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The Radio 3 Documentary

BBC Radio 3

Exploring different aspects of history, science, philosophy and the arts.

43:40 | Jul 31st

Samira Ahmed considers how the Little House on the Prairie author is regarded in America.

43:51 | Jul 29th

The 200th birthday of Thoreau raises new questions about his legacy.
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44:30 | Jul 14th

Jazz and communist East Germany seem unlikely bedfellows. Yet in 1965 Louis Armstrong became the first American entertainer to play jazz there at the height of the Cold War. East Germans celebrated Armstrong, and his visit became a propaganda victory...Show More

13:39 | Jul 7th

Dr Stuart Clark argues that the very future of the universe depends on humanity leaving Earth and setting up outposts on distant worlds.

13:56 | Jun 30th

Dafydd Mills Daniel investigates Isaac Newton's more obscure studies in Alchemy.

14:42 | Jun 27th

Hetta Howes sets off to find the unicorn of myth in 21st century Britain.

43:48 | Jun 9th

Dr Kate Kennedy explores the life of pioneer 19th-century cellist Lise Cristiani and investigates the profound bond she developed with the instrument she called 'husband'

43:26 | Jun 2nd

Golding's classic novel was saved from being rejected by Faber by the luckiest chance.

43:22 | May 26th

300 years since Robinson Crusoe was published, Emma Smith traces it across the centuries

43:50 | May 19th

Matthew Sweet unearths the film-maker Alexander Korda's wartime role as a British agent.

43:24 | May 12th

Wild swimming enthusiast Alice Roberts examines the legacy of Waterlog by Roger Deakin.

44:08 | May 5th

Drawing on the testimony of many who knew him, Colm Toibin presents an intimate portrait of the brilliant, playful, Pulitzer-winning American poet John Ashbery, who died in 2017. Produced in Cardiff by Steven Rajam and Lyndon Jones

43:51 | Apr 28th

Olivia Horsfall Turner explores the life and work of the women of the radical German art college the Bauhaus, founded by Walter Gropius a hundred years ago.

43:36 | Apr 26th

It’s been described as one of the most remarkable collections of minds on the planet. It has a brilliant international faculty, but no students. Its researchers have made some of the most significant scientific discoveries of the 20th century, but it...Show More
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44:00 | Mar 31st

Author Jerry Brotton goes in search of the ancient and very beautiful idea that places music at the centre of our universe: the Harmony of the Spheres.

43:46 | Mar 24th

Dr Seán Williams takes a first class trip through the enduring contradictions of luxury.
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43:35 | Mar 17th

Composer Gabriel Prokofiev explores the shifting relationship between Russian music and the state across three generations.

42:44 | Mar 11th

Musician and journalist Katherine Whatley explores the rich and surprising history of jazz in Japan. Surprising because the chaotic individualism of this American art form appears at first to go against the very grain of Japan’s communitarian sprit. ...Show More
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43:35 | Mar 3rd

Will Abberley explores the recent interest in the ‘Eerie' amongst English artists, writers and musicians

43:47 | Feb 11th

A succulent & mouth watering portrait of one of the least talked about organs of the body.
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43:35 | Jan 20th

A fragmentary look at the American writer Susan Sontag through her own words and those of her peers.
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43:25 | Jan 13th

Through the words of Martha Gellhorn, one of the most prescient and insightful journalists of the 20th Century, contemporary writers reflect on modern reporting.
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44:02 | Jan 6th

Fiona Stafford recreates John Keats’ epic walk of 1818 which inspired his greatest works, hoping to change his image from consumptive weakling to strapping, fit, doctor-turned-poet

43:47 | Dec 30th, 2018

Sarah Dillon explores the stories behind how great works of literature were written.
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43:43 | Dec 29th, 2018

Cerys Matthews explores the enduring influence of the Psalms on musicians and composers across centuries and musical genres - from Judaism to jazz, from plainsong to pop.

43:24 | Dec 23rd, 2018

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough tells the magical story of the tree that sits at the heart of Christmas day - the pine tree. A tale of power, biological wonder and baubles.
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43:45 | Dec 9th, 2018

Dr Bettany Hughes illuminates the cogent, neglected culture of the Caspian Sea and its hinterland, where the earth is politics.
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43:39 | Dec 2nd, 2018

Professor Bettany Hughes travels to Azerbaijan to investigate the rich cultural history of the Caspian and its history as the ancient “land of fire”.

