Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics

Episodes

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0101Petronius2014032420181104 (BBC7)
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A fresh look at the ancient world.

Natalie Haynes, critic, writer and reformed stand-up comedian, brings the ancient world entertainingly up to date. In each of the four programmes she profiles a figure from ancient Greece or Rome and creates a stand-up routine around them. She then goes in search of the links which make the ancient world still very relevant in the 21st century.

Episode 1: The worst dinner party in history. Natalie investigates the work of the writer Petronius, creator of the infamous Satyricon, later made into a film by Fellini. It's all about excess; as a vegetarian, Natalie's particularly revolted by the way in which the Romans insisted on making edible food look disgusting. With satirical cartoonist Martin Rowson, Fellini fan Richard Dyer and historian Victoria Rimell.

The worst dinner party in history. Meet Petronius, creator of the Satyricon.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2014.

A fresh look at the ancient world. Satire, sex and sausages.

0102Sophocles2014033120181111 (BBC7)
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A fresh look at the ancient world.

Natalie Haynes, critic, writer and reformed stand-up comedian, brings the ancient world entertainingly up to date. In each of the four programmes she profiles a figure from ancient Greece or Rome and creates a stand-up routine around them. She then goes in search of the links which make the ancient world still very relevant in the 21st century.

Episode 2: Sophocles invents modern drama with Oedipus the King. Spoiler alert! – it doesn't end well. This episode includes handy hints on how to get in the mood for a classical tragedy (bring a bottle.) With Professor Edith Hall, poet and playwright Frank McGuinness and TV critic Andrew Collins.

Producer Christine Hall

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2014.

A fresh look at the ancient world: Sophocles invents the TV detective.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Sophocles invents the TV detective with Oedipus.

0103Virgil2014040720181118 (BBC7)
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A fresh look at the ancient world.

Natalie Haynes, critic, writer and reformed stand-up comedian, brings the ancient world entertainingly up to date. In each of the four programmes she profiles a figure from ancient Greece or Rome and creates a stand-up routine around them. She then goes in search of the links which make the ancient world still very relevant in the 21st century.

Episode 3: Virgil. Natalie Haynes considers the work of the Roman poet Virgil, ranging from his hints on bee-keeping to his great work The Aeneid. Dido is the classic wronged woman and the Aeneid contains the best ding-dong between a man and a woman in all Latin literature, culminating in Dido's memorable promise “If you go I'm going to kill myself and then I will pursue you from beyond death with black fires!” Natalie is joined by Pamela Helen Stephen who has sung Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, bee-keeper Gordon Cutting and Dr Llewelyn Morgan to talk about the greatest poet in the Roman world.

Producer: Christine Hall

Episode 3: Virgil gives tips on bee-keeping and creates Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Natalie considers the work of the Roman poet Virgil, ranging from his hints on bee-keeping to his great work The Aeneid. Dido is the classic wronged woman and the Aeneid contains the best ding-dong between a man and a woman in all Latin literature, culminating in Dido's memorable promise “If you go I'm going to kill myself and then I will pursue you from beyond death with black fires!” Natalie is joined by Pamela Helen Stephen who has sung Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, bee-keeper Gordon Cutting and Dr Llewelyn Morgan to talk about the greatest poet in the Roman world.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2014.

0104 LASTAspasia2014041420181125 (BBC7)
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A fresh look at the ancient world.

Natalie Haynes, critic, writer and reformed stand-up comedian, brings the ancient world entertainingly up to date. In each of the four programmes she profiles a figure from ancient Greece or Rome and creates a stand-up routine around them. She then goes in search of the links which make the ancient world still very relevant in the 21st century.

Episode 4 : Aspasia. Women in ancient Greece were supposedly not seen, not heard and not talked about. Meet the woman who broke all the rules – all the more remarkably for the fact that she was the partner of one of the most powerful men in Greece at the time, Pericles. Natalie explores how writers and comedians used Aspasia's reputation as a way of attacking the statesman – a practice which hasn't changed much over 2,500 years. With classicist Sarah B. Pomeroy, Dr Ian Jenkins of the British Museum and Cate Haste, co-author with Cherie Booth of a book on the lot of the statesman's spouse.

