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The Joys of Failure

Leading screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce delivers a lecture at this year's Free Thinking festival on The Joys of Failure. Bad ideas have often led to great discoveries, he claims.

Leading screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce delivers a lecture at this year's Free Thinking festival on The Joys of Failure.

Fail again, fail better, said Samuel Beckett. It's a credo taken up by Frank Cottrell Boyce as he makes a passionate plea for the traditional enemies of happiness - error, disappointment and, above all, failure. Bad ideas have often led to great discoveries, he claims, and human knowledge is dependent on our ability to continue making mistakes.

Frank argues for an end to the excesses of "affirmation" culture, where school prize days now have the elated tears and whoops of an Oscar ceremony and where pupils are encouraged to applaud themselves for listening - before they even applaud visiting guests. Promoters of such affirmation claim it is about encouraging people: But Frank asks "Is this pathology-ward level cheering and waving really encouragement? Or is it a strange new morbid dread of failure?"

Frank's lecture was recorded in November at this year's BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking festival at The Sage Gateshead where Frank was the first Thinker-in-Residence. The event is hosted by presenter Anne McElvoy.

Plus we hear some of the contributions from this year's Free Thinking Theory Slam, hosted by Ian McMillan.

Producer: Lisa Davis.

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45 minutes

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Free Thinking

Free Thinking

Radio 3’s new home for arts and ideas.