Free Thinking 2013

show more detailshow less detail

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
Free Thinking20131025

Sir Michael Marmot delivers the opening lecture of the BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival 2013, exploring the traits that determine a healthy life span and arguing that we need to rethink the relationship between health, wealth and self-control.

Professor Marmot is one of the global pioneers of research into health inequalities - how stress, status and diet can affect our wellbeing. His ground-breaking Whitehall Studies followed the health and stress levels of British civil servants over a decade and he coined the term "status syndrome" to describe his discovery that being lower down the pecking order leads to a shorter life span.

Sir Michael Marmot's talk about whether self-control is the key to a long life was recorded earlier tonight in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead and presented by Philip Dodd. It marks the start of three weeks of Free Thinking broadcasts on BBC Radio 3.

This year's festival theme is "Who's in Control". A weekend of provocative debate, new ideas, music and performance will hear from Lionel Shriver, Patrick Ness, Dame Sally Davies, Chris Mullin, Professor Barbara Sahakian, Professor Sugata Mitra, Kathryn Tickell, Penny Woolcock, Dame Fiona Reynolds, Kevin Whately.

Now in its eighth year, the Free Thinking Festival of ideas takes place at Sage Gateshead 25-27 October and is produced and broadcast by BBC Radio 3. It's a platform for today's innovative thinkers, who debate the ideas shaping our world.

Free Thinking2013111120140819

Can a map reveal too much? How do they direct our thinking? From ancient atlases to satnav and Google, maps continue to be a key planning tool.

Rana Mitter hosts a discussion recorded at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival at Sage, Gateshead between Vanessa Lawrence CB, head of Ordnance Survey and Professor Jerry Broton. They look at who owns the data? What are they doing with it? Who are they selling it to? Who has peer reviewed the maps?

Professor Jerry Brotton, Professor of Renaissance Studies in the Department of English, Queen Mary, University of London is the author of A History of the World in Twelve Maps and presenter of the BBC Four TV series Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession.

Vanessa Lawrence is advisor to the British government on mapping, surveying and geographic information. She is honorary vice-president of the Geographical Association and visiting Professor at the University of Southampton and Kingston University.

First broadcast in November 2013.

Producer: Neil Trevithick.

Free Thinking20131112

In a bid to reach new audiences, theatre is increasingly moving off the stage and the visual arts are coming out of the gallery, but is this a welcome trend? Matthew Sweet chairs the Free Thinking panel: BALTIC Curator Godfrey Worsdale, critic Sarah Kent, artist Wolfgang Weileder and Helen Marriage, director of Artichoke, the arts company responsible for a puppet elephant parading through London and Durham's Lumiere street light festival.

Producer: Fiona McLean

Image Credit: 'The Sultan's Elephant' by Royal de Luxe, produced in London in 2006 by Artichoke. Photo copyright Sophie Laslett.

Free Thinking20131113

What is the place of food and body image in contemporary culture? Lionel Shriver is the author of novels including We Need To Talk About Kevin and Big Brother, which depicts the impact of food obsession on family relationships. Dr Val Curtis from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is the author of Don't Look, Don't Touch: The Science Behind Revulsion. Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival brought them together for a discussion chaired by Samira Ahmed.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Free Thinking20131114

Amit Chaudhuri, Gaiutra Bahadur and Aamer Ahmed Khan discuss depictions of the powerless in fiction and factual reporting with Rana Mitter. Chaudhuri has explored life in Calcutta in many of his novels and essays; Badhadur's book Coolie Woman: The Odyssesy of Indenture takes the history of her great grandmother and examines the status of women who worked as labourers on sugar plantations; Khan is an editor for the Urdu section of the BBC's World Service.

In a programme recorded at the Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead, the panel debate the idea of responsibility and whether stories about tragedy and poverty reinforce stereotypes or change attitudes and prompt action?

Producer: Natalie Steed.

