Audio from the Archive

John Lanchester: The Wall interviewed by John McLeod

John Lanchester’s Booker Prize longlisted novel, The Wall, blends the most compelling issues of our time – rising waters, rising fear, rising political division – into a suspenseful story of love, trust and survival.

“… a Middle-England dystopia for our fractured and uncertain times.” –

Abigail Beall: Urban Astronomy interviewed by James Nash

Think star-gazing isn’t an option for those who live in or near big cities? Then take a guided tour of the cosmos with science journalist and author of The Art of Urban Astronomy, Abigail Beall. Learn about the brightest stars and constellations, the myths and legends of astronomy and how to identify star clusters and galaxies with just your eyes or a pair of binoculars.  

For urban dwellers wrapped up in the rush and bustle of the city, turning your eyes to the heavens can provide the chance to simply stop, look and reconnect with nature.  

Oyinkan Braithwaite & Denise Mina: Dead Funny interviewed by Nick Ahad

Contains some infrequent strong language and references to mature topics, including sexual violence and other violent crime, that some listeners may find uncomfortable or upsetting. Listener discretion is advised.

From gallows humour to black comedy, how do you bring humour into crime fiction? Can you be both funny and respectful while writing about terrible things? Are there lines you can’t cross? Join critically acclaimed crime writer Denise Mina and Booker Prize long-listed author Oyinkan Braithwaite as they discuss mixing humour with murder.

Denise Mina is author of the Garnethill trilogy and the Alex Morrow series, she has been described as “Britain’s finest living crime novelist” (The Daily Telegraph) and her latest book, Conviction, tells the tale of a woman whose obsession with a true crime podcast puts her in danger. My Sister, the Serial Killer is Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel and tells the story of Korede, who is called upon to clean up her sister’s messes. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize.

Steve Richards: The Prime Ministers introduced by Matt Gaunt

Steve Richards’ book The Prime Ministers brilliantly brings to life nine inhabitants of 10 Downing Street over the past 50 years, from Harold Wilson to Theresa May, vividly outlining their successes and failures – and what made each of them special.

Based on unprecedented access and in-depth interviews, as well as more than 20 years of reporting from Westminster, Richards (presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Week in Westminster) expertly examines the men and women who have defined the UK’s role in the modern world and sheds new light on the demands of the highest public office in the land.

Dick Clement And Ian La Frenais: More Than Likely interviewed by Nick Ahad

Please note: A short video of Dick and Ian’s work was screened during this performance. It has been removed from the recording. Contains some infrequent strong language.

Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais are the creators of some of British television’s most beloved comedies, including Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.

Clement and La Frenais have been creative partners for more than five decades: longer than Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gilbert and Sullivan, Laurel and Harvey, and Morecambe and Wise. Along the way, they have had some memorable encounters with movie stars such as Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Marlon Brando, and with poets, prima donnas, politicians and rock stars. Hear them tell their own unlikely story.

Mike Berners-Lee: There Is No Planet B introduced by Gregory Radick

Please note: Mike refers to a powerpoint during his talk. Some of the information that he refers to in this presentation is available in his book, There Is No Planet B. If you are interested in learning more, please consider purchasing a copy.

Feeding the world, climate change, biodiversity, antibiotics, plastics – the list of concerns seems endless. But which is most pressing, what are the knock-on effects of our actions, and what should we do first? Do we all need to become vegetarian? How can we fly in a low-carbon world? Should we frack? How can we take control of technology? Does it all come down to population? And, given the global nature of the challenges we now face, what on Earth can any of us do?

Fortunately, Mike Berners-Lee has crunched the numbers and plotted a course of action that is practical and even enjoyable. His book, There is No Planet B, maps it all out in an accessible and entertaining way, filled with astonishing facts and analysis.

Elizabeth Macneal and Naomi Wood: Artistic License interviewed by James Nash

Contains some infrequent strong language.

How do you go about fictionalising real people, places and events? Join Elizabeth MacNeal and Naomi Wood as they discuss the joys, challenges and pitfalls of drawing on the lives of historical artistic figures and their milieux.

MacNeal’s debut novel The Doll Factory is about a young woman who aspires to be an artist and the man whose obsession threatens to destroy her world forever, set against the backdrop of the pre-Raphaelite art world and London’s Great Exhibition of 1851.

Wood’s The Hiding Game is a novel about the dangerously fine line between love and obsession, set within the Bauhaus Art School. Her previous novel, Mrs Hemingway, portrayed the lives of four women connected to Ernest Hemingway.

Bauhaus: Grant Watson and Alan Powers interviewed by Frank Finlay

In the centenary year of the iconic German art school, Grant Watson and Alan Powers discuss the Bauhaus movement and its impact and influence on 20th century art, design and architecture. Wilson is the curator of the exhibition Bauhaus Imaginista, a major international project marking the centenary of this fascinating and popular school, while Powers’ book Bauhaus Goes West tells the story of cultural exchange between the Bauhaus émigrés in the years following the school’s closure in 1933 and the countries to which they moved.

Thomas Grant: Court Number One interviewed by Edward Bindloss

Thomas Grant, practising barrister and author, provides an inside account of the workings of Court Number One of the Old Bailey. Not only notorious for its murder trials, the court has recorded the changing face of modern British society, bearing witness to changing attitudes to homosexuality, the death penalty, freedom of expression, insanity and the psychology of violence.

Court Number one tells the stories of 11 of the most scandalous and celebrated cases across a radically shifting century.

Kathryn Sutherland and Ann Dinsdale: Preserving Literary Legacies

Being custodian of a literary legacy of a worldwide significance is no easy task in today’s global society. Professor Kathryn Sutherland, of Oxford University and Jane Austen’s House Museum, and Ann Dinsdale, Principle Curator of the Bronte Parsonage Museum, discuss the daily delights and frequent challenges of looking after the UK’s cultural heritage for present and future generations. The voracious international auction market for Bronte and Austen letters, manuscripts and other memorabilia means important artefacts are in danger of becoming scattered across the globe, in the hands of well-funded institutes or private collectors – far from Haworth and Chawton.

In their conversation, Sutherland and Dinsdale will attempt to answer the question: what is the reality of keeping alive the flames of the nation’s greatest writers in the 21st century?

To see the slides and photographs that Kathryn and Ann refer to in the discussion, please click the following link: Kathyrn Sutherland & Ann Dinsdale: Preserving Literary Legacies.