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Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions of our age with some of the world's most eminent minds.

Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions of our age with some of the world's most eminent minds.
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London, United Kingdom




Bridget Kendall presents an ideas discussion show which tackles the big questions of our age with some of the world's most eminent minds.




The Alphabet of Chemistry

The Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev attempted nothing less than to pull apart the fabric of reality and expose the hidden patterns that lie beneath everything in existence, from shoes and ships and sealing wax to cabbages and kings. The result was something known to almost everyone who has ever been to school: the Periodic Table of the elements. But why this particular arrangement? And why is it still the foundation of chemistry? Quentin Cooper is joined by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, who since...

Duration: 00:39:09

Kubla Khan: A Vision in a Dream

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree … “ - Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is one of the most famous poems in the English Language. But it is also one of the strangest. It was composed during an opium dream, it remains unfinished and according to one theory, was implicated in a war in South Africa. And, what is its relation to the real life Kublai Khan, the 13th century Mongol Emperor who conquered China? Joining Rajan Datar to discuss this mysterious poem is...

Duration: 00:39:59

The Story of Evita

Eva Peron rose from a childhood of poverty to become one of the most powerful figures in Latin America. An illegitimate small town girl, she smashed class and gender barriers to become Argentina’s controversial First Lady. Loved and loathed, Rajan Datar discusses her life, work and remarkable afterlife with biographer Jill Hedges, historian Ranaan Rein, and cultural theorist Claudia Soria. Photo: Eva Peron in 1951 (Keystone/Getty Images)

Duration: 00:41:38

Flamenco: Darkness and Light

Flamenco is easily recognised across the world thanks to certain stereotypes, namely spotty dresses, shirt-tearing and lots of foot stamping. The reality however is far more nuanced, and this extraordinarily complex music and dance form can take many years – if not a lifetime – to master. For those steeped in its traditions, they describe it as a way of life. With the help of musical examples, Rajan Datar and guests explore how flamenco works, and discuss how it’s grown from its origins in...

Duration: 00:38:50

Sankara: Africa’s Revolutionary President

Thomas Sankara is the revolutionary who became the first president of Burkina Faso in West Africa, and gave the country its name, meaning 'the land of upright people'. In his short time as leader of Burkina Faso, Sankara instituted sweeping reforms to make the country more self-sufficient and society more equal. For some Sankara was a hero, for others, he was a ruthless autocrat. This year marks 30 years after his mysterious -and as yet unsolved- assassination, but why do memories of him...

Duration: 00:40:08

Cotton: a Yarn with a Twist

It is a fibre and a fabric that is part of many people's daily lives, it grows wild on at least three continents, it has been woven into cloth and traded all over the world for thousands of years. And when machines made possible the mass production of cotton, its story became entwined with the history of human slavery: making fortunes for a few, and condemning many to a life of misery. So what are the milestones in the history of cotton? And why has it always proved such a popular clothing...

Duration: 00:39:34

Life Support: The Story of the Red Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was formed in 1863 and its objectives have been to ensure protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict ever since. It's a story about the often challenging and sometimes controversial development of global humanitarian intervention, the Geneva Conventions and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Bridget Kendall and guests Dr Hugo Slim, Professor Andrew Thompson, Caroline Morehead and Syrian Canadian aid worker Layal...

Duration: 00:39:49

Stanislavsky: Founder of Modern Acting

It was at the Moscow Art Theatre from the 1890’s onwards that Stanislavsky developed an innovative acting system that demanded actors really inhabit the role they are playing. This then inspired Method acting, which originated in the United States, and whose disciples range from Marlon Brando to Marilyn Monroe to the majority of big stars around the world today - some of whom have taken the system to an alarming extreme. This programme explores Stanislavsky's life and legacy, and also asks...

Duration: 00:39:52

Nikola Tesla’s Electric Dreams

The extraordinary life and prophetic inventions of the Serbian-American engineer Nikola Tesla. Bridget Kendall and guests discuss not just Tesla's key contributions to the design of modern electrical appliances and systems but also his dream of a worldwide system of free wireless electricity, his ambitious scheme to build huge towers to make it happen and why in 1917 his plans and the first tower at Wardenclyffe near New York City came crashing down. Bridget is joined by Jasmina Vujic,...

Duration: 00:39:38

Adam Smith: Father of Capitalism

Adam Smith, a moral philosopher and economist, was born in Scotland, the son of a customs officer. In 1776 he published a book called 'An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’. Smith basically argued against the over regulation of commerce and said if people were set free to better themselves, it would produce economic prosperity for all. To discuss his work and legacy are Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Intellectual History Vivienne Brown, the UK Labour Party...