Free Thinking20131120

Penny Woolcock talks to Samira Ahmed about directing John Adams's opera Dr Atomic at the Met and negotiating and documenting a truce between rival gangs in her film One Mile Away. For the Free Thinking Festival, she returned to the city where she began her career. During her work at Trade Films in Gateshead she depicted the aftermath of the closure of the steelworks in Consett in When the Dog Bites. Other projects have included a retelling of the biblical chapter Exodus, featuring Margate residents and the burning of a specially constructed Antony Gormley sculpture and an exploration of the UK coastline set to music by the rock band British Sea Power.

Producer: Natalie Steed.

01Free Thinking20131021

is BBC Radio 3's hugely popular festival of ideas and provocative debate which this year has been taking events across the UK.

In the first of 2 programmes from Derry Londonderry Radio 3's Matthew Sweet will be celebrating the city's status as City of Culture 2013 and exploring its cultural past and present with a series of discussions, events and interviews recorded at The Playhouse

From its world-famous walls to its history of 'no surrender', Derry is a city in which history and politics exert real power. But what is the city like for its citizens, as a place to live and work? Radio 3's Matthew Sweet invites writer Owen Hatherley, Derry-based architect Mary Kerrigan and local crime writer Brian McGilloway to reflect on the architecture and landscape of Derry, on its multiple identities, from Londonderry to Stroke City to LegenDerry, and on how its political and religious history has shaped not only its buildings, but also the lives of its citizens

This event is chaired by Matthew Sweet and was recorded at the Playhouse Theatre in Derry-Londonderry, this year's UK City of Culture

Free Thinking has been festivals throughout the summer including HowTheLightGetsIn at Hay, the Institute Français Philosophy Night in London, York Festival of Ideas and the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival in Wiltshire. These events lead the way towards Free Thinking's annual weekend of debate at the Sage, Gateshead on October 25th to 27th.

Producer Laura Thomas.

01Free Thinking2013102820140818

When Lindisfarne monastery was attacked in 793AD the monk Alcuin described the church of St Cuthbert, "splattered with the blood of the priests." New Generation Thinker Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, from Durham University, takes this moment as the starting point for an exploration of the power battles between Vikings and Anglo Saxons which led to the symbolic battles of 1066.

New Generation Thinkers are the winners of a talent scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to find the brightest academic minds with the potential to turn their ideas into radio broadcasts.

Producer: Philippa Ritchie

BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival takes place at Sage Gateshead 25-27 October and is broadcast for three weeks on Radio 3 from Friday 25 October.

Increasing resistance to antibiotics is a threat to Britain which could be as dangerous as terrorism. That's the argument put by Professor Dame Sally Davies in her Free Thinking lecture at Sage Gateshead. The first woman to hold the post of Chief Medical Officer for England, she also answers audience questions and talks about strategies for combatting infection and improving the nation's health. Joining her on stage for this discussion is Andrew Sails, Consultant Clinical Scientist and Head of Research and Development and Molecular Diagnostics at Newcastle's Public Health Laboratory, and Professor Hugh Pennnington, Emeritus Professor at the University of Aberdeen.

The event is chaired by Night Waves presenter Anne McElvoy

Recorded at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead and first broadcast in October 2013.

BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival takes place at Sage Gateshead 25-27 October and is broadcast for three weeks on Radio 3 from Friday 25 October. The theme of this year's events is 'Who's In Control?'

Producer: Neil Trevithick.

02Free Thinking20131022

is BBC Radio 3's hugely popular festival of ideas and provocative debate which this year has been taking events across the UK.

In the second of 2 programmes from Derry Londonderry Radio 3's Matthew Sweet will be examining the work and legacy of director Michael Grigsby, who died earlier this year, and who made a trilogy of films in Ulster. In the first two, Too Long A Sacrifice and The Silent War, he invited people to talk about how The Troubles had impacted on their lives. Grigsby famously banned voiceover from his films, giving his subjects the space and time to tell their story in their own words. In 2005 Grigsby returned to Ulster to make Rehearsals, an impressionistic snapshot of Belfast. Michael Grigsby's three films bear witness to two decades (and several centuries) of Ulster history. Matthew Sweet is joined by two film-makers who worked closely with Michael Grigsby, Rebekah Tolley and John Furse, to pay tribute to his work.

