True life stories. Join Matthew Bannister, Monday to Thursday. Includes our daily history programme Witness. Or join us for the best of Outlook on Saturdays.

True life stories. Join Matthew Bannister, Monday to Thursday. Includes our daily history programme Witness. Or join us for the best of Outlook on Saturdays.
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London, United Kingdom




True life stories. Join Matthew Bannister, Monday to Thursday. Includes our daily history programme Witness. Or join us for the best of Outlook on Saturdays.






BBC World Service Bush House Strand London WC2B 4PH


Not Knowing I Was Sweden's Most Wanted

Moder Magid was just 22 when he became Sweden's most wanted terror suspect. Following a massive manhunt in 2015, the Iraqi asylum seeker was arrested while building a snow horse on a frozen lake with friend. Moder had been completely unaware of the police search for him. He was arrested and taken to Stockholm where the Swedish security services interrogated him before releasing him and clearing him of all suspicion three days later. Moder says he isn't bitter about the experience and threw a...


Music Helped my Partner Back from Coma

Seven years ago, Jamie McKechnie was the victim of an unprovoked attack in London and suffered a serious brain injury. He was in a coma for nine weeks and doctors gave him a 30 percent chance of living. Jamie's girlfriend, soul singer Ellen Murphy, played music to him to try bring him back from his coma. Image: Jamie McKechnie and Ellen Murphy Credit: Ellen Murphy


The Rap Star Saved by a Nursing Home

'T La Rock' grew up in New York's Bronx and is seen by many as a pioneer of the Hip Hop music genre. He became the first artist to be recorded by Def Jam records and performed around the world but that all came to a halt when he was attacked and left with 70% memory loss. Struggling to recover, he ended up in a Jewish nursing home where he found an unlikely group of supporters who helped him to perform again. Image: 'T La Rock' Credit: Stijn Coppens


Mrs Sparkle: The Trauma Cleaner

Sandra Pankhurst, also known as Mrs Sparkle is a trauma cleaner in Melbourne, Australia. Sandra's job involves clearing crime scenes and emptying the homes of extreme hoarders. Sandra often meets people at their lowest point but she draws on the traumatic experiences in her own life in order to help others. Image: Sandra Pankhurst Credit: Robyn Buccheri


Bonus Podcast: Death in Ice Valley

A special preview of the new podcast Death in Ice Valley. An unidentified body. Who was she? Why hasn’t she been missed? A BBC World Service and NRK original podcast, investigating a mystery unsolved for almost half a century. Episode One was released on 16 April 2018 and new episodes will be released every Monday. Search for Death in Ice Valley wherever you find your podcasts.


Outlook Weekend: The School Teacher Who Couldn't Read

John Corcoran grew up in the US during the 1940s and 50s. As a kid, John was really looking forward to go to school like his older siblings. But once he got there, he realised he had a problem: he couldn't learn how to read and write. John felt demoralised and degraded, but he kept his secret for more than 40 years. During that time he managed to finish school, graduate, and he even became a high school teacher. How did he do that? Image: book with letters flying off the page Credit:...


Social Media Saved My Life

In 2015 Mohammed Al Samawi found himself living in the middle of a warzone in Yemen. His friends and family were unable to help and so he turned to social media where a group of strangers offered to help him. One of those who guided Mohammed to safety was an American man called Justin Hefter. Image: Mohammed Al Samawi (R) with Justin Hefter and Natasha Westheimer Credit: Mohammed Al Samawi


Revealing my Mother's Secret Life

It was almost by chance that Hungarian writer András Forgách stumbled across the secret service files on his family. Reading them revealed that his mother had conspired in the bugging of his own apartment. He wrote a book about this story called "No Live Files Remain". Image: András Forgách and his mum Bruria in 1975 Credit: Courtesy of András Forgách


My Father the FBI Fugitive

Tyler Wetherall had lived in 13 houses in five countries before she was ten years old. But as a child she didn't think this was remarkable. Then the police came and she found out her father wasn't what he seemed - he was a fugitive on the run from the FBI. (Photo credit: Sammy Deigh.)


