North East Free Thinkers

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Episodes

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01T Dan Smith2009102620100830

Free Thinking 2009

A series recorded in front of an audience as part of the Free Thinking ideas festival.

It focuses on free-thinking figures and institutions in North-East England whose ideas challenged their times.

Writer and filmmaker Graeme Rigby looks back on the life of T Dan Smith, former leader of Newcastle City Council, whose architectural 'Brasilia of the North' captured the headlines in the 1960s.

But Smith had a spectacular fall from grace when he was jailed for corruption in 1974.

Do the ideas and regional ambitions from this extraordinary politician still resonate today?

Graeme Rigby discusses T Dan Smith, former leader of Newcastle City Council.

Four essays about free thinking figures and places in North-East England whose ideas challenged their times, recorded in front of live audiences at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking festival of ideas at The Sage Gateshead in 2009.

In the first essay writer and filmmaker Graeme Rigby looks back at the career of T Dan Smith, the Newcastle city boss whose architectural "Brasilia of the North" captured the headlines in the 1960s.

Smith's spectacular fall from grace - jailed for corruption in 1974 - has written him out of history.

But do the ideas and regional ambitions of this out-of-the-ordinary politician still resonate today?

02Gertrude Bell20091027

Free Thinking 2009

A series recorded in front of an audience as part of the Free Thinking ideas festival.

It focuses on free-thinking figures and institutions in North-East England whose ideas challenged their times.

Kitty Fitzgerald gets inside the mind of the enigmatic Gertrude Bell, who was instrumental in drawing up the controversial map of modern Iraq in 1921, the consequences of which still resonate today.

She was also an archaeologist, linguist and the greatest female mountaineer of her age.

Born in County Durham in 1868, she was the first woman to be given an Oxford degree and the first female army officer to work for British Military Intelligence.

And yet, she was opposed to votes for women.

Kitty Fitzgerald on the life of Gertrude Bell, author of the 1921 map of modern Iraq.

03William Armstrong2009102820100831

Free Thinking 2009

A series recorded in front of an audience as part of the Free Thinking ideas festival.

It focuses on free-thinking figures and institutions in North-East England whose ideas challenged their times.

Victorian inventor and industrialist William Armstrong is Britain's forgotten hero, argues his new biographer, Henrietta Heald.

Armstrong brought global fame to the Tyne, employing thousands in the manufacture of machinery, ships and guns.

But he also created the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity.

He epitomised the dynamism of his age and attracted many epithets, from 'visionary genius' to 'merchant of death'.

Henrietta Heald on the achievements of inventor and industrialist William Armstrong.

The second in our series of portraits of figures from the history of North East England who challenged their age, recorded in front of audiences at Radio 3's Free Thinking festival at The Sage Gateshead in 2009.

Henrietta Heald profiles the Victorian inventor, arms dealer and industrialist William Armstrong.

He epitomised the dynamism of his age and attracted many epithets, from "visionary genius" to "merchant of death".

04Newcastle Literary And Philosophical Society2009102920100901

Free Thinking 2009

A series recorded in front of an audience as part of the Free Thinking ideas festival.

It focuses on free-thinking figures and institutions in North-East England whose ideas challenged their times.

Leading poet Sean O'brien charts the profound contribution to Newcastle's cultural life of the Literary and Philosophical Society, founded in 1793, which grew into one of the most important intellectual institutions of its age.

A place of talking, thinking, reading and listening, its history and membership have long been at the heart of Tyneside culture.

Poet Sean O'brien on Newcastle's Literary and Philosophical Society or Lit and Phil.

Poet Sean O'brien charts the growth of Newcastle's Literary and Philosophical Society.

05 LASTAudience Choice2009103020100903

As part of Radio 3's Free Thinking festival 2009 BBC Newcastle and Radio 3 audiences voted the medieval monk and chronicler The Venerable Bede as the greatest Free Thinker in the history of the North East.

Professor Richard Gameson of Durham University explains why he believes Bede was a natural choice, in a talk recorded in front of an audience at The Sage Gateshead as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking festival of ideas.

Why the medieval monk the Venerable Bede is the great Free Thinker of the North East.

Free Thinking 2009

A series recorded in front of an audience as part of the Free Thinking ideas festival.

It focuses on free-thinking figures and institutions in North-East England whose ideas challenged their times.

BBC Newcastle and Radio 3 audiences choose the historical Free Thinker of the North East who they believe is most deserving of a special event at the 2009 festival.

The favourite candidate - writer, inventor, scientist or artist - will be the subject of this specially commissioned essay, to be decided on the eve of the Free Thinking weekend.

A Free Thinker of the North East, as chosen by BBC Newcastle and Radio 3 audiences.