population projected to rise to nearly 10 billion by 2050 but according to the UN's Food and Agriculture organisation within 60 years we may literally no longer have enough arable topsoil to feed ourselves. Meanwhile our reliance on meat products is being blamed for increasing CO2 and climate change. But can James,and indeed other farmers, make the switch to these techniques when industrial farming has been the paradigm for so long? When so many people believe turning vegan and shifting to plant-based ecological farming is the way forward, should he continue breeding sheep and cows? And as companies like Nestle, Walmart, Unilever, McCain and Pepsi all pledge to invest in regenerative farming to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, do the claims about carbon sequestration stand up? How can he use his farm to save the planet?
26/11/21·29m 14s

Jan Morris: Writing a Life

Horatio Clare examines how the pioneering writer Jan Morris authored her own life, from her nationality to her sexual identity, trying to get behind the myths and masks she created. Jan Morris wrote more than fifty books but also constructed her life to a degree rarely seen in one individual. She created a glittering career, invented a writing style, chose her nationality and most famously, transitioned. Horatio talks to Michael Palin, travel writer Sara Wheeler, and Jan's biographer Paul Clements, and visits Jan's home in North Wales to meet her son Twm Morys. Hearing interviews she recorded throughout her long life, he attempts to find out who Jan Morris really was. James - as she was then - Morris knew from a very young age both that he was in the wrong body and that he wanted to be a writer. Through a combination of self-confidence, determination and what Jan herself describes as her ‘insufferable ambition’, she achieved what she set out to, becoming one of the most successful journalists of her generation and then a world-famous author of books about places like Venice, Oxford, Trieste and Manhattan, which re-invented travel writing. At the same time as these professional and literary achievements, however, Jan was also undergoing a deep crisis of personal identity. In one of her books, Conundrum, she described how the conviction she’d had as a child that she was in the wrong body had never left her, but by her thirties she was in despair and had even considered killing herself. Conundrum describes how she succeeded in making the transition from man to woman in 1972. She said the sex change brought her the happiness she’d always sought. She also claimed that her decision had made little impact on the happiness of her four children, but that claim is put to the test in the programme. Michael Palin talks about the Jan Morris he met - witty, generous and inspirational, but also a challenging interviewee who used a variety of techniques to deflect difficult questions about her private life. Paul Clements suggests she 'played hide and seek with the facts'. Archive on Four considers how much she constructed and presented her whole life, with determination, guile and skill. Produced by Gareth Jones for BBC Wales
19/11/21·57m 45s

How America Learned to Laugh Again

Twenty years ago - in the mind-numbing aftermath of the terrorist attacks on America - the immediate, mind-numbing response of the media was to ban laughter. All laughter, including jokes, chuckles and guffaws. This is the story of what happened next. With contributions from Private Eye to The Onion, via David Letterman, the News Quiz and Have I Got News for You. As well as 9/11 and the death of Bin Laden, Joe Queenan explores the pandemic and the US retreat from Afghanistan. "What a year 2021 has been – from the storming of the capitol in Washington to the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, this has not been a good time in the US. Probably not so great in the UK either. Throw in some riots, add in the climate crisis and the plague – none of this is worth the slightest lame joke. But is it worth a good joke?" With contributions from three US presidents, plus Ian Hislop and Adam MacQueen from Private Eye, Armando Iannuci (creator of The Death of Stalin), Susan Morrison of the New Yorker, and Robert Siegal editor of The Onion in 2001 - the first US publication to break the laughter ban with the headline, US Vows To Defeat Whoever It Is We Are At War With. A copy of that magazine is now in the Library of Congress. Also includes archive from David Letterman, Linda Grant, Michael Rosen, Rich Hall on Have I Got News for You, plus the News Quiz from September 2001. Joe Queenan is an Emmy Award-winning US broadcaster. His previous contributions to Archive on Four include Brief Histories on Blame, Shame and Failure. The producer for BBC Audio in Bristol is Miles Warde.
12/11/21·58m 12s

The Hack That Changed the World: Ep 5 - The Sceptics

Who was behind the 2009 hack and leak of emails that fuelled climate change sceptics? Gordon Corera tracks down some of the sceptics engaged in a long-running battle with the climate scientists over data, and he considers the legacy of the events of 2009. Producer: Sally Abrahams Editor: Richard Vadon
02/11/21·15m 49s

The Hack That Changed the World: Ep 4 - Dark Money

Who was behind the 2009 hack and leak of emails that fuelled climate change sceptics? Who benefited most from the ‘Climategate’ hack? Powerful corporate interests have been fighting an acceptance of climate change for years. Could they have been behind the hack? Presenter: Gordon Corera. Producer: Sally Abrahams Editor: Richard Vadon
02/11/21·15m 21s

The Hack That Changed the World: Ep 3 - The Russia Mystery

Who was behind the 2009 hack and leak of emails that fuelled climate change sceptics? The investigation turns East – towards Russia. Could the mystery hacker have come from there, or was Russian intelligence behind the attack? Where does the evidence lead? Presented by Gordon Corera. Producer: Sally Abrahams Editor: Richard Vadon
02/11/21·14m 51s

The Hack That Changed the World: Ep 2 - On the Trail

Who was behind the 2009 hack and leak of emails that fuelled climate change sceptics? Tracking down the police officer in charge of the original investigation into ‘Climategate’, Gordon Corera hears about the list of suspects and meets with Britain’s top cyber spy. Producer: Sally Abrahams Editor: Richard Vadon
02/11/21·14m 38s

The Hack That Changed the World: Ep 1 - The Cold Case

In 2009, someone broke into the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia and stole emails. The material was distributed online - mainly on blogs linked to climate change sceptics. It was used to make the case that scientists were surreptitiously twisting the facts to exaggerate climate change. That was not the case. But before that became clear, events would take on a life of their own, sparking a global media storm. This is a story that matters - firstly because it may have set back by years efforts to combat climate change. But also because it foretold a future in which emails would be stolen and weaponised and where information and social media would be used to cast doubt on science and expertise. More than a decade on, as the UK hosts a new global climate summit - COP26 in Glasgow - the mystery of who was behind ‘Climategate’ remains.    BBC Security Correspondent Gordon Corera goes on the trail of this ‘cyber cold case’, talking to the key players as well as police and spies, taking the listener on a journey to a place where climate change and information warfare met - with world-changing consequences. Producer: Sally Abrahams Editor: Richard Vadon Credit: MSNBC News Live 25 November 2009 and NBC Nightly News, 4 December 2009
02/11/21·14m 32s

Plastic: The Biography

The remarkable story of how plastic became such a major player in the worlds of industry, medicine and design (among many others) before becoming persona-non-grata thanks to its intimate involvement in our current ecological plight is Shakespearean in its scale and one of the great tales of the last century. Laura Barton sets out to create a biography of this most multi-faceted and fluid titan of the manufacturing world, using the fabulously rich archive from TV, radio, advertising and film - as well as fresh interviews with contemporary experts including Rebecca Altman, Jeff Miekle, Charlotte Hale and Lauren Bassam. Plastic’s story is one of of incredible power, hubris and more recently disparagement, but it is also endlessly complex and morally ambiguous; while plastic’s negative impact on our environment is inescapable, as Laura will set out to describe it has also revolutionised the way we live our lives in any number of invaluable ways. Produced by Geoff Bird The exhibition 'Plastic: Remaking Our World' will be co-produced in 2022 by V&A Dundee, the Vitra Design Museum and MAAT.
29/10/21·58m 4s

The Nuremberg Legacy

It's 75 years since the judgement at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. Nineteen high ranking Nazis were found guilty of war crimes, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and conspiracy to commit those crimes. Twelve of them were condemned to death. The trial, which lasted almost a year, made history and the principles of international criminal law first established there are still fundamental to international justice today. The writer and lawyer, Philippe Sands examines the legacy of Nuremberg in subsequent war crimes trials and the founding of the International Criminal Court in the Hague 50 years later. He speaks to people who were there in Courtroom 600 in Nuremberg, as well as leading judges and lawyers in today's international justice system. Producer Caroline Bayley Editor Jasper Corbett Image: View of the judges bench in Nuremberg International Military Tribunal (IMT) court in September 1946. Credit AFP via Getty Images
26/10/21·38m 4s

The Ballad of the Bet

In the small hours of the night, we are up in our thousands watching a wheel spin on our phones - a roulette wheel. It may be virtual, yet for many of us it has a power beyond the real. Gambling has been spun inside down and inside out by the internet age, never more so than under lockdown. With the Gambling Act currently under review, Amy Acre brings the experience of betting alive through poetry, music and oral histories, tracing the social history of gambling over three generations. Image of Amy Acre by Jamie Cameron Sound design and original music by Jon Nicholls Vocals by Steph MacGaraidh Producer Monica Whitlock Production Coordinator Janet Staples Editor Hugh Levinson
05/10/21·29m 3s

Poison: Episode 5 - A Toxic Aftertaste

In July this year South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma, was jailed for contempt of court. The 79-year-old is now facing trial for corruption. But Zuma insists he is a victim of a vast, international conspiracy to poison him and silence him. And when his arrest triggers an orchestrated campaign of violence, fears grow that Zuma’s conspiracy theories and populist rhetoric could threaten the democracy he once fought to build. 'Poison' is the story of one man's toxic obsession and the battle for South Africa's future. Presenter: Andrew Harding Producer: Vauldi Carelse Sound mix: James Beard Series editor: Bridget Harney
27/09/21·15m 18s

Poison: Episode 4 - The Russian Antidote

When South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, falls ill from what he suspects to be poison, he flies to Moscow for treatment. But why the need to go abroad? The implication is that Zuma believes Western spy agencies are trying to kill him. But is he now using the Russians, or are they using him for their own strategic purposes? 'Poison' is the story of one man's toxic obsession and the battle for South Africa's future. Presenter: Andrew Harding Producer: Vauldi Carelse Sound mix: James Beard Series editor: Bridget Harney
27/09/21·14m 2s

Poison: Episode 3 - How Do You Like Your Tea?

Home after years in exile during the liberation struggle, South Africa’s future President Jacob Zuma is quickly engulfed in corruption scandals. But when one of his wives is accused of trying to poison his tea, Zuma suspects that a foreign government may be plotting to kill him. 'Poison' is the story of one man's toxic obsession and the battle for South Africa's future. Presenter: Andrew Harding Producer: Vauldi Carelse Sound mix: James Beard Series editor: Bridget Harney
27/09/21·14m 7s

Poison: Episode 2 - A Pinch of Paranoia

South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma is convinced he’s been the target of repeated poisoning attempts. But why? In this episode we dive into the murkiest corners of the long struggle against racial apartheid to uncover Cold War paranoia, toxic underpants, and the origins of Zuma’s fixation with poison. 'Poison' is the story of one man's toxic obsession and the battle for South Africa's future. Presenter: Andrew Harding Producer: Vauldi Carelse Sound mix: James Beard Series editor: Bridget Harney
27/09/21·13m 45s

Poison: Episode 1 - The Chuckling Pensioner

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma believes he has been poisoned, repeatedly. He claims to be the victim of a long, sophisticated, and unfinished plot to assassinate him. But who would want to kill a man still celebrated for his role as a fighter in the struggle against apartheid? Could it be linked to the allegations of massive corruption against him? Or is there a broader conspiracy at work – an international plot to silence a man who claims to be speaking up for South Africa’s neglected poor? In this five-part series the BBC’s Africa correspondent, Andrew Harding, digs into a mystery that links a case of poisoned underpants, to a plot to kill Nelson Mandela, to this year’s riots that left 300 South Africans dead. In this episode, Zuma's early years. 'Poison' is the story of one man's toxic obsession and the battle for South Africa's future. Presenter: Andrew Harding Producer: Vauldi Carelse Sound mix: James Beard Series editor: Bridget Harney
27/09/21·14m 53s

The Delirium Wards

Ten years ago, in 2011, David Aaronovitch felt like he was losing his grip on reality. He'd been placed in a coma, after a surgery gone wrong. Now he was awake and in Intensive Care. Every time he closed his eyes the inside of his eyelids would display a kaleidoscope of red, black and yellow violent cartoon images. Faces appeared before him like odd animation of computer game avatars. That was just the beginning. For the next four days and night David experienced what he describes as a "waking nightmare". These types of hallucinations are called delirium and are a very common side effect of being placed in an induced coma. Now the number of people experiencing delirium is on the rise. That's because those who are critically ill with Covid often have to be ventilated. While it helps their bodies fight the virus, and will often save their lives, the mental toll can be as serious as the physical one. Increasingly, patients are leaving hospital physically healed but mentally scarred. In this powerful and immersive documentary David Aaronovitch hears from three people who have struggled with delirium, and shares his own experience. Producer: Caitlin Smith Executive Producer: Peter McManus Researcher: Anna Miles Sound Design: Eloise Whitmore With thanks to Paul Henderson, Zara Slattery, Robin Hanbury-Tenison, ICU nurse Crystal Wilson and Dr Dorothy Wade of Barking Havering and Redbridge Universities Hospital Trust and North EAst London Foundation Trust. Image courtesy of Zara Slattery.
24/09/21·28m 38s

The Nuclear Priesthood

How do we send a warning a hundred millennia into the future? Poet Paul Farley considers how we might warn people three thousand generations from now about the radioactive waste we’ve left in geological disposal facilities deep underground. As he does so he explores the essence of communication and storytelling and the elements of our language, art and culture which are truly universal. In countries across the world, including the UK, USA, France and Finland, the hunt is on for underground sites which will survive shifting tectonic plates or passing ice ages and remain secure for tens of millennia - maybe a hundred thousand years - until the radioactive waste they contain is no longer a danger. And once it’s buried, how do we leave a clear, unambiguous warning message - that this site is dangerous and should not be disturbed - for a society which may be utterly different from our own? Can we still use written language? Would pictures and symbols be more easily understood? Or could we construct a landscape of vast monuments to instil fear in anybody who saw them. Paul talks to writer Helen Gordon about her experience of visiting the Onkalo nuclear repository in Finland and the challenges of warning the future about what it contains. He hears from Jean-Noël Dumont, Manager of the Memory for Future Generations programme for the French nuclear agency Andra. For several years Andra has asked artists to devise a warning of the existence of a nuclear repository. Stéfane Perraud and Aram Kebabdjian responded with the idea of a Zone Bleue – a forest of genetically-modified blue trees which act as a memorial rather than a warning. In 1981 linguist Thomas Sebeok proposed the idea of a ‘nuclear priesthood’. The idea takes its inspiration from world faiths which have passed on their message for thousands of years. At an ancient Christian site in the shadow of Heysham nuclear power station Paul meets Robert Williams, Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cumbria who, with American artist Bryan McGovern Wilson, has brought to life the idea of a Nuclear Priest, imagining their vestments, their rituals and role. There’s compelling evidence that oral traditions can carry memories of events not just for centuries but for thousands of years. Professor Patrick Nunn has been researching Indigenous Australian stories which appear to carry the folk memory of a time after the last ice age when sea levels were much lower – around ten thousand years. So could a story, a poem or a song be the answer? As the programme unfolds, Paul devises a poem to carry a warning to distant generations. Producer: Jeremy Grange Programme image courtesy of Robert Williams and Bryan McGovern Wilson with Michael Coombs. It was taken during the Alchemical Tour of Archaeological Sites in Cumbria and North Lancashire, as part of the Cumbrian Alchemy Project.
14/09/21·28m 59s

Behind the Crime

As a society, we send close to 100,000 people to prison each year. But what happens to people while they’re behind bars? Sally Tilt and Dr Kerensa Hocken are forensic psychologists who work in prisons. Their role is to help people in prison look at the harm they’ve caused to other people, understand why it happened and figure out how to make changes to prevent further offending after they’ve been released. In Behind the Crime, they take the time to understand the life of someone who’s ended up in prison, and what happened afterwards. In this episode, they talk to 23 year-old Courtney, a mum who received a five-year sentence for her part in a series of armed robberies at the age of 17. Through the course of the conversation, they explore some of the key events in Courtney’s life and track some of the threads that led her down a path to prison. At the same time, Sally and Kerensa explain some of the methods they use to reach the core factors that can lead to people harming others – and how they then work with people in prison to prevent further harm from happening in the future. Producer: Andrew Wilkie Editor: Hugh Levinson A BBC Radio Current Affairs and Prison Radio Association co-production for BBC Radio 4 Image: Sally Tilt and Dr Kerensa Hocken. Credit: Christopher Terry/Prison Radio Association
03/09/21·44m 6s

Write Her Story

Why are women not used as the dramatic engines in drama more? asks double Oscar-winning, recent Tony, Bafta and Emmy Award-winning actress Glenda Jackson. Despite improvements, the statistics concur with her theory. With great contributions from actress Adjoa Andoh, director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia, The Iron Lady), actress Harriet Walter, writer Sally Wainwright and director Richard Eyre. Presented by Glenda Jackson Produced by Pauline Harris
31/08/21·29m 14s

Genetics and the longer arm of the law

It is almost 40 years since Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys discovered genetic fingerprints in his University of Leicester laboratory. Now DNA is an integral part of criminal investigations worldwide, providing vital evidence to secure convictions and exonerate the innocent. But the extraordinary breakthroughs in genetic science since then means a suite of new DNA tools is now available to police and law enforcement, as well as private citizens doing a spot of freelance crime fighting. How are these novel uses of forensic genetics overseen? And is there a risk of over-reach, the science running ahead of an ethical and regulatory framework? Turi King led the genetic identification of Richard III after his body was dug up in a Leicester City carpark. She's also a Professor of Genetics at the University of Leicester (Sir Alec was her mentor) and in this programme she explores the history of forensic DNA and the unanticipated role of family tree hobbyists and recreational genealogy databases in crime fighting. It was the recent Golden State killer case in the US where a serial murderer was eventually captured with the help of DNA, that thrust into the spotlight the use of private genealogy databases by law enforcement. Until this case hit the headlines the millions of family tree enthusiasts who had uploaded their DNA profiles in order to find their relatives, were blissfully unaware that the science in the genealogists' toolkit had been adopted by police officers hunting new leads in criminal cases. Turi meets one of the first private DNA detectives from the US, Dr Colleen Fitzpatrick, who coined the phrase "forensic genealogy". Colleen uses her skills as a genealogist (originally this was her hobby; she trained as a rocket scientist) to help police solve scores of cold cases. She tells Turi that the DNA genie is out of the bottle, and the stopper can't be put back in. And Turi discovers this is indeed the case. She hears about a group of private citizens, international freelance crime fighters, who, inspired by the Golden State killer case, are using DNA to track down abusive men. Lawyer and former army officer, Andrew MacLeod, spent years working in war zones and on disaster relief and humanitarian emergencies. Frustrated by what he saw as an institutional failure to stop the rape and abuse of women and girls by aid workers, peacekeeping soldiers and sex tourists, he decided to take direct action through a charity, Hear Their Cries. Their strategy is to match the DNA of children born from these abusive relationships, with relatives on the major genealogy databases ("we're doing family reunions" he tells Turi). Then, using classic genealogy skills, they can build the children's family tree and track down their fathers, wherever they might be in the world. A pilot project in the Philippines led to five out of six fathers in the UK, US, Canada and Australia being confronted with their paternity obligations. The long-term aim, he tells Turi, is to send the message that with the help of DNA to identify them, there will be no escape for abusive men. If they have committed a crime, they will eventually be tracked down and made to pay. Also in the programme: Gill Tully, former Forensic Science Regulator for England and Wales and Professor of Practice for Forensic Science Policy and Regulation at King's College, London; Carole McCartney, Professor of Law and Criminal Justice at Northumbria University; Dr Connie Bormans, Laboratory Director for Family Tree DNA, commercial genetic testing company in Houston, Texas; Manfred Kayser, Professor of Forensic Molecular Biology and Head of the Department of Genetic Identification, Erasmus University, the Netherlands and David Baker, former Chief Superintendent Leicestershire Police, led the double murder hunt for the killer of teenagers Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in the 1980s. Producer: Fiona Hill
20/08/21·38m 21s

Trading Blows?

