Arts and Ideas

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The best of BBC Radio 3's flagship arts and ideas programme Free Thinking - featuring in-depth interviews and debates with artists, scientists and public figures.

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Partition, colonial power and the voices of C16th women

53:33 | Mar 14th

Artist Hew Locke and historians Suzannah Lipscomb, Aanchal Malhotra & Anindya Raychaudhuri talk to Rana Mitter about using objects and archives to create new images of the past, from Guyana to India and Pakistan to women in C16th France. Suzannah Li...Show More

The Council Estate in Culture

45:57 | Mar 13th

Painter George Shaw, crime writer Dreda Say Mitchell and drama expert Katie Beswick join Matthew Sweet to look at depictions of estate living - from the writing of Andrea Dunbar to SLICK on Sheffield's Park Hill estate to the images of the Tile Hill ...Show More

Women, relationships and the law past and present

45:36 | Mar 7th

Lying about a sexual attack, resisting parental pressures to marry, using the law to fight for inheritance and divorce. Shahidha Bari talks to the fiction writers Ayelet Gundar-Goshen and Layla AlAmmar about their new books which depict girls who fee...Show More

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

45:51 | Mar 6th

How self-revealing and frank should a writer be? Lara Feigel, David Aaronovitch, Melissa Benn and Xiaolu Guo join Matthew Sweet to look at the life of Doris Lessing and her 1962 novel in which she explores difficult love, life, war, politics and drea...Show More

David Bailey, Don McCullin

49:19 | Mar 5th

The photographers, David Bailey and Don McCullin, came to prominence in the 1960s but their pictures did more than define a decade. Don McCullin's work in Vietnam, Biafra, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and the Middle East have come to epitomise what we me...Show More

Gazelle Twin, Julia Bardsley, Hannah Catherine Jones, Luke Turner & William Fowler

58:46 | Mar 5th

Gazelle Twin (Elizabeth Bernholz), Julia Bardsley, Hannah Catherine Jones, Luke Turner & William Fowler join Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough and an audience at Café OTO at the Late Junction Festival for a debate about trends within British culture. Ga...Show More

The joy of sewing, poet Fatimah Asghar, Painting in miniature.

44:54 | Mar 4th

Shahidha Bari talks to Fatimah Asghar about poetry and the Emmy nominated web series Brown Girls. We have a look at the miniatures of Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver – court painters to Queen Elizabeth and James the first who both feature in an ex...Show More

Skeuomorphs, Design and Modern Craft

44:58 | Feb 28th

Laurence Scott, Will Self and New Generation Thinkers Lisa Mullen and Danielle Thom look at redundant features in design plus a visit to Collect: International Art Fair for Modern Craft and Design, presented at the Crafts Council, at the Saatchi Gall...Show More

Jack the Ripper and women as victims

45:43 | Feb 26th

Historian Hallie Rubenhold reveals the previously untold stories of the five women killed by the Ripper and challenges the myths that have grown up around the Whitechapel Murders of 1888.

Images of Japan

44:14 | Feb 21st

Fumio Obata and Jocelyne Allen discuss graphic art and manga.

Authority in the Era of Populism

1:13:54 | Feb 21st

What is required of a good leader in an age of disruption? Jamie Bartlett, Professor Mary Kaldor, Dame Louise Casey, Dame Heather Rabbatts, Rupert Reid debate at the London School of Economics. Anne McElvoy chairs. Jamie Bartlett is writer and techn...Show More

The joy of sewing, poet Fatimah Asghar, Painting in miniature

44:33 | Feb 20th

Shahidha Bari talks poetry and the web series Brown Girls, plus the history of sewing.

Patti LuPone

44:56 | Feb 19th

How loud should you be? Italian American performer Patti LuPone talks to Philip Dodd about why she doesn’t consider herself an American, her politics, unsuccessful auditions, backbiting, corporate entertainment, #Me Too. Her career has taken her from...Show More

Scented gloves and gossip: civility and news in the Renaissance

58:45 | Feb 15th

Shahidha Bari discusses new research on the the ins and outs of Renaissance culture: John Gallagher on civility, Emily Butterworth on news and gossip, Lauren Working on material culture, Sarah Knight and Hannah Crawforth on 'difficultness'. This pod...Show More


46:54 | Feb 14th

Poet Andrew McMillan, philosopher and psychologist Laura Mucha, poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw & writer Elanor Dymott explores who and why we love. Presented by Anne McElvoy. Laura Mucha has written Love Factually: the science of who, how and wh...Show More

Africa Babel China

44:49 | Feb 13th

West Africa has a fundamental place in the shaping of the modern world and its story is told in a new history by Toby Green. He joins Rana Mitter in the Free Thinking studio alongside Xue Xinran who explores China's recent history through the lives a...Show More

Spike Lee

46:05 | Feb 12th

The film-maker Spike Lee talks to Matthew Sweet about black power and prejudice, the politics of blackface, and the Oscars as his film BlacKkKlansman is nominated for six Academy Awards. Since 1983, his production company has produced over 35 films...Show More

Self Knowledge, Global Catastrophe and Simulated Worlds

46:41 | Feb 7th

Self-knowledge, intellectual vices & conspiracy theories are debated by Professor Quassim Cassam and presenter Matthew Sweet. Plus New Generation Thinker Simon Beard discusses an exhibition of artwork commissioned by the Cambridge Centre for the Stud...Show More

Encylopedias and Knowledge: from Diderot to Wikipedia.

46:27 | Feb 6th

Jimmy Wales talks Diderot & collecting knowledge + Tariq Goddard on Mark Fisher aka k-punk. The French writer Diderot was thrown into prison in 1749 for his atheism, worked on ideas of democracy at the Russian court of Catherine the Great and collabo...Show More

Street Culture, Protests, Food.

45:53 | Feb 5th

Gilet jaune and novelist Edouard Louis, food expert Fabio Parasecoli, journalist, Gavin Mortimer and the historians Jerry White & Joanna Marchant with Philip Dodd. Whether it’s Berlin, Moscow or the Paris of the gilet jaunes - streets play a vital ...Show More

Sea Goings

51:30 | Jan 31st

Conceptual artist Katie Paterson on art which produces candles scented with planetary odours – one of Saturn's moons has a hint of cherry…and how she and co-exhibitor the Romantic painter JMW Turner share an interest in the precise nature of moon lig...Show More

Slavoj Zizek, Camille Paglia, Flemming Rose

45:11 | Jan 30th

Can causing offence be a good thing? Philip Dodd explores this question with the Slovenian philosopher, the American author and the Danish journalist. On the 15th February 1989 the Ayatollah Komeni issued a fatwah following the publication of Salma...Show More

Art & Refugees from Nazi Germany.

45:24 | Jan 29th

Following this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day, Anne McElvoy looks at new writing which reflects on this history and at a festival marking the impact on British culture of refugees and artists who fled from the Nazis. Ed Williams from leading marketing...Show More


46:32 | Jan 24th

Kate Maltby, Lucy Powell, Zoe Strimpel join Shahidha Bari. Virtue Rewarded is the subtitle of Samuel Richardson's 1740 novel Pamela, which began as a conduct book before he turned it into the new literary form of the novel. Playwright Martin Crimp ha...Show More

Slow Looking at Art

45:20 | Jan 23rd

As new shows featuring the Post-impressionist, Pierre Bonnard and the video artist, Bill Viola, open in London, Laurence Scott and his guests discuss the way we experience art from the current vogue for slow looking to the 30 second appraisal scienti...Show More

Oscars 2019

46:14 | Jan 22nd

Matthew Sweet and critics Catherine Bray and Ryan Gilbey look at films making waves as the Academy announces this year's nominations. Writer Jan Asante and cultural theorist Bill Schwarz assess James Baldwin's legacy in the light of the film adaptati...Show More


46:04 | Jan 17th

Do our heroes and heroines have to be perfect? How do religious ikons link to iconoclasm and the labelling of film idols & politicians "icons of our time". Matthew Sweet is joined by film historian Pamela Hutchinson, bioethicist Tom Shakespeare, hist...Show More

Tourism past and present

45:19 | Jan 16th

The must see sights on the Grand Tour, in Cold War Moscow & tourist hot spots now. Rana Mitter is joined by Roey Sweet, Sarah Goldsmith, Nick Barnett, Cindy Yu and Simon Calder. Producer: Torquil MacLeod.


45:24 | Jan 15th

Novelist John Lanchester, journalist Tim Marshall and historians David Frye and Kylie Murray join Anne McElvoy to discuss why we build walls rather than bridges and what it says about civilisations past, present and future from Persia to Berlin, the ...Show More


45:35 | Jan 10th

Shahidha Bari, Josh Cohen, Madeleine Bunting, Lisa Baraitser, Rachel Long, and Sam Goodman explore the value of doing nothing and our wider experience of time. Josh Cohen is the author of Not Working: Why We Have to Stop. Lisa Baraitser is Professo...Show More

Free Thinking: Born in 1819: Ruskin, Clough and Bazalgette

45:24 | Jan 9th

The social campaigning, engineering and writing of three Victorians - art critic and philanthropist John Ruskin, poet and assistant to Florence Nightingale Arthur Hugh Clough and the builder of London's sewer system Joseph Bazalgette. Greg Tate, Suza...Show More

Landmark: Laurel and Hardy's The Music Box

46:14 | Jan 8th

Lucy Porter, Neil Brand and David Quantick join Matthew Sweet to talk about Cric e Croc or Flip i Flap or even Dick und Doof though, if you're not Italian, Polish or German, it's far more likely that Hollywood's most famous comedy duo will be known t...Show More

The Digital Humanities

57:37 | Dec 21st, 2018

What’s the connection between Jane Austen’s particular choice of words in an afternoon in 1812, the oldest manuscript of Beowulf, fake news in 17th century England, and high definition digital photography? Laurence Scott talks to Kathryn Sutherland o...Show More

Landmark: Watership Down

45:05 | Dec 20th, 2018

An ecological fable about a perfect society which terrified children when it was first animated. Matthew Sweet reads Richard Adams' classic as a new version arrives on UK TV screens. He's joined by Dr Diana Bell, conservation biologist at UEA; Victor...Show More

What does game playing teach us?

49:05 | Dec 19th, 2018

University Challenge star Bobby Seagull, writer and critic Jordan Erica Webber, games consultant and researcher Dr Laura Mitchell, and British Museum curator Irving Finkel join Shahidha Bari and others in the Free Thinking studio to get out the playi...Show More

Trees of Knowledge

44:44 | Dec 18th, 2018

Why Are We Here? What is a sentient being? These are questions we don't normally explore using plants but perhaps we should. Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough hears how identifying more closely with living beings who produce our oxygen and store the Sun's...Show More


45:21 | Dec 13th, 2018

Anne McElvoy wraps up warm for an account of life in Antarctica through prose and poetry, how the idea of the North Pole has fired the human imagination for centuries and an artist's interpretation of the Arctic through sound. Also how the spectacula...Show More

Linton Kwesi Johnson

45:17 | Dec 12th, 2018

"My generation, which was the rebel generation of black youth, has changed England and in changing England we've changed ourselves" - the words of Linton Kwesi Johnson - the man who invented dub poetry and used it to chronicle some of the key events ...Show More

Writing and Frankness

1:06:15 | Dec 11th, 2018

Deborah Levy, Adam Phillips and Amia Srinivasan join Matthew Sweet at the British Library for a Royal Society of Literature debate. Why do we read? Why do we write? What do we reveal when we do? A writer, a psychotherapist and a philosopher discuss...Show More

Are we being manipulated?

44:06 | Dec 6th, 2018

Who's pulling your strings - from advertisers and peer pressure to political campaigns and self-deception - hidden persuaders are everywhere. Journalist Poppy Noor, historian Sarah Marks, psychologist and magician, Gustav Kuhn, the philosopher, Quass...Show More

Is there a great divide between the arts and science?

