A rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds, introduced by Rhianna Dhillon.

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A rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds, introduced by Rhianna Dhillon.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-02-16 20:44
last episode published
2019-02-15 05:00
publication frequency
4.99 days
BBC owner  
BBC Radio 4 author  
Number of Episodes
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Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Driven to Distraction

Are we really more distracted than ever before? Historian Rhys Jones explores the history of distraction and how previous generations have fought back We are often told we are in the middle of a distraction crisis - big tech companies have learned how ...
BBC Radio 4 author

Behind the Scenes: PJ Harvey

John Wilson follows PJ Harvey as she creates the score for a new West End theatre production of All About Eve. Singer songwriter Polly Jean Harvey is the only artist to have twice won the Mercury Prize for Album of the Year – for Stories from the City...
BBC Radio 4 author

Paris Blue

Jazz writer Kevin Legendre explores the encounter between American modern jazz and the French New wave in Paris in the late 1950s and 60s. Paris in the civil rights era was a hub of artistic collaboration as well as a kind of political refuge - a dest...
BBC Radio 4 author

American Civility: Year Zero

America today is an uncivil society with a President who calls for his opponent to be locked up, a legislature that seems to be interested only in partisan shouting, not governing, and with large chunks of the media egging on the bad behaviour. This st...
BBC Radio 4 author

Pausing Puberty

Britt Wray investigates the drugs used to delay puberty in children questioning their gender. A growing number of children in Britain are being seen by the NHS Gender Identity Development Service. Referrals have increased from just over 200 in 2011/12 ...
BBC Radio 4 author

Powers of Persuasion: How Britain Learned to Sell

Designer Wayne Hemingway examines 100 years of British advertising on film and television, with special behind-the-scenes access to the one of the world’s largest advertising collection at the British Film Institute. Wayne follows advertisers’ first he...
BBC Radio 4 author

How To Burn A Million Quid: Rule 1

Bill sets off on a mission to shake up the music industry by causing chaos and confusion.
BBC Radio 4 author

Millennials in the Workplace

Beanbags! Beanbags are what Millenials want from a job - along with free food and the lofty idea of ‘making an impact’. That’s what academic Simon Sinek's video about "Millennials in the Workplace", enjoyed by over 10 millions viewers, would have you b...
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Searching For Swimming Pools

Writer Charles Sprawson reflects on his life as he copes with advancing dementia. Charles Sprawson is the author of Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer As Hero - a romantic history of swimming and a memoir of his own adventures in water. Now 77, C...
BBC Radio 4 author

Annalisa Is Awkward

What are we all so awkward about? Annalisa Dinnella explores this slippery emotion. Can she and a group of comedians outsmart awkwardness - and should they even be trying? Annalisa has 5% vision and regularly navigates the fog of other people’s awkward...
BBC Radio 4 author

I Feel for You: Narcs and narcissists

At a time when we're being told we need more empathy, some experts claim that narcissism - empathy's evil twin - is on the rise. Narcissism has vaulted off the psychotherapist’s couch, sprinted away from the psychiatric ward, and is now squatting in th...
BBC Radio 4 author

I Feel for You: Empaths and empathy

Empathy is the psycho-political buzzword of the day. President Obama said - frequently - that America's empathy deficit was more important than the Federal deficit. Bill Clinton said "I feel your pain", and Hillary urged us all "to see the world throug...
BBC Radio 4 author

Behind the Scenes: Marianela Nunez at Covent Garden

As she prepares to perform two roles in a new production of the classic "White ballet", La Bayadere, the Royal Ballet's charismatic Argentinian-born principal dancer, Marianela Nunez shares her life behind the scenes. Marianela Nunez is considered one ...
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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward - Episode One

From H.P. Lovecraft: The investigation into a mysterious disappearance.
BBC Radio 4 author

Let's Raise the Voting Age

In 1969 Harold Wilson's Government lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Fifty years on, with calls for votes at 16 gaining support, Professor James Tilley explores not just whether reducing it further makes sense, but if arguments could be made for ra...
BBC Radio 4 author

Apollo 8

Six months before Neil Armstrong’s ‘one small step’ came humanity’s giant leap. It was December 1968. Faced with President Kennedy’s challenge to land a man on the Moon before the end of the decade, NASA made the bold decision to send three astronauts ...
BBC Radio 4 author

Doorstep Daughter

Two families from very different backgrounds, one street and a baby on a doorstep. This series charts the story of how a young Christian couple came to entrust the care of their little daughter to a Muslim family that lived nearby in 1990s Watford. The...
BBC Radio 4 author

