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Start the Week


Start The Week sets the cultural agenda for the week ahead, with high-profile guests discussing the ideas behind their work in the fields of art, literature, film, science, history, society and politics.

Start The Week sets the cultural agenda for the week ahead, with high-profile guests discussing the ideas behind their work in the fields of art, literature, film, science, history, society and politics.
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London, United Kingdom




Start The Week sets the cultural agenda for the week ahead, with high-profile guests discussing the ideas behind their work in the fields of art, literature, film, science, history, society and politics.




Blood, guts and swearing robots

Victorian hospitals were known as 'houses of death' and their surgeons, who never washed their hands, were praised for their brute strength and speed. Lindsey Fitzharris tells Andrew Marr about the pioneering British surgeon Joseph Lister who transformed his profession. Anaesthesia was discovered in the 1840s but Professor Lesley Colvin says we're still learning about the complex relationship between the brain and the perception of pain, as well as understanding the potential harm of the...

Duration: 00:42:29

Anger and deprivation

'I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore'. These are the words of the news anchor-man in the film Network, now adapted for the stage. The director Ivo van Hove tells Francine Stock how this satire on global capitalism and chasing ratings with populist rants has such relevance today. Composer Nico Muhly also looks to Hollywood, adapting Hitchock's film Marnie - and the novel that inspired it - for the English National Opera. Born into poverty, Marnie becomes trapped in a web...

Duration: 00:41:48

Heart of Darkness: Conrad and Orwell

Andrew Marr discusses the work of Joseph Conrad with his biographer Maya Jasanoff. Conrad wrote about the underbelly of colonialism, terrorism, immigration and isolation and Jasanoff looks at the turn of the twentieth century through the lens of his life and work. While Conrad's Nostromo reflected the changing world order with the emerging dominance of the US and global capitalism, the FT columnist Gideon Rachman looks at the decline of the West amidst the growing power of the East, as...

Duration: 00:42:01

Animals: tamed, exploited and resurrected

Amol Rajan discusses the uneasy interaction between the animal kingdom and humans. The anthropologist Alice Roberts looks back to the moment hunter-gatherers changed their relationship with other species and began to tame them, paving the way for our civilisation. Gaia Vince visits the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica where local people have found a way to both exploit and protect a natural resource, the olive ridley sea turtle. Re-introducing native species can be fraught with difficulties:...

Duration: 00:42:04

Living with the Gods

Are humans distinguished not just by a capacity to think, but by our need to believe - where the search is not so much for my place in the world, but for our place in the cosmos? Neil MacGregor, the former Director of the British Museum, discusses Living with the Gods, his Radio 4 series, in which he focuses on the expression of shared beliefs, across thousands of years, and around the globe, through objects from the Museum's collections and beyond. The curator Jennifer Sliwka looks at a...

Duration: 00:41:44

The End of War?

War became illegal in 1928 with the Paris Peace Pact that created a new world order, according to the lawyer and academic Oona Hathaway. She tells Andrew Marr how this pivotal moment launched a new international system in which sanctions replaced gunboat diplomacy. Although inter-state wars have fallen since World War Two, intra-state conflicts have risen: Elisabeth Kendall explains the dire situation of one of the Arab's poorest countries, Yemen. The Norwegian ambassador to the UK Mona...

Duration: 00:42:00

Russian Revolution a hundred years on

The Russian Revolution a hundred years on. To mark the centenary Tom Sutcliffe is in Moscow to discuss the forces that led to the Revolution, and to find out how far Russians today embrace or reject such a pivotal moment in their country's history. He talks to a senior member of President Putin's political party, Konstantin Kosachev. And he is joined by the journalists Mikhail Zygar and Arkady Ostrovsky and the Director of the Tretyakov Gallery, Zelfira Tregulova. Producer: Katy Hickman.

Duration: 00:41:05

Power, the people and the Party

Live from Manchester during the Conservative Party conference, Sir David Cannadine argues that Victorian Britain was never far from revolution. He tells Andrew Marr how a century seen as conservative was actually troubled by political upheaval. Britain may have been the world's greatest empire but it was riven by self-doubt. Novelist Anthony Powell depicted the turbulence of the 20th century in his series A Dance to the Music of Time. Powell is seen as the arch-conservative, but biographer...

Duration: 00:41:36

Hard work and sweet slumber

Francine Stock talks to the sleep scientist Matthew Walker whose latest book is a clarion call to get more sleep, as the latest research confirms that sleeping less than 6 or 7 hours has a devastating impact on physical and mental health. Armed with proof that shift work is detrimental for workers, political strategist Matthew Taylor considers what responsibility companies have to their staff in making sure they get enough sleep and whether since industrialisation modern working practises...

