BBC Radio Podcasts from Arts & Ideas

Arts & Ideas


Poet Pascale Petit, photographer Jasper Goodall, Alexandra Harris, composer Sally Beamish

Green Thinking: Sustainable Development

How can mangos, cocoa husks and rice be turned into fuel and impact climate change?

Celebrating Buchi Emecheta

Shahidha Bari leads a discussion of Nigerian-born novelist Buchi Emecheta (1944-2017).

The Language of Flowers

Rebecca Solnit's book Orwell's Roses explores his interest in gardening

Green Thinking: History of climate summits

How could meetings like COP and the targets they set be organised differently ?

Rationality & Tradition

Steven Pinker on Rationality and Tim Stanley on Tradition - Anne McElvoy hosts

Green Thinking: Landscapes

How can understanding the history of landscape help planners, policies and people?

New Thinking: Black British Theatre. An Afro-Cuban star

From a Black Juliet in the 18th century to Ira Aldridge’s daughter Amanda + Rita Montaner

Green Thinking: how we see nature

How can we give nature a louder voice in climate change discussions?


Matthew Sweet examines how sugar built the modern world


Laurence Scott and guests on the history and meaning of colour

Frieze: Museums in the 21st century

Anne McElvoy talks to the directors at London's National Gallery, Yale and New York's Met

Green Thinking: Health

How can we deal with the health challenges presented by the climate crisis?


Do poets choose their words or are they predetermined?

New Thinking: Black British Theatre

From a Black Juliet in the 18th century to Ira Aldridge’s daughter Amanda.

The British Academy Book Prize 2021

New ways of thinking about global problems - Rana Mitter reads this year's shortlist.


Literally "breaking the fast" - Matthew Sweet moves from the Full English to Tiffany's.

Green Thinking: Transport

The impact of walking to school, the energy use of electric cars and should we fly less?

Order & Chaos

Clutter, indexes, and jazz improvisation. Ruth Ozeki and others join Shahidha Bari

Thomas Mann

Novelist Colm Toibin joins Anne McElvoy to discuss the German author's life and struggles

New Thinking: Researching a House Through Time

Producer Kat Feavers & house historian Melanie Backe-Hansen on preparing the TV show

The continuing appeal of Tudor history

Philippa Gregory tells Matthew Sweet why the Tudors are still so hot.


Shahidha Bari digs into the filth and the fury to see what resonates today

Green Thinking: Soil

Do we need to change the way we think about soil to make it sustainable?

Hannah Arendt's exploration of Totalitarianism

Why do Hannah Arendt's ideas continue to fire the imaginations of artists and thinkers?


A teacher's view, a Frankenstein-inspired ballet, outside status and circus paintings

Green Thinking: Fashion

What will we wear if our clothing is to become sustainable?


Novelist Tom McCarthy joins Matthew Sweet to explore glitches and what they tell us

Dante's visions

Art historian Martin Kemp, painter Emma Safe, parallels with Proust and a Dante website

Saint John Henry Newman

Kate Kennedy, Tim Stanley, Catherine Pepinster, Dafydd Mills Daniel on Newman's thought

Revisit Shoes

From Roman sandals to trainers and stilettos, Shahidha Bari looks at the shoe trade

Revisit The influence of the British black arts movement

Sonia Boyce, Harold Offeh, Isaac Julien and Eddie Chambers talk to Anne McElvoy

Revisit: Tokyo Idols and Urban Life

The weird world of teenage girls seeking fame, plus the city in fiction and photography.

Revisit Rashōmon

David Peace, Natasha Pulley, Jasper Sharp & Yuna Tasaka on the film + the book behind it

Bette Davis

As the BFI prepares a season of films, Matthew Sweet and guests discuss the Hollywood star

Green Thinking: Food

How can we make food and farming more sustainable?

Connecting with nature

Music from thunder, art inspired by a dog walk,essays about a rural wood and a city field

Alain Robbe-Grillet

Tom McCarthy and others join Matthew Sweet to discuss the French 'new novel'

Green Thinking: Weather

What can we learn from how people responded to extreme weather events in the past?


Soweto Kinch, James Nestor, and Imani Jacqueline Brown of Forensic Architecture

Green Thinking: Festivals

Des Fitzgerald hears how festivals can reduce their ecological footprint

Mining, Coal and DH Lawrence

Matthew Sweet looks at the connections between mining, the arts, and culture

Mining, Coal and DH Lawrence

Matthew Sweet excavates the culture and arts of mining

Epic Iran, lost cities and Proust

Rana Mitter and guests explore the art and culture of Iran + why people abandon cities.