46:01 | Dec 5th, 2018

Geneticist Sir Paul Nurse, current director of the Francis Crick Institute, and Tristram Hunt, historian and now director of the V&A, debate the impact of robots, the winners and losers in funding, whether our education system has the balance right b...Show More

Natasha Gordon. Bessie Head. Rwanda Representation and Reality

45:07 | Dec 5th, 2018

As her award-winning debut play, Nine Night, comes to London's West End, Natasha Gordon tells Anne about the grieving ritual that binds in the Jamaican diaspora. Nine Night at Trafalgar Studios, London, until February 23rd On the 50th anniversary o...Show More

Mike Hodges; Dark Sweden.

45:49 | Nov 29th, 2018

The director of the 1971 film Get Carter, which starred Michael Caine, has now written his own crime novellas. Mike Hodges talks to Matthew Sweet. If Nordic Noir has reshaped an image of Sweden away from Abba into a society showing cracks - journalis...Show More

Slavery Stories

58:38 | Nov 28th, 2018

A long lost classic by William Melvin Kelley, who coined the term "woke" back in 1962 in a New York Times article, Esi Edugyan's Booker shortlisted novel, and new research on slavery with historians Christienna Fryar, Kevin Waite, and Andrea Livesey....Show More

Plagues, Urban Inequality and Restricted Books

45:22 | Nov 27th, 2018

Should we worry about the world getting healthier? Thomas Bollyky thinks we should. Jane Stevens Crawshaw looks at cleanliness and disease in Renaissance cities & Penny Woolcock films Oxford and LA. Rana Mitter presents. For the first time in recor...Show More

Leadership: lessons from US Presidents and campaigners.

45:06 | Nov 23rd, 2018

Doris Kearns Goodwin on POTUS, crisis management and ambition - from Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt through FDR and LBJ to Donald Trump. Novelist Georgina Harding and Philip Woods compare notes on the impact of the war in Burma and depictions in fict...Show More

The Left Behind

44:05 | Nov 21st, 2018

Eric Kaufmann talks to Philip Dodd about white identity, immigration and populism. Plus Hungarian politics with cultural historian, Krisztina Robert, journalist, Matyas Sarkozi and Zsuzsa Szelenyi of the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna. Eric K...Show More

What kind of history should we write?

44:58 | Nov 21st, 2018

Peter Frankopan brings his history of ties across Asia into the present while Maya Jasanoff, winner of the world's richest history prize, uses the novels of Joseph Conrad to show that the novelist was wrestling with the same problems and opportunitie...Show More

Buses, beer and VR - a taste of university research.

50:55 | Nov 15th, 2018

A 3,000 year old Iranian ritual, archaeology on a council estate, and London's Greek Cypriot community: Matthew Sweet hops on the 29 bus route, puts on some VR glasses, and visits the hospital which was home to "the Elephant Man" as he talks to resea...Show More

Death rituals

45:16 | Nov 14th, 2018

From death cafes to bronze age burials, C19th mourning rings to the way healthcare professionals cope when patients die. Eleanor Barraclough looks at research showcased in the Being Human Festival at UK universities. Laura O'Brien at Northumbria Un...Show More

Lost Words and Language

45:38 | Nov 14th, 2018

New Scots words to add to the The Dictionar o the Scots Leid and a quiz about words from medieval Ireland are 2 of the Being Human Festival projects explored by Shahidha Bari. Plus how researchers are using film to explore social history and a major ...Show More

Why are we silent when conflict is loud?

44:36 | Nov 8th, 2018

Journalist Peter Hitchens; the Rector of St James’s Church Piccadilly Lucy Winkett; performer and director Neil Bartlett and Professor Steve Brown from the Open University join Anne McElvoy at the Imperial War Museum for their 2018 Remembrance Lectur...Show More

Butterflies and Bloodstains: Fragments of the First World War

46:18 | Nov 8th, 2018

Shahidha Bari is joined by cultural historian Ana Carden-Coyne, literary scholar Santanu Das, and Julia Neville, co-ordinator of the Exeter First World War Hospitals Project, to discuss the 1914-1918 War. Their research turns the War into a mosaic of...Show More

Landmark: Journey to the End of the Night

48:38 | Nov 7th, 2018

Better than Proust -- the man who made literature out of colloquial French -- the arch chronicler of human depravity --- some of the things that are said about Louis Ferdinand Céline, author of Journey to the End of the Night - one of the masterpiece...Show More

Wilfred Owen: Poetry and Peace.

51:29 | Nov 6th, 2018

Gillian Clarke, Sabrina Mahfouz and Michael Symmons Roberts respond to the war poet Wilfred Owen with their own new commissions from the Royal Society of Literature. Shahidha Bari hosts a discussion recorded with an audience at the British Library on...Show More

Re-thinking the Human Condition

46:10 | Nov 1st, 2018

Henry Hardy has written In Search of Isaiah Berlin: A Literary Adventure Diving For Seahorses: A Journey Through the Science of Memory by Hilde Østby and Ylva Østby explores the study of memory from the Renaissance to the present day. Dafydd Daniel i...Show More

Religious divisions, puppet shows and politics.

45:26 | Oct 31st, 2018

The exile of English Catholics 450 years ago, suffragette Punch and Judy plus Shahidha Bari interviews Kapka Kassabova, the winner of a prize for fostering global understanding. The British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Underst...Show More

The Memes that Make Us Laugh

45:19 | Oct 30th, 2018

The memes that make us laugh - have we become meaner or can schadenfreude be a positive thing? Philosophical traditions around the world - can you outline the ideas of Nishida as well as Nietzsche? Is Japan facing a key moment of change in what it me...Show More

From the Gallows to the Holy Land: Medieval Pilgrimage

53:06 | Oct 26th, 2018

From a hanged man who came back to life to walk from Swansea to Hereford, to a woman who travelled from London to Evesham in a wheelbarrow, studying pilgrimage opens up a unique window on the world of the middle ages. Catherine Clarke, Anthony Bale, ...Show More

The Dark and Political Messages of Kids Fiction.

45:36 | Oct 25th, 2018

Michael Rosen and Kimberley Reynolds talk to Anne McElvoy about socialist fairy tales and radicalism in books for children. Nikita Gill and Katherine Webber on giving traditional tales a modern twist. Reading & Revolution: An Anthology of Radical Wr...Show More

Mike Leigh

45:53 | Oct 24th, 2018

The film director talks to Matthew Sweet about his career and his approach to dramatising history. His new film Peterloo depicts the 1819 massacre at a rally in Manchester where a crowd of 60,000–80,000 were demanding the reform of parliamentary repr...Show More

Playing God

45:44 | Oct 23rd, 2018

How do you put the Bible on stage or make a modern medieval mystery play? Shahidha Bari talks to the National Theatre of Brent's Patrick Barlow as his play The Messiah starts at UK tour. New Generation Thinker Daisy Black watches a new medieval myste...Show More

Enchantment, Witches and Woodlands

46:44 | Oct 18th, 2018

Matthew Sweet takes to the woods with thoroughly modern witch, William Hunter, and writer and folklorist, Zoe Gilbert, to look for green men and suitable spots for a ritual. If modern magic is all about re-enchanting the world then old magic was more...Show More

Francis Fukuyama, Olga Tokarczuk, Alev Scott, Michael Talbot.

50:07 | Oct 18th, 2018

What's it like to be banned from your own country or to have your writing spark a row? Rana Mitter's guests talk identity, borders, forest landscapes and the long impact of the Ottoman empire. The American political scientist Francis Fukuyama is ass...Show More

Re-writing C20th British Philosophy

45:30 | Oct 16th, 2018

Putting women back into the C20th history of British philosophy. Shahidha Bari talks to Alex Clark about the 2018 Man Booker Prize, considers the thinking of Mary Midgley whose death at the age of 99 was announced last week and puts her alongside Eli...Show More

Sinking Your Teeth Into Vampires

38:20 | Oct 16th, 2018

Is soap opera the heir to the gothic novel? Is America seeing a resurgence of gothic TV and fiction? Shahidha Bari looks at new Gothic research with Nick Groom and Xavier Aldana Reyes. Vampires weren’t invented by horror writers, but were first enco...Show More


45:34 | Oct 11th, 2018

Helena Kennedy on #MeToo and the message it sends that the British legal system needs to get its house in order. Plus power in Pinter's plays and rape in Chaucer. Shahida Bari talks to theatre directors Jamie Lloyd and Lia Williams about language and...Show More

Greed and Landownership Past, Present, Future

44:51 | Oct 11th, 2018

The Scottish Clearances by Tom Devine, Professor Emeritus, University of Edinburgh. The Farm, a new novel by Hector Abad is translated by Anne McLean The Future of Capitalism by Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik...Show More

Drugs and Consciousness

46:30 | Oct 10th, 2018

Does LSD open the doors of perception or just mess with your head? Leo Butler tells Matthew Sweet about writing a play inspired by taking part in the world's first LSD medical trials since the 1960s. Philosophers Peg O'Connor and Barry Smith lock hor...Show More

A Feminist Take on Medieval History

40:54 | Oct 6th, 2018

How does Chaucer write about rape and consent ? What links Kim Kardashian West & Margery Kempe - an English Christian mystic and mother of 14 children who wrote about her religious visions in the 1420s in what has been called the first autobiography ...Show More

The Frieze Debate: Museums in the 21st Century

44:22 | Oct 4th, 2018

. Museum directors from USA, Austria and Britain look at the challenges of displaying their collections for new audiences. Anne McElvoy's guests include Michael Govan, Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art LACMA, Sabine Haag, Director, K...Show More

Sarah Perry’s Melmoth, Spookiness and Fear.

46:16 | Oct 3rd, 2018

Matthew Sweet talks to the author of The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry, about her re-imagining of the Melmoth story, first published in 1920 by the Irish playwright, novelist and clergyman Charles Maturin. His Melmoth the Wanderer was a critique of Cath...Show More

Gandhi's power, portable citizenship & Indian writing - China's missing film star

49:31 | Oct 2nd, 2018

Gandhi's power, portable citizenship and Indian writing. Rana Mitter talks to Ramachandra Guha about his new biography of Gandhi, hears about "portable citizenship from Indrajit Roy and discusses Indian writing and literary tradition with Amit Chaudh...Show More

Loss, Grief and Anger

44:55 | Sep 27th, 2018

Lisa Appignanesi, prize-winning writer and Freudian scholar, with a personal memoir that explores public and private loss and anger. Presenter Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough also looks at a Festival of Canadian and North American writing meeting author...Show More

Slavoj Žižek, Camille Paglia, Flemming Rose

51:59 | Sep 26th, 2018

Can causing offence be a good thing? Philip Dodd explores this question with the Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, the American author, Camille Paglia and the Danish journalist, Flemming Rose. Camille Paglia is a Professor at the University of the...Show More

The Goodies

45:58 | Sep 25th, 2018

Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie talk to Matthew Sweet about how humour changes and the targets of their TV comedy show which ran during the '70s and early '80s. A box set of the 67 half hour episodes is being released. Producer: Har...Show More

What Nietzsche teaches us

46:20 | Sep 20th, 2018

How Nietzsche might have responded to current debates, including Trump, 'post-truth', identity and Europe. Kwame Anthony Appiah talks about his new work on identity and biographer Sue Prideaux and philosophers Hugo Drochon and Katrina Mitcheson join ...Show More

What Camus and Claude Lévi-Strauss teach us

45:11 | Sep 19th, 2018

Rana Mitter talks to poet and writer Ben Okri and writer and journalist Agnes Poirier about the contemporary resonance of The Outsider by Albert Camus (1913-1960), and as a new biography of the anthropological giant, Claude Levi-Strauss by Emmanuelle...Show More

What St Augustine teaches us

44:52 | Sep 18th, 2018

Ideas of tryanny, martyrdom, sin and grace in a new play set against Indian politics today and an exhibition which might be called pornographic. April De Angelis has relocated a Lope De Vega play to contemporary India, and a backdrop of political unr...Show More

Proms Plus: Retelling Troy

21:55 | Sep 18th, 2018

Bettany Hughes and Alex Clark discuss feminist retellings of The Iliad. Rachel Stirling reads extracts.

