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The Outer Limits

Samira Ahmed reaches for the edge of the possible and explores the urge to push further in terms of physical endurance, knowledge and the imagination.

Samira Ahmed reaches for the edge of the possible and explores the urge to exceed it - from the heights of a tallest tower to the depths of the ocean.

Samira hears about the physical limits pushed by free divers as Kevin Fong, an expert in medicine in extreme environments, describes how their stubborn determination not to breathe has challenged scientists' expectations of human capability. She explores the limits of her own dexterity as she recalls the challenge of Bach's Prelude and Fugue No 2, and considers the fate of Richard Matheson's Shrinking Man on a journey beyond the limits of human experience.

The programme includes readings from works by Carol Ann Duffy, Don Patterson and the deep sea pioneer William Beebe.

The Readers are Peter Marinker, Adjoa Andoh and Michael Lumsden.

Producer: Natalie Steed
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Last on

Sun 29 Jun 2014 23:30

Music Played

  • The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11 v 1 - 8)

    Man decides to build an enormous tower. God intervenes and disrupts the plans.

  • The Undiscovered Plane, by Norman Nicholson

    A poem about a distant, as yet undiscovered, planet.

  • The Three Great Hindu Gods and the Pillar of Light

    A story from the Shiva Purana scripture about Shiva’s manifestation on earth.

  • Extract from A First Round Trip to Davy Jones’ Locker by William Beebe

    William Beebe describes a journey to the depths of the sea in his Bathysphere.

  • Breath, by Don Paterson, After Rilke

    A poem meditating on breath

  • Extract from The Shrinking Man, by Richard Matheson

    Scott Carey is shrinking to an infinitesimal size.

  • Terje Isungset


    • Igloo.
    • All Ice Records.
  • Richard Hawley

    Cry a Tear For the Man on the Moon

    • Late Night Final.
    • Setana.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen (“Queen of the Night aria”)

    Performer: Rita Streich.
    • Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute).
    • Deutsche Gramophon.
  • Pradeep

    Dwadasa Jyotirlinga Stothram

    Performer: V Kasi Vishwanath Sharma - N S Prakash Rao.
    • Shivoham.
    • Symphony.
  • Marc Lee Brown, Miranda Rocha, Isabela Nina, Floriano Luiz

    Underwater Love

    Performer: Smoke City.
    • Fused.
    • Polygram TV.
  • Bernard Herrmann

    Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, Descending; The Octopus

    Performer: National Philharmonic Orchestra; conductor, Charles Gerhardt.
    • The Classic Film Scores Of Bernard Herrmann.
    • RCA.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Prelude & Fugue No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 847: Prelude

    Performer: Glenn Gould.
    • Glenn Gould plays Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier Books I & II, BWV 846-893.
    • Sony Music Classical.
  • Terje Isungset


    • Igloo.
    • All Ice Records.