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Sean Rafferty presents a selection of music and guests from the arts world.

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Free Thinking 08 A Festival of Ideas

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Visit the 2009 Festival website or stay and explore the fascinating Free Thinking archive of audio and video.

Free Thinking photos

My Free Thinking Space

The 21st century brain
Private lives - public spaces
The value of experience

- key themes for Free Thinking 2008.

Free Thinking on the radio

  • Free Thoughts
  • Night Waves



Free Thinking live festival

  • Speed Date a Thinker

    Speed date a thinker

    and prove the brain remains the sexiest organ.

  • Interactive drama

    Interactive drama

    Experience ground-breaking audio drama.

  • Free Do

    Put thought into action

  • Philosophy in Pubs

    Philosophy in Pubs

  • Manifesto

    Draw up a manifesto

  • Join the audience

    Join the audience

Free Thinking photos

Roberto's Free Thinking Space

My Free Thinking Space


  • Lord Victor Adebowale

    Lord Victor Adebowale

    Politician and Chief executive of Turning Point

    Victor Adebowale was born on 21 July 1962. He is the Chief Executive of the social care organisation Turning Point, a charity which provides services for people affected by drug and alcohol misuse, mental health problems and those with a learning disability. In 2000, Adebowale was awarded the CBE in the New Year's Honour List for services to the New Deal, the unemployed, and homeless young people and in 2001 he became one of the first group of people to be appointed as people's peers and the title was gazetted as Baron Adebowale, of Thornes in the County of West Yorkshire on 30 June.

  • Clare Allan

    Clare Allan


    Clare Allan is the author of 'Poppy Shakespeare', inspired by her own experiences as a patient in a psychiatric unit. 'Poppy Shakespeare' was long-listed for the Orange prize for fiction in 2007 and has recently been adapted for television and broadcast on Channel 4. Clare was also the winner of the first Orange/Harpers short story prize.

  • Elaine Agnew

    Elaine Agnew


    County Antrim composer Elaine Agnew studied composition at Queen's University, Belfast and at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Her many works have been performed worldwide by artists such as Lontano, the Vogler Quartet, pianists Angela Hewitt and Romaine Descharme, the RTÉ National Symphony and Irish Chamber Orchestras and the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland. Recent premieres include 'One Less Petal, One Less Flame' and 'Seagull'.

  • Dreadlockalien


    Performance Poet

    Dreadlockalien is a working poet based in the Midlands U.K. He regularly appears as a conference keynote speaker, poet, and workshop facilitator. He is founding member of the New October Poets 2001 the largest spoken word collective in the Midlands. He has been the producer and performer in three plays, Amalgam Jam, Chocowars and Word Visions. Dreadlockalien also works as a literacy consultant at KS2 & KS3.

  • Lord David Alton

    Lord David Alton

    Professor of Citizenship at Liverpool John Moores University

    For 18 years David Alton was a Member of the House of Commons and today is an Independent crossbench life Peer. He began his career as a teacher but, in 1972, he was elected to Liverpool City Council as Britain's youngest City Councillor. Twenty five years later, in 1997, David was made a Life Peer of the House of Lords.

  • Lisa Appignanesi

    Lisa Appignanesi

    Writer and novelist

    Born in Poland, Lisa Appignanesi grew up in Paris and then in the province of Quebec. She came to Britain in 1967 to do a D Phil in Comparative Literature at the University of Sussex. She has been Deputy Director of the ICA, but left in 1990 to write full-time. Nine novels, several of them bestsellers and two works of highly-acclaimed non-fiction followed. Her latest book is the critically acclaimed, Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800, and she is currently the President of English PEN.

  • Simon Armitage

    Simon Armitage


    Simon Armitage was born in 1963 and lives in West Yorkshire. He has published nine volumes of poetry. He has received numerous awards for his poetry including the Sunday Times Author of the Year, one of the first Forward Prizes and a Lannan Award. He writes for radio, television and film, and is the author of four stage plays, including Mister Heracles, a version of the Euripides play The Madness of Heracles.

  • Charles Armstrong

    Charles Armstrong

    Ethnographer turned technology entrepreneur

    Charles Armstrong is an ethnographer turned technology entrepreneur. After spending a year living in a small island community it struck him that the complex social patterns he saw could be mimicked electronically to help businesses manage expertise and knowledge. This led to the formation of Trampoline Systems which is now attracting attention as one of the rising stars of enterprise software. Alongside his work with Trampoline Charles continues his research with the independent think-tank CIRCUS foundation. He's an accomplished baroque keyboardist, a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs and a regular speaker at conferences around the world on entrepreneurship, innovation and organisational change.

  • Paul Bailey

    Paul Bailey

    Writer and novelist

    Writer and broadcaster Paul Bailey won a scholarship to the Central School of Speech and Drama in 1953 and worked as an actor between 1956 and 1964. He became a freelance writer in 1967. He was awarded the E. M. Forster Award in 1974 and in 1978 he won the George Orwell Prize for his essay 'The Limitations of Despair', first published in The Listener magazine. He is currently working on a novel called The Ship-Boy's Eyes.

  • Stephen Bayley

    Stephen Bayley

    Author and cultural commmentator

    Born in Cardiff in 1951 and educated at Manchester University and Liverpool School of Architecture, Stephen Bayley is one of Britain's best known cultural commentators. In the seventies he was a lecturer in the history of art at The University of Kent before moving on to set up the Boilerhouse Project with Terence Conran at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the Eighties. Since 1990, Stephen Bayley has been a design consultant working for numerous global brands including Absolut Vodka, TBWA, Marks and Spencer and Foster Associates. He is the author of several books, nearly 30 exhibition catalogues and countless articles and broadcasts.

  • Lucy Beckett

    Lucy Beckett

    Poet, novelist and Catholic thinker

    Lucy Beckett is an historian, novelist and poet. Her books include a study of Wallace Stevens; a Cambridge Opera Handbook on Wagner's Parsifal; an illustrated history of York Minster, a novel about the Reformation, The Time Before You Die and a study of writing in the Christian tradition, In the Light of Christ. Her new novel, A Postcard from the Volcano, is shortly to be published.

  • Tony Benn

    Tony Benn


    One of Britain's most enduring political figures, Tony Benn was the most prominent figure on the left of the Labour party during the 1970s and 1980s. Tony Benn was formerly 2nd Viscount Stansgate, a title he renounced in the 1960s in order to take up his seat in the House of Commons following the death of his father. After several years as a minister in the Labour governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan Tony Benn moved to the left wing of the Labour party and narrowly lost his bid to be deputy leader of the party. In 2001 Tony Benn retired from Parliament ('to spend more time involved in politics') and became a leading figure in the movement against the war in Iraq - being elected president of the Stop the War coalition.

  • Bidisha


    Author and broadcaster

    Bidisha was an arts critic for NME, i-D, Dazed and Confused and Volume at fifteen, signed the deal for her debut novel, Seahorses, at sixteen and added The Independent, The Sunday Telegraph, The List, The Independent on Sunday, The Evening Standard and other publications to her roster in her late teens. She was also a contributing editor at feminist magazine Sybil and style magazine 2nd Generation. Bidisha is currently an arts critic for the BBC, and a presenter for Night Waves on Radio 3. She also writes for The Guardian and The Observer.

