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45 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 04 April 2011

Andrew Marr talks to the Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nichols about how far his faith's social teachings chime with the Big Society, but also what impact the government's cuts might have on the work of Catholic charities. The writer Michael Collins charts the rise and fall of the council estate, and what role social housing will have in the future. Lisa Appignanesi gets to grips with the most untidy of emotions: love. And the neuroscientist, David Eagleman exposes the workings of the non-conscious brain, and questions whether scientists should wade into the debate over what is fair punishment.
Producer: Katy Hickman.


    The Prime Minister’s view of The Big Society is one that finds many echoes in Catholic Social Teaching. At a forthcoming conference on Building A New Culture of Social Responsibility, the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, will outline the Church’s ongoing responsibility, and the opportunity to be what David Cameron calls "the great architects of that new culture". But he also recognises the dangers of becoming too allied to a political philosophy, at a time of deepening cuts to services across the country.

    Archbishop Vincent Nichols will be giving a talk at a conference, Building A New Culture of Social Responsibility, on Wednesday 6 April.

    Diocese of Westminster

    Research in neuroscience shows that our actions are only partly controlled by our conscious brain. David Eagleman is interested in what the unconscious part is up to, and what influences the way our brains are wired. At his Laboratory for Perception and Action he’s pioneering a form of ‘neurolaw’, which examines how neuroscience can and should impact on justice, rehabilitation and the creation of laws. Working with gang members, Eagleman is looking at whether it's possible to have punishments that fit the brain, not the crime.

    Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain is published by Canongate.

    David Eagleman

    “One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love”, so wrote Sophocles in the 5th century. But how to define love: the Ancient Greeks split it into Eros and Agape, desire and affection, while others have broken it down into further parts, including familial and social bonds; charity and, of course, erotic passion. In her meditation on this most unruly of emotions, Lisa Appignanesi draws on mythology and pop culture, psychology and personal experience to explore the nature of love in the present day. She asks what happens to love in a world where sex is apparently free and easy, and where cyberspace has opened up the opportunities for virtual love and friendship?

    All About Love: Anatomy of an Unruly Emotion is published by Virago.

    Lisa Appignanesi

    At the peak of council housing in the 1970s, local authorities provided homes for more than a third of the British population. But by this time the image of council estates contrasted starkly with the utopian vision of the late 19th century pioneers. In a new BBC documentary, The Great Estate: The Rise and Fall of the Council House, the writer Michael Collins argues that council housing has been as important as universal health care and education. Although Thatcher’s government dealt a lethal blow by bringing in the “right to buy” policy, Michael Collins claims that Labour’s changes to allocation systems also contributed to its decline. With new plans proposed by the coalition government, he looks at the future of the council estate.

    The Great Estate: The Rise and Fall of the Council House will be broadcast on Monday 11 April on BBC Four at 9.00pm.

    The Great Estate: The Rise and Fall of the Council House


Arts & Culture selection

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