Conversations On A Bench

Episodes

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Broadcast
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2016100920161015 (R4)

Anna Scott-Brown returns to hear more stories from the people who stop to sit beside her on benches around the country. In this episode, she is joined on a bench overlooking Beadnell Harbour in Northumberland by holiday-makers, environmentalists and some members of the last remaining fishing families of Beadnell.

Throughout the programme, a specially commissioned work by poet and Beadnell resident, Katrina Porteous draws on the voices of locals and passers by.

The harbour was once a thriving departure point for the lime produced in the kilns behind the bench, and for the traditional coble fishing boats, now almost completely gone.

Today, the village has one of the highest percentages of holiday homes in Britain, and traditional ways of making a living are under threat, but Anna is joined by those whose communal memory goes back to the heyday of a once close-knit working community.

Now the only viable industry is tourism, and the beach below the bench throbs with the noise of watersports during the summer months. As migrations of salmon, arctic tern and human incomers ebb and flow, Katrina Porteous's poem evokes the cycles of seasons and millennia, the history locked within a disappearing dialect, and the constant reincarnation of communities, landscapes and ways of being.

Hidden lives are revealed and common threads recur as Anna Scott-Brown's gentle - but insistent and sometimes extremely direct - questions elicit poignant and profound responses from those sitting on the bench.

Presenter: Anna Scott-Brown

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

2016100920161015 (R4)

Anna Scott-Brown returns to hear more stories from the people who stop to sit beside her on benches around the country. In this episode, she is joined on a bench overlooking Beadnell Harbour in Northumberland by holiday-makers, environmentalists and some members of the last remaining fishing families of Beadnell.

Throughout the programme, a specially commissioned work by poet and Beadnell resident, Katrina Porteous draws on the voices of locals and passers by.

The harbour was once a thriving departure point for the lime produced in the kilns behind the bench, and for the traditional coble fishing boats, now almost completely gone.

Today, the village has one of the highest percentages of holiday homes in Britain, and traditional ways of making a living are under threat, but Anna is joined by those whose communal memory goes back to the heyday of a once close-knit working community.

Now the only viable industry is tourism, and the beach below the bench throbs with the noise of watersports during the summer months. As migrations of salmon, arctic tern and human incomers ebb and flow, Katrina Porteous's poem evokes the cycles of seasons and millennia, the history locked within a disappearing dialect, and the constant reincarnation of communities, landscapes and ways of being.

Hidden lives are revealed and common threads recur as Anna Scott-Brown's gentle - but insistent and sometimes extremely direct - questions elicit poignant and profound responses from those sitting on the bench.

Presenter: Anna Scott-Brown

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

2016101620161022 (R4)

Owen Sheers' poem reflects tales told to Anna Scott-Brown on a bench facing Swansea Bay.

Anna Scott-Brown hears more stories from the people who stop to sit beside her on benches around the country. In this edition she is joined in Mumbles, on a bench overlooking Swansea Bay, by locals, holidaymakers and the family of the person to whom the bench is dedicated.

Throughout the programme, a specially commissioned work by poet Owen Sheers draws on the voices and stories of those who sit and contemplate the inscription, "Born to be Wild - Dinks Nash -Loved Forever."

The views from the bench of the Gower Peninsula and the threatened Tata Steelworks evoke stories of migration and community, of division and cohesion, and of grief for what has gone we well as celebration for what lives on.

Hidden lives are revealed and common threads recur as Anna Scott-Brown's gentle - but insistent and sometimes extremely direct - questions elicit poignant and profound responses from those sitting on the bench.

Presenter: Anna Scott-Brown

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

2016101620161022 (R4)

Owen Sheers' poem reflects tales told to Anna Scott-Brown on a bench facing Swansea Bay.

Anna Scott-Brown hears more stories from the people who stop to sit beside her on benches around the country. In this edition she is joined in Mumbles, on a bench overlooking Swansea Bay, by locals, holidaymakers and the family of the person to whom the bench is dedicated.

Throughout the programme, a specially commissioned work by poet Owen Sheers draws on the voices and stories of those who sit and contemplate the inscription, "Born to be Wild - Dinks Nash -Loved Forever."

The views from the bench of the Gower Peninsula and the threatened Tata Steelworks evoke stories of migration and community, of division and cohesion, and of grief for what has gone we well as celebration for what lives on.

Hidden lives are revealed and common threads recur as Anna Scott-Brown's gentle - but insistent and sometimes extremely direct - questions elicit poignant and profound responses from those sitting on the bench.

Presenter: Anna Scott-Brown

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

0220171029

Sarah Howe's poetry echoes tales told to Anna Scott-Brown on a bench in Chinatown, London.

Anna Scott-Brown hears more stories from the people who stop to sit beside her on benches around the country.

In this edition, she sits on a bench in London's Chinatown. Throughout the programme a specially commissioned work by the poet Sarah Howe draws on the voices of those passing by - and sometimes pausing on - the bench outside a bubble tea shop in Gerrard Street.

