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So Emotional

A journey through our seven universal emotions in the company of readers Iain Glen and Brid Brennan.

There are seven universal emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise and contempt. Readers Brid Brennan and Iain Glen take us on an emotional roller coaster with words ranging from the 17th century lusciousness of Milton to the high impact sparseness of 'insta-poet' Rupi Kaur.

Our emotional journey begins with the laughter of a four year old, Judy Garland bidding us to 'Get Happy' and Jack Underwood's touching portrait of Happiness. But sadness has a beauty of its own and Milton hails Melancholy, while the 14th century mystic Margery Kempe immerses herself in the misery of Christ's suffering. No one does misery like Morrissey so The Smiths are here to tell us: Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now. Dylan Thomas and Elvis Costello deliver some explosive anger, while Dorothy Parker and Lulu have a surprise for their disappointing lovers. Roald Dahl's truly disgusting description of Mr Twit's beard will put you off extravagant facial hair for life, while Henry James and Benjamin Britten deliver the fear-factor in the spine-chilling Turn of the Screw. Our emotional journey ends with the chillingly inhuman contempt of Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho and a look back to the medieval practice of fasting to fine-tune human emotions.

You can find a collection of discussion programmes exploring different emotions recorded at the 2019 Free Thinking Festival in a collection on the programme website

Jack Underwood: Happiness
Aatish Taseer: Extract from The Twice Born: Life and Death on the Ganges
Milton: Extract from Il Penseroso
John Clare: I Am!
Margery Kempe translated by Barry Windeatt: Extract from The Book of Margery Kempe
Rupi Kaur: What is Stronger than the Human Heart?
Dylan Thomas: Not This Anger
Charlotte Brontë: Extract from Jane Eyre
Ted Hughes: Crow Blacker Than Ever
Roald Dahl: Extract from The Twits
Sara Teasdale: Fear read by Iain Glen
Henry James: Extract from The Turn of the Screw
Dorothy Parker: Surprise
Bret Easton Ellis: Extract from American Psycho
Translated by Hetta Howes: Extract from Speculum Sacerdotale

Producer: Georgia Mann

1 hour, 14 minutes

Last on

Tue 31 Dec 2019 17:45

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:01

    Harold Arlen & Ted Koehler

    Get Happy

    Performer: Judy Garland & the MGM Studio Orchestra.
    • Rhino.
  • Jack Underwood

    Happiness read by Brid Brennan

  • 00:04

    Sacred Music of the Ganges

    • Times Music Spiritual, TDFH 001.
  • Aatish Taseer

    Extract from The Twice Born: Life and Death on the Ganges read by Iain Glen

  • 00:06


    The Image of Melancholy, a Pavanne

    Performer: Barokksolistene, Bjarte Eike (conductor).
    • BIS BIS2057.
  • Milton

    Extract from Il Penseroso read by Brid Brennan

  • 00:12

    The Smiths

    Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

    Performer: The Smiths.
    • Rough Trade.
  • 00:15

    Max Richter

    On the Nature of Daylight

    Performer: Louisa Fuller (violin), John Metcalfe (viola), Philip Sheppard (cello), Chris Worsey (cello).
    • Fatcat CD1304.
  • John Clare

    I Am! read by Iain Glen

  • Margery Kempe translated by Barry Windeatt

    Extract from The Book of Margery Kempe read by Brid Brennan

  • 00:23

    Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

    Stabat mater for soprano, alto, strings & organ in F min, Stabat mater doloroso

    Performer: Rene Jacobs & Sebastian Hennig (counter tenors), Concerto Vocale.
    • Harmonia Mundi HMA1951119.
  • 00:27

    Emily Hall


    Performer: Emily Hall and Ruth Wall (harps).
    • Bedroom Community HVALUR23CD.
  • Rupi Kaur

    What is Stronger than the human heart? Read by Iain Glen

  • Dylan Thomas

    Not This Anger read by Iain Glen

  • 00:30

    Elvis Costello

    I’m Not Angry

    Performer: Elvis Costello (vocals, guitar).
    • Columbia.
  • Charlotte Brontë

    Extract from Jane Eyre read by Brid Brennan

  • 00:35


    Rondo Cappricio in G major, Rage Over A Lost Penny

    Performer: Alfred Brendel (piano).
    • Vox Box, CDX5112.
  • Ted Hughes

    Crow Blacker Than Ever read by Ted Hughes

  • 00:42

    Sydney Carter

    The Crow on the Cradle

    Performer: Judy Collins.
    • Elektra.
  • 00:45

    Scarlatti arr. Wendy Carlos

    Extract from Sonata in E KK.531

    Performer: Wendy Carlos (keyboard).
    • East Side Digital ESD81612.
  • Roald Dahl

    Extract from The Twits read by Iain Glen

  • 00:47

    Ray Charles

    The Man With the Weirdo Beard

    Performer: Ray Charles and the Raelettes.
    • Rhino.
  • 00:51

    György Ligeti

    Extract from Kyrie, Requiem

    Performer: Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Michael Gielen (director).
    • Wergo, 60045-50.
  • Sara Teasdale

    Fear read by Iain Glen

  • Henry James

    Extract from The Turn of the Screw read by Brid Brennan

  • 00:57

    Benjamin Britten

    Extract from Act I of The Turn of the Screw

    Performer: David Hemmings (soprano), Peter Pears (tenor), English Opera Group Orchestra, Benjamin Britten (conductor).
    • Decca, 425672-2.
  • Dorothy Parker

    Surprise read by Brid Brennan

  • 01:03

    Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

    Surprise Surprise

    Performer: Lulu & The Luvvers.
    • Decca.
  • 01:05

    Philip Glass

    Glassworks, opening

    Performer: Valentina Lisitsa (piano).
    • Decca 478 8079.
  • Brett Easton Ellis

    Extract from An American Psycho read by Iain Glen

  • 01:11


    La Quinte Estampie Real

    Performer: Early Music Consort of London, David Munrow (director).
    • Decca 430 2642.
  • Translated by Hetta Howes

    Extract from Speculum Sacerdotale, collection of fifteenth-century sermons, read by Iain Glen


  • Sun 31 Mar 2019 17:30
  • Tue 31 Dec 2019 17:45

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