43:46 | Nov 25th, 2018

'Fire!!' was a short-lived literary magazine from the Harlem Renaissance published in 1926, created by and for the young black artists of the movement. Featuring poetry, prose, drama and artwork from some of the biggest names of the Harlem Renaissanc...Show More

43:52 | Nov 18th, 2018

Amazing travels of the first Englishman in India & a hunt for a lost poetic masterpiece.
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

43:38 | Nov 12th, 2018

Kate Kennedy reveals how life within a largely forgotten First World War German internment camp shaped the course of early 20th-century classical music. Exploring the lasting impact of this imprisonment on the men’s lives and careers, Kate visits the...Show More

43:17 | Nov 4th, 2018

Two features by R3 New Generation Thinkers. Dr Simon Beard and Dr Islam Issa

43:53 | Oct 28th, 2018

Two Features by R3 New Generation Thinkers Hetta Howes and Eleanor Lybeck.

43:32 | Oct 22nd, 2018

Author Carlo Gebler has spent nearly three decades working in the Northern Ireland prison system as a teacher of creative writing. He's been in all the prisons there - including the notorious Maze/Long Kesh H-Blocks - and has done everything from bas...Show More

43:28 | Oct 15th, 2018

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough enters the forests of our imagination, looking for stories. Alternative realities, holy quests and fairytales hidden among the glories of the Autumn forest. Despite our evolution in the African rainforests, Eleanor wonde...Show More

43:08 | Oct 8th, 2018

Sir Hubert Parry is largely remembered today for a handful of iconic works including Jerusalem, I was Glad, Blest Pair of Sirens, and for writing the hymn tune to Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. But Parry was far more significant than these few work...Show More

43:37 | Sep 24th, 2018

Author Colm Toibin profiles the turbulent and brilliant life of American poet Robert Lowell, once considered the greatest living poet in English. Four decades ago, the American poet Robert Lowell (1917-1977) died quietly in the back of a New York ta...Show More
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

43:54 | Sep 23rd, 2018

A feature exploring the grid as the great hidden idea behind modernism, art, music and urban design.
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43:37 | Sep 16th, 2018

Writer and producer Mary Colwell explores the relationship between nature and creativity, and asks, as nature disappears, are we compromising our ability to express ourselves in art, music and literature? Since the 1970s the world has lost half of th...Show More

43:46 | Sep 9th, 2018

Actors Jim Broadbent, Toby Jones and Sylvester McCoy join David Bramwell to celebrate Ken
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

42:10 | Sep 6th, 2018

Samira Ahmed explores how Victorian art critic John Ruskin promoted women's liberation through a radical model for girls' education set out in his essay Of Queens' Gardens.
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

43:41 | Sep 5th, 2018

Writer Ken Hollings reassesses the life and work of 1960s public intellectual and mass media guru Marshall McLuhan, examining his relevance in today's digital world.
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

44:12 | Aug 14th, 2018

Saxophonist Soweto Kinch uncovers the extraordinary story of King Kong, the township jazz musical, which began with tragedy in 1956 and ended in triumph in 1959.

43:33 | Aug 14th, 2018

Allan Little looks at arts festivals started in the aftermath of World War Two

43:54 | Aug 13th, 2018

Catherine Fletcher explores Monterverdi's pioneering use of female roles and performers

43:52 | Aug 9th, 2018

Adam Smith traces the birth and afterlife of Hemingway's explosive short story.

43:28 | Aug 7th, 2018

To mark Tony Harrison's 80th birthday, Paul Farley profiles the unique poet. (R)

43:49 | Aug 6th, 2018

Jon Gower uncovers the work of the pioneering naturalist RM Lockley, whose work inspired Watership Down, paying tribute to the stunning coastline and island where Lockley worked.

43:57 | Jul 16th, 2018

Liliane Lijn explores the work of postwar French artist Yves Klein, famous for patenting ultramarine blue and jumping from a window in the suburbs of Paris. Leap into the Void!

43:31 | Jul 8th, 2018

Chris Bowlby travels with Tony Harrison to Prague, to discover how one of Britain's best known poets was shaped by the cultural energy and tragedy of 1960s Czechoslovakia. Harrison reads from his Prague poems in the locations where they were written....Show More

43:37 | Jul 1st, 2018

Emma Smith on how coverage of gender in the arts might help us understand today's debate

43:10 | Jun 24th, 2018

Might explorations of gender in great art of the past help illuminate today's issues?

44:51 | Jun 15th, 2018

Once upon a time, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough woke up in the summer forest.
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

44:23 | Jun 10th, 2018

In 1964 - a presidential election year in the United States - the Third Programme broadcast an epic series about African-American life called 'The Negro in America'. In a coup for the BBC, it was co-produced by the great poet of the 1920s Harlem Rena...Show More

43:38 | May 21st, 2018

David Attenborough reveals a side of himself that nobody knows, as a collector of music from all over the world. We hear the stories that surround it, and the music itself. One of David Attenborough's first projects was 'Alan Lomax - Song Hunter',...Show More

43:44 | May 11th, 2018

Rana Mitter visits Tokyo to explore how Japan remembers World War Two today through film.

