A Point Of View

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Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
20081205
2005030420050306

Broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2005031120050313
2005031820050320

Brian Walden, broadcaster and former MP, presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2005032520050327
2005040120050403

Brian Walden.

2005040820050410
2005041520050417

Broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005042220050424
2005042920050501
2005050620050508
2005051320050515
2005052020050522
2005052720050529
2005060320050605
2005061020050612
2005061720050619
2005062420050626
2005070120050703
2005070820050710
2005071520050717
2005072220050724
2005072920050731

New York resident and former Sunday Times editor Harold Evans comments on topical events.

2005080520050807

Harold Evans presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005081220050814
2005081920050821

Harold Evans presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2005082620050828
2005090220050904
2005090920050911
2005091620050918
2005092320050925

Harold Evans.

2005093020051002
20051007
2005101420051016
2005102120051023
2005102820051030

David Cannadine casts an historian's eye over current affairs.

2005110420051106

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

David Cannadine casts an historian's eye over current affairs.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005111120051113

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2005111820051120
2005112520051127

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

David Cannadine casts an historian's eye over today's current affairs.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005120220051204
2005120220051203

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rptd Sat 8.50am]

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005120920051211
2005120920051210

David Cannadine

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rptd Sat 8.50am]

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005121620051218

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005122320051224

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rptd Sat 8.50am]

2005123020060101

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005123020051231
2006010620060108
2006010620060107

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rptd Sat 8.50am]

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006011320060115
2006012020060122

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2006012720060129

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006020320060205
2006021020060212
2006021720060219
2006022420060226
2006030320060305
2006031020060312
2006031720060319
2006032420060326
2006033120060402
2006040720060409
20060414
2006042120060423
2006042820060430

Professor Lisa Jardine with her topical reflections.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006050520060507
2006050620060507
2006051220060514

Professor Lisa Jardine with her topical reflections.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

Professor Lisa Jardine presents her topical reflections.

2006051920060521

Lisa Jardine

2006052620060528

Professor Lisa Jardine presents her topical reflections.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006060220060604

Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006060920060611
2006061620060618
2006062320060625
2006063020060702

Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006070720060709

Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Then News.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006071420060716

Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2006072120060723
2006072820060730
2006080420060806
2006081120060813

David Cannadine

2006081820060820
2006082520060827
2006090120060903
2006090820060910
2006091520060917
2006092220060924
2006092920061001
2006100620061008

Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006101320061015

Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2006102020061022
2006102720061029
2006110320061105
2006111020061112
2006111720061119
2006112420061126

Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Friday 8.50pm]

2006120120061203
2006120820061210
2006121520061217
2006122220061229
2006122220061224
2006122920061231
2007010520070107
2007011220070114
2007011920070121
2007012620070128
2007020220070204

Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2007020920070211
2007021620070218

Clive James

2007022320070225
2007030220070304
2007030920070311

Clive James.

Broadcaster and writer Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2007031620070318
2007032320070325

Broadcaster and writer Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2007033020070401
2007040620070408
2007041320070415
2007042020070422

Lisa Jardine

Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2007042720070429
2007050420070506
2007051120070513
2007051820070520
2007052520070527
2007060120070603
2007060820070610

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2007061520070617
2007062220070624
2007062920070701
2007070620070708
2007071320070715
2007072020070722
2007072720070729
2007080320070805
2007081020070812
2007081720070819
2007082420070826
2007083120070902

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Tim Egan of the New York Times.

2007090720070909

c>Tim Egan

2007091420070916

Tim Egan

2007092120070923

Tim Egan.

2007092820070930
2007100520071007
2007101220071014
2007101920071021
2007102620071028
2007110220071104

Lisa Jardine

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine

2007110920071111

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine

2007111620071118

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

2007112320071125

Lisa Jardine.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

2007113020071202
2007120720071209
2007121420071216
2007122120071223
2007122820071230

Lisa Jardine.

2008010420080106
2008011120080113
2008011820080120
2008012520080127
2008020120080203

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof David Cannadine

2008020820080210

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof David Cannadine.

2008021520080217
2008022220080224
2008022920080302
2008030720080309

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James

2008031420080316

Clive James

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James.

20080321

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James.

2008032820080330
2008040420080406
2008041120080413

Clive James

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James

2008041820080420

Clive James

2008042520080427
2008050220080504
2008050920080511
2008051620080518

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lucy Kellaway.

2008052320080525

Lucy Kellaway.

2008053020080601
20080601
20080606
20080608
20080613
20080615
20080620
20080622
20080627
20080629

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof Lisa Jardine.

20080704

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof Lisa Jardine

20080706
20080711
20080713
20080718
20080720
20080725
20080727
20080801

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Professor Lisa Jardine

20080803
20080808

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Katharine Whitehorn.

20080810
20080815
20080817
20080822
20080824
20080829
20080831
20080905
20080907
20080912
20080914
20080919
20080921
20080926
20080928

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

She argues that if society were more ready to celebrate the ingenious then we would all become more interested in science.

20081003
20081005

As financial chaos grips the public imagination, Lisa Jardine ponders debt in the Renaissance.

20081010
20081012

In the light of the current mortgage crisis, Lisa Jardine asks if we are too wedded to the idea of owning our own family home.

20081017
20081019

Lisa Jardine considers why this year's winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature is particularly relevant.

20081024
20081026

Lisa Jardine ponders the effect of recession on the lingerie industry.

20081031
20081102

Clive James gives his take on yachts, the US election and James Bond.

20081107
20081109
20081114

Reflection on a topical issue from Clive James.

He argues that the days of mindless Hollywood action are over and says a new climate of reason prevails that extends beyond Hollywood.

20081116
20081121
20081128
20081212
20081219
20081226
20090102

Clive James reflects on the end of the get-rich-quick era.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James.

Clive reflects on the end of the get-rich-quick era.

20090109

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Harold Evans

20090116
20090123
20090130

Harry Evans wonders whether the term 'banker' will ever be restored to its former prestige.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Harold Evans

20090206
20090213
20090220

Katharine Whitehorn considers the importance of words, their changing meanings and the influence they have on our perception of things.

Katharine Whitehorn considers the importance and influence of words.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Katharine Whitehorn

20090227

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Katharine Whitehorn

20090306
20090313
20090320
20090327

Clive James' take on the downfall of Australian judge Marcus Einfeld.

20090403
20090410
20090417

Clive James reflects on the resignation of the Prime Minister's senior aide DamIan Mcbride and the inappropriateness of the new-fangled phrase 'reputational damage' - in contrast to the true meaning of a good reputation.

Clive James reflects on the resignation of the Prime Minister's senior aide DamIan Mcbride

20090424

Clive James wonders what Susan Boyle, the Britain's Got Talent singing sensation, has to tell us about the progress of feminism and how far appearance still matters - even in the world of serious singing.

Clive James wonders about the progress of feminism.

20090501
20090508
20090515
20090522

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James

20090529
20091023
20091030
20091106
20091113
20091120
20091127
20091204
20091211
20091218
20091225
2010010120100103

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

2010010820100110

Lisa Jardine welcomes the advent of electronic books but retains her passion for print.

Lisa Jardine welcomes the advent of electronic books but retains her passion for the printed page.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

2010011520100117

Lisa Jardine on the challenge of delivering the right level of supplies for public use.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the challenge of delivering the right level of supplies for public use, be it salt to cope with ice or a flu vaccine.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

2010012220100124

Lisa Jardine on the importance of science education for national prosperity.

Lisa Jardine on the importance of science education for national prosperity, and a failed attempt in the late 19th century to change our culture to be more pro-science.

2010012920100131

Lisa Jardine on the reputations of US presidents during and after their time in office.

Lisa Jardine compares the reputations of American presidents during their time in office with how they are remembered after leaving the White House.

20100205
20100212
20100219
20100226
20100305

Simon Schama presents the first in a series of personal reflections for Radio 4's weekly essay programme.

Simon Schama presents the first in a series of personal reflections.

20100312

Simon Schama presents the first of a series of personal reflections.

20100319

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Simon Schama.

20100326
20100402
20100409
20100416
20100423
20100507
20100514
20100521

In the first of ten programmes, historian Professor David Cannadine delivers his weekly view on current events.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Professor David Cannadine

20100528

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from David Cannadine

20100604
20100611
20100618
20100625
20100702
20100709
20100716
20100723
20100730

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from David Cannadine.

20100820
20100827
20100903
20100910
20100917
20100924
20101008

Sarah Dunant reflects on topical events

Producer: Sheila Cook.

20101126

Joan Bakewell with her topical reflections

Producer: Sheila Cook.

20101210
20101217
20110107

Alain de Botton with his topical reflections.

In the first of a new series, Alain argues that teachers of humanities in universities have only themselves to blame for many of the swingeing cuts they're facing.

He says they've failed to explain to the government - and the public at large - why what they do really matters.

And he says humanities teaching must find a new relevance in today's cash-strapped Britain.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton with a controversial view of the teaching of humanities in universities.

20110902

The celebrated thinker John Gray gives his reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Celebrated thinker John Gray gives his reflection on a topical issue.

20110923

Reflection on a topical issue.

20110925
20110930
20111021

Will Self reflects on a topical issue.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

20111104

Mary Beard reflects on the week's events.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

20111111

Mary Beard reflects on the week's events.

20111209

A personal reflection on a topical issue.

20111223

The historian Lisa Jardine reflects on the week's events.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Historian Lisa Jardine reflects on the week's events.

20120106
20120113
20120120
2012012720120129

Historian Lisa Jardine with her topical reflections.

The historian Lisa Jardine with her topical reflections.

Producer:Sheila Cook.

2012020320120205

Historian Lisa Jardine reflects on the week's events.

The historian Lisa Jardine with her topical reflections.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

20120210

Historian David Cannadine with his topical reflections.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

20120309

Topical reflection.

20120323

Topical reflection with Professor David Cannadine.

20120330

Topical reflection with Prof David Cannadine

20120406

Prof David Cannadine reflects on a topical issue.

20120413
2012051820120520

Will Self reflects on a topical issue.

20120615

Adam Gopnik reflects on a topical issue.

Producer:

Adele Armstrong.

2012062220120624
2012062920120701
2012070620120708

Adam Gopnik reflects on a topical issue.

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

20121005

Sarah Dunant reflects on a topical issue.

Producer Rosamund Jones.

2012110920121111

Mary Beard reflects on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

2012120720121209

Onora O'Neill reflects anew on the theme of trust, the subject of her Reith lectures.

Onora O'Neill reflects anew on the theme of trust, which was the subject of her Reith lectures.

Producer: Sheila Cook

2012121420121216

Will Self reflects on a topical issue.

Producer: Sheila Cook

2013030820130310

Lisa Jardine reflects on a topical issue.

2013040520130407
2013041220130414
2013041920130421

Adam Gopnik's son is about to leave home. His suitcase is already packed. It's not a day Adam is looking forward to. Why is love between parents and their children so asymmetric, he wonders? Why do parents love their children infinitely - while children feel about their parents, at best, a mix of affection, pity, tolerance and forgiveness?

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2013070520130707
2013071220130714
2013071920130721
2013072620130728
2013092720130929
2013112920131201
2013120620131208
2013121320131215
2013122020131222

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014032120140323

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014032820140330

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014040420140406

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014041120140413

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20140418

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014050220140504

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014051620140518

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014061320140615

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014070420140706

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014071820140720

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014081520140817

Will Self reflects on the affliction of consumption.

Will Self reflects on the power of modern day consumption and the effect it is having on us.

Producer: Caroline Bayley.

2014090520140907

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014091220140914
2014091920140921

A weekly reflection on a topical issue, with Prof Lisa Jardine.

2014101720141019 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014102420141026 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015010920150111 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015011620150118 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20150206

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015021320150215 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20150403
20150410
20150417
2015042420150426 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015050120150503 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20150508
2015050820150510 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20150515

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015052220150524 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20150605

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015061220150614 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015061920150621 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20150710

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20150717

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015072420150726 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20150918
2015091820150920 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015092520150927 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20151009
20151009

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20151016

2015101620151018 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015101620151018 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20151016

20151016

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20151016

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20151023

2015102320151025 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015102320151025 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20151023

2015102320151025 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015102320151025 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20151023

20151023

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20151023

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20151211

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20151218
20160122

20160122
20160122

2016012220160124 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20160122

20160122

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20160122

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20160205
20160212

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20160226
20160311
2016031820160320 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20160415

A reflection on a topical issue.

20160415

20160527

A reflection on a topical issue.

2016060320160605 (R4)

A reflection on a topical issue.

20160603

A reflection on a topical issue.

20160603

20160617

A reflection on a topical issue.

01/01/201020100103
01/05/200920090503
02/01/200920090104

Clive James reflects on the end of the get-rich-quick era.