Sebastian Faulks

44:46 | Sep 13th, 2018

The author of Birdsong talks to Anne McElvoy in one of the first conversations about his new novel. Sebastian Faulks discusses depicting France past and present from World War I to Algeria and immigration now as he publishes his latest novel called P...Show More

Women Finding a Voice

45:01 | Sep 12th, 2018

Deborah Frances-White host of podcast The Guilty Feminist joins Catherine Fletcher. Novelist Michèle Roberts reviews a portrait of artist Louise Bourgeois woven from conversations, and comedian and classicist Natalie Haynes discusses co-writing a mod...Show More


45:59 | Sep 11th, 2018

A silent room and a design to encourage disobedience are amongst the exhibits that Matthew Sweet and Laurence Scott visit at the London Design Biennale as they consider the role of Design in the week the V&A opens a new museum in Dundee. New Generati...Show More

Proms Plus_ 68_Sex and Death

36:14 | Sep 3rd, 2018

The Booker long-listed crime writer, Belinda Bauer and the novelist, Patricia Duncker, join Matthew Sweet to discuss sex and death in literature. Embracing everything from Emily Bronte to Margaret Atwood they consider the challenges and the pitfall...Show More

Proms Plus: Northern Lights

20:38 | Aug 29th, 2018

The appearance of the aurora borealis has entranced and intrigued people from cultures across the world, inspiring art, music and stories, including tonight's Proms world premiere of Iain Bell's Aurora. But what creates it? Why is it green? Physicist...Show More

Proms Plus: W. H. Auden's The Age of Anxiety

31:29 | Aug 29th, 2018

W H Auden called his longest poem, The Age of Anxiety a baroque eclogue - a description which hints at its rich complexity. Its account of a meeting between four strangers in a New York bar inspired Leonard Bernstein’s second symphony and was much a...Show More

Prom Plus: Gypsy, Roma & Traveller Culture

37:22 | Aug 23rd, 2018

Novelist Louise Doughty, author of Apple Tree Yard and Stone Cradle, talks to writer Damian Le Bas, author of The Stopping Places, about their shared Romany heritage and the culture of the wider Romany diaspora. Presenter: Sophie Coulombeau


31:53 | Aug 21st, 2018

Fairy tales are not just familiar stories told to children but are also a means of conveying dark truths about morality and behaviour to adults. There are similarities between stories shared in different cultures . Composer Kerry Andrew has publishe...Show More

Landmark Jaws: Sharks and Whales

44:57 | Aug 20th, 2018

Novelist Will Self, shark expert Gareth Fraser and film expert Ian Hunter join Matthew Sweet for a discussion about sharks, whales and the impact of the book and film Jaws. Jaws started out as a novel which reads as a sociological study of a smal...Show More

Proms Plus: Sinking of the Lusitania

26:46 | Aug 15th, 2018

Historians Laura Rowe and Saul David discuss the controversy surrounding the 1915 German torpedo attack that sank the RMS Lusitania, killing 1198 passengers and crew

Proms Plus: Ecstatic States

21:37 | Aug 14th, 2018

Christopher Harding talked to the philosopher Mark Vernon and New Generation Thinker Hetta Howes about figures from the past and present who have searched for a sense of transcendence and experienced ecstatic states.

Proms Plus:The Weeping Prophet and Visions of Chaos

32:29 | Aug 13th, 2018

The Bible has provided much fruitful inspiration to poets, novelists and composers over the past two thousand years. BBC New Generation Thinker Dr Joe Moshenska teaches Milton at the University of Cambridge. He discusses ideas of doom, chaos and Bib...Show More


34:52 | Aug 6th, 2018

A series of classical tales, from the Iliad to the Inferno have been recast by modern poets. Sean O’Brien has written a version of Dante’s Inferno, and, for the stage, Aristophanes’ The Birds; he is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle Univer...Show More

Proms Plus: Folklore of Britain and Ireland

21:23 | Aug 6th, 2018

Poets Gillian Clarke and Peter Mackay discuss the rich seam of folklore that has influenced their work and the danger of losing our connection to these tales. Gillian is a former National Poet of Wales and winner of the Queen’s Medal for Poetry. Pete...Show More

Proms Plus: Mountains

33:16 | Jul 30th, 2018

The Alps have loomed large in the artistic imagination since the Romantic poets explored them in search of ‘the sublime’. Historian Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough talks to writer Abbie Garrington and climber Dan Richards. His book Climbing Days tells t...Show More

Proms Plus: Funny Fiction

20:42 | Jul 28th, 2018

Inspired by Beethoven's penchant for musical jokes, Sahidha Bari is joined by writer Meg Rosoff for a selection of readings of comic fiction from Kingsley Amis to Paul Beatty. The reader is Carl Prekopp.

Proms Plus: Birds and Humans

33:42 | Jul 27th, 2018

Bird biologist Tim Birkhead is for Guillemots while it's Goshawks for novelist and hawker Helen Macdonald. They join Lucy Powell to reflect on birds in culture and science.

Proms Plus: The Wanderer

21:32 | Jul 25th, 2018

Lauren Elkin, author of 'Flaneuse' and BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker Seán Williams talk to Rana Mitter about the joys of a wandering life and the inspiration that walking brought to writers from the 18th century to the present day.

Proms Plus Talk: Daphnis & Chloe

21:14 | Jul 17th, 2018

Longus’s charming pastoral novel Daphnis and Chloe about teenage love and pirates was written in the second century AD. Tim Whitmarsh, AG Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at Cambridge, discusses his work, alongside that of other early Greek writer...Show More

Howard Jacobson

50:04 | Jul 12th, 2018

Why We Need the Novel Now. Man Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson delivers a keynote lecture and talks to presenter Shahidha Bari and an audience at the Southbank Centre in London as part of the Man Booker 50 Festival. In the age of Twitter and no-p...Show More

Helaine Blumenfeld, Dale Harding; Stella Tillyard

48:34 | Jul 12th, 2018

Helaine Blumenfeld is a sculptor who divides her time between her family in England and her work-family in Italy. As an exhibition featuring much new work opens in Ely Cathedral, she talks to Anne McElvoy about expressing her thoughts in marble, the ...Show More

Philosophical tennis, hidden beaches and Eleanor Marx.

45:02 | Jul 10th, 2018

At the height of summer, Matthew Sweet and guests turn their minds to tennis, beaches and walking. As Wimbledon continues, Benjamin Markovits and William Skidelsky consider the philosophy of tennis; New Generation Thinker Des Fitzgerald explores ...Show More

From C18 automata to Superheroes and Digital Living

45:32 | Jul 6th, 2018

Playwright Charlotte Jones, author Laurence Scott, New Generation Thinkers Lisa Mullen and Iain Smith join Matthew Sweet. Charlotte Jones discusses her new play set in a Quaker community during the Napoleonic Wars. Matthew Sweet visits Compton Ver...Show More

Renzo Piano

44:44 | Jul 4th, 2018

The Italian architect and engineer, Renzo Piano, talks to Philip Dodd about his career from the Pompidou in Paris (with Richard Rogers) to the Shard in London and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. 50 years of his work are being mark...Show More

What do you call a stranger? The Caine Prize. NHS ideals.

44:49 | Jul 4th, 2018

Nandini Das and John Gallagher look at words for strangers in Tudor and Stuart England and ideas about civility. Plus Shahidha Bari talks to Makena Onjerika the winner of the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing. And, as the NHS approaches its 70th...Show More

Fun Home, Olivia Laing, Oscar Wilde, The Deer Hunter

45:58 | Jun 28th, 2018

Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir 'Fun Home' on stage at the Young Vic in London reviewed by Jen Harvie from Queens Mary University of London, a novel inspired by Kathy Acker from Olivia Laing, Film historian and broadcaster Ian Christie on the 40th an...Show More

The body, past and present

44:54 | Jun 28th, 2018

Can beauty be an ethical ideal? What did being handsome mean in C18 England? How do we look at images by Egon Schiele and Francesca Woodman or a Renaissance nude and is that affected by changing attitudes towards the body now? Anne McElvoy talks to t...Show More

The Working Lunch and Food in History

44:31 | Jun 27th, 2018

Rana Mitter discusses food in history. James C Scott on the role of grain and coercion in the development of the first settled societies, and how the Victorians changed lunch, with New Generation Thinkers Elsa Richardson and Chris Kissane. Plus, fol...Show More

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Woman’s Rights

17:50 | Jun 22nd, 2018

170 years ago one woman launched the beginning of the modern women’s rights movement in America. New Generation Thinker Joanna Cohen of Queen Mary University of London looks back at her story and what lessons it has for politics now. In the small...Show More

John Gower, the Forgotten Medieval Poet

18:36 | Jun 22nd, 2018

The lawyer turned poet whose response to political upheaval has lessons for our time - explored by New Generation Thinker Seb Falk with an audience at the York Festival of Ideas The 14th century’s most eloquent pessimist, John Gower has forever b...Show More

Sarah Scott and the Dream of a Female Utopia

18:06 | Jun 22nd, 2018

A radical community of women set up in 1760s rural England is explored in an essay from New Generation Thinker Lucy Powell, recorded with an audience at the 2018 York Festival of Ideas. Sarah Scott’s first novel, published in 1750, was a conventio...Show More

The Forgotten German Princess

17:59 | Jun 22nd, 2018

The most famous imposter of the seventeenth century - Mary Carleton. John Gallagher, of the University of Leeds, argues that the story of the "German Princess" raises questions about what evidence we believe and the currency of shame. Her real name...Show More

Rehabilitating the Rev John Trusler

17:54 | Jun 22nd, 2018

Sophie Coulombeau tells the story of John Trusler, an eccentric Anglican minister who was the quintessential 18th-century entrepreneur. He was a prolific author, an innovative publisher, a would-be inventor, and a ‘medical gentleman’ of dubious quali...Show More

Oliver Rackham and Wildwood Ideas

44:37 | Jun 21st, 2018

Our romantic attachment to the idea of wildwood, the impossibility of ever getting back to some primeval grove, and the possibilities opening up about the health and wellbeing of future forests, are debated by Rana Mitter with ecologist and conservat...Show More

Windrush. Forests in Art. South African Jazz

44:53 | Jun 21st, 2018

Colin Grant, Hannah Lowe and Jay Bernard discuss writing about Windrush 70 years on with Shahidha Bari. Plus Alexandra Harris looks at trees in art as part of Radio 3's Into the Forest season of programmes and Jonathan Eato and Nduduzo Makhintini dis...Show More

The Word For World Is Forest

44:39 | Jun 19th, 2018

Ursula Le Guin's idea of the forest is explored by philosopher and Green party politician Rupert Read and novelist Zen Cho. Plus Matthew Sweet talks to Ian Hislop about this year's winner of the Paul Foot Award for Investigative Journalism, and for R...Show More

The Piano and Love

45:14 | Jun 14th, 2018

Historian Fern Riddell and composer Debbie Wiseman on why the piano is essentially erotic while psychologist Frank Tallis and Tiffany Watt Smith explore obsessive love with presenter Matthew Sweet. Plus Grainne Sweeney curator of an exhibition which ...Show More

Inside the 'Intellectual Dark Web'

44:33 | Jun 13th, 2018

Commentator Douglas Murray, journalist Bari Weiss and writer Ed Husain join Philip Dodd to explore the 'Intellectual Dark Web'. Their YouTube videos and podcasts receive millions of views and downloads. They sell out theatres across the US. But t...Show More

Mark Lilla. Owen Hatherley. Gulzaar Barn.