Producer: Christine Hall

How to be a notorious woman in ancient Greece.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

0201Aristophanes2016041120200315 (BBC7)
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Join Natalie Haynes as she stands up for the Greek playwright Aristophanes.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Join Natalie Haynes and guests for half an hour of comedy and the Classics from the BBC Radio Theatre in London.

Natalie is a reformed comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome.

Tonight she stands up in the name of Greek playwright and inventor of 'old comedy', Aristophanes. Expect a chorus of frogs, rather too much information about padded costumes, and a sex strike. Oh, and a lot of gossip from two and half thousand years ago.

With special guests Rosie Wyles, Edith Hall and Fiona Laird.
Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery

She stands up in the name of Greek playwright and inventor of 'old comedy', Aristophanes. Expect a chorus of frogs, rather too much information about padded costumes, and a sex strike. Oh, and a lot of gossip from two and half thousand years ago.

Producer: Mary Ward-Lowery

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2016.

0202Ovid2016041820200322 (BBC7)
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Join Natalie Haynes for comedy and Classics, as she stands up for Roman poet Ovid.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Join Natalie Haynes and guests for half an hour of comedy and the Classics from the BBC Radio Theatre in London.

Natalie is a reformed comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome.

Tonight she stands up in the name of Roman poet, Ovid. Expect frottage at the races, Greek myths from a female perspective, and enough inspiration for painters, writers and sculptures to last a couple of millenia.
With special guests Llewelyn Morgan and Michael Squire.

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery

0203Plato2016042520200329 (BBC7)
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Natalie Haynes stands up for one of the greatest all-time thinkers, Plato.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Join Natalie Haynes and guests for half an hour of comedy and the Classics from the BBC Radio Theatre in London.

Natalie is a reformed comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome.

Today she stands up in the name of one of the world's greatest thinkers, Plato, with the help of psychotherapist Philippa Perry and classicist Professor Edith Hall.

Plato wasn't perfect, even though he talks about perfection all the time. Turns out he was on the chunky side and had bad eyesight. On the other hand, he was very good at wrestling.

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery

0204 LASTAgrippina2016050220200405 (BBC7)
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Natalie Haynes stands up for Agrippina the Younger, who bossed it in first century Rome.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Join Natalie Haynes and guests for half an hour of comedy and the Classics from the BBC Radio Theatre in London.

Natalie is a reformed comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome.

Today she stands up in the name of one of the most powerful women of Ancient Rome and Caligula's big sister, Agrippina the Younger.

Julia Agrippina was pretty well-connected all round given that her granddad was the Emperor Augustus, her husband (also her uncle: don't ask) was Emperor Claudius and her son was Emperor Nero.

And she was no slouch. Turns out it was her handiness with the purse strings that kept the Empire going. Also, who else has survived an assassination attempt by a specially built collapsible boat?

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery

0301Sappho2017080320180326 (R4)Natalie Haynes stands up for the Greek poet Sappho.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Join Natalie Haynes and guests for half an hour of comedy and the Classics from the BBC Radio Theatre in London.

Natalie is a reformed comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome.

Today she stands up in the name of Greek poet, Sappho, about whom we know so little, and most of what we think we know is made-up. But one thing is certain: her poetry is scorching, and unforgettable. There will also be a lot of gossip from over a thousand years ago.

With special guests novelist Stella Duffy, classicist Professor Edith Hall and music from LiTTLe MACHiNe.
Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery.

0302Cicero2017081020180402 (R4)Natalie Haynes stands up for the Roman orator, Cicero.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Join Natalie Haynes and guests for half an hour of comedy and the Classics from the BBC Radio Theatre in London.

Natalie is a reformed comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome.

Today she stands up in the name of the Roman lawyer, politician and orator Cicero. Maybe we'd all love him a bit more if Shakespeare had had a nicer Latin teacher. Expect a lot of gossip from a thousand years ago.

With special guests lawyer Mark Stephens and Professor Llewelyn Morgan.
Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery.

0303Lucian2017081720180409 (R4)Natalie Haynes stands up for the little-known but super-influential Greek writer Lucian.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Join Natalie Haynes and guests for half an hour of comedy and the Classics from the BBC Radio Theatre in London.

Natalie is a reformed comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome.

Today she stands up in the name of Greek writer Lucian. Expect to hear about the possible origins of 'The Life of Brian', the possible inspiration for Mickey Mouse and a trip to the moon about a thousand years before NASA.