The English country house party

Why does the grand country house party hold such power over the English imagination?

Filming Sunday Bloody Sunday

Glenda Jackson talks to Matthew Sweet about John Schlesinger's 1971 love triangle drama

New Thinking:The Innovative Shape of Poems

Sandeep Parmar talks to poets Kayo Chingonyi, Paisley Rekdal and Nasser Hussain

Green Thinking: Sustainable Cities

Earthscrapers and subterranean transport - do greener cities need to go underground?

Cornwall and the Coastal Gothic

Laurence Scott investigates what's lurking in the rock pools

Green Thinking: Climate Change and Heritage

How do we stop climate change destroying historic landmarks or is it time to say goodbye?

World's Fairs and the future

Visions of the future shaped by empire, politics and unfaltering faith in progress

Green Thinking: Climate Change and Literature

What can creative writing add to the conversation about climate change?

Mid Century Modern

Shahidha Bari look at labour saving devices and ideas of home

Building London

Eric Parry & Alison Brooks; writers Fiona Mozley & SI Martin; pianist Belle Chen


The role of masks in African traditions, Greek tragedy and Covid conspiracies


Edmund de Waal and Frances Stonor Saunders discuss uncovering Jewish family stories.

Nadifa Mohamed, Gentle/Radical, Dylan Thomas

The work of Turner Prize nominees, a Tiger Bay murder story, Under Milk Wood on stage

Green Thinking: Climate and Refugees

Is climate change really causing people to flee their homes?

How anthropology helps us understand the world

Economist Gillian Tett is one of Anne McElvoy's guests.

How anthropology helps us understand the world

Economist Gillian Tett is one of Anne McElvoy's guests.

Green Thinking: Hot Money

Bitcoin, investment bonds and how to make finance greener.

Beryl Vertue

Matthew Sweet meets the Sherlock producer and ex agent of Tony Hancock who has turned 90

Women's Art

Jennifer Higgie, Adjoa Osei, Veronica Ryan, and Lydia Yee talk to Shahidha Bari

Green Thinking: Seascapes and Blue Gold

How will Climate Change impact the ocean and our relationship with it?

Green Thinking: Climate and Conflict

Is global warming increasingly to blame for conflict and disputes over land and resources?

Green Thinking: Future of Work

The future of work in a post-Covid-19 world and the implications for our environment.

Green Thinking: Can artists help save the planet?

From ice photos by Wayne Binitie to 140 ideas from artists collated by Hans Ulrich Obrist

Alice and Dreaming

Alice is asked in Wonderland, Why is a raven like a writing desk? Salman Rushdie explains

New Thinking: The Botanical Past

From still life paintings to Kew Gardens, a new history of horticulture is being written

Wittgenstein's Tractatus at 100

Can one book solve all the problems of philosophy?

Fashion, Art, and the Body

Olivia Laing, Charlie Porter, and Ekow Eshun join Shahidha Bari

Novelist Tahmima Anam plus was Nero a ruthless tyrant?

Was Nero really a victim of plots? Bulgaria's hidden past. Plus a novel about startups.

Who needs critics?

Matthew Sweet questions the critic's role while Vid Simoniti looks at algorithms and art.

Ghosts of the Spanish civil war

Breaking the silence: filmmakers, a novelist and historian on the recent Spanish past.

The Wolfson History Prize 2021

Rana Mitter meets the six authors shortlisted for the UK's most prestigious history prize

Lost cities, 20s divas and 2011 uprisings

Anne McElvoy explores the past and present of the transcontinental nation of Egypt

New Thinking: Archiving, curating and digging for data

Lisa Mullen explores the way data can change our view of history & looks at conservation.

Marlon James and Neil Gaiman

The two weavers of fantastical fiction sift through myths with Matthew Sweet.

