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:
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              Recent episodes (10)

              • Steve Hilton, Joseph Stiglitz, Masha Gessen

                Mon, 18 May 15

                Duration:
                43 mins

                On Start the Week Andrew Marr finds out if it's possible to create a world less impersonal and more equal. David Cameron's former senior adviser, Steve Hilton, believes our governments and institutions are too big, and he argues for a more human-focused society. The US economist Joseph Stiglitz tackles rising inequality in the West and blames the unjust and misguided priorities of neoliberalism. The Russian writer Masha Gessen looks at the struggle between assimilation and alienation as she asks why two brothers turned terrorist, bombing the Boston Marathon. Producer: Katy Hickman.

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              • Values and Identity

                Mon, 11 May 15

                Duration:
                42 mins

                Mariella Frostrup talks to the academic Hamid Dabashi about his critique of European intellectual heritage and identity. In his polemic Can Non-Europeans Think? Dabashi argues that those outside the West are often marginalised and mis-represented. Ancient Greece dominates the intellectual landscape in Europe and Edith Hall looks back to explore what made this civilisation so successful. The Greeks of Ancient Athens were always questioning their society and asking what makes people happy, and Douglas Murray wonders whether the secular West has stopped asking those questions, and is the shallower for it. The artist Glenn Ligon takes inspiration from black writers and abstract expressionists to give a fresh perspective on the values of contemporary America. Producer: Katy Hickman.

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              • Vikram Seth

                Mon, 4 May 15

                Duration:
                43 mins

                Tom Sutcliffe talks to the Indian writer Vikram Seth about his latest collection of poetry, Summer Requiem, which traces the dying days of summer and is haunted by loss and decay. The cuckoo's song may celebrate the arrival of spring, but as Nick Davies explains the cuckoo is also a signal of doom, as he explores how cheating evolves and thrives in the natural world. The writer Olivia Laing finds inspiration in a murmuration of birds to ask questions about the beauty of patterns and freedom of movement, and Nick Groom celebrates and regrets the passing of the English seasons and folklore. Producer: Katy Hickman.

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              • Violence

                Mon, 27 Apr 15

                Duration:
                42 mins

                On Start the Week Anne McElvoy discusses our obsession with violence. The historian Richard Bessel explores its past ubiquity, but argues that our modern attitudes towards it have changed. There's little change in the attitudes towards women in the armed forces, according to a play by the academic Helen Benedict. Diana Preston sees history repeating itself as weapons of mass destruction continue to be used in much the same way as a century ago. For June Oscar, an Indigenous leader from North Western Australia, the history of her people has been dominated by the violent struggle with settlers from the 1770s. Producer: Katy Hickman.

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              • Life Underwater

                Tue, 21 Apr 15

                Duration:
                43 mins

                On Start the Week Tom Sutcliffe explores life in the oceans. The biologist Luke Rendell studies the evolution of social learning in whales and dolphins, and seeks to define their culture beneath the waves. The seahorse is a creature with a rich mythical history and is the subject of Andrew Motion's latest poem, while the biologist Helen Scales weaves science, natural history and culture in her story of the seashell. The biochemist Nick Lane looks back over 4 billion years to explain why life is the way it is and believes energy flux is the vital factor that has driven the origin and evolution of life. Producer: Katy Hickman.

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              • Altruism

                Mon, 13 Apr 15

                Duration:
                42 mins

                On Start the Week Tom Sutcliffe asks whether altruism is best explained through evolutionary science or moral philosophy. David Sloan Wilson argues for the former and believes altruism is part of group dynamics and social behaviour. William MacAskill may study the moral case for doing good, but is more interested in the practical impact than the heroic sacrifice. The Mexican campaigner Lydia Cacho knows what it means to make enormous personal sacrifices for the sake of others - her exposure of sexual and physical abuse has led to numerous threats on her life. While the composer Tansy Davies attempts to bring to the stage human beings in extremis as she creates an opera based on the events of 9/11. Producer: Luke Mulhall.

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              • Sarah Hall, Adrienne Mayor and John Gray - 6th April 2015.

                Mon, 6 Apr 15

                Duration:
                43 mins

                On Start the Week Tom Sutcliffe talks to Adrienne Mayor about the Amazons, the legendary warrior women who glorified in fighting, hunting and sexual freedom. The Greeks described these wild barbarian archers, and Mayor reveals new archaeological discoveries which prove these women were not merely figments of their imagination. Five hundred years ago wolves roamed throughout Britain's wilderness and in her latest novel, The Wolf Border, Sarah Hall considers the possibility of re-wilding the countryside. Such freedom would have its limits and the wolves' movements would have to be managed and contained, a condition which John Gray considers in his book on human freedom: The Soul of the Marionette.

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              • Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Gillian Beer, Katherine Rundell and Damien Kempf - 30th March 2015

                Mon, 30 Mar 15

                Duration:
                43 mins

                On Start the Week Andrew Marr talks to Robert Douglas-Fairhurst about the life of Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has become an influential part of our cultural heritage but beneath the fairy tale lies the complex history of the author and his subject. Gillian Beer explores the links between Darwin and Carroll and the struggle to define and classify a changing world. The children's author Katherine Rundell enjoys the chaos and ambivalence in the Alice stories, and brings a sense of adventure to her own work. Centuries earlier, as intrepid travellers returned from distant lands with tales of wonder and exotic beasts, fearful hybrid monsters were all the rage as Damien Kempf describes in his Medieval Monsters.

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              • Susan Pinker, Daniel Dennett, Sam Riviere and Nicholas Lovell - 23rd March 2015

                Mon, 23 Mar 15

                Duration:
                42 mins

                On Start the Week Susan Pinker argues that face-to-face contact increases longevity and reduces the risks of illness. She tells Anne McElvoy that although new technology connects more people, it can often leave us more disconnected. However the writer and gamer Nicholas Lovell explains that online gamers have their own sense of community. The philosopher Daniel Dennett considers whether it's possible to create a robot that can rival the human brain, and the poet Sam Riviere has used and manipulated the results of search-engines to compose his new collection: 72 poems marking the 72 days of Kim Kardashian's marriage in 2011.

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              • Jon Ronson, Jennifer Jacquet, Peter Stanford and Michael Buffong.

                Mon, 16 Mar 15

                Duration:
                42 mins

                On Start the Week Tom Sutcliffe discusses shame and betrayal. Jennifer Jacquet argues that modern-day shaming of corporations is a powerful tool to bring about change. However Jon Ronson believes too many lives have been devastated by public shaming and ridicule. Judas is a name synonymous with betrayal but Peter Stanford asks whether in the 21st century he has become the ultimate scapegoat? Arthur Miller's play All My Sons is a classic tale of family, loyalty, guilt, and betrayal and is brought to the stage by the artistic director of Talawa, Michael Buffong.

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