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Beyond Today


Beyond Today is the daily podcast from Radio 4 that asks one big question about one big story in the news - and beyond. Tina Daheley, Matthew Price, and a team of curious producers search for answers that change the way we see the world. They speak to the BBC’s unrivalled global network of reporters, plus occasional special guests, to tell stories about identity, technology, and power - where it lies and how that is changing.


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Beyond Today is the daily podcast from Radio 4 that asks one big question about one big story in the news - and beyond. Tina Daheley, Matthew Price, and a team of curious producers search for answers that change the way we see the world. They speak to the BBC’s unrivalled global network of reporters, plus occasional special guests, to tell stories about identity, technology, and power - where it lies and how that is changing.




Do we really understand drill?

Drill music has a reputation for inciting violence and crime. The Metropolitan Police believes the genre is linked to the rise of stabbings and murders across London, and the Met chief Cressida Dick has said social media platforms should be more vigilant of drill content being uploaded online. But many argue that drill is not only a form of expression, but it’s also the reality for many young black men who live in urban areas across the country. With attempts being made to ban the genre, what does this mean for those who socially and financially rely on it? The BBC’s Oliver Newlan explores how an attack on one of the country's biggest drill artists led to a number of deaths in north London, while Professor Forrest Stuart at Stanford University explains why we need to understand drill in order to understand the perspective of young black and brown men living in urban poverty. Presenter: Matthew Price Producer: Seren Jones Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


Will coronavirus take away our jobs?

At first coronavirus was just a health story, but now it’s pretty clear employment and the economy are taking a massive hit. Travel bans have led to airlines cutting jobs and the hospitality sector is in trouble as people stay at home. In this episode we ask what will happen to workers. It’s a global problem so we speak to Harriet and Ray, a freelance couple in New York, as well as documentary director Emily in London. We also speak to Chris Giles, Economics Editor at the Financial Times, about some of the things being done elsewhere to help people who lose work because of the virus. Presenter: Matthew Price Producers: Duncan Barber and Philly Beaumont Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


Is wokeness just white guilt?

Kiley Reid’s debut novel shot into the bestsellers list and has been lauded by critics here and in the US. Such A Fun Age follows the lives of babysitter Emira Tucker, a young black woman, and her wealthy, white employer Alix Chamberlin in post-Obama America. Kiley’s book explores race, class and wealth, and how well-meaning wokeness can actually exacerbate those issues. Presenter: Tina Daheley Producers: Alicia Burrell and Katie Gunning Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


Is coronavirus 'worse' than flu?

The world is in the midst of a pandemic. For most people, symptoms of the virus are mild, they might develop a cough and a fever before getting better. This has led many people to compare the new coronavirus to seasonal influenza. But, for a minority of those affected, particularly older people and those with underlying heart or lung conditions, the new coronavirus can cause severe difficulty breathing, and in about 1% of cases, death. Infectious diseases expert, Dr Nathalie MacDermott tells Matthew Price how seasonal flu compares to pandemics past and present, why Trump’s travel ban won’t work and the lessons she’s learned from the front line of Ebola. We also speak to a British man in isolation in Wuhan, China about his experience of the virus. Presenter: Matthew Price Produced by Rory Galloway and Lucy Hancock Mixed by Emma Crowe Edited by Philly Beaumont


Why would you transition twice?

Most people who transition to another gender do not have second thoughts. In fact de-transitioning is thought to be relatively rare. There are no accurate figures revealing how many people reverse or change their gender, as academic researchers have never studied a large group of transitioning people over a long period of time – but some studies suggest that fewer than 0.5 per cent of trans people choose to return to the gender they were assigned at birth. Whatever the numbers, we know that more people are telling their stories. Around the world there are trans men and trans women who have decided to de-transition, and it’s often not an easy choice. Others have chosen to re-identify as non-binary or gender-fluid. We speak two BBC journalists, Linda Pressly and Lucy Proctor, who’ve made a documentary for the World Service called The Detransitioners. They’ve spent the last year talking to people who had transitioned, but then returned to their birth gender. Presenter: Tina Daheley Producer: Katie Gunning Mixed by Emma Crowe


Why are teens getting pregnant in Middlesbrough?

