Lively and diverse conversation with weekly guests
Harriet Walter, Richard Curtis, Suzi Quatro, Declan Murphy
Actor Dame Harriet Walter; writer and director Richard Curtis; singer and songwriter Suzi Quatro and former jockey Declan Murphy join Libby Purves for the final edition of Midweek.
Richard Curtis CBE is a writer, director and campaigner. His films include Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary, Mr Bean, Love Actually and The Boat That Rocked. His television comedies include Blackadder and the Vicar of Dibley. He is vice-chair of Comic Relief which he co-founded after visiting Ethiopia during the 1985 famine. He has co-produced the Red Nose Day Live night for the BBC since 1988 and the charity has made over £1 billion for projects in Africa and the UK. Red Nose Day USA is broadcast in May.
Declan Murphy is a former jockey who survived a catastrophic fall at Haydock Park in May 1994. His injuries were so severe that the Racing Post published his obituary. In his memoir, Centaur, he recounts his upbringing in rural Limerick, his life as a leading amateur jocke
29/03/2017 • 41 minutes 43 seconds
Alfie Boe, John Agard, Katy Brand, Allan Jenkins
Tenor Alfie Boe, poet John Agard, writer Allan Jenkins, and comedian and writer Katy Brand join Libby Purves.
Alfie Boe is one of our most popular tenors. He is starring as Billy Bigelow in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel alongside Katherine Jenkins at ENO's London Coliseum. He has performed in opera and musical theatre alike, from Baz Luhrmann's La Boheme on Broadway to leading the cast of Les Miserables in the West End. The youngest of nine children, he left school to work as a mechanic before being plucked off the shop-floor to stardom. Carousel is at ENO's London Coliseum.
John Agard is a poet. Winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, his new show Roll Over Atlantic is a reimagining of the voyage of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the 'New World'. Born and educated in Guyana, John came to the UK in 1977. His most famous poems explore identity and belonging and he writes for children as well as adults and is well known for his skill in performing poetry. Roll Over
22/03/2017 • 41 minutes 27 seconds
Omid Djalili; Diana Moran; Jack Thorne; Dashni Morad.
Comedian and actor Omid Djalili; playwright Jack Thorne; fitness expert Diana Moran and singer and presenter Dashni Morad join Libby Purves.
Diana Moran is well known as The Green Goddess who, back in the 1980s and clad in emerald green lycra, encouraged television viewers to shape up. Her new book Sod Sitting, Get Moving! urges people in their 60s, 70s and 80s to exercise and eat healthily to help with fitness, strength and suppleness in their later years. The former catwalk model discovered the joy of keeping fit in her 30s as she convalesced from a major operation, devising her own exercise regime to help her recovery. Sod Sitting, Get Moving! By Diana Moran and Muir Gray is published by Green Tree.
Dashni Morad is a television presenter and singer. She is a former Kurdish refugee whose family fled from Iraq and Saddam Hussein's persecution when she was five. The family finally settled in the Netherlands where her broadcasting career blossomed. Dashni set up a charity, Green Kids,
15/03/2017 • 41 minutes 20 seconds
David Rodigan; Loudon Wainwright III; Jackie Malton; Hisham Matar
Singer and songwriter Loudon Wainwright III; reggae DJ David Rodigan; former detective Jackie Malton and writer Hisham Matar join Libby Purves.
David 'RamJam' Rodigan MBE is a DJ, famed for his selections of reggae and dancehall music. He has played on stations from Capital 95.8 and Kiss to BBC 1Xtra and Radio 2 and is a regular on the club and festival circuit. A 65-year-old white man from Oxford who speaks in RP, he seems the very antithesis of the music that he loves and represents. In 2012 he won the highest reggae sound system honour by winning the World Clash Re-Set contest in New York. His autobiography, Rodigan: My Life in Reggae is published by Constable.
Hisham Matar is a Libyan writer and the son of Jaballa Matar, a prominent political activist who opposed Colonel Gaddafi's regime. When Hisham was 19 his father was kidnapped while the family were living in exile in Cairo. Hisham would never see his father again. After the fall of Gaddafi in 2011 Hisham was finally able to
08/03/2017 • 40 minutes 57 seconds
Patti Boulaye, Charlie Condou, Tracy Tynan and David Toole.
Singer Patti Boulaye; dancer David Toole; actor Charlie Condou and costume designer Tracy Tynan join Libby Purves.
David Toole is an actor and dancer who played a starring role in the 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony. Born without the use of his legs, he turned his back on a job with the post office to study at the Laban Centre of Movement and Dance and follow his dream of becoming a dancer. He is performing with Stopgap Dance Company in The Enormous Room, a new touring piece about grief and the relationship between a father and daughter. The Enormous Room is at Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler's Wells before heading off on tour.
Patti Boulaye OBE is a singer and actor. Her autobiography, The Faith of a Child, charts her life growing up in Nigeria during the Biafran War to her West End debut in the musical Hair. In her new show, Billie and Me, she considers the parallels between Billie Holiday's troubled life and her own - at times difficult - experiences. The production starts its UK to
01/03/2017 • 41 minutes 44 seconds
Patrick Stewart; Shappi Khorsandi; Oscar Duke; Mischa Pearson.
Actor Sir Patrick Stewart; comedian and writer Shappi Khorsandi; medic Oscar Duke and charity worker Mischa Pearson join Libby Purves.
Mischa Pearson set up the Teapot Project in Ipswich, Suffolk. The charity collects good food from restaurants and supermarkets that would otherwise go to waste and distributes it to the local homeless through charities, youth hostels and churches. As a teenager Mischa was homeless for two years and spent time living in hostels before finding employment in the catering business. Around 4,000 people a month benefit from meals provided by the Teapot Project and there are plans to open a new café with an adjacent food boutique offering ''pay as you feel' produce in the heart of the town.
Sir Patrick Stewart is an actor. He plays Professor Charles Xavier in Logan, the latest in the American superhero series of X-Men films. Patrick has appeared on Broadway and West End stages in productions ranging from A Life in the Theatre, The Master Builder, and The T
22/02/2017 • 41 minutes 43 seconds
Michael Mosley, Camille O'Sullivan, Peter Laws, Pradyumna Kumar
Broadcaster Michael Mosley; singer and actor Camille O'Sullivan; Baptist minister and writer Peter Laws and artist Pradyumna Kumar join Libby Purves.
Peter Laws is an ordained Baptist minister who has written his debut crime novel, Purged. The protagonist is Matt Hunter, a sociology professor who also assists the police tackle religiously-motivated crimes. Peter also hosts a podcast and YouTube show, The Flicks That Church Forgot, which reviews horror films from a theological perspective. Purged by Peter Laws is published by Allison and Busby.
Pradyumna Kumar, known as PK, was born in a remote part of Orissa in eastern India. His childhood as an untouchable was one of hardship and prejudice. Yet during these years, he kept a palm leaf bearing an astrologer's prophecy: 'You will marry a girl who is not from the village, not even from the country; she will be musical, own a jungle and be born under the sign of the ox'. It was a prophecy that would come true, but only after a 7,000 mil
15/02/2017 • 41 minutes 19 seconds
Levison Wood; Kimberley Chambers; John de St Jorre; Annie Siddons.
Explorer and writer Levison Wood; author Kimberley Chambers; journalist and writer John de St Jorre and performer and playwright Annie Siddons join Libby Purves.
Kimberley Chambers is a former market trader, DJ and minicab driver who is now a best-selling author. She came to fiction late in life, writing during her down time as a cabbie. Inspired by her 'colourful life', the books are gritty crime novels with a twist of dark humour set in and around London's East End and featuring a cast of spirited characters. Her latest release, Backstabber is published by Harper Collins.
John de St Jorre is a journalist and writer. In his memoir, Darling Baby Mine, he writes about the search for his mother who was erased from the family history. Unable to find so much as a photo of her, the distant memory of a woman laughing while smoking is the only image of her he has. He grew up in wartime Britain under the care of his father and stepmother and it wasn't until he reached adulthood that he began
08/02/2017 • 41 minutes 49 seconds
Professor Femi Oyebode; Sheila Kohler; Stephen Boxer; Heloise Tunstall-Behrens
Actor Stephen Boxer; writer Sheila Kohler; psychiatrist and poet Professor Femi Oyebode and composer Heloise Tunstall-Behrens join Libby Purves.
Heloise Tunstall-Behrens is a composer and bee-keeper. Her new work The Swarm, a 60-minute opera performed by the Quorum, follows a swarm of bees in their search for a new home as they encounter a deadly extractor fan, a thunder storm and a fierce debate over two potential sites on which to build a hive. Inspiration for the piece came after Heloise inserted a recording device into her hives during a particularly dynamic phase of swarming. The Swarm is at the Vault Festival, The Vaults, London SE1 .
Professor Femi Oyebode is professor of psychiatry and head of department at the University of Birmingham. Winner of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Lifetime Achievement Award, he has also written six volumes of poetry. Professor Oyebode believes medicine is increasingly technology-based, meaning the patient can easily get lost, and he regards m
01/02/2017 • 41 minutes 54 seconds
Evelyn Glennie; Milton Jones; Xiaolu Guo; Arno Geiger.
Percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie; comedian Milton Jones; writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo and novelist Arno Geiger meet Libby Purves.
Evelyn Glennie is an award-winning percussionist. She played the first percussion concerto in the history of The Proms at the Albert Hall in 1992, which paved the way for orchestras around the world to feature percussion concerti. She also played a leading role role in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Profoundly deaf since childhood, she set out to use her body as a resonating chamber, 'hearing' partly through her bare feet on the floor. As part of the Celtic Connections Festival she is playing a new piece marking the 70th anniversary of the partition of India alongside fellow percussionist Trilok Gurtu. The Rhythm in Me premieres at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
Xiaolu Guo is a Chinese born writer and film-maker. In her memoir, Once Upon a Time in the East, she recounts her tumultuous life from meeting her parents for the first tim
25/01/2017 • 41 minutes 26 seconds
Antonia Fraser; Stephen K Amos; Inua Ellams; Christopher Somerville
Writer Lady Antonia Fraser; comic and actor Stephen K Amos; travel writer Christopher Somerville and poet Inua Ellams join Libby Purves.
Stephen K Amos is a comedian and actor. His Radio 4 series What Does the K Stand For? tells the story of his teenage years in 1980s South London. Stephen's parents came from the same town in south-west Nigeria, but met as adults in Lagos and emigrated to the UK in the late 1960s. Stephen is currently performing his new stand-up show. He has performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe every year since 2003, after making his début in 2001. During the 2006 Fringe, he performed the revealing solo show All of Me, in which he publicly acknowledged his own homosexuality to his audience for the first time. What Does the K Stand For? is broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
Antonia Fraser is a writer and award-winning biographer. In 1978 she made a trip to Israel with her late husband, the playwright Harold Pinter. In her book, Our Israeli Diary, she recalls their experi
18/01/2017 • 41 minutes 49 seconds
Richard Osman; Peter Willcox; Rikki Beadle-Blair; Sacha Dench
Presenter and producer Richard Osman; campaigner Peter Willcox; playwright and actor Rikki Beadle-Blair and conservationist Sacha Dench join Libby Purves.
Sacha Dench is a conservationist. She's the first woman to cross the English Channel in a motorised paraglider during a 4,500-mile journey following migrating birds from the Russian tundra to Britain. She made her trip to highlight the problems facing the endangered Bewick's swan population. Illegal hunting, newly erected power lines and loss of wetlands all play a part in the swan's dramatic decline in numbers which have almost halved over the last 20 years.
Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE is a playwright, actor, producer and choreographer. The artistic director of multi-media production company Team Angelica, he is directing Hashtag Lighty which opens at the Arcola Theatre. Other projects include writing and directing Legendary Children in the House of Fierce and Summer in London which features an entire cast of transgender actors. Born i
11/01/2017 • 41 minutes 55 seconds
Katie Melua, Nigel Havers, Tom Kerridge, Alex Wheatle
Singer-songwriter Katie Melua, chef Tom Kerridge, writer Alex Wheatle and actor Nigel Havers join Libby Purves and the audience in the BBC Radio Theatre.
Katie Melua, the singer and songwriter, was born in Georgia, when it was part of the Soviet Union, and moved to Belfast when she was nine. She returned to her homeland to make her new album, In Winter, working with the Gori Women's Choir. Katie recalls her early years in Georgia, and the very different life she found in Belfast, and she and the 24 members of the Choir perform two songs.
Writer Alex Wheatle won this year's Guardian children's fiction prize for his young adult novel Crongton Knights, set around an inner-city estate. Born in 1963 to Jamaican parents living in Brixton, Alex spent much of his childhood in care, and says that a short stint in prison after the 1981 Brixton riots led to a passionate interest in literature, thanks to the advice of a fellow prisoner.
Actor Nigel Havers rose to fame as Lord Lindsay in the O
28/12/2016 • 41 minutes 55 seconds
Sophie Thompson; Jonathan Franklin; Leon Bosch; Brian Wheeler
Actor Sophie Thompson; writer Jonathan Franklin; musician Leon Bosch and actor Brian Wheeler join Libby Purves.
As a boy Jonathan Franklin rescued two orphaned tawny owlets and kept them with him at boarding school. His book, Two Owls at Eton, was first published when he was 16 and tells the story of Dee and Dum who lived with him during the summer of 1959. They trashed his room, made him late for many classes and caused mayhem at every turn yet Dum and Dee charmed the entire faculty. The school cat, famous for his mouse-catching prowess, became an unlikely ally and meal provider. Two Owls at Eton is published by John Blake Publishing.
Brian Wheeler is an actor who plays 'Brian' in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Born with achondroplasia, he has appeared in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and four Harry Potter films as a banker in Gringotts Bank. His acting career started when he saw an advert for men under four feet six to take part in a film. He applied and ended up getti
21/12/2016 • 41 minutes 53 seconds
Ken Follett, Fr David Delargy, Hannah Peel, Joseph Cook
Novelist Ken Follett; scientist Dr Joseph Cook; musician Hannah Peel and Roman Catholic Priest and singer Fr David Delargy join Libby Purves.
Fr David Delargy is a Roman Catholic priest and a member of the classical singing trio, the Priests. The group recently released a new album, Alleluia, and manage to balance the responsibilities of parish life in Northern Ireland with a global music career. Friends from an early age, the three later studied in Rome as seminarians and have sung together for 40 years. They grew up during the Troubles and speak of music as a unifying force that brings together people of all faiths. Alleluia by the Priests is released on Sony Red Essential.
Dr Joseph Cook is research associate at the University of Sheffield who studies glacial microbiology. He is one of the winners of the Young Laureate award - a category of Rolex's Global Awards for Enterprise 2016. Through his Ice Alive mission, Joseph is exploring polar ice microbes in the vast 'frozen rainfore
14/12/2016 • 41 minutes 9 seconds
Tom Mangold, Nick Yarris, Catie Munnings, Vanessa Toulmin.
Television reporter and writer Tom Mangold; death row survivor Nick Yarris; rally car driver Catie Munnings and Professor Vanessa Toulmin of the National Fairground Archive join Libby Purves.
Catie Munnings is an 18-year-old rally car driver. She won the FIA European Rally Championships Ladies' trophy 2016 after only her first season in the sport. At 13 she could execute a perfect handbrake turn and then followed her father Chris, a former rally driver who ran the London Rally School at Brands Hatch, into the sport. When she isn't training in the gym or on the track, Catie has been campaigning to encourage more girls to get into motorsport.
Tom Mangold is a television reporter and author who worked as an investigative journalist on the BBC's current affairs series Panorama for 26 years - its longest serving reporter. In his memoir, Splashed!, he recounts his years in the 1950s and 60s on some of Fleet Street's most ruthless newspapers - a time when chequebook journalism ruled. During
07/12/2016 • 41 minutes 32 seconds
Bradley Walsh, Salley Vickers, Ed Victor, Debbie Young-Somers.
Actor Bradley Walsh; novelist Salley Vickers; literary agent Ed Victor and Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers join Libby Purves.
Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers is community educator at the Movement for Reform Judaism. Formerly a rabbi at the West London Synagogue of British Jews, she is performing stand-up comedy for the first time at the JW3 Jewish Comedy Festival. She is a regular contributor for Radio 2's Pause for Thought, and has appeared on 4ThoughtTV. The JW3 Jewish Comedy Festival, West Hampstead, London NW6.
Salley Vickers is the author of seven novels including Miss Garnet's Angel and The Cleaner of Chartres. She was born in Liverpool where her parents were active members of the Communist Party. She has worked as a university teacher of literature and as a psychoanalyst which triggered her interest in the effects of trans-generational trauma. Her new novel, Cousins, is about the secrets that emerge after a so-called 'night climber' at Cambridge University falls to his death. The story i
30/11/2016 • 41 minutes 14 seconds
Melanie C, Douglas Hodge, Howard Webb, John McAvoy
Singer and songwriter Melanie C; actor and director Douglas Hodge; Ironman competitor John McAvoy and football referee Howard Webb join Libby Purves.
Melanie Chisholm, otherwise known as Melanie C, is a singer and songwriter. Formerly one of the Spice Girls, she went solo in 1999 and has enjoyed two number one singles and released four albums. In 2004 she launched her own label, Red Girl Records. She has also starred in musical theatre including Jesus Christ Superstar and Blood Brothers, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award. Melanie C is touring the UK in 2017 and her new album, Version of Me, is released on Red Girl Records.
John McAvoy is a former prisoner who is now a long-distance triathlete. Born into a family which was no stranger to crime, his uncle was a member of the Brink's-Mat robbery gang, John served two prison sentences for armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery before he was 30. In prison he discovered the indoor rowing machine and turned his
23/11/2016 • 41 minutes 8 seconds
Soweto Kinch; Ken Clarke MP; Melanie Lamotte; Alex Bellos
Ken Clarke MP, jazz saxophonist Soweto Kinch, historian Melanie Lamotte and writer and puzzle-historian Alex Bellos join Libby Purves.
Alex Bellos is a writer and broadcaster who writes a maths blog and a puzzle blog for the Guardian newspaper. His book Can You Solve my Problems? reveals the story of the puzzle through 125 of the world's best brainteasers, from ancient China to medieval Europe, Victorian England to modern-day Japan, with stories of espionage, mathematical breakthroughs and puzzling rivalries along the way. He has also written a children's book, Football School, which uses football to explain everything from maths to zoology and English to fashion. Can You Solve my Problems? is published by Guardian Faber. Football School is published by Walker Books.
During his 46 years as the MP for Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire, Ken Clarke has been at the very heart of government under three prime ministers. In his memoir, Kind of Blue, he charts his progress from working class sch
16/11/2016 • 41 minutes 54 seconds
Helen Czerski; Odaline de la Martinez; Paapa Essiedu; Jim Richards.
Physicist Helen Czerski; composer Odaline de la Martinez; actor Paapa Essiedu and geologist and gold prospector Jim Richards join Libby Purves.
Physicist and oceanographer Helen Czerski studies the bubbles underneath breaking waves and their effects on weather and climate. In her book, Storm in a Teacup, she explains how the same scientific principles behind the little everyday things we see all around us link to some of the most important science and technology of our time because the patterns of physics are universal. She argues that knowing some of the basic principles of physics gives us a new way of looking at and being in the world that surrounds us. Storm in a Teacup - The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski is published by Bantam Press.
Paapa Essiedu is an actor who plays Edmund in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of King Lear, opposite Antony Sher's Lear. He was on course to study medicine when he decided to change direction and follow his true passion to st
09/11/2016 • 41 minutes 25 seconds
Marcus Wareing, Adrian Edmondson, Adele Bellis, Nick Littlehales
Sleep coach Nick Littlehales, Adele Bellis, a survivor of an acid attack, actor Adrian Edmondson and chef Marcus Wareing, join Libby Purves.
Nick Littlehales is a sport sleep coach to some of the biggest names in sport including the British Cycling team, top Premiership and International football squads, and Olympic and Paralympic athletes. In his book, Sleep, he explains the strategies we can all use to get a better night's sleep by debunking the myths including why we might need less sleep than we think and the power nap - how we can nap with our eyes open in room full of people. Sleep is published by Penguin Life.
Adele Bellis was 22 when she suffered an acid attack arranged by her ex-boyfriend. She was left partially bald and lost her right ear. In her book, Brave, she recounts her experience and her recovery and how she hopes to turn it into a positive experience by educating young people about how to avoid abusive relationships. Brave - How I Rebuilt My Life After Love Turned t
02/11/2016 • 41 minutes 28 seconds
Stephen Jones; Clive Oppenheimer; Karen Guthrie; Tom Marcus.
Milliner Stephen Jones; professor of Volcanology Clive Oppenheimer; filmmaker Karen Guthrie and former MI5 operative Tom Marcus join Libby Purves.
Clive Oppenheimer is professor of Volcanology at the University of Cambridge. He presents Werner Herzog's documentary Into the Inferno which is inspired by Clive's book Eruptions that Shook the World. In the film presenter and director travel to Indonesia, Iceland, Ethopia and North Korea to investigate not only the volcanoes but also the people who live with them and have created their own myths and customs around these foreboding mountains. Into the Inferno is released on Netflix.
Karen Guthrie is an artist and filmmaker. She directed the documentary The Closer We Get, a haunting portrait of her family. When her mother Ann suffered a devastating stroke in 2008 Karen returned to the family home and, along with her siblings, helped care for her. In a surprise twist her long absent father, who had been separated from Ann for years, also cam
26/10/2016 • 41 minutes 57 seconds
Rory Stewart, Zucchero, Nina Plapp, Efrem Brynin
Politician and writer Rory Stewart; Italian musician Zucchero; cellist Nina Plapp and SAS trainee recruit Efrem Brynin join Libby Purves.
Nina Plapp is a cellist and winner of the Royal Geographical Society and BBC Journey of a Lifetime award. Together with her cello Cuthbert she sets off from the Isle of Wight to Romania and India in search of the roots of gypsy music. Along the way Nina and Cuthbert join a chorus on a train through the desert, get locked inside a cupboard with singing girls in a Rajasthani village and play with the gypsy musicians at a wedding. Her story is told in Journey of a Lifetime on BBC Radio 4.
Rory Stewart OBE is MP for Penrith and The Border and Minister of State at the Department for International Development (DFID). After a period in the army, he joined the Foreign Office, serving in Indonesia and the Balkans and becoming deputy-governor of two provinces in Southern Iraq. His father Brian was a keen walker who accompanied his son on many of his journeys
19/10/2016 • 41 minutes 44 seconds
Jeremy Paxman, Priscilla Presley, Thiago Soares, iO Tillett Wright
Jeremy Paxman; Priscilla Presley; ballet dancer Thiago Soares and writer and photographer iO Tillett Wright join Libby Purves.
Priscilla Presley is an actress. She starred in the Naked Gun series of films, the television series Dallas and for the last few years has appeared on the British stage in pantomimes including Aladdin and Snow White. Married to Elvis Presley from 1967 to 1973, she is executive producer of the Wonder of You, an album featuring Elvis's voice with an orchestral accompaniment by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Priscilla also appears as part of a UK arena tour in which Elvis is on screen - accompanied by the orchestra - performing songs including If I Can Dream and Suspicious Minds. The Wonder of You is released on Sony Music. If I Can Dream - Elvis in Concert with The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra starts in Glasgow at the SSE Hydro.
Jeremy Paxman is a journalist and broadcaster. In his memoir, A Life in Questions, he looks back on his career including h
12/10/2016 • 42 minutes 1 second
Nicholas Parsons, Jacqueline Wilson, Ken Hom, Scott Gibson
Broadcaster Nicholas Parsons; chef and writer Ken Hom; author Jacqueline Wilson and comic Scott Gibson join Libby Purves
Comedian Scott Gibson swapped his job in a call centre for the stand-up stage after surviving a brain aneurysm at the age of 24. Winner of the best newcomer award at the lastminute.com Comedy Awards in 2016, his show Life After Death explores his illness and recovery. Scott Gibson is appearing at the Fringe Comedy Awards Shows at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London.
Nicholas Parsons OBE is a broadcaster who has chaired BBC Radio 4's comedy panel game Just a Minute since its inception in 1967. He is also a keen horologist and presents The Incredible Story of Marie Antoinette's Watch on BBC Four which celebrates the work of a master of the timepiece, Abraham Louis Breguet. Nicholas goes in search of the most expensive and exquisite watch ever made - The Marie-Antoinette - also known as The Queen - a case watch designed by Breguet in the 18th century. The In
05/10/2016 • 41 minutes 56 seconds
David Owen, Paul Jones, Amie Slavin, Samuel Tsang.
Politician Lord David Owen; singer and harmonicist Paul Jones; sound artist Amie Slavin and origami expert Samuel Tsang join Libby Purves
Amie Slavin is a sound artist. She is the director of the Sonophilia Festival - Lincoln's Festival of Sound - which will offer eight days of live music, sound art installations and other activities across the city. Born with a rare form of eye cancer she lost her sight in 1997 and uses her work to stimulate audiences to appreciate the various ways in which sound can represent and illuminate ideas, issues and voices. Sonophilia Festival: Lincoln's Festival of Sound is at various venues across Lincoln.
David Owen was foreign secretary under James Callaghan from 1977 until 1979 and later co-founded and went on to lead the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He now sits as an independent social democrat in the House of Lords. In his new book, Cabinet's Finest Hour, he writes about the cabinet meetings of 1940 and examines how Churchill's coalition governmen
28/09/2016 • 42 minutes 2 seconds
Monty Don, Ian Hislop, Joanna Barker, Gethin Russell-Jones
Garden writer and broadcaster Monty Don; journalist Ian Hislop; marine biologist Joanna Barker and pastor Gethin Russell-Jones join Libby Purves.
Joanna Barker is a marine biologist who works for the Zoological Society of London and specialises in marine and mammal conservation. Her work includes carrying out annual population counts of grey and harbour seals in the Greater Thames Estuary and conserving the European eel population - London's iconic eel which is classified as critically endangered. There are 98% fewer elvers - juvenile eels - arriving in London than in the 1980s. Joanna also developed the Angel Shark Project in the Canary Islands to safeguard the future of endangered angel sharks.
Ian Hislop is a journalist and broadcaster. He is the co-writer - with Nick Newman - of a new play, The Wipers Times. Based on their award-winning film, the play tells the story of the satirical newspaper which originated in the spring of 1916. A group of soldiers of the 24th Division of the
Libby Purves meets actress Glynis Barber; flamenco composer and guitarist Paco Pena; Pastor Lorraine Jones and champion long distance swimmer Diana Nyad.
Diana Nyad was a champion swimmer in her twenties, setting the record around Manhattan Island. In 1978 she made her first attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida, but failed to get across. In her sixties she made four further attempts, finally achieving her dream at the age of 64. Her memoir, Find a Way - One Untamed and Courageous Life, is published by Pan McMillan.
Pastor Lorraine Jones lost her son Dwayne Simpson just short of his 21st birthday when he was fatally stabbed in Brixton. Dwayne had created a boxing club for young people to divert them from joining gangs. After his death his mother relaunched the boxing scheme as Dwaynamics. She recently won a Points of Light Award which recognises outstanding individual volunteers.
Paco Pena is a flamenco composer and guitarist. His new work Patrias is an exploration of the emotional a
06/07/2016 • 41 minutes 31 seconds
Liz Pichon, Melvyn Tan, Dan Richards, Meera Sodha
Libby Purves meets illustrator and author Liz Pichon; pianist Melvyn Tan; travel writer Dan Richards and food writer Meera Sodha.
Dan Richards is a travel writer. In his book Climbing Days, he is on the trail of his great-great aunt, Dorothy Pilley, a pioneering mountaineer of the early twentieth century. Using Dorothy's 1935 memoir Climbing Days as a guide, Dan begins to travel and climb across Europe, ending up at the serrate pinnacle of his aunt's climbing life, the mighty Dent Blanche in the high Alps of Valais. Climbing Days is published by Faber.
