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  1. The Cold Swedish Winter: Six Ways To Become a Swede

    Friday 8 August 2014, 15:47

    Danny Robins Danny Robins Writer and Comedian

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    When I stood on stage performing comedy to a tiny audience in a North London pub back in 2005, little did I know that I was about to go on a journey that would take me to the frozen expanses of the North, the land of the Vikings, Abba and Volvo, a place where pickled herring is considered a delicacy and IKEA is not an offensive four letter word. As I stared out into my audience though that fateful night, I met the startling blue eyes of an attractive blonde girl and experienced what the Swedes would call “love at first eye throwing”.
    Eva and I are now happily married – we even have a Swinglish child – and in the nine years we’ve been together I have become fascinated with her homeland, learning the language, embracing their occasionally strange customs and even developing a taste for herring. 
    I’ve made several documentaries about Sweden, but I’d always wanted to write a sitcom set there. My idea was that it would be ‘A Year in Provence’ with added snow and jokes. I drew on my own experiences to create the character of Geoff, an English stand up comedian who reluctantly relocates to Sweden when his pregnant girlfriend Linda decides she wants to move home to have the...

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  2. Feedback: Scottish independence referendum

    Friday 8 August 2014, 15:39

    Roger Bolton Roger Bolton

    The battles over Scottish independence seem to have dominated my life.

    As a child, our family often went to collect mushrooms on Burgh-by-Sands, about five miles from my home city of Carlisle, and close to the border.

    The sands in question are in the estuary of the River Eden where it meets the Solway. It’s the place where the armies of both England and Scotland, and later the hordes of Border Reivers, crossed from one side to the other, bent on destruction and pillage.

    For 300 years, until Scotland and England had the same king, it was a truly miserable place.

    There was little point building anything other than defensive Pele towers in which to take refuge. Everything else was torched.

    St Michael’s Church in Burgh-by-Sands, built on the site of a Roman stronghold near the west end of Hadrian’s Wall, is as much a fort as a place of worship. Churches and Priories were not safe from slaughter.

    A few miles away, the Cumbrian monastery at Abbeytown, called Holme Cultram, was where the father of Robert the Bruce was buried. (He owned land on both sides of the border). That did not stop his son torching it. Twenty miles away across the water is Dumfries, where Robert the Bruce killed...

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  3. Feedback: Meeting heroes

    Friday 1 August 2014, 12:32

    Roger Bolton Roger Bolton

    I met two of my heroes on Feedback this week.

    Matthew Parris popped into the studio, en route to the Moral Maze, to discuss his campaign against the overuse of the historic present tense which he says is now rampant in the media.

    Matthew is the most polite and charming of guests but he is alarmingly honest about himself as well as about others. (Do have a read of his autobiography if you doubt me. It is a classic.)

    His knowledge of grammar is profound and I soon understand why he writes for the Times and I do not. Our interview is one of my less challenging ones. He just knows far more about the subject than I do.

    Matthew also has a talent for perversity. I wonder if he, rather like fellow columnist Simon Jenkins, sometimes argues an extreme case just to see what the reaction will be. Both delight in opposing the consensus.

    Then I talk, sorry, talked, to the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet, who has just returned from Gaza. Our inbox is full of allegations of bias in the BBC’s reporting of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Apparently the Corporation’s news is anti-Palestinian and anti-Israeli at the same time.

    I wanted to talk to Lyse about these allegations...

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  4. BBC Radio Explorer

    Thursday 31 July 2014, 09:20

    Radio 4 Radio 4

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    BBC Radio has launched a new way to help audiences discover radio - Radio Explorer.

    Radio Explorer - Landing Radio Explorer - Landing

    It's not always been easy to find BBC Programmes programmes about the things you love – but now Radio Explorer allows you to search BBC Radio using keywords and topics.

    Your passion might be Reggae, Game of Thrones or baking. Once you enter a topic Radio Explorer will create a playlist related to your topic, with programmes and clips from Radio 3, Radio 4 and 5 live.

    Radio Explorer - Search Radio Explorer - Search

    The BBC Radio Explorer was an idea that came about from a Radio 4 Hackday which brought together...