43:30 | May 6th, 2018

Exploring different aspects of history, science, philosophy and the arts.

43:44 | May 3rd, 2018

Rana Mitter visits Tokyo to explore how Japan remembers World War Two through movies.

43:44 | Apr 29th, 2018

Rana Mitter visits Tokyo to explore how Japan remembers World War Two today through film.

43:33 | Apr 22nd, 2018

In this Sunday Feature, historian Chris Harding travels from Tokyo to the deep countryside of Japan's north east to tell the alternative story of the country, looking at how, throughout their history, Japanese people have used ghosts and ghost storie...Show More

43:36 | Apr 16th, 2018

Imagine where we’d be without Shakespeare’s plays. It’s difficult to contemplate now. But it was thanks to another man that many of them were brought to life. Today, Richard Burbage is a not a household name. But he should be. He’s the man for wh...Show More

43:35 | Apr 8th, 2018

Paul Morley asks "Can there be too many artists in the world?"
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

43:47 | Apr 1st, 2018

Cerys Matthews explores the enduring influence of the Psalms across centuries and genres.

43:20 | Mar 19th, 2018

There were many real blind, black bluesman, scraping a living in the Deep South a hundred years ago. From Blind Willie Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson on opposite street corners in Dallas to Blind Blake and Blind Boy Fuller in Georgia and the Carol...Show More

43:59 | Mar 15th, 2018

Acclaimed actor Simon Russell Beale is fascinated by the concerto and how the role of the soloist has evolved from baroque times to now. In this Sunday Feature (exploring the theme of this year's Free Thinking Festival - The One and the Many), Simon ...Show More

43:39 | Feb 26th, 2018

Sarah Dillon discovers the story behind the writing of R.L. Stevenson's horror classic

43:56 | Feb 12th, 2018

Robert Worby on how post-war German radio and new music were conscripted to fight the cultural cold war, juggling political, economic and cultural forces outside of their control.

43:30 | Jan 29th, 2018

In 1933 Franz Werfel's epic novel "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh" was published to huge acclaim. Werfel was then at the height of his powers, an internationally known author. He told the story of Armenian villagers who, in 1915, resist deportation & an...Show More

43:45 | Dec 3rd, 2017

Alexander the Great's Tomb was famous and then it disappeared. Classical historian Edmund Richardson has spent the last few years following in the Macedonian's wake and admits to a growing obsession with the mystery of the missing corpse and its fina...Show More

44:00 | Nov 19th, 2017

Ian Sansom attempts to resurrect the spirit of poet Vladimir Mayakovsky

43:34 | Nov 6th, 2017

How do Russia's latest cultural émigrés feel about leaving their homeland? In Russia, culture is increasingly on the front line - many writers, theatre directors and academics feel stifled or under attack. Lucy Ash hears from those who have wrestled ...Show More

43:49 | Oct 29th, 2017

Dr Louisa Egbunike, lecturer in English at City University London, is interested in the shifting frame of Afrofuturism. The term was originally coined in 1993 to bracket together work by African-American writers, artists and musicians who were dealin...Show More

43:36 | Oct 22nd, 2017

Opera Historian Dr Alexandra Wilson dons her cloche hat and steps into the shoes of a flapper for a journey back to 1920s London. Jazz was the new fad imported for America, dance clubs were taking the city by storm and cinemas were popping up on ever...Show More

43:46 | Oct 8th, 2017

John Tusa revisits the provincial German towns where as a 19-year-old national serviceman he first discovered opera in 1955 and finds out why, 62 years on, it’s still thriving there. Back then, he was based in the centre of the country, at the ga...Show More

43:37 | Oct 1st, 2017

When Dana Gioia was appointed Poet Laureate of California in 2015 he was invited to read in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. But Gioia believes the role is to encourage poetry throughout the state. He has a mission: to visit every county in...Show More

43:56 | Aug 13th, 2017

Adam Smith traces Ernest Hemingway’s brutal, brilliant short story - from its birth in gangster-era Chicago, through its Hollywood afterlife as a noir classic, to its strange status as Ronald Reagan’s last movie. Ernest Hemingway wrote his short s...Show More

26:30 | Aug 7th, 2017

The Edinburgh Festival was founded 70 years ago in the aftermath of World War Two. 1947 was a year of shortages and rationing, and the idea of starting an arts festival in Scotland's capital city must have seemed highly ambitious. Yet with the suppor...Show More

43:21 | Jul 9th, 2017

Forster's gay love story was a forbidden book, unpublished until his death.