Brexit has been a reality for seven months – long enough for fears and speculation to give way to actual experience of individual business people. How is British business faring outside the EU? Do they feel liberated, unchained from the rules of the European Union, or ensnared in a new tangle of unfamiliar red tape? How important are new trade deals in their calculations? This programme is not a definitive verdict. But amid all the wealth of commentary and speculation it is a snapshot of the experience so far of three industries. Mark Mardell looks at Scotch whisky – the country’s biggest and most profitable food and drink export, and talks to the man who prepared the giant drinks company Chivas Brothers for Brexit, and to the boss of a new small Glasgow distillery. He examines aerospace, another huge British money spinner which warned loudly of the dangers of Brexit to their pan-European business, sees how Airbus is coping now and peers in to the future to ask if entrepreneurs at the new cutting edge technology of vertical take-off drones and air taxis are finding fresh opportunities and pitfalls. And he hears from the maker of upmarket lawnmowers who says his customers are fanatical about their striped lawns. But are they taking advantage of predictions that Britain unfettered could prosper making powerful models banned by the European Union? Producer: Caroline Bayley
17/08/21·37m 40s

Breaking Through

Breaking, also known as break-dancing, borne in New York City in the 1970s, is set to make its debut at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. Four-time breaking world champion, BoxWon (Benyaamin Barnes McGee), traces how breaking went from Bronx block parties to NYC’s downtown art scene, to the world. Speaking to legends of breaking, such as Rock Steady Crew's Ken Swift and B-Boy Glyde from Dynamic Rockers, BoxWon reveals how punk impresario, Malcolm McLaren, helped breaking become a worldwide craze in the 1980s - before it vanished. But when the mainstream got bored, breaking didn’t die - it just went back underground, only to re-emerge a decade later more extreme than ever. Breaking is once again a global phenomenon, with pro dancers coming from all corners of the world – Russia, Japan, and South Korea are now home to some of the world’s very best. But when the International Olympic Committee confirmed breaking as a new sport for the Olympic Games in Paris 2024, many people were taken by surprise. The last time they had heard of breaking was back in the 1980s - a fad which swiftly disappeared with shoulder pads and leg warmers. Breaking Through tells the fascinating story of how this dance-form survived and evolved outside of the media spotlight, fuelled by the scene’s die-hard devotees. Now, as it attracts global corporate sponsorship and demands for more stringent rules and regulations, we hear about the breaking world's own internal battle to maintain its integrity. Presenter: BoxWon (Benyaamin Barnes McGee) Producer: Simona Rata Research: Emmanuel Adelekun Studio Mix: James Beard Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
10/08/21·29m 24s

Speak Up

Women may be caricatured as babbling chatterboxes, but in public, women speak a lot less. Be it in conferences or committee meetings, television or parliamentary debates, women do not get a proportionate amount of air space as men. Mary Ann takes us on a global journey to find out why women aren't speaking up and if they are being disproportionally side-lined, excluded from the world's debates. She explores the role history and social conditioning plays: the ancient Babylonians thought if a woman spoke in public, she should have her teeth smashed with a burnt brick; in classrooms today boys get far more attention, teachers accepting their calling out of answers, while punishing girls for the same behaviour. She hears that when women do speak, they are often spoken over regardless of their status. In the Australian High Court, women judges and even the female presiding judge were regularly interrupted by male advocates. And women aren't heard in the same way as men; many struggle to see that a woman might be the expert in the room. So how can women be heard? In a year in which the head of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee said women talk too much and Jackie Weaver had to assert her authority in a fuming parish council meeting, we do need solutions. Should women be hesitant and tentative or bold and chatty? How can a slight change in the layout of a room make a fundamental difference? Mary Ann finds out how to speak up and be heard, to get your point across and influence both men and women. Interviewees: Deborah Cameron, Professor of Language and Communication, Oxford University, Chris Karpowitz, Professor of Political Science, Brigham Young University, David Sadker, Prof Emeritus at The American University, Linda Carli, Senior Lecturer Emerita in Psychology, Wellesley College, Ioana Latu, senior lecturer in Psychology, Queens University Belfast and author and speaking coach, Patricia Seabright Producer: Sarah Bowen
06/08/21·29m 2s

China in Slogans

As the Chinese Communist Party celebrates its 100th anniversary, Celia Hatton looks at how party slogans reveal the turbulent history of modern China. Throughout its existence, the party has used key slogans to communicate policy and mobilise the country's vast population. These messages reflect not just the ambitions of party leaders but also have a profound impact on the lives of millions. Using the BBC archive Celia examines the story behind eight key Communist Party slogans, from their early years as a guerrilla movement to the campaigns of China's current all-powerful leader Xi XInping. Contributors: Professor Vivienne Shue, Dr Jennifer Altehenger, Dr Olivia Cheung, author Lijia Zhang, Dr Rowena He, and New York Times correspondent Christopher Buckley. Presenter: Celia Hatton Producer: Alex Last Editor: Hugh Levinson
27/07/21·58m 1s

Waiting for the Van

"I couldn't stand back anymore and just watch people die." In September 2020, drug policy activist Peter Krykant decided he'd had enough. The former heroin addict, turned frontline campaigner, bought a minivan and kitted it out with sanitisers and needles, a supply of naloxone- the medication used to reverse an opioid overdose- and a defibrillator. He parked it in Glasgow's city centre and opened its doors to homeless drug users who are most at risk of overdose. The van is operating as a drug consumption room (DCR), which are widely used in Europe and North America. But in Britain they're considered illegal under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, though legal experts dispute that. Scotland now holds a per capita death rate three times higher than anywhere else in Europe, tallying six straight years of record-setting, drug-related deaths. The SNP government has expressed support for bold initiatives, like DCRs, but claims its hands are tied by Westminster. A few years ago the Home Office had stepped in to halt plans for permament site in Glasgow. Since then DCRs have been at the centre of fierce debate. For Peter Krykant, setting up the van is not just about saving lives, but challenging drug policy. Presenter Dani Garavelli recorded with Peter at the van over eight months, getting to know him, his family and the users who rely on the service. Producer: Caitlin Smith
23/07/21·37m 47s

My Cat, The Judge

Meet Velma: a cat with attitude. (Possibly...) And her owner, ​comedian Suzi Ruffell, who adores her pet - but thinks she's been getting a tad tetchy since they started spending more time together during the past year's various lockdowns. Is Suzi just projecting her own feelings onto an unsuspecting animal, or are those pointed stares a sign that Velma's passing frosty judgement on her owner's life choices? Together, they embark on a journey of discovery to find out more about cat behaviour and cognition, the world of feline research and the bond between cats and humans. And of course, to discover the answer to Suzi's burning question: is her cat judging her? Presented by Suzi Ruffell Produced by Lucy Taylor for BBC Audio in Bristol Featuring excerpts from: - The ending of an episode of the television show 'Pointless', produced for the BBC by Remarkable Television with theme tune composed by Marc Sylvan; - A video of Texas lawyer Rod Ponton appearing as a cat during a virtual court session, as shared online by Judge Roy Ferguson; - A video of 'Barney the Cat' playing the keyboard, as shared on TikTok via @mars.gilmanov.
09/07/21·29m 16s

Lost for Words

Struggling to find words might be one of the first things we notice when someone develops dementia, while more advanced speech loss can make it really challenging to communicate with loved ones. And understanding what’s behind these changes may help us overcome communication barriers when caring for someone living with the condition. When Ebrahim developed Alzheimer’s Disease, for example, he’d been living in the UK for many years. Gradually his fluent English faded and he reverted to his mother tongue, Farsi - which made things tricky for his English-speaking family who were caring for him. Two decades on, his son, the journalist and author David Shariatmadari, seeks answers to his father’s experience of language loss. What can neuroscience reveal about dementia, ageing, and language changes? Why are some aspects of language more vulnerable than others - and, importantly, what are the best approaches to communicating with someone living with dementia? David reflects on archive recordings of his dad, and speaks to a family in a similar situation to theirs, to compare the ways they tried to keep communication alive. And he discovers there are actually clear benefits to bilingualism when it comes to dementia: juggling two or more languages can delay the onset of symptoms by around four years. So while losing one of his languages posed practical difficulties for Ebrahim, it’s possible that by speaking two languages in the first place, he was able to spend more valuable lucid years with his family. Presented by David Shariatmadari and produced by Cathy Edwards
06/07/21·29m 0s

Return to the Homeless Hotel

A year after rough sleepers were given emergency accommodation during the first coronavirus lockdown, has the unprecedented operation had a lasting impact? In March 2020, Simon’s life was transformed, from sleeping in shop doorways in Manchester to an en suite room at the Holiday Inn. He was one of thousands of homeless people across the country offered somewhere to stay as the Covid-19 pandemic reached the UK. The highs and lows of Simon’s experience were captured in Radio 4’s The Homeless Hotel as he dealt with the challenges of his addictions, illness, and the fear of ending up back on the streets. In Return to the Homeless Hotel, reporter Simon Maybin asks where Simon is now. What’s happened to the hotel? And has the radical approach to accommodating people who are street homeless resulted in a radical reduction of rough sleepers - or a return to the status quo? Reporter/producer: Simon Maybin
22/06/21·28m 50s

Adults, Almost

Frank and fearless teenagers from Company Three youth theatre spent 2020 making a time capsule of their lives in lockdown, from the day their schools shut down to the present. Re-cording on their phones, they created lively, intimate scenes from family life, reflecting on what it means to come of age without the usual rites of passage like exams and school leaving parties. They have lost much - but, as the year went on, they found sides to themselves that took them by surprise, and a new appreciation of relationships with other. Presented by Kezia Adewale and Shilton Freeman, the programme includes songs, jokes, sound recordings and thoughts from many other members of Company Three. Sound design and composition: Jon Nicholls. Producer: Monica Whitlock
18/06/21·29m 10s

A Sense of Music

Music can make us feel happy and sad. It can compel us to move in time with it, or sing along to a melody. It taps into some integral sense of musicality that binds us together. But music is regimented, organised. That same 'sense' that lets us lean into Beethoven makes a bad note or a missed beat instantly recognisable. But does that same thing happen in the minds of animals? Can a monkey feel moved by Mozart? Will a bird bop to a beat? Do animals share our 'Sense of Music'? Charles Darwin himself thought that the basic building blocks of an appreciation for music were shared across the animal kingdom. But over decades of scientific investigation, evidence for this has been vanishingly rare. Fresh from his revelation that animals' experience of time can be vastly different to our own, in the award-winning programme 'A Sense of Time', presenter Geoff Marsh delves once more into the minds of different species. This time he explores three key aspects of musicality: rhythm, melody and emotional sensitivity. Geoff finds rhythm is lacking in our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. But it's abundantly clear in a dancing Cockatoo, and internet sensation, named Snowball. He speaks with scientists who have revealed that birds enjoy their own music, but may be listening for something completely different to melody. And Geoff listens to music composed for tamarin monkeys, that apparently they find remarkably relaxing, but which sets us on edge. In 'A Sense of Music', discover what happens when music meets the animal mind. Produced by Rory Galloway Presented by Geoff Marsh
11/06/21·29m 7s

Descendants: Episode One

One year on from the toppling of the Colston Statue in Bristol, Descendants asks... how close is each of us to the legacy of Britain's role in slavery? And who does that mean our lives are connected to? Yrsa Daley-Ward narrates seven episodes telling the stories of people whose lives today are all connected through this history. The story begins with Jen Reid – whose image first captured attention of the national and international press after a replacement statue of her appeared on the plinth where Colston once stood. In the first episode, we discover the connection between Jen's ancestors in Jamaica and another family 3000 miles away in Detroit. Scrolling backwards and forwards in time, their stories span 200 years and take us on a journey from a plantation field in Jamaica to a football pitch in Scotland and a connection to a legendary figure of the 20th century. Producers: Polly Weston, Candace Wilson, Rema Mukena Editor: Kirsten Lass Academic consultants: Matthew Smith and Rachel Lang of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery at UCL Additional genealogical research is by Laura Berry
01/06/21·28m 31s

Daft Punk Is Staying at My House, My House

It was 1994, and legendary techno duo Slam were booked to play an event in Disneyland Paris. “We had a couple of days to kill, and a friend got in touch to say he knew these two young French musicians who wanted to give us music they’d made.” The “young French musicians” Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo were still in their teens at that point, and Daft Punk was under a year old. Stuart McMillan distinctly remembers hearing their 4-track demo for the first time; “We were blown away!” Composed of Orde Meikle and Stuart McMillan, Slam launched independent electronic record label Soma in 1991. It had a very DIY ethos. Along with manager Dave Clarke, they’d overseen a number of influential releases. It was Slam’s own track ‘Positive Education’ that piqued Thomas and Guy-Manuel’s interest. They recognised Slam as kindred spirits, and Soma as the label they wanted to launch Daft Punk, and that's when things went really wild. This is the story of Daft Punk's earliest beginnings on Glasgow's techno scene. Narration written by Kirstin Innes Narrated by Kate Dickie Mixed by Alison Rhynas Produced by Victoria McArthur
25/05/21·29m 1s

One Night in March

One night in 2012, Anthony Grainger went out and never came home. He was shot dead by Greater Manchester Police in an operation beset with errors and blunders. Why is his family still fighting for accountability?
21/05/21·38m 6s

Thinking In Colour

Passing is a term that originally referred to light skinned African Americans who decided to live their lives as white people. The civil rights activist Walter White claimed in 1947 that every year in America, 12-thousand black people disappeared this way. He knew from first-hand experience. The black president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had blonde hair and blue eyes which meant he was able to investigate lynching in the Deep South, while passing in plain sight. In a strictly segregated society, life on the other side of the colour line could be easier. But it came at a price. Here, Gary Younge, Professor of Sociology at Manchester University, explores stories of racial passing through the prism of one of his favourite books, Passing, by Nella Larsen. The 1929 novella brought the concept into the mainstream. It tells the story of two friends; both African-American though one 'passes' for white. It's one of Gary Younge's, favourite books, for all that it reveals about race, class and privilege. Gary speaks with Bliss Broyard, who was raised in Connecticut in the blue-blood, mono-racial world of suburbs and private schools. Her racial identity was ensconced in the comfort of insular whiteness. Then in early adulthood Bliss' world was turned upside down. On her father's deathbed she learned he was in fact a black man who had been passing as white for most of his life. How did this impact Bliss' identity and sense of self? Gary hears three extraordinary personal accounts, each a journey towards understanding racial identity, and belonging. With Bliss Broyard, Anthony Ekundayo Lennon, Georgina Lawton and Professor Jennifer DeVere Brody. Excerpts from 'Passing' read by Robin Miles, the Broadway actress who has narrated books written by Kamala Harris and Roxane Gay. Producer: Caitlin Smith Executive Producer: Tony Phillips Photo: Bliss and her dad Anatole, taken by Sandy Broyard
18/05/21·28m 50s

Life On Hold

The number of people accessing mental health services in the UK has reached record levels since the start of the pandemic. Many are seeking help for the first time, for others delays in treatment have made life in lockdown much harder. The Royal College of Psychiatrists claims the number of adults experiencing some form of depression has doubled since March 2020. They say NHS services are struggling to cope with demand, meaning some people are having to wait weeks for referrals. Life on hold follows six people as they navigate their way through mental health services. They tell us how they have coped, offer their experiences of support and set out their hopes for life post-lockdown. Among them is Jessie, a frontline worker, who started experiencing anxiety while working to help those suffering from coronavirus. Matt’s ongoing battle with depression became worse after losing his job at the start of the pandemic, while Anjani, a student at Nottingham University struggled being thousands of miles away from her family in India. These are intimate stories of the widespread, but less publicised battle being played out as the world fought Covid 19. Produced and Presented by Anna Hodges Technical Production by Mike Smith
14/05/21·29m 9s

After a Death

News of people being killed in knife attacks recurs with tragic regularity, but the reports rarely touch on the impact on the victim’s family and friends. In this programme Sarah O'Connell sets out to understand these ripple effects — some perhaps expected, others likely not — as she explores the case of Russell “Barty” Brown, who was stabbed to death in Bethnal Green, east London, in September 2016. As she speaks to Barty's friends and family, to the medic who treated him and a witness to this terrible incident, Sarah hears about the gap he has left in all their lives, and what kind of a man he was in life. Producer: Giles Edwards Executive Producer: Martin Rosenbaum Sound Engineer: Hal Haines.
04/05/21·38m 24s

The Northern Bank Job: Episode One

It was the biggest bank robbery in British and Irish history. Days before Christmas 2004, gangs of armed men take over the homes of two Northern Bank officials in Belfast and County Down. With family members held hostage, the officials are instructed to remove cash from the vaults of Northern Bank headquarters in Belfast city-centre and load it into the back of a van - not once, but twice - before the van disappears into the night, along with more than £26.5 million in new and used notes. With the finger of blame pointed at the IRA, the raid makes headlines around the world and sends shock-waves through an already faltering Northern Ireland peace process. Through dramatized court testimonies, new interviews and archive, Glenn Patterson takes us into the unfolding story of a meticulously planned heist and its chaotic aftermath. Military precision giving way to soap powder boxes stuffed with cash. The bickering of politicians against the silence of the man said to be the robbery’s mastermind. There are even rumours that proceeds from the robbery are to be used as a pension fund for IRA members as it prepares to disarm and disband. Glenn Patterson has unfinished business with the Northern Bank Job. In fact, he thinks all of Northern Ireland does. Episode One: Unexpected Visitors Northern Bank employee Chris Ward is watching TV with his dad when there's a knock at the door. Kevin McMullan is at home with his wife Kyran when Police come to tell them there's been a road traffic accident. But all is not as it seems... Presenter: Glenn Patterson Actors: Louise Parker, Conor O'Donnell & Thomas Finnegan Music: Phil Kieran Executive Editor: Andy Martin Producer: Conor Garrett A BBC Northern Ireland production for Radio 4
27/04/21·15m 45s

A Pyrotechnic History of Humanity: Fire

This is the first in a four-part series looking at the energy revolutions that drove human history. In this programme Justin Rowlatt goes right back to the origin of our species two million years ago to explore how the mastery of fire by early humans transformed our metabolism, helping us to evolve our uniquely energy-hungry brains. The physical evidence for early use of fire is frustratingly thin on the ground, according to archaeologist Carolina Mallol. But primatologist Jill Pruetz says she has learned a lot from observing chimpanzees interact with wildfires on the African savanna. Research collaborators Rachel Carmody and Richard Wrangham theorise that our ancestors' unique ability to cook their food transformed the way our bodies access the energy it contains - something Justin seeks to test out by going on a raw food diet. The bounty of metabolic energy it delivered may have enabled us to become the formidably intelligent species we are today, according to neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel, transforming us into prolific hunters who conquered the world. Producer: Laurence Knight Presenter: Justin Rowlatt Studio manager: Rod Farquhar Production co-ordinator: Zoe Gelber Editor: Rosamund Jones
20/04/21·29m 24s

Iran’s Secret Art Collection

In the decade leading up to the Iranian revolution of 1979, the Shah's wife, Farah Pahlavi spent much of her time encouraging the building of museums and institutions intended to celebrate the art and craft of the country. But alongside buildings housing priceless carpets and glassware, she was also keen to use the country's oil wealth to bring examples of modern western art to the capital, Tehran. The result was the collection of works by Jackson Pollock, Henry Moore, Picasso, Bacon, Chagall and Renoir. It remains one of the most valuable collections outside Europe and the US. She even commissioned a portrait by Andy Warhol. The ambition was to house these very expensive works alongside the modern art of Iran in the newly designed and proudly modernist Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. But in 1979, Her Royal Highness had to flee Iran with her husband and the Islamic revolution had little time or appetite for Western art. Through a mix of bravery on the part of local curators, and good luck, the collection survived. Alastair Sooke talks to Her Royal Highness Farah Pahlavi about the collection and discovers why the popular press coverage suggesting that it was her vanity project was so wrong. He also speaks to Joachim Jaeger, the German Art Director who so nearly managed to organise an exhibition of part of the collection in the west a few years ago. It was to be seen in Berlin and Rome before returning home. The exhibition planners in both Germany, Italy and Iran, had got as far as printing a catalogue when the political authorities in Iran decided it wouldn't be going ahead. And Alastair hears from those who remember the pre-revolutionary days when the ambition to bring the arts of East and West together in Iran seemed, not only possible, but inevitable. The Empress even kept a memoir in which she explained her vision for the culture of her country, in spite of the turmoil going on outside the palace gates. Will this extraordinary collection, some of which is now being shown in Tehran for the first time in years, be a force for change in cultural mood? Or will the challenge of works by Francis Bacon and Henry Moore stay safe, but out of the public gaze? Producer: Tom Alban
16/04/21·29m 30s

Where is Jack Ma?

