The Why Factor

Why do we do the things we do?

Mike Williams searches for the extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions. So much of what we do is assumed, it seems almost second nature. But where do those ideas, decisions and behaviours actually come from?

The series sets its own agenda and draws upon many but interconnected approaches: psychological, cultural, historical social anthropological, philosophical. It informs us about about the way we live now, about the human condition in the 21st Century.

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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Why Do Some Of Us Often Feel Like Frauds?20171030AKA Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt like a fraud? You think that one day your mask will be uncovered and everyone will know your secret. According to psychologists, this is a common feeling that many of us suffer from and it has a name; Imposter Syndrome. The term was coined by two American psychologists, Dr Pauline Clance and Dr Suzanne Imes, in 1978. Dr Clance and Dr Imes first thought the feeling was only experienced by high achieving women, but quickly found that men experienced it too. According to subject expert, Dr Valerie Young, women are more susceptible to imposter feelings because they internalise failure and mistakes- whereas men are more likely to attribute failure and mistakes to outside factors. However, those who belong to minority groups of whom there are stereotypes about competence also commonly experience imposter feelings.
If you suffer from imposter syndrome, don’t worry you’re in good company; Maya Angelou, Robert Pattinson, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis and many more successful people have expressed feeling like imposters.
Presented by Afua Hirsch
Produced by Priscilla Ng’ethe

(Image: Puppet and mask, Credit: Shutterstock)

01The Moon20150824

The moon has fascinated humans everywhere and for all time. Why? Mike Williams explores the moon in mythology, how it has looked to the Earth-bound and he asks Alan Bean - one of the handful of people who have walked on the moon - what it's really like.

Producer: Richard Knight.

01Why Do We Do We Have Tattoos?2012091420120915 (WS)
20120916 (WS)
Why do we do the things we do?

Mike Williams searches for the extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions. So much of what we do is assumed, it seems almost second nature. But where do those ideas, decisions and behaviours actually come from?

The series sets its own agenda and draws upon many but interconnected approaches: psychological, cultural, historical social anthropological, philosophical. It informs us about about the way we live now, about the human condition in the 21st Century.

In this first programme, Mike asks why people have tattoos.

Where do they come from and what do they say about us?

From the Maori of New Zealand to the Mexican Mafia, Mike explores the universal motivation behind why people decorate their bodies with ink."

02The High Heel20150825

Today's Why Factor investigates the biology of mating, the psychology of status and a lot of gender politics...all encapsulated in a common object worn by women around the world. Why do millions of people choose to walk on strange, stilt like shoes? Join Mike Williams as he practices his catwalk strut in The High Heel.

02Why Do We Wear Ties?2012092120120922 (WS)
20120924 (WS)
This week he looks at the paradox at the heart of the human condition - the desire to belong and to conform, but also to hold tight to our individuality.

And we see a symbol of this paradox everyday in an apparently useless piece of clothing about 150 centimetres long - the necktie.

Why do we wear ties?

03The Watch20150826Nearly everyone now carries a phone which tells us the time. Yet sales of luxury watches have never been higher. Mike Williams explores why the seemingly obsolete technology in mechanical watches is still highly desirable, and what wearing one says about its owner.
03Why Do We Behave So Oddly Inside Lifts?2012092820120929 (WS)
20121001 (WS)
This week, the lift - millions of us use this piece of machinery every day but barely give it a second thought.

But the lift, or elevator, is an intriguing place where strange things seem to happen to us.

In today's programme, Mike Williams looks at the history of the lift, why we seem to behave so oddly inside them and why Hollywood has made the lift such a scene of disaster.

04The Earworm20150827They can be annoying, infuriating, but what is happening in the head when we hear a piece of music which then refuses to go away? Mike Williams investigates the ""sticky song"" for The Why Factor.
04Why Do We Smoke?2012100520121008 (WS)In this week's programme Mike Williams looks at why people start smoking.

Nearly 50 years after the world first learned that smoking kills, millions are still picking up the habit.

He also discovers who was behind one of the most lethal inventions of all time - the cigarette.

