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45 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 20 July 2009

Andrew Marr sets the cultural agenda for the week.

He is joined by the former cabinet minister James Purnell on the future of the Left in Britain, the writer Hanif Kureishi on the theatre adaptation of his novel The Black Album, doctor David Haslam on a cultural history of obesity and Tristram Stuart on wastefulness.


    Former work and pensions secretary James Purnell made waves with his shock resignation last month in which he was critical of Gordon Brown. Challenged by Conservatives moving onto what is seen as Labour territory, he asks what it means to be on the Left. He is now working with the think tank Demos exploring the future of the Left in Britain.

    Open Left launches on 20 July.

    Demos: Open Left

    Author and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi is best known for his novels about sex, race and class. His novel, The Black Album, is set in London in 1989 and its plot covers the rise of radical Islam, a new drug on the dance floor and the artist Prince. Now he’s adapted it for the stage and its sharp and witty examination of identity politics, racism and terrorism, fanatics and the fatwa might, to today’s audiences, appear like a rather eerie warning from history.

    The Black Album opens at the National Theatre in London on 21 July.

    The Black Album at the National Theatre

    The author Tristram Stuart is a freegan – an anti-consumerist who has eaten food out of supermarket bins. Europeans throw out nearly half their food – much of it edible – while forests disappear and millions go hungry. In his latest book he exposes the depth of the problem from farmer to supermarket to consumer. And, he argues, reducing waste is both easy and achievable.

    Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal is published by Penguin Books.


    David Haslam is a GP and clinical director of the National Obesity Forum. He argues that we have the medical know-how and excellent drugs to treat the condition and with the political will, the obesity epidemic could be consigned to history. In his book, Fat, Gluttony and Sloth, he explores how obesity has been regarded in both high and low culture, from literature to saucy seaside postcards.

    Fat, Gluttony and Sloth: Obesity in Literature, Art and Medicine, co-written with Fiona Haslam, is published by Liverpool University Press.


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