BBC

Listening to The Everywoman (BBC Radio 4)

Listening to The Everywoman (BBC Radio 4)We’re currently listening to The Everywoman (BBC Radio 4) and BBC Sounds. This neat two-part documentary poses the question:

If there is an ‘Everyman’ in literature, can the experiences of a female character also be universal?

Novelist Sarah Hall (Burntcoat, Sudden Traveller, Madame Zero, The Wolf Border and others) goes in search of the Everywoman. …

Review: Front Row – Do we publish too many books?


Front Row - Do we publish too many books?BBC Radio 4, Front Row Hay Festival debate: “Do we publish too many books?”

Podcast Fri, 29 May 2015, duration 29 mins

From the Hay Literary Festival, BBC Radio 4’s arts show Front Row asks the question “Do we publish too many books?” In a lively panel discussion, Samira Ahmed heads a panel of publishers, journalists and authors: Philip Jones editor of the trade journal The Bookseller, Crystal Mahey-Morgan Digital Sales and Marketing Director at Zed Books, Alexandra Pringle, the group editor in chief of Bloomsbury and Ali Sparks author of 41 books for children. …

Review: BBC Reith Lectures 2013 – Grayson Perry


BBC Reith Lectures - Grayson PerryThe award-winning artist Grayson Perry presents the 2013 BBC Reith Lectures, titled Playing to the Gallery. Across four programmes he discusses what makes him an artist, the limits of contemporary art, how to gauge the quality of new artworks and the future of the avant-garde.

The long-running and incredibly worthy annual lecture series on the media, broadcasting and the arts gets a hugely entertaining shot in the arm from the still subversive and playful Grayson Perry.

Turner-winning ceramicist and noted cross-dresser Perry scrutinises the art world with candour and good humour, and still manages to inspire from beneath a cloak of cynicism… …

Review: The History of the Future BBC Radio4


Illustration from "Illustrerad verldshistoria utgifven av E. Wallis. volume I": Phytia giving an answerJuliet Gardiner looks at how cultures of the past viewed the possibilities of the future, and what these visions say about the pre-occupations of the time.

Or as I like to call it – Where’s My Jetpack?

Here’s a curious thing; a BBC Radio 4 documentary series that doesn’t appear to exist on iPlayer, Listen Again or as a podcast. I caught the tail end of this series which finished in September, just the last couple of episodes. I’d like to hear the rest, but I can’t find them. Even though the show’s homepage is still up on the BBC website.

Review: Shakespeare Uncovered – David Tennant on Hamlet


Shakespeare Uncovered - David Tennant on Hamlet“In Hamlet, David Tennant whose own RSC performance was a huge hit, meets other actors who have played the role – from the legendary David Warner in the 1960s to the recent Jude Law. He also tries, alongside Simon Russell Beale and Ben Whishaw, to unravel the meaning of the play and the reason why it is considered the greatest play Shakespeare ever wrote.”

With this being some anniversary or other of the great Will Shakey, there’s an awful lot of actoreyness on the BBC at the moment. In this final episode of Shakespeare Uncovered, David Tennant’s take on Hamlet was one of the better dissections of a classic in under an hour. Hats off to BBC2 for attempting to explain and impress just how great it is. You know there’s a ‘but’ coming, though, don’t you… …

Review: The Man Who Saves Life Stories BBC Radio4


The Great Diaries Project - image (C) BBC 2012“Irving Finkel collects ordinary people’s lives. He hoards their life stories in diary form and has amassed a collection of hundreds of handwritten volumes. But Irving has a problem. What should he do with them? The diaries are crammed onto shelves and piled up in corners of his small office. Irving’s day job is Assistant Keeper in the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum.”

The Man Who Saves Life Stories was one of those little gems that Radio 4 produces; the story of a museum curator and British eccentric who fell into collecting diaries and is now trying to house that collection as a ‘people’s history’ thing. …

Review: Horizon – Out of Control? BBC2


Review: Horizon - Out of Control? BBC2“We all like to think we are in control of our lives – of what we feel and what we think. But scientists are now discovering this is often simply an illusion.

Surprising experiments are revealing that what you think you do and what you actually do can be very different. Your unconscious mind is often calling the shots, influencing the decisions you make, from what you eat to who you fall in love with. If you think you are really in control of your life, you may have to think again.”

“At every moment of our lives an unseen presence is guiding us,” announced narrator Hugo Speer. No, not God, the unseen presence is our own unconscious mind, which decades of psycho analysis since Freud has us believing is the Edward Hyde or Caliban in all of us, out to destroy civilisation. It turns out our unconscious is the foreman, brakeman, steersman and navigator of almost everything we do. …

Review: Don’t Log Off, BBC Radio 4


Review: Don't Log Off, BBC Radio 4Don’t Log Off, BBC Radio 4
“Alan Dein discovers the real life stories behind on-line profiles via Facebook and Skype. Alan locks himself away for a week to talk to people on the Internet. He starts with nothing, just an on-line profile which says ‘talk to me’. The results are intriguing, funny and often very moving.”

Asked to review this, I almost said no;  Dein crosses continents and time-zones to engage new Internet ‘friends’ on Skype and by telephone. Previously, Dein presented Don’t Hang Up, in which he called public phone boxes around the world to see who picked up.

This programme didn’t do anything to change the view of the Internet as a home for the sad, the lonely, the isolated and counter to the objective, the disconnected. It didn’t move me much further than to depress me. …