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Best of Today


Insight, analysis and expert debate as key policy makers are challenged on the latest news stories. From BBC Radio 4's Today programme

Insight, analysis and expert debate as key policy makers are challenged on the latest news stories. From BBC Radio 4's Today programme


London, United Kingdom




Insight, analysis and expert debate as key policy makers are challenged on the latest news stories. From BBC Radio 4's Today programme




A love letter to cinema

Cinemas in England, Scotland and Wales are reopening. Screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce celebrates the joy of watching films on the big screen. (Photo: Cinema audience. Credit: Reuters)


Schools: Are timed assessments exams by another name?

Teachers across the UK are in the last few weeks of assessing the work of pupils, who would have sat public exams this summer. The system of teacher assessed grades is happening slightly differently in the four nations but under the same broad principles. In some cases, a long series of timed assessments have left pupils feeling they are pretty much having exams by another name. Mishal Husain re-visited Wales High in Kiveton, South Yorkshire and then spoke to the exams regulator for England,...


Israeli-Palestinian violence: Two mothers on different boarders

At least 67 people in Gaza and seven people in Israel have been killed after weeks of rising Israeli-Palestinian tension in East Jerusalem. The escalation, which began on Monday, has triggered street violence in Israel between Jews and Israeli Arabs. Today programme's Nick Robinson spoke to Najwa Sheikh-Ahmad, mother of five who lives in a camp in the centre of the Gaza Strip; Tova Levy, who fled her neighbourhood in Lod with her husband and children; Matthias Schmale, director of UNRWA...


Adoption: 'They've turned our sons against us'

A couple we’re calling Ed and Claire adopted two brothers aged two and three - after they had been taken into care. Their sons are now 15 and 16 but the adoption has broken down. Ed and Claire say in the space of a few months a bombardment of messages from the birth parents and siblings destabilised the boys to the extent that they have dropped out of school, are in trouble with the authorities and they no longer have contact with them. Around a quarter of adopted youngsters are thought to...


England and Harlequins star Joe Marler calls for mental health support for players

England prop Joe Marler has called for mental health support for British and Irish Lions players on this summer's tour of South Africa. Marler, an extrovert in looks and character, is also a man who has faced mental demons all of his own. He highlights the potential for issues to arise during the Lions Tour of South Africa this summer - players isolated, quarantined, on top of the pressures and physical challenges on the pitch. The player told the Today Programme’s Rob Bonnet he believed...


A return to normality?

Boris Johnson has announced a significant opening up of society will come on Monday 17th May with the return of both indoor hospitality and household mixing. And the Prime Minister also suggested yesterday that people might well be able to go about their business in close proximity to each other again, without social distancing rules, after the 21st June. However the scientific modellers who advise the government on the SPI-M group said last night that the next resurgence of Covid could be...


What next for Scottish independence?

Scotland's first minister has told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that a second independence referendum is "a matter of when - not if". The BBC’s Scotland editor, Sarah Smith, speaks to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, SNP deputy leader Keith Brown and Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross – and James Naughtie hears from young activists in the wake of the election results.


The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on trade, tyranny and Trump

In a wide-ranging interview the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has said Washington does not yet know if Iran is serious about returning to the deal that constrained its nuclear activities. Mr Blinken said Iran was getting closer to the point when it could produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon within a few months. The Secretary of State said that that America "will respond" if Russia acts recklessly or aggressively. Blinken said that the US was less focused on President Putin...


The Troubles: 'I remember his body in the living room'

Official IRA man Joe McCann, 24, was shot near his home in the Markets area of Belfast in April 1972. Two former paratroopers accused of the murder have been formally acquitted after their trial collapsed. The court heard Mr McCann was evading arrest when soldiers opened fire, killing him. Soldiers A and C, both in their 70s, had pleaded not guilty. The men admitted firing shots but said they had acted lawfully when doing so. Today programme's Martha Kearney spoke to Mr McCann's daughter...


