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Desperately Seeking Wisdom

Desperately Seeking Wisdom

By Creators Inc Limited

Five years ago, Craig Oliver's high-powered job and privileged position at the heart of British government came to an abrupt end with Brexit.

In the aftermath of a bruising battle, he despaired at how divided society had become, but also came to realise something fundamental was missing from his own life. Outwardly he was still achieving, with an impressive career; but he realised he'd never felt comfortable in his own skin.

Life had always felt more of a grind than a gift – he'd always believed that if he only worked harder, he'd find fulfilment. Now he realised that wasn't the case. Like many others during Lockdown, he asked himself why he'd always had a constant feeling of unease and discontent?

He wondered what wise people had to say about how we can live better. Craig decided to try a different path to the one he'd travelled before, reading and listening to many people. Some things they claimed were obviously snake oil, some were revelatory.

Throughout this podcast series, Craig talks to some extraordinary people who have faced extremely difficult - often traumatic experiences - and finds out what they learned and what they believe will help others gain peace of mind and heart.


Matt Forde

Matt Forde is one of our funniest comedians – carving out a niche for himself as a sharp satirist and brilliant mimic of the likes of Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer.What’s really interesting about him is the humanity he brings to his podcast, The Political Party, where he treats politicians as fully-rounded and complex individuals who deserve our understanding. He speaks brilliantly about how life in a broken family and on free school meals helped shape his approach to life.
01/05/23·49m 43s

Michael Singer

Michael Singer has taught me so much. His New York Times bestselling books such as The Untethered Soul, are manuals on how to look at and experience life.He teaches how to radically shift our perspective on what it means to be alive – and how to accept both the past and the world we live in. There’s so much to learn from him...
24/04/23·46m 54s

Jacqui Smith

Jacqui Smith scaled the heights of British politics when she became the first female Home Secretary.It all came crashing down during the expenses scandal, when – among other things – it emerged her husband had claimed for pornographic movies. She’s since rebuilt her life as a broadcaster and political commentator.Jacqui is fascinating, open and honest about the experience of feeling her whole world was crumbling around her and what it taught her.
17/04/23·46m 30s

Professor Azza Karam

Professor Azza Karam is the Secretary General of Religions for Peace – a body set up to find a common purpose in the world’s great religions.She grew up in a loving, but restrictive Muslim family, where a strong mother thought she was helping her by limiting her achievements.I was fascinated by how she has come to terms with her past, her faith and her strong belief in our need for spiritual nourishment and expression.
10/04/23·50m 31s

Sir Simon Baron-Cohen

Sir Simon Baron-Cohen is a leading clinical psychologist and expert in autism. He has written a number of popular science books exploring subjects ranging from empathy (and the lack of it) to understanding how the neurodivergent mind works. He believes terms like “good” and “evil” don’t help us see how and why people operate as they do - and it’s in this area where much of his wisdom is to be found.
03/04/23·52m 33s

Jack Davenport

Jack Davenport is one of our best and most recognisable actors. His credits include: The Pirates of Caribbean, The Talented Mr Ripley, This Life and most recently, Ten Percent.He talks freely about staying centred while acting in a major production, what it was like growing up with film stars dropping in, and why he refuses to have anything to do with social media.
27/03/23·48m 59s

David Baddiel

David Baddiel has been at the top of comedy for many years – often using stories about his complex family for his hilarious, but sometimes painful material. He’s also a celebrated writer, having a huge impact with his children’s books and the polemic, Jews Don’t Count. His most recent book, The God Desire (published on April 13th, 2023), explains why although he yearns for there to be a God, he can’t bring himself to believe in one. David has fascinating insights throughout our wide-ranging conversation.
20/03/23·57m 31s

Lyse Doucet

Lyse Doucet is one of the best and most recognised journalists in the world. Her story of how she came to report on some of the poorest and most war-torn parts of the world is remarkable – but what is truly impressive about her is the empathy she brings to everything she does.We discuss how she stays grounded, her choice not to have a family and how one simple teaching is the bedrock of her approach to her life.
13/03/23·53m 50s

Anthony Scaramucci

Anthony Scaramucci achieved worldwide fame when he was fired as Donald Trump’s Director of Communications after just eleven days.When I first met him, I thought he would be just another loud-mouthed politico – but I discovered a man who had thought deeply about his life and the train-wreck of his career in politics. He couldn’t be further from his caricature and that’s why I wanted to talk to him on this podcast.
06/03/23·47m 17s

Reverend Richard Coles

The Reverend Richard Coles has had the most extraordinary life, from being an unlikely pop-star at the forefront of the gay rights movement in the 1980s, to being a Church of England vicar and much-loved broadcaster and writer.He talks about the harsh realities of being gay in the Church – and grieving for David, the love of his life, who died after years of being a chronic alcoholic.
27/02/23·55m 43s

John Simpson

John Simpson is a journalistic legend. At 78 he is still at the top of his game, reporting from the world’s hotspots, including the war in Ukraine.He talks openly about the seminal moment in his life when as a six-year-old boy he chose to live with his father over his mother. We also talk about why he keeps going and the impact of that on his sixteen-year-old son, Rafe.
20/02/23·46m 52s

Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse

Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse faced one of the most horrifying experiences anyone could suffer – being unable to save their beloved daughter, Natasha, when she had a severe allergic reaction to a Pret-a-Manger sandwich that wasn’t properly labelled.It’s tough to hear what they went through – but they are utterly inspirational in revealing the hard-won wisdom they gained, and how they remain so close and supportive of each other.
13/02/23·55m 31s

Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd and I got to know each other by experiencing the bubbling cauldron of UK politics at the same time.As we became firm friends, I realised one of her amazing qualities was the ability to stay calm in a crisis and to keep everything in perspective.We talk about what she learned from her father going blind; how she ended up being “Aristocracy Coordinator” on Four Weddings and a Funeral; being married to the brilliant but complex AA Gill; and her tumultuous experience at the very top of politics.
06/02/23·50m 4s

Dr Sian Williams

As a reporter, producer and anchor of some of the most watched television news programmes, Dr Sian Williams has been an eyewitness to some horrific events. Like many of us, she often used to wonder how to deal with such trauma. But Sian took things one step further. She re-trained as a psychologist, so she could help people emerge from their worst moments to grow in wisdom and happiness.
21/03/22·43m 9s

Lord Michael Hastings

When he was 16, Lord Michael Hastings decided he would dedicate his life to helping the poor. He went on to have a distinguished career in the public, corporate and non-profit sectors, as well as becoming an independent peer in the House of Lords. He believes that so many of our issues with life could be solved if we simply found ways to help others.
14/03/22·41m 27s

Mo Gawdat

Mo Gawdat is the former Chief Business Officer for Google X and the author of the international bestselling book “Solve For Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy.” For years, he studied happiness as if it was a mathematical problem to be solved, and believed he had cracked the secret of being content.But when his 21 year old son, Ali, died suddenly during a routine operation, nothing made sense anymore. How could he even be alive, let alone happy, in a world where such a terrible thing could happen?Mo speaks about how he made peace with his son’s death and made his life worth living again.
07/03/22·56m 23s

Lucy Kellaway

In 2016, aged 57, Lucy Kellaway quit her prestigious, full-time job as a journalist at The Financial Times to become a trainee teacher.Around the same time, she also left her husband of 25 years, with whom she’d had four children, moved house and stopped dyeing her hair. Lucy wrote about her experiences in her book, “Re-educated: How I changed my job, my home, my husband and my hair,” and co-founded the charity Now Teach to encourage older professionals to step into the classroom and change their lives in the same way hers was transformed.
28/02/22·49m 3s

Kenny Imafidon

Two days after his 18th birthday, Kenny Imafidon was charged with a murder he did not commit. He spent the next 6 months on remand in Feltham Prison, and became the first person to complete his A levels there.He was eventually acquitted after a judge said there was no evidence whatsoever to support the charges against him. In the decade since, Kenny has forged a career as an award-winning social entrepreneur and campaigner, and is the co-founder & Managing Director of ClearView Research consultancy.Kenny talks candidly about what he learnt from his time in prison, the prejudice that still exists in our society, and what it feels like to get a second chance at life.
21/02/22·40m 3s

Tom Bradby

Tom Bradby is an award-winning journalist and TV presenter, and currently the presenter of ITV News at Ten. In his spare time, he’s written 10 novels and several screenplays. But a few years ago, his life came off the rails, when he had a breakdown and was signed off work for 3 months with acute insomnia. He speaks about what led to his breakdown, and how he found a way to a more balanced life.
14/02/22·42m 11s

Isabel Hardman

The award-winning journalist Isabel Hardman talks about dealing with extreme trauma and a public breakdown while covering the Conservative Party conference.What she’s learned has helped her not just to cope, but thrive in the often brutal world of Westminster politics.She is a big proponent of the healing power of nature, which she outlines in her book, “The Natural Health Service.”
07/02/22·48m 5s

Justin Webb

The BBC Today programme presenter, Justin Webb, is known for mixing forensic journalistic skills with being a true gentleman.But he had a difficult childhood, brought up by a complex mother with lots of issues and a step-father with a severe mental illness.When he was eight, his mother told him the presenter he was watching on the news was his father Peter Woods, a man he would never meet. He talks openly about all of this in his fascinating new memoir, “The Gift of Radio, My Childhood and other Trainwrecks.”
31/01/22·51m 23s

Dr Bruce Perry

Dr Bruce Perry is one of the world's leading experts on trauma.He recently co-wrote a book with Oprah Winfrey, in which he says for too long we have asked the question, “What’s wrong with you?” when we should be asking, “What happened to you?”He believes our lives would all be so much simpler if we really understood where each of us is coming from.
24/01/22·46m 8s

Ruth Davidson

Ruth Davidson, the former Scottish Conservative leader, is known for her enthusiastic, joyful approach to life, but twice she’s suffered serious injuries. She also wrote candidly about her struggles with clinical depression in her book, “Yes She Can: Why Women Own The Future.” But she hasn’t allowed any of that to define her . She's found joy campaigning, and what she learned from all of that is really worth hearing.
17/01/22·54m 29s

Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis, the writer, director and co-founder of Comic Relief, is bright, optimistic, caring and a huge success at whatever he turned his hand to.His films are loved by millions around the world, and Comic Relief has had a positive impact on the lives of tens of millions of people.But like all of us, Richard has had his share of pain and uncertainty. He speaks about the wisdom he’s gained, and how he’s handled deep sadness in later life. A warning - there is a short discussion about suicide during this podcast.
10/01/22·49m 2s

George Alagiah

Seven years ago, the BBC TV presenter and journalist George Alagiah was diagnosed with bowel cancer. The prognosis wasn't good, and he was told to get his affairs in order.George speaks movingly and frankly about coping with the knowledge that his life and relationships will be cut short, and what living in the shadow of a terrible disease has helped him appreciate.
03/01/22·52m 14s

Introducing Desperately Seeking Wisdom

A podcast for people hoping to live a simpler, more fulfilled life - and want to hear the wisdom others gained after facing life's challenges. In this series, Craig Oliver talks to some extraordinary people who have faced extremely difficult - often traumatic experiences - and finds out what they learned and what they believe will help others gain peace of mind and heart.
14/12/21·2m 14s
Heart UK