  • Bryan Biggs

    Bryan Biggs

    Artistic director of the Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool

    Bryan Biggs has been closely involved in the arts in Liverpool since he first came to the city in the early 1970s. He is an arts administrator and curator, working in various roles at Bluecoat Arts Centre, where he is now Artistic Director. He has written about contemporary art and popular music for publications such as Bidoun, Third Text, Strange Things Are Happening - and is an artist in his own right known for his drawings.

  • Lewis Biggs

    Lewis Biggs

    Director of the Liverpool Biennial

    Lewis Biggs has been Director of Liverpool Biennial since 2000, with the vision of presenting the best in contemporary art across Merseyside. As curator of exhibitions and displays at Tate Liverpool from 1987 to 1990 and then, particularly, as Director from 1990 to 2000, he helped build and nurture some of the most influential contemporary art organisations in the north west of England. He was a founding Director of Art Transpennine, a Director of Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno, and is now Chair of Culture Campus - the organization linking Liverpool's arts organisations with the Universities - and the campaign for Visual Arts in Liverpool (VAiL).

  • Susan Blackmore

    Susan Blackmore

    Psychologist and writer

    Sue Blackmore is a psychologist and writer whose research on consciousness, memes, and anomalous experiences has been published in over sixty academic papers, as well as book chapters, reviews and popular articles. She has a regular blog in the Guardian, and often appears on radio and television. Her book The Meme Machine (1999) has been translated into 12 other languages. More recent books include a textbook Consciousness: An Introduction (2003) and Conversations on Consciousness (2005). She has been practising Zen for twenty years.

  • Peter Blegvad

    Peter Blegvad

    Musician, Singer-songwriter and 'eartoonist'

    Peter Blegvad was formerly a member of the avant-garde rock band 'Slapp Happy'and has continued to record and perform with former members of both Slapp Happy and the band Henry Cow. His lyrics frequently feature word games and literary references. From 1992 to 1999 his cartoon Leviathon ran in the Independent. Blegvad is a regular contributor to Radio 3's programme 'The Verb'.

  • Gemma Bodinetz

    Gemma Bodinetz

    Director of the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatres

    Gemma Bodinetz took up her post as Artistic Director for the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse in September 2003. Gemma previously worked at The Royal Court Theatre, London, leaving briefly to assist Harold Pinter on 'The Caretaker' before returning to co-direct 'Hush' with Max Stafford-Clark. She then moved on to become freelance director and Associate Director at Hampstead Theatre. Photograph courtesy of Stephanie de Leng.

  • Hilary Boulding

    Hilary Boulding

    Principal, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

    Hilary Boulding began her role as Principal of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in November 2007. Hilary left the Arts Council of England to take up this position where she as held the post of Director Music Strategy, leading national policy and strategy in music within the publicly funded arts sector. She has previously worked at BBC Wales as Head of Arts and Music for Radio and Television.

  • Bill Bruford

    Bill Bruford


    Bill Bruford grew up with jazz. As an amateur drummer in the 1960s, and after a handful of lessons from Lou Pocock of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, he began his professional career in 1968. He was a guiding light in the so-called British "Art Rock" movement, touring internationally with Yes and King Crimson from 1968-74. His own band Bruford, recorded four albums from 1977-80. Bruford formed his electro-acoustic jazz group Earthworks in 1986, with Django Bates and Iain Ballamy, specifically to continue his work on melody from the drum set, but now in a jazz context.

  • Dr Margaret Busby

    Dr Margaret Busby

    Writer, editor and broadcaster

    Dr Margaret Busby was born in Ghana and educated in Britain. She became the UK's youngest and first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison and Busby Ltd. She is a writer, editor, critic, consultant and broadcaster, and has written drama for the stage and for radio.

  • John Byrne

    John Byrne

    Artist and playwright

    Described in The New Statesman as "the first post-modernist from Paisley", Byrne wrote the popular, six-times BAFTA award-winning Tutti Frutti for BBC Television in 1987. In the theatre, Byrne is best known for The Slab Boys Trilogy. His other plays include Writer's Cramp, One-Eyed Jocks, Candy Kisses and Colquhoun and MacBryde, plus adaptations of The Government Inspector, The London Cuckolds, Uncle Vanya and The Seagull. He has also designed sets and costumes for 7:84, the Traverse Theatre, The Royal Court, The Bush Theatre and Scottish Opera.

  • Sarah Caisley

    Sarah Caisley

    Actor, writer and artist

    Sarah Caisley trained as an actor, taught drama at several schools, and has appeared on television and radio over several decades. Her first broadcast was with the poet Terence Tiller, in 1952, for the BBC Third Programme. She continues to work as an actor, writer, and visual artist.

  • Beatrix Campbell

    Beatrix Campbell

    Writer and journalist

    Beatrix Campbell is a campaigning writer and journalist, focusing on politics, class and gender. Her books include Wigan Pier Revisited (winner of the Cheltenham Festival Literary Prize) and films include Dangerous Places, Diana Princess of Wales - How Sexual Politics Shook the Monarchy.

  • Zia Chaudhry

    Zia Chaudhry

    Merseyside-based Muslim barrister who is running The Spirit of Cordoba

    Zia Chaudhry is a Muslim barrister in Liverpool as well as Director of The Spirit of Cordoba, a project to promote an understanding and raise awareness of Muslim history, culture and achievements. As well as being Chair of the Merseyside Council of Faiths, he is a member of the Association of Muslim Lawyers, the North West Forum of Faiths and the Religious Advisory Panel BBC Radio Merseyside.

  • Carl Chinn

    Carl Chinn


    Brummie born and bred, Carl Chinn gained his Ph.D in 1986 (after spending time as a bookmaker) and he is now Director of the Birmingham Lives multimedia archive at South Birmingham College. Carl has written twenty books about Birmingham and working-class life in general. In 2001 Carl was awarded the MBE for his services to local history and charity.

  • Steve Connor

    Steve Connor

    Writer; critic; Professor of Modern Literature and Theory, Birkbeck College, London

    Steven Connor is Professor of Modern Literature and Theory at Birkbeck College London, where he has taught since 1979. He is also the College Orator. He is Academic Director of the London Consortium Graduate Programme in Humanities and Cultural Studies. His most recent books are The Book of Skin and Fly, on the history of the fly in poetry, painting, religion and science. He is currently completing an historical poetics of the air.

  • Frank Cottrell Boyce

    Frank Cottrell Boyce


    Frank Cottrell Boyce was born in Liverpool and studied English at Oxford University. He first worked as a television critic for Living Marxism magazine, and wrote episodes for Coronation Street and Brookside. He has written screenplays for several directors, including Michael Winterbottom. He has won several awards for his screenplays and novels.

  • Jon Cullen

    Jon Cullen

    Director of the All Saints Chorus, West Ham, London

    Since 1994, JON CULLEN has been director of the All Saints Chorus, based in West Ham, London. For almost thirty years he has been organist at West Ham Parish Church. He is also the Head of Performing Arts at a pupil referral unit in east London.

  • Jane Davis

    Jane Davis

    Founder of The Reader

    Jane Davis left school at 16 with two O levels but returned to education in her twenties, gaining a PhD in 1986. Since then she has taught Literature in adult education and now runs The Reader.