02/03/201220120304
03/04/200920090405
03/09/201020100905
04/12/200920091206
05/02/201020100207

Lisa Jardine reflects on the need for climate scientists to take scrupulous care when they inform and persuade.

Lisa Jardine on the need for climate scientists to take care when they inform and persuade.

05/03/201020100307

In the last of her talks, Lisa Jardine reflects on the valuable example of the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dorothy Hodgkin, who bridged the so-called divide between the arts and the sciences.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the valuable example of the chemist Dorothy Hodgkin.

Simon Schama presents the first in a series of personal reflections.

05/12/200820081207
06/01/201220120108

Historian Lisa Jardine reflects on the week's events.

06/02/200920090208
06/03/200920090308

Katharine Whitehorn reflects on images of women in the media.

06/11/200920091108

Clive James reflects on the seductive allure of illegal narcotics, and lays the blame for their attractions at the door of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his trip to Xanadu.

Clive James reflects on the seductive allure of illegal narcotics.

08/01/201020100110

Lisa Jardine welcomes the advent of electronic books but retains her passion for the printed page.

Lisa Jardine welcomes the advent of electronic books but retains her passion for print.

08/05/200920090510

Clive James wonders what it says about the British attitude to poetry that we have the institution of the Poet Laureateship.

Clive James wonders what the Poet Laureateship says about the British attitude to poetry.

08/10/201020101010

Sarah Dunant reflects on topical events.

09/01/200920090111
09/03/201220120311
09/04/201020100411
10/02/201220120212

Historian David Cannadine with his topical reflections.

10/09/201020100912
10/12/201020101212

Joan Bakewell with her topical reflections.

11/05/20122012051120120513
11/12/200920091213

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Clive James reflects on the media coverage of man-made global warming and the need for minds to be open.

Clive James reflects on the media coverage of man-made global warming.

12/02/201020100214

Lisa Jardine reflects on the power of music and the value of musical education.

12/03/201020100314

Simon Schama reflects that when times are hard people seem to prefer tough leaders who knock heads together to mild-mannered conciliators.

Simon Schama reflects that when times are hard people seem to prefer tough leaders.

12/12/200820081214

Clive James explores the question of national identity and why it really is preferable to see Santa and his elves in Lapland rather than in the New Forest.

13/01/201220120115
13/02/200920090215
13/03/200920090315
13/04/201220120415
13/11/200920091115

Clive James celebrates the honouring of Battle of Britain commander Sir Keith Park with a temporary statue on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth.

Clive James celebrates the honouring of Sir Keith Park with a statue in Trafalgar Square.

15/01/201020100117
15/05/200920090517

Clive James reflects on the furore over MPs' expenses.

16/01/200920090118
16/03/201220120318
16/04/201020100418

Simon Schama reflects on the quality of American food and eating habits and welcomes what he sees as the growing popularity of ethnic dishes and local farm produce.

Excellent fresh food and good cooking has always existed, he says, in hidden pockets of the countryside but now he sees it being bought and enjoyed by more city dwellers, too.

Simon Schama reflects on eating habits in America and a growing enthusiasm for good food.

17/04/200920090419

Clive James reflects on the resignation of the Prime Minister's senior aide DamIan Mcbride

17/09/201020100919
17/12/201020101219

Joan Bakewell with her topical reflections.

18/12/200920091220
19/02/201020100221

Lisa Jardine reflects on the art and dangers of writing secret missives, from love letters and confidential documents to illicit text messages.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the art and dangers of writing secret missives.

19/03/201020100321

Simon Schama looks forward to spring with personal reflections on the changing seasons, and commends Geoffrey Chaucer's upbeat opinion of April compared with Ts Eliot's more pessimistic view.

Simon Schama looks forward to spring with personal reflections on the changing seasons.

19/12/200820081221
20/01/201220120122
20/02/200920090222

Katharine Whitehorn considers the importance and influence of words.

20/03/200920090322
20/04/201220120422

20/08/201020100822
20/11/200920091122

Clive James reflects on the revelation of the identity of Belle de Jour, the author of The Diary of a London Call Girl.

Clive James reflects on the revelation of the identity of Belle de Jour.

21/10/201120111023

Will Self reflects on a topical issue.

21/11/200820081123

Clive James turns his attention to swearing.

Clive James turns his attention to swearing and argues that bad language used constantly is no language at all.

22/01/201020100124

Lisa Jardine on the importance of science education for national prosperity, and a failed attempt in the late 19th century to change our culture to be more pro-science.

Lisa Jardine on the importance of science education for national prosperity.

22/05/200920090524
23/01/200920090125
23/03/201220120325

David Cannadine recalls the heyday of cinema and television Westerns and wonders if the makers of a big screen adaptation of the Lone Ranger will capture a new audience when the film is released next year. Despite the decline in popularity of the Western, "the appeal of the mythical West has remained a powerful force in American political life."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine recalls the heyday of cinema and television Westerns.

23/10/200920091025

Clive James reflects on the importance of scepticism in every walk of life, and he criticises extreme reactions to those who are sceptical about man-made global warming.

Clive James reflects on the importance of scepticism in every walk of life.

24/04/200920090426

Clive James wonders about the progress of feminism.

25/06/201020100627

David Cannadine reflects on the teaching of history in schools and the moves at home and abroad to reform the curriculum and re-write the textbooks.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reflects on the teaching of history in schools.

25/12/200920091227

Clive James reflects on the human condition and the need for liberal democracy to spread to allow future generations to enjoy the fruits of progress.

Clive James reflects on the human condition and the need for liberal democracy to spread.

26/02/201020100228

Lisa Jardine reflects on the importance for history of the recording of personal memories.

26/03/201020100328

Simon Schama reflects on the politics surrounding President Obama's healthcare reforms, which he sees as a turning point of historic significance.

Simon Schama reflects on the politics surrounding President Obama's healthcare reforms.

26/11/201020101128
26/12/200820081228
27/02/200920090301

Katharine Whitehorne reflects on diseconomies of scale.

27/03/200920090329
27/08/201020100829
27/11/200920091129

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James.

The spirit in which the game is played determines whether he likes or loathes the sport.

Clive James reflects on the spirit in which sport is played.

28/11/200820081130
29/01/201020100131

Lisa Jardine compares the reputations of American presidents during their time in office with how they are remembered after leaving the White House.

Lisa Jardine on the reputations of US presidents during and after their time in office.

29/05/200920090531

Clive James observes that while democracy is the right system for governing a country, it's the wrong system for choosing a professor of poetry.

Clive James reflects on democracy, MPs' expenses and the Oxford Poetry Professorship.

30/01/200920090201

Harry Evans wonders whether the term 'banker' will ever be restored to its former prestige.

30/04/201020100502

Simon Schama reflects on the meaning of money as represented by coins and notes and in art.

He celebrates the solidity of coins with their seeming defiance of monetary transience in contrast to paper money which embodies more readily the ephemeral nature of fortunes made and lost.

Simon Schama sees the current economic crisis as an ideal moment for artists to emulate their predecessors from earlier times of boom and bust by producing paintings to express financial worthlessness.

30/09/201120111002
30/10/200920091101

Clive James reflects on the postal workers' dispute and gives his personal view of the modern history of labour relations.

Clive James reflects on the postal workers' dispute.

A History Of Fireworks20100813

Lisa Jardine reflects on the history of fireworks and especially on the role they have played in France; once they were the rejected symbol of a decadent monarchy, now they are a must for civic celebrations

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the history and political significance of fireworks.

A History Of Fireworks20100815

Lisa Jardine reflects on the history and political significance of fireworks.

A History Of Monetary Unions20120224
A History Of Monetary Unions20120226

Historian David Cannadine with his topical reflections.

A Midsummer Daydream2013062120130623

In Britain many of our holidays and festivals are rather dull - bank holidays for example. Tom Shakespeare, presenting the third of his four essays, says that when he looks at other cultures he feels a strong sense of festival envy. He wants Britain to have better festivals. To start with, shouldn't we celebrate Midsummer?

A Pioneering Scientist20100806

Lisa Jardine reflects on the colourful career of the founder of the British Museum, Sir Hans Sloane, a pioneering naturalist and physician, rooted in the commercialism of his age

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the colourful career of the founder of the British Museum.

A Pioneering Scientist20100808
A Right Loyal Toast2012052520120527

Will Self reflects on the historical tradition of the Loyal Toast. A week before the Jubilee celebrations get underway, he muses on where deference is properly due.

"I have never risen for the Loyal Toast, and unless some apoplectic patriot holds a gun to my head I doubt I ever will" he writes.

He suggests we should turn our thoughts to who else we might raise a toast to....personally, he believes it should be his postwoman. In that case, he says "I'd be on my hind legs before you could scream 'Treason!'"

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Will Self reflects on a topical issue.

A Welcome Slice Of American Pie
Adam Gopnik2015073120150802 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik: Family Reunions20150703

Adam Gopnik's ten-year family reunion brings into focus the passage of time.

"The inescapable material of any family reunion, British or American, Jewish or Celtic, is always the same: each offering a hair-raising or hair-losing seminar on the effects of time on the human body and soul, and especially on the difference between aging and growing."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Adam Gopnik: Long-form Television20150807

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik: Role Reversal2015073120150802 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik: Words For Music2015062620150628 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Age Of Consent2012111620121118

Mary Beard reflects on the arbitary nature of some laws, including the age of consent.

Mary Beard reflects on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Al Kennedy: Creamola Foam Remembered2015060520150607 (R4)

"I'm getting old. Not older, just old" begins AL Kennedy. Through childhood memories of drinking Creamola Foam, her grandfather's voice...and being kicked by a boy in the shin during playtimes, she reflects on how age changes our perception of the past and the future.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Allergic To Food20160325

Finding himself on a restricted diet, Will Self reflects on the rise of food allergies and intolerances which used to fail to invoke his sympathy.

"It's not so much that I doubt the physiological component of all this tummy rumbling and grumbling, it's more that the social and cultural aspects of the malaise have grown still louder in the past half decade.".

American Ambivalence20130106

Will Self looks back over 2012 and reflects on the confused relationship between Britain and the US. Love and hate, he argues, are there in equal measure.

Taking as his starting point the Tom Stoppard plays his American mother took him to see in the 1970s, he says our relationship with our friends across the pond has changed little in 40 years.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Another Kind of Atheism20150828

Another Kind of Atheism2015082820150830 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Another Kind of Atheism2015082820150830 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Another Kind of Atheism20150828

Another Kind of Atheism2015082820150830 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Another Kind of Atheism2015082820150830 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Another Kind of Atheism20150828

Another Kind of Atheism20150828

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Another Kind of Atheism20150828

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Anyone For Art?2013062820130630

Tom Shakespeare presents the last of his four essays. Isn't it time to democratize art?

Isn't it time to democratize art? Shouldn't we, the public, be allowed to borrow works of art from our national collections? That way we could have an affair with art, rather than a one-night stand. Tom Shakespeare presents the last of his four essays.

Are Museums Our New Churches?2011012820110130

Alain de Botton with his topical reflections.

Are Students Getting Their Money's Worth?2012113020121202

Mary Beard reflects on why universities are being consumed by "customer satisfaction" surveys.

"When you're paying up to £9000 a year for the privilege of being at university, you want to make it pretty clear if you feel you're not getting your money's worth", she writes.

But the deluge of forms - asking students for their views on the content, presentation, organisation of the course and the quality of the handouts will - she argues, do little to improve "the learning experience".

She admits having a "tweak of nostalgia for that old era before the tick-box, when brave students would tell their famous professors to their face that their lectures were rubbish"!

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mary Beard reflects on a topical issue.

Art: The Real Thing2014121920141221 (R4)

In the last of his three talks on art Roger Scruton asks what constitutes real art, as opposed to cliche or kitsch.

He says we must ignore the vast quantities of art produced as commodities to be sold, in contrast to symphonies or novels that cannot be owned in the same way as a painting or a sculpture.

Real art has to have lasting appeal, he argues, and for that it needs three things: beauty, form and redemption. The production of such art, he says, takes immense hard work and attention to detail, but it can give meaning to our modern lives and show love in the midst of doubt and desolation.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Baby Boomers20101015

Sarah Dunant owns up to being a member of the greediest generation - the baby boomers.

She wonders if after asking for a range of personal freedoms, they are now asking for the freedom to choose when to die?

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Sarah Dunant owns up to being part of the greediest generation - the baby boomers.

Baby Boomers20101017

Sarah Dunant owns up to being part of the greediest generation - the baby boomers.

Bankers In America20120217

David Cannadine reflects on current and historic attitudes towards bankers in America where opinion does not divide neatly along party lines. He sees today's criticism as mild by comparison with the attitude of Franklin D. Roosevelt who unleashed "a sustained and ferocious attack " during the era of the New Deal.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Historian David Cannadine reflects on attitudes towards bankers in America.

Bankers In America20120219

Historian David Cannadine reflects on attitudes towards bankers in America.

