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Seriously...

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

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  • 21.01.2022
    34 MB
    35:46
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    The Coming Storm – Episode 1

    QAnon and the plot to break reality... When a mob storms the Capitol in Washington DC, reporter and presenter Gabriel Gatehouse sees someone he recognises: a man draped in furs with horns on his head. He is known as the Q Shaman. Gabriel had met him at a Trump rally in Arizona, ranting about a conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton and a cabal of satanic paedophiles plotting to steal the 2020 presidential election. The search for the origins of this strange and twisted tale begins in 1993, when the suicide of a White House aide during Bill Clinton’s presidency reveals the first signs of a new information ecosystem that is starting to spill over into the mainstream. Myths about his murder proliferate on the early internet. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. In Arkansas a parallel reality is forming, in which the Clintons are a corrupt and murderous couple who will stop at nothing in their quest for power. Producer: Lucy Proctor

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  • 18.01.2022
    27 MB
    29:08
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    Night Watch

    At night women say goodbye, telling each other "text me when you're home". We carry keys between our knuckles, avoid dark streets, cross the road, then cross back again, keep looking over your shoulder.In Night Watch, four women from different parts of Britain share stories of street harassment. Woven through this feature is a new, specially commissioned poem by Hollie McNish.The murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa compounded the perception of city streets as male spaces- unwelcoming and unsafe for women, and other marginalised groups. Is this the way it's always been?In these raw and unfiltered accounts women will hear their own experiences echoed back in others' words; stories of shouted insults, rejected come-ons, intimidation.Featuring the voices Nosisa and Alison Majuqwana, Aggie Hewitt, Katie Cuddon, Alice Jackson the co-founder of Strut Safe, author Rebecca Solnit, author and moral philosopher at Cornell University Kate Manne and design activist Jos Boys.If you've been impacted by any of the issues raised in this documentary contact details for support organisations can be found in this link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2MfW34HqH7tTCtnmx7LVfzp/information-and-support-victims-of-crimeProducer: Caitlin Smith Poetry: Hollie McNish Sound Design: Joel Cox Executive Producer: Peter McManus

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  • 14.01.2022
    27 MB
    29:01
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    The Lullaby Project

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

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  • 11.01.2022
    55 MB
    57:49
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    Piers Plowright, Soundsmith

    Piers Plowright described himself as a 'radio man'. He'd grown up in a home where the wireless was moved into the living room of an evening for family listening. Others have called Piers, who died in July 2021, the Godfather of the British Radio Feature. His thirty-year BBC career began in 1968 as a trainee in English By Radio, after which he migrated via drama to documentaries. There, his programmes received radio's highest accolade, the Prix Italia, on three occasions. Yet he remained always modest, a practised listener, a supporter of colleagues, a composer of sound, silence and word, and - for all his erudition and love of culture - a mischievous spirit. All of this is felt in his many programmes (see below). In a medium described as having no memory, the quality and distinctiveness of Piers' radio programmes - and the grace of the man - are long remembered. You are invited to lend your ears to some of his work in this tribute from colleagues and admirers: Melvyn Bragg, his close friend from student days and distinguished broadcaster, Dr Cathy Fitzgerald, an award-winning feature-maker and presenter Seán Street, poet and Professor of Radio Marta Medvešek, the young Croatian recipient of the 2021 Prix Europa for radio documentary Matt Thompson, a younger colleague who fell under Piers' spell in the BBC documentaries department Julie Shapiro, formerly Artistic Director of the Third Coast Festival in Chicago, which awarded Piers the Audio Luminary Award in 2006 Martin Williams, a celebrated producer and amateur radio historian Redzi Bernard, producer and co-host of the Telling Stories podcast Tony Phillips, former production colleague and radio commissioning executive. Including interview excerpts with Piers from Roger Kneebone's Countercurrent podcast and Victor Hall's Pocketsize Studio and extracts from the following programmes in the BBC Sound Archive: Stepping Stones (R4, 2015) A Fine Blue Day (R4, 1978) Splashpast! (R4, 1993) Mirooo (R3, 1993) Mr B - a portrait of James Bellamy (R4, 1991) Setting Sail (R4, 1985) One Big Kitchen Table (R4, 1989) Mr Fletcher, the Poet (R4, 1986) Nobody Stays in This House Long (R4, 1983) What Are They Looking At? (R3, 1997) Produced by Alan Hall A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4 (Photo credit: Lucy Tizard)