On the eve of what would have been the world's largest share listing, Ant Financial, estimated to float for over $300bn, it's founder Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire mysteriously disappeared. Things started to go wrong for Ma after he told a room full of banking regulators that their methods were out of date and not fit for purpose. Shortly afterwards, the Chinese government cancelled the listing and Jack went silent. The extroverted charismatic billionaire, who once flourished in the public eye, simply did not show up at key events. It's happening more and more often in China: some of the country's most famous and powerful people are disappearing after coming into conflict with the Communist Party. China's most famous actress, the Chinese head of the international police agency Interpol and even a top news presenter all disappeared. So what's happened to Jack Ma? In this program journalist Celia Hatton, who spent 15 years living and reporting in China, investigates. Celia asks if Ma is just keeping a low profile or is something more sinister at play? What does Jack Ma’s disappearance tell us about China's relationship with big business, the future direction of its economy and its attitude towards the growing number of domestic tech billionaires? Producer: Rajeev Gupta (Clips used: CBS, CNN, World Economic Forum, Alibaba Group, Financial Times)
13/04/21·29m 19s

The Nazi Next Door

In a dusty attic in the Yorkshire hills sits the life’s work of John Kingston, a man who spent decades investigating whether his own stepfather, Stanislaw Chrzanowski, was, in fact, a Nazi war criminal. Whilst most knew ‘Mr Stan’ as a friendly pensioner, growing fruit for his neighbours and zipping around his village in the Midlands on his mobility scooter, John was convinced he was hiding a dark secret. Unable to shake the terrifying bedtime stories his stepdad told him as a child, John spent his adult life trying to expose the truth. When John died in 2018, the year after his stepfather, the files, photographs, and hours of secret recordings he made were left boxed up in his attic, until now, when they were discovered by BBC journalist Nick Southall. Nick has been investigating the extraordinary story of Stanislaw Chrzanowski for over 5 years, trying to establish if this man, who settled here to help Britain rebuild after the war, had also helped the Nazis kill tens of thousands of Jews in his homeland of Belarus. Told using the archive of secret recordings found in John’s attic, and hearing from eyewitnesses who knew Stan Chrzanowski as ‘a butcher’, this often chilling story takes us from Birmingham, to Berlin to the Killing Fields of Belarus. In it, Nick seeks to answer two questions - was ‘Mr Stan’ the monster his stepson believed he was? And, if so, what was the real reason he never saw justice for his crimes? Reporter: Nick Southall Producer: Mick Tucker Editor: Carl Johnston
06/04/21·36m 55s

Making Demille

In 2016 when producer Georgia first met him, Demille was a cycle courier in his early twenties, taking his company to a tribunal over better working conditions. He was fired-up, political, and excited about a case he would go on to win. For the past five years, Georgia and Demille have been meeting and recording. Demille’s story is one of being young and trying to stay afloat in the gig economy; of resilience and hope and trying to find control over his city and life. Producer: Georgia Catt
02/04/21·28m 58s

Mitchell on Meetings: The Thing

David Mitchell investigates meetings from the ancient "thing" to zoom. Also on the agenda: executive coach Sophie Bryan teaches David to chair a meeting; fellow comedian Russell Kane explores how different personality types behave in meetings; and Dutch sociologist Wilbert van Vree sums up several millennia of meetings history. Producer: Chris Ledgard
26/03/21·29m 7s

The Jump: Covid-19

Chris van Tulleken explores the human behaviours causing pandemics, paying the price for getting too close to animals by degrading their territory and allowing viruses to jump. What's clear is that Covid-19 was inevitable; that a coronavirus would jump in Asia was predicted in at least 3 papers in early 2019. It's a symptom of degraded ecosystems leading to intimate contact with animals we don't normally encounter. When examining the origins of Covid-19, perhaps the most amazing aspect is the number of different possibilities. Bats as medicine, bats as food, bat transmission to other intermediate animals - mink farmed for fur or raccoon dogs hunted as game. We don't know if it jumped in a home or a wet market or in a cave. Chris talks to NERVTAG virologist Prof Wendy Barclay who explains why she thinks it's not the case that it escaped from a lab. Plus ecologist and bat enthusiast Prof Kate Jones argues that invasive human behaviours are offering these viruses multiple chances to jump into people – mostly all totally hidden from sight - but is optimistic as the UK Government asks her to advise on spillover risks and how to achieve sustainable landscapes. While Dr Peter Daszak and Dr William Karesh from EcoHealth Alliance highlight how climate change and pandemic risk are interconnected; all the solutions already identified to tackle global warming will also help prevent the next virus from jumping. Produced by Erika Wright Edited by Deborah Cohen
12/03/21·29m 12s

Faith, Lies and Conversion Therapy

Despite the overwhelming evidence that human sexuality is innate and immutable over time, proponents of conversion 'therapies' have sought to change or 'fix' queer peoples' sexuality for much of the 20th century. Presenter Caitlin Benedict speaks with scientists, historians and survivors to uncover the heinous practices that LGBT+ people were subjected to with the guise of changing their sexuality, including lobotomies and chemical castration. Caitlin examines how adherents of these 'therapies' adapted to the improving legal and social recognition for homosexuals by modifying conversion practices to embrace Freudian psychoanalytic techniques. Evangelical churches took up the baton left by the discredited 'treatments' in the effort to suppress or 'repair' the sexualities of their LGBT+ congregation, and Caitlin asks what faith groups are doing today to eliminate these practices within their communities. During the summer of 2020, Prime minister Boris Johnson called conversion therapy 'absolutely abhorrent' and promised to 'bring forward plans to ban it'. Caitlin speaks with one of the people responsible for a recent ban on change and suppression practices in the Australian state of Victoria, earlier this year, and seeks to understand how easy a ban will be to implement. And how will any ban on conversion practices affect the trans community? Caitlin speaks with the MP Alicia Kearns about why she thinks any bill to enact a ban must protect trans people while ensuring that psychotherapists are still able to provide affirmative support for their patients. Presenter: Caitlin Benedict (they/them) Producer: Rory Galloway (he/him)
09/03/21·28m 48s

The Price of Song

Seriously is home to the world’s best audio documentaries and podcast recommendations, and host Vanessa Kisuule brings you two fascinating new episodes every week.
05/03/21·29m 23s

Made of Stronger Stuff: The Heart

Psychologist Kimberley Wilson and Dr Xand van Tulleken take a journey around the human body, to find out what it can tell us about our innate capacity for change. In this episode, Kimberley and Xand focus on the heart, which has been branded the seat of emotion by generations of poets and songwriters. They find out whether it’s medically possible to die from a broken heart, hear from a woman who lived for 16 months without a human heart, and Xand opens up about how Long Covid is affecting his heart. Producer: Dan Hardoon Researcher: Emily Finch Executive Producer: Kate Holland A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4
26/02/21·35m 35s

The Battersea Poltergeist – Ep1: 63 Wycliffe Road

63 Wycliffe Road is an ordinary house on a quiet South London street, but in 1956, it becomes famous as the site of an alleged poltergeist. The strange events focus around teenager Shirley Hitchings – but is it a haunting or hoax? Ghost hunter Harold Chibbett arrives to investigate. This series blends drama and documentary to explore an intriguing paranormal cold case. As we hear the original haunting brought to life, host Danny Robins begins his own present-day investigation – what really happened to terrify the Hitchings family 65 years ago? Written and Presented by Danny Robins, starring Dafne Keen (His Dark Materials), Toby Jones (Detectorists, Capote), Burn Gorman and Alice Lowe, with original theme music by Mercury-nominated Nadine Shah and Ben Hillier, this gripping 8-part series interweaves a chilling supernatural thriller set in 50s London with a fascinating modern-day investigation into Britain’s strangest ever haunting – a mystery unsolved... until now. Cast: Shirley Hitchings........Dafne Keen Harold Chibbett.........Toby Jones Wally Hitchings........Burn Gorman Kitty Hitchings..........Alice Lowe Ethel Hitchings..........Sorcha Cusack John Hitchings........Calvin Demba Mrs Cameroo..........Amina Zia Written and presented by Danny Robins With thanks to James Clark, co-author of 'The Poltergeist Prince of London' Consultant: Alan Murdie Experts: Ciaran O’Keeffe and Evelyn Hollow Sound Designer: Richard Fox Music: Evelyn Sykes Theme Music by Nadine Shah and Ben Hillier Produced by Danny Robins and Simon Barnard Directed by Simon Barnard​ A Bafflegab Production for BBC Radio 4
23/02/21·31m 4s

Sideways: Siding with the Enemy

Best-selling author Matthew Syed explores the ideas that shape our lives with stories of seeing the world differently. A criminal walks into a Swedish bank brandishing a machine gun. He takes a handful of bank workers hostage. The police lock the victims and their captors in the vault and then things start to get weird. Despite being held captive and threatened with violence, the hostages side with the criminals. Stockholm Syndrome is born. In this episode, Matthew Syed reexamines the birth of this peculiar psychiatric disorder and discovers that all is not what it seems. Producer: Gemma Newby Music, Sound Design and Mix: Benbrick Series Editor: Russell Finch Executive Producers: Sean Glynn and Max O'Brien A Novel production for BBC Radio 4
16/02/21·29m 11s

Battle for the Capitol

In the run up to the 2020 Presidential election, journalist Leah Sottile explored the motivations and agendas of America’s far right for the Radio 4 series Two Minutes Past Nine. Recordings were made against a backdrop of a country that felt tense, divided and dangerous. In the past month, a lot has happened. In this reactive and raw programme, Leah explores America’s far-right at this very moment; fired up by conspiracies, frustrations, and the defeat of the first President they have ever supported. On Wednesday 6th January, as a Joint Session of Congress met to certify the election of Joe Biden, Trump supporters breached security lines and stormed the Capitol Building in scenes that looked straight out of the racist hate filled propaganda novel The Turner Diaries. Two pipe bombs were found just blocks away at the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees. Leah asks how Donald Trump has managed to manipulate a rabble of foot-soldier extremists and asks what’s next - and how worried we should be. Interviews include Kelvin Pierce, son of William Luther Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries, Kerry Noble, and former elder of far right militant group The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord. With thanks to Dave Hawkins for the additional archive. Presenter: Leah Sottile Producer: Georgia Catt
25/01/21·28m 24s

39 Ways to Save the Planet: Wood for Good

Tom Heap introduces an episode of Radio 4's new environmental podcast which looks at 39 great ideas to relieve the stress that climate change is exerting on the planet. Trees soak up carbon dioxide, trees store carbon dioxide. So why not build with wood instead of concrete and steel? The usual reason is strength, but Dr Michael Ramage at Cambridge University has what he thinks is the answer- cross-laminated timber. It's strong enough to build a skyscraper and replaces lots of that carbon from conventional building. Tom Heap and Dr Tamsin Edwards take a look at the global possibilities of cities built of wood. Producer : Alasdair Cross
20/01/21·14m 33s

I Am Robert Chelsea

The first African-American to have a face transplant tells his own story - in a documentary about faith, identity and character. Robert suffered horrific burns in a car accident - but survived and went ahead with a series of demanding surgical operations in an attempt to restore his appearance. A shortage of black donors meant it was a long wait for his doctors to find even a partial match for his skin colour. In a moving narrative, Robert, his friends, family and doctors reflect on his remarkable journey. Producer: Ben Davis
08/01/21·29m 5s

Sci-Fi Blindness

From Victorian novels to the latest Hollywood blockbusters, sci-fi regularly returns to the theme of blindness. Peter White, who was heavily influenced as a child by one of the classics, sets out to explore the impact of these explorations of sight on blind and visually impaired people. He believes a scene in The Day pf the Triffids by John Wyndham imbued him with a strange confidence - and he considers the power of science fiction to present an alternative reality for blind readers precisely at a time when lockdown and social distancing has seen visually impaired people marginalised. He talks to technology producer Dave Williams about Star Trek The Next Generation's Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge, Dr Sheri Wells-Jensen talks about Birdbox and world-building from a blind point of view in James L Cambias's A Darkling Sea. Professor Hannah Thompson of Royal Holloway University of London takes us back to 1910 to consider The Blue Peril - a novel which in some ways is more forward thinking in its depiction of blindness than Hollywood now. And Doctor Who actor Ellie Wallwork gives us her take on why blindness is so fascinating to the creators of science fiction. Presenter: Peter White Producer: Kevin Core
05/01/21·28m 56s

Can I Talk About Heroes?

Vicky Foster's award-winning Radio 4 Audio Drama Bathwater looked at the effect the murder in 2005 in Hull of the father of her children, a firefighter, is still having on her family . In this documentary, Can I talk about Heroes ? Vicky looks at the way society creates heroes, whether the meaning and significance of that label has changed in recent times and if the term is still useful . This questioning has been prompted by her own story. Stephen Gallant, convicted of the murder of Vicky's ex-partner,was out on day licence attending a prisoner rehabilitation event in November 2019 when he tackled the London Bridge terrorist with a narwhal tusk, which caught the attention of the public and the media. He was quickly branded a 'hero' . Vicky Foster talks to Dr Zeno Franco, Associate Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin Emma Kinder, Victim Support’s Homicide Regional Manager Jacquie Johnston-Lynch, Head of Services at Vitality Homes Recovery Centre Mel, a nurse working on a covid ward. Produced by Susan Roberts, BBC Audio North
29/12/20·37m 38s

Scientists in the Spotlight

Back in 2019, most scientists struggled to get any media attention. Now scientists involved in fighting the pandemic are generating media headlines, daily. On top of working harder than ever to understand the virus and how it spreads, many have become public figures. Some have been caught in the headlights. Others have stepped into the footlights. Many have found themselves at the centre of highly politicised conversations - not something their scientific training has prepared them for particularly well. And the fact that everyone is now an expert on R numbers and immunology has created a new set of challenges. Jim Al-Khalili talks to the scientists who have been in the media spotlight in 2020 and hears about some of the challenges they've faced trying to tell us what they know. We may look to science for certainty (all the more so during uncertain times) but there is no magic moment when scientists can announce with absolute certainty that ‘this is how it is’. And now that science is being reported in real time revealing the bumpy road to discovery, there is a risk that our faith in science will be undermined. But scientists airing their dirty laundry in this way could result in a much greater appreciation of the true nature of scientific knowledge and how it’s formed. Perhaps during these difficult times, a new relationship between scientists and the media has been forged? Scientists have been the source of non-stop news. And maybe journalists have help science to progress by synthesising scientific findings and interpreting what they mean. When the pandemic is over, will scientists continue to be part of the national debate? Producer: Anna Buckley (First aired 15 December 2020)
22/12/20·39m 6s

Apocalypse How

In the first of a series looking at existential threats to humanity, Jolyon Jenkins asks whether an electromagnetic pulse bomb could send us literally back to the dark ages The arrival of COVID has brought home to us just how vulnerable we are to external threats, but we've been lucky that it hasn't been a lot worse. So what else is out there that might hit us from nowhere? For many years, some campaigners, particularly on the American right, have been talking up the threat of a nuclear weapon, detonated high in the atmosphere, that could, according to a congressional commission, wipe out 90 per cent of the population in the first 12 months, by bringing down the electric grid and frying electronic devices. They claim that China, North Korea, Russia, and even some terrorist groups might be capable of staging such an attack. Mainstream arms control experts don't give the idea much credence, but they rarely engage with the detail of the argument. So is this a real threat, or just the right's attempt to conjure up an apocalypse that can be survived if you have enough guns, food and defensible real estate? Presenter and producer: Jolyon Jenkins
08/12/20·29m 30s

Generation Covid

What has the experience of children and young people living in the era of Covid-19 done for their mental health and wellbeing? Mental health researcher Sally Marlow speaks to epidemiologists, clinicians, parents, and young people themselves to try to evaluate how the challenges of 2020 might have impacted our youngest and more vulnerable members of society. In a sector already in need of investment and refreshment, some have called the situation an imminent “second pandemic”, but is that really the case? Epidemiologists have previously worked with door-to-door and school-based questionnaires to try to evaluate what younger people are going through, and this way have tracked the ongoing rise in numbers experiencing mental health needs. But those scientific tools of objective data gathering which are so crucial to determine mental health policy have not been available this year. The lack of social contact and the closure of schools and youth groups, necessitated by lockdown measures, have also taken away much of mental health professionals’ ability to support the children and young people they work with. So both at the frontline and at a policy level mental health professionals have had to find new ways to work. Some trends are coming through, and they are not positive. But of more concern are the extremes of the scales. As with many aspects of our pre-Covid society, it seems it is the inequalities that are being magnified. Many vulnerable children and young are at increased risk, including those in mainstream schooling, and those who are being looked after by the state. And as with many physical diseases elsewhere in society, remote rather than face-to-face provision may be storing up problems for the future, as fewer and fewer satisfactory diagnoses can be made, and it’s not clear whether digital interventions can deliver the support needed. Children and young people, as Anne Longford, Children’s Commissioner for England, tells Sally, are in need of their own Nightingale-scale moment. Presenter: Sally Marlow Producer: Alex Mansfield
04/12/20·38m 12s

Inside the Brain of Jeff Bezos

David Baker reveals the thinking and the values that have made Jeff Bezos the richest man on the planet, and Amazon the most wildly successful company, even in a year when the global economy faces catastrophe. Speaking to senior colleagues within his businesses, longstanding business partners and analysts, David Baker learns the secrets to Amazon's success, and the impact of Jeff Bezos' ideas on all of the commercial, cultural and now environmental sectors - on Earth and beyond - that have been influenced by his investments and activity. Producer: Jonathan Brunert
01/12/20·38m 12s

Living with the Dragon

How have recent British governments handled the UK's relationship with China and what does this tell us about the way to live with China today? Nick Robinson talks to former leading politicians, diplomats and officials to cast light on the risks and the rewards. Drawing on his personal experience reporting on prime ministerial visits to China, he recalls telling encounters and the challenges they reveal. Contributors: Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister Rt. Hon. George Osborne, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rt. Hon. David Miliband, former Foreign Secretary Lord Charles Powell, former Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs to Margaret Thatcher Lord Stewart Wood, former adviser to Gordon Brown Sir Mark Lyall Grant, former National Security Adviser Sir Craig Oliver, former Downing Street Director of Communications Tom Fletcher CMG, former Downing Street Foreign Policy Adviser John Gerson CMG, former adviser on China to Margaret Thatcher Katherine Morton, Professor of Global Affairs, Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University Jonathan Powell, former Downing Street Chief of Staff Nick Timothy, former Downing Street Chief of Staff Presenter: Nick Robinson Producer: Sheila Cook
27/11/20·38m 34s

The Corrections:Trojan Horse

In 2014 an anonymous letter was sent to journalists detailing a 5 step plan to Islamise schools in Birmingham. The so-called Trojan Horse Affair sparked hundreds of articles and several investigations. But the letter was not all it seemed. The Corrections asks, what was going on behind the headlines? Presenter Jo Fidgen speaks to key players, reporters and media watchers about how the coverage measured up to the reality. How did a local education story become a national security issue? And what dilemmas do journalists face when in receipt of an anonymous tip-off? In a 3-part series, Jo explores how two incompatible narratives developed; how the controversial word ‘extremism’ entered the fray; and what the affair revealed about Britishness. Narrative consultant John Yorke is on hand to explain how storytelling techniques possibly influenced the direction the Trojan Horse story took, and why – in the end – we hear only the version that supports our tribe. Presenter: Jo Fidgen Editor: Emma Rippon
24/11/20·29m 59s

Losing It

Through a set of new poems, Caleb Femi, former Young People's Laureate for London, looks back on his first experiences with sex and explores the pressures on teenage boys around losing their virginity. He speaks to his friend, the writer Yomi Sode, about their experiences growing up; to Nathaniel Cole, a workshop facilitator, writer and public speaker on mental health, masculinity, and relationships; and to a group of 17 year old boys from a London school. "I’ve always tried to avoid writing about love and sex and all the clichéd things you’d expect a poet to write about. But then lockdown happened and as many of us know, lockdown has a very reflective effect on you. I found myself going back to the beginning… to my teenage years, to all the things that shaped my ideas about sex, gender, love, intimacy, how I relate to women, and what I thought it was to be a man. And how difficult it was to talk about it openly - to express my concerns, my curiosities, my insecurities. I began writing a new set of poems about my first experiences with sex, and started talking to other men and boys about their experiences. I guess my hope is that, by talking more openly about these things that are sometimes hard or awkward to talk about, things will be a little bit different for young people, for teenagers coming up and trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the world." There’s no ceremony that my hands know of But to tremble at the thought of touching you And claiming to know what it is I am touching The history of your skin - the story Of its complexion - the craftsmanship of that birthmark I am an idiot playing the role of a surveyor When the truth is this plain it is believable How you find the patience is the real magic of this moment They said I’d become a man here No such thing has happened Caleb is a poet and director featured in the Dazed 100 list of the next generation shaping youth culture. Using film, photography and music Caleb pushes the boundaries of poetry both on the page, in performance and on digital mediums. He has written and directed short films commissioned by the BBC and Channel 4 and poems by the Tate Modern, The Royal Society for Literature, St Paul's Cathedral, the BBC, the Guardian and many more. Between 2016-2018, Caleb was the Young People's Laureate for London working with young people on a city, national and global level. Caleb performs and speaks internationally on major stages, and at institutions and festivals. He works on global advertising campaigns. Produced by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio in Bristol.
17/11/20·28m 54s

Can I Still Read Harry Potter?

Journalist and fan Aja Romano examines their decision to close the books on the boy wizard and hears different viewpoints toward Harry Potter and contemporary readership. Aja Romano has been a Harry Potter fan for many years, but after personally disagreeing with statements by their author JK Rowling regarding gender identity, they are considering closing the books for good. Across the world, millions continue to embrace the Wizarding World in all its forms and JK Rowling has received a lot of support for speaking out on an important issue in a personal way. With this in mind Aja assesses the different factors at play in their choice, speaking to cultural experts, academics and fans and considering influences such as social media, trends in fan communities, "cancelling" , literary theory and more. With contributions from critic Sam Leith, writer Gavin Haynes , journalist Sarah Shaffi, Dr Ika Willis and fans Jackson Bird and Patricio Tarantino. 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' film trailer clip courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures, Director: Chris Columbus. Produced by Sam Peach
13/11/20·28m 52s

East Meets West

The UK may have a divide north and south, but how about east and west? Chris Mason takes a virtual journey from Whitby in the east to the Lake District in the west to find out. Chris was born and brought up in the Yorkshire Dales, straddling the centre of the country, so he has had a foot in both camps. But is there a real difference in the east from the west? Certainly the weather, the geology, and the landscapes are contrasting in nature. Chris Mason talks to artists, poets, farmers and journalists about their different identities east and west, and listens carefully as the accents change on his imagined journey across the country.
10/11/20·28m 49s

Playing With The Dead

Art has long promised to transport us, to enable us to step outside ourselves and encounter experiences we never would otherwise. Now Jordan Erica Webber explores a possibility only video games can offer, a way to commune with long-dead friends and relatives, sometimes years after their deaths. This experience has a familiar ring to it – finding a photo, a video, or a loved one’s notes scrawled in the margins of a book – but it’s also profoundly different, because in video games you can get to interact with your loved one, to play with their ghost. Sometimes this is accidental: a deceased parent’s data left as a high score, a ghostly shape that races you to the finish line, or Artificial Intelligence storing some part of the person and surprising us with them later. But some game designers have memorialised loved ones in their art intentionally, like Dan Hett, who made a series of microgames about the loss of his brother Martyn in the Manchester Arena bombing, or Ryan and Amy Green who coded their son Joel into a video game character that has already outlived him. Can you bear to beat the high score and erase that recording forever? And when do the Greens stop playing with Joel? This programme examines profound questions that have been posed in all kinds of art from poetry to sculpture to performance, and asks what it means when the ghosts are interactive. Producers: Giles Edwards and Patrick Cowling
03/11/20·28m 50s

The Year the Music Stopped

For musician and poet Arlo Parks, 2020 was set to be massive. Festivals, a US tour. Then the world shifted. Her gigs were postponed, festivals cancelled. We watched Glastonbury's empty fields from our sofas where Arlo played, but only for the cows. So instead, she did gigs online, put out new tracks to wide critical acclaim, wrote new music and published poetry on social media. Her thoughtful, intimate music has been the soundtrack to many people's life in lockdown. But still, live performing is on hold. Her fans, once singing her lyrics back at her at shows, feel very far away. She left a bit of her heart out there, on the road. The Coronavirus pandemic has struck a huge blow to everyone involved in the music industry. While the world gets back to some kind of normal, Arlo explores what the psychological effect will be of a world with - for now - no live music in it. She asks other artists she admires like poet and hip-hop artist Kojey Radical, Ed O'Brien from Radiohead, Yannis Philippakis from the band Foals and indie singer songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, how they've dealt with the void. How have they managed the impact on their creative process and where do the silver linings lie? She asks them what lasting impact this time will have on their live performances once the world's venues are open for business again. And she connects with her fans, the people she can't wait to get back to see in the flesh, down in the auditorium. Presented by Arlo Parks. Produced by Clare Salisbury for BBC Audio in Bristol. Photo by Adrian Lee.
29/10/20·29m 13s

