This Old Heart Of Mine

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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0101The Pump20171204

Following a heart attack, Giles Fraser explores the workings of this most symbolic organ.

Reverend Giles Fraser recently had a heart attack followed by quadruple bypass surgery. His heart has suddenly become very real to him in a way it never was before. This is life and death stuff, and he has been forced to look at changing his ways.

He sets out to find people who can help him understand the workings of this most resonant and symbolic of organs.

How can he find a way to live better with his quite literally broken heart? And how can he understand the human heart in its broader context - negotiating a path from the pump, to the Valentine's Day card emblazoned with the instantly recognisable two-curves-with-a-point-at-the-bottom?

The heart has been demoted in relation to the status of the brain. Death is no longer decided by the stopping of the heart, but by brain death. The heart can be re-plumbed, jump-started, and even transplanted. And yet it retains a mystique and is, for many of us across culture and time, the place where we feel our true self to be located, as well as our emotions and the torch of our romantic passions - a sacred heart for many.

Recent research into the heart is tantalisingly suggestive of the idea that the heart is associated with emotion on a chemical level, and might even be able to transfer memory during transplant. Did the Romantic poets have it right all along?

Episode 1: The Pump.
- Dr. Vassilios Avlonitis, a cardiac surgeon at St. Thomas's Hospital in London, who literally held his patient's heart in his hands in order to save his life.

Producer: Victoria Shepherd
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

0102The Sacred Heart20171205

Following bypass surgery, Giles Fraser explores the workings of the human heart.

Reverend Giles Fraser recently had a heart attack followed by quadruple bypass surgery. His heart has suddenly become very real to him in a way it never was before. This is life and death stuff, and he has been forced to look at changing his ways.

He sets out to find people who can help him understand the workings of this most resonant and symbolic of organs.

How can he find a way to live better with his quite literally broken heart? And how can he understand the human heart in its broader context - negotiating a path from the pump, to the Valentine's Day card emblazoned with the instantly recognisable two-curves-with-a-point-at-the-bottom?

The heart has been demoted in relation to the status of the brain. Death is no longer decided by the stopping of the heart, but by brain death. The heart can be re-plumbed, jump-started, and even transplanted. And yet it retains a mystique and is, for many of us across culture and time, the place where we feel our true self to be located, as well as our emotions and the torch of our romantic passions - a sacred heart for many.

Recent research into the heart is tantalisingly suggestive of the idea that the heart is associated with emotion on a chemical level, and might even be able to transfer memory during transplant. Did the Romantic poets have it right all along?

Episode 2: The Sacred Heart
Giles meets Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury until 2012. As a Reverend in the Church of England, Giles is curious to look again at the iconography of the Sacred Heart in its spiritual and historical dimensions, and at how the beat of the heart relates to prayer, poetry, and our sense of the rhythms and boundaries of our lives.

Producer: Victoria Shepherd
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

0103The Open Heart20171206

Following bypass surgery, Giles Fraser continues his exploration of the human heart.

Reverend Giles Fraser recently had a heart attack followed by quadruple bypass surgery. His heart has suddenly become very real to him in a way it never was before. This is life and death stuff, and he has been forced to look at changing his ways.

He sets out to find people who can help him understand the workings of this most resonant and symbolic of organs.

How can he find a way to live better with his quite literally broken heart? And how can he understand the human heart in its broader context - negotiating a path from the pump, to the Valentine's Day card emblazoned with the instantly recognisable two-curves-with-a-point-at-the-bottom?

The heart has been demoted in relation to the status of the brain. Death is no longer decided by the stopping of the heart, but by brain death. The heart can be re-plumbed, jump-started, and even transplanted. And yet it retains a mystique and is, for many of us across culture and time, the place where we feel our true self to be located, as well as our emotions and the torch of our romantic passions - a sacred heart for many.

Recent research into the heart is tantalisingly suggestive of the idea that the heart is associated with emotion on a chemical level, and might even be able to transfer memory during transplant. Did the Romantic poets have it right all along?

Episode 3: The Open Heart
Giles talks to his one-time psychoanalyst, Susie Orbach. His physical rehabilitation is well under way, but the emotional ripples are more elusive and counter-intuitive. He wants to understand his response to the trauma of his heart attack and surgery. Where he was expecting a gloomy sense of physical depletion and mortality, he has found instead a sense of elation. Why?

Producer: Victoria Shepherd
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

0104The Broken Heart20171207

Following his heart attack, Giles Fraser continues his exploration of this symbolic organ.

Reverend Giles Fraser recently had a heart attack followed by quadruple bypass surgery. His heart has suddenly become very real to him in a way it never was before. This is life and death stuff, and he has been forced to look at changing his ways.

He sets out to find people who can help him understand the workings of this most resonant and symbolic of organs.

How can he find a way to live better with his quite literally broken heart? And how can he understand the human heart in its broader context - negotiating a path from the pump, to the Valentine's Day card emblazoned with the instantly recognisable two-curves-with-a-point-at-the-bottom?

The heart has been demoted in relation to the status of the brain. Death is no longer decided by the stopping of the heart, but by brain death. The heart can be re-plumbed, jump-started, and even transplanted. And yet it retains a mystique and is, for many of us across culture and time, the place where we feel our true self to be located, as well as our emotions and the torch of our romantic passions - a sacred heart for many.

Episode 1: The Broken Heart
Giles meets cultural historian Dr Fay Bound Alberti at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey and ask how the landmark moments in the story of heart surgery and medicine to fix the pump - the transplants and bypasses - relate to the heart as poetic symbol. The heart has long represented love and courage, and been perceived of as the home of emotions. Is cutting edge science hinting that the Romantic poets were right all along? Recent research into the heart is tantalisingly suggestive of the idea that the heart is associated with emotion on a chemical level, and might even be able to transfer memory during transplant.

Producer: Victoria Shepherd
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

0105The Lonely Heart20171208

Following heart bypass surgery, Giles Fraser explores the workings of the human heart.

Reverend Giles Fraser recently had a heart attack followed by quadruple bypass surgery. His heart has suddenly become very real to him in a way it never was before. This is life and death stuff, and he has been forced to look at changing his ways.

He sets out to find people who can help him understand the workings of this most resonant and symbolic of organs.

How can he find a way to live better with his quite literally broken heart? And how can he understand the human heart in its broader context - negotiating a path from the pump, to the Valentine's Day card emblazoned with the instantly recognisable two-curves-with-a-point-at-the-bottom?

The heart has been demoted in relation to the status of the brain. Death is no longer decided by the stopping of the heart, but by brain death. The heart can be re-plumbed, jump-started, and even transplanted. And yet it retains a mystique and is, for many of us across culture and time, the place where we feel our true self to be located, as well as our emotions and the torch of our romantic passions - a sacred heart for many.

Recent research into the heart is tantalisingly suggestive of the idea that the heart is associated with emotion on a chemical level, and might even be able to transfer memory during transplant. Did the Romantic poets have it right all along?

Episode 5: The Lonely Heart
Giles speaks to essayist on love and the language of the heart, Adam Phillips. What effect has putting his life in his surgeon's hands, being totally dependent, really had on him and his faith in other people?

Producer: Victoria Shepherd
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.