218 episodes

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

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

    The Remarkable Resistance of Lilo

    The Remarkable Resistance of Lilo

    In the heart of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, members of the Resistance worked tirelessly and at great risk to themselves to help those whose lives were threatened. Amongst them was Elisabeth Charlotte Gloeden – known as Liselotte or “Lilo” – who, along with her husband Erich, hid Jews in their home in Berlin, before arranging safe passage for them out of Germany.

    Both Lilo and Erich had Jewish fathers. Hers was a prominent skin specialist and he was hounded from his job by the Nazis. Lilo’s Jewish heritage led to her being driven from the legal profession at the outbreak of war in 1939.

    The couple’s efforts went undetected until 1944 when they took in General Fritz Lindemann, who was being hunted by the Gestapo for being part of the plot to assassinate Hitler. They stood trial in November 1944 before one of Germany’s most feared judges, Roland Freisler.

    This programme tells the remarkable story of the couple and of others who hid and were hidden in Nazi Berlin.

    Presenter: Fergal Keane
    Producer; Alice Doyard
    Editor: Andrew Smith

    • 28 min
    Call Jane at 643-3844

    Call Jane at 643-3844

    "Pregnant? Don't want to be? Call Jane at 643-3844"

    Between 1969 and 1973, in the years before the US supreme court opened up access to abortion across the country, a group of women in Chicago built an underground service.

    The University of Chicago student Heather Booth had been asked for help in 1965, when a friend's sister with an unwanted pregnancy was distraught and nearly suicidal. Her friend wanted to know if there was anywhere to turn in a state where abortion was illegal and where there was little guarantee for a woman's health or safety if she did manage to secure one.

    In response, Booth found a connection to the civil rights leader and surgeon TRM. Howard, who performed the procedure. Word spread quickly that she was someone who could help women access safe abortions.

    Operating under the pseudonym Jane, Heather Booth began to receive calls from other women. As the years went on and the number of calls increased, she looked for others to help carry on her work - and Jane: The Abortion Counseling Service of Women's Liberation began in earnest.

    At first, the women sought out doctors for the procedure but, eventually, they found someone who trained them to carry out the abortions themselves. It's estimated that the women performed over 11,000 abortions during this time.

    In this documentary, we hear archive from the time, exploring the climate in the years running up to Roe v Wade, alongside an interview with a detective tasked with investigating Jane (originally recorded for the Radio Diaries podcast The Story of Jane), voices from the city and new interviews with Jane members.

    Presented by Laura Barton
    Produced by Eleanor McDowall
    A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4

    • 57 min
    The People's Pyramid

    The People's Pyramid

    The KLF aka The Jams aka The Timelords aka The K Foundation aka K2 Plant Hire aka The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu... it's complicated.

    Whatever name or weird mythology they happened to be operating under at the time, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty managed to top the UK pop charts in the early nineties with songs about love and ice-cream vans - often with plastic horns strapped to their heads. Then they turned their backs on the music industry, deleted their entire back catalogue and cremated £1 million of their own earnings on a remote Scottish island. Scroll forward 23 years and Drummond and Cauty re-emerge to announce they're building a pyramid in Liverpool out of bricks containing the cremated remains of just under 35,000 people.

    As more bricks are added to The People's Pyramid at the 2019 Toxteth Day of the Dead, Conor Garrett tries to work out what's going on...

    Produced and presented by Conor Garrett.

    • 28 min
    The Last Exposure

    The Last Exposure

    Photographer Garry Fabian-Miller has spent much of the last 30 years either in his dark room, or out walking on Dartmoor. That is about to end.

    Fabian-Miller began his career in the 1960’s but quickly tired of the typical black and white verite’ style that was then so much in vogue.

    Rejecting both the city streets, black and white film, and eventually the camera itself - his camera-less photography gives his work an utterly unique and other worldly quality - light pulses from deep yellow circles; the flicker of a naked flame peers through a slashed curtain of deep blue. His inspiration the moors he walks twice daily, passing through his eyes, his imagination and onto the photosensitive paper.

    The result is a body of work which plays with light and dark, exposure and developing – producing an acclaimed body of work recognised by both buyers and museums as like no other - collectors range from Sir Elton John to the V & A.

    But the onslaught of digital has signalled to him that things are changing – both the resources, and the techniques he has developed over time, are threatened, and with the near disappearance of dark rooms, he feels it time to make his last print and close his dark room for ever.

    His photographs are unconventional, dazzling, and use techniques honed over decades. He abandoned using cameras long ago, opting instead to use techniques based on early 19th century prints - long exposures, tone, and images funneled into shapes made by the sun. Always dazzlingly coloured, he uses a developing substance which is no longer in production.

    Occasionally he gets a phone call from a dealer in London…. “Garry, I’ve just been offered 11 litres of CibaChrome, you want it?

    We join him as he uses up the very last of the chemistry which enable him to use the techniques he has spent a lifetime perfecting, before his dark room is closed forever. Reflecting a change out of his studio and in the world - in 2007 there were 204 professional dark rooms in London, by 2010 there were 8. We hear his story of printing - a physical, technical skill, as well as a dangerous and smelly one. We envisage the end of the analogue era of photography, and celebrate the alchemical eclipse.

    Curator of photography from the V&A Martin Barnes salutes his work, and how it harks back to the very start of photography, just as this chapter is coming to an end.

    From the spooky mists of Hound Tor to making pictures in the dark, Fabian-Miller takes us one step closer to the end of an era.

    Producer: Sara Jane Hall

    • 28 min
    The Diagnosis

    The Diagnosis

    For most of her life, Janice Wilson suffered from strange and terrifying attacks at night. She would wake up, suddenly, feeling as though she was being choked or strangled. The next day, there would be blood on her pillow. Sometimes she’d have up to 50 of these attacks a night. It left her terrified and exhausted. For years, doctors put it down to psychological problems due to a trauma in her past. Then she met a doctor who found the astonishing, true cause. In “The Diagnosis”, Janice and the doctor who diagnosed her come together in a studio, to tell this remarkable story.

    The programme is presented and produced by Helena Merriman, who was inspired to tell other people’s stories of diagnosis after receiving her own surprise diagnosis a few years ago.

    Editor: Emma Rippon

    • 28 min
    Virtues of Vulnerability with Ed Balls

    Virtues of Vulnerability with Ed Balls

    For Ed Balls, the decision to talk publicly about his stammer was pivotal. As a politician, displaying vulnerability was almost unthinkable. Ed's decision turned out to be a good one, but opening up in this way had risks, and things might have been different.

    In this personal programme, Ed talks to people from sport, politics, business and media, hearing how they dealt with life’s challenges, displaying their vulnerability, often in full public view.

    Ed speaks to Michael Palin, Facebook's Nicola Mendelsohn, one of the most powerful women in tech; politician Paula Sherriff, Paralympian and Strictly Come Dancing star Will Bayley, journalist Nick Robinson, and writer and activist Scarlett Curtis.

    Through archive and original interviews, Ed revisits past moments of vulnerability, including his own, speaking to those involved to shed fresh light on the pitfalls and benefits of displaying one’s vulnerable side.

    Presenter: Ed Balls
    Producer: Jack Soper
    A TBI Media production for BBC Radio 4

    • 58 min

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