This event was recorded at the Playhouse Theatre in Derry-Londonderry, this year's UK City of Culture

Free Thinking has been festivals throughout the summer including HowTheLightGetsIn at Hay, the Institute Français Philosophy Night in London, York Festival of Ideas and the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival in Wiltshire. These events lead the way towards Free Thinking's annual weekend of debate at the Sage, Gateshead on October 25th to 27th.

Producer Laura Thomas.

02Free Thinking20131029

A 15th-century English monarch was appointed by God and had absolute supremacy but how was that belief shaken when medieval kings were unfit to rule or the throne was contested? New Generation Thinker Sarah Peverley, from Liverpool University, looks at the way the people viewed their rulers during the Wars of the Roses.

Producer: Fiona McLean

BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival takes place at Sage Gateshead 25-27 October and is broadcast for three weeks on Radio 3 from Friday 25 October.

Yevgeny Zamyatin's experiences in the Tyne shipyards fed into his dystopian fable "We", which was published in 1919. It depicts a city of glass where citizens are spied upon. Fans of the book have included George Orwell, Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Wolfe and it increasingly resonates with today's concerns about surveillance techniques. Matthew Sweet and an audience at The Free Thinking Festival from Sage Gateshead discuss the novel with poet Sean O'Brien, columnist David Aaronovitch and Radio 3 New Generation Thinker Sarah Dillon.

Producer: Zahid Warley.

03Free Thinking20131030

Annie Besant promoted contraceptive advice to the Victorian working classes. In 1877 she was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act. New Generation Thinker Fern Riddell, from King's College London, outlines Besant's arguments and explores the ensuing debates about respectability and sexual behaviour in 19th-century England.

Producer: Philippa Ritchie

BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival takes place at Sage Gateshead 25-27 October and is broadcast for three weeks on Radio 3 from Friday 25 October.

Social media allows us to make our views known quickly but where does this public pressure and the increasing emphasis on "choice" and "consultation" leave professional expertise and political instinct? Anne McElvoy chairs a panel at the Free Thinking Festival of Ideas, at Sage Gateshead, including the founder of the Renewal campaign David Skelton, the columnist David Aaronovitch and Dame Julie Moore, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Birmingham who sits on the governments NHS Future Forum.

BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival takes place at Sage Gateshead 25-27 October and is broadcast for three weeks on Radio 3 from Friday 25 October. The theme of this year's events is "Who's In Control?"

Producer: Luke Mulhall.

04Free Thinking20131031

Defenders of traditional English language and grammar often present themselves as purists but New Generation Thinker John Gallagher, from Cambridge University, argues that we have always borrowed words and adapted phrases. His essay outlines the impact C16th and C17th global exploration and trade had on our native tongue.

Producer: Neil Trevithick

BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival takes place at Sage Gateshead 25-27 October and is broadcast for three weeks on Radio 3 from Friday 25 October.

In a world of diminishing natural resources, global economic crisis and constant pressure on time, how does not having enough shape the way we think and act? Professors Sendhil Mullainathan from Harvard, Simin Davoudi from Newcastle and Jeremy Till from Central St Martins discuss scarcity and sustainability with Philip Dodd and an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Zahid Warley.

05Free Thinking20131101

The audience at a rock concert adoring the star; a Pentecostalist congregation praising God; an athlete reaching the pitch of performance known as "the zone" - these can all be described as feelings of "ecstasy". Jules Evans, from Queen Mary, University of London, examines rationalist arguments about elation being a form of madness and asks whether it is beneficial or dangerous to feel ecstatic.

Producer: Zahid Warley

BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival takes place at Sage Gateshead 25-27 October and is broadcast for three weeks on Radio 3 from Friday 25 October.