Meera Sodha is a food writer and cook. In her book Fresh India she celebrates Indian vegetarian dishes. Many of the recipes were passed down through her family, her mother in particular who was brought up in Uganda but came to the UK after Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of the Asian minority in 1972. The recipes in Fresh India are inspired by Meera's childhood in Lincolnshire: by the rainbow chard that her aunt and uncle used to grow
29/06/2016 • 23 minutes 58 seconds
Adam Henson, Tracey Curtis-Taylor, Paul Spike, Joe Langdon.
Libby Purves meets farmer and broadcaster Adam Henson; writer Paul Spike; pilot Tracey Curtis-Taylor and theatre student Joe Langdon.
Tracey Curtis-Taylor is a pilot who last year followed Amy Johnson's flight from the UK to Australia in her classic open cockpit biplane, Spirit of Artemis. Earlier this year the self-styled bird in a biplane attempted a round-the-world flight which ended when her vintage biplane lost power and crashed after take-off in the Arizona desert. She plans to be back in the skies when her plane is fully repaired.
Paul Spike is a writer and journalist. His book Photographs of My Father was first published in 1973, seven years after his father, The Reverend Robert - Bob - Spike, was murdered. Bob Spike was a US church minister who was active in the civil rights movement in 1960s America alongside Martin Luther King Jr. His murder was never solved. Published by Knopf, Photographs of my Father has been reissued to mark 50 years since Bob Spike's death.
15/06/2016 • 41 minutes 41 seconds
Chris Boardman, Bella Merlin, Rex Pickett, Natalie Nicole James.
Libby Purves meets Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman; writer Rex Pickett; writer and academic Bella Merlin and performer Natalie James.
Bella Merlin is an actor, writer, and professor of acting and directing at the University of California, Riverside. In her book, Facing the Fear, she draws on her own and other actors' personal experiences to address the issue of stage fright and how the complex relationship between the actor and the audience affects the condition. Drawing on neurological research, she also offers practical tips from physical wellbeing to performance strategies. Facing the Fear An Actor's Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright is published by Nick Hern Books.
Natalie Nicole James is dancer and circus performer. She plays Mowgli in Metta Theatre's new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. The story of a child raised by wolves has been transposed to a contemporary urban jungle featuring street dancing monkeys, a beat-boxing bin man Baloo and graffiti artist Bagheera.
08/06/2016 • 42 minutes
Simon Watt, Cal Flyn, Martin Gurdon, Baba Israel
Libby Purves meets biologist and stand-up Simon Watt; motoring journalist Martin Gurdon; hip-hop artist Baba Israel and journalist Cal Flyn.
Martin Gurdon is a motoring journalist. In his book, An Estate Car Named Desire, he recounts tales of his car-obsessed childhood in the 1960s - a lost world of Ford Anglias, Triumph Heralds and Morris Minors. During his dysfunctional years at boarding school cars were both his salvation and his undoing. An Estate Car Named Desire - A Life on the Road is published by Duckworth Overlook.
Baba Israel is a hip-hop artist. He will be performing The Spinning Wheel at the Roundhouse, as part of The Last Word Festival. The multi-media production explores the life of his father Steve Ben Israel, a New York-based poet, jazz musician, activist, stand-up comedian and member of the Sixties performance collective The Living Theatre. The Spinning Wheel is at The Roundhouse, London NW1.
Cal Flyn is a journalist whose book, Thicker than Water, tells the story o
01/06/2016 • 41 minutes 47 seconds
Frieda Hughes, Christopher Gunning, Jim Buttress, Ronnie Le Drew
Libby Purves meets poet and artist Frieda Hughes; composer Christopher Gunning; puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew and horticulturalist and gardening judge Jim Buttress.
Ronnie Le Drew is a puppeteer. Over his long career he has operated Muffin the Mule, Sweep and Zippy from the children's television series Rainbow. He discovered puppetry as a small boy, performing glove puppet shows for his friends on the south London council estate where he grew up. His biography Zippy and Me, written with Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi, will be published by Unbound. Ronnie is performing the Snitchity Titch Show at the Little Angel Theatre, London.
Christopher Gunning is an award-winning composer, best known for his theme music to Agatha Christie's Poirot as well as Porterhouse Blue and La Vie en Rose. He started out writing music for commercials and early on in his career he worked as assistant to the late Dudley Moore, who became a regular pianist on a variety of Christopher's jingles and documentary score
18/05/2016 • 42 minutes
Johnny Fenn, Oz Clarke, Emma Sherlock, Brian Mullin.
Libby Purves meets wine writer Oz Clarke; photographer Johnny Fenn; playwright Brian Mullin and Emma Sherlock, curator of free-living worms at the Natural History Museum.
Emma Sherlock is senior curator of annelids - free-living worms - at the Natural History Museum. She's also co-founder and president of the Earthworm Society of Great Britain. A zoology graduate, she is passionate about changing the public's perception of the humble earthworm. Her current project is studying the Asian worms in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Foreign species of worms are often inadvertently imported into Britain along with plants. There are 34 exotic species living here - mainly in greenhouses - which outnumber the 26 native species. The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD.
Brian Mullin is an American-born playwright who is writer in residence at Theatre503. His debut play, We Wait In Joyful Hope, is inspired by the story of his aunt, a former Catholic nun, who brought him up afte
11/05/2016 • 41 minutes 51 seconds
Ian Ogilvy, Ella Al-Shamahi, Chris Packham, Ralph McTell
The poet Lemn Sissay meets naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham; singer and songwriter Ralph McTell; actor and director Ian Ogilvy and paleoanthropologist and stand-up comedian Ella Al-Shamahi.
Ian Ogilvy is an actor who is best known for playing Simon Templar in the 1970s TV series The Return of the Saint. He has also appeared in Upstairs Downstairs, I Claudius and films including No Sex Please, We're British. He has written a series of children's books about his hero, Measle Stubbs, which has been translated into over 20 languages. His autobiography, Once a Saint - An Actor's Memoir, is published by Constable.
Ella Al-Shamahi is a geneticist turned paleoanthropologist who also performs stand-up comedy. She is a Neanderthal expert who specialises in cave digs in hostile environments including the Yemen and Iraq. Her latest project is to set up her own cave excavation in the Yemen to test the theory that early humans left Africa not only via Egypt and then Israel but also via isl
04/05/2016 • 41 minutes 26 seconds
Chris Rea, Rosa Hoskins, Chris Dobrowolski, Graham Satchwell
Libby Purves meets singer and songwriter Chris Rea; artist Chris Dobrowolski; former railway detective Graham Satchwell and actor Rosa Hoskins, daughter of Bob.
Chris Dobrowolski is an artist and sculptor who spent three and a half months in Antarctica as artist in residence for the British Antarctic Survey. Chris lived and worked alongside scientists, medical professionals, researchers and crew members. Armed with boxes of Antarctic-themed toy figures, including plastic penguins, he set out across the polar ice to capture the essence of this southern wilderness. In his show Antarctica, he tells of his adventures. Antarctica is on tour.
Chris Rea is a singer and songwriter and blues guitarist. Born in Middlesborough to an Anglo-Italian family who ran an ice-cream business, he didn't take up the guitar until he was 21. His hits include Fool If You Think It's Over, The Road To Hell and Josephine. He has released a new edition of La Passione, a film and soundtrack based loosely on his d
27/04/2016 • 41 minutes 21 seconds
Hunter Davies, Daniel Evans, Henry Normal, Fiona Bird
Libby Purves meets writer Hunter Davies; artistic director Daniel Evans; poet Henry Normal and forager and cook Fiona Bird.
Fiona Bird is a forager, writer and cook. A former finalist on Masterchef, her new book Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside is full of enthusiasm for the natural world and aims to encourage children to get off the sofa and explore the great outdoors. Fiona lives on the Isle of South Uist where she forages for seaweed which she features in a range of dishes from casseroles and soups to bread and biscuits. Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside is published by CICO Books.
Hunter Davies OBE is an author, journalist and broadcaster. He is the author of over 50 books, including biographies, novels, children's fiction and several books about the Lake District.. He wrote the only official biography of the Beatles. In his memoir, The Co-Op's Got Bananas! he reflects on his childhood and coming of age in post-war Britain. The Co-Op's Got Bananas! is published by Simon and Schuster.
20/04/2016 • 41 minutes 48 seconds
Maureen Lipman; Paul Whitehouse; Chris Bull; Desmond MacCarthy.
Libby Purves meets actor Maureen Lipman; writer and comedian Paul Whitehouse; tightrope walker Chris Bull and farmer Desmond MacCarthy.
Chris Bull - otherwise known as Bullzini - is a funambulist or tightrope walker. He is recreating the tightrope walk of Carlos Trower, The African Blondin, at A Day at the Lake in Staffordshire. Trower walked across the lake 100 feet above the water in 1864 and again in 1878, drawing huge crowds 30 years after the abolition of slavery in the UK. Chris first became interested in circus skills as a teenager and learned to juggle while at school. He trained for 12 years seeking out the best artists and teachers in Brazil, Cuba, France and Belgium. A Day At The Lake is at Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire.
Maureen Lipman CBE, is an actor and comedian, best known for her homage to Joyce Grenfell in Re:Joyce; as Aunt Eller in Oklahoma and for her role in the Oscar-winning film, The Pianist. Her latest part is in Charlotte Keatley's play, My Mother Said I Never
13/04/2016 • 41 minutes 53 seconds
Julian Clary, Wendy Cope, Carmen Aguirre, Patrick Deeley
Libby Purves meets poet Wendy Cope; performer Julian Clary; poet Patrick Deeley and actor and playwright Carmen Aguirre.
Wendy Cope OBE is a poet. A former teacher and television critic, she has written on a variety of topics including education, romance, religion, television and psychoanalysis. She has been commissioned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to write poems to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the playwright's death. In 2011 she donated her archive of correspondence and diaries to the British Library. Her book Life, Love and the Archers is published by Two Roads.
Patrick Deeley is an Irish poet and former teacher and principal. He has published six collections of poetry including Decoding Samara and The Bones of Creation. In his memoir, The Hurley Maker's Son, he tells of growing up in rural Ireland with a wood worker father who made hurley sticks in his Galway workshop. The Hurley Maker's Son is published by Doubleday Ireland.
Carmen Aguirre is an actor and playwrigh
06/04/2016 • 42 minutes 3 seconds
Patricia Rozario, Nick Davies, Lachlan Goudie, Sita Brand
Nick Davies is professor of behavioural ecology at the University of Cambridge and an expert on cuckoos. Based at Wicken Fen, the National Trust reserve in Cambridgeshire, Davies has unravelled some of the key mysteries of this trickster of the bird world using stuffed cuckoos and dummy birds eggs. Cuckoos are so swift in laying their eggs (only one is laid per nest and the process is over in as little as 10 seconds), and so clever at disguising their eggs, that host birds are often uncertain whether an odd egg in the clutch is a cuckoo egg or one of their own. Cuckoo - Cheating By Nature by Nick Davies is published by Bloomsbury.
Patricia Rozario OBE is an opera singer who is starring in Clocks 1888: the greener which is based on the true histories of ayahs or nannies in India who were employed by British colonials to look after their children and sometimes brought back to England. Born in Mumbai, Patricia studied at the Guildhall School of Music and at the National Opera Studio. She
30/03/2016 • 42 minutes 2 seconds
Meera Syal, James Runcie, Elliot Ackerman, Philip Hoare
Libby Purves meets actor and writer Meera Syal; writer and director James Runcie; former soldier Elliot Ackerman and Philip Hoare, author, broadcaster and whale chaser.
Philip Hoare is a writer and broadcaster. He narrates Chasing the Whale, a show inspired by the 19th century journeys of whaling ships from Britain to the South Seas. Philip's stories delve into the log books of history to tell of the dangers and hardships endured by the crews on their epic voyages. The author of the award-winning Leviathan and the Whale, he also recalls his own memories of swimming alongside whales. Chasing the Whale is on tour.
James Runcie is a writer, director and filmmaker. He is the author of The Grantchester Mysteries series about full-time priest and part-time detective, Sidney Chambers. Inspired in part by his father, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie's experiences, the series is set in the 1950s. James is visiting professor at Bath Spa University. The second series of Grantch
23/03/2016 • 41 minutes 55 seconds
Fay Weldon, Richard Hines, John Hessler, Ed Zephyr
Libby Purves meets Richard Hines whose story inspired the novel A Kestral for a Knave; novelist Fay Weldon; cartographer John Hessler and actor Ed Zephyr.
John Hessler is a specialist in modern cartography at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. He is the founder of the Scaling Lab, a geographical and mathematical collective that uses the theory of complex networks to study geographical and network phenomenon and he has written on data visualization, map design and the foundations of geographical information systems (GIS). He is consulting editor of MAP: Exploring the World which brings together over 300 maps from the birth of cartography to digital maps of the 21st century. MAP: Exploring the World is published by Phaidon.
Ed Zephyr is an actor who attended a transgender acting course at London's Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Drawing on his own experiences of transitioning, he is involved in media outreach activities promoting diversity in the arts. He is taking par
16/03/2016 • 41 minutes 49 seconds
Henry Blofeld, Emma Johnson, Pedro Algorta, Davis Miller
Libby Purves meets commentator Henry Blofeld; clarinettist Emma Johnson; journalist Davis Miller and Pedro Algorta who survived a notorious plane crash in 1972.
Davis Miller is a journalist who struck up a 30-year friendship with the heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali. He is co-curator of the exhibition, I Am The Greatest, at London's O2, which showcases Muhammad Ali's life. The exhibition features more than 100 artefacts and rare personal memorabilia including a full size boxing ring and gold boxing gloves given to Elvis Presley and signed by Muhammad Ali in 1973. Davis is also the author of Approaching Ali about his friendship with Ali. I Am The Greatest is at the O2 in London.
Pedro Algorta is one of 16 people who survived a plane crash in the Andes in 1972. The Uruguayan Air Force Plane, chartered by an amateur rugby team and their friends and families, came down in the Andes and was lost without a trace. 70 days later the world discovered that 16 of the 45 passengers were still aliv
09/03/2016 • 41 minutes
James Rebanks, Helen Scott, Carl Tanner, Caitriona Palmer
Libby Purves meets shepherd James Rebanks; Helen Scott from the Three Degrees; journalist Caitriona Palmer and American tenor Carl Tanner.
James Rebanks is a shepherd, known to his followers as the Herdwick Shepherd. The first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, he and his family have lived and worked in and around the Lake District for generations. In his book, The Shepherd's Life, he writes about a shepherd's year, giving an account of rural life and the connection with the land that has often been lost. The Shepherd's Life - a Tale of the Lake District is published by Penguin.
Caitriona Palmer is a journalist based in Washington DC. Adopted as a baby, she writes about establishing contact with her birth mother in her book, An Affair with my Mother. Caitriona was raised by loving adoptive parents and enjoyed a happy childhood. She discovered her birth mother, 'Sarah', in her twenties and they developed a close attachment. But Sarah set one condition on t
02/03/2016 • 41 minutes 32 seconds
Janet Ellis, Nina Myskow, Charles Foster, Sarah Kendall
Libby Purves meets veterinarian and barrister Charles Foster; presenter and writer Janet Ellis; journalist Nina Myskow and comedian Sarah Kendall.
Sarah Kendall is an award-winning comedian and writer. Born in Newcastle, New South Wales in Australia, she is a regular cast member of Clare in the Community on BBC Radio 4 and a frequent guest on the Now Show. A Day in October, her new show, takes audiences back to a pool party she attended in 1990 with disastrous consequences. Sarah Kendall: A Day in October is at the Soho Theatre, London.
Charles Foster is a writer, traveller, veterinarian and barrister. A keen naturalist, his new book explores what it's like to be a beast: a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox and a swift He lived life as a badger for six weeks, sleeping in a dirt hole and eating earth worms, he came face to face with shrimps as he lived like an otter and he spent hours curled up in a back garden in East London and rooting around bins like an urban fox. Being a Beast is p
24/02/2016 • 41 minutes 44 seconds
Rob Askins, Dr Dean Burnett, Mark Lockyer, Ellie Crossley
Due to scheduling changes this episode will be broadcast on Radio 4 at 21:30. The full length programme is available online from February 17 2016.
Libby Purves meets playwright Rob Askins; actor Mark Lockyer, neuroscientist and stand-up comedian Dean Burnett and cattle warden Ellie Crossley.
Rob Askins is a writer and playwright. His play, Hand To God, is a semi-autobiographical story about his teenage years growing up in a small Texas town and attending a church puppet school. Hand To God, is directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel and is at the Vaudeville Theatre, London.
In 1995 Mark Lockyer was forced to abandon an acting career after suffering a breakdown. In his one-man show, Living with the Lights On, he tells of his experience living with an undiagnosed bi-polar disorder and his journey through the medical and criminal justice systems to his eventual recovery. Living with the Lights On is touring the UK, starting in Exeter and finishing at London's Young Vic.
Dr Dean Burnett is
17/02/2016 • 42 minutes 1 second
Sally Wainwright, Erwin James, Angela Kiss, Abi Roberts
Libby Purves meets writer and director Sally Wainwright; writer Erwin James; comedian Abi Roberts and author Angela Kiss.
Abi Roberts is a stand-up comedian. She is performing her new show, Anglichanka - meaning Englishwoman - in Moscow. She says she's the first UK comedian to perform in Russia - in Russian. The show is based on the story of her adventures in Moscow during the 1990s when she was studying opera at the Conservatoire and became a member of the Russian Orthodox Church. Anglichanka is at the bilingual Moscow Comedy Bar and Club.
Angela Kiss is a writer. Born in Hungary, she has lived and worked in London for 10 years. Her book, How to be an Alien in England, is based on the 1940s classic, How to be an Alien by fellow Hungarian George Mikes. Following Mikes's example, she takes an affectionate look at the English and scrutinises their approach to subjects ranging from love and optimism, to the weather, awkwardness and politeness. How to Be an Alien in England - A Guide to
11/02/2016 • 41 minutes 56 seconds
Dame Joan Bakewell, Willard Wigan, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Gary Clarke
Lemn Sissay meets broadcaster and writer Dame Joan Bakewell; micro sculptor Willard Wigan; choreographer Gary Clarke and violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja.
Willard Wigan MBE is a micro sculptor. He creates minute pieces of art, so small they are almost invisible to the naked eye and can only be viewed through a microscope. His materials range from spiders' webs to grains of sand. His latest exhibition, Homecoming, reflects his view of the Black Country where he grew up and features his latest work - a tiny sculpture of Noddy Holder. Willard Wigan Homecoming is at Light House Media Centre in Wolverhampton.
Dame Joan Bakewell CBE is a broadcaster and writer. In her memoir, Stop the Clocks, she muses on the life she has lived through, how the world has changed and considers the values she will leave behind. She sits in the House of Lords as a Labour peer - Baroness Bakewell of Stockport. She is also president of Birkbeck College, University of London. Stop the Clocks - Thoughts on What
03/02/2016 • 41 minutes 34 seconds
Griff Rhys Jones, Mona Golabek, Lee Tannen, Marcelo Sellaro
Libby Purves meets broadcaster Griff Rhys Jones; concert pianist Mona Golabek; playwright Lee Tannen and horticulturalist Marcelo Sellaro.
Lee Tannen is an author and playwright. He has written a play based on his memoir, I Loved Lucy, about his friendship with the legendary comedienne, Lucille Ball. He met her as a 10-year-old and became her close friend and companion until her death in 1989. I Loved Lucy is at the Jermyn Street Theatre, London.
Mona Golabek is a concert pianist who tells her mother's story in The Pianist of Willesden Lane. Set in Vienna in 1938 and in London during the Blitz, the one-woman show is the true story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish pianist dreaming about her concert debut at Vienna's Musikverein concert hall. But with the issuing of new ordinances under the Nazi regime, everything for Lisa changes, except for her love of music, as she is torn from her family and sent onto the Kindertransport to London. The Pianist of Willesden Lane is at the St. James Thea
27/01/2016 • 41 minutes 37 seconds
Gerald Seymour, Amy Liptrot, Tim FitzHigham, John Bright
Libby Purves meets novelist Gerald Seymour; adventurer and comedian Tim FitzHigham; writer Amy Liptrot and costume designer John Bright.
Tim FitzHigham is an adventurer, author and comedian. His new show, the Gambler, is on tour and in preparation he has undertaken some idiosyncratic challenges including cooking under ten feet of water. He has established himself as a man who is infamous for tackling endeavours that no one else would dare to. In previous shows he has paddled paper boats down the Thames; ridden hollowed out logs up the Amazon; run deserts in suits of armour and crossed the Channel in a bath tub. The Gambler is on tour.
Amy Liptrot's book, The Outrun tells her story of returning to Orkney after more than a decade away in London. Orkney becomes the central force in her recovery from alcohol addiction; she swims in the bracingly cold sea and tracks Orkney's wildlife including puffins nesting on sea stacks and the rare and secretive corncrake. The Outrun is published by C
20/01/2016 • 41 minutes 40 seconds
Don Black, Sue Buckmaster, Mike Daligan, David Barber
Libby Purves meets lyricist Don Black; puppeteer Sue Buckmaster; author Mike Daligan and Her Majesty the Queen's swan marker, David Barber.
Sue Buckmaster is a puppeteer and artistic director of children's theatre company Theatre-Rites. Her theatrical lineage stretches back generations - her great-grandfather was a music hall entertainer who juggled on a revolving table while riding a unicycle. Her show, The Broke 'n' Beat Collective, weaves puppetry with hip hop to explore some of the pressures faced by young people from unemployment to self-harming. The Broke 'n' Beat Collective is touring the UK.
Mike Daligan is an author and motivational speaker who has worked in the voluntary sector for over 30 years. He has also travelled to Russia, Bulgaria and Belgium to advise on self- help projects in these regions. In his autobiography, The Other Side of the Doors, he writes about his troubled childhood in London's docklands during the Second World War and the various turns his life has ta
13/01/2016 • 41 minutes 23 seconds
Si King and Dave Myers, Michael Foreman, Lady Alexandra Shackleton, George Hinchcliffe
Libby Purves meets Si King and Dave Myers - also known as the Hairy Bikers; illustrator Michael Foreman; The Honorable Lady Alexandra Shackleton, granddaughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton and George Hinchcliffe with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.
Lady Alexandra Shackleton is the granddaughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Sir Ernest set up the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, a cross-continent trek that came to be known as the Endurance mission. Endurance departed in August 1914 and by January 1915 it had already become trapped in the Antarctic ice. Two exhibitions document the story - Enduring Eye: The Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley is at the Royal Geographical Society and By Endurance We Conquer: Shackleton and his Men is at the Polar Museum which is part of The Scott Polar Research Institute. The Royal Geographical Society is in Kensington, London and the Polar Museum is based in Cambridge.
Michael Foreman is an illustrator and storyteller. His bo
30/12/2015 • 41 minutes 46 seconds
Carmen Munroe, Denis King, Ralph Montagu.
Libby Purves meets actor Carmen Munroe; composer Denis King and Ralph Montagu, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.
Ralph Montagu, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, is the nephew of Elizabeth Montagu who is the subject of a new film - The Honourable Rebel. The film tells the story of Elizabeth - Liza - Montagu and is based on her autobiography. She was a musician, actor, linguist and she was recruited by both the UK and US governments to act as a spy during World War Two . The Honourable Rebel stars Dorothea Myer-Bennett with narration by Diana Rigg and is showing in 100 cinemas around the UK.
Actor Carmen Munroe is playing Cicely, Duchess of York, in Richard III at the New Diorama theatre. A founder of Talawa Theatre Company alongside Mona Hammond and Yvonne Brewster, she made her West End debut in Tennessee Williams's Period Of Adjustment in 1962 and starred alongside Norman Beaton in the Channel 4 sitcom Desmonds in the 1990s. Although she has starred at the Royal Court, the Tricycle and even the Ro
23/12/2015 • 41 minutes 53 seconds
Patricia Cornwell, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Benedict Allen, Simon Nicol
Libby Purves meets crime writer Patricia Cornwell; astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell; musician Simon Nicol and adventurer Benedict Allen.
Patricia Cornwell is a writer. Her new novel Depraved Heart features medical examiner Kay Scarpetta who is working on a suspicious death scene when a story involving her niece Lucy demands her investigative skills. Patricia Cornwell has sold over 100 million books. She sold her first novel, Postmortem, while working as a computer analyst at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. Depraved Heart is published by Harper Collins.
Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an astrophysicist and is visiting Professor of Astrophysics at Mansfield College, Oxford. This year she won the Women of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award. She is best known for discovering pulsars, one of the most significant scientific achievements of the 20th century. At the time she was a PhD student in radio astronomy at the University of Cambridge. Her supervi
16/12/2015 • 41 minutes 57 seconds
Don McCullin, Father Ray Kelly, Fiona Ford, Robert Portal
Libby Purves meets photographer Don McCullin; Roman Catholic priest Father Ray Kelly; triathlete and coach Fiona Ford and actor Robert Portal.
Fiona Ford is a triathlete and coach. In the same week in 2006 she won both World Championship titles at the International Triathlon Union (ITU) and Aquathlon events. Three years ago, while cycling along the London 2012 Olympic bike route, she was hit by a car and badly injured. Doctors told her she would never run again. But thanks to her grit and determination, she is back on her bike, competing in a triathlon. Back on Track by Fiona Ford is published by Meyer and Meyer Sport.
Photographer Don McCullin's early association with a North London gang, The Guv'nors, led to the first publication of his pictures. He went on to cover many of the world's worst wars and humanitarian crises of his time from the civil war in the Congo to the Tet offensive at Hue during the Vietnam War. His photographs document the building of the Berlin Wall and the fam
09/12/2015 • 43 minutes 30 seconds
Marin Alsop, Sir Michael Codron, Wayne Hemingway, Carey Marx.
Libby Purves meets conductor Marin Alsop; producer Sir Michael Codron; designer Wayne Hemingway and comedian Carey Marx.
Conductor Marin Alsop is music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. In 2013 she was the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms, returning again in 2015. She will be conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Singers, presenting music by British composer Judith Bingham, at the Barbican Concert Hall. The concert will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Producer Sir Michael Codron has staged hundreds of productions during his long career - many of them at the time new plays including Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party and Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr Sloane. He is the producer of Mr Foote's Other Leg, a new comedy set in Georgian London which explores society's obsession with the rise and fall of celebrity. Mr Foote's Other Leg is at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in London.
Designer Wayne Hemingway co-founded the R
02/12/2015 • 41 minutes 47 seconds
Stephen Webster, Kenneth O Morgan, Dr Amy Dickman, Jyotsna Srikanth
Libby Purves meets jewellery designer Stephen Webster; historian Kenneth O. Morgan; conservation biologist Dr Amy Dickman and musician Jyotsna Srikanth.
Dr Amy Dickman is a conservation biologist with a particular interest in the maintenance of threatened wildlife populations on human-dominated land and how to resolve human-wildlife conflict. She is director of Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP), a community-based lion conservation initiative in Tanzania. A former finalist at the Tusk Conservation Awards, she has just launched Pride, an alliance of lion conservationists at Houston Zoo.
Stephen Webster MBE is a jewellery designer. He studied at Medway College of Design in Rochester, Kent, before serving his apprenticeship at Hatton Garden and establishing his business in 1989. His inspirations range from pop culture to Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and his clients include Madonna, Ozzy Osborne and Christina Aguilera. He tells his story in Gold Struck - A Life Shaped b
25/11/2015 • 42 minutes 2 seconds
Michel Roux Jr, Thomas Heatherwick, Dr Sarah Beynon, Dorothy Saul-Pooley.
