243 episodes

A rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds, introduced by Rhianna Dhillon.

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    • 4.3, 195 Ratings

A rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds, introduced by Rhianna Dhillon.

    Life, Death and the Foghorn

    Life, Death and the Foghorn

    What happened to the foghorn, those beloved giants of our coastal landscape and soundscape? There used to be more than 100 foghorns proudly stationed around the British Isles. Now, due to maritime GPS and automation, there are fewer than 20, with the figure falling steadily.

    The sound of the foghorn has always induced a melancholic feeling, and perhaps the absence of it only increases that sensation. Music journalist and broadcaster Jennifer Lucy Allan has long been obsessed with the question of what memories and experiences are lost once the foghorn engines are switched off for good. She is a foghorn obsessive, having completed a PhD on their social and cultural history.

    Inspired by the Foghorn Requiem, a 2013 art performance by Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, this programme is a eulogy for the foghorn. Those sharing their lyrical memories and tributes include a sea captain, a recorder player, and a renegade engineer who restores horns in secret.

    There is also foghorn-inspired poetry by Ian C Smith and WS Merwin, and original music from Laura Cannell and Femi Oriogun-Williams.

    Produced by Jack Howson.
    A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4

    • 28 min
    How They Made Us Doubt Everything: 1. Big Oil's Big Crisis

    How They Made Us Doubt Everything: 1. Big Oil's Big Crisis

    From climate change to smoking and cancer, this is the story of how doubt has been manufactured.

    In this episode we take you to an oil company’s boardroom as they plan their response to the ‘crisis mentality’ that was emerging after the long hot summer of 1988. 5,000 people died in the heat wave, coinciding with the moment NASA scientist Jim Hansen announced that a ‘greenhouse effect’ was ‘changing our climate now’. This looked like a battle for the survival of the oil industry.

    This 10 part series explores how powerful interests and sharp PR managers engineered doubt about the connection between smoking and cancer and how similar tactics were later used by some to make us doubt climate change. With the help of once-secret internal memos, we take you behind boardroom doors where such strategies were drawn up and explore how the narrative changed on one of the most important stories of our time - and how the marketing of doubt has undermined our willingness to believe almost everything.

    Producer: Phoebe Keane for BBC Radio 4
    Presenter: Peter Pomerantsev

    • 14 min
    Archiving Black America

    Archiving Black America

    "We are our history," said James Baldwin. But how history is remembered depends on what materials survive, and who deems those materials worthy of preserving.

    Maya Millett - a writer, editor and founder of Race Women, an archive project dedicated to honouring early Black American feminists - speaks to the archivists who are working to ensure the voices and stories of African-Americans are not forgotten.

    As racism and violence against African-Americans continues, collecting, cataloguing, and preserving the truth has never been so vital in preventing the distortion of history. The historical record has the power to preserve legacies and shape identities - but it doesn’t write itself. History is an activity, and what makes it into the archives depends on the actions people take now.

    With contributions from musician Rhiannon Giddens; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Director, Kevin Young; Julieanna Richardson, founder of The HistoryMakers (the largest collection of African-American first-person video oral history testimonies in the world); contemporary art curator Kimberly Drew (aka museummammy); and Fisk University Special Collections Librarian, DeLisa Minor Harris.

    Presenter: Maya Millett
    Producer: Sasha Edye-Lindner
    A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

    • 28 min
    What If Everyone Was Disabled?

    What If Everyone Was Disabled?

    “Every single day, I’m reminded of my disability. Yeah, it doesn’t stop me from doing much… but the reminders are always there.”

    Mat Fraser – writer, actor, rights activist, punk drummer, thalidomide survivor – isn’t afraid to challenge, to provoke and to ask awkward questions. Sometimes he allows his imagination to run riot. In this programme, he wonders how different things might be if the vast majority of people, rather than the minority, had a disability.

    Mat assesses how far we’ve come with accessibility and inclusivity, particularly in the last two decades, and considers what’s stopping us from going further. Money, power, politics, legislation and technology all play their part, but what about social attitudes towards disability?

