Crisis What Crisis?

Crisis What Crisis?

By Andy Coulson

In Crisis What Crisis? Andy Coulson, former newspaper editor, Downing Street Communications Director and inmate of HMP Belmarsh, talks to embattled, shamed, courageous, ruined, resilient, unlucky (and lucky) survivors of crisis. Some names will be familiar, some less so. But they will talk honestly, with humour and in the hope that they have valuable lessons to share at a time when crisis has become the new normal. Crisis What Crisis? is all about frank, authentic and useful storytelling.


32. Dr Richard Shepherd on a career immersed in crisis, his unravelling and why Brits are so bad at death

Dr Richard Shepherd (Dick) is an Expert Forensic Pathologist who has conducted over 20,000 post-mortems throughout his illustrious career. Many of these have been in the aftermath of some of the world’s most shocking disasters of recent times – including 9/11, the Clapham rail disaster, 7/7 and the death of Princess Diana.But in 2016 Dick suddenly struggled to separate his work and homelife, something he’d always prided himself on being able to do. It started with a panic attack whilst flying a light aircraft over the town of his first high profile assignment, Hungerford. And it culminated with the simple chink of ice in his wife’s gin and tonic – the moment which, as he says, snapped his links with reality and sent him back to the mortuary at the Bali bombings.Dick is brutally honest during our conversation, about his inability at that moment to carry on, and the dramatic unravelling that followed which led him to consider suicide. Thankfully, with the support of his wife, herself a doctor, and the help of counsellors, Dick made a full recovery and was able to return to his work. Now aged 69, his passion for pathology is as strong as ever. Dick has written two insightful and brilliant books which I urge you to read before the summer ends. They provide a detailed account of what it is to be pathologist and the critical role it plays for us all. Including the ‘inconvenient truths found during a post-mortem’, as Dick puts it, that have ensured justice has been done and answers provided to those who have lost loved ones.Richard’s Crisis Cures: 1. FLYING – It just has nothing to do with my day-to-day life. To climb into my little plane and take off into a blue sky over the coast to France for lunch. Intellectually it is interesting to learn but it’s the freedom and it is a very good clearer of minds.2. MUSIC – I love music of all types. I’m very broad-church. If I’m very stressed it’s Marriage of Figaro and Cosi Fan Tutti – Mozart. When I’m a bit grumpier, it’s the other end of the spectrum – and there’s always, Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall.3. Reading – I’m not very good because I usually fall asleep. Holidays are when I read most. 100 years of solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. It’s a tremendous story – I can keep going back to it.The Seven Ages of Death by Dr Richard Shepherd is published on September 2nd, available from Waterstones at Unnatural Causes tour is starting on October 5th – find events at: Causes – ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
27/08/211h 1m

31. SHORTCUTS - 15 minutes with author Henry Scowcroft

Henry Scowcroft is an award-winning science writer for Cancer Research UK.  In 2016, his girlfriend of six years, Zarah Harrison was diagnosed with an aggressive stage four tumour. After a short and brave battle she sadly passed away, with Henry by her side, just as he had been throughout her treatment. Struggling to cope and with a need to understand what had happened, Henry channelled his grief into writing ‘Cross Everything’ – a book which documents both his personal relationship with Zarah and her illness but also their struggle to understand and come to terms with her cancer.The result was a memoir and manual that has been described as the most emotional textbook you will read.In this shortcuts episode, Henry explains how, through his writing, he was able to provide a powerful legacy for Zarah – and a guide for others who face a similar challenge.  It is a detailed and deeply moving conversation about grief, making sense of the unfathomable nature of cancer and recovery. Henry's Crisis Cures: 1 – To carve out time for myself and make sure I’m looking after myself so I can be as helpful to the people around me as I can. 2 – Not getting caught up in the shoulda’ woulda’ coulda’ – there’s always a way to look back at the way you ended up in a situation you’re in and think, ‘if only I’d done X, if only I’d done Y, I wouldn’t be here.  But the fact is, you are where you are.  You’re here now.  Look forward, not backwards.  Focus on the horizon and not over your shoulder.3 – Music – Particularly the guitar which I’ve always loved playing.  I play in a band to this day.  I love listening to music – it’s so powerful at being able to get your head in a different space to where it is.  If you want to weep then music is incredibly good at taking you into that zone.  It was especially important when Zarah died.Crisis Track David Crosby – Traction in the Rain.Links: ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
20/08/2119m 23s

30. Nimco Ali on the brutality of FGM, intimidation and Girl Power

Our guest this week is Nimco Ali OBE.  A leading survivor activist, author and political strategist.  Born and raised in Manchester, at the age of six whilst on a trip to Somalia with her Grandparents, she found herself caught in the crossfire of a civil war.  Forced to flee and unable to return home, she was for a time a child refugee.  She found safety with her family but the following year, faced an altogether different trauma. Organised and encouraged by her own mother, Nimco underwent the brutality of FGM.   She later became seriously ill as a result of complications from that abuse. The mental scars continued for many years to come.  Despite this Nimco has become one of the world’s most powerful campaigners and activists against FGM – an act that still impacts many millions of women.In this conversation, Nimco speaks impressively about how she managed the impact of her crises including the complex and fractured relationship with her mother and family. To this day she is subjected to intimidation and criticism for breaking the code of silence that too often exists around FGM.In this podcast she talks powerfully about the methods she has deployed to survive and thrive including a sense of humour and a love of The Spice Girls.  Nimco is an extraordinary woman who, through her sheer force of personality and strength of mind, has brought about change in attitudes towards FGM here and abroad.Nimco's Crisis Cures: 1 – Humour – I find it in the people around me.2 – An App called Pattern – it’s about star signs… I’ve become more connected with the idea that our life path is charted before our birth.  I’m a great believer in fate and destiny.  We assume we’re more important than we are, rather than being a grain of sand in a broader conversation.  I hold true to the idea that if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.3 - The Spice Girls – I believe they were fundamental to my activism – a group of women who took on the patriarchy in a different way.  I was once asked what my favourite quote was and I said  –  “If you want to be my lover, you got to get on with my friends”Links: ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
06/08/211h 2m

29. SHORTCUTS - 15 minutes with former NFL player, Anthony Trucks

For our second Shortcuts episode, we are joined this week by former NFL athlete, Anthony Trucks. Anthony had an incredibly difficult start in life, given up by his mother at the age of three, he was placed into the US foster care system, where he was physically and mentally abused, tortured and starved. At the age of six he was finally placed into a loving family home and at 14 was adopted.Despite the stability, Anthony went dramatically off the rails as a teenager before football rescued him. He went on to play for three NFL teams but, after a career ending injury in 2008 and the death of his Mum he found himself battling severe depression.In this episode Anthony talks fluently and powerfully about how he took control of his life again – by coming to terms with his past, his failures and by focussing on compassion. He’s now a highly successful motivational speaker and creator of The Shift Method of personal development.Anthony’s Crisis Cures:1 – Reframing failure. We make it way worse than it actually is. If you can reframe the failure and find the lesson, you find a way to do better next time. It gives you hope to not have to face the same crisis again in the future.2 – Organisation. The reason a lot of us stay in crisis is we don’t know how to get out of it. We don’t want to take the wrong path, so we take no path. I bring everything down to earth and once I can see it, I can chart a path.3 – Action. Action ends suffering. We sit with emotional feelings with no action to change them. Feelings are born of actions and if you’ve taken an action that’s made you feel this way, the only cure is to take an action in opposition. That moment you don’t want to move, is the moment you must move and do something.Links: ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
27/07/2118m 48s

28. Sebastian Coe on Olympic crises, integrity and a sense of the absurd

Today’s guest is Lord Sebastian Coe. Double Olympic Gold Medal winner, politician and driving force of the brilliant 2012 London Olympics. Seb’s career has largely been one of triumph. But as President of World Athletics he has also known what it is to be at the centre of crisis … and to have your own integrity questioned. Seb talks about the ups and downs of his life in compelling and frank detail. And he explains how his resilience – both in times of success and difficulty – came from his Yorkshire upbringing and his father and trainer Peter, a man who survived a truly dramatic war time experience. As Seb says: “The human condition is landscape, it’s geography, it’s family, it’s friendships, it’s influences – with mine I was very lucky. I’m forever indebted.” This is an episode packed with sound, practical crisis advice from a man who has led a remarkable life in the public eye.Sebastian’s Crisis Cures:1 – Friends. If you can count the number of true friends on the fingers of one hand throughout a lifetime then you’re doing remarkably well.2 – Music. I’m a passionate Jazz aficionado – I’ve got thousands of recordings. I find jazz the most mood alerting music. I walked from the warmup track in Moscow to the final of the 1500 in the stadium listening to Sidney Bechet – Just a closer walk with thee’3 – Recognise the absurdity of life. Sometimes you just have to sit back and say, “this is beyond comedic and accept it for what it is.”Links:The Sebastian Coe Foundation – ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
20/07/211h 17m