05Pilgrimage20150828Tens of millions of Hindus, bathe in holy waters at the Kumbh Mela, Jews from around the world make their way to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Islam has the Hajj - a Pilgrimage to Mecca and Christians have walked the same paths for centuries. Many others are eschewing ideas of a ""traditional"" holiday or break and are seeking some sort of spiritual enlightenment instead. What do they get out of it? Mike Williams asks why the Pilgrimage is getting ever more popular.

Producer: Jim Frank.

05The Bullet2012101220121013 (WS)
20121015 (WS)
The history and design of the bullet and why people use them

Mike Williams finds out why armies use one type of bullet, while gangsters use another and what the phrase full-metal jacket tells us about our qualms about killing each other.

The bullet has been at the heart of the world's battles for many centuries. Although the essential idea hasn't changed much since the 15th Century, the way the bullet and its use has evolved is revealing.

He hears from doctors, soldiers and criminals about why such a small object causes so much damage and what it means to shoot someone, and be shot.

06Nudity20150831How nakedness has been used as a means of political protest in eastern Europe and why wearing no clothes can be a powerful political weapon.

06Why Do We Laugh?2012101920121020 (WS)
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What is it that actually triggers our laughter, do all of us find the same things funny?

At first glance, it seems like a very obvious basic human response - we laugh because we find things amusing. But what is it that actually triggers our laughter, do all of us find the same things funny?

In the edition of The Why Factor, we also look beyond comedy, at laughter in our everyday lives and the role it plays in the relationships between men and women.

We also hear some surprising and disturbing discoveries. Why, for instance, were those who carried out the massacre at Columbine laughing as they shot dead 13 people?

(Image: Comedian Omid Djalali. Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images)

At first glance, it seems like a very obvious basic human response: we laugh because we find things amusing. But what is it that actually triggers our laughter, do all of us find the same things funny? The programme also looks beyond comedy, at laughter in our everyday lives and the role it plays in the relationships between men and women.

And it hears some surprising and disturbing discoveries. Why, for instance, were those who carried out the massacre at Columbine laughing as they shot dead 13 people?

07The Shaved Head2012102620121027 (WS)
20121029 (WS)
Why do we care so much about the hair on our heads? Each year we spend billions of dollars on cutting, shaping and colouring our hair.

It's important for personal reasons, cultural and symbolic reasons too. But why? Find out, as we hear the stories of people who have had their hair taken from them.

07Why Would Anyone Devote Their Life To Collecting Cuckoo Clocks?2015090120210403 (R4)Stamps, coins, sea shells, wine - the list of things that humans collect is endless. But why do people do it? What does a collection of inanimate objects bring to our lives that other things do not? Are people attracted by the thrill of the chase, the pleasure of possession or the control in acting as the custodian of precious things?

Mike Williams talks to an eclectic group of collectors in search of some answers. Roman and Maz Piekarski have spent the last 50 years building up a collection of some of the world's finest cuckoo clocks. When Lisa Courtney was bullied as a child she gained comfort in building her collection of Pokemon toys.Seventeen-year-old Tushar Lakhanpal started his pencil collection at the age of three and when David Fulton sold his business to Microsoft in the 90s his new found wealth allowed him to pursue and acquire one of the finest collections of rare instruments ever assembled.

Why would anyone collect cuckoo clocks or violins?

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

AKA Collecting

Mike Williams talks to an eclectic group of collectors in search of some answers. Roman and Maz Piekarski have spent the last 50 years building up a collection of some of the world's finest cuckoo clocks. When Lisa Courtney was bullied as a child she gained comfort in building her collection of Pokemon toys.Seventeen-year-old Tushar Lakhanpal started his pencil collection at the age of three and when David Fulton sold his business to Microsoft in the 90s his new found wealth allowed him to pursue and acquire one of the finest collections of rare instruments ever assembled.

08Coming Of Age20150902

Two girls, two stories, two very different outcomes. A party for one... a painful ordeal for another.

Mike Williams asks Why societies around the world, mark a single, special day as the point when childhood ends and adulthood begins?

08Why Do We Shake Hands?2012110220121103 (WS)
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Millions of us use this gesture but where does this everyday ritual come from?