44:56 | Jun 12th, 2018

Mark Lilla could be called the conscience of liberal America. He talks to Anne McElvoy about life after identity politics. 2018 New Generation Thinker Gulzaar Barn discusses whether paying people for taking part in medical trials is different from ot...Show More

The Man Who Convinced Jimmy Carter to Run for President

44:50 | Jun 7th, 2018

Matthew Sweet meets with physician, anthropologist, author and Jimmy Carter's former 'drugs czar', Peter Bourne. Comparing his life to the title character in the film Forrest Gump, the trained psychiatrist and Vietnam veteran looks back on an ecl...Show More

Bernard-Henri Lévy, Edith Hall and Simon Critchley

44:09 | Jun 7th, 2018

From people-watching with Aristotle in a London park, to meeting in a luxury hotel at midnight to discuss the fate of a continent, to using a lunchtime five-a-side game as the starting point for a meditation on the human condition, this programme tre...Show More

The rise of translation and the death of foreign language learning

44:14 | Jun 6th, 2018

Arundhati Roy, Meena Kandasamy and Preti Taneja share thoughts about translation. Plus Anne McElvoy will be joined by Professor Nichola McLelland and Vicky Gough of the British Councl to examine why, in UK schools and universities, the number of stud...Show More

American slavery, the occult and modern politics, jobs for psychopaths.

44:19 | Jun 1st, 2018

Iraq vet and novelist Kevin Powers, the careers picked by psychopaths, and American writer Gary Lachman join Matthew Sweet. Kevin Powers' prize winning novel The Yellow Birds explored the experience of soldiers and their lack of control. His new n...Show More

Rowan Williams and Simon Armitage

44:50 | May 30th, 2018

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has written about Auden, Dostoevsky and tragedy. At Hay Festival he talks to poet Simon Armitage about the imprint of landscapes in Yorkshire, West Wales, and the Middle East, the use of dialect words an...Show More

Elif Shafak, Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Javier Cercas

44:32 | May 29th, 2018

The lure of conspiracy theories, the power of fiction to translate history and the public role of writer are debated as Shahidha Bari chairs a discussion recorded with the Colombian writer Juan Gabriel Vásquez, the Spanish writer Javier Cercas and th...Show More

Tacita Dean; Mountains, John Tyndall

47:14 | May 24th, 2018

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough meets the British artist Tacita Dean. ‘Tacita Dean: Landscape’ has just opened at the Royal Academy in London and features vast chalk mountains and cloudscapes and a film made in Cornwall, Yellowstone and Wyoming. And w...Show More

The 2018 Wolfson History Prize Debate

44:35 | May 23rd, 2018

This year's authors are: Robert Bickers for Out of China: How the Chinese Ended the Era of Western Domination Lindsey Fitzharris for The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine Tim Grady for A ...Show More

In Conversation: Philip Roth (1933 - 2018)

45:13 | May 23rd, 2018

From BBC Radio 3's archive, another opportunity to hear an interview with Philip Roth (1933 - 2018), author of books including Portnoy's Complaint & American Pastoral. Recorded in New York in 2008, Philip Roth talked to Philip Dodd about his life...Show More

Motherhood in fiction, memoir and on the analyst's couch

44:52 | May 22nd, 2018

Writers Sheila Heti, Jessie Greengrass and Jacqueline Rose compare notes on motherhood & presenter Anne McElvoy looks at depictions of Mrs Noah with New Generation Thinker Daisy Black. Jacqueline Rose has written Mothers: An Essay on Love and Crue...Show More

Jordan B Peterson

44:29 | May 17th, 2018

Self help, identity politics and the influence of postmodernists are on the agenda as Philip Dodd meets the YouTube star and Canadian clinical psychologist, Jordan B. Peterson. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson is out ...Show More

Designing the future

44:14 | May 17th, 2018

Shahidha Bari looks at British design pioneers Enid Marx, Edward Bawden and Charles Rennie Mackintosh with curators Alan Powers and James Russell and design historian Eleanor Herring. 2018 New Generation Thinker Lisa Mullen visits The Future Starts H...Show More

John Gray, Atheism and Post-structuralism

52:55 | May 16th, 2018

The relationship between intellectuals, nations and spies debated by Agnes Poirier, Maria Dimitrova, and Jefferson Morley. Plus philosopher John Gray explores atheism and doubt with Matthew Sweet. Seven Types of Atheism by John Gray is out now. ...Show More

What is Speech?

45:37 | May 10th, 2018

Matthew Sweet discusses talking, speech and having a voice, with Trevor Cox, Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford; Rebecca Roache, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London; actress and impression...Show More

Charms: Madeline Miller; Zoe Gilbert; Kirsty Logan

58:07 | May 9th, 2018

Each generation creates its own myths and in Free Thinking, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough talks to three writers whose novels and stories spring bright and fresh from a compost of classical legend and British folk stories. Madeline Miller, the America...Show More

Out of Control?

44:56 | May 8th, 2018

Former army officer Dr Mike Martin on Why We Fight. Historian Priya Satia argues that guns were the drivers behind the industrial revolution. The mob as a political entity and the Massacre of St George's Fields of 10 May 1768 is considered in an opin...Show More

Disrupted Childhood. Turkish Star Wars

44:48 | May 4th, 2018

Pauline Dakin spent her childhood on the run. Sally Bayley grew up in a house where men were forbidden and a charismatic leader ruled. They compare notes with presenter Matthew Sweet. New Generation Thinker Iain Smith discusses his research into the ...Show More


44:59 | May 2nd, 2018

Anne Applebaum, Gregory Claeys, Jane Humprhies and Richard Seymour join Rana Mitter to assess the legacy of Marx 200 years after his birth. Do his ideas have currency and if so where is he an influence in the world? Academic Emile Chabal reports on r...Show More

America: Inequality & Race

45:00 | May 1st, 2018

Jesmyn Ward - author of Sing, Unburied Sing talks to Christopher Harding about editing a collection of essays called The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race and about the depictions of family life and poverty and the influence of Greek...Show More

Tokyo Idols and Urban life.

44:43 | Apr 26th, 2018

Tokyo used to be presented as the ultimate hyper-modern city. But after years of economic recession the Tokyo of today has another side. A site of alienation and loneliness, anxiety about conformity and identity, it is a place where self-professed 'g...Show More

Landmark: Rashōmon

44:12 | Apr 25th, 2018

David Peace, Natasha Pulley, Yuna Tasaka and Jasper Sharp join Rana Mitter. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa's short story 'In a Grove', published in 1922, became the basis for the 1950 film from Akira Kurosawa 'Rashōmon', one of the first Japanese films to g...Show More

Japan and Nature

46:08 | Apr 25th, 2018

Photographer Mika Ninagawa talks to Christopher Harding about the artificiality of her images of cherry blossoms. A plane crash in the mountains is explored in the new novel Seventeen from Hideo Yokoyama, translated by Louise Heal Kawai. And presente...Show More

Learning from Sweden

45:48 | Apr 19th, 2018

What do meatballs, The Square and Henning Mankell have in common? The answer is Sweden as you’ve no doubt guessed. As ABBA’s Cold War musical, Chess, is poised to return to the British stage Matthew Sweet considers what Sweden’s taught us – whether i...Show More

Shakespeare, Creativity and the Role of the Writer

44:35 | Apr 18th, 2018

The real Cleopatra examined by New Generation Thinker Islam Issa plus Ros Barber on Warwickshire words in Shakespeare's verse, two leading neurologists, Suzanne O'Sullivan and Jules Montague explore the intricacies of the brain and the infinite capac...Show More

The Politics of Fashion and Drag

44:43 | Apr 18th, 2018

Scrumbly Koldewyn remembers the '60s San Francisco theatre scene; Jenny Gilbert & Shahdiha Bari debate environmentalism and fashion at the V&A and Clare Lilley Director of Programmes at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park looks at the use of thread and text...Show More

Marilynne Robinson

45:07 | Apr 12th, 2018

When President Obama met the American essayist and fiction writer Marilynne Robinson they discussed shared values, citiizenship and Christianity. She talks to Rana Mitter about her definition of Puritanism, the radical history of the mid west states,...Show More

Macbeth and Things Fall Apart

44:37 | Apr 11th, 2018

Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø on his novel based on Macbeth; playwright Mark Ravenhill on why the play rarely works on stage, James Shapiro on the contemporary events which shaped it and Emma Whipday on the elements that Shakespeare borrowed from 1...Show More

British New Wave Films of the '60s

45:42 | Apr 10th, 2018

Matthew Sweet talks to the painter, Maggi Hambling about Cedric Morris one of British art's lost masters and with Joely Richardson and Melanie Williams, evaluates the impact and legacy of Woodfall Flims - the company that gave Albert Finney, Tom Cour...Show More

Death Comes to Us All

44:38 | Apr 5th, 2018

Former Bishop Richard Holloway, author of My Father’s Wake Kevin Toolis and palliative care consultant Kathryn Mannix join Philip Dodd to consider mortality. “In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes” Benjamin Franklin o...Show More

What Do We Mean by "Working Class Writing"?

44:37 | Apr 4th, 2018

Kit de Waal, Darren McGarvey, Adelle Stripe and Michael Chaplin join Shahidha Bari to examine what we mean by ‘working class writing’. Crowd funding has helped bring a new generation of authors into print but is this because mainstream publishing has...Show More

Free Thinking: Introducing the New Generation Thinkers 2018

44:38 | Apr 3rd, 2018

The New Generation Thinkers is an annual competition run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In this event, recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead, the 2018 selection make their first public appearance together. Hosted b...Show More

Building Bridges and Other Megastructures

44:32 | Mar 29th, 2018

In a space of less than a mile, seven bridges link Newcastle with Gateshead including the distinctive shape of the Tyne Bridge. But what kind of human endeavour goes into imagining and realising such man-made wonders? Newcastle University’s Sean Wilk...Show More

#Speaking Up

50:03 | Mar 28th, 2018

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Afua Hirsch and Tarjinder Gill debate activism, social change and identity with Philip Dodd. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a journalist and broadcaster who regularly comments on immigration, diversity, and multiculturalism. She’s a...Show More

Mass Hysterics

44:16 | Mar 27th, 2018

Comedians Alexei Sayle, Jen Brister and Sanjeev Kohli join Matthew Sweet to offer a masterclass in making the many laugh. Recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead. Jen Brister is a stand-up comedian, writer and actor. She is a regular performe...Show More

Can There Be Multiple Versions of Me?

44:39 | Mar 26th, 2018

Anne McElvoy enlists the help of Diversify author June Sarpong, doctor and medical historian Gavin Francis, performer and transgender activist Emma Frankland and philosopher Julian Baggini to tackle contemporary ideas about the ever changing notions ...Show More

Free Thinking Essay: What Do You Do If You Are a Manically Depressed Robot?

