Free Thinking

A Festival of Ideas for the Future

Matthew Sweet presents highlights from Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in Liverpool.



Matthew Sweet presents an edition of Radio 3's arts and ideas programme.

Producer: Laura Thomas.


Samira Ahmed presents Radio 3's arts and ideas programme looking at the ownership of art created on the internet and on the street.

Producer: Georgia Catt.


Free Thinking continues its focus on catching up with previous New Generation Thinkers. The scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council nominates 10 young academics to work on turning their research into ideas for radio.

Presenter: Philip Dodd

Producer: Neil Trevithick.


Simon Armitage's The Last Days of Troy opens at the Royal Exchange Manchester starring Lily Cole. Matthew Sweet discusses this new version of Homer's Iliad and continues Free Thinking's focus on previous New Generation Thinkers.

Producer: Zahid Warley.


Philip Dodd presents an edition of Radio 3's programme about arts and ideas talking to a previous New Generation Thinker from the scheme run for young academics with the AHRC.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.


Matthew Sweet with the arts and ideas programme

Producer: Craig Smith.


Canadian psychiatrist Norman Doidge is the author of The Brain's Way of Healing. He joins New Generation Thinker Christopher Harding and presenter Rana Mitter to explore Zen Buddhism and a shift in Western attitudes to Eastern traditions of healing.

Producer: Luke Mulhall.


Philip Dodd looks at the value of the arts and discusses immigration.

Producer: Harry Parker.


Kate Grenville is one of Australia's leading authors whose novels have explored her country's often difficult history. She and Rana Mitter discuss past secrets and present concerns as she publishes a memoir One Life: My Mother's Story.

In her trilogy The Secret River, The Lieutenant, and Sarah Thornhill, Kate Grenville explored Australia's early history through three generations of a colonial family.


Philip Dodd and New Generation Thinker Christopher Harding review the new novel from Nobel prize winner Kenzaburo Oe.


The ideas shaping our lives today - with artists and thinkers in debates and interviews.


Role Contributor
PresenterPhilip Dodd
Interviewed GuestKatherine Ryan
Interviewed GuestRobert Lepage
ProducerRobyn Read


Role Contributor
PresenterMatthew Sweet
Interviewed GuestAlvin Rakoff
Interviewed GuestRyan Danes
Interviewed GuestGraeme Burk
Interviewed GuestVahni Capildeo
Interviewed GuestLarissa Sansour
Interviewed GuestJonathan May
ProducerJacqueline Smith


Role Contributor
PresenterPhilip Dodd
ProducerEliane Glaser


Role Contributor
PresenterPhilip Dodd
Interviewed GuestSimon Schama
Interviewed GuestDevorah Baum
ProducerCraig Smith


Role Contributor
PresenterPhilip Dodd
Interviewed GuestGarry Kasparov
Interviewed GuestRichard Slocombe
Interviewed GuestAnna Grueztner Robins
Interviewed GuestJohn Keane
Interviewed GuestSimon Beard
Production CoordinatorTorquil MacLeod


Role Contributor
PresenterMatthew Sweet
Interviewed GuestPhilip Hoare
Interviewed GuestElizabeth-Jane Burnett
ProducerCraig Smith


Role Contributor
PresenterAnne McElvoy
Interviewed GuestJohn Crace
Interviewed GuestQuentin Letts
Interviewed GuestSimon Jenkins
Interviewed GuestJonathan Healey
Interviewed GuestEmma Butcher
Interviewed GuestRosalind Blakesley
Interviewed GuestCharlotte Hobson
ProducerTorquil MacLeod


Role Contributor
PresenterAnne McElvoy
Interviewed GuestAlex von Tunzelmann
Interviewed GuestChristopher Bannister
Interviewed GuestNandini Das
Interviewed GuestStephanie Pratt
Interviewed GuestElif Batuman
ProducerCraig Templeton Smith


Role Contributor
PresenterMatthew Sweet
Interviewed GuestIslam Issa
Interviewed GuestNatalie Haynes
ProducerFiona McLean


Role Contributor
PresenterPhilip Dodd
Interviewed GuestAlex Clark
ProducerTorquil MacLeod


Role Contributor
PresenterAnne McElvoy
Interviewed GuestPeter Mackay
Interviewed GuestDennis Duncan
Interviewed GuestRosie Stanbury
Interviewed GuestRebekah Shaman
ProducerJacqueline Smith


Role Contributor
PresenterCatherine Fletcher
Interviewed GuestJonathan Dollimore
ProducerCraig Smith

"canada 150: Robert Lepage, Katherine Ryan"20170627

Philip Dodd's guests are comedian Katherine Ryan and playwright/performer Robert Lepage.

Philip Dodd explores the influence of Canadian history and the difference between stand up and performing a one man show. Katherine Ryan is based in the UK and about to perform at summer festivals and in an autumn tour. The French Canadian playwright, performer and opera director Robert Lepage recently staged his autobiographical "memory play", 887, at the Barbican in London. He has directed a ring cycle for the Metropolitan Opera which was featured in a 2012 documentary Wagner's Dream and productions of Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust and Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress and has also worked on shows for Cirque Du Soleil.

Part of Radio 3's Canada 150: a week of programmes marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of the nation. You can find links to concerts and other broadcasts on the Radio 3 website.

