So much has been written about Norman Scott – from the newspapers who covered the Jeremy Thorpe trial in 1979, insulting Norman with homophobic slurs, to the book A Very English Scandal and its subsequent dramatisation (Norman was played by Ben Whishaw). Here, for the first time, he tells his remarkable story in his own words to writer and former broadcast journalist Rachel Clarke. From his disruptive childhood to how he found solace in friendship with animals and some of the jaw-dropping characters and moments that he has encountered throughout a quite remarkable life, in An Accidental Icon he reveals the life of a man many people think they know, but do not.
Throughout another year of bluster and bedlam in Westminster, John Crace’s brilliantly acerbic political sketches have once more provided the nation with a much-needed injection of humour and satire. In A Farewell to Calm the Guardian’s parliamentary sketch writer introduces an infectiously funny selection of his finest pieces and talks to journalist Max Liu about everything from Covid to Partygate and Brexit to war in Ukraine.
“It’s now becoming easier and easier to predict government policy. Just listen to what the prime minister said in the morning and the opposite is likely to be true come the middle of the afternoon.”
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.
All Walls Collapse brings together newly commissioned fiction in translation by twelve acclaimed writers from across the world, exploring the walls and borders that have sought to divide communities and nations, and their effects on people’s lives and histories.
From the Berlin Wall to the fences of Uyghur internment camps in Xinjiang, the US–Mexico border to the edge of the ‘Fortress of Europe’, and the barbed wire of the Korean Demilitarised Zone to the fences erected to hide Rio’s favelas before the 2016 Olympics, this groundbreaking collection of short stories examines our relationship to walls, both real and perceived.
Krisztina Tóth is a highly acclaimed Hungarian poet and Geetajali Shree is a Hindi author longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2022.
Born and raised in Zanzibar, Abdulrazak Gurnah is a Professor Emeritus of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent. He is author of nine novels, including Paradise (shortlisted for the Booker Prize), By the Sea (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the LA Times Book Award) and Desertion.
In 2021 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his uncompromising work on the effects of colonialism between cultures and continents. He talks to journalist Max Liu about his work, in particular his recent book Afterlives, a compelling historical novel focused on those enduring German rule in East Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Disinformation is one of the most pressing and urgent social and political challenges of our times. Almost every high-profile event or issue seems to act as a magnet for disinformation campaigns and influence operations, ranging from democratic elections to the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
Director at Cardiff University Crime and Security Research Institute Martin Innes investigates how disinformation campaigns are organised and conducted. Informed by a large-scale international research programme exploring disinformation and its impacts across diverse settings and situations, he uses several key ‘real world’ examples to illuminate the key components of how digital disinformation campaigns are run, and what can be done to limit their harms.
Between 1917 and 1921 a devastating struggle took place in Russia following the collapse of the Tsarist empire. Many regard this savage civil war as the most influential event of the modern era. An incompatible White alliance of moderate socialists and reactionary monarchists stood little chance against Trotsky’s Red Army and Lenin’s Communist dictatorship. The struggle became a world war by proxy as Churchill deployed weaponry and troops from the British empire, while armed forces from the United States, France, Italy, Japan, Poland and Czechoslovakia played rival parts.
The author of Stalingrad gives an action-packed account of the Russian Revolution, filled with historical detail from the streets of Petrograd, the brutal battlefield and the offices of Churchill, Lenin and Trotsky. He assembles the complete picture, conveying the conflict through the eyes of everyone from the worker on the streets of Petrograd to the cavalry officer on the battlefield and the woman doctor in an improvised hospital.
Our panel of experts debate the role of governments within the economy and society, the digital challenges facing society and how to recover a sense of public purpose. Mariana Mazzucato is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London where she is Founding Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. Jamie Susskind is a barrister and author of the award-winning Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech. His new book, The Digital Republic: On Freedom and Democracy in the 21st Century, will be released in June. Financial Times journalist Gillian Tett is author of Anthro-Vision: How Anthropology Can Explain Business and Life. They talk to entrepreneur and publisher William Sieghart.
We need to ensure that efforts to address climate catastrophe result in a more equal future for everyone. Emily Shuckburgh, director of Cambridge Zero, the University of Cambridge’s climate change initiative, and Bhaskar Vira, Head of Geography at the University of Cambridge and Professor of Political Economy, discuss a just planetary response.
Emily Shuckburgh worked for more than a decade at the British Antarctic Survey where she led a UK national research programme on the Southern Ocean and its role in climate. She has also acted as a climate advisor to the UK Government in various capacities. Bhaskar Vira’s research focuses on the political economy of environment and development. He is concerned, in particular, with the often-hidden costs of environmental and developmental processes, and the need to draw attention to the distributional consequences of public policy choices.
Violence – particularly against women, and often sexual – has become exponentially more visible across the world. The renowned feminist thinker and the Professor of Social and Political Theory agitate for new frameworks to achieve sexual justice.
Jacqueline Rose’s On Violence and On Violence Against Women is a blazingly insightful, provocative study of violence against women, tracking multiple forms of today’s violence – ranging through trans rights and #MeToo; the suffragette movement and the sexual harassment faced by migrant women; and the sharp increase in domestic violence over the course of the pandemic.