Game Over, Humans

Ever since an Artificial Intelligence called Deep Blue beat human chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997, it has been clear that the days of humans’ supremacy at the games table have been numbered. But twenty years later, it still came as a surprise ...
BBC Radio 4 author

The Power of Twitter

How did Twitter, invented to allow friends to keep track of each other's social lives and interests, become a key forum for political debate? And what effect has the social media platform had on the nature and quality of public life? Presenter David Ba...
BBC Radio 4 author

Along the Peaceline

In February 2016 a controversial wall in Belfast was demolished. It was the first of over a hundred such structures across Northern Ireland set to disappear by 2023. Collectively, they’re known as peacelines. Some are just a few hundred yards long, oth...
BBC Radio 4 author

Introducing Life Lessons

Young UK adults talk about the issues that matter most to them - and why they should matter to all of us. A new podcast from Radio 4.
BBC Radio 4 author

Contracts of Silence

'Gagging clauses' - NDAs or non-disclosure agreements - have been rarely out of the headlines in recent months. High profile cases in business, politics and celebrity life have prompted calls for an outright ban, particularly when used to cover up appa...
BBC Radio 4 author

Trust Me, I'm a Scientist

Presenting his first programme for Radio 4, the evolutionary biologist, author and former Professor for Public Understanding of Science, Richard Dawkins, investigates trust in science. It's an issue of concern for scientists as well as others. Despite ...
BBC Radio 4 author

The Art of Living: Elvis - A Tribute in Dance

Claire Cunningham is a Scottish choreographer and contemporary dancer who performs with crutches. We join her in the studio during the research period for a new work, Thank You Very Much, which draws on Claire’s current fascination with Elvis Tribute A...
BBC Radio 4 author

Pursuit of Beauty: The Spider Orchestra

The Berlin-based Argentinian artist, Tomás Saraceno, trained as an architect. He was struck by the beauty of spider webs, their structural intricacy and began making them into sculptural works. Then he realised that every time a spider tugs a string as...
BBC Radio 4 author

Lights Out: A Sense of Quietness

Documentary adventures that encourage you to take a closer listen. This episode follows a line of connection through four women across two referendums to explore the unexpected consequences of talking about abortion. Starting on live television at a be...
BBC Radio 4 author

Joni Mitchell Taught Me How to Feel

Music writer and broadcaster Ann Powers explores Joni Mitchell’s impact on her fans and on songwriting. "Even the songs of hers I’ve heard a thousand times can still give me the weird feeling that she knows me personally," she says. In the month of Jon...
BBC Radio 4 author

A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea

Singer-songwriter Emma Lee Moss (aka Emmy the Great) returns to the playground to re-explore one of her earliest musical influences, the clapping game. Emma finds the playground very much alive with song, new and old . So how is this seemingly old-fash...
BBC Radio 4 author

Pursuit of Beauty: Dead Rats and Meat Cleavers

The sounds of casting, chiming, singing and clanging are fused together to make a magical sound track to the story of how meat cleavers have been used as musical instruments for over 300 years.. Growing up in Suffolk, Nathaniel Mann, heard stories pass...
BBC Radio 4 author

The Black Footballer’s Dilemma

Forty years ago this month, Viv Anderson made his debut for England against Czechoslovakia - the first black player to play for his country. Former footballer Clark Carlisle looks back at the challenges black players faced at a time when racist abuse f...
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Pursuit of Beauty: Art Beneath the Waves

Artist Emma Critchley meets filmmakers, photographers, sculptors and painters who are drawn beneath the sea to create underwater art. Julie Gautier performs a graceful, lyrical ballet on the floor of the deepest pool in the world. Without a tank of air...
BBC Radio 4 author

Thankful Villages

A Thankful or ‘Blessed’ village is a place where every soldier returned alive from World War One. Songwriter Darren Hayman heard about ‘Thankful Villages’ and knew that he had his next album title. He then embarked on a three year odyssey to visit all ...
BBC Radio 4 author

Un-forgetting Julius Eastman

Experimental vocalist and movement artist Elaine Mitchener remembers the life and music of the brilliant New York composer-performer, Julius Eastman, whose work, she feels, has been wrongly overlooked. Born in 1940, Eastman was black and gay when there...
BBC Radio 4 author

Guy Garvey: Recording Dad

Guy Garvey spent a decade recording his dad’s stories and now he wants you to do the same. When Elbow singer Guy Garvey began to record his father Don's anecdotes, he already knew a lot of the stories he was capturing. What he didn't know was his fathe...
BBC Radio 4 author

Would You Go To Bed With Me?

