Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
01Free Thinking20170317

"Take control of your sleep," says Professor Russell Foster CBE, leading neuroscientist and this year's opening lecturer on the festival theme of the Speed of Life. Sleeping consumes a third of our lifetimes, but Professor Foster believes our sleeping hours are still not properly appreciated. His research shows how our bodies, honed by three million years of evolution, follow a natural clock and not the man-made one in daily use. He believes that all life on the planet has developed a 24-hour timing system which humans now use to fine-tune our rhythms.

And yet Britain's sleep problems have never been more acute: three separate surveys over the past decade indicate insomnia has increased across the population - and it's becoming a source of public debate and private misery.

Hosted by Radio 3 presenter Matthew Sweet in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Russell Foster is Head of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology and Senior Fellow at Brasenose College Oxford.

Producer: Fiona McLean.

"Take control of your sleep," says Professor Russell Foster CBE, leading neuroscientist and this year's opening lecturer on the festival theme of the Speed of Life. Sleeping consumes a third of our lifetimes, but Professor Foster believes our sleeping hours are still not properly appreciated. His research shows how our bodies, honed by three million years of evolution, follow a natural clock and not the man-made one in daily use. He believes that all life on the planet has developed a 24-hour timing system which humans now use to fine-tune our rhythms.

And yet Britain's sleep problems have never been more acute: three separate surveys over the past decade indicate insomnia has increased across the population - and it's becoming a source of public debate and private misery.

Hosted by Radio 3 presenter Matthew Sweet in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Russell Foster is Head of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology and Senior Fellow at Brasenose College Oxford.

Producer: Fiona McLean.

02Free Thinking20170320

Can the steady tortoise still beat the rapid hare in today's world? Our panel, chaired by Free Thinking presenter Anne McElvoy, compare experiences of life in the fast lane with taking the slow route - in business, writing, leisure time.

Pinky Lilani is an author, motivational speaker, food expert and women's advocate, and nominated in the Woman's Hour Power List. She was appointed a CBE in 2015 for services to women in business.

Denise Mina wrote her first crime novel, Garnethill, while studying for her PhD at Strathclyde University. Now the award-winning writer of twelve novels, plays and graphic fiction she has presented radio and television programmes including a film about her own family. Her most recent novel featuring detective Alex Morrow is Blood Salt Water and her new novel The Long Drop was inspired by real historical events in Glasgow in 1957.

Jay Griffiths is the author of Pip Pip which explores attitudes to time across the world. Other books include Tristimania: a Diary of Manic Depression and Wild: an Elemental Journey.

John Gallagher is a Radio 3 New Generation Thinker who teaches history at the University of Cambridge.

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Craig Smith.

Can the steady tortoise still beat the rapid hare in today's world? Our panel, chaired by Free Thinking presenter Anne McElvoy, compare experiences of life in the fast lane with taking the slow route - in business, writing, leisure time.

Pinky Lilani is an author, motivational speaker, food expert and women's advocate, and nominated in the Woman's Hour Power List. She was appointed a CBE in 2015 for services to women in business.

Denise Mina wrote her first crime novel, Garnethill, while studying for her PhD at Strathclyde University. Now the award-winning writer of twelve novels, plays and graphic fiction she has presented radio and television programmes including a film about her own family. Her most recent novel featuring detective Alex Morrow is Blood Salt Water and her new novel The Long Drop was inspired by real historical events in Glasgow in 1957.

Jay Griffiths is the author of Pip Pip which explores attitudes to time across the world. Other books include Tristimania: a Diary of Manic Depression and Wild: an Elemental Journey.

John Gallagher is a Radio 3 New Generation Thinker who teaches history at the University of Cambridge.

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Craig Smith.

03Free Thinking20170321

Harriet Harman, who has just written her autobiography A Woman's Work, was first elected a Labour MP in 1982 and has served as the acting leader of her party twice in her career. She talks to Free Thinking presenter Philip Dodd about championing women's rights and sustaining a political career in a fast-changing political landscape.