  • Baroness Ruth Deech

    Baroness Ruth Deech

    Ruth Deech taught law at Oxford University until she was elected Principal of St Anne's College, from 1991 to 2004. She was chair for 7 years of the UK Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority, a national committee charged with regulating assisted reproductive treatments. She has been a Governor of the British Broadcasting Corporation and a Rhodes scholarships Trustee. From 2004 to 2008 she was the first Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education for England and Wales, the national campus ombudsman for 147 universities. In 2008 she was appointed Gresham Professor of (Medical) Law, London. In 2005 she was created a life peer and sits in the House of Lords as a non-party legislator.

  • Philip Dodd

    Philip Dodd

    Presenter of Radio 3's Night Waves

  • Annabelle Dowler

    Annabelle Dowler


    Annabelle was born in Merseyside and studied at the University of Bristol before training at Webber Douglas on the postgraduate course. Her theatre work includes recent performances of Dorine in Tartuffe (Liverpool Playhouse and The Rose, Kingston) and Helen in Hell and High Water (Liverpool Everyman). For television, Annabelle filmed Catherine of Aragon in The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The 11 O’Clock Show, The Bill and most recently Lewis – The Quality of Mercy . For film Annabelle played Melanie in Fluff, Christine in The Big Time and Carol in Outside then Box. Annabelle has worked extensively for BBC Radio, including The Story of the Amulet, Miss Marple – The Moving Finger, Wuthering Heights, From Fact to Fiction and Words and Music. She also plays regular Kirsty in The Archers.

  • Bill Drummond

    Bill Drummond

    Musician and Writer

    Bill Drummond is a Scottish musician, writer and artist best known as co-founder of the KLF - an avant-garde pop group of the 1980s. Its 1990s successor the K Foundation gained notoriety for burning a million pounds in cash. Since then Bill Drummond has worked as a writer and artist with books including 45 - a diary described as "charmingly barking" and 17 - which describes his vision of music for the future, an amateur choir, brought together for one specific moment with no permanent record made.

  • Geoff Dyer

    Geoff Dyer


    Geoff Dyer was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and was educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. His first novel was The Colour of Memory (1989), set in Brixton, south London, in the 1980s. His non-fiction includes a book about jazz entitled But Beautiful, winner of a Somerset Maugham Award and The Missing of the Somme, which was adapted for BBC Radio 3 and broadcast on the eve of the 80th anniversary of the battle of the Somme.

  • Elias String Quartet

    Elias String Quartet

    Sara Bitlloch violin, Donald Grant violin, Martin Saving viola, Marie Bitlloch cello

    The members of the Elias string Quartet all live in Sheffield but are originally from France, Scotland and Sweden. The Quartet was formed in 1998 at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. They have performed extensively in the UK, and in France, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Italy, and the USA. In 2005 the Elias were appointed resident String Quartet at Sheffield's Music in the Round as part of the Ensemble 360.

  • Ekow Eshun

    Ekow Eshun

    Director of the ICA

    Ekow Eshun is a regular contributor to Newsnight Review and the former editor of Arena magazine. He writes for The Observer, The Sunday Times and Sleaze, and his first book, Black Gold of the Sun, was published by Penguin in 2005. He has sat on the board of Tate Members and in 2005 was appointed Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.

  • Paul Farley

    Paul Farley


    Poet Paul Farley was born in Liverpool, England in 1965 and studied at the Chelsea School of Art. He won the Arvon Poetry Competition in 1996 and his first collection of poetry, The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You (1998), won the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award and won a Somerset Maugham Award. He was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year in 1999. In 2004, he was named as one of the Poetry Book Society's 'Next Generation' poets.

  • David Fleming

    David Fleming

    Director, National Museums Liverpool

    David became director of National Museums Liverpool in 2001, and is currently overseeing the creation of the new Museum of Liverpool. David was previously director of the multi-award-winning Tyne and Wear Museums for 11 years. He was awarded an OBE in the 1997 New Years Honours List for services to museums.

  • Ben C Fletcher

    Ben (C) Fletcher

    Professor of Psychology

    Professor Ben (C) Fletcher is Head of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is the founder of the NO DIET DIET programme, a new approach to dieting with the focus taken off food. Instead it works by trying to get people to change ingrained habits and this way it is also more successful at maintaining weight loss. Ben began his academic career with the Medical Research Council at Sheffield University researching the effects of stress on health and life expectancy. He has published a large number of books and papers in the area of stress, health and personal/organisational development.

  • Liam Fogarty

    Liam Fogarty

    Chair of amayorforliverpool.org

    Liam Fogarty has reported on Liverpool for the BBC for more than 20 years. He has stepped down from the BBC to lead the campaign for a Mayoral referendum for Liverpool.

  • Karl Francis

    Karl Francis

    Film director

    Over the last 30 years, Karl Francis has become a leading Welsh film and television director and producer with films that are keenly awaited in his home country and shown to great acclaim at festivals around the world. He was Head of Drama at BBC Wales in the '90s. His films include Morphine and Dolly Mixtures, and One of the Hollywood Ten.

  • Sir Christopher Frayling

    Sir Christopher Frayling

    Rector of the Royal College of Art

    Professor Sir Christopher Frayling studied History at Cambridge. He fought his father's ambitions for him to enter advertising and chose an academic career path instead. He's published thirteen books to date with an eclectic range of titles from Spaghetti Westerns to The Face of Tutankhamun. As well as being Rector of the Royal College of Art, Sir Christopher is also the longest serving Trustee of the Victoria and Albert Museum and is Chairman of the Design Council.

  • Maureen Freely

    Maureen Freely

    Writer, translator and lecturer

    Maureen Freely is a writer, translator, senior lecturer at Warwick University and a member of English PEN. Her name has become well known to many as the English translator of Orhan Pamuk's recent novels (including Snow). Her latest novel, Enlightenment, is an exploration of the persecution of writers in Turkey.

  • Francis Gilbert

    Francis Gilbert

    Teacher, writer and commentator

    Francis Gilbert was educated at Sussex University, Cambridge University and completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University Of East Anglia, studying under Malcolm Bradbury and Rose Tremain. Since the early 1990s, he has taught in a variety of comprehensives in London. He gave up teaching in 1998, but resumed his full-time career in 2001. He is currently Head of English at a comprehensive in outer London. He has published four books, written extensively for the national press, and appeared as a commentator on all the major TV channels and radio stations. His favourite appearance was with Johnnie Walker on Radio 2 when Sally was very nice to his young son, buying him a packet of crisps. All his pupils think his coolest appearance was on the Russell Brand show.

  • Ruth Gould

    Ruth Gould

    Chief Executive of NorthWest Disability Arts Forum

    Ruth Gould is has been actively involved in the arts for over 20 years. After training in performance arts at the Liverpool Theatre School, she worked in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. As a hearing-impaired person, Ruth is very much aware of the discrimination often associated with access to arts training, performing or exhibiting in mainstream environments. She is passionate about disability and deaf arts being celebrated as cultural diversities in their own right.

  • Jean Grant

    Jean Grant

    'pool project Creative Director

    Jean Grant is an artist working practically and experientially with the ecology of communities in areas of regeneration - listening to them, walking and socialising and developing ways to communicate their understanding of their neighbourhoods. Jean works as creative director of 'pool, a registered charity which publishes pamphlets about the city past and future, arranges a series of walks and picnics and facilitates several large annual events using the forgotten histories of the city to inform future developments.