27. SHORTCUTS - 15 minutes with Squeeze's Chris Difford

Chris Difford is a lyricist and co-founding member of 70’s & 80’s new wave pop band Squeeze. With classic hits such as Tempted, Up The Junction, Labelled With Love & Cool For Cats, his contribution to the British music scene has been considerable and long lasting.In this conversation Chris talks with power and candour about the challenges he has endured and survived including addictions and chronic dyslexia which impacted his childhood deeply.Despite being hindered by a stammer and labelled as ‘backward’ by an unsympathetic school system, Chris was determined to follow his dream to join a band and become a songwriter. Squeeze went on, of course, to have huge commercial success both here and in the US.But as the tours stacked up, Chris had clearly started self-medicating with alcohol and drugs, retreating slowly as he says to a ‘very dark place’. His chronic fear of flying and months spent on the road away from his young family began to take their toll and it was only with the intervention of a friend which made him see he had a serious problem, taking him to a treatment centre and helping him on his road to recovery. This week Chris celebrated 29 years of sobriety and continues to ‘pay it back’ in-between touring by holding song-writing workshops in prisons and raising money for food banks and NHS nurses.As Squeeze prepare to be one of the first bands to cross the Atlantic following lockdown restrictions, touring on both sides of the States with Hall & Oates before returning to the UK to tour with Madness, Chris shares his simple approach to keeping life within the four walls of his day. An impactful and heart-warming first Shortcuts episode.Chris’ Crisis Cures: 1. AA/NA Meetings – Listen to what’s going on. Buddy up with somebody – somebody will always be there to hold your hand and make you a cup of tea. You’ll never forget the taste of that cup of tea if you get the message.2. Adopt a piece of music – Have it around you at all times. For me that’s James Taylor “You’ve Got a Friend.” I’ve always loved it. There’s something very moving about the chords and the words. They can lift you out of a dark place.3. Keeping things simple – Don’t live in the past. You can’t regret what you did yesterday because it’s gone, and you can’t know what’s coming in the future. We all like to live in the future but it’s quite dangerous. Living within the four walls of a day is the simplest thing to do. The routine of a day is extremely important.Links:– ––– ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Velvet Morning Website:
09/07/2114m 20s

26. Lorraine Pascale on rejection, the pity pool and making the mess your message

Scouted at the age of just 16 – Lorraine Pascale was the first black model to appear on the cover of US Elle magazine. She featured in the 1998 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and was photographed by the late Corinne Day for The Face magazine with supermodel, Kate Moss. When the modelling career came to an end, she went on to new heights as a chef, an author and TV presenter, achieving success on both sides of the Atlantic.But her early life was a far cry from her later triumphs. Fostered shortly after her birth, then raised by a woman in the grip of alcohol addiction, she was once more put into the care system, only to endure long years of pain and hardship. Lorraine speaks candidly about this time and how meeting her birth mother much later on, left her convinced that she was a complication she didn’t want, or need in her life.Despite all of the childhood trauma, Lorraine is positive and demonstrates throughout why her no nonsense practical approach to problem solving has earned her the nickname of ‘Mrs Solution Focused’ amongst her friends.Lorraine’s Crisis Cures:1 – Exercise – that’s getting up and going to the gym. Getting on the treadmill and each day trying to beat the previous run. It gives you a great sense of achievement and gets the dopamine going.2 – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – Spring – I have it on repeat. I find it very powerful. Music is a great cure…3 – Constant self-talk – Affirmations. I was dumped on the day my mum died – that’s a crisis. It was the only way I got through it. Things like, “You’re going to be okay, you’re great, you’ve got this…” – It sounds weird, but it really, really works. Links:Tact Fostering ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
02/07/2154m 56s

25. Nick Bailey on being poisoned, losing everything and finding peace

Former Detective Nick Bailey’s life changed forever with the simple opening of a door. In March 2018, whilst searching the property of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, who’d earlier that day been found collapsed on a Salisbury park bench, Nick came into contact with the deadly nerve agent Novichok. The Salisbury Poisonings, as they came to be known, set off a chain of events which not only put Nick’s life in grave danger but also saw him and his family become collateral damage in an international incident.In this episode Nick talks us through those days of incredible drama and how, as he recovered physically, he faced the new challenge of losing his home, possessions and later the job he loved. This is a very human story of a life impacted by truly extraordinary events. Nick is open, candid and thoughtful about the poisonings and his battle to recover.Nick’s Crisis Cures:1 – Music – When I was in hospital, I couldn’t deal with anything. I was completely shut off. A friend of mine recommended that I listened to I Giorni’ by Ludovico Einaudi – It freed my mind. It made me smile, it made me cry. It was the most beautiful moment I had there. It means a huge amount to me.2 – Acts of Kindness. The support from the public was overwhelming. The generosity and gifts from people who didn’t want anything in return. We kept everything and still go through it now. We had an old lady offer us her TV after she heard we lost everything. For every negative, there were a thousand positives.3 – Running – it was a big thing for me. It didn’t fix anything, but I didn’t expect it to. Like I Giorni, it just freed up my mind. Then with the marathon I had the focus of raising money for Stars Appeal Charity at Salisbury District hospital (link below).Links:Charity – speaking – ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Velvet Morning Website:
25/06/211h 15m

24. Nick Allott OBE on bringing theatre back to life, grief and the art of recovery

Nick Allott OBE is one of Britain’s most successful theatre executives. For over 40 years he’s been at the forefront of some of the biggest West End and Broadway shows, including Oliver! Cats, Miss Saigon and Les Misérables. He was executive producer of the Oscar winning Les Mis film and was one of the team who brought Hamilton to London. Now as Vice Chairman of Cameron Macintosh, Nick has also led the fight to save theatre – an industry stricken by the pandemic. In this episode he talks in detail about his approach to crisis management. But he’s also candid about a life peppered with personal crises, from the loss of his father in a helicopter accident at 15, the subsequent devastating impact on his family, his own near-death experiences and how he has approached the impact of grief. Nick’s eloquence, honesty and humour provide a brilliant start to series 4.Nick's Crisis Cures:1 – Having a morning routine and sticking to it. My dog wakes me at up 7am. Cup of tea, then back to bed with the iPad to read all the papers. Then it’s back up for some vigorous exercise. Finally, to finish - a really cold shower and you’re set up for the day.2 – Cooking. I had to learn to cook as neither of the key partners in my life cooked – my kids all do, so I love it when we all collaborate to make something together. Half are vegetarian and half eat meat so it’s a big meal. Number one dish is an Asian curry.3 – Music. It’s underpinned my whole life. For me the best experience is live music. I really miss crowds. If I’m depressed or worried, I listen to a live recording. If I had to commit myself to one, it would be - Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb. The first band I fell in love with. It never fails to thrill me. I cannot wait to get back into a room or field full of people. 4 – The one piece of theatre I could watch over and over again, and it would endlessly sustain me, would be the end of the first act of “Les Misérables” a song called ‘One Day More’.Links: The Theatre Artists Fund: Numb, Pink Floyd: ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Velvet Morning Website:
18/06/211h 12m

Series Four trailer

In this fourth series of Crisis What Crisis, host Andy Coulson will be joined by an array of brilliant guests, all with extraordinary stories of crisis to share. From both a personal and professional perspective, all of our guests offer their wisdom and experience in an attempt to put together the ultimate crisis tool kit. This series also sees the launch of Crisis Shortcuts – shorter episodes that will sit alongside the longer podcasts, in which individuals tell us in their own words about their crises, and how they got through them.
14/06/214m 1s

