Over the coming months Rethink will be a space for provocative new thinking from interesting minds, whether familiar names with fresh thoughts or young thinkers with a deep investment in a better futureMohit Bakaya
Date: 15.06.2020 Last updated: 16.06.2020 at 10.50
Pope Francis to Samantha Power, Caleb Femi to Lady Hale, Andy Murray to KK Shailaja, Tim Berners Lee to Emma Dabiri and many more - global voices come to BBC radio to ‘Rethink’ the world after the crisis.
BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 Live and World Service come together for a unique collaboration: ‘Rethink’ will ask how society and our lives can change for the better after the COVID-19 crisis
Launches in June with a week of dedicated programming featuring new thinking, listeners’ contributions and debate - culminating in a special simulcast on Radio 4 and 5 Live. Plus more programming throughout the year
Thirty speakers include: Tara Westover, George Soros, Amanda Levete, Steven Pinker, Charlotte Lydia Riley, Mohammed Hanif, Reed Hastings, Brian Eno, Katherine Grainger, Niall Ferguson and Colin Jackson
‘Rethink’ is the first collaboration of its kind by the BBC’s network speech stations to address one of the biggest questions the UK and the world face: what has the Coronavirus crisis taught us and what should we, individually and collectively, change to improve our lives after it?
Rather than analysing what might happen when the world moves beyond the pandemic, this project asks a wide range of thinkers - as well as BBC radio audiences - to consider what they want to happen. It will explore everything from the way we travel to how we assess individual health risks, how we look after the elderly and look out for the young, the future of globalisation, what it means to live a good life, and who we most value and reward in our society.
The collaboration brings together the expertise of the three speech stations for the benefit of a wide BBC audience: broadcasting exciting new thinking, putting listeners at the heart of the conversation and providing a global perspective.
BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 Live and World Service will launch the theme in June with a week of special programming. Across the week listeners can hear short essays from around thirty thinkers. The essays will broadcast within news and other programmes on Radio 4, throughout the day on 5 Live and during the World Service’s Newshour and Newsday programmes, with a number used to provoke debate about the specific idea being explored.
Speakers include poet Caleb Femi who describes what his generation most urgently need from the post-pandemic world. Pope Francis challenges “hypocritical” political leaders to wake up to inequality. Tim Berners Lee tells us rediscovering the Internet’s original ideals will help us rebuild. Tara Westover, author of Educated, explains what lockdown has taught her and Emma Dabiri, author of Don’t Touch My Hair, wants to find ways to build belonging by moving beyond identity politics. Lady Hale, former president of the UK’s Supreme Court, reflects on trial by jury. Samantha Power, President Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations, wants the world to trust the United States again.
Amanda Levete, the Stirling Prize-winning architect, hopes we will think more deeply about the spaces we live and work in. The billionaire philanthropist George Soros describes his hopes for Europe’s future. KK Shailaja, the Keralan health minister, offers lessons from fighting the virus there, and the writer Mohammed Hanif reflects on how ideas about intimacy could change. Other speakers include: Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong on protest; Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, on the pharmaceutical industry’s responsibilities; Andy Murray on the future role of sport; Carol Cooper, from the Royal College of Nursing, on her hopes for ending racial disparities in health outcomes; and many others still to be announced.
Mohit Bakaya, Controller of Radio 4, says: “Since becoming Controller I have been looking for ways Radio 4 can help our audience explore possible solutions to some of the big challenges the world faces, alongside our usual interrogation, analysis and explanation.
“The COVID-19 crisis increases the urgency of this, and over the coming months Rethink will be a space for provocative new thinking from interesting minds, whether familiar names with fresh thoughts or young thinkers with a deep investment in a better future.
“Rethink will interrogate how this pandemic has dramatically challenged the assumptions we make about the world around us, shine light in the corners where we might most need radical new ideas, and explore what we could change, individually and collectively, to improve our lives and the landscape around us.”
Heidi Dawson, Controller of Radio 5 Live, says: “5 Live listeners open up to us every day about their lives in a way that always surprises and makes us think differently.
“I can’t wait to hear our listeners’ ideas for how we should rethink the world as we emerge from lockdown and the pandemic.
“Over the last few months 5 Live has been a platform for listeners to join a national conversation on the virus and with Rethink they will have the opportunity to engage with some of the world’s most interesting thinkers.
“It’s exciting that the thoughts and ideas we gather from this week of content could genuinely help to deliver change.”
Mary Hockaday, Controller of World Service, says: “The profound implications of the Coronavirus pandemic are being felt across the globe. Many believe it is indeed time to rethink how we could live together.
“The World Service audience are passionate about understanding what’s going on and hearing the best ideas from global thinkers who bring different perspectives to bear. This is a chance to hear from leading figures including writers and thinkers like Mohammed Hanif in Pakistan and Tara Westover in the USA - each one considering what they’d like the world to do next. Our audience also likes to join in, and this is a chance for everyone around the world to add their thoughts to the debate.”
The full list of speakers and subjects will be confirmed in due course and listeners can subscribe to Rethink on BBC Sounds for all of the essays.
BBC Radio 4
On Monday 22 June, the week will start on Radio 4 at 9am with The Edge Of Change in which Amol Rajan explores how the virus has forced countries around the world to confront the possibility of change. On Wednesday morning Rosie Campbell argues in Fast Forward that the virus is acting like an accelerant: speeding up structural changes which were already underway. Throughout the week Jonathan Freedland and the Long View team explore five previous moments in British history when crisis precipitated permanent upheaval.
On 28 June at 10pm Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live will simulcast a special live audience discussion chaired by Chris Mason, reflecting on ideas raised during the week, and inviting listeners to share their views.
BBC Radio 5 Live
Each day 5 Live will broadcast one of the essays, using it to provoke debate and generate news ideas. The station will use each essay as a vehicle to develop the conversation, getting opinions from a diverse set of people across the UK with phone-ins, on air debates and chats with pundits. Initially the debate will begin on 5 Live Breakfast with Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden. It will then continue throughout the day on The Emma Barnett Show, Nihal Arthanayake and 5 Live Drive with Anna Foster and Tony Livesey, with each of the presenters giving listeners the chance to debate and challenge the essays in different ways.
BBC World Service
As part of Rethink, the World Service will offer a variety of reflective and thought-provoking documentaries that look at the global pandemic from an international perspective and question what the future holds. In Coronavirus: The Economic Shock, the BBC’s Business Editor Simon Jack talks to some of the world’s most influential economic and business thinkers. Reporting Covid 19 follows journalists from two daily newspapers in India and the United States as they explore the pandemic’s impact, in real-time. In The Engineers: Re-engineering The Future, a panel of four leading engineers will discuss how they and others are being called on to re-invent our world.