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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.

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.




The Skipped Beat

There's science, music, poetry and the deepest human experience in the rhythm of the heartbeat. That rhythm - the normal, heaving violence and beauty of an inner beast - sets the tempo for everything we do. That is when it's dancing in time. Because about a third of us will one day have an agitating discordance at the heart of our lives - an irregular heart rhythm. For presenter Michael Blastland, the experience of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation made him confront his own heartbeat for the...

Duration: 00:29:42

A Picture Held Us Captive

Novelist, Harvard Fellow and Social Entrepreneur Zia Haider Rahman explores the powerful impact the use and abuse of metaphor can have on the world around us. Metaphors are not simply there for the use of novelists or poets. They are integral to the way we think and understand - pervading our language and allowing us to conceptualise new and complex ideas, using familiar images. They are essential to areas of abstract study, where they provide the basis for new theoretical models, and play...

Duration: 00:29:11

Frank Ormsby's Parkinson's

When the poet Frank Ormsby was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, his response was unexpected. He embarked on a newly fertile creative period, documenting his experiences and finding a voice in his poetry that he was beginning to lose in his daily communications. His first act was to search Google - for jokes. "Which would you rather have, Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. Obviously Parkinson's! I'd rather spill half my pint than forget where I left it." As he discusses with Marie-Louise Muir,...

Duration: 00:30:23

The Glasgow Boys: Chaos and Calm

Byron Vincent joins the Violence Reduction Unit in Glasgow to see how they turn young men away from lives of violence and chaos. Three years ago, after he discussed his own violent and chaotic youth in a Four Thought talk on Radio 4, Byron was invited to come and speak at the VRU. Since then he has been back several times - now he experiences the unit's work directly. Byron spent two weeks embedded in two of the VRU's programmes, from watching the scheme's participants working in food...

Duration: 00:46:15

Where Are All the Working Class Writers?

"The more we reinforce the stereotypes of who writes and who reads, the more the notion of exclusivity is reinforced. It takes balls to gatecrash a party." Kit de Waal, published her first novel, My Name is Leon, in 2016 at the age of 55. She has already put her money where her mouth is - using part of the advance she received from Penguin to set up a creative writing scholarship in an attempt to improve working class representation in the arts. Kit knows that - as a writer from a working...

Duration: 00:29:40

The Strange Case of the Arab Whodunnit

Journalist Jonathan Guyer examines the different forms of noir fiction addressing the failed revolutions, jihadism, and chaos in Egypt. Away from caliphate building and sectarianism, a neo-noir revolution has been creeping across the Middle East, allowing artists and writers to act as ombudsmen in the current political climate. Jonathan meets the writers who are latching onto the adventure, despair and paranoia prevalent in genre fiction to tell stories that transcend the present. He looks...

Duration: 00:29:56

A Call to Art

Protest art in Latin America. A continent-wide commitment by many artists to social activism makes Latin America not just one of the most diverse art scenes in the world - but also one of the most compelling, with music, visual arts and street art calling out injustice, often in the face of discrimination, oppression and impunity. This first of three programmes examines the process of memorialisation in two countries which have suffered civil conflict and dictatorship - Guatemala and...

Duration: 00:30:43

Songwriting with Soldiers

Trevor Dann reports from the USA on an innovative scheme which helps military veterans suffering with post traumatic stress by pairing them with songwriters. Former soldiers discuss the therapeutic effects of creating songs about their experiences. The founder of the programme, singer-songwriter Darden Smith, explains how the idea came from his song, Angel Flight, about the pilots who bring home the bodies of deceased servicemen and women. And we hear country artist Maia Sharp working on a...

Duration: 00:30:39

Close to the Edit

Filmmaker Mike Figgis explores the story of edited film, audio and culture, and how the simple process of cutting and splicing has changed the way people view the world. We are living in an age of the edit. From the jump-cuts of Eisenstein and Hitchcock, to the fractured narratives of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, from the cut-and-paste sounds of musique concrete and hip-hop, to the sensibility of social media (to say nothing of the radio feature itself), it's the edit - the cut, the...

Duration: 00:59:41

BONUS: Russia – 100 Years on from Revolution

A century ago, the Russian Revolution took place. It was a seismic event that changed the course of the 20th century. In this special, bonus episode of Seriously…, we visit four cities closely linked to the events of 1917. With Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg as our guide, we travel the 4000 mile journey across Russia, asking if the repercussions of Red October are still being felt today. Steve also reveals to Rhianna Dhillon more of the stories he discovered on his way from St...

