Seriously is home to the world’s best audio documentaries and podcast recommendations, and host Vanessa Kisuule brings you two fascinating new episodes every week.
Boarding Schools: The System That Rules Britain
Is there still a future for boarding schools? Writer Nels Abbey examines the public school boarding system, in a global context.
He looks at how this model was driven by the building of Empire and the legacy of educational colonialism in former colonies, and asks why, in the present day, parents continue to choose to let their children live away from them.
In the 1990s, Nels attended boarding schools in a former British colony. He looks at the effects of this personal experience and the continuing impact on him, good and bad.
He also examines the psychological effects of the closed world of boarding school. He hears about the camaraderie, the independence, the sense of community - and the arguments that this closed world can put children at risk of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
Nels listens to a range of personal experiences - from Kenya where, after years of student protest, teachers are trying to abolish boarding; from a school promising the "humane alternative" to traditional boarding; and from a mother in Nigeria fighting for justice after her daughter was sexually assaulted.
Presenter: Nels Abbey
Producer: Jill Achineku
Commissioned as part of the Multitrack Audio Producers Fellowship
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4
When Reality Breaks: Demystifying Paranoid Schizophrenia
Growing up in Canada, her father's delusions and paranoia gave Julia Shaw a front-row seat into an alternate reality Believing "they” were out to get him – including everyone from aliens to the Bin Laden family – he would later email her, warning that she too was targeted by those monitoring him. He believed that doctors too were part of the conspiracy - so has never had a diagnosis from a psychiatrist. Witnessing her father experiencing a parallel "reality" inspired Julia to look into the mind and she had a "lightbulb moment" at university studying psychology when she first heard a description of paranoid schizophrenia. We hear from Julia and her mum as they meet up, driving through Canada.
The well-known "positive" signs of a psychotic episode like hallucinations, paranoia and deluded thoughts can feel frightening to witness but Julia learns how the some families find it hardest to live with the "negative" symptoms like a Iack of motivation and difficulty in concentrating.
Julia talks to families who understand the demands of living with someone who has serious delusions – to hear what helped them to look after themselves as well as their loved one. We hear from Philippa whose son had his first episode of psychosis when he was at university. Although he now has the right medication to control his symptoms he struggles to motivate himself and a troubling side effect is weight gain which puts him at risk of physical health problems. Kate was only 11 when her cool, older brother Sean first showed the signs of schizophrenia. After numerous spells in hospital she remembers how he struggled to look after himself back in the community and became homeless, sometimes going missing Both women found support from Rethink Mental Illness, a charity which helps people severely affected by mental illness to improve their lives.
Kirsty was 8 years old when she started going to workshops with her dad at the Our Time charity, which supports any child with a parent affected by mental illness. She says that role play and talking openly with others about mental health helped to prepare her for when her dad had a psychotic episode on her 13th birthday: although it was frightening she recognised the signs and knew that they wouldn't last.
Another concern for Julia was the increased risk for family members who might inherit a disorder like paranoid schizophrenia. Dr Rick Adams explains how the risk is higher - at around 10%, it does mean there's a much higher likelihood that she hasn't inherited it.
One voice Julia feels is missing is that of the person who hears voices and believes them: she hasn't been able to reach her father. Instead she talks to Ashley who's 25 and is living with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Ashley explains how her voices were always male and it it's not a good idea for loved ones to tell a person having hallucinations that they're not real: they have to find this out for themselves. She says that educating herself about mental illness and her faith have helped her to keep calm, along with support from her family.
Like the other families she's spoken to Julia feels guilt about her father and wonders if she could have done more to help him - but hearing about support from charities makes her hopeful. And despite all the difficulties, she also recognises how he has passed onto her a love of learning and to stand up for herself.
Presenter: Julia Shaw
Producer: Paula McGrath
Hendrix: Everything but the Guitar
When you think of Jimi Hendrix, you think of the guitar. Since the 1960s he’s consistently topped polls of the greatest guitarist of all time. But there are so many other remarkable layers to this man and musician.
