A rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds. Presented by Ashley John-Baptiste, this twice weekly podcast replaces the Radio 4 Documentary of the Week.


  • The Day the Muzak Died

    The Day the Muzak Died

    09/04/2021 Duración: 28min

    When Major General George Owen Squier coined the term Muzak, back in the early 1930s, the idea according to elevator music enthusiast Joseph Lanza was “to have a civic use of music”. At Muzak Corporation’s height during the late 50s and 60s, this practically became a reality as their in-house orchestral arrangements emanated from the walls of hotel lobbies, businesses, airport lounges, doctors offices and across factory floors. This programme serves as part love-letter, part obituary to the music by Muzak and the particular aesthetic with which it's associated. But it also examines the ethics of such a business model - bound up with ideas of freewill, behavioural science and the use or misuse of technology. Includes contributions from author Joseph Lanza, artist Mika Taanila, music scholar Caroline Potter, science historian Alexandra Hui, composer Mark Mothersbaugh (from the band Devo), Nigel Rodgers - founder Pipedown, and former Vice President of Programming for Muzak, Rod Baum. With archive recordings

  • The Nazi Next Door

    The Nazi Next Door

    06/04/2021 Duración: 36min

    In a dusty attic in the Yorkshire hills sits the life’s work of John Kingston, a man who spent decades investigating whether his own stepfather, Stanislaw Chrzanowski, was, in fact, a Nazi war criminal. Whilst most knew ‘Mr Stan’ as a friendly pensioner, growing fruit for his neighbours and zipping around his village in the Midlands on his mobility scooter, John was convinced he was hiding a dark secret. Unable to shake the terrifying bedtime stories his stepdad told him as a child, John spent his adult life trying to expose the truth. When John died in 2018, the year after his stepfather, the files, photographs, and hours of secret recordings he made were left boxed up in his attic, until now, when they were discovered by BBC journalist Nick Southall. Nick has been investigating the extraordinary story of Stanislaw Chrzanowski for over 5 years, trying to establish if this man, who settled here to help Britain rebuild after the war, had also helped the Nazis kill tens of thousands of Jews in his homeland o

  • Making Demille

    Making Demille

    02/04/2021 Duración: 28min

    In 2016 when producer Georgia first met him, Demille was a cycle courier in his early twenties, taking his company to a tribunal over better working conditions. He was fired-up, political, and excited about a case he would go on to win. For the past five years, Georgia and Demille have been meeting and recording. Demille’s story is one of being young and trying to stay afloat in the gig economy; of resilience and hope and trying to find control over his city and life. Producer: Georgia Catt

  • Laura Bartons Notes on Music

    Laura Barton's Notes on Music

    30/03/2021 Duración: 29min

    The music writer Laura Barton presents a triptych of meditations on the enduring qualities, appeal and intent of pop music. At the age of seventeen we stand on the cusp of adulthood, on the edge of new autonomy, freedom, beginning. It is the age, too that has preoccupied songwriters from Chuck Berry via the Beatles and Stevie Nicks to Olivia Rodrigo, who this year - at the age of seventeen - had a global hit with a song about getting that symbol of maturity, her driver's licence. Laura talks to Janis Ian, herself on the edge of 70, and Sharon Van Etten, who's just turned 40, about the 'seventeen' songs they've written, as well as the music journalist David Hepworth, founding editor of Just Seventeen magazine, about what makes seventeen the pivotal age for pop music. (Including extracts from Lost in Vegas with George and Ryan and Take 5 with Chit Chat on MAX TV) Broken Social Scene - Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl Stevie Nicks - Edge of Seventeen Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen Joan Jett - I Love Rock

  • Mitchell on Meetings: The Thing

    Mitchell on Meetings: The Thing

    26/03/2021 Duración: 29min

    David Mitchell investigates meetings from the ancient "thing" to zoom. Also on the agenda: executive coach Sophie Bryan teaches David to chair a meeting; fellow comedian Russell Kane explores how different personality types behave in meetings; and Dutch sociologist Wilbert van Vree sums up several millennia of meetings history. Producer: Chris Ledgard