  • Professor John Gray

    Professor John Gray

    John Gray is Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics. From 1998-2007 he was Professor of European Thought at the LSE. Between 1976-1997 he was a Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford and Professor of Politics at the University of Oxford. He has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard, Yale and the Autonomous University of Madrid. John Gray's recent books include Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (Penguin), Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals (Granta), Heresies: Against Progress and Other Illusions (Granta), Al Qaeda and What It Means To Be Modern (Faber) and False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism (Granta). He writes articles and reviews for The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Review of Books, Harper's Magazine, The New Statesman, The Spectator, The Literary Review and other journals.

  • Germaine Greer

    Germaine Greer

    Writer and Academic

    Germaine Greer is best known for her ground-breaking feminist work 'The Female Eunuch'. In recent years her books have included 'The Beautiful Boy'.

  • Baroness Susan Greenfield

    Baroness Susan Greenfield


    Susan A. Greenfield is a leading neuroscientist and professor based at the Laboratory of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oxford. She is the author of Mindwaves, Journey to the Centres of the Mind, The Human Brain: A Guided Tour and The Private Life of the Brain. In 2000 she was awarded a CBE, and in the first list of its kind, announced on 26 April 2001, was made a people's peer. Photograph courtesy of Stuart Clarke.

  • Christoph Grunenberg

    Christoph Grunenberg

    Director of Tate Liverpool

    Christoph Grunenberg has been director of Tate Liverpool since March 2001. Born and educated in Germany, Grunenberg came to London to study. He has worked at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, the Kunsthalle in Basel and at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.

  • Mark Haddon

    Mark Haddon


    Mark Haddon is a British novelist and poet, best known for his 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. His second adult novel, A Spot of Bother, was published in September 2006. He teaches Creative Writing for The Arvon Foundation, and lives in Oxford with his wife and their two young sons.

  • Edith Hall

    Edith Hall

    Professor of Classics and Drama at Royal Holloway, University of London

    Edith Hall has held posts in Classics at the universities of Cambridge, Reading, Oxford and Durham, before joining Royal Holloway as Professor jointly in Drama and in Classics in 2006. While at Oxford she co-founded, with Oliver Taplin, the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama. She has been a consultant in several professional productions of ancient drama by the RSC, the ENO, the National Theatre, Northern Broadsides, the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and Live Theatre in Newcastle.

  • Sarah Hall

    Sarah Hall


    Sarah Hall was born in Cumbria in 1974. She took a degree in English and Art History at Aberystwyth University, and began to take writing seriously from the age of twenty, first as a poet, several of her poems appearing in poetry magazines, then as a fiction-writer. Her novel The Carhullan Army won the 2007 John Llewellyn-Rhys Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the 2008 Arthur C Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction.

  • Ceri Hand

    Ceri Hand

    Director of The Ceri Hand Gallery, in Liverpool, the Northwest's first contemporary commercial art gallery.

    Ceri Hand has worked at Grizedale Arts in Cumbria, FACT in Liverpool and is now the director of the Ceri Hand Gallery: a contemporary commercial art gallery in Liverpool. She currently sits on the board of Openeye Gallery, Liverpool, the advisory board of Mute magazine and Metamute, London, on the Creative and Cultural Industries Advisory Board for John Moores University and is also contributing to implementing a new MA with John Moores University, Liverpool. She was also recently a nominator for the Northern Art Prize.

  • Eugenie Harvey

    Eugenie Harvey

    Founder of We Are What We Do

    Eugenie Harvey is co-founder of We Are What We Do. We Are What We Do aims to inspire people to use their everyday actions to make a difference in areas like climate change, community breakdown and humanitarian crises. Their book 'Change the World for a Fiver' was launched in 2004 and went on to sell nearly a million copies. What Are What We Do also teamed up with Anya Hindmarsh to create the iconic 'I'm not a plastic bag'. Eugenie was born in Australia and previously worked in PR and Marketing including a stint working for Rupert Murdoch. A chance encounter with David Robertson, founder of the East London charity Community Links led to her work with We Are What We Do. She has been named among the FT's Creative Business top 50 and was featured in the book Everyday Legends.

  • Kevin Harvey

    Kevin Harvey


    Kevin Harvey is currently rehearsing Wig Out! directed by Dominic Cooke, for The Royal Court Theatre. His theatre credits include: Tartuffe, directed by Gemma Bodinetz (Liverpool Everyman and Rose Theatre Kingston); Stags & Hens, directed by Bob Eaton (Royal Court); Clockwork, directed by Benji Reid (Breaking Cycles at The National); Dr Faustus, directed by David Fielding (Bristol Old Vic); His film credits include: A Boy Called Dad, directed by Brian Percival (Wonderboy Pictures); Salvage directed by Lawrence Gough; and Until Death, directed by Simon Fellows (Signature Pictures). Kevin's work on television includes Spooks: Code 9, Ruby in the Smoke, Dancin Thru' the Dark and The Golden Collar.

  • Barney Harwood

    Barney Harwood

    Television Presenter

    Barney Harwood is an award-winning children's television presenter, known for his work on CBBC. Programmes he has presented include Prank Patrol, Basil's Swap Shop, Crush and Smile. He won the Children's BAFTA for best presenter for his work on Smile. Recent work includes The Sorceror's Apprentice and Bear Behaving Badly.

  • Hans van der Heijden

    Hans van der Heijden


    Hans van der Heijden is one of the founder members of Rotterdam based firm of architects BIQ. BIQ's founding members have a wide range of experience working on both public and private sector projects, including urban redevelopment design, housing schemes, cultural and technical buildings and public spaces. One of BIQ's first projects was an award-winning scheme in the bi-annual Europan-4 competition for young European architects. This design for the conversion of domestic buildings and landscape works in Liverpool in 1996 led to their first design commission outside the Netherlands. BIQ were invited to take part in the Culture Castles manifestation in Liverpool organised by FACT in 2001. The same year they were awarded first prize for a design of a mixed-use development in Birkenhead and the Bluecoat commission. Of the Bluecoat project Hans van der Heijden said, "To the first time visitor it will be a lively, inviting and intriguing building. Those familiar with the Bluecoat will delight in its re-articulation of known spaces and addition of new ones".

  • Bill Herbert

    Bill Herbert

    Writer; poet; professor of poetry and creative writing, Newcastle University

    W.N. Herbert was born in Dundee in 1961, and educated there and at Oxford University. He has published seven volumes of poetry and four pamphlets, and he is widely anthologised. His last five collections, all with the northern publisher Bloodaxe, have won numerous accolades. Forked Tongue (1994) was selected for the New Generation promotion, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and was shortlisted for the T.S.Eliot and Saltire prizes.

  • Roger Hill

    Roger Hill

    Broadcaster, writer and performer

    Roger Hill was invited to take over the weekly "rock" programme on Radio Merseyside in 1982; the longest-running alternative music show on UK local radio. With day-jobs including lecturing, educational research, theatre and drama work, and Performance Art adventures at the Bluecoat Art Centre, his time is pretty much taken up.