43:29 | Jun 25th, 2017

James Rhodes is a massive Glenn Gould Geek: throughout his childhood he listened to Gould's recordings, had posters of him on his bedroom walls, and in the years since, those recordings have helped James through some of his darkest times. Gould is...Show More

43:54 | May 14th, 2017

Catherine Fletcher explores Monterverdi's pioneering use of female roles and performers

43:10 | May 8th, 2017

Germany's celebrating 500 years since the Reformation - but what does it mean today? Chris Bowlby visits Wittenberg - where Martin Luther started it all in 1517. He discovers how the Reformation transformed life in many different ways, and helped mak...Show More

43:18 | May 2nd, 2017

The Rev Lucy Winkett goes on the trail of Martin Luther's musical reformation.

43:55 | Apr 24th, 2017

To mark Tony Harrison's 80th birthday, Paul Farley presents a profile.

43:50 | Apr 18th, 2017

Jon Gower visits the island of Skokholm off the coast of south west Wales, and uncovers the work of the pioneering naturalist RM Lockley, whose work inspired 'Watership Down'

43:36 | Mar 27th, 2017

Why did hundreds of jazz musicians turn to heroin in the post-war period?

43:39 | Mar 12th, 2017

How did opera become an art form consumed today by millions of people globally on computer screens, in cinemas and on the radio? And how, in particular, did New York's Metropolitan Opera become one of the most iconic and powerful producers of this Ol...Show More

43:22 | Mar 5th, 2017

Kevin Le Gendre presents a portrait of musician and spiritual leader, Alice Coltrane

43:42 | Feb 6th, 2017

The controversial French composer Boulez made three life-changing trips to South America.

46:52 | Jan 22nd, 2017

In the Nazi camps and ghettos a vast range of music was created

43:23 | Jan 15th, 2017

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough on how different cultures have viewed the end of the world

43:51 | Jan 10th, 2017

Christian Weikop, examines Kandinsky's Russian roots.

43:49 | Jan 6th, 2017

Listen in pop-out player Did Freud really dislike music as much as he professed? Stephen Johnson explores Sigmund Freud's enigmatic relationship with music. He talks to the American cultural analyst Michelle Duncan, pscyho-analysts and writers Dar...Show More

43:38 | Dec 25th, 2016

David Attenborough recalls collecting music from around the world, and listens once again

43:44 | Dec 11th, 2016

Is the avant-garde dead? Paul Morley conducts an autopsy, but detects signs of life ...

43:45 | Nov 17th, 2016

Sandeep Parmar retraces the steps of "Paris", a lost Modernist masterpiece by poet Hope Mirlees, and Daniel Lee explores the fate of North Africa's Jewish communities during WW2.

43:45 | Nov 13th, 2016

1. Euphemism and Eroticism in Scottish Gaelic Songs. 2.Reappraising Nollekens.

43:15 | Oct 9th, 2016

What was the BBC's panel for new scores for broadcast?Charlotte Higgins finds out.

43:31 | Oct 2nd, 2016

Laurence Scott on the radio producer and esteemed film critic Philip French

45:02 | Sep 28th, 2016

Part two of Humphrey Carpenter's history of the Third Programme. First broadcast 1996

42:59 | Sep 28th, 2016

Humphrey Carpenter's history of the Third Programme. First broadcast in 1996.

43:26 | Jul 7th, 2016

Kate Kennedy explores the Somme through the lives of musicians who took part

43:52 | Jun 26th, 2016

Giovanni Morelli, exposer of fakes and European man of mystery, who may have inspired Conan Doyle's detective, and Freud's theory of the unconscious. Naomi Alderman investigates.

43:43 | Jun 19th, 2016

Ian McMillan on the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936,that changed everything

43:59 | Jun 15th, 2016

Travelling to both Brazil and Milan, Fabio Zanon tells how Carlos Gomes, the Brazilian mixed-race composer, conquered La Scala in the 19th century, becoming a hero at home too.

43:29 | Jun 5th, 2016

Sarah Dillon on James Joyce's epic struggle to publish his first book, Dubliners.

43:43 | May 29th, 2016

Sarah Dillon discovers how Jane Austen's last completed novel, 'Persuasion' was written. The novel has sometimes been viewed as Austen's valedictory novel - written while she was suffering with her final illness. But Sarah Dillon uncovers a more comp...Show More

43:38 | May 15th, 2016

Arnold Wesker, who died in April of this year,looking back at his life and career.