Alison Bechdel

American graphic novelist Alison Bechdel talks mushrooms, therapy and Adrienne Rich

Napoleon the gardener and art thief

Ruth Scurr, Emma Rothschild and Natasha Pulley look at French history with Rana Mitter

Samuel Johnson's circle

Patience Agbabi's novel time travels back to eighteenth century London - so do we

Northern Ireland

Anne McElvoy marks the 1921 creation of Northern Ireland with historians and writers

New Generation Thinkers: A Norwegian Morality Tale

Lucy Weir learns dark lessons from newspaper coverage of Black Metal and satanic rituals

New Generation Thinkers: Beyond the betting shop

Darragh McGee considers the history of gambling from 18th century card games to apps

Links between Judaism and Christianity

Rector Giles Fraser tells Matthew Sweet how a crisis led to discovering his Jewish roots

Epistemic Injustice

Shahidha Bari investigates how theory of knowledge can address real world problems

New Generation Thinkers: Colonial Papers

Alexandra Reza's Essay considers the Gilet Noirs, Ousmane Sembène, and Nathalie Quintane

New Generation Thinkers: Battlefield Finds

Seren Griffiths tells the story of the soldier turned archaeologist Francis Buckley.

New Generation Thinkers: The Inscrutable Writing of Sui Sin Far

Xine Yao suggests that a poker Chinese face can be a good way of fighting back

New Generation Thinkers: Hoarding or Collecting?

Diarmuid Hester muses on the thin line between inspiration and a compulsive disorder.

Bombing and morals, Flooding and the future

Malcolm Gladwell, Satyajit Ray's film Jalsaghar, Jessie Greengrass. Rana Mitter hosts.

New Generation Thinkers: A social history of soup

Tom Scott-Smith uses four recipes to track social reforms and changes in what we value.

New Thinking: Shakespeare's Life Lessons

Scholars Emma Smith, Patrick Gray, and Emma Whipday find examples in different dramas

The Essay New Generation Thinkers Jean Rhys's Dress

Sophie Oliver on motherhood, a old dress and rereading Wide Sargasso Sea

Maryse Condé's writing plus Suzanne O'Sullivan

Shahida Bari reads I Tituba, the story of the West Indian slave accused in Salem.

New Generation Thinkers: The Feurtado's Fire

Christienna Fryar looks at Caribbean fires and earthquakes and lessons for rebuilding now

The Battle of Culloden, Outlander, Peter Watkins

Matthew Sweet with Outlander creator Diana Gabaldon, historian Tom Devine and John Cook

Jacques Tati's Trafic

Matthew Sweet, Adam Scovell, Muriel Zagha and Phuong Le on the 1971 French comedy.

Octavia Butler's Kindred

A novel from 1979 that uses time travel to explore race, slavery and trauma

Deleuze and Guattari, Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Matthew Sweet re-reads a classic of French postmodern theory

Milton: Samson Agonistes

How do we look at blindness in poetic writing, classics, in Milton's and Handel's life?

John Milton's Samson Agonistes

Rana Mitter looks at how politics, blindness and the Bible fed into this dramatic poem

The Liverpool Biennial debate

How to reflect Liverpool's history in new artworks: Anne McElvoy hosts a discussion.

Spy talk

From a secret Iraqi spy cell to new revelations of cold war exploits. Rana Mitter hosts.

From Blackface to Beyoncé

From the theatre stage to the Superbowl, in praise of Black performance

Writing About Faith

Stand-up Frank Skinner and novelists Jeet Thayil and Yaa Gyasi talk to Laurence Scott

Churchill's reputation

Anne McElvoy and guests on attitudes to the politician, his rhetoric and foreign policies


Cooking, nature, music, colour - what's your lockdown pleasure?

Frantz Fanon

Re-reading the major 20th century theorist of decolonisation

Books to Make Space For on the Bookshelf: There's No Story There

Lisa Mullen looks at depictions of war-time factory workers in this novel by Inez Holden

Books to Make Space For On The Bookshelf: Closer

New Generation Thinker Diarmuid Hester on the transgressive writing of Dennis Cooper

Syria: hope and poetry

An architect who lived in Homs during the war, a translator of Adonis and a media analyst

Books to Make Space For on the Bookshelf: Sindhubala

Preti Taneja on the writing and politics of Bengali author and activist Mahasweta Devi

Introducing New Generation Thinkers 2021

Ten researchers look at colonial history, alphabets, punctuation, poetry, art terminology

Books To Make Space For On The Bookshelf: John Halifax, Gentleman

2/5 Clare Walker Gore explores how Dinah Mulock Craik subverted Victorian expectations

New Thinking: what do we learn from census stats?

