Sunday Morning With... [Radio Scotland]



Professor June Andrews is a recognised world-leader in the area of dementia care. Currently the Director of the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling, she's on a mission to ensure that people with the condition receive support, dignity and respect. She joins Cathy Macdonald to share her story and offer advice on dealing with dementia.

The Dalai Lama's said that women make better leaders because of their potential for compassion. We speak with the Right Reverend Lorna Hood, Moderator of the General Assembly for the Church of Scotland and Dina Brawer, the UK Ambassador for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance to ask how religion might benefit from more women leaders.

Nageen Hyat, a human rights activist and Director of the Nomad Centre and Art Gallery in Islamabad, tells us about her journey fighting for women's voices to be heard in politics in Pakistan.

We to meet Scotland's only choir devoted to the music of Russia and the Russian Orthodox church.

The Vatican has announced that it plans to spend millions of euros on building new churches and commissioning artists to furnish them. We speak with art historian Anne Ellis and the former Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti.



Ricky's special first hour guest is lawyer and prominent anti-apartheid campaigner and activist, Albie Sachs. He was involved in creating South Africa's post-apartheid constitution after the first democratic elections in 1994, and Nelson Mandela appointed him a Judge in the country's newly established constitutional court. He talks about his fight for freedom, which saw him imprisoned in solitary confinement and seriously injured by a car bomb.

After a bloody and difficult week in Egypt, peace experts Rosemary Hollis and Paul Rogers discuss where the Egyptians could go next, and how to get opposing sides round the table for talks.

Bob Dickson brings another story of a remarkable person whose faith enabled them to touch the lives of others in extraordinary ways. We learn about the unorthodox Christian radical Father Roland Walls, who helped found a monastic style community in a green tin shack in a former miners welfare institute in Midlothian.

And Ricky finds out how an orchestra of instruments moulded from trash, has transformed and brought music to one slum town in Paraguay. Filmmaker, Alejandra Nash, speaks to Ricky about her documentary 'Landfill Harmonic'.


Ricky's special first hour guest is the author of 'Radical: My Journey from Islamist Extremism to a Democratic Awakening', an intensely personal account of a journey into and out of religious extremism. Maajid Nawaz speaks about becoming politically militant as a teenager after experiencing racial violence, and then going on to join the radical group, Hizb al-Tahrir, eventually ending up in an Egyptian jail. Co-founder of The Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank, he's now busy spreading the word about democracy.

One of our leading classical composers, James MacMillan, talks about reviving and promoting chant based worship in the Catholic Church in Scotland, the idea behind a conference being held by "Musica Sacra Scotland".

We drop into The Sunday Assembly, a kind of church service minus the religion, as it hits Glasgow on the 40 days and 40 nights tour.

Nick Page gives the horrible histories treatment to a new book on the history of Christianity. "A Nearly Infallible History of Christianity" takes us on a journey through 2,000 years of Christianity with a few laughs along the way.

And with a current stage adaptation of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment getting rave reviews, Ricky is joined by theatre critic Joyce McMillan and Professor Jolyon Mitchell from the University of Edinburgh, to talk about how literature and theatre can offer a deeper understanding of some of the big philosophical themes.


Ricky's first hour guest this Remembrance Sunday is someone who knows only too well the consequences of war. In 2009 Margaret Evison lost her only son when he was fatally wounded by the Taliban in Afghanistan. She shares how she came to terms with her loss and learned how to live again.

60 years on, we also remember what has become known as the Forgotten War. We hear memories from men who went to fight in Korea, and whose lives were changed forever by the conflict.

The Vatican is asking Catholics around the world about their views on family matters, including divorce, mixed marriages and contraception. This is ahead of a meeting of bishops next year to discuss Roman Catholic Church teachings related to the family. Liz Leydon, editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer, and Father Roddy Johnston discuss the impact and implications of the survey.

And artist John Byrne and Alex Wallace tell Ricky about the John Byrne Award. This award invites young adults in Edinburgh and Durban to create a piece of artwork based on conversations about morals, values and ethics.






Ricky's first hour guest this morning is Deirdre Davis, the actress best known for playing Eileen Donachie for the past 13 years in BBC Scotland soap River City. Ricky chats to her about her career and her life as a committed Christian.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) recently updated their guidelines to reflect public opinion, which is increasingly concerned over the use of language and the sexualisation of young women in film and music videos. Ricky is joined by film critic Paul Gallagher and writer Katie Grant to discuss the difficulties in agreeing to what the guidelines should be.

A Church of England diocese have issued Nine Commandments for the modern day tablet, to help provide guidance on how to navigate your way through social media. Philip Blackledge, Rector of Holy Trinity Melrose, and author Katie Grant, talk about exercising caution and the kind of issues they consider before hitting the send button.

Holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlova survived 3 concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. She shares her story with us, one that begins in her native Czechoslovakia on the day of the German invasion.

