Premonitions are impossible. But they come true all the time. What if you knew that something terrible was going to happen? What if you could share your vision? Could these forebodings help the world to prevent disasters? In 1966 John Barker, a dynamic psychiatrist working in an outdated British mental hospital, established the Premonitions Bureau to investigate these questions. He would find a network of hundreds of correspondents, from bank clerks to ballet teachers. Among them were two unnervingly gifted ‘percipients’. Together, the pair predicted plane crashes, assassinations and international incidents with uncanny accuracy. And then, they informed Barker of their most disturbing premonition: that he was about to die.
Sam Knight’s The Premonitions Bureau is an enthralling true story, of madness and wonder, science and the supernatural — a journey into the oddest corners of ‘60s Britain and the most powerful and unsettling reaches of the human mind. He talks to LBC radio host Matt Stadlen.
Join Helena Merriman (Creator of Tunnel 29 and Room 5) for a special recording of BBC Radio 4’s new series all about our minds and bodies – and what happens when they behave in ways we don’t understand.
Helena’s guest is Abi Morgan - the BAFTA and Emmy-award winning playwright and screenwriter whose credits include The Iron Lady, Suffragette, Sex Traffic, The Hour, Brick Lane and Shame. Abi Morgan is also the creator and writer of BBC drama, The Split.
Abi will be talking about her book - This is Not A Pity Memoir. One June morning, Abi came home to find the man she loved lying on the bathroom floor. Rushed to hospital, he was put into a coma and it was clear that life as they knew it would never be the same again.
Mistakes happen. In most fields the consequences are limited, but in healthcare they can be fatal. Every week in England there are 150 avoidable deaths. Most tragedies could be prevented simply and cheaply if we were better at learning from mistakes. Instead, the system ‘goes after’ someone when something goes wrong, and the result is a blame game that stops learning and allows the same mistake to be repeated, often countless times.
Zero investigates how the NHS can reduce the number of avoidable deaths to zero, and in the process save money, reduce backlogs and improve working conditions. Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt speaks to NHS palliative care doctor, writer and former broadcast journalist Rachel Clarke about the imperative to deliver the safest, highest quality care in the NHS post-pandemic – our own 1948 moment.
Something gleeful and malevolent is moving in Lia’s body. It’s learning her life from the inside. It shape-shifts down the banks of her canals, leaks through her tissue, nooks and nodes. It taps her trachea like the bones of a xylophone. It’s spreading. When Lia finds out that her cancer is back, she tries to keep the landscapes of her past, her present and her body separate; for the sake of Iris, her daughter, and for her husband, Harry, desperate to keep their lives flourishing. But bodies are porous, unpredictable places… As Lia’s condition worsens, the narrator inside her strengthens; the boundaries between her past, her present and her body begin to leak and spill.
Maddie Mortimer’s accomplished debut novel is a story of coming-of-age at the end of a life. Utterly heartbreaking yet darkly funny, it’s a symphonic journey through one woman’s body: a wild and lyrical celebration of desire, forgiveness and the darkness within us all. She talks to Sarah Moss, Women's Prize-shortlisted author of Ghost Wall and Summerwater.
Winner of MasterChef in 2005, Thomasina Miers has led the love for Mexican cuisine in the UK with her award-winning street food restaurants Wahaca and a stream of bestselling cookbooks. In her new book Meat-free Mexican, she shows that real Mexican food, as one of the world’s most diverse cuisines, is perfect for anyone looking for inspiration in their vegetarian and vegan cooking.
Thomasina’s central philosophy is that three times a day we have a chance to influence climate change by how we buy food and what we eat. Wahaca was the first restaurant group in the UK to be certified carbon neutral, and she was awarded an OBE for her services to the food industry in 2019.
In his breathtakingly honest Memoir of Race, Identity, Breakdown and Recovery David Harewood reveals how investigating his own experience of psychosis and exploring stigma around mental health has given him the freedom to look at his life from a new perspective – one that throughout his acting career he had been unable to process until now, thirty years after the event.
When David was twenty-three, only two years out of drama school with a career starting to take flight, he had what he now understands to be a psychotic breakdown and ended up being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. He was physically detained by six police officers, sedated, then hospitalised and transferred to a locked ward.