  • Susan Hitch

    Susan Hitch

    Linguist and Broadcaster

    Susan is a broadcaster, critic and academic. She has been a regular presenter on Radio Three Night Waves and more recently on Radio Four’s Literary Proms. She studied and taught English Language and Literature at Oxford as a Fellow of Magdalen College. She also taught at the University of Gdansk where she helped to start the Gdansk Theatre Foundation and she keeps a strong interest in Central and Eastern Europe. She has worked in the theatre and more recently in film (The Queen).

  • Margaret Hodge

    Margaret Hodge

    Government Minister

    Margaret Hodge was the first Minister for Children and currently a minister in the Department for Media, Culture and Sport. Formerly she was leader of Islington Council and was one of Tony Blair's nominees to become leader of the Labour Party.

  • Richard Holloway

    Richard Holloway

    Former Bishop of Edinburgh

    Richard Holloway was born in Glasgow in 1933. Ordained in the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1959, he was elected Bishop of Edinburgh in 1986 and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1992. He resigned as Bishop and Primus in 2000. He is now a reviewer and writer for the Guardian, Scotsman and Herald newspapers, Times, Independent, a frequent broadcaster on radio and television, and a presenter of several BBC series.

  • Jeremy Hunt

    Jeremy Hunt

    Shadow Culture Secretary

    After leaving school, Jeremy studied at Oxford University, where he graduated with a first class honours degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He then went on to work for a management consultancy firm before jetting off to Japan to teach English. On his return to the UK, Jeremy set up his own educational publishing business, Hotcourses. Jeremy is now the MP for South West Surrey, and the Shadow Culture Secretary.

  • Howard Jacobson

    Howard Jacobson


    Novelist and broadcaster Howard Jacobson was educated at Cambridge University, and during 1970s he taught English at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in the West Midlands, an experience which provided the material for his first novel, Coming From Behind (1983). Subsequent novels include Peeping Tom, The Very Model of a Man and No More Mister Nice Guy. His most recent book is The Act of Love.

  • Jennifer John

    Jennifer John

    Singer, Songwriter and Artistic Director of Sense of Sound in Liverpool

    Jennifer John is a singer/songwriter originally from London but now based in Liverpool, where she has lived since the early 1980s. She is one of four artistic directors of Sense of Sound, a training organisation that specialises in vocal coaching and which has been in operation since 1991. She also manages a choir of 30 a cappella singers called Sense of Sound who were Grand Finalists in the BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year competition in 2006.

  • Rosemary Kelly

    Rosemary Kelly

    Chair Arts Council of Northern Ireland

    Rosemary Kelly is Chair Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and a former Head of Public Affairs and Company Secretary for BBC Northern Ireland. She is currently a Governor of the Irish Times, and a member of the Council of the University of Ulster. She is also Chairman of Help the Aged in Northern Ireland and a Trustee of its International Board in London. She was a founding member of the Irish Film and Television Academy.

  • A L Kennedy

    A L Kennedy


    AL Kennedy is a Scottish writer of novels, short stories and non-fiction. She is currently an Associate Professor in Creative Writing with Warwick University, having previously taught creative writing at St Andrews University. AL Kennedy performs as a stand-up comedian at the Edinburgh Fringe, comedy clubs and literary festivals. In 2007 her novel Day was named Costa Book of the Year in the Costa Book Awards.

  • Sir Nicholas Kenyon

    Sir Nicholas Kenyon

    Managing Director of The Barbican

    Nicholas Kenyon is the managing director of the Barbican Centre. He has worked for The New Yorker, The Times and The Observer. In 1992 he was appointed Controller, BBC Radio 3, and in 2000 became Controller BBC Proms, Live Events and Television Classical Music, a position he held until taking up his post at the Barbican in October 2007.

  • Kwame Kwei-Armah

    Kwame Kwei-Armah

    Actor and playwright

    Kwame Kwei-Armah is well-known as an actor, writer and singer. He first came to prominence as paramedic Finlay Newton in 'Casualty' (from 1999). He is a regular on 'Newsnight Review' and is a presenter of 'the Culture Show'. Amongst many accolades, he was nominated for the Laurence Olivier and Bafta awards, in 2004 and 2005 respectively, for his play Elmina's Kitchen, which was the first Black British play to be staged in the West End. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Open University in 2008.

  • Lynda La Plante

    Lynda La Plante

    Author and screenwriter

    Lynda La Plante was born in Liverpool, and trained for the stage at RADA. She has been a television actress with regular roles in dramas such as Fox, Minder and The Sweeney. She is also an accomplished author, and scriptwriter, with awards for the original series of Prime Suspect and Widows. BAFTA awarded Lynda with the Dennis Potter Writers Award. Lynda awarded a creative writing scholarship to John Moores University, in her hometown of Liverpool and is an honorary member of the British Film Institute.

  • Norman Lebrecht

    Norman Lebrecht

    Writer, broadcaster and critic

    Norman Lebrecht is a commentator on music, culture and politics. He has a Wednesday column in the London Evening Standard and is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to Bloomberg. His many books - which include The Maestro Myth, When the Music Stops, Mahler Remembered and The Life and Death of Classical Music - have been translated into 17 languages. His first novel, The Song of Names, won the Whitbread Award in 2003 and is due to be made into an international movie. A further novel is scheduled to appear early in 2009.

  • Bernard-Henri Lévy

    Bernard-Henri Lévy

    Intellectual and Journalist

    Bernard-Henri Lévy is a French intellectual and journalist, a superstar in France known simply as BHL. He studied at the Ecole Normale Superieure and graduated with a degree in Philosophy. Lévy is also a journalist and covered the war of independence between Bangladesh and Pakistan in the early 70s. Lévy became famous later in the 1970s as one of the founders of the Nouveaux Philosophes school and with the publication of his book 'Barbarism with a Human Face' which attacked the philosophy of Marxism. In 2003 Levy wrote an account of his efforts to track the murderers of reporter Daniel Pearl and in 2006 became involved in the Muhammed cartoons controversy when he co-signed the manifesto 'Together facing the new totalitarianism'.

  • Professor Sonia Livingstone

    Professor Sonia Livingstone

    Sonia Livingstone is Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is author or editor of eleven books and many articles and chapters on media audiences, children and the internet, domestic contexts of media use and media literacy. She serves on the UK’s Council for Child Internet Safety, the DCSF’s Ministerial Taskforce for Home Access to Technology for Children and DCSF’s Assessment of the impact of the commercial world on children’s wellbeing.

  • Ken Loach

    Ken Loach

    Television and film director

    Ken Loach joined Northampton Repertory Theatre as an assistant director in 1961 and then moved to the BBC as a trainee television director in 1963, where he directed Cathy Come Home and In Two Minds which explored the issue of schizophrenia. His second feature film, Kes was a commercial and critical success. Few directors have been as consistent in their themes and their filmic style, or as principled in their politics, as Loach has in a career spanning five decades. Without doubt he is Britain's foremost political filmmaker.

  • Neil MacGregor

    Neil MacGregor

    Director, British Museum

    Neil MacGregor has been the Director of the British Museum since 2002 and has devoted particular attention to developing the Museum’s international activities. Mr. MacGregor is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, a Board member of the National Theatre, an honorary Fellow of New College Oxford, and has received honorary doctorate from nine universities. He read French and German at New College, Oxford, philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and 17th and 19th century art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. From 1975 to 1981 he was a lecturer in the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Reading and a part-time lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art. From 1987 to 2002, Mr MacGregor was Director of the National Gallery in London, where he presented a number of BBC television series on the collection.