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  • 07.01.2022
    28 MB
    29:30
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    Fümmsböwö (or What is the Word)

    What exactly is this strange genre called sound poetry? Is it underappreciated and misunderstood? Is it just glorious gobbledygook? “Fümms bö wö tää zää Uu, pögiff, kwii Ee ...” So opens Ursonate by Kurt Schwitters, the 40 minute work of meaningless noise in four movements - considered by many to be the greatest sound poem of all time. A century after it was written, it endures, almost like a classic jazz standard or folk tale that experimental vocal performers feel compelled to learn and interpret as a rite of passage. Jennifer Walshe is one of those daring performers, having recited Ursonate around the world and even “translated” it into Irish. One hundred years on, she wonders what secrets are held within every one of Schwitters’ “zee”, “tee” “wee” and “bee” sounds. Jennifer’s guests include: Vocalist Elaine Mitchener, who sees the political power of made-up words Linguist Marina Yaguello, who speculates on the original, primeval language of mankind Stand-up comedian Stewart Lee, who reflects on how alternative comedy might owe a debt to Schwitters and the Dada art movement Composer Tomomi Adachi, who harnesses Artificial Intelligence to imagine new languages And poet Jaap Blonk, who remembers Ursonate nearly getting him attacked. Produced by Jack Howson Mixed by Olga Reed Photography by Mike Cameron/Wysing Polyphonic A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4

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  • 04.01.2022
    27 MB
    29:07
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    The Hidden History of the Staircase

    Join Rachel Hurdley as she climbs the staircase to discover a story of steps, status, segregation and grand entrances. Staircases go back thousands of years to the stepped temples of the ancient world. In this country they developed from simple ladders to the spiral staircases of medieval castles and the imposing stairways of Tudor mansions. Staircases may seem to be just a way of getting from one floor to another but, over the centuries, they’ve taken on a range of hidden meanings and symbolism. Rachel travels to Newark Castle to find the truth behind a medieval myth, discovers how the many flights of stairs at Tudor Hardwick Hall were used to impress visitors and visits Kedleston Hall to find out how Georgian landowners used staircases to reinforce their social position. Along the way, we learn about the Victorian hierarchy that governed who went down the stairs first. And grab the popcorn as we consider the role of the staircase in cinematic history. Interviewees: Sonia Solicari, Director of The Museum of the Home Jonathan Glancey, Architectural Writer and Historian Imogen Tedbury, Curator of Art, Royal Museums Greenwich speaking at the Queen’s House. James Wright, Buildings Archaeologist speaking at Newark Castle Denise Edwards, General Manager of Hardwick Hall Richard Swinscoe, Assistant Curator, National Trust speaking at Kedleston Hall Deborah Sugg Ryan, Professor of Design History at Portsmouth University Karen Krizanovich, Film Journalist Presenter: Rachel Hurdley Producer: Louise Adamson Executive Producer: Samir Shah A Juniper Connect production for BBC Radio 4

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  • 31.12.2021
    36 MB
    37:51
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    The Great Pyramids of Albania

    Throughout 1996, Albanians sold their houses and their livestock to buy into pyramid schemes that were doomed to fail. By the year’s end, this new kind of financial product had swallowed up almost 50 per cent of the country’s annual income, and touched nearly every adult’s life. How did an entire country fall victim to scammers? Gavin Haynes explores the psychology of one of history’s great mass delusions, 25 years on. He heads to Albania to hear how, in something like a fable, Europe’s most repressive Communist state was suddenly turned loose into a capitalist Wild West it was ill-prepared for. And how the knock-on effects of financial meltdown pushed the country to the brink of total anarchy. At the heart of his journey is an ongoing mystery - what became of the life’s savings of so many ordinary people? With: Prof. Dr. ARBEN MALAJ, President of the Institute of Public Policy and Good Governance, MP for Vlore LAZER SOKOLI, Lawyer and former prosecutor ETLEVA DEMOLLARI, Director of the House of Leaves Museum of Secret Surveillance, Tirana REMZI LANI, Executive Director of the Albanian Media Institute Dr ARTAN HOXHA, Chief Executive Officer Tirana Business School GJERGJI and MARIETA SPIRI – musician and violinist in Gjirokastre and their daughter STEFANIE; GEZIM ZILJA – former Mayor of Vlore GENC DEMIRAJ – theatre technician in Vlore and former video journalist/camera person Dr. JONILA GODOLE, Executive Director of the Institute for Democracy Media and Culture, Tirana ERION VILIAJ – Mayor of Tirana Presenter: Gavin Haynes Producer: Caroline Finnigan Executive Producer: Katherine Godfrey Fixer: Edit Pula Engineer: David Smith Music Sound Engineer: Martin Appleby Actor readings by Orli Shuka A Novel production for BBC Radio 4