Believing In Belief2011091620110918

John Gray argues that the scientific and rationalist attack on religion is misguided.

Extreme atheists do not realise that for most people across the globe, religion is not generally about personal belief.

Instead, "Practice - ritual, meditation, a way of life - is what counts." Central to religion is the power of myth, which still speaks to the contemporary mind.

"The idea that science can enable us to live without myths is one of these silly modern stories." In fact, he argues, science has created its own myth, "chief among them the myth of salvation through science....The idea that humans will rise from the dead may be incredible" he says, "but no more so than the notion that humanity can use science to remake the world"

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Reflection on a topical issue.

Believing In Beliefs20140808

Will Self offers a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Beware The Experts20111211

The historian Lisa Jardine recalls CP Snow for lessons on the dangers of leaving political decisions to technocrats and experts and calls for better informed debate by politicians and public alike in the fields of science and economics.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine recalls CP Snow's lessons on the dangers of government by experts.

Bitcoin's Cyber Freedom2013042620130428

John Gray presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Bring Back The Heptarchy!2014060620140608

Scotland could become independent. So, asks Tom Shakespeare, should England consider returning to an earlier order - a heptarchy of seven independent jurisdictions?

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Britain's New Politics20100516

Simon Schama reflects on the political dramas following the general election and favourably compares the British system for a swift handover of power to the cumbersome American one.

He praises the party leaders for managing, ultimately, to rise above the usual partisan rhetoric, and looks forward to a new politics in the spirit of Thomas Paine.

Simon Schama reflects on the political dramas in Britain following the general election.

Cakes And Coupons20100926

Lisa Jardine reveals her inner conflict between two passions inherited from her mother, who recently passed away.

On the one hand is a carefulness about money which leads Lisa to a perpetual search for a bargain.

On the other is a wild extravagance in baking, creating rich, multi-layered cakes, stacked high with lashings of butter icing.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Lisa Jardine on the conflict between her twin passions - saving money and lavish baking.

Can Compassion Be Taught?2013060720130609

Tom Shakespeare if compassion can be taught, in the first of his four essays.

Tom Shakespeare presents the first of his four essays. There have been several recent scandals in the health service, with appalling cases of abuse and neglect coming to light. Not surprisingly, this has led to calls for people in the medical profession to be taught compassion. But Tom is sceptical. This week he asks whether compassion can and should be taught.

Capitalism And The Myth Of Social Evolution2014110720141109 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Carols At Christmas20111225

Lisa Jardine reflects on the power of music to move, especially at Christmas, when the singing of carols unites singers and listeners alike, in an outpouring of community spirit. She also celebrates each advance in technology which has made music available to all, not just an elite, from the fifteenth century mass production of carol books to the screening in cinemas worldwide of opera live from the Met in New York.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the power of music to move, especially at Christmas.

Cats, Birds And Humans2011090920110911

John Gray considers why the human animal needs contact with something other than itself.

He tells the story of an eminent philosopher who once told him that he'd persuaded his cat to become a vegan! An effort, it seems, to get the cat to share his values.

But Gray argues that there's no evolutionary hierarchy with humans at the top.

"What birds and animals offer us", he says, "is not confirmation of our sense of having an exalted place in some sort of cosmic hierarchy.

It's admission into a larger scheme of things, where our minds are no longer turned in on themselves".

He concludes that "by giving us the freedom to see the world afresh, birds and animals renew our humanity".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Celestial Bodies2013031520130317

Lisa Jardine reflects on comets and the lessons to be learned from early astronomers.

When two spectacular comets appeared in the night sky in 1664 and 1665, many feared they were harbingers of doom. Not long afterwards, the Great Plague and the Great Fire were visited on London.

Lisa Jardine has been looking upwards this week in an attempt to catch sight of the Pan-Starrs comet, which is thought to have been hurtling towards the sun for millions of years. Later this year, another comet is expected to grace our skies.

Her concern is not that they might bring with them a modern day plague, but whether we have learned the lessons early astronomers taught us about sharing scientific information.

Challenging Intellect2012042020120422

Will Self reflects on a topical issue.

Climate Change Belief20111216

The historian Lisa Jardine argues that people believe what they want to over climate change

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Historian Lisa Jardine argues that people believe what they want to over climate change.

Climate Change Belief20111218

Lisa Jardine thinks selective hearing skews the debate over climate change and urges climate scientists to fully engage in a conversation with their sceptical critics.

"Graphs and pie charts have evidently failed to convince.

Perhaps a more discursive approach which focuses on observable change backed up by scientific evidence may be more persuasive."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine thinks selective hearing skews the debate over climate change.

Climate For Culture2012081020120812

John Gray reflects on the climate needed for culture to thrive.

John Gray reflects on the climate needed for culture to thrive, recalling Orson Welles' quote from the film "The Third Man" that despotism in Italy produced the Renaissance whereas democracy in Switzerland produced the cuckoo clock."We know that art can flourish under despots but we're reluctant to admit it: if creativity and tyranny can co-exist, the value of freedom seems diminished."

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

Coalitions Then And Now20100523

In the first of ten programmes, the historian Professor Sir David Cannadine delivers his weekly view on current events.

This week he recalls Britain's forgotten history of coalition government, reflecting that the so-called new politics" has plenty of antecedents.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reflects on Britain's forgotten history of coalition government.".

Cognitive Decline2015031320150315 (R4)

Tom Shakespeare says increasing wisdom in middle age is at least some compensation for declining cognitive powers. "Wisdom is not the amount you know, it's how you see and how you interpret what you see."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Conspicuous Consumption20101022
Conspicuous Consumption20101024
Cross Border Science2013101120131013

Lisa Jardine reflects on the internationalism that underpins the progress of science.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the internationalism that underpins the progress of science in a week when individual nations celebrate their Nobel prize winners. "Science has always ignored national borders, in pursuit of the fullest possible understanding of nature."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Cross-border Science2013101120131013
Cures For Anxiety2014103120141102 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Dear Diary2010123120110102

Joan Bakewell celebrates the art of diary writing by public figures and private individuals whose accounts of everyday life help shape our view of the past.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Joan Bakewell celebrates the art of diary writing.

Digital Past20121214 (BBC7)
20130606 (BBC7)

Will Self reflects on the effect of digital technology on his perception of the passage of time. "Perhaps the reason I feel quite so liberated from the present while more and more attached, not to the individually recalled 'good old days', but to a collectively attested and ever-present past, is because the hard drive of my computer is overloaded with digital images of the places I've been and the people I've met, all of them time-coded to within a tenth of a second."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Dostoevsky And Dangerous Ideas2014112120141123 (R4)

John Gray points to lessons from the novels of Dostoevsky about the danger of ideas.

John Gray points to lessons from the novels of Dostoevsky about the danger of ideas such as misguided idealism sweeping away tyrannies without regard for the risks of anarchy. "Dostoevsky suggests that the end result of abandoning morality for the sake of an idea of freedom will be a type of tyranny more extreme than any in the past."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Dying With Dignity2014101020141012 (R4)

Adam Gopnik thinks we fail too often to let people die with dignity at the end of their lives and believes the answer lies in showing deference.

"Dignity, I think is an exceptional demand, one that depends on at least an illusion or masquerade of an anti-egalitarian, indeed pre-modern - indeed an essentially feudal sense - of deference."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Economics Priesthood2012122120121223

Will Self warns against the false prophets of the new priesthood of economics.

Will Self warns against the false prophets of the new priesthood of economics who base their analyses and predictions on "spurious notions of human behaviour". "In place of the vulgate we require the holy books of economics to be written in the language we actually speak, and along with this we should actively seek a liberty of individual conscience, so that we communicate directly with Mammon, freed from the intercession of a priesthood who, when not arguing about how many angels can be fitted on the head of a pin, are spending our money producing elegant but utterly spurious mathematical models of possible future angel-on-pin scenarios."

Producer: Sheila Cook

Endings Of Empire20100725
Ethical Science2013100420131006

Lisa Jardine draws lessons from the career of Leo Szilard, who worked on the atom bomb.

Lisa Jardine learned the story of Leo Szilard from her father who regarded him as an exemplary figure in science. Szilard, an Hungarian physicist, helped to develop the atom bomb, but later fought against its use. His story provides lessons about the relationship between science and human values - even though the version of the tale Lisa was taught turns out not to have been entirely true.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Expert By Experience2016012920160131 (R4)

Tom Shakespeare reflects that personal experience is the most powerful form of expertise.

After hearing a former political prisoner in South Africa and a holocaust survivor tell their stories, Tom Shakespeare concludes that personal experience is the most powerful form of expertise.

"Hearing their testimonies affected me more deeply than any lecture, book or film. They were unforgettable authentic encounters."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Faking It2014120520141207 (R4)

Philosopher Roger Scruton reflects on the difference between original art that is genuine, sincere and truthful, but hard to achieve, and the easier but fake art that he says appeals to many critics today.

He argues that original artists from Beethoven and Baudelaire to Picasso and Pound tower above those contemporary artists whose pieces push fake emotion - and who, by focusing on avoiding cliche, end up cliches themselves.

Fat Policemen20120401

David Cannadine reflects on the changing images of the typical policeman and our attitude towards the way they look in the light of a recent report that over half of the members of the Metropolitan Police are overweight.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reflects on the changing images of the typical policeman's size and shape.

Finding Family History20111202

The historian Lisa Jardine welcomes recent moves to promote the teaching of history in schools and finds herself converted to the value of family history after the discovery of a tape recording shed light on a puzzling family photograph which was taken in 1906.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

The historian Lisa Jardine finds herself converted to family history.

Finding Family History20111204

The historian Lisa Jardine finds herself converted to family history.

Fly, Fish, Mouse And Worm2013061420130616

Tom Shakespeare on 'model animals' and the success of the reductionism scientific strategy

"When I was a child, one of my favourite books was Bear, Mouse and Water Beetle," says Tom Shakespeare. "Today, I want to tell you a contemporary story, which you could call Fly, Fish, Mouse and Worm."

These 'model animals' help scientists to understand the basic processes common to all living creatures. But while model animals epitomize the success of the scientific strategy of reductionism, they may also illustrate the downside.

Free The Schools2014030720140309

Roger Scruton believes the way to improve our schools is through tapping into the time and talents of middle class volunteers. "The philanthropic middle classes, who created our education system and made it one of the best in the world, have been for too long excluded from it".

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

From Pot To Profit2015112720151129 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Gatsby: The Perfect Fake2013053120130602

John Gray finds new resonance for our own age in the story of 'The Great Gatsby'.

John Gray finds new resonance for our own age in the story of "the Great Gatsby". "Just as in the Roaring Twenties, we've lived through a boom that was mostly based on make-believe - easy money, inflated assets and financial skulduggery." "We want nothing more than to revive the fake prosperity that preceded the crash. Just like Gatsby, we want to return to a world that was conjured into being from dreams."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Glamour In Austerity20111230

Lisa Jardine remembers 2011 for the spectacle of the Royal Wedding, reflecting on the historic power of regal glamour in times of austerity. Queen Elizabeth I "used ostentation and opulence in her dress as a political tool to increase national confidence in the solvency of her regime."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the historic power of royal glamour in times of austerity.

Glamour In Austerity20111231

Lisa Jardine reflects on the historic power of royal glamour in times of austerity.

Glamour In Austerity20120101
Grand Central Celebration2013020820130210

David Cannadine reflects on a topical issue.

Great Pretenders2013091320130915

AL Kennedy reflects on the stuggle to establish truth in an age of lies.

AL Kennedy reflects on the stuggle to establish truth in what she regards as an age of lies. Lies, she says, are proliferating on TV, in politics, in business and throughout public and private life. Extracting truths in moral and effective ways, she argues, is an ever greater challenge.

Producer: Sheila Cook

Greece And The Meaning Of Folly2011081920110821

The celebrated thinker John Gray gives his reflection on the meaning of folly.

Taking the myth of the Trojan horse as his starting point, he explores what he sees as the modern day folly unfolding in Europe.

He calls on European leaders to reconsider the single European currency - a project he says was always doomed to fail.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Hearts Of Oak20100509

In the week when Britain goes to the polls, Simon Schama reflects on the significance of one of the sights that will greet new MPs in the chamber of the House of Commons - the panelling made of solid oak.

He traces the power and symbolism of the oak tree in British history from tales of Druids in ancient oakwoods to the songs of Nelson's sailors at Trafalgar and fears a new blight which could threaten its survival.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Simon Schama reflects on the power and symbolism of the oak tree in British history.

History Through Religion20101112

Sarah Dunant with her topical reflections

Producer: Sheila Cook.

History Through Religion20101114

Sarah Dunant with her topical reflections.

How Should We Build?20160610

Roger Scruton says we should protect the English countryside by making beauty our priority when we build new houses while in towns we should reverse the damage done in previous decades.

