Reasons To Be Cheerful

Series which seeks to challenge the prevailing atmosphere of doom and gloom and dares to be optimistic.

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Episodes

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0101Arthur Smith2009041820090525

Disability affairs correspondent Peter White, who is blind, shares some of his reasons to be cheerful - technology which has set him free to scan and read whatever books he wants, the disappearance of the British Sunday which was the bane of his 1950s childhood, and the train announcements which annoy so many people, but are a boon to him.

Peter talks to grumpy comedian Arthur Smith and challenges him with his optimism.

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

Peter White, who is blind, shares some of his reasons to be cheerful with Arthur Smith

0102Diana Quick2009042520090526

Series which seeks to challenge the prevailing atmosphere of doom and gloom and dare to be optimistic.

Actress Diana Quick attempts to challenge the culture of nostalgia which threatens to overtake us.

She is cheerful about the fact that women have more opportunities than they did in the 1960s and that we live longer, healthier lives.

She takes on actress Annette Crosbie who thinks that there is nothing to be said for getting older and that the world really is going to hell in a handcart.

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

Diana Quick is cheerful about the fact that women have more opportunities than in the past

0103 LASTStephen K Amos2009050220090527

Comedian Stephen K Amos offers an antidote to grumpiness.

He is cheerful that school pupils no longer have to wear tank tops, classrooms are generally cheerier places and that houses are more individual than when he was growing up.

He is also pleased that racism is no longer so overt, and talks to former MP Oona King and grumpy comedian Felix Dexter, who concedes that things have improved since the days of The Black and White Minstrel Show and Love Thy Neighbour.

A series which seeks to challenge the prevailing atmosphere of doom and gloom and dare to be optimistic.

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

0201Gordon Kennedy20100724

Gordon Kennedy takes on a grumpy John O'farrell.

As the country faces a tightening of its financial belt, the Scottish actor and comedian takes a timely look at some of things he thinks we should cheer about.

Gordon is fascinated by nanotechnology and he discovers how science fiction is becoming science fact at the London Centre for Nanotechnology with Professor Richard Jackman.

Gordon, star of the hit BBC series Robin Hood, is also a sport fanatic.

He chats with bestselling sport author Frances Edmonds about how Britain is rediscovering its love of team sports.

As a keen cyclist, Gordon recently realised that cycling through London is not the death wish it used to be.

He talks to Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London's transport adviser, on what has changed.

In an antidote to the Grumpy Old Men culture, Gordon chats with leading psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman to discover the root causes of grumpiness and asks how it can defeated.

He uses his new found knowledge to try and convince best selling author John O'farrell - a self-confessed grump - to change his pessimistic ways.

Producers: Joanne Coombs and Martin McNamara

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Gordon Kennedy tries to convince author John O'farrell to change his pessimistic ways.

0202Jake Arnott20100731

Ake Arnott reckons there has never been a better time to be a man.

The best selling author of modern gangster classic The Long Firm takes on the Grumpy Old Men and Women in the latest series of Reasons To Be Cheerful.

In his programme he looks at the astonishing changes to men's lives in just a few decades.

This runs from greater sexual freedoms to modern Metrosexuals like David Beckham, who are not afraid to don a sarong, and onto the world class British men's designers like Ozwald Boateng.

Along the way he celebrates Britain's new-found cafe culture and the regeneration of his beloved Soho.

He is joined in his quest by Mark Simpson, the journalist who first coined the term "Metrosexual", fashion expert Christopher Breward from the Victoria & Albert Museum and Professor Frank Furedi, sociologist and nemesis of the modern Grumpies.

Jake tries his best to convince columnist and sometime Grumpy Old Woman Kathryn Flett that modern life is far from rubbish.

Producer: Martin McNamara

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Author Jake Arnott lists the sensitive 'new man' as one of his Reasons to be Cheerful.

0203 LASTKatharine Whitehorn20100807

A glass of bubbly at Europe's longest champagne bar before skipping across to Paris for lunch: Katharine Whitehorn shows us how to grow old disgracefully in the new series of 'Reasons To Be Cheerful.'

It is a common assumption that older people must be miserable about their lot in the modern age.

But Katharine, doyenne of female columnists for more than 50 years, loves modern travel, especially the Eurostar; she believes conveniences around the home have revolutionised the lives of women and marvels at advances in medicine that have transformed what it means to be a pensioner.

Katharine is joined in her crusade by cultural and social historian Amanda Vickery, Independent travel editor Simon Calder and Professor Tom Kirkwood from Newcastle's Institute of Aging and Health.

She battles against professional Grumpy, comedian and travel writer Tony Hawks, and tries to convince him that modern life has more ups than downs.

Producer: Martin McNamara

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Journalist Katharine Whitehorn joins the fight against the grumpy old men and women.

