Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
20081205A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James
2005030420050306Broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2005031120050313
2005031820050320Brian Walden, broadcaster and former MP, presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2005032520050327
2005040120050403Brian Walden.
2005040820050410
2005041520050417Broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005042220050424
2005042920050501
2005050620050508
2005051320050515
2005052020050522
2005052720050529
2005060320050605
2005061020050612
2005061720050619Broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005062420050626
2005070120050703
2005070820050710
2005071520050717
2005072220050724
2005072920050731New York resident and former Sunday Times editor Harold Evans comments on topical events.
2005080520050807Harold Evans presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005081220050814
2005081920050821Harold Evans presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2005082620050828
2005090220050904
2005090920050911
2005091620050918
2005092320050925Harold Evans.
2005093020051002
20051007
2005101420051016
2005102120051023
2005102820051030David Cannadine casts an historian's eye over current affairs.
2005110420051106David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

David Cannadine casts an historian's eye over current affairs.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005111120051113David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2005111820051120
2005112520051127David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

David Cannadine casts an historian's eye over today's current affairs.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005120220051203David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rptd Sat 8.50am]

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005120220051204
2005120920051210David Cannadine

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rptd Sat 8.50am]

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005120920051211
2005121620051218David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2005122320051224David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rptd Sat 8.50am]

2005123020051231
2005123020060101David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006010620060107David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rptd Sat 8.50am]

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006010620060108
2006011320060115
2006012020060122David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2006012720060129A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006020320060205
2006021020060212
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2006030320060305
2006031020060312
2006031720060319
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2006033120060402
2006040720060409
20060414
2006042120060423
2006042820060430Professor Lisa Jardine with her topical reflections.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006050520060507
2006050620060507
2006051220060514Professor Lisa Jardine with her topical reflections.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

Professor Lisa Jardine presents her topical reflections.

2006051920060521Lisa Jardine
2006052620060528Professor Lisa Jardine presents her topical reflections.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006060220060604Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006060920060611
2006061620060618
2006062320060625
2006063020060702Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

2006070720060709Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Then News.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rptd Sun 8.50am]

20060709
2006071420060716Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rptd Sun 8.50am]

2006072120060723Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
20060723
2006072820060730David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rptd Sun 8.50am]

2006080420060806David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rptd Sun 8.50am]

20060806
2006081120060813
20060813
2006081820060820David Cannadine

David Cannadine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rptd Sun 8.50am]

20060820
2006082520060827
20060827
2006090120060903
20060903
2006090820060910
20060910
2006091520060917
20060917
2006092220060924
20060924
2006092920061001
20061001
2006100620061008Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rpt of Fri 8.50pm]

Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rptd Sun 8.50am]

2006101320061015Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rptd Sun 8.50am]

20061015
2006102020061022
20061022
2006102720061029Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2006110320061105Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2006111020061112Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rpt of Friday 8.50pm]

Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rptd Sun 8.50am]

2006111720061119Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
20061119
2006112420061126Tim Egan presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

[Rpt of Friday 8.50pm]

Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rpt of Friday 8.50pm]

2006120120061203Broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2006120820061210Broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue. [Rptd Sun 8.50am]
20061210
2006121520061217
20061217
2006122220061224
2006122220061229
20061224
2006122920061231Broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
20061231
2007010520070107
20070107
2007011220070114Broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
20070114
2007011920070121Broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

20070121
20070128
20070211
20070225
20070304
2007030920070311Clive James.

Broadcaster and writer Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20070311
2007031620070318Clive James

Broadcaster and writer Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20070318
2007032320070325Broadcaster and writer Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
20070325
2007033020070401
20070401
2007040620070408
2007041320070415Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Lisa Jardine

2007042020070422Lisa Jardine

Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20070422
2007042720070429
20070429
2007050420070506
20070506
2007051120070513
20070513
2007051820070520
20070520
2007052520070527Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
20070527
2007060120070603Lisa Jardine presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
20070603
2007060820070610A weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2007061520070617
20070617 (R4)
A weekly reflection on a topical issue.
20070617
20070701
20070708
20070715
20070722
20070729
20070805
2007081020070812
20070812
2007081720070819A weekly reflection on a topical issue.
20070819
20070826
2007083120070902A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Tim Egan of the New York Times.
2007090720070909c>Tim Egan

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Tim Egan of the New York Times.

20070909
2007091420070916
20070916
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20070923
2007092820070930A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Tim Egan of the New York Times.
20070930
2007100520071007A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Tim Egan of the New York Times.
20071007
2007101220071014Tim Egan.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Tim Egan of the New York Times.

20071014
2007101920071021Tim Egan

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Tim Egan of the New York Times.

2007102620071028A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.
2007110220071104Lisa Jardine

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine

20071104
2007110920071111
20071111
2007111620071118A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.
20071118
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20071125
2007113020071202
20071202
2007120720071209A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine
20071209
2007121420071216Lisa Jardine

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

20071216
2007122120071223
20071223
2007122820071230Lisa Jardine.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

20071230
2008010420080106
20080106 (R4)
David Cannadine

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof David Cannadine.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

2008011120080113
20080113 (R4)
A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof David Cannadine.

David Cannadine

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

2008011820080120
20080120 (R4)
A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof David Cannadine.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

2008012520080127
20080127 (R4)
A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof David Cannadine.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

20080127
2008020120080203
20080203 (R4)
A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof David Cannadine

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

20080203
2008020820080210
20080210 (R4)
A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof David Cannadine.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

20080210
2008021520080217
20080217 (R4)
A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof David Cannadine.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

20080217
2008022220080224A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof David Cannadine.
20080224
2008022920080302David Cannadine

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof David Cannadine.

20080302
2008030720080309A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James
2008031420080316
20080316
20080321
2008032820080330
20080330
2008040420080406Clive James

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James.

20080406
2008041120080413Clive James

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James

20080413
2008041820080420Clive James

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James.

20080420
2008042520080427
20080427
2008050220080504
20080504
2008050920080511
20080511
2008051620080518A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lucy Kellaway.
2008052320080525Lucy Kellaway.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lucy Kellaway.

20080525
2008053020080601A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lucy Kellaway.
20080601
20080606A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lucy Kellaway.
20080608
20080613
20080615
20080620
20080622Lucy Kellaway.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lucy Kellaway.

20080627A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof Lisa Jardine.

Lisa Jardine

20080629A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof Lisa Jardine.
20080704A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Prof Lisa Jardine
20080706
20080711
20080713
20080718
20080720
20080725
20080727
20080801A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Professor Lisa Jardine
20080803
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20080810
20080815
20080817
20080822
20080824
20080829
20080831
20080905
20080907
20080912
20080914
20080919
20080921
20080926
20080928A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

She argues that if society were more ready to celebrate the ingenious then we would all become more interested in science.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine. She argues that if society were more ready to celebrate the ingenious then we would all become more interested in science.

20081003
20081005As financial chaos grips the public imagination, Lisa Jardine ponders debt in the Renaissance.
20081010
20081012In the light of the current mortgage crisis, Lisa Jardine asks if we are too wedded to the idea of owning our own family home.
20081017
20081019Lisa Jardine considers why this year's winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature is particularly relevant.
20081024
20081026Lisa Jardine ponders the effect of recession on the lingerie industry.
20081031
20081102Clive James gives his take on yachts, the US election and James Bond.
20081107
20081109
20081114Reflection on a topical issue from Clive James.

He argues that the days of mindless Hollywood action are over and says a new climate of reason prevails that extends beyond Hollywood.

Reflection on a topical issue from Clive James. He argues that the days of mindless Hollywood action are over and says a new climate of reason prevails that extends beyond Hollywood.

20081116
20081121
20081128
20081212
20081219
20081226
20090102Clive James reflects on the end of the get-rich-quick era.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James.

Clive reflects on the end of the get-rich-quick era.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James. Clive reflects on the end of the get-rich-quick era.

20090109A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Harold Evans
20090116
20090123
20090130Harry Evans wonders whether the term 'banker' will ever be restored to its former prestige.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Harold Evans

20090206
20090213
20090220Katharine Whitehorn considers the importance of words, their changing meanings and the influence they have on our perception of things.

Katharine Whitehorn considers the importance and influence of words.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Katharine Whitehorn

20090227A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Katharine Whitehorn
20090306
20090313
20090320A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Katharine Whitehorn.
20090327Clive James' take on the downfall of Australian judge Marcus Einfeld.
20090403Clive James

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James.

20090410
20090417Clive James reflects on the resignation of the Prime Minister's senior aide DamIan Mcbride and the inappropriateness of the new-fangled phrase 'reputational damage' - in contrast to the true meaning of a good reputation.
20090424Clive James wonders what Susan Boyle, the Britain's Got Talent singing sensation, has to tell us about the progress of feminism and how far appearance still matters - even in the world of serious singing.

Clive James wonders about the progress of feminism.

20090501
20090508
20090515
20090522A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James
20090529
20091023
20091030
20091106
20091113
20091120
20091127
20091204
20091211
20091218
20091225A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James.
2010010120100103

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

2010010820100110

Lisa Jardine welcomes the advent of electronic books but retains her passion for print.

Lisa Jardine welcomes the advent of electronic books but retains her passion for the printed page.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

2010011520100117

Lisa Jardine on the challenge of delivering the right level of supplies for public use.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the challenge of delivering the right level of supplies for public use, be it salt to cope with ice or a flu vaccine.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

2010012220100124

Lisa Jardine on the importance of science education for national prosperity.

Lisa Jardine on the importance of science education for national prosperity, and a failed attempt in the late 19th century to change our culture to be more pro-science.

2010012920100131

Lisa Jardine on the reputations of US presidents during and after their time in office.

Lisa Jardine compares the reputations of American presidents during their time in office with how they are remembered after leaving the White House.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.

20100205
20100212A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine
20100219
20100305Simon Schama presents the first in a series of personal reflections for Radio 4's weekly essay programme.

Simon Schama presents the first in a series of personal reflections.

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20100312Simon Schama presents the first of a series of personal reflections.
20100319
20100326
20100402
20100409A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Simon Schama.
20100416
20100423
20100507
20100514
20100521In the first of ten programmes, historian Professor David Cannadine delivers his weekly view on current events.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Professor David Cannadine

20100528
20100604
20100611
20100618
20100625
20100702
20100709
20100716A weekly reflection on a topical issue from David Cannadine
20100723
20100730A weekly reflection on a topical issue from David Cannadine.
20100820
20100827
20100903
20100910
20100917
20100924
20101008Sarah Dunant reflects on topical events

Producer: Sheila Cook.

20101126Joan Bakewell with her topical reflections

Producer: Sheila Cook.

20101210

Joan Bakewell with her topical reflections

Producer: Sheila Cook.

20101217

Joan Bakewell with her topical reflections

Producer: Sheila Cook.

20110107Alain de Botton with his topical reflections.

In the first of a new series, Alain argues that teachers of humanities in universities have only themselves to blame for many of the swingeing cuts they're facing.

He says they've failed to explain to the government - and the public at large - why what they do really matters.

And he says humanities teaching must find a new relevance in today's cash-strapped Britain.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton with a controversial view of the teaching of humanities in universities.

Alain de Botton with his topical reflections. In the first of a new series, Alain argues that teachers of humanities in universities have only themselves to blame for many of the swingeing cuts they're facing. He says they've failed to explain to the government - and the public at large - why what they do really matters. And he says humanities teaching must find a new relevance in today's cash-strapped Britain.

20110902The celebrated thinker John Gray gives his reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Celebrated thinker John Gray gives his reflection on a topical issue.

20110923
20110925
20110930
20111021Will Self reflects on a topical issue.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

20111104Mary Beard reflects on the week's events.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

20111111Mary Beard reflects on the week's events.
20111209A personal reflection on a topical issue.
20111223
20120106The historian Lisa Jardine reflects on the week's events.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Historian Lisa Jardine reflects on the week's events.

20120113
20120120
2012012720120129Historian Lisa Jardine with her topical reflections.

The historian Lisa Jardine with her topical reflections.

Producer:Sheila Cook.

2012020320120205Historian Lisa Jardine reflects on the week's events.

The historian Lisa Jardine with her topical reflections.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

20120210
20120309Topical reflection.
20120323Topical reflection with Professor David Cannadine.
20120330Topical reflection with Prof David Cannadine
20120406Prof David Cannadine reflects on a topical issue.
20120413
2012051820120520Will Self reflects on a topical issue.
2012061520120617
2012062220120624Adam Gopnik reflects on a topical issue.

Producer:

Adele Armstrong.

2012062920120701
2012070620120708Adam Gopnik reflects on a topical issue.

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

2012100520121007Sarah Dunant reflects on a topical issue.

Producer Rosamund Jones.

2012110920121111Mary Beard reflects on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

2012120720121209Onora O'Neill reflects anew on the theme of trust, the subject of her Reith lectures.

Onora O'Neill reflects anew on the theme of trust, which was the subject of her Reith lectures.

Producer: Sheila Cook

2012121420121216Will Self reflects on a topical issue.

Producer: Sheila Cook

2013030820130310Lisa Jardine reflects on a topical issue.
2013040520130407
2013041920130421Adam Gopnik's son is about to leave home. His suitcase is already packed. It's not a day Adam is looking forward to. Why is love between parents and their children so asymmetric, he wonders? Why do parents love their children infinitely - while children feel about their parents, at best, a mix of affection, pity, tolerance and forgiveness?

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2013070520130707
2013071220130714
2013071920130721
2013072620130728
2013092720130929
2013112920131201
2013120620131208
2013121320131215
2013122020131222

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

episode-b03lsdgz.jpg

2014032120140323

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014032820140330

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014040420140406

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014041120140413

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20140418

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014050220140504

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014051620140518

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014061320140615

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014070420140706

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014071820140720

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014081520140817

Will Self reflects on the affliction of consumption.

Will Self reflects on the power of modern day consumption and the effect it is having on us.

Producer: Caroline Bayley.

2014090520140907

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2014091220140914
2014091920140921A weekly reflection on a topical issue, with Prof Lisa Jardine.
2014101720141019 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2014102420141026 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2015010920150111 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015011620150118 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015020620150208 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015021320150215 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20150403A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015041020150412 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015041720150419 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015042420150426 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015050120150503 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015050820150510 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015051520150517 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015052220150524 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015061220150614 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015061920150621 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015071720150719 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015072420150726 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015091820150920 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015092520150927 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015102320151025 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015110620151108 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015121120151213 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2015121820151220 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2019051720190519 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2019120620191208 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2020011720200119 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.
2020072420200726 (R4)Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"Once in a blue moon," writes Rebecca Stott, "new technologies become available that make it possible to open up ancient, long-shelved historical mysteries."
Rebecca tells how modern science has explained the events of 536 AD when the sun 'disappeared' and a devastating pandemic followed.
And she ponders what scientists - hundreds of years from now - will be able to tell about our current pandemic and our environmental crisis.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

2021030520210307 (R4)Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2021040920210411 (R4)Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20210502Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2021050720210509 (R4)Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

2021051420210516 (R4)Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

20210521Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

01/01/201020100103A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Lisa Jardine.
01/05/200920090503
02/01/200920090104Clive James reflects on the end of the get-rich-quick era.
02/03/201220120304
03/02/201220120205Historian Lisa Jardine reflects on the week's events.
03/04/200920090405
03/09/201020100905
04/12/200920091206
05/02/201020100207Lisa Jardine reflects on the need for climate scientists to take scrupulous care when they inform and persuade.

Lisa Jardine on the need for climate scientists to take care when they inform and persuade.

05/03/201020100307In the last of her talks, Lisa Jardine reflects on the valuable example of the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dorothy Hodgkin, who bridged the so-called divide between the arts and the sciences.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the valuable example of the chemist Dorothy Hodgkin.

Simon Schama presents the first in a series of personal reflections.

05/12/200820081207
06/01/201220120108Historian Lisa Jardine reflects on the week's events.
06/02/200920090208A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Harold Evans.
06/03/200920090308Katharine Whitehorn reflects on images of women in the media.
06/11/200920091108Clive James reflects on the seductive allure of illegal narcotics, and lays the blame for their attractions at the door of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his trip to Xanadu.

Clive James reflects on the seductive allure of illegal narcotics.

08/01/201020100110Lisa Jardine welcomes the advent of electronic books but retains her passion for the printed page.

Lisa Jardine welcomes the advent of electronic books but retains her passion for print.

08/05/200920090510Clive James wonders what it says about the British attitude to poetry that we have the institution of the Poet Laureateship.

Clive James wonders what the Poet Laureateship says about the British attitude to poetry.

08/10/201020101010Sarah Dunant reflects on topical events.

09/01/200920090111
09/03/201220120311
09/03/201820180311
09/04/201020100411
10/02/201220120212Historian David Cannadine with his topical reflections.
10/09/201020100912
10/12/201020101212Joan Bakewell with her topical reflections.

11/05/20122012051120120513
11/12/200920091213A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Clive James reflects on the media coverage of man-made global warming and the need for minds to be open.

Clive James reflects on the media coverage of man-made global warming.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue. Clive James reflects on the media coverage of man-made global warming and the need for minds to be open.

12/02/201020100214Lisa Jardine reflects on the power of music and the value of musical education.
12/03/201020100314Simon Schama reflects that when times are hard people seem to prefer tough leaders who knock heads together to mild-mannered conciliators.

Simon Schama reflects that when times are hard people seem to prefer tough leaders.

12/12/200820081214Clive James explores the question of national identity and why it really is preferable to see Santa and his elves in Lapland rather than in the New Forest.
13/01/201220120115
13/02/200920090215
13/03/200920090315
13/04/201220120415Reflection on a topical issue.
13/11/200920091115Clive James celebrates the honouring of Battle of Britain commander Sir Keith Park with a temporary statue on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth.

Clive James celebrates the honouring of Sir Keith Park with a statue in Trafalgar Square.

15/01/201020100117
15/05/200920090517Clive James reflects on the furore over MPs' expenses.
16/01/200920090118
16/03/201220120318
16/03/201820180318 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.
16/04/201020100418Simon Schama reflects on the quality of American food and eating habits and welcomes what he sees as the growing popularity of ethnic dishes and local farm produce.

Excellent fresh food and good cooking has always existed, he says, in hidden pockets of the countryside but now he sees it being bought and enjoyed by more city dwellers, too.

Simon Schama reflects on eating habits in America and a growing enthusiasm for good food.

Simon Schama reflects on the quality of American food and eating habits and welcomes what he sees as the growing popularity of ethnic dishes and local farm produce. Excellent fresh food and good cooking has always existed, he says, in hidden pockets of the countryside but now he sees it being bought and enjoyed by more city dwellers, too.

17/04/200920090419Clive James reflects on the resignation of the Prime Minister's senior aide DamIan Mcbride
17/09/201020100919
17/12/201020101219Joan Bakewell with her topical reflections.

18/12/200920091220
19/02/201020100221Lisa Jardine reflects on the art and dangers of writing secret missives, from love letters and confidential documents to illicit text messages.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the art and dangers of writing secret missives.

19/03/201020100321Simon Schama looks forward to spring with personal reflections on the changing seasons, and commends Geoffrey Chaucer's upbeat opinion of April compared with Ts Eliot's more pessimistic view.

Simon Schama looks forward to spring with personal reflections on the changing seasons.

19/05/201720170519A reflection on a topical issue.

As the season of literary festivals gets underway, Howard Jacobson tells us not to be lured by their appearance of being civilized.

"The prevailing tone of sweet concord shouldn't be allowed to disguise the violent nature of creativity", he says.

They're a fiercely competitive business for writers, he believes. "To write is to reconceive the world and only a God, or someone acting like a God, can do that...You don't want some other two-bit deity coming along and bagging the credit for what you've done".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

19/12/200820081221
20/01/201220120122
20/02/200920090222Katharine Whitehorn considers the importance and influence of words.
20/03/200920090322
20/04/201220120422

Will Self reflects on a topical issue.

20/08/201020100822
20/11/200920091122Clive James reflects on the revelation of the identity of Belle de Jour, the author of The Diary of a London Call Girl.

Clive James reflects on the revelation of the identity of Belle de Jour.

21/10/201120111023
21/11/200820081123Clive James turns his attention to swearing.

Clive James turns his attention to swearing and argues that bad language used constantly is no language at all.

22/01/201020100124Lisa Jardine on the importance of science education for national prosperity, and a failed attempt in the late 19th century to change our culture to be more pro-science.

Lisa Jardine on the importance of science education for national prosperity.

22/05/200920090524
23/01/200920090125
23/03/201220120325David Cannadine recalls the heyday of cinema and television Westerns and wonders if the makers of a big screen adaptation of the Lone Ranger will capture a new audience when the film is released next year. Despite the decline in popularity of the Western, "the appeal of the mythical West has remained a powerful force in American political life."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine recalls the heyday of cinema and television Westerns.

23/10/200920091025Clive James reflects on the importance of scepticism in every walk of life, and he criticises extreme reactions to those who are sceptical about man-made global warming.

Clive James reflects on the importance of scepticism in every walk of life.

24/04/200920090426Clive James wonders about the progress of feminism.
25/06/201020100627David Cannadine reflects on the teaching of history in schools and the moves at home and abroad to reform the curriculum and re-write the textbooks.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reflects on the teaching of history in schools.

25/12/200920091227Clive James reflects on the human condition and the need for liberal democracy to spread to allow future generations to enjoy the fruits of progress.

Clive James reflects on the human condition and the need for liberal democracy to spread.

26/02/201020100228Lisa Jardine reflects on the importance for history of the recording of personal memories.
26/03/201020100328Simon Schama reflects on the politics surrounding President Obama's healthcare reforms, which he sees as a turning point of historic significance.

Simon Schama reflects on the politics surrounding President Obama's healthcare reforms.

26/11/201020101128Joan Bakewell with her topical reflections.

26/12/200820081228
27/01/201220120129Historian Lisa Jardine with her topical reflections.
27/02/200920090301Katharine Whitehorne reflects on diseconomies of scale.
27/03/200920090329Clive James' take on the downfall of Australian judge Marcus Einfeld.
27/08/201020100829
27/11/200920091129A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Clive James.

The spirit in which the game is played determines whether he likes or loathes the sport.

Clive James reflects on the spirit in which sport is played.

28/11/200820081130
29/01/201020100131Lisa Jardine compares the reputations of American presidents during their time in office with how they are remembered after leaving the White House.

Lisa Jardine on the reputations of US presidents during and after their time in office.

29/05/200920090531Clive James observes that while democracy is the right system for governing a country, it's the wrong system for choosing a professor of poetry.

Clive James reflects on democracy, MPs' expenses and the Oxford Poetry Professorship.

30/01/200920090201Harry Evans wonders whether the term 'banker' will ever be restored to its former prestige.
30/04/201020100502Simon Schama reflects on the meaning of money as represented by coins and notes and in art.

He celebrates the solidity of coins with their seeming defiance of monetary transience in contrast to paper money which embodies more readily the ephemeral nature of fortunes made and lost.

Simon Schama sees the current economic crisis as an ideal moment for artists to emulate their predecessors from earlier times of boom and bust by producing paintings to express financial worthlessness.

Simon Schama reflects on the meaning of money as represented by coins and notes and in art. He celebrates the solidity of coins with their seeming defiance of monetary transience in contrast to paper money which embodies more readily the ephemeral nature of fortunes made and lost. Simon Schama sees the current economic crisis as an ideal moment for artists to emulate their predecessors from earlier times of boom and bust by producing paintings to express financial worthlessness.

30/09/201120111002
30/10/200920091101Clive James reflects on the postal workers' dispute and gives his personal view of the modern history of labour relations.

Clive James reflects on the postal workers' dispute.

A Change Of Tack2019091320190915 (R4)The economist, John Maynard Keynes once said to someone, "When my information changes, I change my mind. What do you do?"

Tom Shakespeare argues that we need to reconsider our view that changing your mind is a weakness.

"Sticking to your guns", he says, is of little benefit in today's complicated, fast-changing world.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Tom Shakespeare on why changing your mind shouldn't be seen as a weakness.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A Few Good Trade Offs2020042420200426 (R4)Zia Haider Rahman discusses the moral questions facing us in lifting the lockdown

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Zia Haider Rahman describes the "profound moral questions" facing society as it starts to discuss how the COVID-19 lockdown might, eventually, be ended.
We have to face up to the fact, he says, that our choices will have huge impacts for which we must take responsibility.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A Fine Line2020082820200830 (R4)"At no time, in modern times," writes Adam Gopnik, "have we endured so much and understood so little."

But Adam reminds us that plagues have often, in the past, preceded times of plenty - the Jazz Age, for example, following closely on the heels of the 1918 flu pandemic in the US.

"So what lies before us may be parched austerity and continuing depression... or champagne at midnight in Gatsby's garden."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Adam Gopnik on why, during the pandemic, there's a fine line between clever... and stupid.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A Folder Called 'hope'2017120120171203 (R4)Zia Haider Rahman on the abysmal race record of some of Britain's foremost institutions.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"On my computer", writes Zia Haider Rahman, "I have a folder of exchanges with organisations and corporations, a folder called 'Hope'".

Zia describes the letters he's written to some of Britain's foremost institutions on their lack of diversity.

He says empirical research of cognitive scientists points ever more clearly to the immense difficulty of changing minds.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A History Of Fireworks20100813Lisa Jardine reflects on the history of fireworks and especially on the role they have played in France; once they were the rejected symbol of a decadent monarchy, now they are a must for civic celebrations

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the history and political significance of fireworks.

A History Of Fireworks20100815Lisa Jardine reflects on the history and political significance of fireworks.
A History Of Monetary Unions20120224Historian David Cannadine with his topical reflections.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A History Of Monetary Unions20120226Historian David Cannadine with his topical reflections.
A Knight In Shining Armour?2019062120190623 (R4)Linda Colley argues that we all have a role to play in resolving our present political difficulties.

In tough times, she says, there's a long history of people searching for a "modern man on horseback, a populist hero, who they hope will come and rescue them and make the bad things go away".

But she says there are many problems with this - the most obvious one being that "leaders of this sort never properly deliver and usually do immense damage".

She concludes that all of us must get involved in the work of effective democratic politics.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Linda Colley discusses the cult of charismatic leaders and why they never properly deliver

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A Liberal Credo2016112520161127 (R4)Adam Gopnik muses on liberals and liberalism.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik muses on liberals and liberalism - and why liberalism is so despised.