"Surely the time has come to tear down the post-war estates, and to recover the old street lines that they extinguished."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Howard Jacobson: Sermons20151227
Howard Jacobson: Sermons20151227

Howard Jacobson would sooner see Radio 4's Thought for the Day more, not less, religious.

Howard Jacobson would sooner see Radio 4's Thought for the Day more not less religious and argues that humanists and the religious can meet in sermonizing when it's of the majesty of a great preacher like John Donne.

"I fall to wondering what exactly non-religious needs are, and whether, by insisting on a distinction between the religious and the non-religious, humanists aren't making an unpardonably limiting assumption about both."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Howard Jacobson: Wisdom20160101

Howard Jacobson does not feel complimented when someone describes him as "wise". He would sooner have understanding, akin to that of Shakespeare.

"What's wrong with wisdom is it implies stasis, as though our greatest faculties of cognition and intuition are at their journey's end, have attained a peak of complacency from which they gaze down imperturbably on the small vanities of man.".

Huizinga And The Human Cost Of Cuts20101001

Lisa Jardine reflects on the upcoming government spending cuts through the prism of Dutch historian, Johan Huizinga, and argues that the human cost of the cuts must not be overlooked.

She describes how Huizinga - writing in the 1940s - was concerned about an obsession with economics - where only the number counts - and says those in public life should not fall into the same trap when deciding where to cut.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Lisa Jardine puts an historical perspective on the upcoming government spending cuts.

Huizinga And The Human Cost Of Cuts20101003

Lisa Jardine puts an historical perspective on the upcoming government spending cuts.

Human Hybrids20160311

Human Hybrids20160311

Adam Gopnik deplores the fashion for attacking so-called "cultural expropriation" as in the recent fuss over American students wearing sombreros at a Mexican theme party.

"Cultural mixing - the hybridization of hats, if you like - is the rule of civilisation not some new intrusion within our own. Healthy civilisations have always been mongrelized, cosmopolitan, hybrid, corrupted and expropriated and mixed.".

Human Hybrids2016031120160313 (R4)

Adam Gopnik deplores the fashion for attacking so-called 'cultural expropriation'.

I Gave It All Away2016052720160529 (R4)

Will Self argues we should give children their inheritance when they're most in need of it

I Gave It All Away2016052720160529 (R4)

Will Self argues that instead of holding onto money until old age, we should give children their inheritance when they're most in need of it.

"Forget the old right/left, rich/poor division" he says, "nowadays the greatest divergence lies between the old and the young".

And he asks how can we in conscience go on denying the young the opportunity to clear up the mess we've ? for the most part quite inadvertently ? created for them. "Give it all away!" is his plea.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

I Gave It All Away20160527

If You Haven't Got Anything Nice To Say...2014062020140622

AL Kennedy argues that our obsession with gossip is affecting our public discourse, and corrupting its content.

She traces the history of gossip, explores how gossip is edging out real news and how it's taken over our political lives.

"Gossip obscures truth" she writes, "sours our outlooks on each other and can trivialise any debate". She concludes that "we really could do with a lot less of it".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

In Praise of Courtesy20150529

In Praise Of Courtesy2015052920150531 (R4)

AL Kennedy explores the merits of courtesy, but she points out that it can be complicated.

In Praise of Courtesy20150529

In Praise of Courtesy20150529

AL Kennedy takes the recent death of a friend - the screenwriter Gill Dennis - as her starting point in an exploration of courtesy. "When courtesy walks into a room," she writes, "it seems to turn a light on". She contrasts this with a striking example of discourtesy she encountered on a train journey.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

In Praise of Courtesy20150529

AL Kennedy takes the recent death of a friend - the screenwriter Gill Dennis - as her starting point in an exploration of courtesy. "When courtesy walks into a room," she writes, "it seems to turn a light on". She contrasts this with a striking example of discourtesy she encountered on a train journey.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

In Praise Of The Nanny State2011020420110206
In Praise Of The Zoo2011070820110710

Following the birth of a baby moose in Whipsnade zoo - a rare event - Alain de Botton muses on the value of exotic animals in helping to give us perspective on our own lives.

He explains why he's rediscovered wild animals and suggests a zoo trip as a perfect summer outing!

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton explores the relationship between humankind and animals.

In Praise Of Wind Turbines2011101420111016

Will Self reflects on a topical issue

Producer: Sheila Cook.

In Search Of Prizes20120914

As the Man Booker shortlist is published, Sarah Dunant explores how new writers and readers find each other.

"While an unhappy 19th century Russian marriage which leads to a fatal adulterous affair may be irresistible to one reader" she writes, "a man who wakes up as a beetle may be what presses the button of another. That is both the wonder and nightmare of selling novels".

Sarah explores how - in the "brutal climate" facing the publishing industry (with the onslaught of supermarket and internet price wars) - literary prizes provide a much needed boost for authors.

But these prizes, she warns, are a kind of lottery.

Producer Adele Armstrong.

Is Patriotism The Last Refuge Of The Scoundrel?2014072520140727

Will Self reflects on what really lies behind our sense of patriotism.

Republican or royalist we all need something or someone in which to invest our loyalty. Will Self reflects on what really lies behind our sense of patriotism. In Britain we invest the idea of sovereignty in an individual, namely the Queen - or rather, it is an idealisation of who she is decoupled for the living reality. The Queen, says Will Self, is unfailingly wise, calm, pacific - a true mother of the nation; and if her Government happens to do things that are at variance with her goodliness, that is only because their power is contingent upon an evanescent electoral mandate, while her shadow-power-play is founded upon time-out-of-mind heredity - and at least residually, upon the Lord's will. Patriotic Britons may be reluctant to admit to all of this, argues Self, preferring to be seen as modern and up-to-date, but if they examine their consciences carefully they're likely to concede that a discrete love-of-country object is required for full patriotic attachment.

Isis: A Modern Revolutionary Force?2014071120140713

John Gray argues that the Sunni extremist group Isis is revolutionary, not reactionary.

Philosopher and author John Gray argues that the Sunni extremist group Isis (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) is actually more of a modern revolutionary force than a reactionary one intent on a reversion to mediaeval values.

Surprising as this may sound says Gray, Isis is thoroughly modern. It's organised itself into an efficient company, and has become the wealthiest jihadi organisation in the world. And while it invokes the early history of Islam, the society it envisions has no precedent in history. Some of the thinkers who developed radical Islamist ideas are known to have been influenced by European anarchism and communism, especially by the idea that society can be reshaped by a merciless revolutionary vanguard using systematic violence. Isis is part of the revolutionary turmoil of modern times warns Gray, and until the West grasps that uncomfortable fact, it won't be able to deal with the dangers Isis presents.

John Gray: Euro Despair2015081420150816 (R4)

John Gray sees the euro as a misconceived project with Greece's economy as a casualty.

John Gray sees the European currency as a misconceived project from the outset and thinks the austerity policies imposed on Greece are destructive and self defeating.

"Attempting to maintain the euro at any cost can only result in mounting desperation, which will seek expression in violence if no practicable policies are on offer to ameliorate the situation."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

John Gray: Recalling Eric Ambler2015082120150823 (R4)

John Gray recalls the life and work of the thriller writer Eric Ambler and finds uncomfortable echoes of today's society in the pages of his novels.

"What they reveal is a world ruled by financial and geopolitical forces that care nothing for the human individual. Most unsettlingly, this world is unmistakably European."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Keeping Time2014092620140928

Lisa Jardine reflects on the rich history of time-pieces and the power of clocks and watches.

"Each watch on display in the British Museum's Clocks and Watchers galleries speaks to me of a world galvanized by scientific innovation, whose horizons were expanding through voyages of discovery and the new objects and ideas brought back."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the history of timepieces and the power of clocks and watches.

Kennedy 50 Years On2013110820131110

Will Self reflects on America's view of the assassination of JF Kennedy, 50 years on.

Will Self reflects on America's view of the assassination of JF Kennedy, fifty years on. After years of talk of conspiracy, cover-up and doctored film footage, he concludes, "It isn't so much that the Kennedy assassination has transitioned smoothly into a commonsensical past; it's rather that it was the first instance of a peculiarly modern variant of the historic event: its media simulation".

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Will Self reflects on America's view of the assassination of JF Kennedy, fifty years on. After years of talk of conspiracy, cover-up and doctored film footage, he concludes, "It isn't so much that the Kennedy assassination has transitioned smoothly into a commonsensical past; it's rather that it was the first instance of a peculiarly modern variant of the historic event: its simulation".

Keynes' Insights2012072020120722

John Gray takes a fresh look at the thinking of John Maynard Keynes.

John Gray takes a fresh look at the thinking of John Maynard Keynes and wonders what he would have really thought about the current economic crises and how to solve them. "It's still Keynes from who we have most to learn. Not Keynes, the economic engineer, who is invoked by his disciples today. It's Keynes the sceptic, who understood that markets are as prone to fits of madness as any other human institution and who tried to envision a more intelligent variety of capitalism".

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

John Gray reflects on a topical issue.

Kim Philby2011082620110828

The celebrated thinker John Gray gives his reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

As recently discovered letters from Kim Philby are published, John Gray argues that the spy's life illustrates why we are so poor at predicting the future.

Where Philby saw a bright future in Soviet Communism - one that led him to betray friends and colleagues - many in the West hoped for a different utopia in Russia as Communism collapsed.

Neither saw their dreams realised.

As John Gray observes, both groups "failed to understand that the only genuine historical law is the law of irony."

John Gray on why Kim Philby, and so many others, have failed to predict the future.

Kitsch2014121220141214 (R4)

Philosopher Roger Scruton looks at kitsch in the second of his three talks on art.

Kitsch, he says, creates the fantasy of an emotion without the real cost of feeling it. He argues that in the twentieth century artists became preoccupied by what they perceived as the need to avoid kitsch and sentimentality.

But it's not so easy. Some try being outrageously avant-garde, which can lead to a different kind of fake: cliche. So a new genre emerged: pre-emptive kitsch. Artists embraced kitsch and produce it deliberately to present it as a sophisticated parody. But is it art?

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Lisa Jardine: The Power of Memory20100226

Lisa Jardine: The Power Of Memory2010022620151101 (R4)

As a tribute to the late Lisa Jardine, another chance to hear her reflections on memory.

Lisa Jardine: The Power of Memory20100226

Lisa Jardine: The Power of Memory2010022620151030 (R4)

The late historian Lisa Jardine presented many editions of A Point of View. As a tribute, this is another chance to hear her reflections on the importance for history of the recording of personal memories and her regrets that her mother could no longer recall her own fascinating life.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine: The Power of Memory2010022620151030 (R4)

The late historian Lisa Jardine presented many editions of A Point of View. As a tribute, this is another chance to hear her reflections on the importance for history of the recording of personal memories and her regrets that her mother could no longer recall her own fascinating life.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Living Forever2010120320101205

Joan Bakewell reflects on the ageing process and the efforts by scientists to reverse it and she considers the attractions and the drawbacks of adding many more years to the human span.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Joan Bakewell reflects on the process of ageing and the efforts of science to reverse it.

Lords, Lordlings And....crumpets2012050420120506

Will Self explores Lords reform and the narrowing of the range of British political choice

Fifteen years ago - Will Self writes - he had afternoon tea in the House of Lords with the late Conrad Russell. The distinguished historian was a hereditary peer who was entirely in favour of Lords' abolition. What Will Self remembers most about the encounter was the crumpets. "'Do have another crumpet" he'd say, 'they really are awfully good'". Fifteen years on, Will says: "Russell was right about the crumpets - and he was right about the hereditaries".

He looks forward to the Queen's Speech, which is widely expected to include a bill on Lords reform. A waste of time, he believes. But that matters little in his view. "After all, the first bill to create an elected second chamber was introduced over a century ago - and doesn't this simply prove that the great and glorious fudge that's the unwritten British constitution thrives on such slow and organic change".

Via what he calls the "Googlisation" of the political process, he attacks the move towards the centre ground by all three main UK parties. "We...are tormented by politicians who look the same, sound the same and spout so-called 'policies' that are usually only marginally different versions of the same routine ideas".

Back at the Lords, he concludes, hereditary peers "are still busily tucking into their excellent crumpets. Yummy-yummy".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Fifteen years ago - Will Self writes - he had afternoon tea in the House of Lords with the late Conrad Russell. The distinguished historian was a hereditary peer who was entirely in favour of Lords' abolition. What Will Self remembers most about the encounter was the crumpets. "'Do have another crumpet" he'd say, 'they really are awfully good'". Fifteen years on, Will says: "Russell was right about the crumpets - and he was right about the hereditaries".

He looks forward to the Queen's Speech, which is widely expected to include a bill on Lords reform. A waste of time, he believes. But that matters little in his view. "After all, the first bill to create an elected second chamber was introduced over a century ago - and doesn't this simply prove that the great and glorious fudge that's the unwritten British constitution thrives on such slow and organic change".