  • A Life Less Vertical

    A Life Less Vertical

    23/03/2021 Duración: 28min

    When Melanie Reid spent a year recovering on the spinal ward in Glasgow after falling off a horse, her world collided with an unlikely collection of ordinary people with incredible stories. Despite their only common ground being a newly broken body, Mel grew close to her ward mates. She sets out to discover what became of them. Danielle was just a 15 year-old school girl, a car crash victim whose spine was crushed by her own seatbelt. She was the first person to utter words to a heavily medicated Melanie. Danielle’s buddy, Daniel, was a year older and hiding a dark secret. Karen's story is more similar to Melanie's, but her outlook is very different. Her passivity has always fascinated Melanie - can she learn anything from it? David sat down for a flight and found, when it landed, he couldn’t stand up. Sammi, was crushed by a fork lift on the family farm - but has now reinvented herself as a top athlete. The ten years that have passed have changed them all, and Melanie reflects on the different ways that

  • Inventions in Sound

    Inventions in Sound

    19/03/2021 Duración: 28min

    [Sound of sky splitting] [Sound of heart accelerating] [Sound of shadows behind a door] The poet Raymond Antrobus explores the art of translating sound for the eye, looking at the poetic possibilities of closed captions. What can these captions - designed to illuminate the sound world of a film or TV show - reveal about how we conceive of sound itself? Raymond speaks to fellow D/deaf poets and artists to explore their experiences navigating the spaces between the words. Are closed captions just a simple act of transcription - [Doorbell rings] - or a more subjective act of translation? How might we reimagine them? [Sound of something invented] Featuring the sound artist Christine Sun Kim, poet Meg Day, filmmaker and founding member of FWD Doc Lindsey Dryden and the captioner Calum Davidson from Red Bee Media. With poetic captions inspired by the work of Christine Sun Kim. This documentary has been produced in three forms - as a radio broadcast, as a transcript with annotations from Raymond and as a sub

  • Search for a Common Culture

    Search for a Common Culture

    16/03/2021 Duración: 58min

    Author Lynsey Hanley and Mykaell Riley, founding member of the British roots reggae group Steel Pulse, tell the story of the search for a ‘common culture’, following its permutations in the post-war era with the rise of ‘the common voice’ and a new wave of documentary making, fiercely negotiated around issues of social class, race and the impact of multiculturalism, to the present. At a time of huge division and polarisation in civil society they ask if its time has come again in the digital age. Writing in post-war Britain, for critics like Raymond Williams, Richard Hoggart, Stuart Hall and others 'culture' meant two things: first, a whole way of life and the everyday, not just a series of great works accessed and curated by an elite; second, as a way of sharing the arts and learning with the whole of society, of open access for everyone in a properly civic space. Lynsey Hanley, who has written on the history of council estates and urban planning, explores how these two ideas were conjoined. 'Common culture

  • The Jump: Covid-19

    The Jump: Covid-19

    12/03/2021 Duración: 29min

    Chris van Tulleken explores the human behaviours causing pandemics, paying the price for getting too close to animals by degrading their territory and allowing viruses to jump. What's clear is that Covid-19 was inevitable; that a coronavirus would jump in Asia was predicted in at least 3 papers in early 2019. It's a symptom of degraded ecosystems leading to intimate contact with animals we don't normally encounter. When examining the origins of Covid-19, perhaps the most amazing aspect is the number of different possibilities. Bats as medicine, bats as food, bat transmission to other intermediate animals - mink farmed for fur or raccoon dogs hunted as game. We don't know if it jumped in a home or a wet market or in a cave. Chris talks to NERVTAG virologist Prof Wendy Barclay who explains why she thinks it's not the case that it escaped from a lab. Plus ecologist and bat enthusiast Prof Kate Jones argues that invasive human behaviours are offering these viruses multiple chances to jump into people – mostly al