  • Stuart Maconie

    Stuart Maconie

    Presenter, Writer and Journalist

    Stuart Maconie is co-host of the Radcliffe and Maconie show on BBC Radio 2. He also frequently covers Chris Evans's drivetime slot.

  • Tony Marchant

    Tony Marchant


    Tony Marchant grew up in Wapping, London "a very hard, heavy place to live sometimes" and is known for his hard-hitting, gritty dramas often about unhappy topics including 'Holding On', about London, 'The Mark of Cain' about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners and 'Passer By' about a man who fails to prevent a rape and has to live with the consequences.

  • Kerenza McClarnan

    Kerenza McClarnan

    Project Manager for the 2008 Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Visual Arts, for FACT

    Kerenza McClarnan has worked as a freelance Public Art Consultant and Curator on a variety of exciting and significant public art and architecture projects in the North West, including FACT's Liverpool Biennial exhibition. She is now working Manchester International Festival on one of their major commissions. Kerenza is also one of the curators for Channel 4's Big Art Project in Burnley, which is scheduled to be televised in Spring 09.

  • John McGrath

    John E McGrath

    Artistic director

    Born in North Wales, John E. McGrath is currently the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Contact Theatre, Manchester. John's previous roles include Artistic Director of Theatre Venture in Newham in London and Associate Director of the renowned Experimental Theatre Company, Mabou Mines in New York. In 2005 he was awarded the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA) Cultural Leadership Award.

  • Arabella McIntyre-Brown

    Arabella McIntyre-Brown

    Journalist, Author and Publisher

    Born in West Sussex (1958), Arabella McIntyre-Brown spent 11 years in London before moving to Liverpool in 1988. She has written nine books about Liverpool and publishes others. She splits her time between Liverpool and Transylvania.

  • Ian McMillan

    Ian McMillan


    Presenter of Radio 3's The Verb

  • Dreda Say Mitchell

    Dreda Say Mitchell


    Dreda Mitchell was born in the East End of London to parents who had migrated from Grenada to England in the 1960s. She studied African History at The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and later obtained a MA in education studies. She has been a teacher in both secondary and primary schools, including becoming a deputy head teacher. She has since written three crime novels, and has been awarded the Crime Writers' Association's John Creasey Memorial Dagger for her book Running Hot.

  • Rana Mitter

    Rana Mitter

    Academic and broadcaster

    Rana Mitter is a Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at Oxford University, and has published on the political and cultural history of twentieth-century China. He is currently working on the connections between war and nationalism in China from the 1930s to the present. He is also a presenter of Night Waves on BBC Radio 3.

  • Lizzie Nunnery

    Lizzie Nunnery

    Playwright and singer/songwriter

    Lizzie Nunnery is a playwright and is also becoming established as a singer songwriter. The release of her EP "Monkeys and Devils," has won her acclaim with BBC Liverpool naming her as their artist of the month and live performances on BBC Radio 3 and at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. She is based in Liverpool.

  • Andrew O'Hagan

    Andrew O'Hagan

    Writer, Novelist

    Andrew O'Hagan was born in Glasgow and grew up in North Ayrshire. He worked at the London Review of Books before publishing his first book 'The Missing' in 1995. 'The Missing' was later filmed by Channel 4 and nominated for a Bafta. Andrew's debut novel 'Our Fathers' was nominated for several awards including the Booker Prize. He has subsequently won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was named one of the top 20 young British novelists in the 2003 Granta list. His third novel has been adapted for the stage and will premiere in January 2009. He is a Goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

  • Osi Rhys Osmond

    Osi Rhys Osmond

    Artist, Writer and Teacher

    Osi Rhys Osmond exhibits throughout Britain and abroad. He also presents programmes for television and radio, including a series on painting in Wales.

  • Ian Paisley

    Revd Ian Paisley

    Politician and Church leader

    Ian Paisley was the First Minister of Northern Ireland until his resignation in June 2008. He is a veteran politician and church leader, being leader of the Democratic Unionist party since 1971. He has been MP for North Antrim since 1970. He is one of the most controversial political figures of the last 40 years, known for campaigns against homosexuality and the national lottery and his hatred of alchohol. He opposed the Anglo-Irish agreement of 1985 and resigned from parliament in protest. He finally agreed to support a new government for Northern Ireland which included the Irish Republican party Sinn Féan in 2006 and was elected as First Minister with Sinn Féan's Martin McGuinness as deputy.

  • Glenn Patterson

    Glenn Patterson


    Glenn Patterson was born in Belfast in 1961 and studied at the University of East Anglia. He returned to Northern Ireland in 1988 and was Writer in the Community for Lisburn and Craigavon under a scheme administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He is the author of seven novels.

  • Grayson Perry

    Grayson Perry


    Grayson Perry, Turner Prize winner, was born in Chelmsford in 1960. He studied at Braintree College of Further Education and at Portsmouth Polytechnic. In the early 1980s Perry was a member of the Neo-Naturist group, and took part in performance and film works. He has continued to make work in a variety of media which now includes embroidery, pottery and photography.

  • Vasily Petrenko

    Vasily Petrenko

    Principal Conductor, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

    Born in 1976 and educated at the St Petersburg Conservatoire), Vasily Petrenko was Resident Conductor at the St Petersburg State Opera and Ballet Theatre (1994-7) and Chief Conductor of the State Academy Orchestra of St Petersburg (2004-7). He commenced his position as Principal Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in September 2006, and been appointed Principal Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain from 2008. In October 2007 Vasily Petrenko was named Young Artist of the Year at the annual Gramophone Awards.

  • Roger Phillips

    Roger Phillips


    One of the country's top 'devils advocates' Roger Phillips show is broadcast on Radio Merseyside between 12 and 2pm each weekday. Before he began presenting the lunchtime phone-in programme Roger had a variety of jobs from salesman to actor and has been living and working on Merseyside since the early 1970s.

  • Trevor Phillips

    Trevor Phillips

    Head of the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights

    Trevor Phillips OBE is the head of the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights - an organisation promoting equality across ethnic, gender, sexual-orientation, disability and other interests. He was born in London but attended school in Guyana before studying chemistry at Imperial College in London. He became president of the National Union of Students and worked as a television researcher, producer and presenter at LWT. His long-standing friendship with Peter Mandelson brought him into New Labour and he temporarily ran as Labour candidate for the Mayor of London in 1999. Trevor Phillips later became a Labour member of the London Assembly until 2003 when he resigned to head the Commission for Racial Equality. He has recently spoken about the dangers of multiculturalism.

  • Stephen Pratt

    Stephen Pratt

    Composer and Professor of Music at Liverpool Hope University

    Stephen Pratt became known with musical works like the Piano Sonata and Star and Dead Leaves for flute and piano. In 1978 an Arts Council bursary enabled him to write his first orchestral work, Some of their Number which was given its premiere by the RLPO under Simon Rattle in 1980. In June, 2003 Stephen was promoted to the post of Professor of Music at Liverpool Hope University, and he has recently set up Gresham at Hope, which brings Gresham Professors and Fellows to lecture to public audiences in Liverpool.

