Frances Kelsey and thalidomide regulation, Sophie Hannah, Cosplay, Mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately

The life of Frances Kelsey, who kept Thalidomide out of the US, Sophie Hannah on her latest psychological crime novel, cosplay and fantasy dressing, and mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately.

Jenni Murray hears about the life of Canadian Scientist Frances Kelsey who resisted pressure from drug firms to keep Thalidomide out of the US, with Marjorie Wallace the journalist who worked on the campaign to secure compensation for Thalidomide victims in the UK; Sophie Hannah writer and poet talks about her latest psychological crime novel; BBC reporter Celeste Hicks on why abortion laws in Morocco are to be amended; Angela Robson hears from women at the Yorkshire Cosplay Convention about why they like to spend their spare time dressing in the costumes of their pop culture heroines; Kitty Whately, mezzo soprano, and part of Radio 3's New Generation Artist scheme about singing Sondheim at the Proms.

Available now

45 minutes


  • Frances Kelsey

    Duration: 09:11

  • Sophie Hannah

    Duration: 11:18

  • New Abortions Laws in Morocco

    Duration: 07:41

  • Cosplay

    Duration: 07:47

  • Kitty Whately

    Duration: 06:18

Frances Kelsey

Frances Kelsey was the doctor who resisted huge pressure from drug firms to keep thalidomide out of the US; she died at the age of 101, on August 7th. Jenni discusses her legacy with Marjorie Wallace, the journalist who worked on the Sunday Times’ ground breaking campaign to secure compensation for the victims of thalidomide in the UK. And we hear from John P. Swann at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where Dr Kelsey was employed until the age of 95. 

Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah is a bestselling writer and poet. Her psychological crime fiction has won numerous awards and her poetry is studied in schools across the UK. She talks to Jenni about her latest book ‘A Game for All the Family’ and why she drawn to writing gripping whodunits with twists that keep you guessing to the very end. 


‘A Game for All the Family’ by Sophie Hannah is published by Hodder Stoughton on 15th August

New Abortions Laws in Morocco

Earlier this year King Mohammed VI ordered the laws restricting abortion in Morocco to be amended, allowing it in cases of rape, incest, danger to the mother's health or foetal malformation. The law was altered after Dr Chafik Chraibi, a gynaecologist and leading activist against illegal abortions, was sacked for allowing a French TV crew to film the realities of unsafe abortions. The King intervened and reinstated him but the social outcry in support of the doctor instigated the reform discussions. The country now has one of the most liberal abortion laws in Africa and the Middle East. BBC Reporter Celeste Hicks tells Jenni what it will mean for Moroccan women. 


Over three thousand people dressed as characters from science fiction and fantasy books, TV programmes and films met at the weekend for the Yorkshire Cosplay Convention.  It’s just one of many of these type of events being held around the UK and around the world – probably the best known is the San Diego Comicon which attracts  tens of thousands of costumed fans.  We sent our reporter Angela Robson to Rotherham to meet the women cosplay enthusiasts who like to spend their spare time dressing in the costumes of their pop culture heroines.

And on Late Night Women’s Hour tonight at 11 Lauren Laverne and guests will be discussing the appeal for women of science fiction, fandom, fan-fiction, cosplay and fantasy worlds.   Join Lauren at 11 for an hour of live conversation and the programme will be available on our website and as one of the Woman’s Hour podcasts. 

Kitty Whately

Award winning mezzo soprano Kitty Whately has been described as “vocally thrilling” with a “winning stage personality”. A rising star, she is currently part of Radio 3’s New Generation Artist scheme and on August 17th, performs at the Proms Chamber Music 5: A Sondheim Cabaret. She talks to Jenni about the pressure of living up to expectations and the challenges of singing Sondheim. 


Role Contributor
Presenter Jenni Murray
Producer Caroline Donne
Interviewed Guest Marjorie Wallace
Interviewed Guest John P Swann
Interviewed Guest Sophie Hannah
Interviewed Guest Celeste Hicks
Interviewed Guest Kitty Whately


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