23. Nicky Campbell on adoption, guilt and a dog called Maxwell

Nicky Campbell is one of Britain’s best-known radio and TV presenters - a voice and face of calm, decency and reason. A personality whose talent, craft and ambition led him to Radio One, Wheel of Fortune, Top of the Pops and Watchdog. For the last 18years he has presented the Radio Five Live Breakfast Show and since 2011 Long Lost Family – where he helps reunite adopted children with their birth parents. Yet for so many years, away from the microphones and cameras, Nicky was secretly battling mental health issues that flowed from his own adoption as a baby in Edinburgh. After meeting his birth mother, Nicky’s struggles for identity deepened, ending with a breakdown in 2013. After that dramatic collapse outside Euston Station, he was diagnosed as type 2 bi-polar … a condition that he discovered his birth mother had also suffered. Nicky came through thanks to the support and love of his wife Tina, their daughters and his beloved dog Maxwell. He has detailed his emotional journey in his brilliant new book One of the Family. A raw, intense but valuable conversation for anyone struggling to understand themselves and their identity.Nicky's Crisis Cures:1. The Beatles – I fell in love with them when I was 12. I remember hearing my sisters ‘With the Beatles’ cassette – they just spoke to me. It has a hymnal quality which I find incredibly moving - I want ‘Hey Jude’ played at my funeral. 2. The Highlands – We took our holidays there. The smell of the heather, the smell of the ferns. The burns, the fields and the farms and the midges and the rain – I adored it. It’s where I feel the happiest3. Book - On The Origin Of Species – Charles Darwin. I’ve got into the whole idea of common ancestry – I love that phrase of Richard Dawkins “The Magic of Reality” - the idea that science is more spiritually spine-tingly amazing than anything in the scriptures. I’ve really got into that.Links:Adoption UK: Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage: One Of The Family: Wild Swan at Coole - Yeats: notes: Nicky’s life as I’ve said throughout this interview was, until 2013, something of a slow-moving crisis. He says himself that his adoption provided a drive, an ambition that led him to being so successful. But it also laid the tracks for a darker, more difficult journey – a journey to discover his identity – and which ultimately led to the bipolar diagnosis he shares with his birth mother.He spoke thoughtfully about coming to terms with the paradox of adoption as he calls it … that he wanted to belong with his birth mother, but he didn’t want that to mean he’d no longer belong with his Mum and Dad Frank and Sheila.Nicky’s analysis of that paradox – and how he managed to resolve it – I thought carried wider lessons for anyone in crisis. As he puts it ‘It’s okay not to know how you feel and it’s okay to feel nothing – to just go with the flow’. Though simple, it’s an approach we can all deploy from time to time. The dogs in Nicky’s life have clearly played an important part too, offering him incredible support over the years. From Toby, the dog he spent the first nine days of his life with, then Candy – his childhood companion, through to Maxwell his current dog who inspired a book and as Nicky says – changed his life.Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Velvet Morning Website:
15/03/211h 13m

22. Tracey Crouch MP on cancer, resigning from Government and Harry Kane

Former Government Minister Tracey Crouch is the kind of MP who restores your faith in politics. Authentic, no-nonsense and, as she puts it, determined to stay the same person who occasionally goes to the supermarket in her slippers. In this episode she talks us through the crises she’s faced in politics and her personal life, including a diagnosis last year with breast cancer. The Spurs loving former Sports Minister tells us how she managed that crisis with a pragmatic approach driven by perspective, a focus on the positives and a determination to ‘max out on life.’ In this episode Tracey also fights her way through a few unexpected bangs and crashes … caused by her cats coming in and out of the cat flap. Tracey is, literally, unflappable. Bags of lessons here for anyone facing their own challenges.Tracey’s Crisis Cures:1. Football: “I love it. It’s a real distraction. Although, I don’t feel so relaxed by football when I’m actually in the stadium…”2. My allotment: “I find my mind can completely empty of any stress or trouble when you’re sat digging over a bed.”3. Reading: “I love reading children’s books. I love going back to a time when things were just simpler. We should all find the time to sit quietly in the corner with Stig of the Dump.”Show Notes:Seemingly devoid of the usual politician’s ‘how will this play?’ break on her conversation. Tracey is so utterly authentic and genuine. From the reasoning behind her shock resignation from government to the trauma behind her cancer diagnosis, Tracey showed herself to be the right kind of team player. Or, as she put it brilliantly, “I’m a Spurs fan who doesn’t stand up because they hate Arsenal.”Tracey’s no-nonsense approach to her cancer diagnosis last June focused on the positives, the importance of perspective, exercise and mindfulness. This week she’ll begin professional counselling recognising that it’s often at the end of treatment that anxiety can really begin. My bet is that Tracey will be back in government pretty soon and it’s quite likely to be around the cabinet table.I’m sure that that girl from Kent whose resilience first developed as a latchkey kid will do brilliantly. Why? Because she is actively determined not to let politics change who she is. Or as she puts it “I want to be a mum, a wife, someone who occasionally goes to the shops in their slippers and someone who likes to shout obscenities at the referee”. How fantastic.Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Velvet Morning Website:
08/03/211h 8m

21. Mark Sedwill on handling the COVID crisis, a gun in the face and the power of pizza

My guest for this episode is someone who can not only talk about what it is to personally face down a life-threatening crisis, but who has worked at the epicentre of multiple crises that have affected us all.Mark, (now Lord) Sedwill, was Cabinet Secretary from 2018 until last year. He was Britain’s most senior civil servant and, to quote from the musical Hamilton, ‘He is the man who was in the room where it happened.’ He has worked at the right hand of two Prime Ministers as they navigated crises including Brexit, the Salisbury poisonings and of course the ongoing Covid19 pandemic. But these were not the first intense dramas in our guest’s life of public service. In previous jobs he’s been threatened at gunpoint by Saddam Hussein’s henchmen and whilst serving as deputy high commissioner in Pakistan, he had a bomb planted under his seat.Mark Sedwill is the embodiment of that calm, unflappable public servant that is uniquely British and characteristically understated.Mark’s Crisis Cures:1. Pizza would be the first. One of the things you have to do is keep people going. Often in a crisis it’s the simplicity of a pizza. I like a Diavalo myself!2. Listening – Remember you have two ears and one mouth and there’s a reason for that. Listening actively. Encourage the quieter voices and don’t jump to conclusions. You often need to go slower in order to go faster.3. Communication – In any crisis, communication isn’t just explaining what you’re doing – it’s part of managing the crisis. It has to be central to what you’re doing.Links:Halo Trust: Notes:This podcast was an absolute masterclass in crisis management. Although the stage Mark, Lord Sedwill has operated on is national, at times even global – the lessons still apply I think for anyone trying to navigate a proper problem.Mark, of course, is a man who found himself dealing with two of the biggest government crises of modern times – Brexit and most recently the pandemic. But it was his previous roles across government, the military, UN and the Intelligence Service, (not that he would reveal a thing about that, naturally!) that provided the muscle memory for him to step up when those big tests came in at number 10.His approach in essence was powerful in its simplicity. In crisis, you need to communicate more, not less – because communication is at the core of crisis management. You need to make sure everyone understands their job, including you – don’t try and play every position on the pitch. It’s important to understand that staying calm is contagious because how you behave and the words you use, will impact how others behave. And remember – when you’re talking or shouting, you’re not learning and sometimes the quietest person in the room has the most telling point to make.Mark was also clear that in crisis you must leave room for error and that includes your own. His admission that his analytical approach can sometimes mean he lacks empathy was revealing. As Mark says, ‘you won’t get everything right, but when those mistakes happen – recognise them, make sure that you’ve absorbed them, then move on.’This is an episode packed with useful takeaways from a man whose career has been dedicated to public service at the sharp end.Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Velvet Morning Website:
20/02/211h 6m

20. Claire Danson on being paralysed, avoiding bitterness and finding purpose

This week’s guest is the remarkable former GB triathlete, Claire Danson. Claire’s life was torn apart on August 28th 2019 when she collided with a tractor whilst out training on her bike. Her injuries included the fracture of every bone in her neck, every one of her ribs, both wrists and shoulders and a puncture to both lungs. Tragically she also completely severed her spinal cord, leaving her paralysed from the chest down. Claire, who underwent multiple surgeries, which she was warned she might not survive, was forced to adapt her life drastically – in her words to “learn everything again.” With almost unbelievable willpower and strength of character Claire immediately focused on becoming a para-athlete. This is a story of a life transformed but also of the most astonishing positivity, optimism and resilience. It is an episode packed with the lessons of perspective and a testimony to the power of an individual’s spirit.Claire’s Crisis Cures:1. Doing something you love. For me that’s sport. But whether it’s reading books, listening to music – whatever makes you smile will definitely carry you through the darker times.2. Remembering it’s a moment in time. It’s valid and it’s awful but it can and will get better – so don’t give up. Because 99 times out of 100, if you don’t give up – you’ll get there in the end.3. Talking to someone. If you’re in a crisis – talk. It just makes such a difference. With so many things, people will be able to relate and it makes you feel less alone. And that, will see you through.Links:Wings For Life: Notes:Claire’s ability to find perspective in what was an unimaginable, life changing accident was truly humbling. Perhaps it’s the elite athlete’s attitude which allows her to focus on the goals she has set herself, goals which she uses as a coping strategy to push herself towards and beyond what she calls, ‘learning her new life.’ From the start of our conversation, Claire showed acute ability to get to the bigger picture and achieve clarity – crucial in any crisis. She immediately focused on what she could do – and not what she couldn’t. This drove her decision to reject any feelings of bitterness. That she uses the words ‘luck’ and ‘lucky’ so frequently is a demonstration of her indefatigable resilience and determination to stay away from corrosive negativity. Claire knows the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people – her friends and family have all played crucial crisis roles during the days of drama and probably more importantly since normal life has resumed. A truly remarkable and inspiring woman.Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Velvet Morning Website:
12/02/2158m 45s

