In February 1944, a rag-tag collection of clerks, drivers, doctors, muleteers, and other base troops, stiffened by a few dogged Yorkshiremen and a handful of tank crews managed to hold out against some of the finest infantry in the Japanese Army, and then defeat them in what was one of the most astonishing battles of the Second World War. What became know as The Defence of the Admin Box, fought amongst the paddy fields and jungle of Northern Arakan over a fifteen-day period, turned the battle for Burma. Holland is the author of Fortress Malta, Battle of Britain, and Dam Busters and runs Chalke Valley History Festival.
Fierce, astringent, profoundly tender - and spanning the twentieth century, this beautifully orchestrated novel explores the big themes of betrayal and the struggle for happiness, and above all, the passionate love of a childhood friendship as it is tested over a lifetime. Tremain’s award-winning fiction includes Music and Silence, The Road Home, Sacred Country, Restoration and The Colour. She talks to Peter Florence.
How does the physics we know today, a highly professionalised enterprise, inextricably linked to government and industry, link back to its origins as a liberal art in Ancient Greece? What is the path that leads from the old philosophy of nature and its concern with humankind’s place in the universe to modern massive international projects that hunt down fundamental particles and industrial laboratories that manufacture marvels? Heilbron is one of the most revered physicists in the world, and has written books about Galileo and Niels Bohr. Chaired by Dan Davis.
The Magnum photographer took one of the most powerful photographs of the twentieth century - the “tank man” in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, 1989. From his insightful position as a photographer, Franklin explores why we are driven to visually document our experiences and the world around us. He focuses on photography but traces this universal need through art, literature and science. Looking at photojournalism, war photography and work recording our culture, Franklin identifies some of its driving impulses: curiosity, outrage, reform and ritual; the search for evidence, for beauty, for therapy; and the immortalisation of memory. Chaired by Oliver Bullough.
Dilvan, a young Kurdish girl, has fled her home in Syria to escape the terror that has overrun her country. In a brief moment of safety she begins to record in her diary the desperate search for her family. Dilvan’s fighting spirit and her compelling story is eloquently told by a journalist who has reported widely on the atrocities in Syria for many newspapers. Real stories such as Dilvan’s inspired her book.
The formation of England happened against the odds - the division of the country into rival kingdoms, the assaults of the Vikings, the precarious position of the island on the edge of the known world. But King Alfred ensured the survival of Wessex, his son Eadweard expanded it, and his grandson Æthelstan finally united Mercia and Wessex, conquered Northumbria and became Rex totius Britanniae.
In nature, trickery and deception are widespread. Animals and plants mimic other objects or species in the environment for protection, trick other species into rearing their young, lure prey to their death, and deceive potential mates for reproduction. Cuckoos lay eggs carefully matched to their host’s own clutch. Harmless butterflies mimic the wing patterning of a poisonous butterfly to avoid being eaten. Some orchids develop the smell of female insects in order to attract pollinators, while carnivorous plants lure insects to their death with colourful displays. The Exeter Professor of Evolutionary Ecology considers what deception tells us about the process of evolution and adaptation.
Natural Capital, the world’s stock of natural resources, is a concept with increasing political and economic traction. Paying particular attention to the role of woods and trees, this debate will explore whether it can help deliver an enhanced natural environment for the benefit of everyone, or whether it poses significant risks by making nature conservation a commodity. Juniper is a campaigner, writer, sustainability advisor and environmentalist, Speight is CEO of the Woodland Trust, Andrew Simms is an economist at The New Weather Institute and Shaw is a journalist and broadcaster.
Augusta of Saxe-Gotha arrived in England aged sixteen, speaking barely any English, to be married to the wild Prince Frederick, the reviled eldest son of George II. Her lifelong association with Kew Gardens, and that of her husband and their close friend, Lord Bute, would prove to be one that changed the face of British gardening forever. Berridge tells a tangled tale of royal intrigue, scandal and determination in the Georgian court, and draws us into the politically charged world of garden design.
Macbeth, Macbeth is by Fernie and Palfrey, with stunning original pictures by de Freston. The tragedy is done, the tyrant Macbeth dead. The time is free. But for how long? As Macduff pursues dreams of national revival, smaller lives are seeding. In the ruins of Dunsinane, the Porter tries to keep his three young boys safe from the nightmare of history. In a nunnery deep in Birnam Wood, a girl attempts to forget what she lost in war. Flitting between them, a tortured clairvoyant shakes with the knowledge of what’s to come. An unprecedented collaboration between two leading Shakespeareans, Macbeth, Macbeth sparks a whole new world from the embers of Shakespeare’s darkest play.
The metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan is much anthologized – “I saw Eternity the other night”, “They are all gone into the world of light’; but it is not so well known that he was a native of the Usk valley, and that it is the light on the river and hills of Brecknockshire that shines through his poetry. Inspired by George Herbert, his work interweaves the natural and the spiritual world. Three Vaughan scholars celebrate his work and sense of place.
