Start the Week

Start the Week

Start The Week sets the cultural agenda for the week ahead, with high-profile guests discussing the ideas behind their work in the fields of art, literature, film, science, history, society and politics.

  • Updated:
    Weekly
  • Episodes available:
    Indefinitely help

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Recent episodes (10)

  • Tom Sutcliffe discusses family secrets

    Mon, 7 Jul 14

    Duration:
    42 mins

    Tom Sutcliffe talks to Michael Holroyd about why he put his own family in the spotlight in his late 50s novel A Dog's Life, only published in the UK after the death of his parents. Family secrets and a doctor's revenge are at the heart of Herman Koch's darkly comic novel, while Hugo Blick's new television series, An Honourable Woman, explores how the sins of the father resonate in the present. The playwright Rona Munro looks ahead to a trilogy of plays which chart the rise and fall of Scotland's Royal Family, from James I to III, with tales of love, war, treachery and intrigue.

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  • Mark Williams, Heidi Johansen-Berg, Ben Shephard and Charles Fernyhough - 30th June 2014

    Mon, 30 Jun 14

    Duration:
    43 mins

    Andrew Marr discusses how far the brain can change and adapt with the neuroscientist Heidi Johansen-Berg. Decades ago it was thought that the adult brain was immutable but later research has shown that even brains damaged by stroke have the capacity to adapt. The writer Ben Shephard looks back to the turn of the 20th century and the birth of modern neuroscience, while the novelist Charles Fernyhough asks whether knowing more about the way the brain works will have as big an impact as the findings of Darwin and Freud. The clinical psychologist, Mark Williams, is interested in how we can relieve the despair of feeling trapped in our thoughts, and is one of the pioneers of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.

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  • Joyce DiDonato, Julie Bindel, Erica Whyman and Helen Castor - 23rd June 2014

    Mon, 23 Jun 14

    Duration:
    42 mins

    Tom Sutcliffe talks to the director Erica Whyman about a series of plays by the RSC which focus on the idea that 'well behaved women rarely make history'. The historian Helen Castor looks back at the Middle Ages to some of the earliest roaring girls, while the soprano Joyce DiDonato brings alive Mary, Queen of Scots, the tragic hero of Donizetti's opera. The political activist Julie Bindel has been behaving badly since she came out as a lesbian in the 1970s. She looks at what it means to be gay in 2014 and whether the genuine gains that have been achieved in the last forty years have castrated a once-radical social movement.

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  • Norman Fowler, Joanna Bourke and Jeremy Farrar - 16th June 2014

    Mon, 16 Jun 14

    Duration:
    43 mins

    Tom Sutcliffe discusses the history of pain with the historian Joanna Bourke, who explores how our attitude to suffering has changed through the centuries. The former Conservative MP, Norman Fowler, looks back at the public health campaign that revolutionised the fight against HIV and Aids in Britain in the 1980s, and how discrimination and political expediency are hampering prevention and treatment around the world today. The Director of the Wellcome Trust, Jeremy Farrar remembers when he was a junior doctor and patients were dying of Aids because there was no treatment. He warns that the overuse and misuse of anti-biotic drugs could herald a return to the days of untreatable diseases.

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  • Tristram Hunt, Adrian Wooldridge, Charu Lata Hogg and Anjan Sundaram

    Mon, 9 Jun 14

    Duration:
    42 mins

    Tom Sutcliffe discusses whether Western states have anything to learn from countries like China and Singapore. Adrian Wooldridge argues that many governments have become bloated and there's a global race to reinvent the state. In the past Britain was at the forefront of exporting ideas on how to run a country, as the Labour MP Tristram Hunt explains in his book on the legacy of empire. Charu Lata Hogg from Chatham House looks at the challenges to democracy in Thailand where the country is in political turmoil, and the journalist Anjan Sundaram spent a year in The Congo during the violent 2006 elections, and looks at day-to-day life in a failing state.

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  • Rod Liddle, Xiaolu Guo, Neil Jameson and Ramin Gray

    Mon, 2 Jun 14

    Duration:
    43 mins

    Tom Sutcliffe talks to the commentator Rod Liddle about his assertion that modern Western society has become politically and socially stagnant. In his polemic, Selfish Whining Monkeys, Liddle argues that his generation are self-obsessed, deluded and spoilt. Neil Jameson from Citizens UK dismisses this description of society and says his growing number of members are organised, socially active and community-minded. The Chinese writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo contrasts East and West in her latest tragic love story, and the Artistic Director Ramin Gray talks about the play The Events, which has a community choir at its heart and explores the aftermath of a violent event.

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  • Karl Ove Knausgaard, Tim Winton, Michael Schmidt and Nicola Barker

    Fri, 23 May 14

    Duration:
    43 mins

    Start the Week is at the Charleston literary Festival with the novelists Tim Winton, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Nicola Barker and the poet and publisher Michael Schmidt. The death of the novel has been predicted since the early twentieth century but in a special programme recorded in front of an audience Tom Sutcliffe talks to three leading novelists from around the world about their latest works. They discuss their influences and their divergent styles, from Knausgaard's minute examination of his life to Tim Winton's tale of disillusionment and redemption, and Nicola Barker's humorous eccentrics. Michael Schmidt has written a biography of the novel, charting its ups and downs, its personalities and relationships and argues the form is in rude health.

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  • Ken Thompson, Monique Simmonds, John Lewis-Stempel & Victoria Herridge 19th May 2014

    Mon, 19 May 14

    Duration:
    43 mins

    Anne McElvoy talks to the biologist Ken Thompson who dismisses attempts to control invasive species and questions the veracity of dividing plants and animals into 'native' and 'alien'. However, the Director of the Kew Innovation Unit, Monique Simmonds, warns that alien pests and diseases can have a devastating effect on much-loved plants, and that it's vital to maintain and support diverse environments. The farmer John Lewis-Stempel records the passage of the seasons in his account of the life of an English meadow and he laments the decline of some of his favourite birds from his childhood. The woolly mammoth used to be native in Europe before it became extinct, and the palaeontologist Victoria Herridge confounds expectations by identifying the smallest mammoth ever known to have lived.

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  • Jonathan Powell, Heather Rabbatts, Archie Brown and Richard Hytner - 12th May 2014

    Mon, 12 May 14

    Duration:
    43 mins

    Tom Sutcliffe asks whether it's better to lead from the front, or advise from the side-line. The Deputy Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, Richard Hytner celebrates the latter: those who wield influence and authority away from the limelight. Heather Rabbatts has experience of being a Deputy and a Chief Executive in both politics and business. The academic Archie Brown looks back at the history of political leadership and questions whether strong leaders are the most successful and admirable, while Tony Blair's former chief of staff, Jonathan Powell turns to Machiavelli's The Prince for a primer on the art of government.

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  • Simon Armitage, Frank McGuinness, Natalie Haynes and Kenan Malik - 5th May

    Fri, 2 May 14

    Duration:
    43 mins

    Anne McElvoy talks to the poet Simon Armitage about his dramatisation of The Last Days of Troy. His play, based on Homer's epic, reveals how cycles of conflict and revenge, pride and self-deception continue throughout history. Greek myth is at the heart of a new opera, Thebans, in which the playwright and poet Frank McGuinness draws on the tragedy of the mythical monarch Oedipus and his daughter Antigone. Natalie Haynes explores what happens when troubled teenagers become enthralled by Greek tales of cruel fate and bloody revenge in her debut novel, while Kenan Malik goes on a quest for a moral compass.

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