Radio Four's Pen Pals

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
01Jim and Jenny20171228

Scientist Jim Al-Khalili gets a new pen-pal, living off-grid on a remote Canadian island.

Series celebrating the phenomenon of the international pen pal.

Scientist Jim Al-Khalili describes himself as a committed rationalist. He's never had a pen-pal before and chose to explore the life of someone living off-grid on a remote Canadian island, a life very far from his own.

Jenny Vester has lived on Lasqueti Island, off the East Coast of Vancouver, for 25 years and describes herself as a lover of variety and ideas - "One that loves to dance, write, tell stories, dream, walk in the forest and take inspiration from nature".

For this series, five favourite Radio 4 voices were asked to chose a pen-pal from anywhere in the world. The task was to write six letters in long-hand, and send them through the post. What they wrote about was entirely up to them - but they had to finish before the end of 2017.

Jim and Jenny enter into a wide-ranging discussion on the connection between mind and body, zombies and the meaning of life. Their daily lives are poles apart. Will the same be true of their beliefs?

In our globally connected world, how much do we really understand the lives of people born thousands of miles away? By trying to understand the individual, we may gain a better understanding of the bigger picture. And as each presenter learns more about their new friend, they also offer a small window into their own world.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon
Executive Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

01Lyse and Masood20171227

Lyse Doucet and her Afghan pen pal exchange poignant letters about war, poetry and cancer.

Series celebrating the phenomenon of the international pen pal.

Lyse Doucet is the BBC's Chief International Correspondent. She first met her pen-pal, Masood Khalili, in the 1980s when she was a young correspondent covering the early years of war in Afghanistan. He is a poet, a former fighter who survived two suicide attacks, and now a diplomat. They revisit their friendship through a series of poignant letters, discussing war, poetry and cancer.

For this series, five favourite Radio 4 voices were asked to chose a pen-pal from anywhere in the world. The task was to write six letters in long-hand and send them through the post. What they wrote about was entirely up to them - but they had to finish before the end of 2017.

In our globally connected world, how much do we really understand the lives of people born thousands of miles away? By trying to understand the individual, we may gain a better understanding of the bigger picture. And as each presenter learns more about their new friend, they also offer a small window into their own world.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon
Executive Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

0101Fi And Ann20171225

Fi Glover talks motherhood, marshmallows and Donald Trump with her new pen-pal in Ohio.

A new series celebrating the phenomenon of the international pen-pal - the art of writing a letter the old-fashioned way, the tentative early forays into a new friendship, and the frisson of glamour when the air mail envelope drops through the letter-box.

Five favourite Radio 4 voices were asked to chose a pen-pal from anywhere in the world. The task was to write six letters in long-hand and send them through the post. What they wrote about was entirely up to them. But they had to finish before the end of 2017.

Episode One features Fi Glover and Ann Plumley, an American mother in Ohio who voted for Donald Trump.

Ann is a former forensic scientist, who gave up her career to raise her daughter. She and Fi compare "mom culture" in Britain and the USA, and share parenting worries and precious memories of childhood. Along the way, they discuss the political events of the year - Donald Trump, Brexit and terror attacks.

Is this the start of a beautiful new friendship? Or is there more to divide than unite them?

In our globally connected world, how much do we really understand the lives of people born thousands of miles away? By trying to understand the individual, we may gain a better understanding of the bigger picture. And as each presenter learns more about their new friend, they also offer a small window into their own world.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon
Executive Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Fi Glover talks motherhood, marshmallows and Donald Trump with her new pen-pal in Ohio.

Series celebrating the phenomenon of the international pen pal.

A new series celebrating the phenomenon of the international pen-pal - the art of writing a letter the old-fashioned way, the tentative early forays into a new friendship, and the frisson of glamour when the air mail envelope drops through the letter-box.

Five favourite Radio 4 voices were asked to chose a pen-pal from anywhere in the world. The task was to write six letters in long-hand and send them through the post. What they wrote about was entirely up to them. But they had to finish before the end of 2017.

Episode One features Fi Glover and Ann Plumley, an American mother in Ohio who voted for Donald Trump.

Ann is a former forensic scientist, who gave up her career to raise her daughter. She and Fi compare "mom culture" in Britain and the USA, and share parenting worries and precious memories of childhood. Along the way, they discuss the political events of the year - Donald Trump, Brexit and terror attacks.

Is this the start of a beautiful new friendship? Or is there more to divide than unite them?

In our globally connected world, how much do we really understand the lives of people born thousands of miles away? By trying to understand the individual, we may gain a better understanding of the bigger picture. And as each presenter learns more about their new friend, they also offer a small window into their own world.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon
Executive Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

0102Lemn And Mark20171226

Lemn Sissay and his Northern Irish pen-pal talk Halloween, Harry Potter and being on stage

A new series celebrating the phenomenon of the international pen-pal - the art of writing a letter the old-fashioned way, the tentative early forays into a new friendship, and the frisson of glamour when the air mail envelope drops through the letter-box.

