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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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  • 21.09.2021
    27 MB
    29:01
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    Safe Space

    The idea of ‘safe space’ has migrated into the arts - in all aspects of performance, in arts education and practice, from theatre, public galleries and museums to spoken word, music and dance. It has become a fundamental idea to community and identity-based art collectives and groups.Defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘…an environment in which people, especially those belonging to a marginalised group, can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment or emotional harm…’, safe spaces are not just physical art spaces like galleries and rehearsal rooms. They are metaphorical, therapeutic: spaces free from judgemental speech and unwelcome criticism where identity, at both an individual and group level, is affirmed, nurtured and supported.The term 'safe space' connects with the idea of art as therapy, but it also joins up with anxiety around identity politics. For many young artists from diverse backgrounds, safe spaces are vital in a hostile world, offering protection from prejudice against women and people of colour, against the LGBTQ and trans communities, from Islamophobia. The term has become a key idea in arts education too, now embraced by institutions and students alike.But should the arts really be a ‘safe space’? Isn’t the purpose of art to challenge, interrogate identity and our ideas of who we are? The struggle is between protecting artistic self-expression in a controlled environment, encouraging previously excluded voices on the one hand - and then, on the other, the easy slide into a silencing of troubling ideas, excluding ideas or projects that might make people feel vulnerable, offended or uncomfortable but that have artistic worth nonetheless.Critics of the safe space movement are arguing that art is valuable because it must be, in the best sense, an ‘unsafe’ space. Whereas art once produced manifestos and disrupted safe spaces, it now creates them, looking inward rather than engaging outward.Hearing from artists across a range of backgrounds and disciplines this feature explores the history and politics of ‘safe space’ and its growing hold on the arts today.Contributors include the theatre director Ola Ince, former artistic director of English National Opera Daniel Kramer, psychotherapist Adam Phillips, author and former editor of Frieze Magazine Jennifer Higgie, sound artist and sculptor Abbas Zahedi, director of queer theatre Charlie Caine, poet and compere Rakaya Fetuga, safe space facilitator Katy Jon Went, comedian Tom Walker (aka Jonathan Pie), sociologist Frank Furedi and FUBUNATION dance collective featuring Rhys Dennis and Waddah Sinadah.Produced by Simon Hollis A Brook Lapping production for BBC Radio 4FUBUNATION photographed by Donnie Sunshine

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  • 17.09.2021
    28 MB
    29:24
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    The Imperilled Adventures of the Adventure Playground

    “Better a broken bone than a broken spirit.” So runs the mantra for adventure playgrounds - as coined by the woman who did more than anyone to establish them in the UK, Lady Marjory Allen.In these current days of ours, an increasing aversion to risk means these places designed for children to swing from ropes, jump from trees and generally run free are in trouble. Many of them have been either shut down or re-purposed - a trend only made worse by local authority funding cuts.Josie Long thinks this is a terrible situation. Adventure playgrounds, she argues, have never played a more important role, with children ushered from bubble to bubble between home and school, after decades in which active and seemingly hazardous play has been undermined. But are adventure playgrounds much safer in their own way than the ‘toyland whimsy’ offered by conventional playground designs where children don’t learn to assess risk?Josie talks to Michael Rosen about how much more creative the play offered by adventure playgrounds can be, encouraging independence and developing vital social and psychological skills alongside an amazing amount of fun. She spends two days among the children and play workers at the Baltic Street Adventure Playground in the East End of Glasgow, seeing first-hand the incredible and radical difference such a space can offer - not just to the individual children but also the community at large.Produced by Geoff Bird A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4

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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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  • 10.09.2021
    27 MB
    28:40
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    Lights Out: Fallout

    Part of the 'Lights Out' series, documentary adventures that encourage you to take a closer listen.The image of the atomic mushroom cloud is powerfully symbolic, yet the grainy black and white footage that we're familiar with can create a sense of something historical, abstract and almost cinematic.The legacy of the UK's atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in Australia and the South Pacific is still, to some degree, shrouded in mystery. But for veterans and their offspring, as well as often forgotten islanders, these events are something very present that they carry with them everyday in an ongoing fight for acknowledgement.This documentary brings together these interconnected, intergenerational testimonies and considers the possible physical, psychological and cultural fallout that has occurred in the years following Operation Grapple on Kiritimati (then Christmas Island) and the Minor Trials in Maralinga.With contributions from Tekaobo Wainwright, John and Laura Morris, Steve Purse, Philomena Lawrence and Stacy & Rose Clark.Producer: Hannah Dean Consultant: Becky Alexsis-Martin. and additional research from Susie Boniface A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4(photo credit: Eric Meyer)

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  • 07.09.2021
    27 MB
    28:58
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    Song of the Thames