Libby Purves meets designer Thomas Heatherwick; chef Michel Roux Jr; entomologist Dr Sarah Beynon and pilot Dorothy Saul-Pooley.
Dr Sarah Beynon is an entomologist who has just opened Grub Kitchen, a restaurant with insect dishes on the menu. Based at her bug farm in Pembrokeshire, Grub Kitchen features such delights as cricket falafels and mealworm hummus. Sarah's fascination with the natural world started in childhood - at five she was given her first 'bug box'. In the course of her research she has studied insects around the world including Zambia, Indonesia, Bolivia and Honduras. Grub Kitchen is at Lower Harglodd Farm, Pembrokeshire in Wales.
Chef Michel Roux Jr has spent many years working with organisations helping young people to find employment. In the series Kitchen Impossible he puts eight trainees with disabilities through an intensive four week introduction course to catering. The trainees are people who have been "written off" by employers because of their disabilities.
18/11/2015 • 41 minutes 55 seconds
Michael Portillo, Diana Melly, Yang-May Ooi, Polly Bagnall
Libby Purves meets former government minister and broadcaster Michael Portillo; Diana Melly, widow of George with a book about ballroom dancing and bereavement; writer and performer Yang-May Ooi and author and artist Polly Bagnall.
At the age of 76, Diana Melly decided to take up ballroom dancing after the death of her husband, George. In her new book, Strictly Ballroom - Tales from the Dance Floor, she sashays through tea dance etiquette, the perils of the Argentine tango and how to stay upright in rough seas on the QE2. Strictly Ballroom - Tales from the Dance Floor is published by Short Books.
Polly Bagnall is the co-author - with Sally Back - of Ferguson's Gang: The Remarkable Story of the National Trust Gangsters about a group of eccentrics who combined anarchic stunts and fine dining with saving the English countryside. To preserve their anonymity they wore masks and adopted pseudonyms including Bill Stickers, and Red Biddy. Polly's grandfather, John Macgregor, was the gang mem
11/11/2015 • 41 minutes 44 seconds
Janice Connolly, Thomas Pakenham, Asfa-Wossen Asserate, Hugh Warwick.
Libby Purves meets historian Thomas Pakenham; actor Janice Connolly; Asfa-Wossen Asserate, the great-nephew of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and ecologist Hugh Warwick.
Janice Connolly is an actor and comic who stars in the BBC Radio 2 sit com Barbara Nice, part of the network's Comedy Showcase season. The show is based around her character Barbara, a housewife from Stockport, mother of five and occasional stage-diver. Janice played in a range of punk bands before moving into comedy. She was discovered by Peter Kay and starred as Holy Mary in both series of Phoenix Nights. Barbara Nice is broadcast on BBC Radio 2.
Thomas Pakenham, the 8th Earl of Longford, is a writer, historian, photographer and champion of trees. In his latest book, The Company of Trees, he recounts his personal quest to establish an arboretum on the family estate, Tullynally, in Ireland. He writes about his often hazardous plant-hunting expeditions and his efforts to preserve old trees and historic woodland.
04/11/2015 • 41 minutes 58 seconds
Peggy Seeger, Stanley McMurtry, Alex and Milton Mermikides, James Buchanan
Libby Purves meets folk singer Peggy Seeger; cartoonist Stanley McMurtry; composer Milton Mermikides and director Alex Mermikides and auctioneer James Buchanan.
Stanley McMurtry MBE, otherwise known as MAC, has been the Daily Mail's cartoonist for the past 46 years. He started out as an animator before becoming a cartoonist, producing daily images for the Daily Sketch and latterly the Mail. Mac views his role as making "dreary news of the daily paper brighter by putting in a laugh". In all of his cartoons, except when making a political statement or when it depicts a tragedy, Mac includes a small portrait of his wife within the picture. MAC's Year 2015 - Cartoons from the Daily Mail is published by Spellbinding Media.
Milton Mermikides was diagnosed with leukaemia 11 years ago and his sister Alex became his bone marrow donor. Together they have created Bloodlines, a combination of a dance performance and a medical lecture, which conveys what happens in the body - and in the mind - of
28/10/2015 • 41 minutes 53 seconds
Dawn French, Wilfred Frost, Professor Joann Fletcher, Nikita Salmon
Libby Purves meets writer and comedian Dawn French; Egyptologist Professor Joann Fletcher; Wilfred Frost, son of Sir David Frost and wing walker Nikita Salmon.
Professor Joann Fletcher is based in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York where she teaches world mummification and funerary archaeology. Her book, The Story of Egypt, tells Egypt's ancient story by looking into the lives of its working people, as well as the pharaohs, to investigate this ancient society through its people's own words and personal belongings. The Story of Egypt is published by Hodder and Stoughton.
Wilfred Frost is the son of the late broadcaster Sir David Frost. A new biography, That Was The Life That Was, by Neil Hegarty recounts the story of how the son of a Methodist minister became the most successful TV host in the world. He was the only person to have met and interviewed every British prime minister since Harold Wilson as well as seven US presidents including the disgraced post-Waterg
21/10/2015 • 41 minutes 57 seconds
Dermot Turing, Gulwali Passarlay, Dawn Rose, Rhiannon Adam.
Dawn Rose started out as a session drummer with bands including 90s group Right Said Fred before becoming a psychologist and music therapist. She is performing in The Happiness Project at the Roundhouse which was devised by a company of young artists, scientists and academics to explore our understanding of happiness and well-being. Dawn will perform a drum duet with one of the teenagers during the performance. The Happiness Project is at the Roundhouse, London.
At 12 Gulwali Passarlay was sent away from Afghanistan by his mother to escape the conflict that claimed his father's life. After a harrowing journey across eight countries he arrived in the UK a year later. Now 21, he is in his third year studying politics at the University of Manchester and works with aid organisations and youth groups. His ambition is to return to Afghanistan and become its president in 2035. The Lightless Sky - An Afghan Refugee Boy's Journey is published by Atlantic Books.
Sir Dermot Turing is the nephew
14/10/2015 • 41 minutes 56 seconds
Brian Blessed, Satish Kumar, Mark Harris, Alinah Azadeh
Libby Purves meets actor Brian Blessed; midwife Mark Harris; artist Alinah Azadeh and environmentalist and peace campaigner Satish Kumar.
For 20 years Mark Harris has worked as a qualified midwife, delivering hundreds of babies. He is one of just a small number of male midwives currently practising in the UK. Mark is also founder of the birth education programme Birthing For Blokes, a service providing antenatal classes designed to prepare men for fatherhood. Men, Love and Birth by Mark Harris is published by Pinter and Martin.
Actor Brian Blessed is the son of a miner who left school at the age of 15 and worked as an undertaker's assistant before training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He has played a variety of roles on stage, television and in film including Z-Cars, I, Claudius, the Blackadder series, Flash Gordon and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He is also an explorer and mountaineer, becoming the oldest man to reach the North Magnetic Pole on foot and to reach 28,000 f
07/10/2015 • 41 minutes 30 seconds
Frederick Forsyth, Bruce Forsyth, Tim Angel, Louise Tiplady
Libby Purves meets writer Frederick Forsyth; entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth; costumier Tim Angel and stonemason Louise Tiplady.
Tim Angel OBE runs Angels Costumiers which has been dressing the entertainment business for 175 years. The company has supplied costumes for television, theatre and film productions from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Star Wars to The Iron Lady and Morecambe and Wise. The exhibition, Dressed by Angels, tells the history of the costumier and features bespoke costumes made for Fred Astaire, Noel Coward, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. Dressed by Angels - 175 Years of Costumes is at the Old Truman Brewery, London E1 6QL.
Legendary entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth has presented the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, The Generation Game and Sunday Night At the London Palladium. His career has spanned eight decades and is recognised by the Guinness World Records book as the longest TV career of any male entertainer in the world. Strictly Bruce - Stories of My Life, is published
30/09/2015 • 41 minutes 43 seconds
Julia Donaldson, Iain Sinclair, Gary Bell, Michael Booth
Libby Purves meets children's writer Julia Donaldson; author Iain Sinclair; QC Gary Bell and journalist and food writer Michael Booth.
Michael Booth is a travel and food writer who became something of a a cultural phenomenon in Japan after his book Sushi and Beyond became a bestseller. The book, which traces his culinary journey across Japan, was transformed into a cartoon series on Japanese television featuring Michael and his family as characters. Michael is attending this year's Hyper Japan Festival to talk about starring in his own animated series. The Hyper Japan Festival is at various locations at the O2 Arena, London.
Gary Bell QC is a defence barrister who specialises in fraud cases and is known as BBC's The Legalizer. He grew up in poverty on a Nottingham council estate and his career history includes stints as a lawnmower mechanic, fireman and forklift truck driver. He was also a self-confessed football hooligan who was convicted of fraud before turning his life around and
08/07/2015 • 41 minutes 49 seconds
Richard Thompson, Peter York, Julie Nicholson, Toby Clements.
Libby Purves meets musician Richard Thompson; writer and broadcaster Peter York; Julie Nicholson - whose daughter Jenny was killed during the 7/7 attacks - and novelist Toby Clements.
Peter York is an author, broadcaster and management consultant. His show How To Become A Nicer Type Of Person is at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It's his personal guide to navigating modern life from what to say, what to think to what to wear - he's definitely not fond of what he calls "sports-derived clothing." He also forbids the use of specific words such as passionate, creative, transparent and journey. How To Become A Nicer Type Of Person is at the Assembly George Square Studios, Edinburgh.
Former vicar Julie Nicholson's daughter Jenny was killed after a bomb exploded at Edgware Road Underground station on July 7th 2005. Julie's book A Song for Jenny has been adapted into a factual drama by Frank McGuinness with Emily Watson as Julie. The film chronicles the impact of the 7/7 bombings on Julie's
01/07/2015 • 41 minutes 7 seconds
Max Mosely, Jerry Springer, Josie Lawrence, Keith Partridge
Libby Purves meets former Formula One boss and privacy campaigner Max Mosley; television presenter Jerry Springer; comic and actor Josie Lawrence and adventure cameraman Keith Partridge.
Josie Lawrence is a comedian and actor. She is appearing in the improvised panel show Whose Line Is It Anyway? Live along with Greg Proops and Colin Mochrie. She is also performing with the Comedy Players at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. The Players finish their show with a six-person improvised Shakespeare play with a title suggested by the audience. Whose Line Is It Anyway? Live is at the Adelphi Theatre, London.
Max Mosley is the former president of the FIA - the governing body for world motor sport. His autobiography, Formula One and Beyond, tells of his early years in the public eye as the son of Oswald and Diana Mosley and his career in Formula One. He also writes about the case he brought against the News of the World for invading his privacy. He is now a seasoned campaigner for the right to pr
24/06/2015 • 41 minutes 35 seconds
Alfie Moore, Lucy Saxon, Michael Volpe, Richard Hudson
Alfie Moore is a policeman who is also a stand-up comedian. In his radio series, It's A Fair Cop, he swears his audience in and takes them through a real life scenario to see what sort of officers they'd have made. Alfie began telling jokes about life in the force as a hobby when he was working as a detective for Humberside Police in Scunthorpe. He is currently on sabbatical from the force and is about to embark on a national tour. It's A Fair Cop is broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
Lucy Saxon writes fantasy adventure novels. Her new book, The Almost King, is the first in a series of six novels set in the world of Tellus. Lucy began writing at 12 after she was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME. She found herself missing long periods of school which gave her the opportunity to indulge in creative writing. She wrote her first novel, Take Back The Skies, when she was 16 and signed a publishing deal at 17. The Almost King by Lucy Saxon is publ
17/06/2015 • 41 minutes 54 seconds
Craig Revel Horwood, Nick Barratt, Jaega Wise, Robin Plummer
Libby Purves meets Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood; brewer Jaega Wise; former hostage Robin Plummer and historian Nick Barratt.
Jaega Wise is head brewer at Wild Card Brewery. She founded the company with two friends after leaving Loughborough University where she studied chemical engineering. She was inspired by her aunt who brewed different types of beer and wine. Wild Card Brewery now produces over 4,000 litres of beer a week. Wild Card Brewery, Walthamstow, London E17 9HQ.
Dr Nick Barratt runs specialist record teams at The National Archives in Kew and has compiled family histories for a number of subjects featured on the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? In his book, The Forgotten Spy, he turns his attention to his own family history. The book tells the story of his great uncle, Ernest Holloway Oldham, who worked for the Foreign Office during the 1920s and 1930s and sold secrets to the Soviet Union. The Forgotten Spy - The Untold Story Of Stalin's First Britis
10/06/2015 • 41 minutes 54 seconds
Graham Fellows, Matthew Oates, William McLellan, Kate Waters
Libby Purves meets Graham Fellows and his alter ego John Shuttleworth; poet and naturalist Matthew Oates; artist and writer William McLellan and fight director Kate Waters.
Graham Fellows is an actor and musician who is best known for creating the character John Shuttleworth. John is a fictional singer and songwriter from Sheffield whose back catalogue includes the track Pigeons in Flight. Graham is also the man behind Jilted John who had an eponymous hit in 1978. John Shuttleworth hosts A Knight At the Palladium in aid of multiple sclerosis charities. Guests include Chas and Dave and Sooty and Sweep. A Knight At the Palladium is at the London Palladium.
Matthew Oates is a naturalist, writer and poet who has been obsessed by Britain's butterflies since childhood. He has studied many butterflies but no butterfly has entranced him so much as the elusive purple emperor. In his book, In Pursuit of Butterflies, Matthew recaps on a lifetime of butterfly observation with the help of the det
03/06/2015 • 42 minutes 1 second
Chi-chi Nwanoku; Ingrid von Oelhafen and Tim Tate; Tristan Gooley and Colin Rosie
Libby Purves meets Ingrid von Oelhafen who was taken from her family in Yugoslavia as a baby and brought up as an Aryan child in the Nazi Party's notorious Lebensborn programme; photographer turned top hat seller Colin Rosie; musician Chi-chi Nwanoku and Tristan Gooley, writer and expedition leader.
Colin Rosie is a photographer turned top hat seller. In 2013 he found himself homeless after the collapse of his business. He spent months sleeping rough until financial help from a charity enabled him to start a new business selling top hats. He buys and restores vintage and modern hats from top hats to fedoras and trilbies which he sells on the Last Stop for the Curious stall at London's Spitalfields Market.
At nine-months-old Ingrid von Oelhafen was removed from her parents in Yugoslavia by the Nazis and adopted into a German family as part of the Lebensborn programme. Founded by Heinrich Himmler, the Lebensborn programme was established to increase Germany's Aryan population and creat
20/05/2015 • 41 minutes 57 seconds
Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Lucy Branch, Hoagy B Carmichael, Eddie Pepitone
Lucy Branch is a conservator. She specialises in the conservation of sculptural and architectural bronze and contemporary materials. She has worked on high-profile projects including Eros, Nelson's Column and the Queen Victoria Memorial. She has led the conservation work on some of Britain's best known contemporary sculpture including Ron Arad's The Big Blue and Wendy Taylor's Conqueror. Her novel, A Rarer Gift Than Gold, is published by Clink Street. She is director of the company Antique Bronze Ltd.
Hoagy B Carmichael - son of the composer, singer, musician and bandleader Hoagy Carmichael - is co-producer of Stardust Road, a forthcoming musical which celebrates his father's work. Hoagy Carmichael studied law before going on to write hit songs including Stardust, Georgia on My Mind and The Nearness of You. Stardust Road is at St. James Theatre, Palace Street, London.
Cormac Murphy-O'Connor was cardinal archbishop of Westminster from 2000-2009. Born to Irish parents and brought up in
13/05/2015 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
Anita Harris, Vanessa Nicolson, Paul Rose, Zoe Phillips
Libby Purves meets singer and actor Anita Harris; polar explorer Paul Rose; art historian Vanessa Nicolson and Zoe Phillips, assistant armourer at the Royal Opera House.
Zoe Phillips is senior assistant armourer at the Royal Opera House. She makes and maintains weaponry for opera and ballet productions. Her work ranges from knives, swords, and retractable daggers to leather holsters and scabbards and she is currently working on items for a new Royal Opera House production of Rossini's William Tell.
Vanessa Nicolson has worked as an art historian and curator. The daughter of Ben Nicolson and granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, she was brought up in London and Florence with holidays at Sissinghurst Castle. In her memoir, Have you been Good? she writes about her parents' marriage and the death of her daughter, Rosa, at 19. Have you been Good? is published by Granta Books.
Paul Rose is a polar explorer and ocean diver. He presents a new BBC Two four-part series to
06/05/2015 • 41 minutes 49 seconds
Bruce Fogle, Mary Black, Gillian Potts
Gillian Potts is a former army officer and civil servant turned amateur garden designer. She is taking part in BBC television's The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge which offers one amateur designer the chance to design and build a garden on the Main Avenue at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge is broadcast on BBC Two.
Bruce Fogle is an author and clinical veterinarian who co-founded Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Born and raised in Toronto, he spent holidays by Lake Chemong, Ontario. In his memoir, Barefoot at the Lake, he recalls the summer of 1954 when he discovered the beauty and complexity of the natural world. Barefoot at the Lake is published by September Publishing.
Mary Black is a singer who has specialised in performing and recording Irish music for the last 30 years. She has just embarked on the Last Call Tour, her final tour outside of Ireland although she will continue to record and perform in her home country. Born in Dublin into a musical fami
29/04/2015 • 26 minutes 30 seconds
Huan Hsu, Polly Findlay, Deborah Frances-White, Jane Dolby
Libby Purves meets director Polly Findlay; writer Huan Hsu; comedian and performer Deborah Frances-White and Jane Dolby, founder of the Fishwives Choir.
Huan Hsu is a journalist and academic. In his book, The Porcelain Thief, he tells the story of his great-great-grandfather Liu, a scholar in the late 19th century who lived in the village of Xingang in China. In 1938, as the Japanese army approached, he buried his collection of prized porcelain in a vault in the ground before fleeing with his family. Huan's family eventually settled in the US and the treasure remained buried. It wasn't until eighty years later that he decided to go to China to look for it. The Porcelain Thief is published by Fourth Estate.
Polly Findlay is an award-winning director whose production of The Merchant of Venice stars Makram Khoury as Shylock. A former child actor, Polly started out as an assistant director at the National Theatre and her recent productions include Arden of Faversham and Treasure Island.
22/04/2015 • 40 minutes 42 seconds
Carl Davis, Samantha Ellis, Simon Annand, Caitlin Doughty
Carl Davis CBE is a composer and conductor, best known for his film and television music including The World at War; Pride and Prejudice and The French Lieutenant's Woman. He has also created symphonic scores for a range of Charlie Chaplin's movies such as The Gold Rush and City Lights. He conducts a live orchestra in London and Birmingham at the screening of two classic silent movies: Buster Keaton's The General and Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times. Philharmonia at the Movies: The General is at Royal Festival Hall. Friday Night Classics - Charlie Chaplin is at Symphony Hall in Birmingham. The BFI DVD Charlie Chaplin: The Mutual Comedies featuring music by Carl Davis is on general release.
Samantha Ellis is a journalist and playwright. Her new play Operation Magic Carpet is based on her own experiences as the daughter of Iraqi-Jewish parents who fled Baghdad before she was born. Featuring a child heroine, the play tackles the stories of second generation immigrants who have never visite
15/04/2015 • 42 minutes 1 second
Steve Backshall, Mary Chamberlain, Trevor Pickett, James Freedman
Libby Purves meets wildlife presenter Steve Backshall; writer and academic Mary Chamberlain; pickpocket entertainer James Freedman and retailer Trevor Pickett.
James Freedman is a pickpocket entertainer whose new show, Man of Steal, exposes how criminals operate and how people can avoid becoming victims of street crime. The show incorporates his sleight of hand trickery and reflects his lifelong study of criminology and the psychology of thieves. James is also an advisor and educator on the subjects of crime prevention and fraud - particularly the growing areas of bank card fraud and identity theft. Man of Steal is at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London.
Mary Chamberlain is Emeritus professor of History at Oxford Brookes University. Her book, Fenwomen, was the first to be published by Virago Press 40 years ago and inspired Caryl Churchill's play Fen. When she was 23 Mary and her husband became involved with the anti-apartheid movement and were recruited as couriers for the ANC. The
08/04/2015 • 41 minutes 39 seconds
Richard Goldstein, Sir Anthony Seldon, Paul Wayne Gregory, Kimmie Rhodes
Libby Purves meets headmaster and writer Sir Anthony Seldon; former rock critic Richard Goldstein; chocolatier Paul Wayne Gregory and singer and songwriter Kimmie Rhodes.
Paul Wayne Gregory is an award-winning chocolatier who provided chocolates for the Queen's 80th birthday celebrations. He trained as a pastry chef before learning the art of chocolate artistry in France and Spain under chefs Jean Valentine and Oriol Balaguer. He is currently working on a chocolate art exhibition which will feature sculptures, casts, copies of famous pieces of art such as the Mona Lisa and original chocolate art work by Paul himself.
Richard Goldstein is acknowledged as one of the founders of rock criticism who started his career at the Village Voice in 1966. He championed the idea that rock music was a serious art form long before it was acceptable. In his memoir, Another Little Piece of My Heart, he tells how he toured with Janis Joplin, hung out with Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys and was in the
01/04/2015 • 41 minutes 59 seconds
Deirdre O'Sullivan, Mark Vanhoenacker, Frances Ross, Penny Horner and Howard Jameson.
Libby Purves meets archaeologist Deirdre O'Sullivan of the Greyfriars Research Team which discovered and excavated Richard III; pilot Mark Vanhoenacker; Frances Ross the great-granddaughter of engineer Sebastian de Ziani Ferranti and Penny Horner and Howard Jameson who co-founded the Jermyn Street Theatre.
Deirdre O'Sullivan is an archaeologist at Leicester University. A specialist in medieval archaeology and friaries, she is academic advisor to the Greyfriars Project which discovered and excavated the remains of Richard III. The Bones of a King is the official behind-the-scenes story of the excavation of Richard III based on the research of the specialists involved in the discovery. The Bones Of A King - Richard III Rediscovered by the Greyfriars Research Team with Maev Kennedy and Lin Foxhall is published by Wiley-Blackwell.
Mark Vanhoenacker is a long haul pilot who operated his first commercial flight in 2003. Formerly a management consultant, becoming a pilot was his childhood d
25/03/2015 • 41 minutes 54 seconds
Gerald Scarfe, Greg Wise, Eimear O'Callaghan, Ben Moon
Libby Purves meets cartoonist Gerald Scarfe; former journalist Eimear O'Callaghan; actor Greg Wise and rock climber Ben Moon.
Eimear O'Callaghan is a former BBC news editor whose book Belfast Days is based on the diary she kept in 1972 at the height of the Troubles. The book records her and her family's experiences throughout this turbulent year. From the inconvenience of British Army check-points and power cuts to the horror of shootings, bombings and almost 500 killings, her teenage jottings convey a family and community trying to function normally against a background of violence and bloodshed. Belfast Days: A 1972 Teenage Diary is published by Merrion Press.
Gerald Scarfe CBE is a political cartoonist. He started drawing for Punch and Private Eye and is now best known for his work in the New Yorker and the Sunday Times. His latest exhibition, Milk Snatcher, The Thatcher Drawings features his cartoons of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher. It spans a period of 22 years from h
18/03/2015 • 41 minutes 54 seconds
Michelle Mone, Tony Hawks, Doug Seegers, Lillete Dubey
Mariella Frostrup meets entrepreneur Michelle Mone; comedian and writer Tony Hawks; singer and songwriter Doug Seegers and actor and director Lillete Dubey.
Michelle Mone OBE is an entrepreneur and motivational speaker. In her memoir, My Fight to the Top, she tells of growing up in the tough East End of Glasgow and launching a global lingerie business. As a child she had a poster of Richard Branson on her bedroom wall and a paper round at 10. Her company made millions, she mixed in elevated circles but there was heartache along the way. My Fight To The Top is published by Blink Publishing.
Tony Hawks is a comedian and author. His new book Once upon a Time in the West...Country is the story of his move from London to Devon two years ago. In the book he writes about leaving the capital and beginning a new life of village halls, committees and tractor-driving. He also takes up the challenge of cycling from one Devon coast to another with a micro-pig called Titch. Once upon a Time in the
11/03/2015 • 42 minutes 3 seconds
Clarke Peters; Raymond Blanc; Amanda Owen; Nicholas McCarthy
Libby Purves meets pianist Nicholas McCarthy; actor and director Clarke Peters; shepherdess Amanda Owen and chef and restaurateur Raymond Blanc.
Nicholas McCarthy is a pianist who is making his debut at London's Purcell Room at Southbank Centre. Born without his right hand, he went on to study at the Royal College of Music and is the only one-handed pianist to graduate from the institution. At his concert he will perform a wide variety of repertoire including Chopin, Bach, Strauss, Liszt and Gershwin to showcase both his virtuosic and mainstream appeal. Nicholas McCarthy performs at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London.
Clarke Peters is an actor, singer, writer and director. His many roles have included Lester Freamon in TV's The Wire and Othello alongside Dominic West's Iago. Clarke performed in the original Paris production of Hair and wrote and starred in the award-winning production of Five Guys Named Moe. He is the narrator in the Louis Armstrong Story at the Bristol Inter
04/03/2015 • 41 minutes 58 seconds
Noah Stewart, Mary Portas, Peter Layton, Rosemary Hughes
Libby Purves meets retail guru Mary Portas; opera singer Noah Stewart; glass artist Peter Layton and florist Rosemary Hughes.
Peter Layton is an artist and glassmaker known as the grandmaster of glass. His new exhibition, Young Masters, showcases work by some of Britain's best young glass artists working today. Peter began his career in ceramics but was drawn to the immediacy and spontaneity of glassmaking in the Sixties. In 1976 Peter opened London Glassblowing and today it is one of Europe's first and leading hot-glass studios. Young Masters - Rising Stars of Studio Glass is at London Glassblowing.
Noah Stewart is an opera singer. For his new tour, So in Love, the tenor will perform some of opera's best loved arias and the music that inspired him as a young boy. Born in Harlem, he won a scholarship to the prestigious Juilliard School and has gone on to sing on some of the world's greatest stages including the Bolshoi Theatre and the Royal Opera House. So In Love is touring the UK.
25/02/2015 • 41 minutes 21 seconds
Mark Strong, Maggie Alphonsi, Daphne Todd, Carol Grimes
Libby Purves meets actor Mark Strong; former rugby player Maggie Alphonsi; artist Daphne Todd and blues and jazz singer Carol Grimes.
Carol Grimes is a jazz and blues singer and songwriter. Her new show, The Singer's Tale, recreates her life story through spoken word and original music. Carol spent her early life as a busker in London before eventually coming to prominence in 1969 as a member of the band Delivery. The Singer's Tale is at St James Studio Theatre, London.
Mark Strong is a film, television and theatre actor. He plays Eddie Carbone in the award-winning production of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge for which he was named best actor at the 2015 Critics' Circle Theatre Awards. His many television credits include Our Friends in the North and the Buddha of Suburbia. He also starred in Oscar-winning films Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Zero Dark Thirty. A View from the Bridge is at Wyndham's Theatre, London and will be broadcast live to over 550 cinemas across the UK as
18/02/2015 • 41 minutes 8 seconds
Professor John Sutherland and Jack Sutherland; Pam St Clement; Adam Walker; Sam Haywood.
Libby Purves meets actor Pam St Clement; academic and journalist Professor John Sutherland and his son Jack; swimmer Adam Walker and concert pianist Sam Haywood.