18:10 | Mar 23rd, 2018

New Generation Thinker Simon Beard, from the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, looks at AI and what the writing of Douglas Adams tells us about questions of morality and who should be in control. This year is the 40th anniversary of BBC Radio...Show More

Rethinking Civilisations

44:23 | Mar 22nd, 2018

As the BBC screens its new arts series, Civilisations, one of the presenters, David Olusoga, joins presenter Philip Dodd, anthropologist Kit Davis and the historian Kenan Malik to consider our different notions of world history from the dawn of human...Show More

Free Thinking Essay: Kids With Guns

21:02 | Mar 22nd, 2018

New Generation Thinker Emma Butcher looks at what we learn about war from the writing of child soldiers in The Battle of Trafalgar and the childhood writings of the Bronte family who were avid readers of newspaper accounts of battles and memoirs of s...Show More

Gangs, the Usual Suspects

44:19 | Mar 21st, 2018

From Brighton Rock and Goodfellas to the streets of Glasgow, London’s East End and Chicago, what’s it really like to be part of a gang and do gangs lead to organised crime? Matthew Sweet calls a meeting with Criminologist Alistair Fraser, journalist ...Show More

Free Thinking Essay: Speaking Truth to Power in the Past and Present

20:23 | Mar 21st, 2018

From Monarchs to Presidents. Joanne Paul on satire, flattery and document leaks in the C16 and C17 centuries and the relevance of strategies for telling truth to those who hold power over us now. Five hundred years ago a miscalculation on this front...Show More

Power to the People?

44:46 | Mar 21st, 2018

Anne McElvoy hosts Rod Liddle, associate editor of The Spectator; David Runciman, author of How Democracy Ends; Caroline MacFarland, the head of a think tank promoting the interests of ‘millennials’ and geographer Danny Dorling in an assessment of th...Show More

Free Thinking Essay: When Shakespeare Travelled With Me

20:06 | Mar 20th, 2018

April 1916. By the Nile, the foremost poets of the Middle East are arguing about Shakespeare. In 2004, Egyptian singer Essam Karika released his urban song Oh Romeo. Reflecting on his travels and encounters around the Arab world, Islam Issa, from...Show More

Are We Afraid of Being Alone?

44:22 | Mar 20th, 2018

Author of A Book of Silence Sara Maitland, medievalist John-Henry Clay, and writer Lionel Shriver face the crowd to contemplate the many sides to solitude. Chaired by Rana Mitter with an audience at the Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead. “...Show More

Free Thinking Essay: A War of Words

19:12 | Mar 19th, 2018

A fashion show in Buenos Aires was put on for propaganda but football fixtures were deemed too risky. New Generation Thinker Dr Christopher Bannister, from the University of Manchester, looks at attempts to influence opinion about World War II in Lat...Show More

Free Thinking Essay: Doing Nothing

21:44 | Mar 16th, 2018

Alastair Fraser talks about teenagers, street life and filling time. Doing nothing has become the mantra of twenty-first century life. In an accelerated world, we yearn for a space where minds are emptied, iPhones left at the door. But doing nothing ...Show More

Has Social Media Cracked the Code to the Crowd?

44:42 | Mar 15th, 2018

Author of Fully Connected Julia Hobsbawm, Social Media director at DEMOS Jamie Bartlett, writer Laurence Scott and tech blogger Abeba Birhane switch off their phones to focus on the impact of tech on the way we behave. Social media has allowed us to ...Show More

Free Thinking Essay: Educating Ida

23:26 | Mar 15th, 2018

Gilbert and Sullivan gave university-educated women the English comic operetta treatment in their eighth collaboration, Princess Ida (1884) but why did the most famous musical duo of their day choose to make fun of them? To find out, New Generation T...Show More

Podcast: There Is No I in Team

53:01 | Mar 15th, 2018

Army captain turned MP Johnny Mercer, Theatre Director Elizabeth Newman and former footballer Paul Fletcher compare notes on leadership and teamwork - presented by Rana Mitter with an audience at Sage Gateshead. There is no I in Team .. but there's a...Show More

Free Thinking Essay: Does Trusting People Need a Leap of Faith?

18:09 | Mar 15th, 2018

Tom Simpson looks at a study of suspicion in a 1950s Italian village and the lessons it has for community relations and social tribes now. Edward Banfield's book, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society, depicts a village where everyone is out for them...Show More

Free Thinking Essay:Art for Health's Sake

22:58 | Mar 14th, 2018

An apple a day is said to keep the doctor away but could a poem, painting or play have the same effect? Daisy Fancourt is a Wellcome Research Fellow at University College London. In her Essay, recorded with an audience at Sage Gateshead for the Free ...Show More

The Dance of Nature

43:56 | Mar 14th, 2018

From schools of fish to starlings to atomic particles. what does group behaviour look like in nature? Rana Mitter is joined by BBC Radio 4’s presenter of The Life Scientific Jim Al-Khalili, Melissa Bateson, Andrew McBain and Richard Bevan. Recorded w...Show More

Free Thinking Essay: Welling Up: Women & Water in the Middle Ages

18:26 | Mar 13th, 2018

Hetta Howes looks at male fears and why Margery Kempe was criticised for crying and bleeding Medieval mystic Margery Kempe's excessive, noisy crying made her travelling companions so irritated that they wanted to throw her overboard, while others ...Show More

The Population Bomb

44:52 | Mar 12th, 2018

The geographer Danny Dorling; Lionel Shriver, the author and patron of Population Matters; and Stephen Emmott, author of 10 Billion, join Matthew Sweet and an audience at Sage Gateshead to debate whether we should have fewer children. In 1968 a S...Show More

The Free Thinking Lecture: Linda Yueh on Globalisation

59:51 | Mar 9th, 2018

Leading economic expert, Linda Yueh, delivers her vision for restoring faith in the free market to an audience at Sage Gateshead. Chaired by Philip Dodd. We live in a world where experts of all stripes are struggling to win over the confidence of...Show More

New Research into the UK Women's Suffrage Movement.

44:51 | Mar 8th, 2018

How did interior design help gain women the vote? Were arson attacks justified? Who took part in a six-week march? What role did an Indian princess play? Helen Pankhurst, Jane Robinson, Fern Ridell, Shahida Rahman and Miranda Garrett discuss the hi...Show More

The Golden Notebook

44:33 | Mar 7th, 2018

How self-revealing and frank should a writer be? Lara Feigel, David Aaronovitch, Melissa Benn and Xiaolu Guo join Matthew Sweet to look at the life of Doris Lessing and her 1962 novel in which she explores difficult love, life, war, politics and drea...Show More

A Sentimental Journey

43:15 | Mar 1st, 2018

Laurence Sterne's subjective travel book was published in 1768. Mary Newbould and Duncan Large discuss its influence. Plus novelist Philip Hensher on his new book The Friendly Ones and writing fiction about neighbourliness, families and the Banglades...Show More

What Lies Beneath; Neanderthal Cave Art to Fatbergs

44:33 | Feb 28th, 2018

The archaeologist Francis Pryor tells Shahidha Bari about a lifetime of building vistas of our history and prehistory through the evidence of pottery shards, holes in the mud and broken bones and palaeo-archaeologist Paul Pettitt who co-discovered Br...Show More

The Joy of Bureaucracy

45:34 | Feb 22nd, 2018

Red tape or accountability? Matthew Sweet is joined by Lord Robin Butler, former head of the home Civil Service, writer and lecturer Eliane Glaser and Professor André Spicer whose recent book looks at meaningless management speak. Deborah McAndrew ta...Show More

Steven Pinker on Progress

44:40 | Feb 22nd, 2018

We should ignore newspaper headlines, believe that things are getting better and defend Enlightenment values. That's the message from Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He debates his defence of progress and his optimistic ...Show More

Napoleon in Fact & Fiction

44:14 | Feb 21st, 2018

From Napoleon impersonators, his image in caricature and ballads, to a play which asks what if he didn't die in exile - presenter Anne McElvoy is joined by actor and director Kathryn Hunter, biographer Michael Broers, historians Oskar Cox Jensen and ...Show More

Reflecting Rural Life

44:28 | Feb 15th, 2018

Film maker Clio Barnard and novelist Amanda Craig on rural life. Matthew Sweet presents.

Free Thinking: Mark Dion; Colour, Insects, Virginia Woolf

44:36 | Feb 14th, 2018

American artist, Mark Dion has a new exhibition on in London: Theatre of the Natural World . Dion is exhilarated by the natural world but tells Anne McElvoy why his art is about how we classify it and what that says about us. Virginia Woolf: An Exhi...Show More

How Big Should the State Be?

1:11:55 | Feb 14th, 2018

David Willetts, Polly Toynbee, Baroness Simone Finn, Julia Black and Adrian Wooldridge join Anne McElvoy for a debate recorded with an audience at the LSE Festival Beveridge 2.0

Michael Ignatieff and Central Europe

44:37 | Feb 13th, 2018

Philip Dodd talks to Michael Ignatieff about the political landscape of central Europe.

Tariq Ali

53:55 | Feb 8th, 2018

1968 was one of the most seismic years in recent history -- Vietnam, the Prague spring, Black Power at the Olympics and protests on the streets of Paris and London so this evening's programme -- Rana Mitter's extended interview with Tariq Ali -- is p...Show More

Celebrating Buchi Emecheta

44:28 | Feb 8th, 2018

Buchi Emecheta explored child slavery, motherhood, female independence and freedom through education in over 20 books. Born in 1944 in an Ibusa village, she lost her father aged eight, travelled to London and made a career as a writer whilst bringing...Show More

Trade, Davos, Ocean travel and Mermaids

44:33 | Feb 2nd, 2018

Anne McElvoy looks at trade past and present as she discusses a book questioning economists' reliance on GDP with its author, David Pilling, and reports on debates from the world economic forum annual meeting at Davos with American reporter Rob Cox. ...Show More

The Working Class in Culture

44:50 | Feb 1st, 2018

Writer Bea Campbell, artist Scottee, historian Emma Griffin, journalist Simon Jenkins & economist Guy Standing join Philip Dodd to consider the working class in culture. The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing is available now Sco...Show More

Landmark: Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries

45:09 | Jan 30th, 2018

Matthew Sweet discusses Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries with the writer Colm Toibin, the film critic Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and the Swedish Cultural Attaché Ellen Wettmark. Released in 1957 and inspired by Bergman's own memories of childhood holi...Show More

Burns the Radical; Exploration

44:47 | Jan 25th, 2018

From Ecuador to the Scottish borders: Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough meets Maren Meinhardt and Graham Robb who explore the land on their doorsteps and also follow in the footsteps of others from Humboldt the naturalist and explorer to the forgotten ter...Show More

Royalty, art and patronage.

44:47 | Jan 24th, 2018

Craig Brown, Afua Hirsch, Robert Jobson, A. N. Wilson and New Generation Thinker Joe Moshenska discuss the monarchy as the Royal Academy and the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace stage exhibitions exploring the painting collections of Charles I and ...Show More

Oscar Contenders, Movie Moguls and Silent Film Stars

45:54 | Jan 23rd, 2018

Matthew Sweet is joined by critics Ryan Gilbey and Ellen E Jones to look at the films nominated for this year's Academy Awards and the tradition of films with a campaigning message. Film historian Vanda Krefft charts the complicated life of William F...Show More

Frankenstein and AI now.

45:01 | Jan 18th, 2018

Fiona Sampson, Daisy Hay, Christopher Frayling and David H. Guston join Matthew Sweet to discuss Mary Shelley's story in film, fiction and the view of AI scientists now. In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein by the poet and wr...Show More

French writing and politics

44:41 | Jan 17th, 2018

Leïla Slimani, President Macron's champion of French culture and language, is interviewed by presenter Shahidha Bari about her new role and her novel Lullaby which won the 2016 Prix Goncourt Plus Emile Chabal from the University of Edinburgh discuss...Show More

Australian novelist Peter Carey.