Northern Ireland marks centenary

Martha Kearney presents from Titanic Belfast to mark 100 years since the passage of the Government of Ireland Act and is joined by Sir Hugh Orde, former Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Martha also discusses Northern Ireland's huge success with TV and film in recent years with Richard Williams, Chief executive of Northern Ireland Screen, and Glenn Patterson, author and screenwriter of the film Good Vibrations. (Image: Northern Ireland map, Credit: Getty Images)


Scottish election 2021: Meet the party leaders

There's less than a week to go before voting begins in the Scottish Parliament election 2021, as voters prepare to elect a fresh batch of MSPs to Holyrood on 6 May. In this election, the electorate will be given two votes, one to choose their constituency MSP and another where they choose a party from the regional list. The Radio 4 Today programme hears from Nicola Sturgeon MSP, the leader of the SNP; Anas Sarwar MSP, leader of the Scottish Labour Party; Willie Rennie MSP, leader of the...


N Ireland: 'DUP need to go down pragmatic path'

Arlene Foster will step down as Democratic Unionist Party leader on 28 May and as first minister at the end of June. She was the first female leader of the DUP. Now that the DUP has begun electing its new leader, BBC's Ireland correspondent Chris Page heard the public's reaction to her resignation. Nick Robinson spoke to former Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith, who brokered a deal which restored power-sharing administration in Storment, about the announcement. He told R4 Today...


BJP Narendra Taneja on India Covid crisis

India has seen more Covid cases in the last seven days than any other country as people die waiting for beds, oxygen supplies run low and hospitals crumble under the strain. The official death toll has surpassed 200,000 but experts believe the actual number may be higher. R4 Today's Nick Robinson spoke to the national spokesperson for India's ruling BJP Narendra Taneja on why a second wave has been so ferocious. With analysis from our correspondent Sima Kotecha and BBC's South East Asia...


India Covid crisis: Not preventing variants will 'haunt us'

India has seen soaring infection rates, a rapidly rising death toll and the discovery of a new virus variant as the UK added the country onto its travel red list. Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, told the Today programme “we would be better advised to prevent new variants arising in the rest of the world, which will come back to haunt us, if we don't drive down transmission everywhere”. Martha Kearney spoke to Sir Farrar about the second wave of infections, as well as Dr...


Commonwealth War Graves Commission apologise for 'wrongs of the past'

Tens of thousands of predominantly black and Asian service personnel who died fighting for the British Empire were not properly commemorated due to "pervasive racism", a report has said. The report cited racist comments such as the governor of a British colony saying in 1923 that "the average native... would not understand or appreciate a headstone". The Commonwealth War Graves Commission apologised and said "we recognise the wrongs of the past and are deeply sorry and will be acting...


George Floyd: What Cahuvin guilty verdict means

White officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on African-American George Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes, sparking mass protests against racism. He was found guilty on Tuesday of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Sentencing is likely to happen in two months but he is expected to appeal against the verdict. Today programme's Martha Kearney heard from human rights advocate and oldest son of the famous civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King Junior III and...


The 'loaded gun' facing football clubs

The Premier League and Uefa are discussing what action they could take against clubs planning to set up the new Super League. But do international fans actually like the proposed new competition? And what are the risks in taking a tough line on those involved? Justin Webb talks to a member of the Liverpool supporters club in Dubai, former Manchester United board member Lord O'Neill, and TV rights adviser David Kogan, who suggests Premier League clubs face a "loaded gun" against their own...


COP26: Should Glasgow climate summit be postponed again?

The COP26, or the 26th Conference of the Parties, is the key forum for world leaders to plan an agreement to tackle climate change. The meeting due to take place in Glasgow last year but was postponed because of the pandemic. Radio 4 Today's Mishal Husain spoke to Tom Rivett-Carnac, chief political strategist for the UN Climate Convention where the Paris Agreement was signed and co-founder of the Global Optimism social enterprise; and David Shukman, BBC science editor, about the likelihood...


Jonathan Drori: Ode to the pot plant

Since lockdown many people across the nation have developed a green thumb and began nurturing the flora in their homes, and now that some restrictions are easing across the UK, how have people’s relationship towards the pot plant changed? Jonathan Drori, author of Around the World in 80 Plants, paid tribute. (Image: Pot plant on a table; Credit: Getty Creative)


Covid surge testing extended outside London

Residents in certain postcodes in Smethwick are being urged to get tested for coronavirus after a case of the South Africa variant was detected. It comes as surge testing is deployed in four London boroughs in a bid to halt its spread. Today programme's Justin Webb spoke to Dr Jeff Barrett, director of the Covid-19 Genomics Initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute; and Professor Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director for Public Health England. (Image: Surge testing for coronavirus disease...