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  5. Bookclub - The Outcast by Sadie Jones

    Wednesday 30 July 2014, 16:04

    Jim Naughtie Jim Naughtie Jim Naughtie presents Bookclub on BBC Radio 4

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    At first glance, the Sam Mendez film American Beauty doesn’t have much to do with the leafy commuter towns of Surrey, but talking to Sadie Jones about her novel The Outcast, I found it a natural shift. The transition from dark domestic doings in the emptiness of an American dormitory town to the stifling conventions of the Home Counties in the 1950s turned out to be a natural one. Sadie’s novel is about what lies beneath the surface of a ‘normal’ life and through her central character, Lewis, she examines the pain that’s often part of adolescence.
    ‘It had to be the fifties,’ she told...

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  6. James Baldwin 90th Anniversary: No Complaints

    Tuesday 29 July 2014, 13:28

    Peter McHugh Peter McHugh Producer

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    James Baldwin 90th Anniversary: No Complaints
    Why a 90th anniversary programme? It’s more customary to mark rounder numbers, a 100th  say. But there is something about a 90th birthday that makes you think today - with a following wind - the person may still be here to tell us their story.  But James Baldwin is not.  He died aged only 63 in 1987. 
    James Baldwin was born into relative poverty in Harlem, New York, in 1924.  During his lifetime as a writer he was a trailblazing explorer of race, class and sexuality in America. As his friend Caryl Phillips says in James Baldwin 90th Anniversary...

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  7. Feedback: Moral Maze - Just War and Gaza

    Friday 25 July 2014, 13:49

    Roger Bolton Roger Bolton

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    What is the point of Feedback?
    When I am asked that question I usually answer along the lines that it is to be a bridge between listeners and the BBC, allowing each side to communicate with each other. I also point out that, since the BBC is funded by a tax which almost everyone has to pay, then the Corporation has a duty to be accountable to its licence fee payers to whom it belongs. The programme is a key way of doing so.
     The Corporation decides what to broadcast, the audience decides what it wants to comment or cross examine the decision makers about , and when, and has the right to have its...

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  8. Queens of Noise - Get It On

    Thursday 24 July 2014, 16:53

    Roy Boulter Roy Boulter Writer

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    ‘Queens Of Noise – Get It On’ is the story of all-girl band Velveteens as they clamber up the slippery slope to success in the late 80s /early 90s.  It maybe fictional, but a lot of their experiences are based on fact, as the writers - me and Louise Wener - were both in bands with expert clambering skills, who managed to negotiate the slippery slope to success in the late 80s /early 90s.
    Louise's band were babe-lead, Brit-pop chart-storming indie aces Sleeper.  Mine, those Baggy-tastic loveable Scousers The Farm (adjectives courtesy of Smash Hits magazine).
     
    It's twenty years since I swapped...

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  9. Plants: From Roots to Riches

    Monday 21 July 2014, 14:08

    Radio 4 Radio 4

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    Editor’s note – Plants: From Roots to Riches is a 25-part series beginning on 21st July, broadcast Monday – Friday at 1.45pm

    Plants: From Roots to Riches

    As an evolutionary biologist, Kew’s director of science, Prof Kathy Willis - knew where she wanted to begin her story for this new Radio 4 series – in front of Kew’s oldest resident - the cycad (Encephalartos altensteinii) in the iconic botanical garden's palm house. 

    By happy coincidence, the cycad's arrival at Kew in 1775 coincided with the development of Carl Linnaeus’ binomial classification system for plants (and animals). All at once, the chaos of...

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  10. Feedback: Editorial Balance

    Friday 18 July 2014, 14:35

    Radio 4 Radio 4

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    I nearly fell out of bed on Tuesday morning. It was around 8.40 am and I should have been up anyway, but I had only gone back to bed an hour before.
    I find sleeping difficult when the sun rises early, so I had been up since dawn working on an obsessive local history project before popping back for a quick nap. 
    Of course the Today programme was on in the background. It has the peculiar property of being able to send me to sleep and sometimes wake me up. This time it was the latter. A voice from the turbulent past.
    I had last heard of Professor Greg Philo in the early 1980s when his Glasgow media...

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Woman's Hour Power List 2014

Identifying the top ten game changers operating in the UK today.
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Find out about this year's panel and theme
Woman's Hour Power List judges, 2014 Woman's Hour Power List judges, 2014

 

Identifying the top ten game changers operating in the UK today.

 

See the latest on our blog

 

Find out about this year's panel and theme