In his final year of office, President Obama talked about how difficult it is today to keep the public focused on the long term when the short term response has taken over. "The 24-hour news cycle", he said," is just so lightning fast and the attention span I think is so short that sometimes it's difficult to keep everybody focused on the long term."

Are UK politicians now better at campaigning than producing policies that look to the future?

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Luke Mulhall.

04Free Thinking20170322

George Saunders, Kirsty Logan, Jenn Asworth and Paul McVeigh discuss writing fiction short and long with presenter Matthew Sweet.

Acclaimed American short story writer George Saunders talks about travelling in time to explore Abraham Lincoln's life during the American Civil War when the President's beloved young son died. These historical events have inspired Saunder's first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, whilst his short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, McSweeeney's and GQ.

He compares notes on the art of the short story with Paul McVeigh, Jenn Ashworth and Kirsty Logan, who've been commissioned by New Writing North and the WordFactory to write Flash Fiction on this year's Free Thinking Festival theme of The Speed of Life.

Kirsty Logan is the author of books including The Gracekeepers and The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales and a range of short stories.

Jenn Ashworth's books include Fell, The Friday Gospels, A Kind of Intimacy and Cold Light and a selection of short stories.

Paul McVeigh has won prizes including the Polari prize for his debut novel The Good Son. Born in Belfast he is co-founder of the London Short Story Festival, writes a blog and has represented the UK at events in Mexico and Turkey.

Recorded in front of an audience as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead.

The stories commissioned for the Festival are available to listen to as an Arts and Ideas podcast available for 30 days.

George Saunders, Kirsty Logan, Jenn Asworth and Paul McVeigh discuss writing fiction short and long with presenter Matthew Sweet.

Acclaimed American short story writer George Saunders talks about travelling in time to explore Abraham Lincoln's life during the American Civil War when the President's beloved young son died. These historical events have inspired Saunder's first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, whilst his short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, McSweeeney's and GQ.

He compares notes on the art of the short story with Paul McVeigh, Jenn Ashworth and Kirsty Logan, who've been commissioned by New Writing North and the WordFactory to write Flash Fiction on this year's Free Thinking Festival theme of The Speed of Life.

Kirsty Logan is the author of books including The Gracekeepers and The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales and a range of short stories.

Jenn Ashworth's books include Fell, The Friday Gospels, A Kind of Intimacy and Cold Light and a selection of short stories.

Paul McVeigh has won prizes including the Polari prize for his debut novel The Good Son. Born in Belfast he is co-founder of the London Short Story Festival, writes a blog and has represented the UK at events in Mexico and Turkey.

Recorded in front of an audience as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead.

The stories commissioned for the Festival are available to listen to as an Arts and Ideas podcast available for 30 days.

05Free Thinking20170323

Damon Hill, Lieutenant Colonel Lincoln Jopp and Dr Ian Walshe consider whether the rush of adrenaline makes us think better? It brings us an increase in our strength, heightened senses, a lack of pain and a burst of energy. How is it connected to our expertise in handling crises and what is the aftermath?

Joining Radio 3 presenter Rana Mitter and an audience at the Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead are guests who have lived and observed decision-making under pressure, at top speed:

Damon Hill is a former Formula One racing driver, broadcaster and author of Watching the Wheels: the Autobiography.

Lieutenant Colonel Lincoln Jopp MC who was a soldier for 27 years commanding in conflict zones around the world including Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.

Dr Ian Walshe is lecturer at the University of Northumbria whose research focuses on the area of inflammatory processes in response to biological stress, to prolonged exercise and also to sleep disruption. Alongside his research, he has provided support to professionals across a range of sports including rugby union, football as well as endurance sports including triathletes.

Producer: Torquil MacLeod.