43:39 | Apr 25th, 2016

Emma Smith traces how Shakespeare's First Folio helped make our national poet

43:27 | Apr 17th, 2016

Menuhin at 100 marks the life and career of this prodigy, through the interviews he gave.

43:53 | Mar 13th, 2016

If brainwashing is a just a Cold War myth, why does it still trouble us? With Daniel Pick

43:45 | Mar 6th, 2016

Jerry Brotton travels to Venice to tell the story of the first ghetto founded in 1516.

43:56 | Feb 21st, 2016

Paul Morley on the changing world of the art galleries of Britain.

43:55 | Feb 14th, 2016

Rana Mitter finds out how South Korean culture manages to punch far above its weight

44:01 | Jan 31st, 2016

Andy Kershaw follows song collector Cecil Sharp's Appalachian trail in the spring of 1916

43:48 | Jan 10th, 2016

Sarah Dillon goes on the hunt for the story behind how Great Expectations was written.

43:13 | Dec 13th, 2015

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough asks if there is a shared culture in the north of Europe.

43:11 | Dec 6th, 2015

Lesley Riddoch examines the changing relationship between man and nature in the North.

43:34 | Nov 22nd, 2015

Sarfraz Manzoor charts the history of Asian theatre in Britain

44:39 | Nov 8th, 2015

Alasdair Cochrane on Thomas Hardy and animals; Will Abberley on evolutionary psychology.

43:45 | Oct 25th, 2015

Adam Thorpe visits Azincourt to find out what really happened at the battle.

43:44 | Oct 4th, 2015

Cultural historian Dai Smith interrogates the Celtic myth.

59:59 | Sep 27th, 2015

Philip Ball asks scientists and musicians why music is such a universal human trait.

43:53 | Sep 20th, 2015

Drawing on rare archive Alan Dein explores the making & meanings of Rebel Without a Cause

44:05 | Jun 28th, 2015

Martin Handley explores contemporary attitudes to the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan.

43:46 | Jun 21st, 2015

Mary King investigates how advances in our anatomy knowledge are changing the way we sing

43:44 | Jun 7th, 2015

Theo Dorgan explores the continuing importance of W B Yeats, 150 years after he was born.

45:13 | May 31st, 2015

Amidst the 800 year celebrations for Magna Carta, Andrew Dickson hears about one of the more provocative theatrical attempts to commemorate the Charter from fifty years ago.

44:16 | May 5th, 2015

Sukhdev Sandhu introduces a rare radio-minded feature by the celebrated critic, novelist and thinker John Berger. Now in his ninth decade, Berger talks about the songs in his life and about Charlie Chaplin's radical power. Featuring Katya Berger and ...Show More

43:26 | Apr 26th, 2015

Using diaries and memoirs Michael Goldfarb tells the story of the Congress of Vienna and how it still affects us 200 years later: diplomacy, Beethoven and sex... lots of sex.

44:08 | Apr 19th, 2015

The leading German writer Uwe Johnson lived in Sheerness from 1974 until his death in 1984. Patrick Wright tries to find out why he chose what he called this 'much maligned' town.

43:46 | Apr 15th, 2015

Xavier Bray is a curator on a nail-biting journey to put together the greatest exhibition of portraits by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya, which opens at the National Gallery later this year

43:31 | Apr 5th, 2015

Matthew Sweet delves into the science fiction futures of Naomi Mitchison, Rose Macaulay and Margot Bennett. With music specially composed by The Vile Electrodes.

44:09 | Mar 10th, 2015

Dr Kate Kennedy appraises four female string players from different eras and locations, who were all pioneering in their own lifetimes. For International Women's Day 2015

43:52 | Feb 22nd, 2015

Adam Smith unearths the roots of Nathanael West's great 1938 Hollywood novel The Day of the Locust, and tests its prophecy of fascist violence in America against postwar history.

44:12 | Feb 16th, 2015

Andrew McGregor visits Havana to investigate Cuba's classical music scene today.

43:56 | Feb 9th, 2015

Eric Ravilious is considered one of the best watercolourists of the twentieth century. Alexandra Harris explores the life of work of this elusive man and his art.

43:32 | Feb 1st, 2015

It's a story of loot, revenge and devastated beauty that looms over British-Chinese relations. Chris Bowlby uncovers the fate of the imperial summer palace in Beijing.

44:29 | Jan 25th, 2015

Stephen Johnson connects Mahler's beliefs about death to Viennese funeral customs, and particularly the idea of 'beautiful death' which was pervasive in Mahler's Vienna.

43:42 | Jan 19th, 2015

Candy Darling and Edie Sedgwick are now the stuff of legend, but many of those with first-hand experience of Warhol's Factory live on. Paul Morley hears tales to amaze and inspire.

43:43 | Jan 4th, 2015

Author Colm Tóibín profiles the Anglo-American poet Thom Gunn, self-professed lover of "loud music, bars and boisterous men", whose tightly-wrought poetry imposed control and order upon his hedonistic lifestyle.

43:54 | Dec 28th, 2014

Matthew is joined by historians and performers to explore World War 1 popular culture - from music hall to movies, theatre to night clubs and drugs. Recorded before an audience.

43:28 | Dec 14th, 2014

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough journeys to northern Norway in search of the supernatural icy world that haunts the imagination of writers including Philip Pullman and A.S. Byatt.

43:41 | Dec 11th, 2014

Samira Ahmed explores the extraordinary rise and fall of the Lady Protectress Elizabeth, wife of Oliver Cromwell - a commoner who became "queen" in the 1650s.

43:40 | Nov 30th, 2014

Laura Ashe tells the story of the Black Death and discovers how plague changed our cultural landscape, and influences our responses to current emergencies such as Ebola.

43:30 | Nov 23rd, 2014

Andrew Hussey travels across Paris to understand how the Eiffel Tower, and the huge World's Fair that gave birth to it, shaped French culture.

43:52 | Nov 16th, 2014

Christopher Harding explores the influence of Freud in India, China and Japan, and John Gallagher focuses on the history of the foreign language phrase book.

44:09 | Nov 9th, 2014

Frank Cottrell Boyce on the impact of the First World War on religion at home and at the Front.

46:05 | Nov 3rd, 2014

Gregory Tate explores why many C19th scientists wrote poetry, as do several today. Fern Riddell rediscovers the astonishing life of Kitty Marion: singer, suffragette, firestarter.

43:27 | Oct 20th, 2014

Rana Mitter travels to Beijing to explore the recent flourishing of theatre in China and its re-invention as an art-form of youthful, urban cool.

44:13 | Oct 12th, 2014

Richard Strauss's works are staples of both concert hall and opera house, and yet relatively little is known or discussed of the man himself. What we do know about Strauss - that he was incredibly astute financially, that his relationship with the Na...Show More

43:28 | Oct 5th, 2014

In the final programme in the series Petroc Trelawny measures the impact and effectiveness of education in sustaining and nurturing the massive growth in Western Classical music.

43:38 | Sep 28th, 2014

The second programme in Petroc Trelawny’s series looking at the new Global passion for classical music. In programme one his attention was on the dramatic new concert hall’s, opera houses and cultural centres which make such a bold and apparently d...Show More

45:03 | Sep 22nd, 2014

Petroc Trelawny presents a three part Sunday Feature series looking at the way Western Classical Music is flourishing in often surprising new territories. In the first programme he considers the importance of the buildings that have come to symbolis...Show More

43:53 | Sep 15th, 2014

Francis Spufford explores how An Experiment with Time, written by former soldier and aircraft designer J.W. Dunne, had a profound influence on J.B. Priestley and others for decades.

43:38 | Aug 8th, 2014

Diarmaid MacCulloch tells the story of iconoclasm during the English Reformation.

42:50 | Jul 13th, 2014

Scotland goes to the polls on the 18th September to decide its constitutional future. Why do so many of Scotland's writers and artists support the Yes Campaign? Stuart Kelly investigates.

44:21 | Jun 26th, 2014

Novelist Louise Welsh explores some of the meanings, ancient and modern, of the battle of Bannockburn on its 700th anniversary

44:30 | Jun 15th, 2014

The playwright Dennis Potter died twenty years ago. Matthew Sweet reassesses the legacy of the author of 'The Singing Detective' and 'Pennies from Heaven' and hears from his friends and colleagues, including Michael Grade, Alan Yentob, Melvyn Bragg, ...Show More

44:28 | Jun 8th, 2014

Dan Jones, composer and sound designer, considers why it has taken so long for Sound Art to get a hearing, he goes hunting for sound at CERN with Bill Fontana, Janet Cardiff talks about her 40 part Motet, Barbara London, MOMA curator, tells of the ...Show More

43:56 | May 4th, 2014

Writer Rachel Trezise - the first winner of the annual Dylan Thomas Prize - tells the story of Dylan Thomas's broadcasting life. Dylan Thomas often remarked that his poetry was written as much for the voice as for the page. So it's perhaps not surpri...Show More

43:06 | Apr 28th, 2014

Could your child compose like Mozart? While searching for a creative and fun way to teach his 3-year-old son, Nick Baragwanath discovered a forgotten history of music completely different from the usual dull routine of practice and graded exams. In t...Show More

43:43 | Apr 6th, 2014

Style, flair, individuality, ideas... and stars. The filmic output of the remarkable three-person association of creative talents that is collectively known as 'Merchant Ivory' has endured since the early 1960s.

