198 EpisodesProduced by BBC Radio 4Website

A rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds, introduced by Rhianna Dhillon.

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The Sound Odyssey: Loyle Carner in Guyana

September 20th, 2019


Gemma Cairney brings together artists from two different countries to combine their talents to make a new piece of music.

In this episode Gemma …

Going to the Gay Bar

September 17th, 2019


LGBTQ+ venues are closing across the UK.

Research from the UCL Urban Laboratory indicates that, since 2006, the number of venues in London has fallen from 125 to 53 - with some still at risk of closure. Conversely, …

House of Dreams

September 13th, 2019


"I always say, it's my house - I'll do what I want. People choose to come into the house, that's fine by me, of course you're extremely welcome to …

Art of Now: Sell Out

September 10th, 2019


Ben Ferguson explores corporate sponsorship in the arts and the murkier area of brand-artist collaboration.

The art world is saturated with corporate …

Art of Now: The World in Their Hands

September 6th, 2019


We hear from one of the world’s last remaining globemakers and reflect on the globe’s cultural and symbolic currency.

While Google Earth may give us …

The Hidden Story of British Slavery

September 3rd, 2019


According to the most recent Home Office statistics, the largest national grouping held in slavery here in the UK is British. Sangita Myska uncovers the hidden story of these victims, revealing who they are and how …

What’s Eating Rotherham

August 27th, 2019


Why do you keep going back to the fridge after dinner? Fruit and vegetables, a balanced diet, low salt, low sugar and moderate exercise seem to be …

The Courage of Ambivalence

August 23rd, 2019


In an age of certainty, of assertions without facts, and sometimes assertions with facts, Mark O’Connell makes the case for a different virtue – ambivalence. Six years on from his thought-provoking, witty and charming …

Can Facebook Survive?

August 13th, 2019


David Baker, contributing editor of Wired, explores the challenges Facebook must meet and overcome in order to survive after a disastrous period which has seen the reputation and the business model of the social media …

Power of Deceit

August 9th, 2019


Lucy Cooke sets out to discover why honesty is almost certainly not the best policy, be you chicken, chimp or human being. It turns out that …

Hannah Walker Is a Highly Sensitive Person

August 6th, 2019


Hannah Jane Walker argues that sensitivity is overlooked, dismissed and under-utilised, and argues that our society would be much better off if we …

The Upside of Anxiety

July 30th, 2019


Anxiety has become one of the defining characteristics of our modern age, with millions of us suffering from its various damaging effects. It comes in many shapes and sizes - status anxiety, social anxiety, and more …

From College to Clink

July 26th, 2019


What happens when top graduates work behind bars as prison officers? Lucy Ash meets young people who have forsaken lucrative careers in the City or elsewhere, for what many see as one of the world’s worst jobs. They’re …

America's Child Brides

June 28th, 2019


A tense debate is taking place in states across America. At what age should someone be allowed to marry? Currently in 48 out of 50 states a child can …

A History of Hate - Bosnia: The Weaponisation of History

June 11th, 2019


Hate seems to be everywhere - whether it’s white supremacists marching on the streets of America, jihadists slaughtering Christians in Sri Lanka or the massacre of Muslims in New Zealand. In this five part series, BBC …

What's in a Game?

June 7th, 2019


While the video games industry is big business, it's also breaking new ground in the arts.

We're at a cultural tipping point for the industry. For the …


May 20th, 2019


Radio 1 Breakfast Show host Greg James digs into the BBC's archives, taking some of the week's news stories as a starting point for a trip into the past.

Greg, who describes himself as a "proud radio nerd", is let loose …

The Prototype

May 17th, 2019


We assume the instruments we know and love today will be around forever. What if they're not? What new forms and ideas could take their place? Hannah …

The Fast and the Curious

April 30th, 2019


Tom Heap sets off on a guilt trip road trip to find out why people like him won't give up the things they know are destroying the planet.

Tom loves …

The Bubble

April 26th, 2019


Social media, especially Twitter has changed the way we consume the news. Articles, commentaries and opinions are put into our news feeds by the …

Peach Fuzz

April 23rd, 2019


Mona Chalabi asks why female facial hair still seems to be a source of such shame.

Last year, when she sent a lighthearted tweet about hairy women, she was deluged with replies. Hundreds of women wrote to her to describe …

A Sense of Time

April 12th, 2019


Animal senses reveal a wealth of information that humans can't access. Birds can see in ultra violet, and some fish can 'feel' electricity. But how …

The Monster Downstairs

April 9th, 2019


Life for the child of an alcoholic can be lonely, locked inside a house of secrets.

A code of silence means they don't want to talk to friends, or …

A Job for the Boys

April 2nd, 2019


Women once made up 80% of the computer industry. They are now less than 20%. Mary Ann Sieghart explores the hidden and disturbing consequences of not having women at the heart of the tech.