  • Faith, Lies and Conversion Therapy

    Faith, Lies and Conversion Therapy

    09/03/2021 Duración: 28min

    Despite the overwhelming evidence that human sexuality is innate and immutable over time, proponents of conversion 'therapies' have sought to change or 'fix' queer peoples' sexuality for much of the 20th century. Presenter Caitlin Benedict speaks with scientists, historians and survivors to uncover the heinous practices that LGBT+ people were subjected to with the guise of changing their sexuality, including lobotomies and chemical castration. Caitlin examines how adherents of these 'therapies' adapted to the improving legal and social recognition for homosexuals by modifying conversion practices to embrace Freudian psychoanalytic techniques. Evangelical churches took up the baton left by the discredited 'treatments' in the effort to suppress or 'repair' the sexualities of their LGBT+ congregation, and Caitlin asks what faith groups are doing today to eliminate these practices within their communities. During the summer of 2020, Prime minister Boris Johnson called conversion therapy 'absolutely abhorrent'

  • The Price of Song

    The Price of Song

    05/03/2021 Duración: 29min

    Seriously is home to the world’s best audio documentaries and podcast recommendations, and host Vanessa Kisuule brings you two fascinating new episodes every week.

  • Made of Stronger Stuff: The Heart

    Made of Stronger Stuff: The Heart

    26/02/2021 Duración: 35min

    Psychologist Kimberley Wilson and Dr Xand van Tulleken take a journey around the human body, to find out what it can tell us about our innate capacity for change. In this episode, Kimberley and Xand focus on the heart, which has been branded the seat of emotion by generations of poets and songwriters. They find out whether it’s medically possible to die from a broken heart, hear from a woman who lived for 16 months without a human heart, and Xand opens up about how Long Covid is affecting his heart. Producer: Dan Hardoon Researcher: Emily Finch Executive Producer: Kate Holland A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4

  • The Battersea Poltergeist – Ep1: 63 Wycliffe Road

    The Battersea Poltergeist – Ep1: 63 Wycliffe Road

    23/02/2021 Duración: 31min

    63 Wycliffe Road is an ordinary house on a quiet South London street, but in 1956, it becomes famous as the site of an alleged poltergeist. The strange events focus around teenager Shirley Hitchings – but is it a haunting or hoax? Ghost hunter Harold Chibbett arrives to investigate. This series blends drama and documentary to explore an intriguing paranormal cold case. As we hear the original haunting brought to life, host Danny Robins begins his own present-day investigation – what really happened to terrify the Hitchings family 65 years ago? Written and Presented by Danny Robins, starring Dafne Keen (His Dark Materials), Toby Jones (Detectorists, Capote), Burn Gorman and Alice Lowe, with original theme music by Mercury-nominated Nadine Shah and Ben Hillier, this gripping 8-part series interweaves a chilling supernatural thriller set in 50s London with a fascinating modern-day investigation into Britain’s strangest ever haunting – a mystery unsolved... until now. Cast: Shirley Hitchings........Dafne Keen

  • Sideways: Siding with the Enemy

    Sideways: Siding with the Enemy

    16/02/2021 Duración: 29min

    Best-selling author Matthew Syed explores the ideas that shape our lives with stories of seeing the world differently. A criminal walks into a Swedish bank brandishing a machine gun. He takes a handful of bank workers hostage. The police lock the victims and their captors in the vault and then things start to get weird. Despite being held captive and threatened with violence, the hostages side with the criminals. Stockholm Syndrome is born. In this episode, Matthew Syed reexamines the birth of this peculiar psychiatric disorder and discovers that all is not what it seems. Producer: Gemma Newby Music, Sound Design and Mix: Benbrick Series Editor: Russell Finch Executive Producers: Sean Glynn and Max O'Brien A Novel production for BBC Radio 4

  • The Flipside with Paris Lees: Beyond Touch

    The Flipside with Paris Lees: Beyond Touch

    29/01/2021 Duración: 29min

    Paris Lees hears from two women learning to cope as they deal with the complexities of human touch. One who struggles with intimacy and the other who misses it. Presenter: Paris Lees Producer: Marijke Peters An ITN Production for BBC Radio 4