At a moment when it seems likely to be drowned out in America"" he writes, ""I shall make a small forlorn effort to speak its truths"".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A Midsummer Daydream2013062120130623In Britain many of our holidays and festivals are rather dull - bank holidays for example. Tom Shakespeare, presenting the third of his four essays, says that when he looks at other cultures he feels a strong sense of festival envy. He wants Britain to have better festivals. To start with, shouldn't we celebrate Midsummer?

Tom Shakespeare presents the third of his four essays.

A New Anti-semitism2018061520180617 (R4)Will Self once wrote that he could no longer identify as a Jew at all.

As anti-Semitism once again comes back to the centre stage of British political life, Will says he's had cause to rethink his position.

"Once societies contain a certain proportion of active bigots", he writes, "all rational debate on such matters begins to shut down as everyone reverts - tediously, ineluctably - to type".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Will Self on a new wave of anti-Semitism in Britain.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A New Politics?2017060920170611 (R4)John Gray reflects on how the election has changed politics.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

"The election has left many people wondering if politics has morphed into a wholly new condition" writes John Gray.

He reflects on whether politics really has been turned upside down by a momentous election.

He argues that the situation is not unprecedented but says "the election has punctured what was the ruling illusion of our age - the belief that we'd left behind the ideological antagonisms of the past".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A Normal Need2018042720180429 (R4)Tom Shakespeare ponders why disabled sexuality is still so often taboo.

"Sexuality is a human right", he points out....and says we must set aside the notion that disabled people have "special needs" when it comes to sexuality.

"We have all the normal needs of non-disabled people".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Tom Shakespeare asks why disabled sexuality is still so often taboo.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A Petition Against Petitions2016061720160619 (R4)Roger Scruton says government by petition is out of step with representative democracy.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

A Petition Against Petitions20160619Roger Scruton says the fashion for government by petition is out of step with representative democracy in which representatives are not elected to relay the opinions of their constituents but to represent their interests.

The common good, rather than mass sentiment, should be the source of law, and the common good may be hard to discover and easily obscured by crowd emotions."".

A Pioneering Scientist20100806Lisa Jardine reflects on the colourful career of the founder of the British Museum, Sir Hans Sloane, a pioneering naturalist and physician, rooted in the commercialism of his age

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the colourful career of the founder of the British Museum.

A Pioneering Scientist20100808Lisa Jardine reflects on the colourful career of the founder of the British Museum, Sir Hans Sloane, a pioneering naturalist and physician, rooted in the commercialism of his age

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the colourful career of the founder of the British Museum.

A Problem With Words2018050420180506 (R4)Stella Tillyard describes her struggle with dyslexia for the first time.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

"My problem with words is something I have never written down or spoken out about".

The writer, Stella Tillyard, talks about her "battle" with dyslexia - from her childhood to now.

She vividly describes the "gremlin that takes me by the hand, pulls my confidence away, and makes my heart beat too fast when I have - as now - to read aloud".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A Right Loyal Toast2012052520120527Will Self reflects on the historical tradition of the Loyal Toast. A week before the Jubilee celebrations get underway, he muses on where deference is properly due.

I have never risen for the Loyal Toast, and unless some apoplectic patriot holds a gun to my head I doubt I ever will"" he writes.

He suggests we should turn our thoughts to who else we might raise a toast to....personally, he believes it should be his postwoman. In that case, he says ""I'd be on my hind legs before you could scream 'Treason!'"

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Will Self reflects on a topical issue.

A Sense Of An Opening2021021920210221 (R4)As a psychotherapist, Susie Orbach spends her working days helping people find words to express their emotional dilemmas.

But the seesaw of the pandemic presents particular challenges.

"We are not simply able," she writes, "to breathe into a difficult situation, roll up our psychological sleeves or dig ourselves in without the emotional cost of feeling constrained, nervous, watchful, touchy."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Susie Orbach on finding the right words to help get us through the pandemic.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A Sense Of Chaos2019030820190310 (R4)AL Kennedy on why we can't afford to despair.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A Sense Of Fear2021020520210207 (R4)Zoe Strimpel tries to understand her sense of panic at news of Britain closing its borders

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A Staircase In Sunlight2017070720170709 (R4)Adam Gopnik goes in search of a white staircase in Capri.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

"I will now pause for a full two seconds to allow you to throw things at the radio", begins Adam Gopnik.

He's working hard, he claims, at a literary festival in Capri.

While there he goes in search of a white staircase - the subject of his favourite painting in the world. As he searches, he reflects on art, life and "the sketchbook of the twenty first century", the iphone.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A Turning Point For Democracy?2021010820210110 (R4)Adam Gopnik attempts to make sense of events in Washington this week.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A Welcome Slice Of American Pie
A Woman At The Last Supper2019110820191110 (R4)"Finding, promoting and revaluing women artists through the ages", writes Sarah Dunant, "has been one of the great – albeit still ongoing – cultural success stories of our time".

Sarah discusses the undervalued women of art who are being rediscovered in large numbers - and the very modern stories they tell.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Sarah Dunant on the rediscovery of undervalued women of art.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A Word Of Advice2020062620200628 (R4)Zia Haider Rahman reflects on the comment "If you don't like it here you can always leave

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Act Your Age2016080520160807 (R4)Will Self explains why he finds it hard to always act his age.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik2015073120150802 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik: Family Reunions2015070320150705 (R4)

Adam Gopnik's ten-year family reunion brings into focus the passage of time.

The inescapable material of any family reunion, British or American, Jewish or Celtic, is always the same: each offering a hair-raising or hair-losing seminar on the effects of time on the human body and soul, and especially on the difference between aging and growing."

Producer: Sheila Cook."

Adam Gopnik: Long-form Television2015080720150809 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik: Power, Persecution And Pluralism2015071020150712 (R4)Adam Gopnik wonders why religious people are feeling "persecuted" following the US Supreme Court ruling making same sex marriage legal in all fifty states. Can a religious person free to practice their religion actually feel persecuted? Are they just offended by the practices of a pluralistic society, or do they have a point?

Their complaint is, in its way, one that seems fixed in the political choices of the late Roman Empire: the only alternatives they can recognise as real are either power or persecution. Either you are the magistrate making rules, or else you are the martyr being sacrificed to them.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik: Role Reversal2015073120150802 (R4)

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik: Words For Music2015062620150628 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

After Grenfell2017062320170625 (R4)Will Self's personal view of high-rise buildings following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self gives a very personal view of high-rise buildings in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

"As a commentator on the built environment", Will writes, "I've been too wry, too cynical and too disengaged over the past twenty years".

"Grenfell Tower", he says, "was the bonfire of any remaining civic vanity in London ".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

After Manchester2017052620170528 (R4)Howard Jacobson reflects on his home city's response to the Manchester attack.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

After The Fire20190419"For many Parisians, it's Notre Dame's constancy that's so reassuring" writes Joanna Robertson. "Pass by before dawn, she's waiting there. Or late at night, amidst the deserted streets, her dark form is holding steady. Notre Dame was inviolable".

Joanna Robertson reflects on how the fire is changing that taken-for-granted sight.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Joanna Robertson reflects from Paris on the days after the Notre Dame fire.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Against Safe Spaces2016093020161002 (R4)John Gray reflects on the controversial 'space spaces' policy in universities.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

John Gray reflects on the controversial ""safe spaces"" policy being pursued by some universities.

It may have been devised to ensure that people of all identities are entitled to a tolerant environment...but John Gray argues that the policy not only threatens a fundamental liberal value but represents a demand to be sheltered from human reality.

He says the point of education used to be to learn how to live well in full awareness of the disorder of life. ""A lack of realism...was considered not just an intellectual failing but also a moral flaw"".

He says we ignore this lesson of history at our peril.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A reflection on a topical issue.

"

Against Theory2019081620190818 (R4)"No matter how many times you see the sun rise", writes Will Self, "it doesn't mean it will definitely rise tomorrow - or, indeed, that you'll be there to see it".

Will sets out why he has a problem with theory of all sorts and the negative effect “theory addicts” are having on our contemporary intellectual culture.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Will Self on why he has a problem with theory.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Age Of Consent2012111620121118Mary Beard reflects on the arbitary nature of some laws, including the age of consent.

Mary Beard reflects on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Al Kennedy: Creamola Foam Remembered2015060520150607 (R4)

I'm getting old. Not older, just old"" begins AL Kennedy. Through childhood memories of drinking Creamola Foam, her grandfather's voice...and being kicked by a boy in the shin during playtimes, she reflects on how age changes our perception of the past and the future.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

All The World's A Stage2021031920210321 (R4)A year on from the first lockdown, Michael Morpurgo reflects on the effect the last twelve months have had on him - and on the arts world in general.

He describes the impact of a world with no theatres, no concert halls, no cinemas, no audiences.

"Until now," Michael writes, "I don't think I truly realised just how important, how intense, this live relationship can be, for me and for an audience too."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Michael Morpurgo reflects... a year on from the first lockdown.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Allergic To Food2016032520160327 (R4)Finding himself on a restricted diet, Will Self reflects on the rise of food allergies.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Finding himself on a restricted diet, Will Self reflects on the rise of food allergies and intolerances which used to fail to invoke his sympathy.

It's not so much that I doubt the physiological component of all this tummy rumbling and grumbling, it's more that the social and cultural aspects of the malaise have grown still louder in the past half decade."".

Finding himself on a restricted diet, Will Self reflects on the rise of food allergies.

America Votes2016110420161106 (R4)Adam Gopnik reflects on why he believes a Trump victory would be a disaster for America.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik on why a victory for Donald Trump would be a disaster.

Adam Gopnik reflects on why he believes a victory for Donald Trump would be a disaster for America.

The American Presidential election ""posits a simple eternal human confrontation between sensible and crazy"", he writes.

He says we must not pretend that the rise of Trump is essentially a ""people's revolt"" or a movement of the dispossessed.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

America Votes2016111120161113 (R4)Broadcasters reflect on the US presidential election.

American Ambivalence20130106

Will Self looks back over 2012 and reflects on the confused relationship between Britain and the US. Love and hate, he argues, are there in equal measure.

Taking as his starting point the Tom Stoppard plays his American mother took him to see in the 1970s, he says our relationship with our friends across the pond has changed little in 40 years.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

An Epidemic Of History2020021420200216 (R4)"We have been here before, many times" writes Sarah Dunant as she charts some key moments in history when the world has been gripped by fear over the spread of disease.

From Columbus and the outbreak of syphilis in 1495, to cholera at Mecca in the 1860s....and Wuhan today.

She ponders what insights this present crisis might bring.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Sarah Dunant discusses the relationship between disease and the culture of history.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

An Evening At The Death Cafe2019102520191027 (R4)"It is the most extraordinary thing about humans", writes Sarah Dunant, "that along with our - albeit limited - ability to prepare for an unknown future, we find it very hard to accept the unassailable fact of our own end".

Sarah describes her experience talking with a group of strangers one evening at a Death Cafe.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Sarah Dunant describes an evening talking with a group of strangers about death.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Another Kind Of Atheism2015082820150830 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Anti-political Punditry2016021220160214 (R4)Adam Gopnik says the New Hampshire primary results are less revolutionary than they look.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Anti-semitism And The Neo Medievalists2020012420200126 (R4)Howard Jacobson discusses why we all need to be concerned about anti-Semitism.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Anyone For Art?2013062820130630Tom Shakespeare presents the last of his four essays. Isn't it time to democratize art?

Isn't it time to democratize art? Shouldn't we, the public, be allowed to borrow works of art from our national collections? That way we could have an affair with art, rather than a one-night stand. Tom Shakespeare presents the last of his four essays.

Are Museums Our New Churches?2011012820110130Alain de Botton with his topical reflections.
Are Students Getting Their Money's Worth?2012113020121202Mary Beard reflects on why universities are being consumed by ""customer satisfaction"" surveys.

When you're paying up to £9000 a year for the privilege of being at university, you want to make it pretty clear if you feel you're not getting your money's worth"", she writes.

But the deluge of forms - asking students for their views on the content, presentation, organisation of the course and the quality of the handouts will - she argues, do little to improve ""the learning experience"".

She admits having a ""tweak of nostalgia for that old era before the tick-box, when brave students would tell their famous professors to their face that their lectures were rubbish""!

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mary Beard reflects on a topical issue.

Art: The Real Thing2014121920141221 (R4)In the last of his three talks on art Roger Scruton asks what constitutes real art, as opposed to cliche or kitsch.

He says we must ignore the vast quantities of art produced as commodities to be sold, in contrast to symphonies or novels that cannot be owned in the same way as a painting or a sculpture.

Real art has to have lasting appeal, he argues, and for that it needs three things: beauty, form and redemption. The production of such art, he says, takes immense hard work and attention to detail, but it can give meaning to our modern lives and show love in the midst of doubt and desolation.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Attack Of The Wheelie Bins2007020220070204
20070204 (R4)
Clive James reflects on man-made climate change from the standpoint of a sceptic.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Broadcaster and writer Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Automation...and A Packet Of Frozen Peas2019041220190414 (R4)"If you have ever tried to scan a bio-metric passport, an e-ticket or just a packet of frozen peas", writes AL Kennedy, "you'll know that using technology can turn, within moments, into a bizarre ritual of presenting, rubbing, re-presenting, murmured prayers and computer generated instructions which lead either to complete defeat or the intervention of human assistance that could have been there all along".

She argues that automation must be governed by human needs and strengths.

Personal contact, she believes, is more important than ever.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

AL Kennedy reflects on why automation needs to be governed by human needs and strengths.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Baby Boomers20101015Sarah Dunant owns up to being a member of the greediest generation - the baby boomers.

She wonders if after asking for a range of personal freedoms, they are now asking for the freedom to choose when to die?

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Sarah Dunant owns up to being part of the greediest generation - the baby boomers.

Sarah Dunant owns up to being a member of the greediest generation - the baby boomers. She wonders if after asking for a range of personal freedoms, they are now asking for the freedom to choose when to die?

Baby Boomers20101017Sarah Dunant owns up to being part of the greediest generation - the baby boomers.

Baby It's Cold Outside2016121620161218 (R4)The Christmas song "Baby It's Cold Outside" has become the cause of intense controversy in the US where it's been described as a "hymn to rape".

As the father of a teenage daughter" writes Adam Gopnik, "I will stand down to no one in the fight against sexual assault of all kinds".

But, he argues, the worst thing liberal minded people can do is "allow their liberalism to become infected with puritanism".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik on the controversy surrounding the Christmas song Baby It's Cold Outside.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Bad News Is Good Business2017040720170409 (R4)AL Kennedy says we should reject the media outlets that peddle only bad news.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

AL Kennedy says we should reject the media outlets that peddle only bad news whether real or fake in ever shriller voices, depicting a world of unremitting awfulness.

Fake facts - let's just call them lies - and deceptively selective coverage have to be peddled with greater than average outrage and shock just to keep their frailty from being examined too closely.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Bankers In America20120217David Cannadine reflects on current and historic attitudes towards bankers in America where opinion does not divide neatly along party lines. He sees today's criticism as mild by comparison with the attitude of Franklin D. Roosevelt who unleashed "a sustained and ferocious attack " during the era of the New Deal.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Historian David Cannadine reflects on attitudes towards bankers in America.

Bankers In America20120219Historian David Cannadine reflects on attitudes towards bankers in America.
Battling The Botnets2014062720140629AL Kennedy asks if it is time for us to rethink our devotion to computers.

It's a tale of "shadowy white-hatted hackers, more shadowy black-hatted hackers and the possibility that the pricey electronic equipment lurking in our homes may not have our best interests at heart".

AL Kennedy reflects on the current spate of high-profile viruses that are threatening our computers...invasive software that may be sending our bank details to criminals every time we connect to the internet.

She says as more sophisticated computers become part of more appliances, the potential for virus infection increases. So is it time, she asks, for us to rethink our devotion to these machines?

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Being English2016072220160724 (R4)The writer AL Kennedy reflects on Englishness.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Via steak and kidney pie and a spot of Morris dancing, AL Kennedy reflects on Englishness...at a time, she writes, ""when Englishness is struggling to decide what it can be"".

She appeals to England - with all its different views, customs, history and opinions - to ""treasure yourself, all of yourself"".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A reflection on a topical issue.

"

Believing In Belief2011091620110918John Gray argues that the scientific and rationalist attack on religion is misguided.

Extreme atheists do not realise that for most people across the globe, religion is not generally about personal belief.

Instead, "Practice - ritual, meditation, a way of life - is what counts." Central to religion is the power of myth, which still speaks to the contemporary mind.

"The idea that science can enable us to live without myths is one of these silly modern stories." In fact, he argues, science has created its own myth, "chief among them the myth of salvation through science....The idea that humans will rise from the dead may be incredible" he says, "but no more so than the notion that humanity can use science to remake the world"

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Reflection on a topical issue.

John Gray argues that the scientific and rationalist attack on religion is misguided. Extreme atheists do not realise that for most people across the globe, religion is not generally about personal belief. Instead, "Practice - ritual, meditation, a way of life - is what counts." Central to religion is the power of myth, which still speaks to the contemporary mind. "The idea that science can enable us to live without myths is one of these silly modern stories." In fact, he argues, science has created its own myth, "chief among them the myth of salvation through science....The idea that humans will rise from the dead may be incredible" he says, "but no more so than the notion that humanity can use science to remake the world"

Believing In Belief20110918John Gray argues that the scientific and rationalist attack on religion is misguided. Extreme atheists do not realise that for most people across the globe, religion is not generally about personal belief. Instead, "Practice - ritual, meditation, a way of life - is what counts." Central to religion is the power of myth, which still speaks to the contemporary mind. "The idea that science can enable us to live without myths is one of these silly modern stories." In fact, he argues, science has created its own myth, "chief among them the myth of salvation through science....The idea that humans will rise from the dead may be incredible" he says, "but no more so than the notion that humanity can use science to remake the world"

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Believing In Beliefs2014080820140810

Will Self offers a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Belongings2016070820160710 (R4)AL Kennedy reflects on how we can sustain each other through uncertainty.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Transitions shake us"" writes AL Kennedy. ""and you don't need me to tell you that as a nation we're sharing one"".

Alison reflects on how disturbing transitional times can be...and writes of her own personal experience and that happening in post-Brexit Britain.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Beware The Experts20111211The historian Lisa Jardine recalls CP Snow for lessons on the dangers of leaving political decisions to technocrats and experts and calls for better informed debate by politicians and public alike in the fields of science and economics.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine recalls CP Snow's lessons on the dangers of government by experts.

Bin The Bucket List2018081720180819 (R4)Tom Shakespeare on why he rejects the idea of a bucket list.

He proposes instead an idea dreamt up by one of his mates - a list that rhymes with bucket but begins with an F. "Let's call it a Forget-it-list" he says.

Tom shares the top ten items on his Forget it List this week.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Bitcoin's Cyber Freedom2013042620130428John Gray presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.
Bob Dylan And The Bobolaters2016120220161204 (R4)Adam Gopnik reflects on Bob Dylan's predictable lack of gratitude towards his Nobel Prize.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik - a lifelong fan of Bob Dylan - muses on Dylan's ""utterly predictable lack of gratitude"" towards his Nobel Prize.

The terrible and intriguing truth"", he writes, is that ""people are tragically impressed by indifference...and pitifully contemptuous of the charming"".

The Dylans of this world, Gopnik says ""impress us as the true egotists we secretly are"".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Bobby Kennedy's Assassination - 50 Years On2018060120180603 (R4)Alistair Cooke's incredible first-hand account of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Books Do Furnish A Room2018082420180826 (R4)Tom Shakespeare is downsizing. But what to do with his books?

He points out that he has nothing like the magnitude of problem faced by the Argentine-Canadian author, Alberto Manguel, a few years ago when he downsized from his medieval presbytery in France to an apartment in New York and had to deal with 35,000 books! Or even the 3,000 books Penelope Lively wrote about recently.

But Tom ponders how few of his thousand or so books will be enough to live with.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Botcare2018060820180610 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"Cute mobile machines with arms, hands and big friendly eyes reminding you to take your next pill... or lifting people in and out of wheelchairs" - is this the way to look after a growing elderly population?

Sarah Dunant reflects on the crisis in care for the elderly and wonders if artificial intelligence can provide a satisfactory answer.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Sarah Dunant asks if robots can solve the crisis in care for the elderly.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Brexit And Illiberal Europe2018072020180722 (R4)John Gray argues that in the Brexit debate, few Remainers seem to have noticed the illiberal and fragmented Europe that has recently come into being.

"Illiberal forces are advancing across the European continent", he writes, with hard right politics strengthening their hold in many countries.

He says the idea that staying in the European Union is a way of protecting liberal values is simply an "illusion".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

John Gray argues that staying in the European Union will not protect liberal values.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Brexit And The English Revolution2019011820190120 (R4)Linda Colley reflects on an historic week in British politics.

She turns to Lawrence Stone's famous book, "The Causes of the English Revolution", to cast light on the present turmoil.

And she asks if the bitter fractures over Brexit could eventually turn out to be the modernizing force the UK needs.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Linda Colley asks if - eventually - Brexit could be the modernizing force the UK needs.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Brexit: Failure To Compromise2019032920190331 (R4)John Gray reflects on where British politics goes from here.

"Whether Brexit is a good or bad idea," he writes, "is no longer the central issue that Britain is facing."

"Instead, the question is whether our political system can survive the damage a mishandled Brexit has inflicted on it."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Correction: The 1975 referendum took place on the 5th June that year on the UK's continued membership of the European Economic Community which it had joined two years earlier.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Brian Walden2007012620070128
20190517 (R4)
20190519 (R4)
Following the death of the distinguished broadcaster and former MP Brian Walden, who presented many programmes for BBC Radio 4, this is one of his last talks for the series A Point of View.

He argues - in this essay originally broadcast in 2007 - that Britain's "underclass" is gradually dropping out of national life.

A Brook Lapping production for BBC Radio 4

Following the death of Brian Walden, this is one of his last talks for A Point of View

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Brief Encounters2020102320201025 (R4)Will Self advocates a novel practice for our times.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Bring Back The Heptarchy!2014060620140608

Scotland could become independent. So, asks Tom Shakespeare, should England consider returning to an earlier order - a heptarchy of seven independent jurisdictions?

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Britain's New Politics20100516Simon Schama reflects on the political dramas following the general election and favourably compares the British system for a swift handover of power to the cumbersome American one.

He praises the party leaders for managing, ultimately, to rise above the usual partisan rhetoric, and looks forward to a new politics in the spirit of Thomas Paine.

Simon Schama reflects on the political dramas in Britain following the general election.

Simon Schama reflects on the political dramas following the general election and favourably compares the British system for a swift handover of power to the cumbersome American one. He praises the party leaders for managing, ultimately, to rise above the usual partisan rhetoric, and looks forward to a new politics in the spirit of Thomas Paine.

British Populism And Brexit2019071920190721 (R4)John Gray asks if a no-deal Brexit is the only way out of current events.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Cakes And Coupons20100926Lisa Jardine reveals her inner conflict between two passions inherited from her mother, who recently passed away.

On the one hand is a carefulness about money which leads Lisa to a perpetual search for a bargain.

On the other is a wild extravagance in baking, creating rich, multi-layered cakes, stacked high with lashings of butter icing.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Lisa Jardine on the conflict between her twin passions - saving money and lavish baking.

Lisa Jardine reveals her inner conflict between two passions inherited from her mother, who recently passed away. On the one hand is a carefulness about money which leads Lisa to a perpetual search for a bargain. On the other is a wild extravagance in baking, creating rich, multi-layered cakes, stacked high with lashings of butter icing.

Calling A Spade A Spade2019030120190303 (R4)Tom Shakespeare on why we are in urgent need of a bit of plain speaking.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Can Compassion Be Taught?2013060720130609Tom Shakespeare if compassion can be taught, in the first of his four essays.

Tom Shakespeare presents the first of his four essays. There have been several recent scandals in the health service, with appalling cases of abuse and neglect coming to light. Not surprisingly, this has led to calls for people in the medical profession to be taught compassion. But Tom is sceptical. This week he asks whether compassion can and should be taught.

Canaries In The Coal Mine2016072920160731 (R4)Tom Shakespeare gives a very personal view of prenatal screening.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Tom Shakespeare gives a very personal view of the implications for society of a prenatal screening technology due to be announced shortly.

Tom inherited the genetic condition, achondroplasia, or restricted growth from his father and passed it on to both his children.

Soon we will have to decide, he writes, what sort of people we are prepared to accept in our families and in our society.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Capitalism And The Myth Of Social Evolution2014110720141109 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.
Carols At Christmas20111225Lisa Jardine reflects on the power of music to move, especially at Christmas, when the singing of carols unites singers and listeners alike, in an outpouring of community spirit. She also celebrates each advance in technology which has made music available to all, not just an elite, from the fifteenth century mass production of carol books to the screening in cinemas worldwide of opera live from the Met in New York.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the power of music to move, especially at Christmas.

Cats, Birds And Humans2011090920110911John Gray considers why the human animal needs contact with something other than itself.

He tells the story of an eminent philosopher who once told him that he'd persuaded his cat to become a vegan! An effort, it seems, to get the cat to share his values.

But Gray argues that there's no evolutionary hierarchy with humans at the top.

"What birds and animals offer us", he says, "is not confirmation of our sense of having an exalted place in some sort of cosmic hierarchy.

It's admission into a larger scheme of things, where our minds are no longer turned in on themselves".

He concludes that "by giving us the freedom to see the world afresh, birds and animals renew our humanity".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

He tells the story of an eminent philosopher who once told him that he'd persuaded his cat to become a vegan! An effort, it seems, to get the cat to share his values. But Gray argues that there's no evolutionary hierarchy with humans at the top.

"What birds and animals offer us", he says, "is not confirmation of our sense of having an exalted place in some sort of cosmic hierarchy. It's admission into a larger scheme of things, where our minds are no longer turned in on themselves".

Cats, Birds And Humans20110911John Gray considers why the human animal needs contact with something other than itself.
Cause For Hope2020032020200322 (R4)"I have come to think of the virus as that monster from the ancient Norse legend of Beowulf, Grendel," writes Michael Morpurgo. "He's out there now, threatening my home, my village, my family and friends".

Michael talks about what it feels like to be hunkered down in his little cottage in Devon - waiting for coronavirus to pass.

Recorded by Hamish Marshall from Radio Devon.