Since making an award-winning documentary about his experiences for the BBC, David came to understand the extent to which his psychosis and subsequent treatment was rooted in race and racism. David talks to Stephen Fry about the statistics around mental health in the UK and how adversely the numbers are stacked against Black people.
We all know, and governments advise, that losing weight is just a matter of burning more calories than we consume. But what if all of the calorie counts that we see everywhere today are wrong? Cambridge obesity researcher Giles Yeo challenges the conventional model and demonstrates that all calories are not created equal.
A conversation with the team behind the hit BBC podcasts Death by Conspiracy? and War on Truth. Hear how journalists sift fact from fiction – and report on all the bad information swirling around on social media for audiences around the UK and across the globe. Death by Conspiracy? follows the story of Gary Matthews, a man from Shrewsbury who believed in Covid conspiracy theories until he caught the virus and died. Following the remarkable success of that series, Radio 4 launched War on Truth – a reactive series tracking the stories of people caught up in the information war in Ukraine. Both podcasts are presented by the BBC’s first ever specialist disinformation reporter, Marianna Spring, produced by Ant Adeane and edited by Mike Wendling.
The 2021 World Happiness Report ranked Finland, for the fourth year running, the world’s happiest country. The ‘Nordic Model’ has long been touted as the aspiration for social and public policy in Europe and North America, but what is it about Finland that makes the country so successful and seemingly such a great place to live? Is it simply the level of government spending on health, education and welfare? Is it that Finland has one of the lowest rates of social inequality and childhood poverty, and highest levels of literacy and education?
Finland clearly has problems of its own – for example, a high level of gun ownership and high rates of suicide – which can make Finns sceptical of their ranking, but its consistently high performance across a range of wellbeing indicators raises fascinating questions. In the quest for the best of all possible societies, Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford and co-author of Finntopia, explores what we might learn from Finnish success and Nordic wellbeing with Katja Pantzar, journalist and author of Finding Sisu and the recently published Everyday Sisu: Tapping Into Finnish Fortitude for a Happier, More Resilient Life, and Finnish Ambassador Jukka Siukosaari. In conversation with Andy Fryers.
How honestly do we talk about birth? How safe is birth today? Could better conversations lead to better births? Candice Brathwaite addresses the higher maternal mortality rates for black women in Britain. Founder of Pregnant Then Screwed Joeli Brearley highlights the traumatic and isolated experiences of women on maternity wards throughout the Covid pandemic. In her memoir Frontline Midwife, Anna Kent shares her experiences of working in South Sudan, Bangladesh and the NHS. They talk to freelance journalist, writer and documentary filmmaker Nicola Cutcher.
Recent and dramatic breakthroughs in our understanding of the body will profoundly change the experience of being human in the coming century. Already they are opening up boundary-breaking possibilities for intervention at every level, from our brains and genes to our microbiomes and immune systems. These will confer unprecedented powers over health, childhood development, our cognitive and physical abilities, and affect every aspect of how we live our lives and think about ourselves.
The author of The Secret Body: How the New Science of the Human Body Is Changing the Way We Live shows how these radical possibilities have been made real – thanks to the decades long work of scientists whose breakthrough discoveries are transforming our understanding of how the body works, what it is capable of and how we might manipulate it.
Free access to information was once envisioned as a way to promote shared understanding and values. Yet at a time when we need to demonstrate the trustworthiness of science to our global community, endless divisions endanger critical vaccination programmes.
Our three presenters explore vaccine hesitancy from different disciplinary perspectives, demonstrating the challenges they face as researchers communicating new science. Of equal if not greater importance, they seek to engage the audience in discussion to understand how they can do better as researchers, practitioners and people. Thomas E Woolley is a Covid-19 modeller and Emma Yhnell a neuroscientist and science communicator, both at Cardiff University. Daniel Artus is a Postgrad Researcher into vaccine hesitancy at University College London.
Stories of lockdown from people with experience of prison, homelessness, addiction, and families of people in the armed forces. Stories from inside the Covid-19 storm. Powerful, often irreverent, heartfelt: words that history cannot forget. Through live performance, animation, film and voice-over, Story Machine presents an anthology of lives that step off the page to hold hands with you.
Paperchains Live is co-developed with The Outsiders Project and funded by Arts Council England through the National Lottery Project Grants programme. Story Machine brings books and artistic ambitions to life through artistic live experiences.