Who is the in room today when …

The Puppet Master – Episode 5. Enemies

March 25th, 2019


Effigies, aliases, and a 'golden cage': it all comes down to this in the series finale about Vladislav Surkov, the most powerful man you’ve never …

The Puppet Master – Episode 4. Unravelling

March 25th, 2019


Is it all getting too much for the hero – or is he the villain of our series? His name is Vladislav Surkov and his enemies are circling. Gabriel …

The Puppet Master – Episode 3. Impresario

March 25th, 2019


The story of Vladislav Surkov, the most powerful man you’ve never heard of, continues. His background is in theatre and PR, but his profession is …

The Puppet Master – Episode 2. Ascension

March 25th, 2019


This is the story of the most powerful man you’ve never heard of.

He can spot an ex-spy with presidential potential and help turn him into a world …

The Puppet Master – Episode 1. Snipers

March 25th, 2019


The Puppet Master is a series that gets to the bewildering heart of contemporary Russia by exploring the fortunes of a secretive, complicated and controversial man called Vladislav Surkov.

Reporter Gabriel Gatehouse …

Flat 113 at Grenfell Tower

March 22nd, 2019


On the 14th floor of Grenfell Tower, firefighters moved eight residents into flat 113. Only four would survive. Using evidence from stage 1 of the …

Macpherson: What Happened Next

March 15th, 2019


In April 1993, a black teenager, Stephen Lawrence was murdered in a racist attack in the London suburb of Eltham. The Metropolitan Police bungled the …

NB - Episode 1: Realising

March 4th, 2019


What do you do when you realise you’re non-binary? How do you come out to yourself? How do you find people like you? Caitlin Benedict is coming out. But before they begin, they need to really understand what it’s like …


March 1st, 2019


With “toxic masculinity” high on the agenda, are we are now viewing boys as potential perpetrators of sexism and violence? Is this fair - and what …

Branding Genius

February 22nd, 2019


Who owns Shakespeare? The English? The tourist industry? The world? Branding and Graphic Designer Teresa Monachino goes in search of the 21st century phenomenon that is William Shakespeare and uncovers his contradictory …

How To Burn A Million Quid: Rule 1

January 28th, 2019


Bill sets off on a mission to shake up the music industry by causing chaos and confusion.

Millennials in the Workplace

January 25th, 2019


Beanbags! Beanbags are what Millenials want from a job - along with free food and the lofty idea of ‘making an impact’. That’s what academic Simon Sinek's video about "Millennials in the Workplace", enjoyed by over 10 …

I Feel for You: Narcs and narcissists

January 15th, 2019


At a time when we're being told we need more empathy, some experts claim that narcissism - empathy's evil twin - is on the rise. Narcissism has …

I Feel for You: Empaths and empathy

January 15th, 2019


Empathy is the psycho-political buzzword of the day. President Obama said - frequently - that America's empathy deficit was more important than the …

Behind the Scenes: Marianela Nunez at Covent Garden

January 11th, 2019


As she prepares to perform two roles in a new production of the classic "White ballet", La Bayadere, the Royal Ballet's charismatic Argentinian-born …

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward - Episode One

January 9th, 2019


From H.P. Lovecraft: The investigation into a mysterious disappearance.

Let's Raise the Voting Age

January 8th, 2019


In 1969 Harold Wilson's Government lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Fifty years on, with calls for votes at 16 gaining support, Professor James …

Apollo 8

January 4th, 2019


Six months before Neil Armstrong’s ‘one small step’ came humanity’s giant leap. It was December 1968. Faced with President Kennedy’s challenge to …

Doorstep Daughter

January 1st, 2019


Two families from very different backgrounds, one street and a baby on a doorstep. This series charts the story of how a young Christian couple came to entrust the care of their little daughter to a Muslim family that …

The Power of Twitter

December 25th, 2018


How did Twitter, invented to allow friends to keep track of each other's social lives and interests, become a key forum for political debate? And …

Introducing Life Lessons

December 20th, 2018


Young UK adults talk about the issues that matter most to them - and why they should matter to all of us.

A new podcast from Radio 4.

Contracts of Silence

December 18th, 2018


'Gagging clauses' - NDAs or non-disclosure agreements - have been rarely out of the headlines in recent months. High profile cases in business, …

Pursuit of Beauty: The Spider Orchestra

December 7th, 2018


The Berlin-based Argentinian artist, Tomás Saraceno, trained as an architect. He was struck by the beauty of spider webs, their structural intricacy …

Pursuit of Beauty: Dead Rats and Meat Cleavers

November 23rd, 2018


The sounds of casting, chiming, singing and clanging are fused together to make a magical sound track to the story of how meat cleavers have been …

Pursuit of Beauty: Art Beneath the Waves

November 16th, 2018


Artist Emma Critchley meets filmmakers, photographers, sculptors and painters who are drawn beneath the sea to create underwater art. Julie Gautier …

Ghosts in the Machine

October 30th, 2018


Laurie Taylor investigates the people who hear the voices of the dead in recorded sounds - and uncovers the strange and haunting world of auditory illusion. Believers in EVP, or Electronic Voice Phenomena think they're …