Produced by Adele Armstrong.

Michael Morpurgo on hunkering down in his cottage... waiting for coronavirus to pass.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Celestial Bodies2013031520130317Lisa Jardine reflects on comets and the lessons to be learned from early astronomers.

When two spectacular comets appeared in the night sky in 1664 and 1665, many feared they were harbingers of doom. Not long afterwards, the Great Plague and the Great Fire were visited on London.

Lisa Jardine has been looking upwards this week in an attempt to catch sight of the Pan-Starrs comet, which is thought to have been hurtling towards the sun for millions of years. Later this year, another comet is expected to grace our skies.

Her concern is not that they might bring with them a modern day plague, but whether we have learned the lessons early astronomers taught us about sharing scientific information.

Challenging Intellect2012042020120422Will Self reflects on a topical issue.

Challenging Intellect20120422Will Self reflects on a topical issue.
China And The Retreat Of Liberal Values2018040620180408 (R4)"Western liberals", writes John Gray, "are horrified by the rise of Xi Jinping".

But as China's parliament votes to allow him to be President for life, John Gray argues that the future of the liberal West ironically depends on the continuing success of the world's most powerful authoritarian state.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

John Gray argues that the future of the west depends on the continuing success of China.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Cities Of The Dead2018102620181028 (R4)Stella Tillyard on how we bury and remember our dead.

The idea of immortality, she believes, is taking hold in a new form.

"Surely it will not be long before a new form of cemetery is created...a virtual space where all the digital remains of a person will be gathered, curated and tended".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Stella Tillyard reflects on how we bury and remember our dead.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Cliches And Commonplaces2018070620180708 (R4)Adam Gopnik sets out to determine the difference between cliche and universal truth.

Via Homer, Shakespeare and the Beatles, Adam observes that "the deepest statements in literature are very near relations to the dumbest statements in life".

How can Homer get away with writing twenty lines about laundry?! And end up with an epic poem of great beauty.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Climate Change Belief20111216The historian Lisa Jardine argues that people believe what they want to over climate change

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Historian Lisa Jardine argues that people believe what they want to over climate change.

Climate Change Belief20111218Lisa Jardine thinks selective hearing skews the debate over climate change and urges climate scientists to fully engage in a conversation with their sceptical critics.

"Graphs and pie charts have evidently failed to convince.

Perhaps a more discursive approach which focuses on observable change backed up by scientific evidence may be more persuasive."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine thinks selective hearing skews the debate over climate change.

Lisa Jardine thinks selective hearing skews the debate over climate change and urges climate scientists to fully engage in a conversation with their sceptical critics. "Graphs and pie charts have evidently failed to convince. Perhaps a more discursive approach which focuses on observable change backed up by scientific evidence may be more persuasive."

Climate For Culture2012081020120812John Gray reflects on the climate needed for culture to thrive.

John Gray reflects on the climate needed for culture to thrive, recalling Orson Welles' quote from the film ""The Third Man"" that despotism in Italy produced the Renaissance whereas democracy in Switzerland produced the cuckoo clock.""We know that art can flourish under despots but we're reluctant to admit it: if creativity and tyranny can co-exist, the value of freedom seems diminished."

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

John Gray reflects on a topical issue.

Adele Armstrong.

Clive James: Clams Are Happy2007082420070826
20191129 (R4)
20191201 (R4)
Following the death of the brilliantly funny Clive James - one of the first presenters of "A Point of View" - this is one of his early talks for the series.

In this programme - first broadcast in 2007 - Clive ponders what makes us happy.

In his own pursuit of happiness, he sits on a bench in Central Park, relives his first slice of watermelon and considers the wise words of Lawrence of Arabia.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Originally produced by Rosie Goldsmith

Following the death of Clive James - one of his first talks for "A Point of View".

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Clothes And The Man2018110220181104 (R4)Howard Jacobson on the politics of clothes.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Coalitions Then And Now20100523In the first of ten programmes, the historian Professor Sir David Cannadine delivers his weekly view on current events.

This week he recalls Britain's forgotten history of coalition government, reflecting that the so-called new politics"" has plenty of antecedents.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reflects on Britain's forgotten history of coalition government."".

In the first of ten programmes, the historian Professor Sir David Cannadine delivers his weekly view on current events. This week he recalls Britain's forgotten history of coalition government, reflecting that the so-called "new politics" has plenty of antecedents.

Cognitive Decline2015031320150315 (R4)

Tom Shakespeare says increasing wisdom in middle age is at least some compensation for declining cognitive powers. ""Wisdom is not the amount you know, it's how you see and how you interpret what you see."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Confessions Of An Anti-clasper2020121120201213 (R4)Howard Jacobson reflects on hugging, past and present. He casts his mind back to his school days and one of his favourite plays, Moliere's The Misanthropist.

Howard decides that the play's hero, the misanthropic Alceste, is "the perfect citizen for our times - one who respects social distancing, stays out of pubs and similar places of entertainment, and compromises no other person's health."

And he believes that, were more of us to follow Alceste's lead, then the virus would have "nowhere to travel to and must at last give up and turn into a recluse itself."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Conspicuous Consumption20101022A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Conspicuous Consumption20101024
Conspiracy Theories And A Good Hair Cut2020091820200920 (R4)Sarah Dunant on QAnon... and conversations with her hairdresser.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Conversations Of A Cockroach And An Alley Cat2019112920191201 (R4)
20191206 (R4)
20191208 (R4)
John Gray tells the story of Archy and Mehitabel, a newspaper column created in 1916 by the US journalist Don Marquis.

It chronicles the conversations between a cockroach and a cat and was a phenomenal success with a readership who "mistrusted politicians and intellectuals who talked grandly of a radiant future".

John Gray reflects on the lessons for today.

Producer: Adele Armstrong ,

John Gray reflects on the lessons today of an unusual U.S. newspaper column

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Cookery Shows...and Hungry People2019022220190224 (R4)AL Kennedy questions her love of cookery shows.

"That's when I start to feel uneasy, sitting at home staring at entremets and buttercream, three-foot-high cakes made with pints of fresh eggs, because I have this theory...that television tends to memorialise things, just as they fade away.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

AL Kennedy on TV's tendency to focus on disappearing parts of our national life.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Coronavirus And Convention2020071020200712 (R4)"In the absence of sports, sports radio thrives," writes Adam Gopnik, "and churns and heaves and roils on a diet of pure abstraction, stays awake all night on the caffeine of accelerated nothingness."

Adam examines the American fascination with call-in shows about sport - and the paradox that although they have absolutely no sport to talk about right now, the shows have never been more argumentative or more alive.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Adam Gopnik discusses how the pandemic is bringing out our most conventional behaviours.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Cross Border Science2013101120131013Lisa Jardine reflects on the internationalism that underpins the progress of science.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the internationalism that underpins the progress of science in a week when individual nations celebrate their Nobel prize winners. ""Science has always ignored national borders, in pursuit of the fullest possible understanding of nature."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Cross-border Science2013101120131013
Cultural Success And The Aboriginals2020050120200503 (R4)Will Self ponders what lessons Aboriginal culture might have for the days of pandemic.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

"I can't have been alone among those quarantined these past few weeks," writes Will Self, "in seeking out the greatest imaginative spaces with which to counterpoint my confinement."
Courtesy of Google Earth, Will sets out to simulate a trip he was planning to make to central Australia and ponders what lessons Aboriginal culture might have for the days of pandemic.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Cures For Anxiety2014103120141102 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.
Dangerous Places, Libraries2019053120190602 (R4)Val McDermid argues that - at a time when public discourse is so polarised - it's vital to keep our public libraries open.

"A library card is a powerful weapon to change lives", Val writes. "With it, we learn how to value what we have, to mourn what we have lost and to dream of what we might become".

She says that whatever we may hear about the death of libraries, we must ensure their future because they are "one of the few remaining places where a genuine diversity of voices can still be encountered".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Val McDermid on why public libraries must be kept open.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Daring To Marvel2018011920180121 (R4)Howard Jacobson on self-censoring and the language of appreciation.

"How long", asks Howard Jacobson, "before the protocols of looking forbid our looking appreciatively at anyone?"

He explores the enormous difficulties surrounding the language of appreciation, "no matter whether the viewer in question is a mechanic ogling a pin-up in his workshop or an art critic pausing at a wall of French nudes in the Wallace Collection".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Dear Diary2010123120110102Joan Bakewell celebrates the art of diary writing by public figures and private individuals whose accounts of everyday life help shape our view of the past.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Joan Bakewell celebrates the art of diary writing.

Dear Diary20110102Joan Bakewell celebrates the art of diary writing.
Dementia Rights2017033120170402 (R4)Tom Shakespeare argues that dementia should be viewed as a disability.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Democracy Is Not In Crisis2019052420190526 (R4)David Goodhart argues that recent events show that democracy - far from being in crisis - is actually thriving.

And in the aftermath of Teresa May announcing her resignation, David writes, "I think there is a great political prize for a politician or a party, old or new, that can speak across the liberal/small-c conservative value divide".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

David Goodhart on why he believes democracy - far from being in crisis - is thriving.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Digital Past20121214 (BBC7)
20130606 (BBC7)
Will Self reflects on the effect of digital technology on his perception of the passage of time. ""Perhaps the reason I feel quite so liberated from the present while more and more attached, not to the individually recalled 'good old days', but to a collectively attested and ever-present past, is because the hard drive of my computer is overloaded with digital images of the places I've been and the people I've met, all of them time-coded to within a tenth of a second."

Producer: Sheila Cook."

Distributing Status2019062820190630 (R4)David Goodhart argues that earlier eras have much to teach us about group solidarity.

He explores the changes that have led to our post-industrial disenchantment.

"We cannot and do not want to go back to a past when social horizons and life chances were far more limited", he writes, "but a recognition of some of the merits of earlier eras might help us to see more clearly the pathologies of today's achievement society".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Don't Mention The War2020110620201108 (R4)Howard Jacobson with his personal reaction to a monumental week in US politics.

In an attempt to define what's at stake, Howard turns his attention to Basil Fawlty, the Garden of Eden and Jonathan Swift's Big and Little-Endians.

And he has a brush with concussion along the way!

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Dostoevsky And Dangerous Ideas2014112120141123 (R4)John Gray points to lessons from the novels of Dostoevsky about the danger of ideas.

John Gray points to lessons from the novels of Dostoevsky about the danger of ideas such as misguided idealism sweeping away tyrannies without regard for the risks of anarchy. ""Dostoevsky suggests that the end result of abandoning morality for the sake of an idea of freedom will be a type of tyranny more extreme than any in the past."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Down With Political Packages2019101820191020 (R4)David Goodhart discusses the rise of new "tribes" in British political life.

"The old tribes were scarcely visible because they had become so familiar", he writes. "The new ones seem noisy and jarring and all too visible".

He calls this new anti-left/right package the "hidden majority" package.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

David Goodhart on the rise of new 'tribes' in British political life.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Dramatic Speech2017122920171231 (R4)Howard Jacobson muses on the 'frozen wastes of Emojiland'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"It isn't just because they have become platforms for propaganda and interpersonal odiousness that we should declare war on the social media", writes Howard Jacobson. "It is because they reduce all discourse to a shout".

Howard appeals for a re-discovery of the subtlety of language and explains why he believes we should leave behind the "frozen wastes of Emojiland".

"A thumb up or thumb down culture has given up on the idea that difference of opinion comes in shades, that thought is gradual and graded, that argument is more about adjustment than it is about assertion".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Dying With Dignity2014101020141012 (R4)Adam Gopnik thinks we fail too often to let people die with dignity at the end of their lives and believes the answer lies in showing deference.

Dignity, I think is an exceptional demand, one that depends on at least an illusion or masquerade of an anti-egalitarian, indeed pre-modern - indeed an essentially feudal sense - of deference.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Economics Priesthood2012122120121223Will Self warns against the false prophets of the new priesthood of economics.

Will Self warns against the false prophets of the new priesthood of economics who base their analyses and predictions on ""spurious notions of human behaviour"". ""In place of the vulgate we require the holy books of economics to be written in the language we actually speak, and along with this we should actively seek a liberty of individual conscience, so that we communicate directly with Mammon, freed from the intercession of a priesthood who, when not arguing about how many angels can be fitted on the head of a pin, are spending our money producing elegant but utterly spurious mathematical models of possible future angel-on-pin scenarios."

Producer: Sheila Cook

Edible Architecture2020120420201206 (R4)"Unusual conditions produce novel responses" writes Will Self. And Will's response is what he calls "edible architecture". Pounding the pavements with his son during lockdown, they imagine which of London's edifices would be most edible...were they to be made out of food, rather than masonry.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Will Self on why he's decided to "eat" buildings

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Embarrassing Parents: The Thirteen-year-old Truth2012060820120610
20120610 (R4)
Adam Gopnik reflects on embarrassing, ridiculous and annoying parents - like himself!

One thing that is written into the human genome" says Adam Gopnik, "is that exactly at the age of thirteen, your child - in a minute, and no matter how close or sympathetic the two of you have been before - will discover that you are now the most ridiculous, embarrassing and annoying person on the planet".

Ridiculous "because of your pretensions to be cool...in spite of the obvious truth that you are barely sentient, with one foot rooted in the dim, ancient past while with the other your toes are already tickling eternity"; embarrassing because, "in spite of being ridiculous, you are not content to keep your absurdity decently to yourself" and annoying because "in the face of the wild obvious public embarrassment you cause, you still actually think that you can give advice and counsel".

He takes us on a generational analysis of the plight of the parent - and offers some light-hearted consolation!

Producer:

Adele Armstrong.

Empty-nesters And Gangsters2020031320200315 (R4)"There is nothing some of us enjoy more," writes Adam Gopnik, "than finding analogies to our own paltry and predictable lives in scenes from famous gangster movies."

As his children move away from home and he becomes an "empty nester", Adam finds himself, too, doing just that.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Adam Gopnik on his children leaving home and becoming an "empty nester".

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Endings Of Empire20100725A weekly reflection on a topical issue from David Cannadine.

Ethical Science2013100420131006Lisa Jardine draws lessons from the career of Leo Szilard, who worked on the atom bomb.

Lisa Jardine learned the story of Leo Szilard from her father who regarded him as an exemplary figure in science. Szilard, an Hungarian physicist, helped to develop the atom bomb, but later fought against its use. His story provides lessons about the relationship between science and human values - even though the version of the tale Lisa was taught turns out not to have been entirely true.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Every Dog Has His Day2016082620160828 (R4)Tom Shakespeare reflects on how dogs can teach us a capacity for contentment.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Expectations Of Democracy2019121320191215 (R4)Will Self on why - for the first time in his life - he didn't vote.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Experience Trumps Facts2020112020201122 (R4)In the week where his appointment to the Equality and Human Rights Commission has come in for criticism, David Goodhart defends objective facts over personal experience.

"Our knowledge of the world is usually some sort of balance between personal experience and abstract ideas," he writes. "But the focus on the primacy of subjective experience....can go too far."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Expert By Experience2016012920160131 (R4)Tom Shakespeare reflects that personal experience is the most powerful form of expertise.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

After hearing a former political prisoner in South Africa and a holocaust survivor tell their stories, Tom Shakespeare concludes that personal experience is the most powerful form of expertise.

Hearing their testimonies affected me more deeply than any lecture, book or film. They were unforgettable authentic encounters."

Producer: Sheila Cook."

Face To Face2016012220160124 (R4)Tom Shakespeare is concerned by what the rise of cosmetic surgery says about society.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Facts Not Opinions2016071520160717 (R4)AL Kennedy ponders the importance of facts, in a world dominated by opinion.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

AL Kennedy ponders the importance of facts... in a world dominated by opinion.

The Chilcot report highlights how a war can conjure the demons it promised to suppress"", she writes ""because facts were dodged or massaged and fantasy outcomes were taken as certainties"".

While facts may be grim, ""avoiding them puts us all at increased risk"".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Faking It2014120520141207 (R4)Philosopher Roger Scruton reflects on the difference between original art that is genuine, sincere and truthful, but hard to achieve, and the easier but fake art that he says appeals to many critics today.

He argues that original artists from Beethoven and Baudelaire to Picasso and Pound tower above those contemporary artists whose pieces push fake emotion - and who, by focusing on avoiding cliche, end up cliches themselves.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Fat Policemen20120401David Cannadine reflects on the changing images of the typical policeman and our attitude towards the way they look in the light of a recent report that over half of the members of the Metropolitan Police are overweight.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reflects on the changing images of the typical policeman's size and shape.

Fidgets On The March2007021620070218
20070218 (R4)
Clive James rails against changes to the names of things we rely on.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Fighting Infection With Imagination2020032720200329 (R4)"As our physical reality is reduced down to a few rooms or a view from a window," writes Sarah Dunant, "our ability to conjure up things we're not able to experience is going to be vital to feed our imaginations."

Sarah argues that - given social distancing - imagination is going to be an exceedingly powerful inner muscle when it comes to our mental survival.
She offers us a few of her stand out images to get us started.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Sarah Dunant on how imagination will be a vital tool to deal with social distancing.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Finding Family History20111202The historian Lisa Jardine welcomes recent moves to promote the teaching of history in schools and finds herself converted to the value of family history after the discovery of a tape recording shed light on a puzzling family photograph which was taken in 1906.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

The historian Lisa Jardine finds herself converted to family history.

Finding Family History20111204The historian Lisa Jardine finds herself converted to family history.
Finding Our Roots2016081920160821 (R4)Will Self reflects on the joys of genealogy.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Fixing Violence In London - Glasgow-style2018092820180930 (R4)Val McDermid on Sadiq Khan's plans to tackle knife crime.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Florence Under Water2016050620160508 (R4)Sarah Dunant reflects on the legacy of one of the worst floods in Florence's history.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Fly, Fish, Mouse And Worm2013061420130616Tom Shakespeare on 'model animals' and the success of the reductionism scientific strategy

When I was a child, one of my favourite books was Bear, Mouse and Water Beetle,"" says Tom Shakespeare. ""Today, I want to tell you a contemporary story, which you could call Fly, Fish, Mouse and Worm."

These 'model animals' help scientists to understand the basic processes common to all living creatures. But while model animals epitomize the success of the scientific strategy of reductionism, they may also illustrate the downside.

Flying People, Flagrant Piffle2007022320070225
20070225 (R4)
Clive James reflects on the martial arts movie and meaningless violence.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Clive James

Broadcaster and writer Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Flying Saucers And An Uncertain World2017030320170305 (R4)John Gray asks how we come to terms with a world that is frighteningly unpredictable.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Free The Schools2014030720140309

Roger Scruton believes the way to improve our schools is through tapping into the time and talents of middle class volunteers. ""The philanthropic middle classes, who created our education system and made it one of the best in the world, have been for too long excluded from it"".

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

From Pot To Profit2015112720151129 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Gatsby: The Perfect Fake2013053120130602John Gray finds new resonance for our own age in the story of 'The Great Gatsby'.

John Gray finds new resonance for our own age in the story of ""the Great Gatsby"". ""Just as in the Roaring Twenties, we've lived through a boom that was mostly based on make-believe - easy money, inflated assets and financial skulduggery."" ""We want nothing more than to revive the fake prosperity that preceded the crash. Just like Gatsby, we want to return to a world that was conjured into being from dreams."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Gender In The Blender2020080720200809 (R4)"If we accept that gender is something imposed on us," writes Bernardine Evaristo, "as opposed to intrinsic to who we are as humans, then what does it matter if people want to switch genders?"

Bernardine discusses the "gender revolution" and our attitudes to the disruption of traditional gender roles.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Bernardine Evaristo reflects on changing attitudes to gender.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Get Mad, Then Get Over It!2019042620190428 (R4)"While I would love to find a poetic way into this", writes Sarah Dunant, "I think it best just to spit it out. I'm angry. And I have been angry for quite a while now".

Sarah says she doesn't see herself as an angry person - but wonders why aggression and outrage seem to have become so much part of our emotional diet.

She proposes some solutions - including an National Anger Day - a great moment of catharsis to help us all be a little less....angry!

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Sarah Dunant proposes a National Anger Day \u2013 a catharsis to help us all be less\u2026 angry!

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Get Over It2017061620170618 (R4)Howard Jacobson on the political ironies that are emerging following the election.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Getting Close To Nature20200105"After months of hearing about the climate emergency", writes Rebecca Stott, "I thought it would be a good thing to spend some time around a species that was doing really well".
She decided to become a seal warden...but the job is rather different from what she was expecting.
"This wild, old, slithery, stinking world of the sand dunes really isn't cute" she says. "But there are some things in nature, dare I say it, that are a lot more interesting than cute".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Rebecca Stott on the joys of becoming a seal warden.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"After months of hearing about the climate emergency", writes Rebecca Stott, "I thought it would be a good thing to spend some time around a species that was doing really well".
She decided to become a seal warden...but the job is rather different from what she was expecting.
"This wild, old, slithery, stinking world of the sand dunes really isn't cute" she says. "But there are some things in nature, dare I say it, that are a lot more interesting than cute".

Rebecca Stott on the joys of becoming a seal warden.

Glamour In Austerity20111230Lisa Jardine remembers 2011 for the spectacle of the Royal Wedding, reflecting on the historic power of regal glamour in times of austerity. Queen Elizabeth I "used ostentation and opulence in her dress as a political tool to increase national confidence in the solvency of her regime."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the historic power of royal glamour in times of austerity.

Glamour In Austerity20111231Lisa Jardine reflects on the historic power of royal glamour in times of austerity.
Glamour In Austerity20120101
Glider Shoes2007070620070708
20070708 (R4)
Clive James on the secret of hapiness and children's shoes with wheels in the heels.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Going Forward2018030920180311 (R4)Tom Shakespeare tells us why he detests the phrase 'going forward'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Tom Shakespeare tells us why he believes the phrase "going forward" is an inelegant and negative replacement for "in future".

When you talk about the future, he says, you are using a temporal concept. It's a different time from now - the time to come - and "invites us to open out our imaginative space". It offers the possibility that things might be different.

"Going forward", on the other hand, is a spatial concept - "nothing but the present, infinitely extended".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Going Into Storage2018111620181118 (R4)Howard Jacobson on a very tricky dilemma - which of his possessions can he throw away or put into storage...and which must he keep?

"I inhabit a simple moral universe when it comes to sheets of paper", he writes. "Paper with words on, good. Paper with numbers on, bad".

But it's more complicated with some other things "How can I release the evidence of me to a storage company somewhere on the North Circular Road!"

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Howard Jacobson's very tricky dilemma... which of his possessions can he throw away?

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Going Underground2021021220210214 (R4)Will Self reflects on a year of not travelling on the London underground... and why he's starting to miss it.

"On winter days," writes Will, "when it's dark first thing, then twilight, then dark again, the tube achieves its most magical state."

And he says that, without the tube, the city seems to have lost its foundations.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Will Self on why he longs for the day he can travel again on the London underground.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Grand Central Celebration2013020820130210David Cannadine reflects on a topical issue.
Grandad We Love You20200410"I can see her on my phone, I can even hear her on my phone, but I can't feel her weight in my arms and her wiggling warmth," writes Tom Shakespeare about his new-born granddaughter.
With everyone in lock-down, Tom talks about his longing to meet his first grand-daughter.
And he knows it's a sadness he shares with many other grandparents.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Tom Shakespeare on becoming a grandad for the first time.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Great Pretenders2013091320130915AL Kennedy reflects on the stuggle to establish truth in an age of lies.

AL Kennedy reflects on the stuggle to establish truth in what she regards as an age of lies. Lies, she says, are proliferating on TV, in politics, in business and throughout public and private life. Extracting truths in moral and effective ways, she argues, is an ever greater challenge.

Producer: Sheila Cook

Greece And The Meaning Of Folly2011081920110821The celebrated thinker John Gray gives his reflection on the meaning of folly.

Taking the myth of the Trojan horse as his starting point, he explores what he sees as the modern day folly unfolding in Europe.

He calls on European leaders to reconsider the single European currency - a project he says was always doomed to fail.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The celebrated thinker John Gray gives his reflection on the meaning of folly. Taking the myth of the Trojan horse as his starting point, he explores what he sees as the modern day folly unfolding in Europe. He calls on European leaders to reconsider the single European currency - a project he says was always doomed to fail.

Greece And The Meaning Of Folly20110821The celebrated thinker John Gray gives his reflection on the meaning of folly.
Harry Potter Envy2007072720070729
20070729 (R4)
Clive James considers the physchological condition \u2018JK Rowling Envy'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Have We Reached Peak Stuff?2019011120190113 (R4)As many Christmas presents start making the surreptitious trip to the charity shop, Stella Tillyard argues that many of us appear to be freeing ourselves from the unfulfilling grip of "things".

She asks if - as the earth is dying under the weight or our excesses - we're "reaching a wider, bigger moment: a weariness with acquisition itself".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Stella Tillyard ponders whether we are freeing ourselves from the grip of 'things'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Having The 'wrong' Politics2020091120200913 (R4)"As the culture war has heated up," writes Zoe Strimpel, "every word and tweet is vested with the insignia of identity, and neutrality is no longer an acceptable carpet under which to hide."
Zoe discusses how subjects which were, until fairly recently, little more than sources of minor disagreements now form "the basis of warring social groups."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Zoe Strimpel discusses growing divides between our social groupings.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Hearts Of Oak20100509In the week when Britain goes to the polls, Simon Schama reflects on the significance of one of the sights that will greet new MPs in the chamber of the House of Commons - the panelling made of solid oak.

He traces the power and symbolism of the oak tree in British history from tales of Druids in ancient oakwoods to the songs of Nelson's sailors at Trafalgar and fears a new blight which could threaten its survival.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Simon Schama reflects on the power and symbolism of the oak tree in British history.

In the week when Britain goes to the polls, Simon Schama reflects on the significance of one of the sights that will greet new MPs in the chamber of the House of Commons - the panelling made of solid oak. He traces the power and symbolism of the oak tree in British history from tales of Druids in ancient oakwoods to the songs of Nelson's sailors at Trafalgar and fears a new blight which could threaten its survival.

Helplessly Advanced2007072020070722
20070722 (R4)
Clive James reflects on the conundrum of living in a technologically advanced world.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

History Through Religion20101112Sarah Dunant with her topical reflections

Producer: Sheila Cook.

History Through Religion20101114Sarah Dunant with her topical reflections.
Holes In Clothes2016120920161211 (R4)Adam Gopnik reflects on the greater significance of designer holes in jeans!