44:36 | Jan 16th, 2018

A car race around Australia is fictionalised in Peter Carey's latest novel. He talks to Rana Mitter about depicting race and racing. Josephine Quinn questions whether the Phoenicians existed as she looks at the way ancient texts and artworks helped c...Show More

Counterculture and Protest

44:40 | Jan 11th, 2018

Matthew Sweet discusses protests like the 1968 uprising at Columbia University, 1985's Battle of the Beanfield and the acid house movement with guests Paul Hartnoll of Orbital, novelist Tony White, editor Paul Cronin and writer Tessa DeCarlo. The...Show More

The In Between

44:06 | Jan 10th, 2018

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough explores the uncanny possibilities of the In Between with the neuroscientist Dean Burnett, award-winning poet Vahni Capildeo, artist Alexandra Carr, writer and walker of London and other wastelands, Iain Sinclair, and the...Show More

Landmark: The Odyssey

44:52 | Jan 9th, 2018

Amit Chaudhuri, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Daniel Mendelsohn and Emily Wilson join Philip Dodd to explore translating, rewriting and using Homer's epic work to frame a memoir. Emily Wilson has published a new translation of The Odyssey Daniel Mendel...Show More

Diving Deep

44:38 | Jan 4th, 2018

Diving from Tudor times through the Brooklyn Naval Yard in the Second World War to present day deep water sculpture parks and swimming with whales. Rana Mitter talks to prize-winning writer Jennifer Egan about the Sea as metaphor and how the research...Show More

The Invention of the Circus Ring

44:22 | Jan 3rd, 2018

When Philip Astley and his trick riders performed in 1768 in a circle not a straight line in a field behind where Waterloo station is now, the idea of the circus ring was born. Matthew Sweet looks at the career of the impresario, his 42 foot diamete...Show More

Rethinking Tradition

44:29 | Jan 2nd, 2018

Philip Dodd is joined by Roger Scruton, Haroon Mirza, Kevin Davey and Kirsty Gunn to explore writing, modernism and experiment from T. S. Eliot onwards. Roger Scruton's books include 'How to be a Conservative' and 'England: An Elegy'. His most re...Show More

A Literary Salon.

45:23 | Dec 14th, 2017

No need to RSVP just turn up and tune in to Free Thinking's end of year salon. Matthew Sweet is our host and he's promising wit and wisdom as well as a host of guests: Jake Arnott, Malika Booker, Neil Brand, David Aaronovitch and Katherine Cooper. ...Show More

Should We Keep Pets?

43:35 | Dec 13th, 2017

Are pets theraputic? Is it moral to domesticate animals? Anne McElvoy explores the history of our relationship with pets with John Bradshaw author of Cat Sense and Dog Sense, Philip Howell who has researched the role of the domestic dog in Victorian ...Show More

Landmark - This Sporting Life

43:58 | Dec 12th, 2017

Philip Dodd discusses the significance of David Storey's groundbreaking 1960 novel with social historian Juliet Gardiner, journalist Rod Liddle, writer Anthony Clavane and the author's daughter Kate Storey.

Many faces of Eve?

44:01 | Dec 7th, 2017

Catherine Fletcher talks to Professor Stephen Greenblatt about the Adam and Eve story in the Christian tradition; to Islam Issa about Islam's version which tells a rather more gender-equality story of the original first couple. Jennifer Evans and Sa...Show More

The Joy of Bad Films

43:58 | Dec 6th, 2017

Matthew Sweet debates the merits of bad films with critics Larushka Ivan-Zadeh and Tim Robey as The Disaster Artist, James Franco's film inspired by cult classic The Room opens in UK cinemas. Plus the power of underground protest, of art and of the m...Show More

Free Thinking – Russia: Totalitarianism? and Punishment

44:10 | Dec 5th, 2017

Masha Gessen has traced the lives of 4 Russians born as the Soviet Union crumbled. Daniel Beer won the Cundill History Prize for his history of punishment in Tsarist times. Mary Dejevsky writes and reports on Russian politics now. Philip Dodd present...Show More

Ken Burns – Flash photography - Joy

44:54 | Nov 30th, 2017

Matthew Sweet discusses the Vietnam War with the film maker Ken Burns who has spent the last decade making a monumental documentary about America's ill fated war in South East Asia. The award winninng poet, Sasha Dugdale, reads from her latest collec...Show More


43:14 | Nov 30th, 2017

New Yorker essayist Adam Gopnik talks to Shahidha Bari about city living. Plus artist Lucinda Rogers on depicting changes to a London market, a new report into prosperity and New Generation Thinker Alastair Fraser from the University of Glasgow share...Show More

Free Thinking – David Willetts plus does scandal drive social change?

44:53 | Nov 28th, 2017

The Rt Hon Lord David Willetts talks to Philip Dodd about universities. The UK Minister for Universities and Science from 2010 to 2014, his new book considers both the history and the global role they now play. Plus a discussion about scandal old and...Show More

Free Thinking – Religious Belief

43:09 | Nov 23rd, 2017

Philip Dodd looks at 2000 years of Arab Christians, at the modern rise of Pentecostalism and a novel depicting a man who decides to build a new church. Laura Premack from Lancaster University researches pentecostalism in Brazil, Nigeria and the USA. ...Show More

Improving or Ruining the Future? Kevin Rudd. Finland 100.

44:10 | Nov 22nd, 2017

Kelly and Zach Weinersmith share visions of the future with Rana Mitter. Plus former Australian PM Kevin Rudd on power and what images does Finland conjure 100 years after independence? We hear from Pauliina Stahlberg, Director of the Finnish Institu...Show More

Free Thinking – Being Human: Lost and Found in the Archives

44:02 | Nov 21st, 2017

New Generation Thinkers Shahidha Bari & Laurence Scott consider how archives come to life with events from the Being Human Festival including klezmer music, stories from conflict in Northern Ireland and voices from marginalised communities.

Being Human: The Lost Luggage Office, Ghosts and Warrior Poets.

44:10 | Nov 17th, 2017

Stories of objects, ghosts and histories lost and found recorded on location in Portsmouth's most haunted house, the site of a sacrifice in Canterbury and at the TfL Lost Luggage Office. Presenter Matthew Sweet meets academics taking part in Being Hu...Show More

Network, Jaron Lanier, Reputations.

44:31 | Nov 15th, 2017

BBC Head of News, James Harding, offers his verdict of a new stage version of Network, starring Bryan Cranston. Philosopher, Gloria Origgi, considers the importance of reputation in the digital age. Plus, presenter Rana Mitter meets with the 'father ...Show More

Free Thinking: Poetry and Protest Newcastle

44:12 | Nov 15th, 2017

‘There are three urgent and indeed great problems that we face today… that is the problem of racism, the problem of poverty and the problem of war.’ The words of Martin Luther King in 1967 when he visited Newcastle upon Tyne to receive an honorary d...Show More

Russian Art and Exile. Part of Breaking Free: A Century of Russian Culture

44:06 | Nov 13th, 2017

Author Boris Akunin and broadcaster and writer Zinovy Zinik in conversation with Anne McElvoy, recorded with an audience at Pushkin House. Pushkin House has commissioned a pavilion on Bloomsbury Square in London from the architect and artist Alexa...Show More

Landmark – Man with a Movie Camera

46:31 | Nov 9th, 2017

"The greatest documentary of all time"? Michael Nyman, Alexei Popogrebsky, Ian Christie and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh join Matthew Sweet to discuss Dziga Vertov's 1929 film, Man with a Movie Camera, which was voted top of a poll conducted by Sight and Soun...Show More

Free Thinking: Soviet Histories: Part of Breaking Free: A Century of Russian Culture

44:05 | Nov 8th, 2017

Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexeivich on the Soviet Woman's Stories of World War II and why they did not want them published; Stephen Kotkin with Volume II of his biograph of Joseph Stalin explores the bloody creation of a Soviet State capable of st...Show More

The pros and cons of Swearing.

45:09 | Nov 3rd, 2017

Comedian Janey Godley, historian John Gallagher, poet and journalist Bridget Minamore and author and science writer Dr Emma Byrne discuss with Matthew Sweet swearing on stage, in pain and protest and when new terms entered our language. Swearing ...Show More

Benjamin Britten and Radio

44:17 | Nov 1st, 2017

David Hendy, Glyn Maxwell, Kate Kennedy and Lucy Walker with Philip Dodd and an audience at Aldeburgh in a discussion exploring Britten’s relationship with radio in Britain and in America, with his subjects as varied as mountaineering (with words fro...Show More

Jonathan Swift at 350. Black and White Art. History of British nature writing.

43:45 | Oct 31st, 2017

What does Gulliver's Travels say to us now? Satirical cartoonist Martin Rowson and Daniel Cook from the University of Dundee assess the legacy of Swift's best-known work. And Monochrome exhibition co-curator Jennifer Sliwka and photographer Sarah Pic...Show More

Forgotten authors, cult fiction and The Prisoner

44:56 | Oct 26th, 2017

Alex Cox discusses surveillance, mind bending and the power of the individual versus the collective in the 1967 cult TV series The Prisoner. Plus Christopher Fowler, Clare Walker Gore and Lynda Nead look back at bestsellers from the past which deserv...Show More

Free Thinking: Young Marx, Yanis Varoufakis and Ruth Lea and Tara Bergin

44:11 | Oct 26th, 2017

Yanis Varoufakis discusses economics and Marxist analysis with Philip Dodd and Ruth Lea. Plus the new play from Richard Bean and Clive Coleman - the team behind One Man, Two Guvnors. which stars Rory Kinnear stars as the 32-year-old Karl Marx hidin...Show More

Harry Potter. Tim O'Reilly. Tove Jansson.

44:04 | Oct 25th, 2017

Web guru Tim O'Reilly on algorithm regulation and the magical worlds of Harry Potter, Philip Pullman and Tove Jansson with guests Aisha Bushby, young adult author, and New Generation Thinkers Hetta Howes and Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough.

Free Thinking: Landmark: Marnie

44:50 | Oct 18th, 2017

Matthew Sweet discusses memory and Marnie with novelist and Freud scholar Lisa Appignanesi, Andrew Graham - son of the novelist Winston Graham who wrote the 1961 novel which Alfred Hitchcock turned into a film in 1964, Gwyneth Hughes - who wrote the ...Show More

The Man Booker Prize. Mike Bartlett. Is Small Beautiful?

45:02 | Oct 17th, 2017

Dr Foster writer Mike Bartlett on his new play Albion. Alex Clark reports from the Man Booker prize ceremony. And former SNP MP George Kerevan, David Goodhart and Marián Arribas-Tomé from UEA discuss whether the 21st century is set to be a century of...Show More

Pacific Rim politics; Ronan Bennett; Sjon

44:22 | Oct 12th, 2017

The Gunpowder Plot in a new tv dramatisation by Ronan Bennett plus presenter Rana Mitter explores anti-Catholic prejudice in Britain today with Catherine Pepinster and Tim Stanley, and historians Richard McGregor and Hans van de Ven discuss relations...Show More

Jewish history, jokes and contemporary identity. Michael Longley

43:58 | Oct 11th, 2017

Simon Schama and Devorah Baum join Philip Dodd for a conversation ranging from the expulsion of Jewish people from Spain in 1492 to Jewish jokes today. Plus, poet Michael Longley considers his preoccupations with The Great War, The Troubles and the n...Show More

Salman Rushdie. Uncertainty

44:09 | Oct 10th, 2017

Novelists Salman Rushdie and Lionel Shriver join science writer Marcus Chown and historian Rachel Hewitt to discuss fiction, US politics, living in uncertain times and the new West End play from Simon Stephens Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle. P...Show More

Free Thinking - Blade Runner. Ghost Stories

41:49 | Oct 5th, 2017

Matthew Sweet goes on a ghost hunt in Portsmouth with Karl Bell and is joined by Susan Owens and Stuart Evers to look at hauntings and what they tell us about our fears through the ages. James Burton from Goldsmiths and New Generation Thinker Sarah D...Show More

Free Thinking - Alan Hollinghurst

44:43 | Oct 4th, 2017

Alan Hollinghurst talks to Anne McElvoy and a Proms Extra audience about his new novel The Sparsholt Affair, which traces a family and changing attitudes to sexuality across generations. It's the sixth novel from the author whose Booker Prize winning...Show More

Free Thinking: The importance of networks; the art of dance.

