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Podcast Seriously...

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  • Hendrix: Everything but the Guitar
    When you think of Jimi Hendrix, you think of the guitar. Since the 1960s he’s consistently topped polls of the greatest guitarist of all time. But there are so many other remarkable layers to this man and musician. On what would have been his 80th birthday, fans from music, literature and academia weigh up all of the other things that should be celebrated about Jimi, but so often aren’t: Leon Hendrix remembers his big brother as a spiritual force. Professor Paul Gilroy analyses Jimi’s commitment to peace. Kronos Quartet violinist David Harrington discusses Jimi the composer. The Happy Mondays vocalist Rowetta appreciates Jimi the singer. Poet and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib unpicks Jimi’s approach to wordplay. And author and academic Sarita Cannon evaluates Jimi as a mixed heritage icon. Meanwhile, 1960s archive interviews from Hendrix give us a fresh perspective on the man himself. Narrator: Cerys Matthews Producer: Redzi Bernard Executive Producer: Jack Howson Sound Mix: Olga Reed A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4
  • House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate, Pitcher, Fruit-Tree, Window
    Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies, written between 1912 and 1922, are often considered to be one of the cornerstones of European literature in the 20th Century. Produced in a time of collapse and change, amidst political turmoil and spiritual flux, the poems grapple with what it means to be human, charting the soul’s journey through existential despair and fear and separation (“Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the orders of Angels?”) to moments of revelation and ecstasy (“Praise this world, not the untold world, to the Angel.”) Rilke is a poet concerned with the task of inhabiting the world - despite its transience and the fact of our mortality - and in the presence of everyday objects, buildings, Things (“Dingen”) he finds his way into a kind of being that exalts in our fleetingness. In the Ninth Elegy he arrives at the phrase, “Perhaps we are here in order to say: house, bridge, fountain, gate, pitcher, fruit-tree, window [...]” (In German: “Haus, Brücke, Brunnen, Tor, Krug, Obstbaum, Fenster.”) A century on from the completion of Rilke’s landmark cycle of poems, this radio hymn takes up the poet’s call to dwell in “the time of the sayable”, with contributions from post-humanist thinker Bayo Akomolafe, archeologist Bettina Bader, German scholar Karen Leeder, and author and storyteller Martin Shaw. Readings by Ella Russell Original music by Phil Smith Produced by Phil Smith A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4
  • How to Win the World Cup
    How has the 2022 World Cup ended up in Qatar? Few would have guessed in 2010 that this tiny Gulf State would win the chance to stage football's biggest competition. It had seemed an unlikely bidder, and didn't have a single suitable stadium. Then there was the temperature, often around 40 degrees in the summer months: dangerous conditions for playing a football tournament. Fast forward to 2022 and seven new stadiums with huge new infrastructure have been built at vast expense. The opening game is just days away from being played, unusually, in the milder weather of November. It's a story that The Guardian's David Conn has been following since the beginning. He is the author of The Fall of the House of Fifa and one of the world's leading investigative journalists on corruption in football. Conn goes back to the beginning: how was the bid won in the first place? He traces the story from an infamous lunch at the Elysee Palace right up to the present day, investigating the human rights issues raised over the past dozen years, as well as probing at a question that is often left curiously unexamined: what is it that Qatar actually wants out of all this? And what does this tell us about how sport and power work in the modern age? Produced by Ant Adeane from Tonic Productions for BBC Radio 4.
  • A Fishy Phobia
    Top chef Angela Hartnett loves cooking fish but wonders why so much of the huge range of fish and seafood that's landed by British fishermen is exported to continental markets. We may eat some of that world-class catch when we are on holiday in Spain or France, but not at home. What are the cultural barriers to eating fish? Is it a hangover from the days of the Catholic Friday fast? A sense that meat is more vital and sustaining? Or just that we are a bit rubbish in the kitchen and at a loss when it comes to cooking fish? Angela reports from the fishing port of Brixham in Devon as the trawlers come in and the fish is sold by electronic auction in the neighbouring fish market. She shares her thoughts with fellow chefs and seafood restaurant owners Mitch Tonks and Nathan Outlaw, together with representatives of the fishing industry. Meanwhile on the East Coast, we hear Mike Warner out fishing for herring - the affordable, plentiful but neglected fish that was once a staple, Pen Vogler gives us the historical context, and Angela has some conclusions about how to turn this island into a land of fish lovers at last. Presented by Angela Hartnett Produced by Susan Marling and Anna Horsbrugh-Porter A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4
  • The Shadow Pope
    It is almost a decade since the dramatic resignation of Pope Benedict. In that time, the Pope Emeritus, now in his 90s, has lived quietly in a monastery within the precincts of Vatican City. Yet many Catholics believe his shadowy presence has served as a lightning rod for division. A recent book by respected Italian journalist Massimo Franco claims a rival court has grown up around Benedict, attracting traditionalists who feel alienated by the direction taken by Pope Francis. Benedict’s supporters have real power within the Vatican and have clashed with Pope Francis on major issues, including priestly celibacy, the role of women and whether Catholics who support abortion rights should receive Holy Communion. Has Benedict’s long retirement contributed to these internal divisions? Given the contrasting approaches of Benedict and Francis, it was perhaps inevitable that the Church would find itself embroiled in the wider culture wars. The post-retirement Benedict may never have actively sought the role of conservative champion, yet many insist on viewing him in that light. Similarly, Pope Francis’s preoccupation with some issues of social justice has seen him categorised, perhaps simplistically, as a liberal. Edward Stourton examines the evidence. He recalls the unexpectedness of Benedict’s abdication in February 2013, and the sheer theatre of his exit from St Peter’s. Benedict cited old age and looming infirmity, yet there was much speculation at the time about his true motives. While he remains hugely popular in traditionalist circles, his legacy holds less weight among progressive Catholics, not least in Benedict’s native Germany. Has Benedict’s successor, Pope Francis, been constrained by the existence of a rival court around Benedict? Early expectations that he would be a liberal reformer haven’t been fulfilled. Free of Benedict’s shadowy presence, might Francis have been more proactive? Few dispute that the past decade has had a profound impact on how the office is viewed. We end by asking how this might affect the succession and the church’s future direction. Producer: Hugh Costello Executive Producer: David Prest A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

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