John Gallagher talks to four researchers uncovering lives from past census records

Books to Make Space For on the Bookshelf: The Black Lizard

New Generation Thinker Christopher Harding reads the Japanese equivalent of Conan Doyle

Edward Said's thinking

Rana Mitter reads the first biography of the Palestinian academic, pianist and negotiator

The Vietnam Paris connection

Author Viet Thanh Nguyen, film critic Phuong Le and Peter Salmon join Matthew Sweet

New Thinking: From life on Mars to space junk

Seb Falk talks to researchers about our attitude to Mars,seeing colour and Skylab's crash

Speech, Voice, Accents and AI Free Thinking

Lynda Clark, Allison Koenecke and Sadie Ryan discuss their research with Matthew Sweet

Breakdown: Horatio Clare, Stevie Smith

Horatio Clare talks to Laurence Scott about mania and healing + Stevie's Smith's writing

New Thinking: Girls

New research into ideas about girlhood and growing up - in film, fiction, art and society

Saint John Henry Newman

Newman's thought: Kate Kennedy, Tim Stanley, Catherine Pepinster and Dafydd Mills Daniel

Foucault: The History of Sexuality 4

Shahidha Bari reads Robert Hurley's new English translation

Humans, Animals, Ecologies

Matthew Sweet in conversation with two radical thinkers: Joanna Bourke and Anna Tsing

Adoption, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Renée Vivien & Violette Leduc

Fiona Sampson, Peggy Reynolds and Anne McElvoy talk poetry and writing personal stories

Turkey: Adnan Menderes, populism, and history

Having survived a plane crash, the Turkish Prime Minister 1950-60 died in an execution

Pakistan, Politics and Water Supplies

Samira Shackle , Ejaz Haider and Majed Akhter talk about Karachi, power, crime and energy

Coins, the magic money tree and a cashless world

In February 1971 the UK went decimal. Anne McElvoy and guests look at money old and new.

Darwin's The Descent of Man (1871)

Matthew Sweet and guests assess Darwin's arguments about the human species, sex, and race

New Thinking: Fashion Stories in Museums

Shahidha Bari & V&A fashion curator Claire Wilcox on costumes, couture, and wardrobes

Class and social mobility

Selina Todd, David Goodhart, Timandra Harkness and Sadie Ryan talk with Matthew Sweet.

Patricia Lockwood and André Aciman

Two American authors talk to Laurence Scott about their sense of time, place and self

New Thinking: Eco-Criticism

Exploring the points where literature and ecological thinking meet

What Makes a Good Lecture?

From Aristotle to TED talks: Mary Beard, Homi Bhabha and Seán Williams with Shahidha Bari

Yiddish and Rotwelsch, Nazi France

Michael Rosen and Martin Puchner talk to Matthew Sweet about a lost language of the road

Food, The Environment & Richard Flanagan

How food impacts on the environment; Richard Flanagan on his novel about a dying planet

John Rawls's A Theory of Justice

The lasting impact of John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice on philosophy and politics.

James Baldwin and race in USA

Rana Mitter & guests re-read James Baldwin's writing as a new US President is inaugurated

Harlots & 18th Century Working Women

History & Harlots: Hallie Rubenhold & Moira Buffini on the C18th sex worker TV drama

Witchcraft, Werewolves, and Writing The Devil

Conjuring fear, discussed by historians and by novelists Jenni Fagan and Salena Godden

New Thinking: Women and Slavery

Research on women owners, women on plantations, and the daughter of a slave trader

Autism, film and patterns

From Rain Man to Atypical - Matthew Sweet looks at autism on screen and in everyday life

New Thinking: Aphra Behn

John Gallagher's guests decode changes in Behn's loyalties from her plays and dedications


Rana Mitter explores Dostoevsky as a thriller writer and comedian

Mildred Pierce

James M Cain's classic novel and its film adaptation discussed by Matthew Sweet & guests

Marlene Dietrich

Tracing the sensual and radical Marlene Dietrich from Europe to Hollywood.

Winter Light

From paintings and folk tales to Brian Cox on the stars & Susan Greaney on Stonehenge.

Hegel's Philosophy of Right

Anne McElvoy listens for echoes of Beethoven in Hegel

Ancient wisdom & remote living

From medieval science to the ingenuity of Arctic peoples & the resilience of island life

New Thinking: Hey Presto!

