300 episodes

Leading artists, writers, thinkers discuss the ideas shaping our lives & links between past & present and new academic research.

Arts & Ideas BBC

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Leading artists, writers, thinkers discuss the ideas shaping our lives & links between past & present and new academic research.

    Rowan Williams and Simon Armitage

    Rowan Williams and Simon Armitage

    Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has written about Auden, Dostoevsky and tragedy. At Hay Festival he talks to poet Simon Armitage about the imprint of landscapes in Yorkshire, West Wales, and the Middle East, the use of dialect words and reinterpreting myths. Chaired by Rana Mitter.

    Books by Rowan Williams include Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction and The Tragic Imagination. He is Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.
    Books by Simon Armitage include The Unaccompanied, Flit, Selected Poems, Walking Home, Travelling Songs, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Homer's Odyssey. He is now the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. You can find out more from his website https://www.simonarmitage.com/

    A playlist featuring other conversations and in depth interviews with writers is available on the Free Thinking website with episodes free to download as Arts & Ideas podcasts https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04ly0c8 and you can find more programmes from this year's online Hay Festival https://www.hayfestival.com/home

    Producer: Fiona McLean

    • 44 min
    Sarah Perry

    Sarah Perry

    Matthew Sweet talks to author Sarah Perry about her gothic imagination, writing about religion, rationalism and disease in novels including The Essex Serpent, After Me Comes The Flood and Melmoth. Recorded from her home in Norwich, Sarah discusses her experience of these times as someone who has an auto-immune condition, her interest in comets and the way she used sewing to overcome a temporary inability to write.

    You can hear more from authors in the Norfolk area on the website of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival https://nnfestival.org.uk/

    There is a collection of in depth interviews with guests including Zadie Smith, Mark Haddon, Sebastian Faulks, Marilynne Robinson and other authors on the Free Thinking website https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04ly0c8

    Sarah Perry can be found discussing her novel Melmoth in detail in this episode of Free Thinking called Sarah Perry, Spookiness and Fear https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0000kk2
    and she discusses the Essex Serpent in this episode Still Loving Victoriana Jokes and All https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b081tkr7

    Producer: Robyn Read

    • 55 min
    Revisit: My Body Clock is Broken

    Revisit: My Body Clock is Broken

    Jay Griffiths, Vincent Deary, Louise Robinson and Matthew Smith discuss our mental health.

    How does depression affect our sense of time and the rhythms of daily life? Our body clocks have long been seen by scientists as integral to our physical and mental health - but what happens when mental illness disrupts or even stops that clock? Presenter Anne McElvoy is joined by those who have suffered depression and those who treat it - and they attempt to offer some solutions.

    Jay Griffiths is the author of Tristimania: a Diary of Manic Depression and a book Pip Pip which explores attitudes to time across the world.

    Doctor Vincent Deary teaches at Northumbria University, works as a clinician in the UK's first trans-diagnostic Fatigue Clinic and is the author of a trilogy about How To Live - the first of which is called How We Are.

    Professor Louise Robinson is Director of Newcastle University's Institute for Ageing and Professor of Primary Care and Ageing.

    Professor Matthew Smith is a New Generation Thinker from 2012 who teaches at Strathclyde University at the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare.

    This programme was recorded as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival in front of an audience at Sage Gateshead in 2017 and is being broadcast now as part of the BBC's contribution to Mental Health Awareness week.

    You might be intereseted in Sleep;Freedom to Think from the Festival Lecturer Professor Russell Foster https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08hz9yw
    and another Festival discussion from 2019 looking at how medical staff cope Should Doctors Cry ? https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000488q
    and an interview with Buddhist monk and thinker Haemin Sunim about coping with the pace of life https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08jb1mp

    Producer: Zahid Warley.

    • 43 min
    Anne Fine and Romesh Gunesekera. Jarman's Garden

    Anne Fine and Romesh Gunesekera. Jarman's Garden

    Authors Anne Fine and Romesh Gunesekera are Fellows of the Royal Literature Society who signed the Register on the same day. In the first of a series of conversations with writers who would have been sharing a stage at a literary festival, they talk to Shahidha Bari.
    Plus a postcard from 2020 New Generation Thinker Diarmuid Hester on the saving of Derek Jarman’s house and garden - also the subject of Sunday’s Words and Music which you can find on BBC Sounds and here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000jdz0

    The Norfolk and Norwich Festival which would have featured the meeting of Romesh and Anne has more author interviews on its website https://nnfestival.org.uk/
    Romesh Gunesekera's latest book is Suncatcher. You can hear him discussing it in more detail with William Dalrymple and Susheila Nasta in an episode of Free Thinking called The Shadow of Empire and Colonialism https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000c0f7

    Anne Fine's books include Goggle Eyes, The Granny Project, The Jamie Angus Stories, The Tulip Touch, Battle of Wills and her latest Blood Family. You can hear her discussing family life along with Tobias Jones, Tom Shakespeare and Professor Sarah Cunningham Burley in a Free Thinking Festival discussion called The Family is Dead, Long Live the Family https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06pswsk

    New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by the BBC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten academics each year who turn their research into radio. You can find a series of Essays and postcards from them in playlists on the Free Thinking programme website https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0144txn

    Producer: Robyn Read

    • 45 min


    Rutger Bregman challenges ideas about the selfish gene, and survival of the fittest with stories of human co-operation and kindness as he publishes a book called Human Kind - A Hopeful History. Plus in Mental Health Awareness Week, Dr Sylvan Baker on rethinking the way we treat kids in care. And New Generation Thinker Christina Faraday on an anniversary of the fairground.

    You can hear a curated selection of readings and music on the theme of travelling fairs and circuses on Radio 3's Words and Music programme broadcast Sunday afternoons at half past five and available for 28 days following on BBC Sounds https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04sv2wr

    Producer: Robyn Read

    • 45 min
    The 2020 Wolfson History Prize: David Abulafia, Hallie Rubenhold, Prashant Kidambi

    The 2020 Wolfson History Prize: David Abulafia, Hallie Rubenhold, Prashant Kidambi

    From Indian cricket, a survey of the oceans to the women killed by Jack the Ripper: Rana Mitter with the second set of shortlisted authors for the history writing prize.

    David Abulafia The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans
    Hallie Rubenhold The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper
    Prashant Kidambi Cricket Country: An Indian Odyssey in the Age of Empire

    You can hear the other shortlisted historians in a progarmme broadcast on May 12th and available as an Arts & Ideas Podcast. It features
    Marion Turner has written Chaucer: A European Life
    Toby Green is the author of A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution
    John Barton is nominated for A History of the Bible: The Book and Its Faiths

    The winner of the 2020 Wolfson History Prize is announced on June 15th 2020.

    In the Free Thinking archives you can find more history -
    Diarmuid McCulloch on Martin Luther in Breaking Free Martin Luther's Revolution https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08nf02y
    William Dalrymple on The Shadow of Empire and Colonialism https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000c0f7
    Peter Frankopan and Maya Jasanoff on What Kind of History Should We Write https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00016vf
    Tracy Borman on the Tudors in The Way We Used to Feel https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0003zp2
    Fern Ridell, Kate Lister and Robin Mitchell on How we talk about women's bodies and sex https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000f5n6

    Producer: Robyn Read

    • 45 min

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