    Singer and song collector Sam Lee traces a map in stories, folklore and song along England’s longest and most famous river, the Thames.Beginning at its underground source in the idyllic Gloucestershire countryside, Sam follows the Thames from a trickling stream to a majestic river carrying a myriad of human and animal lives. He witnesses its changes of mood and meaning as it squeezes through its busy, embanked, central London stretch searching for the soul of the river - the deep stories of its waters and banks.Through folklore, music, ecology and lives lived along 215 miles of water, Sam uncovers the past, present and future influence of the river’s deep cultural roots. Who is fed and who is starved by the Thames now and what does it mean to the people who come under its influence?With storyteller, Druid and mead maker Chris Park at Thames Head, via author and land rights activist Nick Park on his houseboat in Oxfordshire, Debbie Leach of Thames 21 working to help communities reconnect with and clean up the river in London, retired Thames lighterman Dave Jessop and Sourav Niyogi who explains the river’s significance to many in London’s Hindu community, Sam explores a flow of ideas running from source to sea.Finally, with author Rachel Lichtenstein, he stands on Two Tree Island on the Essex shore of the Thames estuary and gazes out across the Thames’s final incarnation, as a 5 mile wide delta mouth.We are a world away from the pure waters of the river's beginnings as Sam considers the ambiguous future of the Thames, its communities and the attention owed to it by the people who live along its banks.Presenter: Sam Lee Producer: Michael Umney Executive Producer: Katherine Godfrey A Novel production for BBC Radio 4

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  • 03.09.2021
    42 MB
    44:06
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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
    29:14
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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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  • 27.08.2021
    36 MB
    37:50
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    A Long Way from Vietnam

    BBC journalist Nga Pham asks why irregular Vietnamese migration is the second highest into the UK (Albanian nationals are the first), and why the numbers are rising every year.Even the tragedy of the Essex lorry disaster in 2019, when 39 Vietnamese people were suffocated in a container lorry as they came over the Channel, is not enough to put them off. Coming from some of the most economically deprived provinces in Vietnam, these families pay from $30-45,000 to people smugglers to send hundreds of their children out each year in the hope of a better future.The land route out through China, Russia, Europe can take months if not years, often involving coercion, trafficking and sexual exploitation along the way. Then Calais and the final peril of crossing by boat or lorry awaits them, before trying to find a job and make a life here.Nga talks to people in Vietnam about their desperation to leave and why the 39 deaths have not deterred them, and to those who have returned, sending back their earnings to clear family debts, build houses, and buy motorbikes for their relations. She also talks to those who were caught up in trafficking networks, discovered by the police and deported back to Vietnam with nothing to show for their years of slave labour.In the UK, Nga meets people who have arrived by container just like the Essex 39 - people who are now working in nail bars, cannabis farms and restaurants, hiding in plain sight. She talks to modern slavery lawyers, anti-trafficking police units across the country, and the National Crime Agency which has an officer permanently based in Hanoi. Nga asks the Minister for Immigration what the UK government strategy is for ending this misery of debt bondage and cheap labour.Presented by Nga Pham Produced by Anna Horsbrugh-Porter A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

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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
    37:40
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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
    28 MB
    29:24
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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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  • 06.08.2021
    27 MB
    29:02
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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
    55 MB
    58:01
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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
    36 MB
    37:47
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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
    28 MB
    29:16
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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
    27 MB
    29:00
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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
    27 MB
    28:50
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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
    28 MB
    29:10
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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
    27 MB
    29:07
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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
    27 MB
    28:31
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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
    27 MB
    29:01
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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
    36 MB
    38:06
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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
    27 MB
    28:50
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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
    27 MB
    29:09
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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
    36 MB
    38:24
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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
    15 MB
    15:45
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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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  • 20.04.2021
    28 MB
    29:24
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    A Pyrotechnic History of Humanity: Fire

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

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  • 16.04.2021
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    29:30
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    Iran’s Secret Art Collection

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

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  • 13.04.2021
    28 MB
    29:19
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    Where is Jack Ma?

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

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  • 06.04.2021
    35 MB
    36:55
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    The Nazi Next Door

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

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  • 02.04.2021
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    28:58
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    Making Demille

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

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  • 26.03.2021
    27 MB
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    Mitchell on Meetings: The Thing

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

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  • 12.03.2021
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    29:12
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    The Jump: Covid-19

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

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  • 09.03.2021
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    Faith, Lies and Conversion Therapy

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

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  • 05.03.2021
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    The Price of Song

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

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  • 26.02.2021
    34 MB
    35:35
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    Made of Stronger Stuff: The Heart

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

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  • 23.02.2021
    29 MB
    31:04
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    The Battersea Poltergeist – Ep1: 63 Wycliffe Road

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

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  • 16.02.2021
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    29:11
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    Sideways: Siding with the Enemy

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

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  • 25.01.2021
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    Battle for the Capitol

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

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  • 20.01.2021
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    39 Ways to Save the Planet: Wood for Good

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

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  • 08.01.2021
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    I Am Robert Chelsea

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

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  • 05.01.2021
    27 MB
    28:56
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    Sci-Fi Blindness

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

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  • 29.12.2020
    36 MB
    37:38
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    Can I Talk About Heroes?

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

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  • 22.12.2020
    37 MB
    39:06
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    Scientists in the Spotlight

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

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  • 08.12.2020
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    Apocalypse How

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

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  • 04.12.2020
    36 MB
    38:12
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    Generation Covid

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

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  • 01.12.2020
    36 MB
    38:12
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    Inside the Brain of Jeff Bezos

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

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  • 27.11.2020
    37 MB
    38:34
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    Living with the Dragon

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

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  • 25.11.2020
    28 MB
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    The Corrections:Trojan Horse

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

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  • 25.11.2020
    27 MB
    28:54
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    Losing It

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

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