Via what he calls the "Googlisation" of the political process, he attacks the move towards the centre ground by all three main UK parties. "We...are tormented by politicians who look the same, sound the same and spout so-called 'policies' that are usually only marginally different versions of the same routine ideas".

Back at the Lords, he concludes, hereditary peers "are still busily tucking into their excellent crumpets. Yummy-yummy".

Losing Touch2015013020150201 (R4)

Will Self regrets our growing lack of physical contact with one another and with the natural world as a result of the rise of technology. "What the touch screen, the automatic door,online shopping and even the Bagladeshi sweatshop piece-worker who made our trousers are depriving us of is the exercise of our very sense of touch itself, and in particular they are relieving us of the need to touch other people."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Machiavelli's Summer In Tuscany2013080220130804
Machine Intelligence2013101820131020

Lisa Jardine compares the computer science legacies of Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace.

Lisa Jardine compares the contributions of Ada Lovelace and Alan Turing a century later to computer science and contrasts their views on the potential of and limits to machine intelligence.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Media Malpractice20111228

Will Self reflects on the new landscape for the press

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Media Malpractice20111229

Will Self reflects on the new landscape for the press.

Mile Milestone20140425

Mary Beard looks forward to the 60th anniversary of the first "four minute mile". But in the midst of the celebrations, she argues that we should also remember that Roger Bannister's victory was a "glaring display of class division".

Maybe appropriate then that this month also sees the return of that "wonderful working-class... comic-strip hero, Alf Tupper".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Modern Medicis2013030120130303

Lisa Jardine celebrates the influence of art connoisseur Sir Denis Mahon and reflects on the impact of wealthy art collectors on public taste and government policy.

"Art collectors with a fortune to spend inevitably exert an influence on artistic taste and on the art market. The question is: Is a collector who wins public praise for having a "good eye" or "flawless taste" being celebrated for their critical astuteness in identifying a neglected work's lasting aesthetic value and its importance within the artistic tradition? Or are they simply establishing a high competitive price for that artist or artistic school?"

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on a topical issue.

Modern Parenting2011080520110807

Alain de Botton takes a witty look at modern parenting.

He explains why today's parent simply can't avoid baking biscuits and helping to paint Tyrannosaurus Rex's scales!

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Monarch's Message2014122620141228 (R4)

David Cannadine reflects on the history of the Queen's Christmas message. Following the success of the first broadcast in 1932 by the Queen's grandfather, King George V, "what had begun as a one-off innovation" soon "became an invented tradition".

"There can be no doubt," says Cannadine, "it brought the King closer to his subjects than had been true of any monarch who had gone before him."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Money Matters2014021420140216

Adam Gopnik explains why he thinks the pictures on our banknotes matter.

Adam Gopnik explains why he thinks the pictures on our banknotes matter. "The iconography of money is more than just decor - it displays the true convictions of the commonwealth that intends to support its value."

Producer: Sheila Cook

Mouthing Off2012092820120930

"For moneyed Americans", writes Sarah Dunant "perfect dentistry is a matter of course". For Europeans- and she counts herself within that number - the situation is rather different!

Sarah takes a sideways look at teeth through the ages...and dentistry in times of austerity.

And for those whose chief loathing is a mouthful of shining American teeth, she offers hope. "Yaeba", the latest craze to hit Japan where young fashonista girls are getting their teeth cosmetically altered to appear more crooked!

Producer Adele Armstrong.

Sarah Dunant reflects on a topical issue.

New Old Fashioned20100801

Lisa Jardine reflects on changing styles of architecture and commends buildings that prove to be "the boldest and the best" in every age rather than simply "new old fashioned" as the most forward looking legacy to the built environment.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on changing fashions in architecture over the last four centuries.

'news' And Concentration2011011420110116
Of The People, By The People20130823

Roger Scruton continues his series of talks on the nature and limits of democracy. This week he argues that nations should be defined by language and territory rather than by party or faith. And, looking at examples across the Middle East and in particular in Egypt, he explains why - in his view - a modern state cannot be governed by Islamic law.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Roger Scruton continues his series of talks on the nature and limits of democracy.

Of The People, By The People20130830

Roger Scruton continues his series of talks on the nature and limits of democracy.

Of The People, By The People 1/42013080920130811

Roger Scruton argues that democracy alone is not enough for political freedom.

Roger Scruton argues that democracy alone is not enough for political freedom. Democracy, freedom and human rights do not necessarily coincide.

"In the underground universities of communist Europe... my friends and colleagues prepared themselves for the hoped for day when the Communist Party, having starved itself of all rational input, would finally give up the ghost," he says. "And the lessons that they learned need to be learned again today, as our politicians lead us forth under the banner of democracy, without pausing to examine what democracy actually requires."

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Of The People, By The People 2/42013081620130818

Roger Scruton continues his series of talks on the nature and limits of democracy.

Roger Scruton continues his series of talks on the nature and limits of democracy. Roger Scruton argues that democracy works only if we are prepared to be ruled by our opponents, however much we may dislike them. We need to accept politics as a process of compromise and conciliation. And for that, he says, the state must be secular.

Of The People, By The People 4/42013083020130901

Roger Scruton concludes his series of talks on the nature and limits of democracy. "We in Europe are moving not towards democracy but away from it," he says.

"There is no first-person plural of which the European Institutions are the political expression," he argues. "The Union is founded in a treaty, and treaties derive their authority from the entities that sign them. Those entities are the nation states of Europe, from which the loyalties of the European people derive. The Union, which has set out to transcend those loyalties, therefore suffers from a permanent crisis of legitimacy.".

On Age And Beauty20111113

Mary Beard takes a peek at Miss World 2011 and ponders why - unlike her days as a radical feminist teenager -the whole occasion doesn't fill her with fury.

"It all felt" - she writes - "like a scantily-clad, tabloid version of University Challenge....but with a kind of high-minded worthiness".

Long gone the old beauty contest ambitions of travelling and starting a family.

"These contestants talked of becoming international lawyers, museum curators, architects, diplomats".

So does this lack outrage mean she has she sold out on feminism? "That's not how it seems to me" she writes.

"At 56 I count myself as strong a feminist as I was at 26".

Just a bit more laid back.

"The less I see my own body as a positive asset" she says - joking about her greying hair and her thickening toe nails - "the less I have wanted to interfere with what other women choose to do with theirs".

"Times do change and some battles honestly do get won" she concludes.

"I don't any longer feel that Miss Venezuela is much of an enemy".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mary Beard takes a peek at Miss World 2011 and ponders the upsides of middle age.

On Bees And Being20120601

"The other day" Adam Gopnik writes, "my son was working his way through the text of Shakespeare's 'Henry V' with an eye to a student production". He read Canterbury's famous speech on how the well regulated kingdom is like a bee hive. "How could Shakespeare know that much about the division of bee-labour" he ponders "and not know that the big bee in the centre was -- a girl bee?"

Gopnik takes us - via a bunch of bee experts - on a journey of "long and buzzing thoughts". He discovers a transgendered bee in Virgil's Georgics, dressed up as a king bee. He finds himself deep in the world of the Dutch biologist, Swammerdam. "Swammerdam!" he writes. "One of those great Northern European names, like Erasmus of Rotterdam that carries its credibility within its consonants".

He draws lessons about the theory of knowledge and the working of the human mind. He rejects the notion "that thought proceeds in fortresses as ordered and locked as a beehive seems to be." In truth, he argues, "no age thinks monolithically, and no mind begins with absolute clarity... The sticky honey of uncertainty, the buzz around the beehive's entrance - these are signs of minds at work".

Producer:

Adele Armstrong.

On Marriage2011021120110213
On Pompeii2012112320121125

"Last weekend I spent a couple of hours with the remains of one of the human victims of the eruption of Vesuvius" writes Mary Beard, as she wanders through the rooms of a new exhibition about Pompeii, the "City of the Dead".

The display at the J Paul Getty museum in Malibu is one of several Pompeii exhibitions running in different museums around the world - and very similar to one coming to the British Museum in the spring.

As she makes her way through the bodies - or "anti-bodies" as she refers to them - she ponders questions of privacy, archaeology and restoration.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mary Beard reflects on a topical issue.

On Social Climbing2011072920110731

Alain de Botton reflects on social climbing - and argues that the activity should be seen - at times - as evidence of a natural curiosity about the modern world.

And he says in the current environment, it's often not idle pleasure-seeking, but an attempt to keep yourself in a job.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton argues that social climbing is often much more than idle pleasure-seeking.

On Tyrants20111106

From the ingeniously ghastly ways they killed their opponents to their weird forms of dress, Mary Beard reflects on the uncanny similarities between Colonel Gaddafi and the tyrants of ancient Rome.

She argues that the similarities were present in life - and in death.

"On 11 March 222 AD," she writes, "a posse of rebel soldiers tracked down the Roman emperor Elagabalus to his hiding place. The tyrant was holed up in a latrine, desperately hoping to keep clear of the liberators, who were out for his blood". She continues: "The story goes that the rebels rooted him out, killed him, triumphantly dragged his body through the streets of Rome and then threw his mutilated remains into a drain."

Mary suggests modern and ancient tyrant are portrayed as sharing a penchant for eccentric accommodation, like Gaddafi's tent and Nero's infamous "Golden House". And they seem to enjoy dubious hobbies - such as Emperor Domitian's obsession with stabbing flies and Gaddafi's obsessive collection of pictures of Condoleeza Rice, which were stuck in a scrapbook.

But she argues that these stereotypes of tyrants are little more than half-truths and hearsay....an easy way of making a figure of fear into a figure of fun.

The reality, she says, is much more nuanced. "Badness", she suggests, "comes in inconveniently complicated ways. Most bad people are good in parts".

How often, she asks, are we told that life expectancy in Libya far exceeds that of its neighbours, that Libya has substantially lower child mortality than its neighbours, the highest literacy rate in North Africa, free hospitals and free childcare.

"My point is not that we should see Gaddafi as a good man" she says. Rather that "among all the things that have been going terribly wrong under the Gaddafi regime, some things have been going right".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mary Beard on the uncanny similarities between Colonel Gaddafi and tyrants in ancient Rome.

Our Love For Animals2014022820140302

Roger Scruton thinks we get our priorities wrong when we favour pets at the expense of wild animals.

"We must recognise that by loving our pets as individuals we threaten the animals who cannot easily be loved in any such way."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

P J O'Rourke: Presidential Candidates20150911

P J O'Rourke: Presidential Candidates2015091120150913 (R4)

PJ O'Rourke sizes up the candidates aspiring to be President of the United States.

P J O'Rourke: Presidential Candidates2015091120150913 (R4)

PJ O'Rourke sizes up the candidates aspiring to be President of the United States.

P J O'Rourke: Presidential Candidates20150911

P J O'Rourke: Presidential Candidates20150911

P J O'Rourke sizes up the candidates aspiring to be the President of the United States.

"Who are all these jacklegs, high-binders, wire-pullers, mountebanks, swellheads, buncombe spigots, boodle artists, four-flushers and animated spittoons offering themselves as worthy of our nation's highest office?"

Producer: Sheila Cook.

P J O'Rourke: Presidential Candidates20150911

P J O'Rourke sizes up the candidates aspiring to be the President of the United States.

"Who are all these jacklegs, high-binders, wire-pullers, mountebanks, swellheads, buncombe spigots, boodle artists, four-flushers and animated spittoons offering themselves as worthy of our nation's highest office?"

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Peerless2016010820160110 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Pity The Young2013110120131103

Will Self reflects on the malign influence of the older generation on the young.

Will Self reflects on the malign influence of the older generation on the young as the population of Britain ages. "In my darker moments - of which there are quite a few - I often envision the baby boomer generation as a giant and warty toad squatting on the youth of our society".

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Policing Sex2012090720120909

Sarah Dunant looks at attitudes to sexual behaviour from a historical perspective.

"Once again the snake pit of policing sexual behaviour and the conflict between men and women's attitudes of it have become news" writes Sarah Dunant.

She discusses the remarks by the American would-be senator who claimed that after "legitimate rape", women's bodies protect them from pregnancy. She looks at George Galloway's assertion that what Julian Assange did or didn't do in bed was simple bad sexual etiquette. And she discusses the controversy surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey.

She starts from a very personal perspective, and broadens the debate on attitudes to sex by looking at it from an historical perspective. She concludes that a storm of female outrage serves only to stifle debate and that men must be involved in the discussions.

Producer Adele Armstrong.

Political And Military Leaders20100711

David Cannadine reflects on the relationship between political and military leaders, comparing British, American and world history.

He traces the tensions between Presidents, Prime Ministers and commanders of the armed forces and he illuminates the times when military men have crossed the line into politics.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reflects on the relationship between political and military leaders.

