London: Another Country?

A season focusing on contemporary London: 3 - 17 July 2010

The London sky line.

On 6th July 2005 London won the competition to host the 2012 Olympics. A day after the announcement of that successful Olympic bid four bombs went off that turned the celebrations into grief.

In July 2010, on the 5th anniversary of 7/7, BBC Radio 4 will host a season of programmes focusing on contemporary London and charting its rise as "capital of the world".

London has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last 30 years. It has become one of the most diverse cities on earth, a magnet for the world's finances, culture and people.

London: Another Country? will explore what happens when 7.5 million people, speaking over 300 languages, try to live together in a city that has a population density ten times higher than anywhere else in the UK, but is the greenest city of its size in the world, with two thirds covered in green space or water. A city that comes fourth on the global list of number of billionaires and generates 20% of the UK's GDP, yet has a higher proportion of people living below the poverty line than anywhere else in the country.

However, this is not a season simply about London for Londoners, but one that explores London's relationship with the rest of the UK. Has London become "another country" - not only foreign to the city it once was, but also to the rest of the UK? Is the M25 effectively a border crossing separating two different countries? And who have the winners and losers been in the London revolution?

The season will run over two weeks starting on July 3rd 2010.

London: An A - Z

Suggs on the roof of Broadcasting House. Credit: Stan Was.

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From the A-Z street map to the Zoo, the musician Suggs and the writer Andrea Levy guide us though the streets of London with the help of dozens of fascinating facts about the capital.

Coming up in the season: 3 - 17 July 2010

Saturday Play: Avoid London ... Area closed ... Turn on Radio

Broadcast: 2.30 - 4.00pm, Saturday 3th July 2010

The story of a fictional Every Family, the Demerils, set against the real and terrible events of 7/7 2005 - how they coped with those events and how they set about rebuilding their lives.

The Summer That Changed London

Broadcast: 8.00 - 9.00pm, Saturday 3th July 2010

The summer of July 2005 was one that brought Londoners both joy and pain. Euphoria over winning the Olympics bid, celebrations of Live8, trauma over the 7/7 bombings and shock when an innocent man was fatally shot by police on the tube. Using archive and new interviews, Kirsten Lass explores what effects these major events had on the city and its people.

Food Programme: Pop Up London

Broadcast: 12.30 - 1.00pm, Sunday 4th July, repeated 4.00 - 4.30pm Monday 5th July 2010

Sheila Dillon looks at the growth of the capital's underground supper clubs and their connection to a 1930's block of flats, the Isokon building.

London Street Cries

Broadcast: 3.45 - 4.00pm, Monday 5th - Friday 9th July 2010

As part of London: Another Country? on Radio 4, five short features in which the voices of the poor of Victorian London throw into sharp relief the underprivileged of today's London.

Each programme highlights a particular sector of London life, now and then.

London Nights

Broadcast: 11.00 - 11.30pm, Monday 5th - Friday 9th July 2010

A blend of poetry and prose, the fictional and the factual that capture a certain off-beat spirit of London. From the stories behind the ever-present chatter of the police helicopter hovering over London's night-time streets, to a suburban prayer vigil, a Zimbabwean maize farmer in Enfield and the nocturnal rowers exercising on the Thames ... the stories of London and Londoners are a whole world of experience within one sprawling city.

The London Story

Broadcast: 9 - 9.45am, Tuesday 6th July 2010

Playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah explores how, over the last thirty years, London became a diverse, creatively rich world city and how its brash, dynamic and uncompromising population has shaped its politics and culture since the 1970s.

File on 4: Lifting the lid on illegal London

Broadcast: 8.00 - 8.40pm, Tuesday 6th July 2010

Welcome to a world of forged documents and faked identities.

It's believed there are likely to be more than 200,000 illegal migrant workers in the UK's capital city. But how are they able to survive. How do they get work?

In this special investigation, Jon Manel obtains rare access into the lives of some of London's illegal workers - lives often based on lies and deception. He discovers that some are now so much part of the system, they even pay tax and national insurance.

He hears of miserable and difficult times spent living in the shadows. But other illegal workers say they are making a bigger contribution than many who were born here. "I'm doing a job that most English persons wouldn't do. I think I've never seen an English person cleaning a toilet".

And he goes to a well known part of London that owes its survival to the workers who shouldn't be here.