The Karen Meme

Tricky is the place to discuss difficult questions away from the bear pit of social media. Drag artist Vanity Von Glow, poet Iona Lee, relationship & sex educator, Esther De La Ford and actor Karen Bartke discuss the 'Karen' meme. Karen is a slang term for an obnoxious, angry, entitled, and often racist middle-aged white woman, who uses her privilege to get her way or police other people's behaviours. It’s similar to the male term 'Gammon' in that they both refer to furious opinionated white people. ‘Karen’ began as shorthand in the US's black community but was popularised right across all sorts of service industries. For the Karen on our panel it puts her off complaining about anything, in case she's accused of ‘being such a Karen' especially because that's her name! But is it now being used simply as a means to shut women down when they express an opinion that usually a man doesn't like? Who is the arbiter of when the meme is being correctly used or is that simply the nature of these things that once they're out they take on a life of their own? Producers: Myles Bonnar and Peter McManus Editor: Anthony Browne A BBC Scotland production for Radio 4
23/10/20·30m 18s

A History of Ghosts: Ancient Ghosts

'When was the first time a human felt haunted?' Kirsty Logan travels back to the world’s earliest civilisations to uncover where tales of ghosts first emerged. From the earliest evidence of belief in an afterlife, seen in decorated bones in early grave sites, to Ancient Egyptian letters to the dead, and predatory Chindi unleashed to wreak deadly vengeance in the snowy wastes of North America, Kirsty tells the tales of the spirits that haunted our most ancient forebears, and became the common ancestor for ghost stories across all of human history.
20/10/20·15m 9s

False Hope? Alternative Cancer Cures - Episode 3

False Hope? Alternative Cancer Cures is a three-part investigate series into the death of young musician, Sean Walsh. Sean was 20 when he found out his cancer was back. He’d been in remission for less than two years and was determined that this time round, he would not have conventional treatment. He turned down chemotherapy in the hope that he could cure his Hodgkin’s Lymphoma through an alternative approach, including a vegan diet, cannabis oil and coffee enemas. Throughout his treatment he used controversial thermography scans to monitor his progress and was convinced he was getting better. Journalist Layla Wright followed Sean’s journey on social media as he attempted to heal himself, and for a while, it seemed to be working. He raised thousands of pounds to fund his treatment and beat the doctor’s prognosis. But in January 2019 Sean died, and his family believe alternative treatments cost him his life. Through the testimony of those closest to him, and through his own words, Layla explores why Sean – and many others – took this approach. She meets the family of Linda Halliday who also relied on thermography scans for reassurance that alternative treatments were working and investigates the clinic that provided them. Presenter and producer: Layla Wright Producer: Ruth Evans Executive producer: Matthew Price Sound design: Emma Crowe Editor: Emma Close and Philly Beaumont
22/09/20·21m 17s

False Hope? Alternative Cancer Cures - Episode 2

False Hope? Alternative Cancer Cures is a three-part investigate series into the death of young musician, Sean Walsh. Sean was 20 when he found out his cancer was back. He’d been in remission for less than two years and was determined that this time round, he would not have conventional treatment. He turned down chemotherapy in the hope that he could cure his Hodgkin’s Lymphoma through an alternative approach, including a vegan diet, cannabis oil and coffee enemas. Throughout his treatment he used controversial thermography scans to monitor his progress and was convinced he was getting better. Journalist Layla Wright followed Sean’s journey on social media as he attempted to heal himself, and for a while, it seemed to be working. He raised thousands of pounds to fund his treatment and beat the doctor’s prognosis. But in January 2019 Sean died, and his family believe alternative treatments cost him his life. Through the testimony of those closest to him, and through his own words, Layla explores why Sean – and many others – took this approach. She meets the family of Linda Halliday who also relied on thermography scans for reassurance that alternative treatments were working and investigates the clinic that provided them. Presenter and producer: Layla Wright Producer: Ruth Evans Executive producer: Matthew Price Sound design: Emma Crowe Editor: Emma Close and Philly Beaumont
22/09/20·17m 26s

False Hope? Alternative Cancer Cures - Episode 1

False Hope? Alternative Cancer Cures is a three-part investigative series into the death of young musician Sean Walsh. Sean was 20 when he found out his cancer was back. He’d been in remission for less than two years and was determined that this time round, he would not have conventional treatment. He turned down chemotherapy in the hope that he could cure his Hodgkin’s Lymphoma through an alternative approach, including a vegan diet, cannabis oil and coffee enemas. Throughout his treatment he used controversial thermography scans to monitor his progress and was convinced he was getting better. Journalist Layla Wright followed Sean’s journey on social media as he attempted to heal himself, and for a while, it seemed to be working. He raised thousands of pounds to fund his treatment and beat the doctor’s prognosis. But in January 2019 Sean died, and his family believe alternative treatments cost him his life. Through the testimony of those closest to him, and through his own words, Layla explores why Sean – and many others – took this approach. She meets the family of Linda Halliday who also relied on thermography scans for reassurance that alternative treatments were working and investigates the clinic that provided them. Presenter and producer: Layla Wright Producer: Ruth Evans Executive producer: Matthew Price Sound design: Emma Crowe Editor: Emma Close and Philly Beaumont
22/09/20·24m 34s

Blood Lands: Common Purpose – Episode 5

The final episode of Blood Lands - a true story told in five parts which takes us to the heart of modern South Africa. A group of white men are on trial accused of murdering two black South Africans, but as a long and explosive trial comes to an end, could muddled medical evidence see them walk free? Blood Lands is a murder investigation, a political drama, a courtroom thriller, and a profound exploration of the enduring racial tensions threatening the "rainbow nation". Over the course of three years, correspondent Andrew Harding has followed every twist of the police’s hunt for the killers, the betrayals that opened the door to an dramatic trial, and the fortunes of all those involved – from the dead men’s families to the handful of men controversially selected for prosecution. When a whole community is on trial who pays the price? Presenter, Andrew Harding Producer, Becky Lipscombe Editor, Bridget Harney
14/09/20·19m 52s

Blood Lands: Betrayal – Episode 4

Blood Lands is a true story told in five parts which takes us to the heart of modern South Africa. A family betrayal leads to a murder trial in a small farming town in South Africa. But who is telling the truth about a frenzied attack that left two black farm workers dead, and a community bitterly divided on racial lines? Blood Lands is murder investigation, a political drama, a courtroom thriller, and a profound exploration of the enduring tensions threatening the "rainbow nation". Over the course of three years, correspondent Andrew Harding has followed every twist of the police’s hunt for the killers, the betrayals that opened the door to an explosive trial, and the fortunes of all those involved – from the dead men’s families to the handful of men controversially selected for prosecution. Presenter, Andrew Harding Producer, Becky Lipscombe Editor, Bridget Harney
14/09/20·16m 43s

Blood Lands: Shaking the Tree – Episode 3

Blood Lands is a true story told in five parts which takes us to the heart of modern South Africa. Police investigating a suspected double murder in a small South African farming community uncover crucial new evidence. But will it be enough to break the farmers’ wall of silence and solve a case that has divided a town on racial lines? Blood Lands is a murder investigation, a political drama, a courtroom thriller, and a profound exploration of the enduring tensions threatening the "rainbow nation". Over the course of three years, correspondent Andrew Harding has followed every twist of the police’s hunt for the killers, the betrayals that opened the door to an explosive trial, and the fortunes of all those involved – from the dead men’s families to the handful of men controversially selected for prosecution. Presenter, Andrew Harding Producer, Becky Lipscombe Editor, Bridget Harney
14/09/20·18m 20s

Blood Lands: Say Nothing – Episode 2

Blood Lands is a true story told in five parts which takes us to the heart of modern South Africa. A white farming family falls silent following the brutal deaths of two black workers. Were the dead men really thieves? Or has South Africa’s tortured past come back to haunt a racially divided community? Blood Lands is a murder investigation, a political drama, a courtroom thriller, and a profound exploration of the enduring tensions threatening the “rainbow nation". Over the course of three years, correspondent Andrew Harding has followed every twist of the police’s hunt for the killers, the betrayals that opened the door to an explosive trial, and the fortunes of all those involved – from the dead men’s families to the handful of men controversially selected for prosecution. When a whole community is on trial who pays the price? Presenter, Andrew Harding Producer, Becky Lipscombe Editor, Bridget Harney
14/09/20·17m 37s

Blood Lands: Blood on the Wall – Episode 1

Blood Lands is a true story told in five parts which takes us to the heart of modern South Africa. At dusk on a warm evening in 2016, two men arrive, unexpectedly, at a remote South African farmhouse. The frenzy that follows will come to haunt a community, destroying families, turning neighbours into traitors, prompting street protests, threats of violence, and dividing the small farming and tourist town of Parys along racial lines. Blood Lands is a murder investigation, a political drama, a courtroom thriller, and a profound exploration of the enduring tensions threatening the “rainbow nation". Over the course of three years, correspondent Andrew Harding has followed every twist of the police’s hunt for the killers, the betrayals that opened the door to an explosive trial, and the fortunes of all those involved – from the dead men’s families to the handful of men controversially selected for prosecution. Presenter, Andrew Harding Producer, Becky Lipscombe Editor, Bridget Harney
14/09/20·17m 13s

Broad Spectrum

Autism is a lifelong condition, often seen as particularly ‘male’. Yet a growing number of women, and those assigned female at birth, are being diagnosed as autistic in their 30s, 40s, 50s - and beyond. Writer and performer Helen Keen is one of them, and she’s found this diagnosis has helped her make sense of many aspects of her life, from growing up with selective mutism, to struggling to fit in as a young adult. In this programme Helen asks why she, like a growing number of others, had to wait till she was well into adulthood before finding her place on the autistic spectrum. She discovers that for many years psychologists believed that autism was rarely seen in women and non-binary people. Now it is accepted that people often display autistic traits in different ways, for example, they may learn to ‘camouflage’ and behave in a neurotypical way - but at what cost? Helen talks to others like her who have had late diagnoses and finds out if knowing they are on the autistic spectrum has given them insight into how they can navigate the pressures on them from contemporary society. She also explores how we can value and celebrate neurodiversity. Helen also talks to psychologists Professor Francesca Happé , of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience in London, and Dr Steven Stagg of Anglia Ruskin University about their research into autism.
11/09/20·29m 23s

Universities in Crisis

Sam Gyimah, former minister for universities in Theresa May's government, asks if Britain's universities can survive the crisis they now face. Many are calling the immense challenge that Britain's universities now face an existential crisis. With access to leaders of universities from the most traditional to the most modern, Sam Gyimah explores whether the business and education models for Brtain's higher education sector are fit for purpose. The Covid pandemic is significant but when that crisis comes together with the major issues that Britain's universities already face over their funding, it's clear that the coming academic year will be like no other in living memory. Universities in Crisis examines the changes now challenging students, teachers, researchers and all those connected to higher education. Producer: Jonathan Brunert
04/09/20·38m 15s


Like many young black people, Lucrece Grehoua is an expert in code-switching - used to changing her voice, accent and mannerisms when she enters white-majority spaces. But should she really have to? In this programme, Lucrece reveals the cost of hiding who we really are in the workplace and explores the mechanics of code-switching, a term first used to describe the experience of African-American students in the 1970s. She shares her own story of being taught to become “a palatable black girl with a soft voice and an unceasing smile”. And she talks to other young professionals about the steps they’ve taken to fit in – from adopting a “white voice” in the office to changing how they behave and switching up their look. We also hear from those who, tired of code-switching, are daring to be themselves in the corporate world. Lucrece speaks to: Her friends Emmanuel Ajayi, Cheryl Jordan Osei and Ivan Her Mum and brother Steve Criminal barrister Leon Nathan Lynch Sociolinguist Devyani Sharma from the Accent Bias Britain Project Nels Abbey, author of Think Like a White Man, A Satirical Guide to Conquering the World While Black Elizabeth Bananuka, founder of BME PR Pros and The Blueprint Social Mobility Commissioner and lawyer Sandra Wallace Picture Credit: Jeff Overs/BBC
26/08/20·37m 50s

Led by the Science

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the UK government has stated that its decisions have been “led by the science”. This pithy phrase implies there is a fixed body of knowledge from a consensus of scientists that provides a road map of what to do to stop the pandemic. But there isn’t. And if decisions made by politicians turn out not to work, then who gets the blame? Is it the science? While some scientists have willingly appeared in support of the actions announced, many researchers are furious with the way that the government has used science. They point out that scientists from different disciplines have different expertise to bring to the discussions about what to do in a pandemic caused by a novel virus. Public health doctors say that their experience of local communities has been ignored in favour of mathematical models. Virologists feel their knowledge of how infection works has been sidelined. And psychologists believe the government has taken the idea of nudge as the only way to understand the behaviour of the population. Scientific knowledge changes through debate and discussion, in particular when we are confronted by a novel situation. Philip Ball explores the relationship between science and political decision making in the pandemic. Producer: Alex Mansfield for BBC Radio 4
14/08/20·37m 30s

Taking on Trump

James Naughtie examines Joe Biden's chances in the forthcoming US election as he tries to beat president Donald Trump at the polls this November. Donald Trump was elected on the promise to 'drain the swamp' in Washington, and in response the Democrats have chosen a candidate who is from the heart of the political establishment. As a state senator for 36 years and then president Obama's VP for eight more, Joe Biden now carries the standard in the strangest American presidential election of modern times, its character completely changed by the coronavirus pandemic. While Mr Biden is 'Washington Man' epitomised, he has always presented himself as the common man and in this programme we chart Joe Biden's blue-collar roots, his political career, and ask what can he and the Democratic Party offer America? Can a party with its own internal divisions unify to beat the Republicans? And is 77-year-old Joe Biden ready to battle with an incumbent president who is a proven political street fighter? Presenter: James Naughtie Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith
11/08/20·37m 40s


When Belfast poet Gail McConnell's son was growing in her partner's womb, Gail was writing poems exploring what it means to be a non-biological parent in a same-sex relationship. Gail's poem 'Untitled/Villanelle' lets go of the binaries of motherhood and fatherhood and imagines these roles in more fluid terms as a parent with a bit of both...a Fothermather. We meet Gail, her partner Beth and their son Finn as Gail tries to find language for a family structure we don't have words for yet. Producer: Conor Garrett
07/08/20·29m 0s

The Homeless Hotel

Simon had been sleeping in shop doorways in Manchester for three years when the coronavirus pandemic reached the UK. Suddenly, as the government released emergency funding to get people sleeping rough off the streets during lockdown, Simon found himself being offered an en suite room at the Holiday Inn. This is the story of the unprecedented operation to get the country’s street homeless inside - told through one hotel in Manchester. The experience has been transformational for some, including Simon - proof that radical change can happen and happen fast. Government ministers say this is an opportunity to end rough sleeping “for good”. But homelessness charities are warning that as emergency funding runs out, people will end up back on the streets. So what will happen to Simon and others like him as the country moves out of lockdown? Reporter/Producer: Simon Maybin
04/08/20·38m 7s

How They Made Us Doubt Everything: 1. Big Oil's Big Crisis

From climate change to smoking and cancer, this is the story of how doubt has been manufactured. In this episode we take you to an oil company’s boardroom as they plan their response to the ‘crisis mentality’ that was emerging after the long hot summer of 1988. 5,000 people died in the heat wave, coinciding with the moment NASA scientist Jim Hansen announced that a ‘greenhouse effect’ was ‘changing our climate now’. This looked like a battle for the survival of the oil industry. This 10 part series explores how powerful interests and sharp PR managers engineered doubt about the connection between smoking and cancer and how similar tactics were later used by some to make us doubt climate change. With the help of once-secret internal memos, we take you behind boardroom doors where such strategies were drawn up and explore how the narrative changed on one of the most important stories of our time - and how the marketing of doubt has undermined our willingness to believe almost everything. Producer: Phoebe Keane for BBC Radio 4 Presenter: Peter Pomerantsev
29/07/20·14m 17s

A Deadly Trade

The bodies of 39 Vietnamese men and women discovered in a lorry container in Essex highlighted the growing problem of illegal and dangerous journeys into the UK. With police and governments pledging to do more to uncover illegal smuggling operations Radio 4 speaks to refugees, lorry drivers and to some of the smugglers behind this deadly trade Recent coverage from Greece has highlighted the pressures on borders as desperate people risk everything to cross from Turkey. Dangerous Trade starts by tracking a dinghy full of refugees landing on the island of Lesbos and heading for the now infamous Moria camp. It was constructed for 3,100 people but now has a population of more than 20,000 men, women and children. On the camp refugees speak about their dreams of a new life and many hope to make it to the UK. Following the route of some of those that have, Sue Mitchell joins them in Dunkirk as they negotiate with smugglers and weigh up the risks of crossing the Chanel illegally by boat or stowing away in lorries bound for England. Last year, whilst recording another documentary for Radio 4, Sue met a 14 year old girl who was single-handedly talking to smugglers and raising the money from relatives who had already reached the UK. She details what happens as she and her siblings make the dangerous journey and she reflects on her new life in Britain. Those who make the crossing know they are lucky to have survived. The deaths in the Essex container lorry revealed the shocking risks – as do reports of others who have perished at sea and on land. For the lorry drivers who inadvertently end up smuggling refugees, there’s growing anger that more isn’t being done at the borders. Governments have promised to work together to tackle this growing problem, but solutions are still a long way off. Producer/Reporter: Sue Mitchell
21/07/20·28m 50s

Summer with Greta

Everywhere she goes, people ask for selfies and tell her how wonderful she is. But what’s it really like to be the world’s most famous climate campaigner when you’re still a teenager? In this revelatory personal essay which she wrote for Swedish Radio, Greta Thunberg describes her journey to deliver a speech at the UN General Assembly, observing the effects of climate change first-hand, her encounters with both powerful and ordinary people and a terrifying trip in a yacht across the Atlantic. This Swedish Radio production is introduced by Justin Rowlatt, the BBC's chief environment correspondent, and Greta's essay is interspersed with excerpts of her favourite music. Producer: Mattias Österlund Sound engineer/technician Lisa Abrahamsson
10/07/20·1h 19m

Your Call Is Important to Us

Nearly two million people are now known to have applied for Universal Credit since the start of the Coronavirus lockdown. For many of them it’s their first time, and is in sharp contrast to how they expected their lives to be. To make a claim, many start off by calling the Universal Credit Hotline, a process that can take hours. Once they start their claim it's likely they'll need to wait five weeks for their first payment. As they wait, in isolation in their homes, we discover more about their lives and follow them on their benefits journey. What led them to this point, how are their personal lives affected and how do they feel? We'll be with them for the ups and the downs. We'll meet Caroline, who works in HR and is battling illness while making a claim, Dan who plays the saxophone and has moved back home to his mum's house because he couldn't afford to live in London and Matt the warehouse worker whose health means he is shielding on his own in a flat with just the birds for company. Plus, we'll have a statement from the Department for Work and Pensions on how they've responded to this extraordinary moment in welfare. Produced and presented by Jess Quayle. Technical Production by Mike Smith.
07/07/20·29m 10s

On the Menu

Shark, bear and crocodile attacks tend to make the headlines but humans fall prey to a much wider variety of predators every year, from big cats and snakes, to wolves, hyenas and even eagles that’ve been known to snatch the odd child. The details can be grim and gory as many predators have developed specific techniques for hunting us humans down. But it was always so, as biologist Professor Adam Hart discovers. Archaeological evidence suggests early hominins in Africa were more hunted than hunter, spending much of their lives scavenging for food and fending off attacks from the likes of sabre-tooth-cats and giant hyenas. Much more recently, legends abound about some of the more infamous serial killers of the animal kingdom, such as the 'man-eaters' of Tsavo and Njombe - the latter, a pride of about 15 lions in Tanzania who, it is claimed were responsible for an astonishing 1500 deaths between 1932 and 1947. Today, estimates and sources vary but most suggest carnivorous predators are responsible for hundreds if not thousands of human deaths every year. But how much of this is active predation and how much is mistaken identity or sheer bad luck? Adam speaks to experts in human-wildlife conflict dedicated to reducing attacks on both humans and predators in Africa and India, where the tensions between protecting agricultural interests and preserving predator habitats are most problematic. He discovers the grim reality for many poor rural populations dealing with the sharp end of living in close proximity to large carnivores and discusses the potential solutions for driving down attacks on both humans and predators that are caught up in the struggle for survival. Closer to home, Adam meets a wolf-tracker, who helps to monitor wild wolf populations that have spread up through Italy and France, attacking livestock with increasing confidence. Could humans be on the menu next? Producer: Rami Tzabar
30/06/20·28m 42s

The New Tech Cold War

Gordon Corera asks if the West is losing the technological race with China. Why did the decision to let the Chinese company Huawei build the UK’s 5G telecoms network turn into one of the most difficult and consequential national security decisions of recent times? A decision which risks undermining the normally close special relationship between the US and UK? The answer is because it cuts to the heart of the greatest fear in Washington – that China is already ahead in the global competition to develop the most advanced technology. Some people ask how we have got to a position where the West needs to even consider using Chinese tech. The answer may be because they failed to think strategically about protecting or nurturing their own technology industry over the last two decades. A free-market system has faced off against a Chinese model in which there is a clear, long-term industrial strategy to dominate certain sectors of technology, including telecoms, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. This is a rare issue where the US national security community – the so-called ‘Deep State’ – is in close alignment with President Trump. Now the US and UK, among others, are scrambling to try to develop strategies to respond and to avoid dependence on China. But – asks BBC Security Correspondent Gordon Corera – is it already too late? Producer: Ben Crighton
19/06/20·29m 13s

