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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




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.



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


Landmark: Laurel and Hardy's The Music Box

Lucy Porter, Neil Brand and David Quantick join Matthew Sweet to talk about Cric e Croc or Flip i Flap or even Dick und Doof though, if you're not Italian, Polish or German, it's far more likely that Hollywood's most famous comedy duo will be known to you simply as Stan and Ollie. Laurel and Hardy to give them their more formal title won the hearts of cinema goers all over the world in the '30s and '40s with films such as Way out West, Sons of the Desert and The Music Box, the sublime short...


The Digital Humanities

What’s the connection between Jane Austen’s particular choice of words in an afternoon in 1812, the oldest manuscript of Beowulf, fake news in 17th century England, and high definition digital photography? Laurence Scott talks to Kathryn Sutherland of St Anne’s College, Oxford, Noah Millstone of the University of Birmingham, and Andrew Prescott of the University of Glasgow about new possibilities for research opened up by digital technology. Producer: Luke Mulhall


Landmark: Watership Down

An ecological fable about a perfect society which terrified children when it was first animated. Matthew Sweet reads Richard Adams' classic as a new version arrives on UK TV screens. He's joined by Dr Diana Bell, conservation biologist at UEA; Victoria Dickenson, author of Rabbit, a cultural history of rabbits; Brian Sibley, adaptor of the novel for a radio version and New Generation Thinker Lisa Mullen to debate rabbits both real and fictional. First published in 1972, Adams' novel follows...


What does game playing teach us?

University Challenge star Bobby Seagull, writer and critic Jordan Erica Webber, games consultant and researcher Dr Laura Mitchell, and British Museum curator Irving Finkel join Shahidha Bari and others in the Free Thinking studio to get out the playing cards and the board games and consider the value of play, competitiveness and game theory. Bobby Seagull has published The Life-Changing Magic of Numbers. Irving Finkel has written Ancient Board Games, the Lewis Chessmen, Cuneiform, The...


Trees of Knowledge

Why Are We Here? What is a sentient being? These are questions we don't normally explore using plants but perhaps we should. Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough hears how identifying more closely with living beings who produce our oxygen and store the Sun's energy is a good way of navigating existential angst and have much to teach us about co-operation and mutual support and the unifying principles of life. Peter Wohlleben The Hidden Life of Trees: The Illustrated Edition is out now Emanuele...



Anne McElvoy wraps up warm for an account of life in Antarctica through prose and poetry, how the idea of the North Pole has fired the human imagination for centuries and an artist's interpretation of the Arctic through sound. Also how the spectacular stage effects that thrill panto audiences have their roots in the 17th century and the court of James I and VI - New Generation Thinker Thomas Charlton looks at theatre history. North Pole by Michael Bravo is published on 14th December. Ice...


Linton Kwesi Johnson

"My generation, which was the rebel generation of black youth, has changed England and in changing England we've changed ourselves" - the words of Linton Kwesi Johnson - the man who invented dub poetry and used it to chronicle some of the key events of black British history, from the celebrated case of George Lindo, wrongly accused of robbery in Bradford in 1978, to the New Cross Fire and Brixton riots a few years later. Philip Dodd talks to him about the roots of his poetry, his love of...


Writing and Frankness

Deborah Levy, Adam Phillips and Amia Srinivasan join Matthew Sweet at the British Library for a Royal Society of Literature debate. Why do we read? Why do we write? What do we reveal when we do? A writer, a psychotherapist and a philosopher discuss what we reveal about ourselves through literature and the difference, if any, between non-fiction, novels and the psychotherapist’s couch. Deborah Levy is a playwright, novelist and poet. In her ‘living autobiography’ The Cost of Living, she...


Are we being manipulated?

Who's pulling your strings - from advertisers and peer pressure to political campaigns and self-deception - hidden persuaders are everywhere. Journalist Poppy Noor, historian Sarah Marks, psychologist and magician, Gustav Kuhn, the philosopher, Quassim Cassam and Robert Colvile from the Centre for Policy Studies join Matthew Sweet to track them down. We're all confident that we know our own minds -- but do we? And if we don't, why not? Producer: Zahid Warley Quassim Cassam is professor of...