This week, Mike Williams asks why do we shake hands?

All over the world millions of us use this gesture to greet others but where does this everyday ritual come from, and what purpose does it serve?

With the US presidential election just days away, Mike also looks at the role of the handshake in political life - why has it proved to be such a sensitive issue?

09Coming Of Age2012110920121110 (WS)
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Why do different cultures have different coming of ages?

Why do different cultures have different coming of ages? For some the advent of adulthood is celebrated by lavish parties, for others, by endurance tests and initiation ceremonies.

But they all share a commonality: the symbolic passing of childhood into the adult world which usually confers new rights: legal, political or religious.

But what really changes? And why is adolescence, for many, lasting longer than ever?

(Image: Mexican teenagers pose for photos following quinceanera, a coming of age party. Credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

09Why Is Hair Such An Important Part Of Who We Are?20150903Each year we spend billions of dollars on cutting, shaping and colouring our hair. It's important for personal, cultural and symbolic reasons.

But why? Find out, as Mike Williams hears the stories of people who have had their hair taken from them.

10Blue2012111620121117 (WS)
20121119 (WS)
Babies cant detect it. The Himba tribe of Namibia can't describe it. Picasso used it. In the West it's creative and reliable in the East it's cold and deathly. This week - blue.

The weird world of the colour blue.

In the physical, material sense, it's quite rare in nature... But, at the same time, it surrounds us. Babies can't detect it. The Himba tribe of Namibia can't describe it. Pablo Picasso turned to it after a friend committed suicide and in the West it's creative and reliable in the East it's cold and deathly. This week on the Why Factor, we're talking about something different - the colour blue.

10Why Do So Many Men Wear A Tie?2015090420210327 (R4)It's mundane. About 150 centimetres long, often made of satin or silk and worn by millions, mostly by men, every day. Mike Williams explores the enduring appeal of the tie.

It's a paradoxical item of clothing: One the one hand, it expresses a desire to fit in and conform - to belong - yet it also says something about our need to demonstrate our individuality. Historically, wearing a tie has meant many different things: from being seen as being anti-Islamic in the wake of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, to representing subversion and being a symbol of sub-cultural cool.

Producer: Jim Frank

Why do men wear strips of silk around their necks? Mike Williams on the tie.

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

Producer: Jim Frank.

11The Tap2012112320121124 (WS)
20121126 (WS)
What changes when taps come to town? Mike Williams travels to Ghana.

This is the story of what happens when running water comes to town. In a rural backwater in southern Ghana the instillation of a network of standpipes six years ago made life feel more safe and secure.

But very soon land prices shot up and the rich began to move in, connecting their own private taps to the water system and draining the reservoir.

The simple addition of taps has changed this region forever – but what does it mean for the everyday lives of the people that live there?

12Fear - 12012120120121203 (WS)What is fear? Are our fears universal and how do we go about facing our fears?

In the first of two programmes on fear: we ask what actually fear is and discover it's a surprisingly difficult question to answer.

What does fear mean to us and how do we face our fears, imaginary or otherwise? Are our fears universal or culturally specific?

13Fear - 22012120720121208 (WS)
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In the second of two programmes about fear, why do some of us like to be frightened?

This week the second of two programmes about fear, why do some of us like to be frightened? Why, in a darkened cinema, do we enjoy and endure fear, horror and suspense? We'll delve into the human mind to find out.

We will also go behind the camera to learn how the film-makers manipulate our senses and play on our deepest, most primeval fears.

14Why Do We Find The Beat Of The Drum So Intoxicating?2012121420121215 (WS)
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Why are human beings compelled to tap their feet or bob their heads to the beat of music?

It seems like a very basic thing to do. But no other animal is able to synchronise their whole body to a beat in the way we do, and very few other animals can even recognise a beat.

Mike Williams goes in search of where exactly in our bodies we feel this beat and what evolutionary purpose the ability to drum and move to the drum beat might have had.

