The intimate story of tsars and tsarinas; some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. The historian’s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, and peopled by a cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy, from Queen Victoria to Lenin. Sebag Montefiore is the author of Catherine the Great & Potemkin and Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar.
The applications of artificial intelligence lie all around us: in our homes, schools and offices, in our cinemas, in art galleries and - not least - on the internet. The results of artificial intelligence have been invaluable to biologists, psychologists and linguists in helping to understand the processes of memory, learning and language from a fresh angle. Boden is Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex, and one of the best-known figures in the field of artificial intelligence. She is the author of Mind as Machine: a History of Cognitive Science.
In this 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia three writers tell the stories of people escaping horrors and seeking a better world elsewhere. These are the inside stories of refuge and migrations. McDonald-Gibson is the author of Cast Away: Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis; Kingsley is the author of The New Odyssey: The Story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis; Rawlence’s book is City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp. Chaired by Oliver Balch.
In association with Wales Pen Cymru
“Women have so much going on, what with boobs and jealousy and menstruating and broodiness and sex and infidelity and pubes and wombs and jobs and memories and emotions and the past and the future and themselves and each other.” The comedian combines autobiography and evolutionary history to create a funny, fascinating insight into the forces that mould and affect modern women.
Twenty years ago the UK stopped building nuclear stations. Why are we now planning an £18 billion, French-Chinese, nuclear power station at Hinkley Point? Taylor is lecturer in finance at Cambridge University.
The film-makers introduce a preview screening of their documentary film about the crazy story of Kim Jong-Il and his kidnapping of South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee and her estranged director husband Shin Sang-ok to make films for him in North Korea. Chaired by Jasper Fforde.
One of the greatest peacetime disasters in British history occurred during William Shakespeare’s lifetime. The Great Flood of 1607 devastated large tracts of land on both sides of the Severn Estuary. Learning from the river can help to inform our past and our global future relationship with coastal development. Lewis is Senior Curator Roman Archaeology, National Roman Legion Museum.
Take a fresh look at Shakespeare with the Blue Peter Award-winning author as she gives action-packed retellings of Macbeth, Hamlet, A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Romeo and Juliet.
Join the picture-book creator on a journey through the imagination searching for hidden treasure. There’s gold to find and secrets to keep but, above all there is a wonderful story to celebrate. With live drawing, treasure maps and story time, this is perfect for little adventurers.
A conversation with the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, who is now charged with delivering the COP21 Agreement, signed in Paris. If anyone can do it, she can. And she will.
On 4 July 1187 Saladin destroyed the Crusader army of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in a terrible slaughter at the battle of Hattin. He went on to restore the Holy City of Jerusalem to Islamic rule. The carnage at Hattin was the culmination of almost a century of religious wars between Christian and Muslim in the Holy Land. In the C20th the battle was revived as a symbol of Arab hope for liberation from Crusader-Imperialism, and in the C21st it has become a rallying cry for radical Muslim fundamentalists in their struggle for the soul of Islam. Chaired by Peter Florence.
The author of The Tulip and The Curious Gardener explores the different ways in which we have, throughout the ages, responded to the land. While painters painted and writers wrote, an entirely different band of men, the agricultural improvers, also travelled the land and published a series of remarkable commentaries on the state of agricultural England. They looked at the land in terms of its usefulness as well as its beauty and, using their reports, Pavord explores the many different ways in which land was managed and farmed, showing that what is universal is a place’s capacity to frame and define our experience.
The great comic writer, author of What A Carve Up! and The Rotters’ Club, introduces his new novel. It’s about the hundreds of tiny connections between the public and private worlds and how they affect us all. It’s about the legacy of war and the end of innocence. It’s about living in a city where bankers need cinemas in their basements and others need food banks down the street. It’s about how comedy and politics are battling it out and how comedy might have won.
As support for the extremes of the political spectrum increases across Europe, and Britain threatens to pull out of the EU, what does the future hold for our continent? Abbas is a research associate at the University of Cambridge, Bickerton is a lecturer in politics and Karcher is a research associate in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages. Simms is the author of Britain's Europe: A Thousand Years of Conflict and Cooperation.
The best-selling author’s teenage heroine, Hel, knows every feeling of adolescence. But as goddess of the Underworld, when she behaves badly she doesn’t just get sent to her room; she gets sent to rule over the dead for all eternity! Hel has powers that most teens can only dream of – but they come at a price.
Join the illustrator on a journey of discovery in some of the Earth’s most amazing habitats. Explore the coral on the Great Barrier Reef, experience the astonishing peaks of the Himalayas, trek through the Amazon rainforest, experience the darkest paths of the Black Forest and the dry heat of the Chihuahuan desert. And then draw your own ‘wonder garden’.
Always wanted to get your fingers inky? Learn to use an Adana tabletop printing press with Dulcie Fulton of Mostly Flat. Come and print tactile letterpress bookmarks that have been designed using traditional movable type and decorative ornaments.
From the renowned and entertaining behavioural economist and co-author of the seminal work Nudge, Misbehaving is an irreverent and enlightening look into human foibles. Traditional economics assumes that rational forces shape everything. Behavioural economics knows better. Thaler has spent his career studying the notion that humans are central to the economy - and that we’re error-prone individuals, not Spock-like automatons. Now behavioural economics is hugely influential, changing the way we think about not just money, but also about ourselves, our world and all kinds of everyday decisions.
Never in human history was there such an opportunity for freedom of expression. If we have internet access, any one of us can publish almost anything we like and potentially reach an audience of millions. And never was there a time when the evils of unlimited speech flowed so easily across frontiers: violent intimidation, gross violations of privacy, tidal waves of abuse. With vivid examples – from his personal experience of China’s Orwellian censorship apparatus to the controversy around Charlie Hebdo as well as a very English court case involving food writer Nigella Lawson – Garton Ash proposes a framework for civilized conflict in a world in which we are all becoming neighbours.
The language of genes has become common parlance. We know they make your eyes blue, your hair curly or your nose straight. The media tells us that our genes control the risk of cancer, heart disease, alcoholism or Alzheimer’s. The cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted from billions of pounds to a few hundred, and gene-based advances in medicine hold huge promise. So we’ve all heard of genes, but how do they actually work? Arney is an award-winning science writer and broadcaster who specialises in genetics and biomedical science.
PS The story goes that an old sea captain once gave Ernest Hemingway a six-toed cat whose distinctive descendants still roam the writer’s Florida estate…
A conversation with two of Latin America’s biggest award-winning fiction stars, who were part of the landmark Bogota 39 Generation in 2006. In Gabriel Vasquez’ Reputations, Colombia’s great cartoonist star is at a big public celebration of his career when he is faced with a character from his past who calls into question everything about his life and work. Enrigue’s Sudden Death is a funny and mind-bending novel about the clash of empires and ideas in C16th, told over the course of one, dazzling tennis match in Rome. In England, Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII execute Anne Boleyn, and her executioner transforms her legendary locks into the most sought-after tennis balls of the time. Across the ocean in Mexico, the last Aztec emperors play their own games, as Hernán Cortés and his Mayan translator and lover scheme and conquer, fight and fornicate, not knowing that their domestic comedy will change the course of history.
Join us behind the scenes to watch BBC Radio 4’s long-running lunchtime news analysis programme as we broadcast live from Hay every weekday in the BBC Tent. Presented by Martha Kearney with special guests.
Broadcasting live on BBC Radio 4 at 1pm. Please be seated by 12.50pm
Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult over 18 years