These hidden stories are glimpsed through snatched moments and the painful and beautiful stories people tell Anna in this busy urban setting - the life on hold of an illegal immigrant, the gambler who has lost everything and found God but who is still fighting his addiction, the woman whose father committed suicide after the handover of Hong Kong to China, the political exile turned lawyer, the successful businessman, the artist and the chef.

Throughout it all, the importance of food and family emerges as people speak of where they find their roots - in Mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, London's Chinatown itself - and compare the experiences of being a migrant to Britain with a British-born Chinese.

Hidden lives are revealed and common threads recur as Anna's gentle but insistent questions elicit poignant and profound responses from those sitting on the bench.

Producer Adam Fowler
An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

0229/10/201720171104

Sarah Howe's poetry echoes tales told to Anna Scott-Brown on a bench in Chinatown, London.

Anna Scott-Brown hears more stories from the people who stop to sit beside her on benches around the country.

In this edition, she sits on a bench in London's Chinatown. Throughout the programme a specially commissioned work by the poet Sarah Howe draws on the voices of those passing by - and sometimes pausing on - the bench outside a bubble tea shop in Gerrard Street.

These hidden stories are glimpsed through snatched moments and the painful and beautiful stories people tell Anna in this busy urban setting - the life on hold of an illegal immigrant, the gambler who has lost everything and found God but who is still fighting his addiction, the woman whose father committed suicide after the handover of Hong Kong to China, the political exile turned lawyer, the successful businessman, the artist and the chef.

Throughout it all, the importance of food and family emerges as people speak of where they find their roots - in Mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, London's Chinatown itself - and compare the experiences of being a migrant to Britain with a British-born Chinese.

Hidden lives are revealed and common threads recur as Anna's gentle but insistent questions elicit poignant and profound responses from those sitting on the bench.

Producer Adam Fowler
An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

02Edinburgh - Janette Ayachi20171022

A poem by Janette Ayachi echoes stories told to Anna Scott-Brown on a bench in Edinburgh.

Anna Scott-Brown hears more stories from the people who stop to sit beside her on benches around the country.

In this edition, she sits on a bench in Inverleith Park in Edinburgh. Throughout the programme, a specially commissioned work by the Edinburgh-based poet Janette Ayachi draws on the voices of those passing their time in the park.

From the bench there is a panoramic view of both the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town. The layering of this strangely three dimensional city of roads and bridges, arches and spires is echoed in the layering of story. A schoolgirl practices her reading, while a man always ready to use his fists regrets a life dominated by drugs. Refugees from Syria are finding their feet as they learn to master the language, while one man connects to his homeland in Africa through song. A local churchman talks of pilgrimage and a museum curator of holding the past - present and future together - as one woman speaks of her fear of aging.

Hidden lives are revealed and common threads recur as Anna's gentle but insistent and sometimes extremely direct questions elicit poignant and profound responses from those sitting on the bench.

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

02Edinburgh - Janette Ayachi20171028

A poem by Janette Ayachi echoes stories told to Anna Scott-Brown on a bench in Edinburgh.

Anna Scott-Brown hears more stories from the people who stop to sit beside her on benches around the country.

In this edition, she sits on a bench in Inverleith Park in Edinburgh. Throughout the programme, a specially commissioned work by the Edinburgh-based poet Janette Ayachi draws on the voices of those passing their time in the park.

From the bench there is a panoramic view of both the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town. The layering of this strangely three dimensional city of roads and bridges, arches and spires is echoed in the layering of story. A schoolgirl practices her reading, while a man always ready to use his fists regrets a life dominated by drugs. Refugees from Syria are finding their feet as they learn to master the language, while one man connects to his homeland in Africa through song. A local churchman talks of pilgrimage and a museum curator of holding the past - present and future together - as one woman speaks of her fear of aging.

Hidden lives are revealed and common threads recur as Anna's gentle but insistent and sometimes extremely direct questions elicit poignant and profound responses from those sitting on the bench.

An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.

02Manchester - Andrew Mcmillan20170829

A poem by Andrew McMillan echoes stories told to Anna Scott-Brown on a Manchester bench.

Anna Scott-Brown hears more stories from the people who stop to sit beside her on benches around the country. In this edition, she sits on a bench next to Manchester's gay village, in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing.

Throughout the programme, a specially commissioned work by poet Andrew McMillan draws on the voices and stories of those passing the time in Sackville Gardens - a man with schizophrenia and a woman drinking to forget, a potter looking for inspiration in the shape of the trees, a man and his ex boyfriend walking a dog from one of the nearby penthouse flats, the young carer with great compassion, and the woman driven by her past to fulfil her dreams.

The impact of the recent bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in the Manchester Arena is never far away, while the stories depict a noble city with a distinctive spirit, which comes to the fore at moments of crisis.

Andrew McMillan's poem creates a glimpse of snatched moments and the painful and beautiful stories people tell Anna Scott-Brown in this busy urban setting.

Hidden lives are revealed and common threads recur as Anna's gentle - but insistent and sometimes extremely direct - questions elicit poignant and profound responses from those sitting on the bench.

Presenter: Anna Scott-Brown
Producer: Adam Fowler
An Overtone production for BBC Radio 4.