A rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds. Presented by Ashley John-Baptiste, this twice weekly podcast replaces the Radio 4 Documentary of the Week.

A rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds. Presented by Ashley John-Baptiste, this twice weekly podcast replaces the Radio 4 Documentary of the Week.
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A rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds. Presented by Ashley John-Baptiste, this twice weekly podcast replaces the Radio 4 Documentary of the Week.




Pink Rabbits and Other Animals

The writer and illustrator Judith Kerr has created some of our best-loved books for children since publishing her first, and perhaps most famous book, 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea', which celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Judith's life has always inspired her writing, from fleeing Nazi Germany as a child, a story she told in 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit', to the peculiar family cats whose adventures she chronicled in the Mog series. Now 94 years old, Judith is still hard at work, still...


Echo in a Bottle

The echo has always been a source of fascination for composer and sound designer Sarah Angliss. She reveals how writers, poets and musicians have tried to capture and bottle the thrill of the echo down the ages. Sarah travels to Maidenhead to encounter a remarkable natural echo under a bridge built by Brunel in the 1830s. Dr Rowan Boyson explains how Wordsworth used verse to convey a vivid impression of echoes, decades before the recording age, and Dr Miranda Stanyon discusses the uncanny...


The Sisters of the Sacred Salamander

A convent of Mexican nuns is helping to save the one of the world's most endangered and most remarkable amphibians: the axolotl, a truly bizarre creature of serious scientific interest worldwide and an animal of deep-rooted cultural significance in Mexico. The Sisters of Immaculate Health rarely venture out of their monastery in the central Mexican town of Patzcuaro. Yet they have become the most adept and successful breeders of their local species of this aquatic salamander. Scientists...


The Walk: For Richer, For Poorer

How do the rich and the poor live together, side-by-side every day? Journalist Cole Moreton walks across the London Borough of Kensington in a revealing series of real-life encounters that build and tell a story like a drama. From a food hall to a food bank, he goes into the homes, shelters and multi-million pound apartments of the men and women who are surviving - or thriving - as inequality grows. Life expectancy drops dramatically, wages are slashed and property prices fall through the...


Pursuit of Beauty: Slow Art

So - how slow are we talking about, when it comes to art? French anarchist vegetarian artists Elizabeth Saint-Jalmes & Cyril Leclerc rescue snails bound for the cooking pot, and display them as a sound and light installation - Slow Pixel - before setting them free. To watch illuminated snails crawl across a concert hall for 6 hours is one way of bringing your heart beat right down! Twenty-two ash trees, shaped and sculpted as they grow quietly for 40 years, in a secret location; an extinct...


Moondog: Sound of New York

New Yorker Huey Morgan examines the life, work and enduring appeal of a musician known as Moondog who lived and worked on the city's streets in the 1950s and 60s. Born Louis Thomas Hardin in Kansas in May 1916, he played musical instruments from an early age and lost his sight in an accident when he was 16. He went on to teach himself music and composition by ear, as well as music theory through books in braille. In 1943, Moondog moved to New York where he soon became acquainted with...


Is That Machine On?

Stuart Maconie celebrates the golden age of the music press interview. In the heyday of the printed music media between the mid-sixties and the early noughties, the music interview was many things - combative, intimate, confessional, unhinged, flirtatious, sometimes violent - but it was rarely dull. Still, it seems that long-gilded age of rock journalism is now over. The days of extraordinary access, when a reporter might spend a week with a band on its tour bus or private plane, hanging...



It is 175 years since the word "commuter" was used for the first time. (The word does not in fact describe a traveller, it describes a transaction: regular travellers on the railroad into Manhattan were given the opportunity to "commute" their individual tickets into a season pass. Ever since, commuters have been both travellers and revenue stream.) Today our great cities inhale and exhale millions of commuters, who start their journey in the darkness of winter mornings in the suburbs,...


Present at the Creation

Jonathan Freedland recalls the extraordinary day in 1948 when Israel declared its independence. On May 14 1948, a few hundred people crammed into the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to hear a proclamation that would change the course of history - and alter the fate of two peoples competing over a single, much-promised land. That document was the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel. The consequences of that act would be fateful, starting with the 1948 war that followed within...