On what would have been his 80th birthday, fans from music, literature and academia weigh up all of the other things that should be celebrated about Jimi, but so often aren’t:
Leon Hendrix remembers his big brother as a spiritual force. Professor Paul Gilroy analyses Jimi’s commitment to peace. Kronos Quartet violinist David Harrington discusses Jimi the composer.
The Happy Mondays vocalist Rowetta appreciates Jimi the singer. Poet and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib unpicks Jimi’s approach to wordplay. And author and academic Sarita Cannon evaluates Jimi as a mixed heritage icon.
Meanwhile, 1960s archive interviews from Hendrix give us a fresh perspective on the man himself.
Narrator: Cerys Matthews
Producer: Redzi Bernard
Executive Producer: Jack Howson
Sound Mix: Olga Reed
A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4
House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate, Pitcher, Fruit-Tree, Window
Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies, written between 1912 and 1922, are often considered to be one of the cornerstones of European literature in the 20th Century.
Produced in a time of collapse and change, amidst political turmoil and spiritual flux, the poems grapple with what it means to be human, charting the soul’s journey through existential despair and fear and separation (“Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the orders of Angels?”) to moments of revelation and ecstasy (“Praise this world, not the untold world, to the Angel.”)
Rilke is a poet concerned with the task of inhabiting the world - despite its transience and the fact of our mortality - and in the presence of everyday objects, buildings, Things (“Dingen”) he finds his way into a kind of being that exalts in our fleetingness. In the Ninth Elegy he arrives at the phrase, “Perhaps we are here in order to say: house, bridge, fountain, gate, pitcher, fruit-tree, window [...]” (In German: “Haus, Brücke, Brunnen, Tor, Krug, Obstbaum, Fenster.”)
A century on from the completion of Rilke’s landmark cycle of poems, this radio hymn takes up the poet’s call to dwell in “the time of the sayable”, with contributions from post-humanist thinker Bayo Akomolafe, archeologist Bettina Bader, German scholar Karen Leeder, and author and storyteller Martin Shaw.
Readings by Ella Russell
Original music by Phil Smith
Produced by Phil Smith
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4
How to Win the World Cup
How has the 2022 World Cup ended up in Qatar? Few would have guessed in 2010 that this tiny Gulf State would win the chance to stage football's biggest competition. It had seemed an unlikely bidder, and didn't have a single suitable stadium. Then there was the temperature, often around 40 degrees in the summer months: dangerous conditions for playing a football tournament. Fast forward to 2022 and seven new stadiums with huge new infrastructure have been built at vast expense. The opening game is just days away from being played, unusually, in the milder weather of November.
It's a story that The Guardian's David Conn has been following since the beginning. He is the author of The Fall of the House of Fifa and one of the world's leading investigative journalists on corruption in football. Conn goes back to the beginning: how was the bid won in the first place? He traces the story from an infamous lunch at the Elysee Palace right up to the present day, investigating the human rights issues raised over the past dozen years, as well as probing at a question that is often left curiously unexamined: what is it that Qatar actually wants out of all this? And what does this tell us about how sport and power work in the modern age?
Produced by Ant Adeane from Tonic Productions for BBC Radio 4.
A Fishy Phobia
Top chef Angela Hartnett loves cooking fish but wonders why so much of the huge range of fish and seafood that's landed by British fishermen is exported to continental markets. We may eat some of that world-class catch when we are on holiday in Spain or France, but not at home.
What are the cultural barriers to eating fish? Is it a hangover from the days of the Catholic Friday fast? A sense that meat is more vital and sustaining? Or just that we are a bit rubbish in the kitchen and at a loss when it comes to cooking fish?
Angela reports from the fishing port of Brixham in Devon as the trawlers come in and the fish is sold by electronic auction in the neighbouring fish market. She shares her thoughts with fellow chefs and seafood restaurant owners Mitch Tonks and Nathan Outlaw, together with representatives of the fishing industry.
Meanwhile on the East Coast, we hear Mike Warner out fishing for herring - the affordable, plentiful but neglected fish that was once a staple, Pen Vogler gives us the historical context, and Angela has some conclusions about how to turn this island into a land of fish lovers at last.
Presented by Angela Hartnett
Produced by Susan Marling and Anna Horsbrugh-Porter
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4