Post-image2015022720150301 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Power Of The Press20120316

Historian David Cannadine reflects on the power of the press, past and present, recalling how early twentieth century press barons attempted to influence politics. He recalls Stanley Baldwin's response to the campaign by Lords Rothermere and Beaverbrook to topple him as Conservative leader, accusing them of wielding "power without responsibility."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Historian David Cannadine reflects on the power of the press, past and present.

Power Of The Press20120318

Historian David Cannadine reflects on the power of the press, past and present.

Presidential Inaugurations2013012520130127

David Cannadine reflects on the history of American presidential inaugurations since Abraham Lincoln's, and compares presidents' speeches at the start of their first and second terms in office. "Second inaugurals...are often less up-beat and up-lifting, since it's no longer possible for a president, having already been four years in office, to offer a new deal or to proclaim, as President Obama did in 2009 that 'change is coming to America'".

Producer: Sheila Cook

Price Of A Postage Stamp2012080320120805

Philosopher John Gray wonders what bulk buying of stamps tells us about economic gloom.

The philosopher John Gray wonders what bulk buying of stamps ahead of the price rise tells us about economic gloom. "The relative security that many people enjoyed in the recent past is fading from memory".

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

Psy Wars20160520

Will Self - with a nod to the "valetudinarian pop-person, Morrissey" - poses the question "Does the mind rule the body or the body rule the mind?"

Before 1960, he says, "a Briton could probably go their entire life without encountering a psychiatrist or a psychoanalyst - let alone a modish psychotherapist". But not any more.

Will ponders what role these "psy-professions" play in contemporary Britain.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Psy Wars2016052020160522 (R4)

A reflection on a topical issue. Will Self ponders the role of the 'psy-professions'.

Psy Wars20160520

Psy Wars20160520

Will Self - with a nod to the "valetudinarian pop-person, Morrissey" - poses the question "Does the mind rule the body or the body rule the mind?"

Before 1960, he says, "a Briton could probably go their entire life without encountering a psychiatrist or a psychoanalyst - let alone a modish psychotherapist". But not any more.

Will ponders what role these "psy-professions" play in contemporary Britain.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Psy Wars2016052020160522 (R4)

A reflection on a topical issue. Will Self ponders the role of the 'psy-professions'.

Psy Wars20160520

Reading For Free2010111920101121

Joan Bakewell reflects on the irreplaceable value of reading at a time when the squeeze on government spending is putting public libraries at risk.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Reading Renaissance Art20160422

Taking a tour of some recent blockbuster art exhibitions, Sarah Dunant reflects on the importance of context for us to properly appreciate art.

She argues that increasingly we're sold art as a list of superstars. "To grab the headlines, put big numbers through the turnstiles, means focusing on the stars" she writes.

But understanding the great Renaissance masterpieces demands an understanding of the intellectual climate that produced them.

A scantily clad Ursula Andress emerging from the sea holding a conch will not really help us understand Botticelli's Birth of Venus.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Reading Renaissance Art2016042220160424 (R4)

Sarah Dunant argues that our current obsession with celebrity utterly undermines art.

Reading Renaissance Art20160422

Real Change2013090620130908

Fear of change can lead us astray. It can keep us from mercy. It can be used by authorities as an excuse for sticking with the status quo. It's a barrier to happiness. AL Kennedy doesn't like change. But she thinks perhaps she should change her mind.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Rebuilding After 9/1120131122

Will Self reflects from the top of the new One World Trade Center in New York on the challenge of rebuilding after the destruction of 9.11.

"The downtown site, mired in ground sacred to mammon, has mixed into it a complex mulch of private rights and public responsibilities: to harmonise these competing interests in the frozen music of architecture has proved a gruelling compositional task.".

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Reflections On Ivf2013102520131027

Lisa Jardine reflects on IVF as she stands down from the body which regulates it, the HFEA

Lisa Jardine reflects on the sensitive questions surrounding IVF as she comes to the end of her term as Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. "I would have loved to have been able to have spoken more often and more publicly, with more words of caution for those preparing to undertake IVF, or postponing their family because IVF seems a reliable option should natural conception fail."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Reflections On Monetary Union2011111820111120

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mary Beard reflects on the very first monetary union, two and a half thousand years ago.

Roger Scruton: The Tyranny Of Pop20151113
Sarah Dunant: Crisis In Catholicism2015112020151122 (R4)

Sarah Dunant sees a new crisis in the Catholic Church as a result of unchanged policy.

Sarah Dunant sees a new crisis in the Catholic church as a result of unchanged policy over divorce, homosexuality, celibacy and the role of women.

"Men may truly believe in God but for most of them chastity is too big an ask and if enforced leads, at worst, to abuse and at best to a clergy and hierarchy ignorant of, and often unsympathetic to, the problems of being human. From there it's but a skip and a jump to the role of women and their exclusion from the heart of the church."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Sarah Dunant: Protest, Paris, Terror20151204

Sarah Dunant: Protest, Paris, Terror2015120420151206 (R4)

Sarah Dunant reflects on the nature of protest against the threat of terrorism and the threat of climate change and their coming together in the city of Paris.

"How do we find a sense of potency in the face of terror, how do we embrace life when threatened with death, how do we champion our future against those who claim they will just carry on dying until they win? Perhaps what is needed is mental as much as military action."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Sarah Dunant: Protest, Paris, Terror20151204

Sarah Dunant reflects on the nature of protest against the threat of terrorism and the threat of climate change and their coming together in the city of Paris.

"How do we find a sense of potency in the face of terror, how do we embrace life when threatened with death, how do we champion our future against those who claim they will just carry on dying until they win? Perhaps what is needed is mental as much as military action."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Self Confident Culture2013111520131117

Will Self argues for greater British cultural self confidence in the debate over the wearing of the veil.

Apologies are not needed for an insistence on uncovered faces in court, he says, and the best safeguard against extremism is engagement with the Western philosophic tradition and its multicultural influences.

"Of course British culture will be changed by the cultures of our recent immigrants, but surely our greatest desideratum is precisely this: to be the heirs, possessors and transmitters of a legacy that is ready and able to adapt."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Will Self argues for greater British cultural self confidence in the debate over the veil.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Self-drive Manhood2014012420140126

Adam Gopnik hails the development of the self-drive car as the way to rescue his manhood.

Adam Gopnik hails the development of the self-drive car as the way to rescue his male identity after years as a non driver. He also muses on the need for such cars to have "ethical engines" capable of moral judgements.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Sex And The French2014011720140119

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Sherlock Holmes And The Romance Of Reason2012081720120819

John Gray reflects on the enduring appeal of Sherlock Holmes' powers of deduction.

John Gray reflects on the enduring appeal of Sherlock Holmes at a time when we've lost confidence in the power of reason alone to solve problems. "Seeming to find order in the chaos of events by using purely rational methods, he actually demonstrates the enduring power of magic."

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

Short And Successful2014100320141005 (R4)

Adam Gopnik thinks there's a simple reason for the recent findings that short men enjoy stable marriages. It's not that they are desperate to please, but are desperate to prevail. "In every area of life, we underrate the merits of desperation, and persistently overrate the advantages of free choice."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Should We Be Frightened Of Disability?2014053020140601

Many people assume that disabled people must be unhappy. But the empirical evidence doesn't back this up. In A Point of View, Tom Shakespeare argues that disability is nothing to fear.

Sing A New Song2016011520160117 (R4)

Tom Shakespeare argues that the country needs a new national anthem.

Tom Shakespeare argues that we need a new national anthem, one that celebrates what's great about the whole country, reflects the diversity of the population and the values of modern society.

He suggests that existing anthem-like hymns such as Jerusalem, or the likes of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory won't do. Jerusalem, for example, talks of walking on England's mountains green, excluding the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish.

A new anthem, written and composed for the purpose, would actually mean something and would make us proud of what's great about the United Kingdom. It would be in tune with our times.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Someone To Watch Over Me2013092020130922

AL Kennedy reflects on our tendency to behave badly when we think no-one is looking.

AL Kennedy reflects on our tendency to behave badly when we think no-one's watching or when we follow the wrong crowd.

"When psychologists test how people behave with and without oversight, it becomes depressingly clear that if we think nobody's looking, we don't even remotely always let our consciences be our guides," she writes. "Even very normal, pleasant people can delegate their morality to other people who appear to be in charge, even of bizarre and disturbing scenarios."

Producer: Sheila Cook

Soylent And The Charm Of The Fast Lane2014111420141116 (R4)

The new food substitute Soylent allows you to give up eating meals in order to have more free time. But John Gray argues that human beings crave busy lives. We want to be distracted, he says, so we don't have to think too much.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Soylent And The Irresistible Charm Of Life In The Fast Lane20141114
Special Elephants20100718

David Cannadine traces the remarkable history of Asian elephants prompted by the recent auction of colourful models to raise funds for their preservation.

He reveals, in particular, the special place occupied by the legendary white elephants of Thailand and how their name became a figure of speech.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from David Cannadine

Spell-checking the Futr2016051320160515 (R4)

Self-confessed digi-drunkard Will Self on predictive texting, spellchecking and algorithms

Spell-checking the Futr20160513

Self-confessed "digi-drunkard" Will Self on predictive texting, spellchecking and algorithms.

Will tries to convince himself - and us - that his use of technology is considered and practical, not the "glug-glugging of the cyber sozzled"!

But, he admits, "a great river of denial runs through me...as I fidget and tweezer my way through the glassy looking-glass and into the virtual world".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Spell-checking the Futr20160513

Spell-checking the Futr2016051320160515 (R4)

Self-confessed digi-drunkard Will Self on predictive texting, spellchecking and algorithms

Spell-checking the Futr20160513

Self-confessed "digi-drunkard" Will Self on predictive texting, spellchecking and algorithms.

Will tries to convince himself - and us - that his use of technology is considered and practical, not the "glug-glugging of the cyber sozzled"!

But, he admits, "a great river of denial runs through me...as I fidget and tweezer my way through the glassy looking-glass and into the virtual world".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Spell-checking the Futr20160513

Star Wars Obsession20160205

Star Wars Obsession20160205

Helen Macdonald has made her name writing about nature and birds of prey. So why has she become so fascinated with the recent Star Wars movie that she's been to see it six times? In her first "A Point of View" she tries to get to the bottom of her obsession and wonders whether it's all down to nostalgia or something else.

Producer: Richard Vadon.

Stars Of South London20100704

David Cannadine celebrates the cultural heritage of South London, in particular, Dulwich Picture Gallery and two great writers whose talents were nurtured nearby.

P.G.

Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler were both pupils at Dulwich College where the then headmaster fostered their ablity to write vivid prose, whether the subject was tough blondes or dotty peers.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine celebrates the joys of South London via Raymond Chandler and PG Wodehouse.

Sweet Charity20120921

"Much of what some would call my eccentric wardrobe derives from charity shops...By temperament, I'm a historian and the sense of an object with a provenance somehow ties me more securely to the present" writes Sarah Dunant.

As she rummages for bargains in her local charity shop, Sarah reflects on the history of charity shops and their growing importance in times of austerity.

Producer Adele Armstrong.

Terminal Thoughts2013011120130113

A weekly reflection on a topical issue with Will Self

The Advantages Of Pessimism20110812

Alain de Botton on why pessimism is the key to happiness.

He argues that the incompatibility between the grandeur of our aspirations and the reality of life is bound to disappoint - unless we learn to be a bit more gloomy!

Producer: Adele Armstrong

The Advantages Of Pessimism2011081420110812 (BBC7)
20130605 (BBC7)

Alain de Botton on why pessimism is the key to happiness. He argues that the incompatibility between the grandeur of our aspirations and the reality of life is bound to disappoint - unless we learn to be a bit more gloomy!

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton on why pessimism is the key to happiness.

The Alchemy Of Memory2012083120120902

John Gray explores the role of memory in giving meaning to our lives.

John Gray explores the role of memory in giving meaning to our lives. Through the writings of J.G. Ballard, he reflects on how we struggle to preserve our past but at the same time sometimes long to leave it behind.

Gray praises the power of Ballard's imagination - and his enchanting fables - to make good all this.

His conclusion is upbeat. "Through the alchemy of memory the leaden buildings in which (Ballard) wandered as a boy became the golden vistas of his fiction, and the traumas of his childhood were transmuted into images of fulfilment".

Producer:

Adele Armstrong.

The Arms Trade2011102820111030

Will Self deplores the arms trade and Britain's role in it, including the sale of weapons to authoritarian regimes which abuse human rights.

He takes aim at the euphemisms that surround the sector.

"The elision of business-speak with the foggy verbiage of warfare is perhaps the most deranging aspect of the contemporary arms trade," he says.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Will Self deplores the arms trade, Britain's role in it and the euphemisms around it.

The Art Of Conversation2011071520110717

Alain de Botton on why preparing conversation is as important as preparing a good salad for our summer picnic.

He questions why we put so much effort into our social encounters, but leave our conversation to chance.