Magic in medicine, surgery & business; panto cross-dressing; and panto & magic history

New Thinking: Ways of Talking about Health

The winners of the AHRC and Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Awards 2020

The 1920s - Philosophy's Golden Age

Matthew Sweet on Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Benjamin, Carnap and other philosophical greats

Times of Change

Can the Industrial Revolution and the end of the Aztecs help us shape a post COVID world

Mould-Breaking Writing

Max Porter, Chloe Aridjis, Will Harris and Xine Yao on writing the breaks the mould

When Shakespeare Travelled with Me

Shakespeare from 1916 Egypt to Arabic pop songs.

Leadership & authority

From Tudor courts to plantations to the Arab Spring: a Bristol Festival of Ideas Debate.

Politician and Pioneer

Writing the Life of Arthur Kavanagh

Beastly Politics

Is man the only political beast?


How have our bedrooms changed from sleeping space to work space?

Byron, celebrity and fan mail

Would Byron have embraced Twitter?

Should biographers imitate their subjects?

The perils of writing biographies of scientist JS Haldane & Indian mystic Mother Meera

Democracy, Hong Kong and USA

Democracy and dissent in Hong Kong & USA. Is confrontational politics is here to stay?

Helen Mort and Blake Morrison, Oulipo

Helen Mort and Blake Morrison talk mentoring. Oulipo: rules for writing in 1960s Paris.

New Thinking: Films and Research

Films investigating melting glaciers, to refugee camps, public bathrooms, & more.

New Thinking: Face Transplants and Researching Nose Injuries

Would you change your nose if you could? What about an entire face transplant?

Postcolonial Derby: Privateers, Pieces of Eight and the Postwar Playhouse

What connects a "double elephant" sized map, an academy of dissenters and Daniel Defoe?

The Imperial War Museum BBC Radio 3 Remembrance Debate 2020

What is the role of artists in shaping our understanding of history by commemorating war?

Charity shop history, our relationship with 'stuff', and musical typewriters

Matthew Sweet on charity shops, 'stuff', musical typewriters and the Being Human Festival

Billy Wilder

Novelist Jonathan Coe and others discuss the director of Some Like It Hot

New Thinking: Depicting disability in history and culture

A history of disability: court fools, political activism, and the 19th century novel.

War in fact and fiction

Historians and authors discuss their own work and reflections on conflict and violence.

Thinking about audiences in a time of pandemic

Shahidha Bari discuss the audience in the arts with Kwame Kwei Armah and guests

Individualism and Community

From Enlightenment conscience to New Deal USA, carers and refugees. Anne McElvoy hosts.

The post-Covid city

How the pandemic has transformed our use and experience of urban space

The Writing of Aime Cesaire

Cesaire's poetry, politics, and ideas on anti-colonialism and black consciousness

Polari Prize winners

Pleasure & responsibility in LGBTQ+ art with the Polari Prize & photographer Sunil Gupta

Seances, Science and Art - A Haunting, A Telepathy Experiment, and an Exhibition of Supernormal Art.

A haunting & artists as mediums - Kate Summerscale, Richard Wiseman & Matthew Sweet

Post Truth & Derrida

What is Derrida's influence in the 'post-truth' age?

Poet Daljit Nagra and crime writer Val McDermid

Daljit Nagra and Val McDermid talk about their writing, as part of Durham Book Festival

New Thinking about Museums

From VR Vikings & military museums to bakelite - new research into a range of collections

The Frieze BBC Radio 3 Debate: Museums in the 21st Century

Gallery directors from Russia, USA and Singapore compare notes, hosted by Anne McElvoy

Writing a Life: Hermione Lee, Daniel Lee and Rachel Holmes

Biographers of Tom Stoppard, Sylvia Pankhurst and a little known SS soldier compare notes

New Thinking: African Europeans; Fidel Castro & African leaders; WEB Du Bois

Professors Olivette Otele and Simon Hall on understanding connections in black history

Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Seamus Heaney. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

How knowledge of poets’ lives shapes how we view their work; Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Cows in culture and soil

Are cows the answer to depleted soil or the problem? With farmer and author James Rebanks

Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize 2020

Tales of indigenous people battling for their land; colonialism & anthropology pioneers

Conservatism, Philanthropy, Liberal and socialist futures

Anne McElvoy surveys current thinking on big political ideas and ideology.

New Thinking: The impact of being multilingual

John Gallagher looks at creating in multiple tongues and the slipperiness of metaphor

Get Carter

Digging beneath the surface of the classic Brit noir film with director Mike Hodges

Family ties and reshaping history

From Neanderthals to Sikh warriors to the idea of ‘WEIRD’ people, 3 authors look at kin

New Thinking: The Mayflower and Native American History

Eleanor Barraclough explores the significance of the much mythologised Pilgrim voyage.