With special guests Professor Edith Hall and Matthew Sweet.
Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery.

0304 LASTJuvenal2017082420180416 (R4)Natalie Haynes stands up for Roman satirist Juvenal. With guest Armando Iannucci.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Join Natalie Haynes and guests for half an hour of comedy and the Classics from the BBC Radio Theatre in London.

Natalie is a reformed comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome.

Today she stands up in the name of Greek writer Lucian. Expect to hear about the possible origins of 'The Life of Brian', the possible inspiration for Mickey Mouse and a trip to the moon about a thousand years before NASA.

With special guests Professor Edith Hall and Matthew Sweet.
Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery.

0401Phryne2018073020190528 (R4)Join Natalie Haynes and guests for half an hour of comedy and the Classics from the BBC Radio Theatre in London.

Natalie is a recovering comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome. Each week she takes a different figure from the Ancient World and tells their story through a mix of stand-up comedy and conversation.

Today she stands up in the name of Phryne, the Greek courtesan famed for her extraordinary wit and beauty. Glossy of skin and a model for statues of the goddess Aphrodite, Phryne was as clever as they come and minted to boot.

Outrage, outrageousness and as always, a lot of gossip from a couple of thousand years ago.

With special guests comedian Katy Brand and classicist Professor Edith Hall.
Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery.

Natalie Haynes stands up for Phryne, the Greek courtesan famed for her wit and beauty.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

0402Horace2018080620190604 (R4)Join Natalie Haynes and guests for half an hour of comedy and the Classics from the BBC Radio Theatre in London.

Natalie is a recovering comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome. Each week she takes a different figure from the Ancient World and tells their story through a mix of stand-up comedy and conversation.

Today she stands up in the name of Horace, the Roman poet who made friends of his enemies through the beauty of his writing, whom we all still quote today, often without realising. You know that bit of Latin in the Wilfred Owen poem? That's Horace. The son of a freedman, Horace was a master at avoiding political controversy. He was no looker, being by his own account short and fat, but he definitely had a racy side (think mirrors on the ceiling).

A town mouse, a country mouse, and a lot of gossip from a thousand years ago.

With special guests novelist and poet Ben Okri and classicist Professor Llewelyn Morgan.
Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery.

Natalie Haynes stands up for Roman poet Horace. With guests Llewelyn Morgan and Ben Okri.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

0403Euripides2018081320190611 (R4)Join Natalie Haynes and guests for half an hour of comedy and the Classics from the BBC Radio Theatre in London.

Natalie is a recovering comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome. Each week she takes a different figure from the Ancient World and tells their story through a mix of stand-up comedy and conversation.

Today she stands up in the name of playwright Euripides. Feminist, anti-war, ironic, full of subtext: his work displays strikingly modern sensibilities and his Medea still has the power to shock.

With special guests playwright Mark Ravenhill and classicist Professor Edith Hall.
Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery.

Natalie Haynes stands up for Greek playwright Euripides, whose Medea still shocks.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

0404 LASTLivy20180820Join Natalie Haynes and guests for half an hour of comedy and the Classics from the BBC Radio Theatre in London.

Natalie is a recovering comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome. Each week she takes a different figure from the Ancient World and tells their story through a mix of stand-up comedy and conversation.

Today she stands up in the name of Roman historian Livy, who gave us Hannibal crossing the Alps and the inspiration for Shakespeare's Coriolanus. Meticulously researched facts or a damn fine story? History or myth? Mostly the latter, but priceless nonetheless.

Elephants, early science and a lot of gossip from a thousand years ago.

With special guests comedian - and history buff - Al Murray and classicist Professor Llewelyn Morgan.
Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery.

Natalie Haynes stands up in the name of Roman historian Livy. With Al Murray.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

0501Aristotle2019122320200922 (R4)Natalie Haynes stands up for Greek philosopher-scientist Aristotle, with Dr Adam Rutherford and Professor Edith Hall.

This week Natalie explores why it's so easy to fall in love with Aristotle, have fun with his Nicomachean ethics and how we know he had 20:20 vision. It seems he hated being tutor to Alexander the Great, although he did manage to stay alive in the lethal court of Philip of Macedon, where the usual toll of suspicious deaths was fourteen a week. But how much did he really know about elephants tongues and bivalves on Lesbos? We love a bit of gossip from a couple of thousand years ago.