19. Dame Jenni Murray on fat shaming, cancer and a call to the Samaritans

The renowned broadcaster and writer Dame Jenni Murray is my guest for Episode 19. For 33 years the brilliant and calm voice of Woman’s Hour, Jenni talks powerfully about the myriad private crises she has faced. Her difficult relationship with her mother led to a lifelong battle with obesity, low self-esteem and, at her most desperate, a call to the Samaritans. In 2006 - the same week that she lost her mother, Jenni was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer resulting in a mastectomy. Jenni, who underwent drastic surgery in 2015 to lose weight, speaks candidly about these and other challenges in her life. And how she got through them and her brilliant book Fat Cow, Fat Chance. Jenni is patron of British research charity Breast Cancer Campaign and the Family Planning Association, Vice president of Parkinson’s UK and a supporter of Humanists UK.Jenni’s Crisis Cures:1. Dogs – I could never be without a dog. I love seeing them run around the park enjoying themselves. Then we cuddle up in front of the TV in the evening watching ‘Call My Agent’. I adore them.2. Reading crime novels – I love reading. Val McDermid & Sarah Paretsky are my two favourites. Sarah didn’t write for a while but now she’s back and Val always has something that keeps you up till 3am because you can’t put it down.3. New Forest Ice-cream. We often go to Lymington and there’s an ice-cream shop where you can get a fancy cone with two scoops – I always have one vanilla and the other ginger, and that can cheer me up anytime!Links:Breast Cancer Now :’s book: Notes: To the millions who tuned into Jenni Murray on Woman’s Hour – she was the consummate professional, completely composed broadcaster. That she was so down at one point that the only way forward for her was to phone the Samaritans was an astonishing and poignant revelation and speaks, I hope, to one of the most resonant lessons from these conversations. That crisis really doesn’t care who you are. Jenni’s frank assessment of her near life-long struggle with obesity alongside the cruel and counter-productive fat-shaming she received - both from strangers and most shockingly from her own mother, was also compelling. Her ability to recognise its impact on her life and yet find forgiveness, demonstrates her extraordinary resilience. Finally, Jenni’s coping mechanism throughout her crises struck a chord with me. That through it all, keeping busy, taking charge of the practical issues ahead, was her key device to avoid the darkness. Another example of that simple idea – focus on the things you can affect – however small and it will ease the anxiety caused by those things that you can’t change.Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Velvet Morning Website:
05/02/211h 14m

18. Nile Rodgers on highs, lows and getting lucky

Our guest for episode 18 is the legendary writer, performer, producer and all-round genius Nile Rodgers. Nile is perhaps best known as the co-creator of Chic and the producer of an incomparable list of classic albums by artists including David Bowie, Madonna and Diana Ross. More recently he’s collaborated with Sam Smith, Disclosure and Daft Punk. All of this resulting in 500million worldwide album sales, 75million singles and multiple Grammy Awards. But Nile’s life, from birth, has seen a litany of crises interwoven with stellar success. An upbringing of continual drama, addictions, grief and cancer are just some of the mountains he’s climbed throughout a truly astonishing 68years. Nile, who is also the creator of the brilliant We Are Family Foundation, talks with captivating candour, humour and passion about his life as a music legend and crisis manager.Nile’s Crisis Cures:1. Work: I go to my guitar, my music, my art and look towards my work. I say to myself - I need to get better because this person needs my help. For me having a job to do makes me feel I have to be subordinate to the situation rather than be subordinate to my own ego.2. Simple exercises: I do simple things to make my body and brain aware. I’ll give you an example – I’m training my left hand to snap my finger.3. Music: John Coltrane – A Love Supreme. Not even a thought – my go to crisis song since a teenager. It puts me in a space where right away, the world becomes a peaceful place. If they put me in front of a firing squad and asked me for my last cigarette or last meal – I’d be like “No man! Just play the start of Love Supreme and you guys shoot away!”Links: We Are Family Foundation: Nile’s book: Nile’s website: Episode notes: I’m not entirely sure how to reflect on my conversation with Nile. From the off, it was clear that I was in the presence of greatness. The legendary musical status needs no explanation …. just put his name into Spotify and see what you get. A breath-taking catalogue. But it was Nile’s extraordinary openness – his willingness to share his thoughts on the difficult moments of his life that at times left me open mouthed. That he was doing so whilst living another, painful crisis following his mother’s death, made those reflections all the more powerful. As Nile came to realise during our conversation, he is a crisis manager. But it’s not entirely selfless work. Solving or easing his and others problems is a form of therapy for him – it’s what’s got him through his own challenges too. And there have been plenty. There were so many words of wisdom to remember from this podcast but, for me, Nile’s near life-long credo is the unforgettable winner: He said: “I saw Ben-Hur as a child and will never forget when the commander tells the galley slaves ‘You live to serve the ship. Row well and live.’ And that’s what I do … I row well, live and every day do my best to get the ship to port.”Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Velvet Morning Website:
29/01/211h 13m

17. Hemant Oberoi on the Mumbai attacks, loss and humanity

In this first episode of our third series, we talk to Hemant Oberoi. One of India’s best-known chefs, Hemant has cooked for world leaders, Bollywood and Hollywood stars. He is also a man who, when crisis came to his door at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, reacted with a level of courage and selflessness that’s almost impossible to comprehend. In our conversation Hemant talks us through what happened in the terror attacks of 2008 – a few days of horror that left hundreds dead and injured. Thanks to the heroics of Hemant and the staff a significant number of guests at the Taj were saved from certain death at the hands of Islamic terrorists. In the process seven of Hemant’s staff were killed. It is only fate that prevented Hemant from being one of them. A visceral story of how crisis can bring out the very best in humanity when confronted with the very worst.Hemant’s Crisis Cures:1. Intuition and the gut feelings first. My intuition never fails me. When I don’t follow it, things go wrong for me one way or the other. It’s the gut feeling - I listen to my inner voice and that’s the way.2. I think one should be a team leader in a different way. You should be like a pyramid in life. Sometimes the top is down and sometimes the bottom is up. That way you can take the load off others in life.3. Help others as much as you can. Because you never know when you’ll need it.Links:Hemant Oberoi Restaurant: Episode notes:It’s not often that a Hollywood dramatization plays down the real horror of a story. But Hotel Mumbai – the powerful re-telling of the Mumbai attacks – is not a movie that tells the full truth of what happened in November 2008. During my conversation with Hemant he revealed aspects of that nightmarish few days that left me stunned. The film ends movingly with a fictitious character (played brilliantly by Dev Patel) returning exhausted to his relieved family. In reality Hemant did just the same, once he’d secured the safety of his guests. Still wearing his bloodied chef’s outfit, he walked through his front door to find his family, friends and neighbours gathered – not in celebration but for his wake. Unknown to him hours earlier the TV news channels had announced his death. As Hemant says: “I walked in and they thought they had seen a ghost.” A few hours later he was back in the centre of Mumbai, walking through hospitals and morgues trying to account for every member of his staff. Tragically seven of them – including a number of young chefs he considered to be his proteges – were dead. All of them shot attempting to protect hotel guests from the gunmen who unleashed so much havoc and horror across Mumbai. Hemant witnessed some of those murders and narrowly escaped his own execution. Of one of those he found in hospital he says: “He pleaded [with the gunmen] that he was getting married in six months’ time, asking, ‘why are you killing innocent people?’ They shot him point blank. He died in hospital after 8 or 9 days.” The most astonishing aspect of this story is the instinctive behaviour of Hemant and his staff when they found themselves in the midst of the most terrifying crisis. Throughout their ordeal they had repeated opportunities to escape. Hemant gave his team that option, telling them there would be no shame in leaving to be with their families. But they stayed put. As Hemant tells me: “Whatever you do – if you cannot help others, then there’s no point being here. Everything comes back to you in this life. Hell, or heaven is here – it’s not anywhere else.”Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Velvet Morning Website:
22/01/211h 20m

Series Three trailer

In this third series of Crisis What Crisis host Andy Coulson will be joined by guests from all walks of life but all with crisis in common. At the time of recording, we’re once again in the midst of a national lockdown, trying to make sense of an uncertain world but with hope on the horizon. These personal, revealing and sometimes shocking conversations are designed to provide useful guidance and support for anyone facing down their own difficulties.
20/01/214m 18s