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

I work hard so that my teenage daughter can have holes in all her clothes"", writes Adam Gopnik.

He reflects on the greater significance of designer holes in jeans...and why it's a trend to be celebrated.

I know what you are asking"", Gopnik says. ""How can you be rattling on about torn jeans...when our world, by your own account, may be coming to an end?"" !

Liberty large is what we fight for, but the little liberties of life - and the arbitrariness of fashion is one of life's most engaging little liberties - are part of the way we recognize that the larger liberty exists"".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

How Should We Build?2016061020160612 (R4)Roger Scruton says we should prioritise beauty when building in the countryside.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Roger Scruton says we should protect the English countryside by making beauty our priority when we build new houses while in towns we should reverse the damage done in previous decades.

Surely the time has come to tear down the post-war estates, and to recover the old street lines that they extinguished."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Roger Scruton says we should prioritise beauty when building in the countryside.

Howard Jacobson: Sermons20151227Howard Jacobson would sooner see Radio 4's Thought for the Day more, not less, religious.

Howard Jacobson would sooner see Radio 4's Thought for the Day more not less religious and argues that humanists and the religious can meet in sermonizing when it's of the majesty of a great preacher like John Donne.

I fall to wondering what exactly non-religious needs are, and whether, by insisting on a distinction between the religious and the non-religious, humanists aren't making an unpardonably limiting assumption about both."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Howard Jacobson: Wisdom2016010120160103 (R4)Howard Jacobson does not feel complimented when someone describes him as 'wise'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Howard Jacobson does not feel complimented when someone describes him as ""wise"". He would sooner have understanding, akin to that of Shakespeare.

What's wrong with wisdom is it implies stasis, as though our greatest faculties of cognition and intuition are at their journey's end, have attained a peak of complacency from which they gaze down imperturbably on the small vanities of man."".

Howard Jacobson does not feel complimented when someone describes him as 'wise'.

Huizinga And The Human Cost Of Cuts20101001Lisa Jardine reflects on the upcoming government spending cuts through the prism of Dutch historian, Johan Huizinga, and argues that the human cost of the cuts must not be overlooked.

She describes how Huizinga - writing in the 1940s - was concerned about an obsession with economics - where only the number counts - and says those in public life should not fall into the same trap when deciding where to cut.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Lisa Jardine puts an historical perspective on the upcoming government spending cuts.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the upcoming government spending cuts through the prism of Dutch historian, Johan Huizinga, and argues that the human cost of the cuts must not be overlooked. She describes how Huizinga - writing in the 1940s - was concerned about an obsession with economics - where only the number counts - and says those in public life should not fall into the same trap when deciding where to cut.

Huizinga And The Human Cost Of Cuts20101003Lisa Jardine puts an historical perspective on the upcoming government spending cuts.
Human Hybrids2016031120160313 (R4)Adam Gopnik deplores the fashion for attacking so-called 'cultural expropriation'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik deplores the fashion for attacking so-called ""cultural expropriation"" as in the recent fuss over American students wearing sombreros at a Mexican theme party.

Cultural mixing - the hybridization of hats, if you like - is the rule of civilisation not some new intrusion within our own. Healthy civilisations have always been mongrelized, cosmopolitan, hybrid, corrupted and expropriated and mixed."".

Humour That's Worth Its Name2019021520190217 (R4)AL Kennedy reflects on how the British sense of humour is standing up to our present political woes.

"Don't get me wrong," she says, "it's nice to make people smile...but possibly Britain is now too funny".

She wonders if the rest of the world is still laughing with us.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

AL Kennedy on how the British sense of humour is standing up to our political woes.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

I Gave It All Away2016052720160529 (R4)Will Self argues we should give children their inheritance when they're most in need of it

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self argues that instead of holding onto money until old age, we should give children their inheritance when they're most in need of it.

Forget the old right/left, rich/poor division"" he says, ""nowadays the greatest divergence lies between the old and the young"".

And he asks how can we in conscience go on denying the young the opportunity to clear up the mess we've ? for the most part quite inadvertently ? created for them. ""Give it all away!"" is his plea.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A reflection on a topical issue.

I Hope This Email Finds You Well...2017102020171022 (R4)Mary Beard ponders why email is governed by so few rules and conventions.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

"Fifty years ago, when I was at high school", Mary writes, "we spent many hours learning how to write a letter".

She wonders why no one today seems to be teaching the art of writing a persuasive email.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

I Like It Here2020060520200607 (R4)Howard Jacobson takes a wry view of life under lockdown.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

If You Haven't Got Anything Nice To Say...2014062020140622

AL Kennedy argues that our obsession with gossip is affecting our public discourse, and corrupting its content.

She traces the history of gossip, explores how gossip is edging out real news and how it's taken over our political lives.

Gossip obscures truth"" she writes, ""sours our outlooks on each other and can trivialise any debate"". She concludes that ""we really could do with a lot less of it"".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Imagine2018072720180729 (R4)Michael Morpurgo on a new initiative to help refugee children.

Michael says "it shames us" that Britain in recent years has done so little to help child refugees.

"There are fine examples of how our predecessors have shown great kindness towards the suffering of child refugees", he writes. He argues that we now need to follow their example.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

In Praise Of Birmingham2013021520130217David Cannadine defends his home city of Birmingham against a slur in "Pride and Prejudice" as, "not a place to promise much", by celebrating its heritage and its current cultural renaissance.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reflects on a topical issue.

In Praise Of Cleaning2020052220200524 (R4)Will Self on the Great British Wipe-Up.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

In Praise Of Courtesy2015052920150531 (R4)AL Kennedy explores the merits of courtesy, but she points out that it can be complicated.

AL Kennedy takes the recent death of a friend - the screenwriter Gill Dennis - as her starting point in an exploration of courtesy. ""When courtesy walks into a room,"" she writes, ""it seems to turn a light on"". She contrasts this with a striking example of discourtesy she encountered on a train journey.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

In Praise Of Difficulty2016101420161016 (R4)Howard Jacobson applauds Tom Stoppard's attack on the ignorance of the average audience.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Howard Jacobson applauds the playwright Tom Stoppard's attack on the ignorance of the average audience, arguing we should not only aspire to be educated ourselves but should not be offended by the evidence of education in others.

We are an entangled species; we are not to be unknotted easily. When we turn our backs on difficulty in art, we turn our backs on who we are."

Producer: Sheila Cook

Howard Jacobson applauds Tom Stoppard's attack on the ignorance of the average audience.

In Praise Of Mooching2018101920181021 (R4)Howard Jacobson on the end of mooching as a way of life.

"Rooting around, doing nothing in particular, walking but not knowing where I was walking to....I can only regret the happy mooching hours of earlier times", writes Howard.

He ponders whether our present age of mass anger and disgruntlement is partly a result of our expectations of instant gratification.

"We sit, like so many privileged Aladdins, rubbing our smart lamps in full confidence that the cyber genie will appear in ripped trousers and give us all we ask for".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

In Praise Of Prophets Of Doom2016102820161030 (R4)Howard Jacobson argues that dissatisfaction with life is essential.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Howard Jacobson argues that dissatisfaction with life is essential for the health of the human spirit.

It might come to outweigh other emotions to the point where it is detrimental to the vigour of an individual or a society, but without it there is no vigour at all."

Producer: Sheila Cook."

In Praise Of The Elite2017051220170514 (R4)Howard Jacobson speaks up in defence of the much-maligned metropolitan liberal elite.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Howard Jacobson speaks up in defense of the metropolitan liberal elite.

He ponders why the word "elitist" has acquired such negative connotations in some fields - but not in others.

"It makes no sense to me to love the best when they are footballers or the SAS, but not when they are thinkers or even politicians".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

In Praise Of The Feuilleton2017122220171224 (R4)Howard Jacobson on the art of the feuilleton and the joy of the ordinary.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Howard Jacobson on the art of the feuilleton....and the joy of the ordinary.

He says the feuilletonists - those writers of short observational pieces - show "you don't have to be tendentious to be of consequence".

He asks us to step back and seek what's important around us...and even question whether there's such a thing as importance at all.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

In Praise Of The Nanny State2011020420110206
20110206 (R4)
Alain de Botton asks why the idea of a nanny state is so unappealing.

He says complete freedom - left totally to our own devices - is rarely what we want.

He says there's a lot to be said for the odd paternalistic nudge in the right direction.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton reflects on why freedom has become our ultimate political ideal.

Alain de Botton asks why the idea of a nanny state is so unappealing. He says complete freedom - left totally to our own devices - is rarely what we want. He says there's a lot to be said for the odd paternalistic nudge in the right direction.

In Praise Of The Nanny State20110206Alain de Botton reflects on why freedom has become our ultimate political ideal.
In Praise Of The Zoo2011070820110710Following the birth of a baby moose in Whipsnade zoo - a rare event - Alain de Botton muses on the value of exotic animals in helping to give us perspective on our own lives.

He explains why he's rediscovered wild animals and suggests a zoo trip as a perfect summer outing!

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton explores the relationship between humankind and animals.

Following the birth of a baby moose in Whipsnade zoo - a rare event - Alain de Botton muses on the value of exotic animals in helping to give us perspective on our own lives. He explains why he's rediscovered wild animals and suggests a zoo trip as a perfect summer outing!

In Praise Of The Zoo20110710Alain de Botton explores the relationship between humankind and animals.
In Praise Of Wind Turbines2011101420111016Will Self reflects on a topical issue

Producer: Sheila Cook.

In Praise Of Wind Turbines20111016
In Search Of Prizes2012091420120916As the Man Booker shortlist is published, Sarah Dunant explores how new writers and readers find each other.

While an unhappy 19th century Russian marriage which leads to a fatal adulterous affair may be irresistible to one reader"" she writes, ""a man who wakes up as a beetle may be what presses the button of another. That is both the wonder and nightmare of selling novels"".

Sarah explores how - in the ""brutal climate"" facing the publishing industry (with the onslaught of supermarket and internet price wars) - literary prizes provide a much needed boost for authors.

But these prizes, she warns, are a kind of lottery.

Producer Adele Armstrong.

Sarah Dunant reflects on a topical issue.

Inhaling History2020022120200223 (R4)Sarah Dunant on the romance of writing history.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Inside Out2020061220200614 (R4)David Goodhart examines our changing attitudes to authority.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

"It seemed to occur to nobody in the Cummings hunt that the greater good would almost certainly have been served by down-playing the story".
David Goodhart examines the accountability and transparency requirements of modern institutions and the impact they've had on the government's handling of the pandemic.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Ireland's Abortion Referendum - A Personal View2018051820180520 (R4)Sarah Dunant reflects on Ireland's upcoming abortion referendum.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Sarah Dunant gives a personal view on Ireland's abortion referendum.

She remembers one of her first jobs after university - working in a Pregnancy Advisory Service in London as a counsellor - and seeing many young women from the Republic of Ireland who'd come to England seeking an abortion.

And the day, some years later, when she went back there, that time as a client.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Is Patriotism The Last Refuge Of The Scoundrel?2014072520140727Will Self reflects on what really lies behind our sense of patriotism.

Republican or royalist we all need something or someone in which to invest our loyalty. Will Self reflects on what really lies behind our sense of patriotism. In Britain we invest the idea of sovereignty in an individual, namely the Queen - or rather, it is an idealisation of who she is decoupled for the living reality. The Queen, says Will Self, is unfailingly wise, calm, pacific - a true mother of the nation; and if her Government happens to do things that are at variance with her goodliness, that is only because their power is contingent upon an evanescent electoral mandate, while her shadow-power-play is founded upon time-out-of-mind heredity - and at least residually, upon the Lord's will. Patriotic Britons may be reluctant to admit to all of this, argues Self, preferring to be seen as modern and up-to-date, but if they examine their consciences carefully they're likely to concede that a discrete love-of-country object is required for full patriotic attachment.

Is That Miss Or Mrs Wheeler?2021032620210328 (R4)Sara Wheeler argues that the Mrs-Miss distinction has no place in contemporary Britain.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Isis: A Modern Revolutionary Force?2014071120140713

John Gray argues that the Sunni extremist group Isis is revolutionary, not reactionary.

Philosopher and author John Gray argues that the Sunni extremist group Isis (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) is actually more of a modern revolutionary force than a reactionary one intent on a reversion to mediaeval values.

Surprising as this may sound says Gray, Isis is thoroughly modern. It's organised itself into an efficient company, and has become the wealthiest jihadi organisation in the world. And while it invokes the early history of Islam, the society it envisions has no precedent in history. Some of the thinkers who developed radical Islamist ideas are known to have been influenced by European anarchism and communism, especially by the idea that society can be reshaped by a merciless revolutionary vanguard using systematic violence. Isis is part of the revolutionary turmoil of modern times warns Gray, and until the West grasps that uncomfortable fact, it won't be able to deal with the dangers Isis presents.

John Gray: Euro Despair2015081420150816 (R4)John Gray sees the euro as a misconceived project with Greece's economy as a casualty.

John Gray sees the European currency as a misconceived project from the outset and thinks the austerity policies imposed on Greece are destructive and self defeating.

Attempting to maintain the euro at any cost can only result in mounting desperation, which will seek expression in violence if no practicable policies are on offer to ameliorate the situation."

Producer: Sheila Cook."

John Gray: Recalling Eric Ambler2015082120150823 (R4)

John Gray recalls the life and work of the thriller writer Eric Ambler and finds uncomfortable echoes of today's society in the pages of his novels.

What they reveal is a world ruled by financial and geopolitical forces that care nothing for the human individual. Most unsettlingly, this world is unmistakably European."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue."

Keep Right On2019092720190929 (R4)Michael Morpurgo reflects on growing old.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Keeping Time2014092620140928Lisa Jardine reflects on the rich history of time-pieces and the power of clocks and watches.

Each watch on display in the British Museum's Clocks and Watchers galleries speaks to me of a world galvanized by scientific innovation, whose horizons were expanding through voyages of discovery and the new objects and ideas brought back."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the history of timepieces and the power of clocks and watches.

Kennedy 50 Years On2013110820131110Will Self reflects on America's view of the assassination of JF Kennedy, 50 years on.

Will Self reflects on America's view of the assassination of JF Kennedy, fifty years on. After years of talk of conspiracy, cover-up and doctored film footage, he concludes, ""It isn't so much that the Kennedy assassination has transitioned smoothly into a commonsensical past; it's rather that it was the first instance of a peculiarly modern variant of the historic event: its media simulation"".

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Will Self reflects on America's view of the assassination of JF Kennedy, fifty years on. After years of talk of conspiracy, cover-up and doctored film footage, he concludes, ""It isn't so much that the Kennedy assassination has transitioned smoothly into a commonsensical past; it's rather that it was the first instance of a peculiarly modern variant of the historic event: its simulation"".

Keynes' Insights2012072020120722John Gray takes a fresh look at the thinking of John Maynard Keynes.

John Gray takes a fresh look at the thinking of John Maynard Keynes and wonders what he would have really thought about the current economic crises and how to solve them. ""It's still Keynes from who we have most to learn. Not Keynes, the economic engineer, who is invoked by his disciples today. It's Keynes the sceptic, who understood that markets are as prone to fits of madness as any other human institution and who tried to envision a more intelligent variety of capitalism"".

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

John Gray reflects on a topical issue.

Kim Philby2011082620110828The celebrated thinker John Gray gives his reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

As recently discovered letters from Kim Philby are published, John Gray argues that the spy's life illustrates why we are so poor at predicting the future.

Where Philby saw a bright future in Soviet Communism - one that led him to betray friends and colleagues - many in the West hoped for a different utopia in Russia as Communism collapsed.

Neither saw their dreams realised.

As John Gray observes, both groups "failed to understand that the only genuine historical law is the law of irony."

John Gray on why Kim Philby, and so many others, have failed to predict the future.

Kim Philby20110828As recently discovered letters from Kim Philby are published, John Gray argues that the spy's life illustrates why we are so poor at predicting the future. Where Philby saw a bright future in Soviet Communism - one that led him to betray friends and colleagues - many in the West hoped for a different utopia in Russia as Communism collapsed. Neither saw their dreams realised. As John Gray observes, both groups "failed to understand that the only genuine historical law is the law of irony."

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

John Gray on why Kim Philby, and so many others, have failed to predict the future.

Kitsch2014121220141214 (R4)Philosopher Roger Scruton looks at kitsch in the second of his three talks on art.

Kitsch, he says, creates the fantasy of an emotion without the real cost of feeling it. He argues that in the twentieth century artists became preoccupied by what they perceived as the need to avoid kitsch and sentimentality.

But it's not so easy. Some try being outrageously avant-garde, which can lead to a different kind of fake: cliche. So a new genre emerged: pre-emptive kitsch. Artists embraced kitsch and produce it deliberately to present it as a sophisticated parody. But is it art?

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Leaving Florence2019072620190728 (R4)"It's well within living memory," writes Sarah Dunant, "that tourism and travel was a wondrous thing."

But times have changed: "It feels as if every unnecessary journey we make now has the dull drumbeat of global fragility and climate change in the background."

Sarah ponders where foreign travel goes from here.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Sarah Dunant on why she's abandoned her beloved city of Florence.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Legacy Bottle Opener2020071720200719 (R4)Will Self on why a novelty bottle opener - with little plastic seahorses floating in an acrylic handle - is his idea of a perfect inheritance.
"The security that financial inheritance may convey is merely relative - and divisive," he writes.
So, instead, Will suggests leaving behind something ordinary....and useful.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Will Self discusses how the pandemic has affected our views of inheritance.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Lisa Jardine: The Power Of Memory2010022620151030 (R4)
20151101 (R4)
As a tribute to the late Lisa Jardine, another chance to hear her reflections on memory.

The late historian Lisa Jardine presented many editions of A Point of View. As a tribute, this is another chance to hear her reflections on the importance for history of the recording of personal memories and her regrets that her mother could no longer recall her own fascinating life.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Living Forever2010120320101205Joan Bakewell reflects on the ageing process and the efforts by scientists to reverse it and she considers the attractions and the drawbacks of adding many more years to the human span.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Joan Bakewell reflects on the process of ageing and the efforts of science to reverse it.

Living Forever20101205Joan Bakewell reflects on the process of ageing and the efforts of science to reverse it.
Living with Group Difference20210502

David Goodhart reflects on group identities in the aftermath of the Sewell report and argues that the mere existence of a difference is not evidence of unfairness.

He calls for a more nuanced understanding of group difference and the challenges this poses in an egalitarian age.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

David Goodhart reflects on group identities in the aftermath of the Sewell report.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Lords, Lordlings And....crumpets2012050420120506Will Self explores Lords reform and the narrowing of the range of British political choice

Fifteen years ago - Will Self writes - he had afternoon tea in the House of Lords with the late Conrad Russell. The distinguished historian was a hereditary peer who was entirely in favour of Lords' abolition. What Will Self remembers most about the encounter was the crumpets. ""'Do have another crumpet"" he'd say, 'they really are awfully good'"". Fifteen years on, Will says: ""Russell was right about the crumpets - and he was right about the hereditaries"".

He looks forward to the Queen's Speech, which is widely expected to include a bill on Lords reform. A waste of time, he believes. But that matters little in his view. ""After all, the first bill to create an elected second chamber was introduced over a century ago - and doesn't this simply prove that the great and glorious fudge that's the unwritten British constitution thrives on such slow and organic change"".

Via what he calls the ""Googlisation"" of the political process, he attacks the move towards the centre ground by all three main UK parties. ""We...are tormented by politicians who look the same, sound the same and spout so-called 'policies' that are usually only marginally different versions of the same routine ideas"".

Back at the Lords, he concludes, hereditary peers ""are still busily tucking into their excellent crumpets. Yummy-yummy"".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Fifteen years ago - Will Self writes - he had afternoon tea in the House of Lords with the late Conrad Russell. The distinguished historian was a hereditary peer who was entirely in favour of Lords' abolition. What Will Self remembers most about the encounter was the crumpets. "'Do have another crumpet" he'd say, 'they really are awfully good'". Fifteen years on, Will says: "Russell was right about the crumpets - and he was right about the hereditaries".

He looks forward to the Queen's Speech, which is widely expected to include a bill on Lords reform. A waste of time, he believes. But that matters little in his view. "After all, the first bill to create an elected second chamber was introduced over a century ago - and doesn't this simply prove that the great and glorious fudge that's the unwritten British constitution thrives on such slow and organic change".

Via what he calls the "Googlisation" of the political process, he attacks the move towards the centre ground by all three main UK parties. "We...are tormented by politicians who look the same, sound the same and spout so-called 'policies' that are usually only marginally different versions of the same routine ideas".

Back at the Lords, he concludes, hereditary peers "are still busily tucking into their excellent crumpets. Yummy-yummy".

Lords, Lordlings And....crumpets20120506Will Self explores Lords reform and the narrowing of the range of British political choice
Losing Touch2015013020150201 (R4)

Will Self regrets our growing lack of physical contact with one another and with the natural world as a result of the rise of technology. ""What the touch screen, the automatic door,online shopping and even the Bagladeshi sweatshop piece-worker who made our trousers are depriving us of is the exercise of our very sense of touch itself, and in particular they are relieving us of the need to touch other people."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Loving The Body Fat-tastic2020112720201129 (R4)Bernardine Evaristo reflects on body image and the fashion industry.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Macbeth And The Insomnia Epidemic2017112420171126 (R4)Will Self reflects on the epidemic of sleeplessness.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Machiavelli's Summer In Tuscany2013080220130804
Machine Intelligence2013101820131020Lisa Jardine compares the computer science legacies of Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace.

Lisa Jardine compares the contributions of Ada Lovelace and Alan Turing a century later to computer science and contrasts their views on the potential of and limits to machine intelligence.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Man-made Beauty2007062220070624
20070624 (R4)
There are lots of reasons to be cheerful about the world - many the result of human creativity. Clive James reminds himself of the need to celebrate the good things in life and to show others – especially the young – that life really is worth living, while remembering at the same time not to be miserable.

Clive James reminds himself of the need to celebrate the good things in life.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Mass Myopia2017111720171119 (R4)Will Self on the drawbacks of perfect vision.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Media Malpractice20111228Will Self reflects on the new landscape for the press

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Media Malpractice20111229Will Self reflects on the new landscape for the press.
Memento Mori2018020920180211 (R4)"Death's not great for selling yoghurt" writes AL Kennedy, "but making Death dance through a culture seems to do more than reinforce dominant ideologies....it can lend power to the powerless".

She says for millennia, the human race has searched for everlasting life.

Instead of resisting our mortality, she argues that it's empowering to reflect on it.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

AL Kennedy argues why it's empowering to reflect on our mortality.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Memory And Recall
Men Against Women2017110320171105 (R4)Will Self says we need creative solutions to end institutional misogyny and abuse.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"Rather than addressing - as parliamentarians currently are - the business of shutting the stable door after the stallions have run amok", he writes, "we should be thinking about how to keep it closed in the first place".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mile Milestone2014042520140427

Mary Beard looks forward to the 60th anniversary of the first ""four minute mile"". But in the midst of the celebrations, she argues that we should also remember that Roger Bannister's victory was a ""glaring display of class division"".

Maybe appropriate then that this month also sees the return of that ""wonderful working-class... comic-strip hero, Alf Tupper"".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Mindless Replicants2018062220180624 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"What would it be like to consciously feel you were nothing but a robotic phenotype", asks Will Self, "pre-programmed to replicate its own integrated genotypic code then become...obsolete?"

Taking the contemporary TV series "Westworld" as his starting point, Will explores consciousness, humanity and artificial intelligence.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Will Self on consciousness, humanity and artificial intelligence.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Modern Medicis2013030120130303Lisa Jardine celebrates the influence of art connoisseur Sir Denis Mahon and reflects on the impact of wealthy art collectors on public taste and government policy.

Art collectors with a fortune to spend inevitably exert an influence on artistic taste and on the art market. The question is: Is a collector who wins public praise for having a ""good eye"" or ""flawless taste"" being celebrated for their critical astuteness in identifying a neglected work's lasting aesthetic value and its importance within the artistic tradition? Or are they simply establishing a high competitive price for that artist or artistic school?"

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on a topical issue.

Modern Parenting2011080520110807Alain de Botton takes a witty look at modern parenting.

He explains why today's parent simply can't avoid baking biscuits and helping to paint Tyrannosaurus Rex's scales!

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton takes a witty look at modern parenting. He explains why today's parent simply can't avoid baking biscuits and helping to paint Tyrannosaurus Rex's scales!

Modern Parenting20110807Alain de Botton takes a witty look at modern parenting.
Modern-day Empires2018033020180401 (R4)John Gray says the idea that empire has had its day is one of the delusions of our age.

Old empires, he says, are being replaced by new ones - in China, Russia and - he argues - in Europe.

He examines the idea of a European "empire of the good" - one that is liberal and democratic throughout.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

John Gray argues that the idea that empire has had its day is a delusion of our age.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Monarch's Message2014122620141228 (R4)David Cannadine reflects on the history of the Queen's Christmas message. Following the success of the first broadcast in 1932 by the Queen's grandfather, King George V, ""what had begun as a one-off innovation"" soon ""became an invented tradition"".

There can be no doubt,"" says Cannadine, ""it brought the King closer to his subjects than had been true of any monarch who had gone before him."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Money Matters2014021420140216

Adam Gopnik explains why he thinks the pictures on our banknotes matter.

Adam Gopnik explains why he thinks the pictures on our banknotes matter. ""The iconography of money is more than just decor - it displays the true convictions of the commonwealth that intends to support its value."

Producer: Sheila Cook

Money Sense2018121420181216 (R4)"I listen to Money Box on Radio 4 as others might to a recording of Indonesian gamelan music", writes Will Self, "thrilling to the intricacies, even as I find them altogether alien".

Will ponders why personal finance is such an alien concept for him.

But his thoughts move to “those hundreds of thousands out there for whom the words ‘personal finance’ are, quite simply, terrifying”.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Will Self on why personal finance is an utterly alien concept.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Moral Futures2016022620160228 (R4)Adam Gopnik thinks future generations will judge us as harshly as we judge our ancestors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Mouthing Off2012092820120930For moneyed Americans"", writes Sarah Dunant ""perfect dentistry is a matter of course"". For Europeans- and she counts herself within that number - the situation is rather different!

Sarah takes a sideways look at teeth through the ages...and dentistry in times of austerity.

