85 episodes

Our presenters Douglas Kerr, Vanessa Collingridge and guests explore the history, meaning and significance of ideas in contemporary society.

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The whole series of the Big idea is available in our podcast station

  Podcast: Weekly update and available after its broadcast. 

*********************************************************************************





Douglas Kerr

Douglas Kerr is Professor in the School of English at the University of Hong Kong, where he teaches courses in literature and rhetoric. He has lived in Hong Kong since 1979.

He was born and brought up in Scotland, but went to Cambridge University in 1969 to read Modern Languages and English, and then moved on to the University of Warwick, where he studied English and French literary responses to the First World War, leaving with a PhD in Comparative Literature. During this time, a penurious year working in the French National Library in Paris gave him a taste for living some distance from home. He satisfied this taste by moving to Hong Kong, and has been here ever since.

A continuing scholarly interest in the literature of the Great War eventually produced a book on the English war poet Wilfred Owen, and this was published by Oxford University Press in 1993. This was followed by George Orwell, published by Northcote House in their Writers and their Work series. Living first in colonial and then in postcolonial Hong Kong, it is no surprise that he became deeply interested in the way Asia (or the East, or the Orient) was experienced by foreigners, and this became the subject of his next book, Eastern Figures: Orient and Empire in British Writing, published by Hong Kong University Press in 2008.

Like many others, Douglas had first encountered the Sherlock Holmes stories as a child, but it was a lot later that he began working on their author, Arthur Conan Doyle. Though he is best known for his detective fiction, Conan Doyle was a prolific writer in all sorts of genres and subjects, and an important figure in the cultural history of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Douglas's book Conan Doyle: Writing, Profession and Practice, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2013, is a "cultural biography" of Conan Doyle and a study of all his writing.

Douglas is a regular book reviewer for the South China Morning Post, and was on the Board of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival for five years; he still acts as an Advisor to the Festival. Though Hong Kong is a small place and he has been a resident here for more than thirty years, like other professors he still has a tendency to get lost.













Vanessa Collingridge

Vanessa graduated from Oxford University in 1990 with a first class honours degree in Geography and started working in television, quickly moving into the field of science, environment and history which remain her passion both on and off screen. Since then, she has been a regular face on all the major UK TV channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5), along with Discovery and The Learning Channel (USA) and The History Channel (worldwide). In Spring 2007, she took over the chair of the long-running weekly series Making History, the flagship history series for BBC Radio 4. Her 4x1hr documentary series, Captain Cook – Obsession and Discovery (2007-8) based on her best-selling book, has now won five major

The Big Idea RTHK

    • Books

Our presenters Douglas Kerr, Vanessa Collingridge and guests explore the history, meaning and significance of ideas in contemporary society.

*********************************************************************************
The whole series of the Big idea is available in our podcast station

  Podcast: Weekly update and available after its broadcast. 

*********************************************************************************





Douglas Kerr

Douglas Kerr is Professor in the School of English at the University of Hong Kong, where he teaches courses in literature and rhetoric. He has lived in Hong Kong since 1979.

He was born and brought up in Scotland, but went to Cambridge University in 1969 to read Modern Languages and English, and then moved on to the University of Warwick, where he studied English and French literary responses to the First World War, leaving with a PhD in Comparative Literature. During this time, a penurious year working in the French National Library in Paris gave him a taste for living some distance from home. He satisfied this taste by moving to Hong Kong, and has been here ever since.

A continuing scholarly interest in the literature of the Great War eventually produced a book on the English war poet Wilfred Owen, and this was published by Oxford University Press in 1993. This was followed by George Orwell, published by Northcote House in their Writers and their Work series. Living first in colonial and then in postcolonial Hong Kong, it is no surprise that he became deeply interested in the way Asia (or the East, or the Orient) was experienced by foreigners, and this became the subject of his next book, Eastern Figures: Orient and Empire in British Writing, published by Hong Kong University Press in 2008.

Like many others, Douglas had first encountered the Sherlock Holmes stories as a child, but it was a lot later that he began working on their author, Arthur Conan Doyle. Though he is best known for his detective fiction, Conan Doyle was a prolific writer in all sorts of genres and subjects, and an important figure in the cultural history of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Douglas's book Conan Doyle: Writing, Profession and Practice, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2013, is a "cultural biography" of Conan Doyle and a study of all his writing.

Douglas is a regular book reviewer for the South China Morning Post, and was on the Board of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival for five years; he still acts as an Advisor to the Festival. Though Hong Kong is a small place and he has been a resident here for more than thirty years, like other professors he still has a tendency to get lost.













Vanessa Collingridge

Vanessa graduated from Oxford University in 1990 with a first class honours degree in Geography and started working in television, quickly moving into the field of science, environment and history which remain her passion both on and off screen. Since then, she has been a regular face on all the major UK TV channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5), along with Discovery and The Learning Channel (USA) and The History Channel (worldwide). In Spring 2007, she took over the chair of the long-running weekly series Making History, the flagship history series for BBC Radio 4. Her 4x1hr documentary series, Captain Cook – Obsession and Discovery (2007-8) based on her best-selling book, has now won five major

    Programme 86: Bollywood

    Programme 86: Bollywood

    Some people don’t like the term Bollywood, feeling that it suggests that Indian cinema is just a kind of appendage of Hollywood. But it’s in wide circulation, sometimes taken to refer to modern Indian cinema in general, more specifically the output of...

    • 28 min
    Programme 85: Conservation

    Programme 85: Conservation

    This week’s theme is conservation – not environmental conservation, but the care of artefacts. In a recent programme we talked about creativity, but the work of creative artists and craftsmen is dependent on many others for its realization, dissemi...

    • 28 min
    Programme 84: Fish

    Programme 84: Fish

    Of our living neighbours on the planet – land animals, birds, and fish – fish are the ones that seem most aloof from us. Cold-blooded and elusive, they go about their watery existence, indifferent and invisible to us most of the time, until our lives i...

    • 28 min
    Programme 83: Chinese Opera

    Programme 83: Chinese Opera

    Opera in China has a history of many centuries, and many different forms. Some 350 different kinds of musical drama were identified in a survey in the 1950s. With its colourful costumes and make-up, its stylized and sometimes acrobatic movement, Chines...

    • 28 min
    Programme 82: Reporting

    Programme 82: Reporting

    This week we want to consider how events become information, and how information becomes news. Crucial to this process is the figure of the reporter, filing the copy for print or electronic media which remains our main source of knowledge about what’s ...

    • 28 min
    Programme 81: Moby Dick

    Programme 81: Moby Dick

    Herman Melville’s Moby Dick was described by the novelist D. H. Lawrence as “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world”. Everyone knows the story of Captain Ahab and his obsessive pursuit of vengeance against the white whale; most rea...

    • 28 min

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