230 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 Californian Century: A Twist of Fate

    The Californian Century: A Twist of Fate

    Stanley Tucci continues his history of California with the story of Silicon Valley's troubled founder, William Shockley.

    Shockley was the man who first brought silicon to Silicon Valley in the 1950s. He was an undoubted genius. But he was also a hideous boss and an irredeemable racist.

    California wants to dazzle you with its endless sunshine and visions of the future – but that’s just a mirage. Stanley Tucci plays a hard-boiled screenwriter uncovering the full, sordid truth. He knows exactly where all the bodies are buried.

    Academic consultant: Dr Ian Scott, University of Manchester

    Written and produced by Laurence Grissell

    • 14 min
    The Ugly Truth

    The Ugly Truth

    The value society places on physical appearance has never quite made sense to blind presenter Lyndall Bywater and yet she's intrigued to discover why it matters so much to those of us in the sighted world. How much of an advantage is it to be beautiful? And what is physical beauty anyway?
    We've heard about the gender bias, the age bias, and the racial bias but few people talk about the beauty bias and yet it's one of the very first judgements we make when we meet someone. In this programme Lyndall explores this invisible force that controls how we behave - and reveals that when it comes to physical beauty, we all unconsciously discriminate.

    Producer: Sarah Shebbeare
    Researcher: Robbie Wojciechowski

    • 28 min
    Universal Basic Income: Alaska Style

    Universal Basic Income: Alaska Style

    There is growing interest in the idea of giving every member of society a Basic Income, as a way of tackling extreme poverty and the loss of jobs caused by automation.

    Pilot projects have been seen across the world - from India to Finland and Namibia to Canada - and there is talk of a one possibly happening here in the UK, in the city of Hull.

    So, attention is being paid to the Alaskan model. The Arctic American state has been paying out an annual dividend to every one of its permanent residents - man, woman and child - for almost 40 years. They don’t have to do anything to get the money, and they can use it in any way they like.

    The money comes from the state’s Permanent Fund, which invests a substantial share of the profits of oil production for the benefit of all its citizens. As a result of this dividend, arguably a form of Basic Income, its supporters say Alaska is the least unequal state in the whole USA.

    But in the last three years, Alaskan politics has been dominated by an unresolved crisis. The State government has been trying to use money earmarked for the dividend for other purposes, and many claim that this is illegal.

    Mark Whitaker reports from Alaska on a unique scheme, explaining its history and discovering why it has become so controversial.

    A Square Dog Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

    • 37 min
    Preview: Girl Taken - Episode 1

    Preview: Girl Taken - Episode 1

    Across the world people were presented with what appeared to be a heart-breaking but straightforward story of a father and his motherless daughter struggling to get to Britain. But behind those headlines lay a far more sinister truth. BBC Journalist Sue Mitchell and former soldier Rob Lawrie discover that the little girl appears to have simply vanished. Can they find her in time?

    Girl Taken is a 10-part hunt - across closed borders and broken promises - for the truth and to find a little girl, taken.

    Listen to the rest of the series on BBC Sounds.

    Producer: Sue Mitchell
    Studio Production and Sound Design: Richard Hannaford

    • 24 min
    The Book of Polyamory

    The Book of Polyamory

    Since its first publication 20 years ago, The Ethical Slut has informed and changed opinions about non-monogamous lifestyles. Comedian Sophie Duker traces its journey in challenging perceptions of polyamory and follows one specific copy that has travelled the world while being shared among enthusiastic readers.

    Hearing modern stories of love and polyamory, Sophie questions opinions of openness and sees first hand the struggles and complications that non-monogamous groups face. She asks if society is yet ready for complete acceptance of their lifestyle.

    Producer: Simon Jarvis and Lauren Armstrong Carter
    Executive Producer: Anishka Sharma

    A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

    • 28 min
    Faith On The Move

    Faith On The Move

    A railway chaplain may sound quaint - romantic even - harking back to the days of steam travel when the Railway Mission was first established in the 1880s. Back then, train travel was new and men of the cloth respected. But these days the chaplain’s role is a stressful 24/7 job on the front line of society.

    Faith on the Move looks at the work of the chaplains who support railway staff on the near-10,000 miles of Britain’s railway. Dylis George, a Pastor in South London, is our travelling companion and guide. Since becoming a railway chaplain five years ago, Dylis has supported staff on London Underground as well as the British Transport Police. Last year, she took over as chaplain on South Eastern Railway, to the Kent and Sussex coast.

    Every day is different and demanding as Dylis offers friendship and a listening ear to those facing life and work issues - including increasingly abusive and sometimes violent passengers. She has also been there to offer support through the very worst of times, from attacks by extremists to deaths on the track.

    A mother of two, Dylis finds her faith is often tested, but she also finds solace in her family and cooking dishes which bring back happy childhood memories of Sierra Leone. Along with the stories of railway workers and passengers, the programme features Andrew Buchanan who was once a train driver, but is about to start as a chaplain on the West Country network. He has his own experience of a track suicide. Other voices include Dylis’s predecessor John Robinson who has taken time out from chaplaincy to look after his family, and CEO of the Railway Mission Liam Johnston.

    Narrator: Eleanor Rushton
    Producer: Sara Parker
    A TBI Media production for BBC Radio 4.

    If you’re affected by the issues in this programme, help and support is available at BBC Action Line.

    • 28 min

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