The Supercalculators

October 19th, 2018


Alex Bellos is brilliant at all things mathematical, but even he can't hold a candle to the amazing mathematical feats of the supercalculators. Alex …

The Art of Now: Border Wall

October 5th, 2018


Donald Trump's pledge to build a "big beautiful wall" along the US-Mexico border has inserted a political urgency into the mainstream art world and …

The Eternal Life of the Instant Noodle

September 28th, 2018


How instant noodles, now 60 years old, went from a shed in Japan to global success. What is the most traded legal item in US prisons? Instant …

The Ballad of the Blade

September 25th, 2018


The story of knife crime, told in verse by the weapon itself. Why do teenagers carry knives? How does it feel to live in a world where that's normal? …

The Sound Odyssey: Nadine Shah travels to Beirut

September 21st, 2018


The Sound Odyssey is a new series in which Gemma Cairney takes British artists for musical collaborations in different countries around the world, …

Intrigue: The Ratline

September 19th, 2018


A story of love, denial and a curious death. Philippe Sands investigates the mysterious disappearance of senior Nazi, Otto Wachter, and journeys right to the heart of the Ratline.

What Happened Last Night in Sweden?

August 28th, 2018


In February 2017, President Trump made a speech to his supporters. He moved on to the topic of immigration and Sweden. "You look at what's happening …

The Five Foot Shelf

August 21st, 2018


According to Charles W. Eliot - President of Harvard and cousin of T.S. - everything required for a complete, liberal education could fit on a shelf …

Game Changer: Fortnite on 4

August 14th, 2018


If you are a parent, you probably do not need an introduction to Fortnite Battle Royale. It's the online video game that's been absorbing the minds …

The Infinite Monkey Cage

August 13th, 2018


In a special edition of the science and comedy podcast to mark the 100th episode, Brian Cox and Robin Ince reminisce about their favourite moments from the show.

Pop Star Philosophy

August 7th, 2018


Broadcaster and comedian Steve Punt scours the archives to exhume the often pretentious and opinionated philosophical outpourings of pop stars …

In Search Of Sovereignty

August 3rd, 2018


The American satirist Joe Queenan goes in search of sovereignty. He wants to know what it is, what's it for, and how old it is

"Now I know this is a …

The Silence and the Scream

July 31st, 2018


Donegal is an Irish county where silence is a virtue. You can find it in the desolate landscape, the big skies and far horizons - but silence can be …

Could the PM Have a Brummie Accent?

July 27th, 2018


BBC political correspondent Chris Mason examines the changing accents of politics and politics of accents, with help from politicians, language …

Out of Tredegar

July 6th, 2018


Michael Sheen explores Aneurin Bevan's roots in Tredegar.

A spectre is haunting Tredegar. It feels a little like that at least. This town high in the South Wales Valleys is understandably proud of its most famous son and …

Pink Rabbits and Other Animals

June 22nd, 2018


The writer and illustrator Judith Kerr has created some of our best-loved books for children since publishing her first, and perhaps most famous book, 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea', which celebrates its 50th birthday this …

The Sisters of the Sacred Salamander

June 15th, 2018


A convent of Mexican nuns is helping to save the one of the world's most endangered and most remarkable amphibians: the axolotl, a truly bizarre …

Pursuit of Beauty: Slow Art

June 8th, 2018


So - how slow are we talking about, when it comes to art?

French anarchist vegetarian artists Elizabeth Saint-Jalmes & Cyril Leclerc rescue snails bound for the cooking pot, and display them as a sound and light …


May 29th, 2018


It is 175 years since the word "commuter" was used for the first time. (The word does not in fact describe a traveller, it describes a transaction: …

A Church in Crisis

May 22nd, 2018


Since Ireland's independence, the Catholic Church has played a preeminent role in defining morality south of the border. However in recent decades, …

Is Eating Plants Wrong?

May 15th, 2018


Are plants rather cleverer than once thought? Scientists from around the world are claiming that plants cannot just sense, but communicate, learn and remember. In an experiment in Australia, plants appeared to learn to …

The Opt Out

April 20th, 2018


In 2014 Polly Weston's sister Lara died. She had just turned 22. Lara and her family had never discussed organ donation, and she wasn't on the …

The Turban Bus Dispute

April 17th, 2018


Journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera returns to his home town of Wolverhampton where a battle raged over the right to wear the turban on the buses …

The Vet with Two Brains

April 6th, 2018


Adam Tjolle is a vet with two brains - who once starred on the BBC's Animal Hospital. His second brain - in reality a slow-growing tumour - was …

The Art of Now - Band Politics

March 30th, 2018


BBC 6 Music's Chris Hawkins listens to new music every day - and he's noticing a trend.

More and more of the bands he plays on the station are writing …

What Are the Odds?

March 20th, 2018


Rajesh speaks with Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University who has been collecting stories of coincidence since 2011. Rajesh wants to …

Mums and Sons

March 11th, 2018


The relationship between mothers and sons as depicted in the arts is complex and, as anyone familiar with Medea's story will attest, not always terribly positive.