44:32 | Mar 23rd, 2014

Norman Lebrecht presents the last of three programmes examining the complex relationship between music and Jewish identity. Spanning thousands of years, from King David and the creation of the Psalms, to composers writing today including Steve Reich...Show More

45:20 | Mar 20th, 2014

Norman Lebrecht presents the second of three programmes examining the complex relationship between music and Jewish identity. Women, in the Jewish religion, are not meant to sing, and yet Jewish women have shrugged off that inhibition to become some...Show More

44:02 | Mar 19th, 2014

Norman Lebrecht presents the first programme in a three-part series examining the complex relationship between music and Jewish identity. Spanning thousands of years, from King David and the creation of the Psalms, to composers writing today includi...Show More

46:40 | Jan 26th, 2014

Rana Mitter reveals how Shanghai today is forging its identity as an ultramodern city – by rediscovering its glamorous 1920s past, when 'Shanghai' meant movies, neon and jazz.

43:42 | Jan 5th, 2014

Paul Farley journeys down France's sleepiest river whose character belies its violent history, a history intertwined with the English since medieval times.

43:46 | Jan 3rd, 2014

Paul Allen explores the allure of evil through great villains, from Hollywood baddies to Shakespearean antiheroes and real people, with great British actors, directors and writers.

43:36 | Dec 15th, 2013

Anne McElvoy finds out how those active in Germany's cultural world see the identity of Europe's largest and most powerful nation evolving.

46:09 | Dec 8th, 2013

Tom Service and others explore the history of the festival theatre in Bayreuth that Wagner built for the staging of his music dramas.

45:59 | Dec 3rd, 2013

Matthew Sweet meets Ken Adam, the 92-year-old designer of iconic sets from Dr No and Goldfinger to Doctor Strangelove and the Ipcress File.

44:09 | Nov 3rd, 2013

Professor Hussey celebrates the life, work and tragic death of literature's enigmatic Outsider Albert Camus, one hundred years on from his birth, and asks if the fatal car crash may have been a KGB inspired execution.

46:04 | Oct 27th, 2013

How has the factory production line changed us? AL Kennedy finds out.

43:55 | Sep 23rd, 2013

Once upon a time Hollywood composers were classically schooled European maestros. Today many of the most successful ones are drawn from the world of pop and rock. In this documentary journalist Jonathan Coffey is in Los Angeles to meet some of the bi...Show More

43:57 | Jul 15th, 2013

The thousand-year-old story of the Jewish presence in Poland was all but ended by the Nazis. But now a new Poland is experiencing an unexpected return of history and memory. Presented by author Eva Hoffman

43:51 | Jul 9th, 2013

The story of the Jewish presence in Poland

43:29 | Jun 9th, 2013

Author and journalist Tarek Osman returns to the Middle East to explore how the apparently unassuming establishment of the Café has served as a vibrant hub of change in the political tsunamis that have swept - and are still sweeping - through the reg...Show More

45:18 | May 19th, 2013

As part of Wagner 200, Stephen Johnson explores the worlds of Wagner's heroes, from Norse myths to his own Tannhauser, Siegfried and Parsifal. He charts how Wagner himself became a national hero.

44:31 | May 13th, 2013

Writer Anthony Sattin visits Jan Morris's Welsh home on the 60th anniversary of the ascent of Everest to talk about her role in the story and other tales to be gleaned about her life from the objects in her home (including a gravestone and a posthumo...Show More

45:45 | May 7th, 2013

Renzo Piano is the architect behind the tallest building in Western Europe, The Shard at London Bridge. He grew up wanting to be a musician, and Tom Service discovers how he sees the basic elements of music as fundamental to his way of thinking about...Show More

43:54 | Mar 11th, 2013

The Reverend Richard Coles visits Lincoln Cathedral, the focus of Medieval pilgrimage, to begin the last of his series exploring contemporary and historical ideas about sin. Having looked at the central place Temptation still has for many in both rel...Show More

43:53 | Mar 11th, 2013

In this first of three programmes, Richard explores what exactly is meant by sin, and its origins in man's earliest ethical structures.

43:52 | Mar 7th, 2013

The Reverand Richard Coles explores notions of temptation and its part in contemporary and ancient societies.

