Arts and Ideas
Summary: The best of BBC Radio 3's flagship arts and ideas programme Free Thinking - featuring in-depth interviews with artists, scientists and public figures, vociferous debates, and reviews of the latest cultural events. Free Thinking is broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Tues – Thurs 10pm
Anne McElvoy assesses reports that members of the new Greek government are rediscovering age-old links between Greece and Russia. With Roderic Lynne, former British ambassador to Moscow; Mary Dejevsky, Professor Vassilis Fouskis and Spyros Economides. Plus as Sheffield Theatres begin a season looking back at the work of Sarah Kane, Director Daniel Evans discusses her writing and also a review of Indian Summers - Channel 4's new costume drama about the end of colonial rule with Preti Taneja and Nick Lloyd.
Poet Paul Muldoon explores the history of Ireland in his new collection, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing. Historian Roy Foster's latest book is Vivid Faces: the Revolutionary Generation in Ireland 1890-1923. Rona Munro's new play Scuttlers runs at Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre from Feb 5th - March 7th directed by Wils Wilson. It depicts Manchester gangs and riots in the Industrial Revolution and in 2011.
Andrew O'Hagan talks to Matthew Sweet about identity, capturing memories and the impact of war in his new novel The Illuminations. Eddie Marsan talks about creating his character in the new film Still Life and about how much we know about a person's identity. Critic Charlotte Mullins considers the artists' obsession with capturing their image and that of their friends, as the National Portrait Gallery hosts a series of paintings by John Singer Sargent and Turner Contemporary in Margate looks at the role of the self portrait in the 21st century.
Joyce Carol Oates new novel The Sacrifice depicts an act of racial violence which shocks a New Jersey town. Selma dramatises on film the life of Martin Luther King. Timberlake Wertenbaker's new play Jefferson's Garden puts on stage the founding of the American state. Anne McElvoy talks to Joyce Carol Oates and Timberlake Wertenbaker and is also joined by New Generation Thinker Joanna Cohen who studies American history and by Professor Kit Davis from SOAS.
Surgeon Henry Marsh and critic Susannah Clapp review the opening of Tom Stoppard's 'The Hard Problem' at the National Theatre tonight. Matthew Sweet is also joined by musician and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin to discuss his new book - 'The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload. And New Generation Thinker Alasdair Cochrane and Anne Phillips, author of a forthcoming book 'The Politics of the Human', discuss what comprises humanness.
Rana Mitter talks to Richard J Evans' about his new book The Third Reich in History and Memory which reflects on how racist theories of Empire, promulgated over centuries, provided fertile ground for nazi theorists. They are joined by fellow-historians Jane Caplan and David Cesarani, to survey how history has explored this period and discuss the question, was the Final Solution unique in the history of genocide. Also in the studio, Andre Singer, Director of the documentary, Holocaust: Night Will Fall and the Polish cultural historian and writer, Eva Hoffman.
New Generation Thinker Daisy Hay talks to Anne McElvoy about the relationship between Disraeli and his wife. Judith Rodin discusses cities and disaster planning with Ricky Burdett. Glass artist Brian Clarke outlines the role played by the art dealer Robert Fraser who showcased the work of emerging American and European artists from the 60s onwards. Fraser hosted avant garde art openings and supported artists including Jean Michel Basquiat, Gilbert and George, Bridget Riley and Eduardo Paolozzi.
Philip Dodd plus guests David Reynolds, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Simon Heffer and David Edgar discuss Winston Churchill and Englishness, in the week of the 50th anniversary of his death
Author Michael Dobbs, dramatists James Graham and Paula Milne and TV producer Trudi-Ann Tierney join Anne McElvoy in the BBC Radio Theatre as part of BBC Democracy Day. They debate whether dramas like The West Wing, Borgen or This House aid our understanding of the way governments operate or do they foster cynicism about democracy?
Matthew Sweet looks at today's announcement of this year's Oscar nominations focusing on the politics of the foreign film awards with critics Ian Christie, Karen Krizanovich and Phillip Bergson. TV dramatist Russell T Davies discusses his new projects for Channel 4, E4 and 4OD, Cucumber, Banana and Tofu which explore the passions and pitfalls of 21st century gay life.
Philip Dodd explores the way we look at art with documentary maker Fred Wiseman, curator Iwona Blazwick, artist John Keane, poet Kelly Grovier and philosopher Professor Barry C. Smith. Veteran filmmaker Fred Wiseman who has documented what it is like to work at London's National Gallery. National Gallery is screening in key cities across the UK.
The Scottish poet Robert Crawford and fellow-TS Eliot biographer, Lyndall Gordon join Anne McElvoy to work out Eliot's enduring power and appeal while the winner of this year's TS Eliot prize, David Harsent also takes a bow. Allan Ropper a US neurologist, talks about the mixture of intuition and medical knowledge that every brain doctor needs. He is joined by Brian Hurwitz, Professor of Medicine and the Arts at King's College London to discuss the role of case histories over time and new importance being attached to narrative medicine.
Mike Bartlett talks to Anne McElvoy about his play Bull which takes to the stage at the Young Vic this month and Game which opens at the Almeida in February. Also Dr. Andy Martin evaluates Soumission, the new Michel Houellebecq novel creating controversy in France; Cleo Van Velsen discusses Hans Fallada's 1944 prison diary A Stranger in My Own Country; and the artists Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson reveal Song for Coal, their new work about energy which goes on display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Rana Mitter explores why we sleep with pioneering researcher into the body clock, Russell Foster; Matt Berry, actor, comedian and writer who wrestles with insomnia; Brigitte Steger who has explored Japanese and other global sleeping cultures and Katharine Craik, a renaissance scholar whose new opera project for children is called Watching...back in the 16th century the watching hours were part of a segmented sleep pattern which only disappeared with the industrial revolution.
Lady Antonia Fraser talks to Matthew Sweet about her childhood in Oxford and London in the 30s and 40s, her lifelong fascination with history, and her forthcoming book, My History: A Memoir of Growing Up. Academics Susan Neiman and Robert Pogue Harrison discuss our modern day obsession with youth. And as a major retrospective of the late French director, Eric Rohmer, begins at the British Film Institute, critics Jonathan Romney and Ginette Vincendeau look at the auteur's fascination with characters in the summer of their lives.