Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds takes over Woman’s Hour on Radio 4
I’m excited that once again we have five remarkable women to guest edit Woman’s Hour. Each has chosen issues they care about deeply; from ocean conservation to costume design, and I’m sure they’ll connect with our listeners in a warm and meaningful wayKaren Dalziel, Editor, Woman’s Hour
Woman’s Hour Takeover week 2017 will see five amazing women join BBC Radio 4 as guest editors. Ellie Simmonds, Zawe Ashton, Shirley Hughes, Dame Ann Dowling and Karen Blackett will all edit an edition of Woman’s Hour and work closely with the production team to provide their insights into a range of issues and topics.
On Monday, children’s book writer and illustrator Shirley Hughes CBE will look at visual literacy in children, give a masterclass for aspiring picture book writers and illustrators and discuss the enduring appeal of stories for the very young. Shirley also shows off her eye for fashion, having studied costume design and pattern cutting at Liverpool School Of Art, and reveals how making her own clothes has kept her looking stylish and individual as she approaches her 90th birthday.
On Tuesday, Ellie Simmonds OBE will talk about travelling the globe and experiencing the cultures of other countries, instead of just seeing the inside of the world’s swimming pools. Ellie will also discuss the importance of ocean conservation and her experience of volunteering with the Brownies.
Speaking about her involvement in Woman’s Hour Takeover week, Ellie says: “I feel so lucky to have taken a year out of competing to travel and see the world, but I can’t stay away from the pool, so it’s back to full-time training now!
"It’s great to have a chance to talk about my time travelling solo - my confidence has grown and it has brought out the best in me. I feel like I’m in control and I can do what I want to do. I’m so proud and grateful to have been asked to be a guest editor on this year’s Woman’s Hour Takeover week and I'm told I’m the youngest to do so – I’ll definitely add that to my list of achievements. It’s an incredible show and I feel honoured to be part of it.”
On Wednesday, Dame Ann Dowling, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the first woman to become professor of engineering at the University of Cambridge, takes over the programme. She will discuss why girls make the decisions they do at GCSE, A Level and degree level about which subjects they study, as well as the huge breadth of modern engineering - from medical imaging and therapy, to wi-fi and mobile phones. Dame Ann will also be combining her research on aircraft noise with her passion for opera, as she discusses the power of the human voice.
Thursday’s programme is in the hands of Zawe Ashton. An actress perhaps best known as ‘Vod’ in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat, she’s also a writer, producer and director. Zawe will be exploring how the Serbian designer Roksanda Ilincic is influenced by her background in architecture. Zawe will also discuss the anxiety she experiences as an actress around starting her period on stage in front of an audience.
About guest-editing an edition of Woman’s Hour, Zawe says: “I’m delighted to have been asked to guest edit Woman’s Hour. The thought of taking over the programme is very intriguing - I listen to the show at the start of my day and it always makes me feel energised and switched on. I hope I create the same effect for other loyal listeners."
Karen Blackett OBE, the Chair of Mediacom - one of the world's leading media agencies - will close the week, talking about why empathy is the key to making diversity work in the world of business and employment, and whether brands really can make the world a better place.
Karen says: “Diverse businesses are more successful, but there are those who roll their eyes at the mere mention of the word ‘diversity’. How do we get everyone on board? To make diversity actually happen in the workplace, people need to treat each other with sensitivity and empathy. As the chair of a billion pound company but also a single mum of a seven year-old boy, I want my edition of the programme to appeal to as wide a cross-section of women as possible (and even a few men).
"In our short-attention-span, fake-news world, Woman’s Hour is a programme that still manages to present subjects that matter in real depth – while also entertaining its audience. I want to ensure I honour that.”
Karen Dalziel, Editor of Woman’s Hour, says: “I’m excited that once again we have five remarkable women to guest edit Woman’s Hour. Each has chosen issues they care about deeply; from ocean conservation to costume design, and I’m sure they’ll connect with our listeners in a warm and meaningful way. By sharing their personal interests and passions, we learn so much more about these well-known and influential women.”
Jane Garvey will present the programme on Monday and Tuesday and Jenni Murray will present from Wednesday to Friday.
Woman’s Hour first handed over the reins for a takeover in April 2014. Notable guest editors since then include JK Rowling, Dame Kelly Holmes, Mary Berry, Angelina Jolie, Bishop Rachel Treweek, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Doreen Lawrence and more.
Pictured: Ellie Simmonds and Jane Garvey. Credit: BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour