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Outlook

Extraordinary first person stories from around the world

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  • 26.07.2021
    5 MB
    11:26
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    The train driver asking men to open up about mental health

    Heather Waugh is Scotland’s only female freight train driver, and she’s committed to improving the mental health of her male colleagues. Her work was inspired partly by a traumatic incident she witnessed while driving a train, when a young man took his life on the tracks. Now she’s been trained by a mental health charity to spot the early warning signs of mental health problems. She spoke to Outlook’s Andrea Kennedy.If you are feeling emotionally distressed, support is available internationally at https://www.befrienders.org and in the UK at bbc.co.uk/actionlinePicture: Heather Waugh Credit: BBCPresenter: Andrea Kennedy Producer: Harry GrahamGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 24.07.2021
    12 MB
    26:27
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    The Paralympian who was trapped inside her body

    When Victoria Arlen was a child, she had dreams of being an athlete. But at the age of 11 she became unwell and lost consciousness, only to wake up years later in a hospital bed locked into her body, unable to communicate or move. For months she was alert, but nobody knew it and all she had were her thoughts. Slowly she recovered and took up para-swimming, going on to break a world record at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. This story was first broadcast on the 30th of September 2018. Presenter: Harry Graham Producer: Katy Davis Picture: Victoria Arlen Credit: Harry Engles / Getty Images Get in touch: [email protected]

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  • 22.07.2021
    19 MB
    40:33
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    Recording my first album as a man

    Cidny Bullens is a singer-songwriter whose career first took off in the 1970s, touring with Elton John and singing on the soundtrack for the movie Grease. Solo success would follow with two Grammy nominations. Cidny's style was androgynous - big hair, jumpsuits, flares, leather jackets... topped off with an electric guitar. But hidden behind the accolades were years of struggling with gender identity, something Cidny confronted aged 61. Ten years later he recorded his first album as man.Picture: Cidny Bullens Credit: Travis CommeauGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 21.07.2021
    17 MB
    36:27
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    Punk, God, and my search for truth

    When 17-year-old Paloma Romero travelled to the UK in the early 1970s, she was in search of freedom and opportunities that didn't exist in her native Spain, ruled at the time by the dictator Franco. Soon, Paloma fell in with the world of punk music, and (following a mix-up over her name) called herself Palmolive. She started a relationship with Joe Strummer from The Clash, taught herself to play drums and joined a band with Sid Vicious. When he kicked her out for refusing his advances, she formed a band of her own - The Slits. With their all-female line-up and collaborative approach to song-writing, The Slits are now regarded as iconic punk pioneers. Later, Paloma would play drums in another highly influential all-female punk band, The Raincoats - before turning her back on music altogether to seek spiritual truth. Now a retired teacher living in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Paloma is thinking about a return to music. She tells Anu Anand about punk, faith, and the art of walking away.Producer: Laura Thomas Presenter: Anu Anand Image: Getty Images

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  • 20.07.2021
    18 MB
    38:56
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    Seven months trapped in an airport

    Hassan Al Kontar always dreamed of being a journalist, but it was a dream he felt he couldn't pursue in his native Syria, so in 2006 he moved to the United Arab Emirates. But when the Syrian conflict began in 2011, Hassan was faced with an agonising choice - either leave his job, go home, and face military service or stay in the UAE and risk losing his right to work. He chose the latter and spent over five years homeless before being deported to Malaysia where he could only stay for three months. Then Hassan's situation became even more difficult. He tried to fly to Ecuador but wasn't allowed to board the plane, and when he was denied entry to Cambodia, he found himself back in Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur airport, confined to the transit area with no money, no passport and no way out. Hassan would end up living there for seven months. He's written a book about his experience called Man at the Airport.News clips came courtesy of CNN, TVNZ and France 24Presenter: Emily Webb Producer: June Christie and Emily WebbPicture: Hassan Al Kontar sitting on a chair at Kuala Lumpur airport. Credit: Hassan Al KontarGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 19.07.2021
    15 MB
    33:19
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    From songbird to birdsong expert

    Professor Gisela Kaplan has had a lifelong bond with birds. As a lonely child in post-war Berlin, she would visit a family of swans for company. They made her feel safe and comfortable, offering some consolation during an otherwise hard childhood. This relationship formed a fascination with birds that eventually saw her becoming a highly-regarded ethologist, a specialist in animal behaviour, and an expert in Australian magpie warbles. Along the way, Gisela had a career in opera singing, before moving to Australia and becoming an academic. It was a surprise gift from her partner - a course in animal rehabilitation - that saw her hand-rear native birds, including an Australian magpie she named Maria Callas. Over the next 25 years, Gisela was to make some remarkable discoveries about how the species communicates, helped along by her operatic knowledge.Picture: Image of portrait of Gisela Kaplan by Raffaela Casadei Credit: Raffaela CasadeiPresenter: Emily Webb Producer: Katy TakatsukiGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 17.07.2021
    22 MB
    46:49
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    Trapped in a "metal coffin" on the ocean floor

    In 1988, after colliding with a fishing trawler at the surface, the Peruvian submarine Pacocha sank to the bottom of the Pacific ocean. With 22 men trapped inside, with no water, a fire on board and depleting oxygen, First Lieutenant Roger Cotrina Alvarado was determined to save his crew. An escape plan was hatched, but getting out of the submarine was only the first step - they still had to find a way to make the 42-metre ascent to the surface.Presented by Clayton Conn Produced by Clayton Conn and Mariana Des Forges Interpreter: Martin EspositoPicture: Collage of photographs of the Pacocha, crew, the submarine and Roger Cotrina Alvarado Credit: all photos courtesy of Roger Cotrina AlvaradoGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 15.07.2021
    18 MB
    39:17
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    A decade without Dan: The search for my brother gave me purpose

    On the 15th of July, 2011, 24-year-old Dan O’Keeffe went missing from his parents’ home in the state of Victoria, Australia.The family reported him missing but as there were no suspicious circumstances it wasn’t classed as a priority by the police and so Dan’s sister, Loren quit her job and led the long and gruelling search to try and find him, bringing together thousands of strangers along the way through the social media campaign, Dan Come Home.It would be almost five years before Dan’s body was discovered close to the family home where he was last seen.A decade since his disappearance Loren O’Keeffe has now dedicated her life to supporting the families of other long-term missing persons across Australia, using her own experience, knowledge and resources she has founded a charity called the Missing Persons Advocacy Network, which creates awareness for missing persons and supports those who are left behind.If you've been affected by any of the issues discussed in this programme the BBC action line has a list of organisations offering support. Just look online for bbc.co.uk/actionline.Image: Dan O'Keeffe at the beach Credit: Loren O'KeeffePresenter: Anu Anand Producer: Thomas Harding AssinderGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 14.07.2021
    18 MB
    38:48
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    From intensive care to the Olympic podium

    Keeth Smart is an all-time great in the US in the sport of fencing. He was the first American to be ranked the number one fencer in the world. But in 2004 he suffered a devastating defeat at the Olympics when he lost a medal by one point. So in 2008 he was determined to redeem his reputation. Months out from the games, he noticed that his gums and hands were bleeding. Keeth was rushed into intensive care and told he had a 50-percent chance of survival. How he beat leukaemia and ended up winning an Olympic medal.A short film has been made about Keeth's life called Stay Close.Presenter: Saskia Edwards Producer: Saskia EdwardsPicture: Keeth Smart at sabre semi-final at Beijing Olympic Games Credit: OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty ImagesGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 13.07.2021
    11 MB
    23:17
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    Birdwatching with the men who kidnapped me

    In 2004, young biologist Diego Calderón was captured while on a field trip in the Colombian Andes. His captors were Farc guerrillas, who held him for three months, seeking a ransom payment. Life in the Farc camp was basic and tedious, but Diego kept himself busy by studying the wildlife in the unique cloud forest habitat where he was held. Years later, after his release, Diego found himself face to face with the guerrillas once again. But by now a peace deal had been signed, and efforts were being made to use nature and tourism to integrate ex-combatants back into society. Many of them had grown up in the forests and had unique knowledge of the region. Diego was one of the first in line to join his former captors who were now carrying birdwatching binoculars, not guns.Image: Diego Calderón birding with Leo on the 2018 Expedicion BIO in Anorí Credit: Federico Ríos Escobar @historiassencillasProducer: Harry Graham Presenter: Andrea KennedyGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 12.07.2021
    19 MB
    40:30
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    Banned from voting for my wife, so we changed the law

    When Desmond Meade’s wife Sheena ran for public office in Florida, he wanted nothing more than for her to win. But there was one thing he couldn’t do – vote for her. As an ex-felon, Desmond had a lifetime ban on voting. It was a 150-year-old law that affected over a million people, and so Desmond and Sheena led a historic campaign to overturn it. At times, it felt like an impossible battle that would consume their whole family. And even now after all their successes, that fight is not over. Desmond’s written a book called Let my people vote: my battle to restore the civil rights of returning citizens.Presenter: Stephanie Hegarty Producer: Maryam MarufPicture: Desmond and Sheena Meade Credit: Getty ImagesGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 08.07.2021
    19 MB
    40:41
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    A plane crash left me lost in the Amazon

    Antônio Sena is a Brazilian pilot who survived a dramatic plane crash in the Amazon rainforest earlier this year. He found himself alone, with very little food, and hundreds of kilometres from the nearest town. After waiting a week for rescuers to find him, he set off on an arduous trek into the dense forest. He tells Emily Webb that he kept himself going by eating fruit, and using knowledge of the Amazon that he had picked up as a child. His life was saved when he stumbled across a family of Brazil nut pickers, 36 days after his accident.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Rebecca VincentPicture: Antônio Sena after being rescued Credit: Marcelo SEABRA / Brazil's Para State Government / AFP

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  • 07.07.2021
    19 MB
    40:42
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    Stories from Syria's secret library

    In 2015 the Syrian town of Darayya was under siege. Its residents were being subjected to almost constant shelling, no-one could enter or leave, food was running out and there wasn’t enough medicine to treat the sick and injured. But deep in the bowels of a high-rise building, in a basement room, Darayya’s residents were slipping into a very different world. One filled with adventure, romance, comedy, tragedy, and the odd 'who dunnit'... this is the story of Syria's secret library and one of its founders.Translation by Youssef Taha.The readings you heard came from: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho They Tricked Her Is Saying Belle and Stand For The Teacher, both by Ahmad Shawqi The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie Hamlet by William ShakespeareMusic: D'un crépuscule, l'autre by Abderraouf Ouertani Shata by Dhafer YoussefGet in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Fiona WoodsPicture: Damaged books Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

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  • 06.07.2021
    18 MB
    39:17
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    Rugby star Gareth Thomas: Strong, vulnerable and HIV positive

    Gareth Thomas is one of the most successful and famous Welsh rugby players of all time. He's also celebrated for being the first rugby player in the world to come out as gay. But when he was diagnosed with HIV, he was wracked with fear because of the stigma the condition carries. He started telling a few people close to him about his HIV status, but one of his confidants started blackmailing him. Gareth decided to take matters into his own hands and reveal his secret in a very public way. He's written a book called Stronger.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Saskia EdwardsPicture: Gareth Thomas during an RBS Six Nations Championship match in 2006 Credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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  • 05.07.2021
    16 MB
    34:36
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    My unknown song became a political anthem in Hong Kong

    Matthew 'Kashy' Keegan knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a pop star. He just didn't know how. He spent years writing and making music and knocking on the doors of the music industry but to no avail. By age 25, demoralised and fed up, he decided to quit. He took a job at a radio station and settled into his new life. But years later, when he was home one evening, his phone started to beep incessantly. He clicked on one of the alerts to find scenes of thousands of people out on the streets of Hong Kong waving the lights of their phones through the air and his song playing on the tannoy. The song he'd written many years earlier had now, in 2013, become a political anthem in a country he'd never even visited.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Andrea KennedyPicture: Matthew Keegan Credit: Eva Li

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  • 03.07.2021
    12 MB
    26:26
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    I ran with the men, and changed history

    Kathrine Switzer is a US runner whose dream - back in 1967 - was to be allowed to run a marathon. Back then there was a belief that women were physically incapable of doing such long distances, and it could even be dangerous for their health. Kathrine was 20 when she signed up for the world famous Boston Marathon using only her initials, but when she was spotted by race official Jock Semple he attacked her, outraged that a woman was running in the men-only event. Photos of that moment went across the world, and changed Kathrine’s life and the future of the sport. She went on to campaign for women’s official inclusion in the Boston Marathon in 1972, helped create the first women’s road race, and was instrumental in making the women’s marathon an official Olympic event in 1984. This programme was first broadcast on 13th of January 2021.Any comments please email us on [email protected]: Jo Fidgen Producer: Rebecca VincentPicture: Kathrine Switzer is accosted by race official Jock Semple at the 1967 Boston Marathon Credit: Bettmann via Getty Images

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  • 01.07.2021
    11 MB
    23:30
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    The siege and the cat that saved my life

    Aged 16 Amra Sabic El-Rayess was a grade-A student with a bright future ahead but then one day when she got to school almost all her ethnic Serb classmates were gone.This was Bihać in Bosnia Herzegovina in June 1992 and the city was soon surrounded by ethnic Serb forces. The remaining mainly Bosnian Muslims, which included Amra and her family, would face a three-year siege. But amidst the death and destruction Amra found a lucky charm, a 'refugee' cat called Maci who adopted her and who she credits with saving her life.Professor Amra Sabic El-Rayess now lives in the US and has written a book about her life called The Cat I Never Named.Get in touch: [email protected]: Andrea Kennedy Producer: Thomas Harding-AssinderPicture: Composite image with Amra Sabic El Rayess Credit: Courtesy of Amra Sabic El Rayess + Gian Luca Salis / EyeEm via Getty Images

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  • 30.06.2021
    17 MB
    35:58
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    Making friends with the man who stole my paintings

    In 2015, Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova had two of her paintings stolen from a gallery in the Norwegian capital Oslo. Months later, a surprising encounter with one of the thieves in the courtroom led to an enduring friendship between the painter and the thief. As their friendship evolved, Karl-Bertil Nordland became not just Barbora’s friend, but also her muse. And as Karl-Bertil overcame his drug addiction, Barbora went on a quest to try to find out what had happened to her missing paintings.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Kayleen DevlinPicture: Barbora and Karl hugging in front of her painting of Karl Credit: Medieoperatørene, photographer: Kristoffer Kumar

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  • 29.06.2021
    18 MB
    39:03
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    Life as the UK's first black TV reporter

