A rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds, introduced by Vanessa Kisuule.
39 Ways to Save the Planet: Wood for Good
Tom Heap introduces an episode of Radio 4's new environmental podcast which looks at 39 great ideas to relieve the stress that climate change is exerting on the planet.
Trees soak up carbon dioxide, trees store carbon dioxide. So why not build with wood instead of concrete and steel? The usual reason is strength, but Dr Michael Ramage at Cambridge University has what he thinks is the answer- cross-laminated timber. It's strong enough to build a skyscraper and replaces lots of that carbon from conventional building. Tom Heap and Dr Tamsin Edwards take a look at the global possibilities of cities built of wood.
Producer : Alasdair Cross
I'm Terry Gross and this is Fresh Air
Terry Gross’s remarkable conversations have become a daily fixture for millions of Americans. Since 1975, the presenter of Fresh Air, one of National Public Radio’s most popular shows, has interviewed thousands of public figures - including musicians, Hollywood actors, Nobel Prize-winning authors and US Presidents.
In this Archive on 4, the writer Dolly Alderton turns the tables on Terry to find out how this unlikely host, who describes herself as shy, insecure and self-conscious, mastered the art of the radio interview. These interviews rarely happen face to face. Instead, they are conducted remotely, with Terry in Philadelphia and her guests in recording studios all over the world. Like a priest in a confession box, she is entrusted with their innermost thoughts and feelings.
Dolly picks out some of the most funny, poignant and revealing radio interviews of all time from the Fresh Air archive, including Terry’s unforgettable conversations with Maurice Sendak, Elton John, Lizzo and James Baldwin. Terry also reflects on some of her prickliest on-air encounters, with stars like Gene Simmons and Hillary Clinton.
With thanks to Danny Miller and the Fresh Air archive.
Produced by Paul Smith
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4
Sonnets for Albert
The poet Anthony Joseph has been writing a new collection that addresses a key relationship in his life.
His father, Albert was many things - a sharp dresser, an orator, a builder but he was only an intermittent figure in Anthony's childhood. And it is this absence which made him powerfully present in Joseph's imagination.
Anthony reveals some of his writing process and his form of 'calypso sonnet', a politically invested line length that, he says, "enforces a melodic rhythm which reminds me of my father" and favours a decidedly Afro-Caribbean approach.
In this programme, Anthony explores ideas around fatherhood, masculinity, absence and loss, as he talks to other artists whose art has become a space for interrogating the memory of their father.
We hear from fellow poet Raymond Antrobus, the singer Gregory Porter and the Trinidadian film-maker Mariel Brown.
(Including audio material from 'Unfinished Sentences', 2019 - courtesy of Mariel Brown.)
Produced by Hannah Dean with additional production from Zakia Sewell
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4
Transcendence: How Can I Feel Art Again?
When Gaylene Gould was younger she would find herself speechless and breathless in the presence of great sculpture and fine painting. Now, after 25 years of professional arts curating, she has seen it all and finds herself largely unmoved.
Gaylene wants to recover the spark which left her rooted to the spot in a gallery, unable to move or speak. It’s a feeling she thinks of as “transcendence”, and she wants to experience it again.
At the extreme end of this spectrum is Stendhal syndrome, or Florence syndrome, which occurs when individuals are exposed to objects or phenomena of great beauty and experience symptoms including rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations.
She tests her capacity for interoception, the sensing of your internal bodily changes, with the help of the neuroscientist Sarah Garfinkel, and meets the Turner Prize-winning visual artist Mark Leckey, whose works are concerned with art’s magic and ritual qualities. Art historian Chloe Ward recalls the rise of activist art in the 1840s, when painters actively sought to provoke emotions with images of social deprivation to compel people into taking action. Zoe Whitley, director of the Chisenhale Gallery, encourages a wider view of the cultural experience outside of institutions.
Can Gaylene reawaken her sensitivity to art?
Produced by Sasha Edye-Lindner and Joby Waldman
Presented by Gaylene Gould
A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4
I Am Robert Chelsea
The first African-American to have a face transplant tells his own story - in a documentary about faith, identity and character. Robert suffered horrific burns in a car accident - but survived and went ahead with a series of demanding surgical operations in an attempt to restore his appearance. A shortage of black donors meant it was a long wait for his doctors to find even a partial match for his skin colour. In a moving narrative, Robert, his friends, family and doctors reflect on his remarkable journey.
Producer: Ben Davis
From Victorian novels to the latest Hollywood blockbusters, sci-fi regularly returns to the theme of blindness.
Peter White, who was heavily influenced as a child by one of the classics, sets out to explore the impact of these explorations of sight on blind and visually impaired people.
He believes a scene in The Day pf the Triffids by John Wyndham imbued him with a strange confidence - and he considers the power of science fiction to present an alternative reality for blind readers precisely at a time when lockdown and social distancing has seen visually impaired people marginalised.
He talks to technology producer Dave Williams about Star Trek The Next Generation's Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge, Dr Sheri Wells-Jensen talks about Birdbox and world-building from a blind point of view in James L Cambias's A Darkling Sea. Professor Hannah Thompson of Royal Holloway University of London takes us back to 1910 to consider The Blue Peril - a novel which in some ways is more forward thinking in its depiction of blindness than Hollywood now.
And Doctor Who actor Ellie Wallwork gives us her take on why blindness is so fascinating to the creators of science fiction.
Presenter: Peter White
Producer: Kevin Core
Customer ReviewsSee All
Broadens one’s perspectives in a gentle way
I stumbled across this podcast and have heard a number of programs. Love the style, the content (even topics I normally would have no interest in, somehow, come alive. Like a teacher that knows how to connect, regardless the topic - ‘Seriously ‘ broadens the mind
Best podcast ever
Thanks to everyone at the BBC for making this programme. Keep it coming, I just love it.