Life, Uncertainty and VAR

When football introduced the Video Assistant Referee, better known as VAR, fans thought it would cut out bad refereeing decisions but, as we limp toward some conclusion of this Covid-19 interrupted season, many now want to see the pitch referee back in charge. In 'Life, Uncertainty and VAR', the writer, blogger and journalist Tom Chivers argues that as in football, so in life and society; promises to eliminate uncertainty are liable to end in disappointment. Worse, the better we get at revealing truth, for example weather forecasts, the more furious we become about the sliver of unknown which remains. So, what to do about uncertainty - reject it or live with it? This programme began with a Twitter thread from a West Ham fan, Daisy Chistodoulou, at the London stadium where play was on hold waiting for the VAR to declare if a goal had been scored. Daisy Chistodoulou's day job is measuring attainment in education. In her experience the tools we use to measure progress can become ends in themselves. As with VAR, the question is when does measurement conflict with meaning - it was a great goal; what has a big toe, forensically snapped breaking a line a minute before, halfway up the pitch, got to do with it? And if you can't tell what just happened, how are we meant to cope with figuring out what might? How are we to act when, as with the Covid-19 crisis, we have a paucity of data that changes rapidly? In search of answers as to how we should cope with uncertainty, Tom speaks to a man whose life's work has being trying to help people understand the risks we face in everyday life , Professor David Spiegelhalter - author of the Art Of Statistics and to Jennifer Rodgers of the medical statistics consultancy Phastar, who interprets data from pharmaceutical trials. We hear from Michael Blastland, journalist and author of The Hidden Half: How The World Conceals Its Secrets, a book about how we don't know half of what we think we do but still manage to struggle on; and finally, Michael Story, a man so good at predicting the future he runs a consultancy called Maybe! Presenter Tom Chivers Producer Kevin Mousley
12/06/20·29m 2s

The Wellness Phenomenon

Today there's a booming wellness industry, including luxury spas and hotels as well as personal trainers and supplements, claimed to be worth over $4 trillion a year. Online at least, self-care seems to revolve around buying stuff – luxury oils, face creams, scented candles, face rollers, bath bombs, silk pillows, cleansing soaps and stress-relieving teas. Or we can cherish ourselves by paying someone else for a service, from a yoga session to a delivery of artisan chocolates. With the help of the archives Claudia Hammond explores where the idea of wellness came from. She discovers its roots in the WHO's definition of health and in the counter culture of California in the 1960s, when the residents of Marin County took to hot tubs and peacock feathers. Claudia looks at the thorny relationship between wellness and medicine and those who look after or study our health. There's a Wellness Newsletter that has been produced in Berkeley since 1984 that weighs up the scientific evidence for and against new treatments, and many doctors offer complementary therapies alongside conventional medicine. Yet there is no published research to support the benefits associated with some wellness products.
05/06/20·56m 53s

The Global Ventilator Race

The coronavirus outbreak revealed an international shortage of ventilators. Across the world, govenrments scrambled to acquire new ones, not just from traditional manufacturers, but from anyone who though they could design a simple yet functional device. As a result, hundreds of teams and individuals have risen to the challenge, including university students and hobbyists. Jolyon Jenkins set out to design and build a ventilator himself, drawing on the wealth of shared informationi and designs that have emerged in the last few weeks. He soon discovers that it's harder than it looks. Much publicity has gone to organisations that have produced ventilators that are not up to standard. And as knowledge of the disease has progressed, it's become clear that coronavirus patients need very careful and specialised forms of ventilation if it's not to do more harm than good. So are non-specialists capable of producing machines that will actually benefit patients? Presenter/producer: Jolyon Jenkins
26/05/20·28m 34s

Art of Now: Raw Meat

Susan Bright gets bloody and fleshy with sculptors, performance artists and filmmakers who use animal parts as their raw material. Images of meat in still life paintings have been a staple in art for centuries, but why are artists now incorporating animal flesh, offal and skin into their work. What draws them to this macabre material and what does it enable them to say? Photographer Pinar Yolacan makes meat dresses for her models, frills from raw chicken, bodices from placenta and sleeves from tripe. Riffling through butchers stocks, she makes the perfect outfit for her models, designing and moulding it to them like a second skin. In a high-vaulted church, Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva hangs gigantic curtains of white pigs fat that look like long sheets of lace. Walking down through them, they rustle and reek as you feel encased inside an animal’s stomach. Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr sculpt with live tissue making a semi-living leather jacket, growing wings from pigs and hosting a dinner party with lab grown meat. While Marianna Simnett violently slices open a cow’s udder reorganising our thinking about the body and gender. And with a cast of 100 performers, Hermann Nitsch's theatrical performances involve climbing inside carcasses, bathing in blood and having sex with offal. Their work is shocking, disturbing and fun, making us face our responsibility to animals, each other and the planet and giving us a language to talk about the challenges ahead. We lick our lips and feed on their creativity. Producer: Sarah Bowen
12/05/20·28m 46s

The Virus Hunters

Tracking the virus hunters who race to understand and extinguish new pathogens. Sars Cov 2 is the virus responsible for the pandemic of 2020. But there are millions of other viruses living around the world, any one of which could mutate and infect us at any time. Scientists are in a never-ending race to identify these viruses and contain their dangerous effects. Oxford Professor Trudie Lang, director of the Global Health Network, hears from some of the virus hunters who work against the clock to research and combat these threats. Fighting epidemics requires effort from across the scientific spectrum. What we learn from the outbreak of Covid-19 will be crucial beyond understanding this coronavirus, but also when the next Virus X comes - and it will come. Producer: Sandra Kanthal
05/05/20·43m 27s

How to Cure Viral Misinformation

The World Health Organisation calls it an “infodemic” – a flood of information about the coronavirus pandemic. Amid the good advice and the measured uncertainty, there’s a ton of false claims, conspiracy theories and health tips which are just plain wrong. We’ve been working to fight the tide of bad info, and in this programme BBC Trending reporters Marianna Spring and Mike Wendling trace the story of one specific viral post. It's a list of supposed facts about the virus and what you can do to protect yourself. Some of the tips are true, some are false but relatively harmless, and some are potentially dangerous. Who’s behind the post – and how did it spread? Here’s our list of seven key tips on how to stop viral misinformation: 1. Stop and think 2. Check your source 3. Ask yourself, could it be a fake? 4. If you’re unsure whether it’s true … don’t share. 5. Check each fact, individually. 6. Beware emotional posts. 7. Think about biases Presenters: Marianna Spring and Mike Wendling
24/04/20·28m 40s

The Phoney War

Edward Stourton tells the story of the BBC in the ”phoney war” of 1939-1940 and the period’s strange echoes of Covid-19 today. When war was declared in September 1939, everyone in Britain expected a catastrophic bombing campaign. Theatres and cinemas were closed and children were evacuated to the countryside. What followed instead was a hiatus when tensions remained high but the bombs did not fall. How does the experience of the Home Front at the start of the Second World War echo the Covid-19 crisis and what did it mean for the evolution of the BBC? The corporation’s initial response became known as the "Bore War". The BBC was berated for broadcasting dreary music and endless, highly repetitive news bulletins. It then changed tack to find a more popular voice, in tune with the needs of its audience. How did it become a trusted source of news in the face of wartime censorship? What did it do to cheer up the nation and enliven public service messages about health and education? Contributors: Peter Busch, Senior Lecturer, King's College, London Martin Gorsky, Professor of the History of Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Sian Nicholas, Reader in History, Aberystwyth University Lucy Noakes, Professor of History, University of Essex Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History, University of Westminster Producer: Sheila Cook Researcher: Diane Richardson Editor: Hugh Levinson With thanks to BBC History
21/04/20·57m 41s

The Art of Raising a Child

To survive and thrive in an uncertain world, our children need to be creative and resilient. But how do you build these things? What does it take to make creativity a life skill and where might such a skill take a child in later life? These are the questions at the heart of an ambitious new project underway in Leicester on behalf of the Arts Council. It's called Talent 25 and will track hundreds of babies and their families from birth to their twenty fifth birthdays. Academics from De Montfort University will chart how various creative activities affect the children's income, well-being and abilities in later life. Lindsey Chapman meets parents and babies from some of Leicester's most diverse and economically challenged areas. They talk about how to play without toys, how to encourage children to amuse themselves creatively and how their parenting has already changed in year one. Producer: Olive Clancy
10/04/20·28m 30s

The Science of Dad

Whilst most men become fathers, and men make up roughly half the parental population, the vast majority of scientific research has focused on the mother. But studies have started to reveal the impact of fatherhood on both dads themselves and on their children. We're seeing how fathers play a crucial role in children's behaviour, happiness, and even cognitive skills. Oscar Duke, a doctor, new dad and author of How To Be A Dad, discovers how pregnancy, birth and childcare affect the father, bringing about profound physiological and hormonal changes. Only 5% of mammal fathers invest in their offspring, and human males have evolved to undergo key changes when their children are born. Involved fathers can expect their levels of the 'love hormone' oxytocin to rise, nature's way of helping parents bond with their children. At birth, a dad's testosterone levels dramatically fall, increasing affection and responsiveness, and discouraging polygamy. With more fathers taking on a hands-on role in bringing up their children, how can these new discoveries about the science of dad help support them, and inform social and healthcare policies? Presented by Dr Oscar Duke and produced by Melanie Brown and Cathy Edwards
03/04/20·28m 38s

The Californian Century: A Twist of Fate

Stanley Tucci continues his history of California with the story of Silicon Valley's troubled founder, William Shockley. Shockley was the man who first brought silicon to Silicon Valley in the 1950s. He was an undoubted genius. But he was also a hideous boss and an irredeemable racist. California wants to dazzle you with its endless sunshine and visions of the future – but that’s just a mirage. Stanley Tucci plays a hard-boiled screenwriter uncovering the full, sordid truth. He knows exactly where all the bodies are buried. Academic consultant: Dr Ian Scott, University of Manchester Written and produced by Laurence Grissell
01/04/20·14m 24s

The Ugly Truth

The value society places on physical appearance has never quite made sense to blind presenter Lyndall Bywater and yet she's intrigued to discover why it matters so much to those of us in the sighted world. How much of an advantage is it to be beautiful? And what is physical beauty anyway? We've heard about the gender bias, the age bias, and the racial bias but few people talk about the beauty bias and yet it's one of the very first judgements we make when we meet someone. In this programme Lyndall explores this invisible force that controls how we behave - and reveals that when it comes to physical beauty, we all unconsciously discriminate. Producer: Sarah Shebbeare Researcher: Robbie Wojciechowski
31/03/20·28m 15s

Preview: Girl Taken - Episode 1

Across the world people were presented with what appeared to be a heart-breaking but straightforward story of a father and his motherless daughter struggling to get to Britain. But behind those headlines lay a far more sinister truth. BBC Journalist Sue Mitchell and former soldier Rob Lawrie discover that the little girl appears to have simply vanished. Can they find her in time? Girl Taken is a 10-part hunt - across closed borders and broken promises - for the truth and to find a little girl, taken. Listen to the rest of the series on BBC Sounds. Producer: Sue Mitchell Studio Production and Sound Design: Richard Hannaford
25/03/20·24m 0s

Class Talk

Kerry Hudson, author of Lowborn, has learned to code switch with the literary elite, but how can people stuck in poverty or middle class bubbles make meaningful connections? Kerry starts her exploration in her native Scotland with a project providing 'pre-loved' school uniforms to families in poverty. As vital a service as this is it’s the way people access it that's important. Founder Julie Obyrne makes it as simple, as discrete and respectful as possible. There are no forms to fill out, no referral process or establishing of need. You phone the number, give your first name and simply explain what you require. Julie will then meet you at the local shopping centre and hand it over. Confidentiality and dignity are at the heart of the service. But if this is the way that people who are struggling need to access help why isn't anyone listening to them? Kerry's next stop is with a project aiming to address just that. Expert Citizens put people with lived experience at the centre of service design. It draws on the hard won lessons of people who've lived with homelessness, substance abuse or domestic violence to provide a consultancy service to officialdom. But it’s an uphill battle for people at the bottom to get those in the better off parts of society to even bother listening to them. How can a dialogue even take place between classes? One possible model exists but tellingly it’s not in the UK. Cross Class Circles is a community project in Brattleboro Vermont, Kerry hears from the organisers and participants from both sides of the US class divide about why these conversations are so important. Producer: Liza Grieg
10/03/20·28m 34s

Lift Going Up

The lift comes to life and tells the story of how the elevator changed the way we live. Emma Clarke plays the voice of the lift in this cultural history of the elevator. As we step inside, the doors close and the lift starts to speak, telling us its story. Before the lift, the top floor was the least desired and most unhealthy place to live. The lift changed all that and made the penthouse glamorous and desirable. The lift made life immeasurably easier but it also brought many anxieties - about safety and the strange, forced intimacy of the lift car. It's also been a source of inspiration for writers - from 19th century German literature right through to Hollywood. And now the lift is about to undergo a radical shift - as engineers develop a lift with no limits on how high it can go. Step inside, relax, and allow the lift to tell you its story. Producer: Laurence Grissell
03/03/20·28m 31s

A Sense of Direction

Many animals can navigate by sensing the earth's magnetic field. Not humans, though. But might we have evolved the sense but forgotten how to access it? 40 years ago a British zoologist thought he had demonstrated a homing ability in humans. But his results failed to replicate in America and the research was largely discredited. But new evidence suggests that our brains can in fact detect changes in the magnetic field and may even be able to use it to navigate. Jolyon Jenkins investigates, and talks to a Pacific traditional seafarer who has learned to navigate vast distances across the ocean with no instruments, and who describes how, when all else fails, he has been able to access what he calls "the magic". Is the magic still there for all of us, just waiting to be rediscovered? Producer: Jolyon Jenkins
25/02/20·29m 24s

The Inside Story of Election 19

What lies behind Boris Johnson's overwhelming election victory? In this programme, Anne McElvoy talks to the key figures across the political spectrum about how the 2019 general election was fought and lost. To what extent was this a 'Brexit election' and how did the Conservative Party reach out to voters in places that it had not won for decades and in some cases generations? Why did the Opposition Parties agree to holding the election in the first place? What led to Labour's worst defeat since 1935 and why did Jeremy Corbyn's campaign fail to make the impact he had made in 2017? Why did the Liberal Democrats struggle to make the breakthrough that they had hoped for and what difference did the Brexit Party's decision to stand down in Conservative held seats make to the result. Producer: Peter Snowdon
18/02/20·28m 49s

My Name Is... Immie

"When I was in primary school, I remember being asked to draw our house. I drew our temporary accommodation, which back then was just an ordinary house. And I think about children living in these office blocks - what would they draw?" When Immie was growing up, she lived in emergency and then temporary accommodation with her mum and three sisters. Temporary can be permanent for many people, but today she feels much more secure. Then one day something odd happened. She was on the bus, on the to deck, looking into the first floor of an ugly office block on the side of the busy A12 in north east London. She could see it had been converted, and there were people living up and down all seven floors. In tiny flats. Some of them were much smaller than the government's minimum space standard. Immie wanted to know how this was possible. We often hear that there is a national housing crisis, but don't always understand what that means. Immie, who is just 22, has made over 80 freedom of information requests to find out how many people are being temporarily housed in office blocks. She discovers that it is perfectly legal to do this - developers can bypass normal planning regulations thanks to Permitted Development Rights or PDR. She meets an architect and a council leader who both say it's wrong, though their reasons are not the same. Features interviews with architect Julia Park of Leviit Bernstein; and Joseph Ejiofor, the head of Haringey Council ... plus some dramatic location recordings too. The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde
11/02/20·27m 44s

Code Red

Eddie was set to become another statistic, another teenager killed by rising levels of knife crime. But Eddie’s life was saved by the new field of trauma science. It is revolutionising the way people are treated after shootings, traffic accidents or any injury that causes catastrophic bleeding. The doctors that pioneered the work call it Code Red. Your chances of surviving major bleeding are now higher than ever before. So what changed? Quite simply trauma medicine has been turned on its head. Before 2007, doctors would have treated Eddie’s catastrophic bleeding by trying to replace the fluid leaking out of his stab wounds. Salty water, called saline, and just one component of our blood – the oxygen carrying red blood cells – would be put back into Eddie’s body - in what's called a massive transfusion. It seemed like a good idea. Keep the blood pressure up, keep oxygen moving round the body and keep the patient alive. But that’s not what happened - around half of people died on the operating table. The principles were wrong. They were damaging the body’s natural way of stemming blood loss – clotting. It was around 2003 that the ideas behind the Code Red protocol started to take shape. The poster child of the new field of trauma science was revealing the vital role of clotting. Karim Brohi, Professor of Trauma Sciences at Queen Mary, University of London, discovered that major trauma could disrupt the blood’s ability to clot within minutes of the injury, and patients affected were more likely to die. What's more, saline was diluting the blood and making the bleeding worse. Over a decade ago, the Royal London Hospital decided to do something radical. It introduced Code Red, also known as damage control resuscitation, and shifted the focus from blood pressure to blood clotting - get blood products into patients to get on top of any abnormalities there first. Making that happen took a huge culture shift. This is not a normal research environment. There’s no time to ponder, patients are hovering between life and death; and every second counts. But now the innovation has been accepted across the NHS, and recent research reveals a massive drop in the death rate of patients with catastrophic bleeding. Producer: Beth Eastwood
07/02/20·28m 31s

Art of Now: Filth

In the hands of artists, smog, landfill and sewage become beautiful, witty and challenging statements. As the scale of pollution intensifies, Emma meets the artists who are finding original and compelling ways to make us understand and feel the crisis of filth. Zack Denfeld and Cat Kramer harvest air pollution in cities around the world, whipping up egg whites on street corners. They bake them into meringues and hand them out to the public who can’t help but react to eating the city’s pollutants. Mexican collective Tres guide Emma through their studio, piled high with collected rubbish: they’ve filled a gallery with 300,000 stinking cigarette butts, taken over the streets to preserve fossilized chewing gum and crawled for months on Australian beaches filtering through marine plastic. Nut Brother has courted controversy with his performance of dragging 10,000 bottles of polluted water from Shaanxi to Beijing while John Sabraw wades through Ohio’s filthy streams, capturing iron oxide from unsealed mines and turning sludge into glorious paints. Emma delves through rails of Kasia Molga’s costumes which glow red in response to carbon, she listens to an orchestra of Lucy Sabin’s breath and takes us down under the River Thames to meet her collaborator Lee Berwick: they're working on an installation about underwater sound pollution, experimenting with sounds in the Greenwich foot tunnel for an installation opening in March. These provocative and entertaining artists discuss the relationship between art and activism, taking us beyond the facts and figures to face head on and experience the contamination we are inflicting on the planet. Producer: Sarah Bowen
31/01/20·28m 49s

The Remarkable Resistance of Lilo

In the heart of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, members of the Resistance worked tirelessly and at great risk to themselves to help those whose lives were threatened. Amongst them was Elisabeth Charlotte Gloeden – known as Liselotte or “Lilo” – who, along with her husband Erich, hid Jews in their home in Berlin, before arranging safe passage for them out of Germany. Both Lilo and Erich had Jewish fathers. Hers was a prominent skin specialist and he was hounded from his job by the Nazis. Lilo’s Jewish heritage led to her being driven from the legal profession at the outbreak of war in 1939. The couple’s efforts went undetected until 1944 when they took in General Fritz Lindemann, who was being hunted by the Gestapo for being part of the plot to assassinate Hitler. They stood trial in November 1944 before one of Germany’s most feared judges, Roland Freisler. This programme tells the remarkable story of the couple and of others who hid and were hidden in Nazi Berlin. Presenter: Fergal Keane Producer; Alice Doyard Editor: Andrew Smith
28/01/20·28m 32s

The People's Pyramid

The KLF aka The Jams aka The Timelords aka The K Foundation aka K2 Plant Hire aka The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu... it's complicated. Whatever name or weird mythology they happened to be operating under at the time, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty managed to top the UK pop charts in the early nineties with songs about love and ice-cream vans - often with plastic horns strapped to their heads. Then they turned their backs on the music industry, deleted their entire back catalogue and cremated £1 million of their own earnings on a remote Scottish island. Scroll forward 23 years and Drummond and Cauty re-emerge to announce they're building a pyramid in Liverpool out of bricks containing the cremated remains of just under 35,000 people. As more bricks are added to The People's Pyramid at the 2019 Toxteth Day of the Dead, Conor Garrett tries to work out what's going on... Produced and presented by Conor Garrett.
21/01/20·28m 54s

The Last Exposure

Photographer Garry Fabian-Miller has spent much of the last 30 years either in his dark room, or out walking on Dartmoor. That is about to end. Fabian-Miller began his career in the 1960’s but quickly tired of the typical black and white verite’ style that was then so much in vogue. Rejecting both the city streets, black and white film, and eventually the camera itself - his camera-less photography gives his work an utterly unique and other worldly quality - light pulses from deep yellow circles; the flicker of a naked flame peers through a slashed curtain of deep blue. His inspiration the moors he walks twice daily, passing through his eyes, his imagination and onto the photosensitive paper. The result is a body of work which plays with light and dark, exposure and developing – producing an acclaimed body of work recognised by both buyers and museums as like no other - collectors range from Sir Elton John to the V & A. But the onslaught of digital has signalled to him that things are changing – both the resources, and the techniques he has developed over time, are threatened, and with the near disappearance of dark rooms, he feels it time to make his last print and close his dark room for ever. His photographs are unconventional, dazzling, and use techniques honed over decades. He abandoned using cameras long ago, opting instead to use techniques based on early 19th century prints - long exposures, tone, and images funneled into shapes made by the sun. Always dazzlingly coloured, he uses a developing substance which is no longer in production. Occasionally he gets a phone call from a dealer in London…. “Garry, I’ve just been offered 11 litres of CibaChrome, you want it? We join him as he uses up the very last of the chemistry which enable him to use the techniques he has spent a lifetime perfecting, before his dark room is closed forever. Reflecting a change out of his studio and in the world - in 2007 there were 204 professional dark rooms in London, by 2010 there were 8. We hear his story of printing - a physical, technical skill, as well as a dangerous and smelly one. We envisage the end of the analogue era of photography, and celebrate the alchemical eclipse. Curator of photography from the V&A Martin Barnes salutes his work, and how it harks back to the very start of photography, just as this chapter is coming to an end. From the spooky mists of Hound Tor to making pictures in the dark, Fabian-Miller takes us one step closer to the end of an era. Producer: Sara Jane Hall
17/01/20·28m 39s

