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The Bottom Line


Evan Davis hosts the business conversation show with people at the top giving insight into what matters

Evan Davis hosts the business conversation show with people at the top giving insight into what matters


United Kingdom




Evan Davis hosts the business conversation show with people at the top giving insight into what matters




Net Zero in the house

What are the business opportunities in turning our old housing stock green? The UK has some of the least energy-efficient housing in Europe – most of it built before environmentally efficient design was regulated. It’s estimated around a quarter of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy we use for heating, lighting or running appliances in our homes, public buildings or workplaces – and energy used in our homes is the most significant source. How soon can heat pumps,...


The Covid Hangover

What are the long-term implications for the Covid crisis for the British economy. The government has borrowed more money over the last 12 months than ever before in peacetime. The ratio of public debt to national income is above 90%. If it rises even further do we need to worry? How will the chancellor manage the economic pain caused by coronavirus? What will it mean for tax and spending - and is there a route back to growth? Evan Davis and guests discuss. GUESTS John Kay, economist, author,...


Return to Brexit

Almost five years ago on The Bottom Line - just before the EU referendum – debated the pros and cons of being in the EU. In a tribute to Radio 4’s The Reunion, the programme has reassembled most of the original contributors to get a sense of whether hopes and fears have been delivered. From current customs glitches, aspirations to increase UK global exports, to Brussels red tape versus ease of trading in a European Single Market. What do guests think now? Joining Evan Davis will be: Jon...



From the NHS Test and Trace Service to the lack of PPE at the start of the pandemic - both projects branded as having been incompetently delivered. But do we fail to notice the constraints their senior leadership team operate under? Evan Davis and expert guests discuss why some big public projects like the London 2012 Games went well. While others, like Crossrail, get bogged down in delays and a budget overspend. Just how is competence measured and delivered? Guests: Sir John Armitt, Chair...


Sector Shutdown

How are industries like live music, travel, conferences and events coping with the pandemic recession - and what plans do they have for survival? These business sectors have been hit disproportionately hard by the dramatic changes in our ways of life. In a programme recorded before the recent announcement of an apparently successful vaccine trial, Evan Davis discusses with business leaders from across these industries. Producer: Julie Ball GUESTS Tim Hawkins, Chief Strategy Officer,...


Commercial Property Wars

Commercial landlords and tenants are at odds over unpaid rents due to the pandemic. Many retail, hospitality and leisure businesses are suffering acutely. Most have landlords who collect rent for their premises. In turn, many landlords have to pay interest on their loans to the banks. The pandemic is upsetting that delicate financial balance. It's estimated that billions of pounds is owed to landlords in unpaid rents. Threats of legal action against tenants are hitting the headlines. Just...


Bolton Business

How has the pandemic affected commerce in one English town? Bolton's economy has been struck particularly hard by this pandemic. Not only was it subjected to the national lockdown, but it subsequently became a hotspot, under even tighter restrictions. With a town centre that was already in decline, how has this crisis affected local businesses and what does the future hold for the town? Evan Davis and guests discuss. GUESTS Jonathan Warburton, Chairman, Warburtons Joseph Carr, Managing...


COVID-19 and the gig economy

Is the pandemic a spur to a world of temps and zero hour contracts? Hundreds of thousands of people have been losing their jobs during the crisis. Many are turning to the gig economy to boost their income. Should we welcome the acceleration of the move away from conventional employment? Evan Davis and guests discuss the pros and cons of the expanding gig economy. Guests Xenios Thrasyvoulou, CEO of People Per Hour Lorna Davidson, CEO of Red Wigwam Matthew Taylor, CEO of the Royal Society of...



In modern business it's impossible not to be worried about a cyber attack of some form. But how do you lower your chances of attack and what do you do if someone manages to get in your system and data? Evan Davis and guests discuss. GUESTS Sian John, director, EMEA, cyber security strategy, Microsoft UK Geoff White, author, 'Crime Dot Com' and investigative technology journalist Jake Davis, consultant, Hacker Culture National Centre for Cybersecurity - Cyber Essentials advice for businesses...