06Free Thinking20170327

In our fast moving, busy world it is hard - if not impossible - to imagine what it would be like to be incarcerated on our own. Captured in Beirut while working as an envoy for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Terry Waite spent five years as a hostage mostly held in solitary confinement. The writer Erwin James served 20 years of a life sentence in prison before his release in 2004. They discuss the experience of isolation with Dr Cleo Van Velsen, a Consultant Psychiatrist in Forensic Psychotherapy. Chaired by Free Thinking presenter Anne McElvoy.

Terry Waite is a humanitarian campaigner and author. He remains actively involved with hostages and their families, as well as working with those on the margins of society. His latest books are Out of the Silence: Memories, Poems, Reflections and a 25th Anniversary Edition of his memoir Taken on Trust.

Dr Cleo van Velsen is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Forensic Psychotherapy with extensive experience in the assessment, management and treatment of those suffering with personality difficulties, violence and trauma.

Erwin James is a Guardian columnist and freelance writer and a trustee of the Prison Reform Trust. He is the author of A Life Inside: a Prisoner's Notebook and his new book, Redeemable: a Memoir of Darkness and Hope.

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

07Free Thinking20170328

Three leading historians, Bettany Hughes, Sir Richard J Evans and John Hall join Free Thinking presenter Philip Dodd to consider tumultuous times and how we make sense of sweeping change from classical times, through empire building and the industrial revolution to the present day. True revolutions are rare game-changers in the slow unravelling of the human story. Others fizzle out like small showy rockets, all light and no heat. But how obvious is it at the time ?

Dr Bettany Hughes is well known as a TV and radio broadcaster, an award-winning historian and author specialising in ancient and medieval history and culture. Her books include Helen of Troy, The Hemlock Cup and, most recently, Istanbul: a Tale of Three Cities.

Sir Richard J Evans is an academic and historian, best known for his research on the history of Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries. President of Wolfson College in Cambridge, his most recent books are The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914, The Third Reich in History and Memory and Altered Pasts: Counterfactual in History.

Professor John Hall is IAS Fellow at University College, Durham University (Jan - March 2017). Normally based at McGill University in Montreal, Professor Hall is currently writing about Nations, States and Empires. His books include The Importance of Being Civil, The World of States, Powers and Liberties:The Causes and Consequences of the Rise of the West.

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Torquil MacLeod.

08Free Thinking20170329

Sathnam Sanghera, Judy Wajcman, Griselda Togobo and Robert Colvile join Radio 3 presenter Matthew Sweet to look at the history of the workplace from factory floor to hot desk to the gig economy and debate whether the merging of workplace and home creates more stress.

Bosses have always monitored and changed our working day, clocking staff in and out the factory, analyzing productivity through time and motion studies, using remote monitoring, introducing flexible working and "logging on later."

Sathnam Sanghera is a journalist and award-winning author of Marriage Material: A Novel and The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton. Before becoming a writer he (among other things) worked at a burger chain, a hospital laundry, a market research firm, a sewing factory and a literacy project in New York.

Judy Wajcman is a Professor of Society at LSE and the author of Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism.

Griselda Togobo is an entrepreneur, engineer, chartered accountant and the head of Forward Ladies, an organisation which aims to help companies maximise the potential of their female staff.

Robert Colvile is a journalist and author of The Great Acceleration - a new book about how

technology is speeding up the pace of life.

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Craig Smith.

09Free Thinking20170330

The former Health Minister, now broadcaster and writer, Edwina Currie; the journalist and broadcaster Miranda Sawyer; and the English teacher and columnist Lola Okolosie discuss the different times of our lives with Free Thinking presenter Anne McElvoy.

Recent scientific research has found that women have the time of their lives at the age of 34. Later though, as they juggle parenthood and work they are at their most stressed. But, by the age of 58 they start to get their life-work balance sorted out. With more time to relax and no babies on the horizon life looks better. And, with an average life expectancy of 82.9 years, perhaps women may have time to enjoy their new lives.