The Diagnosis

For most of her life, Janice Wilson suffered from strange and terrifying attacks at night. She would wake up, suddenly, feeling as though she was being choked or strangled. The next day, there would be blood on her pillow. Sometimes she’d have up to 50 of these attacks a night. It left her terrified and exhausted. For years, doctors put it down to psychological problems due to a trauma in her past. Then she met a doctor who found the astonishing, true cause. In “The Diagnosis”, Janice and the doctor who diagnosed her come together in a studio, to tell this remarkable story. The programme is presented and produced by Helena Merriman, who was inspired to tell other people’s stories of diagnosis after receiving her own surprise diagnosis a few years ago. Editor: Emma Rippon
14/01/20·28m 1s

A Small Matter of Hope

Life is getting better. Child mortality rates have tumbled worldwide, more girls are in education, malaria is in decline and hunger is a thing of the past for most of us. So why don't we believe it? Why are so many of us convinced that we're heading for hell in a handcart? It's a question that really bothers the editor of the Spectator, Fraser Nelson. Is it the fault of journalists like him, peddling conflict and disaster rather than tales of human progress? Or are we all born with a negativity bias? Do we seek out stories of death and danger just as our ancestors listened out for sabre-toothed tigers padding ever closer to our cave? In search of answers Fraser meets some of the best-selling thinkers on human happiness- Harvard psychology professor, Steven Pinker, author of Notes on a Nervous Planet, Matt Haig and co-author of Factfulness, Anna Rosling Ronnlund. Armed with the combined intellectual heft of these purveyors of positivity Fraser returns to his Whitehall office to persuade his cynical staff that the world is crying out for a new Spectator with a positive spin. Producer: Alasdair Cross
03/01/20·27m 57s

A Guide to Disagreeing Better

Why do we hold our opponents in contempt? Former politician Douglas Alexander believes that disagreement is good, it's how the best arguments get refined. But, today, public discourse has become so ill-tempered, snide and lacking in respect that we are no longer engaged in a battle of ideas but a slanging match. He talks to people with personal tales about how we might all raise our game and disagree better, among them a relationship counsellor, an ex-soldier, a peace broker and a foster mother. Their tips? Civility is not enough. And knowledge is essential, as well as radical honesty, fierce intimacy and openness. So, dial down the rhetoric, rein in the insults - they will persuade no-one that your opinion is worth listening to - and pay attention. Producer: Rosamund Jones Researchers: Kirsteen Knight and Gabriela Jones
17/12/19·37m 44s


Sally Marlow talks to some of the men and women who have self-harmed, and the experts who treat them, to find out what is driving so many people to self-harm. Clinical guidelines define self-harm as any act of self-poisoning or self-injury carried out by a person irrespective of their motivation. However, research reveals a worrying association between self-harm and the risk of suicide. While rates of self-harm are particularly high among teenage girls, the true picture is far more nuanced. Rates have gone up in all age groups and both genders and, more recently, in groups such as middle-aged men. So what is driving so many people to hurt themselves, and what can be done to help them? The media is quick to point the finger at social media, but Sally discovers that the reasons behind this question are as varied and complex as the people who do it. Producer: Beth Eastwood
22/11/19·28m 24s

Art of Now: Playing Well - Frightened Rabbit

In the first of the three-part series "Playing Well" Chris Hawkins has an intimate conversation with the band mates of Scott Hutchison, who took his own life in May 2018. In conversation with Scott's brother Grant, drummer in Frightened Rabbit, and guitarist Andy Monaghan, Chris discovers more about the anxious child who reframed his family nickname as a band name - and how he channeled a rare lyrical talent, determination and energy into the creation of one of Scotland's most important and influential rock bands. Charting the rise of the band and Scott's intense, occasionally hilarious approach to live performance, Grant frankly addresses the pressures his brother faced - and the structural pressures faced by anyone in the music industry. Charting the exhausting aftermath of suicide, Grant talks about defining Scott as a songwriter, in the hope that the existence of works which appear to presage his death don't create a misleading impression of Scott's life. It's a moving portrait of a fascinating artist, and an attempt to reclaim Scott's musical legacy from the inaccurate assumption that the combination of musical celebrity and mental illness can only end in tragedy. Details of organisations offering information and support with mental health are available at, or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 08000 155 998. Presented by Chris Hawkins Produced by Kevin Core
15/11/19·29m 53s

The 21st Century Curriculum

As a teenager, the writer Varaidzo lost interest in school. She investigates the so-called "educational dip" and talks to teenagers about ways they think the school curriculum might be made more appealing and useful to them in later life. She also meets Lord Baker, the minister responsible for setting up the national curriculum more than thirty years ago; and she talks to futurists and those researching the future of work, to find out what they think the students of today should be learning. Producer: Ellie Richold
12/11/19·29m 46s

Welcome Money

Between the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 and the policy's hastily enforced end on 29 December 1989, East German citizens claimed an estimated four billion Deutschmarks in so-called ‘Begrüßungsgeld’ or ‘welcome money’ from the West German authorities. Tens of thousands stood in line at banks and town halls up and down West Germany, waiting to collect their state-sanctioned gift of 100DM (around €80 today). For most East Germans, shortages of basic goods were a fact of daily life and luxuries were all but non-existent, this modest windfall represented the first true spending money that they had ever possessed, and in spending it they would have their first encounters with modern-day capitalism and consumerism. In this programme, journalist and teutonophile Malcolm Jack heads to Berlin to find out what East Germans bought with their Begrüßungsgeld and, 30 years on, what became of those purchases. In Berlin, Malcolm meets Jens ‘Tasso’ Muller from Saxony, who, on his first trip west, travelled with friends to Kreuzberg in Berlin. It was the first time he had ever seen graffiti tags, on every corner in every place. Having never seen graffiti tags before, he worked out it must be done with a marker so that was the first thing he bought. As it cost an exorbitant 11DM, he just bought one, but it would be the first of many. Today Jens is better known by the alias 'Tasso' and his tag is recognised all over the world - as a professional graffiti artist he has visited 31 different countries and counting; all thanks to one black ink Edding marker, igniting a passion for street art he didn't even know existed. Amongst other East Germans and East Berliners, Malcolm meets fashion designer and former international model Grit Seymour. Grit’s welcome money was spent on fresh exotic fruit and a copy of Italian Vogue which was previously inaccessible to her in the GDR. Malcolm also visits a former Stasi prison with tour guide and former inmate Peter Kreup, whose welcome money provided a sense of power and freedom that he had previously been denied after spending 10 months incarcerated by the regime. Performance artist and lecturer Else Gabriel shares her unorthodox approach to the welcome money, and the bounty it brought her which she still keeps in her studio. Nicole Hartmann was just 11 years old when the wall fell, and remembers the feeling of solidarity that she felt when her East German village banded together to look after the people in the streams of cars, all travelling to Berlin to collect their Begrüßungsgeld. We also hear from Professor of German History at University College, London about the reasons for the introduction of the welcome money itself, and its impact on the process of reunification.
08/11/19·28m 57s

Into the Manosphere

Young men are facing a crisis of masculinity. To deal with it, they have options - the manosphere, a mainly online world where the challenges facing 21st century men are exclusively the fault of women, or the anti-manosphere. Philip Tanzer is a Men Rights Activist (or MRA) and manosphere convert who lives in Scotland. He’s already a keyboard warrior, fighting the ‘feminist establishment’ from the highlands of Scotland and giving motivational talks to the young men who come to his salon and art gallery. He allows producers to follow him as he attends the International Conference on Men’s Issues in Chicago where many of the main leaders and thinkers that together form the nebulous community congregate, including a British MP, far-right YouTubers and a surprising number of women. Along the way, he gives a unique insight into the individual stories behind the growing group of men in the UK and US who find their tribe in the online forums dedicated to reversing the feminist agenda. He also meets and debates with men and women who believe the manosphere is a dangerous and misogynist place and looks at alternative ways to address the growing levels of mental ill health and suicide in young men – could drumming around a campfire be a better way for men to connect? Produced by Lucy Proctor and Alvaro Alvarez
05/11/19·37m 44s

The Hand Detectives

“At the end of the day, with DNA, we have difficulty in the forensic arena of separating identical twins, we can do it with a hand no problem at all.” - Professor Dame Sue Black In 2006 the Metropolitan Police came to Professor Sue Black with an image. An infrared snapshot of a man’s arm, taken from a computer camera in the middle of the night. They wanted to know if she, as one of the world’s most respected forensic anatomists, could find any details that could match the limb in the picture, to a potential child abuse suspect. That case sparked the development of a new kind of forensic science - Hand Identification. A science that in the past 13 years has aided in securing convictions in some of the most high profile child abuse cases in the UK. In this programme we explore how Sue and her teams in Dundee and Lancaster University have developed the science of Hand Identification, how it can be used in conjunction with digital forensic techniques to identify offenders, and how by creating a library of hands, Artificial Intelligence can be developed to quickly and accurately assess hands and link child abuse cases around the globe - protecting not just children, but the investigators who put their own mental health at risk as they work to protect the most vulnerable. Produced by Elizabeth Ann Duffy Illustration by Seonaid MacKay
29/10/19·28m 48s

Middlesbrough, Money and Me

Steph McGovern returns to her home town of Middlesbrough to ask why we aren’t better equipped to deal with the practical maths that we need to work out phone contracts, energy tariffs and any number of other challenges thrown at us in everyday life. She argues that too much emphasis is put on abstract maths in the school curriculum, and visits a Teesside primary school that is bucking the trend by emphasising practical maths to see what difference it is making. Steph meets university maths lecturer Sven Ake Wegner and hears about his struggles with cucumbers and tax returns, as well as the crucial relationship between theoretical and applied maths. Finally Steph attends the finals of a young enterprise competition to talk with teams of schoolchildren learning about profit, loss and percentages through running their own businesses. Along the way Steph sets a series of puzzles to test the listener’s own ability to make the numbers add up. Producer: Geoff Bird ANSWERS: 1/ It's cheaper to pay off the card in equal amounts for 12 months than pay the transfer fee. 2/ Shorts were £5.25 3/ Less than £100.00
25/10/19·28m 38s

Make Me a Programme

Can a robot host a radio show? Georgia Lewis-Anderson is a conversation designer for voice technology, writing answers to the more human questions that people ask voice assistants like 'what's your favourite food', 'will you marry me' or 'what's the meaning of life'. As voice assistants become better and better talkers, Georgia is doing an experiment to test whether she can push their chit chat to the limit by making a LoveBot driven by AI that can host a relationship advice radio phone-in. Building the bot, she unravels how our conversations with computers work, explores ethical concerns, and shines a light on the ways more and more of us are looking to machines to help with our emotions.
18/10/19·28m 44s

Russell Kane's Right to Buy

The comedian Russell Kane traces his success back to the day his Dad bought his council house in Enfield in the 80s. Now, in 2019, he wrestles with the impact of the Thatcher policy which allowed that to happen – Right to Buy. Russell’s family lived in an end of terrace, which meant a bigger garden, and the potential for an extension. His Dad built pillars onto the entrance of the house and, in his most audacious of moves, hand-dug a 21-foot swimming pool. The house became known as “The Castle” to their disgruntled neighbours, and Russell started to feel different. He felt he could strive for more and he thinks it was the trigger for the events which led him to university, and beyond. In all the debate about housing and the Right to Buy policy, Russell thinks that the social impact on families like his has been forgotten. But he also feels like the drawbridge was pulled up behind him – as if his family’s luck was potentially to the detriment of others. The social housing in Enfield was depleted, and his community divided between those with the extensions and the fancy entrances, and those without. Here, he tries to reconcile his feelings about a policy which changed the lives of working class communities across Britain – for better, or for worse? Featuring the architect of Right to Buy – Lord Heseltine, sociologist Lisa McKenzie, and Russell’s mum Julie. Produced in Bristol by Polly Weston.
15/10/19·28m 51s

The Corrections: The Carbonara Case

The Corrections re-visits four news stories which left the public with an incomplete picture of what really happened. In August 2017, The Times published a piece with the headline ‘Christian child forced into Muslim foster care’. The story was front-page news the next day as well - and the next – but was it right? Produced and presented by Jo Fidgen and Chloe Hadjimatheou
11/10/19·42m 48s

Shappi Khorsandi Gets Organised

Shappi Khorsandi’s life is disorganised. A single mother of two and a stand-up comedian and writer, Shappi is busy. She doesn’t know what money is coming into or out of her account, her love of charity shopping is getting out of control, her prized family photographs are shoved in a box in the back of the wardrobe and the clutter is overwhelming. She's tried the famous Marie Kondo method of tidying up, but it hasn't helped a bit. She hates being disorganised. She wants to do something about it! Should Shappi just learn to embrace the chaos? Or can professional help put her life in order? Produced by Amy Wheel for BBC Cymru Wales
08/10/19·28m 47s

Generation Z and the Art of Self-Maintenance

Generation Z is self-taught. No-one any older really gets that. The children born around the turn of the millennium came into a digital world and had to find out for themselves how to navigate it. Sure, we all live it now - but we weren't formed by it. We came to digital from the safety of adulthood. In this programme, six wise school-leavers take us on their digital journey in their home town of Huddersfield. Simone has lived there her whole life and is about to leave for university. But before she goes, she's joined by a group of her friends who take us around Huddersfield and back through their digital adolescence. They tell us their stories of self-education, from friendship to flirting, memes to messaging, and talk about the lessons that they had to learn. Presenter: Simone Dawes Producer: Camellia Sinclair
04/10/19·29m 0s

The Ballad of the Fix

The story of Scotland's deadly drug crisis narrated by the voice of the narcotic itself. Scotland has the highest rate of reported drug deaths in the European Union. There has been a rapid rise of cheap, imported synthetic drugs - especially Etizolam, an illegal tablet similar to Valium but with an unpredictable potency often many times higher. But why do so many people, especially young men, feel drawn towards this dangerous self-medication? Scottish poet Niall Campbell explores the lives and deaths of a small number of drug users and of their families in Dundee. Using original music by Jon Nicholls and found sound, Niall’s poem weaves through first-hand accounts of the addictive process to create an elegy to the lost and those they leave behind. The Ballad of the Fix is a companion piece to The Ballad of the Blade (2018) in which Momtaza Mehri listened to the voices of young people involved in knife crime. Producers: Monica Whitlock and Liza Greig If you’ve been affected by addiction, help and support is available.
27/09/19·29m 23s

The Sound Odyssey: Loyle Carner in Guyana

Gemma Cairney brings together artists from two different countries to combine their talents to make a new piece of music. In this episode Gemma invites 24-year-old London rapper Loyle Carner to Guyana, South America to join flautist and composer Keith Waithe, a leading figurehead and champion of Guyanese culture. Loyle aka Benjamin Coyle-Larner was raised in Croydon South London by his Scottish mother and stepfather. His biological father is of Guyanese descent, but he has never visited the country. Loyle earned a Mercury Prize nomination for his debut album Yesterday’s Gone in 2017. His second album Not Waving, But Drowning was released earlier this year exploring everything from his ADHD and the pains of moving away from home, to his mixed race heritage. His other passion is food and he launched the Chilli Con Carner cookery school for kids growing up, as he had, with ADHD. Loyle will be immersed in the culture, food and music of Georgetown, working with Keith and other traditional Guyanese musicians to learn about the roots of Guyanese music and explore his black identity and create a brand new track together . Presented by Gemma Cairney Produced by Jax Coombes A BBC 6 Music Production for BBC Radio 4
20/09/19·28m 44s

Going to the Gay Bar

LGBTQ+ venues are closing across the UK. Research from the UCL Urban Laboratory indicates that, since 2006, the number of venues in London has fallen from 125 to 53 - with some still at risk of closure. Conversely, there's been a 144% increase in hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people, with one in five experiencing a hate crime this year. Performance artist and writer Travis Alabanza asks if the venues have served the purpose they were originally built for or if now, more than ever, LGBTQ+ people need these spaces. Speaking to Professor Ben Campkin from UCL, Travis finds out why individual venues are closing and the impact of their loss. Travis hears personal accounts of how these venues shapes individuals, and visits one of London’s oldest LGBTQ+ venues, The Black Cap, which closed in 2015. Campaigners have since held weekly vigils there, but developers want to turn the upper part into luxury apartments and say a new pub will have an "LGBT flavour". Travis also visits a venue being threatened with closure, The Eden Bar in Birmingham, as well as other LGBTQ+ spaces beyond nightlife; Gay's The Word bookshop, and The Outside Project. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell explains the impact of these venues in the 70s and 80s compared to today, and London’s Night Czar Amy Lamé discusses how London is working to protect venues. Finally, Travis speaks with Phyll Opoku- Gyimah, the co-founder of UK Black Pride, to consider whether these venues truly serve the entirety of the LGBTQ+ community. Produced by Anishka Sharma and Sasha Edye-Lindner Researcher: Eleanor Ross A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4 LLGC Oral History clips and First Out Oral History clips courtesy of UCL Urban Laboratory. Photo credit: Tiu Makkonen
17/09/19·57m 5s

Art of Now: The World in Their Hands

We hear from one of the world’s last remaining globemakers and reflect on the globe’s cultural and symbolic currency. While Google Earth may give us intricate detail of every inch of land, there’s nothing like clutching a globe to properly comprehend our place in the world. We’ve been fascinated by replicating our planet since ancient times; an art and science that’s developed as our understanding has evolved. In this programme, we step into the studio of Bellerby & Co Globemakers, one of the few companies remaining that are making globes by hand today. From their Stoke Newington warehouse, we follow the journey of a globe from design to dispatch. We hear about the challenges they face daily, from retraining their hands to querying geopolitical protocol, and the customers who’ve commissioned their unique bespoke worlds. Alongside this creative process, we visit installation artist Luke Jerram, who is touring his replica earth artwork, Gaia. We also hear from writer and cartography enthusiast Simon Garfield and globe conservator Sylvia Sumira to explore the rich history of globemaking as well as some bigger ideas around the influence of those who represent our planet to us. The globe is crucially illustrative of our shared experience. Do we need its symbol today more than ever? Produced in Cardiff by Amelia Parker Photo by kind permission of Bellerby & Co Globemakers (credit: Sebastian Boettcher) Gaia soundtrack courtesy of Luke Jerram and Dan Jones
06/09/19·28m 32s

What’s Eating Rotherham

Why do you keep going back to the fridge after dinner? Fruit and vegetables, a balanced diet, low salt, low sugar and moderate exercise seem to be the silver bullets loaded into a revolver that has only ever fired blanks at the problem of Britain’s obesity crisis. More than ten years ago, the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver came to Rotherham in an effort to help combat obesity, by providing information on how to cook healthy foods. A decade on Rotherham still has a high proportion of people that are overweight or obese. In What’s Eating Rotherham, local resident Joanne Keeling, who is 28 stone and trying to lose weight, looks at the emotional side of overeating and examines the effect Jamie Oliver - and the spotlight he brought to Rotherham - can have on a town at the centre of media attention. With the help of Producer Jay Unger, Joanne soon discovers an uncomfortable truth about why some people emotionally eat. As well as questioning whether or not traditional methods of treating obesity, like prescribed exercise and diet regimes, actually work she wants to learn about the psychology of why people overeat in the first place.
27/08/19·28m 21s

The Courage of Ambivalence

In an age of certainty, of assertions without facts, and sometimes assertions with facts, Mark O’Connell makes the case for a different virtue – ambivalence. Six years on from his thought-provoking, witty and charming Four Thought, he returns to make the case for ambivalence. In those six years almost every trend in public life has been away from ambivalence rather than towards it. Populist movements from the left and the right are about certainty, and even the idea of balance often ends up sharing single, entrenched views, just neatly arrayed on either side. Yet in real life few decisions are truly clear-cut, there is often a case on both sides, and a reasonable person could easily reach a different conclusion with the same evidence. Most of us, much of the time, have complex and mutually contradictory views on issues small and large. And that's also true in public life: the arts and business, politics and the military are all properly in the realm of ambivalence, with complicated, messy and marginal decisions. Mark begins this programme in Dublin, speaking to a philosopher, a psychologist, an essayist and an art critic about what ambivalence is, how central it is to the human experience, and how we might embrace it. Then he travels to London, to examine areas of public life, and issues, where ambivalence feels less comfortable, more challenging. But as someone who is profoundly ambivalent about most things, much of the time, can he sustain the courage of his own ambivalence? Producer: Giles Edwards
23/08/19·28m 43s

Can Facebook Survive?