Natalie is a reformed comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome. Each week she takes a different figure from the ancient world and tells their story through a mix of stand-up comedy, extremely well-informed analysis, and conversation. The series is – in part - about how the modern world is more interesting when it's refracted through the prism of the ancient one. Natalie picks out hilarious details and universal truths, as well as finding parallels with modern life, or those parts of life which are still influenced by ancient thought.

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery

Natalie Haynes stands up for Aristotle, with Dr Adam Rutherford and Professor Edith Hall.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

0502Roman British Women: Claudia Severa.2019123020200929 (R4)Natalie Haynes tells the stories of the handful of Roman-British women whose traces stay with us: a fierce queen, a slave woman freed for love, the so-called 'Ivory Bangle Lady' and Claudia Severa, whose invitation to her friend to her birthday party some two thousand years ago is one of the greatest historical treasures of Roman Britain.

Wooden tablets, ivory (and jet) bangles and a romantic gravestone inscription from South Shields. Natalie is joined by guests Professor Llewelyn Morgan and archaeologist Dr Paul Roberts.

Stand up comedy, ancient details and a lot of fascinating gossip from a couple of thousand years ago.

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery

Natalie Haynes on Claudia Severa, with guests Llewelyn Morgan and Paul Roberts.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

0503Suetonius2020010620201006 (R4)Natalie tells the story of Suetonius, biographer of the Caesars and friend of Pliny the Younger. She's joined by guests Professor Llewelyn Morgan and biographer and journalist Anita Anand.
Classical knowledge is fragile: so much is lost. We don't know, for example, when Julius Caesar was born. What we do know about the Caesars is largely because of Suetonius. And some of it is quite strange. Who knew that experts in Latin grammar were once the coolest of the cool? That Domitian wrote a treatise on hair care? That Augustus kept a bust of Hadrian in his office and used hot nuts to soften the hair on his thighs? (Please don't try this at home).

Fellow biographer Anita Anand knows - like Suetonius - that writing about the long-dead is probably sensible if you want to stay out of trouble, but she still found herself in international hot water after her book on the Koh-i-Noor diamond (co-written with William Dalrymple) was published. It's amazing how Suetonius managed to stay in imperial good books despite writing the first warts and all biographies of all time.

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery

Natalie stands up for Roman biographer Suetonius, with Llewelyn Morgan and Anita Anand.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

0504 LASTHomer: The Iliad2020011320201013 (R4)Natalie Haynes stands up for Homer's Iliad, in an extraordinary tour-de-force performance recorded in the BBC's Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House. The original epic story would most probably have been performed from memory, and Natalie does the same: her only prompt is the voice of Dr Adam Rutherford to number the twenty-four books.

It's a vivid, cinematic tapestry of extraordinary stories: of gods, Greeks and Trojans, men and women, mothers and fathers and lovers. There's fighting and trickery, and touching domestic detail (when Hector's wife Andromache and son Astynax bid a final goodbye to him). The great Greek hero Achilles spends quite a lot of time in a sulk, refusing to fight, because King Agamemnon forces him to give up his trophy girlfriend, Briseis. But his vengeance is merciless when he hears of the death of his beloved Patroclus at Hector's hands. There's a child frightened by the plumes on his father's helmet; a magic bra, which Hera uses to seduce Zeus (unnecessary encouragement, to be honest) and there's the reason why the phrase 'rosy-fingered dawn' is so-often repeated. It's a breathtaking story that echoes down the centuries, inspiring each generation with new interpretations of this epic work.

Natalie is a reformed comedian who is a little bit obsessive about Ancient Greece and Rome. Each week she takes a different figure from the ancient world and tells their story through a mix of stand-up comedy, extremely well-informed analysis, and conversation. Natalie picks out hilarious details and universal truths, as well as finding parallels with modern life, or those parts of life which are still influenced by ancient thought.

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery

Natalie Haynes stands up for Homer's Iliad.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

0601Helen Of Troy2020051720200523 (R4)Natalie Haynes tells stories of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Troy.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Natalie Haynes tells stories of the most beautiful woman in the world, who hatched from an egg and was the daughter of Zeus: Helen of Troy. Men fought over her from an early age, but was she really to blame for all those wars on epic scale?