As Lauren Laverne discovers, however, there are many …

The Bald Truth

March 6th, 2018


For thousands of years, bald men have been the subject of ridicule. As a result they've felt ashamed and have resorted to desperate measures to hide …

In the Wake of Wakefield

February 27th, 2018


Twenty years ago, in February 1998, one of the most serious public health scandals of the 20th century was born, when researcher, Andrew Wakefield and his co-authors published a paper in the medical journal The Lancet …

Behind the Scenes: Dawn Walton

February 23rd, 2018


Dawn Walton, artistic director of Eclipse, the black theatre touring company, was bored of only ever coming across three black stories in British theatres - slavery stories, immigrant stories, and gang stories. She knew …

A Brief History of Cunning

February 20th, 2018


How cunning is Donald Trump?

In Queenan on Cunning, the satirist Joe Queenan explores a word rarely associated with the current President of the USA.

"From Odysseus to Bismarck, via Brer Rabbit and Machiavelli's The …

Inside the Killing Jar

February 16th, 2018


The work of the entomologist very often involves the killing of insects in large numbers. This happens in the search for new species in the …

Find Me a Cure

February 13th, 2018


Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia or CLL, is the most common form of leukaemia. It's a disease which kills. The most common treatment is with chemotherapy. If that doesn't work, most patients can only expect to live for …

The Death of Illegitimacy

February 9th, 2018


Illegitimacy once meant you were a 'bastard'. The MP Caroline Flint wants to know what the word 'illegitimate' means now.

Caroline has always been …

Inside the Brain of Gerald Scarfe

January 30th, 2018


The brain - the final frontier. Radio 4 is setting out on an exploration of the creative mind.

Gerald Scarfe's drawings have intrigued and alarmed for more than fifty years but where do his ideas come from? Professor …

From the Steppes to the Stage

January 23rd, 2018


From the nomads of the vast steppe - to the glamour and adulation of the stage. Kate Molleson unravels the story of Mongolia's remarkable rise to …

The Dawn of British Jihad

January 16th, 2018


Before 9/11 British attitudes to partaking in faith-inspired armed combat were... different.

British Muslims travelled freely to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burma and Kashmir for a few weeks or months, and then …

Good Luck Professor Spiegelhalter

January 12th, 2018


Rhianna Dhillon brings you another seriously interesting story from Radio 4.

This week, luck.

Whether we believe in luck or not, we do use the word- a lot! More as a figure of speech than an article of faith perhaps but …

Why the Moon, Luke?

January 9th, 2018


Luke Jerram is that rare bird, a genuinely popular yet acclaimed contemporary artist. And he's obsessed with the moon. So he's made one: seven metres …

The Far Future

January 5th, 2018


How do we prepare for the distant future? Helen Keen meets the people who try to.

If our tech society continues then we can leave data for future generations in huge, mundane quantities, detailing our every tweet and …

Thinking Outside the Boxset: How Technology Changed the Story

December 29th, 2017


For centuries tales were shared around the camp-fire; modern settlements share data via wi-fi. But what hasn't changed across the ages is our passion for histories and information - we shape and make sense of our lives …

The Power of Sloth

December 26th, 2017


Zoologist and founder of the Sloth Appreciation Society, Lucy Cooke, unleashes her inner sloth to discover why being lazy could actually be the …

Iceland's Dark Lullabies

December 22nd, 2017


Dreaming of a Dark Christmas, in Iceland

At the darkest time of the year in Iceland scary creatures come out to play. Storyteller Andri Snær Magnason used to be terrified by his grandmother's Christmas tales of Gryla the …

The Unconscious Life of Bombs

December 19th, 2017


Historian and psychoanalyst Daniel Pick of Birkbeck College, University of London tells the story of how aerial bombardment - from Zeppelins to B52s, …

Mysteries of Sleep - Sleepwalking

December 12th, 2017


Why do some of us do bizarre things in our sleep? Like riding a motorbike, using a shoe to 'phone for a pizza or even having sex while sleeping? These are complex behaviours and yet sleepwalkers aren't aware of what …

The Glasgow Boys: Chaos and Calm

November 29th, 2017


Byron Vincent joins the Violence Reduction Unit in Glasgow to see how they turn young men away from lives of violence and chaos.

Three years ago, …

Where Are All the Working Class Writers?

November 24th, 2017


"The more we reinforce the stereotypes of who writes and who reads, the more the notion of exclusivity is reinforced. It takes balls to gatecrash a party."

Kit de Waal, published her first novel, My Name is Leon, in 2016 …

Close to the Edit

November 7th, 2017


Filmmaker Mike Figgis explores the story of edited film, audio and culture, and how the simple process of cutting and splicing has changed the way …

BONUS: Russia – 100 Years on from Revolution

November 6th, 2017


A century ago, the Russian Revolution took place. It was a seismic event that changed the course of the 20th century.