David Baker, contributing editor of Wired, explores the challenges Facebook must meet and overcome in order to survive after a disastrous period which has seen the reputation and the business model of the social media giant questioned like never before. Producer: Jonathan Brunert
13/08/19·37m 47s

Power of Deceit

Lucy Cooke sets out to discover why honesty is almost certainly not the best policy, be you chicken, chimp or human being. It turns out that underhand behaviour is rife throughout the animal kingdom, and can be a winning evolutionary strategy. From sneaky squid, to cheating cuckoos, some species will resort to truly incredible levels of deception and deviousness to win that mate, or get more food. And when it comes to social animals like we humans, it turns out that lying, or at least those little white lies, may be the social glue that binds us all together. Lucy heads to the RSPB cliffs at Bempton, with Professor Tim Birkhead to discover why so many bird species appear to be such proficient deceivers, as well as visiting the very crafty ravens at The Tower of London. She speaks to psychologist Richard Wiseman about how to spot when someone is lying, and finds out whether she is any good at it. In fact, can we trust any of what she says in this documentary at all? Presenter Lucy Cooke Producer Alexandra Feachem
09/08/19·28m 54s

Hannah Walker Is a Highly Sensitive Person

Hannah Jane Walker argues that sensitivity is overlooked, dismissed and under-utilised, and argues that our society would be much better off if we embraced it instead. Two years ago, Hannah gave a Four Thought talk about sensitivity, and received hundreds of emails from strangers, reaching out to tell her the same things: that sensitivity in our society isn’t considered useful, and that, well, ‘that’s just the system that we live in, isn’t it?’ Since then, Hannah has felt slightly ashamed at having started such a powerful conversation without offering a solution. And so in this programme she sets out to do just that. She’ll be talking to several of her correspondents, as well as a psychologist, a neuroscientist, an economist and even a newly-minted activist for the highly sensitive. The programme focuses on highly sensitive people, but sensitivity is a spectrum and as Hannah hears more about it, she also finds out more about the benefits all of us can take from being in closer touch with our sensitive sides. Producer: Giles Edwards
06/08/19·28m 59s

The Upside of Anxiety

Anxiety has become one of the defining characteristics of our modern age, with millions of us suffering from its various damaging effects. It comes in many shapes and sizes - status anxiety, social anxiety, and more recently Brexit and Eco-anxiety. Figures indicate a big rise in its prevalence, particularly among young people and members of minority groups. In this editon of 'Archive on Four' Professor Andrew Hussey how this new age of anxiety has come about, how it compares with previous moments of national stress, and also why he believes it to be a peculiarly modern phenomenon. Hussey makes the case that while pathological forms of anxiety can be crippling, anxiety can also bring with it positive benefits - and rather than attempt to destroy it we should attempt to make it a useful ally. Producer - Geoff Bird
30/07/19·57m 56s

From College to Clink

What happens when top graduates work behind bars as prison officers? Lucy Ash meets young people who have forsaken lucrative careers in the City or elsewhere, for what many see as one of the world’s worst jobs. They’re part of Graduates Unlocked, a scheme which, which is trying to replicate in the prison service the success of Teach First, the programme that sends high-flyers into inner-city schools. The aim is to raise the status and reputation of prison officers, to boost recruitment and cut reoffending. It is hoped that youthful enthusiasm plus resilience and empathy could bring a much needed revolution to the criminal justice system. But faced with acute understaffing and assaults on prison officers at record levels, how much of a difference can the graduates make? Lucy meets a group of young men and women who are are sent to HMP Aylesbury, which holds the longest-sentenced young adult males in the English prison system. The youth offender institution in Buckinghamshire is "in a perpetual state of crisis" according to the Howard League for Penal Reform. A few months into the graduates' stint there, the youth prison is placed in special measures for keeping some inmates locked up for 23 hours a day. Can the graduates' early idealism survive the reality of life behind bars? Producer: Arlene Gregorius
26/07/19·37m 41s

America's Child Brides

A tense debate is taking place in states across America. At what age should someone be allowed to marry? Currently in 48 out of 50 states a child can marry, usually with parental consent or a judge's discretion. In 17 states there's no minimum age meaning in theory a two year old could marry. But there's a campaign to change the law and raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 without exceptions across all American states. But changing the laws state by state is not as easy as one may think. There's resistance and raising the minimum age to 18 has often been blocked by legislators. Jane O'Brien speaks to child brides, the campaigners pushing to make it illegal and the people who say that the laws don't need to change. Producer: Rajeev Gupta Editor: Amanda Hancox
28/06/19·28m 31s

A History of Hate - Bosnia: The Weaponisation of History

Hate seems to be everywhere - whether it’s white supremacists marching on the streets of America, jihadists slaughtering Christians in Sri Lanka or the massacre of Muslims in New Zealand. In this five part series, BBC journalist Allan Little unpicks the mechanics of hatred and reveals how this dangerous emotion has been whipped up and disseminated throughout history. Allan Little begins with the hatred he witnessed on the killing fields of the Bosnian War, deconstructing how Serbian leaders like Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic manipulated and weaponised history to inculcate a violent loathing that would lead to the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica. It's a hatred and an ideology that continues to inspire today's extreme far-right. Presenter: Allan Little Producer: Xavier Zapata Editor: Helen Grady
11/06/19·15m 22s

What's in a Game?

While the video games industry is big business, it's also breaking new ground in the arts. We're at a cultural tipping point for the industry. For the past decade the process of producing and distributing games has become easier so there's now a wider array of games than ever before. And games, which are the meeting point for so many art forms, are now at the forefront of creativity, pushing boundaries and making players think differently. In this programme, Alex Humphreys speaks to leading video games designers, composers and writers from around the world about their craft, and discovers the ongoing battle to have video games recognised on a par with other creative mediums. Produced by Glyn Tansley
07/06/19·28m 21s


Radio 1 Breakfast Show host Greg James digs into the BBC's archives, taking some of the week's news stories as a starting point for a trip into the past. Greg, who describes himself as a "proud radio nerd", is let loose in the vast BBC vaults, home to a treasure trove of radio and television programmes as well as some revealing documents. He says "As someone who spends too much time searching for oddities online, the opportunity to gain access to one of the greatest media resources on the planet was too good to miss." This audio journey uncovers some surprising moments. As the UK prepares for the state visit of President Trump, Greg discovers some of his first encounters with British broadcasters - and also finds that searching for 'trump' in the archives delivers an unexpected series from the early 1980s. The Elton John biopic Rocketman arrives in our cinemas this week and the BBC archives reveal that Elton's journey to global success had a very bumpy start. And following the announcement that Yorkshire-born Simon Armitage will be the next Poet Laureate, we hear from a long-overlooked Yorkshire writer who wrote hundreds of royal poems. And there's an art review format which Greg describes as 'astonishing': two Beryls consider paintings by an artist called Beryl. Producer Paula McGinley
20/05/19·28m 35s

The Prototype

We assume the instruments we know and love today will be around forever. What if they're not? What new forms and ideas could take their place? Hannah Catherine Jones takes you into the world of the prototype, meeting instrument inventors challenging traditions and shifting boundaries. Sarah Kenchington is an artist and inventor living on a derelict farm in the Campsies, Scotland. Her curiosity for how instruments would sound if they were freed from humans led to a life-long endeavour. Twenty years later and she's still tinkering with her semi-mechanical orchestra, complete with hurdy-gurdy, 100-year old gramophone and ping pong machine. Savinder Bual is an artist, animator and now instrument-inventor. She's fascinated with the pineapple - a fruit that symbolises Britain's dark colonial history whilst being a fun, popular motif. By spinning the pineapple head, she realised its leaves could pluck strings and make music. That discovery led to her making a complete orchestra of pineapple instruments. The Mi.Mu gloves were invented by a team of scientists, technologists and e-textile designers. Using your movements to trigger sounds from a computer, they allow the performers the flexibility to move on stage without being connected to a computer. But if the sound isn't coming from the gloves themselves, does this still make them an instrument? Hannah enlists the expertise of Adam Harper (musicologist, music critic, former church organ player), important grime figurehead Elijah (who runs the record label Butterz), multi-instrumentalist and producer Swindle, and the luthier Bill Bunce. Hannah Catherine Jones is an artist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, conductor and founder of the Peckham Chamber Orchestra. Produced by Eliza Lomas.
17/05/19·28m 20s

The Fast and the Curious

Tom Heap sets off on a guilt trip road trip to find out why people like him won't give up the things they know are destroying the planet. Tom loves his powerful car. Despite a pretty thorough knowledge of the science of climate change and the contribution that his petrol-powered Subaru makes to a warming world he doesn't want to give it up. He's not alone. Most of us have dirty pleasures we have no intention of foregoing, whether that's eating meat, buying fast fashion or flying to our favourite holiday destinations. So what will make Tom and people like him change their behaviour for the sake of the planet? Tom hits the road to find out, dropping in on people who have influenced his thinking on the environment. There's food writer and cook, Jack Monroe who has helped make veganism a pleasure rather than a pain. There's John Browne, the oil company CEO who tried to push BP, Beyond Petroleum, Christiana Figueres, the diplomat who persuaded Presidents and PMs to sign up to carbon reductions. And there's the Bishop of Salford who thinks we should heed the Gospels and accept that personal sacrifice is essential to save the world. Producer: Alasdair Cross
30/04/19·29m 1s

The Bubble

Social media, especially Twitter has changed the way we consume the news. Articles, commentaries and opinions are put into our news feeds by the people we choose to follow. We tend to only follow the people we agree with and like, and block and unfollow the people we disagree with. We're creating our own echo chambers and social media bubbles. These bubbles are making us more polarised than ever, and we’re less likely to listen to views that are different from ours. Are we missing out on hearing the other side, because we're not hearing why they think the way they do? In this programme, for two weeks, two people with opposite views swap Twitter news feeds. One Labour voting Remainer, and one Conservative Leaver. They’ll keep audio diaries using their smartphones documenting what they’re consuming. Are they angry at what their opposite is consuming? Will it change their viewpoint on politics and world events? At the end of the experiment they’ll meet each other for the first time to discuss what they learned. Will they confront each other, or will they be ashamed of themselves? Will they be disappointed by how the opposite side thinks or will they learn from each other? Presenters: Joanna Fuertes and Cameron Bradbury Producer: Lydia Thomas
26/04/19·28m 27s

Peach Fuzz

Mona Chalabi asks why female facial hair still seems to be a source of such shame. Last year, when she sent a lighthearted tweet about hairy women, she was deluged with replies. Hundreds of women wrote to her to describe the physical and emotional pain they experienced about their body hair. But there was one area they really wanted to talk about - their facial hair. And in this programme Mona will do just that – talk about female facial hair – including to some of the women who contacted her after her initial tweet. What can be dismissed as trivial is a source of deep anxiety for many women, but that’s what female facial hair is, argues Mona, a series of contradictions. It’s something that’s common yet considered abnormal, natural for one gender and apparently freakish for another. Removing it is recognized by many women - including Mona - as a stupid social norm and yet they strictly follow it. And as well as gender demarcations, this discussion touches on the intersections of race and age, too. As she tries to unravel this question, Mona will examine her own complicated feelings about this subject - as she takes us to her laser hair removal appointment. Producer: Giles Edwards
23/04/19·28m 41s

A Sense of Time

Animal senses reveal a wealth of information that humans can't access. Birds can see in ultra violet, and some fish can 'feel' electricity. But how do different species sense time? If you've ever tried to swat flies, you'll know that they seem to have super-powered reactions that let them escape before you can blink. Presenter Geoff Marsh asks whether flies have some sort of super-power to see the world in slow motion. Are they watching your hand come down at what might appear a leisurely pace? Science reveals a window into the minds of different species and their temporal perceptions. Some flies have such fast vision that they can see and react to movement at four times the rate you can, and our vision works at more than six times the speed of one species of deep sea fish. This programme delves into each moment of experience to ask 'what is time, biologically?' When birds have to dodge through forests and catch flies on the wing, or when flies have to avoid birds, it would seem that a faster temporal resolution would be a huge advantage. So what is their sense of time? Geoff meets physicist Carlo Rovelli and asks him to jump outside of physics to answer questions on biology and philosophy. Geoff explores the mind of a bat with Professor Yossi Yovel in Israel, and dissects birdsong at super slow speeds with BBC wildlife sound recordist, Chris Watson. Getting deep into the minds of animals he questions whether our seconds feel like swordfish seconds, or a beetles' or birds' or bats..? Presenter: Geoff Marsh Producer: Rory Galloway
12/04/19·29m 5s

The Monster Downstairs

Life for the child of an alcoholic can be lonely, locked inside a house of secrets. A code of silence means they don't want to talk to friends, or neighbours, or even their brothers and sisters. Journalist Camilla Tominey, whose mother was an alcoholic, hears their stories. Since having her own children, Camilla has longed to travel back in time and ask her, mother to mother: "What made you start drinking before noon?" Here, she and her two brothers sit down for the first time in twenty years to talk about their memories. Alcoholism is by no means a one-size fits all experience. It cuts across class lines and manifests itself in many different forms. We hear stories from people across Britain. How have they been changed by their experience and what has helped get them through? The Monster Downstairs features intimate, wrenching stories - of young people and adults - as they talk about an unpredictable existence. Producer: Caitlin Smith
09/04/19·28m 40s

A Job for the Boys

Women once made up 80% of the computer industry. They are now less than 20%. Mary Ann Sieghart explores the hidden and disturbing consequences of not having women at the heart of the tech. Who is the in room today when technology is designed determines how society is being shaped. Justine Cassell, from Carnegie Mellon University, says young men in Silicon Valley are told, “Design for you. Design what you would want to use” and so virtual assistants, such as the ever-female Siri, Alexa and Cortana play with “cute talk” and female game characters still have their “tits hanging out of their blouses.” Artificial Intelligence is now making life-changing choices for us - about our health, our loans, even bail. But it isn’t faultless; it is biased. AI is only as good as the data it’s been fed and if it’s learning from prejudice, it will only amplify it. Apps designed by men are overlooking women’s health, algorithms are rejecting women outright and as MIT Professor Catherine Tucker explains, they aren’t even being sent jobs adverts “because their eyeballs are more expensive.” Mary Ann looks at why women left the computer industry and what still deters them today. She hears the challenges that tech entrepreneur Steve Shirley faced in the 1960s are almost identical to those voiced by organisers of the Google walkout last year. Women are harassed, side lined and not taken seriously; they are put off by a cult of genius and techno-chauvinism. But there is hope. Mary Ann meets campaigners trying to regulate AI gender bias and those succeeding in getting more women into tech, finding a small tweak in classroom design or style of university marking can make a real difference. Producer: Sarah Bowen.
02/04/19·29m 31s

The Puppet Master – Episode 5. Enemies

Effigies, aliases, and a 'golden cage': it all comes down to this in the series finale about Vladislav Surkov, the most powerful man you’ve never heard of. Presented by Gabriel Gatehouse.
25/03/19·18m 28s

The Puppet Master – Episode 4. Unravelling

Is it all getting too much for the hero – or is he the villain of our series? His name is Vladislav Surkov and his enemies are circling. Gabriel Gatehouse continues the story of the most powerful man you've never heard of.
25/03/19·18m 15s

The Puppet Master – Episode 3. Impresario

The story of Vladislav Surkov, the most powerful man you’ve never heard of, continues. His background is in theatre and PR, but his profession is politics. And in this episode, Gabriel Gatehouse tells the story of how it all comes together in a bold statement of Surkov's power and confidence.
25/03/19·18m 20s

The Puppet Master – Episode 2. Ascension

This is the story of the most powerful man you’ve never heard of. He can spot an ex-spy with presidential potential and help turn him into a world leader. He creates opposition movements out of thin air. He’s got a nation’s news directors on speed dial. Billionaires seek his advice. He’s even got his own little war. He’s at the heart of the standoff between East and West. Some even credit him with pioneering the concept of post-truth politics. Yet few even know his name. He is Vladislav Surkov. And in this episode, Gabriel Gatehouse charts his rise from small-town Russia to the heights of power in the Kremlin.
25/03/19·18m 32s

The Puppet Master – Episode 1. Snipers

The Puppet Master is a series that gets to the bewildering heart of contemporary Russia by exploring the fortunes of a secretive, complicated and controversial man called Vladislav Surkov. Reporter Gabriel Gatehouse speaks fluent Russian and has access to a vast cache of leaked emails from Surkov’s Kremlin office. Using these, plus archive and sources gained over a decade of covering Russia and its wars, Gatehouse goes in search of the man pulling the strings. The journey is by turns dramatic, surprising and surreal, ranging from the battlefield to the theatre and the Kremlin itself. The destination? The post-truth world we inhabit today.
25/03/19·18m 26s

Flat 113 at Grenfell Tower

On the 14th floor of Grenfell Tower, firefighters moved eight residents into flat 113. Only four would survive. Using evidence from stage 1 of the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry, Katie Razzall pieces together what went wrong that night in flat 113. The answer reveals a catalogue of errors which may help to explain the wider disaster.
22/03/19·57m 26s

Macpherson: What Happened Next

In April 1993, a black teenager, Stephen Lawrence was murdered in a racist attack in the London suburb of Eltham. The Metropolitan Police bungled the investigation into his killers. The Inquiry which followed by Sir William Macpherson produced one of the most damning documents ever to emerge from the heart of the British establishment. Most famously, he concluded the force was “institutionally racist” issuing wide ranging recommendations for reform. 20 years on, barrister and broadcaster Hashi Mohamed, examines what’s changed since the Macpherson report was published. What difference did it really make? The programme includes the first broadcast interview with Sir William Macpherson for nearly 20 years. Producer: Jim Frank
15/03/19·28m 42s

NB - Episode 1: Realising

What do you do when you realise you’re non-binary? How do you come out to yourself? How do you find people like you? Caitlin Benedict is coming out. But before they begin, they need to really understand what it’s like to live as non-binary: to exist as neither completely male nor completely female in a world usually confined to two options. So Caitlin has enlisted the help of their friend and mentor Amrou, and together they set off for Brighton, and the Museum of Transology where curator EJ Scott shares his wisdom about life outside the gender binary, the incredible trans community in the UK, and how best to transport a pair of breasts. And Amrou takes Caitlin to meet their best friend, artist Victoria Sin. Presented by Caitlin Benedict & Amrou Al-Kadhi Produced by Caitlin Benedict, Arlie Adlington and Georgia Catt
04/03/19·28m 36s


With “toxic masculinity” high on the agenda, are we are now viewing boys as potential perpetrators of sexism and violence? Is this fair - and what should we be teaching them? After #MeToo with phrases like “toxic masculinity” on everyone's lips, are we now beginning to view boys as potential perpetrators of sexism and violence? If so, what effect is it having on them? How do we teach boys positive behaviour and prevent them repeating the mistakes of previous generations, without also making them feel that they are being vilified as emerging men? Producer Emma Kingsley, herself a mother of sons, explores this delicate balancing act. She talks to one of her boys and meets boys and girls at Moreton School near Wolverhampton to hear their views. She meets developmental pyschologist Dr. Brenda Todd from City University, London to talk about how problematic ideas around boyhood can develop from an early age. She speaks to Dan Bell from the Men and Boys Coalition who has concerns about how current debates impact on boys and she also hears from feminist writer Victoria Smith about how she balances awareness of toxic masculinity with being the mother of sons. We hear how boys are being guided towards constructing new models of behaviour with a glimpse into a workshop run by David Brockway of the Good Lad Initiative at Wetherby Senior School in London. Also taking part in the programme are Dr. Michael Ward from Swansea University who has researched how place impacts on young men's identity, anthropologist Samuel Veissière from McGill University who has researched toxic masculinity and Courtney Hartman, CEO of the company Free to be Kids whose clothing reflects anxieties about the perception of boys. Produced and presented by Emma Kingsley
01/03/19·29m 28s

Branding Genius

Who owns Shakespeare? The English? The tourist industry? The world? Branding and Graphic Designer Teresa Monachino goes in search of the 21st century phenomenon that is William Shakespeare and uncovers his contradictory brand values, with the help of a distinguished cast: Rev Dr Paul Edmondson from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Nick Eagleton and Katharina Tudball from SuperUnion Greg Doran, Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company Vikki Heywood, Outgoing Chairman of the Royal Society of the Arts Chino Odimba, Writer Professor Michael Dobson, The Shakespeare Institute Duncan Lees, Warwick University Michael Pennington, Actor, Director, Writer and Founder of the English Shakespeare Company Alicia Maksimova, Filmmaker Wind up Will Producer: Ellie Richold.
22/02/19·28m 50s

How To Burn A Million Quid: Rule 1

Bill sets off on a mission to shake up the music industry by causing chaos and confusion.
28/01/19·27m 15s

Millennials in the Workplace

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 ‘snowflake’ generation really ring true? How can it be that the most educated, most tech savvy generation to ever exist are the most incompetent in modern history? Why has the Millennial generation become the most mocked and derided in the workplace? By exploring the experiences of Millennials working in the real world, combined with expert inside on the political, economical and psychological anchor points that moulded the Millennial Generation India Rakusen explores the a fundamental clash of life experiences and values between the generations and uncovers the truth about Millennials in the working world.
25/01/19·28m 13s

I Feel for You: Narcs and narcissists

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 House at just the time when we seemed to be undergoing a public crisis about narcissism and narcissists. Blogs and books about narcissists are everywhere. Jolyon Jenkins talks to people who make a living from advising the public about narcissists, and a self-confessed celebrity narcissist who offers consultations to people who think they may be living with one of "his kind". The evidence that there really is more narcissism around seems thin, but that doesn't mean to say that we shouldn't take it seriously when it flips into a personality disorder. Producer/presenter: Jolyon Jenkins
15/01/19·28m 22s

I Feel for You: Empaths and empathy

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, for example, a Syrian refugee. As we seem to be driving ourselves ever deeper into silos of mutual incomprehension, the idea of taking another person's perspective seems an obviously useful one. But what's the evidence that feeling someone else's pain, or even understanding it, actually does any good? Jolyon Jenkins speaks to one self-described intuitive empath, who says she can sense the feelings of strangers in a room or even in the street. She describes it as both a gift and a curse. For the rest of us, is there not a danger that, having felt a brief emotional engagement, we move on, our fundamental attitudes and beliefs unchanged? Producer/presenter: Jolyon Jenkins
15/01/19·28m 19s