Middlesbrough has the highest number of teenage pregnancies in England and Wales. Even though national figures show rates have dropped by nearly 60 percent over the past 10 years, the number of pregnant teens in the north-eastern town rose by 20 percent from 2015 to 2017. When the average age of a mum in England and Wales is 30 years old, why are there so many teens having babies in Middlesbrough? We speak to Charley and Robyn, two teenagers who tell us what it’s like to have been fast-tracked to motherhood. And the BBC’s Philippa Goymer tries to makes sense of the growing trend in the area. Presenter: Tina Daheley Producer: Seren Jones Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


What made Dubai’s princesses run away?

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the 70-year-old billionaire ruler of Dubai and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates, has been found by the High Court in London to have abducted and forcibly returned two of his daughters to Dubai, and to have conducted a campaign of intimidation against his former wife, Princess Haya. Princess Haya used to speak of a perfect family life in interviews, but cracks began to appear in 2018 when Sheikha Latifa, one of Sheikh Mohammed's adult daughters with another wife, tried to flee the UAE with the help of a former French spy and a Finnish fitness instructor. A boat carrying them was intercepted at sea off the coast of India and Sheikha Latifa was returned to Dubai. Journalists Vanessa Grigoriadis from Vanity Fair and Haroon Siddique from the Guardian have been following the story. Presenter: Matthew Price Producers: Duncan Barber and Rory Galloway Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


How do you fight anti-Semitism?

It was just before 10 o’clock in the morning on 27th October 2018 when a man armed with a semi-automatic rifle and three pistols opened fire on worshippers at a synagogue in the US state of Pennslyvania. 11 people died that morning at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. It was the deadliest attack on American Jews in US history, and it sent shock waves around the world. For the writer and New York Times columnist, Bari Weiss it felt personal. She grew up in Pittsburgh and used to go to the Tree of Life. In response to this attack she’s written a book on how to fight anti-Semitism. She argues that such hatred was, until recently, relatively taboo but is now migrating toward the mainstream; amplified by social media and a culture of conspiracy. Anti-Semitism is on the rise across Europe, the US and the Middle East. We speak to Bari Weiss about where anti-Semitism comes from and how to fight it. The episode includes some offensive language. Presenter: Matthew Price Producers: Alicia Burrell and Katie Gunning Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


Should Priti Patel resign?

There have been mounting allegations over the past few weeks that home secretary Priti Patel has bullied her staff. Last weekend the top civil servant in the Home Office, Sir Philip Rutnam, resigned. He’s heavily criticised Patel, and is suing the government for constructive dismissal. Priti Patel has denied any wrongdoing. In today’s episode we look into the multiple allegations against the home secretary. Our home affairs correspondent, Danny Shaw, talks about her path to one of the four Great Offices of State, and reporter Rianna Croxford tells the story of a young woman who has accused Priti Patel of bullying. Finally, political correspondent Leila Nathoo explains how these allegations are linked to the wider culture of bullying in politics. Presenter: Matthew Price Producers: Seren Jones, Rory Galloway and Duncan Barber Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


Why are people rioting in Delhi?

Nearly 50 people have died in India following violence around a controversial citizenship law which critics say is anti-Muslim. Photographs, videos and accounts on social media paint a chilling image of what appears to be mostly Hindu mobs beating unarmed Muslim men. In this episode we speak to BBC journalists Yogita Limaye and Sachin Gogoi to find out what’s fuelling the violence. Presenter: Matthew Price Producers: Duncan Barber and Harriet Noble Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


Does France have a #MeToo problem?