From 'Mouthy' to 'Wisey'

As a little girl in south London, Nequela Whittaker was a pretty good kid. She had a talent for the violin, but as she grew up that same violin would land her in trouble as she started selling drugs to get money and respect. (Picture credit: Nequela Whittaker.)


Testifying Against my Parents for Love

The young Indian lovers whose relationship was condemned and ended in tragedy. (Picture: Kausalya Shankar. Credit: Nathan G.)


Outlook Weekend: The Hit Maker

British songwriter Guy Chambers was struggling to make ends meet and couldn't afford to repair his leaking roof when he got a phone call from pop star Robbie Williams. Robbie asked him if he could write "dirty pop". Guy said yes, and Robbie showed up at his flat. Together they co-wrote some of the most enduring British pop songs of the 1990s. Image and credit: Songwriter Guy Chambers sitting at a piano


Uniting Mostar through Rock Music

The city of Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina was ruined by the war that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. People of different ethnicities - who'd lived together happily for years - started fighting each other, and the river that divides Mostar became an unofficial border between Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats. Ten years ago, one man had a plan for bringing the two sides closer together. Oha Maslo set up the Mostar Rock School to teach kids from both banks of the river, and bit by bit...


Free After 28 Years on Death Row

To be blamed for something you didn't do always stings. But that doesn't even compare to the mislaid guilt American man Anthony Ray Hinton faced. He spent nearly 30 years on death row for the murders of two fast food restaurant workers. Colm Flynn spoke to him about how he protested his innocence for 28 years. Image: Anthony Ray Hinton Credit: EPA/Bob Farley


My Time with North Korea's Dictator

Hwang Sok-yong is one of Korea's most famous writers and one of the few authors whose works you can find in libraries in both North and South Korea. He's also a well-known campaigner for peace and unification between the two countries. After illegally entering North Korea in1989, he struck up a strange friendship with the country's dictator Kim Il-sung. Image: Hwang Sok-yong Credit: JOEL SAGET/Getty Images


From English Rugby Coach To Fiji Chief

English rugby coach Ben Ryan agreed on the spur of the moment to coach the sevens team in the run up to the Rio Olympics. He trained the team to an Olympic gold medal, Fiji's first. He tells Jo Fidgen how he has now been made a tribal chief in Fiji and is celebrated as a national hero. Image: Fiji coach Ben Ryan (C) speaks to his players at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Credit: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/Getty Images


The Supermodel who Took Down a Cult

Hoyt Richards has been called the first male supermodel. In the 1980s and 90s he was jet-setting around the world doing shoots for Versace and Ralph Lauren, and moving in the same circles as stars like Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Madonna. But outside of working hours he was involved with a cult called Eternal Values. They believed there would be a catastrophe at the turn of the century and the group would have a crucial role to play. So partying wasn't allowed. Image: Hoyt...


Outlook Weekend: Attila the Nun

Arlene Violet served as a nun for 23 years in the US state of Rhode Island. When she was there she realised that there were big problems locally: the mob ruled the streets and a Colombian drug cartel had moved in. Arlene thought it was her duty to fight the injustices she saw every day, so she decided to run for State Attorney General. She went on to become the first woman in that role, and she sent 18 top criminals to jail. Image: rosary and bible Credit: Don Bayley/Getty Images


I Studied the Brain but Lost My Mind

Barbara Lipska is a Polish born neuroscientist who carries out research at a bank of one thousand brains. But nothing prepared her for the challenge of her own brain going wrong. She had eighteen tumours and says she became a monster. Image and credit: Barbara Lipska


The Search for My Shipwreck Saviour

Para Paheer from Sri Lanka spent eight years trying to find the man who saved his life' (Image: Para Paheer and Captain Nikola Brzica. Credit: Para Paheer.)


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