Zsl London Zoo

Episodes

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01Night Waves20130923

In the first of three special programmes from ZSL London Zoo, Matthew Sweet examines the Zoo as cultural institution.

From Royal menagerie to scientific institution, from family day out to centre for wildlife conservation, the Zoo has presented itself in different ways over the years. Matthew discusses the Zoo's current incarnation as conservation centre with ZSL's Zoological Director David Field and head of the Tiger Conservation Programme Sarah Christie.

The Zoo's Lubetkin Penguin Pool, 1934, lays claim to being one of the first public buildings in Britain to be built in the then-new Modernist style. David Field takes Matthew and the architecture critic Ellis Woodman for a tour of the Zoo discussing the peculiarities of designing housing for animals.

Produced by Luke Mulhall.

02Night Waves20131002

In Night Waves' second outing to London Zoo, Matthew Sweet and guests discuss Angus Wilson's 1961 novel 'The Old Men At The Zoo'.

From institutional in-fighting to our relationship with nature, via nuclear apocalypse, Wilson's novel uses the Zoo as a backdrop to examine some characteristic preoccupations of mid-20th century Britain. Arguably it is the missing link between novels of the post-war generation like 'Lucky Jim' and the dystopian science fiction of J.G. Ballard. Yet Wilson is rarely read today.

Matthew is joined by Wilson's friend and biographer Margaret Drabble and by the poet and novelist Iain Sinclair to make a case for a Wilson revival.

'The Old Men At The Zoo' was dramatised for TV in 1983, and Matthew is also joined by the series producer Jonathan Powell, who went on to be Controller of BBC1, along with members of his production team.

Produced by Luke Mulhall.

03 LASTNight Waves20131010

In the last of Matthew Sweet's visits to ZSL London Zoo he meets Daniel Simmonds, head keeper of Gorilla Kingdom. He discusses his relationship with the animals in his care and speculates about whether they really do have the complicated emotional lives he sees in their behaviour or whether he's just projecting something onto them that isn't there. Matthew is joined by the neurologist Raymond Tallis and guests for a conversation on the various ways we can think about our relationships with primates - biologically, conceptually, and culturally.