Piranesi and disturbing archecture

Susanna Clarke, author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is one of Matthew Sweet's guests

The Radiophonic Workshop

Matthew Sweet meets members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Greek classics and the sea plus a pair of novels byTolstoy and Dostoevsky

Pat Barker & Giles Fraser on Russian lit/Edith Hall & Barry Cunliffe on the classical sea

Wole Soyinka's writing

Ben Okri, Louisa Egbunike & Oladipo Agboluaje discuss the Nigerian author's life and work

Bernard-Henri Lévy, Stella Sandford, Homi K Bhabha

Shahidha Bari talks to Bernard-Henri Lévy, Stella Sandford, Homi K Bhabha

Anne Applebaum, Ingrid Bergman, Herland

Politics and friendship and the lives of Ingrid Bergman and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Dada and the power of Nonsense

A project to re-imagine the Dada arts movement now, and reflections on satire and nonsense

Proms Lecture - Daniel Levitin: Music and Our Brains

Daniel Levitin explores new thinking about the relationship between music and memory

New Thinking:Nature Writing

From Gilbert White to lockdown blogs - why we need to spend more time in nature.


Matthew Sweet and guests conjure a conversation about the importance and appeal of magic

How do we build a new masculinity ?

Sunil Gupta, CN Lester, Tom Shakespeare & Alona Pardo with Matthew Sweet

Egyptian Satire

The power of humour in protest.

Pogroms and prejudice

Brendan McGeever looks at anti-semitism from Russian attacks to the present day

The consolation of philosophy and stories

Matthew Sweet talks to Kylie Murray, Prof Seth Lerer and former Bishop Richard Holloway

What does a black history curriculum look like?

Whose life stories are missing from the British history we write and teach?

Prison Break

New Generation Thinker Jeffrey Howard asks is it ever ok to escape from prison?

Facing Facts

From duelling injuries to eye patches - Emily Cock asks how we respond to peoples' faces

Gambling, good leadership and economic history

Anne McElvoy looks at betting, economics and the leadership of US presidents

Frank Cottrell-Boyce

The screenwriter and novelist talks to Matthew Sweet about depicting Britain in his work.

Dam Fever and The Diaspora

How do large dam projects attract such adoration, despite lessons of twentieth century?

Not Quite Jean Muir

How does sewing a dress add to Jade Halbert's understanding of disappearing skills

Digging Deep

Susan Greaney asks whether Neolithic attitudes to the earth could shape our thinking.

Berlin, Detroit, Race and Techno Music

Tom Smith looks at the early pioneers of this music scene & arguments about whiteness now

Coming out Crip and Acts of Care

Ella Parry-Davies draws on experiences of migrant domestic workers in the UK & Lebanon

Tudor Virtual Reality

What is the link between VR dinosaurs & a Tudor wall painting of the Judgement of Solomon?

Ian Rankin and Tahmima Anam

A pair of authors due to be at the Bradford Literature Festival compare notes on writing.

Revisit: Arundhati Roy

The Man Booker prize winning author and campaigner is in conversation with Philip Dodd.

Rethinking the Curriculum

Sandeep Parmar, Jade Cuttle, Edith Hall, Seb Falk talk to Rana Mitter about what we teach

Irenosen Okojie and Nadifa Mohamed. Midsummer archaeology

A virtual Bare Lit Festival talk, Nadifa Mohammed & Irenosen Okojie with Shahidha Bari

Queer Bloomsbury and stillness in art and dance

Paul Mendez and Francesca Wade on Virginia Woolf, walking, identity and Dalloway Day

Revisit: Antarctica - testing ground for the human species

An author, scientist, architect and explorer compare notes on this polar region.

New Thinking: Refugees

What are the best shelters? the right language? what do we learn from self help in camps?

The future of theatre debate

Bertie Carvel, Amit Lahav, Eleanor Loyd, Roy Alexander Weise, Caroline Dinenage MP & more

Failure and female friendship

Lara Feigel, Michèle Roberts & New Generation Thinker Alexandra Reza with Shahidha Bari


Mathew Sweet, Linda Grant, Laurence Scott & Lucy Whitehead 150 years since Dickens' death

New Thinking: Tackling Modern Slavery

Naomi Paxton looks at new research into the effectiveness of the UK Act passed in 2015

Robin Askwith

The actor talks to Matthew Sweet about a childhood affected by polio and his career.