Our panel assesses the Primaries season and looks forward to the Republican and Democrat Conventions in July. How might Clinton vs Trump pan out? Maddox is editor of Prospect magazine, Mayer a staff writer for the New Yorker, Naughtie a BBC anchor and Thompson is CEO of the New York Times. His Enough Said: What’s Gone Wrong with the Language of Politics? will be published in September. Chaired by Guto Harri.
Fortey presents his wood, deep in the Chiltern Hills, as an interwoven collection of different habitats rich in species. His attention ranges from the beech and cherry trees that dominate the wood to the flints underfoot; the red kites and woodpeckers that soar overhead; the lichens, mosses and liverworts decorating the branches as well as the myriad species of spiders, moths, beetles and crane-flies. The 300 species of fungi identified in the wood capture his attention as much as familiar deer, shrews and dormice. The great palaeontologist is the author of Fossils: A Key to the Past, The Hidden Landscape, Life: An Unauthorised Biography, Trilobite! and The Earth: An Intimate History. Chaired by Dan Davis.
The makers of the fabulous BBC crime drama discuss the characters, setting and plot, and the handling of the rape story in the third series. Exec producer Elaine Collins and script exec Clare Batty are joined by Ann Cleeves, who writes both the Shetland and Vera novels on the which the television dramas are based, and Alison O’Donnell, who plays DS Alison “Tosh” McIntosh. Chaired by the Radio Times TV Editor, Alison Graham.
Climate change often seems remote and theoretical: satellite images of polar ice caps, carbon emission statistics, and global leaders conducting high-flying diplomacy. But for millions around the world the changing climate is a daily and ever-increasing challenge to their security, health, homes, and livelihoods. Can telling the human stories tackle ambivalence and scepticism? Davenport is CEO of Good Energy, Bennett is CEO of Friends of the Earth and Johnson is co-founder of Sustainable Finance Ltd and co-presenter of BBC Radio 4's Futureproofing.
The graphic designer and art director presents his global survey of this compelling and much-admired style of architecture. He brings to light virtually unknown Brutalist architectural treasures from across the former eastern bloc and other far flung parts of the world. He introduces works by some of the best contemporary architects including Zaha Hadid and David Chipperfield alongside some of the master architects of the C20th including Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn, Paul Rudolph and Marcel Breuer.
The hugely entertaining Welsh performance artist Bedwyr Williams in conversation with one of Wales most distinguished art curators, Director of the game-changing international contemporary art prize Artes Mundi 7. Williams uses multimedia, performance and text to explore the friction between the deadly serious and the banal aspects of modern life. He’s known for satirizing the relationship between the artist and curator by creating absurd scenarios for them to appear in.
After living in London and Buenos Aires, what will the journalist make of moving to Hay, a tiny, quirky town on the Welsh-English border? To help guide him, he turns to Francis Kilvert, the Victorian diarist who captured the bucolic rural life of his day. Does anything of Kilvert’s world still exist? And could a newcomer ever feel they truly belong? With empathy and humour, Balch joins in the daily routines and lives of his fellow residents. What emerges is a captivating, personal picture of country life.
Creeping climatic upheaval and corrosive global inequality are like two threads pulling apart civilisation’s fabric. To survive and thrive, we face an unprecedented challenge of rapid transition. But the way we live is locked-in by an economic system, dominated by finance and obsessed with growth. Andrew Simms of the New Weather Institute discusses whether orthodox economics can effect change with Richard Murphy, the architect of Corbynomics.
Citing real cases including the bombing of Iraq in 1991, the Clinton Administration decision not to intervene in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, and CIA torture after 9/11, the Oxford international relations expert interrogates issues of ‘proportionality’ and ‘collateral damage’ as he examines the ethical limits of US foreign policy. He talks to the lawyer and author of Lawless World and Torture Team.
University of Worcester Series
Our ability to treat bipolar disorder is hampered by the limits of our understanding of its causes. In conversation with Clare Dolman of Bipolar UK, The Professors of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry who lead the Bipolar Disorder Research Network explore the highs and lows of bipolar disorder. They consider factors that can lead to both mania and depression, and examines recent and future advances in the treatment of this mental illness.
A history and a celebration of the Welsh slate industry centred on Snowdonia, exploring all aspects, from the cultural to the technical, and from the home to the quarries. Dr Gwyn is the author of the Royal Commission’s latest publication, Welsh Slate: Archaeology and History of an Industry. Chaired by Christopher Catling, CEO of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.
On 20 June 1998 Temple-Morris, Conservative MP for Leominster, crossed the floor to join his rivals on the Labour party benches. What drove a seasoned Conservative politician, one of the so-called Cambridge Mafia, with 24 years’ experience at Westminster, to change his allegiance so radically? He discusses his disillusionments and inspirations, his adventures in ‘the art of the possible’, and his colleagues on both sides of the House with the veteran BBC anchor.