    Sir Trevor McDonald grew up in Trinidad, but when he got a job with the BBC World Service, he moved to the UK. He went on to become the first black television reporter and one of the country's most prominent presenters. Over the course of his career, he's interviewed Saddam Hussein, Colonel Gaddafi and even danced on screen with Desmond Tutu. He’s written a book about his life called An Improbable Life: The Autobiography. This interview was first broadcast on 7 Nov 2019.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Troy HolmesPicture: Trevor McDonald in 1973 Credit: Keystone/Getty Images

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  • 28.06.2021
    18 MB
    37:32
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    Discovering my sister's inner world

    A complicated sisterhood: growing up, Arifa Akbar and her older sister Fauzia had shared everything from a bedroom, to secrets, to favourite movies and books. They'd moved from Lahore, Pakistan to London for a better life but ended up destitute. The change took its toll on Fauzia who developed depression as a teenager. Complex feelings of jealousy and anger took over and the two became estranged. Then in 2016, when Fauzia was 45, she contracted a mysterious illness. The sisters reconciled at Fauzia's bedside before she passed away but Arifa wanted to know more about the sister she'd lost and the illness that had killed her. She tells Anu Anand about an extraordinary journey that began in North London and took her all the way to the Sistine chapel in Rome.Arifa's memoir is called Consumed.If you've been affected by any of the issues in this programme, you can find resources and help at www.bbc.co.uk/actionlineGet in touch [email protected]: Anu Anand Producer: Mariana Des ForgesPicture: Fauzia and Arifa Akbar in Lahore Credit: Courtesy of Arifa Akbar

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  • 26.06.2021
    17 MB
    37:24
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    Fire, ice and thunder: A chase on the high seas

    The Thunder was the most notorious and elusive poaching ship in the world; for ten years governments had struggled to catch it. Then, in 2014, a crew from the organisation Sea Shepherd - known for its anti-whaling activity - found it illegally hunting Patagonian toothfish in the ice floes of the Antarctic and decided to stop it. They pursued the Thunder for 110 days over 10,000 miles before a dramatic stand-off in the Gulf of Guinea. Captain Peter Hammarstedt, from Sea Shepherd, tells Jo Fidgen about the dramatic chase and eventually watching the Thunder as it burned. This episode was first released on 19th November 2020.On-board recordings in this piece are from the documentary Ocean Warriors: Chasing the Thunder, courtesy of Brick City TV. Presenter: Jo Fidgen Producer: Mariana Des ForgesPhoto: The Thunder surrounded by icebergs Credit: Sea Shepherd

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  • 24.06.2021
    11 MB
    22:57
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    My life collecting the folk songs of Iraq

    Sa'di al-Hadithi is one of Iraq's best-loved vocalists, known for researching, collecting and translating the folk songs and poetry from the area around the city of Haditha, where he grew up. Raised mostly by his grandmother, his memories of childhood are full of music and poetry, and of the love of his family - but following the Ba'ath party's rise to power in Iraq in the 1960s, he was imprisoned for five years on the false charge of being a communist. He tells Emily Webb about why his years in prison were far from a cultural wasteland, his international singing career, and his enduring sense of love and duty to the songs he collected as a young man in Haditha.Presenter: Emily Webb Producer: Laura ThomasPhoto and credit: Sa'di al-HadithiGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 23.06.2021
    15 MB
    31:16
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    I survived Chechnya's 'gay purge'

    In March 2017 Amin Dzhabrailov was dragged out of the hair salon where he worked and bundled into the boot of a car. It was the start of an unprecedented crackdown targeting LGBT people in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Amin says he was taken to a warehouse and tortured alongside other gay men before being outed to his family, who were encouraged to kill him. After his release he knew his life in Chechnya was over and he had to escape - what he couldn't have guessed was where his next steps would take him. Two years later he would go public with his story, defying Chechnya's feared leader and becoming the first Chechen victim of the crackdown to do so. Warning: This programme contains descriptions of torture.Producer: Kevin Ponniah Presenter: Emily WebbPicture credit: Amin DzhabrailovGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 22.06.2021
    12 MB
    26:37
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    My mother, India’s forgotten disco diva

    In 2014, Debayan Sen was cleaning the family attic in Kolkata when he made an unexpected discovery: a dusty, old vinyl record called Disco Jazz. What astonished him was that his mother Rupa was on the cover. Debayan had no idea his very traditional Indian mother had even had a music career. Not only would that album reveal Rupa’s secret disco past but also an underground fanbase of millions worldwide.Presenter: Emily Webb Producer: Maryam Maruf Sound design: Joel Cox Voiceover: Manoshi BaruaPicture: Rupa Biswas Sen holding a copy of her record Disco Jazz Credit: Courtesy Rupa Biswas Sen

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  • 21.06.2021
    18 MB
    38:15
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    Hunting 'The Serpent': the diplomat turned detective

    There are disturbing descriptions throughout this episode.In the 1970s a serial killer was on the loose in South East Asia. His name was Charles Sobhraj, better known as 'The Serpent'. When tourists began going missing, or turning up dead, Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg was tasked with investigating the disappearances. The chilling evidence he uncovered put Sobhraj behind bars with a life sentence.The hit TV show The Serpent is available now on BBC iPlayer and Netflix.Presenter and producer: Saskia EdwardsPicture: collage of promotional photos from BBC One and Netflix's The Serpent and Herman Knippenberg's personal collection Credit: BBC / © Mammoth Screen and Herman KnippenbergGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 19.06.2021
    12 MB
    26:08
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    Frank Sinatra's Australian showdown