  • Battle for the Capitol

    Battle for the Capitol

    25/01/2021 Duración: 28min

    In the run up to the 2020 Presidential election, journalist Leah Sottile explored the motivations and agendas of America’s far right for the Radio 4 series Two Minutes Past Nine. Recordings were made against a backdrop of a country that felt tense, divided and dangerous. In the past month, a lot has happened. In this reactive and raw programme, Leah explores America’s far-right at this very moment; fired up by conspiracies, frustrations, and the defeat of the first President they have ever supported. On Wednesday 6th January, as a Joint Session of Congress met to certify the election of Joe Biden, Trump supporters breached security lines and stormed the Capitol Building in scenes that looked straight out of the racist hate filled propaganda novel The Turner Diaries. Two pipe bombs were found just blocks away at the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees. Leah asks how Donald Trump has managed to manipulate a rabble of foot-soldier extremists and asks what’s next - and how worried we s

  • 39 Ways to Save the Planet: Wood for Good

    39 Ways to Save the Planet: Wood for Good

    20/01/2021 Duración: 14min

    Tom Heap introduces an episode of Radio 4's new environmental podcast which looks at 39 great ideas to relieve the stress that climate change is exerting on the planet. Trees soak up carbon dioxide, trees store carbon dioxide. So why not build with wood instead of concrete and steel? The usual reason is strength, but Dr Michael Ramage at Cambridge University has what he thinks is the answer- cross-laminated timber. It's strong enough to build a skyscraper and replaces lots of that carbon from conventional building. Tom Heap and Dr Tamsin Edwards take a look at the global possibilities of cities built of wood. Producer : Alasdair Cross

  • I Am Robert Chelsea

    I Am Robert Chelsea

    08/01/2021 Duración: 29min

    The first African-American to have a face transplant tells his own story - in a documentary about faith, identity and character. Robert suffered horrific burns in a car accident - but survived and went ahead with a series of demanding surgical operations in an attempt to restore his appearance. A shortage of black donors meant it was a long wait for his doctors to find even a partial match for his skin colour. In a moving narrative, Robert, his friends, family and doctors reflect on his remarkable journey. Producer: Ben Davis

  • Sci-Fi Blindness

    Sci-Fi Blindness

    05/01/2021 Duración: 28min

    From Victorian novels to the latest Hollywood blockbusters, sci-fi regularly returns to the theme of blindness. Peter White, who was heavily influenced as a child by one of the classics, sets out to explore the impact of these explorations of sight on blind and visually impaired people. He believes a scene in The Day pf the Triffids by John Wyndham imbued him with a strange confidence - and he considers the power of science fiction to present an alternative reality for blind readers precisely at a time when lockdown and social distancing has seen visually impaired people marginalised. He talks to technology producer Dave Williams about Star Trek The Next Generation's Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge, Dr Sheri Wells-Jensen talks about Birdbox and world-building from a blind point of view in James L Cambias's A Darkling Sea. Professor Hannah Thompson of Royal Holloway University of London takes us back to 1910 to consider The Blue Peril - a novel which in some ways is more forward thinking in its depiction of bli

  • Can I Talk About Heroes?

    Can I Talk About Heroes?

    29/12/2020 Duración: 37min

    Vicky Foster's award-winning Radio 4 Audio Drama Bathwater looked at the effect the murder in 2005 in Hull of the father of her children, a firefighter, is still having on her family . In this documentary, Can I talk about Heroes ? Vicky looks at the way society creates heroes, whether the meaning and significance of that label has changed in recent times and if the term is still useful . This questioning has been prompted by her own story. Stephen Gallant, convicted of the murder of Vicky's ex-partner,was out on day licence attending a prisoner rehabilitation event in November 2019 when he tackled the London Bridge terrorist with a narwhal tusk, which caught the attention of the public and the media. He was quickly branded a 'hero' . Vicky Foster talks to Dr Zeno Franco, Associate Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin Emma Kinder, Victim Support’s Homicide Regional Manager Jacquie Johnston-Lynch, Head of Services at Vitality Homes Recovery Centre Mel, a nurse working on a covid ward. Produced by Susan

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