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The Better Part of Valour

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 16 September 2012

Mark Tully examines the premise that discretion is the better part of valour. A phrase coined by Shakespeare and given voice by Falstaff in less than creditable circumstances, it is usually associated with timidity and cowardice. Yet sometimes the bold approach, the quick answer or the exhortation to seize the day can have disastrous results. Does caution offer an alternative answer?

Mark Tully discusses the pros and cons of discretion as an approach to problem solving with The Archbishop of Canterbury as he prepares for retirement, with reference to some of the controversies he has had to negotiate throughout his time in office. The programme includes readings from Bunyan and Shakespeare and music that ranges from Bartok to Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The poet Lemn Sissay reads from his own work and the other readers are Helen Ryan and Kenneth Cranham.

Producer: Frank Stirling
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Music Played

6 items
  • Image for Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne

    Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne I Won't Back Down

    Performer: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

    Greatest Hits, MCA, MCD 10964

  • Image for Harry Barris and Gordon Clifford

    Harry Barris and Gordon Clifford I Surrender Dear

    Performer: Bing Crosby

    The Definitive Bing Crosby Collection – Vol.2, Top Town Records, B005XWAJ10

  • Image for Béla Bartók

    Béla Bartók Concerto for Orchestra

    Performer: World Orchestra for Peace conducted by Sir Georg Solti

    UN 50th Anniversary Concert, DECCA, 448901-2

  • Image for Ladysmith Black Mambazo

    Ladysmith Black Mambazo Phalamende

    Performer: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

    Raise Your Spirit Higher, Wrasse Records, WRASS100

  • Image for Edward Elgar

    Edward Elgar Falstaff – Symphonic Study in C Minor Op.68

    Performer: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

    Henry IV Part 1, EMI Classics, 724355500120

  • Image for Johann Sebastian Bach

    Johann Sebastian Bach Cantata, BWV 106 "Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit"

    Performer: The Bach Ensemble

    Bach, J.S.: Cantatas BWV 106, 131, 99, 56, 82 & 158, Decca Music Group Ltd., 4580872

  • Readings and Music

    Title: Getting to Peace
    Author: William Ury
    Publisher: Viking
    ISBN-10: 0670887587

    Title: ‘Negotiations’ from Rebel Without Applause
    Author: Lemn Sissay
    Publisher: Payback Press
    ISBN-10: 1841950017

    Title: ‘There was a very cautious man’ quoted within Developing the Leader Within you by John C. Maxwell
    Author: Anonymous
    Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishing
    ISBN-10: 0785281126

    Title: Pilgrims Progress
    Author: John Bunyan
    Publisher: OUP Oxford
    ISBN-10: 0192803611

    Title: Henry IV, Part I
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks
    ISBN-10: 0199536139


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