A Church in Crisis

Since Ireland's independence, the Catholic Church has played a preeminent role in defining morality south of the border. However in recent decades, its position as moral arbiter has come under attack. Congregation sizes have fallen dramatically, and constitutional referenda have legalised contraception, divorce and gay marriage despite the vehement opposition of the Catholic Church. As Ireland goes to the polls to vote this time on abortion, William Crawley asks could this signal further...


Is Eating Plants Wrong?

Are plants rather cleverer than once thought? Scientists from around the world are claiming that plants cannot just sense, but communicate, learn and remember. In an experiment in Australia, plants appeared to learn to associate a sound with a food source, just as Pavlov's dogs linked the sound of a bell with dinner. In Israel they've found that plants communicated a message from one to another, and that the information was then used to survive drought. In British Columbia and the UK...


The Opt Out

In 2014 Polly Weston's sister Lara died. She had just turned 22. Lara and her family had never discussed organ donation, and she wasn't on the register. But when the family were asked if they would consider donation, they said yes. Out of the tragedy of her death, medics managed to donate her organs to four women, while her eyes saved the sight of three men. In February a bill passed its second reading in Parliament to say that England would seek to move to an organ donation opt-out system...


The Turban Bus Dispute

Journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera returns to his home town of Wolverhampton where a battle raged over the right to wear the turban on the buses in Enoch Powell's constituency at the time he made his Rivers of Blood speech. In 1967 Sikh bus driver Tarsem Singh Sandhu returns from his holidays wearing a turban and a beard, both against the uniform regulations. The Wolverhampton Transport Committee insists rules are rules and there will be no exceptions, so Mr Sandhu enlists the help of...


The Vet with Two Brains

Adam Tjolle is a vet with two brains - who once starred on the BBC's Animal Hospital. His second brain - in reality a slow-growing tumour - was discovered by accident on a scan when he fell off his bike. The presenter of the programme, his friend (and psychologist) Claudia Hammond is really interested in what's going on inside his head, so has kept a record - before and after the life-changing surgery. Adam's biggest fear is losing his memories - so he asks friends and family to send...


The Art on Now - Band Politics

BBC 6 Music's Chris Hawkins listens to new music every day - and he's noticing a trend. More and more of the bands he plays on the station are writing about politics. Acts like Nadine Shah, Cabbage, Idles and Life are covering topics as diverse as The NHS, the refugee crisis of 2016, austerity and rail privatisation. Chris visits the performers to ask them what is fuelling their music, considering whether supposedly radical bands are operating in a form of musical filter bubble - singing...


What Are the Odds?

Rajesh speaks with Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University who has been collecting stories of coincidence since 2011. Rajesh wants to find out why he is so prone to coincidence. Along with discovering mind blowing coincidences Rajesh sets out on an experiment to see if he can seek out coincidence and he's very surprised by the results. David Spiegelhalter believes its not that these things occur, it's that we notice them. As well as giving an opportunity to study probability...


Mums and Sons

The relationship between mothers and sons as depicted in the arts is complex and, as anyone familiar with Medea's story will attest, not always terribly positive. As Lauren Laverne discovers, however, there are many examples of stories, films and dramas in which the love between mums and sons is very much celebrated, and as a mother of two boys herself, Lauren is very keen to unpick the particular facets of the relationship as depicted on page, stage and screen. She meets Sophie Ellis...


The Bald Truth

For thousands of years, bald men have been the subject of ridicule. As a result they've felt ashamed and have resorted to desperate measures to hide their condition. During the decades when hair style was a cultural battleground between youth and the establishment, the balding man was at the bottom of the heap. No prime minister since Clement Attlee has been bald. But increasingly, bald men are coming out of the closet and shaving their heads - and some women too. Research shows that bald...


In the Wake of Wakefield

Twenty years ago, in February 1998, one of the most serious public health scandals of the 20th century was born, when researcher, Andrew Wakefield and his co-authors published a paper in the medical journal The Lancet suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. As we know, in the years that followed, Wakefield's paper was completely discredited as "an elaborate fraud" and retracted. Attempts by many other researchers to replicate his "findings" have all failed and investigations...


Behind the Scenes: Dawn Walton

Dawn Walton, artistic director of Eclipse, the black theatre touring company, was bored of only ever coming across three black stories in British theatres - slavery stories, immigrant stories, and gang stories. She knew there was a far greater range of stories out there and she wanted to tell them. Revolution Mix is the result - a programme of new plays inspired by 500 years of black British history and it will be the largest ever presentation of black British stories performed in regional...