The Verb on Return

This week we're looking the possibilities of looking back. Joining Ian McMillan are...

Novelist and essayist Tim Winton has been twice shortlisted for the Booker prize for his novels 'The Riders' and 'Dirt Music'. In his most recent book, 'The Boy Behind the Curtain', he returns to his childhood.

The comedian Stewart Lee has honed the art of the callback over a long career writing for television and radio alongside his stand-up touring schedule.

Angie Hobbs is the Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield. It's been many years since she's read Milan Kundera's cult classic 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being', and we've asked her to return to the text.

Bea Roberts wrote and performed 'Infinity Pool', a modern retelling of Madame Bovary and a hit at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe. For The Verb, we've asked her to tackle the language of the Tripadvisor review.

Producer: Faith Lawrence

First broadcast May 2017.

Release date:

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 16 Feb 2018 22:00

Stewart Lee

Stewart Lee

Stand up Stewart Lee was inspired to hone the art of repetition for comic effect from the cult performer Ted Chippington. For Stewart, repetition allows for elastic sets that keep him interested across a long tour, and his audiences enjoy the pleasure of the ‘anti-joke’; when the punchline is inevitable, it’s the rhythm of the set up that carries the humour.

Stewart Lee

Bea Roberts

Bea Roberts

Writer and theatre maker Bea Roberts has recently been performing her show ‘Infinity Pool’, a multimedia retelling of Madame Bovary in which she doesn’t speak, Instead she uses screens to explore the way in which written forms like text and email shape the way we communicate with each other, and allow punctuation to assume a starring role. For The Verb Bea has written us a ‘return’ themed dialogue in the form of a ‘Trip Advisor’ review. She also discusses her favourite repetitive form, the exercise video.

Bea Roberts

Angie Hobbs

Angie Hobbs

We asked philosopher Angie Hobbs to return to Milan Kundera’s cult novel ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ after first reading it 30 years ago. Angie was nervous about reading the book again as she loved it when she was in her 20s and feared being disappointed the second time around. Angie explains Nietzsche’s theory of ‘eternal recurrence’ and considers whether Kundera manages to weave this philosophy into the text in a satisfying way.

Tim Winton

Tim Winton

The Australian writer Tim Winton reads from his essay ‘The Weight and The Flow’, which looks at the similarities between writing and surfing. He suggests that  sometimes you just have to turn up and wait –  whether it be for a wave or for inspiration. He also reflects on the experience of listening to spontaneous sermons as a child, versus the repetitive church liturgy he enjoys as an adult. In his new book ‘The Boy Behind The Curtain’, Tim writes about the strange experience of first seeing Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey’ as an eight year old, and the experience of seeing it again many years later. Is it possible to return to something without nostalgia?

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