300 episodes

Programme examining the ideas and forces which shape public policy in Britain and abroad, presented by distinguished writers, journalists and academics.

Analysis BBC

    • Government
    • 4.6 • 186 Ratings

Programme examining the ideas and forces which shape public policy in Britain and abroad, presented by distinguished writers, journalists and academics.

    Finding Things Out

    Finding Things Out

    Finding things out during the pandemic has been hit and miss: there’ve been miracles, and there’s been junk. What matters is not just what we think we know about how to intervene to improve human health, but how we think we know it. Methods can be inspired, flawed, or both. Michael Blastland tells the short and still-changing story of how science has been trying to get better at finding things out.

    Contributions from:

    Professor Sir Angus Deaton, Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs Emeritus at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University.
    Maria Popp. Department of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care, Emergency and Pain Medicine, University Hospital Wuerzburg.
    Professor George Davey Smith, Director of the Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol.
    Sheena McCormack, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at University College London

    Producer: Ben Carter
    Editor: Jasper Corbett
    Sound Engineer: Graham Puddifoot

    • 28 min
    Baby Boom or Bust

    Baby Boom or Bust

    Birth rates in many countries, including China, Japan, Italy and the UK have dropped below replacement level. Clare McNeil asks if we should be concerned about this, and the burden it will place on taxpayers and the young, or welcome it as a good thing for climate change, where some think that the fewer consumers and CO2 emitters the better. But with fertility rates of 1.58 in England and Wales, and only 1.29 in Scotland, society is aging, with the higher healthcare and pension costs to be borne by the taxpayers of working age. What role could or should the government play in increasing the birthrate?

    Presenter: Clare McNeil
    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Editor: Jasper Corbett

    Angie Hobbs, Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy, the University of Sheffield
    Lord David Willetts, President of the Resolution Foundation
    George Monbiot, environmental campaigner and author
    Felix Pinkert, Assistant professor of Philosophy and Economics, University of Vienna
    Jacob Hacker, Professor of Political Science, Yale University
    Jade Sasser, Associate Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of California, Riverside
    Ronald Lee, emeritus professor of Demography and Economics, University of California, Berkeley

    • 29 min
    Revenge of the Workers

    Revenge of the Workers

    The shortage of HGV drivers has been hitting the headlines, but other sectors are affected by a lack of staff too, from care homes to restaurants. This despite wages going up, and the end of the furlough scheme. What's going on? Could it be that power is shifting away from employers to workers, for perhaps the first time since the 1970s?
    Since the 2008 financial crisis public opinion has increasingly been unfavourable towards globalisation, immigration and big corporations. This has been reflected in a shift away from an assumed pro-business stance among the mainstream political parties too. Philip Coggan speaks to a range of experts to find out what's been happening, whether workers really will gain more power, and what that might mean for the economy.

    Ben Clift, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick
    Dame DeAnne Julius, Distinguished Fellow for Global Economy and Finance, Chatham House
    Kate Bell, Head of Rights, International, Social and Economics at the Trades Union Congress
    Rob Ford, Professor of Political Science at the University of Manchester
    Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Policy at King’s College, London
    Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality
    Shereen Hussein, Professor of Health and Social Care Policy at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
    Gerwyn Davies, Public Policy Adviser and Senior Market Analyst at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

    Producer: Arlene Gregorius
    Sound: Gareth Jones

    • 28 min
    Parental Alienation

    Parental Alienation

    Splitting up where children are involved is tricky. Especially when it ends up in the family courts. It’s even more tricky when a child decides they don’t want a relationship with one of the parents.

    Over the last two decades a controversial psychological concept has emerged to describe a situation where children - for no apparent reason - decide they don’t want to see one parent. It’s called parental alienation.

    Women’s rights organisations argue parental alienation is used to gaslight abused women. Fathers’ rights organisations claim that some mothers make up allegations of abuse to prevent them from seeing their children. And children are caught in the middle.

    Sonia Sodha explores the polarizing concept of “parental alienation” and asks how a contested psychological theory has evolved into an increasingly common allegation in the UK family courts.

    Producer: Gemma Newby

    • 29 min
    Look who's talking - the rise of ‘voice cloning’

    Look who's talking - the rise of ‘voice cloning’

    When you listen to a radio programme, watch an animated film, or even receive a phone call, it’s unlikely you’ll question whether the words you’re hearing are coming from the mouth of a human being. But all that could be about to change thanks to the rise of ‘voice cloning’.

    Elaine Moore is a tech columnist at the Financial Times and she’s interested in the ramifications of this new technology. Thanks to artificial intelligence, cloning a human voice can be achieved with just a few minutes of recorded audio. As the technology becomes more sophisticated and its use more widespread, how will this affect our society, our politics and our personal interactions? And is it time we were able to control what happens to our own voice both now and when we die?

    With contributions from:
    Carlton Daniel, lawyer at Squire Patton Boggs.
    Tom Lee, co-founder of LOVO.
    David Leslie, Ethics Theme Lead at the Alan Turing Institute.
    Rupal Patel, founder & CEO of VocaliD.
    Tim McSmythurs, AI Researcher and creator of Speaking AI.
    James Vlahos, co-founder of HereAfter AI.

    Producer: Craig Templeton Smith
    Editor: Jasper Corbett

    • 28 min
    Who Defends Europe?

    Who Defends Europe?

    This summer's hasty and poorly executed withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan caused shock and profound unease among Washington's allies, just as they hoped the unilateralism of the Trump era had been left behind. But anxiety about America's position on defence only intensified with the unveiling in September of AUKUS - a trilateral security pact involving Australia, the US and UK covering the Indo-Pacific region. The exclusion of France from that deal not only enraged Paris but also further alarmed European allies about American intentions.

    So what next? Can the Biden administration be trusted to uphold the security guarantee which underpins NATO? Or, as France's President Emmanuel Macron argues, do these and other actions by the United States show that the 70 year-old Alliance is effectively "brain dead" and that Europe has to set about achieving "strategic autonomy" without depending on Washington's whims?

    In a lively forum with key players and thinkers about European security from both sides of the Atlantic, Edward Stourton considers what should happen now on European defence and whether seemingly divergent views about it can be reconciled.

    Those taking part: Professor Malcolm Chalmers, Deputy Director of the Royal United Services Institute in London; Nathalie Loiseau, MEP, former French Minister of European Affairs and Chair of the European Parliament's Sub-committee on Security and Defence; Dr Constanze Stelzenmüller, expert on Germany and trans-Atlantic Relations in the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.; and Linas Linkevicius, former Foreign and Defence Minister of Lithuania.

    Producer: Simon Coates
    Editor: Jasper Corbett

    Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
186 Ratings

186 Ratings

Glenn Danzig II ,

The clearest the British can speak

and I gain a lot of insight from it.

Nicolas Bar ,


I downloaded this podcast for analysis instead I got indoctrination and “look at all the reasons why I am right”! Episodes are often less analysis and more debate, in most cases a one-sided one. Prime example the episode on cancel culture. Unfollowed.

TL2456712477 ,

Sadly declining

I just listened to Humans vs the Planet by Lucy Proctor in which she seemed completely unable to cope with information that made her uncomfortable and resorted to name-calling without any real attempt to dismiss arguments intellectually. Rather sad for the BBC, but has long been accused of having an anti-environmental slant.

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