And for those whose chief loathing is a mouthful of shining American teeth, she offers hope. ""Yaeba"", the latest craze to hit Japan where young fashonista girls are getting their teeth cosmetically altered to appear more crooked!

Producer Adele Armstrong.

Sarah Dunant reflects on a topical issue.

Murder Is Not The Point2018092120180923 (R4)Val McDermid argues that crime fiction isn't really about murder at all.

"We shift people out of their comfort zones and make them squirm", she writes. "But not because we kill people".

"It might be murder that sets the wheels in motion, but it's the time and place that lead us through the labyrinth to answers that are not always comfortable".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Val McDermid argues that crime fiction is not really about murder at all.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

My Encounter With Shingles2017072120170723 (R4)Adam Gopnik on why he turned to marijuana during his recent bout of shingles.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik reflects on why he turned to marijuana to relieve his pain during a recent bout of shingles.

His 17 year old daughter was horrified.

But Adam concludes that wise drug policy accepts the existence of intoxicants and says "this tale of unshaven debauchery" has made him realise, for the first time, how much his own "hyper disciplined, driven life" had taken out of him.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

My Idea Of Heaven2016090920160911 (R4)John Gray muses on what his idea of heaven is - and why it shouldn't be a perfect world.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

My Mother2020051520200517 (R4)Howard Jacobson on his mother's life - and death.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

My People2019070520190707 (R4)Taking his lead from Duke Ellington, Amit Chaudhuri asks, what do we mean by 'my people'?

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Taking his lead from Duke Ellington, Amit Chaudhuri asks, what do we mean by 'my people'?

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Napoleons And Normalcy2017072820170730 (R4)Adam Gopnik on how Donald Trump's presidency will affect our sense of what 'normal' is.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

"I have lived long enough now", writes Adam Gopnik, "to see several absolutely horrific epochs come and go...looking much less absolutely horrific once they're gone."

He reflects on how Donald Trump's presidency will affect our sense of what constitutes normality.

"Are we every day normalizing behaviour", he asks, "that will bring an end to normalcy itself".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Nature Red In Tooth And Claw2019082320190825 (R4)"For several centuries", writes Rebecca Stott, "the dominant Western version of Nature has been Mother Nature, benevolent, ever-giving, nurturing, bountiful and compliant".

This was later replaced by a less compliant and benevolent image....but we've always perpetuated an idea of Nature as something outside us, something to be mastered.

Rebecca argues that we need to rethink our relationship with nature - and see ourselves as in nature and part of nature, not outside of it.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Rebecca Stott argues that we need to rethink our relationship with nature.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

New Old Fashioned20100801Lisa Jardine reflects on changing styles of architecture and commends buildings that prove to be "the boldest and the best" in every age rather than simply "new old fashioned" as the most forward looking legacy to the built environment.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Lisa Jardine reflects on changing fashions in architecture over the last four centuries.

New Year Letter From New York2021010120210103 (R4)Adam Gopnik, cycling around Central Park in New York, explains why going round in circles suddenly appears not futile, but fortunate.

In the midst of the pandemic, Adam - like thousands of other New Yorkers - has taken to cycling round the park on a daily basis.

"The truth, revealed at the end of one more revolution is simple," he writes. "We feel lucky to be alive. That may be the one truth we didn't know before, or didn't know enough."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Adam Gopnik on the bitter-sweet joys of cycling round Central Park.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

'news' And Concentration2011011420110116
Nob Voices, Yob Voices2007030220070304
20070304 (R4)
Clive James comments on the way we speak English today and on a new noisy voice.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Clive James

Broadcaster and writer Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Followed by News.

Not A Good Time To Be A Man2018101220181014 (R4)Howard Jacobson reflects on maleness in the aftermath of the Brett Kavanaugh story.

"With every sniff and grimace" Howard writes of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, "it wasn't sorrow or confusion we witnessed but petulance and menace, as though a prize bull had been cornered and in its fury knew only to kick out".

"This is not a good time to be a man", he says.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Ode To Space2017102720171029 (R4)Will Self on why he loves space.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self on why he loves space....

From childhood dreams of being "strapped into the command module of a Saturn 5 rocket about to blast off from Cape Kennedy" to contemplating 1000-million-star mega-clusters in the sky today, Will describes why space is - for him - "both sublime and restful".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Of The People, By The People2013082320130825Roger Scruton continues his series of talks on the nature and limits of democracy. This week he argues that nations should be defined by language and territory rather than by party or faith. And, looking at examples across the Middle East and in particular in Egypt, he explains why - in his view - a modern state cannot be governed by Islamic law.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Of The People, By The People20130830Roger Scruton continues his series of talks on the nature and limits of democracy.
Of The People, By The People 1/42013080920130811Roger Scruton argues that democracy alone is not enough for political freedom.

Roger Scruton argues that democracy alone is not enough for political freedom. Democracy, freedom and human rights do not necessarily coincide.

In the underground universities of communist Europe... my friends and colleagues prepared themselves for the hoped for day when the Communist Party, having starved itself of all rational input, would finally give up the ghost,"" he says. ""And the lessons that they learned need to be learned again today, as our politicians lead us forth under the banner of democracy, without pausing to examine what democracy actually requires."

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Of The People, By The People 2/42013081620130818
20130818 (R4)
Roger Scruton continues his series of talks on the nature and limits of democracy.

Roger Scruton continues his series of talks on the nature and limits of democracy. Roger Scruton argues that democracy works only if we are prepared to be ruled by our opponents, however much we may dislike them. We need to accept politics as a process of compromise and conciliation. And for that, he says, the state must be secular.

Of The People, By The People 4/42013083020130901Roger Scruton concludes his series of talks on the nature and limits of democracy. ""We in Europe are moving not towards democracy but away from it,"" he says.

There is no first-person plural of which the European Institutions are the political expression,"" he argues. ""The Union is founded in a treaty, and treaties derive their authority from the entities that sign them. Those entities are the nation states of Europe, from which the loyalties of the European people derive. The Union, which has set out to transcend those loyalties, therefore suffers from a permanent crisis of legitimacy."".

Off The Map2020121820201220 (R4)Sara Wheeler on navigating unmapped territory.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

On Age And Beauty20111113Mary Beard takes a peek at Miss World 2011 and ponders why - unlike her days as a radical feminist teenager -the whole occasion doesn't fill her with fury.

"It all felt" - she writes - "like a scantily-clad, tabloid version of University Challenge....but with a kind of high-minded worthiness".

Long gone the old beauty contest ambitions of travelling and starting a family.

"These contestants talked of becoming international lawyers, museum curators, architects, diplomats".

So does this lack outrage mean she has she sold out on feminism? "That's not how it seems to me" she writes.

"At 56 I count myself as strong a feminist as I was at 26".

Just a bit more laid back.

"The less I see my own body as a positive asset" she says - joking about her greying hair and her thickening toe nails - "the less I have wanted to interfere with what other women choose to do with theirs".

"Times do change and some battles honestly do get won" she concludes.

"I don't any longer feel that Miss Venezuela is much of an enemy".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mary Beard takes a peek at Miss World 2011 and ponders the upsides of middle age.

"It all felt" - she writes - "like a scantily-clad, tabloid version of University Challenge....but with a kind of high-minded worthiness". Long gone the old beauty contest ambitions of travelling and starting a family. "These contestants talked of becoming international lawyers, museum curators, architects, diplomats".

So does this lack outrage mean she has she sold out on feminism? "That's not how it seems to me" she writes. "At 56 I count myself as strong a feminist as I was at 26". Just a bit more laid back.

"Times do change and some battles honestly do get won" she concludes. "I don't any longer feel that Miss Venezuela is much of an enemy".

On Authenticity2017091520170917 (R4)Monica Ali reflects on the 'cult of authenticity'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Authenticity, writes Monica Ali, has become the yardstick by which we measure the value of much of our day-to-day lives.

"In this hyper-mobile, hyper-connected world" she says, "the cult of authenticity is flourishing".

But what does it mean to be "authentic"?

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

On Bees And Being2012060120120603
20120603 (R4)
The other day"" Adam Gopnik writes, ""my son was working his way through the text of Shakespeare's 'Henry V' with an eye to a student production"". He read Canterbury's famous speech on how the well regulated kingdom is like a bee hive. ""How could Shakespeare know that much about the division of bee-labour"" he ponders ""and not know that the big bee in the centre was -- a girl bee?"

Gopnik takes us - via a bunch of bee experts - on a journey of ""long and buzzing thoughts"". He discovers a transgendered bee in Virgil's Georgics, dressed up as a king bee. He finds himself deep in the world of the Dutch biologist, Swammerdam. ""Swammerdam!"" he writes. ""One of those great Northern European names, like Erasmus of Rotterdam that carries its credibility within its consonants"".

He draws lessons about the theory of knowledge and the working of the human mind. He rejects the notion ""that thought proceeds in fortresses as ordered and locked as a beehive seems to be."" In truth, he argues, ""no age thinks monolithically, and no mind begins with absolute clarity... The sticky honey of uncertainty, the buzz around the beehive's entrance - these are signs of minds at work"".

Producer:

Adele Armstrong.

Adam Gopnik reflects on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik muses on why Shakespeare didn't seem to know that the top bee is a girl bee.

On Brexit2016070120160703 (R4)John Gray argues that Brexit will have a greater impact on the EU than it will on the UK.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

On Ghost Cities2019083020190901 (R4)Rebecca Stott is fascinated with abandoned or ruined cities.

She knows she's in good company - along with the millions of people who've been drawn to the recent mini-series, Chernobyl... or the video game, Metro Exodus.

She believes that, in these precarious times, they give us what H.G. Wells once called 'a sense of dethronement'.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Rebecca Stott discusses her fascination with abandoned or ruined cities.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

On Holding Forth2019040520190407 (R4)"There's one thing I can't bear", writes Rebecca Stott, "and that's being talked AT".

Having grown up in a separatist fundamentalist Christian sect called the Exclusive Brethren, she says she's probably rather uniquely sensitised to this. She listened to her father and grandfather holding forth for hours - "3000 hours of male monologues before I was six" she reckons!

Rebecca reflects on the art of good conversation.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Rebecca Stott on her pet hate \u2013 being talked AT!

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

On Hypocrisy2020011020200112 (R4)Will Self explores what he sees as a growing sense of collective hypocrisy.

He looks at why we're often so reluctant to use the word "hypocrisy" and argues that we accept hypocrisy in part because "civilisation as currently constituted would be quite impossible without a whole panoply of carefully evolved rituals designed to elide incompatible acts and beliefs".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self explores what he sees as a growing sense of collective hypocrisy.

On Marriage2011021120110213
20110213 (R4)

Alain de Botton muses on why a bookish life is a poor preparation for marriage! He says Western literature's obsession with unrequited love means the average love story is of help only to the lovelorn.

And he argues that the blandness of the word marriage hides a "welter of intensity and depth that put to shame the most passionate works of literature".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton muses on why a bookish life is a poor preparation for marriage!.

Alain de Botton muses on why a bookish life is a poor preparation for marriage! He says Western literature's obsession with unrequited love means the average love story is of help only to the lovelorn. And he argues that the blandness of the word marriage hides a "welter of intensity and depth that put to shame the most passionate works of literature".

Alain de Botton muses on why a bookish life is a poor preparation for marriage! He says Western literature's obsession with unrequited love means the average love story is of help only to the lovelorn. And he argues that the blandness of the word marriage hides a "welter of intensity and depth that put to shame the most passionate works of literature".

On Marriage20110213Alain de Botton muses on why a bookish life is a poor preparation for marriage! He says Western literature's obsession with unrequited love means the average love story is of help only to the lovelorn. And he argues that the blandness of the word marriage hides a "welter of intensity and depth that put to shame the most passionate works of literature".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

On Misanthropy2018011220180114 (R4)Howard Jacobson ponders why misanthropy is out of fashion.

"Where have they gone?", he asks, "such great haters of mankind as Juvenal, Swift, Flaubert".

Mankind, he believes, has not grown less tribal over time. But instead of a general enemy, he says, "we each have our own individual tormentor - a private phobic for every one of us".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

On Musical Theatre2017080420170806 (R4)Adam Gopnik reflects on why musical theatre makes its makers miserable.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik reflects on why musical theatre makes its makers miserable. He should know - he's just finished an eight week run of a musical he wrote.

He concludes that while films, for example, have a "natural author" in the shape of the director, a musical doesn't and "a seven-person creative team of equals", he says can never be harmonious.

But there's a lot of fun to be had along the way....

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

On Not Being Oneself2018122120181223 (R4)"Is our taste for righteous self-blown indignation so indurated and inwrought" writes Howard Jacobson, "that we will never again be able to shrug our shoulders, forget who we are and what we believe and embrace people who believe differently?"

Howard explores the destructive nature of the Cult of Self.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Howard Jacobson on the Cult of Self.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

On Not Finishing2020041720200419 (R4)Rebecca Stott reflects on unfinished projects.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

"I’ve been thinking about projects left unfinished," writes Rebecca Stott. " I’ve got the pages of two unfinished novels on my hard-drive, and a pile of sewing projects, seams pinned, pins rusting, in my sewing basket."

With the help of Leonardo da Vinci, "a notorious non-finisher," Rebecca ponders the meaning of our imperfect and incomplete projects.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

On Pompeii2012112320121125Last weekend I spent a couple of hours with the remains of one of the human victims of the eruption of Vesuvius"" writes Mary Beard, as she wanders through the rooms of a new exhibition about Pompeii, the ""City of the Dead"".

The display at the J Paul Getty museum in Malibu is one of several Pompeii exhibitions running in different museums around the world - and very similar to one coming to the British Museum in the spring.

As she makes her way through the bodies - or ""anti-bodies"" as she refers to them - she ponders questions of privacy, archaeology and restoration.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mary Beard reflects on a topical issue.

On Prefixes2018090720180909 (R4)Adam Gopnik on why the prefixes we use speak volumes.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

On Risk2020050820200510 (R4)AL Kennedy on how we perceive risk.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

AL Kennedy ponders why we're bad at assessing risks.

"We prioritize them according to emotion and information," she says, "but our emotions cloud our judgement and our information may be patchy, absent or misleading."

She argues that one risk though is incontrovertible - the risk to the planet - and we need to find a way to ensure its survival.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

On Robots2017050520170507 (R4)Howard Jacobson argues that talk of the dangers of artificial intelligence is premature.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

"The idea that if we feed enough lines of literature into a computer it will eventually be able to write its own Iliad", he writes, "is as preposterous as the old fancy that if a sufficient number of monkeys were given a sufficient number of Olivettis they would eventually hammer out a monkey Macbeth".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

On Social Climbing2011072920110731Alain de Botton reflects on social climbing - and argues that the activity should be seen - at times - as evidence of a natural curiosity about the modern world.

And he says in the current environment, it's often not idle pleasure-seeking, but an attempt to keep yourself in a job.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton argues that social climbing is often much more than idle pleasure-seeking.

Alain de Botton reflects on social climbing - and argues that the activity should be seen - at times - as evidence of a natural curiosity about the modern world. And he says in the current environment, it's often not idle pleasure-seeking, but an attempt to keep yourself in a job.

On Social Climbing20110731Alain de Botton argues that social climbing is often much more than idle pleasure-seeking.
On Spam2019111520191117 (R4)"Only when I wander, usually by accident, into my spam box", writes Adam Gopnik, "do I find anything resembling actual affection - prose that captures the spark of human sympathy, the language of exquisite deference, that the Enlightenment philosophers insisted was the necessary mucilage of human societies".

The excessive courtesy of spam letters is, of course, designed to entrap the reader but why, Adam wonders, have the decencies of human correspondence disappeared from virtually all other forms of communication these days.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Adam Gopnik ponders why so much of our communication these days is bereft of human warmth.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

On Tyrants20111106From the ingeniously ghastly ways they killed their opponents to their weird forms of dress, Mary Beard reflects on the uncanny similarities between Colonel Gaddafi and the tyrants of ancient Rome.

She argues that the similarities were present in life - and in death.

"On 11 March 222 AD," she writes, "a posse of rebel soldiers tracked down the Roman emperor Elagabalus to his hiding place. The tyrant was holed up in a latrine, desperately hoping to keep clear of the liberators, who were out for his blood". She continues: "The story goes that the rebels rooted him out, killed him, triumphantly dragged his body through the streets of Rome and then threw his mutilated remains into a drain."

Mary suggests modern and ancient tyrant are portrayed as sharing a penchant for eccentric accommodation, like Gaddafi's tent and Nero's infamous "Golden House". And they seem to enjoy dubious hobbies - such as Emperor Domitian's obsession with stabbing flies and Gaddafi's obsessive collection of pictures of Condoleeza Rice, which were stuck in a scrapbook.

But she argues that these stereotypes of tyrants are little more than half-truths and hearsay....an easy way of making a figure of fear into a figure of fun.

The reality, she says, is much more nuanced. "Badness", she suggests, "comes in inconveniently complicated ways. Most bad people are good in parts".

How often, she asks, are we told that life expectancy in Libya far exceeds that of its neighbours, that Libya has substantially lower child mortality than its neighbours, the highest literacy rate in North Africa, free hospitals and free childcare.

"My point is not that we should see Gaddafi as a good man" she says. Rather that "among all the things that have been going terribly wrong under the Gaddafi regime, some things have been going right".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mary Beard on the uncanny similarities between Colonel Gaddafi and tyrants in ancient Rome.

Only Remembered2018110920181111 (R4)Michael Morpurgo reflects on our future connection with the First World War.

"How will we pass it on, this torch of history?", he asks. "Those missing men, those wounded, those who lived to count the cost, their story is our story and we must tell it again, keep it alive"

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Michael Morpurgo ponders our future connection with the First World War.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Our Love For Animals2014022820140302

Roger Scruton thinks we get our priorities wrong when we favour pets at the expense of wild animals.

We must recognise that by loving our pets as individuals we threaten the animals who cannot easily be loved in any such way."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

P J O'rourke: Presidential Candidates2015091120150913 (R4)PJ O'Rourke sizes up the candidates aspiring to be President of the United States.

P J O'Rourke sizes up the candidates aspiring to be the President of the United States.

Who are all these jacklegs, high-binders, wire-pullers, mountebanks, swellheads, buncombe spigots, boodle artists, four-flushers and animated spittoons offering themselves as worthy of our nation's highest office?"

Producer: Sheila Cook."

Parity Of Esteem2018083120180902 (R4)"To stand in the corridor of a crowded locked ward in a contemporary British mental hospital" writes Will Self, "is still to feel oneself closer to Hogarth's hellish vision of Bedlam, than any enlightened healthcare".

Will tells the disturbing story of what happened to a friend, recently detained in a London psychiatric hospital.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Will Self tells the story of what happened to a friend in a psychiatric hospital.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Parliament Roadshow2016090220160904 (R4)Tom Shakespeare on why the Houses of Parliament should move around the country.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Tom Shakespeare argues that the upcoming refurbishment work on the Palace of Westminster provides a perfect opportunity for taking it out of London.

My vision is of the Houses of Parliament as a travelling caravan, a charabanc of power, spending a year here and a year there throughout our United Kingdom"".

He says it would enable our leaders to see at first hand what they are legislating about and who they are legislating for.

He quotes Cromwell at the sacking of the Rump Parliament in 1653: ""You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go""!

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Peerless2016010820160110 (R4)Tom Shakespeare suggests ways to shrink and completely reform the House of Lords.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Perpetual Lockdown2020111320201115 (R4)Sara Wheeler reflects on lockdown for her brother - profoundly learning disabled - and others like him.
Books, she writes, "teach us that my brother's isolation and society's inability to embrace him as he deserves to be embraced have always been with us."
But she wonders if, in these times, books can also teach us to be kind.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Sara Wheeler on lockdown for her brother, severely learning disabled, and others like him

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Pets Aren't People!2020103020201101 (R4)Zoe Strimpel examines why so many people have become passionately obsessed with dogs. "We have moved," she writes, "beyond affection, beyond dog-is-person's-best-friend love, into a passionate confusion whereby we now seem to think and feel that there is literally no difference between pets and people."

She examines the roots of our attachment to dogs and argues that we need to re-discover a more "pet-appropriate variety" of love in relation to our pooches.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Zoe Strimpel examines why we've become so passionately obsessed with dogs.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Pity The Young2013110120131103Will Self reflects on the malign influence of the older generation on the young.

Will Self reflects on the malign influence of the older generation on the young as the population of Britain ages. ""In my darker moments - of which there are quite a few - I often envision the baby boomer generation as a giant and warty toad squatting on the youth of our society"".

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Policing Sex2012090720120909Sarah Dunant looks at attitudes to sexual behaviour from a historical perspective.

Once again the snake pit of policing sexual behaviour and the conflict between men and women's attitudes of it have become news"" writes Sarah Dunant.

She discusses the remarks by the American would-be senator who claimed that after ""legitimate rape"", women's bodies protect them from pregnancy. She looks at George Galloway's assertion that what Julian Assange did or didn't do in bed was simple bad sexual etiquette. And she discusses the controversy surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey.

She starts from a very personal perspective, and broadens the debate on attitudes to sex by looking at it from an historical perspective. She concludes that a storm of female outrage serves only to stifle debate and that men must be involved in the discussions.

Producer Adele Armstrong.

Sarah Dunant reflects on a topical issue.

Political And Military Leaders20100711David Cannadine reflects on the relationship between political and military leaders, comparing British, American and world history.

He traces the tensions between Presidents, Prime Ministers and commanders of the armed forces and he illuminates the times when military men have crossed the line into politics.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reflects on the relationship between political and military leaders.

David Cannadine reflects on the relationship between political and military leaders, comparing British, American and world history. He traces the tensions between Presidents, Prime Ministers and commanders of the armed forces and he illuminates the times when military men have crossed the line into politics.

Post-image2015022720150301 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Pottering Towards The New Socialist State2017082520170827 (R4)Roger Scruton looks at the impact of Harry Potter on our world view.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

"People are starting to live in a kind of cyber-Hogwarts", he says, "a fantasy world in which goods are simply obtained by needing them, and then asking some future Prime Minister to wave the magic wand".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Power Of The Press20120316Historian David Cannadine reflects on the power of the press, past and present, recalling how early twentieth century press barons attempted to influence politics. He recalls Stanley Baldwin's response to the campaign by Lords Rothermere and Beaverbrook to topple him as Conservative leader, accusing them of wielding "power without responsibility."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Historian David Cannadine reflects on the power of the press, past and present.

Power Of The Press20120318Historian David Cannadine reflects on the power of the press, past and present.
Presidential Inaugurations2013012520130127

David Cannadine reflects on the history of American presidential inaugurations since Abraham Lincoln's, and compares presidents' speeches at the start of their first and second terms in office. ""Second inaugurals...are often less up-beat and up-lifting, since it's no longer possible for a president, having already been four years in office, to offer a new deal or to proclaim, as President Obama did in 2009 that 'change is coming to America'"".

Producer: Sheila Cook

Price Of A Postage Stamp2012080320120805Philosopher John Gray wonders what bulk buying of stamps tells us about economic gloom.

The philosopher John Gray wonders what bulk buying of stamps ahead of the price rise tells us about economic gloom. ""The relative security that many people enjoyed in the recent past is fading from memory"".

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

John Gray reflects on a topical issue.

Protecting Our Way Of Life2017021020170212 (R4)A reflection on a topical issue.

John Gray examines what lies behind our desire to protect our "way of life".

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Psy Wars2016052020160522 (R4)A reflection on a topical issue. Will Self ponders the role of the 'psy-professions'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self - with a nod to the ""valetudinarian pop-person, Morrissey"" - poses the question ""Does the mind rule the body or the body rule the mind?"

Before 1960, he says, ""a Briton could probably go their entire life without encountering a psychiatrist or a psychoanalyst - let alone a modish psychotherapist"". But not any more.

Will ponders what role these ""psy-professions"" play in contemporary Britain.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Raising The Bar2017081120170813 (R4)Adam Gopnik on why bringing up children is an art - not a science.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik muses on the art of parenting and the challenges of getting it right.

"Too much praise... or too little?", he wonders. "You have to be hands off, smiling" but at the same time "engaged, unsparing in honesty".

He concludes that raising children is an art, not a science or a craft. "They are the artists of their own lives but we can, we must, teach them the art of living".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Reading For Free2010111920101121Joan Bakewell reflects on the irreplaceable value of reading at a time when the squeeze on government spending is putting public libraries at risk.

Producer: Sheila Cook

Joan Bakewell reflects on the irreplaceable value of reading.

Reading For Free20101121Joan Bakewell reflects on the irreplaceable value of reading.
Reading Renaissance Art2016042220160424 (R4)Sarah Dunant argues that our current obsession with celebrity utterly undermines art.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Taking a tour of some recent blockbuster art exhibitions, Sarah Dunant reflects on the importance of context for us to properly appreciate art.

She argues that increasingly we're sold art as a list of superstars. ""To grab the headlines, put big numbers through the turnstiles, means focusing on the stars"" she writes.

But understanding the great Renaissance masterpieces demands an understanding of the intellectual climate that produced them.

A scantily clad Ursula Andress emerging from the sea holding a conch will not really help us understand Botticelli's Birth of Venus.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

"

Real Change2013090620130908

Fear of change can lead us astray. It can keep us from mercy. It can be used by authorities as an excuse for sticking with the status quo. It's a barrier to happiness. AL Kennedy doesn't like change. But she thinks perhaps she should change her mind.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Rebuilding After 9/112013112220131124Will Self reflects from the top of the new One World Trade Center in New York on the challenge of rebuilding after the destruction of 9.11.

The downtown site, mired in ground sacred to mammon, has mixed into it a complex mulch of private rights and public responsibilities: to harmonise these competing interests in the frozen music of architecture has proved a gruelling compositional task."".

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Recline-gate2020022820200301 (R4)To recline - or not to recline - your seat on an aeroplane? Adam Gopnik on "recline-gate

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Reflections On A Diamond Skull2007062920070701
20070701 (R4)
Clive James gives his personal reaction to Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull and considers its significance as a work of art. It might worth £50m, but, he says, it is nevertheless ‘art for all’. Why? Because it's glittering, hollow and perfectly brainless - so you can talk about it to anyone, just like you can Paris Hilton.