Adam Walker is the only British swimmer to have completed the Ocean's 7 Challenge - seven open water swims including the English Channel, the Strait of Gibraltar and the Molokai Channel in Hawaii. He started the swims in 2008 and faced sharks, whales, treacherous sea conditions and dozens of bouts of sickness during the challenge. Adam Walker: The Ocean's 7 Challenge Lecture is at the Royal Geographical Society, London.
Professor John Sutherland is an academic and author. His book, Last Drink to LA, first published in 2001, has been reissued with a new introduction. The book is a meditation on alcoholism and an account of his own decline and recovery. It also details his son's problems with addiction. Father and son are working on Jack's forthcoming book about his own experiences. Last Drink to LA: Confessions of an AA Survi
11/02/2015 • 41 minutes 58 seconds
Aaron Rosen; Zack McGuiness; Bonnie Langford; Nick Wisdom; Tom Vaughan.
Libby Purves meets actor Bonnie Langford; Nick Wisdom, son of Norman; Tom Vaughan, co-founder of Juliana's Discotheque; Dr Aaron Rosen who devised the Jewish Museum London's exhibition called Love and student Zack McGuiness.
Zack McGuinness is a student at Kings College, London where Aaron Rosen lectures in sacred traditions and the arts. Aaron devised the Jewish Museum London's new exhibition called Love which features everyday objects, historic artefacts and works of art inspired by love. For the exhibition Zack donated a tin containing the caul which was wrapped around his neck when he was born while Aaron gave a print in memory of his late sister. Your Jewish Museum: Love is at The Jewish Museum London.
Bonnie Langford is a television, film and theatre actor. She stars alongside Robert Lindsay in the West End Musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. As a six-year-old she won TV talent show Opportunity Knocks and made her theatre debut at seven in an adaptation of Gone with the Wind. By t
04/02/2015 • 41 minutes 50 seconds
Cathy Tyson, Sir Tim Smit, Adam Cohen, Rupert Harry Miller
Libby Purves meets actor Cathy Tyson; Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project; singer and songwriter Adam Cohen and designer Rupert Harry Miller.
Cathy Tyson is a television, film and theatre actor. She plays the title role of Marie Curie in Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie by Alan Alda. She starred opposite the late Bob Hoskins in the 1986 film Mona Lisa for which she was nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe award. She appeared on television in Band of Gold and Grange Hill and on stage in The Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice. Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie is at the Tabard Theatre, London.
Rupert Harry Miller is a designer and author. His autobiography, Life of a Salesman, tells how he honed his salesmanship skills in Eastern Europe in the 1990s. The story of his colourful antics is clouded by the death of Rupert's brother, Julian, who suffered from haemophilia and died after developing Aids from the contaminated blood he received as part of his trea
28/01/2015 • 41 minutes 54 seconds
Barbara Winton, Lord Alf Dubs, Anne Reid, Dr John C Taylor, Lottie Muir
Libby Purves meets Barbara Winton, daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton who orchestrated the Kindertransport rescue mission; Lord Alf Dubs who was one of the rescued children; actor Anne Reid; inventor Dr John C Taylor and horticulturalist and mixologist Lottie Muir.
Dr John C Taylor OBE is an inventor, businessman and collector. He recently designed a new chronophage clock featuring a dragon that waves its tail and swallows a single pearl at the top of every hour. He holds 400 patents and an estimated two billion appliances use his designs including the cordless kettle. The Dragon Chronophage will be showcased at Design Shanghai.
Barbara Winton is the daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton who orchestrated the Kindertransport, a rescue mission in which 669 children were evacuated from Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939. Barbara's biography tells the story of her father's daring plan to transport mainly Jewish children to be placed with foster parents in the UK. One of the children was six-year-old
21/01/2015 • 41 minutes 37 seconds
Paul McKenna, Jonathan Church, Judy Joo, Rear Admiral Kit Layman
Libby Purves meets hypnotist and self-help writer Paul McKenna; theatre director Jonathan Church; chef Judy Joo and Rear Admiral Kit Layman.
Judy Joo is a Korean-American chef. Her new TV series, Korean Food Made Simple, explores South Korea's food markets, culinary traditions and street food. Judy graduated in engineering and worked in New York's financial district before enrolling at the French Culinary Institute. Based in London, she has worked at Claridges, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck. Korean Food Made Simple is broadcast on Food Network UK.
Rear Admiral Kit Layman's new book, The Wager Disaster, pieces together the shipwreck of HMS Wager in 1741. Using eyewitness accounts and diary entries, he tells the story of this little-known nautical tragedy involving murder, starvation, mutiny and an epic open boat voyage of 2500 miles through hostile seas. During his 35-year career, Rear Admiral Layman commanded a variety of ships including HMS Argonaut d
14/01/2015 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber; Gurinder Chadha; Milton Jones; Dr Kevin Isaac
Libby Purves meets cellists Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber; comedian Milton Jones; writer and director Gurinder Chadha and diplomat and poet, Dr Kevin Isaac.
Gurinder Chadha OBE is a Kenyan-born writer and director who is best known for her film, Bend it Like Beckham. The comedy tells the story of a young Asian woman's ambition to play football while accommodating the demands of family and tradition. Alongside composer Howard Goodall, Gurinder has transformed the screenplay into a new West End musical. Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical is at the Phoenix Theatre in London from May 2015.
Julian Lloyd Webber is an award-winning composer and cellist. His career began at 16 with a scholarship to the Royal College of Music. Later he studied in Geneva under renowned cellist, Pierre Fournier. His wife, Jiaxin Lloyd Webber, is a graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and former principal cello of the Auckland Chamber Orchestra. Following the announcement of Andrew's retirement, the co
31/12/2014 • 41 minutes 5 seconds
Barbara Dickson; Mike McShane; Dr Sarah Coombes; Giles Abbott
Libby Purves meets singer Barbara Dickson; actor Mike McShane; medic Dr Sarah Coombes and storyteller Giles Abbott.
Dr Sarah Coombes is a consultant with the Ambulance Service of New South Wales (ASNSW). She appears in a new series of Helicopter Heroes Down Under which follows British medics and pilots working in Australia. She is in charge of recruiting new doctors for ASNSW as well as attending emergency calls - covering around 7 million people in a 300-400 km radius. Helicopter Heroes Down Under Series 2 is on BBC1.
Barbara Dickson OBE is a Scottish singer and actor. Her new album, Winter, includes 11 of her favourite seasonal songs; such as Silence of the Dawn by ABBA's Benny Andersson. Her hits include Another Suitcase in Another Hall and she has appeared in stage shows including Blood Brothers and John, Paul, George, Ringo... and Bert. Winter is released by Chariot Records. Barbara will be touring the UK in 2015.
Mike McShane is an American actor, writer and comedian. He is cu
24/12/2014 • 41 minutes 26 seconds
Barry and Bob Cryer, Florian Leonhard, Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent, Andrew Gant
Libby Purves meets Barry and Bob Cryer; violin maker Florian Leonhard; adventurer Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent and choirmaster Andrew Gant.
Father and son Barry and Bob Cryer have co-written a new show, Mrs Hudson's Christmas Corker. Set in the kitchen of 221b Baker Street, the Christmas special reveals what really happens below stairs at the home of Sherlock Holmes. Veteran comedy writer and performer, Barry is a regular on Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Bob is a writer and actor who has appeared in TV shows such as The Bill and Outnumbered. Mrs Hudson's Christmas Corker is at Wilton's Music Hall, East London.
Florian Leonhard is a violin maker, restorer and dealer. He matches soloists with violins, mentors young talent and advises artists such as Julian Lloyd Webber. He trained at the prestigious Mittenwald violin school in Germany and has been making and restoring fine violins since he was 18.
Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent is a travel writer and adventurer. She is presenting a talk
17/12/2014 • 41 minutes 57 seconds
Ian McMillan; Victoria Tennant; Mike Vass; Linda Marlowe
Libby Purves meets poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan; actors Linda Marlowe and Victoria Tennant and musician Mike Vass.
Ian McMillan is a poet and broadcaster. He is poet-in-residence for The Academy of Urbanism and Barnsley FC and presents The Verb on BBC Radio 3. He has been commissioned to write a new poem based on the Christmas Truce International Tournament for young footballers to honour the football games that took place on the Western Front in 1914. His poem The Game: Christmas Day 1914 was inspired by the ideas and images that young players suggested after visiting the battlefields in Belgium.
Victoria Tennant is an actor. She has written a biography of her mother Irina Baronova, prima ballerina for the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo in the 1930s and 1940s. The book charts Irina's escape from Petrograd after the Russian Revolution and her recruitment to the Ballets Russes by the legendary choreographer George Balanchine. She danced her first Swan Lake at 14 and performed the l
10/12/2014 • 42 minutes 7 seconds
Lucy Cooke; Angie Marchese; David and Ben Crystal; Keith Ball
Libby Purves meets musician Keith Ball; wildlife expert Lucy Cooke; writers David and Ben Crystal and Angie Marchese, director of archives at Graceland.
Angie Marchese is the director of archives at Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley. She is curating a new exhibition in London which showcases over 300 artefacts from the Presley family's archives, some of which have never been exhibited outside of Graceland in Memphis. Objects on display include Elvis's American Eagle jumpsuit; the red 1960 MG Roadster from the film Blue Hawaii and the star's personal wallet containing photos of a young Lisa Marie Presley. Elvis At the O2: The Exhibition of His Life is at the O2 Arena.
Father and son David and Ben Crystal are writers with a keen interest in language. Their latest collaboration is You Say Potato, a witty look at the differences between our many accents. Ben is an actor, producer and writer and David is a writer, editor and lecturer who is honorary professor of linguistics at t
03/12/2014 • 41 minutes 36 seconds
Janina Fialkowska; Dolores Payas; Edward Sexton; Gary Catona
Libby Purves meets concert pianist Janina Fialkowska; tailor Edward Sexton; Dolores Payas who translated books written by the travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor and voice coach Gary Catona.
Edward Sexton has been designing and making suits for over 40 years. In 1969 he and Tommy Nutter opened Nutters, the first new establishment on Savile Row for 120 years. Nutters' suits for men and women appealed to the celebrities of the day including the Beatles, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Twiggy and Elton John. Edward, who trained as a master cutter, continues to design stylish and sharply tailored suits from his Knightsbridge studio.
Dolores Payás met the late writer and adventurer Patrick Leigh Fermor in 2009 and translated three of his books into Spanish. The two became great friends and in her book Drink Time! Dolores remembers the days they spent together at his house in Greece towards the end of his life. Drink Time! In the Company of Patrick Leigh Fermor by Dolores Payás is published by Bene
26/11/2014 • 40 minutes 57 seconds
Scottee; Patrick Hughes; Pam Dix; Dr Bryn Dentinger
Libby Purves meets surrealist painter Patrick Hughes, Pam Dix of Disaster Action, artist and performer Scottee and Dr Bryn Dentinger, mycologist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Patrick Hughes is a surrealist painter renowned for his optical illusion technique, reverspective, where the parts of a picture which seem farthest away are actually physically the nearest. He is to receive an honorary degree, from the University of London's School of Advanced Study, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to education and research. Patrick's current exhibition New Reverspectives is at Flowers Gallery, London.
Pam Dix is the co-author of Collective Conviction: The Story of Disaster Action with Anne Eyre. The book recounts how the charity Disaster Action was founded in 1991 by survivors and bereaved people affected by disasters of the late 1980s, including the King's Cross fire; the Lockerbie bombing and the sinking of the Marchioness. Pam's brother Peter died in the Pan Am 103 bombin
19/11/2014 • 41 minutes 42 seconds
Roger Law; Sophie Bevan; Mary Bevan; Sondra Lee; Douglas Ward
Libby Purves meets ceramicist Roger Law; sopranos Sophie and Mary Bevan; actor and director Sondra Lee and cruise ship guide Douglas Ward.
Sopranos and sisters, Sophie and Mary Bevan, come from a family steeped in musical tradition. Sophie is currently playing Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo at the Royal Opera House and Mary is performing Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro with the English National Opera at the Coliseum.
Roger Law is the satirist and ceramicist who co-created Spitting Image, the television puppet show which aired for over 18 series. Following the end of Spitting Image Roger travelled to Australia, becoming artist-in-residence at National Art School in Sydney. The ceramics he makes today incorporate his own ideas with ancient Chinese tradition. His solo exhibition features pots influenced by his love of Australian marine life. Roger is also presenting a talk at the British Museum alongside its exhibition Ming: 50 years that changed China. His solo exhibition, Roger Law, is a
12/11/2014 • 41 minutes 41 seconds
Arabella Dorman, the Rev Richard Coles, Ted the Bread Davies, Peter Rankin
Libby Purves meets artist Arabella Dorman; presenter and parish priest the Reverend Richard Coles; former baker Ted the Bread Davies and director Joan Littlewood's former assistant, Peter Rankin.
Arabella Dorman is a war artist and portrait painter. Her exhibition, Before the Dawn, features work reflecting her time in Afghanistan over the last five years. The exhibition shows the reality of life for Afghan families and British soldiers at a time of transition with the withdrawal of British and US troops. Before the Dawn is at La Galleria Pall Mall, London.
The Reverend Richard Coles is a parish priest in Northamptonshire and presenter of BBC Radio 4's Saturday Live. He was also half of the eighties pop duo the Communards with Jimmy Somerville. In his memoir he reveals his journey from a rock-and-roll life of sex and drugs to a life devoted to God and Christianity. Fathomless Riches - or How I went from Pop to Pulpit is published by Weidenfeld And Nicolson.
Ted Davies is a former che
05/11/2014 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
Grayson Perry; Thomas Lauderdale; Drummond Money-Coutts; Tracey Miller
Libby Purves meets artist Grayson Perry; musician Thomas Lauderdale; former gang member Tracey Miller and magician Drummond Money-Coutts.
Drummond Money-Coutts is a magician and illusionist. He presents a new series, Beyond Magic with DMC, in which he travels the world demonstrating his skills with card tricks, stunts and occasional cheating. Each episode recreates a historic trick or stunt. Beyond Magic with DMC is on National Geographic Channel.
Grayson Perry is an artist who won the Turner Prize in 2003 and presented the BBC Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4 in 2013. His book, Playing to the Gallery, is based on those Reith Lectures. He is presenting a three-part series for Channel 4, Grayson Perry: Who Are You? The programmes focus on identity and he creates portraits - from tapestries to sculptures and pots - of diverse people who are trying to define who they are. Subjects include former politician Chris Huhne. There is an accompanying art display at the National Portrait Gallery.
30/10/2014 • 41 minutes 35 seconds
Guy Martin, Dr David Drew, Sofka Zinovieff, Mark Bell
Libby Purves meets motor cycle racer Guy Martin; former NHS consultant Dr David Drew; writer Sofka Zinovieff and theatre director Mark Bell.
Guy Martin is a lorry mechanic, motorcycle racer and presenter. In his new series Speed on Channel 4 he attempts to set new speed records by using the very best of British engineering talent. Among his record attempts he rides a motorbike in the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado, racing to an altitude of over 4000m. He also has a go at setting the record for the furthest distance covered in 24 hours on a tandem recumbent. Speed with Guy Martin is on Channel 4.
Dr David Drew is a former NHS consultant who blew the whistle on what he says were poor standards of personal care at the hospital where he worked. His book Little Stories of Life And Death tells of his personal experience - how he spoke up for patients and suffered the consequences. Little Stories of Life And Death is published by Matador.
Sofka Zinovieff is the granddaugh
22/10/2014 • 41 minutes 59 seconds
Andrew Logan, David James, Guy Clutterbuck, Diana Nammi
Libby Purves meets gem hunter Guy Clutterbuck; artist Andrew Logan; campaigner Diana Nammi and counter-tenor David James.
Guy Clutterbuck is a gem hunter and dealer whose expeditions have led him to countries including Zambia, Mozambique, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka where he buys rough and cut gemstones. During these trips he sources rare gems such as emeralds, rubies, sapphires and aquamarines from local mines. He has donated a 60 carat Mozambican aquamarine - worth £40,000 - to a raffle by Fine Cell Work, a charity which helps prisoners rebuild their lives.
Andrew Logan is a sculptor, artist, jewellery designer and the founder of the Alternative Miss World contest. Established in 1972, the Alternative Miss World celebrates the outrageous and the unique. Notable contestants have included Leigh Bowery and Grayson Perry and previous winners include the late Derek Jarman as Miss Crepe Suzette. Andrew Logan's art can be found in public and private collections such as London's Victoria and
15/10/2014 • 41 minutes 50 seconds
Ray Winstone; Sir Ranulph Fiennes; Dr John Bradshaw; Martha D Lewis
Libby Purves meets actor Ray Winstone; adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes; singer and songwriter Martha D Lewis and animal behaviourist Dr John Bradshaw.
Dr John Bradshaw is an animal behaviourist and the founder and director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol. Anthrozoology is the study of interactions between humans and animals. He is one of the presenters of the BBC Two series Cat Watch which uses GPS tracking technology and cat-cams to follow a range of felines from city centre cats to farm cats. Cat Watch 2014: The New Horizon Experiment is broadcast on BBC Two. Cat Sense by Dr John Bradshaw is published by Penguin.
Ray Winstone is an actor best known for playing often brutal characters in films such as Sexy Beast, Scum and Nil by Mouth. In his autobiography he writes about growing up in East London where he was a schoolboy boxing champion. His breakthrough came in 1997 when he starred as an abusive husband in Nil By Mouth. He has since worked with directors
08/10/2014 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
Selina Hastings, Gary Witheford, Dr David Skinner, Marawa Ibrahim
Libby Purves meets hula hoop virtuoso Marawa Ibrahim; biographer Selina Hastings; horse whisperer Gary Witheford and early music specialist, Dr David Skinner.
Marawa Ibrahim, otherwise known as Marawa the Amazing, is a virtuoso of the hula hoop. She has performed and taught hula hooping all over the world from Nepal to New York. She now runs workshops in London and coaches her hula troupe, the Majorettes. She will appear in the 2015 Guinness Book of records in the category for 'the longest time hooping with three hoops in high-heeled roller skates.'
Writer Selina Hastings has written biographies of Nancy Mitford; Evelyn Waugh and Somerset Maugham. For her new book she turns her attention to her father Jack Hastings, the 16th Earl of Huntingdon. He eloped to Australia where he worked as a jackaroo and to the US and Mexico where he studied with Diego Rivera before becoming an artist. The Red Earl - The Extraordinary Life of the 16th Earl of Huntingdon is published by Bloomsbury.
01/10/2014 • 40 minutes 40 seconds
Paul Merton, Alison Balsom, Louise Cordingly, Jethro Lennox
Libby Purves meets trumpeter Alison Balsom; Louise Cordingly, daugther of a POW chaplain in Singapore; comedian Paul Merton and cartogragher Jethro Lennox.
Alison Balsom is a solo trumpeter. Three-time Classical Brit award winner and Gramophone Artist of the Year, her big break came when she was a concerto finalist in the BBC Young Musician competition in 1998. Last year she appeared at the Globe Theatre, in Gabriel, showcasing the valveless trumpet and featuring the works of Purcell. She is embarking on a UK tour - The Trumpet Sings Tour - and releases a new album, Paris, on Warner Classics.
Louise Cordingly is the daughter of Eric Cordingly MBE who as a young chaplain was held as a prisoner of war in the Far East during World War Two. During his years of captivity he wrote a diary which he kept hidden from his captors. When he returned from the Far East in 1945 he worked as rector of Stevenage and chaplain to the Queen. In 1963 he was consecrated Bishop of Thetford. He died in 1976
24/09/2014 • 41 minutes 58 seconds
Professor Adam Hart, Maria Venegas, Sandra Howard, Paul Roseby
Libby Purves meets bee expert Professor Adam Hart; writer Maria Venegas; writer and former model Sandra Howard and artistic director of the National Youth Theatre, Paul Roseby.
Adam Hart is professor of science communication at the University of Gloucestershire. He is the resident bee expert for BBC Two's series Hive Alive which explores the secret world of the honey bee. Using cutting edge technology including thermal, infra-red and endoscope cameras and time lapse photography, the series reveals previously unknown details about their short but active lives. Hive Alive is broadcast on BBC Two.
Writer Maria Venegas was born in the state of Zacatecas in Mexico and moved to the US when she was four years old. In her memoir, Bulletproof Vest, she tells the story of her father Jose and his violent past. Estranged from her father for 14 years, Maria eventually made the journey back to Mexico and the old hacienda where they were both born. Working together on his ranch, he told her of his
09/07/2014 • 41 minutes 35 seconds
Emma O'Reilly, Joshua Sofaer, Ruary Mackenzie Dodds, Danny Braverman
Libby Purves meets Emma O'Reilly, the woman who blew the whistle on Lance Armstrong; artist Joshua Sofaer; writer and performer Danny Braverman and dragonfly expert Ruary Mackenzie Dodds.
Artist Joshua Sofaer is the man behind The Rubbish Collection, an exhibition at the Science Museum. Part of the museum's Climate Changing programme - a series of events and exhibitions that support its Atmosphere gallery - the exhibition takes a month's worth of the museum's rubbish and looks at the value and volume of what's discarded. The Rubbish Collection is at the Science Museum.
Emma O'Reilly worked as a soigneur for the US Postal professional cycling team from the mid-1990s. Confronted by a doping culture she despised, she resigned in 2000 and began to speak out about what was happening in the sport. After breaking cycling's code of silence, she was shunned by the sport and endured a decade of personal attacks, broken relationships and the threat of bankruptcy. Her book, The Race to Truth - B
02/07/2014 • 41 minutes 55 seconds
Zelda la Grange, John Moloney, Rattlesnake
Mariella Frostrup is joined by former personal assistant to Nelson Mandela, Zelda la Grange; comedian John Moloney and country-blues musician Rattlesnake.
Zelda la Grange grew up in South Africa as a white Afrikaner who supported the rules of segregation. Yet just a few years after the end of apartheid she became Nelson Mandela's trusted assistant for the next 19 years. In her book, Good Morning, Mr Mandela, she tells the story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs and prejudices transformed by the President of South Africa. Good Morning, Mr Mandela is published by Allen Lane.
Rattlesnake Annie - known as Rattlesnake - is a country-blues musician. Born of Cherokee heritage on a cotton and tobacco farm in Paris, Tennessee, she began writing songs at 10 and soon afterwards formed a trio with her cousins, The Gallimore Sisters. At16 she was lured to Memphis by blues and rock n' roll where she learnt her craft under the tutelage of Muddy Waters and Lightnin' Hopkins. Her latest albu
25/06/2014 • 41 minutes 48 seconds
Roz Chalmers, Merlin Holland, David Charles Manners, David Waterman
Libby Purves meets audio describer Roz Chalmers; Merlin Holland, grandson of Oscar Wilde; writer and yoga teacher David Charles Manners and David Waterman of the Endellion String Quartet.
Roz Chalmers is an audio describer. She provides live or recorded and captioned performances for blind or partially sighted and deaf audiences. She also leads backstage touch tours which allow audiences to meet actors and touch costumes and props. She has worked on a range of productions including the Old Vic's Noises Off and Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. She is currently working on The Silver Tassie at the National Theatre.
Merlin Holland is a writer and editor and the only grandson of Oscar Wilde. Merlin co-wrote The Trials of Oscar Wilde which brings alive his grandfather's courtroom appearances in his libel and criminal trials using the actual words spoken in court. The play features court transcripts and letters discovered in 2000. The Trials of Oscar Wilde is on a UK tour.
David Charles Manners
18/06/2014 • 42 minutes 12 seconds
Rebecca Front, Tom Karen, David Pulvertaft, David Stuart MacLean
Libby Purves meets Rear Admiral David Pulvertaft, an expert on ships figureheads; designer and inventor Tom Karen; writer David Stuart MacLean and actor Rebecca Front.
Rear Admiral David Pulvertaft first developed an interest in warship figureheads during his naval service and since retiring has spent nearly 20 years researching the subject. A new exhibition at Tate Britain, British Folk Art, features examples of brightly coloured ships' figureheads including the striking HMS Calcutta. Figureheads of the Royal Navy by David Pulvertaft is published by Pen & Sword Books.
Tom Karen is an industrial designer and inventor. He was the managing director of design company Ogle Design which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Dubbed "the man who designed the Seventies," Tom is behind a range of products including the Reliant Robin; the Bond Bug; the Landspeeder from Star Wars and the Marble Run children's toy. An exhibition of Tom's work, Inspiration in 5000 Sketches, is at the Univers
11/06/2014 • 41 minutes 49 seconds
Angelique Kidjo, John Browne, Helen Kirwan-Taylor, Oliver Horovitz
Libby Purves meets St Andrews golf caddie Oliver Horovitz; Lord John Browne of Madingley; artist and journalist Helen Kirwan-Taylor and singer and activist Angelique Kidjo.
A golfer and caddie since the age of 12, Oliver Horovitz decided to spend his gap year at the University of St Andrews before going to Harvard. In his book, An Amerian Caddie in St Andrews, he tells how he joined the caddie training programme on the Old Course of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews. An American Caddie in St Andrews is published by Elliot and Thompson.
John Browne (Lord Browne of Madingley) was CEO of BP from 1995 until 2007. His book, The Glass Closet - Why Coming Out is Good Business, examines the risks and rewards of coming out in business. The book explores his own experience as a closeted gay man in the oil industry and features interviews with gay and lesbian people who tell different stories of working for corporations around the world. The Glass Closet - Why Coming Out is Good Bus
04/06/2014 • 41 minutes 56 seconds
Sir Roy Strong; Venetia Williams; Polly Bolton; Marcus Brigstocke
Libby Purves meets Sir Roy Strong; comic Marcus Brigstocke; horsewoman Venetia Williams and singer Polly Bolton at the Hay-on-Wye Festival.
Venetia Williams is a horse trainer who specialises in National Hunt Racing. A keen and successful amateur jockey in her youth, Venetia achieved ten jump-racing wins between 1986 and 1988 during which time she also rode in the Grand National. In 1988 Venetia's race-riding career ended following a near-fatal fall in which she sustained a broken neck. Unable to ride, she progressed into the art of training. In 2009 she trained 100/1 shot Mon Mome to win the Grand National.
Sir Roy Strong is an historian, lecturer, columnist and writer. He was director of the National Portrait Gallery from 1967 to 1973 and of the Victoria and Albert Museum from 1974 to 1987. His new book Remaking A Garden - The Laskett Transformed is the story of how he remodelled his renowned garden as a tribute to his late wife. Remaking A Garden - The Laskett Transformed by Sir R
28/05/2014 • 41 minutes 58 seconds
Hetain Patel, Daniel Antoine, Sue Swingler, Brendan King
Libby Purves meets British Museum curator Dr Daniel Antoine; translator and editor Brendan King; artist Hetain Patel and writer Sue Swingler.
Dr Daniel Antoine is the curator of human remains at the British Museum. He is overseeing the museum's new interactive exhibition Ancient lives, new discoveries. The exhibition uses state-of-the-art technology to allow visitors to look inside mummy cases and examine what's underneath the wrappings. Visitors will encounter each mummy with accompanying large-screen visualisations which penetrate through the skin to reveal the secrets of mummification. Ancient lives, new discoveries is at the British Museum.
Brendan King is a freelance translator, editor and reviewer. Between 1987 and 2010 he worked as Beryl Bainbridge's secretary, helping her prepare some of her novels for publication including The Birthday Boys; Master Georgie and According to Queeney. He also completed the novel she was working on at the time of her death, The Girl in the Polka
21/05/2014 • 42 minutes 4 seconds
Tony Hatch, Le Gateau Chocolat, Bob Shepton, Barb Stegemann
Libby Purves meets songwriter Tony Hatch; cabaret performer Le Gateau Chocolat; adventurer Bob Shepton and entrepreneur Barb Stegemann.