(Image of a man playing drums - credit: Getty)

15The Sackman (and Other Stories)2012122120121222 (WS)
20121224 (WS)
The Sackman - a very different Father Christmas

Sinister tales of characters that terrorise adults and children at night pervade our cultures and have been handed down from generation to generation over the centuries - be that Kenya’s Nightrunners with their supernatural powers, to the European Sackman – the monster or man, who takes away naughty children in a sack.

In Iceland and the Netherlands this Child Catcher comes at Christmas, an altogether different version of the American Santa Claus. Why do we tell each other these stories? And what happens when folklore meets the modern world?

(Image of girl having nightmare Credit: Maria Pavlova, Getty)

Sinister tales of characters that terrorise adults and children at night pervade our cultures and have been handed down from generation to generation over the centuries, be that Kenya’s Nightrunners with their supernatural powers or the European Sackman – the monster or man, who takes away naughty children in a sack.

16Manners2012122820121229 (WS)
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The strange customs and conduct that make up ‘good manners’. Where do they come from?

On the programme today, the strange customs and conduct that make up ‘good manners’. Where do they come from? What purpose do they serve?

And how do they change from place to place?We’ll serve up linguistics, civility, civilisation and some gender politics too.

(Image of English film actor Roger Moore opening the door of his Volvo for Isabelle McMillan in a scene from the television series 'The Saint' Credit: Getty Images)

17Nitrogen: Forgetting Fritz2013010420130105 (WS)
20130107 (WS)
Why has one of the world’s most important scientists been forgotten?

He worked with something without which, we'd all be dead. It's in our DNA and the plants we eat could not exist without it.

Fritz Haber was the brilliant German, Jewish chemist who used nitrogen to help feed billions but arguably, kill millions.

Find out why with Mike Williams.

(Image: Fritz Haber Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

02Commuting20151106Millions of people across the world get in a car, board a bus or train with monotonous regularity each day. Why do they do it? Can they enjoy it? Can it be good for their health? And what's the connection between the commuter and the hunter-gatherer? Mike Williams aims to find out.

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer:Sonia Rothwell

Editor:Andrew Smith.

02Diaries20151110are one of the longest-established and riches sources of social history. Why do many people feel so compelled to keep them? Why do they stop and who do they allow to read them?

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer:Hannah Moore

Editor:Andrew Smith.

02Dolls20151103Mike Williams ponders why dolls are so universally popular. He discovers that it's not only girls who like dolls, as is commonly assumed. He speaks to people who've studied why dolls are such common playthings and to people who collect them.

Presenter: Mike Williams

Producer: Hannah Moore

Editor: Andrew Smith.

02Graffiti20151109In large parts of the world, at most times in history, walls in public spaces have been decorated by illicit art. When the public were allowed into the homes of wealthy Romans, graffiti soon began to appear and it was regarded as a weakness to remove it. The modern day graffiti artist risks being arrested and even death, climbing into forbidden premises to spray private buildings or parked subway trains. Why do so many people like making graffiti art?

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer:Rose de Larrabeiti

Editor:Andrew Smith.

02Long-distance Sports Fans20151113

Every week, hundreds of millions of people around the world surrender their emotions; leave them for a while in the hands of strangers. They might face dejection or, with luck, jubilation. The US National Basketball Association says that less than one percent of fans globally will ever watch a game live. While the Premier League is played in England and Wales, almost half of the fans 470 million of them live in Asia and Oceania. Another 260 million follow the game from sub-Saharan Africa. Mike Williams asks why do sports fans do it? With Eric Simons, author of the Secret Life of Sports Fans, Xinjiu Wang, Chinese fan of Swansea City, Stanley Kwanke, BBC Africa, Emily Clarke, fan of the Denver Nuggets, David Goldblatt, Author of The Ball is Round.

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer:Bob Howard

Editor:Andrew Smith.

02Nostalgia20151102What is the feeling of nostalgia that so many people experience? Where does it come from, what does it mean and why are we more nostalgic on cold days? Mike Williams speaks to people who know about it and people who've experienced nostalgia.

Presenter: Mike Williams

Producer: Ben Crighton

Editor: Jeremy Skeet.

02Sad Music20151104Helena Merriman asks why the sad music is often the most popular. She speaks to writers and musicians about a seemingly irresistible cultural phenomenon. Why do we love tales of heartbreak and melancholy set to slow, lilting melody?