    Mat invites designers, architects, advisers and campaigners to share some great and not-so-great examples of inclusive design. He imagines having grown up in a world “where Sandy from Crossroads wasn’t the only disabled bloke I saw on TV”. And, his friend and fellow actor Liz Carr (Silent Witness) tells Mat about a public transport wheelchair experience that blew her mind.

    Presenter: Mat Fraser
    Producer: Steve Urquhart
    A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4

    • 28 min
    A Deadly Trade

    A Deadly Trade

    The bodies of 39 Vietnamese men and women discovered in a lorry container in Essex highlighted the growing problem of illegal and dangerous journeys into the UK. With police and governments pledging to do more to uncover illegal smuggling operations Radio 4 speaks to refugees, lorry drivers and to some of the smugglers behind this deadly trade

    Recent coverage from Greece has highlighted the pressures on borders as desperate people risk everything to cross from Turkey. Dangerous Trade starts by tracking a dinghy full of refugees landing on the island of Lesbos and heading for the now infamous Moria camp. It was constructed for 3,100 people but now has a population of more than 20,000 men, women and children.

    On the camp refugees speak about their dreams of a new life and many hope to make it to the UK. Following the route of some of those that have, Sue Mitchell joins them in Dunkirk as they negotiate with smugglers and weigh up the risks of crossing the Chanel illegally by boat or stowing away in lorries bound for England.
    Last year, whilst recording another documentary for Radio 4, Sue met a 14 year old girl who was single-handedly talking to smugglers and raising the money from relatives who had already reached the UK. She details what happens as she and her siblings make the dangerous journey and she reflects on her new life in Britain.

    Those who make the crossing know they are lucky to have survived. The deaths in the Essex container lorry revealed the shocking risks – as do reports of others who have perished at sea and on land. For the lorry drivers who inadvertently end up smuggling refugees, there’s growing anger that more isn’t being done at the borders. Governments have promised to work together to tackle this growing problem, but solutions are still a long way off.

    Producer/Reporter: Sue Mitchell

    • 28 min
    Writing's on the wall

    Writing's on the wall

    From tattered lucky socks and perplexing pre-match rituals to Nadal’s perfectly placed water bottles, superstition truly pervades in the world of professional sport.

    Martin Perry has spent years coaching sportsmen and women to build confidence and handle the psychological demands of their game. Here, he delves into the popular, very personal and often secretive sporting superstitions - regularly noted, but rarely discussed.

    Along the way, Martin discovers superstitions can reveal as much about the mindset of the player, as about what it takes to emerge victorious when the competition is fierce and the stakes are high.

    At the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Glasgow, athletics stars from around the world reveal their own good luck charms. England’s Rugby World Cup finalist Lewis Ludlam runs through an extensive warm-up routine that includes a stuffed toy. And why did Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona once try to get his hands (or feet) on former Spurs striker Clive Allen’s lucky boots?

    Martin takes a moment to explore those numerous and long-held rituals of tennis’ King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, which both baffle and entertain millions of tennis fans every year.

    Surely sport would be slightly less compelling without the relentless, often hilarious, sometimes bonkers, always serious subplot of superstition?

    Producer: Neil Kanwal
    A BlokMedia production for BBC Radio 4

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
195 Ratings

195 Ratings

arrrrrrrghh! ,

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.

CharlesVashon ,

Great show!

Wide ranging and diverse topics covered by knowledgeable sources and brilliant reporting.
Another great show from the BBC!

TVeblen ,

Purity Spiral Feb. 4, 2020

This account of the "purity spiral" is a seductive subterfuge. Two plausible stories of people going to far is linked to some right wing "philosophy." It does not say so clearly, but it cleverly leads the reader or listener to accept the "purity spiral" as a problem created by women, critical race theory, LBGTQ folk. The sources cited are all "right wing", but "purity spiral" comes more from these theories that from the left. The phenomenon is more common on the right than the left. Check the sources Gavin Haynes mentions to see for your self. Douglas Murray "The Madness of Crowds" I expect better of the BBC.

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