  • Paul Preston

    Paul Preston

    Professor of Contemporary Spanish Studies

    Paul Preston specialises in Spanish history, particularly the history of the Spanish Civil War. He is the winner of the Ramon Llull International Prize in Catalonia (2005). In 1996 he published 'A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War' and in 2003 a biography of King Juan Carlos. He is currently based at London's LSE where he is the Professor of Contemporary Spanish Studies and Director of the Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies. Paul Preston was born in Liverpool.

  • Lord David Puttnam

    Lord David Puttnam


    Lord David Puttnam spent 30 years as an independent film producer. His award-winning films include The Mission, The Killing Fields, Local Hero, Chariots of Fire and Midnight Express. He was head of Columbia Pictures from 1986 to 1988, the only non-American ever to run a Hollywood studio. Between 1997 - 2007 he was the Chancellor of the University of Sunderland.

  • Phil Redmond

    Phil Redmond

    TV Producer and Writer

    Phil Redmond is well-known as the creator of programmes including Brookside and Grange Hill. He is currently a Creative Director and Vice Chair of the Liverpool Culture Company who are responsible for delivering the programme for the European Capital of Culture 2008.

  • Eleanor Rees

    Eleanor Rees


    Eleanor was born in Birkenhead, Merseyside in 1978. Her collection Feeding Fire received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2002. She lives in Liverpool and works as a poet in the community.

  • Gillian Reynolds

    Gillian Reynolds

    Radio critic

    Gillian Reynolds MBE is a Liverpool born journalist and broadcaster. She has worked as Radio Critic for Guardian and Telegraph newspapers, as well as Programme Controller of Radio City, Liverpool. She is a Council member of the Broadcasting Committee of the Society of Authors, and is a Trustee of the National Museums Liverpool.

  • Richard Reynolds

    Richard Reynolds

    Gardener and Activist

    Richard Reynolds is the founder of Guerrilla Gardening - an organisation that wages war against the neglect of public spaces and fights against it through illicit cultivation. Their motto runs 'Let's fight the filth with forks and flowers'. Richard began by planting flowers secretly at night around his tower block without knowing he was part of a global movement but his blog attracted guerrilla gardeners from around the world to share their experiences and the movement has attracted press coverage around the world.

  • Diane Roberts

    Diane Roberts

    Professor of English and Radio Presenter

    Diane Roberts is an eighth generation resident of Florida and Professor of English at Florida State University in Tallahassee. She studied English and American literature at Oxford University. Diane is the author of three books including 'Dream State' - a history of Florida. She is a political columnist for the St Petersburg Times in Florida and has also written for newspapers including the Times and New York Times. She spends part of the year in London making documentaries for the BBC. Diane has been a commentator on American NPR since 1993.

  • Tim Robertson

    Tim Robertson

    Chief executive of the Koestler Trust for arts by offenders

    Tim Robertson became chief executive of the Koestler Trust in July 2006. Before that he worked for 14 years in the London Borough of Camden, where he set up the Youth Offending Team and Sure Start programmes. He writes poetry and is on the board of Magma poetry magazine. He is a practicing Anglican and lives in King's Cross with his partner Neil. Photograph courtesy of the Koestler Trust.

  • Adam Sampson

    Adam Sampson

    Chief Executive of Shelter, the housing and homeless charity

    Adam Sampson has been chief executive of Shelter since January 2003. After university, Adam worked first as a probation officer and then for the Prison Reform Trust, and then the Home Office as assistant prisons ombudsman. Adam is a board member of End Child Poverty, the Prisoners Advice Service, and the Royal Society for the Arts. He is a commissioner on the UK Drugs Policy Commission.

  • Jonathan Sawday

    Jonathan Sawday

    Professor of English

    Jonathan Sawday is currently Professor of English at the University of Strathclyde. His research is focussed on the intersection between science, technology and literature. He has written and published on the visual arts, autobiography in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Renaissance and Restoration poetry, forgery, cyborgs, race and scientific racism in the Edwardian period. His book 'Engines of the Imagination - Renassiance Culture and the Rise of the Machine' was published in 2007. In it he explores when machines and technology began to have an impact on the cultural consciousness and imagination of Europe and how this was reflected through the art and literature of the time.

  • Nitin Sawhney

    Nitin Sawhney

    Musician, producer and composer

    Nitin Sawhney is a producer, songwriter, DJ, multi-instrumentalist, orchestral composer, and cultural pioneer, with involvement in the worlds of music, film, videogames, dance and theatre. Much of Sawhney's attention remains focused on the areas of education and community building, accepting the role of Artist in Residence for no less than 5 separate performing arts organisations around the world. In late 2007 he was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Kent.

  • Alexei Sayle

    Alexei Sayle

    Writer and comedian

    One of the most original and influential performers to emerge from the 1980s alternative comedy scene, Alexei Sayle started off as a stand-up comedian. Born in Anfield, Liverpool Alexei owes both his name and his eccentric upbringing (summer holidays visiting tractor factories in Latvia) to his parents' ardent Communist beliefs. He has appeared television programmes as diverse as in The Private Life of the Ford Cortina, Whoops Apocalypse and The Young Ones.

  • Will Self

    Will Self

    Novelist, reviewer and columnist

    Will Self was raised in the North London suburbs and read philosophy at Oxford University. He is known for frequent television appearances (particularly on 'Have I Got New for You'), his columns in The Independent, The Evening Standard and The New Statesman and for works of fiction including 'Cock and Bull', 'The Book of Dave' and 'The Butt'.

  • Dr Tom Shakespeare

    Dr Tom Shakespeare

    Research Fellow at the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre at Newcastle University

    Tom Shakespeare is a research fellow at Newcastle University, with interests in disability studies, bioethics and medical sociology. From 2005-2008, he was a NESTA fellow developing creative projects in writing, performance and visual art. His latest book is Disability Rights and Wrongs (Routledge, 2006).

  • Kamila Shamsie

    Kamila Shamsie


    Kamila Shamsie was born and brought up in Pakistan. She has won wide acclaim, with her novels winning or being short-listed for many literary awards. In 2000 she was selected as one of Orange's 21 Writers of the 21st Century.

  • Robert Rowland Smith

    Robert Roland Smith

    Philospher and Management Consultant

    Robert spent the first part of his career as a Prize Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford and, while continuing with his writing, has spent the last part as a management consultant. As a partner now in a leading London consulting firm, he advises the leaders of blue chip companies and government departments. Robert has published academic books and articles on philosophy, literature and psychoanalysis, and is a founding editor of the award-winning journal Angelaki. He has lectured at universities around the world and written for The Independent, been profiled in The Sunday Telegraph Magazine, and contributed to books on philosophy for children. This year he is recording podcasts for the immensely popular 'Philosophy Bites' series that has featured on the iTunes top twenty; and teaching courses on love at the new School of Life in Bloomsbury. His new book, Breakfast with Socrates: the meaning of everyday life is shortly to be published.

  • Gwilym Simcock

    Gwilym Simcock


    Gwilym Simcock is one of the most gifted pianists and composers working on the British scene. Gwilym has played with the cream of international jazz artists including Dave Holland, and Bob Mintzer among others. Gwilym is currently a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist - the first jazz artist to be selected.

  • The Singh Twins

    The Singh Twins


    The Singh Twins Amrit and Rabindra have been exhibited worldwide. They describe their work as 'Past - Modern' and it has been hailed as reinventing traditional Indian art within modern practices.