16. Wilko Johnson on mortality, miracles and music

Wilko Johnson is one of Britain’s most revered rock stars … the Dr Feelgood guitarist who inspired Paul Weller and Joe Strummer. He’s also a man with a unique perspective on mortality as well as music. After an astonishing career (that included a role in Game of Thrones) Wilko was told in 2013 that he had terminal pancreatic cancer and only months to live. He rejected chemotherapy and set about saying goodbye to his fans around the world in the only way he knew how … with a farewell tour and hit album. Towards the end of his last year a fan – who was also a cancer specialist – urged him to seek a second opinion. Wilko had been misdiagnosed and after an 11hour operation was saved. In this bonus episode, Wilko talks with clarity and power about the 12 months he spent believing his death was imminent. A year he describes as both vivid and profound. Wilko’s Crisis Cures: 1. Not Drinking: Alcohol can turn depression into despair. 2. Moby Dick: I love to read and what a book! 3. Van Morrison: Almost Independence Day from the album Saint Dominic’s Preview. It finishes with this long droning synthesizer note – you hear that and think everything’s going to be alright. Links:Wilko’s book: Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust: Episode Notes:I’ve talked on this podcast with a number of people who’ve faced the prospect of death either in an accident or through illness. But this is the first conversation with someone who knew – with absolute certainty – that their death was imminent. Wilko Johnson’s incredible story would not, as he says himself, get past the scriptwriting stage of any drama. So unbelievable were the chain of events that led him to losing and then regaining his life. The insights that journey afforded Wilko left me mesmerised. “Everyone imagines how they’ll react with a cancer diagnosis,” he told me. “I was absolutely calm. I just thought – Oh! This is how it ends .. For me, the question of mortality was answered. I pitied everyone else walking around fearing death.” Wilko is a man who has lived a rocker’s life … full of the superficial ups and downs of what he calls ‘the biz’. But he’s also a man capable of the most breath-taking insight and it was a privilege to listen to his analysis of a truly unique crisis.Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
28/12/2050m 1s

15. Lemn Sissay MBE on his stolen childhood, a fight for the truth and forgiveness

In this bonus episode I talk to the poet, playwright and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, MBE. Lemn was born in the late 60s to an unmarried Ethiopian woman who was forced to hand him over to social services. Renamed Norman by a social worker of the same name he was fostered by a deeply religious Lancashire family. His mother’s efforts to get him back were ignored and he remained with the same family until the age of 12 when, inexplicably, they handed him back into the care system. Lemn then spent the next eight years being moved around homes, including one that was more like a prison, where he suffered mental and physical abuse and, as a result, a breakdown. Despite all this, his talent for poetry blossomed and by 18 he was on his way to finding himself and his birth mother. At times disturbing but ultimately uplifting, this is a conversation about the power and resilience of human spirit. Lemn, whose brilliant memoir ‘My Name Is Why’ which I urge you to read, is now a passionate campaigner on behalf of children in care. His charity Christmas Dinners each year delivers a festive party for hundreds of care leavers across Britain. Lemn’s Crisis Cures: 1. Music: It’s a strange thing – it can hook onto a time, a place and an emotion at the same time. It can really lift me emotionally out of crisis, into a smile and deep contemplation. I love to listen to Swan of Lake by Sibelius. 2. Walking: Crisis makes us find good answers to living and then when we don’t have a crisis, we don’t use them! Everything changes in the countryside, nothing stays the same so there’s always new stuff to experience, whereas when you’re in a crisis everything is stuck. 3. Meditation: Again, it’s something that we should all use in our everyday lives. Some people pray but meditation is so important. I use the Calm and Headspace apps. Links: The Christmas Dinners: My Name is Why: Episode Notes: Five minutes in the company of Lemn Sissay will, I guarantee, leave you energised. To have spent more than an hour chatting with the life force that is Lemn was, therefore, a total privilege. What a man. And what a story. A crisis that began in the days after his birth, when his mother was forced – coerced in fact – to hand him over to Wigan Social Services, and that continued deep into Lemn’s adulthood. At times listening to his crisis story – his crisis saga - I was left speechless. By the sheer heartlessness of the system and the foster family who let him down so tragically. But more by Lemn’s refusal to give in to what would be a totally justified, totally understandable bitterness. As he says: “I had to forgive my foster family, because I had to release myself from the bondage of anger and hatred and bitterness and loss.” Lemn Sissay is a true one-off – a man whose talent for poetry and storytelling should have been smothered, snuffed out by his circumstances. Instead, it survived and thrived to move and motivate so many people across the world. Lemn is in many ways the embodiment of an idea we’ve talked about before on this podcast …. that from crisis often comes something good, powerful and valuable. Enjoy this episode and, if you’re able, please make a donation to Lemn’s brilliant Christmas Dinners charity. Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
11/12/201h 9m

14. Connie Yates on the fight to save her son Charlie Gard, losing control, and the power of hope

In this final episode of series two I talk to Connie Yates, mother of Charlie Gard who in 2017 was at the centre of a crisis and debate that stretched from the High Court in London, to the Vatican, the White House and into homes across the world. That debate raised issues of medical ethics and the fundamental rights of parents. But for Connie and partner Chris it brought only pain. For the question being asked was the most heart rending imaginable – should their son be kept alive to receive treatment that might extend his life? This is ultimately the story of a mother and father’s unbelievable determination in the face of systemic resistance. From Charlie’s diagnosis to a final court case to decide where he would die, Connie charts the full shocking detail of their fight against Britain’s medical and legal establishment. This is, of course, ultimately a story that ends in heartbreak. But it’s also a story of hope and of a mother’s fight for control against a tide of unrelenting crisis. An episode full of lessons and perspective for anyone facing their own challenges.Links:Charlie Gard Foundation: Charlie’s Law: Episode notes:This was our longest episode so far – and for good reason. Connie Yates and her husband Chris are remarkable people. They faced the unimaginable – a devastating diagnosis for their first born. But what singles them out is their determination to fight against the consensus view every step of the way – each step a crisis in its own right. To get their sick son to Great Ormond Street, to refuse to accept that his condition was untreatable, to raise over £1m to fund the treatment in the US and to fight in every court in the land to get him that treatment. And then, when time ran out, to fight in the courts a final time so that Charlie might die at home and in peace. Connie’s background as a carer for disabled children (her Mum remarkably did the same job) clearly gave her a certain perspective. But in the end, it was an inner determination – a stubbornness – that drove Connie to fight against the medical and legal systems. Her greatest frustration came when the courts intervened to stop Charlie from being transferred from one hospital that wanted to end his life to another that wanted to save it. “I had no idea the courts could do that,” she says.Most of us, thankfully, will not live the heart-breaking crisis that Connie and Chris Yates faced. But in their story there are lessons, I think, for anyone dealing with a crisis. First the power of hope – the fuel for any long running campaign. But also the power and importance of control. Quite often we talk in this podcast about the need to work out what you have control over and what you don’t. No-one would have criticised Connie if she surrendered to the system much earlier in her story. But she did not … instead taking each defeat as a challenge to find another way forward.As Connie says: “It’s not that I wanted the control, I just wanted the best for my baby.”Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
02/11/201h 22m

13. Sir Kim Darroch on Trump, leaks and the art of the resignation

Sir Kim Darroch is the US Ambassador who, after his unflattering views of President Trump were leaked, found himself persona non grata in the White House. In this episode Sir Kim gives a full and detailed account of the crisis that led to his shock resignation last summer. And he explains how he managed and coped with the high-profile political scandal that brought an end to his 42year diplomatic career. With just days to go to the US election, Sir Kim, whose memoir Collateral Damage is now available, also shares his unique and waspish insights on the President and his democrat rival Joe Biden. And he predicts who he believes will win the most important political contest on the planet. Kim's Crisis Cures: 1. A half-hour walk: “Just get away from it, leave your phone at home and ground yourself in a different reality.” 2. The fiction trilogy Three Body Problem: “I love to read and this is a stunning work which conjures up images that just transfix you.” 3. Five Easy Pieces: “I’m a movie buff and this Jack Nicholson film is my favourite film of all time.” Links: Collateral Damage: Britain, America and Europe in the Age of Trump: Episode notes: Sir Kim Darroch’s admission that he still feels ‘bursts of anger’ gave a glimpse of the impact his resignation as US Ambassador has had on him. His concern, that an otherwise stellar diplomatic career would be defined by the events of last summer, is real and raw 15months on. As a resigning recidivist myself, I found Kim’s detailed account of the thought process that led to the decision to quit, fascinating. As we discussed, resignations are lonely decisions that, in the end, are values based. That Kim’s only regret (anger of the leaks aside) is that he didn’t quit sooner, speaks volumes about his integrity. In terms of precedent and practicalities, his stepping down was, of course, inevitable. How can a US Ambassador do his job, unwelcome in the Washington corridors of power? But I couldn’t help but wonder how amusing it would have been for the PM to keep Kim in place, if only to get even further up President Trump’s nose. Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
26/10/201h 2m