In the same week that Harvey Weinstein was convicted for sexual assaults in New York, Roman Polanski won the award for best director at the Césars, the French equivalent of the Oscars. The actor Adele Haenel, who accused a director of sexually abusing her when she was a child, denounced the decision and walked out of the ceremony. Polanski has been accused of assaulting several women, including a 13-year-old girl in 1977. France’s #MeToo movement also criticised Polanski’s award, saying that French institutions tend to reward a person’s art over their actions and that the country is slow to listen to women. In the episode we speak to Anne Elizabeth Moutet who signed a letter saying #MeToo had gone too far. We also speak to journalist Alice Kantor about the generational gap and why she thinks sexism is deep-rooted in French society. Presenter: Matthew Price Producers: Katie Gunning and Alicia Burrell Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Harriet Noble


Can we be green and rich?

In Paris in 2015 world leaders agreed on a binding commitment on climate change. They committed to keeping the increase in global temperatures to just 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Heathrow airport has been planning to expand by building a third runway. But last week environmentalists successfully challenged the third runway on the basis that it couldn’t demonstrate how the expansion of the airport was consistent with the UK government’s commitments on climate change. It’s the first major demonstration of the impact of the Paris climate accord on the UK’s CO2 emissions, and it has huge implications for future infrastructure projects. What could the ruling mean for the future of the UK economy? We discuss with Mike Berners-Lee, a professor in the environment centre of Lancaster University, and Kingsmill Bond, an energy strategist at the financial think-tank Carbon Tracker. Presenter: Mathew Price Producers: Rory Galloway and Duncan Barber Editor: Harriet Noble Mixed by Emma Crowe


Does self-care really make you happy?

2020 has been quite a year, we're only two months in but have already faced an impending war between the US and Iran, deadly bushfires in Australia, and now coronavirus is spreading across the world. So, in light of that, we thought it was time to return to an earlier episode to make us all feel better. It’s about self-care and making time for some emotional first aid. Dr Laurie Santos is professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University. She was so concerned about the anxiety her students experienced she devised a course that would teach them how to be happy. Psychology and the Good Life quickly became the most popular course in the history of Yale and the online version went viral. Now Laurie Santos has turned her research into a podcast called the Happiness Lab. She gave us her top tips were to ensure lasting happiness. Presenter: Tina Daheley Producer: Duncan Barber Mixed by Nicolas Raufast and Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


What’s the Harvey Weinstein story?

For years there were allegations that Harvey Weinstein had assaulted women. This week he was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault, including rape, and faces up to 29 years in prison. So, how did the Hollywood titan create his downfall? The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta has been covering Weinstein since 2002, and tells us how Weinstein became one of the industry’s most influential players and how his power led to his fall from grace. Documentary maker Ursula MacFarlane spent time with many of Weinstein’s victims and explains why putting him behind bars is a new beginning for victims of sexual abuse. Presenter: Matthew Price Producer: Seren Jones Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


What are police cameras doing with your face print?

Facial recognition technology is increasingly widespread. You might use it to unlock your phone or computer. It’s used in airports around the world and some shops are using the software to catch or deter shoplifters. Now it’s being used by the police in two parts of the UK. The Metropolitan Police is using live facial recognition cameras on London streets and it’s also being used by police in South Wales. The technology means that faces captured by the cameras can be checked in real time against a watch lists of suspects. But creating a face print or facial signature for everyone who passes a camera is controversial. Privacy campaigners say the technology is often inaccurate and infringes on an individual's right to privacy. The police argue that privacy concerns over the cameras are outweighed by the need to protect the public. We speak to the BBC’s home affairs correspondent, Danny Shaw about why the police want to adopt the technology. We also find out how the technology works with Maryam Ahmed, who works in the BBC’s data journalism team and has a PhD in machine learning for image analysis. Presenter: Matthew Price Producers: Katie Gunning and Alicia Burrell Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


Coronavirus: are we all going to catch it?

