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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

Wikipedia founder leads line-up of prominent thinkers tackling subject of "change" at BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival 2011

Wikipedia founder and internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales comes to Gateshead this November as the keynote speaker at BBC Radio 3's festival of ideas, the Free Thinking Festival, where high-profile figures from politics, literature, science and the arts will be debating the ideas shaping the modern world.

This year the theme is Change: exploring the mania for change sweeping the globe. Speakers on the theme of Change include the Foreign Secretary Rt Hon William Hague MP, Germaine Greer, Skins writer Jack Thorne, the Rev Canon Dr Giles Fraser, historian Linda Colley, designer and architect Charles Jencks and psychotherapist Susie Orbach.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who has created one of the most referenced sources of knowledge on the planet, will be giving his vision on how the internet will continue to radically alter the world.

Now in its sixth year, Free Thinking takes place at The Sage Gateshead from 4-6 November and is a platform for today's innovative thinkers, who examine the world of ideas through talks, interviews, debates, original drama, essays and performance. All events are free and the festival is produced and broadcast by Radio 3.

Events are hosted by Radio 3's presenters including Anne McElvoy, Ian McMillan, Philip Dodd, Matthew Sweet, Tom Service and Rana Mitter.

Roger Wright, Controller of BBC Radio 3, said: "Free Thinking has become a vital part of Radio 3's distinctive festival output. As ever, the wide-ranging events will be led by some of today's leading thinkers. I am delighted that we are continuing our collaboration with The Sage Gateshead and offering audiences in the North East a chance to attend free events as well as giving our broadcast audience the opportunity to hear them on Radio 3."

Anthony Sargent, General Director of The Sage Gateshead, said: "All our collaborations with Radio 3 have been enjoyable and rewarding, but we're particularly happy to host Free Thinking for another year, emphasising as it does The Sage Gateshead's broader role as a national cultural centre beyond the confines of our acclaimed music programmes."


  • Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon William Hague MP, will be discussing the dramatic political changes taking place throughout the globe, and Britain's role in this transforming world order.
  • Skins and This Is England 86 writer Jack Thorne is creating a cutting-edge new drama especially for the Festival, which will be performed and broadcast live on Radio 3 from the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art on Sunday 6 November.
  • Leading thinker Germaine Greer will question the idea of freedom, arguing that the pursuit of freedom has caused havoc throughout the world and calling for a new version of liberation.
  • Academic Julian Savulescu will be arguing the case for human enhancement – why new technologies such as genetic manipulation and selection should be embraced, and why drugs should be legal in sport.
  • Rev Canon Dr Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral and regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Thought For The Day, is this year's Thinker-in-Residence. Following on from screen-writer Frank Cottrell Boyce last year, Giles Fraser will put his stamp on several events at the Festival.
  • Susie Orbach, Britain's most high-profile psychotherapist, will challenge society's obsession with personal change and physical perfection.
  • Visionary architect and designer Charles Jencks will discuss his new work, Northumberlandia, the world's largest sculpture of a human form, currently being created near Cramlington.
  • The winners of Radio 3's New Generation Thinkers Scheme – the search to find the brightest new academic voices with a talent for broadcasting – will join in debates, discussing their research and taking part in Speed Dating with a New Generation Thinker, where the public will have the chance to meet them face to face and test them on their ideas.

Radio 3's programmes Music Matters, Words and Music, Between the Ears, The Verb, Night Waves and The Essay will all be recorded in front of the live audience at the festival.

Event and Ticket Information:
The Free Thinking Festival takes place at The Sage Gateshead from 4-6 November 2011. It will consist of more than 30 events over three days, all of which are free.

Book now by calling The Sage Gateshead ticket office on 0191 443 4661 or online at

More information on the Free Thinking Festival can be found at The Sage Gateshead website or on the BBC Radio 3 Website.

Broadcast Details:
Free Thinking events will be broadcast on Radio 3 daily for two weeks, beginning with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales's keynote speech about the internet at 10pm on Friday 4 November, and continuing in various slots on Radio 3 including each weekday, 10-11pm.

The following events will be broadcast live on Radio 3 from the festival:

Music Matters
Saturday 5 November 12noon
Tom Service and guests tackle a key debate about classical music live from The Sage Gateshead.

Live Drama by Jack Thorne
Sunday 6 November, time tbc
Radio 3 broadcasts a cutting-edge drama live from Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead by author of Skins and This is England 86, Jack Thorne. This has been commissioned especially for the festival by Radio 3.

Notes to Editors

The Free Thinking Festival was established by Radio 3 in 2006 as a platform for innovative thinking and debate on ideas relevant to contemporary society. This is the festival's third year at The Sage Gateshead. Previous speakers at the festival include Brian Eno, David Milliband, Fiona Shaw, Tony Benn, Kevin McCloud, Albie Sachs, Jacqueline Wilson, Ian Paisley, Soweto Kinch, Lisa Jardine, William Orbit, Lionel Shriver and Will Self.

Radio 3 broadcasts classical music, jazz, world music, arts programmes and drama. Last year Radio 3 broadcast over 600 complete concerts and operas from venues and festivals across the UK and beyond. Radio 3 is the home of the BBC Proms and broadcasts every concert live. It supports composers, writers and new young performers and last year broadcast over 40 new drama productions. For further information visit

The Sage Gateshead is both a national live music venue and a centre for music education located in the North East of England. The local, national and international concert programme runs all year round and incorporates all kinds of music. It is home to Northern Sinfonia, the orchestra of The Sage Gateshead, and the Folkworks programme. The extensive Learning and Participation programme enables everyone of every age or ability to become involved in music. The building, designed by Lord Foster, incorporates outstanding performance spaces of internationally acclaimed acoustic excellence.


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