Duration: 00:29:33

Savitri Devi: From the Aryans to the Alt-right

Savitri Devi-devotee of Hitler, proponent of Hindu nationalism, associate of both the British BNP and the American Nazi party-was a prolific author and energetic member of the international Nazi network after the Second World War. Now, her paeans to the mythical Aryan race and apocalyptic theories of history are circulating once again, revived by European white nationalists and the American alt-right. Born in France in 1905 to an English mother and Greek-Italian father, Savitri Devi moved...

Duration: 00:29:48

The Trainspotter's Guide to Dracula

"3 May. Bistritz. Left Munich at 8:35 P. M, on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late." The first line of Bram Stoker's Dracula makes it clear what the novel will be about: trains. As the book begins, the English solicitor Jonathan Harker is travelling across Europe by train, en route to meet his mysterious new Transylvanian client, complaining all the way about the late running of the service. "It seems to me that the...

Duration: 00:29:46

Political Violence in America

The events in Charlottesville were just one example of the sharp rise in the number of violent confrontations in America between far-right white nationalists and left-wing groups known as 'antifa' - short for "anti-fascists". Those on the right claim they're fighting to defend free speech or other deeply held American principles. But their opponents say they're promoting extremism and a brand of racial division far out of line with mainstream thought. Fights that once took place between...

Duration: 00:30:15

Who's Looking At You?

Once upon a time, total surveillance was the province of George Orwell and totalitarian states, but we now live in a world where oceans of data are gathered from us every day by the wondrous digital devices we have admitted to our homes and that we carry with us everywhere. At the same time, our governments want us to let them follow everything we do to root out evil before it can strike. If you have nothing to hide, do you really have nothing to fear? In Who's Looking At You , novelist...

Duration: 00:58:57

Dads and Daughters

The relationship between fathers and daughters has been the subject of countless cultural explorations down the centuries, from Elektra's distress to Bonjour Tristesse. Some of them are idealised ('To Kill A Mockingbird', 'All the Lights We Cannot See'); some highly damaging and dysfunctional ('This is England', 'The Beggar's Opera'); some, as any A'Level pupil who's studied 'King Lear' can attest, are both. What is clear in all these cases is just how particular and powerful the...

Duration: 00:31:11

It's Just a Joke, Comrade: 100 Years of Russian Satire

The Russian Revolution unleashed a brand of humour that continues to this day. In this two-part series, comedian and Russophile Viv Groskop explores a century of revolutionary comedy and asks how it continues to shape the national psyche. The series will rediscover comedy of the Revolution: Bolshevik satire, early Communist cartoons and jokes about Lenin, as writers, satirists and comedians recall the jokes and cartoons shared by their parents and grandparents. Viv will investigate the...

Duration: 00:30:22

Passing Dreams

A portrait of singer, songwriter and truck driver Will Beeley. The myth of the road is deeply rooted in America - it's the thing that delivers escape, promises freedom, fuels new hopes and, once upon a time at least, thoughts of a new nation. And it provides its own opening onto the vastness and variety of the country today. The distances can be dizzying. And these days Will Beeley spends more time on the road than he does at home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city in the desert, with...

Duration: 00:30:27

My Muse: Lynne Truss on Joni Mitchell

Not everyone appreciates the tonalities, lyrics or even the shrieky voice of Canadian artist and musician Joni Mitchell but in a dusty class room in 1971 Lynne Truss decided she loved the writer of Woodstock, Big Yellow Taxi and Both Sides Now. It was a bond forged in the face of the frosty indifference of fellow pupils in Miss Cheverton's music class at the Tiffin Girls School in Kingston Upon Thames. Even Lynne is slightly mystified when she was asked who was her muse that, as a person...

Duration: 00:29:43

Art in Miniature

Tiny bathers relax in a puddle of oily water on a pavement; a galleon sails on the head of a pin, a dancer twirls next to a mote of dust under a microscope - Dr Lance Dann, lover of miniature worlds, crouches down on hands and knees to better observe the world of tiny art. Prompted by advances in technology, and the enduring wonder of things created on a really, really tiny scale, Lance Dann follows his own obsession with the miracle of miniature art. Knocking on the tiny doors of creators...

Duration: 00:31:03

My Secret Wig

Lots of people wear wigs, and go to great lengths to keep them secret - but why? Perhaps it's because the hair on top of our heads means so much to us. It's a crucial part of our identity, the person we see when we look in the mirror, so what happens when it's not there? It's a question Brian Kernohan has asked himself. Yes, his hair's thinning a bit on top, but it's his secret - until his hairdresser points it out. Brian wouldn't dare suggest a wig - even though he's always wondered if he...

Duration: 00:30:05

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