In Night Waves' second outing to London Zoo, Matthew Sweet and guests discuss Angus Wilson's 1961 novel 'The Old Men At The Zoo'.
From institutional in-fighting to our relationship with nature, via nuclear apocalypse, Wilson's novel uses the Zoo as a backdrop to examine some characteristic preoccupations of mid-20th century Britain. Arguably it is the missing link between the grand Victorian tradition of the English novel and the dystopian science fiction of J.G. Ballard. Yet Wilson is rarely read today.
Matthew is joined by Wilson's friend and biographer Margaret Drabble and by the poet and novelist Iain Sinclair to make a case for a Wilson revival.
'The Old Men At The Zoo' was dramatised for TV in 1983, and Matthew is also joined by the series producer Jonathan Powell, who went on to be Controller of BBC1, along with production manager Margot Hayhoe.
Produced by Luke Mulhall.
In the last of Matthew Sweet's visits to ZSL London Zoo we consider our relations with our closest animal relatives - apes.
Daniel Simmonds, Keeper at ZSL London Zoo's Gorilla Kingdom, discusses the problems that come with looking after creatures so similar to but different from us. Unlike most other animals gorillas will integrate their keepers into their social structures. But how do you manage such a relationship with a social creature that can't understand what you say? Is any kind of mutual understanding possible at all?
Matthew picks up the theme with anatomist and anthropologist Alice Roberts, physician and philosopher Raymond Tallis and novelist James Lever. All three have dealt with the questions thrown up by human/primate relations in different ways. So what happens when you stare into the eyes of an ape?
Producer: Luke Mulhall.