Edwina Currie was a Conservative MP for 14 years before retiring in 1988. Since then she has presented TV and radio programmes, appeared on Strictly Come Dancing and as the Wicked Queen in pantomime. She has been described as 'a brash and energetic life force'. Her books include Diaries 1987-1992 and novels including The Ambassador, Chasing Men, This Honourable House, and A Parliamentary Affair.

Miranda Sawyer began her career writing for Smash Hits and now writes for newspapers and magazines including The Observer. She has interviewed arts figures for BBC Two's Culture Show, and presented programmes on 6 Music, BBC Radio 4 and podcasts. Her new book Out of Time explores her midlife crisis.

Lola Okolosie is an English teacher and regular columnist for The Guardian on race, politics, education and feminism. She is editor-at-large for Media Diversified, an online publishing platform.

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Craig Smith.

10Free Thinking20170403

Tony Sewell and Mike Grenier discuss the challenges of education in the 21st century with Philip Dodd and an audience at Sage Gateshead as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival. Can idle curiosity, slow burning passion and a time for reflection be at the heart of our schools? Or does the increasingly rapid pace of technological change make that sort of teaching a luxury at best - or, at worst, an educational philosophy stuck in a time warp?

Mike Grenier is a House Master at Eton College and the co-founder of the Slow Education Movement, educators arguing the need to make time in the classroom for creative teaching and learning.

Dr Tony Sewell, CBE is the director of the London based charity, Generating Genius, which aims to help children achieve educational success. He began his career as a school teacher and, in 2012, was appointed to chair the Mayor's Education Inquiry into London schools. He works in both the UK and the Caribbean and helped to set up the Science, Maths and Information Technology Centre at Jamaica's University of the West Indies.

Producer: Fiona McLean.

11Free Thinking20170404

An introduction to the academics whose ideas will be making radio waves across 2017. The New Generation Thinkers is an annual competition run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select 10 researchers at the start of their careers who can turn their fascinating research into stimulating programmes.

In this event, the 2017 selection make their first public appearance together: their topics include music and health and Shakespeare in Arabic.

Hosted by Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough of Durham University, who has just published Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas. 4 years ago she was one of the New Generation Thinkers.

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

12Free Thinking20170405

'Is it the world that's busy, or is it my mind?'

Haemin Sunim, the multi-million selling author of The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down, discusses East and West and calm in a fast-paced world with New Generation Thinker Christopher Harding and presenter Rana Mitter.

Born to Korean-American parents and educated at Harvard, Haemin Sunim is known for books, podcasts and a popular YouTube series exploring Buddhism in the 21st century. He studied at UC Berkeley, Harvard and Princeton before receiving formal monastic training in Korea and teaching Buddhism at Hampshire College in Amherst Massachusetts. He has more than a million followers on Twitter and Facebook and now lives in Seoul.

Christopher Harding, one of Radio 3's New Generation Thinkers, is a cultural historian of modern Japan, India and the UK with a particular interest in religion and spirituality, philosophy and mental health, based at the University of Edinburgh. He also runs a blog, The Boredom Project.

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Luke Mulhall.

13Free Thinking20170410

Poet Simon Armitage and writer Alexandra Harris explore time and place in modern Britain. Presented by Philip Dodd and recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Simon Armitage, Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, has been described as 'the best poet of his generation'. His latest collection The Unaccompanied explores life against a backdrop of economic recession and social division where globalisation has made alienation a common experience. He was born in West Yorkshire and lives near Saddleworth Moor. His work includes his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and books exploring the South west's coast path and the Pennine Way.

Alexandra Harris is Professor of Literature at the University of Liverpool and a New Generation Thinker. She is the author of Weatherland: Writers and Artists under English Skies and Romantic Moderns.

Producer: Fiona McLean.