44:14 | Oct 3rd, 2017

Niall Ferguson talks to Philip Dodd about a less hierarchical history. Jane Munro looks at Degas's depictions of the human body. Sarah Lamb describes dancing MacMillan's ballets. The Square and the Tower: Networks, hierarchies and the struggle fo...Show More

Landmark: Andrew Marvell's To His Coy Mistress

43:44 | Sep 28th, 2017

Poets Michael Symmons Roberts and Helen Mort and academic Stewart Mottram join Matthew Sweet in Hull to discuss the language of love and the politics underpinning Marvell's poem in a special recording for National Poetry Day. Readings are performed b...Show More

Simon Heffer. Social Conservatism. Sibelius. D'Oyly Carte.

43:32 | Sep 28th, 2017

Philip Blond, Eliza Filby, Tom Simpson and Simon Heffer join Rana Mitter to look back to Edwardian England and at conservative thinking now. New Generation Thinkers Eleanor Lybeck and Leah Broad share their research into touring opera and the links b...Show More

Kamila Shamsie: John Kasmin. Dido

44:12 | Sep 26th, 2017

Family ties and radicalisation in Kamila Shamsie's novel Home Fire; images of beggars and slaughterhouses in the old postcards collected by John Kasmin, the art dealer who promoted abstract artists including Anthony Caro and Gillian Ayres. Plus Dido,...Show More

Free Thinking. Bernard MacLaverty. Immigration. Christian destruction of Classical World

43:59 | Sep 21st, 2017

The Northern Irish author of Cal and Grace Notes, Bernard MacLaverty talks to Anne McElvoy about his novel Midwinter Break plus Clair Wills on her research into post war immigration to Britain and the differing expectations and experience of migrants...Show More

Testosterone. The grey zone. Indian science.

44:10 | Sep 20th, 2017

Cordelia Fine debates the effects of testosterone. Adrian Owen explores the “grey zone” of consciousness. Curator Matt Kimberley and Jahnavi Phalkey discuss scientific discoveries made in India and how they should be displayed at the London Science M...Show More

Diplomacy: Sir John Jenkins, Gabrielle Rifkind, Michael Burleigh, Dr Beyza Unal.

45:03 | Sep 20th, 2017

Philip Dodd and guests explore the art of negotiation and discuss JT Rogers' play Oslo which opens at the National Theatre this week. It draws on the experiences of Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul and her husband, social scientist Terje Rød-Larsen who f...Show More

Free Thinking: Russian Nationalism. Scythians. Hull and Port Talbot on stage.

39:55 | Sep 15th, 2017

Anne Applebaum talks to Anne McElvoy about Russian nationalism and Ukrainian history in a programme exploring the importance of borders and the way identities are bound up with a sense of place. Nick Tandavanitj and Rhiannon White discuss creating d...Show More

Free Thinking: Social Conservatism, Kathe Kollwitz and John Ashbery

45:29 | Sep 14th, 2017

Philip Dodd and Joanna Kavenna discuss the challenges of art in an age of irony as the work of Käthe Kollwitz goes on display in Birmingham at the Ikon Gallery. Lawrence Norfolk pays tribute to the work of the great American poet, John Ashbery, who d...Show More

Free Thinking: Washing in public. Sir Peter Hall (1930 - 2017)

44:56 | Sep 12th, 2017

Public pools, the "steamie" and the Turkish bath; debates about hygiene and the role and revival of these public spaces are explored by Matthew Sweet and guests as Scottish theatres host a 30th anniversary tour of Tony Roper's play depicting 1950s Gl...Show More

Proms Extra: Alan Hollinghurst

19:38 | Sep 4th, 2017

The Booker Prize winning novelist, Alan Hollinghurst, talks to Anne McElvoy about the art of fiction and his new book, The Sparsholt Affair Producer: Zahid Warley

Proms Extra: Lenin

40:36 | Sep 1st, 2017

Anne McElvoy is joined by historians Helen Rappaport and Victor Sebestyen to consider the figure of Lenin, as the Proms marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Victor Sebestyen, author of Lenin the Dictator: An Intimate Portrait ...Show More

Proms Extra: Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

27:08 | Aug 29th, 2017

Professor Kathleen Burk, University College London, reflects on Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address with BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker Joanna Cohen. Event hosted by Rana Mitter.

Proms Extra: Ancient Rome

39:56 | Aug 29th, 2017

Matthew Sweet talks to the classicist, writer and stand- up comedian, Natalie Haynes, about the glory that was Rome -with readings by the actor, Peter Marinker,from Virgil, Sulpicia, Gibbon and Dickens. Producer: Zahid Warley

Proms Extra: Unfinished Art and Literature

32:12 | Aug 23rd, 2017

Michelangelo and Coleridge, Dickens and the Impressionists, all left work that they or others deemed unfinished, interrupted or incomplete. In front of a BBC R3 Proms audience at Imperial Collge in London, the poet and broadcaster, Ian McMillan is j...Show More

Proms Extra: Djinn

31:39 | Aug 18th, 2017

Ian McMillan and a pre-Proms audience at Imperial College London have the smoky essence of Djinn conjured for them by literary scholar and New Generation Thinker Shahidha Bari and novelist Elif Shafak whose books are full of djinn. Shafak reads from...Show More

Proms Extra: Sleep and Insomnia

22:25 | Aug 16th, 2017

Nick Littlehales, sports sleep coach and chair of the British Sleep Council, talks with novelist A. L. Kennedy about sleep and insomnia. The event is hosted by Rana Mitter.

Proms Extra: Cuneiform 07082017

40:56 | Aug 8th, 2017

A pre-Prom audience at Imperial College in London listens in as Shaidha Bari talks to Assyriologist Irving Finkel about cuneiform; how the script survived, what it tells us about life in the cities of Ur, Ninevah and Babylon and the way some of the m...Show More

Proms Extra: Ella Fitzgerald

21:06 | Aug 7th, 2017

Kevin LeGendre and Claire Martin discuss Ella Fitzgerald

Proms Extra: Sentimentality

20:35 | Aug 3rd, 2017

Anne McElvoy is joined by New Generation Thinker Seán Williams and writer Rachel Hewitt to consider Friedrich Schiller’s essay On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry and what it means to be sentimental in that period?

Proms Extra: Happiness

20:27 | Aug 2nd, 2017

Will Abberley asks novelist Charlotte Mendelson why writers seem reluctant to engage with happiness and why so much literature is full of unhappy people; they are joined by psychologist and broadcaster Claudia Hammond.

Proms Extra: Sea Journeys and Voyages

21:03 | Aug 1st, 2017

Rana Mitter is joined by Sir Barry Cunliffe and Professor Edith Hall to consider epic sea journeys in history.

Proms Extra: Europe in Writing

21:39 | Aug 1st, 2017

Novelist Lawrence Norfolk makes a selection of European writers who have considered the idea of ‘Europe’, with readings performed by Peter Marinker. Hosted by New Generation Thinker Nandini Das.

Proms Extra: Opium and Creativity in the 19th c.

27:34 | Jul 24th, 2017

From Thomas De Quincy via Coleridge to Berlioz, a second-generation opium addict, Daisy Hay and Richard Davenport-Hines discuss why drugs were thought integral to creativity first in England and later in France. They tell Matthew Sweet and an audien...Show More

Proms Extra: Music and Moods

20:58 | Jul 18th, 2017

Thomas Dixon, Director of the Centre for the History of Emotions, and musicologist Wiebke Thormählen look at mood: how composers and writers have engaged with themes of sentimentality, happiness and sorrow in their work, presented by Matthew Sweet. ...Show More

Proms Extra - Deep Time

39:15 | Jul 17th, 2017

Rana Mitter talks to geologist Iain Stewart and geographer Nicholas Crane about the concept of "Deep Time".

Free Thinking: Landmark: Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy

52:26 | Jul 13th, 2017

Simon Heffer, novelist and co-director of the Fun Palaces campaign Stella Duffy, New Generation Thinker Will Abberley and the writer and sociologist Tiffany Jenkins join Matthew Sweet and an audience at the University of Sussex to debate the ideas ex...Show More

Free Thinking: Art in the Age of Black Power; History of Racist Ideas in US

44:02 | Jul 12th, 2017

Tate Modern offers a retrospective on the Art of the Black Power Movement in America and explores how 'Black Art' was defined by artists across the United States and its interplay with the civil rights movement. Rana Mitter is joined by Gaylene Gould...Show More

Free Thinking - Queer Icons: Plato's Symposium. Part of Gay Britannia.

54:20 | Jul 11th, 2017

Shahidha Bari discusses LGBTQ in the history of philosophy.As part of the BBC's Queer Icons series Philosopher Sophie-Grace Chappell discusses Plato's Symposium, and novelist Adam Mars-Jones talks about Bruce Bagemihl's book Biological Exuberance whi...Show More

Free Thinking – Writing Love: Jonathan Dollimore, Heer Ranjha. Queer Icons: Sappho. Part of Gay Britannia

43:59 | Jul 6th, 2017

The Punjabi "Romeo and Juliet" is explored at Bradford Lit Fest plus New Generation Thinker Catherine Fletcher talks to Jonathan Dollimore about his memoir and the influence of the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence which he set up at Sussex U...Show More

Free Thinking – Philip Hoare and Elizabeth Jane Burnett on wild swimming. Jake Arnott on Joe Orton

44:00 | Jul 5th, 2017

Matthew Sweet talks to Philip Hoare about literary history and the ocean. Poet Elizabeth Jane Burnett performs snippets from her collection, Swims. Writer Jake Arnott reassesses the film Prick Up Your Ears as it's re-released in cinemas. Continuing t...Show More

Free Thinking: Food

42:27 | Jul 4th, 2017

Can going out for a meal really be an aesthetic experience, like going to a gallery or a theatre? What kind of statement are we making when we say we don’t like beetroot? And what can the great thinkers of history – the philosopher David Hume, the an...Show More

Free Thinking: Canada 150: Sydney Newman and British TV; Vahni Capildeo; Shubbak Festival 2017

43:55 | Jun 29th, 2017

Matthew Sweet looks at the Canadian influence on British TV drama in the early 1960s, with director Alvin Rakoff, Sydney Newman biographer, Ryan Danes, and Graeme Burk, contributor to the publication of Newman's memoirs. Newman was instrumental in se...Show More

Free Thinking: Canada 150: Identity Robbie Richardson, Alison MacLeod, Deborah Pearson + Rupi Kaur and Kevan Funk.

43:50 | Jun 29th, 2017

Shahidha Bari and Laurence Scott look at images of Canada from First Nations art through Anne of Green Gables on TV to poems and art posted on Instagram and Twitter by Rupi Kaur. Their studio guests are author Alison MacLeod, Robbie Richardson and De...Show More

Free Thinking - Canada 150: Robert Lepage, Katherine Ryan.

43:53 | Jun 27th, 2017

Philip Dodd explores the influence of Canadian history and the difference between stand up and performing a one man show. Katherine Ryan is based in the UK and about to perform at summer festivals and in an autumn tour. The French Canadian playwright...Show More

Free Thinking - Man and Machine: Garry Kasparov, Wyndham Lewis. 2017 New Generation Thinker Simon Beard

44:24 | Jun 22nd, 2017

Garry Kasparov talks to Philip Dodd about being defeated by a supercomputer in the chess match he played in 1997 and how this affected his view of AI. 100 years ago, Wyndham Lewis was first commissioned as a war artist; Richard Slocombe, curator of a...Show More

Free Thinking - Terrorism: Richard English, Baroness Warsi, 2017 New Generation Thinker Thomas Simpson.