Revisit: Tokyo Story

Actor Richard Wilson & Prof Naoko Shimazu discuss Yasujiro Ozu's 1953 film of family life

Revisit: Rowan Williams and Simon Armitage

Landscape in poetry discussed by Rowan Williams and Simon Armitage at Hay.

Sarah Perry

In a conversation with Mathew Sweet, the gothic author explores writing past and present.

Revisit: My Body Clock is Broken

Jay Griffiths, Vincent Deary, Louise Robinson and Matthew Smith discuss our mental health

Anne Fine and Romesh Gunesekera. Jarman's Garden

Shahidha Bari talks to a pair of writers about routines & knowing how to start and stop.


Rutger Bregman tells Anne McElvoy why survival of the fittest needs rethinking as an idea

The 2020 Wolfson History Prize: David Abulafia, Hallie Rubenhold, Prashant Kidambi

From Indian cricket, a survey of the oceans to Jack the Ripper: 3 shortlisted historians.

Revisit: 2019 Wolfson History Prize Discussion

Rana Mitter with the 6 shortlisted historians and an audience at the British Academy

The 2020 Wolfson History Prize: Toby Green, Marion Turner, John Barton

New takes on Chaucer, the Bible and African trading from 3 of the historians shortlisted.

WW II radio propaganda & French relations

From a gratitude train to the sinister broadcasts to US soldiers. Matthew Sweet presents.

Revisit: Encylopedias and Knowledge from Diderot to Wikipedia

Jimmy Wales talks Diderot & collecting knowledge + Tariq Godard on Mark Fisher aka k-punk

Revisit: Mark Haddon

As it comes out in paperback, Mark Haddon talks to Anne McElvoy about The Porpoise.

Cary Grant

Matthew Sweet talks to Pamela Hutchinson, Charlotte Crofts & Mark Glancy.

Revisit: Rachel Carson's Silent Spring

Tony Juniper, Emily Shuckburgh, Dieter Helm and Kapka Kassabova join Rana Mitter at Hay

Alternative Realities

Shahidha Bari explores the impact of life changing experiences & the fourth dimension

Revisit: Shakespeare's Bookshelf

Edith Hall, Nandini Das and Beatrice Groves on the books Shakespeare would have read.

Deep Time and the Earth

Lewis Dartnell, Gaia Vince and David Farrier join Rana Mitter to look at deep ecology.


Philip Dodd talks to actor Christopher Eccleston and historian Ruth Dudley Edwards

New Thinking: Religion and ordinary lives

Tom Charlton looks for evidence of belief from samplers to children's scribbles in bibles

Revisit: What does game playing teach us

From a Mesopotamian game to Scrabble, Shahidha Bari discusses competition and gaming.


From dance to prayer, knees ups to kneeling

New Thinking: Wordsworth

Professors Sally Bushell & Simon Bainbridge talk to New Generation Thinker Sarah Jackson

The Declaration Of Arbroath

Anne McElvoy and guests discuss the early medieval document and Scottish politics today

How do we build a new masculinity ?

Sunil Gupta, CN Lester, Tom Shakespeare & Alona Pardo with Matthew Sweet

What's so great about EM Forster

Deborah Levy and Laurence Scott talk to Shahidha Bari about the English novelist's work.

Future Thinking

Mark Honigsbaum, Lisa Mullen, Riel Miller, Sarah Dillon & Rupert Read with Matthew Sweet

Contagion and Viruses

Matthew Sweet talks to John Dupré , Mark Honigsbaum, Lisa Mullen & Matt Adams


From Roman sandals to trainers and stilettos - Shahidha Bari looks at the shoe trade

New Thinking: Science Fiction

Hetta Howes, Caroline Edwards & Amy Butt ask is science fiction the new realism?

Does Growth Matter?

Is the economic future all about growth? Danny Dorling discusses Slowdown.

Slebs: Warhol, Beaton and celebrity culture

Lisa Mullen, Caroline Frost and historian & podcast host Greg Jenner join Matthew Sweet

Advertising & Artemisia

Considering how women have shaped art and advertising and new feminist writing in Korea.

Fighting Women

How women have fought on the frontline from antiquity to the present day

Jewish Identity in 2020

Howard Jacobson, Bari Weiss, Hadley Freeman, and Jonathan Freedland join Matthew Sweet.