The 4 Corners Belfast Festival is organised on a cross denominational basis with churches working together to encourage people to leave their corner of the city and explore new places and new perspectives. Ricky talks to the founders of the festival, Reverend Steve Stockman of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, and Father Martin MaGill, Parish Priest at Sacred Heart Parish Church.



Acclaimed academic Barbara Taylor is Sally's guest on the show, and as well as talking about her body of work, she's also frank about her experience of being a psychiatric patient. She's written intimately about the experience in her memoir 'The Last Asylum'.

Society isn't perfect, but it doesn't stop us dreaming that things could be better. One man has put his ideals into print. Sally is joined by author Gerry Hassan, who's written 'Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland'. He thinks Scotland is in a state of turbulence and flux, but from this uncertain place new and exciting changes can emerge, regardless of the outcome of the referendum later this year.

The political debate about why we're better together or why we should go it alone is dominating the news this year. One positive off-shoot of this is the space that's being created for conversation. And that's exactly what we're doing here on our Sunday Morning programme. Each month we're picking a Referendum theme to explore with different thinkers, and on today's programme it's identity.

Joining Sally is Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Interreligious studies, New College Edinburgh University,

Mary Cullen, Editor of the religious publication Open House, and writer Gerry Hassan...

Next month the World Cup kicks off, and all eyes will be firmly on host nation, Brazil. Although some people might be celebrating, others have been out protesting - all this money spent on stadiums and infrastructure for the games, while millions in the country are living in poverty. Sally is joined by Mara Luz, Depute Convener for Latin America and the Caribbean to find out the reality of what's going on behind the football preparations.



With the Commonwealth Games underway, here's another chance to hear Cathy's interview with one of Scotland's greatest athletes, the rower Katherine Grainger.

And we speak to two people on hand to provide spiritual guidance and support to the Commonwealth Games athletes, officials and workers. Chaplains, Ravinder Kaur Nijjar and Rehanah Sadiq, talk about their work at the Religion and Belief Centre in the Athletes' Village.

With a Palestinian father and a Jewish mother, Claire Hajaj knows what it's like growing up between clashing cultures, and understands what it means to belong to or not belong to the 'right' tribe. She explains how her parents' story inspired her debut novel, Ishmael's Oranges.

Our reporter Bonita Monsiegner spends a day walking around the Scottish capital in the company of Ollie Buchanan and Zishan Ashraf, the creators of The Humans of Edinburgh Project. They've been capturing portraits and stories of people on the streets of Edinburgh, which will result in an exhibition opening at the Just Festival in August.

And Cathy is joined by the Reverend Canon Gideon Byamugisha, an Anglican Priest, scholar and activist from Uganda. He talks about living with HIV and the discrimination and stigma around HIV/Aids.



Journalist, novelist, and broadcaster Cristina Odone joins Cathy for the first hour to talk about her life, work, and her time at the helm of The Catholic Herald.

To mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, Indian artist Nalini Malani presents In Search of Vanished Blood. She'll be discussing her haunting artwork with Cathy, which will transform the entire Western façade of the Scottish National Gallery on Edinburgh's Mound.

Acclaimed military historian Trevor Royle talks about editing a collection of prose, letters and articles by Scottish writers from the Great War, including work by John Buchan, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, and Hugh MacDiarmaid.

On the subject of writing that emerged from the war, Nalini Malani, Trevor Royle, and Greg Garrett, Professor of English at Baylor University, Texas, look at the impact that war and conflict has had on creativity. They'll explore how artists have responded to war.

And in the week Edinburgh comes alive with festivals, live music from Simply Soweto Encha, who've been described as a creative and joyous sound sensation from South Africa.


Two hours of music and conversation from a faith and ethical perspective, taking the week's events to task and asking what they say about values and beliefs.


Two hours of music and conversation from a faith and ethical perspective, asking what the week's events say about values and beliefs.


Dervla Murphy has spent 60 years travelling the world - mostly by bicycle - and writing about her experiences and observations. She speaks to Ricky Ross about her life and travels.

Arguments about immigration dominate the headlines. But as the politicians and policy makers tie themselves in knots we unravel an ethical approach to the issue in the company of John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews and historian Dr Wendy Ugolini from the University of Edinburgh.

On Remembrance Sunday, our reporter Bob Dickson recounts the poignant and tragic story of the Cranston brothers from Haddington, and the sacrifice they made during the First World War.

Friends Helen and Sheila talk about their shared experiences of not having children through a conversation with 'The Listening Project'.

And it's 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. We recall that historic turning point through the perspective of two people who had unique experiences of it at the time, Hans-Dieter Robel and Vivien Martin.


Ricky Ross enjoys the company of award-winning singer-songwriter, Karine Polwart.

Tomi Ajayi from the charity Christian Aid has recently returned from Sierra Leone. She explains the impact the outbreak and spread of the Ebola virus is having on communities there.