In this special, bonus …

Savitri Devi: From the Aryans to the Alt-right

November 3rd, 2017


Savitri Devi-devotee of Hitler, proponent of Hindu nationalism, associate of both the British BNP and the American Nazi party-was a prolific author …

The Trainspotter's Guide to Dracula

October 31st, 2017


"3 May. Bistritz. Left Munich at 8:35 P. M, on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour …

Political Violence in America

October 27th, 2017


The events in Charlottesville were just one example of the sharp rise in the number of violent confrontations in America between far-right white …

Who's Looking At You?

October 17th, 2017


Once upon a time, total surveillance was the province of George Orwell and totalitarian states, but we now live in a world where oceans of data are gathered from us every day by the wondrous digital devices we have …

Dads and Daughters

October 13th, 2017


The relationship between fathers and daughters has been the subject of countless cultural explorations down the centuries, from Elektra's distress to …

It's Just a Joke, Comrade: 100 Years of Russian Satire

October 10th, 2017


The Russian Revolution unleashed a brand of humour that continues to this day. In this two-part series, comedian and Russophile Viv Groskop explores …

Passing Dreams

October 3rd, 2017


A portrait of singer, songwriter and truck driver Will Beeley.

The myth of the road is deeply rooted in America - it's the thing that delivers escape, promises freedom, fuels new hopes and, once upon a time at least, …

My Muse: Lynne Truss on Joni Mitchell

September 29th, 2017


Not everyone appreciates the tonalities, lyrics or even the shrieky voice of Canadian artist and musician Joni Mitchell but in a dusty class room in 1971 Lynne Truss decided she loved the writer of Woodstock, Big Yellow …

Art in Miniature

September 26th, 2017


Tiny bathers relax in a puddle of oily water on a pavement; a galleon sails on the head of a pin, a dancer twirls next to a mote of dust under a microscope - Dr Lance Dann, lover of miniature worlds, crouches down on …

My Secret Wig

September 19th, 2017


Lots of people wear wigs, and go to great lengths to keep them secret - but why? Perhaps it's because the hair on top of our heads means so much to us. It's a crucial part of our identity, the person we see when we look …


September 15th, 2017


With more than 30 million presentations being given around the world every day, PowerPoint has become the single most ubiquitous tool for presenting …

Queens of Chapeltown

September 5th, 2017


After the violence directed at black people in Nottingham and Notting Hill in the 1950s, and the naked racism expressed in Smethwick during the 1964 …

Diana: A Life Backwards

August 31st, 2017


Marking the 20th anniversary of her untimely death, Archive on 4 presents a unique and moving portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales - her life …

The Edge of Life

August 29th, 2017


Suicide is the number one killer of men under-50 in England and Wales. A 'zero suicide' approach to prevention first devised in Detroit is now changing attitudes to care in the UK. Merseyside is leading the way. Radio 4 …

Grayson Perry: En Garde

August 22nd, 2017


Grayson Perry goes backwards in the archive in search of the moment the avant-garde died.

It's a century since Marcel Duchamp submitted his artwork called Fountain to an exhibition staged by the Society of Independent …

Driving Bill Drummond

August 18th, 2017


Bill Drummond is many things. As well as an artist, a writer and former pop-star - he's the owner of an old curfew tower in Northern Ireland which he …

A Brief History of the Truth

August 1st, 2017


It's time to travel down the rabbit hole of truth as American satirist Joe Queenan explores a murky world of fake news, prejudice and alternative …

The Pigeon Whistles

July 28th, 2017


The sound of music flying through the air, carried on the tails of pigeons.

"I knew it was a noise maker, but it was the only thing in the museum that I had no idea what it might sound like. Because it works in a way no …

And Then There Were Nun

July 25th, 2017


What is life like for nuns and monks today? With a lack of new blood coming into the traditional monasteries and convents, Bishop Martin Shaw …

999 - Which Service Do You Require?

June 30th, 2017


999 was the first emergency telephone number in the world when it was launched on June 30th, 1937. Within the first week, more than a thousand calls were made to the service with one burglar arrested less than five …

Port Talbot Paradiso

June 27th, 2017


Actor Michael Sheen explores the history of Port Talbot's Plaza Cinema. A beautiful art-deco building , first opening in 1940, the Plaza was the …

Butterbeer and Grootcakes

June 16th, 2017


Aleks Krotoski takes her seat at the table to explore the amazing world of fictional food made real.

