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Free Thinking - A Festival of Ideas 2010

The Sage Gateshead

Picture: Audience member studies a face laughing in extreme slow motion in the Laughing Portraits installation on the concourse at the festival.

Radio 3’s Free Thinking festival returned to The Sage Gateshead for a weekend of public debate, interviews and performance on 5-7 November 2010.


Listen nowAuthor Pat Barker

Listen now to debates and discussions from the festival broadcast in Radio 3's Night Waves.
Listen now to 'New Histories of the North East' recorded at the festival and broadcast in Radio 3's The Essay.

Download the drama Take Me to the Bridge as an mp3 as featured on The Verb.


What is the Free Thinking Festival?Thinker in Residence Frank Cottrell Boyce

It's a celebration of the whole of the world of ideas, explored in more than 30 events across one weekend. Our theme in 2010 is The Pursuit of Happiness, explored in debate, conversation and through our speakers.

Listen to broadcasts from the festival on Radio 3 each evening 7 - 12 November 2010 and then regularly until Christmas.

Read blogs and tweets for 2010 festival insights.


Broadcasts and on demandDame Jacqueline Wilson

All the debates and discussions are available online after broadcast in perpetuity.

Other programmes from the festival including Words and Music, Drama on 3 and The Verb are available as usual in iPlayer for 7 days after broadcast.


Broadcasts festival weekend


Fri 29 Oct
9.15pm The Verb
Featuring 'Take Me to the Bridge', new audio drama from poet Sean O’Brien, which is designed to be listened to on a walk from The Sage Gateshead and onto the Millennium Bridge.
Download the mp3

Mon 1 Nov to Fri 5 Nov
around 9.00am on Breakfast
A two-minute "Free Thought" of brand new writing commissioned from leading novelists and poets

Friday 5th Nov
9.15pm The Free Thinking Lecture with Jacqueline Wilson
Beyond the Fairy Tale - happiness in the real world
Watch BBC School Report interview with Jacqueline Wilson

Saturday 6th Nov
12.15pm Music Matters live from the festival
What is Music for?

Saturday 6 Nov
9.15pm The BBC Radio 3 & BBC Radio 5live Late Night Debate live from the festival
What does Britain do best: Sport or the Arts?

Sunday 7th Nov
8.00pm An Evening of Free Thinking
Highlights from the festival including Drama on 3 and Words
and Music
recorded over the weekend.


Broadcasts week following the festivalActors performing Vultures for Drama on 3.


Monday to Thursday from 8th Nov
9.15pm Night Waves and The Essay

9.15pm The best of the interviews, lectures, performances debates and
audience discussion recorded at Free Thinking.


Mon 8 Nov

9.15pm Night Waves
Session 8: Angie Hobbs ‘No need for heroes?’

11.00pm The Essay
Session 7: New Histories of the North East - Old Religion, New Ideas.

Tue 9 Nov

9.15pm Night Waves
Session 23: Comedy vs Tragedy debate

11.00pm The Essay
Session 10: New Histories of the North East - Earl Grey and the promise of reform

Wed 10 Nov

9.15pm Night Waves
Session 11: Matt Ridley & Matthew Taylor ‘Can the Government make us happy?’

11.00pm The Essay
Session 24: New Histories of the North East - Hadrian's Wall - Across the Divide

Thu 11 Nov

9.15pm Night Waves
Session 25: Fiona Shaw ‘What acting can teach you about life’

11.00pm The Essay
Session 27: New Histories of the North East - Inheritance Tracks

Fri 12 Nov

8.30pm The Verb
The Verb at Free Thinking with The Unthanks, Katrina Porteous, Alex Horne, John Burnside

10.15pm The Essay
Session 31: New Histories of the North East - A Landscape for Everyman


Subsequent broadcastsPhilip Dodd with Mary Midgley


More Free Thinking broadcasts on BBC Radio 3:

Tue 16 Nov 9.15pm Night Waves
Session 12: Marriage in Peril - should we try to save it?

  • 'What is the secret to a happy marriage?' - read responses from the Free Thinking festival audience on the Radio 3 Facebook page.

Thu 18 Nov 9.15pm Night Waves
Session 5: Kevin McCloud 'Ben Franklin and Shopping'

Thu 25 Nov 9.15pm Night Waves
Session 22: Lord Blair ‘Violence - a new perspective’

Thu 2 Dec 9.15pm Night Waves
Session 15: Debate 'To buy or not to buy - do possessions make us happy?'



Listen online

Listen online anytime after broadcast to all the debates and discussions

  • sample Free Thinking in our audio and video archives: 2006-08 | 2009
  • and tune in to the festival's host arts and ideas programme Night Waves

Tanya Byron

Get updates

Keep your finger on Free Thinking




Free Thoughts

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Are you a New Generation Thinker?

  • Do you have a passion for communicating?
  • Can you bring the excitement of modern scholarship to a wider audience?
  • BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) have joined forces to find the next generation of public intellectuals.
  • Apply on the AHRC website

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