06Free Thinking20131104

From HG Wells and Margaret Atwood to Battlestar Galactica, science fiction texts and tv series have long used birth control as a metaphor for the limits on individual freedom. Sarah Dillon, from the University of St Andrews, looks at the roles for women which science fiction has imagined and asks is sci-fi sexist?

Producer: Luke Mulhall.

Professor Barbara Sahakian's book Bad Moves questions the ethics of smart drugs; they help treat brain injury and illness but should they be available to the healthy? Richard Bentall is the Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool and author of Madness Explained and Doctoring the Mind.

Guardian columnist and author Clare Allan drew on her experiences of being a psychiatric patient in her novel Poppy Shakespeare.

The theme of this year's Free Thinking Festival is "Who's In Control?". Presenter Rana Mitter chairs this discussion looking at the neuroscience of depression, how it affects decision-making and the morality of medical treatments.

Producer: Philippa Ritchie.

07Free Thinking2013110520140821

Blogs, YouTube, Facebook and phone apps have changed the way we share our lives, leading to an explosion in the telling of life stories. Alice Hall, from the University of York, explores our changing perceptions of what memory and memoir mean and looks at the way the language of modern fiction has tried to reflect this shift.

Producer: Luke Mulhall.

Professor Sugata Mitra's pioneering experiments gave children in India access to computers to teach themselves and inspired the novel which became the film Slumdog Millionaire. He is now using retired volunteers in the UK to share their knowledge and guide children across the other side of the world. At the Free Thinking Festival he outlines the way he plans to use the $1 million 2013 Ted Prize to further his vision of "schools in the cloud" and how this differs from a UK education system involving league tables and a set curriculum.

Presenter: Philip Dodd

Producer: Fiona McLean

First broadcast in November 2013.

08Free Thinking20131106

Today many scientists are engaged in exploring the interaction between logical and intuitive aspects of the mind. Gregory Tate, from the University of Surrey, argues that novelists have been examining similar psychological questions for centuries. The theme of this year's Free Thinking Festival is "Who's In Control?", and Gregory Tate's talk outlines the way the novels of Jane Austen shed light on the balance of power between thought and emotion.

Producer: Neil Trevithick.

John Waters' film Hairspray became a hit musical. His "Trash Trilogy" involved negotiations with film censors. In an extended interview recorded in front of an audience, John Waters talks to Samira Ahmed about a career which has moved from film to hosting a show on American Court TV which featured marriages that ended in murder. Their discussion ranges over the influence of Catholicism, his birthplace Baltimore, the films of Douglas Sirk and the perils of hitchhiking.

Producer: Zahid Warley.

09Free Thinking20131107

What do recent debates among medical ethicists and lawyers over male infant circumcision reveal about the different ways we view male and female bodies? Rebecca Steinfeld, from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, looks at changing attitudes to religious traditions involving genital cutting.

Producer: Zahid Warley.

Are our policy makers too urban in their outlook? Have we lost touch with nature? On stage at Free Thinking to debate the issue are: Dame Fiona Reynolds, former head of the National Trust; Simon Thurley, CEO of English Heritage and author of The Building of England and The Men from the Ministry; Jon Alexander, reformed ad-man and founder of the newcitizenship project; rural sociologist Professor Mark Shucksmith, Director of Newcastle University's Newcastle Institute of Social renewal and Canon Dagmar Winter, Rural Affairs Officer for the Diocese of Newcastle. Samira Ahmed chairs the discussion.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

10Free Thinking20131108

Is the idea of counselling as non-judgmental listening flawed? Christopher Harding from Edinburgh University focuses his talk on attitudes in Japan and the UK. He asks whether prayer involves fewer hidden pressures than a session with a shrink.

Producer: Fiona McLean.

In his "Chaos Walking" trilogy, Patrick Ness created a town where secrecy and privacy were impossible. Dr Charles Fernyhough's writing and research examines the development of childhood language and memories. In a discussion recorded in front of an audience at this year's Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead, they discuss, with presenter Matthew Sweet, the way children cope in an unstable world and what stimulates young imaginations.

Producer: Robyn Read.