Food is not a new force in fiction, but increasingly fictional food is finding its way onto the table. And fan …

When Women Wore the Trousers

June 13th, 2017


Laura Barton explores the little known story of a pioneering group of women who unknowingly challenged conventional notions of femininity and their …

Miss Simpson's Children

May 12th, 2017


The story of how one woman offered refuge to leading intellectuals fleeing from the Nazis, helping transform the cultural and intellectual landscape …

The Invention of the USA: Borderlands

May 9th, 2017


Just two centuries ago, no one had a clue where the borders of the USA actually were. Hemmed in by the Atlantic, the Appalachian mountains and Canada …

The Organ Beauty Pageant

May 5th, 2017


Is it fair to find your own kidney donor on the internet? UK patients who need new organs are using social media to advertise their plight and appeal directly for a Good Samaritan who's willing to share their spare …

Trump at Studio 54

April 28th, 2017


Frances Stonor-Saunders explores how the young Donald Trump stormed into Manhattan from the outer boroughs in the late 1970s and headed straight for New York's most outrageous nightclub. He didn't dance, didn't drink, …

A Woman Half in Shadow

April 18th, 2017


Zora Neale Hurston. You might not recognise her name. She was an African American novelist and folklorist, a queen of the Harlem Renaissance and a …

Rock Transition

March 31st, 2017


For centuries musicians have defied gender boundaries to create some of the most evocative and provocative art and music.

Journalist and culture …

The Mind in the Media

March 21st, 2017


If you ask the author, Nathan Filer, when he first came into contact with mental illness, he'll tell you it was in 1999 when he first became a psychiatric nurse. But, like many of us, he'd actually met it much earlier : …

Moving to the Red Planet

March 14th, 2017


As we dream of sending humans to Mars, the psychological problems of a mission loom large. As part of Radio 4's Mars season. Claudia Hammond …

1917: Eyewitness in Petrograd

March 10th, 2017


Emily Dicks visits St Petersburg to trace her grandfather's teenage memories of the excitement and fear of the 1917 Revolutions - as preserved on a …

Writing a New Caribbean: Under the Surface

March 7th, 2017


A picture of the Caribbean, as seen by a new generation of writers and poets.

Elisha Efua Bartels talks to Trinidadian writers Sharon Millar, Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw, and Andre Bagoo about the sense of place in their …

Radioactive Art

March 3rd, 2017


Radioactive waste can remain dangerous to humans for 100,000 years. Nations with nuclear power are building underground storage facilities to permanently house it, but how might they mark these sites for future …

Mark Steel Does Hip Hop

February 28th, 2017


Mark Steel loves Hip Hop in foreign languages. Even though he can't understand a word; he loves the energy and attitude. In this programme he hopes …

Intrigue: Murder in the Lucky Holiday Hotel

February 26th, 2017


A true story of death, sex and elite politics in China.

A Brief History of Lust

February 21st, 2017


Does what makes the heart beat faster really make the world go round? Oh yes. Welcome to a new history of lust presented by the American satirist Joe Queenan. From Helen and Paris of Troy to Bill and Monica via …

A Brief History of Failure

February 14th, 2017


"Success is not final, failure is not fatal," said Winston Churchill. The American satirist Joe Queenan thinks he might be wrong. In this archive …

Late Returns

February 10th, 2017


The writer Nicholas Royle is a passionate supporter of libraries and a devoted bibliophile. As a young man his passion for books was so strong, in …

Tunes from the Trash

February 7th, 2017


Just outside the Paraguayan capital city of Asuncion lies the town of Cateura. It's an impoverished settlement ranged along the banks of a stinking, …

Meet the Cyborgs

February 3rd, 2017


Frank Swain can hear Wi-Fi.

Diagnosed with early deafness aged 25, Frank decided to turn his misfortune to his advantage by modifying his hearing aids to create a new sense. He documented the start of his journey three …

Generation Grime

January 31st, 2017


Radio 4 explores why the music genre of Grime has blown up in the UK in the last few years by following Wales' Astroid Boys on their recent UK tour. …

Laura Mvula's Miles Davis

January 27th, 2017


Singer-songwriter and composer Laura Mvula meets jazz musicians Jason Yarde and Laura Jurd, and music broadcaster journalist Kevin Le Gendre, to …

I, by the Tide of Humber

January 24th, 2017


BBC coverage of Hull City of Culture will be extensive across 2017. At its very start, the award-winning poet Sean O'Brien reflects upon why his …

On a Knife Edge

January 20th, 2017


This hospital based youth violence work is taking place in the four London major trauma centres and Producer Sue Mitchell was given exclusive access …


January 13th, 2017


John Toal meets former death-row inmates Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle at the retreat they have set up in rural Ireland to offer restorative …


December 9th, 2016


Poet Mab Jones explores the concept of 'Hiraeth' in the poetry of Wales and further afield

Hiraeth, a central theme of Welsh language poetry and song, is a feeling of something lost, a long time ago, whether national …

The Green Book

December 6th, 2016


In the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, travelling in the United States was fraught with difficulties if you were black. At best it was …

Bursting the Social Network Bubble

December 2nd, 2016


Bobby Friction has started to realise that his day-to-day online activities are not only being monitored but in some senses manipulated. How often he …

GCHQ: Minority Report

November 29th, 2016


The domestic challenge facing Britain's biggest secret intelligence service. What's stopping members of the ethnic minorities from playing a key part in Britain's spy network: discrimination, loyalty or simple …

Being Bored: The Importance of Doing Nothing

November 22nd, 2016


Is boredom under threat? There are more TV channels than we can count, Smartphones keep us engaged around the clock, and the constant white noise of social media coerces us to always 'interact'. In fact, there is so …

Steve Earle's Songwriting Bootcamp

November 11th, 2016


Legendary country singer-songwriter Steve Earle unveils the secrets of composing a great song. Every year he runs a four-day intensive training session in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Journalist and …

Butterfly Mind

November 8th, 2016


Can a Shaman cure writer's block? David Greig goes on a very personal quest in an attempt to find out.

