34 episodes

Have you ever locked eyes with a stranger and wondered, "What’s their story?" Step into someone else’s life and expect the unexpected. Extraordinary stories from around the world.

Lives Less Ordinary BBC World Service

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7 • 342 Ratings

Have you ever locked eyes with a stranger and wondered, "What’s their story?" Step into someone else’s life and expect the unexpected. Extraordinary stories from around the world.

    The Palestinian tapes, part 1

    The Palestinian tapes, part 1

    Mo’min Swaitat unearthed a vast trove of forgotten Palestinian music. Not only did it hold long-lost recordings of his own Bedouin family, but also a mysterious yellow cassette of protest songs set to an electro-disco beat. Mo’min became captivated by the yellow tape. It would open up a world of underground music from one of the most turbulent times in Palestinian history, the First Intifada. But could he track down who’d made it?

    Presenter: Mobeen Azhar
    Producer: Maryam Maruf
    Editor: Munazza Khan
    Sound design: Joel Cox
    Mix: Giles Aspen
    With thanks to Diana Alghoul for translation support

    • 33 min
    I hit puberty, then burned down my family home

    I hit puberty, then burned down my family home

    At 18 Nikki Owen set fire to the family home – and she didn’t know why.

    Nikki awaited trial in solitary confinement, but her father searched for answers in medical science, and started working on a ground-breaking legal defence to get her out.

    If you've been affected by any of subjects in this programme you can find support and additional information below:
    BBC Action Line: https://www.bbc.co.uk/actionline/
    Befrienders Worldwide: https://www.befrienders.org/
    The International Association for Premenstrual Disorders: https://iapmd.org/
    National Association for Premenstrual Syndromes https://www.pms.org.uk

    Presenter: Emily Webb
    Producer:  Tom Harding Assinder

    • 42 min
    He knocked on my door and said: 'I believe you'

    He knocked on my door and said: 'I believe you'

    How the friendship of a stranger helped Betsy Sailor when she needed it most.
    Betsy was living alone at university in the late 1970s when a man broke into her apartment and raped her at knifepoint. He was later caught, and it turned out he was a student, and a player on the successful Penn State football team. Taking him to court was a daunting task but then a fellow football player, Irv Pankey, stepped up and told Betsy he was on her side and would look after her. Their remarkable friendship changed the course of Betsy’s life.

    Film clip: Betsy and Irv/ Nicole Noren/ ESPN Films

    Presenter: Mobeen Azhar
    Producer: Rebecca Vincent

    • 48 min
    My father’s hidden crimes

    My father’s hidden crimes

    Analía’s father was accused of being a government torturer — he said it was a lie.

    A phone call turned Analía Kalinec’s comfortable life upside down. Her father was accused of crimes committed during the Argentine dictatorship twenty years previously, when around 30,000 people were disappeared by security forces. He denied it, but Analía decided to investigate. Her findings would change her view of the father she had loved.

    Analía has written a book called Llevaré su Nombre (I Carry Your Name).

    Presenter: Emily Webb
    Producer: Louise Morris
    Interpreter: Salomé Paulo

    • 35 min
    The child spy and her secret agent parents

    The child spy and her secret agent parents

    Sue-Ellen Doherty was trained by her parents to spy for Australia during the Cold War.

    For Sue-Ellen Kusher, nee Doherty, growing up in the suburbs of Brisbane was far from normal. Both her parents worked for the Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation, ASIO, and in the early days of their marriage, they brought up their three children to be part of the family business. It was the 1950s, and Russian and Chinese communists were regarded as enemies.

    Sue-Ellen spoke to us in 2021.


    Presenter: Jo Fidgen
    Producer: Katy Takatsuki
    Editor: Munazza Khan

    • 40 min
    A fake billionaire in North Korea, part 2

    A fake billionaire in North Korea, part 2

    Jim is deep undercover in North Korea — but will he find proof of illegal weapons deals...

    He'd been sent to the isolated country by a documentary film-maker called Mads Brugger, to pose as a fake investor interested in arms. Jim, Mads and the team had spent years infiltrating a North Korean network in Europe, but now they were on North Korean turf the risks were bigger than ever. Jim is treated like a king, but no weapons deals emerge, until suddenly he's driven out of town and taken down into a mysterious basement.


    Presenter: Emily Webb
    Producer: Harry Graham
    Editor: Munazza Khan
    Sound design: Joel Cox

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
342 Ratings

342 Ratings

Elenitha2019 ,

Amazing, inspiring life stories from around the world

Listen to it! This is an amazing podcast of truly amazing people with courage and strength from all of the world! I started out listening to Outlook and now this... you won't regret it!

amfm450 ,

Great Journalism!!!

The stories are so well done. I love that the stories are from all over the world. Thank you!

Bart Ranger ,

Great Interview with Hafsat Abiola Costello

I’ve been a listener to your podcast and have always found it engaging. It was nice to hear your recent conversation with Costello. In my mind, she and her parents paid a very heavy price for bringing democracy to Nigeria. I remember listening to her speak after the assassination of her mother and the death in mysterious circumstances of her father. However, I’m simply incredulous as to why she chose to support Yahya Bello in my home state of Kogi. The fact that she’s still defending that choice on BBC shows that Costello has become seriously alienated from the reality in Nigeria. Bello has been a disaster as governor and the youth and women empowerment of which Costello spoke, is a complete fantasy

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