Clive James gives his personal reaction to Damien Hirst's diamond-encrusted skull.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Reflections On Ivf2013102520131027Lisa Jardine reflects on IVF as she stands down from the body which regulates it, the HFEA

Lisa Jardine reflects on the sensitive questions surrounding IVF as she comes to the end of her term as Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. ""I would have loved to have been able to have spoken more often and more publicly, with more words of caution for those preparing to undertake IVF, or postponing their family because IVF seems a reliable option should natural conception fail."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Reflections On Monetary Union2011111820111120Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mary Beard reflects on the very first monetary union, two and a half thousand years ago.

Reflections On Monetary Union20111120Mary Beard reflects on the very first monetary union, two and a half thousand years ago.
Reflections On My Mother's Kenwood Mixer2020100920201011 (R4)Rebecca Stott on memories of Angel Delight, Smash powder and an invaluable device.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Reflections On My Mother's Kenwood Mixer2020100920210409 (R4)Rebecca Stott on memories of Angel Delight, Smash powder and an invaluable device.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Reflections On My Mother's Kenwood Mixer2020100920210411 (R4)Rebecca Stott on memories of Angel Delight, Smash powder and an invaluable device.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Refugee Tales2019061420190616 (R4)Monica Ali discusses the UK's use of immigration detention centres and, in particular, indefinite detention.

She argues that, although detention or deportation are sometimes necessary, the policy of indefinite detention is "callous and dehumanising".

She believes - as the only place in Europe that allows indefinite detention - the UK should adopt the recommendations of a recent parliamentary report and introduce a 28 day limit.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Monica Ali on the UK's use of immigration detention centres and indefinite detention.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Re-launching National Service2017011320170115 (R4)Will Self argues for the re-introduction of National Service.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

We're constantly being reminded that this is a democracy", writes Will Self "one, indeed, which we should take back control of".

But in the arena of national defence, he says, the role of the citizen "is relegated to that of a guilty bystander, his fate in the hands of the state's hirelings".

Will Self argues for the re-introduction of National Service to invigorate British democracy.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Renouncing Middlemarch20170526
Renouncing Middlemarch2017060220170604 (R4)Howard Jacobson on why he must renounce George Eliot's greatest novel, Middlemarch.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"It's late in the year to be making a resolution I'm probably going to break, but the words have to be spoken" writes Howard Jacobson. "I hereby renounce Middlemarch".

Howard reveals what lies behind his obsession for George Eliot's greatest novel and why he can't stop hymning its praises and quoting chunks of it from memory.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Reputation Building
Resolutions2016031820160320 (R4)Adam Gopnik struggles with his new year's resolutions to meditate and listen to good music

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Roger Scruton: The Tyranny Of Pop2015111320151115 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Sacking The Capitols2021012920210131 (R4)Sarah Dunant finds chilling parallels between recent events in Washington and the Sack of Rome in 1527.

"Both seemed to feel," Sarah writes, "that whatever the threat, 'God's Holy City' or 'the seat of American democracy', were somehow, by their very nature, inviolate. I mean nobody would dare, would they?"

Powerful first-hand accounts, the crowd fired up by wild stories and the use of new technology are all there.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Sarah Dunant imagines how the storming of the US Capitol building might go down in history

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Sacred Cows And Sushi Rolls20210305John Connell reflects on how the pandemic is breaking the spell of cities.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Sacred Cows And Sushi Rolls2021030520210307 (R4)John Connell reflects on how the pandemic is breaking the spell of cities.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Sarah Dunant: Crisis In Catholicism2015112020151122 (R4)Sarah Dunant sees a new crisis in the Catholic Church as a result of unchanged policy.

Sarah Dunant sees a new crisis in the Catholic church as a result of unchanged policy over divorce, homosexuality, celibacy and the role of women.

Men may truly believe in God but for most of them chastity is too big an ask and if enforced leads, at worst, to abuse and at best to a clergy and hierarchy ignorant of, and often unsympathetic to, the problems of being human. From there it's but a skip and a jump to the role of women and their exclusion from the heart of the church."

Producer: Sheila Cook."

Sarah Dunant: Protest, Paris, Terror2015120420151206 (R4)Sarah Dunant reflects on the nature of protest against the threat of terrorism and the threat of climate change and their coming together in the city of Paris.

How do we find a sense of potency in the face of terror, how do we embrace life when threatened with death, how do we champion our future against those who claim they will just carry on dying until they win? Perhaps what is needed is mental as much as military action."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Sarah Dunant reflects on the links between protest, terrorism, climate change and Paris.

Saving The Planet - On Hands And Knees2020013120200202 (R4)"Of all the men I never wanted to grow old into", writes Howard Jacobson, "this is the man I wanted to grow into least: the prepared-for-all-eventualities shopper".

Howard describes his hours of neatly folding plastic bags on his hands and knees on his living room floor...in order to let him shop responsibly.

Gone is his old profligacy. "The wild", he says, "have become the watchful".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Howard Jacobson on why he's taken to folding plastic bags.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Science, Magic And Madness2013041220130414
20160617 (R4)
Adam Gopnik on the difference between magic and science.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Self Confident Culture2013111520131117Will Self argues for greater British cultural self confidence in the debate over the wearing of the veil.

Apologies are not needed for an insistence on uncovered faces in court, he says, and the best safeguard against extremism is engagement with the Western philosophic tradition and its multicultural influences.

Of course British culture will be changed by the cultures of our recent immigrants, but surely our greatest desideratum is precisely this: to be the heirs, possessors and transmitters of a legacy that is ready and able to adapt."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Will Self argues for greater British cultural self confidence in the debate over the veil.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Self Drive Manhood2014012420140126A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Self-drive Manhood2014012420140126

Adam Gopnik hails the development of the self-drive car as the way to rescue his manhood.

Adam Gopnik hails the development of the self-drive car as the way to rescue his male identity after years as a non driver. He also muses on the need for such cars to have ""ethical engines"" capable of moral judgements.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

September Anxiety2019090620190908 (R4)For the September blues, writes Sarah Dunant, "usually time is the healer...you buckle down and get on with it...and by the end of October, things are on track for winter".

But not, she thinks, this year.

Sarah describes why she feels this year's September malaise has a different quality to it.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Sarah Dunant on why this year's September malaise has a different feel to it.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Serena And The Umpire2018091420180916 (R4)Adam Gopnik examines the issues raised by the row between Serena Williams and an umpire.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Seven Degrees Of Solitude2020040320200405 (R4)"Having been alone in the apartment now for almost three weeks," writes Adam Gopnik in New York, "I have become aware of the countless fine shades of solitude".

Adam describes the daily roller coaster ride of anxiety and normalcy - from the solitude of morning coffee with the dog to the solitude of the Manhattan street late at night.

With each day that passes, he finds that "the hues and shades of solitude are defining themselves, with a distinction that gives at least a shape, and sometimes the hint of a meaning, to our time inside".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Adam Gopnik on life in lockdown in New York.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Sex And The French2014011720140119

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Sherlock Holmes And The Romance Of Reason2012081720120819John Gray reflects on the enduring appeal of Sherlock Holmes' powers of deduction.

John Gray reflects on the enduring appeal of Sherlock Holmes at a time when we've lost confidence in the power of reason alone to solve problems. ""Seeming to find order in the chaos of events by using purely rational methods, he actually demonstrates the enduring power of magic."

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

Short And Successful2014100320141005 (R4)Adam Gopnik thinks there's a simple reason for the recent findings that short men enjoy stable marriages. It's not that they are desperate to please, but are desperate to prevail. ""In every area of life, we underrate the merits of desperation, and persistently overrate the advantages of free choice."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Should We Be Frightened Of Disability?2014053020140601

Many people assume that disabled people must be unhappy. But the empirical evidence doesn't back this up. In A Point of View, Tom Shakespeare argues that disability is nothing to fear.

Shylock's Mock Appeal2016102120161023 (R4)Howard Jacobson applauds the granting of an appeal by Shylock in a mock trial in Venice.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Howard Jacobson applauds the granting of an appeal by Shylock in a mock trial in Venice as a symbolic revoking of a bad decision in Shakespeare's play.

It's natural to rage against wrong decisions, miscarrriages of justice or the inclemencies of nature, but the more fanciful of us go further and imagine that some power will intervene and make things right again."

Producer: Sheila Cook

Howard Jacobson applauds the granting of an appeal by Shylock in a mock trial in Venice.

Sic Transit2017031720170319 (R4)Tom Shakespeare on why we shouldn't wallow in the past.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Tom Shakespeare on why - in today's world of uncertainty and fear - it may give us some political consolation to remember that while everything positive in life is short-lived, so too is everything negative.

He argues that believing that the best is behind us stops us making the most of present opportunities.

To wallow in the past is to be sentimental, to seek an impossible return", he writes. "Our task is to create something different but equally fulfilling in future".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Simon Schama On American Food
Simply A Writer2019060720190609 (R4)"If you're a writer of colour", writes Monica Ali, "you're only supposed to write about what people imagine to be your self".

"That self might be labelled as Asian writer, or Bangladeshi writer or BAME writer, but it is never labelled simply 'writer' - that would be the true privilege".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Monica Ali explores the challenges faced by writers of colour.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Sing A New Song2016011520160117 (R4)Tom Shakespeare argues that the country needs a new national anthem.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Tom Shakespeare argues that we need a new national anthem, one that celebrates what's great about the whole country, reflects the diversity of the population and the values of modern society.

He suggests that existing anthem-like hymns such as Jerusalem, or the likes of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory won't do. Jerusalem, for example, talks of walking on England's mountains green, excluding the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish.

A new anthem, written and composed for the purpose, would actually mean something and would make us proud of what's great about the United Kingdom. It would be in tune with our times.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Smoking The Memory2007080320070805
20070805 (R4)
Clive James on how he, reluctantly, became a non-smoker. Today he only dreams of smoking.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

So Many Kinds Of Britons: Who Knew?2019031520190317 (R4)Zia Haider Rahman on why Brexit has made him feel closer to Britain.

He says the referendum has revealed deeper schisms in British society than the lines between native and immigrant.

"The sociological explanation", he argues, "might be that by confronting everyone with the variety and complexity of native British identities, Brexit has created space for other British identities".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Sodcasting2020020720200209 (R4)From the “pernicious fife-footlers polluting the sooty Victorian cities ? to the “fiendish electronic cacophony ? of today, Will Self bemoans the ever-increasing difficulty of finding a bit of peace and quiet.

He wonders why we tolerate this growing noise pollution, even though we know that high levels of ambient noise cause stress, insomnia and even, if persistent, poor mental health.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

From the “pernicious fife-footlers polluting the sooty Victorian cities” to the “fiendish electronic cacophony” of today, Will Self bemoans the ever-increasing difficulty of finding a bit of peace and quiet.

Someone To Watch Over Me2013092020130922AL Kennedy reflects on our tendency to behave badly when we think no-one is looking.

AL Kennedy reflects on our tendency to behave badly when we think no-one's watching or when we follow the wrong crowd.

When psychologists test how people behave with and without oversight, it becomes depressingly clear that if we think nobody's looking, we don't even remotely always let our consciences be our guides,"" she writes. ""Even very normal, pleasant people can delegate their morality to other people who appear to be in charge, even of bizarre and disturbing scenarios."

Producer: Sheila Cook

Soylent And The Charm Of The Fast Lane2014111420141116 (R4)The new food substitute Soylent allows you to give up eating meals in order to have more free time. But John Gray argues that human beings crave busy lives. We want to be distracted, he says, so we don't have to think too much.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Soylent And The Irresistible Charm Of Life In The Fast Lane20141114
Speak, History!2018112320181125 (R4)"For most of my adult life", writes Stella Tillyard, "I have had a template which I have used not only to understand myself but also to interpret the world around me. History has been my guide".

But today, she says, history appears inadequate "to describe the chaos that now seems to surround us".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Stella Tillyard on why history no longer seems an adequate guide to our present.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Special Elephants20100718David Cannadine traces the remarkable history of Asian elephants prompted by the recent auction of colourful models to raise funds for their preservation.

He reveals, in particular, the special place occupied by the legendary white elephants of Thailand and how their name became a figure of speech.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from David Cannadine

David Cannadine traces the remarkable history of Asian elephants prompted by the recent auction of colourful models to raise funds for their preservation. He reveals, in particular, the special place occupied by the legendary white elephants of Thailand and how their name became a figure of speech.

Spell-checking The Futr2016051320160515 (R4)Self-confessed digi-drunkard Will Self on predictive texting, spellchecking and algorithms

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Will tries to convince himself - and us - that his use of technology is considered and practical, not the ""glug-glugging of the cyber sozzled""!

But, he admits, ""a great river of denial runs through me...as I fidget and tweezer my way through the glassy looking-glass and into the virtual world"".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Spiritual Pick And Mix2020122520201226 (R4)
20201227 (R4)
Bernardine Evaristo reflects on spirituality and syncretism.

"There are many people," she writes, "who are rock solid in a particular faith...but others are more flexible or live with multiple belief systems."

Bernardine tells us why she loves the idea of the African-American celebration of Kwanzaa, founded in 1966 and designed to give African-Americans a winter festival that is uniquely theirs.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Star Wars Obsession2016020520160207 (R4)Writer Helen Macdonald confesses to an obsession with the recent Star Wars movie.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Helen Macdonald has made her name writing about nature and birds of prey. So why has she become so fascinated with the recent Star Wars movie that she's been to see it six times? In her first ""A Point of View"" she tries to get to the bottom of her obsession and wonders whether it's all down to nostalgia or something else.

Producer: Richard Vadon.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Stars Of South London20100704David Cannadine celebrates the cultural heritage of South London, in particular, Dulwich Picture Gallery and two great writers whose talents were nurtured nearby.

P.G.

Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler were both pupils at Dulwich College where the then headmaster fostered their ablity to write vivid prose, whether the subject was tough blondes or dotty peers.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine celebrates the joys of South London via Raymond Chandler and P G Wodehouse.

David Cannadine celebrates the cultural heritage of South London, in particular, Dulwich Picture Gallery and two great writers whose talents were nurtured nearby. P.G. Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler were both pupils at Dulwich College where the then headmaster fostered their ablity to write vivid prose, whether the subject was tough blondes or dotty peers.

States Of Confusion2017020320170205 (R4)Will Self on why we really should spend time worrying about why we are here.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Summer In The Movies2018052520180527 (R4)A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Amit Chaudhuri on why he believes modern movies have a "spiritual glumness".

"Digitisation's subterranean agenda", he says, "is to repress natural light."

Unlike old black and white films which were flooded in natural light, he sees the light of digitisation as a grey light.

"We're meant to be distracted by drama, violence and special effects; but, crucially, enchantment is withheld from us."

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Amit Chaudhuri reflects on why he believes modern movies lack "enchantment".

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Sweet Charity2012092120120923Much of what some would call my eccentric wardrobe derives from charity shops...By temperament, I'm a historian and the sense of an object with a provenance somehow ties me more securely to the present"" writes Sarah Dunant.

As she rummages for bargains in her local charity shop, Sarah reflects on the history of charity shops and their growing importance in times of austerity.

Producer Adele Armstrong.

Sarah Dunant reflects on a topical issue.

Tackling Homelessness2019051020190512 (R4)Val McDermid ponders how we can fix homelessness.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Tackling The Moped Menace2017090820170910 (R4)Monica Ali reflects on the recent surge in moped crime after her son was attacked.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Monica Ali describes her desire for vengeance after her son was robbed by two boys on mopeds.

She reflects on the recent surge in moped crime and what can be done to stop it.

She says the criminals involved in this new brand of crime are nearly all children and, whatever our desire for justice, "crackdowns on children can never provide the entire - the right - solution to the problem".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Talking Of Empire2017092220170924 (R4)Monica Ali on why she thinks the history of the British Empire must be taught in schools.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Monica Ali with a personal take on why she believes the history of the British Empire must be taught in our schools.

She recalls a conversation with her father where he told her that at primary school he'd been taught about the Black Hole of Calcutta and how the British gave India railways. At secondary school - post Independence and Partition, her Dad's history curriculum changed dramatically...it ceased to cast a rosy glow over British rule.

When she was at school, Monica was taught nothing about Empire.

And with her children, the subject barely got a look-in.

"Post Brexit, when the fantasy of a small nation decoupled from the world has never been greater", she writes, "it is time to put the British Empire firmly into the school curriculum".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Teaching To The Test2017012720170129 (R4)Will Self says it's time to end "teaching to the test".

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Teffi: Silver Shoes And The Dream Of Revolution2018030220180304 (R4)John Gray on why the work of Russian writer Teffi has become so relevant today.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

"We're in one of those recurring periods in history", writes John Gray, "when the idea of revolution has become appealing again".
In this context, John says we should dust off the work of Teffi - one of the best known writers in Russia before the revolution.
"I doubt", he says, "if anyone has written with such luminous clarity of what it means to live in a time of chaos".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Teffi: Silver Shoes And The Dream Of Revolution20180304
Terminal Thoughts2013011120130113

A weekly reflection on a topical issue with Will Self

The Abolition Of Man2015090420150906 (R4)John Gray warns about the dangers of science that promises to enhance human abilities.

John Gray warns about the dangers of science that attempts to enhance human abilities. He says such knowledge can jeopardize the very things that make us human.

More than 70 years after C.S. Lewis wrote "The Abolition of Man", John Gray argues that Lewis' questions are even more relevant today than they were then. "The scientists of Lewis's generation were dissatisfied with existing humankind" he writes. "Using new techniques, they were convinced they could design a much improved version of the species".

But Gray says that while the scientific knowledge needed to remould humanity hardly existed then, it is rapidly developing at the present time.

He believes that the sciences of bioengineering and artificial intelligence carry serious risks. "If at some unknown point in the future it becomes feasible to remould ourselves according to our dreams" he writes, "the result can only be an impoverishment of the human world".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Advantages Of Pessimism2011081220130605 (BBC7)Alain de Botton on why pessimism is the key to happiness.

He argues that the incompatibility between the grandeur of our aspirations and the reality of life is bound to disappoint - unless we learn to be a bit more gloomy!

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Alain de Botton on why pessimism is the key to happiness. He argues that the incompatibility between the grandeur of our aspirations and the reality of life is bound to disappoint - unless we learn to be a bit more gloomy!

The Advantages Of Pessimism2011081420110812 (BBC7)
20130605 (BBC7)
Alain de Botton on why pessimism is the key to happiness. He argues that the incompatibility between the grandeur of our aspirations and the reality of life is bound to disappoint - unless we learn to be a bit more gloomy!

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton on why pessimism is the key to happiness.

The Age Of Infantilism2021042320210425 (R4)Howard Jacobson reflects on the 'incorrigible unseriousness' of our age.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Age of Infantilism20210423Howard Jacobson reflects on the 'incorrigible unseriousness' of our age.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Alchemy Of Memory2012083120120902John Gray explores the role of memory in giving meaning to our lives.

John Gray explores the role of memory in giving meaning to our lives. Through the writings of J.G. Ballard, he reflects on how we struggle to preserve our past but at the same time sometimes long to leave it behind.

Gray praises the power of Ballard's imagination - and his enchanting fables - to make good all this.

His conclusion is upbeat. ""Through the alchemy of memory the leaden buildings in which (Ballard) wandered as a boy became the golden vistas of his fiction, and the traumas of his childhood were transmuted into images of fulfilment"".

Producer:

Adele Armstrong.

The Apocalypse Hasn't Happened Yet2017100620171008 (R4)Andrew Sullivan says Donald Trump is teaching a generation to bully, slander and cheat.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Andrew Sullivan says Donald Trump is teaching a generation that the key to advancement in society is to bully, lie, slander and cheat.

He examines the long-term effects of the Trump Presidency.

"It may be that in the future", Andrew writes, "his appalling conduct will mark a cautionary tale - and future candidates and presidents will learn not to follow in his
steps".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Arms Trade2011102820111030Will Self deplores the arms trade and Britain's role in it, including the sale of weapons to authoritarian regimes which abuse human rights.

He takes aim at the euphemisms that surround the sector.

"The elision of business-speak with the foggy verbiage of warfare is perhaps the most deranging aspect of the contemporary arms trade," he says.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Will Self deplores the arms trade, Britain's role in it and the euphemisms around it.

Will Self deplores the arms trade and Britain's role in it, including the sale of weapons to authoritarian regimes which abuse human rights. He takes aim at the euphemisms that surround the sector. "The elision of business-speak with the foggy verbiage of warfare is perhaps the most deranging aspect of the contemporary arms trade," he says.

The Arms Trade20111030Will Self deplores the arms trade, Britain's role in it and the euphemisms around it.
The Art Of Conversation2011071520110717Alain de Botton on why preparing conversation is as important as preparing a good salad for our summer picnic.

He questions why we put so much effort into our social encounters, but leave our conversation to chance.

With examples from history and literature, he argues that it's when there are rules to our conversation that our spirit can best be set free.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton with some food for thought for a summer picnic.

Alain de Botton on why preparing conversation is as important as preparing a good salad for our summer picnic. He questions why we put so much effort into our social encounters, but leave our conversation to chance. With examples from history and literature, he argues that it's when there are rules to our conversation that our spirit can best be set free.

The Art Of Conversation20110717Alain de Botton with some food for thought for a summer picnic.
The Assault On Reason2017120820171210 (R4)Zia Haider Rahman argues that reason itself is under assault in this 'post-truth' world.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"It's not merely facts that are under assault in the polarised politics of the UK, the US and other nations twisting in the winds of what some call populism" writes Zia Haider Rahman. "There's also a troubling assault on reason".

He argues that authoritarian tendencies know that warping the facts is only a start. "Warping reason and logic and clarity of thought is the holy grail".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Battle For Free Speech2017101320171015 (R4)Andrew Sullivan on the cultural Marxism he says is sweeping through US universities.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Andrew Sullivan says a type of "cultural Marxism" is sweeping through American universities.

Conservative ideas, he says, are increasingly being banished from campuses and free speech is seen as a delusion.

"It's an ideology that is fast resembling a new religion".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Big Benefits Of Smallness2020073120200802 (R4)"There's nothing wrong with ambition," writes Linda Colley, "but coming to terms with our inescapable geographical smallness would be helpful."
She says historically there's been a tendency to kick against this awkward fact and an obsession with the idea of a global Britain.
Linda argues that we should recognise the advantages of smallness - nourishing a nation's innovation and agility.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Linda Colley on why being a small nation can be an advantage.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

The Brightening Of History2018051120180513 (R4)Amit Chaudhuri on why restoration should not involve a fetishization of the new.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

"Calcutta was born old", writes Amit Chaudhuri.

But restoration work of old buildings in the city, he says, "is now often based on the assumption that an old building...must have once looked new, or should have".

He says restoration in Calcutta - and in many other cities around the world - must stop fetishizing the new.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The British Vomitorium2012122820121230With the excesses of Christmas behind us, Will Self appeals for a major lifestyle change.

Are you full yet? Stuffed? Fit to burst?"" asks Will Self as he appeals to the post-Christmas glutton to consider a major lifestyle change in the year ahead.

What I think we should all do"", he says, ""is throw up our very obsession with food itself, and enter the New Year purged"".

He takes us on a tour of foodie history, and explores how we've gone from being a culinary backwater to ""the most food-obsessed nation in Europe - if not the world"".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Changing Nature Of Utopias2014080120140803

Will Self reflects on what the changing nature of utopias says about us, from Thomas More's sixteenth century Utopia to the recent TV series of the same name. The utopias and dystopias of the past offer a range of different futuristic scenarios but, argues Will Self, they actually all have one thing in common: they're about each writer's present, not future. The late 19th century saw something of a craze in the publication of utopian fiction. Many novels were implicitly optimistic in that they imagined better futures, and some even spurred political movements as was the case with Edward Bellamy's 'Looking Backward 2000-1887'. But nowadays, at a time of man-made global warming, this optimism has dissipated, and our utopias are reduced to fairytales of the non-human, or involve less environmentally destructive species like fictional apes. Where we do imagine a human future, such as in the current TV series, it looks suspiciously dated.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Will Self reflects on what the changing nature of utopias says about us.

The Consolations Of Taxidermy2019122720191229 (R4)"I've long been fascinated with taxidermy", writes Rebecca Stott, "but it disturbs me".
She explains why - after many years - she's made her peace with taxidermy.
"After all, can we really be all high-horse-ish about the way our ancestors shot, classified and stuffed everything in their path, given how much damage we've done to species and their habitats in the last fifty years alone?"

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Rebecca Stott on her fascination with taxidermy.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Conundrum Of Inheritance Tax2018071320180715 (R4)Sarah Dunant on her uneasy conundrum over inheritance tax.

"Like most intelligent beings", Sarah writes, "I'm passionate about addressing climate change for future generations. But my urgency of commitment also comes from an attachment to one in particular - the next".

The desire to hand something on has always been with us, but it raises big moral dilemmas.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Dangers Of A Higher Education2018022320180225 (R4)John Gray argues that, throughout history, highly educated people have often made the worst decisions.

Taking George Orwell as his starting point "There are some ideas so absurd that only intellectuals could believe them", he asks why we're still so reluctant today to give credence to the views of ordinary people.

He examines the role of universities in teaching critical thought in the humanities and social sciences and wonders if students who have "swallowed this mishmash" really have a better understanding of the world around them.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

John Gray argues that throughout history intellectuals have often made the worst decisions

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Doors Of Perception2013052420130526John Gray argues for another way of seeing the world, inspired by writer Arthur Machen.

John Gray argues for another way of perceiving the world inspired by the fantasy fiction writer Arthur Machen. Instead of believing that meaning in life can only be found by changing things around us, ""Some of the most valuable human experiences, Machen observed, come about when we simply look around us without any intention of acting on what we see. He thought of the world as a kind of text in invisible writing, a cipher pointing to another order of things"

Producer: Sheila Cook

The Drama Of Politics20100425Simon Schama reflects on the timeless drama of British politics, ranging from his own memories of election night in October 1964 to the 1830s when parliamentary reform prevented social unrest from turning into revolution.

Simon Schama reflects on the timeless drama of British politics.

The Ecological Sublime2011012120110123Alain de Botton gives a philosopher's take on our ecological dilemmas.

He argues that fear of environmental destruction has changed for ever our relationship with nature.

Far from being a threat, it is now something to be pitied and protected.

There are also changes in the way we view ourselves.