12. Payzee Mahmod on child marriage, honour killing and freedom

In this episode fashion stylist and activist Payzee Mahmod gives an intense and moving account of a young life etched with horror, pain but now also, years later, with hope. Payzee was just 15 and living in South London when her Kurdish father ordered her to marry a stranger twice her age. Her 17-year-old sister Banaz had already suffered the same fate. Whilst Payzee lived her own nightmare with an abusive husband, Banaz managed to run away from hers. When she later began a relationship with another man, her punishment was to be abducted, raped and murdered. With a police investigation underway, Payzee was then able to escape her own forced marriage. Banaz’s death, as she puts it, enabled her freedom. But the awful truth about what happened in January 2006 then became apparent. Banaz and Payzee’s father and uncle, along with other male relatives, were later convicted and sentenced to life for her murder – a so called honour killing. Payzee now devotes her life to a campaign to make all forms of child marriage in the UK illegal. This is Payzee’s story told with heartbreaking detail, clarity of thought and driven by a breathtaking, awe inspiring sense of purpose. Sign Payzee’s petition: Payzee’s Crisis Cures:1. Creativity – If I’m not in the best place I want to make something.2. Social media - For me, it’s where I’ve really found a great deal of support and friendships. I never knew that speaking out and telling my story would encourage so many young, especially Kurdish girls and women to tell me their stories.3. Walking with my dog just soothes and calms me.Links:Payzee’s website: Chat with Payzee podcast: Savera UK: IKWRO: Freedom United: Payzee’s petition: Episode notes:This episode is, at times, a difficult listen. At several points in our conversation I struggled to find an adequate response to Payzee’s eloquent and painfully honest description of her young life. How does someone survive or cope with all that Payzee and her sister Banaz endured? What perhaps struck me most deeply was the inexplicable absence of support for Payzee and, of course, her sister. How could an ordeal lived in plain sight in modern day London be ignored so often and so comprehensively? By schools, shopkeepers, the registrar who married her and, of course, the police. As Payzee said: “It blows my mind that not one person in my life asked if I was ok.” What is also astonishing is that Payzee has only recently been able to find and receive the professional help she needs. She now, thankfully, has a Kurdish counsellor who understands the multi layered complexity of her experience. Payzee is determined, on Banaz’s behalf, to campaign for an end to all forms of child marriage. Through her passionate activism she has turned the oppression that killed her sister, into an inspiring, powerful tool for good. As Payzee puts it: “My sister deserved better. What happened to her and what happened to me – it can’t happen to other girls. That’s what drives me.” Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
19/10/201h 13m

11. Mark Hix on going bust, losing his name and battling back

Mark Hix is one of the greats of British food. His HIX empire spread across London and beyond with a string of critically acclaimed restaurants. But when the COVID lockdown struck, the HIX group quickly crumbled. Mark – having previously handed control to investors – lost everything including the right to use his own name. In his words, he was: “Done, gone, finished for good”. Back in his native Dorset, and a bottle of wine in, he decided to get back in the game … by buying a mobile food truck, converted from an American ambulance, on eBay. This is the astonishing story of a famous chef’s refusal to surrender to the collateral damage of COVID and the vagaries of the hospitality trade. A must-listen for anyone facing or fearing business collapse in these challenging times.Mark’s Crisis Cures:1. Stay positive 2. Just keep earning - however small the amount 3. Drink the best wine possibleLinks:The Oyster & Fish House: HIX Oyster & Fish Truck: Episode notes:Rarely on the podcast do we talk to someone still in the midst of their crisis, so it was a privilege to chat with Mark this week. He is a brilliant chef whose move from the kitchen to restaurant owner 12 years ago was seamless and successful. But as he explained with such brutal honesty, the financial reality of his business was not always as it appeared to customers and the media. “People would say, ‘Hix SoHo looked really busy last night, Mark’ when actually, we were losing £200k a year because the landlord put up the rent.”That financial reality pushed Mark into a partnership that in turn led him to cede control of his business. And when COVID struck that meant the decision to close was not his, and that he lost the right to use his own name as well as the ability to protect his 130 staff.The shock of those developments would send most people into the darkness. But instead Mark went back to basics, remembered that his talent had not evaporated with his business and found a small but smart way to keep in the game. Even if it meant making mayonnaise in his own kitchen before a day’s work that would pay only £140.I think the HIX food truck is a great totem for Mark’s astonishing resilience - mobile, flexible and sturdy. Mark had lost it all but having reset himself and his expectations he is able to focus on the rebuild. More modest, for sure, but also more experienced and independent. And the food is just as good.Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Velvet Morning Website:
10/10/201h 10m

10. Frank Warren on near-death, fighting Mike Tyson and staying positive

Frank Warren, one of boxing’s greatest ever promoters, has survived and coped with an astonishing amount of incoming crisis throughout his 40-year career. An attempt on his life, a high-profile court case that could have seen him jailed, and the collapse of his dream venue, The London Arena are just three of the dramas that Frank has bounced back from. The question, of course, that I wanted to focus on in this conversation was “How?”. Frank’s formula for resilience is anchored in his ability to stay focused and strategic when all seems lost. As he explains: “I get a big rush of adrenaline when things are against me – and that makes me really focus and gives me a clear mind to what I’m going to do. I don’t panic about things.”Franks’ motivation for survival is crystal clear: “You’ve just got to be true to yourself and the most important thing is you’ve got to make sure your family is safe. You’ve got to make sure that you’re protecting them”. Speaking about his younger brother Mark, who very sadly took his own life, Frank shared his thoughts on mental health and revealed how a brief spell of therapy helped him understand aspects of his personality. In this conversation my friend of 25years, gave an authentic, powerful account of his approach to crisis and to life. Family, friends, loyalty and fun are the guiding lights of Frank Warren’s incredible life.Frank's Crisis Cures1. Just being home.2. My family photo album... because my wife Susan and my children are what drives me. 3. I love music and The Temptations - The Way You Do The Things You Do is guaranteed to lift my mood. Links:DEBRA: Website: https://www.frankwarren.comStream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Velvet Morning Website:
05/10/201h 6m

9. Ruby Wax on anger, optimism and taking ownership of your crisis

TV presenter, best-selling author, mental health campaigner and academic – Ruby Wax is a woman always on a mission. That she’s achieved so much whilst managing clinical depression and the burden of a deeply troubled childhood, makes her all the more remarkable. In this episode Ruby talks with power and honesty about how she confronted her demons to reach a deep understanding of what makes her brilliant, but at times troubled, mind tick. And – after travelling far and wide to research her inspirational new book And Now For The Good News – To The Future With Love - she also speaks movingly about how she found hope for all our futures in the most desperate of places. Ruby's Crisis Cures:1. Community: ‘Not just a wine tasting club, but where you genuinely talk to each other’. 2. Compassion: ‘When I’m in a queue sometimes I’ll find somebody in a really bad mood, and I’ll start talking to them or somebody who’s giving me grief. It’s just an experiment… I’m trying to exercise those [stress] muscles.’ 3. Mindful exercise: ‘Tai chi, Pilates, Yoga… but not something mindless. You have to notice what’s going on in your body.’ Links:And Now For The Good News...: Website: Frazzled Cafe: Instagram: Twitter: Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
28/09/2051m 26s

8. Andy Coulson on regrets, resilience and recovery

In this first episode of the second series, Andy puts himself on the other side of the microphone and talks to journalist and broadcaster Jane Moore about his five-year crisis. A high-profile scandal which unravelled his life and led to a spell in prison. Andy talks about confronting his mistakes and the strategies he deployed to cope and recover. As Andy says, having heard so many crisis stories from others on the podcast, he thought it was only fair that he now shares his. Andy's Crisis Cures: 1. Charles Dickens and The Pickwick Papers: “The old marketing slogan for The News of the World was ‘all human life is here’ and that’s true of Dickens. It’s definitely true of The Pickwick Papers because you’ve got politics, you’ve got the law, you’ve got prison, you’ve got journalism. Everything is there in that book and it’s a cracking read.” 2. Ben Howard – Keep Your Head Up: “Music has also been incredibly important for me and for the family. If I had to choose one [song] it would be Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard which is a bit of a family anthem.” 3. Château Musar: “It’s what I send to every podcast guest when it’s appropriate… it’s from the Lebanon and I chose it because it is really tasty and also because it is liquid proof that there is good to come from crisis.” Links: Website: Instagram: Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
18/09/201h 3m

Series Two trailer

In this second series Andy Coulson, former newspaper editor, No10 Communications Director and inmate of HMP Belmarsh, will be joined by another fascinating and eclectic mix of guests. They all have one thing in common...survival in the face of crisis. With such uncertainty remaining in all our lives, these are shocking, moving and, at times, amusing stories worth sharing.
10/09/204m 10s