With examples from history and literature, he argues that it's when there are rules to our conversation that our spirit can best be set free.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton with some food for thought for a summer picnic.

The British Vomitorium2012122820121230

With the excesses of Christmas behind us, Will Self appeals for a major lifestyle change.

"Are you full yet? Stuffed? Fit to burst?" asks Will Self as he appeals to the post-Christmas glutton to consider a major lifestyle change in the year ahead.

"What I think we should all do", he says, "is throw up our very obsession with food itself, and enter the New Year purged".

He takes us on a tour of foodie history, and explores how we've gone from being a culinary backwater to "the most food-obsessed nation in Europe - if not the world".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Changing Nature Of Utopias2014080120140803

Will Self reflects on what the changing nature of utopias says about us, from Thomas More's sixteenth century Utopia to the recent TV series of the same name. The utopias and dystopias of the past offer a range of different futuristic scenarios but, argues Will Self, they actually all have one thing in common: they're about each writer's present, not future. The late 19th century saw something of a craze in the publication of utopian fiction. Many novels were implicitly optimistic in that they imagined better futures, and some even spurred political movements as was the case with Edward Bellamy's 'Looking Backward 2000-1887'. But nowadays, at a time of man-made global warming, this optimism has dissipated, and our utopias are reduced to fairytales of the non-human, or involve less environmentally destructive species like fictional apes. Where we do imagine a human future, such as in the current TV series, it looks suspiciously dated.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

The Doors Of Perception2013052420130526

John Gray argues for another way of seeing the world, inspired by writer Arthur Machen.

John Gray argues for another way of perceiving the world inspired by the fantasy fiction writer Arthur Machen. Instead of believing that meaning in life can only be found by changing things around us, "Some of the most valuable human experiences, Machen observed, come about when we simply look around us without any intention of acting on what we see. He thought of the world as a kind of text in invisible writing, a cipher pointing to another order of things"

Producer: Sheila Cook

The Drama Of Politics20100425

Simon Schama reflects on the timeless drama of British politics, ranging from his own memories of election night in October 1964 to the 1830s when parliamentary reform prevented social unrest from turning into revolution.

Simon Schama reflects on the timeless drama of British politics.

The Ecological Sublime2011012120110123

Alain de Botton gives a philosopher's take on our ecological dilemmas.

He argues that fear of environmental destruction has changed for ever our relationship with nature.

Far from being a threat, it is now something to be pitied and protected.

There are also changes in the way we view ourselves.

As we take a trip to Florence to see some Titians or run water to brush our teeth, we're being asked to reconceeve of ourselves as unthinking killers.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The End, Yet Again?20111226

The author and philosopher John Gray on the merits of living for the present.

"We tend to look forward to a future state of fulfilment in which all turmoil has ceased", Gray writes. But, he says, "when we look to the future to give meaning to our lives, we lose the meaning we can make for ourselves here and now".

He argues that we should give up our obsession with endings and urges us not to be wary of change. "Humans are sturdy creatures, built to withstand disruption".

"Conflict never ceases", he says, "but neither do human resourcefulness, adaptability and courage".

On Europe, he writes, "wherever Europe's elites turn for support, the pillars begin to crumble and shake. Eventually every utopian project comes to grief - and while it started as a benign creation, the European project has long since acquired an unmistakably utopian quality. The efforts that are being made to renew the project are only accelerating its demise".

"Renewing our lives in the face of recurring evils", he concludes, "is the task...that has always faced human beings. Looking to an end-time is a way of failing to cherish the present - the only time that is truly our own".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The End, Yet Again?20111227

The author and philosopher John Gray on the merits of living for the present.

The History Of Passports20100620

David Cannadine reveals the colourful history of passports and identity cards - the political tensions, public resistance and some curious nineteenth century practices, including British people acquiring French passports for the purpose of travelling to France.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reveals the colourful history of passports and identity cards.

The Limits Of Materialism2013050320130505
The Love Of Bears20130201 (BBC7)
20130603 (BBC7)

David Cannadine reflects on the enduring appeal of the teddy bear in contemporary culture. Why, he wonders, have they been such popular toys and featured so prominently in literature and song since they were first named after Theodore Roosevelt over a hundred years ago.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

The Love Of Honours20160304
The Love Of Honours2016030420160306 (R4)

Adam Gopnik reflects on our age old love of honours and prizes in every walk of life.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue. Adam Gopnik reflects on our age old love of honours and prizes in every walk of life.

The Meaning Of Debt20111227

Sarah Dunant looks at different aspects of debt, including the debt owed to those who have been a force for change in Arab countries.

Producer: Sheila Cook

The Meaning Of Debt20111228

Sarah Dunant looks at different aspects of debt.

The Meaning Of Evil2013051720130519

John Gray turns to the writer Patricia Highsmith for a perspective on the meaning of evil.

John Gray turns to the writer Patricia Highsmith and her character Tom Ripley for a perspective on the meaning of evil. "For me she's....one of the great twentieth century writers with a deep insight into the fragility of morality."

Producer: Sheila Cook

The Meaning Of Memorial Day20100606

David Cannadine reflects on the significance of Memorial Day in the United States.

He traces the history of this important public holiday and describes the role it plays in American society today.

What was once a divisive commemoration of fallen soldiers on one side in the Civil War, is now a day that unites the nation in remembrance of all its war dead.

It is also a time for family and community gatherings, the Idianapolis 500 mile automobile race and, as David Cannadine amusingly recalls, a time to try out your speechmaking skills with your local Toastmasters" club.

David Cannadine reflects on the history and traditions of America's Memorial Day.".

The Meaning Of Time2016040820160410 (R4)

Will Self reflects on our sense of the meaning of time.

The Meaning of Time20160408

Will Self reflects on our sense of the meaning of time and the changes in our perception brought about by new technologies.

"Obviously the world wide web and the internet have played a key role in making each and every one of us a little hot spot of Nowness: over the past twenty years as more and more people have chosen to spend more and more of their time in this virtual realm, so we've sought to furnish its fuzzy immensity with our memories, individual and collective."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

The Meaning of Time20160408

The Memory Business20111229

Simon Schama reflects on how the world - ten years on - remembered the events of 9/11. And he ponders why it's vital to remember. "Ten years is an aeon in tweet-time", he writes, but 9/11 "bleeds - in every sense - into today's front pages".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Simon Schama reflects on how the world - ten years on - remembered the events of 9/11.

The Memory Business20111230

Simon Schama reflects on how the world - ten years on - remembered the events of 9/11.

The Myth Of Modernity2013051020130512
The Nature Of Time2015030620150308 (R4)

Will Self reflects on the unsettling nature of time. "What gives our human cultures any sense of cohesion at all is an almost relentless effort to shore up our collective memory of the past against the remorseless depredations of time."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

The Oxbridge Interview20111125

Mary Beard reflects on the purpose of the much-maligned "Oxbridge interview" and defends the "Would you rather be an apple or a banana" school of questioning - Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mary Beard reflects on the purpose of the much-maligned 'Oxbridge interview'.

The Oxbridge Interview20111127

Mary Beard reflects on the purpose of the much-maligned 'Oxbridge interview'.

The Paradox Of Growing Old2014050920140511

Mary Beard reflects on recent TV programmes and newspaper articles about what's going on in care homes for the elderly.

She says she believes that in a few hundred years' time, "our treatment of old people will be as much of a blot on our culture as Bedlam and the madhouses were on the culture of the 18th century".

But she also argues that our view of dementia is a sanitized one. She says we have to recognize that dementia can make its sufferers truculent and aggressive...something that most of us - not just care workers on a minimum wage - would find very difficult to deal with.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Paradox Of Immortality2012072720120729

John Gray reflects on the paradox of immortality as captured by the writer Theodore Powys.

The philosopher John Gray reflects on the nature of immortality as expressed by the writer Theodore Powys, 'The longest life may fade and perish but one moment can live and become immortal.' "Powys captures a paradox at the heart of our thinking about death and the afterlife: there's a kind of immortality that only mortals can enjoy."

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

The Perils Of Belief2014010320140105

John Gray reflects on the damage that can be caused by evangelical belief.

John Gray reflects on the damage that can be caused by evangelical belief in a religion or in a political idea. "Whether they are religious or political, evangelists seem to me a blight on civilisation. For them as for those they persecute or bully, belief is an obstacle to a fulfilling life."

Producer: Sheila Cook

The Power Of Art20150123

AL Kennedy reflects on the importance of the beauty and creativity of art to sustain the human spirit.

"Art is a power and most of its true power is invisible, private, memorised and held even in prison cells and on forced marches, so you can see why totalitarians of all kinds dislike it."

Producer: Sheila Cook

Editor: Richard Knight.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Power Of Fiction2015022020150222 (R4)

Will Self reflects on the power of our relationship with fictional characters.

Will Self reflects on the power of our relationship with fictional characters. "People need people whose lives can be seen to follow a dramatic arc, so that no matter what trials they encounter, the people who survey them can be reassured that when the light begins to fade, these people - to whose frail psyches we've had privileged access - will at least feel it's all meant something."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

The Power Of Teddy Bears2013020120130203
The Power Of The Pen2016042920160501 (R4)

A reflection on a topical issue.

The Price Of Independence2015032720150329 (R4)

Tom Shakespeare says that disabled people's right to independent living is under threat as a result of the imminent winding up of the Independent Living Fund. "I hope that whichever parties are in government after May will have a rethink about social care. The ILF may...have been an anomaly, but one of the glories of living in Britain is that we have a high tolerance of historical anomalies."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

The Princeton P-rade20100613

David Cannadine reflects on the distinctive style of American graduation ceremonies which forge a lasting sense of identity for graduates and their peers.

He contrasts the colourful exuberance of the Princeton "p-rade" with the more restrained formality of university processions in Britain.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reflects on the distinctive style of American graduation ceremonies.

The Pursuit Of Happiness2015010220150104 (R4)

AL Kennedy reflects on what it means to pursue happiness.

A L Kennedy reflects on what it means to pursue happiness in a world where "not having enough money can be utterly miserable" and indulging our desire to acquire is also unsatisfying. The answer may lie in seeing that happiness is, "not so much a condition as a destination - it can inspire journeys...better made in company".

Producer: Sheila Cook.

The Revolution Of Capitalism20110904

The author and philosopher John Gray presents a hard-hitting talk about capitalism.

He argues that one side-effect of the financial crisis is an increasing number of people who believe that Karl Marx was right.

He outlines why Marx's belief that capitalism would lead to revolution - and end bourgeois life - has come true.

But not in the way Marx imagined.

For increasing numbers of people, he says, a middle class existence is no longer even an aspiration.

"More and more people live from day to day with little idea of what the future will bring".

"It's wasn't communism that did the deed" he says.

"It's capitalism that has killed off the bourgeoisie".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

John Gray on why an increasing number of people believe that Karl Marx was right.

The Rights Of Humans... And Animals2012042720120429

"Could it be that human rights simply don't exist?" asks Will Self provocatively.

To illustrate his point, he writes: "One man's extraordinary rendition is another man's license to torture, which in turn is a flagrant denial of a third man's human rights". And he ponders how we can conceive of a person having any human rights, unless effective sanctions are in place to stop them being violated. He turns his attention to Syria and its "vicious dictator...actively and consistently violating the human rights of its own citizenry". But the UN Security Council is - he says - seemingly powerless to stop him.

It is all a long way, he suggests, from Article 1 of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." That - he points out - means that "no single one of the eight-and-a-half billion-odd human lives currently transpiring can be held to be of greater value that any of the others". Without the creation of an "independent global judiciary" and "an equally incorruptible international police force," he argues, this is little more than cant.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Will Self asks whether 'human rights' really exist, when they can so easily be taken away.

The Secret Of A Happy Marriage20130329

Adam Gopnik reflects on what makes a happy marriage. Darwin, Gopnik writes, when first thinking about marriage, made a list of pros and cons. Cons included the expense and anxiety of children and the odd truth that a married man could never go up in a balloon.

On the plus side, he noted, marriage provided a constant companion and friend in old age and, memorably, that a wife would be better than a dog.

Gopnik's own formula for a happy marriage is lust, laughter and loyalty.

Via Samuel Beckett, Monty Python and The Big Lebowski, Gopnik concludes that loyalty is a much-underrated quality. Loyalty is not, he argues, a passive state that holds two people together when all else has failed.

Rather, he explains, loyalty is a wholly active state, as a new family dog has demonstrated. Dogs are there, he writes, "to remind us that loyalty is a jumpy, fizzy emotion - loyalty leaps up at the door and barks with joy at your return, and then immediately goes back to sleep at your side".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Time Warp2014031420140316

Sarah Dunant reflects that today's harsher judgement of some of the sexual behaviour prevalent in the 1970s springs in part from the freedom forged in that decade. "Without the seventies, we would never have had the debate, the public awareness, the sense of outrage or even the occasionally blunt tool of the law to judge the present and the past."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Trouble With 'freedom'2012082420120826

John Gray looks at the relationship between freedom and democracy.