The economy - winter is coming

The second pandemic wave means UK businesses have to live with uncertainty for at least another six months. Those economic green shoots and the summer of 'eat out to help out ' seem a while back. So what are the implications for jobs and overall business viability in this climate? Difficult conversations are going on in boardrooms across the country. Evan Davis with expert guests reflect on the choices businesses face in these extraordinary times. Guests Nobel economist, Professor Joseph...


WPP boss Karen Blackett on obstacles to diversity in the workplace

WPP boss Karen Blackett talks to Evan Davis about building a racially diverse business.


How to build a racially diverse business

The Black Lives Matter protests have prompted boardroom soul-searching about how to engage a more racially diverse workforce. Good intentions have been around for decades and have encouraged much talk about removing biases from mainly white corporate cultures. But this has still not led to the change people want. Hardly any large UK firms have black, Asian or minority ethnic chief executives. Evan Davis and guests explore the practical solutions to achieving racial equality at work and the...


Transport after the pandemic

Has staying at home during lockdown made us think more about our travel habits? Are you less likely to want to get on a bus or a train to get to work or are you itching to get on the next available flight? And what about the business travel industry? Are companies realising tele-conferencing is now just as acceptable and a cheaper option than a business flight? Evan Davis and guests discuss. GUESTS Laura Shoaf, managing director, Transport for West Midlands Simon Jeffrey, policy officer,...


How we work now - lessons from lockdown

Zoom meetings and working from home. Two habits which office workers have picked up during the enforced lockdown. But will these behaviours habits stick? Some believe that if more of us choose to work from our spare rooms on a regular basis, this will have profound implications for offices, commuting, human interaction and productivity. Evan Davis and guests discuss whether current predictions about the death of the office are over-exaggerated. Guests André Spicer, Professor of...


Can science save the economy?

Evan Davis and guests ask if now is the time to exploit scientific research more effectively to help business recover from the coronavirus crash. The UK has traditionally been better at basic science research than its commercial exploitation - with examples ranging from computing to the discovery of graphene, where international companies have benefited more from those discoveries. The Bottom Line examines the government’s idea of creating an agency, similar to the legendary US Defence...


Post-pandemic resilience

During the pandemic, businesses have faced severe tests, from supply chain shocks to fluctuations in consumer demand. How resilient are companies in dealing with the unknown? In recent years the focus has been on getting costs down, creating lean supply chains, and delivering returns to shareholders. But has that emphasis left supply chains insecure in the face of shocks? Will companies learn to value resilience over mere efficiency? Guests Dr Sandra Bell, founder and chief executive of The...


Consumer habits after lockdown

What have you learned about yourself in lockdown? What is it you crave, what have you found you barely miss? Evan Davis and guests contemplate life after lockdown and changing consumer habits. A surge in the sale of bikes, toilet roll panic buying, and flour flying off the supermarket shelves. Will these consumer habits stick? Have we learned to value other things in life than shopping? Or will we just want to borrow and spend at the first possible opportunity? Guests: Kate Ancketill,...



Will Western economies and companies decouple from China? For decades, the world has relied on this rapidly emerging economy as its factory, producing everything from toilet rolls to iPhones. But post Covid-19, US trade wars and tensions with Hong Kong, is that all about to change? Evan Davis and guests discuss GUESTS Liam Casey, CEO and founder, PCH International Diana Choyleva, chief economist, Enodo Economics Dr. Yu Jie, senior research fellow, China, Chatham House


Saving Companies

Should the government continue to bolster companies, large and small when lockdown is finally eased? If so what businesses do you choose to save and what are the criteria? Evan Davis and guests discuss. GUESTS Michael Jacobides, holder of the Sir Donald Gordon Chair of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, London Business School Julie Palmer, Regional Managing Partner, Begbies Traynor, Insolvency practitioners Mark Blyth, Director of the William R Rhodes Centre for International Economics and...


Business hype

Can new businesses survive without some form of hype or over-promotion? Or will consumer or investor disillusionment inevitably correct this? One recent example where hype came back to bite a company founder is that of the shared office space provider, WeWork. Its stock market valuation fell from $50bn to near bankruptcy over the course of a few weeks. GUESTS Brent Hoberman, serial entrepreneur and investor, chair and co-founder of Founders Factory and First Minute Capital Kerry Baldwin,...