Series One wrap-up

In this short wrap-up episode Andy draws out the key insights on how to cope with crisis from Series One. And he gives a preview of what’s to come in Series Two.
24/07/205m 20s

7. Chris Lewis on incarceration, cricket and the long walk back

Chris Lewis is the England cricketer who when his fortunes faded turned to drug smuggling. On 8 December 2008 Chris was caught with 3.5 kilos of liquid cocaine hidden in fruit tins as he arrived from St Lucia, convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison. A shocking fall from grace for a man who arrived in the UK from Guyana as a 10-year-old and who achieved his dream playing for England in 30 Test Matches. In this episode Chris talks with a straight bat and without self-pity about his self-inflicted crisis and his journey back to freedom and repentance. This is the first time that Chris and Andy have talked since they last met in prison six years ago. Chris' Crisis Cures: 1. Find nature: “Whether it’s going into the park or down to the river I love taking walks. Getting out distracts you from your problems. And distraction often helps me find solutions.” 2. A Course In Miracles by Helen Schucman: “A long read but all about taking control, understanding that you are responsible for what happens in your life, not other people.” 3. Meditation: “I started in prison and try to meditate whenever I can. It’s about finding that place to off load and start again with a fresh mind.” Links: Chris Lewis – Crazy, My Road To Redemption: Episode Notes: Chris Lewis was coming towards the end of his six-a-half-years in jail when we met at HMP Hollesley Bay in 2014. We shared a few chats during our time there, but never did he talk with such depth and detail as he does in this podcast. There is no doubt that Chris is a changed man. Chastened by his spectacular mistake and devoid of self-pity. “I blame no-one but myself,” he says repeatedly. In preparing for our conversation I found a YouTube clip of Chris being interviewed at the Oval. He had just joined the Surrey Twenty20 team – at the age of 40. Calm, assured and charming – this was a man who had been given a final chance at glory. But Chris was injured almost immediately and just nine months later was arrested at Gatwick. How Chris calmly explains the chain of events that led to such a catastrophic decision was a compelling feature of our conversation. But more interesting was the journey of self-awareness that Chris has been on since that moment. He now talks to young cricketers about the dangers that lie ahead when sporting success fades. A story of redemption but also a cautionary tale of epic proportions. Stream/Buy 'Allies' by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
18/07/2058m 10s

6. Victoria Milligan on tragedy, survival and human spirit

Victoria Milligan’s life changed forever on May 5th 2013 when a boat trip in Cornwall with her husband Nicko and children, Amber, Olivia, Emily and Kit, then aged four ended in horror. Thrown into the water at high speed, their boat circled back on them, killing Nicko and Emily. Victoria lost her leg and Kit was seriously injured. “In a moment,” she says “I went from a perfect life to becoming a widow, a bereaved parent, a single parent and an amputee.” In this episode Victoria, who is now training to be grief therapist herself, explains how she coped with a multi-layered trauma, and ensured that she and her children not only survived but thrived carrying the memory of Nicko and Emily with them into a new life. A true testimony to the power of human spirit. Victoria’s Crisis Cures: 1. Small achievable goals. Don’t plan too far ahead. That has massively helped me and still does every day. 2. Find your mantras. Mine is: “We are good enough”. I try and start every day by saying that to myself, however I feel. Don’t wake up and tell yourself you should have got more sleep, or I shouldn’t have drunk so much. And I start the day positively through exercise. That works for me. 3. Self-care is key. We are all natural care givers but we have to make sure we put enough time in for joy and happiness. If we’re not in a good place emotionally and physically we’re not in the right place to look after others. Being a little bit selfish is not a bad thing. Links: Victoria’s website: Child Bereavement UK: Cornwall Air Ambulance: Julia Samuel: Episode Notes: We’ve talked a lot already about self-pity in this podcast. But no-one would blame Victoria Milligan, even now seven years after the accident, if the first words she uttered were ‘Why me?’ But it was clear, in the first five minutes of our conversation, that they are not in her vocabulary. The total lack of self-pity was, for me, one of the defining features of this podcast. The strategies she deployed to make sense of the senseless, as she puts it, were another. Dealing with just one of Victoria’s tragedies would be devastating. Tackling them all is unimaginable. But it’s through recognising them all as separate individual challenges that have to be broken down and dealt with using different tools and emotions that has enabled Victoria to cope. Taking one day at a time, how being kind to yourself will allow you to take care of others and the fundamental importance of finding the right way to manage your pain. That there is no manual for grief. Victoria rejected therapy when it was first offered. “All I wanted was Nicko and Emily back and no therapist could do that, so what use would they be?” she says. But overtime she came to understand the enormous value of grief counselling to help her through the loss of her child and her husband and to come to terms with her injuries. That she now wants to put all that she has learned to positive use as a therapist and writer herself - to find a positive from her tragedy – speaks volumes. A heart-breaking story told by an inspirational woman. Stream/Buy 'Allies' by Some Velvet Morning: Some Velvet Morning Website:
10/07/2059m 46s

5. Johnny Mercer on mental illness, grief and grit

Johnny Mercer, government minister and former Commando, talks with brutal honesty about his childhood battles with mental illness, including severe OCD. And, with astonishing frankness, he describes his brutal and heart-breaking experiences in Afghanistan where he was witness to countless horrors, not least the death of his close friend Mark Chandler. An emotional, powerful – and for those looking for crisis lessons – useful episode. Johnny’s Crisis Cures: 1. Stay strategic: “You have your goals and they have to be realistic; but once they are set the key is to focus on those and not get distracted by the niff naff and trivia.” 2. Keep perspective: “So much is down to luck; whether it’s an accident, whether it’s your career, whether it’s war, luck has such a heavy hand to play that you have to bear everything you do in perspective.” 3. It will end: “Seize the initiative; you’re never going to be in a crisis forever... whatever you’re going through things will return to normal just stick it out.” Links: We Were Warriors – One Soldier’s Story of Brutal Combat is available via OCD-UK: Tickets For Troops: Help for Heroes: Episode Notes: Johnny Mercer is the non-graduate who should never have succeeded at Sandhurst – but who went on to be one of the most combat experienced officers in Afghanistan. The non-voter who should never have got elected, but who is now a Government Minister tipped as a potential future PM.   What’s more remarkable are the challenges – as both a child and adult – that Johnny has faced down. An upbringing in a strict religious household that almost, in his words, destroyed his mind. A childhood that led him to develop an extreme Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the management of which Johnny describes as a continual ‘work in progress.’ His approach to these crises, with the support of CBT and other treatments, was to find a greater, tougher challenge to focus on. That came in his three Afghan tours during which he risked his life almost daily. But it also left him confronting visceral grief when his close colleague and friend Mark ‘Bing’ Chandler was killed instantly as they fought side by side. I found Johnny’s methods of coping in these extreme situations compelling. Accepting and embracing that luck plays such a huge part in crisis situations, understanding and accepting your limitations as well as your potential and, perhaps most powerfully, remembering always that courage is just as contagious as fear. Stream/Buy 'Allies' by Some Velvet Morning -    Some Velvet Morning Website:
02/07/201h 10m

4. Vicky Pryce on prison, pushing on and the healing power of football

Vicky Pryce is a whirlwind of positivity, productivity and energy - economist, academic, author and mother of five. But in 2013 her high-powered life took an unexpected and damaging twist when she was found guilty of accepting her ex-husband’s driving licence penalty points and was jailed for Perverting the Course of Justice. Vicky gives us a startlingly human account of her high-profile crisis. She talks of the lessons learned in prison and details the strategy she undertook to steer her life towards a successful recovery.Vicky’s Crisis Cures: 1. Football: “I support Chelsea, I’m a season ticket holder, I go with my kids and that’s a great release from tension – although of course you substitute one type of tension with another.” 2. Books: Doctor Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party by Graham Greene. “It’s a book about greed and it shows that the richer you are the greedier you are and the more risks you’ll be prepared to take to make more money. It’s an incredible book that I’ve read and re-read.” 3. The sea: “When I want to relax, I think of swimming and looking at the horizon on a beach in Greece.”   Links: Twitter: Pro Bono Economics:   Women in Prison: Working Chance: Women vs Capitalism – Why We Can’t Have It All in a Free Market Economy:   Episode Notes: Economists pride themselves as planners and forecasters. But Vicky Pryce is a woman who found herself in the midst of an extraordinary life experience that no-one could have predicted. Or as she puts it: “What I learnt about life is that things can just happen, just like that and you can’t control it”. How does someone whose successful career has been anchored in logic and data, cope when a chain of events lead to a prison cell in Holloway?    Vicky leant heavily on her analytical skills – deciding to research and write her book whilst in prison. As she says: “I just decided in my mind to consider this as going off for a while to do a particular job... The way I survived was by almost becoming an observer, I found it fascinating, something I could learn from, you’ve got to avoid thinking of yourself as a victim right in the middle of it all.” But the fierce independence that led Vicky to leave Greece at 17 and pursue a career in London also played a key part in her recovery. For me, the most revealing moment of our conversation came when I asked Vicky if she still saw herself as that 12-year-old, riding a motorbike through the streets of Athens. “Yes,” she replied instantly, “You don’t change and I’m very much the same person .. I know more and through the process one has made loads of mistakes .. but one remains like that.” So, remember who you are, drive forward, don’t look back – the Vicky Pryce method of crisis recovery. Stream/Buy 'Allies' by Some Velvet Morning -   Some Velvet Morning Website:
25/06/2054m 25s