Presenter:Helena Merriman

Producer:Helena Merriman

Editor:Jeremy Skeet.

02Trainers20151112

Sneaker, trainer call them what you will. How did this product of the industrial revolution and a rising middle class become a global fashion item worth tens of billions of pounds a year? Especially when 85% of the purchases are never intended for the it's original purpose, health and fitness. Join Mike Williams for the Why Factor: Sneakers.

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer:Julie Ball

Editor:Andrew Smith.

02T-shirts20151105T shirts are everywhere, every day. Plain ones, coloured ones, funny ones. Often they're promotional, sometimes provocative. They're so common that they're very easy to ignore. From the catwalk to the building site and everywhere in between, these simple garments can be tools of the rebel, the protestor, the campaigner, the corporate marketeer. They are strangely powerful things but with humble origins. Mike Williams explores the T shirt. With Omar Mansoor, British Pakistani fashion designer, Tony Glenville, Creative Director, London College of Fashion, designer Milton Glaser, Beatrice Behlan, Museum of London, Steve Tropiano, author of Rebels and chicks - history of the Hollywood teen movie, Maureen Kabrik, campaigner for pressure group ""Bring back our girls."

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer:Bob Howard

Editor:Andrew Smith.

02Why Are So Many People Drawn To Gardening?20151111AKA GardensHelena Merriman speaks to a neuroscientist who's discovered that soil has some surprising qualities and she hears the extraordinary story of a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay who created his own garden.

Producer: Helena Merriman

Presenter: Helena Merriman

Editor: Andrew Smith.

0301Groupthink2016071120201226 (R4)
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The Why Factor investigates the concept of "Groupthink". How the perceived wisdom of our allies and colleagues can influence our choices and persuade us to make disastrous military decisions, join cults or simply deny the evidence before our very eyes.

Presenter: Mike Williams
Producer: Sandra Kanthal
Editor: Andrew Smith

First broadcast on the BBC World Service.

What makes the will of the crowd more persuasive than the wisdom of one?

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

The Why Factor investigates the concept of ""Groupthink."" How the perceived wisdom of our allies and colleagues can influence our choices and persuade us to make disastrous military decisions, join cults or simply deny the evidence before our very eyes.

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer:Sandra Kanthal

Editor:Andrew Smith

0302Age Of Consent2016071220210102 (R4)
20210118 (R4)
Mike William investigates the age of consent. It used to be 12 in England, it's currently 14 in Italy - less for so-called "Romeo and Juliet" couples who have only three years' age difference. The Why Factor explores the real reasons we draw a line on sexual relationships.

Presenter: Mike Williams
Producer: Ben Carter
Editor: Andrew Smith

The Why Factor broadcasts weekly on the BBC World Service.

Why does the age of consent vary across the world?

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

Mike William investigates the Age of Consent. it used to be 12 in England, it''s currently 14 in italy - less for so-called ""Romeo and Juliet"" couples who have only three years age difference. The Why Factor explores the real reasons we draw a line on sexual relationships.

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer:Ben Carter

0303Fear Of Robots2016071320210109 (R4)
20210125 (R4)
Robots are in our homes, our factories, on battlefields and in hospitals. Some are smarter than us, some are faster. Some are here to help us, others not. Science fiction is filled with malign machines that rise against humanity. Mike Williams asks if we have reason to fear the machines we are creating.

Presenter: Mike Williams
Producer: Sandra Kanthal
Editor: Andrew Smith

First broadcast on the BBC World Service.

Mike Williams asks if we have reason to fear the rise of the robots.

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

Robots are in our homes, our factories, on battlefields and in hospitals. Some are smarter than us, some are faster. Some are here to help us, others not. Science fiction is filled with malign machines which rise against humanity. Mike Williams asks if we have reason to fear the machines we are creating.