Forty years after the infamous 'would you go to bed with me?' experiment, what are the social repercussions of biological inequality if men have a higher sex drive than women?
BBC Radio 4 author

Ghosts in the Machine

Laurie Taylor investigates the people who hear the voices of the dead in recorded sounds - and uncovers the strange and haunting world of auditory illusion. Believers in EVP, or Electronic Voice Phenomena think they're hearing the voices of the beyond ...
BBC Radio 4 author

Witnessing the Worst

On the fields of battle, and in conflict zones, women reporters are now commonplace but, in the past, the female perspective was much harder to find. War reporters spend their careers giving voice to the survivors of violence, but the reporter's own ex...
BBC Radio 4 author

Class Act

Lenny Henry on how to get more young working-class and BAME actors into the industry. Of course, acting is one of the most difficult careers to crack no matter what your background. But the hurdles are certainly higher for aspiring actors from low inco...
BBC Radio 4 author

The Supercalculators

Alex Bellos is brilliant at all things mathematical, but even he can't hold a candle to the amazing mathematical feats of the supercalculators. Alex heads to Wolfsburg in Germany to meet the contestants at this year's Mental Calculation World Cup. Thes...
BBC Radio 4 author

Right Click: The New Online Culture Wars

Gavin Haynes, editor-at-large of VICE UK, goes in search of this new wave of political thought. On the internet, and on YouTube specifically, a huge new political movement is taking shape in the shoes of a very old one. Some are calling it classical li...
BBC Radio 4 author

Behind the Scenes: Kwame Kwei-Armah

Backstage access to director Kwame Kwei-Armah's debut at the Young Vic - his version of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night with music and lyrics by Shaina Taub. Kwame Kwei-Armah is facing high expectations as the new Artistic Director of the Young Vic Theatre...
BBC Radio 4 author

Mamma M.I.A.: Influence of an Icon

Rapper, mother, director, refugee and activist - Maya Arulpragasam is one of Britain's most successful and provocative working-class artists - M.I.A. Ten years on from the release of M.I.A’s single Paper Planes - a global hit blending agitprop pop, sat...
BBC Radio 4 author

The Art of Now: Border Wall

Donald Trump's pledge to build a "big beautiful wall" along the US-Mexico border has inserted a political urgency into the mainstream art world and made the Latino experience a point of inspiration for many. Seven artists working on either side of the ...
BBC Radio 4 author

The Cod Wars Revisited

When a country unilaterally takes back control of its waters, the results are dramatic. This isn't a prediction about Brexit. It's a statement about our recent history. The modern cod wars were a series of disputes (starting in the late 1950s and endin...
BBC Radio 4 author

The Eternal Life of the Instant Noodle

How instant noodles, now 60 years old, went from a shed in Japan to global success. What is the most traded legal item in US prisons? Instant Noodles. According to the World Instant Noodles Association, 270 million servings of instant noodles are eaten...
BBC Radio 4 author

The Ballad of the Blade

The story of knife crime, told in verse by the weapon itself. Why do teenagers carry knives? How does it feel to live in a world where that's normal? How should we respond to the moral panic generated by the current wave of youth crime? Momtaza Mehri, ...
BBC Radio 4 author

The Sound Odyssey: Nadine Shah travels to Beirut

The Sound Odyssey is a new series in which Gemma Cairney takes British artists for musical collaborations in different countries around the world, hearing the musicians in a new light, and exposing their artistic process as they create something new in...
BBC Radio 4 author

Intrigue: The Ratline

A story of love, denial and a curious death. Philippe Sands investigates the mysterious disappearance of senior Nazi, Otto Wachter, and journeys right to the heart of the Ratline.
BBC Radio 4 author

The Art of Now: Outsiders

"Art saved my life", says David Tovey. He experienced homelessness, homophobia, and despair so deep that he killed himself - twice - before being resuscitated. His ongoing recovery is intertwined with his stunning visual and textile work, which has bee...
BBC Radio 4 author

The Lightning Field

In 1977 the sculptor Walter De Maria erected a field of stainless steel poles in the New Mexico high desert, where lighting frequently strikes. The only way to see this electrifying art work, one of the largest sculptures on earth, is to spend the nigh...
BBC Radio 4 author