Le Gateau Chocolat is a cabaret performer from Nigeria. His latest show, Black, is a portrait of his loves, fears and personal battle with depression. Le Gateau Chocolat has sung for the Queen as part of the Jubilee Flotilla and performed around the world with La Soirée and Le Clique. His solo show has been staged at the Sydney Opera House. Black is at the Soho Theatre, London.
Bob Shepton is an ordained minister in the Church of England who now spends much of his time sailing into the Arctic region and climbing mountains. He has sailed approximately 130,000 miles and made over 100 first ascents. Bob has received the Piolet d'Or mountaineering award; the Blue Water Medal; the Tilman Medal and was Yachtsman of the Year in 2013. His autobiography Addicted to Adventure - Between Rocks and Cold Places is published by Adlard Coles Nautical.
Tony Hatch is
14/05/2014 • 41 minutes 45 seconds
Gruff Rhys, Brigid Keenan, Richard Kerridge, Corey Baker
Libby Purves is joined by writer and journalist Bridget Keenan; singer and songwriter Gruff Rhys; dancer and choreographer Corey Baker and nature writer Richard Kerridge.
Brigid Keenan gave up a career as a fashion journalist to become the wife of a diplomat, living in Nepal, Ethiopia, Syria, the Gambia and Azerbaijan. In her latest book, Packing Up, the couple are posted to Kazakhstan and they are facing their biggest adventure so far - the prospect of retirement. Packing Up - Further Adventures of a Trailing Spouse is published by Bloomsbury.
Gruff Rhys is a singer and songwriter who performs solo and with several bands including Super Furry Animals. His latest project, American Interior, was inspired by a trip across the US to retrace the steps of his distant relative John Evans. Evans left Snowdonia in 1792 to find a mythical Welsh-speaking Native American tribe, the Madogwys. Gruff has produced an album, film, book and app and will be performing songs from the album at The Brigh
07/05/2014 • 41 minutes 46 seconds
Sir Richard Eyre, Andrew Fusek Peters, Abbie Ross, Peter Francis
Libby Purves is joined by writer Abbie Ross; director Sir Richard Eyre; poet and and wild swimmer Andrew Fusek Peters and Peter Francis, warden of Gladstone's Library.
In 1972 when Abbie Ross was two her cosmopolitan parents moved from London to rural Wales to lead an alternative lifestyle. In her book, Hippy Dinners, she recreates this childhood - in particular her parents' friendships with local hippies and their embarrassing taste for hummus, cheesecloth and yoga. Hippy Dinners - A memoir of a rural childhood is published by Transworld.
Sir Richard Eyre CBE is a director of theatre, film, television and opera who brings his latest production of The Pajama Game to London's West End. He started his career in regional theatre before becoming director of the National Theatre in 1987. He has directed numerous productions including Betty Blue Eyes, Quartermaine's Terms and Stephen Ward: The Musical. He won the 2014 Olivier Award for Best Director for his production of Ibsen's Ghosts. Hi
30/04/2014 • 41 minutes 50 seconds
Baroness Trumpington, David Adam, Pauline Butcher Bird, James Sawyer
Libby Purves meets Baroness Jean Trumpington; Pauline Butcher Bird, former secretary to Frank Zappa; science writer David Adam and James Sawyer of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).
James Sawyer is director of disaster management at the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). He leads teams which respond to disasters around the world including the tsunami in Japan and the Haiti earthquake. In a BBC Two documentary, Vets in the Disaster Zone, James and his team travel to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan to try and save the lives of animals caught up in the crisis. Vets in the Disaster Zone is on BBC Two.
Baroness Jean Trumpington of Sandwich is a former Conservative Minister and one of the oldest members of the House of Lords. In her autobiography, Coming Up Trumps, she looks back over her remarkable life. She writes about her student days in Paris, working as a land girl on Lloyd George's farm, a stint in naval intelligence at Bletch
23/04/2014 • 42 minutes 6 seconds
Sir Roger Bannister, Prof Kevin Warwick, Rachael Stirling, Diana Darke
Libby Purves meets former athlete Sir Roger Bannister; professor of cybernetics Kevin Warwick; actor Rachael Stirling and writer Diana Darke.
Kevin Warwick is a professor of cybernetics and deputy vice-chancellor for research at the University of Coventry. Since 1998 he has been implanting computer chips into his body, some directly communicating with his nervous system. He was dubbed the world's first cyborg when he had a silicon chip implanted in his arm and is currently attempting to get ethical approval to have a chip implanted into his brain.
Sir Roger Bannister CBE is a former Olympic athlete who is best-known for being the first person to run the mile in under four minutes in 1954. In his new autobiography, Twin Tracks, Sir Roger tells the full story of the dedication and talent that led to his unprecedented achievement and of his professional life as a distinguished doctor and neurologist. Twin Tracks is published by Biteback.
Diana Darke is a writer and translator who has s
16/04/2014 • 41 minutes 54 seconds
Eric Carter, Ray Cooney, Cambridge Jones, Eve Ferret
Libby Purves meets cabaret performer Eve Ferret, World War Two Hurricane pilot Eric Carter, director and playwright Ray Cooney and photographer Cambridge Jones.
Eve Ferret is a cabaret performer. She first performed at the Blitz club in London in the late 70s and early 80s and appeared in the film Absolute Beginners with David Bowie. After a 30 year gap from performing, she is back with a new show Ferret Up the Arts at the Arts Theatre in London. Her first album (as yet unnamed) is also about to be released. She also starts her Don't Be So Shellfish tour of British seaside towns in April. Ferret Up the Arts is at the Arts Theatre, London
Eric Carter is the sole survivor of 81 Squadron, a Royal Air Force fighter squadron which took part in a secret mission to the Soviet Union in June 1941. The mission, code named Force Benedict, was initiated to defend the port of Murmansk which was the country's only port not under Nazi occupation. RAF Wing 151 - comprising 81 and 154 Squadrons - had
09/04/2014 • 41 minutes 55 seconds
Steve Hewlett, Jamie Andrew, Ayo, Philip Walling
Libby Purves meets ventriloquist Steve Hewlett; mountaineer Jamie Andrew; singer and songwriter Ayo and former sheep farmer turned barrister Philip Walling.
Steve Hewlett is a comedian and ventriloquist. A ventriloquist since the age of 12, his dummies include Arthur Lager; Simon Cowell and Sinitta and a lamb called Lamb Shank. In 2006 he became the new voice of Archie Andrews - at one time the nation's favourite dummy whose radio programme, Educating Archie, attracted 15m listeners in the 1950s. Steve is touring the UK with his show Thinking Inside The Box.
Jamie Andrew is a mountaineer who lost his hands and feet to frostbite after being stranded in a blizzard in the Alps 15 years ago. His close friend and climbing partner died on the mountain. With the help of physiotherapy and prosthetics Jamie learned how to walk again and returned to mountaineering. The documentary The Limbless Mountaineer follows Jamie's progress as he attempts to climb the Matterhorn. The Limbless Mountaineer
02/04/2014 • 42 minutes
Gary Morecombe, Rebecca Gowers, Sara Ishaq, Mike McCartney
Libby Purves meets Gary Morecambe, son of Eric; novelist Rebecca Gowers; filmmaker Sara Ishaq and photographer and musician Mike McCartney.
Gary Morecambe is the son of the legendary comedian Eric Morecombe. To mark the 30th anniversary of Eric's death the play The Man What Brought Us Sunshine - Morecambe, starring Bob Golding as Eric, is on tour. Gary is the author of a series of books about his father and a biography of Cary Grant. The Man What Brought Us Sunshine - Morecambe is touring the UK.
Rebecca Gowers is a novelist and the great grand-daughter of Sir Ernest Gowers, a leading civil servant and author of Plain Words - A Guide to the Use of English. Rebecca has revised and edited the first publication - originally written as a language handbook for civil servants. In this new edition she celebrates the original text and modernises Sir Ernest's advice. Plain Words - A Guide to the Use of English is published by Particular Books.
Sara Ishaq is a Yemeni-Scottish filmmaker. Her n
26/03/2014 • 42 minutes 3 seconds
Professor John Carey, Benny Lewis, Eduardo Niebla, Lynn Ruth Miller
Libby Purves meets language enthusiast Benny Lewis; literary critic Professor John Carey; flamenco guitarist Eduardo Niebla and comedian Lynn Ruth Miller.
Benny Lewis speaks over ten languages including Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, French, German, Portuguese, and Hungarian. As a child he struggled to learn languages at school but in his book, Fluent In 3 Months, he explains how he conquered his lack of skill by mastering a range of learning techniques. His book, Fluent in 3 Months, is published by Collins.
John Carey is emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford. He is also a book reviewer, commentator on cultural issues and a beekeeper. In his memoir, The Unexpected Professor, he reflects on his life in literature, growing up in wartime and his progression from the family home to Oxford and the heart of academia. The Unexpected Professor - An Oxford Life in Books is published by Faber.
Eduardo Niebla is a Spanish flamenco jazz guitarist and composer based in
19/03/2014 • 41 minutes 50 seconds
Sam Etherington, Cassidy Little, Emma Bridgewater, Merry 'Corky' White
Libby Purves is joined by engineer Sam Etherington; Royal Marine turned actor Cassidy Little; ceramicist Emma Bridgewater and anthropologist and writer Professor Merry 'Corky' White.
Sam Etherington recently joined Britain's engineering Hall of Fame for his pioneering work on wave energy. The 24-year-old engineer follows in the footsteps of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, George Stephenson, Barnes Wallace and other great British engineers. Sam came up with his design for a multi-axis wave converter after being buffeted by waves while out kitesurfing.
Cassidy Little is a former Royal Marine turned actor. He plays the title role in Owen Sheers's play, The Two Worlds of Charlie F, which tells the story of modern warfare from a soldier's perspective. Cassidy studied performance and dance in the US before joining 42 Commando Royal Marines. It was while serving on his second tour in Afghanistan in 2011 that he lost a leg in an IED blast. The Two Worlds of Charlie F is touring the UK.
12/03/2014 • 41 minutes 46 seconds
Amy Lehman, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Alex Shearer, Richard Dunwoody MBE
Libby Purves meets Dr Amy Lehman, founder of The Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic; legendary soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa; writer Alex Shearer and champion jockey turned photographer Richard Dunwoody.
Dr Amy Lehman is founder and president of The Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic, an NGO which provides medical services to the 12m people who live around the lake. Bordered by four countries - Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Burundi - Lake Tanganyika is one of the most remote places in the world. Amy, who sports a vast tattoo of Lake Tanganyika across her back, recently featured in Newsweek magazine's list of 150 Women Who Shake The World.
Legendary soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa returns to the Royal Opera House as La Duchesse de Crackentorp in Donizetti's La Fille Du Regiment. Born in New Zealand, Dame Kiri studied there and at the National Opera Studio in London, making her debut with The Royal Opera as Countess Almaviva in 1971. She went on to perfor
05/03/2014 • 41 minutes 44 seconds
Sacha Corcoran, Austin and Howard Mutti-Mewse, Gideon Lewis-Kraus, David Probert
Libby Purves meets educationalist Sacha Corcoran; film fans Austin and Howard Mutti-Mewse; writer Gideon Lewis-Kraus and auctioneer David Probert.
Sacha Corcoran is the new principal of Dv8 Academy which opens later this year. Based in East London, Dv8 Academy will teach 16 to 18-year-olds - specialising in the creative industries such as music technology, performance, fashion and event management. After a difficult start as a 16-year-old single mother, Sacha turned her life around and has worked in education since 1994. She was awarded a MBE this year for services to education.
As children twins Austin and Howard Mutti-Mewse began writing to Hollywood stars including Lillian Gish, James Stewart and Ginger Rogers. The twins began writing these letters at 11. By 18 they were visiting their favourite actors at home and this unique access captured a bygone age of Hollywood glamour. Their new book, I Used to be in Pictures - An Untold Story of Hollywood, chronicles the life they experien
26/02/2014 • 42 minutes 5 seconds
Arthur Smith, Dr Akiko Mikamo, Martin White, Tom Mitchell
Libby Purves meets plant hunter Tom Mitchell; psychologist Dr Akiko Mikamo; Martin White, professor of theatre at the University of Bristol and comedian Arthur Smith.
Tom Mitchell gave up his job as a banker to follow his dream and become a plant hunter. He now travels the world collecting rare and endangered plants which he cultivates from seed to sell from his nursery. He is a galanthophile (a lover and collector of snowdrops) and recently auctioned a new variety of the snowdrop flower - giving the highest bidder the opportunity to name the bulb after their Valentine.
Dr Akiko Mikamo is a psychologist who was born and raised in Hiroshima, Japan. In her book, Rising From the Ashes, she tells her father Shinji's story of survival and forgiveness. He was less than a mile away from the site where the atomic bomb exploded in August 1945 when he was 19. Akiko has drawn inspiration from her father who has devoted his life to peace and reconciliation. Rising From The Ashes - A true Story O
19/02/2014 • 41 minutes 34 seconds
Ben Garrod, Jack Charles, Clare Salaman, Colin Jones
Libby Purves meets primatologist Ben Garrod; Australian Aboriginal actor Jack Charles; musician Clare Salaman and photographer Colin Jones.
Ben Garrod is an evolutionary biologist, primatologist and skeleton builder. His new series Secrets of Bones, part of BBC Four's Life Inside Out season, explores the story of the skeleton and vertebrates of every size and shape. In the course of this six-part series Ben investigates how a single, universal body plan - the skeleton - has shaped the animal kingdom. Each skeleton differs in small but critical ways and those differences can be decoded to reveal an animal's complete life story - not only how it moves, where it lives and what it eats, but also its entire evolutionary journey. Secrets of Bones is broadcast on BBC Four.
Jack Charles is an Australian Aboriginal actor, musician and activist. One of Australia's Stolen Generation, he was taken from his mother at a young age and placed in a boys' home for Aboriginal children. His subsequent a
12/02/2014 • 41 minutes 59 seconds
John Wardley, Mandy Rice-Davies, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Marc Lucero
Libby Purves meets rollercoaster designer John Wardley; novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford; former showgirl and actor Mandy Rice Davies and comedian Mark Lucero.
John Wardley is a rollercoaster designer who is behind some of the most famous rollercoasters in Britain including Oblivion and Nemesis. He also devised special effects for five of the James Bond films including Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun. As a young boy he was fascinated by illusions, fairgrounds and the mechanics behind them. His autobiography Creating My Own Nemesis is self-published.
Barbara Taylor Bradford is a novelist who has sold over eighty million books worldwide since her debut novel, A Woman of Substance, was published in 1979. She started writing for her local paper, the Yorkshire Evening Post, when she was 15 and by 18 she was editing the paper's Women's page. Her new novel, Cavendon Hall, is about two families - the aristocratic Inghams and the Swanns who serve them. Cavendon Hall is publis
05/02/2014 • 42 minutes 3 seconds
Sally Magnusson, Steven Isserlis, Dan Hurley, Tommy Hanover
Libby Purves meets journalist and writer Dan Hurley; cellist Steven Isserlis; broadcaster and writer Sally Magnusson and registrar Tommy Hanover.
Dan Hurley is a science journalist who writes regularly for the New York Times and Neurology Today. In his new book Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain Power, he tests various cognitive exercises which aim to boost intelligence. The exercises range from learning the Renaissance lute; trying out commercial brain-training programmes and physical training. Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain Power is published by Viking.
Steven Isserlis is the renowned cellist, writer and teacher who performs with orchestras around the world. Steven and his sisters have released Julius Isserlis: Piano Music featuring newly discovered work by their Russian Jewish grandfather - pianist and composer Julius Isserlis. Julius, who was a contemporary of Rachmaninov and Scriabin, fled Communist Russia in 1922 and in 1938 escaped from Vienna which was in
29/01/2014 • 41 minutes 58 seconds
Robert Powell, Mike Rutherford, Catherine Weate, Harry Shearer
Robert Powell is an actor who is known for his TV and film appearances in projects ranging from Doomwatch to Holby City and the Italian Job to The Thirty Nine Steps. Nominated for a BAFTA award for his role as Jesus in Franco Zefferelli's Jesus of Nazareth, he has appeared on stage in Alan Bennett's Single Spies and Keith Waterhouse's Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell. This year he plays Agatha Christie's Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in a new production of Black Coffee, her first play. Black Coffee is currently on a UK tour.
Mike Rutherford is a musician and songwriter. He is a founding member of rock band Genesis and wrote the lyrics to many of the band's songs including Turn It On Again and Throwing It All Away. He formed his band Mike + The Mechanics in 1985. In his memoir, The Living Years, Mike writes about his career in music and his relationship with his late father. The Living Years - A Tale of Two Generations is published by Constable.
Catherine Weate is a voice and dialect coac
22/01/2014 • 41 minutes 49 seconds
Lilla Rowcliffe, Philip Mould, Peter Hain, Susie Boyt
Libby Purves meets Peter Hain MP; art dealer Philip Mould; author Susie Boyt and fly fisherwoman Lilla Rowcliffe.
Philip Mould is a gallery owner, international art dealer and writer who has been dealing in antiques from an early age. He started by collecting and selling 18th Century shoe buckles as a boy and moved on to deal in artwork worth tens of thousands of pounds. He co-presents BBC1's Fake or Fortune with Fiona Bruce and is a regular expert on the Antiques Roadshow.
Lilla Rowcliffe is a fly fisher. Now in her eighties, she only took up the sport following the death of her husband and sister when she was in her fifties. Her first catch, in Scotland, was a 45 pound salmon, and since then, Lilla has fished around the world. She has a house close to where fly-fishing lure creator Megan Boyd lived and she features in a documentary, Kiss the Water, about Boyd's life and fly fishing.
Peter Hain is the Labour MP for Neath and a former Cabinet minister whose political career spans fo
15/01/2014 • 42 minutes
Jo Brand, Henry Winkler, Clive Rowe, Richard Mawbey
Libby Purves goes to the panto in a special programme recorded in the BBC Radio Theatre. She is joined by actor Clive Rowe; comedian Jo Brand; actor and writer Henry Winkler and wig designer Richard Mawbey.
Clive Rowe is an actor who has played the pantomime dame at the Hackney Empire on many occasions. In 2010 he appeared as Dame Daisy in Jack and the Beanstalk. In 1997 he won an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for Guys and Dolls. He is playing King Darius in The Light Princess at The National Theatre.
Jo Brand is a BAFTA-winning comedian, actor and writer. She is appearing in her first pantomime as the Genie of the Ring in Aladdin. A former psychiatric nurse, she made her name as a stand-up comic and is a regular panel member on QI and occasional presenter of Have I Got News for You. Aladdin is at New Wimbledon Theatre.
Henry Winkler OBE is an American actor, director and children's author, best known for playing The Fonz in the television series Happy Days. H
01/01/2014 • 40 minutes 18 seconds
Imogen Stubbs, Mary Kenny, John Julius Norwich, John Halpern
Libby Purves meets crossword setter John Halpern; historian and travel writer John Julius Norwich; journalist Mary Kenny and actor Imogen Stubbs.
John Halpern is a crossword setter. His work features in the Guardian (under the name Paul), the Financial Times (as Mudd) and the Times (Anon). His new book, The Centenary of the Crossword, starts with the story of Arthur Wynne - a journalist from Liverpool who created the first crossword on December 21 1913. The book includes inside information about how crosswords are compiled, tips for solving different types of clues and examples of puzzles from prominent setters around the world. The Centenary of the Crossword is published by Andre Deutsch.
John Julius Norwich is an historian, travel writer and broadcaster. The only son of Lady Diana and Duff Cooper, his new book features correspondence from his mother between 1939 and 1952. The letters recount her experiences during the Blitz and life with her society friends Evelyn Waugh and the Mit
18/12/2013 • 42 minutes 1 second
Jamie Cullum, Richard Dawkins, Greg Davies, Sophie Andrews, Pam Blackwood
Libby Purves meets musician Jamie Cullum; Samaritans Sophie Andrews and Pam Blackwood; scientist and writer Professor Richard Dawkins and comedian and actor Greg Davies.
Jamie Cullum is a jazz singer and songwriter who has sold over four million albums worldwide. Primarily a vocalist and pianist, he also accompanies himself on guitar and drums. He hosts Radio 2's jazz show and is about to present Piano Pilgrimage, a Radio 4 series in which he explores the piano's place in modern life. His latest album, Momentum, is released on Island Records.
Sophie Andrews called Samaritans for help 30 years ago. Samaritans' volunteer Pam Blackwood answered her call and the two stayed in touch and became friends. Sophie now runs The Silver Line, a helpline for elderly people, and both Pam and Sophie work as volunteers for Samaritans which celebrates its 60th birthday this year.
Professor Richard Dawkins is a scientist and writer who found fame with his book, The Selfish Gene. In his memoir, An Appe
11/12/2013 • 42 minutes 1 second
June Brown, James Torme, Jo Bell, Dr Peter Sharrock
Jo Bell is the first Canal Laureate, appointed by the Poetry Society and the Canal and River Trust to encourage more people to appreciate their local waterways. She has lived aboard her 67ft narrowboat Tinker for a decade, mostly on the canals of the Midlands and North West. She is currently writing new verse inspired by her observations and collating work by other poets who have written about our canals and rivers.
Actor June Brown has played Dot Cotton in EastEnders for over 25 years. Her autobiography, Before the Year Dot, traces the first 30 years of her life from her childhood in Ipswich to her days as a gifted stage actor. Like her on-screen persona, June has suffered her share of tragedy including the deaths of her elder sister and her first husband. She trained at the Old Vic Company and her television career started with small parts in Coronation Street, Doctor Who and Minder before she joined the cast of EastEnders. Before the Year Dot is published by Simon and Schuster.
04/12/2013 • 42 minutes 8 seconds
Jancis Robinson, Jihan Bowes-Little, Thomas Harding, Chris 'Brolga' Barns
Libby Purves meets banker come hip-hop artist Jihan Bowes-Little, journalist Thomas Harding, Kangeroo Dundee, Chris 'Brolga' Barns and wine writer Jancis Robinson.
Jihan Bowes-Little is a banker by day and Hip Hop artist by night. While working in The City he would be scribbling lyrics at the same time as trading credit derivatives. After attending an Open Mic night, he decided to pursue a career in music, and now performs under the name Metis. He is about to release his debut single, All In on Warner Music.
Journalist Thomas Harding's great-uncle, Hanns Alexander, tracked down and caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz. In his book, Hanns and Rudolf , he tells how his great uncle became one of the lead investigators of the British War Crimes Investigation Team, assembled to hunt down senior Nazi officials. His target was Rudolf Höss who was the Kommandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp and who oversaw the deaths of over a million men, women and children. Hanns and Rudolf is published b
27/11/2013 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
Andy McNab; Cheryl Knight; Joseph Boyden; John Lloyd
Libby Purves meets former soldier-turned-writer Andy McNab; Cheryl Knight, who is in charge of shoes at the Royal Opera House; author Joseph Boyden and producer John Lloyd.
Andy McNab is a former SAS soldier-turned-writer. He was a foundling who joined the infantry with the Royal Green Jackets, progressing to the SAS. In the Gulf War he commanded the Bravo Two Zero patrol and later wrote a book about his experiences. He has just spent the last year as the Reading Agency's literacy ambassador for the 6 Book Challenge visiting prisons and factories to encourage young people to read.
Cheryl Knight is opera footwear supervisor at the Royal Opera House and in her spare time performs as Joyce Grenfell in her one-woman show, Turn Back the Clock. The show is Cheryl's tribute to the writer and performer who died in 1979 and is remembered for her witty monologues - including her popular sketch as a harassed nursery school teacher. Cheryl is currently assembling the shoe collection for two Roya
20/11/2013 • 42 minutes 6 seconds
Philip Pittack, Martin White, Annie Tempest, Nicholas Shakespeare, Dillie Keane
Libby Purves meets cloth merchants Philip Pittack and Martin White; cartoonist Annie Tempest; author Nicholas Shakespeare and singer and songwriter Dillie Keane.
Cloth merchants Philip Pittack and Martin White have 120 years of experience in textiles between them and run Crescent Trading. They have been working together as woollen merchants for 25 years and are based in London's Spitalfields which used to be the centre of Britain's rag trade. Last September a fire destroyed their entire stock but they are back in business in a new warehouse which brims with tweed, worsteds and silks - all woven in Britain.
Cartoonist Annie Tempest started writing her Tottering-By-Gently cartoons for Country Life magazine nearly 20 years ago. Her inspiration for Tottering Hall came from her family home, Broughton Hall in North Yorkshire. The characters including Dicky and Daffy, Lord and Lady Tottering, are based on family members - Lord Tottering is inspired by her father. Annie lived in the run-down
13/11/2013 • 41 minutes 49 seconds
Courtney Pine, Rula Lenska, Andrew Davidson, Amrik Singh
Libby Purves meets journalist Andrew Davidson; jazz musician Courtney Pine; actor Rula Lenska and Sikh chaplain Amrik Singh.
Andrew Davidson's grandfather Fred was a doctor who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War. Posted to the Western Front with the 1st Battalion Cameronians, he packed his folding camera alongside his medical equipment and began to secretly document life in the trenches. Andrew's book, Fred's War, gives a rare insight into life on the front line during the early stages of the Great War. Fred Davidson was one of the first medics to win the Military Cross. Fred's War - A Doctor in the Trenches is published by Short Books.
Jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine CBE has spent the past 20 years taking jazz out of its purist confines to a wider audience. Performing his album House of Legends, Courtney is appearing at the EFG London Jazz Festival. The album features his soprano saxophone exclusively for the first time and draws on his African-Caribbea
06/11/2013 • 42 minutes 14 seconds
Rita Moreno, Dan Burt, John Wilson, Holly Mumby-Croft
Libby Purves meets conductor John Wilson; lawyer and poet Dan Burt; actor Rita Moreno and Holly Mumby-Croft, mayor of Broughton in Lincolnshire.
Conductor and arranger John Wilson formed the John Wilson Orchestra in 1994. The orchestra specialises in authentic performances of classic Hollywood film musical scores including High Society, An American in Paris and Easter Parade. John painstakingly restored many of the original MGM scores which had been lost years before. The John Wilson Orchestra celebrates the golden age of Hollywood in a UK tour.
Dan Burt is a businessman, lawyer and published poet. Born into poverty and organised crime in one of Philadelphia's toughest neighbourhoods, Burt was destined to follow his family footsteps into punishing physical work with a sideline in crime. The remarkable change in his fortunes began when he was selected by Cambridge University to read English and went on to study law at Yale. His memoir, You Think It Strange, is published by Notting Hil
30/10/2013 • 42 minutes 7 seconds
Paul Michael Glaser, Thomasina Lowe, Emily Maguire, Harry Ritchie
Libby Purves meets Thomasina Lowe, daughter of President Kennedy's official photographer; actor and director Paul Michael Glaser; singer Emily Maguire and writer Harry Ritchie.
Thomasina Lowe is the daughter of the late Jacques Lowe, President Kennedy's presidential campaign photographer. Jacques had unprecedented access to the personal and professional life of one of the most charismatic and powerful leaders of the 20th Century. He took over 40,000 photographs of JFK at work and with his family, showing both the public and private man. Jacques's priceless negatives, which were stored in the World Trade Center, were destroyed during the events of 9/11. His prints - which he kept at home - form the exhibition My Kennedy Years at Proud Chelsea. His memoir of the same name is published by Thames and Hudson.
Paul Michael Glaser is an actor, director and writer, best known for playing David Starsky in the TV series, Starsky and Hutch. His is currently playing Tevye in a UK touring product
23/10/2013 • 42 minutes 12 seconds
Jack and Michael Whitehall, Sir Nicholas Hytner, Andrea Coleman, Sandra Noel
Libby Purves meets Sandra Noel, daughter of the filmmaker Captain John Noel who made The Epic of Everest in 1924; director of the National Theatre, Sir Nicholas Hytner; comedian Jack Whitehall and his father Michael, a theatrical agent and Andrea Coleman, co-founder of Riders for Health.
