1,478 episodes

Extraordinary first-person stories from around the world. An archive of Outlook podcasts from 2016-2022. For new episodes from the team, subscribe to Lives Less Ordinary.

The Outlook Podcast Archive BBC World Service

    • News
    • 4.9 • 23 Ratings

Extraordinary first-person stories from around the world. An archive of Outlook podcasts from 2016-2022. For new episodes from the team, subscribe to Lives Less Ordinary.

    The astronaut who made a quilt in Space

    The astronaut who made a quilt in Space

    Dr Karen Nyberg has many talents. She's an engineer and astronaut, but she's also an avid quilter, so when she joined the International Space Station in 2013, she took her sewing kit with her. She created a nine-inch, star-themed quilt square in orbit which inspired over two thousand other quilters to do the same. Karen tells Jo Fidgen about the challenges of quilting in zero gravity and of leaving her three-year-old son and husband - also an astronaut - behind on earth. She's now designed a collection of fabrics called Earth Views based on photographs she took from Space.
    The archive clips you heard came courtesy of NASA.

    Presenter: Jo Fidgen
    Producer: June Christie
    Get in touch: outlook@bbc.com
    (Photo: Dr Karen Nyberg with her quilt square in space. Credit: NASA)

    • 23 min
    The drag queen who ran for president of the United States

    The drag queen who ran for president of the United States

    In the 1990s Terence Smith launched his campaign to run for United States president in drag, shocking voters and the media. His mission was not to win, but instead, to raise awareness about the Aids crisis which was killing his community. Critical of the government's slow response to the epidemic, Terence armed himself with a blonde wig, platform shoes, and the persona of Joan Jett Blakk and decided to run against future president Bill Clinton. Jo Fidgen speaks to Terence from his home in San Francisco, USA.
    Get in touch: outlook@bbc.com
    Presenter: Jo Fidgen
    Producer: Gaia Caramazza
    (Photo: Poster from Joan Jett Blakk's political campaign. Credit: Eric Stein Photography)

    • 29 min
    Drawing is my language: the artist who recreates cities from memory

    Drawing is my language: the artist who recreates cities from memory

    Stephen Wiltshire was born in London in 1974, and diagnosed with autism when he was three. Mute until he was five, he was sent to a specialist school where his teachers soon noticed his prodigious talent for drawing. His passion was buildings - the more complicated, the better - and he would recreate them in intricate detail on the page, often from memory. His rare gift astounded the world, and flung Stephen into the spotlight as a child. He was recognised as an 'artistic savant' - someone with extraordinary visual talents - and as a teenager he travelled the world, drawing famous international landmarks. Today, he continues to work as an artist, and is best known for drawing vast, panoramic cityscapes entirely from memory. He and his sister Annette tell Emily Webb about his journey.
    Presenter: Emily Webb
    Producer: Zoe Gelber
    Get in touch: outlook@bbc.com
    (Photo: Stephen Wiltshire drawing a panorama of Mexico City in 2016.. Credit: Daniel Cardenas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

    • 24 min
    How my father’s stories shielded me from civil war

    How my father’s stories shielded me from civil war

    Wayétu Moore was just five years old in 1990, when Liberia's first civil war broke out. The family were forced to leave their home near Monrovia, and to flee on foot to the relative safety of a remote village. Throughout the journey, Wayétu's father Gus was determined to shield her and her sisters from the horrors of the conflict around them, and made up stories to explain what they saw.
    After months hiding in a remote village, a young woman with a gun arrived. She was a rebel soldier, named Satta, and announced she'd been sent by Wayétu's mother, who had been away studying in America, to bring the family to safety across the border in Sierra Leone. Years later, living in New York, and by now an established writer, Wayétu set out to track Satta down and thank her for what she did.
    Presenter: Emily Webb
    Producer: Laura Thomas
    Get in touch: outlook@bbc.com
    (Photo: Wayétu Moore. Credit: Yoni Levy)

    • 38 min
    Escaping a life on a dumpsite with classical music

    Escaping a life on a dumpsite with classical music

    Like many young people in his community, Simon Karuiki Ndungu grew up scavenging for things he could sell. His home was Korogocho, a Nairobi slum situated next to the city's main dumpsite. The poisonous gases and toxic water weren't the only hazards - there was violence as well. Rival gangs fought for control over the dumpsite, and by the time he was 8 years old Simon was running guns for them. Then, as a teenager, Simon started turning his life around. An organisation at the edge of the dump, Ghetto Classics, introduced him to classical music and the saxophone. The instrument would help him process the hardships around him, and his new love of music would be Simon's ticket out of the slum.
    Presenter: Emily Webb
    Producer: Eric Mugaju
    Photo: Simon Karuiki Ndungu
    Credit: Ghetto Classics/Rich Allela

    • 22 min
    Dressing Beyoncé: It started with a Barbie outfit

    Dressing Beyoncé: It started with a Barbie outfit

    Artist Osman Yousefzada grew up in Birmingham, England in the 1980s after his parents moved to the UK from Pakistan. They were both illiterate, and while his father worked as a carpenter, Osman spent much of his time watching his mother make clothes to earn money. By the time he was seven years old, he had made his first doll's dress and enjoyed getting involved with his mum's business; choosing trims and patterns for her designs, and advising her clients - many of whom were also from their Muslim community - on shoes and accessories. It was a childhood passion that would later see him launch a successful career; a clothing label influenced by his culture, and worn by celebrities and royalty alike. But, as Osman discovered, the glamorous world of fashion did not bring satisfaction; it was only by turning his attention to the world of art, where he could reflect on his heritage, that he would find the meaning he craved. His book is called The Go-Between.
    Get in touch: outlook@bbc.com
    Presenter: Anu Anand
    Producer: Katy Takatsuki
    (Photo: Osman Yousefzada poses with models during London Fashion Week 2020. Credit: David M. Benett/Getty Images)

    • 34 min

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