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The best of BBC Radio 3's flagship arts and ideas programme Free Thinking - featuring in-depth interviews with artists, scientists and public figures, vociferous debates, and reviews of the latest cultural events. Free Thinking is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Tues – Thurs 10pm

The best of BBC Radio 3's flagship arts and ideas programme Free Thinking - featuring in-depth interviews with artists, scientists and public figures, vociferous debates, and reviews of the latest cultural events. Free Thinking is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Tues – Thurs 10pm
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The best of BBC Radio 3's flagship arts and ideas programme Free Thinking - featuring in-depth interviews with artists, scientists and public figures, vociferous debates, and reviews of the latest cultural events. Free Thinking is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Tues – Thurs 10pm




The joy of sewing, poet Fatimah Asghar, Painting in miniature

Shahidha Bari talks poetry and the web series Brown Girls, plus the history of sewing.


Patti LuPone

How loud should you be? Italian American performer Patti LuPone talks to Philip Dodd about why she doesn’t consider herself an American, her politics, unsuccessful auditions, backbiting, corporate entertainment, #Me Too. Her career has taken her from a Broadway debut in a Chekhov play in 1973 to performances in the original productions of plays by David Mamet and musicals including Evita on Broadway and Les Misérables and Sunset Boulevard in London’s West End. She won a Tony award for her...


Scented gloves and gossip: civility and news in the Renaissance

Shahidha Bari discusses new research on the the ins and outs of Renaissance culture: John Gallagher on civility, Emily Butterworth on news and gossip, Lauren Working on material culture, Sarah Knight and Hannah Crawforth on 'difficultness'. This podcast is made with the assistance of the AHRC - the Arts and Humanities Research Council which funds research at universities and museums, galleries and archives across the UK into the arts and humanities and works in partnership with BBC Radio 3...



Poet Andrew McMillan, philosopher and psychologist Laura Mucha, poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw & writer Elanor Dymott explores who and why we love. Presented by Anne McElvoy. Laura Mucha has written Love Factually: the science of who, how and why we love Andrew McMillan's new book of poetry is called Playtime Lavinia Greenlaw's novel In the City of Love's Sleep is out in paperback and her new book of poetry is called The Built Moment Elanor Dymott's latest novel Slacktide is out now. It...


Africa Babel China

West Africa has a fundamental place in the shaping of the modern world and its story is told in a new history by Toby Green. He joins Rana Mitter in the Free Thinking studio alongside Xue Xinran who explores China's recent history through the lives and relationships of one family and Dennis Duncan of the Bodleian Library muses on why the English needed English dictionaries and the desirability of a universal language. A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave trrade to the...


Spike Lee

The film-maker Spike Lee talks to Matthew Sweet about black power and prejudice, the politics of blackface, and the Oscars as his film BlacKkKlansman is nominated for six Academy Awards. Since 1983, his production company has produced over 35 films. His first film in 1986 was a comedy drama She's Gotta Have It filmed in black and white which he turned into a Netflix drama in 2017. In 1989 Do The Right Thing was nominated for Best Original Screenplay in the Academy Awards. Best Picture that...


Self Knowledge, Global Catastrophe and Simulated Worlds

Self-knowledge, intellectual vices & conspiracy theories are debated by Professor Quassim Cassam and presenter Matthew Sweet. Plus New Generation Thinker Simon Beard discusses an exhibition of artwork commissioned by the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. And a re-release of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1973 sci-fi TV series Wire World on a Wire takes us into cybernetics and artificial life. Quassim Cassam's new book is called Vices of the Mind. Ground Zero Earth curated by...


Encylopedias and Knowledge: from Diderot to Wikipedia.

Jimmy Wales talks Diderot & collecting knowledge + Tariq Goddard on Mark Fisher aka k-punk. The French writer Diderot was thrown into prison in 1749 for his atheism, worked on ideas of democracy at the Russian court of Catherine the Great and collaborated on the creation of the first Encyclopédie. Biographer Andrew S. Curran and Jenny Mander look at Diderot's approach to editing the first encyclopedia. Plus writer and publisher Tariq Goddard on the work and legacy of his collaborator and...


Street Culture, Protests, Food.

Gilet jaune and novelist Edouard Louis, food expert Fabio Parasecoli, journalist, Gavin Mortimer and the historians Jerry White & Joanna Marchant with Philip Dodd. Whether it’s Berlin, Moscow or the Paris of the gilet jaunes - streets play a vital role in our history and culture. They're focal points of celebration and of protest ; they're gathering places for the young and old; places for a promenade or for fânerie; they're where the homeless build makeshift shelters and where musicians...