Storm Jameson - women writers to put back on the bookshelf

Yorkshire-born writer with a European outlook who campaigned for World War Two refugees.

Frank Ramsey

Shahidha Bari looks at the life and legacy of the 20th century polymath

New Thinking: Women in Virtual Reality

Hetta Howes learns how Sylvia Xueni Pan and Sarah Ellis are pushing the VR envelope

Anne Enright + the value of gossip

Anne Enright discusses acting with Daisy Black, Emily Butterworth and Marie Le Conte.

Lady Mary Wroth - women writer to put back on the bookshelf

The English Renaissance poet whose reputation at court was ruined by her writing.

Charlotte Smith - women writers to put back on the bookshelf

The Romantic poet who inspired Wordsworth is profiled by Sophie Coulombeau.

Margaret Oliphant - women writers to put back on the bookshelf

The Scottish writer whose comic heroine Miss Marjoribanks bucks 19th-century conventions

Yolande Mukagasana - women writers to put back on the bookshelf

Zoe Norridge describes translating the testimony of a Rwandan survivor

How archictecture shapes society

Ricky Burdett, Liza Fior, Des Fitzgerald, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg Edwin Heathcote at LSE

New Thinking: Everything to Everybody - Shakespeare for the people

Islam Issa hears how Adrian Lester and Ewan Fernie are taking Shakespeare to the people

Japan Now 2020

Philip Dodd talks to Hiromi Ito, Tomoko Sawada, Yukiko Motoya, and Motoyuki Shibata

Genes, racism, ageing and evidence

Daniel Levitin on ageing & Adam Rutherford on race and genetics.

African Empire Stories

Petina Gappah & Sarah LeFanu on Livingstone, Kipling and Mary Kingsley in Africa

The Surreal World of Alejandro Jodorowsky

Matthew Sweet talks to the Chilean French director Alejandro Jodorowsky and to critics

Queer histories

How do we apply modern LGBT+ language and identities to historical figures?

The History of Sex

Fern Riddell, Kate Lister and Robin Mitchell discuss their research with Matthew

The shadow of slavery

From sugar and spice, to reparations and memorials: slavery and how we acknowledge it

Early cinema: why are we obsessed with firsts?

Matthew Sweet looks back at the early history of cinema

Samuel Beckett & the purpose of culture

If we want the arts to be a comfort blanket, where does Beckett fit in?

Mocking power past and present.

The German joker Tyll Ulenspiegel. Anne McElvoy, Daniel Kehlmann & Karen Leeder discuss.

New Thinking: It all begins here? Understanding the Industrial Revolution

John Gallagher discusses the Industrial Revolution with Emma Griffin and William Ashworth

Fungi: An Alien Encounter

Are fungi out to get us or here to help? A look at mushrooms in art, food and psychology.

How we see pregnancy past and present

Anne McElvoy hears the story of a woman who gave birth to rabbits and the news from Davos

Remembering Auschwitz

Rana Mitter marks the anniversary of the 1945 liberation & talks to author Anne Michaels

What is good listening?

Matthew Sweet with NYT journalist Kate Murphy, Anne Karpf, David Toop.

Poetry and Science: A 19th century metre on the (uni)verse

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Greg Tate, Sam Illingworth & Sunayana Bhargava join Anne McElvoy.

Goddesses of academia

Nikita Gill, Francesca Wade, Sandeep Parmar & Victoria Leonard talk goddesses & classics

New Thinking: About Face

Would you change your nose if you could? What about an entire face transplant?

Psychohistory: Isaac Asimov and guiding the future

Matthew Sweet asks if the fictional science of psychohistory changed the future of humans

Why we read and the idea of the "woman writer"

From Elizabethan Anne Dowriche, Victorian Anne Bronte to why women say they read now.

Simplify your life

Nudism, camping, and vegetarianism: the Life Reform movement explained.

Philosophy and Film

Rana Mitter, Sally Potter and philosophers discuss whether you can philosophise with film

Could there be a private language?

Shahidha Bari investigates Wittgenstein's response to scepticism

Panpsychism - Is matter conscious?

Matthew Sweet lifts the lid on panpsychism, a radical movement in philosophy

The Strange Case of the Huge Country Pile

Why are we so obsessed by the setting of the big country house, upstairs and downstairs?

The culture wars and politics now.

Philip Dodd with Douglas Murray, David Goodhart, Beatrix Campbell & Maya Goodfellow.