    In 1974, Australian concert producer Robert Raymond got the gig of his life – organising the comeback tour of his musical idol, Frank Sinatra. The anticipation in Australia was huge and the tour sold out immediately. But when his opening night performance caused a scandal, Sinatra found himself caught in a stand-off… and Robert Raymond had the biggest test of his career – how to get Sinatra back on stage? This programme was first broadcast on 23rd of December 2018.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Maryam MarufImage: Frank Sinatra Credit: Jay Dickman/CORBIS/Getty Images

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  • 17.06.2021
    11 MB
    24:06
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    A top Iranian chess umpire and her impossible decision

    As the only female Category-A International Arbiter in Asia, Shohreh Bayat has represented Iran at chess tournaments all around the world. That position came with a big responsibility and a lot of rules as to what she could and could not do and more importantly, wear.In Iran, the law requires women to wear modest "Islamic" clothing. This requirement was extended to those representing the country abroad and although many women wear the hijab by choice, it was not something Shohreh felt comfortable or agreed with.The highlight of Shohreh’s impressive career came at the start of 2020 when she travelled to Shanghai for the Women’s World Chess Championship. It was during this tournament that a photo appeared in the Iranian media appearing to show Shohreh not wearing a hijab. That photo led to an ultimatum and what would be the biggest and most difficult decision of her career.Get in touch: [email protected]: Anu Anand Producer: Thomas Harding-​AssinderPicture: Shohreh Bayat Credit: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

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  • 16.06.2021
    5 MB
    12:06
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    Living without time: The cave experiment we didn't want to end

    Christian Clot is an explorer who travels to the world's most inhospitable places to try and survive. But recently, he worked with scientists on something a little different. Christian took 14 others into a cavernous cave system in south-western France to see what happens to humans' perception of time in the absence of clocks and natural light. They spent 40 days inside and did not expect to react the way they did when told the experiment was over.Get in touch: [email protected]: Kevin Ponniah Producer: Kevin PonniahPicture: Volunteers leave the Lombrives cave after spending 40 days in darkness, April 2021 Credit: FRED SCHEIBER/AFP via Getty Images

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  • 15.06.2021
    11 MB
    22:59
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    The quiet Louisiana grandma who became an environmental warrior

    69-year-old Sharon Lavigne has six children and 12 grandchildren and, by her own admission, has never been one for public speaking. She has lived in St James Parish in Louisiana her whole life. It's located along an 85-mile stretch of the Mississippi between New Orleans and Baton Rouge with the undesirable nickname 'cancer alley'. Sharon says she has seen a lot of illness in her community. There are around 150 chemical plants located along this stretch of the Mississippi River and when a giant plastics manufacturing company wanted to construct a plant near Sharon's home, she successfully led the campaign to stop it from being built. Sharon has been awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work.Get in touch: [email protected]: Anu Anand Producer: June ChristiePicture: Sharon Lavigne Credit: Goldman Environmental Prize

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  • 14.06.2021
    15 MB
    31:41
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    Andy Cole: Goals, glory and the battle for his life

    Andy Cole is one of England’s most successful footballers, notably part of the legendary Manchester United squad that won a historic treble in 1999. His path to the top wasn’t easy – as a young player he had to deal with racism in football, and then grapple with the expectations of stardom. But Andy’s biggest challenge was off the pitch when he faced a deadly health scare. This interview contains offensive language.Get in touch: [email protected]: Mugabi Turya Producer: Maryam MarufPicture: Andy Cole with teammates David Beckham and Paul Scholes in 1999 Credit: Laurence Griffiths/Allsport via Getty Images

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  • 12.06.2021
    12 MB
    26:25
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    The spies in my house

    Arrested, interrogated and watched: Ulrike Poppe was a dissident in the former GDR and spent 15 years being spied on by the East German secret police - the Stasi- who installed secret microphones in her home and cameras pointing through the windows. Then, in 1992, after Berlin Wall came down, she was granted access to the Stasi archives and discovered 20,000 pages of details about her life with the names of friends and colleagues who'd informed on her. In those pages she also found the name of the Stasi officer in charge of her case and decided to track him down and confront him.Presenter: Andrea Kennedy Interpreter: Jo Impey Producer: Mariana Des ForgesPicture: Ulrike Poppe in 1999 Credit: P/F/H/ullstein bild via Getty ImagesGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 10.06.2021
    19 MB
    40:42
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    ‘Aids Angel’ – I gave love in a time of prejudice and fear