There's more to life than London

Broadcast: 11.00 - 11.30am, Wednesday 7th July 2010

Not everyone chooses to live and work in London - but nonetheless the Capital exerts a powerful influence on the rest of the country. As Radio 4 celebrates its London Season, Stuart Cosgrove explores the power of London through the eyes of those who live and work elsewhere. Is London a powerhouse which drives the rest of Britain, or a drain on the resources of the UK?

The London Nobody Knows

Broadcast: 8.45 - 9.00pm, Wednesday 7th and 14th July 2010

Historian and broadcaster Dan Cruickshank goes off the beaten track and revisits the London haunts that author Geoffrey Fletcher wrote about in the 60s. It was a record of an unfamiliar London at the time, written by a man totally infatuated with the city. Fifty years on, Dan retraces Fletcher's steps, from the pie shops where "the floors are sanded, where the eels are greenest, where the cups of tea are thickest" to the east end markets where "the fishy smell has sunk into the very pavements".

I'm On the Train

Broadcast: 8.00 - 9.00pm, Saturday 10th July 2010

Does the daily experience of the embattled commuter define the British national character almost better than anything else? Consider the need for endurance and stoicism, the acceptance of the ritual of the queue and the ability to completely blank out one's neighbours? Acknowledging the romance but also the frustration involved in any rail journey, writer Ian Marchant captures the experiences of generations of workers on the daily commute.

The Greatest City on Earth

Broadcast: 9.00 - 9.45am, Monday 12th July 2010

London is pitted against three other major world cities as Laurie Taylor hosts a special debate to decide the greatest city in the world. Advocates fight for votes for their chosen city, revelling in its unique character while revealing its cultural influence and economic impact, and explaining why everyone would want to live there.

Just off the Plane

Broadcast: 3.45 - 4.00pm, Monday 12th - Friday 16th July 2010

Alan Dein goes to Heathrow airport to greet people who've flown in from anywhere in the world, and explores their hopes and jet-lagged dreams of London. What does the place mean to them, why have they come, who do they know in the City?

Picked out at random as they wearily wait at the baggage carousels, his interviewees share revealing, comic, and sometimes very moving tales of adventure, family reunions, opportunities, romance and tragedy. And then they head off, melting into the London crowds.

Top Deck Tales

Broadcast: 8.00 - 8.30pm, Monday 12th July 2010

Back in the 1980s Margaret Thatcher allegedly said that "any man who finds himself on a bus at the age of 26 can account himself a failure". Robert Elms couldn't disagree more. The BBC London broadcaster, former punk, New Romantic and self-appointed social commentator is passionate about the capital's trademark red double deckers. Once a week he devotes a section of his show on BBC London to a different bus route. For Tales from the Top Deck, Robert has chosen the number 36 which slices through London on a long diagonal jounrey from New Cross Gate to Queen's Park.

Towering Ambition: A Tale of Two Cities

Broadcast: 11.00 - 11.30am, Wednesday 14th July 2010

The ban on building high in Paris is weakening amidst fierce opposition. Meanwhile, in London, Boris Johnson who pledged to stop the 'plague of towers' promised by his predecessor, Ken Livingstone has given the go ahead for a privately funded tower to mark the Olympics. Rosie Millard asks if skyscrapers are really the best way to express pre-eminence and modernity? And does a refusal to build them cramp a city's economic vibrancy?

The Report

Broadcast: 8.00 - 8.30pm, Thursday, 15th July

In a special edition of The Report, Mukul Devichand looks at what's really hurting the old working classes of places like Barking, Woolwich and London's East. He investigates the new housing policies that seem to prioritise young professionals, and have seen new migrant communities unceremoniously "dumped" into the city's periphery - leaving the old working classes increasingly alienated, unwanted and resentful.

London Eats The World

A map of London.

Eating in London has changed in the last 30 years. As new communities have arrived, they've brought flavours of their homelands. London's kitchens are now infused with the smells of spices and sauces from around the globe.

So, Radio 4 and BBC London 94.9 have teamed up to set a challenge: can we eat our way around the globe? Most of us have tasted Indian, Chinese and Italian, but what about the foods of Armenia, Honduras or Afghanistan?

Email or call Robert Elms (on 020 7224 2000) about the most memorable global meal you've eaten in London. We're not after restaurant reviews - we want to hear about YOUR experiences of unusual customs, ingredients and unique food combinations and we'll add them to our map.

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