Sea Goings

Conceptual artist Katie Paterson on art which produces candles scented with planetary odours – one of Saturn's moons has a hint of cherry…and how she and co-exhibitor the Romantic painter JMW Turner share an interest in the precise nature of moon light. Writers Julia Blackburn and Charlotte Runcie on the gaze of the beachcomber and searching for lost worlds along the tideline and Cutty Sark curator Hannah Stockton explains why the story of the famous tea cutter is one of survival. A place...


Slavoj Zizek, Camille Paglia, Flemming Rose

Can causing offence be a good thing? Philip Dodd explores this question with the Slovenian philosopher, the American author and the Danish journalist. On the 15th February 1989 the Ayatollah Komeni issued a fatwah following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses. Flemming Rose is the man who published the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed and ignited international controversy. Slavoj Zizek has been called the most dangerous philosopher in the West; and Camille...


Art & Refugees from Nazi Germany.

Following this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day, Anne McElvoy looks at new writing which reflects on this history and at a festival marking the impact on British culture of refugees and artists who fled from the Nazis. Ed Williams from leading marketing firm Edelman sifts through the fall-out from Davos. Martin Goodman's novel J SS Bach is published in March 2019. Daniel Snowman's books include The Hitler Emigrés: The Cultural Impact on Britain of Refugees from Nazism. Monica Bohm-Duchen has...



Kate Maltby, Lucy Powell, Zoe Strimpel join Shahidha Bari. Virtue Rewarded is the subtitle of Samuel Richardson's 1740 novel Pamela, which began as a conduct book before he turned it into the new literary form of the novel. Playwright Martin Crimp has taken this book as the inspiration for his latest work When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other. Shahidha Bari & guests debate consent then and now + news of the £40,000 Artes Mundi 8 Prize which is awarded tonight in Cardiff. The Artes...


Slow Looking at Art

As new shows featuring the Post-impressionist, Pierre Bonnard and the video artist, Bill Viola, open in London, Laurence Scott and his guests discuss the way we experience art from the current vogue for slow looking to the 30 second appraisal scientists say is the norm for most gallery goers. How do small details reshape our understanding of paintings? What about looking more than once? Does digital art require more or less concentration ? Kelly Grovier's book A New Way of Seeing: The...


Oscars 2019

Matthew Sweet and critics Catherine Bray and Ryan Gilbey look at films making waves as the Academy announces this year's nominations. Writer Jan Asante and cultural theorist Bill Schwarz assess James Baldwin's legacy in the light of the film adaptation of his novel If Only Beale Street Could Talk. Language historian John Gallagher gets to grips with the dialogue in period dramas including The Favourite and Mary Queen of Scots. Producer: Torquil MacLeod



Do our heroes and heroines have to be perfect? How do religious ikons link to iconoclasm and the labelling of film idols & politicians "icons of our time". Matthew Sweet is joined by film historian Pamela Hutchinson, bioethicist Tom Shakespeare, historian Julia Lovell and psychotherapist Mark Vernon. Julia Lovell’s book Maoism a Global History is out soon Mark Vernon’s book A Secret History of Christianity is out soon. For more information about the BBC TV series of programmes profiling...


Tourism past and present

The must see sights on the Grand Tour, in Cold War Moscow & tourist hot spots now. Rana Mitter is joined by Roey Sweet, Sarah Goldsmith, Nick Barnett, Cindy Yu and Simon Calder. Producer: Torquil MacLeod.



Novelist John Lanchester, journalist Tim Marshall and historians David Frye and Kylie Murray join Anne McElvoy to discuss why we build walls rather than bridges and what it says about civilisations past, present and future from Persia to Berlin, the USA to a dystopian vision. John Lanchester's latest novel is called The Wall. David Frye has written Walls: A History of Civilisation in Blood and Brick is out now Tim Marshall's book Divided: Why We're living in an Age of Walls is out now...



Shahidha Bari, Josh Cohen, Madeleine Bunting, Lisa Baraitser, Rachel Long, and Sam Goodman explore the value of doing nothing and our wider experience of time. Josh Cohen is the author of Not Working: Why We Have to Stop. Lisa Baraitser is Professor of Psychosocial Theory at Birkbeck, University of London and co-creator of Waiting Times, a research project on waiting in healthcare Madeleine Bunting is a novelist and writer Rachel Long is a poet New...


Free Thinking: Born in 1819: Ruskin, Clough and Bazalgette

The social campaigning, engineering and writing of three Victorians - art critic and philanthropist John Ruskin, poet and assistant to Florence Nightingale Arthur Hugh Clough and the builder of London's sewer system Joseph Bazalgette. Greg Tate, Suzanne Fagence Cooper , Stephen Halliday and Kevin Jackson join Laurence Scott to debate the way these 3 Victorians changed the way we look at the world and shaped our understanding of the Victorians. Producer: Zahid Warley