David Greig is one of our most respected and …

Searching for Tobias

November 4th, 2016


In 2008 Chloe Hadjimatheou was covering Barack Obama's first election campaign when she came across a 15 year old black boy in a Mississippi trailer …

Keepsake for My Lover

November 1st, 2016


'Like talking on the phone but a thousand times more thrilling,' voice recording booths invite you to 'hear yourself as others hear you' by entering …

A Cello in the Desert

October 25th, 2016


Winner of this year's prestigious BBC/RGS dream journey award is Nina Plapp who sets off from the Isle of Wight with her cello 'Cuthbert' en route to India via Transylvania in a search for the roots of gypsy music.

Nina …

Gunning For Education

October 18th, 2016


On 1st August 2016, Texas became the first big American state to allow students aged over 21 to carry concealed handguns on campus. Ian Peddie explores the impact of the new law.

This change is seen by many as a litmus …

Arthur Russell: Vanished into Music

October 4th, 2016


The writer Olivia Laing presents an imaginative portrait of Arthur Russell.

Arthur Russell was a cellist, a composer, a songwriter and a disco auteur. He was active in the New York downtown scene of the 1970s and was a …

The Villain in 6 Chapters

September 30th, 2016


Exploring characters from literature, stage and screen, actor Toby Jones celebrates the mercurial world of the villain.

There are the characters we love, and then there are the characters we love to hate. Some of the …

Songs for the Dead

August 19th, 2016


Keeners were the women of rural Ireland who were traditionally paid to cry, wail and sing over the bodies of the dead at funerals and wakes. Their …

Frightened of Each Other's Shadows

August 16th, 2016


It's part of contemporary life we experience but are ashamed to discuss. But Nihal Arthanayake wants to talk it: about the things that are left unsaid. The empty chair next to a person from an ethnic minority on a …

Stalking under Scrutiny

August 5th, 2016


'Stalking' - repeated, unwanted contact or intrusive behaviour from another person which causes fear or distress - affects huge numbers of people. The public perception is that only celebrities are the victims of …

You May Now Turn Over Your Papers

July 8th, 2016


Cambridge Classics professor, Mary Beard, tells the intriguing story of the history of exams and asks what are exams really for. In her quest for an …

Roald Dahl: In His Own Words

July 5th, 2016


With the help of his granddaughter Sophie, Roald Dahl tells his own remarkable story in the style of one of his much-loved books. Illustrated with newly discovered archive recordings and songs and music exclusively …

In Wales the Ball is Round

June 17th, 2016


Football is the Welsh national sport. Yes, you read that right. Comedian and writer Elis James gives a polemical appraisal of football's role in …

While My Guitar Gently Bleeps

June 14th, 2016


A plumber eating a mushroom, and a spiny mammal jumping on a golden ring - you'd be forgiven for thinking these actions would make pretty indistinct …

Moss Side Gym Stories

June 10th, 2016


Moss Side Gym Stories -

Part 1:

Moss Side is a small neighbourhood just outside of Manchester's city centre. In the 19th century Elizabeth Gaskell, inspired by the area, made her literary debut with the novel Mary …

Life Under Glass

May 31st, 2016


At Coney Island amusement park between 1903 and 1943 there was an extraordinary exhibit: tiny, premature babies. 'Dr. Martin Couney's infant incubator' facility was staffed by nurses in starched white uniforms and if …

The Camera Never Lies

May 27th, 2016


Does documentary ever really tell the truth?

BAFTA award winning filmmaker Molly Dineen examines the concept of truth and the creation of narrative in …

The Power of Cute

May 24th, 2016


Zoologist and broadcaster Lucy Cooke explores the science behind our seeming obsession with all things adorable. There has been an explosion in …

Return to Subtopia

May 13th, 2016


The distinguished architectural writer Gillian Darley retraces the story of "Subtopia", one of the most significant architectural debacles of the post-war era, and considers its long shadow.

Her story starts with Ian …

The Force of Google

May 10th, 2016


Google dominates internet searching across most parts of the globe. The algorithm which produces its search results is highly secret and always …

For Better or Worse

May 6th, 2016


Writer and activist Peter McGraith married his long-term partner David in March 2014, the first gay wedding registered in the UK.

Two years on he meets gay and lesbian couples and speaks with them about their …

The Drop Out Boogie

April 22nd, 2016


There can surely have never been so much pressure on young people to go to university and get a degree, but while for many it remains the best option for securing a decent future, many thousands of others choose to …

How to Turn Your Life Around

April 5th, 2016


What does it take to succeed if you are born into poverty and neglect? Two people who have done just that explore whether it was down to personality, circumstances or plain luck. Why do so few people manage it?