0301Meera Syal20120107

Meera Syal reveals her love of the boxing ring in the first of a new series of "Reasons To Be Cheerful". The multi-talented writer, actress and comedian exercises by getting into the ring and taking slugs at her trainer Paul Webb. Meera, who describes herself as a "pacifist boxer", says the fact that women can now enjoy this male dominated sport is one of her big Reasons To Be Cheerful.

This is the third series of the programme which takes a light hearted swipe at the Grumpy Old Men and Grumpy Old Women who usually control the airwaves. Meera, star of The Kumars at No. 40 and Goodness Gracious Me, praises karaoke as a wonderful piece of modern living, which allows even the shyest person in the room to get up and shine. The mother of two also looks at modern motherhood and the improved way that parents are communicating with their children.

She is joined by experts Rosalind Edwards, Professor in Social Policy at the University of Southampton, Professor Kath Woodward from the Open University and Ethnomusicologist Rachel Harris from the School of Oriental and African Studies. Meera visits the Centre for Well-Being and quizzes founder Nic Marks for tips on how to live a well balanced life.

Meanwhile she does her best to convince fellow actress and comedian Helen Lederer to renounce her grumpy ways.

Producers: Jo Coombs and Martin McNamara.

0302Jackie Kay20120114

Scottish poet and writer Jackie Kay does her best to cheer up Muriel Gray with her Reasons To Be Cheerful in the third series of the popular programme. The concept behind Reasons To Be Cheerful is simple. Each week a guest presenter looks at some of the things about modern life that they believe are worth celebrating.

Jackie returns to her Scottish homeland to celebrate a few of the things that she believes make modern life better. The revival of home-baking is one of Jackie's big reasons. She visits her mum's Glasgow home to sample the baked goods of her neighbours. Jackie is joined by Catharine Brown, one of Scotland's best known cookery writers.

Jackie is delighted by the current boom in the publication of poetry pamphlets. Despite living in the age of e-publishing, poetry lovers are turning to this decidedly old fashioned form of communication. Jackie visits the Edinburgh Poetry Library to see their pamphlet collection and to meet Liz Lochhead, acclaimed poet and the current Scottish Makar, the national poet.

She celebrates what she sees as a revival in activism of young people. She is particularly delighted by imaginative campaigns like Football Beyond Borders, which uses soccer to break down barriers between people. It was set up and run by young people, including her son Matthew.

Jackie interviews Carol Craig, chief executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being in Glasgow. The innovative centre is dedicated to looking at ways of tackling pessimism in modern society.

Among Jackie's guests are Andy Furlong, Robyn Marsack and Jasper Kain. Along the way Jackie has to convince the broadcaster and writer Muriel Gray that there are things to cheer about.

Produced by Martin McNamara and Kim Normanton.

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

Scottish poet and writer Jackie Kay does her best to cheer up Muriel Gray

0303 LASTRobin Ince20120121

Comedian Robin Ince shares his wonder at gene research and love of festivals in Reasons To Be Cheerful.

At least twelve times a year comedian Robin Ince finds himself at a festival somewhere in the UK and he loves it.

The modern explosion in the festival scene "from Glastonbury to Hay" is one of Robin's big reasons for celebrating modern life. The comic explores his obsession in the third series of Reasons To Be Cheerful, Radio 4's retort to the grumpy voices that usually fill the airwaves.

Robin also celebrates how research into our genes has led to a shift in our understanding of who we are. He meets up with leading scientist Michael Dunn at the Wellcome Institute in London to look at the impact of gene research.

According to cynics, today's young people are more interested in Katie Price and X-factor than scientific advancements. Not true says Robin and he sets out to show how today's kids are hungry to learn, with the help of leading psychologist Tanya Byron.

Robin looks for inspiration on how to live a good life from the great French thinker Montaigne. He enlists the help of author Sarah Bakewell to find out what a 16th century philosopher can teach us about modern life.

Comedian and broadcaster Michael Legge provides a grumpy foil to Robin and proves difficult to cheer up.

Producer: Jo Coombs.

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

Science-mad comedian Robin Ince shares his wonder at gene research and love of festivals.

6MReasons To Be Cheerful: Ian Dury And The Blockheads20100116

Andy Serkis tells the extraordinary story of Ian Dury and the Blockheads - how a disabled art teacher in his mid-thirties fused punk, funk and incredible lyrics to create some of the most important music of the 70s. Friends and colleagues including Chas Jankell, The Blockheads, Suggs, Phill Jupitus and Ian's son Baxter reflect on a career of "sex, drugs and rock and roll", from the revolutionary "New Boots and Panties" through to Ian's early death and the legacy of the Blockheads as the band continue to tour.