Sandra Noel is the daughter of Captain John Noel, the filmmaker behind the newly restored film of the third attempt to climb Mount Everest. The 1924 expedition culminated in the deaths of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, sparking an on-going debate as to whether or not they actually reached the summit. Filming in harsh conditions with a specially adapted camera, Captain Noel captured images of breathtaking beauty and considerable historic significance. The Epic of Everest is released in cinemas nationwide to coincide with its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival.
Sir Nicholas Hytner is director of the National Theatre which celebrates its 50th birthday in October. The theatre opened its do
16/10/2013 • 42 minutes 1 second
Alexander Armstrong, Wilbur Smith, Harry Redknapp, Anna Walker
Libby Purves meets pilot Anna Walker; manager of Queens Park Rangers Harry Redknapp; novelist Wilbur Smith and actor and comedian Alexander Armstrong.Anna Walker is a pilot who performs acrobatics and displays at air shows around the world. Born in Brazil, she was six when her father took her up in his plane on the day he got his pilot's licence. At the age of 13 she started gliding and moved on to power flying as a tug pilot. She is the first woman to fly a Hawker Hurricane since the female ferry pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary who delivered the aircraft to squadrons in WW2. She's flying a North American Harvard and Beech Staggerwing at the Imperial War Museum Duxford's Autumn Air Show.Former football player and manager, Harry Redknapp is the current manager of Queen's Park Rangers. During his long career he also managed Tottenham Hotspur, Portsmouth (twice), Southampton, West Ham and Bournemouth. His autobiography, Always Managing - Harry: My Autobiography, is published by Ebur
09/10/2013 • 41 minutes 42 seconds
Emma Thompson, Richard Noble, Linda Thompson, Dr Paul Abel
Libby Purves meets actor Emma Thompson; record breaker Richard Noble OBE; singer-songwriter Linda Thompson and astronomer Dr Paul Abel.Emma Thompson is an actor and screenwriter. She won an Oscar for her role in Howard's End and as screenwriter for Sense and Sensibility. She grew up in a theatrical family - her father Eric Thompson was an actor, director and writer of The Magic Roundabout. In 2012 she wrote The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the publication of Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Her follow-up book The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit is published by Frederick Warne.October 4th marks the 30th anniversary of Richard Noble's momentous drive in which he set the world land speed record. Driving Thrust 2, a British jet-propelled car, he reached 633.468 mph. In 1997 he led the team of Thrust SSC which holds the current record. His new project is Bloodhound SSC - a global education initiative which will attempt to break the land speed
02/10/2013 • 42 minutes 13 seconds
Alexei Sayle, Barry Norman, Jacqui Dankworth, Don Bachardy
Jacqui Dankworth is a singer and actor. The daughter of Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine, Jacqui recently played a jazz singer in American Lulu, a reworking of Alban Berg's opera. Her new album, Live To Love, features jazz, soul and blues-infused original compositions alongside covers of songs by Wayne Shorter, Johnny Mercer and Donny Hathaway. She is also touring the UK. Live To Love is released on Proper Records.
Don Bachardy is a portrait artist and former partner of the writer Christopher Isherwood. They met in California in 1952 and, defying convention, began living as an openly gay couple in an otherwise closeted Hollywood. The Animals is a collection of letters they wrote to each other in their animal guises â€" Dobbin the workhorse (Christopher) and Kitty the white cat (Don). The Animals - Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy is published by Chatto & Windus.
Barry Norman is a film critic, writer and broadcaster who presented the BBC's Film Program
25/09/2013 • 42 minutes
Ava Astaire, Michael 'Mini' Cooper, Franc Roddam, Doug Allan, Ewan Clayton
Libby Purves meets Fred Astaire's daughter, Ava; wildlife cameraman Doug Allan; writer Michael 'Mini' Cooper with filmmaker Franc Roddam and calligrapher Ewan Clayton.
Doug Allan is a wildlife photographer and cameraman. Twice winner of the Polar Medal, he's worked on a range of BBC series including Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Frozen Planet. David Attenborough has described him as 'the toughest in the business.' Doug is touring the UK with his personal recollections of filming in some of the most inhospitable places in the world.
Michael 'Mini' Cooper is the author of Mini and Me, a book about his life in care and his relationship with filmmaker Franc Roddam. Mini was a troubled child. At nine he set fire to the family home and spent 38 years in and out of jails, secure mental health units and halfway houses. In 1975 Franc directed a BBC documentary featuring 11-year-old Mini which was the start of their enduring friendship. Mini and Me is published by Ziji Publishing.
18/09/2013 • 42 minutes 10 seconds
Ray Mears, Robert Henrey, Maria Vasquez, Q Brothers
Libby Purves meets Maria Vasquez who fled Pinochet's Chile with her family; former child actor Robert Henrey; survival expert Ray Mears and hip hop artists the Q Brothers.
Maria Vasquez came to Britain from Chile as a child with her parents - refugees fleeing General Pinochet's dictatorship. Her father, a supporter of Salvador Allende's government, had been tortured and imprisoned following the 1973 coup. The family settled first in Sheffield and then Rotherham. Maria is the chair of Chile 40 Years On, a London-based group set up to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the coup. The Royal Court Theatre is marking the event with a series of readings by a range of Chilean writers.
Robert Henrey was a child actor who was picked out by director Carol Reed to star in his 1948 film The Fallen Idol. Performing alongside Sir Ralph Richardson, Robert played Phillipe, a young boy caught up in an adult world. His memoir, Through Grown Up Eyes, tells of his life from actor to Roman Catholic deaco
11/09/2013 • 42 minutes 11 seconds
Allan Ahlberg, Kiki Dee, Nigel McCrery, Julie Brook
Mariella Frostrup meets children's author Allan Ahlberg; singer Kiki Dee; writer Nigel McCrery and artist Julie Brook.
Writer and former teacher Allan Ahlberg is the author of a series of classic children's picture books including Peepo!, Burglar Bill, Each Peach Pear Plum, and the Jolly Postman. The books were illustrated by his late wife Janet. In his new memoir he writes about his own childhood, growing up in the Black Country in the 1940s. The Bucket - Memories of an Inattentive Childhood is published by Viking.
Kiki Dee - born Pauline Matthews - is celebrating 50 years in the music business with a new album. Best remembered for the 1976 hit with Elton John, Don't Go Breaking My Heart, she was the first white British woman to be signed by Tamla Motown in 1970. Her new album A Place Where I can Go with Carmelo Luggeri is released on Spellbound Recordings.
Nigel McCrery is a former policeman and the creator of BBC television series Silent Witness and New Tricks. His new book, Sile
04/09/2013 • 41 minutes 56 seconds
Mark Ravenhill, Eleanor Stewart, Barnaby Carder, Stuart Griffiths
Libby Purves meets playwright Mark Ravenhill; former nun turned midwife Eleanor Stewart; spoon maker Barnaby Carder and photographer Stuart Griffiths
Playwright and writer in residence at the RSC, Mark Ravenhill has written a new version of Voltaire's classic novel Candide. Ravenhill describes his new play as a response to Voltaire's tale rather than a straight adaptation. Featuring a character called the Dramatist, based on himself, Ravenhill asks the question: Is it possible to be an optimist in today's world? Candide is at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Eleanor Stewart is a former novice nun who became a midwife. At 18 she began her religious training in France in the early 1960s, leaving behind family and friends in the grip of Beatlemania. After a brief stint as a teacher, she found her vocation in nursing, eventually leaving the convent to become a midwife. She tells her story in Kicking the Habit - From Convent to Casualty in 1960s Liverpool, published by Lion Hudson.
28/08/2013 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
Roy Hudd, David Harris-Gershon, Baroness Newlove, Rev Colin Still
Libby Purves meets actor and comedian Roy Hudd; writer David Harris-Gershon; community reform campaigner Baroness Helen Newlove and cruise ship chaplain Reverend Colin Still.
Roy Hudd OBE is an actor, comedian and president of the British Music Hall Society. He narrates a film, Variety of Memories, about Brinsworth House - a nursing home for retired variety performers. Variety of Memories will be screened at Wilton's Music Hall in London as part of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the British Music Hall Society.
Helen Newlove, now Baroness Newlove of Warrington, is a community reform campaigner. Her late husband Garry Newlove was attacked and killed outside their home in Warrington by a gang of youths in 2007. Since his death, she has fought against anti-social behaviour and for the rights of victims and witnesses. In 2010 she took her seat in the House of Lords and later she was appointed Victims Commissioner by Prime Minister David Cameron. Her book, It Could Happen to
21/08/2013 • 42 minutes 4 seconds
Alain and Antoine Carabinier, James Bannon, James Rhodes, Zandra Rhodes
Libby Purves meets circus performers Alain and Antoine Carabinier; former police officer James Bannon; pianist James Rhodes and fashion designer Zandra Rhodes.
Father and son Alain and Antoine Carabinier are members of Cirque Alfonse, a Canadian company which was formed in Quebec. They are performing at London's Southbank Centre in their show, Timber!, which is inspired by the remote forests where the family is based. Highlights of the show include axe juggling and stunts with lumberjack saws all set to traditional music from Quebec. Timber! is at Southbank Centre, London.
James Bannon is a former police officer who went undercover as a hooligan to infiltrate Millwall Football Club back in the late Eighties. His book, Running with the Firm, tells of his experiences inside one of English football's most brutal and fearless gangs. He has since gone on to become an actor and a stand-up comedian. Running With The Firm is published by Ebury.
James Rhodes is a classical pianist who has ma
17/07/2013 • 41 minutes 50 seconds
Natalie Cole, Joan Shepard, Liz Jones, Tom Wrigglesworth
Libby Purves meets singer Natalie Cole; actor Joan Shepard; columnist Liz Jones and comedian Tom Wrigglesworth.
Natalie Cole is the multi Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter and daughter of Nat King Cole. Her new album, Natalie Cole en Español, is recorded entirely in Spanish and features duets with her father and siblings. The album is a tribute to her late father, who recorded three albums in Spanish, and her own love of the region's music and culture. Natalie Cole en Español is released on Decca Records
Veteran actor Joan Shepard is celebrating 73 years in show business this year. She was born in London and brought up in New York. She made her debut on Broadway at the age of seven, having been spotted in the crowd by Sir Laurence Olivier. She went on to work with Tallulah Bankhead, Quentin Crisp and Lenny Bruce. Confessions of an Old Lady #2 is at St James Theatre, London and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at Fingers Piano Bar.
Liz Jones is fashion editor and columnist for the
10/07/2013 • 41 minutes 45 seconds
James Bowen, Mary Sheepshanks, Gino Strada, Ty Jeffries
Libby Purves meets James Bowen who befriended Bob the cat; author Mary Sheepshanks; surgeon Dr Gino Strada and Ty Jeffries, also known as cabaret star Miss Hope Springs.
James Bowen is a street musician and former heroin addict who found Bob the cat in 2007. Bob was badly injured and James nursed him back to health. The pair have been inseparable ever since and Bob helped James recover from drug addiction. The World According to Bob is published by Hodder & Stoughton.
Mary Sheepshanks is a poet and author who published her first novel when she was in her sixties. She was brought up at Eton College where her father was a housemaster. At 21 she married the head of a prep school, becoming responsible for the welfare of the staff and 80 boys. Her book, Wild Writing Granny, is published by Stone Trough Books.
Dr Gino Strada is an Italian surgeon who co-founded Emergency, an NGO which provides free medical and surgical treatment to victims of war and poverty. The charity operates in a ran
03/07/2013 • 41 minutes 46 seconds
Tracy Mackness, Rhonda Long Sharp, Elisa Segrave, George Butler
Libby Purves meets pig farmer Tracy Mackness, former state defender turned art dealer Rhonda Long Sharp, writer Elisa Seagrave and artist George Butler.
Tracy Mackness worked on her dad's stall in Romford market but fell in with the wrong crowd, fraternising with gangsters and the Essex criminal underworld. She was eventually convicted of conspiracy to supply cannabis and was sentenced to ten years in prison. She worked on the prison farm, and now runs her own business breeding pigs and selling sausages at farmers' markets around the UK. Her book, Jail Bird - The Life and Crimes of an Essex Bad Girl is published by Simon & Schuster.
Rhonda Long Sharp was a chief deputy state defender for twenty-five years in Indiana, working with prisoners on death row. She is now an art dealer, who set up the Indy Contemporary and Modern Masters Fine Art and Brokerage companies, specialising in well-known artists such as Picasso, Warhol and Dali, as well as local Indianapolis based artists. She will
26/06/2013 • 41 minutes 50 seconds
Claire Belhassine, Paul Conroy, Douglas Villiers, Errollyn Wallen
Libby Purves meets film-maker Claire Belhassine, photojournalist Paul Conroy, entrepreneur Douglas Villiers and composer Errollyn Wallen.
Claire Belhassine is a British/Tunisian filmmaker whose documentary film, Papa Hedi tells the story of her grandfather Hedi Jouini, whom she discovered was the Frank Sinatra of the Arab world. When he died in 1990 he was considered to be one of the significant Arabic composers of the 20th century. Papa Hedi is being shown as part of the 2013 London Shubbak Festival.
Paul Conroy is a former soldier turned photojournalist who was with war correspondent Marie Colvin when she was killed in Syria in 2012. He survived five terrifying days with serious wounds sustained during the shelling, and his eventual escape was via a tunnel under the city. His book Under the Wire - Marie Colvin's Final Assignment is published by Quercus.
Douglas Villiers is an entrepreneur, property developer, artist, adventurer and film producer. One of his first ventures was to o
19/06/2013 • 42 minutes 35 seconds
Ruby Wax, Wendy Law-Yone, Marcus du Sautoy, Ian Martin
Mariella Frostrup meets Ruby Wax; mathematician Marcus du Sautoy; writer Wendy Law-Yone and Ian Martin of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.
Marcus du Sautoy is the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. He presents a new series on BBC4, Precision: The Measure of All Things, which explores the history of numerical exactness in our world and how precision has come to rule our lives. Precision: The Measure of All Things is on BBC4 at 9pm.
Ruby Wax is a comedian, actress and mental health campaigner. In her book, Sane New World: Taming the Mind, she demonstrates how our minds can send us mad and how we can rewire our thinking to cope with a frenetic world. Sane New World: Taming the Mind is published by Hodder & Stoughton.
Author Wendy Law-Yone was born and brought up in Burma before fleeing the country at the age of twenty. Her book Golden Parasol: A Daughter's Memoir Of Burma tells the story of her fa
12/06/2013 • 41 minutes 40 seconds
Cerys Matthews, Eve Branson, Margaret and Barry Mizen, Emma Decent
Libby Purves meets musician and broadcaster Cerys Matthews; Eve Branson, mother of Sir Richard; Margaret and Barry Mizen and actor and writer Emma Decent.
Cerys Matthews is a musician, broadcaster and author. Her book, Hook, Line and Singer, is a compilation of family songs with their history and tips on how they should be sung. Hook, Line and Singer is published by Particular Books. She is also appearing at the MBNA Chester Music Festival and is taking part in the 6 Music Prom at the Royal Albert Hall.
Eve Branson, Sir Richard's mum, trained as a ballet dancer before enlisting in the Women's Royal Navy Service as a signaller. After the war she became a 'Star Girl' air hostess on British South American Airways. She writes of this adventurous life in her memoir, Mum's The Word - The High Flying Adventures of Eve Branson, published by Author House.
Margaret and Barry Mizen are the parents of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen who was killed during an attack in a bakery five years ago. Since his
05/06/2013 • 41 minutes 40 seconds
Jimmy Connors, Damian Barr, Jonathan Miller and Natalie Coleman
Libby Purves meets Jimmy Connors; Damian Barr; Jonathan Miller and Natalie Coleman.
During a colourful and successful career tennis player Jimmy Connors won eight Grand Slam titles including Wimbledon twice, the US Open and the Australian Open. Taught to play by his mother, he was known for his brattish and vulgar behaviour and for his rivalries with the likes of McEnroe, Borg and Lendl. His autobiography The Outsider is published by Bantam Press.
Damian Barr is a writer and journalist. His memoir Maggie and Me is about surviving a tough upbringing in Thatcher's Britain. Growing up gay within a chaotic - and at times brutal - family environment, Damian was an isolated and unhappy youngster. But by following Margaret Thatcher's advice to work hard and strive for better, he was able to plan his escape. Maggie and Me is published by Bloomsbury.
Dr Jonathan Miller is an author, director, conductor, comedian and neuropsychologist. He is currently directing Rutherford & Son by Githa Sower
29/05/2013 • 42 minutes
Hugh Dennis, David Watson, Carol Highton, Liz Trenow
Libby Purves meets actor and comedian Hugh Dennis; David Watson, a chorister at the Queen's Coronation; campaigner Carol Highton and author Liz Trenow.
Former journalist Liz Trenow comes from a family of silk weavers. Her first novel, The Last Telegram, is set in a silk mill during World War II and draws on her own 300-year-old family history. The Last Telegram is published by Harper Collins.
Hugh Dennis is an actor and comedian. He is best known for BBC Radio 4's The Now Show, satirical panel show Mock the Week and BBC sit-com Outnumbered. His book, Britty Britty Bang Bang, explores the changing image of Britain and Britishness. Britty Britty Bang Bang - One Man's Attempt to Understand His Country is published by Headline.
In 2005 Carol Highton's son Brian Shields took his own life as a result of spiralling debts to a loan shark. The loan shark was convicted and is currently serving a long prison sentence. Following her son's death, Carol set up The Brian Shields Trust to help othe
22/05/2013 • 41 minutes 39 seconds
Levi Roots, Edwin Apps, Lydia Corbett, Don Ward
Libby Purves meets cook and entrepreneur Levi Roots; Edwin Apps, actor and writer; Lydia Corbett, artist and former muse of Picasso and Don Ward, co-founder of the Comedy Store.
Levi Roots is a cook, entrepreneur and musician. Born in Jamaica, he developed his signature sauce from his kitchen in Brixton, south London, selling it out of a bag on his back. He came to fame on the TV series Dragons' Den when he won backing for his Reggae Reggae Sauce brand. His new book, Grill It With Levi - 101 Reggae Recipes For Sunshine and Soul, is published by Ebury.
Edwin Apps is a writer, actor and artist who, with his wife Pauline Devaney, created the popular TV comedy series All Gas and Gaiters about life in the Church of England. Now a painter, he is known for his paintings of bishops in unconventional situations. His memoir, Pursued by Bishops, is published by Durand Peyroles. His first UK art exhibition, also called Pursued by Bishops, is at the Parish Church of Saints Peter & Paul in Tonbrid
15/05/2013 • 42 minutes 22 seconds
Johnny Mars, Alan Johnson MP, Amanda Waring, Brendan Walker
Libby Purves meets engineer and performer Professor Brendan Walker; former Home Secretary Alan Johnson MP; blues musician Johnny Mars and actor and campaigner Amanda Waring.
Professor Brendan Walker is an aeronautical engineer and TV presenter. He is known as the Renaissance Showman for his technology-inspired performances and has been dubbed 'the world's only thrill engineer.' In his new four-part series for Channel 4 he examines recent aviation incidents and near misses to discover what they tell us about safety in the sky.
Alan Johnson MP was general secretary of the Communication Workers Union before entering Parliament as Labour MP for Hull West and Hessle in 1997. He went on to serve as Health Secretary, Education Secretary and Home Secretary, a post he held from June 2009 to May 2010. He was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer until his resignation in 2011. His book, This Boy - A Memoir of a Childhood, is published by Bantam Press.
Johnny Mars is a blues singer and harmonica p
08/05/2013 • 42 minutes 7 seconds
Brian Cox, Jason Lewis, Adela Jusic, June Tabor
Libby Purves meets actor Brian Cox; adventurer Jason Lewis; artist Adela Jusic and singer June Tabor.
Actor Brian Cox has performed in the West End, on Broadway, at the National Theatre and the Royal Court. He is currently playing Jack in Conor McPherson's The Weir at the Donmar Warehouse. Brian joined Dundee Rep as a young man and since then has carved out a successful theatre and Hollywood career - his films include Manhunter, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and Coriolanus. The Weir is at the Donmar Warehouse.
Jason Lewis is an adventurer who became the first person to circumnavigate the earth using human power. His journey took over 13 years, starting in 1994 and finishing in 2007. Using only the power of his body he travelled 46,505 miles across five continents, two oceans and one sea. His book, The Expedition - Dark Waters, is the first in a trilogy about his experiences and is published by Billy Fish Books.
Adela Jusic is a Bosnian artist whose work is part of Confli
01/05/2013 • 42 minutes 13 seconds
Marc Hare, Leslie Woodhead, Kate Prince, Howard Raymond
Libby Purves meets shoe designer Marc Hare; filmmaker Leslie Woodhead; choreographer Kate Prince and Howard Raymond, son of Paul - the King of Soho.
Shoe designer Marc Hare is known for his stylish handcrafted shoes. His creations are worn by some of the world's most fashionable men including Robert Downey Jr, Javier Bardem and Tinie Tempah. He opened his first shop in London last year and is taking part in The Secret Meaning of Shoes,a talk examining how and why shoes have become such a fetishised commodity. The Secret Meaning of Shoes is part of a series called 37 Things You Need to Know About Modern Britain at The House of St Barnabas, in London.
Leslie Woodhead OBE is a documentary maker. He shot the first TV footage of the Beatles performing at the Cavern Club in 1962 and has won many awards for his work. His book, How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin, tells the story of how the band's music galvanised young Soviets to challenge the communist regime. How The Beatles Rocked The Kre
24/04/2013 • 41 minutes 56 seconds
Matt Rutherford, Matthew Du Aime, Charlie and Louise Mortimer, Bill Stott
Libby Purves meets sailor Matt Rutherford; Matthew Du Aime, son of writer William Wharton; Charlie and Louise Mortimer who have published their father's letters written to them over the course of 25 years and cartoonist Bill Stott.
Matt Rutherford is a sailor whose life as a troubled adolescent was turned around by the sport. In 2011 he set off on a solo navigation of the Americas in his boat 'Saint Brendan' which he completed in 309 days. During this epic journey of more than 25,000 miles he faced numerous trials and lost most of his trousers along the way. He is in London to receive the Jester award from the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) for outstanding contribution to the art of single-handed sailing.
Matthew Du Aime is the son of the late writer and painter William Wharton whose memoir, Shrapnel: Tales Not Told, is a frank summary of his experiences in World War Two. Wharton, the author of Birdy and A Midnight Clear, chose not to burden his children with these painful memories, prefe
17/04/2013 • 41 minutes 56 seconds
Richard Mabey, Gladys Hudgell, Eva Rodwell, Ellen Ullman, Pedro Reyes
Libby Purves meets nature writer Richard Mabey; Gladys Hudgell and Eva Rodwell who worked at the Tate & Lyle sugar factory in East London; software programmer turned author Ellen Ullman; and artist Pedro Reyes.
Richard Mabey is a nature writer. He is the author of some thirty books including Food for Free, Weeds and Nature Cure which was shortlisted for the Whitbread prize. In his new book, Turned Out Nice Again, he weaves together science, art and memory to illuminate our pre-occupation with the weather. Turned Out Nice Again - Living with the Weather is published by Profile Books.
Gladys Hudgell and Eva Rodwell worked at the Tate and Lyle factory in East London in the early fifties. Girls who worked there were known as 'sugar girls'. The Sugar Girls - Tales of Hardship, Love and Happiness in Tate and Lyle's East End,is published by Harper Collins. The exhibition Sugar Girls: Working Women of Newham is currently on tour.
Ellen Ullman is a former software programmer turned author. H
Libby Purves meets amateur scientist Ruth Brooks; interior designer Nicky Haslam; tax adviser Kieran Holmes and composer and producer Nitin Sawhney.
Ruth Brooks is a former teacher turned amateur scientist. In 2010 she won Radio 4's So You Want to be a Scientist competition with her quest to discover whether snails have a homing instinct. Her book A Slow Passion: Snails, My Garden and Me tells of her scientific journey. A Slow Passion - Snails, My Garden and Me is published by Bloomsbury.
Nicky Haslam is an interior designer whose clients have included Mick Jagger; Rupert Everett and Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber. His new book Folly de Grandeur celebrates his country home, a former Tudor hunting lodge in Hampshire. Folly de Grandeur - Romance and Revival in an English Country House is published by Jacqui Small Books.
Kieran Holmes is an Irish tax adviser who currently heads Burundi's revenue authority - the Office Burundais des Recettes. Since his appointment in 2010 he has tackled the c
20/03/2013 • 42 minutes 1 second
Kevin Fong, Lin Jammet, Leslie Jordan, Wolfgang Puck
Libby Purves meets Dr Kevin Fong; Lin Jammet, son of artist Dame Elisabeth Frink; actor Leslie Jordan; and chef Wolfgang Puck.
Dr Kevin Fong is a consultant anaesthetist at University College Hospital, London. His career has included working with NASA on the effect of zero gravity on the human body and being part of an emergency response team in a hospital trauma unit. In his book Extremes - Life, Death and the Limits of the Human Body, he draws on these experiences to explore how the body responds to extremes of heat, cold, disease and trauma. Extremes - Life, Death and the Limits of the Human Body is published by Hodder & Stoughton.
Lin Jammet is the only child of British artist Dame Elisabeth Frink. The Lightbox in Woking is marking the 20th anniversary of her death with the first major retrospective for more than 25 years. The exhibition features a number of personal items such as the tools she used to create her sculptures. A new edition of Elisabeth Frink Catalogue Raisonne of
13/03/2013 • 42 minutes 8 seconds
Curtis Stigers, Jonathan Goodwin, Simone Sandelson, Christine Walkden
Libby Purves meets escapologist Jonathan Goodwin; artist Simone Sandelson; jazz singer Curtis Stigers and gardener Christine Walkden.
Jonathan Goodwin is an escapologist whose feats are inspired by vaudeville showmen and escape artists such as Harry Houdini and Charles Blondin, the high-wire walker. In his new TV series, 'The Incredible Mr Goodwin', Jonathan attempts a series of stunts from beating a bear trap to climbing one of London's tallest buildings - unaided. The Incredible Mr Goodwin is on Watch at 9pm.
Simone Sandelson is an artist who fought for a reprieve for Jack Alderman, the longest serving prisoner on death row until his execution in 2008. Her new exhibition, 'Behind the Picture', stems directly from her campaigning work and personal experiences. The show features paintings inspired by objects including her correspondence with Jack Alderman and provisions abandoned at the Antarctica British Survey Base camp over 50 years ago. Behind the Picture is at the Crane Kalman G
06/03/2013 • 41 minutes 59 seconds
Will Moult, Diana Quick, Cal McCrystal, Nic Fiddian-Green
Libby Purves meets Will Moult, a Romanian orphan who was adopted by a British couple after the fall of the Ceausescu regime; actor Diana Quick; theatre director Cal McCrystal and sculptor Nic Fiddian-Green.
Will Moult was adopted by a British couple in 1990 after the fall of the Ceausescu regime in Romania. More than 20 years later he returns to the country in search of his birth mother for an ITV1 documentary, From Romania with Love.
Actor Diana Quick is appearing in Richard Greenberg's The American Plan at the Theatre Royal Bath. Diana's repertoire ranges from Troilus and Cressida to The Threepenny Opera. She has also curated the Aldeburgh Documentary Festival. The American Plan is at The Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath.
Cal McCrystal is directing Alan Ayckbourn's Mr Whatnot at the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton. He is a physical comedy specialist who worked on One Man, Two Guvnors and the Sacha Baron Cohen film The Dictator. A former clown, he also works with physical
27/02/2013 • 42 minutes
Owen Sheers, Stephen Grady, Michael Ball, Ffion Jones
Libby Purves meets poet and playwright Owen Sheers; Stephen Grady, a former member of the French Resistance; musical star Michael Ball and brewer Ffion Jones.