1:05:21 | Jun 22nd, 2017

Rana Mitter goes to a drama which asks the audience to play jury in a trial following the hijacking of a plane. He's joined by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, whose book 'The Enemy Within' looks at attitudes towards the Islamic community in Britain, Richard ...Show More

Free Thinking: Tom McCarthy. Jacobitism; Satirical Indexes; A Museum of Modern Nature

46:16 | Jun 20th, 2017

Essayist Tom McCarthy joins presenter Anne McElvoy, academics Dennis Duncan + Peter Mackay and the curator of A Museum of Modern Nature. As a new exhibition opens in Edinburgh, 'Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites', poet and New Generation Th...Show More

Free Thinking: Churchill, Pocahontas and The Idiot

44:13 | Jun 15th, 2017

Anne McElvoy is joined by screenwriter Alex von Tunzelmann who discusses her new film, Churchill. New Generation Thinker Christopher Bannister, an expert on the propaganda unit The Ministry of Information, reveals the influence it still wields today...Show More

Free Thinking: Narcissism

44:06 | Jun 14th, 2017

Shahidha Bari and Laurence Scott explore our obsession with the self. Take a look in the mirror with author and photographer Will Storr, the novelist, Olivia Sudjic, Tom Jackson, creator of Postcard from the Past and the neuroscientist, Sophie Scott....Show More

Free Thinking: Will Self, R. D. Laing and Mandy.

44:11 | Jun 13th, 2017

Will Self joins Matthew Sweet to discuss the mind, consciousness, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and PTSD - all woven together in his new novel Phone. Mad to be Normal director, Robert Mullan, talks about the man at the centre of his film, controversial psychiatr...Show More

Free Thinking: Political Sketch Writing. Enclosure Acts. 2017. Branwell Bronte. Pushkin House Book Prize 2017

43:42 | Jun 8th, 2017

Anne McElvoy looks at the style of the election campaign and how it's been reflected by political sketch writers with John Crace and Quentin Letts. As Common by DC Moore opens at London's National Theatre, Simon Jenkins and Jonathan Healey discuss th...Show More

Free Thinking - Revenge: My Cousin Rachel, Natalie Haynes, 2017 New Generation Thinker Islam Issa.

43:49 | Jun 7th, 2017

Matthew Sweet sees a film version of Daphne Du Maurier's novel directed by Roger Michell and looks at revenge in Shakespeare and Greek drama with 2017 New Generation Thinker Islam Issa and classicist and author Natalie Haynes. Andrew O'Hagan discusse...Show More

Free Thinking - Arundhati Roy

44:22 | Jun 6th, 2017

Arundhati Roy, the Man Booker prize winning author and campaigner is in conversation with Philip Dodd as she publishes her second novel 20 years after The God of Small Things. Arundhati Roy's new novel is called The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. ...Show More

Free Thinking - Hay 2017: Writing History with Sebastian Barry, Jake Arnott, Madeleine Thien.

54:48 | Jun 1st, 2017

The authors of three historical novels discuss the way research and family history have informed their fiction in a discussion recorded at the Hay Festival chaired by New Generation Thinker Sarah Dillon from the University of Cambridge. Jake Arno...Show More

Free Thinking: Ecstasy. Carpe Diem. 2017 New Generation Thinker Hetta Howes on medieval ecstasy.

56:49 | Jun 1st, 2017

Why we need to seize the moment and lose control more often is discussed by philosophers Jules Evans and Roman Krznaric and Canon Angela Tilby. And presenter Rana Mitter is joined by 2017 New Generation Thinker Hetta Howes, whose research looks at me...Show More

Free Thinking: Hay 2017: Women's Voices in the Classical World.

47:59 | May 30th, 2017

Colm Toibin, Bettany Hughes and Paul Cartledge join New Generation Thinker Catherine Fletcher for a discussion recorded at Hay. Colm Toibin’s new novel House of Names explores the story of Clytemnestra and the murder of her husband Agamemnon. His...Show More

Free Thinking: Artist Tom Phillips at 80; How do we save our plants?

46:08 | May 25th, 2017

The artist Tom Phillips talks to Philip Dodd about his career as he marks his 80th birthday. His works range from sculptures, like a tennis ball with his own hair, to commissions for the Imperial War Museum and Peckham, and portraits of subjects incl...Show More

Free Thinking - Japan and Korea. Hokusai

50:36 | May 24th, 2017

Chris Harding discusses the work of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai with Tim Clark, curator of a new exhibition at the British Museum and explores the relationship between Korea and Japan through the visual arts with art historian Angus Locker, Ch...Show More

Free Thinking - Bella Bathurst. Mike Figgis. Birds in British literature. 2017 New Generation Thinker Daisy Fancourt.

44:17 | May 23rd, 2017

Author and photojournalist Bella Bathurst suddenly began to lose her hearing as an adult in 1997. Twelve years later, an operation enabled her to recover it. She has written a book about her experience, insights gained about listening and the science...Show More

Free Thinking: Fiona Shaw and Mark Ravenhill on Brecht, John Knox, 2017 New Generation Thinker Joanne Paul.

44:10 | May 18th, 2017

As dramas about John Knox and Galileo open at theatres in Edinburgh and London, Philip Dodd talks to Fiona Shaw and Mark Ravenhill about performing and staging Brecht and to Edinburgh Lyceum director David Greig. He's also joined by 2017 New Generati...Show More

Free Thinking: Rachel Seiffert. James Hawes,Richard Nelson. 2017 New Gen Thinker Alistair Fraser on gangs

44:19 | May 17th, 2017

Anne McElvoy talks to the Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson about bringing his trilogy depicting a US family over the 2016 election year to the Brighton Festival. Novelist Rachel Seiffert was shortlisted for the Booker prize with her boo...Show More

Free Thinking - Artist Taryn Simon. Deglobalisation. 2017 New Generation Thinker Eleanor Lybeck on the circus.

44:01 | May 16th, 2017

Artist Taryn Simon, Master of Photography at this year's Photo London Art Fair, speaks to Matthew Sweet about her work including her latest project Image Atlas inspired by the top image results for given search terms across local engines throughout t...Show More

Free Thinking: Laurent Binet; the rise of blockchain tech.

44:22 | May 11th, 2017

Anne McElvoy talks to the French novelist Laurent Binet about his playful novel The 7th Function of Language, inspired by the death of Roland Barthes which has won the Prix de la FNAC and Prix Interallié. Emile Chabal considers what's next for France...Show More

Free Thinking: Salomé, Angels in America, Queer British Art

43:51 | May 10th, 2017

Playwright Mark Ravenhill and critic Matt Wolf debate desire and politics with Philip Dodd as Tony Kushner's Angels in America is revived at the National Theatre in London. Writer and theatre director Yaël Farber explains her vision of the story of S...Show More

Free Thinking: The Wolfson Prize

53:11 | May 9th, 2017

Rana Mitter is joined by the 6 shortlisted authors and an audience at the British Academy for a discussion about writing history. This is the first year that the Wolfson History Prize has announced a shortlist. The winner will be named on May 15th. ...Show More

Free Thinking: Breaking Free: Landmark - Paradise Lost

44:03 | May 5th, 2017

Professor John Carey joins New Generation Thinkers Islam Issa and Joe Moshenska and presenter Philip Dodd to discuss Milton's poem, the first version of which was published in 1667. The discussion explores the influence of Protestant thinking, the Re...Show More

Free Thinking: Breaking Free - Martin Luther’s Revolution. New Research into the Reformation

43:44 | May 3rd, 2017

Rana Mitter looks at new research into the way daily life changed in Britain after the Reformation for Radio 3's series of programmes exploring Martin Luther's Revolution. His guests are: Alec Ryrie, Professor in Religion and Theology at the Unive...Show More

Free Thinking - Breaking Free: Martin Luther's Revolution

44:55 | May 2nd, 2017

Peter Stanford, Ulinka Rublack and Diarmaid MacCulloch join Anne McElvoy to explore the question Martin Luther - Fundamentalist, Reactionary or Enlightened Creator of the Modern World? The discussion was recorded in front of an audience at theLiterar...Show More

Free Thinking - Wellcome Book Prize, Civil Wars: Susan Buck-Morss and A.C. Grayling, Louisa Egbunike and Akachi Ezeigbo.

43:58 | Apr 27th, 2017

A novel by Maylis de Kerangal which traces a heart transplant is the winner of this year's Wellcome Book Prize and the inspiration for a film out in the UK this week. Also, Anne McElvoy discusses nation states and war with US Professor of Political P...Show More

Free Thinking - What now for environmentalism? With Paul Kingsnorth, James Thornton and Martin Goodman

44:12 | Apr 26th, 2017

Paul Kingsnorth, former deputy-editor of The Ecologist, co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project and author of novels including The Wake and Beast, talks about his changing attitude to the environmental movement. Environmental lawyer James Thornton an...Show More

Free Thinking - Smell: Michele Roberts, A history of dentistry

44:44 | Apr 25th, 2017

Michèle Roberts' latest novel evokes Victorian London. Matthew Sweet asks how it smelt and what do museums do to create past smells. Plus a cultural history of dentistry with the medical historian Richard Barnett. The Walworth Beauty by Michèle Rober...Show More

Free Thinking - Landmark: Leaves of Grass

43:55 | Apr 23rd, 2017

The American poet Mark Doty, Professor Sarah Churchwell and the young British poet Andrew McMillan join Matthew Sweet for a programme dedicated to one of the classics of American poetry, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Readings performed by William H...Show More

Free Thinking – John Irving

43:21 | Apr 22nd, 2017

Philip Dodd interviews John Irving - author of novels including The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meany. His new book is called Avenue of Mysteries and imagines the life of a crippled street-child from Mexico, Juan...Show More

Free Thinking - Writers Writing about Love

43:40 | Apr 21st, 2017

Anne McElvoy invites three novelists into the studio to discuss Love - the theme of each of their latest novels. A L Kennedy's Serious Sweet examines love in later life, Tahmima Anam explores different aspects ofyoung love in The Bones of Grace and A...Show More

Free Thinking - Taking the Long View with the Animal Kingdom

48:41 | Apr 13th, 2017

Tim Birkhead and Phyllis Lee explore long-lived animal species and their survival strategies. If the modern world is obsessed with short term success, could animals offer a better understanding of the long term state of our planet? Want to sample...Show More

Free Thinking - My Body Clock is Broken

54:51 | Apr 12th, 2017

Jay Griffiths, Vincent Deary, Louise Robinson and Matthew Smith discuss our mental health. How do depression and dementia affect our sense of time and the rhythms of daily life? Our body clocks have long been seen by scientists as integral to our...Show More

Free Thinking Festival: Time, Space and Science

43:37 | Apr 11th, 2017

Carlos Frenk, Eugenia Cheng, Jim Al-Khalili and Louisa Preston debate time and space with presenter Rana Mitter and an audience at Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead. We can measure time passing but what actually is it? What do sci...Show More

Free Thinking Festival: Writing Life

44:00 | Apr 10th, 2017

Poet Simon Armitage and writer Alexandra Harris explore time and place in modern Britain. Presented by Philip Dodd and recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead. Simon Armitage, Professor of Po...Show More

Free Thinking at Uproot Festival

43:58 | Apr 7th, 2017

Island city mentality or gateway to the world? Hull-based crime writer and former journalist David Mark, poet Adelle Stripe and Slung Low artistic director Alan Lane join Matthew Sweet to debate Hull's links with the wider world, while playwright Est...Show More