Poet Simon Armitage and writer Alexandra Harris explore time and place in modern Britain. Presented by Philip Dodd and recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Simon Armitage, Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, has been described as 'the best poet of his generation'. His latest collection The Unaccompanied explores life against a backdrop of economic recession and social division where globalisation has made alienation a common experience. He was born in West Yorkshire and lives near Saddleworth Moor. His work includes his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and books exploring the South west's coast path and the Pennine Way.

Alexandra Harris is Professor of Literature at the University of Liverpool and a New Generation Thinker. She is the author of Weatherland: Writers and Artists under English Skies and Romantic Moderns.

Producer: Fiona McLean.

14Free Thinking20170411

Carlos Frenk, Eugenia Cheng, Jim Al-Khalili and Louisa Preston debate time and space with presenter Rana Mitter and an audience at Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead.

We can measure time passing but what actually is it? What do scientists mean when they suggest that time is an illusion. Can time exist in a black hole? Is everyone's experience of time subjective? What is the connection between time and space? How does maths help us understand the universe?

Professor Carlos Frenk is founding Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University and the winner of the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2014.

Dr Eugenia Cheng is Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Sheffield. She is trilingual, a concert-level classical pianist and the author of Beyond Infinity: An Expedition To The Outer Limits Of The Mathematical Universe.

Jim Al-Khalili is Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey and presenter of BBC Radio 4's The Life Scientific and TV documentaries. His books include Paradox: the Nine Greatest Enigmas in Science, Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines and Quantum: a Guide for the Perplexed.

Dr Louisa Preston is a UK Space Agency Aurora Research Fellow. An astrobiologist, planetary geologist and author, she is based at Birkbeck, University of London. Her first book is Goldilocks and the Water Bears: the Search for Life in the Universe.

Producer: Torquil MacLeod.

15Free Thinking20170412

Jay Griffiths, Vincent Deary, Louise Robinson and Matthew Smith discuss our mental health.

How does depression affect our sense of time and the rhythms of daily life? Our body clocks have long been seen by scientists as integral to our physical and mental health - but what happens when mental illness disrupts or even stops that clock? Presenter Anne McElvoy is joined by those who have suffered depression and those who treat it - and they attempt to offer some solutions.

Jay Griffiths is the author of Tristimania: a Diary of Manic Depression and a book Pip Pip which explores attitudes to time across the world.

Doctor Vincent Deary teaches at Northumbria University, works as a clinician in the UK's first trans-diagnostic Fatigue Clinic and is the author of a trilogy about How To Live - the first of which is called How We Are.

Professor Louise Robinson is Director of Newcastle University's Institute for Ageing and Professor of Primary Care and Ageing.

Professor Matthew Smith is a New Generation Thinker from 2012 who teaches at Strathclyde University at the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare.

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Zahid Warley.

16Free Thinking20170413

Tim Birkhead and Phyllis Lee explore long-lived animal species and their survival strategies.

If the modern world is obsessed with short term success, could animals offer a better understanding of the long term state of our planet? Want to sample the health of our oceans? Ask a migratory bird. Or the advantage of becoming a mother later in life? Ask an elephant. Free Thinking presenter Rana Mitter hears how their lives have shaped the minds and emotions of the field scientists who study them over decades.

Professor Tim Birkhead is 45 years into his study of the guillemots of Skomer Island. He began his academic career at Newcastle University. A Fellow of the Royal Society he is now based at Sheffield University and specialises in researching the behaviour of birds. His books include Bird Sense: What it is like to Be a Bird and The Most Perfect Thing: the Inside (and Outside) of a Bird's Egg.

Professor Phyllis Lee has worked for 35 years on the world's longest-running elephant study in Kenya's Amboseli National Park. An award-winning evolutionary psychologist, she is now based at the University of Stirling, and continues to work on a number of research projects on forest and Asian elephants as well as primates from around the world. She has published widely on this, on conservation attitudes as well as on human-wildlife interactions.

Recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.