Is there a great divide between the arts and science?

Geneticist Sir Paul Nurse, current director of the Francis Crick Institute, and Tristram Hunt, historian and now director of the V&A, debate the impact of robots, the winners and losers in funding, whether our education system has the balance right between STEM and Arts subjects and they reveal their own arts and science hits and misses. Recorded before an audience at Queen Mary University London, the presenter is Shahidha Bari. Nearly 60 years on from C.P. Snow's 'Two Cultures' lecture in...


Natasha Gordon. Bessie Head. Rwanda Representation and Reality

As her award-winning debut play, Nine Night, comes to London's West End, Natasha Gordon tells Anne about the grieving ritual that binds in the Jamaican diaspora. Nine Night at Trafalgar Studios, London, until February 23rd On the 50th anniversary of the publication of Bessie Head's first novel, two of her titles, When Rain Clouds Gather (1969) and Maru (1971), have just been republished. Head's influence and creativity are discussed by journalist Audrey Brown and literary scholar Louisa...


Bessie Head. Rwanda Representation and Reality

Anne McElvoy looks at the career of Bessie Head, the celebrated Botswanan novelist; two of her titles, When Rain Clouds Gather (1969) and Maru (1971), have just been republished. Head's influence and creativity are discussed by journalist Audrey Brown and literary scholar Louisa Uchum Egbunike. Black Earth Rising, Hugo Blick's serial on the Rwandan Genocide and the fraught and fractured nature of justice, is one of the dramas of the year. Zoe Norridge explores the drama's reception within...


Mike Hodges; Dark Sweden.

The director of the 1971 film Get Carter, which starred Michael Caine, has now written his own crime novellas. Mike Hodges talks to Matthew Sweet. If Nordic Noir has reshaped an image of Sweden away from Abba into a society showing cracks - journalist Kajsa Norman has been tracking stories such as the cover-up of assaults on teenage girls at music festivals in 2015. She's called her book Sweden's Dark Soul: The Unravelling of a Utopia. Mike Hodges' trio of novellas is called Bait, Grist and...


Slavery Stories

A long lost classic by William Melvin Kelley, who coined the term "woke" back in 1962 in a New York Times article, Esi Edugyan's Booker shortlisted novel, and new research on slavery with historians Christienna Fryar, Kevin Waite, and Andrea Livesey. Laurence Scott presents. A Different Drummer was the debut novel of Kelley - first published when he was 24. Compared to William Faulkner and James Baldwin, it was forgotten until an article about it earlier this year. Kelley died aged 79 in...


Plagues, Urban Inequality and Restricted Books

Should we worry about the world getting healthier? Thomas Bollyky thinks we should. Jane Stevens Crawshaw looks at cleanliness and disease in Renaissance cities & Penny Woolcock films Oxford and LA. Rana Mitter presents. For the first time in recorded history, parasites, viruses, bacteria, and other infectious diseases are not the leading cause of death and disability in any region of the world but that doesn't mean our cities are healthier and more prosperous. Jane Steven Crawshaw from...


Leadership: lessons from US Presidents and campaigners.

Doris Kearns Goodwin on POTUS, crisis management and ambition - from Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt through FDR and LBJ to Donald Trump. Novelist Georgina Harding and Philip Woods compare notes on the impact of the war in Burma and depictions in fiction, war reporting and memoirs. New Generation Thinker Louisa Egbunike looks at the campaigning of Obi Egbuna the Nigerian-born novelist (1938- 2014), playwright and political activist who led the United Coloured People's Association. Anne...


The Left Behind

Eric Kaufmann talks to Philip Dodd about white identity, immigration and populism. Plus Hungarian politics with cultural historian, Krisztina Robert, journalist, Matyas Sarkozi and Zsuzsa Szelenyi of the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna. Eric Kaufmann's book is called Whiteshift: populism, immigration and the future of White majorities. Krisztina Robert teaches at the University of Roehampton Producer: Zahid Warley