Duration: 00:42:09

Orhan Pamuk on competing myths

Andrew Marr talks to the Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk about his latest novel, The Red-Haired Woman. Set in Istanbul in the 20th century, it's a family drama which weaves together competing foundation myths of patricide and filicide and pits tradition against modernity; east and west. There are more competing ideologies in Jon Sopel's 'Notes from Trump's America' which paints a picture of a country riven by divisions between black and white, rich and poor, the urban and the rural....

Duration: 00:42:18

Les Misérables: novel of the century?

On Start the Week Andrew Marr talks to David Bellos about Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. Bellos argues that this 19th century masterpiece is the novel of the century, which demonstrates the drive to improve human life both morally and materially. Dinah Birch compares what was happening in literature on the other side of the channel, reflecting the breadth of society in Britain. Simon Callow makes the case for the composer of the century, Richard Wagner, while the singer Barbara Hannigan...

Duration: 00:41:51

From Darwin to Big Data with Richard Dawkins

On Start the Week Andrew Marr asks whether scientists have failed in their task to communicate their work to the wider public. The 'passionate rationalist' Richard Dawkins has spent his career trying to illuminate the wonders of nature and challenge what he calls faulty logic. But he wonders whether Darwin would consider his legacy now with 'a mixture of exhilaration and exasperation'. The child psychologist Deborah Kelemen has been working with young children to find out what they make of...

Duration: 00:42:09

Power: Fleet Street and Whitehall

On Start the Week Tom Sutcliffe talks to the former Conservative MP and last Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China. In a candid memoir Patten looks back at his political life. He lost his seat in the 1992 election, despite the Sun newspaper claiming the Tory landslide with the headline, "It's The Sun Wot Won It". James Graham's new play goes back to the birth of this ruthless 'red top' tabloid, when a...

Duration: 00:41:58

Health Inequality: TB, Trauma and Technology

On Start the Week Andrew Marr explores killer diseases and the health of the world. Kathryn Lougheed focuses on one of the smartest killers humanity has ever faced - TB. It's been around since the start of civilisation and has learnt how to adapt to different environments, so today more than one million people still die of the disease every year. As with many diseases it's the poor who are most at risk. But Sir Michael Marmot explains how it's not just those at the bottom who are adversely...

Duration: 00:42:12

Crossing the Boundaries of Gender, Race and Class

On Start the Week Kirsty Wark asks what it is to be a man, and to belong to a tribe. Thomas Page McBee has sought answers as he's transitioned from female to male, and explored how far the violent men of his youth are models of masculinity. Fatherhood and aggression take centre stage in Gary Owen's play, Killology, in which he's created a video game that allows players to live out their darkest fantasies. The poet Kayo Chingonyi moved to Britain when he was a child and in his debut...

Duration: 00:42:21

Inventing the Self: Fact and Fiction

On Start the Week, Andrew Marr explores where truth ends and invention begins in the story of the self. The theatre director Robert Lepage has spent decades creating other worlds on stage; now his one-man show recreates his childhood home in 1960s Quebec, with truth at the mercy of memory. Rebecca Stott has written the story of her family that her father left unfinished, including the Christian cult that inspired their devotion, until doubt led them astray. Miranda Doyle casts doubt on the...

Duration: 00:42:15

Live from the Hay Festival

Tom Sutcliffe presents Start the Week live from the Hay Festival. He is joined by award winning authors Colm Tóibín, Sebastian Barry and Meg Rosoff to discuss how they breathe new life into stories from the past, from Greek tragedy to civil war, while the psychologist Jan Kizilhan explains how a history of trauma and genocide has been woven into the story of his Yazidi community. Producer: Katy Hickman.

Duration: 00:42:14

India's Rise?

On Start the Week Andrew Marr discusses India. The Indian MP Shashi Tharoor looks back at the history of the Raj in Inglorious Empire, a searing indictment of the British and the impact on his country. The journalist Adam Roberts travels from Kerala to the Himalayas to find out whether a resurgent, vibrant India is about to realise its potential, and whether the belief in future prosperity will cover over the cracks which have divided the nation in the past. The Prime Minister, Narendra...

Duration: 00:41:04

Post-Truth and Revolution

On Start the Week Amol Rajan seeks the truth in a post-truth world. The political columnist Matthew D'Ancona paints a dystopian picture in which trust has evaporated, conspiracy theories thrive, and feelings trump fact. He argues that the very foundations of democracy are under threat. Claire Wardle is hoping her organisation First Draft will equip users to verify the sources of stories and tackle misinformation online. But what happens when the peddlers of misinformation are...

Duration: 00:41:58

Kate Tempest: Everyday Epic

On Start the Week Andrew Marr talks to the writer and performer Kate Tempest about her desire to bring out the epic in everyday lives, and to show the poetry in lived experience. Tracy Chevalier has taken the themes of Shakespeare's Othello and transported them to a US elementary school, while Hanif Kureishi mines the dark world of jealousy and revenge in his latest novel. Lewis Hyde looks back to mythical mischief makers from Hermes to Loki to celebrate modern day rule breakers as the...

Duration: 00:41:46

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