Amia Srinivasan’s The Right to Sex rethinks sex as a political phenomenon. Since #MeToo many have fixed on consent as the key framework for achieving sexual justice. Yet consent is a blunt tool. To grasp sex in all its complexity we need to interrogate the fraught relationships between discrimination and preference, pornography and freedom, rape and racial injustice, punishment and accountability, pleasure and power, capitalism and liberation.
Debut novel Trespasses, set in 1970s Belfast, is an intimate portrait of those caught between the warring realms of the personal and political, rooted in a turbulent and brutal moment of history.
Cushla Lavery lives with her mother in a small town near Belfast, and works as a teacher. The daily news rolls in of another car bomb exploding, another man shot, killed, beaten or left for dead. Then she meets Michael Agnew, an older (and married) barrister who draws her into his sophisticated group of friends. As her affair with Michael intensifies, political tensions in the town escalate, threatening to destroy all she is working to hold together.
Kübra Gümüşay is an award-winning author and activist from Germany. In her bestselling book Speaking and Being she examines how language dictates politics and shapes the way we think. Language opens up our world, and in the same instant, limits it. What does it mean to exist in a language that was never meant for you to speak? Why are we missing certain words? How can we talk about our communal problems without fuelling them? What does it actually mean to speak freely? As a writer and activist fighting for equality, Gümüşay has been thinking about these questions for many years. She addresses language and equalities related to gender with translator Sophie Hughes.
Damon Galgut’s 2021 Booker Prize-winning novel charts a country in transition and a family in crisis. On a farm outside Pretoria, the Swarts are gathering for Ma’s funeral. The younger generation, Anton and Amor, detest everything the family stand for – not least their treatment of the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life. Salome was to be given her own house, her own land… yet somehow, that vow is carefully ignored. As each decade passes, and the family assemble again, one question hovers over them. Can you ever escape the repercussions of a broken promise?
Damon Galgut was shortlisted for the Booker Prize twice with The Good Doctor and In a Strange Room before winning in 2021 with The Promise.
The expert on empires, autocrats and Russian history presents his latest work In the Shadow of the Gods (the Emperor in World History), a dazzling account of the men (and occasional woman) who led the world’s empires, a book that probes the essence of leadership and power through the centuries and around the world. British Pugwash is the UK arm of the international Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Pugwash and Joseph Rotblat, its founder, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995.
Ours is the age of global warming. Rising sea levels, extreme weather, forest fires. The next ten years are key to averting climate disaster. Dire warnings are everywhere, so why has it taken so long for the crisis to be recognised?
Climate scientist Professor Peter Stott (Hot Air: The Inside Story of the Battle Against Climate Change Denial) reveals the bitter fight to get international recognition for what, among scientists, has been known for decades: human activity causes climate change. Climate campaigner and writer Dr Alice Bell (Our Biggest Experiment: A History of the Climate Crisis) reviews the history of climate change research – how the world became addicted to fossil fuels and what tools we may have for survival. They discuss what we can do to confront the climate crisis, and exactly how we ended up here with Thea Sherer, Director of Sustainability and Climate Action Officer at Springer Nature.
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 UK’s leading authority on recovering from disaster looks back at her work on some of the most high-profile disasters of recent decades including 9/11, the 7/7 bombings, the Shoreham air disaster, the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Covid-19 pandemic. No one person expects to experience just one of these events, let alone all.
Professor Lucy Easthope has spent her life preparing for, and working in the aftermath of, disasters to better plan for future events. She describes life behind the police tapes and her focus on the victims and their families and the government briefing rooms where ‘confusion and soggy biscuits can reign supreme’. When The Dust Settles: Stories of Love, Loss and Hope from an Expert in Disaster is both her memoir and a record of what can be learned from living a life on the edges of disaster.
Easthope is Professor in Practice of Risk and Hazard at the University of Durham and Fellow in Mass Fatalities and Pandemics at the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath. She talks to writer and broadcaster Francine Stock.
Vicky Spratt traces decades of bad policy decisions to show how and why the British dream of homeownership has withered and the safety net of social housing has broken. She illuminates the ways this crisis is devastating our health, communities and political landscape. Hilary Cottam is focused on reforming the British welfare state. She challenges us to stop trying to reform out of date institutions and instead look at how modern solutions might start with people and communities, fostering their capabilities. They talk to Oliver Balch about the real, radical steps we can take to give everyone the chance of a good home.
Vicky Spratt is a journalist, documentary maker, activist and housing rights campaigner. Her new book is Tenants: The People on the Frontline of Britain’s Housing Emergency. Hilary Cottam OBE is a social entrepreneur and Honorary Professor at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. Her latest book is Radical Help: How We Can Remake the Relationships Between Us and Revolutionise the Welfare State.
The acclaimed historian, Professor of History at Harvard University and a leading authority on the Cold War and nuclear history, tells the tale of the six nuclear disasters that shook the world: Bikini Atoll, Kyshtym, Windscale, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima. Based on wide-ranging research and witness testimony, Plokhy traces the arc of each crisis, exploring in depth the confused decision-making on the ground and the panicked responses of governments to contain the crises and often cover up the scale of the catastrophe. He talks to writer and journalist Oliver Balch.
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.