Nicola Sturgeon is about to make history as Scotland's first female First Minister. But women's role in parliamentary politics is relatively recent - and the contribution made by the first female parliamentarians is largely forgotten. Reporter, Elizabeth Quigley has been finding out about Katharine Murray who was the first woman to be elected as an MP from a Scottish constituency.

"Belfast Days: A 1972 Teenage Diary" is the story of one year in the life of a Catholic school girl in Belfast in the worst year of the Troubles. The author, Eimear O'Callaghan tells Ricky why she decided to publish her most private thoughts from over 40 years ago.

In this week's Listening Project, husband and wife, Steven and Katrina talk about the beginnings of their very close relationship.


Dame Stephanie "Steve" Shirley, arrived in Britain at the age of 5, on one of the Kinder transport trains which brought refugee children to London to escape the Nazis. Despite this incredibly difficult beginning she found a loving family and great success in Britain. The entrepreneur and philanthropist shares stories about her life and career.

Although many of us will have experienced loneliness, there's still some shame in admitting it. It has now hit the headlines, being labelled a crisis which causes great physiological and physical suffering. Poet and theologian Pádraig Ó'Tuama and writer Olivia Laing join Cathy to talk through the nature of loneliness and the impact that it has.

In this week's 'The Listening Project' granddaughter Alison quizzes her grandparents Sheila and Tom about what has kept them together for more than 6 decades.

And another granddaughter remembers her icon of a grandfather. Coming up to the first anniversary of his death, Nandi Mandela shares personal memories of her grandfather Nelson Mandela with reporter Carol Purcell.

Plus poet, author and president of the International Zen Therapy Institute, Dr David Brazier, tells Cathy why Buddhism and mindfulness are as important in 21st century Britain as they were thousands of years ago.



Ricky's guest in the first hour of the programme is a champion of civil liberties and human rights, and once called 'the most dangerous woman in Britain' by a British tabloid. Shami Chakrabarti joins Ricky to talk about her life and career.

What do you remember from your religious education class at school? Not always the most riveting hour in our school day, but over the years it's gone through quite a dramatic change. Ricky finds out more about how it's evolved, in the company of 6th year pupil Catherine Rose; former teacher Rosa Murray; and Professor Stephen McKinney, author of a history of religious education.

The intrigues and politics of the Tudor court is a story we think we already know, yet it has enthralled us again in the new TV dramatisation of Wolf Hall.

The drama's also shone a light on the politics of King's Henry's court and the tussles with the church, as well as overturning the ideals some of us previously held of saintly figures from that era, Ricky is joined by Jolyon Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in Communication, Theology and Ethics at the University of Edinburgh, and Rosa Murray, to find out why it was the Tudors marked such a pivotal time in religious history.

In this week's Listening Project, Robert shares a conversation with Sister Bruce, the nursing sister who cared for him after a serious house fire, and how they became lifelong friends.

Scottish photographer David Eustace has a remarkable list of clients, including Sir Paul McCartney, Stephen Fry and Sophia Loren. But his latest role has seen him take on a new ambassadorial post with the Scotland Homeless World Cup team. David talks to Ricky about why he's so passionate about this collaboration.



Remember the story of the hungry, over-confident tiger who invite itself in and eats and drinks everything in the house? Author and illustrator Judith Kerr is the creator of enduring children's classics like 'The Tiger who Came to Tea', and 'Mog the Cat'. But her life has also been informed by a displaced childhood, having fled pre-war Berlin with her parents. She joins Cathy to talk about her life and work.

How do you hold onto compassion and hope when your life has been dominated by themes of displacement and struggle? Writer Raja Shedhadeh still lives in the West Bank of his birth, and has never stopped searching for justice for his homeland, while also challenging how the language used to describe the tensions and conflict has changed over the decades. He joins Cathy to talk about his latest book, 'Language of War, Language of Peace - Palestine, Israel and the Search for Justice'.

In the company of Raja Shedhadeh and Alison Phipps, Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies at the University of Glasgow, Cathy explores the power of language and how cycles of negative narratives of war and violence can be broken.

This week's Listening Project features best pals John Paul and Michael. They met through a project bringing people with learning difficulties together, and share the moment in each of their lives when they went out on their own without their parents for the first time.

The 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, a seminal moment in the struggle for Civil Rights in America, will be walked again this week. Rev Dr Iain Whyte will be taking part, and Cathy spoke to him just before he flew out, and discovered how as a young theology student from Glasgow in the 60s he got a private audience with Martin Luther King.



Like being an actor, comedian and columnist isn't enough, Ricky's first guest Helen Lederer adds novelist to her list of achievements. Helen speaks about her family history, tackling her first novel, and being a woman in the male dominated world of comedy.

Can we take the Bible both seriously and literally? That is a question being asked at a Just Festival event in Edinburgh this week. Ricky opens up that conversation with Fred Drummond, National Director of the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland, and Rev Scott McKenna, Minister at Mayfield Salisbury Church in Edinburgh.