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer:Sandra Kanthal

Editor:Andrew Smith

0304Drawing2016071420210116 (R4)
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Lucy Ash asks why we draw. Are some people simply more visual than others? And what do we reveal through our drawings?
Drawing is something we all do unselfconsciously as children before we learn to write. It is a form of expression that goes back 40,000 years and began on the walls of caves. But why do we draw? Is it to make our mark on the world, to decorate our surroundings, or is it a way of communicating with others when words fail us?
Lucy Ash talks to Stephen Wiltshire, world famous for his incredibly detailed pen and ink cityscapes; to David Hockney renowned for both his traditional draughtsmanship and his enthusiasm for new technology, and to Lizzie Ellis, who comes from a remote community in central Australia and draws with a stick, telling stories through her traditional form of Aboriginal women's art.

Presenter: Lucy Ash
Producer: Arlene Gregorius
Editor: Andrew Smith

First broadcast on the BBC World Service.

Why do so many people love drawing? And what do those drawings reveal?

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

0305Cycling20160715Mike Williams asks why so many people have become obsessed with two-wheel travel.

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

The bicycle - and cycling - started out as somewhat of a faddish leisure pursuit, largely the preserve of middle-aged and wealthy men. Yet it quickly became the world's most popular means of transport and remains so to this day. So what lies behind its mass appeal?

Author and life-long cyclist Rob Penn, helps us chart the cultural and social impact of the bicycle. From helping to widen the human gene pool to blazing a trail for the women's movement.

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer:Rose de Larrabeiti

Editor:Andrew Smith

The Why Factor is broadcast weekly on the BBC World Service.

0306Time Perception2016071820210130 (R4)
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Why do some weeks just fly by but sometimes minutes can seem like hours?

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

Mike Williams asks why some weeks just fly by but sometimes minutes can seem like hours? Why do we perceive time differently in different circumstances? Mike talks to Pakistani writer and broadcaster Raza Rumi, Claudia Hammond, author of ""Time Warped"" and John McCarthy, a British journalist taken hostage in Lebanon in 1986.

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer:Bob Howard

Editor; Andrew Smith

First broadcast on the BBC World Service.

Mike Williams asks why some weeks just fly by but sometimes minutes can seem like hours? Why do we perceive time differently in different circumstances? Mike talks to Pakistani writer and broadcaster Raza Rumi, Claudia Hammond, author of "Time Warped" and John McCarthy, a British journalist taken hostage in Lebanon in 1986.

Presenter:Mike Williams
Producer:Bob Howard
Editor; Andrew Smith

0307Why Do People Believe In Conspiracy Theories?20160719Mike Williams investigates.

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

Throughout history people have held conspiracy theories which cast doubt on the official narratives of some very serious events - from the Holocaust to 9/11, Diana to JFK, Lockerbie to Sandy Hook.

What prompts people to think in this way? How should Governments react to the people who doubt them? Or are they in fact critical in our attempts to hold Governments to account?

Mike Williams talks to a psychologist, a Professor of Political Science and a conspiracy theorist as he attempts to separate fact from fiction.

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer: Ben Carter

Editor:Andrew Smith

(Photo: Conspiracy word cloud concept, with abstract background. Credit to Shutterstock).

0308Why Do Some People Become Magicians?2016072020210206 (R4)
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AKA Magicians

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

Tricksters, conjurers, the world of magicians. Who are they and why do they do what they do? We began by asking ourselves why we enjoy magic shows and why we allow them to deceive us. But the psychology of the magicians themselves is as interesting as the psychology of the audience. So what is in the mind of a magician?

Presenter:Mike Williams

Producer: Ben Carter

Editor:Andrew Smith

First broadcast on the BBC World Service.

Presenter:Mike Williams
Producer: Ben Carter
Editor:Andrew Smith

0309Why Do Some People Suffer Addiction?2016072120210213 (R4)
20210426 (R4)
AKA Addiction

Mike Williams investigates the biochemistry of the brain's reward system in an effort to detect the cause of addiction. How can things which initially bring such pleasure become such a destructive force? something that's start off being pleasurable end up making us feel so low? Mike Williams talks to scientists and former addicts who speak frankly as he searches for some answers.

Presenter: Mike Williams

Producer:Ben Carter

Editor:Andrew Smith

First broadcast on the BBC World Service.