Behind the Scenes: Marianela Nunez at Covent Garden

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's Beaty Rubens behind the scenes, sharing what it means to be a Principal Dancer today. The programme focuses on her preparations to dance the two key roles in the much-loved classic, La Bayadere - the temple dancer Nikiya and the princess Gamzatti. It reveals glimpses of her at home in her native Buenos Aires over the summer, follows her as she travels into work, attends specially - designed Pilates classes and studio rehearsals with the great Russian ballerina Natalia Makarova (who recreated Marius Petipa's 1877 Indian Classic for a contemporary audience in 1989) and culminates with her triumphant opening night, leaving her in her dressing room with her feet in a bucket of ice and surrounded by vast bouquets of pink roses. Beaty Rubens also hears from Natalia Makarova, the Royal Ballet's Kevin O'Hare and the leading Russian dancer who partners Marianela, Vadim Muntagirov. Now at the very top of her game, Marinanela Nunez is also a wonderfully charismatic individual, whose love of dance and enthusiasm for life in the Royal Ballet effervesces in this lively depiction of a true artist. Producer: Beaty Rubens ,
11/01/19·28m 56s

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward - Episode One

From H.P. Lovecraft: The investigation into a mysterious disappearance.
09/01/19·23m 31s

Let's Raise the Voting Age

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 offers his take on why 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote, and there's some voting mythbusting from Professor Phil Cowley, who honestly answers the question as to whether 16-year-olds really dislike him. LSE Professor of Social Policy and Sociology, Lucinda Platt offers insights into the changes in the age at which key milestones of life happen now compared to in the late 60s, and Dr Jan Eichhorn of the University of Edinburgh explains the picture in Scotland where 16-year-olds can vote. And Maisie and Lottie, campaigners from York's Youth Council, put forward their views as to why they should be allowed to vote. Presented by Professor James Tilley Produced by Kev Core
08/01/19·28m 32s

Apollo 8

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 on the nascent environmental movement. Through extraordinary NASA archive, the first British astronaut Helen Sharman goes inside the capsule to tell the story of the first time man went to another world. Written and produced by: Chris Browning Researchers: Diane Richardson and Colin Anderton
04/01/19·58m 20s

Doorstep Daughter

Two families from very different backgrounds, one street and a baby on a doorstep. This series charts the story of how a young Christian couple came to entrust the care of their little daughter to a Muslim family that lived nearby in 1990s Watford. They were strangers but the couple - Peris Mbuthia and Martin Gitonga - needed help, as immigrants from Kenya working in low paid jobs with a child to support and no family to step in. They were struggling and their relationship was under strain. Early one morning, Martin left his flat with six month old Sandra zipped inside his jacket and handed her over to the Zafars across the road while he went to work at a warehouse. This arrival at the door was an event that changed the course of all their lives - that day the baby girl became the Zafars' Doorstep Daughter. And a special, enduring bond developed between Sandra and the Zafar’s daughter Saiqa. It is a story of faith, trust and love - a modern day telling of how it takes a village to raise a child. In this first episode, Peris and Martin meet as they begin their new lives in London and Saiqa is on a gap year, deciding what will be in store for her. Then along comes a baby. Producer: Sally Chesworth Sound: Richard Hannaford Editor: Gail Champion Exec Editor: Richard Knight
01/01/19·58m 29s

The Power of Twitter

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. Producer: Jonathan Brunert
25/12/18·37m 51s

Introducing Life Lessons

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.
20/12/18·2m 27s

Contracts of Silence

'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 looking to protect personal privacy and business interests? Tiffany Jenkins investigates. Producer: Dave Howard
18/12/18·29m 19s

Pursuit of Beauty: The Spider Orchestra

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 an orchestra of arachnids. On Air is Saraceno's latest and most ambitious exhibition. He has filled the Palais de Tokyo in Paris with extraordinary, beautifully lit spiders' webs, some connected to microphones so their occupant's movements echo round the gallery. There is an African spider that spins large webs which lift in the wind and so they travel, gliding places new. This inspires Saraceno's light-weight sculptures that do the same, and an aeolian harp of spider silk, which sings in response to the turbulence caused by gallery visitors. In another piece, the amplified sound of a spider's movements cause dust motes in a beam of light to move, and these, too, produce sound. A whole room is strung with elaborate patterns of tensed ropes. Visitors move among them, plucking and stroking the strings which sound, the floor itself vibrating - the closest humans can get to the experience of a spider in its web. Saraceno's work is a collaboration between artist, spiders and people, a kind of jam session. He also invites musicians to to respond to them, to play along with spiders. The famous experimental composer Alvin Lucier does this in a concert, featured in this programme (and he bounces the sound of his heartbeat off the moon). In the gallery in Paris, and his Berlin studio, Saraceno reveals his thinking and observations. The Spider Orchestra captures these, and all these sounds in a sonic web, and combines them. It, too, is a collaboration, between artist, spiders, people and producer - creating a compelling composition, for radio. Producer: Julian May
07/12/18·29m 9s

Pursuit of Beauty: Dead Rats and Meat Cleavers

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 way considered unacceptable. As part of the Avant-Folk trio 'Dead Rat Orchestra', Mann, a singer and composer, has long been playing music with strange percussive instruments. Coming across an old meat cleaver in his dad's garage he was inspired to make a set of cleavers to play music on - so turned to a bronze bladesmith to help turn meat cleavers into musical gold. In a chance discovery, he discovered the idea wasn't new - and so he sought out Jeremy Barlow, author of “The Enraged Musician”, to find out the coded messages of Hogarth’s musical prints, including marrow bones and meat cleavers. He also visits BathIRON 2018, as a new bandstand is being cast for the city of Bath, and gets the chance to conduct and sing with an orchestra of master smiths. The freshly cast meat cleaver is finally used in one of the Nest Collective's Campfire Concerts, where the Dead Rat Orchestra join a trio of female folk musicians from Poland - Sutari - who have developed their own parallel world of Rough Music. A joyful celebration, some nail biting forging, and some entrancing music. You've never heard cleavers like this before.... Producer: Sara Jane Hall
23/11/18·29m 27s

Pursuit of Beauty: Art Beneath the Waves

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 floor. Fish weave through his couple playing on sea-saw, tourists taking photographs or migrants huddling in a raft. As Jason works towards the opening of his first cold water installation, Emma asks what draws him to the sea, the meaning of his work and how audiences can engage with underwater art. She explores the unpredictability of working with the sea, hearing stories of storms, seasickness and near drowning. Suzi Winstanley is petrified of the deep, but her passion for documenting wildlife has taken her to the remotest and coldest places in the world. With fellow artist Olly Williams, they collaborate to paint, lightning-fast, their experience of encountering white shark and leopard sea. Emma braves the wintery British waters to talk concentration, boundaries and time with artist Peter Matthews who immerses himself in the ocean for hours, sometimes days, floating with his drawing board and paper. Sunlight dances on the twisting fabrics of headless bodies in photographer Estabrak’s pictures. For her, working in Oman, underwater is the only safe space to tell stories. For some the pull of the sea is political, for others environmental, but all the artists find extraordinary freedom in this huge untapped underwater world. Producer: Sarah Bowen
16/11/18·29m 20s

Ghosts in the Machine

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 more susceptible than we might have ever believed - to be deceived by our ears. Laurie takes us on an mind-bending journey through the world of aural hallucination and illusion - revealing how the ghosthunters of EVP actually are showing off something rather profound about the flaws in our auditory perception...and they way we scrabble for meaning in the booming, buzzing confusion of the world around us. Contributors include the acclaimed expert on auditory illusion Diana Deutsch, writer and sound artist Joe Banks, neurologist Sophie Scott and parapsychologist Ann Winsper. Producer: Steven Rajam for BBC Wales
30/10/18·29m 15s

The Supercalculators

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 talks to Robert Fountain, the UK's two-time winner of this prestigious prize, about his hopes for this year's competition and the mathematical magicians of the past who have inspired him. He also meets Rachel Riley, Countdown's number queen, to find out what it takes to beat the countdown clock.
19/10/18·29m 7s

The Art of Now: Border Wall

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 explores the diverse artistic scene thriving along the 2000 miles border. Producer: Sarah Shebbeare
05/10/18·29m 13s

The Eternal Life of the Instant Noodle

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." The Taiwanese-Japanese man who invented them (Momofuku Ando) was convinced that real peace would only come when people have enough to eat. In the bleak wreckage of post-war Japan, he spent a year in a backyard hut, creating the world's most successful industrial food. Crucially, he wanted the noodles to be ready to eat in less than three minutes. That convenience has since become a selling point for noodles that are consumed by students, travellers and, yes, prisoners the world over. Instant noodles first went on sale in 1958, and they've changed little since. Sixty years on, Celia Hatton explores the story behind instant noodles. It's a journey that starts in Japan, at the nation's instant noodle museum, and then takes her to China, still the world's number one market for "convenient noodles" as they're known there. Chinese sales of instant noodles are falling, though, as the country becomes wealthier. But noodles are still on sale in every food store in the country. The story ends with Celia being shown how to make a "prison burrito" by an ex-prisoner from Riker's Island prison in New Jersey, in the US. We hear why instant noodles have emerged as the prisoners' currency of choice. Momofuku Ando's invention lives on. Producer: John Murphy.
28/09/18·28m 48s

The Ballad of the Blade

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 told in the voice of the knife as it travels on a chilling arc out of a child's bedroom, through fear, a yearning to belong and succeed, ruin and - sometimes - redemption. First-person voices from London and Sheffield splinter through the poem, reflecting the mosaic of lives affected by youth violence - bereaved youngsters and determined parents, criminals and youth workers. "Ballad of the Blade" is scored by Jon Nicholls. The programme was devised by Andrew Efah of BBC II! Producer Monica Whitlock.
25/09/18·28m 47s

The Sound Odyssey: Nadine Shah travels to Beirut

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 Saba. The challenge will be for them to create a track together in Beirut in just two days. Both have very different musical styles and cultural heritages. Nadine was born in Whitburn, South Tyneside, to an English mother of part-Norwegian ancestry and a Pakistani father. Her music is very much inspired by conflict, immigration, and cultural and religious identity, and her latest Mercury Prize nominated album, Holiday Destination was written about the Syrian refugee crisis. Although Nadine's lyrics have been very much inspired by the conflict in Syria she has never been to the Middle East. Youmna Saba holds a master's degree in Musicology, focusing mainly on the parallels between classical Arabic music and Arabic visual art. She is a part-time instructor at the musicology department at the Antonine University. Her sound borrows elements from the Arabic music tradition, and blends them with electronic treatments, sonic textures and loops. They will meet and collaborate in Beirut, a city once ravaged by civil war that has been gaining a reputation as a burgeoning cultural hub where cultural and religious diversity sits side by side. Once dubbed "the Paris of the Middle East", the Lebanese capital is a beautiful and daringly hopeful vision of what the future of the region might hold - A city of new ideas -art, fashion, political movements, multiculturalism and a thriving music scene. Whilst in the city Gemma Cairney meets local artists including Dima Matta the host of Cliffhangers, a storytelling group and platform which offers a safe space for people to express themselves in a country where this is very problematic and censorship is very much a real thing. And we hear from Syrian rock group Tanjaret Daghet, who now live in Beirut as exiles, anxious about their families and homes. Presented by Gemma Cairney Produced by Jax Coombes A BBC 6 Music Production for BBC Radio 4.
21/09/18·28m 35s

Intrigue: The Ratline

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.
19/09/18·20m 15s

What Happened Last Night in Sweden?

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 crime in Sweden. The report twisted a story done by Ruth Alexander for Radio 4's More or Less programme and used misleading statistics to try to show that recent immigrants were responsible for a crime wave in Sweden. More or Less debunked the report and its use of statistics but since then there has been spate of violent crime in Sweden. Ruth Alexander travels to Stockholm and Malmö to find out the truth about what's going on. Producer: Keith Moore.
28/08/18·29m 21s

The Five Foot Shelf

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 be required for a complete home education? Ian Sansom has set a course for Wigtown - Scotland's National Booktown - to find out. Local craftsman Steve has been busy creating just the shelf for the job - exactly five foot long - and fashioned from elm wood and whiskey barrels recycled from a local distillery. Ian will be playing shopkeeper at the Open Book in Wigtown - a B&B meets bookshop which allows visitors to indulge their fantasy of running their own bookstore. With Ian parked behind the counter, all that's needed is for visitors to drop by and try to persuade him of the books they think deserve a rightful place on The Five Foot Shelf. But of course not everything will make it on and as custodian of the shelf, Ian can be ruthless. Well, kind of... No academics. No critics. No nonsense. The Five Foot Shelf is a guide for readers by readers about the books which matter to them. Producer: Conor Garrett.
21/08/18·28m 54s

Game Changer: Fortnite on 4

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 forts and fighting to the death. The winner is the last one standing. It's free to play on multiple devices from computers to games consoles to smartphones. Presenter Kevin Fong (medical doctor, broadcaster and father of two) asks, is Fornite more like the new crack cocaine or more like the Beatles? It's estimated that more than 125 million people have played Fortnite Battle Royale and that 3 million people around the world are playing it at any one time. Its creators Epic Games have earned more than US$1 billion from Fortnite within the last year, and that is just from players buying virtual outfits and victory dances for their avatars. These dances or 'emotes' have leaked out of Fortnite's virtual world into the real one as anyone watching the World Cup will have seen. Football players now emote on scoring goals. There are also professional Fortnite players who are making millions by playing the game while vast numbers of people spectate via live streaming internet channels. Fortnite's Ronaldo is Ninja, a 26 year old man in Illinois, USA. It's said he makes US$ 500,000 from the 300 hours he spends playing the game each month. There are now Fortnite e-sports scholarships offered to students at one university in the United States. Is Fortnite a revolutionary development in video gaming and what is the formula of its undoubted success? With the World Health Organisation recently adding Gaming Disorder to its list of disease categories, how concerned should parents be about the risks of gaming addiction for their Fortnite-playing offspring? Kevin Fong explores the culture and conversation around Fornite with gamers of all ages, games creators, games culture experts, psychologists and psychiatrists. Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker.
14/08/18·29m 10s

The Infinite Monkey Cage

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.
13/08/18·17m 36s

Pop Star Philosophy

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 chaotic world. Presenter: Steve Punt Producer: Georgia Catt.
07/08/18·57m 46s

In Search Of Sovereignty

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's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life. The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde
03/08/18·29m 5s

The Silence and the Scream

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 by an experimental brand of counter-cultural psychology, the foundation practised 'primal scream' therapy. This was about letting it all out, yelling; shouting; shrieking to release deep rooted fears in the most challenging and visceral way. The locals simply called them the Screamers. Author and Donegal native Garrett Carr was a boy when he first heard of the Screamers. His family would lower their voices when mentioning them. While he found the name unnerving, Garrett was intrigued. On the coast near his home, he liked to imagine he could hear their cries echoing across the water. Now Garrett is returning to Donegal to find out who the Screamers were, what they wanted and if they ever managed to find it. Most of all he wants to know what happened when the quiet restraint of his local community was confronted by the outward abandonment of the Atlantis Foundation. Garrett is going home to discover what happens when silence meets scream. Producer: Conor Garrett.
31/07/18·31m 27s

Could the PM Have a Brummie Accent?

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 reflect on the political soundtrack of their lifetimes. How have their voices, those of their contemporaries and the sound of the national political conversation changed? How is it possible and when it is sensible to change your accent? Chris is joined by Steve Nallon, who impersonated Lady Thatcher on Spitting Image, to listen back to her as a new backbencher and later as Prime Minister. And what about the sound of political reporting? The archive allows the former Today Programme presenter Jack Di Manio to give Chris (a son of the Yorkshire dales) a lesson in speaking 'properly'. So are we really becoming more open minded about this aspect of political communication? The programme hears from two MPs who say they still struggle to be understood in the Commons today. Producer: Joey D'Urso.
27/07/18·1h 0m

Out of Tredegar

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 autodidact. He won a scholarship from his union for further study in London. He joined committees. He was a town councillor, then a district councillor, before reaching Westminster in 1929, where his greatest legacy must surely be his central role in the founding of the NHS in 1948. The civic religion of the NHS. And he fought for it in the image of Tredegar. It's perhaps ironic then, that it's in Aneurin Bevan's home town that the effect of the NHS was felt least of all. By that time an estimated 96% of the town's population was covered anyway, by a voluntary scheme: the Workmen's Medical Aid Society. This is what Aneurin Bevan was referring to when he said, "All I am doing is extending to the entire population of Britain the benefits we had in Tredegar for a generation or more. We are going to 'Tredegar-ise' you." He said that while he was battling to establish the system nationwide. Or he said it with a jeer to Winston Churchill across the dispatch box in the Commons. Or maybe he wrote it somewhere. Anyway, it's etched on a plaque outside the old Town Hall in Tredegar. The now dilapidated town hall, just down the street from one of Bevan's old meeting places, which is now a DWP Assessment Centre, itself just down the hill from the Medical Centre, which has been trying unsuccessfully for months and months to recruit new staff. Those details shouldn't be the beginning or the end of anyone's image of Tredegar. It's more various and interesting - and more beautiful - than they might suggest. But those details, and others like them, do lead eager programme-makers to feel pleased with themselves when, after spending a necessarily small amount of time in the town, they reverse that old slogan of Bevan's and ask, idly it must be said: who is going to Tredegar-ise Tredegar today? With Dr Alfazuddin Ahmed, Eryl Evans, Iwan Fox, Megan Fox, Alwyn Powell and Nick Thomas-Symonds MP With grateful thanks to the Tredegar Brass Band and the Tredegar Local History Museum. Producer: Martin Williams.
06/07/18·30m 48s

Pink Rabbits and Other Animals

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 writing and drawing in the study overlooking the common where she has written all her books and in this programme Judith invites us into her study as she works on her latest classic. Producer & Presenter: Jessica Treen.
22/06/18·31m 51s

The Sisters of the Sacred Salamander

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 marvel at their axolotl-breeding talents and are now working with them to save the animal from extinction. BBC News science correspondent Victoria Gill is allowed into the convent to discover at least some of the nun's secrets and explores why axolotls are a group of salamanders so important to protect from evolutionary oblivion. Axolotls are able to regrow lost limbs and other body parts. As a result, the aquatic salamanders are of great interest to researchers worldwide who study them in the hope of imitating the trick: to grow tissues and organs for medicine. The nuns also began to breed and rear their axolotls for medical reasons. They use the salamander as the key ingredient in an ancient Mexican remedy for coughs and other respiratory illnesses. The Sisters of Immaculate Health sell the medicinal syrup to the public. As well as being the basis for a popular folk remedy all over Mexico, the axolotl is also the manifestation of one of the ancient Aztecs' most important gods. The big problem is that all species of axolotl are critically endangered. The nun's species is known locally as the achoque. It only lives in nearby Lake Patzcuaro and it has been pushed to the edge of extinction because of pollution and introduced fish species. This is why the sisters began to breed the animals in the convent about 30 years ago. They were advised to do this by a friar who was also a trained biologist because the supply of achoques from Lake Patzcuaro's fishermen diminished. In the 1980s, 20 tonnes of axolotls were fished from the lake every year. Today they are very few left in the wild. Biologists from the nearby Michoacan University discovered that the nuns are expert breeders of the species and have started to collaborate with them in a conservation programme to make the Lake Patzcuaro an axolotl-friendly habitat once more and (if necessary) to introduce convent-bred animals to restore the lake's tiny population. The project is being supported and funded by the UK's Chester Zoo. The zoo's curator of amphibians Dr Gerardo Garcia visits the convent with Victoria, and demonstrates some of the technical help being offered to the nuns. For example, he micro-chips and takes DNA samples from the nun's breeding salamanders so the sisters can refine their breeding success even further. Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker.
15/06/18·30m 47s

Pursuit of Beauty: Slow Art

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 extinct volcano filled with subterranean light passages; music to play for a 1000 years; a mile of writing, and a 5 hour composition for a string quartet called 'Slow', played as slowly and quietly as possible... As the 21st century continues at break-neck speed Lindsey Chapman brings you a moment of calm, as she meets some extraordinary musicians and artists, to find out the motivation behind creating slow art. Lindsey - a performer herself, as well as presenter for BBC TV's 'Springwatch' - explores what added value the length of time of creation gives to an artistic idea. Does it make time shrink? Or does it distract us from our awareness of our own finite existence? The biggest art project in progress in the world today is the Roden Crater. You may not have heard of it yet, but Leonardo DiCaprio has been booked to open it, although no one yet knows when that will be. It's the work of artist James Turrell who dreamed, in the 1960's, of sculpting an extinct volcano as a celestial viewing post. and he's spent 40 years working on it so far - Tim Marlow, artistic director of the Royal Academy, has been watching its progress. Also in progress for 40 years, the Ash Dome - created by world acclaimed wood sculptor David Nash. he gives Lindsey is given the coordinates to find the secret circle, and she comes across it on a bluebell strewn forest floor at dawn, a magical moment of pure beauty - but one which leads her to consider where she might be in 40, or 400 years from now. Slow art has that effect - seeing into the future, and sometime fearfully into infinity. Jem Finer, musician and ex-Pogue bassist, has created a piece of music called 'Longplayer', which has already been playing for 18 years and which has another 982 to go - and of course he knows he won't be there to hear it end. Tanya Shadrick knelt beside an open air swimming pool, day after day, month after month, writing a diary, line by line, a mile long. What inspired her to create "Wild Patience?" and what did she learn? Composer Morton Feldman is well known for his long slow quiet pieces of music - but what is it like to actually hold and play the violin on stage for five hours? Darragh Morgan recounts the intensity, and how he never gets bored, and in fact falls in love with the beauty of the music - lie being wrapped in a beautiful shawl of sound. Slow art in under half an hour - sit back and relish the moment. Producer: Sara Jane Hall.
08/06/18·30m 50s


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, resurface blearily in the heart of the city and return to long tucked-in children in darkness. It wasn't meant to be like this. Matthew Sweet looks at our imagined world of fantasy journeys and asks if driverless cars, monorails, or high speed transport systems might deliver them in the future. Producer Mark Rickards.
29/05/18·59m 2s

A Church in Crisis

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 in the Catholic Church's authority in society and its relationship with the State. Producer: Neil Morrow.
22/05/18·30m 53s