44:07 | Feb 4th, 2013

Throughout our cultural history, tears have been intimately connected with the arts, whether as inspiration or response. Thomas Dixon is director of the UK's first Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University London. In this progra...Show More

43:18 | Feb 4th, 2013

Will Self broadcasts an imaginary archive of modernist radio and discusses the influence of modernism today. In a secret laboratory underneath the BBC archive there is a small room containing a special machine. It's a BBC prototype 'RP-1 Ethermatic r...Show More

43:55 | Jan 29th, 2013

Sunday Feature: Alexandra Harris presents a cultural history of the cold. With the help of writers including Simon Armitage, A.S. Byatt, Katherine Swift and Adam Gopnik Alex looks at the way our literature began with work mesmerised by the beauty and...Show More

43:53 | Dec 5th, 2012

In 1812 Napoleon led his army to Moscow. In War and Peace Tolstoy gave his account of the great invasion, the battle of Borodino, and the subsequent burning of Moscow. Rosamund Bartlett, translator of Russian novels and biographer of Tolstoy investig...Show More

14:28 | Oct 15th, 2012

Barry Cunliffe on the king whom history has often held responsible for inviting in the first Anglo-Saxons. First in a series of portraits of thirty ground-breaking Anglo-Saxon men and women.

44:00 | Oct 4th, 2012

Californian poetry found fame with The Beats in the 1950s. Dana Gioia reveals developments since - Language, ecological, Hispanic poetry - and before, back to the Gold Rush.

44:06 | Sep 25th, 2012

Sunday Feature: Michael Goldfarb explores the development and enduring appeal of the piano across social and geographic divides.

44:03 | Sep 13th, 2012

Sunday Feature: Jacquetta Hawkes and The Personal Past. Christine Finn excavates clues in the personal and public life of once acclaimed archaeologist and writer, Jacquetta Hawkes, to explain why she has faded from public memory.

43:50 | Jul 27th, 2012

The American Civil War: Blockade Runners and Black Minstrels. What did Britain do in the American Civil War? Louise Welsh investigates blockade running, blackface minstrelsy, spy-wars and abolitionists, with the Clyde shipyards as her focus.

43:49 | Jul 26th, 2012

The American Civil War: Dividing Lines. Historian Adam Smith visits contemporary America to trace how the dividing lines of the Civil War are still visible beneath US politics 150 years on.

43:38 | Jul 25th, 2012

The American Civil War: The War of the North. Dr Adam Smith travels from Lincoln's home town to Washington DC and the battlefields of Virginia as he asks why the North fought and what it won.

44:00 | Jul 25th, 2012

The American Civil War: The War of the South. Dr Adam Smith travels to Richmond, the heart of the Southern Confederacy, to uncover the dramatic contradictions at the South's heart and the war it waged.

43:46 | Jul 20th, 2012

Great British Ideas:J.A. Hobson, Lenin and Anti-Imperialism. Historian Tristram Hunt traces how an anti-imperialist book by a liberal English journalist had a surprising impact on Lenin - in exile, and even after he seized power in Moscow.

43:47 | Jul 20th, 2012

Great British Ideas: Young England and Young Ireland. Tristram Hunt traces the curious influence of the romantic 'Young England' movement, led by Benjamin Disraeli in the 1840s, on 'Young Ireland', which sought Irish freedom.

44:01 | Jul 20th, 2012

Great British Ideas: Robert Malthus. Historian Tristram Hunt traces how the ideas of the 18th century British economist Robert Malthus wreaked havoc in 19th century India, yet were later adopted by Indians themselves.

43:54 | Jul 1st, 2012

Sunday Feature: The Other Dickens. Laurence Scott explores the work and the life of Victorian bad boy writer and contemporary of Dickens, George WM Reynolds, whose novels painted Victorian London's seamiest sides

44:13 | Jun 24th, 2012

Sunday Feature: Crowd Psychology. From the summer riots last year to the Olympics 2012, geneticist Steve Jones investigates crowd behaviour and finds that modern science disputes myths of mad mobs out of control.

44:50 | Jun 13th, 2012

Sunday Feature: Malvinas Madness. Andrew Graham Yooll, former editor of the Buenos Aires Herald, examines Argentine identity and dreams bound in their longing for the Malvinas or Falkland Islands.

44:37 | May 28th, 2012

Giles Fraser examines the history, ministry and artistic legacy of Coventry Cathedral as it celebrates its Golden Jubilee.

43:36 | May 21st, 2012

Sunday Feature: As Arnold Wesker celebrates his 80th birthday Matthew Sweet looks back with the celebrated playwright at his life and career.

44:01 | May 3rd, 2012

Sunday Feature: Michael Goldfarb talks to Anne Enright and Justin Cartwright about writers' responses to economic crisis in the Europe of the 1930s and today.

44:00 | Mar 16th, 2012

Sunday Feature: Swansea's Other Poet. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams presents a portrait of Vernon Watkins, one of the twentieth century's most distinctive and brilliant - and neglected poets.