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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




Childhood faces and fears

A history of orphans in Britain, fears about post war brainwashing, childrens' letters to C19 newspapers and portraits on show at Compton Verney. Anne McElvoy presents. New Generation Thinker and historian Emma Butcher is researching writing from children about the trauma of war. She visits Compton Verney. Jeremy Seabrook is researching the treatment of orphans from the 17th century onwards. Historian Sian Pooley reveals what children were writing to local papers about in the late 19th...



Authors Max Porter, Samantha Harvey and Alisdair Benjamin discuss empathy and the role it plays in writing and reading. How does it work? Is it the same in fiction and non-fiction? And how is it faring in a world where data sometimes seems to have replaced feeling. Chris Harding talks to all three about their latest books, Lanny, Let Me Not be Mad and the Western Wind in his search for answers. Let Me Not Be Mad by the neuropsychologist AK Benjamin is out now. Max Porter's second novel is...


George Szirtes, Valeria Luiselli, Jhumpa Lahiri

Valeria Luiselli talks to Laurence Scott about the desert border between Mexico and USA & capturing the sound, history and contemporary politics in her novel Lost Children Archive. The poet George Szirtes' first prose work brings his Hungarian mother superbly to life and works backwards through the years to explore the truth of being alive in the world. And Pulitzer-prize-winning short story writer Jhumpa Lahiri on her new anthology of stories from Italy, and why the Italian language...


Partition, colonial power and the voices of C16th women

Artist Hew Locke and historians Suzannah Lipscomb, Aanchal Malhotra & Anindya Raychaudhuri talk to Rana Mitter about using objects and archives to create new images of the past, from Guyana to India and Pakistan to women in C16th France. Suzannah Lipscomb's book The Voices of Nîmes: Women, Sex, and Marriage in Reformation Languedoc uses the evidence of 1,200 cases brought before the consistories – or moral courts – of the Huguenot church of Languedoc between 1561 and 1615 to summon up the...


The Council Estate in Culture

Painter George Shaw, crime writer Dreda Say Mitchell and drama expert Katie Beswick join Matthew Sweet to look at depictions of estate living - from the writing of Andrea Dunbar to SLICK on Sheffield's Park Hill estate to the images of the Tile Hill estate in Coventry where George Shaw grew up, which he creates using Humbrol enamel - the kind of paint used for Airfix kits. Plus a view of the French banlieue from artist Kader Attia. George Shaw: A Corner of a Foreign Field is at the Holburne...


Women, relationships and the law past and present

Lying about a sexual attack, resisting parental pressures to marry, using the law to fight for inheritance and divorce. Shahidha Bari talks to the fiction writers Ayelet Gundar-Goshen and Layla AlAmmar about their new books which depict girls who feel they need to conceal truths about sexual encounters. Historian Jennifer Aston looks at examples of nineteenth century British women fighting for divorce. Jessica Malay researches the Countess of Pembroke, Lady Anne Clifford (1590-1676) The Pact...


The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

How self-revealing and frank should a writer be? Lara Feigel, David Aaronovitch, Melissa Benn and Xiaolu Guo join Matthew Sweet to look at the life of Doris Lessing and her 1962 novel in which she explores difficult love, life, war, politics and dreams. Inspired by her re-reading of Doris Lessing, Lara Feigel has written a revealing book which is part memoir part biography called "Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing". It is out in paperback. Melissa Benn's books include Mother and...


David Bailey, Don McCullin

The photographers, David Bailey and Don McCullin, came to prominence in the 1960s but their pictures did more than define a decade. Don McCullin's work in Vietnam, Biafra, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and the Middle East have come to epitomise what we mean by war photography and David Bailey's portraits of Jean Shrimpton, Mick Jagger and Catherine Deneuve established a new idiom for glamour. Yet fame has tended to obscure the full range of both men's work. Bailey, for example, has produced a...


Is British Culture Getting Wierder?

Gazelle Twin (Elizabeth Bernholz), Julia Bardsley, Hannah Catherine Jones, Luke Turner & William Fowler join Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough and an audience at Café OTO at the Late Junction Festival for a debate about trends within British culture. Gazelle Twin (Elizabeth Bernholz) is a British composer, producer and musician Julia Bardsley,is a performer and lecturer Hannah Catherine Jones is a multi-instrumentalist and founder of Peckham Chamber Orchestra Luke Turner is co-founder and editor...


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

Shahidha Bari talks to Fatimah Asghar about poetry and the Emmy nominated web series Brown Girls. We have a look at the miniatures of Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver – court painters to Queen Elizabeth and James the first who both feature in an exhibition which invites visitors to pick up a magnifying glass to inspect every detail of their jewel-like images. Plus the popular history of sewing with Clare Hunter. She is also joined by historians Christina Faraday, who studies art in Tudor...


Skeuomorphs, Design and Modern Craft

Laurence Scott, Will Self and New Generation Thinkers Lisa Mullen and Danielle Thom look at redundant features in design plus a visit to Collect: International Art Fair for Modern Craft and Design, presented at the Crafts Council, at the Saatchi Gallery in London. And, we discuss the 19th century French novelist Karl-Joris Huysmans as art critic, with Huysmans scholar and translator Brendan King. Collect, The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects is on at the Saatchi Gallery in...


Jack the Ripper and women as victims

Historian Hallie Rubenhold reveals the previously untold stories of the five women killed by the Ripper and challenges the myths that have grown up around the Whitechapel Murders of 1888.


Images of Japan

Fumio Obata and Jocelyne Allen discuss graphic art and manga.


Authority in the Era of Populism

What is required of a good leader in an age of disruption? Jamie Bartlett, Professor Mary Kaldor, Dame Louise Casey, Dame Heather Rabbatts, Rupert Reid debate at the London School of Economics. Anne McElvoy chairs. Jamie Bartlett is writer and technology industry analyst at the think tank Demos. Mary Kaldor is Professor of Global Governance at LSE. Louise Casey is former head of the Respect Task Force, the UK’s first Victims’ Commissioner, director general of Troubled Families. Heather...


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...