Last week Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, on behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, apologised to survivors of abuse that happened within the Catholic Church. What led to this public apology was the publication of the McLellan Commission report. Ricky is joined by Chair of the Commission, the Very Reverend Dr Andrew McLellan.

Rae McGrath, Country Director for Mercy Corps for North Syria and Turkey, talks about watching Syria unravel during the course of this bloody and devastating war. The campaigner and specialist in humanitarian response in war and earthquake zones, explains how his work highlighting the devastation wrought by landmines earned him a Nobel Peace Prize.

Stories of Yazidi women and girls being captured by IS have caused much shock and concern. Now some of those women who've managed to escape have become the subject of an exhibition, A Mile in Their Shoes. Fiona Stewart, from Foolproof Creative Arts, has a look around the exhibition and reports back.

And as Fiona is putting a show on at the festival - Help Yourself - she shares the challenges of getting political or human rights issues across in art.

Gareth K Vile, our resident reviewer at the festivals in Edinburgh, explores shows that push boundaries and gives us his festival highlights.



Two hours of music and conversation about matters of faith and ethics.



Two hours of music and conversation from a faith and ethical perspective, asking what the week's events say about values and beliefs.


With the long awaited final instalment of his trilogy on the life of Cicero, author Robert Harris speaks to Richard about his appetite for political intrigue and historical figures obsessed with power.

In a report from our occasional series on things that inspire, Noorah Al-Gailani, Curator of Islamic Civilisations at Glasgow Museums, who came to the UK from Iraq in 1992, explains why the stories her aunt tells her mean so much.

The UN is celebrating its 70th birthday this month but will it be a happy birthday or an occasion for dismal reflection on its lack of achievement? The Reverend Iain Whyte, a human rights activist; Trevor Salmon, Emeritus Professor at the University of Aberdeen; and Maggie Black, author of 'The No-Nonsense Guide to The United Nations' share their thoughts.

Professor Malcolm Baird, the son of one of Scotland's greatest inventors, John Logie Baird, tells us what his father hoped television would bring to our lives and shares stories about his early life.

Over the last 25 years he has built his name and reputation to become known as the King of Bollywood. And last week Shah Rukh Khan, one of the world's most popular actors, received an honorary degree from Edinburgh University. We hear his thoughts on becoming a Doctor, 25 years on the silver screen, and the values he lives by.

Poet and teacher, William Ayot, on his new book 'Re-enchanting the Forest' which explores ways of engaging with ritual and how its inner meaning may restore a sense of wonder to our lives.



Two hours of music and conversation from a faith and ethical perspective, asking what the week's events say about values and beliefs.



Two hours of music and conversation from a faith and ethical perspective, asking what the week's events say about values and beliefs.



Ricky is joined by the fascinating writer, traveller and natural historian Redmond O'Hanlon, along with a collection of artefacts he's collected from around the world.

Pope Francis is unafraid to court controversy, and the publication of his first book since becoming Pontiff - 'The Name of God is Mercy' - is already creating debate. Mary Cullen, editor of the religious publication 'Open House' and Ronnie Convery, Director of the Archdiocese of Glasgow, join Ricky to discuss the publication and what we mean by the word mercy.

As tensions increase between the two major Middle Eastern powers of Iran and Saudi Arabia, Ricky takes a look at the rift and where they stem from, in the company of Dr Idrees Ahmad - Lecturer in Digital Journalism, University of Stirling, and Dr Ather Hussain, a Sufi Sunni Imam and writer.

Charity Vox Liminis works with people in the criminal justice system teaching song-writing and performance. Our reporter Monica Brown drops into one of the sessions, and Ricky is joined in the studio by Director of the project Alison Urie, and Professor Fergus McNeil of Glasgow University, to talk more about its impact on those involved.

For many it was the must-watch TV series over Christmas. 'Making a Murderer', an American documentary that follows the case of Steven Avery. Alison Urie and journalist and writer Chitra Ramaswamy talk about the moral and ethical issues this extraordinary documentary has been raising.

There was a time in recent history many would prefer to forget. Over 100,000 children were forced to migrate to British Commonwealth countries. Tony Chambers, was nine when he was sent to New Zealand. He tells his story, and the reverse journey he undertook as a young adult to find his mother again.



With International Women's Day on 8th March we're celebrating women on Mothering Sunday on the programme. We get to know the woman behind the comic roles of Terri in 'The Thick of It', and the no-nonsense police officer in 'No Offence'. Joanna Scanlan opens up to Richard Holloway about her life in and out of acting.

In our occasional series on inspiring moments and things in our lives, we hear from Marzanna Antoniak who came to Scotland only 8 years ago without any English, recalling a book that paved the way to her learning the language.

With International Women's Day this week marking significant milestones and achievements by women in social, cultural and political worlds, where does religion come on that list? Dr Madhavi Nevader from the University of St Andrews; Dr Sara Parvis from the University of Edinburgh; and Dr Shuruq Naguib from Lancaster University, explore the role of women in religion.