As we take a trip to Florence to see some Titians or run water to brush our teeth, we're being asked to reconceeve of ourselves as unthinking killers.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton gives a philosopher's take on our ecological dilemmas. He argues that fear of environmental destruction has changed for ever our relationship with nature. Far from being a threat, it is now something to be pitied and protected. There are also changes in the way we view ourselves. As we take a trip to Florence to see some Titians or run water to brush our teeth, we're being asked to reconceeve of ourselves as unthinking killers.

The Ecological Sublime20110123Alain de Botton gives a philosopher's take on our ecological dilemmas.
The End Of Progress?2020081420200816 (R4)The writer, Katherine Mansfield, was diagnosed with TB in 1917. She travelled across Europe - trying all sorts of therapies - until her death. But it would be another twenty years before a cure was actually discovered.
Will Self questions whether - if it takes years to find an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID 19 - we will still manage to maintain our faith in human progress.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Will Self reflects on how the pandemic could affect our perception of human progress.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The End Of University As We Know It?2020061920200621 (R4)Mary Beard asks: Has the iconic university lecture had its day?

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The End, Yet Again?2011122620111227The author and philosopher John Gray on the merits of living for the present.

"We tend to look forward to a future state of fulfilment in which all turmoil has ceased", Gray writes. But, he says, "when we look to the future to give meaning to our lives, we lose the meaning we can make for ourselves here and now".

He argues that we should give up our obsession with endings and urges us not to be wary of change. "Humans are sturdy creatures, built to withstand disruption".

"Conflict never ceases", he says, "but neither do human resourcefulness, adaptability and courage".

On Europe, he writes, "wherever Europe's elites turn for support, the pillars begin to crumble and shake. Eventually every utopian project comes to grief - and while it started as a benign creation, the European project has long since acquired an unmistakably utopian quality. The efforts that are being made to renew the project are only accelerating its demise".

"Renewing our lives in the face of recurring evils", he concludes, "is the task...that has always faced human beings. Looking to an end-time is a way of failing to cherish the present - the only time that is truly our own".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The End, Yet Again?20111227The author and philosopher John Gray on the merits of living for the present.
The Fearsome Nature Of Literary Festivals2017051920170521 (R4)Howard Jacobson on literary festivals and the violent nature of creativity.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Florida Phone Call20210402Adam Gopnik on the intricacies of the generation gap.

It's highlighted, Adam argues, by what he calls the ‘Florida Phone Call' - the call you get from your children ‘announcing that not only are you no longer fully competent to grasp contemporary life and its technologybut there is no longer any chance that you will grasp contemporary life and its technology!'

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Adam Gopnik reflects on why Tik-Tok will never be his thing.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

The Follies Of Experts2017021720170219 (R4)John Gray on how we can prepare ourselves for an 'unknowable future'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

John Gray assesses why experts failed to predict recent seismic events.

He says they operated under the long-held but mistaken belief that history unfolds according to predictable patterns.

Human events have no overall direction", he writes, "and history obeys no laws".

He discusses how we can prepare ourselves for the "unknowable future".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Fourth Plinth2017012020170122 (R4)Will Self on the role of public art projects like the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self explores the significance of the art work that adorns the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

He asks what such public art projects represent in this "festival of ephemerality our society seems to have become".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A reflection on a topical issue.

The Fun Of Work - Really?2017010620170108 (R4)Will Self on how the worlds of work and education have become seamlessly merged.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

The Great Conjunction2020101620201018 (R4)Adam Gopnik reflects on the appearance of Jupiter in the skies over Manhattan.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

The Great Divide2019110120191103 (R4)David Goodhart argues it's time to look again at our tradition of residential universities

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Happiest Days Of Your Life...2019100420191006 (R4)"Childhood really should be the happiest days of our children's lives," writes Michael Morpurgo. "But for so many of them today it is not".

Michael Morpurgo reflects on the damage being caused to increasing numbers of children by stress and anxiety.

He makes an impassioned plea to schools to do much more to alleviate stress.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Michael Morpurgo on the damage being caused to increasing numbers of children by stress.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Heart In Drama2018012620180128 (R4)AL Kennedy on why Hollywood has never been a nice place.

In 1919, barely three decades after the advent of moving pictures, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and others thought things were bad enough in the studio system to break away and form an independent creative producing collective, United Artists. There are many other examples of Hollywood's woes in the C20th.

But in this time of political instability, Alison writes, "don't we need entertainment to get everybody through, aiming higher?"

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The History Of Passports20100620David Cannadine reveals the colourful history of passports and identity cards - the political tensions, public resistance and some curious nineteenth century practices, including British people acquiring French passports for the purpose of travelling to France.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reveals the colourful history of passports and identity cards.

The Joy Of Deferred Gratification2018100520181007 (R4)Val McDermid argues that the sheer scale of tourism on a shoestring is destroying the very thing we crave when we travel.

"Our great cities are year-round destinations", she writes, "but when the hordes arrive, cultural simplification is seldom far behind".

She says we've grown used to cheap and cheerful instant gratification in many areas of our lives without any thought for the consequences.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Val McDermid on why mass tourism is destroying the very thing we crave when we travel.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

The Language Of Leaving2019071220190714 (R4)"Of late, words have foregone their meaning or been given meanings they never had", writes Howard Jacobson.

Starting with "betrayal" and ending with "the will of the people", Howard sets out to take back sovereignty....over words.

"I can't complain", he admits, "of some parties to our great national debate being Little Englanders if I'm a little Languager....but if each party to a discussion doesn't know what the other is talking about, we might as well not have language at all".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Howard Jacobson sets out to take back sovereignty... over words.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Last Bohemia20180107Howard Jacobson on why we need to preserve Bohemia.

London's Soho, he says, is the nearest the UK has to a Bohemia but "you don't sniff aesthetic licence in the streets of Soho as you once did".

But one day recently, writes Howard, Soho recovered its spirit - at the funeral of the leopard-skin jacketed "Prince of Soho".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Limits Of Materialism2013050320130505
The Love Of Bears20130201 (BBC7)
20130603 (BBC7)
David Cannadine reflects on the enduring appeal of the teddy bear in contemporary culture. Why, he wonders, have they been such popular toys and featured so prominently in literature and song since they were first named after Theodore Roosevelt over a hundred years ago.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

The Love Of Honours2016030420160306 (R4)Adam Gopnik reflects on our age-old love of honours and prizes in every walk of life.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik reflects on our age old love of honours and prizes in every walk of life.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue. Adam Gopnik reflects on our age old love of honours and prizes in every walk of life.

The Mark Of A Man2017063020170702 (R4)Will Self reflects on what a truly gender-fluid society might look like.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

"It seems indisputable, to me", writes Will Self "that what makes it possible for our attractions to each other to be as deep and profound as they are, is some sort of difference - whether it be given, or something we create".

Will reflects on what a truly gender-fluid society might look like.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Meaning Of Conservative2017081820170820 (R4)Roger Scruton asks: "What does the Tory Party really stand for?".

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Roger Scruton asks: "What does the Tory Party really stand for?"

He says the Conservative party at present is muddling along without a philosophy.

But he argues that, far from being the 'nasty party', the most fundamental belief underpinning Conservative policies historically is the idea of responsibility towards others.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Meaning Of Debt20111227Sarah Dunant looks at different aspects of debt, including the debt owed to those who have been a force for change in Arab countries.

Producer: Sheila Cook

Sarah Dunant looks at different aspects of debt.

The Meaning Of Debt20111228Sarah Dunant looks at different aspects of debt.
The Meaning Of Evil2013051720130519John Gray turns to the writer Patricia Highsmith for a perspective on the meaning of evil.

John Gray turns to the writer Patricia Highsmith and her character Tom Ripley for a perspective on the meaning of evil. ""For me she's....one of the great twentieth century writers with a deep insight into the fragility of morality."

Producer: Sheila Cook

The Meaning Of Memorial Day20100606David Cannadine reflects on the significance of Memorial Day in the United States.

He traces the history of this important public holiday and describes the role it plays in American society today.

What was once a divisive commemoration of fallen soldiers on one side in the Civil War, is now a day that unites the nation in remembrance of all its war dead.

It is also a time for family and community gatherings, the Idianapolis 500 mile automobile race and, as David Cannadine amusingly recalls, a time to try out your speechmaking skills with your local Toastmasters"" club.

David Cannadine reflects on the history and traditions of America's Memorial Day."".

David Cannadine reflects on the significance of Memorial Day in the United States. He traces the history of this important public holiday and describes the role it plays in American society today. What was once a divisive commemoration of fallen soldiers on one side in the Civil War, is now a day that unites the nation in remembrance of all its war dead. It is also a time for family and community gatherings, the Idianapolis 500 mile automobile race and, as David Cannadine amusingly recalls, a time to try out your speechmaking skills with your local "Toastmasters" club.

The Meaning Of Time2016040820160410 (R4)Will Self reflects on our sense of the meaning of time.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self reflects on our sense of the meaning of time and the changes in our perception brought about by new technologies.

Obviously the world wide web and the internet have played a key role in making each and every one of us a little hot spot of Nowness: over the past twenty years as more and more people have chosen to spend more and more of their time in this virtual realm, so we've sought to furnish its fuzzy immensity with our memories, individual and collective."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

The Memory Business20111229Simon Schama reflects on how the world - ten years on - remembered the events of 9/11. And he ponders why it's vital to remember. "Ten years is an aeon in tweet-time", he writes, but 9/11 "bleeds - in every sense - into today's front pages".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Memory Business20111230Simon Schama reflects on how the world - ten years on - remembered the events of 9/11.
The Mental Illness Metaphor2018041320180415 (R4)Tom Shakespeare on why we need to rethink our use of the mental illness metaphor.

Is President Trump really "mad"?, he asks. Is Brexit "bonkers"? Or is the latest government policy "schizophrenic"?

He says we all do it. "Within five minutes of starting to write this talk, I find I'm doing it myself!"

But he says we need to break the habit since it shows a profound lack of understanding towards people with real mental health conditions.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Tom Shakespeare on why we misuse the language of mental illness.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Mind's Construction In The Face2007020920070211
20070211 (R4)
Clive James on what drives people who don't obviously need to to alter their appearance.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Clive James presents a weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Miserable Pantomime Of Contemporary British Vegetarianism2017111020171112 (R4)Will Self on his conversion to vegetarianism.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"As the years have passed", writes Will Self, "so gnawing on a bloody piece of cow rump has come to seem, to me, more and more...well, vulgar".

Via Leviticus and Arcimboldo, he charts his conversion to vegetarianism.

And he explains why it's not just personal morals that are "propelling me headlong towards the horror of Quorn"!

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Museum Of Deportation2018042020180422 (R4)Stella Tillyard tells the story of a small Italian museum - the Museum of Deportation.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"The past is concretised and solidified in things", writes Stella Tillyard "and they vibrate with the experience of their use".

Stella tells the story of a small Italian Museum - the Museum of Deportation and Resistance - and reflects on how we remember the past.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Myth Of Inevitability2019101120191013 (R4)Margaret Heffernan argues that, in the world of technology, there's nothing inevitable about the future.

"I'm not saying that automation isn't a big trend or that driverless cars aren't a possibility", she writes, "but there is nothing about them that is inevitable".

She believes all these assertions of inevitability have agendas. "If we let Silicon Valley hijack our future", she says, "we gain the comfort of certainty, but lose our freedom".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Margaret Heffernan argues that, in the world of technology, nothing is inevitable.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Myth Of Modernity2013051020130512
The Nature Of Time2015030620150308 (R4)Will Self reflects on the unsettling nature of time. ""What gives our human cultures any sense of cohesion at all is an almost relentless effort to shore up our collective memory of the past against the remorseless depredations of time."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Novelist's Complicity2017121520171217 (R4)Zia Haider Rahman reflects on the demise of the literary novel.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"Great television is taking over the space occupied by many novels", writes Zia Haider Rahman "and taking with it many excellent writers".

He says that many novels have already moved in the direction of the televisual - written with an eye to a film or TV adaptation.

"If novelists are relinquishing the very things that are exclusively the province of the novel", he writes, "then they are complicit in the demise of the novel".

The Online Password20190106"There is little more infuriating", writes Tom Shakespeare, "than some quotidian website which demands you devise a new 11 letter password, including a capital letter, a lowercase letter, a number and a non-alphanumeric character, just to buy a tee shirt."

Tom muses on the near impossible task of remembering an ever-growing number of online passwords.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Tom Shakespeare on the near impossible task of remembering online passwords.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"There is little more infuriating", writes Tom Shakespeare, "than some quotidian website which demands you devise a new 11 letter password, including a capital letter,
a lowercase letter, a number and a non-alphanumeric character, just to buy a tee shirt".

The Organ Recital2019020820190210 (R4)Will Self asks why our relationship with our bodies - our corporeal self - has become such a distant one.
"One thing that becomes screamingly obvious the second we fall ill - and which remains with us day after day, if we're chronically so - is that we are our bodies", he writes.
He warns of the dangers of exalting our minds above all else.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Will Self asks why our relationship with our bodies has become such a distant one.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

The Oxbridge Interview20111125Mary Beard reflects on the purpose of the much-maligned "Oxbridge interview" and defends the "Would you rather be an apple or a banana" school of questioning - Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Mary Beard reflects on the purpose of the much-maligned 'Oxbridge interview'.

The Oxbridge Interview20111127Mary Beard reflects on the purpose of the much-maligned 'Oxbridge interview'.
The Pantomime Of Contemporary British Vegetarianism20171103A reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self says we need creative solutions to end institutional misogyny and abuse.

"Rather than addressing - as parliamentarians currently are - the business of shutting the stable door after the stallions have run amok", he writes, "we should be thinking about how to keep it closed in the first place".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Paradox Of Growing Old2014050920140511

Mary Beard reflects on recent TV programmes and newspaper articles about what's going on in care homes for the elderly.

She says she believes that in a few hundred years' time, ""our treatment of old people will be as much of a blot on our culture as Bedlam and the madhouses were on the culture of the 18th century"".

But she also argues that our view of dementia is a sanitized one. She says we have to recognize that dementia can make its sufferers truculent and aggressive...something that most of us - not just care workers on a minimum wage - would find very difficult to deal with.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Paradox Of Immortality2012072720120729John Gray reflects on the paradox of immortality as captured by the writer Theodore Powys.

The philosopher John Gray reflects on the nature of immortality as expressed by the writer Theodore Powys, 'The longest life may fade and perish but one moment can live and become immortal.' ""Powys captures a paradox at the heart of our thinking about death and the afterlife: there's a kind of immortality that only mortals can enjoy."

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

John Gray reflects on a topical issue.

The Past2018062920180701 (R4)Will Self on why we should stop 'looking down on the inferior inhabitants of the past'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Past In The Present2017042120170423 (R4)A.L. Kennedy reflects on the way our past shapes our present and our future.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

As groups we get trapped in our pasts, not quite repeating them, but sometimes forcing our futures out of shape for the sake of their ghosts.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

The Perils Of Belief2014010320140105

John Gray reflects on the damage that can be caused by evangelical belief.

John Gray reflects on the damage that can be caused by evangelical belief in a religion or in a political idea. ""Whether they are religious or political, evangelists seem to me a blight on civilisation. For them as for those they persecute or bully, belief is an obstacle to a fulfilling life."

Producer: Sheila Cook

The Power And Peril Of Stories2017032420170326 (R4)Tom Shakespeare reflects on why the political populists are all master story tellers.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Tom Shakespeare reflects on how all the political populists who now occupy our imaginations are master story tellers.

People need stories and these stories appeal to us, he says. But he argues that as well as persuasive stories, more than ever we need facts.

The plural of anecdote is not data, as a professor used to tell me", he writes.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A reflection on a topical issue.

The Power Of Art2015012320150125 (R4)AL Kennedy reflects on the importance of the beauty and creativity of art to sustain the human spirit.

Art is a power and most of its true power is invisible, private, memorised and held even in prison cells and on forced marches, so you can see why totalitarians of all kinds dislike it."

Producer: Sheila Cook

Editor: Richard Knight.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

AL Kennedy reflects on the power of art to sustain the human spirit.

The Power Of Fiction2015022020150222 (R4)Will Self reflects on the power of our relationship with fictional characters.

Will Self reflects on the power of our relationship with fictional characters. ""People need people whose lives can be seen to follow a dramatic arc, so that no matter what trials they encounter, the people who survey them can be reassured that when the light begins to fade, these people - to whose frail psyches we've had privileged access - will at least feel it's all meant something."

Producer: Sheila Cook."

The Power Of Language2016062420160626 (R4)AL Kennedy reflects on how being able to communicate clearly is the work of a lifetime.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Power Of Language20160626

AL Kennedy reflects on how being able to communicate clearly is the work of a lifetime. She argues that the present school testing regime could have a catastrophic effect on our children's ability to find their voice.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Power Of Reading20170414AL Kennedy extols the virtues of reading and its power to encourage respect for others.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

The Power Of Slow Storytelling2021012220210124 (R4)Rebecca Stott on why stories told over time seem so fitting for lockdown.

"In this third lockdown," Rebecca writes, "now that my grown up children have gone back to their flats, I am living alone for the first time. I miss our conversations over the dinner table. I miss mulling over the day with them."

But, she says, the cumulative power of slow storytelling is a perfect antidote. And, in particular, The Archers!

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

The Power Of Teddy Bears2013020120130203
The Power Of The Pen2016042920160501 (R4)Sarah Dunant reflects on the demise of handwriting.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

The Praise Of The Elite20170512A reflection on a topical issue.

Howard Jacobson speaks up in defense of the metropolitan liberal elite.

He ponders why the word "elitist" has acquired such negative connotations in some fields - but not in others.

"It makes no sense to me to love the best when they are footballers or the SAS, but not when they are thinkers or even politicians".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Price Of Independence2015032720150329 (R4)Tom Shakespeare says that disabled people's right to independent living is under threat as a result of the imminent winding up of the Independent Living Fund. ""I hope that whichever parties are in government after May will have a rethink about social care. The ILF may...have been an anomaly, but one of the glories of living in Britain is that we have a high tolerance of historical anomalies."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Princeton P-rade20100613David Cannadine reflects on the distinctive style of American graduation ceremonies which forge a lasting sense of identity for graduates and their peers.

He contrasts the colourful exuberance of the Princeton ""p-rade"" with the more restrained formality of university processions in Britain.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine reflects on the distinctive style of American graduation ceremonies.

David Cannadine reflects on the distinctive style of American graduation ceremonies which forge a lasting sense of identity for graduates and their peers. He contrasts the colourful exuberance of the Princeton "p-rade" with the more restrained formality of university processions in Britain.

The Pro-mask Movement2020100220201004 (R4)"As a fully fledged luvvie," writes Bernardine Evaristo, "practically every greeting and farewell is accompanied by a kiss or hug."
But these days hugs feel like a distant memory and, she argues, wearing a mask is the least we can do.
"It's an act of compassion, self-protection and a commitment towards the survival of our fellow humans, our country, our world."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Bernardine Evaristo on why wearing a mask these days is the least we can do.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

The Pursuit Of Happiness2015010220150104 (R4)AL Kennedy reflects on what it means to pursue happiness.

A L Kennedy reflects on what it means to pursue happiness in a world where ""not having enough money can be utterly miserable"" and indulging our desire to acquire is also unsatisfying. The answer may lie in seeing that happiness is, ""not so much a condition as a destination - it can inspire journeys...better made in company"".

Producer: Sheila Cook.

The Real Meaning Of Trump2016092320160925 (R4)John Gray assesses what lies behind the Trump phenomenon.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

John Gray assesses what lies behind the Trump phenomenon and the remarkable political upheaval that could - possibly - see Donald Trump propelled into the White House.

From the start, he says, Trump's campaign has been an audacious experiment in mass persuasion. "His uncouth language, megalomaniac self-admiration and strangely coloured hair....all deliberately cultivated" to help him profit from the popular resentment against the elites of the main parties.

Whatever happens", writes Gray, "there will be no return to pre-Trump normalcy".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A reflection on a topical issue.

The Recurrent Dream Of An End-time2019122020191222 (R4)John Gray ponders why the belief that an end to history is imminent, never goes away.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Religion Of Rights2017090120170903 (R4)Sir Roger Scruton argues that Europe needs to rediscover its Christian roots.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

"European society", says Sir Roger Scruton, "is rapidly jettisoning its Christian heritage and has found nothing to put in its place save the religion of human rights".

But, he argues, this new "religion" delivers one-sided solutions since rights favour the person who can claim them - whatever the moral reasons for opposing them.

He says Europe needs to rediscover its Christian roots.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Revolution Of Capitalism20110904The author and philosopher John Gray presents a hard-hitting talk about capitalism.

He argues that one side-effect of the financial crisis is an increasing number of people who believe that Karl Marx was right.

He outlines why Marx's belief that capitalism would lead to revolution - and end bourgeois life - has come true.

But not in the way Marx imagined.

For increasing numbers of people, he says, a middle class existence is no longer even an aspiration.

"More and more people live from day to day with little idea of what the future will bring".

"It's wasn't communism that did the deed" he says.

"It's capitalism that has killed off the bourgeoisie".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

John Gray on why an increasing number of people believe that Karl Marx was right.

He outlines why Marx's belief that capitalism would lead to revolution - and end bourgeois life - has come true. But not in the way Marx imagined. For increasing numbers of people, he says, a middle class existence is no longer even an aspiration. "More and more people live from day to day with little idea of what the future will bring".

"It's wasn't communism that did the deed" he says. "It's capitalism that has killed off the bourgeoisie".

The Rights Of Humans... And Animals2012042720120429"Could it be that human rights simply don't exist?" asks Will Self provocatively.

To illustrate his point, he writes: "One man's extraordinary rendition is another man's license to torture, which in turn is a flagrant denial of a third man's human rights". And he ponders how we can conceive of a person having any human rights, unless effective sanctions are in place to stop them being violated. He turns his attention to Syria and its "vicious dictator...actively and consistently violating the human rights of its own citizenry". But the UN Security Council is - he says - seemingly powerless to stop him.

It is all a long way, he suggests, from Article 1 of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." That - he points out - means that "no single one of the eight-and-a-half billion-odd human lives currently transpiring can be held to be of greater value that any of the others". Without the creation of an "independent global judiciary" and "an equally incorruptible international police force," he argues, this is little more than cant.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Will Self asks whether 'human rights' really exist, when they can so easily be taken away.

The Rights Of Humans... And Animals20120429Will Self asks whether 'human rights' really exist, when they can so easily be taken away.
The Ring Of The Nibelung2016060320160605 (R4)
20200117 (R4)
20200119 (R4)
Following the death of Sir Roger Scruton, a chance to listen again to one of his talks.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Following the death of the philosopher, author and self-professed Wagner fan, Sir Roger Scruton, this is one of our favourite talks he did for the series.

As Wagner’s Ring – that huge and controversial cycle of operas - went on tour around the UK, Roger talked about why The Ring is absolutely a story for our time.

"I have loved The Ring and learned from it for over 50 years and for me, it is quite simply the truth about our world - but the truth expressed by means of music of unquestionable authority and supreme melodic and harmonic power".

The talk was first broadcast in 2016.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A reflection on a topical issue.

The Rise And Rise Of Up Lit2018032320180325 (R4)There was Chick Lit, then Grit Lit....now it's "Up Lit" - uplifting stories about kindness and community that we all seem to be reading.

Kamila Shamsie says she, too, has been carried along with this wave of escapism from "dark times".

But she says the idea that "upliftment" should be marketed to the reading public as the only fictional response to difficult times strikes her as problematic. "The best fiction always makes us look at - rather than away from - the world".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Kamila Shamsie on the limitations of the publishing trend 'Up Lit'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Road To Peace2018081020180812 (R4)As we near the end of four years of collective reflection on the First World War, Michael Morpurgo talks of the importance of never taking peace for granted.

"We have been looking back, remembering, or trying to", he writes, "because remembering a time and a war that none of us can remember is hard".

He discusses one particular plan - the dream of a WW1 soldier - to make a new pilgrims way in No Man's Land.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Michael Morpurgo discusses the importance of never taking peace for granted.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Screensaver Of Life, Or The Idling Brain2017031020170312 (R4)Stella Tillyard looks at the phenomenon of the "idling brain".

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Stella Tillyard looks at the phonomenon of the "idling brain" - when the brain is supposedly at rest.

She ponders what it means that we have no idea what's running through the minds of the people closest to us and argues that - in an increasingly fractured world - knowing what's going on in each other's minds might help us understand each other.

Scientists, she points out, have taken up the challenge. One group of psychologists estimate that people spend somewhere between 25 and 50% of their waking hours engaged in thoughts unrelated to the here and now.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Sea Is Back2019020120190203 (R4)"For a long time we forgot about the sea", writes Stella Tillyard. "But it did not forget us. It was always there, like a jilted lover waiting to make a move. And now it is back".

She says the seemingly empty and tranquil space of the Mediterranean has been abruptly reanimated, not by nature, but by man.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Stella Tillyard argues that the sea - long forgotten - is beginning to reassert itself.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

The Secret Of A Happy Marriage20130329Adam Gopnik reflects on what makes a happy marriage. Darwin, Gopnik writes, when first thinking about marriage, made a list of pros and cons. Cons included the expense and anxiety of children and the odd truth that a married man could never go up in a balloon.

On the plus side, he noted, marriage provided a constant companion and friend in old age and, memorably, that a wife would be better than a dog.

Gopnik's own formula for a happy marriage is lust, laughter and loyalty.

Via Samuel Beckett, Monty Python and The Big Lebowski, Gopnik concludes that loyalty is a much-underrated quality. Loyalty is not, he argues, a passive state that holds two people together when all else has failed.

Rather, he explains, loyalty is a wholly active state, as a new family dog has demonstrated. Dogs are there, he writes, ""to remind us that loyalty is a jumpy, fizzy emotion - loyalty leaps up at the door and barks with joy at your return, and then immediately goes back to sleep at your side"".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Sex Recession2019112220191124 (R4)"In all things erotic", writes Adam Gopnik, "morals and manners run at right angles to each other".

Adam argues that the much discussed "sex recession" in the US is primarily a question of misunderstanding between generations - and is certainly not a cause for moral panic!

"We misread the sex because the signs change, and we misread the signs to mean that the sex is changing...or even that the sex is vanishing".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Adam Gopnik argues that there's no need to panic about the much-discussed US sex recession

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Shape Of Our Time2016123020170101 (R4)Adam Gopnik explores the differences between patriotism and nationalism.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik revisits a much explored subject - the differences between patriotism and nationalism.