Duration: 00:39:47

The First Skyscrapers

From Chicago to Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur to Dubai, the towering modern skyscraper has become a global icon. Touching the clouds worldwide and shaping our cities’ skylines, these bold structures have long captured the imagination and stirred debate. But where did the story start? In this programme, Bridget Kendall and guests look to America to explore the foundations of some of the world’s very first skyscrapers. Discussing cities such as Chicago and New York, and landmarks such as The Empire...

Duration: 00:39:17

Rain or Shine? A Short History of the Weather Forecast

How did we get from not having any reliable way of predicting the weather just 150 years ago, to today's accurate, tailor-made forecasts for places as small as a village? Bridget Kendall and guests trace the history of meteorology, from its first steps as an aid to quicker trans-Atlantic shipping to the latest methods which can help anticipate weather events as short-lived as a tornado. Bridget is joined by Kristine Harper, a former US Navy forecaster and now a history professor at Florida...

Duration: 00:39:49

The Reformation: A World Divided

500 years ago, in a remote part of Germany, a little known friar called Martin Luther set in train a series of events that led to the permanent splintering of Western Christianity. It changed the political and social landscape in a way that still resonates today all over the world. The Forum comes from Trinity Hall, part of Cambridge University in the UK, with historian Professor Ulinka Rublack, Professor of English Literature Brian Cummings, Professor of Theology Alec Ryrie and the...

Duration: 00:48:29

Detroit: Migration Motors & Music

Bridget Kendall and guests examine the story of Detroit. Founded in 1701 by a French man named Cadillac, this American city became famous in the twentieth century for its automobile industry, the music of Motown, and the great unrest seen on the city’s streets in the summer of 1967. In this programme, Bridget and guests discuss the city’s changing fortunes and its fascinating history, from the role played by some residents in the ‘Underground Railroad’ of the nineteenth century, to its...

Duration: 00:40:02

The Real Pirates of the Caribbean

They are familiar figures in folklore and popular culture, swashbuckling across the silver screen, snarling on stage as pantomime villains or committing daring deeds in childhood literary classics. But who were the real life pirates of the Caribbean and how much of what we think we know about them is based on fact? Rajan Datar is joined by maritime historian David Cordingly, academic and author Margarette Lincoln and author Laura Sook Duncombe who has written about pirate women....

Duration: 00:39:43

Rumi: Sufi poet of love

From East to West, Rumi is one of the most universally respected poets of all time. A 13th century Islamic scholar, his encounter with a wandering dervish transformed him into a globally celebrated mystic and poet of love who has crossed borders of time, faith, language and geography. Rajan Datar discusses his life, work and legacy with scholars Fatemeh Keshavarz and Omid Safi, and biographer Brad Gooch. Image: Pray...Mount Nemrut, Commagene Credit: Getty Images/tugbahasbal

Duration: 00:39:26

The Story of the Guitar

Bridget Kendall and guests explore the history of the guitar which stretches back over several thousand years. From early instruments made of tortoise shells the guitar emerged as one of the great cultural crossover instruments, encompassing folk traditions around the world, classical music and spine-tingling rock riffs. With guitar master John Williams, composer and guitar expert Professor Stephen Goss, Turkish guitarist Cenk Erdogan and French guitar maker Celine Camerlynck. (Photo: Boy...

Duration: 00:39:57

The Rise and Fall of Julius Caesar

Bridget Kendall and guests examine the rise and fall of Julius Caesar, the Roman politician and general, who conquered vast areas of Europe, defied his political peers, and acquired great levels of power, becoming ‘dictator’ in Rome. His behaviour, battling and bold reforms shook the late Roman Republic to its very core. From Caesar’s early steps on the political career ladder in ancient Rome, to his affair with Egypt’s Cleopatra and his assassination by his colleagues, Bridget and guests...

Duration: 00:39:39

Bram Stoker's Dracula

Few novels have had such a huge impact on modern popular culture as Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The story and its terrifying main character have fascinated readers, critics, writers and film-makers ever since it was first published in 1897. Across the world there are fan clubs devoted to the fictional Romanian aristocrat who brings terror to Victorian England. Bridget Kendall is joined by Dracula expert Dacre Stoker, gothic studies specialist Dr Sorcha Ní Fhlainn and Dr Sam George from the...

Duration: 00:39:33

Secrets of the Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is one of the greatest wonders of the ancient World. It is the largest pyramid ever built and even today, with advanced satellite and thermal imaging and other high tech science, we don’t know everything about the pyramid- exactly what’s inside or how it was built. To explore the history of The Great Pyramid - also known as the Pyramid of Khufu, after the Pharaoh who commissioned it as his tomb, Rajan Datar is joined by Professor Salima Ikram,...

Duration: 00:39:52

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