Arthur Miller's play 'The Crucible', has been revived as part of the Lyceum Theatre's 50th anniversary celebrations, a classic tale about the witch hunts in colonial New England in the 16th century. The List's theatre critic Gareth Vile and Dr Sara Parvis discuss its relevance for today and the story of fear and paranoia at its heart.

Our reporter Anne Ellis has been investigating a place of spiritual significance in Scotland, Dunino Den, originally an ancient meeting place for Druids.

We live in a world where though our entertainment choices seem limitless, what unites the best of them is always a good story, well told.

Storyteller Sarah Agnew brings new meaning to an ancient piece of writing, St Paul's Letter to the Romans.



He's a true polymath with quite a list of letters after his name, 'lad o' pairts' is a perfect phrase for Richard Holloway's guest, Sir Kenneth Calman. The surgeon and writer tells Richard about crossing the science and arts divide, and the driving force behind his giant of a career.

70 years ago this month, scientists started tracking thousands of British babies born during one week. Science journalist, Helen Pearson, talks about this extraordinary experiment that has been tracking thousands of individuals at every stage of their life since 1946. It has influenced governments and medical practise, and is still going to this day.

Most of us, at some point in our lives, have lain awake at night with money worries, but in what ways can debt impact on our long-term mental wellbeing? A new institute has been set up to look at this issue. Richard hears from one man whose financial troubles resulted in depression, and also from Chris O'Sullivan of Mental Health Foundation Scotland and Jassim Johe, support worker at Kingsway Court Health and Wellbeing Centre in Glasgow.

Last weekend Roman Catholics around the world were encouraged by Pope Francis to take part in a twenty four hour "confession drive", and one priest has even invited others to join in. Richard discusses confession and whether it can be good for the soul, with Father Roddy Johnston and Angela Trainer, a psychotherapist at the Harvest Clinic in Glasgow.

Sunday marks one of the saddest days in recent Scottish history. The tragic events in Dunblane shook the nation to its core. Twenty years on we look at how the arts and poetry can offer an outlet in times of pain and sorrow. Richard hears from poet Catherine Wilson who lost her sister that day, and Rab Wilson who responded to the atrocity through poetry.



Louis de Bernières, the author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin joins Cathy to talk about life as a writer and father.

What's it like when you're homeless, and have a pet to care for and feed as well as yourself? A group of student vets in Glasgow have set up a free clinic where homeless people can come with their dogs for basic care. Reporter Anna Magnusson went to find out more.

With the introduction of the new National Living Wage, how will it benefit workers in low paid jobs, particularly care staff? Cathy is joined by Dr Donald Macaskill, Chief Executive of Scottish Care.

Ever wondered what happened to the person who used to sit next to you in the pew - why they left and what they're doing? Dr Steve Aisthorpe, a Mission Development worker with the Church of Scotland, had written about it in his book The Invisible Church". Cathy is also joined by Eildon Dyer, one of the founder members of 'Bert', a community that worships in a non-traditional setting, based in East Pollokshields.

A new play exploring the issue of blasphemy uses a Scottish court case from the 17th century to draw modern parallels with how we confront issues around freedom of speech. The List's theatre critic Gareth K Vile finds out if it deepens our understanding of an often sensitive and complex issue.

We all have dreams, but when Mostafa Salameh woke with a start one night in his Edinburgh flat he was determined to make it a reality. It led him to climb Everest and to succeed in other mountaineering quests. Alongside this has been something of a spiritual quest, chronicled in his new book 'Dreams of a Refugee'.



David Walsh, the multi-award winning sports journalist who pursued cyclist, Lance Armstrong, about doping until the truth finally came out, talks to Cathy about his life in and out of sport.

Ever written to your hero and they responded? Better than that they paid you a personal visit! On the centenary of the birth of violinist Yehudi Menuhin, Denis Rice recalls his correspondence and eventual visit by the great musician.

Can shared acts of remembrance help bring closure on painful events - or is the term 'closure' itself an obstacle? Cathy is joined by Marina Cantacuzino, founder of The Forgiveness Project, and Verene Nicolas, Mediator and Trainer in Non Violent Communication.

Glasgow-born author David Solomons, whose Jewish background has informed his award-winning children's book, was also inspired to write it after seeing his baby son in a cape. It's an everyday story of your annoying older brother becoming a superhero instead of you...don't you just hate it when that happens?



Dr. Susie Orbach, the founder of the Woman's Therapy Centre in London and author of the ground-breaking 1978 best-seller ''Fat is a Feminist Issue", looks back over her life and career with Cathy Macdonald.

The Office of National Statistics have officially recognised the home production economy, saying it is worth £1 trillion. Emily Thomson, Senior Lecturer in Economics at Glasgow Caledonian University, and Canon Angus Ritchie of St George-in-the-East parish in London discuss how we value work, and if we give more importance to work that has a monetary figure attached to it.