Owen Sheers is a poet, author and playwright. In 2012 he spent a year as artist-in-residence for the Welsh Rugby Union. His book, Calon - A Journey to the Heart of Welsh Rugby, uses his unprecedented access to players and coaching staff to discover what drives a Welsh rugby player. Calon - A Journey to the Heart of Welsh Rugby is published by Faber and Faber.
Stephen Grady was 14 and living in Northern France when the Second World War began. His English father worked for the Imperial War Graves Commission. At 16, Stephen was recruited by the French Resistance and took part in a series of daring missions for which he was later awarded the Croix de Guerre. His memoir, Gardens of Stone - My boyhood in the French Resistance, is published by Hodder and Stoughton.
Michael Ball is one of Britain's leading musical stars in the West En
20/02/2013 • 41 minutes 57 seconds
Tenor Toby Spence has performed with the Royal Opera in Covent Garden; the Metropolitan Opera; the English National Opera and the Hamburg Opera. In 2012 he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, returning to singing later that year. He will appear at the Royal Opera House as the Earl of Essex in a new production of Benjamin Britten's 'Gloriana' in June. With his brother he is producing the Wardsbrook Concerts, a new song recital series, at Ticehurst in East Sussex later this year.
Photographer Sonia Audhali's exhibition, 'Little Yemen', captures rare images of the Yemeni community in the West Midlands. It's a collection of photographs showing life in the home, at work, during prayer and at leisure. Sonia's identity as both British and Yemeni influences her approach to celebrating a dual heritage. 'Little Yemen' is at mac Birmingham.
Andrew Solomon is a writer and lecturer on politics, culture and psychology. For his book 'Far From the Tree - A Dozen Kinds of Love' Andrew spoke to 200 fam
13/02/2013 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
Dr Bertolt Meyer, Trader Faulkner, Scott Albrecht, Jessica Fox
Psychologist Dr Bertolt Meyer is the presenter of a Channel 4 documentary, How To Build A Bionic Man. In the programme Bertolt, who was born without a left hand, meets scientists who are developing advanced prosthetic arms and legs, as well as artificial eyes, hearts and lungs and even hybrids between computer chips and living brains. Bertolt has had a prosthetic hand since childhood and believes science is moving so fast that it's time to ask ethical questions about just how far this new technology could go. 'How To Build A Bionic Man' is broadcast on Channel 4.
Ronald 'Trader' Faulkner is an actor who has worked with a range of performers including Sir John Gielgud; Noel Coward; the Oliviers and his friend and mentor Peter Finch. Born in Australia - his father was a silent film star and his mother a ballerina - Trader came to London in the Fifties. Alongside his acting, Trader also mastered flamenco and was awarded the Spanish Order of Merit for his contribution to the spreading of
06/02/2013 • 41 minutes 55 seconds
Jimmy Osmond; Sir Michael Parker; Hannah Lowe; Rob Forkan
In 2004 Rob Forkan and his three siblings lost their parents in the tsunami in Sri Lanka and narrowly escaped death themselves. Penniless, hungry and without documents it took the children a week to hitchhike 200km before they were able to return to Britain. Rob and his brother Paul have now set up a footwear business selling flip flops. A portion of their profits will go towards their 'Orphans for Orphans' initiative which supports a school in India. In 2014, the 10th anniversary of the tsunami, they are hoping to set up a children's home in India as a memorial to their parents.
Sir Michael Parker is the producer behind over three hundred public events including the Royal Tournament and the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations. His new book gives the inside story of the chaos behind some of the events he managed - successfully hidden from spectators and audiences around the world, and often much to the Queen's amusement. His book, 'It's All Going Terribly Wrong - The Accidental Showma
30/01/2013 • 41 minutes 30 seconds
Peter Snow, Sir Trevor Nunn, Debra Searle, Mike Brace
Libby Purves looks back over the last decade with guests, writer and broadcaster Peter Snow, theatre director Sir Trevor Nunn, adventurer Debra Searle and paralympian Mike Brace.
Peter Snow CBE is a writer and broadcaster. He has presented a number of documentaries with his son Dan including 'Battleplan: The Battle for Alamein' and 'Battlefield Britain'. His book 'When Britain Burned the White House', about the British destruction of US public buildings during the Anglo-American war of 1812, is published next year.
Sir Trevor Nunn CBE is a theatre director. He is a former artistic director of both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. He has directed some of the most critically acclaimed and popular productions in recent decades. He is currently directing two shows in London's West End, Cole Porter's 'Kiss Me Kate' and Alan Ayckbourn's 'A Chorus of Disapproval'. Kiss Me Kate is at the Old Vic and Chorus of Disapproval is at the Harold Pinter Theatre.
Debra Searle M
26/12/2012 • 41 minutes 30 seconds
Maddy Prior, Andy Watts, Simon Callow, Eddie Johnson, John Lang
Maddy Prior MBE is one of the founding members of Steelye Span - the band credited with bringing folk music into the electronic age and making it commercially successful. Andy Watts is musical director of the Carnival Band which has been performing Christmas carols with Maddy every year for 25 years. Their repertoire features obscure and ancient versions of traditional carols and a different take on more familiar material. 'The Best of Maddy Prior and The Carnival Band - A Christmas Caper'' is released on Park Records
Simon Callow CBE is an actor, director and writer who is currently appearing in his one-man show, Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. A new edition of his biography of Charles Laughton is published this month to mark 50 years since Laughton's death. Simon has a strong association with the work of Charles Dickens and has played the writer on stage, film and television. A Christmas Carol is at the Arts Theatre, London.
Eddie Johnson is a former publican and the author of T
19/12/2012 • 42 minutes 1 second
John Lithgow, Shelby Holmes, Nick Bullock, David Green
Libby Purves meets actor John Lithgow; climber Nick Bullock; Shelby Holmes, who comes from a family of fairground showmen, and David Green, grandson of composer Ignatz Waghalter.
Shelby Holmes comes from five generations of fairground showmen and is now studying English at Trinity College, Oxford. Her childhood was filled with stories of her ancestors: her great-great-great-great-grandmother was Ellen Brown, niece of Mr Brown, the close friend of Queen Victoria who entertained the royal children with his travelling animal menagerie.
John Lithgow is a Broadway star and Emmy-award-winning television actor. He is currently performing the title role in 'The Magistrate', Arthur Wing Pinero's farce set in Victorian London. Lithgow is a versatile character player whose previous performances range from a transsexual ex-football player in The World According To Garp to an extraterrestrial in 3rd Rock From The Sun. 'The Magistrate' is at the National Theatre, London.
Nick Bullock is a climb
12/12/2012 • 42 minutes 2 seconds
Jocelyn Burton, Michael Holroyd, Bruno Tonioli, Jonathan Hancock
Libby Purves meets silversmith Jocelyn Burton; biographer Michael Holroyd; Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli and memory champion Jonathan Hancock.
Jocelyn Burton is an award-winning silversmith, known for her witty and often maverick pieces. She was the first woman to become a freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and to win the Prince Philip City & Guilds Medal for silversmithing. She is currently celebrating 40 years of her work in an exhibition, 'The Art of Silver,' at the Royal jewellers Bentley & Skinner.
Michael Holroyd is the acclaimed biographer of George Bernard Shaw and Lytton Strachey. In his book, 'On Wheels', he traces his relationship with cars through a lifetime of biography. 'On Wheels - Five Easy Pieces' is published by Chatto & Windus.
Bruno Tonioli is a dancer-turned-choreographer and TV personality. He is best known as a judge on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, and its US version, Dancing With the Stars. In his autobiography, 'My Story', he te
05/12/2012 • 41 minutes 44 seconds
Bill Kenwright, Joe Brown, Katrina van Grouw, Liam Carson
Libby Purves meets musician Joe Brown; theatre producer Bill Kenwright; artist and taxidermist Katrina van Grouw and writer Liam Carson.
Joe Brown MBE is one of the original rock 'n'roll stars to come out of the UK. Over the last five decades he has played guitar with Gene Vincent; Eddie Cochran and Johnny Cash and topped the charts with his band Joe Brown and the Bruvvers. His new album, 'The Ukulele Album', is a tribute to the instrument and includes his version of Pinball Wizard; Mr Blue Sky and The Ace of Spades. Joe Brown is currently touring the UK.
Bill Kenwright CBE is a leading West End theatre producer and film producer. He is also chairman of Everton Football Club. He is currently a judge on a new Sky Arts series, the Nation's Best Am Dram. During the course of the series amateur theatre groups compete to perform in the West End helped by celebrity mentors including Roger Allam; Richard Wilson and Dame Harriet Walter.
Katrina van Grouw is a fine artist; taxidermist and
03/12/2012 • 42 minutes 16 seconds
Lady Pamela Hicks, Ami James, Deborah Nadoolman Landis, Fergus Henderson
Libby Purves meets former Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen, Lady Pamela Hicks; tattoo artist Ami James; costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis and chef Fergus Henderson.
Ami James is a tattoo artist and star of the US reality TV series Miami Ink & NY Ink which follow Ami and his team in his tattoo shops. He has just opened his first London venture, Love Hate Social Club in Notting Hill with Huey Morgan of 'Fun Lovin' Criminals'.
Lady Pamela Hicks is the daughter of Lord Louis Mountbatten and was Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen when she was a princess and following her coronation. In her memoir, 'Daughter of Empire,' Lady Pamela tells of her extraordinary family and her time in India when her father was the last Viceroy. 'Daughter of Empire - Life as a Mountbatten' is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
Professor Deborah Nadoolman Landis is a costume designer and curator of the Hollywood Costume exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She is also chair of the David C Cop
21/11/2012 • 41 minutes 55 seconds
Ian Thorpe, Pablo Borboroglu, Clair Symonds, Hyperpotamus
Libby Purves meets Olympian Ian Thorpe; penguin expert Pablo Garcia Borboroglu; former ballet dancer Clair Symonds and musician Hyperpotamus.
Pablo Garcia Borboroglu is an international penguin expert. He is the founder and president of the Global Penguin Society, an international science-based conservation coalition dedicated to the survival and protection of the world's penguin species.
Ian Thorpe is a freestyle swimmer and one of Australia's greatest ever Olympians. At the age of 14 he became the youngest male swimmer ever to represent his country and went on to win nine Olympic medals - five of them gold. His autobiography 'This Is Me' is published by Simon & Schuster.
Clair Symonds danced with the Iranian National Ballet prior to the overthrow of the Shah. During her time with the company she fell in love with and married an Iranian dancer. In her book 'Romance and Revolution' she describes what life was like as an outsider, living and working in pre-revolutionary Iran. 'Romanc
14/11/2012 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
Dame Stephanie Shirley, Bryan Hymel, Theo Knell, Tom Balmont
Libby Purves meets philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley; opera singer Bryan Hymel; former soldier and poet Theo Knell and street entertainer Tom Balmont.
Tom Balmont is a professional street entertainer at London's Covent Garden Piazza where he can be seen unicycling, sword-swallowing and fire-juggling. He is also a member of the Lion Rampant Medieval Display Society, specialising in juggling and sword jumping.
Dame Stephanie Shirley is a technology entrepreneur turned philanthropist. At the age of five she escaped Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport before going on to set up a computer programming company which made her a millionaire many times over. But she has given away most of her fortune and became the Government's founding Ambassador for Philanthropy. Her autobiography 'Let It Go' is published by Andrews UK.
Theo Knell is a former member of the SAS and a poet. He joined the British Army in 1970 aged 18 and remained in the service for next 22 years. He served all over the wo
07/11/2012 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
Gina Campbell, Rod Davis, Roger Clarke, Jonathan Lewis
Libby Purves is joined by Gina Campbell, daughter of speed record breaker Donald; journalist and writer Roger Clarke; Rod Davis of the Quarrymen and playwright Jonathan Lewis.
Roger Clarke is a journalist, film critic and the author of 'A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof.' He grew up in a supposedly haunted house on the Isle of Wight and become obsessed with ghosts as a child. His book explores the history and class structure of a very British fascination with the supernatural.
'A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 years of Hunting for Proof' is published by Particular Books.
Gina Campbell is the daughter of Donald Campbell who died attempting to break the world water speed record on Coniston Water in 1967. Her book 'Daughter of Bluebird' tells of her experience growing up as part of the Campbell dynasty and how it subsequently shaped her life. 'Daughter of Bluebird' is published by Northern Books.
Jonathan Lewis is a playwright who swapped military training at
31/10/2012 • 42 minutes 11 seconds
Fiona Fullerton, Cesar Millan, Jemima Dury, Dr Helen Mason
Libby Purves meets former actor Fiona Fullerton; Jemima Dury, daughter of Ian; solar physicist Dr Helen Mason and dog whisperer, Cesar Millan.
Dr Helen Mason is a solar physicist at the University of Cambridge. She appears in a BBC Four programme 'Seven Ages of Starlight' which tells the epic tale of the stars through seven ages. The film starts with their births in the clouds of dust and gas that lurk in deep space to their various ends as enigmatic white dwarfs, explosive supernovae and mysterious black holes.
Fiona Fullerton is a former actor whose roles included a Bond girl in 'A View to a Kill' with Roger Moore. While appearing in the popular TV series Angels she began a correspondence with a prisoner, Anthony 'Alex' Alexandrowicz, who was serving a life sentence. She writes about their friendship in her book 'Dear Fiona - Letters from a Suspected Soviet Spy' published by Waterside Press.
Jemima Dury is the daughter of the late Ian Dury. Her book 'Hallo Sausages, The Lyrics of
24/10/2012 • 41 minutes 54 seconds
Easkey Britton, Michael Palin, Kathy Reichs, Barb Jungr
Libby Purves meets Michael Palin; surfer Easkey Britton; author and forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs and singer and songwriter Barb Jungr.
Easkey Britton is an Irish surfer who recently surfed in Iran - a country not known for its surfing culture. Her surfing has taken her around the world - she was the first Irish person to surf the frightening Teahupoo waves in Tahiti and the first woman to ride the giant wave Aileens at the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. Her trip to Iran is the subject of a documentary by French filmmaker Marion Poizeau.
Michael Palin CBE is a comedian, actor, writer and travel documentary maker. His latest journey takes him to somewhere he had never been in his 25 years of travelling - Brazil. For a new BBC One series he explores the fifth largest country on earth which is next in line to host both the World Cup and Olympic Games. There is a book to accompany the series published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist and bes
17/10/2012 • 41 minutes 39 seconds
Steven Appleby, Des Lynam, Christopher Matthew, Sam Lee, Jan Beccaloni
Libby Purves meets cartoonist Steven Appleby; folk singer and Mercury Prize nominee Sam Lee; broadcasters Des Lynam and Christopher Matthew and spider expert Jan Beccaloni.
Jan Beccaloni is the curator of arachnida and myriapoda at the Natural History Museum in London. The class arachnida includes a diverse group of arthropods: spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites, harvestmen, and their cousins. Jan is the conservation officer for the British Arachnological Society.
Folk musician Sam Lee has been nominated for this year's Mercury Prize for his debut album 'Ground of Its Own'. The album is made up of traditional material, largely discovered through Sam's extensive research and exploration of long forgotten songs. He sourced most of his material direct from English gypsy and Irish and Scottish traveller communities. 'Ground of Its Own' is released on The Nest Collective label.
Steven Appleby is a cartoonist and illustrator. His new book 'Guide to Life' is a collection of his strip Loomus
10/10/2012 • 42 minutes 4 seconds
Sam Torrance, Richard Ingrams, Bernard Cornwell, Jane Asher
Libby Purves meets golfer Sam Torrance; actor Jane Asher; editor of the Oldie Richard Ingrams and novelist Bernard Cornwell.
Golfer and commentator Sam Torrance is the winner of 21 European Tour titles. He was also a member of the European Ryder Cup team eight times and sunk the winning put in 1985 for the first European win in 28 years. He captained the team to victory in 2002. His book, 'Out of Bounds - Legendary tales from the 19th Hole' is published by Simon & Schuster.
Richard Ingrams is editor of the 'Oldie' and former editor of 'Private Eye'. His book, 'Quips & Quotes - A Journalist's Commonplace Book' is a collection of memories and inspirations from a lifetime in journalism. He writes about the influences in his life from his boyhood to old age using quotes, poetry, cartoons and photographs. 'Quips & Quotes - A Journalist's Commonplace Book' is published by Oldie Publications.
Bernard Cornwell is a writer of historical fiction. He is the author of over fifty novels includin
03/10/2012 • 42 minutes 5 seconds
Sir John Major, Caitlin Moran, Andy Torbet, Colin Blumenau
Andy Torbet spent ten years in the British forces as a paratrooper, diver and bomb disposal officer before turning his hand to television. He co-presents the BBC Two series Operation Iceberg in which a team of adventurers and scientists travel to the Arctic to chart the life cycle of icebergs.
The former Prime Minister, Sir John Major, uses his own unconventional family past to tell the story of British music hall in his book, 'My Old Man: a personal history of Music Hall'. His father Tom Major was a music hall performer who, with his first wife Kitty, toured as Drum and Major. Sir John reflects on his father's life and explores the origins of music hall in the pleasure gardens of the 18th century to its decline with the arrival of radio and cinema. 'My Old Man: a personal history of Music Hall' is published by Harper Press.
Caitlin Moran is a columnist and writer. Her new book Moranthology is a collection of her columns written during the last 20 years. She looks back on her early
26/09/2012 • 41 minutes 59 seconds
Hardeep Singh Kohli, Dr Pamela Stephenson, Alan Root, Barbara Hulanicki, Nadine Mortimer-Smith
Hardeep Singh Kohli meets Dr Pamela Stephenson, wildlife film-maker Alan Root, creator of Biba, Barbara Hulanicki and soprano Nadine Mortimer-Smith.
Soprano Nadine Mortimer-Smith is an opera singer and founder of Opera in Colour. She had a promising and secure career in the City but five years ago gave it all up to pursue her passion for opera. In 2009 she won 'Most Promising Voice' at the Voice of Black Opera competition. She will be performing in Naked Opera at the Forge in London.
Alan Root OBE is an acclaimed wildlife film-maker. Born in London in 1937, he moved to Kenya as a young boy and after leaving school at sixteen soon found himself behind the camera. He and his wife Joan Thorpe produced many award-winning wildlife films including 'Baobab: Portrait of a Tree'; 'Safari by Balloon'; 'The Year of the Wildebeest' and 'Castles in Clay', which was nominated for an Oscar. His memoir, 'Ivory, Apes & Peacocks - Animals, Adventure and Discovery in the wild places of Africa ' is pub
19/09/2012 • 41 minutes 53 seconds
Dr Pamela Cox, Pam Ayres, John Taylor and Sean Hughes
Hardeep Singh Kohli meets social historian Dr Pamela Cox, Pam Ayres, John Taylor of Duran Duran and comedian Sean Hughes.
Social historian Dr Pamela Cox presents a new three part series, Servants - The True Story of Life Below Stairs, which uncovers the reality of servants' lives from the Victorian era through to the Second World War. Pam herself is the great-granddaughter of servants. Servants - The True Story of Life Below Stairs will be broadcast on BBC Two.
Pam Ayres is a writer and broadcaster who has been entertaining audiences for over 35 years since winning the talent show Opportunity Knocks, with her take on the comic detail of everyday life. Her autobiography, 'The Necessary Aptitude' is published by Ebury. She is also touring the UK and will be presenting the fourth series of 'Ayres on the Air' on Radio 4 Extra and later on Radio 4.
John Taylor is the bass player and a founding member of the band Duran Duran. His autobiography, 'In The Pleasure Groove' recounts the bands
12/09/2012 • 41 minutes 44 seconds
Felicity Aston, Billy Bragg, Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi, Wayne Phillips
Polar explorer Felicity Aston is the first woman to ski across Antarctica alone. The 1744km, 59-day journey was completed in January 2012. She will be speaking about this journey for the Transglobe Expedition Trust event Here, There & Everywhere at the Royal Geographical Society on September 10th.
Musician and activist Billy Bragg celebrates the centenary of singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie with a four date tour in September. Bragg curated this tribute to Guthrie's legacy and will perform songs based on the lyrics Guthrie left behind before his death in 1967. In collaboration with the band Wilco, Billy is also releasing the CD Mermaid Avenue - the complete sessions.
Chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi were born in Jerusalem in the same year - Sami on the Arab east side and Yotam in the Jewish west. Nearly 30 years later they met in London and discovered they shared a language, a history, and a love of great food. In their new book 'Jerusalem', they feature recipes from this vibrant
11/09/2012 • 42 minutes 1 second
Clarence Adoo, Simon Gough, Duncan Hamilton, Kate Tempest
Libby Purves is joined by Clarence Adoo, a member of the British Paraorchestra, Simon Gough, to talk about his relationship with his great uncle, the poet Robert Graves, sports writer Duncan Hamilton and poet/rapper Kate Tempest.
Musician Clarence Adoo is a founding member of the British Paraorchestra. Set up by the conductor Charles Hazlewood, the orchestra is made up of disabled musicians playing a range of instruments from the harp to the sitar. Clarence was a top trumpeter with the Northern Sinfonia when he was paralysed from the neck down in a car accident in 1995. He now makes music on a computer called 'Headspace'. The orchestra features in a Channel Four documentary Paraorchestra and they will be performing at the Southbank in London as part of the Unlimited festival.
Simon Gough is the son of actor Michael Gough and actress-cum-journalist Diana Graves. In his book, The White Goddess - An Encounter, Simon recalls the complicated relationship with his great-uncle, the poet Rob
29/08/2012 • 41 minutes 58 seconds
Kate Bond, Dame Stella Rimington, Claudia Roden, Dr Alan Rabinowitz
Libby Purves meets Stella Rimington, former head of MI5; food writer Claudia Roden; biologist Dr Alan Rabinowitz and Kate Bond of experimental theatre group You Me Bum Bum Train.
Kate Bond co-founded You Me Bum Bum Train in 2004. A performance journey for one audience member - or passenger - at a time, You Me Bum Bum Train has been variously called live art, interactive comedy and experimental theatre. Passengers participate in a variety of situations from hosting their own chat show to running a kebab shop. You Me Bum Bum Train is part of the London 2012 Festival and performances run from July 19th-26th and August 15th-September 19th
Dame Stella Rimington joined the Security Service M15 in 1968. During her career she worked in all the main fields of the Service including counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter-terrorism. She became the first female director general in 1992. Her latest novel featuring MI5 agent Liz Carlyle, The Geneva Trap, is published by Bloomsbury.
25/07/2012 • 42 minutes 10 seconds
Clive Stafford Smith, Lois Pryce, Nick Phillips, Christos Tsirogiannis
A long-distance motorcycle rider who has ridden solo around the world, Lois Pryce is a co-founder of the Adventure Travel Film Festival. Her first trip was from Alaska to Buenos Aires and since then she has travelled across Africa from Tunis to Cape Town and has just returned from Brazil where she led an all women team of motorcyclists. She also plays banjo in a bluegrass band called 'The Jolenes' who are performing at the festival. 'The Adventure Travel Film Festival' runs from August 17th-20th in Sherborne, Dorset.
Clive Stafford Smith is a lawyer specialising in defending people accused of the most serious crimes. He's also the founder and director of Reprieve. Based in the US for 26 years, he now works from the UK where he continues to defend prisoners on Death Row. In his book 'Injustice' he examines the case of Kris Maharaj who has been on Death Row for 25 years. 'Injustice' is published by Harvill Secker.
Christos Tsirogiannis is a forensic archaeologist who investigates the t
18/07/2012 • 42 minutes 11 seconds
Jean-Claude Ellena, Linda Hope, Dave Fishwick, Ken Rijock
Libby Purves is joined by minibus millionaire Dave Fishwick who has set up his own bank, parfumeur Jean-Claude Ellena, Linda Hope, daughter of Bob and former money launderer, Ken Rijock.
Dave Fishwick is a self-made minibus millionaire from Burnley who has set up his own bank. Frustrated with the reluctance of High Street banks to lend, he set up Burnley Savings and Loans which offers help to local businesses struggling to get finance. He can be seen on Channel 4 in 'Bank of Dave' from this week. The book 'Bank of Dave,' which accompanies the series, is published by Virgin Books.
In 1980s Miami, Ken Rijock, a Vietnam veteran and successful lawyer, was one of the world's most successful money launderers, working as a middleman between the Colombian drug cartels and the Mafia. However, after a client testified against him, he went undercover for the FBI and now works with banks and governments to track the new generation of money launderers. He tells his story in 'The Laundry Man', pub
11/07/2012 • 41 minutes 44 seconds
Mark-Anthony Turnage, Fatima Whitbread, Dr Chris Bird, Frank Partnoy
Libby Purves is joined by Olympian Fatima Whitbread, composer Mark-Anthony Turnage, Dr Chris Bird of Medecins Sans Frontieres and former Wall Street trader turned academic, Frank Partnoy.
Composer Mark-Anthony Turnage has teamed up with the charity 'Music in Prisons' to create a piece of music with inmates from HMP Lowdham Grange. The 12 minute composition 'Beyond This' will be featured as part of the Southbank Centre's New Music 20x12 programme - a weekend dedicated to music composition in the UK.
Fatima Whitbread is a former British javelin thrower and multiple medal-winner. She won bronze in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and silver at Seoul in 1988. In her autobiography, 'Survivor', she tells how athletics became her saviour after being abandoned as a baby and a childhood spent in and out of children's homes. 'Survivor' is published by Virgin Books.
Dr Chris Bird is a journalist turned paediatrician. He has just returned to the UK from a mission in the Democratic Republic of Con
04/07/2012 • 42 minutes 2 seconds
Matthew Childs, Rachel Lichtenstein, Derek Boshier and Rebecca Thomas
Libby Purves meets artist Derek Boshier; writer/curator Rachel Lichtenstein; film maker Rebecca Thomas and garden designer Matthew Childs who survived the 7/7 London bombings.
Derek Boshier was one of the leading pop artists of the 1960s. A contemporary of David Hockney and Peter Blake, he featured in Ken Russell's 1962 film Pop Goes the Easel. An exhibition of his graphic work including his set designs for David Bowie and album cover artwork for The Clash, is at the Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until October.
Rachel Lichtenstein is an internationally exhibited artist, writer and curator. Her book Diamond Street: the Hidden World of Hatton Garden is published by Hamish Hamilton and is part of a trilogy of books exploring London market streets including Brick Lane and Portobello Road.
Writer-director Rebecca Thomas was raised a Mormon in Las Vegas. Her debut feature film Electrick Children is a coming of age film about a young Mormon girl growing up in a fundamentalist Mormon
27/06/2012 • 41 minutes 50 seconds
Frank Ifield, Alastair Campbell, 'Mr Freedom' Tommy Roberts, and Romany
Libby Purves is joined by sixties singer Frank Ifield, former director of communications to Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, Tommy Robert, of the fashion label Mr Freedom and magician Romany.
Australian singer and yodeller Frank Ifield achieved four No. 1 hits between 1962 and 1963 including I Remember You. A then unknown band called the Beatles supported him on tour. Now a promoter, Ifield is back in the UK to celebrate fifty years since his hits with rock star Nicki Gillis.
Alastair Campbell was director of communications to Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister. The fourth volume of Campbell's diaries starts on September 11th 2001 and ends on the day he leaves Downing Street in August 2003. It covers the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, WMD and the death of weapons inspector David Kelly. Alistair Campbell - The Burden of Power: Countdown to Iraq is published by Hutchinson.
