Silk

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0120131023

Silk production began, according to legend, when a Chinese Empress dropped a silkworm's cocoon into her tea some five thousand years ago. Noticing the threads come loose, she started unravelling them, and thus began one of the oldest and most fascinating of industries. The production of silk helped drive trade around the world, creating a near global trading system long before the term globalisation was ever dreamt of. Along the way it held drive industrial development with the pre-cursor of in the industrial revolution in 16th century China, and technological innovation which continues to the present day, with scientists examining the properties of silk in order to utilise its remarkable strength in a range of settings - including military.

In this two part series, Steph McGovern looks at both the bigger story of silk production, but also takes a close look (in part one) at how silk shaped one particular town - Macclesfield in Cheshire. Here, silk has been processed, woven and printed for four centuries, and had a profound effect not just upon the built environment but also the social world in which its inhabitants lived. Steph finds out about the history of the town, where once over seventy mills stood proud, and also the present day story - with a couple of silk factories still trading on the town's history, and also a new generation of business owners weighing up how far they should exploit the town's connection with silk as a means of branding themselves. Steph also discovers how silk proved a vital tool in helping World War Two prisoners of war make their escape.

02 LAST20131030

From its home in China, silk's commercial spread constituted the first global industry, offering high profits to those braving the dangerous journey along the Silk Road and beyond. The secrets behind its production were closely guarded, and China managed to maintain its hold onto these secrets for a thousand years - but thank to a large helping of smuggling and industrial espionage, other countries including France, Italy and the UK became major players in the industry.

In part two of 'Silk', Steph McGovern discovers that this most sought after material has also driven technological change, from the prototype computer programme offered by the Jacquard loom in the nineteenth century, to the development today of artificial body parts. She discovers too how silk's fortunes have been inextricably linked with political upheaval - championed by American revolutionaries, damned by French revolutionaries, and providing the setting for the birth of the Anarchist movement.

19990712

With Sheila Mcclennon and guests.

Drama: `Silk' by Alessandro Baricco (1/10).

/ By Alessandro Baricco, dramatised by Lavinia Murray.

Translated by Guido Waldman.

A French silk merchant travels to Japan and falls in love with a woman whose voice he has never even heard.

At home his wife thinks only of him and weaves her own tapestry of love and desire.

With Alex Jennings, Deborah Findlay and David Burke.

Director Marilyn Imrie (1/10).

19990713

With Sheila Mcclennon and guests.

Drama: `Silk' by Alessandro Baricco (2/10).

/ By Alessandro Baricco, dramatised by Lavinia Murray.

Translated by Guido Waldman (2/10).

19990714

With Jenni Murray and guests.

Drama: `Silk' by Alessandro Baricco (3/10).

/ By Alessandro Baricco, dramatised by Lavinia Murray.

Translated by Guido Waldman (3/10).

19990715

With Jenni Murray and guests.

Drama: `Silk' by Alessandro Baricco (4/10).

/ By Alessandro Baricco, dramatised by Lavinia Murray.

Translated by Guido Waldman (4/10).

19990716

With Jenni Murray and guests.

Drama: `Silk' by Alessandro Baricco (5/10).

/ By Alessandro Baricco, dramatised by Lavinia Murray.

Translated by Guido Waldman (5/10).

0619990719

With Martha Kearney and guests.

Drama: `Silk' by Alessandro Baricco (6/10).

/ By Alessandro Baricco, dramatised in ten parts by Lavinia Murray.

Translated by Guido Waldman.

As Herve Joncour becomes more deeply enmeshed in the silken threads of desire for the young woman in Japan, his wife longs for a son and for a return of her own beloved husband.

With Alex Jennings, Deborah Findlay and David Burke.

Director Marilyn Imrie (6/10).

0719990720

With Martha Kearney and guests.

Drama: `Silk' by Alessandro Baricco (7/10).

/ By Alessandro Baricco, dramatised by Lavinia Murray.

Translated by Guido Waldman (7/10).

0819990721

Louise Rennison talks to Jenni Murray about the traumas of adolescence and her novel `Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging'.

Drama: `Silk' by Alessandro Baricco (8/10).

/ By Alessandro Baricco, dramatised by Lavinia Murray.

Translated by Guido Waldman (8/10).

0919990722

With Jenni Murray and guests.

Drama: `Silk' by Alessandro Baricco (9/10).

/ By Alessandro Baricco, dramatised by Lavinia Murray.

Translated by Guido Waldman (9/10).

10 LAST19990723

With Jenni Murray and guests.

Drama: `Silk' by Alessandro Baricco (10/10).

/ By Alessandro Baricco, dramatised by Lavinia Murray.

Translated by Guido Waldman (10/10).