The Ahmadiyya community have found themselves in the spotlight after the death of shopkeeper Asad Shah. Abdul Ghaffar Abid, regional president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Scotland, explains why they have launched a peace campaign and what they hope it will achieve.

German journalist, Jurgen Todenhofer, shares the story of his extraordinary journey into one of the world's worst danger zones. He explains what took him into the heartland of IS controlled Syria and Iraq.

In the early hours of the 26th April 1986, an accident at the Chernobyl power station in Soviet Ukraine caused a major explosion, releasing radioactive contamination into the atmosphere. Michael Lafferty, the Scottish coordinator of the Chernobyl Children's Lifeline charity, talks about his involvement 30 years on.

And why are British youth amongst the most troubled in the world? We look at the anxieties and pressures this smartphone generation face with Natasha Simmonds and Jamie Shaw from BBC Scotland's 'Generation 2016' group, and parents Andrea McKinnon and Jackie Tolland.



Last week's news of an escalation of security levels amidst concern of a terror threat posed by dissident republicans in Northern Ireland surprised many. Steve Stockman minister of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast - and co-founder of the city's 4 Corners Festival set up to promote unity and reconciliation between communities - tells Cathy what ordinary people in Northern Ireland are feeling.

Designer Wayne Hemingway built a designer brand at affordable prices. He tells Cathy about his life so far and why he's venturing into the business of social housing.

Christian Aid week starts today and Cathy is joined by Belinda Bennett to discuss her work as an activist for victims of mental health, trafficking and domestic violence.

We've seen the news reports about refugees and migrants making their way to Europe - but is there a responsibility to find the real authentic stories? Journalist and author Charlotte McDonald-Gibson tells Cathy how she's tried to do just that.

When it comes to love, this complex and changeable emotion and our view of it has been influenced by literature, culture, and innovative thinkers. Cathy talks to philosophers Alain de Botton and Elizabeth Drummond-Young and discovers their philosophy on love.

We'll have a moment of Eastern inspiration as Buddhist nun Kelsang Machig reveals the day that changed her life. Alain de Botton and Elizabeth Drummond-Young discuss the influence of Eastern philosophy in our lives, and why it's increasingly more popular than its Western counterpart.

Author James Dorsey discusses his new book, "The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer" offering insight into Middle Eastern and North African football, a key battleground for political control, protest and resistance.



Hiroshima was the Japanese city that was first targeted by a nuclear weapon in August 1945. An estimated 80,000 people died. Setsko Thurlow was a schoolgirl in Hiroshima at the time and recalls her memories of the event.

Cathy is joined by one of Scotland's most celebrated poets, Edinburgh Makar Christine De Luca. She talks about her homeland of Shetland and writing in both English and in her native Shetlandic.

With the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland opening this weekend Cathy talks to the new moderator, Right Rev Dr Russell Barr, one of the founding members of the charity Fresh Start who help people who've been homeless get established in their new home.

What will be the big debates at this year's Church of Scotland General Assembly? Cathy will be joined by Hannah Mary Goodlad, Moderator of the National Youth Assembly; Rev Mike Goss, of Barry Church linked with Carnoustie; The Very Rev'd Lorna Hood of Renfrew North Parish Church; and the Kirk's youngest minister Rev Michael Mair of St David's Broomhouse, to discuss issues around same sex marriage, minister recruitment and ethical investments.



Sunday Morning with Ricky Ross is live at the Solas Festival in Blackruthven, Perthshire - a Festival which draws inspiration from musical, political, cultural and religious worlds.

Our house band for the first hour are Emily Kelly & Graham Coe, aka The Jellyman's Daughter, a duo from Edinburgh whose voices blend beautifully over a combination of guitar, mandolin and cello.

With religion playing a significant role in national and international politics, as well as being blamed for various acts of violence Ricky and his panel of guests: Alastair McIntosh, author and independent scholar; Pádraig Ó'Tuama, poet, theologian and leader of Corrymeela Community; and Alison Phipps, Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies at the University of Glasgow, discuss how religious literacy could help us better understand such issues.

Hollie McNish, former UK Slam poetry champion, performs in front of a live audience and joins poet and musician Declan Welsh, and poet Pádraig Ó'Tuama, to look at how poetry helps makes sense of the personal, and why we often turn to poets at a time of tragedy to capture emotion.

Twelve days in the walking, seven years in the writing, Alastair McIntosh talks about his book "Poacher's Pilgrimage", which in is his own words is about "God, war and the faeries".

Alastair McIntosh, Pádraig Ó'Tuama and Alison Phipps reflect on Pilgrimage and Walking, and the world that it opens up internally. They look at the connection between moving through the external landscape and moving through your own internal landscape.

Live music from Declan Welsh, a 22 year old singer-songwriter from East Kilbride, and he explains why he doesn't like to limit himself - the recent law graduate is also a poet and a board member of a Scottish Children's charity.