Mike Williams investigates the biochemistry of the brain's reward system in an effort to detect the cause of addiction. How can things which initially bring such pleasure become such a destructive force? Mike talks to scientists and former addicts who speak frankly as he searches for some answers.

Presenter: Mike Williams
Producer: Ben Carter
Editor: Andrew Smith

0310The Circus2016072220210510 (R4)From clowns to tight-rope walkers, fire-eaters to elephant trainers, the modern circus has been around for centuries. But why does it still appeal in the modern age? Mike Williams explores the origins of the circus and asks why, in a world of screens, video streaming and TV-on-demand, the circus continues to delight adults and children around the globe. Mike visits the Moscow State Circus, hears from a clown with Cirque Du Soleil and talks to a lion trainer with the biggest animal act in the world. There's thrills, spills, fun and fear.

Presenter: Mike Williams
Producer: Sally Abrahams
Editor: Andrew Smith

First broadcast on the BBC World Service

Why does the circus endure? Mike Williams explores its lasting appeal.

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

0310The Circus2016072220210510 (R4)From clowns to tight-rope walkers, fire-eaters to elephant trainers, the modern circus has been around for centuries. But why does it still appeal in the modern age? Mike Williams explores the origins of the circus and asks why, in a world of screens, video streaming and TV-on-demand, the circus continues to delight adults and children around the globe. Mike visits the Moscow State Circus, hears from a clown with Cirque Du Soleil and talks to a lion trainer with the biggest animal act in the world. There's thrills, spills, fun and fear.

Presenter: Mike Williams
Producer: Sally Abrahams
Editor: Andrew Smith

First broadcast on the BBC World Service

Why does the circus endure? Mike Williams explores its lasting appeal.

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

0310 LASTThe Circus2016072220210220 (R4)Why does the circus endure? Mike Williams explores its lasting appeal.

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

From clowns to tight-rope walkers, fire-eaters to elephant trainers, the modern circus has been around for centuries. But why does it still appeal in the modern age? Mike Williams explores the origins of the circus and asks why, in a world of screens, video streaming and TV-on-demand, the circus continues to delight adults and children around the globe. Mike visits the Moscow State Circus, hears from a clown with Cirque Du Soleil and talks to a lion trainer with the biggest animal act in the world. There's thrills, spills, fun and fear.

Presenter: Mike Williams

Producer: Sally Abrahams

Editor: Andrew Smith

First broadcast on the BBC World Service.

Presenter: Mike Williams
Producer: Sally Abrahams
Editor: Andrew Smith

04Childlessness2013040620210227 (R4)Smaller families are a growing feature on the West - and many women are now choosing not to have children. Mary-Ann Ochota considers why this change is happening - even though there is often great social pressure to procreate.

Presenter:Mary-Ann Ochota
Producer:Rose de Larrabeiti
Editor:Andrew Smith.

Why do some people choose childlessness?

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

04Childlessness2013040620210517 (R4)Smaller families are a growing feature on the West - and many women are now choosing not to have children. Mary-Ann Ochota considers why this change is happening - even though there is often great social pressure to procreate.

Presenter:Mary-Ann Ochota
Producer:Rose de Larrabeiti
Editor:Andrew Smith.

Why do some people choose childlessness?

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

04Goths2017050820210531 (R4)

Why would anyone be a goth? What is the appeal of this dark and spooky subculture that embraces death, pain and sadness? Goths have been attacked, abused and are often misunderstood, but still choose to stand out - dramatically - from the crowd.

Catherine Carr talks to goths about their music, their dress and their love of the darker side of life. Why has this scene that began in the UK in the late 1970s and has spread worldwide, adapted and endured?

She hears from gothic vlogger, Black Friday, about how others react to her striking style and that of her goth husband, Matthius; she learns from Dr Catherine Spooner of Lancaster University about the role and influence of gothic literature in the goth scene and finds out from Professor Isabella Van Elferen of Kingston University, London about the transcendental power of goth music. Dr Paul Hodkinson of Surrey University explains the enduring appeal of the subculture and why once a goth, you're always a goth. And she meets Sylvia Lancaster, whose daughter Sophie, a goth, was murdered because of the way she looked.