3. Richard Bacon on battling scandal, addiction and nine days in a coma

If this podcast is about analysing crisis in all its forms then Richard Bacon, one of Britain’s brightest TV presenters and producers, is a guest who has survived more than anybody’s fair share. A career shattering scandal, addiction and mental health issues and a sudden illness that left him in a coma and fighting for life. In this episode Richard talks about what he has learnt from his dramas – self-inflicted and otherwise - with disarming frankness, brutal self-analysis and plenty of humour. Richard’s Crisis Cures: 1. Avoid alcohol: ‘I think if I’m going through a dark day the thing is to not drink because that can very quickly bring out anger.’ 2. Vinyl music: ‘I often play sixties bands, whether it’s The Who or The Kinks or The Beatles or The Stones… nothing makes me happier than putting on a piece of vinyl, I just love everything about it.’ 3. Babington House: ‘I got married there and it still retains its kind of magic quality…it’s hard not to go there and do anything other than feel much better.’ Links: Twitter: Instagram: The ADHD Foundation: ICR Everyman appeal: Episode Notes: Richard Bacon is a man on a mission. Already an established entertainment and news presenter in both Britain and the US, he recently signed a deal with NBCUniversal to devise and produce new show formats. All this a testament to his energy and optimism. But transatlantic success can also be traced directly back to a decision made in the white heat of a crisis in 1998. Caught taking cocaine by the News of the World (under a previous editor!) whilst he was presenter of the BBC’s flagship kids show Blue Peter - Richard could have taken the view that fame and TV were not for him. Instead, aged just 23 he decided to ‘own’ his crisis and march headlong into, not away, from the drama. The bold innocence of youth, perhaps.  But it also took courage, focus and determined self-belief – three critical crisis management skills. But success has been a tough road for Richard in part because of ADHD. A condition that he believes has contributed to his dependencies. As he puts it: “I’m a run towards, not a run-away addict. I’m not running away from anything.” Richard’s restless curiosity, and the support of his wife Rebecca, have been his saviours professionally and personally. A willingness to engage with his own strengths and weaknesses and to confront the truths of them is another crisis lesson worth noting. A big believer in the power of therapy (and, fortunately, podcasts), he says the simple, but not always easy, act of talking about your problems takes you a long way towards being able to fix them. Music: Allies by Some Velvet Morning
18/06/2047m 23s

2. Martha Lane Fox on near death, denial and disco

Baroness Martha Lane Fox is a force of nature – entrepreneur, philanthropist, cross bench peer and one of the most influential people in digital for the last 25 years. The co-founder of, she also now sits on the board of Twitter, the Donmar Warehouse and Chanel. But Martha is also someone who can talk with power and authority on the subject of crisis. In 2004 she was left fighting for her life after a car accident in Morocco that broke 28 of her bones, including a shattered pelvis. In this episode Martha talks powerfully about the practical techniques – both mental and physical – she has developed to cope with a crisis she must confront every day of her life. Martha is, I think, an inspiration to anyone dealing with their own trauma. Martha’s Crisis Cures: 1. Boxing: ‘It’s so fundamental to my mental and physical wellbeing...even just imagining doing exercise can build the muscle mass. It’s quite extraordinary the relationship between our brains and our muscles.’ 2. Books & Poems: ‘The poem Don’t Hesitate by Mary Oliver, it’s about joy…even when the world is bleak and there’s always something awful happening it doesn’t mean you should begrudge yourself joy.’ 3. Pant Discos: ‘Putting some music on, blaring out way too loud (sorry neighbours) and having a couple of minutes moving about. Nothing beats it.’ Links: Twitter: Peers for the Planet: Doteveryone:   The Open University: Queens Commonwealth Trust: Just For Kids Law: Lucky Voice: Episode Notes: Two things strike you immediately about Baroness Martha Lane Fox. A total and utter absence of self-pity is first. But an authentic, compelling honesty about her crisis and its impact is second. Honest that nothing good came from her accident. Honest that, for her, denial has been an invaluable weapon in the years since. As she says: “Denial is a very, very important part of how I function. I’m sure there are lots of people who would say there is lots about that that’s not healthy. The way I don’t get scared or feel as though I am a fraction of what I was, is by denying that I might fall over, that I have massive physical challenges. Some things you have to park.” The power of denial is not a strategy for crisis that you’ll find in any self-help book but I thought it was incredibly valuable because, as Martha herself says, “Crisis is not a competition.” There is no authoritative manual for crisis because every crisis is different. The key is in taking the time to work out what is best for you. And for Martha, one of the most positive people I’ve had the good fortune to talk to, denial has – when she feels she needs it – absolutely worked. Music: Allies by Some Velvet Morning
12/06/2044m 50s

1. Jeremy Bowen on addiction to danger, facing loss and battling cancer

Jeremy Bowen is a man who has spent most of his professional life in the company of crisis. As the BBC’s Middle East Editor he has reported from more than 90 countries and conflicts including Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and Lebanon. In this first episode, Jeremy talks frankly about his addiction to danger – how and why he repeatedly put his life at risk in pursuit of a story. And he details how that addiction turned to deep anxiety and grief when his friend and fixer Abed Takkoush was killed while working alongside him. Jeremy talks openly about mental health, and his good and bad experiences with counselling. And how, ultimately, he conquered his demons, only to face down an altogether different challenge when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Throughout the episode Jeremy reveals the tools he’s relied on most to manage those moments of crisis. A revealing and thought-provoking conversation to kick off the series. Jeremy's Crisis Cures: 1. Quotidian, humdrum things: ‘I was working in Damascus, the war was going on, you can hear the war through the window, you could see the smoke rising from the suburbs…but it was quite nice putting an edited story together about the Syrian war with the sound of the washing machine in the background.’ 2. Exercise: ‘The natural anti-depressant. In Sarajevo I used to take a skipping rope, I used to skip in the stairwell of the hotel. In Baghdad I would jog around the streets – they thought I was insane.’ 3. Old World War II movies: ‘Often John Mills is involved in some way, and Jack Hawkins. I find those quite reassuring to leave on in the background. Maybe even past crises…those reminders that you do get out of them in the end.’ Links: Twitter: Instagram: Bowel Cancer UK: Look UK: Episode Notes: I’ve known Jeremy for about 15 years but this was, as is the nature of us blokes, the most intense conversation we’ve ever had. The utter authenticity of Jeremy’s storytelling was inspiring. For me, the key insights came when we discussed how, having been a crisis volunteer, he suddenly found himself to be a conscript. Facing the possibility of death – not from a sniper’s bullet (which he had narrowly avoided in Sarajevo) but from bowel cancer. His approach to getting through that challenge was clearly influenced by what he’d witnessed so frequently as a reporter. One of Jeremy’s great skills as a broadcaster is to explain how the terrible things we are witnessing on TV are happening to people who, not that long before, were living lives similar to our own. Jeremy has spent more time than most with those families.  “I think you can see people who are sometimes better able to get through crisis than others,” he said. “To survive in a war zone you’ve got to do a lot of small things to get through each day. Don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture – that you’re in a horrendous situation. Chip away at the problem.” An analysis that echoed later in the conversation when we turned to his cancer. “You’ve got to do one little thing at a time. Get through the day, get through tomorrow and then have a horizon for when things will be better. In my case – get out of hospital, get through the chemotherapy, then the first scan and the next scan.” Just. Keep. Going. As Jeremy himself said, sometimes clichés are clichés for a bloody good reason. Music: Allies by Some Velvet Morning -
10/06/201h 1m

Series One trailer

In this new series, Crisis What Crisis? Andy Coulson – former newspaper editor, Downing Street Communications Director and inmate of HMP Belmarsh – talks to the embattled, shamed, courageous, ruined, resilient, unlucky (and lucky) survivors of crisis. Some names will be familiar, some less so. But they will talk honestly, with humour and in the hope that they have valuable lessons to share at a time when crisis has become the new normal. Crisis What Crisis? is all about frank, authentic and useful storytelling. First episode coming soon...
05/06/202m 5s
Heart UK