How aware are you of the privileges you have, and how do you use those privileges? Vérène Nicolas, a Quaker, Mediator and Trainer in Non-Violent Communication joins Pádraig Ó'Tuama and Alison Phipps.

Edinburgh singer-songwriter Ross Wilson, otherwise known as Blue Rose Code, treats us to some music and chats to Ricky about why his songs so often delve deep into the personal.

And every culture has an oral tradition, but why is it so important to nurture it and keep it going? Ricky and his guests look at the power of the story, and how this ancient tradition connects us and gives us a sense of who we are.



Former British athletics coach Frank Dick has worked with some of the Britain's greatest Olympians including Daley Thompson, Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett. He talks to Richard about the much anticipated Olympics in Rio, and the Olympic ban handed to Russian athletes.

For almost a hundred and forty years it's been providing support for railway workers and passengers, and now the Railway Mission has got its first chaplains' office in Scotland. Our reporter Bob Dickson finds out more about the Railway Mission and the vital work it does.

It's been 25 years since the Rodney King incident where white police officers beating up a black man led to rioting and deaths in Los Angeles, yet the race issue continues to dominate in America. We look at the rising tensions that have led to the Black Lives Matter campaign with Professor Greg Garrett, who teaches popular culture and theology at Baylor University in Texas; Andrea Baker, opera singer and presenter; and peace and human rights activist Reverend Iain Whyte.

And we explore some of the peace movements from the 20th Century, which was arguably the most violent period in human history. Feminist historian Dr Lesley Orr and Reverend Iain Whyte discuss whether war is sometimes the only way to bring peace or if violence always begets more violence.

At what moment will artificial intelligence overtake human beings in terms of knowledge and intelligence? Dr David Goodman, Member of the Jewish Reform Community, and Dr Idrees Ahmad, lecturer in Digital Journalism at Stirling University, look at the impact 'The Singularity' will have on our lives.


Two hours of music and conversation from a faith and ethical perspective.



Lawyer and writer Phillipe Sands talks to Sally Magnusson about the emotional journey he went on to uncover his family's tragic past in Germany.

The Priests are 3 parish priests from Northern Ireland who catapulted to fame in 2008 after signing a major recording deal. One of the trio, Father Martin O'Hagan, tells Sally about their new album 'Alleluia', and what it's like juggling parish work with stardom.

Despite the many disturbing stories of shootings in the USA, America's love affair with the gun is as strong as ever. Sally discusses the complicated relationship American's have with firearms, with photographer and film maker Zed Nelson who is behind Gun Nation, a project which took him across the U.S to meet those invested in the issue; American priest Canon Tom Miller, who now lives in Orkney; and Gary Younge, editor-at-large of The Guardian. Gary also shares some of the human stories behind the statistics of gun violence in the United States, which he tackles in his book "Another Day in the Death of America".



Sally Magnusson speaks to a man who has been called Scotland's greatest living historian - Sir Tom Devine, who talks faith, politics and identity.

The latest UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem's holy sites has proved controversial. BBC Middle East Correspondent Yolande Knell is in the city, and explains why.

Lebanon is smaller than Scotland, both geographically and in population, but the influx of refugees from Syria has been enormous over the last few years - some now estimate that a third of all the people living there are refugees. Father Paul Karam, president of the Catholic aid agency Caritas Lebanon, tells us the immense pressure this is putting on the country, and the ways in which they are providing support.

And journalist Emma Jane Kirby looks at another part of the chain in the refugee crisis. In her book, The Optician of Lampedusa, she brings to life the moment a boat trip with friends became a life changing and life-saving event.

Sally finds out what motivates Sister Teresa Forcades, a nun who combines a life devoted to God in a mountainside monastery with campaigning against some of the world's most powerful institutions.

And Bishop David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, joins Sister Teresa Forcades to discuss whether faith leaders should stick to talking religion, or if they have a moral responsibility to get political.



Cathy talks to one of the biggest-selling novelists in the world - and a trail-blazer in the genre of forensic crime novels - Patricia Cornwell, about her challenging upbringing and the lengths she goes to for authenticity in her writing.

The film 'A Street Cat Named Bob', tells the story of James Bowen who befriended an injured cat he called Bob, who in turn helped James turn his life around. Cathy talks to Douglas Ruthven, an Area Representative for Canine Concern Scotland who run a service called Therapet bringing dogs into hospital wards and hospices for the benefit of patients, and Laura O'Neill, owner and founder of Maison De Moggy - the first cat café in Scotland where you can have a cuppa with a cat on your lap. What are the physical and emotional advantages of having animals around?

Exploring the relationship between religion and the media; it's not always a comfortable one but it's increasingly important in making sense of current world events. Cathy talks to the Imam of Edinburgh Central Mosque, Yahya Barry, Senior Lecturer in Jewish Studies at Chester University Dr Alana Vincent, and former editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer, Liz Leydon.




Peter Tatchell on the high and low points of his 50 years of activism.

