It’s almost time for the Free Thinking festival again; in a week's time I'll be heading for Gateshead and that amazing weekend of ideas and debate, questions without answers, and, for me, just a fantastic amount of laughter and joy - what my mate Dave Beresford used to call ‘head-clutching’. Radio 3 began its experiment in having a ‘festival of ideas’ a few years ago in Liverpool, and now we’re in our second year at The Sage in Gateshead. There aren’t many things I would miss our family bonfire party for, but the Freethinking Festival is one of them.
This year I’m involved in all sorts of ways; I’m presenting The Verb of course, at half past seven on Saturday 6th; our line-up includes the poet Katrina Porteous, who has for many years been preserving and responding to the language of the fishermen of Beadnell on the Northumbria coast, and the novelist and poet John Burnside, who is writing us a new piece based on his love of soul music.
That’s followed by the first ever Radio3/5Live linkup at 9.00pm for a live debate about sport and the arts which I’m going to sit and watch to be part of history, although I have to say I do a similar thing every Saturday night at home when I watch Match of the Day on BBC1 with the sound down whilst listening to Hear and Now on my personal DAB radio. A bit of new music doesn’t half liven up a dull 0-0 draw!
On the Friday night I’m presenting Words and Music, where my job is simply to steer the ship and make sure nobody falls off the (admittedly low) stage and taking part in a pre-concert talk in Hall One. On Saturday morning I’ll be co-presenting Free Ranters, a variation on last year’s Young Ranters where young people spoke (or ranted) for two minutes on a subject of their choice; this year they’re going to be joined by ‘silver ranters’ for a bit of cross-generational ranting. Sounds good to me! In the afternoon I’ll be refereeing a Theory Slam, where people deliver theories to a hungry audience in a no-holds barred atmosphere; last year people sweated, shouted and gesticulated as they got their points across, and I expect nothing less this year. Perhaps a little less sweat.
On the Sunday morning I’m interviewing Terry Deary, author of the Horrible History books that my grandson loves so much, and then on Sunday afternoon I’ll be hooting my horn at the Speed Dating with a Thinker event, where thinkers posit an idea in two minutes, and thinkees get to listen and then move on to the next idea, and the winner gets to keep the horn.
I’ll be around for the whole time, often (when I’m not chairing something) sitting around in the main space at The Sage drinking a cup of tea; please come and say hello. The Free Thinking Festival is a very exciting time for speech and drama on Radio 3, and it reminds us all that we really are a cultural station. A cultural station with a hooter!
- Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival takes place at The Sage, Gateshead, from 5-7 November.
- For a full schedule of events download the Free Thinking festival PDF as a brochure
- Visit The Sage website to book tickets.
- Or call The Sage Gateshead ticket office on 0191 443 4661
- Tickets are free and you can start booking from 16 September.
- Follow us on Twitter @bbcradio3live (link to http://twitter.com/bbcradio3live )
Use hash tag #r3freethinking for your Free Thinking tweets.