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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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London – Another Country?

BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a two-week season of programmes exploring how London has changed over the last 25 years.

The season, London – Another Country?, will examine the capital's place in modern Britain and the world and whether it is representative of the United Kingdom or feels like a different country altogether.

Programmes will investigate the contemporary experience of Londoners and the City's impact on the rest of the UK. The season will explore London's diversity, architecture, languages and food and also uncover some remarkable human interest stories. There will be an assessment of the week in July 2005, when London experienced the euphoria of winning the Olympics, followed almost immediately by the 7/7 bombings.

Mark Damazer, Controller of Radio 4, said: "London has for centuries been a major international city but the characteristics which define it have changed markedly in recent years. London arouses strong feelings whether of affection, admiration, envy, contempt or revulsion. The London season on Radio 4 aims to reflect all these sentiments and we want to appeal to all Radio 4 audiences – not just those who happen to live near the city itself."

Mohit Bakaya, Radio 4 Commissioning Editor, said: "Deregulation, migration and cultural innovation have turned London into a global city. We are interested in what the impact of that rapid change has been on both the people who live in London and the rest of the UK. We will put London under the microscope – the good, the bad and the ugly."

Presenters and contributors to programmes include Madness frontman Suggs, novelist Andrea Levy, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Asian Dub Foundation's Steve Savale, comedian Arthur Smith, journalists Rosie Millard, Stuart Cosgrove and Jonathan Glancey, historians Alan Dein and Dan Cruickshank, and broadcaster Robert Elms.

Highlights include The London Story, presented by Kwame Kwei Armah, which explores how London has become a diverse, creatively rich world city and how its dynamic population has shaped its politics and culture since the Seventies.

In London – An A to Z, Madness front man Suggs and novelist Andrea Levy voice 26 quirky facts about London. The 40-second clips will give listeners a wide range of statistics about the capital on how the city has changed and others that challenge assumptions about contemporary London.

Author of Small Island, Andrea Levy, also presents London Nights, 10 half-hour anthologies of short pieces for radio featuring late-night mixes of voices, sounds and experiences that capture the spirit of London. London Nights includes regular features such as Pairs In Squares, in which Jonathan Glancey explores randomly chosen grids of London's famous street map and The Other Londons – five places outside the M25 with a London name.

In Just Off The Plane, Alan Dein greets people at Heathrow, asks about their expectations of London and follows them to see if the capital lives up to their hopes.

Broadcaster and journalist Stuart Cosgrove questions whether London is so great in There's More To Life Than London and argues that there are plenty of reasons why people would not want to live in London – the overcrowded tube, the dirt and the cost. He looks at the joys and challenges of living outside the capital and claims the city draws enterprise and energy from the regions and explores.

Laurie Taylor hosts The Greatest City On Earth debate in which London competes with three other world cities for the title. Four advocates argue the case for their city with a studio audience voting for a winner.

In a special edition of The Report, Mukul Devichand investigates what has happened to the old working classes of areas like Barking and Woolwich and finds out if they have been increasingly alienated and marginalised.

London Eats The World is a special online collaboration between BBC London and Radio 4. The challenge is to see if food from across the globe can be found in the capital. BBC London's Robert Elms will invite listeners to send details of their most memorable restaurant experiences, unusual customs, ingredients and unique food combinations and add them onto an interactive map of the capital on BBC London's website.

Robert Elms will also uncover some remarkable stories of fellow passengers on the 36 bus route from New Cross Gate to Queen's Park in Top Deck Tales. The stories include the person who was once on death row in Saddam's Hussein's Iraq, the bus drivers who fell in love and the prisoner on day release trying to find a job.

London – Another Country? begins on Saturday 3 July.

Notes to Editors

Full programme schedule for London – Another Country?

London – An A To Z: Andrea Levy and Suggs reveal unusual statistics about London in these 40-second clips dotted throughout the schedule.

Saturday Play – Avoid London… Area Closed… Turn On Radio (Saturday 3 July, 2.30pm) is a repeat of the Radio 4 drama which follows a fictional family as the tragic, real-life events of 7/7 unfold.

Archive On 4 – The Summer That Changed London (Saturday 3 July, 8pm) recalls the euphoria of winning the Olympics and the terror of the 7/7 bombings with archive recordings and new interviews with survivors of the 7/7 bombings, then-London mayor Ken Livingstone and others.

The Food Programme – Pop-Up London (Sunday, 4 July 12.30pm and Monday 5 July, 4pm). London's secret pop-up restaurants, a modern scene with a surprising history, are revealed in these two editions of The Food Programme. An underground world of amateur chefs hosting ambitious meals in their homes, open to strangers.

London Street Cries (Monday 5 July, 3.45pm) – five-part series, broadcast Monday to Friday, which compares the lives of the poor in Victorian London with their counterparts in contemporary London. The series uses the interviews of Victorian London's poor chronicled by Henry Mayhew.

London Nights (Monday 5 July, 11pm) – Andrea Levy presents 10 anthologies broadcast across two weeks that capture the off-beat spirit of London.

The London Story (Tuesday 6 July 9am) – two programmes in which Kwame Kwei-Armah explores how, over the last 30 years, London has become such a diverse, creatively rich city. Programme two is on 13 July.

File On 4 (Tuesday 6 July 8pm) – reporter Jon Manel obtains rare access into the lives of some of London's illegal workers and discovers that some are now very much part of the system, even paying tax and national insurance.

There's More To Life Than London (Wednesday 7 July 11am) – Stuart Cosgrove asks why all the fuss about London and questions if the capital does not drain resources and energy from the rest of the UK.

The London Nobody Knows (Wednesday 7 July 8.45pm) – two programmes in which Dan Cruickshank explores London to find out what is left of the city described in Geoffrey Fletcher's Sixties book, The London Nobody Knows.

Afternoon Play – A Chaos Of Wealth And Want (Friday 9 July, 2.15pm) – drama in which Henry Mayhew, chronicler of London's poor and dispossessed, finds out the hard truth about charity when he takes in a homeless man.

The Greatest City On Earth (Monday, 12 July, 9am) – Laurie Taylor chairs a debate in which London is pitted against three other major world cities in front of a studio audience. Four advocates argue the case for their city and the audience votes for its favourite.

Just Off The Plane (Monday, 12 July, 3.45pm) – In this five part series, Alan Dein meets people arriving at Heathrow and finds out what the capital means to them and whether it lives up to their expectations.

Top Deck Tales (Monday, 12 July, 8.00pm) – BBC London's Robert Elms uncovers some remarkable human interest stories of his fellow passengers on the route 36 bus route.

Towering Ambition – A Tale Of Two Cities (Wednesday, July 14, 11am) – Rosie Millard explores the opposing architectural stances being taken by London and Paris. London Mayor Boris Johnson has pledged to stop towers being developed whereas Paris's opposition to high building is weakening.

The Report (Thursday 15 July, 8pm) – In this special edition of The Report, Mukul Devichand looks at what's really hurting the old working classes of places like Barking, Woolwich and London's East. He investigates the new housing policies that appear to prioritise young professionals, and have seen new migrant communities edged into the city's periphery, leaving the old working classes increasingly alienated and resentful.


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