The castaway this week is James Burke, whose broadcasting style has been described as "turning science into show-biz". But, paradoxically, he admits to being immensely impractical and reveals to Michael Parkinson, while choosing his eight records to take to the island, that he at one time planned to make music his career.
Physicist Brian Cox guides satirist Chris Morris around the Large Hadron Collider.
Much loved playwright, diarist, screenwriter, essayist and short-story author, Alan Bennett has beguiled audiences for more than 50 years since he first became an unlikely comedy star in Beyond the Fringe. His latest volume of diaries, Keeping On Keeping On, covers 10 years from 2005-2015 – a decade in which he premiered four shows at the National Theatre, published a bestselling novella and released film adaptations of The History Boys and The Lady in the Van.
When Bennett came to the West Yorkshire Playhouse to talk to Charlotte Higgins at a Guardian Live event, he read from Keeping On Keeping On, chronicling the indignities of receiving treatment for cancer. He also discussed how he often takes his inspiration from moments recorded in his diaries, and why Brexit and Boris Johnson have made him bare his political teeth again.
Alan Bennett reads his diary for 2016, from the London Review of Books podcast.
HG Wells was so involved in establishing sociology in this country that he wrote to Prime Minister Balfour to ask for a special endowment so he could give up on his novels. His emphasis was on utopias, he felt that social science could only progress if an ideal version of society was created with which to compare our own. He lost his battle but the sociologist Ruth Levitas tells Laurie that sociology has become boring and that Wells was right!
Also, some everyday things - keys, combs, glasses - have the ability to enchant or absorb. Laurie Taylor talks to Steven Connor and Michael Bywater about how paraphernalia can have an almost magical power.
Gun control is a policy that fiercely divides nations – on the one hand there are the countries that enshrine the use of guns - while a host of others seek to eliminate them from society.
One country that has dramatically reduced gun violence is Japan. It has one of the world’s lowest homicide rates to the extent that shooting deaths per year are in the single digits.
These are the results of a rigorous gun control policy. Citizens cannot even hold guns in their hands without meeting strict protocols. These include all day classes, written exams, shooting range tests and military style background checks to ensure they have no affiliation with extremist groups. But the biggest factor of all is the decision for all police forces to abandon guns. Instead – they rely heavily on martial arts to combat criminals. However, Japan’s achievements may be under threat. A key element to the success of this policy is the pacifist culture that has shaped the country since World War Two. Now current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to increase militarisation to counter-terrorism.
Fi Glover, professor Henrietta Moore and Martha Lane Fox – together with Iain Overton, the Executive Director of Action on Armed Violence – question whether these laws could work in countries across the world and whether increasing militarisation across the world poses a threat to gun laws.
Stephen Sackur talks to Brian Eno, the hugely influential contemporary music maker once styled the ‘brainiest guy in pop’ – except the word ‘pop’ does not really fit. Briefly a member of Roxy Music in the early ’70s, he then went his own way, creating ambient music, developing audio-visual installations and collaborating with a host of big names including Bowie, U2 and Coldplay. His output has been prolific and varied, but what is he? A musician, a composer, or an artist impossible to label?
The Orwell Lecture was established by Professor Sir Bernard Crick – founder of the Orwell Prize – and has been held annually since 1989. Originally held at Birkbeck, University of London and the University of Sheffield, the Lecture is now held at UCL each autumn.
Ian Hislop is a writer, editor and broadcaster. He was educated at Ardingly College and Magdalen College, Oxford. He has been editor of Private Eye since 1986. He is probably best known for his role as a regular team captain on the BBC show Have I Got News for You.
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of the idea of Sovereignty, the authority of a state to govern itself and the relationship between the sovereign and the people. These ideas of external and internal sovereignty were imagined in various ways in ancient Greece and Rome, and given a name in 16th Century France by the philosopher and jurist Jean Bodin in his Six Books of the Commonwealth, where he said (in an early English translation) ‘Maiestie or Soveraigntie is the most high, absolute, and perpetuall power over the citisens and subiects in a Commonweale: which the Latins cal Maiestatem, the Greeks akra exousia, kurion arche, and kurion politeuma; the Italians Segnoria, and the Hebrewes tomech shévet, that is to say, The greatest power to command.’ Shakespeare also explored the concept through Richard II and the king’s two bodies, Hobbes developed it in the 17th Century, and the idea of popular sovereignty was tested in the Revolutionary era in America and France.
The Missing Hancocks are five episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour either missing or lost from the archive which BBC Radio 4 have remade to celebrate the show’s 60th anniversary.
In this "directors’ commentary" Andy Hamilton introduces the first episode of the series, The Matador. Andy stops the action as he talks to co-producer Neil Pearson and - the actor charged with playing the lad ‘imself - Kevin McNally about the challenges, and joys, of recreating a 1950s sitcom in 2014.
The conversation takes in the casting, production and even the music of the show, as well as what got changed in these new recordings.
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