“There have been many amazing projects to help people during the pandemic and Paperchains is one of the very best” HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.
Award-winning Irish neurologist Dr Suzanne O’Sullivan investigates psychosomatic disorders, travelling the world to visit communities suffering from these so-called mystery illnesses. From a derelict post-Soviet mining town in Kazakhstan to the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua to the heart of the María Mountains in Colombia, O’Sullivan records the remarkable stories of syndromes related to her by people from all walks of life. She recounts these riveting and often distressing case studies to writer and journalist Oliver Balch as the syndromes continue to proliferate around the globe.
Known for her witty and surreal view on everyday life, actor and comedian Lucy Beaumont shares the unpredictable craziness of being a mum in her laugh-out-loud ‘mumoir’ Drinking Custard: The Diary of a Confused Mum. From when she was hospitalised with indigestion in her third trimester (blame the burrito), to when she was *this close* to slapping her hypno-birthing instructor, to finding herself drinking a whole pint of custard in one sitting, Beaumont sees the funny side of motherhood.
Over the course of a year, award-winning comedian Rachel Parris asked members of her live audience for bits of life advice that they would pass on to others. In Advice From Strangers: Everything I Know from People I Don't Know she takes these tidbits – such as ‘Be Kind’ or ‘Never Pass Up the Opportunity for a Wee’ – and weaves them into an explorative book that is at times funny and serious, and hilarious and heartbreaking.
The two comedians explore the challenges of motherhood and modern life, dealing with everything from tampons to Tories and #hashtags to staying hydrated.
Over the past two years, our need for nature has become clearer than ever. But we’ve learned how unequal access to it is. Key spokespeople behind the Nature is a Human Right campaign share facts and stats, discuss the socio-political influences excluding millions from green spaces, and put forward ideas for what we can do about it.
Nick Hayes is co-founder of the Right to Roam campaign and author of The Book of Trespass; Ellen Miles is founder of the Nature is a Human Right campaign and a guerrilla gardener; Louisa Adjoa Parker writes on rural racism; and Daniel Raven-Ellison founded the National Park City initiative.
In 2003, England won the Rugby World Cup. Steve Thompson was in England’s front row, at the heart of the scrum – one of sport’s most destructive, repetitive impacts. Today, he remembers nothing about playing in that final. In his words, watching the tape back is like watching a ghost. He has early-onset dementia, the result of endless collisions, concussions and injuries. He is now campaigning to improve the game and safeguard those who play it. Despite the constant reminders of what has been lost, and what is still to lose, Steve’s powerful story is one of hope and courage. He talks to former rugby union player Clive Woodward. He talks to the World Cup Winning Head Coach of Steve’s England team and former rugby union player, Sir Clive Woodward.
A discussion of grief and how to learn to cope with loss. Julia Samuel is a psychotherapist and the Founder Patron of Child Bereavement UK. Her previous books This Too Shall Pass and Grief Works were Sunday Times bestsellers. In her new book, Every Family has a Story, she dives into eight case studies, analysing separation, step-relationships, leaving home, trauma and loss. Writer and journalist Clover Stroud is a regular contributor to the Sunday Times and the Guardian. Her recent book The Red of my Blood is about what life feels like when death interrupts it, about describing an experience that seems beyond words. They talk about bearing the unbearable with journalist Georgina Godwin.
A recent report from the charity Student Minds revealed that 74% of students felt the pandemic had had a negative impact on their mental health. How can we help individuals and colleges to tackle this issue? A new book, Preventing and Responding to Student Suicide – A Practical Guide for FE and HE Settings, offers a variety of approaches.
Tim Jones is Acting Pro Vice Chancellor Students at University of Worcester, where Jo Smith is Emeritus Professor; Nic Streatfield is Director of Student Life and Wellbeing at the University of York, Sarah Gordon, is a member of Student Minds’ Student Advisory Committee and Rosie Tressler is CEO of Student Minds.
In a year in which making sense of the numbers has become a matter of life and death, David Spiegelhalter has stood out as a calm voice of authority. In the media and in his Observer column with RSS Statistical Ambassador Anthony Masters, he has interpreted these statistics, held the government to account and given us the tools to make sense of the virus. Their timely, accessible book offers insight into one of the greatest upheavals in history. Never have numbers been more central to our national conversation, and never has it been more important that we think about them clearly.