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  • 28.12.2021
    36 MB
    38:25
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    A Family of Strangers

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

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  • 24.12.2021
    27 MB
    28:49
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    The Army Girls

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

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  • 14.12.2021
    36 MB
    37:43
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    A Line in the Water

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

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  • 07.12.2021
    36 MB
    38:03
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    The River Man

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

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  • 03.12.2021
    27 MB
    29:04
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    Will-of-the-Dump

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

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  • 26.11.2021
    28 MB
    29:14
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    Could I Regenerate My Farm To Save The Planet?

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

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  • 19.11.2021
    55 MB
    57:45
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    Jan Morris: Writing a Life

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

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  • 12.11.2021
    55 MB
    58:12
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    How America Learned to Laugh Again

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

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  • 02.11.2021
    15 MB
    15:49
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    The Hack That Changed the World: Ep 5 - The Sceptics

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

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  • 02.11.2021
    14 MB
    15:21
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    The Hack That Changed the World: Ep 4 - Dark Money

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

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  • 02.11.2021
    14 MB
    14:51
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    The Hack That Changed the World: Ep 3 - The Russia Mystery

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

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  • 02.11.2021
    14 MB
    14:38
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    The Hack That Changed the World: Ep 2 - On the Trail

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

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  • 02.11.2021
    13 MB
    14:32
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    The Hack That Changed the World: Ep 1 - The Cold Case

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

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  • 29.10.2021
    55 MB
    58:04
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    Plastic: The Biography

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

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  • 26.10.2021
    36 MB
    38:04
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    The Nuremberg Legacy

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

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  • 05.10.2021
    27 MB
    29:03
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    The Ballad of the Bet

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

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  • 27.09.2021
    14 MB
    15:18
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    Poison: Episode 5 - A Toxic Aftertaste

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

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  • 27.09.2021
    13 MB
    14:02
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    Poison: Episode 4 - The Russian Antidote

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

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  • 27.09.2021
    13 MB
    14:07
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    Poison: Episode 3 - How Do You Like Your Tea?

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

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  • 27.09.2021
    13 MB
    13:45
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    Poison: Episode 2 - A Pinch of Paranoia

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

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  • 27.09.2021
    14 MB
    14:53
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    Poison: Episode 1 - The Chuckling Pensioner

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

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  • 24.09.2021
    27 MB
    28:38
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    The Delirium Wards

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

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  • 14.09.2021
    27 MB
    28:59
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    The Nuclear Priesthood

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

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  • 03.09.2021
    42 MB
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    Behind the Crime

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

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  • 31.08.2021
    28 MB
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    Write Her Story

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

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  • 20.08.2021
    36 MB
    38:21
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    Genetics and the longer arm of the law

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

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  • 17.08.2021
    36 MB
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    Trading Blows?

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

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  • 10.08.2021
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    Breaking Through

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

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  • 14.12.2021
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    Speak Up

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

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  • 27.07.2021
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    China in Slogans

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

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  • 23.07.2021
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    Waiting for the Van

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

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  • 09.07.2021
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    My Cat, The Judge

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

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  • 06.07.2021
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    Lost for Words

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

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  • 22.06.2021
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    Return to the Homeless Hotel

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

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  • 18.06.2021
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    Adults, Almost

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

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  • 11.06.2021
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    A Sense of Music

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

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  • 01.06.2021
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    Descendants: Episode One

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

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  • 25.05.2021
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    Daft Punk Is Staying at My House, My House

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

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  • 21.05.2021
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    One Night in March

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

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  • 18.05.2021
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    Thinking In Colour

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

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  • 14.05.2021
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    Life On Hold

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

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  • 04.05.2021
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    After a Death

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

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  • 27.04.2021
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    The Northern Bank Job: Episode One

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

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