    As a young woman in the mid-1980s, Ruth Coker Burks had a chance encounter with a man with Aids, who had been left to die alone in a quarantined hospital room in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the US. She stepped in to comfort him in his final hours, and word soon spread that she was the only person willing to help such men in this deeply conservative town. At the height of the Aids crisis she developed a huge support network for gay men with HIV who had been abandoned by their families, even burying some of those who died in her own family cemetery. Ruth tells Emily Webb how she was vilified by her church and community for her work, but became a vocal campaigner and Aids educator.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Rebecca VincentPicture: Ruth Coker Burks Credit: Caroline M. Holt

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  • 09.06.2021
    14 MB
    30:23
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    The doctor treating children 8000 miles away

    Meena Said is an endocrine surgeon working in California. Her days are spent treating and operating on patients, many of whom have very complex medical needs. But after a hard day at work, rather than relaxing at home, Meena switches on her phone and begins to care for her other patients: critically-ill children who live many thousands of miles away in Afghanistan. Meena's own family fled the country as refugees when she was just a baby. She spent many years trying to build her career in LA, but was uncomfortable with how privileged her life was in comparison to those that stayed behind. Two years ago, a photo of a family with severe burns motivated her to help. She set up a network of volunteer doctors called Wellness Worldwide whose expertise she draws on to confirm diagnoses and formulate treatment plans. Sadly, it can sometimes be too late to save the children, but as Meena tells Emily Webb knowing their children are being helped often brings much needed peace to the families involved.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Katy TakatsukiPicture: Dr Meena Said Credit: Courtesy of Dr Meena Said

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  • 08.06.2021
    14 MB
    29:13
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    Saving the songs of the Sahara

    Fadimata Walet Oumar learned how to sing and dance in northern Mali under the light of the desert moon. Her people, the Tuaregs, traditionally lived as nomads on the fringes of the Sahara but successive wars, droughts and famines have fundamentally changed their lives. However her love of music never waned. As a teenager, Fadimata was given the nickname Disco after winning dance battles on the streets of Timbuktu. In 1995 she created a band called Tartit with other women who had been forced to flee into refugee camps due to conflict. It was the first woman-led group in the burgeoning desert music scene and received global acclaim. In 2012, Tuareg culture was put into peril when Islamist militants took over northern Mali and banned music. Fadimata had to flee her homeland for the third time in her life but vowed to return.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Kevin PonniahPicture: Fadimata Walet Oumar performs in 2012 Credit: -/AFP via Getty Images

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  • 07.06.2021
    11 MB
    23:14
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    Keeping up with Australia's rebellious Buddhist nun

    Robina Courtin grew up in Melbourne, Australia. As a teenager attending Catholic school she felt she was both holy and a rebel. Eventually she became a hippie, then a radical feminist, and then got into martial arts. One day, after a car accident meant she couldn't practice karate, she came across some Buddhist monks. Immediately she knew following Buddhism would be her path. Many years after she was ordained a Buddhist nun, she got an unexpected letter from a prisoner in the US. That led to her corresponding with other inmates and even befriending people on death row.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Saskia EdwardsPicture: Robina Courtin in 2005 Credit: Fairfax Media via Getty Images

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  • 02.06.2021
    19 MB
    40:16
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    The perilous world of a ‘cult deprogrammer’

    Rick Alan Ross was selling and restoring cars when his grandmother’s Jewish nursing home was secretly infiltrated by a Christian group that tried to convert her. Rick started investigating, which lead him to a career as a world-renowned cult intervention specialist, or cult deprogrammer. Now, he helps people leave destructive cults or controversial groups and movements. But it’s work that can be demanding, problematic and perilous – especially if interventions don't go to plan.This podcast is part of Cult Behaviour, a mini-series from Outlook exploring how a cult can manipulate a person’s sense of reality, and what it can take to break free. Radio listeners, if you are searching for the combined podcast version of Rick’s interview – this is it.Presenter: Saskia Edwards Producer: Maryam Maruf Music: Joel CoxPicture: Man with 'the end of the world is nigh' placard Credit: Getty Images

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  • 31.05.2021
    20 MB
    43:33
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    Fighting to free my daughter from the Nxivm 'sex cult'

    In 2011, the former Dynasty actor Catherine Oxenberg and her 19-year-old daughter India took a course from the self-help organisation Nxivm (pronounced Nexium). It was a pivotal experience for India as she had been struggling to find a career and Nxivm seemed to offer her purpose. She ended up working for them as a coach and moving away from her mother. What India didn’t know was that Nxivm was in fact a dangerous cult. Eventually she would be trapped in a secret subgroup, which was really a sex-trafficking ring operated by the cult leader, Keith Raniere.This episode is part of Cult Behaviour, a mini-series from Outlook exploring how a cult can manipulate a person’s sense of reality, and what it can take to break free. Radio listeners, if you are searching for the combined podcast version of India and Catherine’s interview – this is it.Presenter: Saskia Edwards Producers: Saskia Edwards, Maryam Maruf Music: Joel CoxPicture: Catherine and India Oxenberg, with Catherine's mother Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia on the left Credit: Courtesy Starz Entertainment

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  • 29.05.2021
    12 MB
    26:28
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    My big fake wedding: uncovering an outlandish deception