Producer: Robyn Read.

"diplomacy: Sir John Jenkins, Gabrielle Rifkind, Michael Burleigh, Dr Beyza Unal."20170919

Philip Dodd and guests explore the art of negotiation and discuss JT Rogers' play Oslo.

Philip Dodd and guests explore the art of negotiation and discuss JT Rogers' play Oslo which opens at the National Theatre this week. It draws on the experiences of Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul and her husband, social scientist Terje Rød-Larsen who fixed secret meetings between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Sir John Jenkins is a former diplomat and Executive Director of The International Institute for Strategic Studies - Middle East. He's been HM Consul-General in Israel, and Ambassador to Syria, Iraq and Saudia Arabia.

Gabrielle Rifkind is a senior consultant to the Middle East Programme, which she founded and directed until 2015. She is the Director of the Oxford Process, an independent preventive diplomacy initiative pioneered through her dialogue work with Oxford Research Group (ORG).

Michael Burleigh is a historian and author of books including A Cultural History of Terrorism; Small Wars, Far Away Places: The Genesis of the Modern World and Moral Combat: A History of World War Two.

Dr Beyza Unal is a research fellow with the International Security Department at Chatham House. She specializes in nuclear weapons policies and leads projects on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. Dr Unal is also conducting research on cybersecurity.

Oslo plays at the National Theatre from 5 - 23 September. It opens in the West End at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 2 October to 30 December.

Producer: Eliane Glaser.

"jewish History, Jokes And Contemporary Identity. Michael Longley."20171011

Simon Schama and Devorah Baum join Philip Dodd. Plus Michael Longley on writing poetry.

Simon Schama and Devorah Baum join Philip Dodd for a conversation ranging from the expulsion of Jewish people from Spain in 1492 to Jewish jokes today. Plus, poet Michael Longley considers his preoccupations with The Great War, The Troubles and the natural world.

Belonging: The Story of the Jews 1492-1900 is the title of Simon Schama's latest book.

Devorah Baum teaches at the University of Southampton and has written Feeling Jewish (A Book for Just About Anyone) and The Jewish Joke.

Michael Longley is the recipient of the 2017 PEN Pinter Prize. His latest collection is called Angel Hill. The Pen Pinter prize is awarded annually to a writer from Britain, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Harold Pinter's Nobel Literature Prize speech, casts an 'unflinching, unswerving gaze upon the world' and shows a 'fierce intellectual define the real truth of our lives and our societies.'

Producer: Craig Templeton Smith.

"philip Hoare, Queer Icons, Cecil Beaton"20170705

Matthew Sweet and Philip Hoare discuss Cape Cod, literary history and Cecil Beaton.

Matthew Sweet talks about Cape Cod, literary history and the ocean with Philip Hoare, who chooses Cecil Beaton's image of Stephen Tennant as part of the BBC's Queer Icons project. Plus Poet Elizabeth-Jane Burnett on her collection Swims.

Philip Hoare's new book is called RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR

Queer Icons is a project to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in which 50 leading figures choose an LGBT artwork that is special to them. You can find more details on the Front Row website on BBC Radio 4 and in the Gay Britannia collection of programmes from radio and television.

The BFI is holding a series of Joe Orton events: Obscentities in Suburbia through August when Prick Up Your Ears is re-released in cinemas along with a Gross Indecency Season focusing on television and film made after the 1968 Act which partially decriminalised homosexuality.

Drama on 3 - a Joe Orton double bill:

Producer: Craig Smith.

"political Sketch Writing, Emma Butcher On Branwell Bronte, Films About Partition"20170608

Anne McElvoy and guests explore the style of the election and the job of sketch writers.

Anne McElvoy looks at the style of the election campaign and how it's been reflected by political sketch writers with John Crace and Quentin Letts. As Common by DC Moore opens at London's National Theatre, Simon Jenkins and Jonathan Healey discuss the impact of the Enclosure Acts. New Generation Thinker Emma Butcher from the University of Hull marks 200 years since Branwell Brontë was born. The winner of this year's Pushkin House Russian Book Prize - Rosalind Blakesley - talks to Anne along with one of the judges, writer Charlotte Hobson.

Rosalind Blakesley's prize-winning book is The Russian Canvas: Painting in Imperial Russia 1757-1881

You can find more information about events including talks and guided walks for the Branwell Brontë anniversary at the Bronte Parsonage Museum and as part of the Bradford Lit Fest where a statue is being unveiled.

New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by the BBC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to find academics who can turn their ideas into radio and television. You can find more on the Free Thinking website.

Producer: Torquil MacLeod

(Main Image: (c) The Bronte Society).

"the Booker Prize, Mike Bartlett, Small Is Beautiful"20171017

Alex Clark talks to Philip Dodd from The Booker Prize ceremonies at London's Guildhall.

Dr Foster writer Mike Bartlett on his new play about a future UK. Alex Clark reports from the Booker prize giving. And a discussion about economist Leopold Kohr's phrase that "small is beautiful" and whether the 21st century will be a century of small nations.

The Man Booker Prize shortlist 2017 is :
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Autumn by Ali Smith

Mike Bartlett's play Albion runs at the Almeida Theatre i