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.
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
The Shadow Pope
It is almost a decade since the dramatic resignation of Pope Benedict. In that time, the Pope Emeritus, now in his 90s, has lived quietly in a monastery within the precincts of Vatican City. Yet many Catholics believe his shadowy presence has served as a lightning rod for division.
A recent book by respected Italian journalist Massimo Franco claims a rival court has grown up around Benedict, attracting traditionalists who feel alienated by the direction taken by Pope Francis. Benedict’s supporters have real power within the Vatican and have clashed with Pope Francis on major issues, including priestly celibacy, the role of women and whether Catholics who support abortion rights should receive Holy Communion.
Has Benedict’s long retirement contributed to these internal divisions? Given the contrasting approaches of Benedict and Francis, it was perhaps inevitable that the Church would find itself embroiled in the wider culture wars. The post-retirement Benedict may never have actively sought the role of conservative champion, yet many insist on viewing him in that light. Similarly, Pope Francis’s preoccupation with some issues of social justice has seen him categorised, perhaps simplistically, as a liberal. Edward Stourton examines the evidence. He recalls the unexpectedness of Benedict’s abdication in February 2013, and the sheer theatre of his exit from St Peter’s. Benedict cited old age and looming infirmity, yet there was much speculation at the time about his true motives. While he remains hugely popular in traditionalist circles, his legacy holds less weight among progressive Catholics, not least in Benedict’s native Germany.
Has Benedict’s successor, Pope Francis, been constrained by the existence of a rival court around Benedict? Early expectations that he would be a liberal reformer haven’t been fulfilled. Free of Benedict’s shadowy presence, might Francis have been more proactive? Few dispute that the past decade has had a profound impact on how the office is viewed. We end by asking how this might affect the succession and the church’s future direction.
Producer: Hugh Costello
Executive Producer: David Prest
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4
The Name Is DeSantis
You may not know who he is - but you should. Under Donald Trump Ron DeSantis rode the MAGA wave to to the governor job in Florida.
For some, he's a "smart Trump". For others, a "troll" who, with a series of eye-catching stunts and pronouncements, has dominated headlines and is now viewed as a serious contender for the Republican nomination in 2024.
From transporting migrants to the millionaires' playground of Martha's Vineyard to taking on Disney over so-called "Don't Say Gay" legislation, this is a politician who has weaponised the culture wars to enormous effect.
For liberals, he's a cruel, socially awkward bogeyman, to his supporters, a resolute strongman turning the tide against corrosive wokeism.
James Naughtie profiles the man who, if he does turn his eye to The White House, may have to take the gloves off with the man who many say made him - Donald Trump.
The programme features Fernanda Santos of Futuro Media, Mike Binder of the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab and Rick Wilson, founder of The Lincoln Project.
Presented by James Naughtie.
Produced by Kevin Core.
In general, great content
In general, a surprising podcast with great, diverse material. There are only two weaknesses to the program:
(1) The host--who never speaks for more than 45 seconds--is infuriatingly banal. Don't let her ruin the podcast for you.
(2) Some episodes are bad. They are few and you know them right away when you see the title. If the episode has anything to do with social media, futurism, or technology, it will be banal Twitter-level discourse, voiced by a brain-dead tech-triumphalist spouting tired bromides.
These two things said, this is an almost consistently excellent podcast, notwithstanding the soul-crushing stupidity of the host and the occasional contributor.
.omg im sorry
I wrote a one star review for “connor explains” by accident. I like ur show!
Seriously Leftist Rubbish
Telling people who are difficult to understand to keep being difficult to understand because they have the right to sound like themselves? Seriously? You don’t dress the same way at home and at work, so what’s wrong with speaking professionally at work?
Then in the episode about Biden vs Trump, just interviewing people fired by a Trump. Seriously? I’m beginning to understand the title. Biden has a history of lying which is why he has two failed presidential bids under his belt. No mention of that.
When I first started listening a few years ago it was alright. Recently it’s all garbage.