"We like to tell ourselves an uplifting story in which freedom expands whenever tyranny is overthrown" writes John Gray. "We believe that...when a dictator is toppled the result is not only a more accountable type of government but also greater liberty throughout society".

But Gray believes otherwise. Using the nineteenth century liberal John Stuart Mill and his god-son Bertrand Russell, he advances his argument that liberty is one thing, democracy another.

"The reality" he says "is that when a tyrant is toppled we can't know what will come next".

Producer:

Adele Armstrong.

The Winter Queen2013022220130224
Thinking The Unthinkable2014112820141130 (R4)

John Gray argues that "thinking the unthinkable" as a way of making policy does nothing more than extend conventional wisdom to the point of absurdity and fails to take account of the complexities of reality. "Capitalism has lurched into a crisis from which it still has not recovered. Yet the worn-out ideology of free markets sets the framework within which our current generation of leaders continues to think and act."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Traces Of The Past20101105
Traces Of The Past20101107
Trial By Select Committee2015032020150322 (R4)

Tom Shakespeare thinks that reformed select committees have revitalised Parliament.

Tom Shakespeare thinks our reformed Select Committees have revitalised Parliament but he warns against the temptation to play to the gallery and to cross examine unfairly.

"Their main business is the worthy task of holding the government and the civil service to account, even if it's more fun holding unpopular public figures' feet to the fire."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Tribute To Teachers20101029

Sarah Dunant pays tribute to outstanding women teachers who inspired her own generation of schoolgirls to achieve through education as well as any boy.

She remembers, in particular, her headmistress and her art teacher, who deserve credit for the part they played in the fight for women's equality.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Sarah Dunant pays tribute to outstanding women teachers who inspired her own generation.

Tribute To Teachers20101031

Sarah Dunant pays tribute to outstanding women teachers who inspired her own generation.

Turkish Notions2013032220130324

Adam Gopnik reflects on a topical issue.

Twitter Free2014020720140209

Adam Gopnik reflects on a topical issue.

Two Cheers For Human Rights2013122720131229

John Gray gives only two cheers for human rights.

John Gray gives only two cheers for human rights. We are in danger, he argues, of turning them into a "comforting dogma through which we try to escape the painful dilemmas of war and politics."

"Rather than thinking of rights as a militant creed that can deliver the world from its conflicts, we should recognise rights for what they are - useful devices that quite often don't work.".

Understanding Contemporary China 1/42012101220121014

Martin Jacques presents a personal view on how best to understand the unique characteristics and apparent mysteries of contemporary China, its development and its possible future. In a new series of talks he sets out the building blocks for making sense of China today.

In this introductory talk, he argues that we cannot make sense of China by looking at it through a Western prism. China is not like a Western nation-state and never will be. Western nations are countries constituted on the basis of nation, China is a country constituted on the basis of a civilization. The consequences are profound and far-reaching.

In his second talk, he examines the tributary system, the historical China-centric network of international relations which involved other parts of East Asia accepting the principle of Chinese superiority in return for protection and access to the Chinese market, an arrangement distinct to European forms of colonialism. He asks whether a system of this kind is now re-emerging.

In his third talk, he explores the nature of race in China. Over 90 per cent of the Chinese population regard themselves as belonging to the same race, the Han. This is a stark contrast to the multi-racial composition of the world's other populous states. Chinese ethnic identity stems from a process of integration and of cultural identity. What defines the Chinese above all is pride in their culture and a sense of cultural achievement. The advantage of the Han identity is that it is the cement that has held China together. The disadvantage is a weak understanding of and respect for ethnic and cultural differences.

In his final talk, he asks how the undemocratic Chinese state can enjoy legitimacy and authority in the eyes of its population. He argues that the Chinese state is held in such high esteem because it is seen as the embodiment, protector and guardian of Chinese civilization. The state is seen as an intimate, a member of the family indeed - in fact, the head of the family. It is a remarkable institution which will come to exercise interest and fascination outside China.

Martin Jacques is the author of 'When China Rules the World'.

Understanding Contemporary China 2/42012101920121021

In his second talk on understanding China, Martin Jacques examines the tributary system.

In this second talk, he examines the tributary system, the historical China-centric network of international relations which involved other parts of East Asia accepting the principle of Chinese superiority in return for protection and access to the Chinese market, an arrangement distinct to European forms of colonialism. He asks whether a system of this kind is now re-emerging.

Martin Jacques is the author of 'When China Rules the World'.

Producer: Ros Jones.

Understanding Contemporary China 3/42012102620121028

In his third talk on understanding China, Martin Jacques explores the nature of race.

Martin Jacques presents a personal view on how best to understand the unique characteristics and apparent mysteries of contemporary China, its development and its possible future. In a new series of talks he sets out the building blocks for making sense of China today.

In this third talk, he explores the nature of race in China. Over 90 per cent of the Chinese population regard themselves as belonging to the same race, the Han. This is a stark contrast to the multi-racial composition of the world's other populous states. Chinese ethnic identity stems from a process of integration and of cultural identity. What defines the Chinese above all is pride in their culture and a sense of cultural achievement. The advantage of the Han identity is that it is the cement that has held China together. The disadvantage is a weak understanding of and respect for ethnic and cultural differences.

Martin Jacques is the author of 'When China Rules the World'.

Producer Adele Armstrong.

Understanding Contemporary China 4/42012110220121104

How can the undemocratic Chinese state enjoy authority in the eyes of its population?

Martin Jacques presents a personal view on how best to understand the unique characteristics and apparent mysteries of contemporary China, its development and its possible future. In a new series of talks he sets out the building blocks for making sense of China today.

In his final talk, he asks how the undemocratic Chinese state can enjoy legitimacy and authority in the eyes of its population. He argues that the Chinese state is held in such high esteem because it is seen as the embodiment, protector and guardian of Chinese civilization. The state is seen as an intimate, a member of the family indeed - in fact, the head of the family. It is a remarkable institution which will come to exercise interest and fascination outside China.

Martin Jacques is the author of 'When China Rules the World'.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

United We Fall2014022120140223

Roger Scruton argues for a vote for the English in the debate over Scottish independence.

Roger Scruton argues for a voice for the English in the debate over Scottish independence. "As an Englishman I naturally ask why my interests in the matter have never been taken into account."

Producer: Sheila Cook

Unknown Knowns2014011020140112

John Gray reflects on the things we know but prefer not to think about.

Urban Designs2013011820130120

Will Self laments what he sees as an absence of rational urban planning in our big cities and a fashion for dramatic skyscrapers driven by short term commercial values. "It occurred to me that the contemporary metropolitan skyline is really only a fireworks display of decades-long duration: a burst of aerial illumination intended to provoke awe, but doomed eventually to subside into darkness."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Virtual Violence2016040120160403 (R4)

Will Self thinks people are as violent as ever, counting the virtual and online worlds.

Virtual Violence20160401

Will Self draws no comfort from an alleged drop in violence in the real world, as he sees us increasingly expressing our innate tendency towards violence in the virtual and online worlds.

" I don't think watching violence drives us to commit violent acts - I think it is a violent action in and of itself."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Virtual Violence20160401

Volcano Power20100530
What To Do About A Bad Review20120622 (BBC7)
20130604 (BBC7)

Adam Gopnik ruminates on how to handle a bad review.

He ponders the various options. The first is to ignore it and claim the high moral ground, "the Big Ignore" he calls it. The second is to write a late night letter - or three - to the offending publication. But he now has a third option - passed on by a friend just the other evening - which he promises will produce delightful results.

An amusing guide on how to get your own back on your critics.

Producer:

Adele Armstrong.

What's Funny?2014082220140824

Will Self reflects on comedy, asking what really makes us laugh.

Will Self reflects on comedy, asking why we laugh and whether there's too much of the wrong type of humour in our culture.

Producer: Caroline Bayley.

What's In A Marriage2011072220110724

Alain de Botton on our high expectations for modern marriage.

He argues that expecting one person to be a good partner, lover and parent is - almost - asking the impossible.

And he shows how different it all was before the mid eighteenth century...

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton on our extraordinarily high expectations for modern marriage.

When Is Enough Enough?2016041520160417 (R4)

Sarah Dunant takes an historical look at avarice. She argues that the revelations in the Panama Papers are just the latest proof that man's greed is woven into the human psyche.

Dante gave it a harder time than lust...two centuries later, it's one of Machiavelli's central themes and many of the greatest works of art exist only because they were paid for by rich, often corrupt, figures, many within the church.

And - Sarah asks - aren't many of us, to some extent, guilty? Can any of us really say that when it comes to money we know when enough is enough?

Producer:

Adele Armstrong.

When Is Enough Enough?20160415

When Money Is Just An Illusion20100430

Simon Schama reflects on the meaning of money as represented by coins and notes and in art. He celebrates the solidity of coins with their seeming defiance of monetary transience in contrast to paper money which embodies more readily the ephemeral nature of fortunes made and lost. Simon Schama sees the current economic crisis as an ideal moment for artists to emulate their predecessors from earlier times of boom and bust by producing paintings to express financial worthlessness.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Simon Schama.

Who Are The Chinese? 3/420121026

In his third talk on understanding China, Martin Jacques explores the nature of race.

Why Humans Are Violent2012071320120715

John Gray reflects on the nature of violence which he sees as an inevitable part of the human condition. He analyses the impulses which drive us to fight one another and takes issue with the philosopher Hobbes' view that violence can be tamed principally by the use of reason. "The vast industrial style wars of the last century may have been left behind, but they have been followed by other forms of human conflict, in their way no less destructive".

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

John Gray reflects on a topical issue.

Why Orwell Is The Supreme Mediocrity2014082920140831

Will Self takes on one of the nation's best-loved figures, George Orwell.

Will Self takes on one of the nation's best loved figures, George Orwell....and braces himself for the backlash! "Not Orwell, surely!" he hears the listeners cry.

He uses Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language" to make his point. This - he says - is often seen as "a principled assault upon all the jargon, obfuscation, and pretentiously Frenchified folderol that deforms our noble tongue". That - in Self's view - couldn't be farther from the truth.

Describing Orwell as a "Supreme Mediocrity", Self gets to work. -

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Why Sportsmanship Matters2014013120140202

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Why We Should Be Religious But Not Spiritual2014052320140525

Tom Shakespeare argues that we should be religious but not spiritual.

A growing number of people are describing themselves as spiritual but not religious. This is not a trend of which Tom Shakespeare approves. In this week's Point of View he argues, rather, that we should be religious but not spiritual.

Why Wear A Tie?20120302

Historian David Cannadine compares the traditions of tie wearing on both sides of the Atlantic. He reflects on the social significance of this element of male dress and observes a recent phenomenon - that politicians seem to campaign in open neck shirts but govern wearing ties.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine compares the traditions of tie-wearing on both sides of the Atlantic.

Topical reflection.

Will Self2011100720111009
Will Self: Looks Matter20151009

Will Self: Looks Matter2015100920151011 (R4)

Will Self says we can't pretend that looks don't matter or that everyone is beautiful, including the obese.

"That different cultures, during different eras, have found different aspects of the human form beautiful is another straw the sub-gorgeous clutch for."

Producer:Sheila Cook.

Will Self: Looks Matter2015100920151011 (R4)

Will Self says we can't pretend that looks don't matter or that everyone is beautiful, including the obese.

"That different cultures, during different eras, have found different aspects of the human form beautiful is another straw the sub-gorgeous clutch for."

Producer:Sheila Cook.

Will Self: On Gardening20151016

Will Self: On Gardening2015101620151018 (R4)

Will Self reflects on our relationship with gardens and gardening.

Will Self: On Gardening2015101620151018 (R4)

Will Self reflects on our relationship with gardens and gardening.

Will Self: On Gardening20151016

Will Self: On Gardening20151016

Will Self reflects on our relationship with gardens and gardening.

Will Self: On Gardening20151016

Will Self reflects on our relationship with gardens and gardening.

Will Self: On Gardening20151016

Will Self: On Gardening2015101620151018 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self: On Gardening2015101620151018 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self: On Gardening20151016

Will Self: On Gardening20151016

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self: On Gardening20151016

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self: What's In A Name20151002
Will Self: What's In A Name20151002

Will Self reflects on the significance of names, including his own.

"We desire to be recognised for who we really are, and seek out in our very ascription the means of uniting our intimate identities with our social selves.".

Women Behaving Badly
03 LASTBook Choice
0605 LASTThe Sistine Tapestries20100919

Five centuries after they were created, some extraordinary tapestries have been brought from the Sistine Chapel to London.

The Raphael tapestries, from the series, "The Acts of the Aposles", are on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, to mark the Pope's visit.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the significance of these works - each one slighter bigger than a double decker bus.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the extraordinary tapestries in London for the Pope's visit.

0606 LASTBook Choice20100926