    A fake wedding, a double life and forged documents. In 2013 investigative journalist Benita Alexander was making a documentary about 'super-surgeon' Paolo Macchiarini and his pioneering synthetic organ transplants. The pair quickly fell in love and Benita was swept into a whirlwind romance. Paolo proposed, but the fairytale soon began to unravel when she discovered that the extravagant star-studded wedding he told her he was planning was all a lie. But the fake wedding was just the beginning...Get in touch: [email protected]: Andrea Kennedy Producer: Mariana Des ForgesPicture: Paolo Macchiarini and Benita Alexander Credit: Courtesy Benita Alexander, Instagram @loveconned

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  • 27.05.2021
    14 MB
    29:57
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    The nightclub fire that rocked Romania

    When Tedy Ursuleanu went to see a gig at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, Romania, in the autumn of 2015, she was lucky to escape with her life. A fire swept through the venue, which only had one fire exit. Tedy sustained life-changing injuries, and 27 others died at the scene. The surviving victims were transferred to hospitals, but in the weeks that followed, they continued to die in large numbers. At Gazeta Sporturilor, one of the oldest sports newspapers in Europe, editor Catalin Tolontan watched events unfold. At first, he remembers, he and his team felt "almost paralysed" by events. Then, an informant contacted them.Tedy Ursuleanu and Catalin Tolontan give Emily Webb their perspectives on the fire that unseated a government, and uncovered a lethal network of corruption.Presenter: Emily Webb Producer: Laura ThomasPhoto: Pictures of victims of Colectiv nightclub fire in Bucharest, Romania Credit: DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images

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  • 25.05.2021
    19 MB
    39:45
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    London’s revolutionary kiss-in

    Ted Brown is a black LGBT rights pioneer who helped organise the UK’s first Gay Pride march in 1972, featuring a mass ‘kiss-in’ that, at the time, would have been considered gross indecency, which was against the law. When Brown realised he was gay, homosexuality was illegal in Britain - the only person he came out to was his mother. She cried and told him he’d have to battle not just racism but homophobia too; both were rife in society at the time. At one point Brown felt so dismal about his future that he considered taking his own life. But inspired by the Stonewall Riots, he found hope in Britain’s Gay Liberation Front and became a key figure in fighting bigotry in the UK. He tells Emily Webb his moving life story.If you need support with issues relating to sexuality or gender, help and support is available from BBC Action Line - just search for bbc.co uk/actionlineGet in touch: [email protected]: Ted Brown (left) with his partner Noel and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell (right) at the first Pride march in London, 1972 Credit: Courtesy of Ted Brown

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  • 24.05.2021
    19 MB
    39:39
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    Rickie Lee Jones: Why music became my bridge to the world

    Rickie Lee Jones was making up songs from the age of four. Part of a musical family - her grandparents were vaudeville stars in Chicago - she says music acted as an "accidental bridge" between her and the world. After running away from home at the age of fourteen, Rickie Lee eventually headed for California and set her heart on becoming a singer. She went from life on the breadline to fame, fortune and Grammy success at the age of 24. She tells Emily Webb about her remarkable life including her relationship with the singer Tom Waits, her secret battle to overcome heroin addiction in the late 1970s and why she feels that, as a woman, she faced more stigma as a result. She also tells Emily why she’s still inspired by the very first album she was given as a child – West Side Story. Her memoir is called Last Chance Texaco: Chronicles of an American Troubadour.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: June ChristiePicture: Rickie Lee Jones performing in Paris, France in 1979 Credit: Bertrand LAFORET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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  • 20.05.2021
    9 MB
    19:07
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    Going to sea to honour my son

    Yayi Bayam Diouf's son was a fisherman, until poor catches drove him to pursue a new life in Europe. But on the hazardous crossing from Senegal to the Canary Islands, his boat went down in a storm, and Yayi was left with no body to bury. To feel close to her son, and to honour his wishes as a fisherman, she decided to go fishing herself. First she had to fight her community's patriarchal rules, which forbade women from fishing.Photo: Yayi Bayam Diouf with a photo of her son Alioune Credit: Finbarr O'Reilly - AlamyGet in touch: [email protected]

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  • 19.05.2021
    19 MB
    39:44
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    My forbidden love for a US soldier

    Mortada Gzar experienced violence and persecution as a gay teenager under Saddam Hussein's regime. He tells Jo Fidgen how he tried to immerse himself in religion to overcome his feelings, later serving as an imam while studying at university in Baghdad. But during the US-led occupation of Iraq in 2003, he fell deeply in love with an American soldier who was stationed at a checkpoint outside his university. The two men spent years hiding their relationship, and dreamed of one day living openly together in the US. But things didn't go according to plan...Get in touch: [email protected]: Jo Fidgen Producer: Rebecca VincentPicture: Mortada Gzar Credit: Jonathan Reibsome

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  • 18.05.2021
    11 MB
    23:00
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    Dancing behind bars in Burkina Faso