  • Professor Dai Smith

    Professor Dai Smith

    Chair, Arts Council of Wales

    Professor Dai Smith is a distinguished historian and writer on Welsh arts and culture. In January 2005 he stood down as Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Glamorgan and has since been appointed as the first holder of The Raymond Williams Research Chair in the Cultural History of Wales at Swansea University.

  • Sean Spence

    Sean Spence

    Professor of Psychiatry

    Sean Spence is the Professor of General Adult Psychiatry at the University of Sheffield's School of Medicine and Biomedical Science. He studied at Guy's, Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals and at the Cornell Hospital in New York. His interests outside work include Jazz and he has spoken about how Jazz music arose from the pioneer 'Buddy' Bolden's mental health problems. He has expressed his fascination with people operating at the limits of human behaviour and recently published the article 'Can pharmacology help enhance human morality?' in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

  • Hannah Spiers

    Hannah Spiers

    Sixth form student

    Hannah Spiers is a sixth form student from Liverpool. She joined forces with Free Thinking to present a manifesto to help the generations understand each other better.

  • Kenneth Steven

    Kenneth Steven


    Kenneth Steven is a poet, children's author and translator from Highland Scotland. Some twenty of his books have been published to date; he travels all over the country and abroad to undertake readings, workshops and lectures. He's involved more and more in the making of documentaries for BBC Radio; the most recent having been on the story of Glenlyon with the producer Julian May.

  • Janet Street-Porter

    Janet Street-Porter

    Writer and broadcaster

    Janet Street-Porter went to architectural college and then started her journalism career at the Daily Mail in 1969. As well as being seen in front of camera, Janet Street-Porter has also been an executive behind the scenes. For many years she was the BBC's Head of Youth and Entertainment Features and she was also MD of the infamous cable channel Live TV. Janet Street-Porter went on to edit The Independent on Sunday, and since leaving has written for numerous publications.

  • Mike Stubbs

    Mike Stubbs

    Director and CEO of FACT

    Mike Stubbs is Director and CEO of Liverpool's Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) having previously been Head of Exhibitions at the Australian Centre for Moving Image. He is also an artist.

  • David Sulkin

    David Sulkin

    Director of policy and programmes for Youth Music and artistic director, Duchy Opera

    David Sulkin is the founder and director of the Baylis Programme at English National Opera, was the associate director of the Janacek Hukvaldy Festival Czech Republic in the 1990s and is now Director of Policy and Programmes at the National Lottery Charity, Youth Music.

  • Matthew Sweet

    Matthew Sweet


    Presenter of Radio 3's Night Waves

  • Belinda Sykes

    Belinda Sykes

    Musician and Academic

    Belinda Sykes, raised on a pure diet of English folk song, is now an international concert and recording soloist. She studied voice and improvisation in Morocco, Bulgaria, Syria, Spain and India; oboe and recorder at the Guildhall School of Music. Belinda has a Masters Degree in Ethnomusicology/Arabic music from London University's School of Oriental and African Studies and is Professor of Medieval Song at Trinity College of Music.

  • Rogan Taylor

    Rogan Taylor

    Writer, broadcaster and director of the Football Industry Group at the University of Liverpool

    Dr Rogan Taylor is Director of the Football Industry Group at the University of Liverpool where he pioneered the world’s first post-graduate ‘football’ degree: the MBA in Football Industries. Rogan was a founder-member and leader of the first national fans’ organisation in UK: the Football Supporters’ Association, in 1985.

  • Keith Thomas

    Keith Thomas

    Retired maths teacher

    Keith Thomas is a retired maths teacher from Liverpool. He joined forces with Free Thinking to present a manifesto to help the generations understand each other better.

  • Shirley J Thompson

    Shirley J Thompson

    Composer and conductor

    The composer Shirley J. Thompson is widely celebrated for her pioneering, eclectic and original writing style. Her latest orchestral work, 'New Nation Rising, A 21st Century Symphony' has been recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and employs the RPO with two choirs, solo singers, a rapper and dhol drummers in an epic musical story celebrating London's thousand-year history. She is the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony in the last 30 years.

  • Jatinder Verma

    Jatinder Verma

    Writer and Artistic Director of Tara Arts

    Born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, Verma grew up in Nairobi, and was part of the mass Kenyan exodus to Britain in the late 1960s. In 1977, he co-founded Tara Arts, the first Asian theatre company to be set up in Britain, and in 1990 he became the first Asian director to stage a play at the National Theatre. He holds Honorary Doctorates from both Exeter and De Montfort Universities.

  • Peter Ward

    Peter Ward

    Director of Hope Street Limited, a Liverpool based community arts organisation

    Peter Ward is Director of Hope Street Ltd, an award-winning Liverpool based organisation dedicated to the development of artists, art forms and arts in the community. He is currently leading the development of an international creation centre for Liverpool.

  • Marina Warner

    Marina Warner

    Writer and academic

    Marina Warner is a prize-winning writer; her works include novels and short stories as well as studies of female myths and symbols. She was born in London in 1946, of an Italian mother and an English father who was a bookseller. Marina Warner was educated in Cairo, Brussels, Berkshire, England, and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She is now Professor in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, University of Essex where she teaches courses on Fairy-Tales and other forms of narrative.

  • Justin Welby

    Justin Welby

    Dean of Liverpool Cathedral

    Justin Welby has worked extensively on a wide range of domestic and international reconciliation projects, especially involving relations with Islamic groups in Nigeria and the Middle East. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1992, but before ordination he worked at a senior level in the oil industry in France and the UK. He is a fluent French speaker and has published papers in English and French.

  • Roy Williams

    Roy Williams OBE


    Roy Williams has previously been Writer in Residence at The Royal Court and has been at The Almeida Theatre since December 2005. He has written new plays for The Royal Court, The Tricycle Theatre, The Lyric Hammersmith, Tiara Fahodzi, Eclipse Theatre and Out of Joint as well as three commissions for the National Theatre. He has also written a film for Channel 4 called FAITH.

  • Sister Anthony Wilson

    Sister Anthony Wilson

    Artistic Director of Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral.

    Sister Anthony Wilson works with many different groups to create art for Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral, and her love of and knowledge of art encourages visitors to enjoy and reflect on the many treasures there, from paintings to sculpture, wall-hangings to tapestries. She is inspired by art and her own talent and enthusiasm inspires others.

  • Esther Wilson

    Esther Wilson


    Esther Wilson started out as an actor but after winning one of the BBC's Northern Exposure Awards - Short film category 'The Swimming Man' she has focused more on writing. She has written for Red Ladder Theatre Company, and The Liverpool Lantern Company. She was the winner of the 2004 Mental Health in Media's best Radio drama award. At present Esther is developing ideas for the BBC.

  • Godfrey Worsdale

    Godfrey Worsdale

    Director of MIMA - Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (until November 2008, when he becomes the new director of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art)

    Godfrey Worsdale is currently the director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art but will become director of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in November 2008. He began his curatorial career in the early 1990s at the British Museum, working in the Department of Prints and Drawings. At the same time he established a new independent gallery for contemporary art in London and developed a reputation for writing about art for a variety of publications and catalogues. He is particularly committed to the development of new audiences for visual art and twentieth century art in particular.

A festival of ideas on radio, online and in a weekend of live events.

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