With cases of coronavirus spreading across the world, one word we’re hearing more and more is “pandemic”. If the disease is declared a pandemic it would mean that cases of coronavirus are no longer able to be traced back to the country of origin and fall outside of the control of health authorities. The World Health Organisation doesn’t consider coronavirus to be a pandemic yet, and has stated there is hope that it is controllable despite major outbreaks in Italy and Iran. But that hasn’t stopped people panicking. In this episode BBC reporter Mark Lowen recounts going to an Italian town that has been blockaded to stop the virus. Virologist Jonathan Ball describes how the virus is caught and how it does and doesn’t affect the body, and the BBC’s health correspondent James Gallagher explains what the word pandemic really means and whether we’re all likely to get the disease. Presenter: Tina Daheley Producers: Rory Galloway and Duncan Barber Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


Why would Facebook want to crack down on big tech?

Mark Zuckerberg says he wants new rules for social media. Every year politicians and security experts meet in Munich to discuss how to keep the world safe. This year they invited Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. He told the conference governments need to create new rules for social media platforms to stop the spread of harmful content and disinformation. So why is big tech’s biggest player asking for more regulation? The BBC’s tech reporter Zoe Kleinman came into the Beyond Today studio to talk what social media regulation might involve, and to Ali Breland, an expert on disinformation. Presenter: Matthew Price Producers: Alicia Burrell, Katie Gunning and Harriet Noble Mixed by Weidong Lin Editor: Philly Beaumont


Has Billie Eilish saved the music industry?

Billie Eilish is on top of the world right now. The 18-year-old recently swept the board at the Grammys, winning five awards including best new artist and song of the year. She also replaced Taylor Swift as the youngest person ever to win album of the year. She’s just performed at the Brit Awards and has written the theme for the upcoming James Bond film No Time To Die. She seems to be a rare example of organic streaming success in the music industry, having had her big break after uploading a song on SoundCloud. But if you dig a little deeper there’s more than meets the eye. In this episode David Turner, who writes the weekly streaming newsletter Penny Fractions and works for SoundCloud, says Billie Eilish’s story is one of an industry trying to make a criticised model appear well-functioning. We also speak to the music journalist Paula Mejia about how streaming has changed our relationship with music. Presenter: Matthew Price Producer: Duncan Barber Mixed by Emma Crowe Editor: Philly Beaumont


How should we react to Caroline Flack’s death?

Since Caroline Flack’s death by suicide last weekend, many people have been trying to make sense of it. Yesterday her family released a previously unpublished Instagram post written by Caroline Flack detailing her ‘shame’ and ‘embarrassment’ at the truth being taken out of her hands and used, she wrote, as ‘entertainment’. Some have pointed the finger at the tabloids for her fragile mental state. Others are blaming a ‘toxic’ social media culture. In this episode, we explore this idea with entertainment journalist Scott Bryan. We also speak to writers Sophie Wilkinson and Lauren O’Neill about the world of celebrity journalism. If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this programme you can find help on the BBC Action line here: Presenter: Matthew Price Producers: Lucy Hancock and Alicia Burrell Mixed by Emma Crowe Clips: Channel 4, Flicker Productions and ITV Studios, BBC archive.


Why is No 10 hiring ‘weirdos’?

At the beginning of the year Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s senior adviser, put out an unusual job advertisement. In a blog post he asked for “super-talented weirdos” and “wild-cards”. One of the people he hired was Andrew Sabisky, a twentysomething “superforecaster”. It was later revealed that Sabisky had previously expressed extreme views on race and eugenics. He subsequently resigned. In this episode we speak to Newsnight’s political editor Nicholas Watt who has been following the Sabisky saga. We also talk to journalist and author Matthew Syed about why hiring “weirdos” can actually be a good idea. Presenter: Matthew Price Producers: Harriet Noble, Jenny Sneesby and Lucy Hancock Mixed by Emma Crowe