After a year of political and social upheaval on both sides of the Atlantic, there's recognition that many people are feeling disconnected from those in government. So do we need to find new ways of engagement; ways which feel more authentic and grounded? Cathy is joined by Ian Galloway, a Church of Scotland minister at Gorbals Parish Church, and Simon Barrow, Director of the religion and ethics think-tank Ekklesia.

In Edinburgh this weekend are an inspirational group of people at The International World Extreme Medicine Conference who have come together to share their expertise from expeditions up mountains, in oceans, and the midst of natural disaster and war zones. The renowned British war surgeon Dr David Nott joins Cathy to talk about his life and work.

Children in Need provide grants to thousands of UK projects. One is a unique adventure playground in Edinburgh, providing dynamic playtime for children and young people with disabilities. Chief Executive Celine Sinclair explains the work and Gillian Pass, a mum whose son, Jamie, uses the centre gives a very personal account of how The Yard has helped them both.

You might think the nephew of the Brinks-Mat robbers was destined to be sucked into a life of crime. But John McAvoy managed to completely change the course of his life through sport. And as Prisoners Week in Scotland begins this week, one of the organisers, Brian Gowans, Chaplains' Advisor to the Scottish Prison Service, joins the conversation to talk about the challenges prisoners face.


Two hours of music and conversation with a faith and ethical perspective, asking what the week's events say about values and beliefs.



His opinions have certainly raised some eye brows over the years - writer, broadcaster and former Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips OBE, on multi-culturalism, identity, and speaking out on the things that matter.

As it comes to a close - how effective has Pope Francis' special jubilee 'Holy Year of Mercy' been? Luke Devlin, Executive Director for the Centre for Human Ecology, and Dr Sara Parvis, Senior Lecturer in Church History, University of Edinburgh, discuss if it has succeeded in putting mercy right at the heart of the Catholic Church worldwide.

A dark and fascinating story of a doomsday cult led by a dangerously charismatic woman, who claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus, is the subject of a BBC 4 documentary. Luke Devlin and Ian Haworth review 'Storyville: The Cult that Stole Children - Inside the Family'; and Ian talks about his own experience of being lured into a cult.

It's a word that's never far from news headlines, but it's not exactly something we like to associate with ourselves. Cathy looks at how ordinary people can fall into everyday acts of evil, with Luke Devlin, who works in faith-based community development, and Jungian analyst Coline Covington, author of 'Everyday Evils'.



Rory O'Neill, through his drag queen alter-ego Panti Bliss, has been dressing up and entertaining people for 20 years. Along the way he became embroiled in an incident that sparked nationwide debate in Ireland leading up to their landmark referendum on same-sex marriage.

A chance childhood encounter in a magic shop introduced James Doty to mindfulness and changed the direction of his life. He became a neurosurgeon, philanthropist, and the creation of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. Cathy talks to James about that extraordinary moment when he first walked through the doors of the magic shop.

Author and academic Omar Imady, from the Centre for Syrian Studies at St Andrews University, on the current situation in Syria and his latest novel, 'The Gospel of Damascus'.

2016 marks fifty years of the housing charity, Shelter, and award-winning film-maker, Marcel Mettelsiefen has made a documentary - 'Slum Britain: 50 Years On' - charting what has changed in the past half century. He talks to Cathy about the struggles he witnessed while filming.

Speak Unique is a new project based in Edinburgh which aims to help with some of the problems of losing your voice. Reporter Nick Balneaves went to find out why they are recording different dialects from around Scotland. Therapeutic storyteller Wendy Woolfson and Quaker and scholar Alastair McIntosh join Cathy to explore why our voice is so important to our identity.



There are few people who get the chance to have a ringside seat on history but Alastair Campbell, former Director of Communications for Tony Blair, is one person who has. The son of an Islander from Tiree, he talks to Ricky about his life and sometimes controversial career.

Every year we get ourselves into a bit of a tangle over what to buy our loved ones for Christmas. Reporter Pauline Moore has been seeking wisdom on this whole area of the festive season.

Christmas can be a sensory overload with images that range from the modern to the traditional, inflatable Santas to Nativity scenes. And with plans to bring the sculpture 'Homeless Jesus' to the UK next year, are we still moved and challenged by religious imagery? Ricky is joined by Richard Frazer, Minister of Greyfriar's Kirk in Edinburgh and Convenor of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council, and Iain Campbell, Artist-In-Residence at St George's Tron Church in Glasgow.

Our reporter Monica Brown finds out how a humble bowl of soup is helping enterprising community projects emerge and thrive. Organiser Charlie B-Gavigan, and benefactor of the first Glasgow Soup event, David McHarg, explain to Ricky the inspiration and impact of the project. Richard Frazer joins the conversation to talk about how community grassroot projects can empower and affect change for the people involved.

When your first memories in life are looking across at vineyards, somehow wine is always going to play a part in your life. Author Gisela Kreglinger has combined her work as a theologian in her latest book 'The Spirituality of Wine' to explore the links between the two.