In the light of the events of the past year, he questions why the politics of nationalism appear irresistible today.

He wonders ""if we cannot now see that patriotism and nationalism have a more fluid, a more organic, a more connected relationship that we might want to imagine"".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Adam Gopnik explores the differences between patriotism and nationalism."

The Spectre Of Populism2017022420170226 (R4)John Gray discusses what has fuelled 'populism' today.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

The Time Warp2014031420140316

Sarah Dunant reflects that today's harsher judgement of some of the sexual behaviour prevalent in the 1970s springs in part from the freedom forged in that decade. ""Without the seventies, we would never have had the debate, the public awareness, the sense of outrage or even the occasionally blunt tool of the law to judge the present and the past."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Triumph Of Tribalism2017092920171001 (R4)Andrew Sullivan on how America has become 'a truly tribal society'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Andrew Sullivan on how America has become "a truly tribal society".

"I've lived here since the Reagan era", he writes, "and there have been plenty of divides. But none quite as tribal or as rooted in non-negotiable identity as this one".

He warns of what the outcome might be and reminds the listener that a liberal democracy is always a precarious enterprise.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Trolley Problem2018021620180218 (R4)In 1967, the philosopher Philippa Foot developed a thought experiment about a runaway trolley. It involved countless dilemmas designed to illustrate human behaviour.

But whatever the scenario, the rhetoric was always the same....the overwhelming desire was for the trolley to kill fewer people and save more.

AL Kennedy argues that today that rhetoric is in danger of being turned on its head.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

AL Kennedy on how a thought experiment of the 1960s today risks being turned on its head.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

The Trouble With 'freedom'2012082420120826John Gray looks at the relationship between freedom and democracy.

We like to tell ourselves an uplifting story in which freedom expands whenever tyranny is overthrown"" writes John Gray. ""We believe that...when a dictator is toppled the result is not only a more accountable type of government but also greater liberty throughout society"".

But Gray believes otherwise. Using the nineteenth century liberal John Stuart Mill and his god-son Bertrand Russell, he advances his argument that liberty is one thing, democracy another.

The reality"" he says ""is that when a tyrant is toppled we can't know what will come next"".

Producer:

Adele Armstrong.

John Gray reflects on a topical issue.

The Trouble With Referendums2019012520190127 (R4)Val McDermid argues that referendums have had a devastating effect on our political system.

"I am by nature an optimist", she writes. "But I'm really struggling here. We've broken our democracy. I don't know how to fix it and I'm afraid nobody else does either".

She says the bottom line is that our political system isn't designed for the polarization that referendums inevitably bring.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

The True Mark Of Civilisation?2018031620180318 (R4)Kamila Shamsie explores the meaning of the word 'civilisation'.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

At a time when the word "civilisation" is the subject of great debate, Kamila Shamsie explores the meaning of the word through the prism of Indian art.

"If you really want to understand how the world's civilisations interact and meld", she writes, "go and look at the art of Gandhara".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Trump Card2016111120161113 (R4)Roger Scruton assesses some of the reasons behind Donald Trump's victory.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

And he asks why many who intended to vote for Donald Trump would not have confessed to their intention.

They wanted change,"" writes Scruton. ""A change in the whole agenda of government""."

The Vultures Of Culture2019080220190804 (R4)"That culture can be - and is - being commoditised in the private sector, is a truth universally acknowledged with every ticket and book sale," writes Will Self.

But, he argues, the conflating of cultural and financial value has now spread well beyond the private realm.

The National Lottery is head of his blame list. "I think of the National Lottery as a sort of reverse Midas-touch, turning everything gold it finances to....rubbish."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Will Self bemoans the growing commoditisation of culture in the public sector.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"That culture can be - and is - being commoditised in the private sector, is a truth universally acknowledged with every ticket and book sale," writes Will Self.

Will Self bemoans the growing commoditisation of culture in the public sector.

Will Self bemoans the growing commoditisation of culture in the public sector.

The Week Gone By2016111820161120 (R4)Adam Gopnik asks how America can preserve a liberal, open society.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik asks what hope is there of a liberal, open society in America during the next 4 years.

He argues that Americans must hold to the faith that liberal politics really do rise from the ground up.

A reflection on a topical issue.

The Winter Queen2013022220130224
The Witch-hunt Culture2018113020181202 (R4)Roger Scruton argues that political correctness, far from being the cure to our conflicts, is actually the ultimate source of them.

The "isms" and "phobias", he says, have been used in order to "put some complex matters beyond discussion, so that only one perspective can be publicly confessed to".

"In the world of political correctness", he writes, "there is no presumption of innocence, but only a hunger for targets".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Roger Scruton argues that political correctness is the ultimate source of our conflicts.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

The Year Of Speaking Dangerously20210312'There is a theory,' writes Sarah Dunant, 'that we needed to pull back from too much face-to-face conversation because we had all got so damn angry with each other.'

The past year has certainly put a stop to much conversation, angry or otherwise.

Sarah imagines how conversation will be - once we're finally able to talk to each other again, face to face.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Sarah Dunant ponders what effect this year will have on future conversation.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

The Year Of Speaking Dangerously2021031220210314 (R4)'There is a theory,' writes Sarah Dunant, 'that we needed to pull back from too much face-to-face conversation because we had all got so damn angry with each other.'

The past year has certainly put a stop to much conversation, angry or otherwise.

Sarah imagines how conversation will be - once we're finally able to talk to each other again, face to face.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Sarah Dunant ponders what effect this year will have on future conversation.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Think Again2018080320180805 (R4)Michael Morpurgo argues it's time to think again over Brexit.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Thinking Otherwise2020090420200906 (R4)As children return to school, Michael Morpurgo questions whether we are educating our children....or programming them.
"The pandemic has found us out," Michael writes, "shown us how ridiculous and absurd and sad" is the rigidity of a system of education so dictated and dominated by endless data gathering and exams.
He argues that we must use this opportunity - where so much is up for grabs - to take a serious look at what needs to change.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Michael Morpurgo questions whether we are educating our children or programming them.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Thinking The Unthinkable2014112820141130 (R4)John Gray argues that ""thinking the unthinkable"" as a way of making policy does nothing more than extend conventional wisdom to the point of absurdity and fails to take account of the complexities of reality. ""Capitalism has lurched into a crisis from which it still has not recovered. Yet the worn-out ideology of free markets sets the framework within which our current generation of leaders continues to think and act."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

To Parks2018122820181230 (R4)Howard Jacobson on the joys of city parks.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

To The Bathroom!2019080920190811 (R4)"Christianity has a lot to answer for," writes Will Self, "when it comes to our estrangement from our bodies - making our evacuations, quite as much as our sexual acts - an anathema in polite society".

Will argues that our infantilism in this regard detracts from our engagement with the world.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Will Self ponders our infantilism regarding our toilet habits.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"Christianity has a lot to answer for," writes Will Self, "when it comes to our estrangement from our bodies - making our evacuations, quite as much as our sexual acts - an anathema in polite society".

Will Self ponders our infantilism regarding our toilet habits.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Tolerance: The Unfashionable Virtue2020082120200823 (R4)"The strange kind of liberalism that is currently in fashion," writes John Gray, "has rejected tolerance in favour of enforcing what it is sure is the truth."

He says these new "illiberal liberals" who allow freedom of expression only to those they regard as progressive, risk smothering "the contradictory and enlightened ideas that make us human."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

John Gray discusses why he believes liberals are turning their backs on tolerance.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Too Much Winning2018020220180204 (R4)"Winning - isn't it great?" asks AL Kennedy.

But she argues that our "winner takes all" mentality is suffocating democracy.

"On both sides of the Atlantic, in regimes around the world", she writes, "we can watch the chaotic dissolution of administrations based on winning at any price".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

AL Kennedy argues that our 'winner-takes-all' mentality is suffocating democracy.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Traces Of The Past20101105Sarah Dunant with her topical reflections

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Traces Of The Past20101107
Trial By Select Committee2015032020150322 (R4)Tom Shakespeare thinks that reformed select committees have revitalised Parliament.

Tom Shakespeare thinks our reformed Select Committees have revitalised Parliament but he warns against the temptation to play to the gallery and to cross examine unfairly.

Their main business is the worthy task of holding the government and the civil service to account, even if it's more fun holding unpopular public figures' feet to the fire."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Tribute To Teachers20101029Sarah Dunant pays tribute to outstanding women teachers who inspired her own generation of schoolgirls to achieve through education as well as any boy.

She remembers, in particular, her headmistress and her art teacher, who deserve credit for the part they played in the fight for women's equality.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Sarah Dunant pays tribute to outstanding women teachers who inspired her own generation.

Sarah Dunant pays tribute to outstanding women teachers who inspired her own generation of schoolgirls to achieve through education as well as any boy. She remembers, in particular, her headmistress and her art teacher, who deserve credit for the part they played in the fight for women's equality.

Tribute To Teachers20101031Sarah Dunant pays tribute to outstanding women teachers who inspired her own generation.
Trust In Voices2017042820170430 (R4)A L Kennedy commends paying attention to voices as a way to discern truth telling.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

"Listening to our media, our public voices, as if we're listening to people in our everyday lives, holding them to that standard and not their own can help us to know when we're being driven towards the sound of a faked emotion or spun a tale."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Turkish Notions2013032220130324Adam Gopnik reflects on a topical issue.
Twitter Free2014020720140209

Adam Gopnik reflects on a topical issue.

Two Cheers For Human Rights2013122720131229

John Gray gives only two cheers for human rights.

John Gray gives only two cheers for human rights. We are in danger, he argues, of turning them into a ""comforting dogma through which we try to escape the painful dilemmas of war and politics."

Rather than thinking of rights as a militant creed that can deliver the world from its conflicts, we should recognise rights for what they are - useful devices that quite often don't work."".

Understanding Contemporary China 1/42012101220121014Martin Jacques presents a personal view on how best to understand the unique characteristics and apparent mysteries of contemporary China, its development and its possible future. In a new series of talks he sets out the building blocks for making sense of China today.

In this introductory talk, he argues that we cannot make sense of China by looking at it through a Western prism. China is not like a Western nation-state and never will be. Western nations are countries constituted on the basis of nation, China is a country constituted on the basis of a civilization. The consequences are profound and far-reaching.

In his second talk, he examines the tributary system, the historical China-centric network of international relations which involved other parts of East Asia accepting the principle of Chinese superiority in return for protection and access to the Chinese market, an arrangement distinct to European forms of colonialism. He asks whether a system of this kind is now re-emerging.

In his third talk, he explores the nature of race in China. Over 90 per cent of the Chinese population regard themselves as belonging to the same race, the Han. This is a stark contrast to the multi-racial composition of the world's other populous states. Chinese ethnic identity stems from a process of integration and of cultural identity. What defines the Chinese above all is pride in their culture and a sense of cultural achievement. The advantage of the Han identity is that it is the cement that has held China together. The disadvantage is a weak understanding of and respect for ethnic and cultural differences.

In his final talk, he asks how the undemocratic Chinese state can enjoy legitimacy and authority in the eyes of its population. He argues that the Chinese state is held in such high esteem because it is seen as the embodiment, protector and guardian of Chinese civilization. The state is seen as an intimate, a member of the family indeed - in fact, the head of the family. It is a remarkable institution which will come to exercise interest and fascination outside China.

Martin Jacques is the author of 'When China Rules the World'.

Martin Jacques presents a personal view on how best to understand contemporary China.

Understanding Contemporary China 2/42012101920121021In his second talk on understanding China, Martin Jacques examines the tributary system.

In this second talk, he examines the tributary system, the historical China-centric network of international relations which involved other parts of East Asia accepting the principle of Chinese superiority in return for protection and access to the Chinese market, an arrangement distinct to European forms of colonialism. He asks whether a system of this kind is now re-emerging.

Martin Jacques is the author of 'When China Rules the World'.

Producer: Ros Jones.

Understanding Contemporary China 3/42012102620121028In his third talk on understanding China, Martin Jacques explores the nature of race.

Martin Jacques presents a personal view on how best to understand the unique characteristics and apparent mysteries of contemporary China, its development and its possible future. In a new series of talks he sets out the building blocks for making sense of China today.

In this third talk, he explores the nature of race in China. Over 90 per cent of the Chinese population regard themselves as belonging to the same race, the Han. This is a stark contrast to the multi-racial composition of the world's other populous states. Chinese ethnic identity stems from a process of integration and of cultural identity. What defines the Chinese above all is pride in their culture and a sense of cultural achievement. The advantage of the Han identity is that it is the cement that has held China together. The disadvantage is a weak understanding of and respect for ethnic and cultural differences.

Martin Jacques is the author of 'When China Rules the World'.

Producer Adele Armstrong.

Understanding Contemporary China 4/42012110220121104How can the undemocratic Chinese state enjoy authority in the eyes of its population?

Martin Jacques presents a personal view on how best to understand the unique characteristics and apparent mysteries of contemporary China, its development and its possible future. In a new series of talks he sets out the building blocks for making sense of China today.

In his final talk, he asks how the undemocratic Chinese state can enjoy legitimacy and authority in the eyes of its population. He argues that the Chinese state is held in such high esteem because it is seen as the embodiment, protector and guardian of Chinese civilization. The state is seen as an intimate, a member of the family indeed - in fact, the head of the family. It is a remarkable institution which will come to exercise interest and fascination outside China.

Martin Jacques is the author of 'When China Rules the World'.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

United We Fall2014022120140223

Roger Scruton argues for a vote for the English in the debate over Scottish independence.

Roger Scruton argues for a voice for the English in the debate over Scottish independence. ""As an Englishman I naturally ask why my interests in the matter have never been taken into account."

Producer: Sheila Cook

Unknown Knowns2014011020140112

John Gray reflects on the things we know but prefer not to think about.

Urban Designs2013011820130120

Will Self laments what he sees as an absence of rational urban planning in our big cities and a fashion for dramatic skyscrapers driven by short term commercial values. ""It occurred to me that the contemporary metropolitan skyline is really only a fireworks display of decades-long duration: a burst of aerial illumination intended to provoke awe, but doomed eventually to subside into darkness."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Vanilla Happiness2016021920160221 (R4)Adam Gopnik says the secret of happiness lies in unexpected pleasures.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Adam Gopnik says the secret of happiness lies in unexpected pleasures, like finding yoghourt is vanilla when you expect it to be plain.

Are the intrinsic qualities of something more powerful than the context in which we perceive it, or are what we call intrinsic properties really only the effect of expectations and surprise?

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Virtual Violence2016040120160403 (R4)Will Self thinks people are as violent as ever, counting the virtual and online worlds.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self draws no comfort from an alleged drop in violence in the real world, as he sees us increasingly expressing our innate tendency towards violence in the virtual and online worlds.

I don't think watching violence drives us to commit violent acts - I think it is a violent action in and of itself."

Producer: Sheila Cook.

Volcano Power20100530A weekly reflection on a topical issue from David Cannadine

Waiting2020052920200531 (R4)Rebecca Stott reflects on how it feels being out of kilter with time.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

What are you doing here?20210416

Michael Morpurgo reflects on meeting the Duke of Edinburgh when he was 16 and the indirect effect that meeting had in shaping his views later in life.

'He realised', writes Michael, 'that investing in our young people is the most important investment we can make as a society' .

He says the Duke's passion for helping young people will be needed more than ever in the difficult months ahead, as we come out of the pandemic.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Michael Morpurgo on how a personal meeting shaped his views.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

What Are You Doing Here?2021041620210418 (R4)Michael Morpurgo reflects on meeting the Duke of Edinburgh when he was 16 and the indirect effect that meeting had in shaping his views later in life.

'He realised', writes Michael, 'that investing in our young people is the most important investment we can make as a society'.

He says the Duke's passion for helping young people will be needed more than ever in the difficult months ahead, as we come out of the pandemic.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Michael Morpurgo on how a personal meeting shaped his views.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

What Did You Do During The Environmental Collapse, Daddy?2018120720181209 (R4)"Two things seem incontrovertible about the mounting environmental catastrophe", writes Will Self.. "It's genuinely unprecedented - and we really are in it together".

Will wonders what we should say to our children about global warming and our role in it.

He says we have to hope that some sort of collective wisdom can emerge "because the alternative is frankly terrifying: a degraded, dystopic and nakedly Darwinian future".

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Will Self ponders what we should say to our children about global warming.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

What To Call Him?2017071420170716 (R4)Adam Gopnik reflects on the first six months of Donald Trump's presidency.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

"You can't call him crazy, because it isn't fair to crazy people", writes Adam Gopnik.

"You can't compare him to a four-year-old because four-year-old children are not in fact tyrannical or egotistical".

Six months into Donald Trump's presidency, Adam Gopnik searches - almost in vain - for a descriptive category to fit.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

What To Do About A Bad Review20120622 (BBC7)
20130604 (BBC7)
Adam Gopnik ruminates on how to handle a bad review.

He ponders the various options. The first is to ignore it and claim the high moral ground, ""the Big Ignore"" he calls it. The second is to write a late night letter - or three - to the offending publication. But he now has a third option - passed on by a friend just the other evening - which he promises will produce delightful results.

An amusing guide on how to get your own back on your critics.

Producer:

Adele Armstrong."

What To Do?2020030620200308 (R4)Tom Shakespeare asks how best to confront difficult situations.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

What Would Darwin Do?2019050320190505 (R4)Rebecca Stott imagines a conversation with Darwin about our current environmental concerns.

"Would he be encouraging his kids to skip school to go on the Youth Strike for Climate?" she wonders. "What would his kids make of Greta Thunberg? Or the IPCC report".

She reckons he wouldn't be going on marches... but would probably be writing papers for "Nature".

She concludes that "Darwin, being a cheerful man, might say that if we manage to wipe out every species including ourselves, new life will start out again in a few billion years or so"!

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Rebecca Stott imagines a conversation with Darwin about our environmental concerns.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

What'll You Have?2021022620210228 (R4)Tom Shakespeare on pubs in peril.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

What's Funny?2014082220140824

Will Self reflects on comedy, asking what really makes us laugh.

Will Self reflects on comedy, asking why we laugh and whether there's too much of the wrong type of humour in our culture.

Producer: Caroline Bayley.

What's In A Marriage2011072220110724Alain de Botton on our extraordinarily high expectations for modern marriage.

Alain de Botton on our high expectations for modern marriage.

He argues that expecting one person to be a good partner, lover and parent is - almost - asking the impossible.

And he shows how different it all was before the mid eighteenth century...

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Alain de Botton on our high expectations for modern marriage. He argues that expecting one person to be a good partner, lover and parent is - almost - asking the impossible. And he shows how different it all was before the mid eighteenth century.

What's The Magic Number?2020092520200927 (R4)With widespread unease over the government 's handling of the pandemic, Tom Shakespeare proposes that ordinary citizens should be allowed a greater say in what rules we should be following.
"Then there would be no elites to blame," he says, "because the people making the decisions would be you and me, and our deliberations would be public."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Tom Shakespeare discusses our changing attitudes to risk.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

What's Wrong With Modern Art?2016081220160814 (R4)Will Self explores what is wrong with contemporary art.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

When Is Enough Enough?2016041520160417 (R4)Sarah Dunant takes an historical look at avarice, in the light of the Panama Papers.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Sarah Dunant takes an historical look at avarice. She argues that the revelations in the Panama Papers are just the latest proof that man's greed is woven into the human psyche.

Dante gave it a harder time than lust...two centuries later, it's one of Machiavelli's central themes and many of the greatest works of art exist only because they were paid for by rich, often corrupt, figures, many within the church.

And - Sarah asks - aren't many of us, to some extent, guilty? Can any of us really say that when it comes to money we know when enough is enough?

Producer:

Adele Armstrong.

A reflection on a topical issue.

When Money Is Just An Illusion20100430Simon Schama reflects on the meaning of money as represented by coins and notes and in art. He celebrates the solidity of coins with their seeming defiance of monetary transience in contrast to paper money which embodies more readily the ephemeral nature of fortunes made and lost. Simon Schama sees the current economic crisis as an ideal moment for artists to emulate their predecessors from earlier times of boom and bust by producing paintings to express financial worthlessness.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue from Simon Schama.

Where There's Muck There's Art2019032220190324 (R4)Sarah Dunant looks at the queasy relationship between art, finance and corruption.

Recent protests by the photographer Nan Goldin and others over "dirty money" have hit the headlines.

But Sarah argues that without some of this rather dubious funding, the art world would look very different.

"What do you want", she asks. "A clean church and white walls? Because there's no doubt that without all of this lamentable corruption we would not have many of the greatest works of art the world has ever seen."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Sarah Dunant on the thorny relationship between culture and the money that supports it.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Who Are The Chinese? 3/420121026In his third talk on understanding China, Martin Jacques explores the nature of race.
Who Are You Looking At?2019092020190922 (R4)"Let me tell you about dwarfs and being stared at".

With a hint of stand up comedy, Tom Shakespeare writes poignantly about what it feels like to be stared at.

"The English," he says, "who were once known everywhere for their politeness and decorum, no longer hold back...we do what we want because we consider we have a right".

Tom appeals for a rediscovery of "the chain of mutual dependency in which we are still all linked together."

Producer: Adele Armstrong

Tom Shakespeare on what it feels like to be stared at.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Who Cares About Independence?2016091620160918 (R4)Wheelchair user, Tom Shakespeare, on what it feels like to be dependent on others.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Wheelchair user, Tom Shakespeare, reflects on what it feels like to be dependent on others.

He says care often leaves the recipient in a devalued state.

He calls for society to respond to the challenge of delivering help ""without creating domination and infantilisation"" and for care to be funded properly.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Whoop!2016100720161009 (R4)Howard Jacobson deplores the fashion for 'whooping' as a mark of approval.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

A reflection on a topical issue.

Whose Free Speech?2021011520210117 (R4)John Gray argues that the social media bans on Donald Trump pose many risks.

"The country is already divided between political tribes that hardly speak to one another," he writes. "More than any other advanced country, American has developed a dangerously binary type of public life. "

He fears curbing free speech - in the way the tech giants have done with Donald Trump - risks threatening America's very stability.

Producer: Adele Armstrong

John Gray argues that social media bans on Donald Trump pose many risks.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Why Black Lives Matter2020070320200705 (R4)Bernardine Evaristo discusses how we historicise the past

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.

Why Humans Are Violent2012071320120715John Gray reflects on the nature of violence which he sees as an inevitable part of the human condition. He analyses the impulses which drive us to fight one another and takes issue with the philosopher Hobbes' view that violence can be tamed principally by the use of reason. ""The vast industrial style wars of the last century may have been left behind, but they have been followed by other forms of human conflict, in their way no less destructive"".

Producer:

Sheila Cook.

John Gray reflects on a topical issue.

Why Orwell Is The Supreme Mediocrity2014082920140831

Will Self takes on one of the nation's best-loved figures, George Orwell.

Will Self takes on one of the nation's best loved figures, George Orwell....and braces himself for the backlash! ""Not Orwell, surely!"" he hears the listeners cry.

He uses Orwell's essay ""Politics and the English Language"" to make his point. This - he says - is often seen as ""a principled assault upon all the jargon, obfuscation, and pretentiously Frenchified folderol that deforms our noble tongue"". That - in Self's view - couldn't be farther from the truth.

Describing Orwell as a ""Supreme Mediocrity"", Self gets to work. -

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Describing Orwell as a "Supreme Mediocrity", Self gets to work. - Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Why Sportsmanship Matters2014013120140202

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Why We Should Be Religious But Not Spiritual2014052320140525

Tom Shakespeare argues that we should be religious but not spiritual.

A growing number of people are describing themselves as spiritual but not religious. This is not a trend of which Tom Shakespeare approves. In this week's Point of View he argues, rather, that we should be religious but not spiritual.

Why Wear A Tie?20120302Historian David Cannadine compares the traditions of tie wearing on both sides of the Atlantic. He reflects on the social significance of this element of male dress and observes a recent phenomenon - that politicians seem to campaign in open neck shirts but govern wearing ties.

Producer: Sheila Cook.

David Cannadine compares the traditions of tie-wearing on both sides of the Atlantic.

Topical reflection.

Will Self2011100720111009
Will Self20111009
Will Self: Looks Matter2015100920151011 (R4)

Will Self says we can't pretend that looks don't matter or that everyone is beautiful, including the obese.

That different cultures, during different eras, have found different aspects of the human form beautiful is another straw the sub-gorgeous clutch for."

Producer:Sheila Cook.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue."

Will Self: On Gardening2015101620151018 (R4)Will Self reflects on our relationship with gardens and gardening.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Will Self: What's In A Name2015100220151004 (R4)

Will Self reflects on the significance of names, including his own.

We desire to be recognised for who we really are, and seek out in our very ascription the means of uniting our intimate identities with our social selves.""."

Wimbledon Wisdom2007071320070715
20070715 (R4)
Clive James enjoys the wisdom in the commentary of former Wimbledon tennis champions.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue

Women Behaving Badly
Word Of 2016: People2016122320161226 (R4)Howard Jacobson searches for his Word of the Year.

A weekly reflection on a topical issue.

Perhaps we should try, before the year's out"", writes Howard Jacobson, "" to agree on the International Word of 2016 - the word that most describes where we've been these last 12 months"".

Post-truth"", ""Trump"" and ""Farage"" are all in the running.

But in the end, Jacobson's chooses ""people"" as in ""the people have spoken"" for his Word of the Year.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Howard Jacobson argues that - post-Brexit - we must begin to clear a space for thought.

There is no closure date for thought", writes Howard Jacobson as he looks back at the year and especially at Brexit.

He questions why in a referendum - unlike in an election - we are not allowed second thoughts.

Whoever believes in democracy as a principle", he says, "must believe in the right of people who question democracy's efficacy...to say so".

03 LASTBook Choice
0605 LASTThe Sistine Tapestries20100919Five centuries after they were created, some extraordinary tapestries have been brought from the Sistine Chapel to London.

The Raphael tapestries, from the series, "The Acts of the Aposles", are on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, to mark the Pope's visit.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the significance of these works - each one slighter bigger than a double decker bus.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the extraordinary tapestries in London for the Pope's visit.

Five centuries after they were created, some extraordinary tapestries have been brought from the Sistine Chapel to London. The Raphael tapestries, from the series, "The Acts of the Aposles", are on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, to mark the Pope's visit. Lisa Jardine reflects on the significance of these works - each one slighter bigger than a double decker bus.

0606 LASTBook Choice20100926