    After striking doctors refused to treat his dying son, Agibou Bougobali Sanou was so angry that he was tempted to kill in revenge. Dancing helped to relieve this urge, so he decided to go into a dangerous prison to bring its healing power to criminals, whose lives he also changed. The world renowned dancer and choreographer tells Jo Fidgen his moving story.Get in touch: [email protected]: Saskia Edwards and Edgar Maddicot.Picture: Aguibou Bougobali Sanou with prisoners in Burkina Faso Credit: Jacob Yisra'el / supplied by Aguibou Bougobali Sanou

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  • 17.05.2021
    19 MB
    40:43
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    What my father wouldn’t tell me

    Carol Benjamin's family was perfectly ordinary - until the military took over in Brazil in the 1960s. Her father Cesar, who was just a schoolboy at the time, became an underground revolutionary in the armed uprising against the dictatorship. And when he was captured, Carol’s quiet law-abiding grandmother joined the resistance movement to free him. Years later, Cesar refused to speak about his experiences and Carol grew up trying to fill in the gaps in her family's history, and attempting to understand her father and his silences.Get in touch: [email protected]: Jo Fidgen Producer: Maryam MarufPicture: Carol and Cesar Benjamin Credit: Courtesy of Carol Benjamin and Daza Films

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  • 15.05.2021
    12 MB
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    The black ballerina who didn't give up

    Growing up in London, Julie Felix always dreamed of dancing on the city's most famous stages, but she says she ended up leaving the UK in the 1970s after a ballet company excluded her because of the colour of her skin. Instead, she became a star in the United States with the prestigious Dance Theatre of Harlem, the first classical ballet company to focus on black dancers. Under the tutelage of the great African-American dancer Arthur Mitchell, Julie travelled the world performing for the likes of the singer Prince, Pavarotti and President Ronald Reagan. A book has been written about Julie's life called Brickbats and Tutus. A shorter version of this story was first broadcast on 15th April 2021.Get in touch: [email protected] & producer: Mariana Des ForgesPicture: A montage of photographs from Julie Felix's life Credit: All photos courtesy of Julie Felix

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  • 13.05.2021
    10 MB
    20:51
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    What really happened on the 'Sex Raft'

    In 1973 Mexican anthropologist Santiago Genovés decided to create an experiment to find out what drives people to commit acts of violence. He put a group of men and women from different parts of the world on a raft and cast them out to sea. But what happened was not what he expected. Emily Webb hears from three of the women who took part - Fé Seymour, Edna Reves and Maria Bjornstam. This story was originally broadcast in May 2019.Get in touch: [email protected]: The raft cast out to sea by Santiago Genovés Credit: Modern Films

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  • 12.05.2021
    14 MB
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    How did this man find two lost Rembrandts?

    Jan Six is a Dutch art dealer whose ancestor, also called Jan Six, was painted by the Dutch Master Rembrandt in the 17th century. So when, in 2016, Jan uncovered a lost painting by Rembrandt, the news shook the art world. But, at the time, Jan was hiding another astonishing find… he told Outlook’s Emily Webb his story.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Emily WebbPicture: Jan Six takes a selfie with Portrait of a Young Gentleman by Rembrandt van Rijn in The Hermitage Museum, Amsterdam, which Jan bought at a London auction in 2016 Credit: KOEN VAN WEEL/AFP via Getty Images

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  • 11.05.2021
    19 MB
    40:35
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    Secrets of my family's lost café

    Meriel Schindler grew up in London in a family of émigrés. They were Jewish and had fled Austria in the late 1930s as Hitler's Nazi Party took over and the violent persecution of Jews turned into the Holocaust. When her father died in 2017, Meriel inherited 13 photo albums. One was dedicated to the Café Schindler in Innsbruck, Austria, a venue set up by her Jewish grandfather in the 1920s. As Meriel started to research the café, she discovered it had gone from being a hub of jazz music and delicious pastries, to a Nazi watering hole. But the research would also uncover some uncomfortable truths about her father that she struggled to make sense of.Meriel has written a book called The Lost Café Schindler.Get in touch: [email protected]: Emily Webb Producer: Katy TakatsukiPicture: Meriel Schindler and a photo of the Café Schindler in the 1930s Credit: Holly Falconer / courtesy of Meriel Schindler

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  • 10.05.2021
    19 MB
    40:33
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    The music star who was born into a cult

    Mikel Jollett started life in a California-based cult called Synanon. What began as a drug rehabilitation programme that helped his father kick a heroin addiction later turned into a cult where children were taken away from their parents at just six months old and married couples were forced to split up and take new partners. As the cult turned increasingly violent, Mikel’s mother managed to escape with him and his brother, but Mikel’s hardships didn’t end there. For years he never spoke about his childhood. It was only later - when he discovered a love for music and formed a successful band, The Airborne Toxic Event - that he began to open up and write about those early years. Mikel’s book is called Hollywood Park.Get in touch: [email protected] by: Emily Webb Produced by: Patrick Kiteley and Andrea RangecroftPicture: Mikel Jollett performs with The Airborne Toxic Event in 2015 Credit: Andrew Benge/Redferns via Getty Images

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