Helen's face may have launched a thousand ships but it didn't make her happy: being kidnapped repeatedly does not make for contented relationships. How have her life and beauty been exploited by writers and artists across the centuries, to justify their own world-views?

In this locked down, more intimate version of her show, Natalie offers escape to a different realm: the mythological. As fresh and funny as ever, Natalie brings us new insights into feathery sex as well as gossipy erudition from a couple of thousand years of culture, with the help of Professor Edith Hall.

0602Penthesilea, Amazon Warrior Queen2020052420200530 (R4)Natalie Haynes tells the story of Penthesilea, Amazon warrior Queen.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Natalie Haynes tells of Penthesilea, Amazon warrior queen, in charge of ‘a bunch of golden-shielded, silver-axed, man-loving, boy-killing women,' with a natty line in ankle boots, and even trousers, a scandalous item of clothing at the time. These fighting women were respected as exceptional warriors and Penthesilea was given a hero's burial when she died in battle.

Unusually for women in antiquity, many Amazon's names are recorded (on vases) and they are excellent: 'She Who Lets the Dogs Out'; 'She Who Is Enthusiastic at Sex'; 'She Who Fights like a Man'. Although Amazons are regarded as mythological figures, there is strong evidence for the existence of nomadic fighting women from burial grounds in the Russian steppes.

In this locked down, more intimate version of her show, Natalie offers escape to a different realm: the mythological. As fresh and funny as ever, Natalie brings us new insights into the original girl gang, as well as gossipy erudition from a couple of thousand years of culture, with the help of Professor Edith Hall.

0603Eurydice2020053120200606 (R4)Natalie Haynes tells Eurydice's story from a new perspective. With Llewelyn Morgan.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Natalie Haynes tells stories of Eurydice, whose rescue from the Underworld was bungled by her lover Orpheus. How has her story been uncovered from sources that no longer exist? Eurydice is chased by a sex-pest at her wedding, trips on a snake and is killed by its venom. Orpheus charms Persephone with his music into allowing him to attempt a rescue from Hades, but on the journey back he must promise not to look behind him, to check Eurydice is following. Just as they are about to step into the light, he looks back, and his gaze is what kills Eurydice the second time.

With Professor Llewelyn Morgan and music from Sarah Gabriel and Sarah Angliss.

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery

0604 LASTPenelope2020060720200613 (R4)Natalie Haynes tells of Penelope, the clever woman behind The Odyssey.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.

Natalie Haynes tells stories of Penelope, the clever woman and perfect wife behind The Odyssey.

Penelope fends off a hundred idiot would-be suitors with an exhausting programme of weaving and un-weaving; is the ideal single mother for most of her marriage and devises a cunning trick to make sure her husband is really who he says he is. Also she must have been a looker because Odysseus preferred her over her cousin Helen, who was objectively the most beautiful woman in the world.

Natalie finds new ways of thinking about ancient myths in this locked-down version of her stand-up show, with the help of Professors Edith Hall and Llewelyn Morgan.

0701Medusa20210518"Rock star classicist" and reformed stand-up Natalie Haynes is obsessed with the ancient world. In these series she explores (historical and mythological) lives from ancient Rome and Greece that still have resonance today. They are hilarious and tragic, mystifying, revelatory. And they always tell us more about ourselves now than seems possible of stories from a couple of thousand years ago.

Today Natalie tells of Medusa, she of the snaky locks and stony glare. Medusa is truly terrifying, but she wasn't always a monster. She was once the most beautiful of the gorgon sisters, turned into this hideous version of herself by the goddess Athene, after being 'seduced' by Poseidon. Which may make her - literally - the original monstered victim.

Natalie is joined by Professor Edith Hall, who says that Medusa is not just a victim or a monster. She's a beloved sister and mother (to winged horse Pegasus and hero Chrysaor). Her lithifying gaze gives her something in common with Midas but there's a difference in how we are invited to view them: we fear her and pity him.

Illustrator Chris Riddell draws Medusa as he talks to Natalie, contemplating how she managed her serpentine hair (a hairdresser's nightmare, presumably) and whether some kind of super-sunglasses might help out with the problem of turning everything she looks at into stone.

Producer, Mary Ward-Lowery

Natalie Haynes tells stories of snake-haired Medusa. With Edith Hall and Chris Riddell.

Natalie Haynes creates stand-up routines about figures from ancient Greece and Rome.