300 episodes

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

Arts & Ideas BBC

    • Places & Travel

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

    The Radiophonic Workshop

    The Radiophonic Workshop

    The BBC Radiophonic workshop was founded in 1958 by Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Oram. This group of experimental composers, sound engineers and musical innovators provided music for programmes including The Body in Question, Horizon, Quatermass, Newsround, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chronicle and Delia Derbyshire's iconic Doctor Who Theme before being shut down by Director General John Birt in 1998. Tying into the 2020 celebration of classic Prom concerts, this episode of Free Thinking is being rebroadcast

    It was recorded in 2014, as the Workshop prepared to release an album, and tour the UK, Matthew Sweet brought together Radiophonic Workshop members Dick Mills, Paddy Kingsland, Roger Limb, Peter Howell, and Mark Ayres to reflect on the days and nights they spent in the workshop, coaxing ageing machines into otherworldly life, and pioneering electronic music. Also in the programme, producer and former drummer with The Prodigy Kieron Pepper, Oscar winning Gravity composer Steven Price, Vile Electrodes, and Matt Hodson, on the influence the Radiophonic Workshop had on them.

    Producer: Laura Thomas

    • 43 min
    Greek classics and the sea plus a pair of novels byTolstoy and Dostoevsky

    Greek classics and the sea plus a pair of novels byTolstoy and Dostoevsky

    Classicists Edith Hall and Barry Cunliffe explore the importance of the sea in the classical world in a discussion hosted by Rana Mitter. Pat Barker and Giles Fraser look at Tolstoy's War and Peace and Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and the depiction of faith in those novels with presenter Ian McMillan.

    The Ancient Greeks often preferred to take sea journeys rather than risk encounters with brigands and travelling through mountain passes inland and colonised all round the Black Sea and Mediterranean. In the writings of Xenophon and Homer, Greek heroes show skills at navigating and fighting on sea and the sea shore is a place people go to think.

    Sir Barry Cunliffe is Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford and the author of books including Facing the Ocean - the Atlantic and its peoples; Europe Between the Oceans; By Steppe, Desert and Ocean - the Birth of Eurasia.
    Edith Hall is Professor in the Department of Classics and Centre for Hellenic Studies at King's College, London. Her books include Introducing The Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind; Aristotle's Way - How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Mind; A People's History of Classics.
    You can find her discussing her campaign for schools across the UK to teach classics in a Free Thinking discussion called Rethinking the Curriculum https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08hq0ht

    Pat Barker is the author of novels including her Regeneration Trilogy, Life Class, The Silence of the Girls and Noonday.
    Giles Fraser is an English Anglican priest, journalist and broadcaster.

    • 41 min
    Wole Soyinka's writing

    Wole Soyinka's writing

    Novelist Ben Okri, playwright Oladipo Agboluaje and academic Louisa Egbunike join Matthew Sweet to look at the influential writing of Nigerian playwright and author Wole Soyinka - and specifically at his play 1975 Death and the King's Horseman. In 1986 he became the first African author to be given the Nobel Prize in Literature. He has worked teaching at many universities in the USA, and began playwriting after studying at University College Ibadan, and then at Leeds University and working as a play reader for the Royal Court Theatre.

    You can find a playlist of discussions devoted to Landmarks of Culture on the Free Thinking programme website https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01jwn44
    A BBC TV documentary about the African novel presented by David Olusoga is screening in August.

    Extract from Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka features Danny Sapani as Elesin. Produced by Pauline Harris for the BBC. First broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 13th July 2014

    Producer: Torquil MacLeod

    • 45 min
    Bernard-Henri Lévy, Stella Sandford, Homi K Bhabha

    Bernard-Henri Lévy, Stella Sandford, Homi K Bhabha

    The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy has written a philosophical take on the current pandemic and what it tells us about society. He talks with Stella Sandford, Director of the Society for European Philosophy in the UK and author of How to Read Beauvoir, whose own research looks at sex, race and feminism, and with Homi Bhabha, the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. The Virus in the Age of Madness by Bernard-Henri Lévy is out now. You can find a philosophy playlist on the Free Thinking programme website featuring discussions including panpsychism, Boethius, Isaiah Berlin, the quartet of C20th British women philosophers https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07x0twx You can also find Prof Homi K Bhabha giving a lecture on memory and migration recorded in partnership with the Royal Society of Literature https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0005gt9 Producer: Ruth Watts

    • 45 min
    Anne Applebaum, Ingrid Bergman, Herland

    Anne Applebaum, Ingrid Bergman, Herland

    Anne Applebaum's new book The Twilight of Democracy has the subtitle The failure of democracy and the parting of friends. She talks to Anne McElvoy about what happened when she tried to connect up with past friends whose politics are now different to her own. The American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman is most famous now for her short story The Yellow Wallpaper. Will Abberley tells us about her view of fashion and why women should not seek to stand out because a focus on their appearance was counterproductive to them gaining more public power. Gilman conjured a female utopia in her 1915 book Herland. And 2020 New Generation Thinker Sophie Oliver from the University of Liverpool writes us a postcard about the actress Ingrid Bergman and the way she and her would-be biographer Bessie Breuer tried to carve out a different public image for a female star in a novel Breuer published in 1957 called The Actress.

    Will Abberley's book is called Mimicry and Display in Victorian Literary Culture
    You might be interested in the Essay Series Women Writers to Put Back on the Bookshelf which looked at Yolande Mukagasana, Storm Jameson, Margaret Oliphant, Lady Mary Wroth and Charlotte Smith
    and this Essay about another feminist utopia in the writing of Sarah Scott https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b7hrw4

    You can find previous Free Thinking conversations with Anne Applebaum to download as Arts & Ideas podcasts on Marxism https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b0x6m0
    and Russian Nationalism https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b094f9p0

    Producer: Ruth Watts

    • 45 min
    Dada and the power of Nonsense

    Dada and the power of Nonsense

    Subversion in art and writing and a project to re-imagine Dada. Curator Jade French, artist Jade Montserrat, writer Lottie Whalen and 2020 New Generation Thinker Noreen Masud are in conversation with Shahidha Bari.

    You can find more about today's guests and their research at https://jademontserrat.com/

    New Generation Thinkers is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select ten academics each year to use their research to make radio.

    In the Free Thinking archives you can find a playlist featuring artist interviews and discussions https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p026wnjl
    Radio 3 broadcast a ten part series looking at the life of Arthur Cravan called The Escape Artist https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000djhy

    Producer: Robyn Read

    • 45 min

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