Byron …

Suck It and See

April 1st, 2016


Grammy Award-Winning songwriter Amy Wadge fell in love with the harmonica after winning one in a fancy dress competition (she was dressed in a bin liner!). Now she investigates the history and potential of the diatonic …

The Women Who Wrote Rock

March 29th, 2016


Kate Mossman tells the story of the long-overlooked female pop and rock writers of the 1960s.

As a music journalist herself, when Kate entered the profession she found herself surrounded by men - men who had very …

The Returnees

March 25th, 2016


On an August bank holiday in 2014, Shiraz Maher at the International Centre for Study of Radicalisation at Kings College London received an email …

The Actors' Gang & The Actors' Gang on the Outside

March 22nd, 2016


A two part Seriously following actor Tim Robbins and Rajesh Mirchandani and the theatre programme the Actors' Gang in Norco prison.

Part 1: The …

The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band: Anarchy Must Be Organised

March 18th, 2016


2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band going "professional" - kick-starting the chaos with a performance on the bastion of psychedelia and avant-garde: Blue Peter.

The legendary Neil Innes looks …

Tim Key Delves Into Daniil Kharms and That's All

March 15th, 2016


Daniil Kharms (1905-1942) is one of Russia's great lost absurdists - a writer whose world still alarms, shocks and bewitches more than half a century after he died in prison during the siege of Leningrad.

In his short, …

A Brief History of Disobedience

March 11th, 2016


"Oh my goodness, look at that sign over there. Keep Off The Grass. Makes me wonder who put it there. Makes me wonder why I should keep off the grass. …

Glad to Be Grey

March 8th, 2016


Professor Mary Beard is a distinguished Cambridge Classical scholar with a string of highly-regarded books on Ancient Rome to her name, so it's …

Laverne in the Willows

March 4th, 2016


Lauren Laverne has long been a firm fan of Kenneth Grahame's classic children's book 'The Wind in the Willows', in particular that most sparky of …

Six Degrees of Connection

March 1st, 2016


Is everyone in the world really connected by only six links?

A famous experiment by social psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s claimed that it …

Musical Variations: The Life of Angela Morley

February 26th, 2016


Stuart Barr uncovers the colourful career of British composer and transgender pioneer, Angela Morley.

In 1972, Wally Stott's transition to Angela …

Batman and Ethan

February 19th, 2016


Ethan was born blind. He's now a 10 year-old boy who collects sounds on his 51 dictaphones, composes music, and performs on stage in concerts. Until …

Reaction Time

February 14th, 2016


"Your breasts look fantastic in that dress."

From abysmal chat-up lines like this, to love at first sight in Victoria Train Station, BBC Radio Four listeners have some incredible relationship stories.

Reaction Time …

Jarvis on McCullers

February 9th, 2016


The writing of Carson McCullers has perhaps never been as popular or acclaimed as that of contemporaries such as Harper Lee and Tennessee Williams, …

Gay Bombay

February 5th, 2016


Why is homosexuality still illegal in the world's so-called largest democracy?

In his celebrated family memoir 'And All is Said', historian Dr Zareer Masani made no bones about his own homosexuality and the problems it …


February 2nd, 2016


In 1915 women could neither vote, divorce nor work after marriage, yet in that same year the American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman envisaged a …

Raising the Dead

January 26th, 2016


For the past few decades music teacher and pianist Francesco Lotoro has been collecting music written in concentration camps from the Second World …

Deciding Fast and Slow

January 22nd, 2016


What is it really like to make decisions affecting millions of people, knowing that a mistake might be pounced upon instantly and your career left in tatters? Government ministers face this challenge every day, and now …

Work Is a Four Letter Word

January 8th, 2016


Many of us have grown up with the belief that a strong work ethic is a positive thing, and that by contrast idle hands are the devil's playthings. According to Professor Andrew Hussey, that argument makes very little …

Miles Jupp and the Plot Device

January 5th, 2016


How many stories are there in the world? According to William Wallace Cook, dime novelist and prolific producer of American pulp, there were …

Brain Tingles

December 29th, 2015


The comedian and actor Isy Suttie sets out to explore how creativity is influenced by the mysterious and medically controversial phenomenon ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). Ever since she was little, Isy has …

Hippy Internet - The Whole Earth Catalog

December 22nd, 2015


Sukhdev Sandhu travels to the epicentres of countercultural America in Woodstock and San Francisco to tell the story of a book of hippy philosophy …

Inside Putin's Russia: The Rosenberg Reports

December 20th, 2015


How is Russian President Vladimir Putin perceived by the people in his own country? How is his intervention in Syria shaping the public mood? In a series of reports, Steve Rosenberg investigates Putin's Russia.

From …

The Art of StarCraft

December 15th, 2015


Stephen Evans goes deep into the Milky Way to look at the phenomenon of StarCraft and reveals how, in South Korea, it is more than just a computer …

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