Five favourite Radio 4 voices were asked to chose a pen-pal from anywhere in the world. The task was to write six letters in long-hand and send them through the post. What they wrote about was entirely up to them. But they had to finish before the end of 2017.

Poet, author and broadcaster, Lemn Sissay, chose a secondary-school boy in Northern Ireland as his pen-pal for this second episode.

Northern Ireland is one of Lemn's favourite places on earth. Both share a dark struggle and a love of good writing. Last year, Lemn ran a workshop at the new Seamus Heaney Centre near Magherafelt and loved the passion and enthusiasm of the local school children. He's been writing letters to one of them, Mark Comer, about Harry Potter, being on stage, and scaring children at Halloween.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon
Executive Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Lemn Sissay and his Northern Irish pen-pal talk Halloween, Harry Potter and being on stage

Series celebrating the phenomenon of the international pen pal.

A new series celebrating the phenomenon of the international pen-pal - the art of writing a letter the old-fashioned way, the tentative early forays into a new friendship, and the frisson of glamour when the air mail envelope drops through the letter-box.

Five favourite Radio 4 voices were asked to chose a pen-pal from anywhere in the world. The task was to write six letters in long-hand and send them through the post. What they wrote about was entirely up to them. But they had to finish before the end of 2017.

Poet, author and broadcaster, Lemn Sissay, chose a secondary-school boy in Northern Ireland as his pen-pal for this second episode.

Northern Ireland is one of Lemn's favourite places on earth. Both share a dark struggle and a love of good writing. Last year, Lemn ran a workshop at the new Seamus Heaney Centre near Magherafelt and loved the passion and enthusiasm of the local school children. He's been writing letters to one of them, Mark Comer, about Harry Potter, being on stage, and scaring children at Halloween.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon
Executive Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

0103Lyse And Masood20171227

Lyse Doucet and her Afghan pen pal exchange poignant letters about war, poetry and cancer.

Lyse Doucet is the BBC's Chief International Correspondent. She first met her pen-pal, Masood Khalili, in the 1980s when she was a young correspondent covering the early years of war in Afghanistan. He is a poet, a former fighter who survived two suicide attacks, and now a diplomat. They revisit their friendship through a series of poignant letters, discussing war, poetry and cancer.

For this series, five favourite Radio 4 voices were asked to chose a pen-pal from anywhere in the world. The task was to write six letters in long-hand and send them through the post. What they wrote about was entirely up to them - but they had to finish before the end of 2017.

In our globally connected world, how much do we really understand the lives of people born thousands of miles away? By trying to understand the individual, we may gain a better understanding of the bigger picture. And as each presenter learns more about their new friend, they also offer a small window into their own world.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon
Executive Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

0104Jim And Jenny20171228

Scientist Jim Al-Khalili gets a new pen-pal, living off-grid on a remote Canadian island.

Scientist Jim Al-Khalili describes himself as a committed rationalist. He's never had a pen-pal before and chose to explore the life of someone living off-grid on a remote Canadian island, a life very far from his own.

Jenny Vester has lived on Lasqueti Island, off the East Coast of Vancouver, for 25 years and describes herself as a lover of variety and ideas - "One that loves to dance, write, tell stories, dream, walk in the forest and take inspiration from nature".

For this series, five favourite Radio 4 voices were asked to chose a pen-pal from anywhere in the world. The task was to write six letters in long-hand, and send them through the post. What they wrote about was entirely up to them - but they had to finish before the end of 2017.

Jim and Jenny enter into a wide-ranging discussion on the connection between mind and body, zombies and the meaning of life. Their daily lives are poles apart. Will the same be true of their beliefs?

In our globally connected world, how much do we really understand the lives of people born thousands of miles away? By trying to understand the individual, we may gain a better understanding of the bigger picture. And as each presenter learns more about their new friend, they also offer a small window into their own world.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon
Executive Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

0105 LASTLouiza And Angeliki20171229

Archers actor Louiza Patikas chooses fellow thespian Angeliki Papoulia as her pen pal.

In the last episode of a new series celebrating the art of letter writing, Louiza Patikas, better known to Radio 4 listeners as Helen from The Archers, discusses stage-craft and Greek life and culture with fellow actress, Angeliki Papoulia.

Louiza is half-Greek and has spent many happy holidays visiting family and soaking up the culture. She has long admired the work of Greek actor and theatre director, Angeliki Papoulia, star of award-winning films Dogtooth, Alps and The Lobster. The two discover a shared love of village life, and a common history in the story of their parents' roles in the political upheavals of 1960s and 70s Greece.

For this series, five favourite Radio 4 voices were asked to chose a pen-pal from anywhere in the world. The task was to write six letters in long-hand and send them through the post. What they wrote about was entirely up to them - but they had to finish before the end of 2017.

In our globally connected world, how much do we really understand the lives of people born thousands of miles away? By trying to understand the individual, we may gain a better understanding of the bigger picture. And as each presenter learns more about their new friend, they also offer a small window into their own world.

Producer: Deborah Dudgeon
Executive Producer: David Prest

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.