Presenter: Catherine Carr
Producer: Sally Abrahams
Editor: Andrew Smith.

Why would anyone be a goth? What is the appeal of this dark and spooky subculture?

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

04Hypochondria2017021020210524 (R4)Why do people suffer from hypochondria, the fear of having a serious, undiagnosed illness? It can be an intensely distressing and disabling condition, with some sufferers even ending up in wheelchairs. So why do hypochondriacs attract so little sympathy?
Presenter: Becky Milligan
Producer: Ben Crighton.

Why do people suffer from hypochondria, and why do they attract so little sympathy?

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

04The Kiss2013041220210123 (R4)
20210405 (R4)
You might think it is a universal trait, something that we all do. But when European explorers travelled the world, they met tribes that didn't kiss. So is it a learnt response after all?

It can be as a greeting, or a sign of reverence or supplication- but we will be talking about the romantic kiss- face to face, lips to lips.

We examine the biochemistry, psychology, anthropology and history of kissing. Where does it come from?

Presented by Charlotte McDonald
Produced by Lizzy McNeill

More editions of The Why Factor are available on the BBC World Service website.

Charlotte McDonald explores if kissing is the universal trait that people believe it to be

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

0401The Kiss20170717Charlotte McDonald explores if kissing is the universal trait that people believe it to be

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

You might think it is a universal trait, something that we all do. But when European explorers travelled the world, they met tribes that didn't kiss. So is it a learnt response after all?

It can be as a greeting, or a sign of reverence or supplication- but we will be talking about the romantic kiss- face to face, lips to lips.

We examine the biochemistry, psychology, anthropology and history of kissing. Where does it come from?

Presented by Charlotte McDonald
Produced by Lizzy McNeill

More editions of The Why Factor are available on the BBC World Service website.

0402Childlessness20170718Why do some people choose childlessness?

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

0403Hypochondria2017071920210306 (R4)Why do people suffer from hypochondria, and why do they attract so little sympathy?

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

Why do people suffer from hypochondria, the fear of having a serious, undiagnosed illness? It can be an intensely distressing and disabling condition, with some sufferers even ending up in wheelchairs. So why do hypochondriacs attract so little sympathy?
Presenter: Becky Milligan
Producer: Ben Crighton.

0404Why Do Some People Practice Polygamy?20170720Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

When many people struggle to maintain one relationship, why do some people enter into multiple simultaneous marriages? Lucy Ash hears why polygamists are drawn to these complex arrangements and how they manage them. She discusses rotas, hierarchies and curfews with a South African businessman and his four wives who star in a popular reality TV show. A former Mormon polygamist from the American state of Utah tells how having to share her husband with a sister wife had a devastating impact on her mental health. Anthropologist Katie Starkweather explains why some societies have favoured polyandry, the practice of one woman marrying multiple men.

Presenter:Lucy Ash
Producers: Viv Jones, Lizzy McNeill
Editor:Andrew Smith.

0405Goths2017072120210320 (R4)Why would anyone be a goth? What is the appeal of this dark and spooky subculture?

Series that explores the hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions.

Why would anyone be a goth? What is the appeal of this dark and spooky subculture that embraces death, pain and sadness? Goths have been attacked, abused and are often misunderstood, but still choose to stand out - dramatically - from the crowd.

Catherine Carr talks to goths about their music, their dress and their love of the darker side of life. Why has this scene that began in the UK in the late 1970s and has spread worldwide, adapted and endured?

She hears from gothic vlogger, Black Friday, about how others react to her striking style and that of her goth husband, Matthius; she learns from Dr Catherine Spooner of Lancaster University about the role and influence of gothic literature in the goth scene and finds out from Professor Isabella Van Elferen of Kingston University, London about the transcendental power of goth music. Dr Paul Hodkinson of Surrey University explains the enduring appeal of the subculture and why once a goth, you're always a goth. And she meets Sylvia Lancaster, whose daughter Sophie, a goth, was murdered because of the way she looked.

Presenter: Catherine Carr
Producer: Sally Abrahams
Editor: Andrew Smith.