Tommy Roberts is regarded as one of the most influential designers in post-war British fashion and design. From k
20/06/2012 • 42 minutes 10 seconds
Amanda Vincent; Carmen Bugan; Lucien Bourjeily; Lynda La Plante
Libby Purves is joined by seahorse expert Amanda Vincent, Carmen Bugan, who grew up under the Ceausescu regime in Romania, theatre director Lucien Bourjeily and crime writer Lynda La Plante.
Dr Amanda Vincent is a marine biologist and one of the world's leading experts on seahorses. She is currently based at Cambridge University's Department of Geography and runs Project Seahorse which is developing conservation schemes to protect the declining seahorse population around the world.
Carmen Bugan grew up in Romania under Nicolae Ceausescu. One day in 1983, her father was arrested for protesting against the regime. In her memoir, 'Burying the Typewriter 'she tells how her father had been typing pamphlets on an illegal typewriter and burying it in their garden. Her father was imprisoned for three years and her family were placed under surveillance, surrounded by microphones and informed on by their neighbours. Burying the Typewriter: Childhood under the Eye of the Secret Police is publi
13/06/2012 • 41 minutes 57 seconds
Simon Jordan; Samantha Spiro; Robin Millar; Steve Benbow
Simon Jordan made his fortune in the mobile phone industry and in 2000, at the age of 32, he bought Crystal Palace Football Club. Ten years later the club was in administration and Jordan had lost everything. As well as recounting his own rise and fall in football, the book lifts the lid on how the national game works from the vast sums of money paid to footballers to the top-level activities at the heart of the sport. 'Be Careful What You Wish For' is published by Yellow Jersey Press.
Robin Millar is a record producer and musician. His 1984 production of 'Diamond Life' by Sade was named one of the best ten albums of the last 30 years at the 2011 Brit Awards. Robin has worked with a range of artists including Sting, Eric Clapton, Chrissie Hynde and Elvis Costello. He was born with retinitis pigmentosa and has been registered blind since the age of 16. In March this year Robin underwent a 12 hour operation to install a bionic retina in his right eye in a clinical trial to help research
06/06/2012 • 42 minutes 5 seconds
Jack Lowden, Bernard Lynch, Bobby Teale, Sophie Dickens
Libby Purves meets actor Jack Lowden; Bobby Teale, a former associate of The Kray twins; Bernard Lynch, an openly gay Roman Catholic priest and sculptor Sophie Dickens.
Actor Jack Lowden plays athlete and devout Scottish Christian Eric Liddell in the new stage production of the film 'Chariots of Fire' directed by Edward Hall. The play tells the stories of Liddell and Harold Abrahams who both won gold medals at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. 'Chariots of Fire' is at the Hampstead Theatre in London.
Bernard Lynch is an openly gay Roman Catholic priest. Ordained in 1971, he spent two years as a missionary in Zambia before being sent to New York for postgraduate studies. For 15 years he was Theological Consultant to the Board of Directors of Dignity New York -- an organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered and Bisexual Catholics and their friends. He founded the AIDS/HIV Ministry of Dignity New York in 1982, which continues its work to the present day. In 1998 he married, in the presence
30/05/2012 • 42 minutes
Omid Djalili, Chyna, Brian Jackman, Tim Edey
Libby Purves is joined by actor and comedian Omid Djalili, former girl gang member, Chyna, travel journalist and writer Brian Jackman and folk musician Tim Edey.
Omid Djalili is an award-winning British-Iranian actor and comedian. He is currently starring in Joe Orton's play 'What the Butler Saw'. Omid has appeared in films including The Mummy, Gladiator, and The Infidel and on stage played the role of Fagin in Oliver! What the Butler Saw is at London's Vaudeville Theatre.
Writing under the pseudonym 'Chyna', the author gives a graphic account of life in a girl gang which she joined at the age of 12. Her gang of ten members operated in the estates of south London fighting, stealing and dealing drugs. Now 24, Chyna has turned her life around and works for the community charity 'foundation4 life' which helps young people extricate themselves from the grip of local gangs. 'How I escaped a Girl Gang' is published by Coronet.
Brian Jackman is a travel journalist and writer. He is the au
23/05/2012 • 41 minutes 58 seconds
Angela Rippon, Jim Lee, Marian Partington, Vusi Mahlasela
Libby Purves is joined by journalist Angela Rippon, photographer & filmmaker Jim Lee, musician Vusi Mahlasela, and Marian Partington, whose sister was a victim of Frederick and Rosemary West.
Journalist Angela Rippon features in the Channel 5 series, 'War Hero in My Family', where celebrities trace the stories of their relatives contributions during times of war. Angela didn't meet her father John until she was three years old, because he'd spent World War Two serving with the Royal Marines. As she grew up, he told her funny stories of life at sea, but rarely about the harsh realities of war and now Angela goes in search of what his war was really like. 'War Hero in My Family' is on Channel 5.
Jim Lee is a fashion photographer and film maker. He photographed the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and collaborated with Ossie Clark, Versace and Yves St Laurent. He is the subject of a book entitled 'Arrested' - written by Peter York and there is also an exhibition of Jim's work at Somerset
16/05/2012 • 42 minutes 16 seconds
Dr Rodrigo Medellin, Hannah Rothschild, Michael Ashton, Sir Roger Carrick
Joining Libby Purves will be bat expert Dr Rodrigo Medellin, filmmaker Hannah Rothschild, playwright Michael Ashton and former diplomat Sir Roger Carrick.
Dr Rodrigo Medellin is a scientist and bat expert. He will become the first recipient of the Whitley Fund for Nature's Gold Award for outstanding achievement in nature conservation in recognition of his efforts to de-demonise vampire bats. He has also successfully re-established Mexico's lesser long-nosed bats which are about to be taken off of the endangered species list. He is International Union for Conservation of Nature (UCN) Ambassador for the 'International Year of the Bat'.
Hannah Rothschild is a writer and filmmaker. She is also the great niece of Pannonica Rothschild who left her husband and five children to live among the black jazz musicians in New York and whose great love was the legendary Thelonious Monk. Hannah first heard about her eccentric great aunt at the age of 11 and has been investigating her life ever since
09/05/2012 • 41 minutes 45 seconds
Ruth Joseph; Maria Friedman; Michael Cockerell; Mathew Prichard
Libby Purves is joined by food writer Ruth Joseph, musical theatre star Maria Friedman, documentary maker Michael Cockerell and grandson of Agatha Christie, Mathew Prichard.
Ruth Joseph is a cook and food writer. Food has always been intrinsic to Jewish life and to her own - from the age of eleven Ruth cared for her late mother who had anorexia as a direct result of her experiences during the Holocaust. Ruth's new cook book, co-written by Simon Round, 'Warm Bagels & Apple Strudel' combines traditional and modern influences - for example explaining why chicken is synonymous with the Friday night Shabbat dinner and unleavened bread with the Passover feast. 'Warm Bagels & Apple Strudel' is published by Kyle Cathie.
Maria Friedman is one of Britain's leading musical stars. Three-time Olivier award-winner, she's appeared in many Sondheim musicals including Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music, Passion and Anyone Can Whistle as well as Chicago and The King and
02/05/2012 • 41 minutes 48 seconds
James Cracknell; Susannah Corbett; Nick Freeman - Mr Loophole; Gennaro Contaldo
Libby Purves is joined by Olympian James Cracknell, actor and children's author Susannah Corbett, lawyer Nick Freeman aka Mr Loophole and chef Gennaro Contaldo.
James Cracknell is the two time Olympic gold medallist and six time World Champion rower. Now turned adventurer, he can be seen in the new series The World's Toughest Expeditions in which he takes on some of the most arduous expeditions in history. These endeavours range from tracing the steps of Colonel Fawcett's infamous 1925 expedition to the Amazonian jungle to David Livingstone's 1853 journey across Southern Africa in which James takes on the same Zambezi rapids. The World's Toughest Expeditions with James Cracknell is on Discovery Channel.
Actor and children's author Susannah Corbett is the daughter of the late actor Harry H Corbett, of Steptoe and Son fame. Susannah has written a biography of his life, 'The Front Legs of the Cow' which tells of how he rose from the slums of Manchester to become one of the best known te
25/04/2012 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
Dacre Stoker; Barry Briggs; Roberta Taylor and Peter Guinness; Richard La Trobe-Bateman
Libby Purves is joined by former Speedway star Barry Briggs, actors Roberta Taylor and Peter Guinness, author Dacre Stoker, and bridge designer Richard La Trobe-Batemen.
Dacre Stoker is the great grand-nephew of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula. A long-lost journal written by the young Bram Stoker was recently discovered in the attic of his great grandson. The notebook reveals some of Bram's private thoughts and his developing style before he wrote Dracula. Assisted by a team of Dracula scholars and historians, Dacre Stoker and Dr Elizabeth Miller have connected the dots between the contents of the notebook and Stoker's later work. 'The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker' is published by Robson Press.
Barry Briggs was one of the most accomplished and popular speedway riders of all time. Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, he came to the UK in the Fifties at 17 to pursue a speedway career and went on to win four World Championship titles. During his career 'Briggo' rode for top clubs including
18/04/2012 • 41 minutes 38 seconds
Midweek with Greg Doran and Sir Trevor McDonald
Libby Purves meets Dick Robinson, the Royal Shakespeare Company's new artistic director Greg Doran; broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald and Lord and Lady Fitzalan Howard.
Dick Robinson is the great nephew of Sister Edith Appleton who was a nurse in France during the First World War. Sister Edith recorded her experiences in her diaries - contrasting the horrors of her job with her love of the natural world. The diaries provide a record of the terrible effects of gas attacks and shell shock as well as a personal insight into nursing care during that period. War Diaries - a Nurse at the Front, The First World War Diaries of Sister Edith Appleton is published by the Imperial War Museum with Simon and Schuster.
Greg Doran has recently been appointed artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, taking up his new role in September. He joined the company as an actor in 1987 before switching to directing. He is currently rehearsing Julius Caesar, set in modern day Africa, as part of the W
11/04/2012 • 41 minutes 23 seconds
Barbara Moore; Tony Banks; Donald McRae; Gavin Turk
Libby Purves is joined by artists Gavin Turk and Deborah Curtis; Falklands veteran Tony Banks; writer Donald McRae and composer and arranger Barbara Moore.
Barbara Moore is a composer, arranger and singer and former member of the Sixties backing group, the Ladybirds. Barbara, who turned eighty this year, is credited with re-orchestrating Alan Freeman's 'Pick of the Pops' theme tune as well working with many artists from Elton John to Dudley Moore, Sandy Shaw and Adam Faith.
Tony Banks served with the Parachute Regiment in the Falklands War. To mark the 30th anniversary of the conflict, he has published his memoir, 'Storming the Falklands' in which he tells of his war and its aftermath. The book describes how he went back to the Falklands to help him come to terms with his experiences and how he returned a trumpet to an Argentine soldier which he had taken as a war trophy. 'Storming the Falklands - My War and After' is published by Little Brown.
Donald McRae is a sports writer and a
04/04/2012 • 41 minutes 55 seconds
Alvin Hall; Alex Crawford; Benjamin Mee
Libby Purves is joined by financial expert Alvin Hall; Greek-Cypriot singer-writer Alkinoos Ioannidis; foreign correspondent Alex Crawford and the owner of Dartmoor Zoological Park, Benjamin Mee.
Alvin Hall is a financial educator and author. He presented the BBC series Your Money or Your Life, in which he offered practical, financial and psychological advice to people to help them take control of and fix their finances. His latest book The Stock Market Explained - Your Guide to Successful Investing is published by Hodder & Stoughton.
Alkinoos Ioannidis is a Greek-Cypriot singer-songwriter. He studied classical guitar and theatre before signing a record deal and has now released eleven solo albums. His influences include traditional Cypriot and Byzantine music. He has just released his first album in the UK, Local Stranger (on Wrasse Records) and is performing a five date tour.
Alex Crawford OBE is Sky News's Special Correspondent who became a household name last year when she was
28/03/2012 • 41 minutes 47 seconds
Libby Purves is joined by Timothy and Shane Spall; theatre director Barrie Rutter; biologist Juliane Koepcke, who survived a plane crash in the Peruvian jungle when she was 17, and musician and writer Grant Gordon.
After spending a summer on the Thames, Shane and actor husband Timothy Spall headed out to sea on their Dutch barge Matilda, with only a road atlas and a vast amount of ignorance. A decade before Timothy had been diagnosed with acute leukaemia and was given days to live. Shocked at how life can pass you by they decided that when, and if, Timothy got better, they would buy a boat. The Voyages of The Princess Matilda by Shane Spall is published by Ebury.
Barrie Rutter is the founder and Artistic Director of Northern Broadsides theatre company. This year marks the 20th anniversary of their first production, Richard III. His distinctive approach to theatre is fuelled by his passion for language and his celebration of the richness and muscularity of the Northern voice. The prod
21/03/2012 • 41 minutes 49 seconds
Libby Purves is joined by former boxer Sugar Ray Leonard; singer and songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan; actor and dancer Adam Cooper and scenographer Pamela Howard.
Gilbert O'Sullivan is a three time Ivor Novello-winning singer and songwriter responsible for the hits 'Alone Again (Naturally)' and the UK No.1s 'Clair' and 'Get Down'. This year he is celebrating 45 years in the music industry by releasing his greatest hits album, 'A Singer and His Songs - The Very Best Of Gilbert O'Sullivan' and embarking on a UK tour.
Former boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard was known as an artist and a showman in the ring, having gruelling encounters with Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler. His autobiography, 'The Big Fight' tells of his humble beginnings through to an Olympic gold medal, championship titles, retirements and comebacks as well as drug and alcohol abuse. The Big Fight is published by Ebury Press.
Adam Cooper is a former Principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, who has now turne
14/03/2012 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
Libby Purves is joined by singer David Essex; fashion designer Ozwald Boateng; conservationist Dame Daphne Sheldrick and actor and artist James Burke-Dunsmore.
Ozwald Boateng is a British menswear designer who received his first suit at the age of five. A new documentary, 'A Man's Story', charts his career from the opening of his own store on London's Savile Row, to becoming creative director of French fashion house Givenchy. Away from the catwalk, the film reveals the toll the business has taken on his personal life. A Man's Story is out in UK cinemas.
David Essex is a musician and actor. Initially unsuccessful as a drummer and singer, his lucky break was in 'Godspell' in 1971. Within a year he was starring in the film 'That'll Be the Day' and had his first No. 1 single, Rock On. In a career spanning forty years, he went on to star in the West End musicals 'Evita' and 'Mutiny', which he wrote. He also recently appeared in Eastenders as Eddie Moon. 'Over the Moon: My Autobiography'
07/03/2012 • 41 minutes 58 seconds
Libby Purves meets actor Pauline Quirke who is probably best known for the BBC comedy series 'Birds of a Feather' playing loveable loud-mouth Sharon Theodopolopodous. Her first acting role was in Dixon of Dock Green and most recently she appeared in 'Emmerdale'. She has also set up the Pauline Quirke Academy, teaching acting to young people. Her book, 'Where Have I Gone?' is published by Bantam Press.
Shelley Bridgman is a psychotherapist and stand-up comedian who recently won the first ever Silver Stand Up comedy award for the over 55s at the Leicester Comedy Festival and Palestinian director Amir Nizar Zuabi who is directing 'A Comedy of Errors' as part of the World Shakespeare Festival.
Photographer Dennis Morris started taking photographs as a young boy and at eleven had one of his photographs printed on the front page of the Daily Mirror. In his book Growing Up Black, he charts not just the history of the black British experience but Britain itself, capturing intimate moments w
29/02/2012 • 8 minutes 16 seconds
Libby Purves is joined by Hans Klok, Adrian Jackson, Sabrina Jean, Mary M Talbot and Dave Kelly.
Illusionist Hans Klok, reputedly 'the fastest magician in the world', has been performing magic since he was ten years old. He recently played shows at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, where Pamela Anderson was his glamorous assistant. He brings his homage to Harry Houdini, The Houdini Experience, to London. The show combines daredevil stunts, illusions and tricks. The Houdini Experience is at the Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre.
Adrian Jackson is a writer and director, who set up the theatre company 'Cardboard Citizens'. His latest play 'A Few Man Fridays' tells the story of how the British Government evicted 2000 islanders from the Chagos islands in the Indian Ocean during the cold war to make way for a US military base. Sabrina Jean's family were part of that community who eventually settled in the UK. She is secretary of the UK Chagos Support Association. A Few Man Fridays is at London's Ri
22/02/2012 • 42 minutes 9 seconds
Libby Purves is joined by actor Sir Antony Sher and jazz saxophonist Barbara Thompson.
She also meets Professor Sean Street an historian, writer, presenter and poet. His new book 'The Poetry of Radio - The Colour of Sound' explores the relationship between poetry and radio, and examines the concept of 'poetic making' in sound.
Jazz saxophonist and composer Barbara Thompson and her husband the drummer Jon Hiseman feature in a BBC Four documentary 'Playing Against Time', part of BBC Four's Jazz weekend, in which Barbara uses music and creativity to help her cope with Parkinson's disease.
Sir Antony Sher stars in Nicholas Wright's new play 'Travelling Light' at the National Theatre. The play recounts the story of a Hollywood director in his sixties looking back on how his career began in a small village in Eastern Europe in the early years of the 20th century. The story pays tribute to the Eastern European immigrants who became major players in Hollywood's golden age of cinema.
15/02/2012 • 42 minutes
Libby Purves is joined by actor Katherine Kelly; Dr Steve Peters, psychiatrist with the British Cycling Team; former US army chief Rhonda Cornum; and BBC presenter Clare Balding.
Katherine Kelly played brassy barmaid Becky McDonald in ITV's Coronation Street for five years. She is now in The National Theatre's production of She Stoops to Conquer, a comedy offering a celebration of chaos, courtship and the dysfunctional family.
Dr Steve Peters is a consultant psychiatrist who has worked in the clinical field of psychiatry for over 20 years. Since 2001 he has been resident psychiatrist to the British Cycling Team. His mind management techniques have been credited in helping to transform the performances of not only Olympic cyclists but also other Olympic Sports such as Taekwondo and Canoeing. His book 'The Chimp Paradox - The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness' is published by Vermilion.
Rhonda Cornum was a flight surgeon with the 229th Attack Helicopter
08/02/2012 • 41 minutes 57 seconds
Libby Purves is joined by Lord Kenneth Baker; charity worker Rudi Richardson; playwright Ishy Din and columnist and author Michele Hanson.
Lord Kenneth Baker, former Home Secretary and a former Chairman of the Conservative Party, is a cartoon enthusiast. He talks about an exhibition at London's Cartoon Museum - HER MAJ: 60 Years of Unofficial Portraits of the Queen - which celebrates the Queen's reign through cartoons by some of our greatest caricaturists including Ralph Steadman and Steve Bell.
Rudi Richardson is the founder of Streetlytes, a charity for the homeless, which he set up after 33 years drifting in and out of addiction, prison and life on the streets. He was born in a women's prison in post-war Germany to a German Jewish mother and black American father. Adopted by an African American couple, he was brought up in California but, as he explains on the programme, he was deported back to Europe in his late forties. Rudi ended up on the streets in London but in a remarkable
01/02/2012 • 42 minutes 1 second
Libby Purves is joined by Graham Short, Peter Tatchell, Gary Mulgrew and Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace.
Graham Short is known as "the world's smallest engraver" for his miniature masterpieces. He has spent almost fifty years honing his craft, going to physical and mental extremes to produce the highest quality engravings. His latest work, The Word of God, is the first chapter of the Qur'an engraved on the head of a pin, which follows on from his first pin on which he engraved the Lord's Prayer.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell turns sixty today. This year also marks 45 years since his first human rights campaign in 1967 which was against the death penalty in Australia. Also July is the 40th year of London LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) Pride Parade; he helped to organise the first one in 1972 and has attended every parade since.
Gary Mulgrew became known as one of the 'Natwest Three' when he was extradited to the US and served a prison sentence for banking fraud.
25/01/2012 • 42 minutes 6 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Antony Woodward, Sandy Gall, Nick Coleman and Rosie Wilby.
Antony Woodward is a writer and amateur microlight pilot. Fifteen years ago he took part in the Round Britain Rally, a three day competition flying in flimsy machines around the UK. He crashed and almost killed himself. Having stopped flying for years, Antony attempts to enter the rally again - and face his fears for a BBC Two documentary, Wonderland: The Real Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.
Sandy Gall is a journalist, broadcaster and former ITN news presenter. Sandy has been visiting Afghanistan for the last thirty years and has made three documentaries about the country during the Soviet invasion. With his wife he set up the Sandy Gall Afghanistan Appeal charity which provides support to people who have lost limbs in combat. He is the author of War Against The Taliban Why It All Went Wrong In Afghanistan.
Nick Coleman is a writer and music journalist. Music had been an integral
18/01/2012 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Tasmin Little, John Akomfrah, Andrew Higgins and Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen.
Tasmin Little is the acclaimed violinist who features in a BBC Four documentary celebrating Vaughan Williams's 'The Lark Ascending', which is a piece dear to her heart. The documentary tells the intriguing story behind the nation's most popular piece of classical music as voted for by more than 25,000 radio listeners last year.
John Akomfrah is an award-winning film director and one of the founders of the Black Audio Film Collective. His new film, 'The Nine Muses', shot in Alaska, looks at the history of mass migration to post-war Britain using Homer's poem The Odyssey as a starting point.
Dr Andrew Higgins is a vet. In 1974 he was posted to Oman during the Dhofar War as one of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps who was brought in to help win the hearts and minds of the local population. He was responsible for looking after the Jebali people's livestock - goats, camels and she
11/01/2012 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by guests Winnie and Frank Tovey, Simon Russell Beale, Noo Saro-Wiwa and Anne Wallace.
Winnie and Frank Tovey spent sixteen years in the fifties and sixties in India where Frank was a medical missionary. They were active in providing clinics to cure leprosy, surgery and physiotherapy to restore function and treat deformity and have written about their experiences in the book 'Cor Blimey! Where 'ave you come from?, published by Little Knoll Press.
Simon Russell-Beale is the acclaimed stage and screen actor who has played every major Shakespearean and classical drama lead over the last twenty years. He is currently playing Stalin in the National Theatre production of 'Collaborators' by John Hodge. He can also be seen in the films Deep Blue Sea and My Week With Marilyn.
Noo Saro-Wiwa is a travel writer and daughter of the political activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was murdered in Nigeria in 1995. She was brought up in the UK but used to hate visiting Nigeria
28/12/2011 • 41 minutes 57 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Alistair Sutcliffe, Martha Fiennes, Celia Imrie and Amanda Vickery.
Alistair Sutcliffe is a GP who became the first man to summit the highest mountain on each of the seven continents at the first attempt. He subsequently suffered a near fatal brain haemorrhage, and he describes his recovery as the most difficult climb of all in his book 'The Hardest Climb', published by Blue Moose.
Martha Fiennes is a filmmaker, whose films include Onegin and Chromophobia. She also directs television commercials. For her latest project she has created her first digital installation, Nativity, a completely self-generating technological art-work based on the Christmas Nativity scene, on display in a specially constructed chalet in London's Covent Garden piazza.
Celia Imrie plays Dotty Otley who plays Mrs Clackett, in Michael Frayn's 'Noises Off' at the Old Vic. She is perhaps best known for her regular characters in the award-winning TV series Acorn Antiques and Din
21/12/2011 • 41 minutes 59 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Susie McKenna, Peter Bougourd, Professor John Wallwork and Matthew Herbert.
Susie McKenna is Creative Director of the Hackney Empire. A professional actor by training, she grew up in the world of variety, travelling all over the country with her performer parents, and first took to the stage when she was three. She has written and directed this year's Hackney Empire pantomime, 'Cinderella'.
Peter Bougourd was second Cox of the St Peter Port lifeboat, Guernsey. This month is the 30th anniversary of two of the RNLI's most memorable launches: the St Peter Port lifeboat was launched to the cargo ship Bonita, in hurricane force conditions. Of the 29 that the lifeboat rescued, only one died from his injuries in hospital. Six days later, the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne was launched to the coaster Union Star which had foundered against the Cornish cliffs. The lifeboat was lost and there were no survivors from either boat. It is the worst disaster in the
14/12/2011 • 41 minutes 46 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Runa Khan Marre, Charles Hazlewood, Matthew Bourne and Gebisa Ejeta.
Runa Khan Marre is preserving the unique cultural heritage of Bangladeshi boat-building through her living museum on the riverbank near Dhaka. She is one of six global innovators who is in London to receive a Rolex Award for Enterprise. The Rolex Awards for Enterprise will take place at the Royal Geographical Society.
Charles Hazlewood is an award-winning conductor who works regularly with great orchestras around the globe including the BBC Concert Orchestra. In a documentary for BBC Four, 'Scrapheap Orchestra', he sets about trying to create an entire orchestra of 44 instruments made entirely from scrap, culminating in performances at the 2011 BBC Proms. 'Scrapheap Orchestra' is on BBC Four.
Matthew Bourne is the renowned choreographer. He and his ballet company New Adventures' returns to Sadler's Wells this Christmas with their much loved production of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker
07/12/2011 • 41 minutes 53 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Jeremy Wade, Jacqui Thompson, Chris Mullin and Professor Roger Kneebone.
Jeremy Wade is a former science teacher turned extreme fisherman. He presents the award-winning TV series 'River Monsters' in which he travels to remote rivers in the Congo, Amazon rainforest and the mountains of India tracking down large, weird and little-known fish. His book 'River Monsters' is published by Swordfish.
Jacqui Thompson's husband Gary, a reservist with the RAF Regiment, was killed in Afghanistan on 2008. Since his death, Jacqui and her five daughters have been helped by the RAF Benevolent Fund. Money raised at this years British Military Tournament will go to the three armed forces charities; ABF The Soldier's Charity in association with The Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity and The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.
Chris Mullin was Labour MP for Sunderland South from 1987 to 2010, serving as chairman of the influential Home Affairs Select Committee and as Min
30/11/2011 • 41 minutes 37 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Warwick Davis, Sheena Byrom, Sir Willard White and Sierra James.
Warwick Davis is the actor who made his movie debut aged eleven as Wicket the Ewok in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and played Professor Flitwick in the Harry Potter films. He is currently starring in the new BBC observational comedy 'Life's Too Short ', written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, which follows Warwick's day-to-day frustrations of being short.
Sheena Byrom has spent the last thirty-five years as a midwife. In her book, 'Catching Babies' she recounts her long career in the NHS, from training in the 1970s to overseeing the first home water birth in her area of Lancashire. 'Catching Babies' is published by Headline.
Bass-baritone Sir Willard White is performing "Christus" in three productions of Bach's St Matthew Passion at Ambika P3, a disused concrete factory under London's Marylebone Road. This is the first major project of 'Vocal Futures', a charitable foundation
23/11/2011 • 41 minutes 56 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Gareth Malone, Stella Duffy, Reginald D Hunter and Jessica Douglas-Home.
Choirmaster Gareth Malone returns with the fourth series of the RTS and BAFTA award-winning series. This time he goes to Devon, to Chivenor barracks, to work with the forces community from the time the battalion is deployed to their homecoming. His task is to work for six months with the wives - and try to give them a voice and to unite them - and the base - through the power of song. The Choir: Military Voices is on BBC Two.
Stella Duffy is the novelist and playwright. She is directing 'TaniwhaThames', a new play about home and belonging, the inspiration coming from her two most beloved places - London and New Zealand. She was born in London but moved with her family to a small town in New Zealand when she was five. TaniwhaThames, written and devised by the theatre company, Shaky Isles, is at Ovalhouse Theatre, South London.
Reginald D. Hunter is the American born, stand-up
16/11/2011 • 41 minutes 56 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Arlene Phillips, Max Zachs, Antonio Carluccio and Simon Clothier.
Ukulele player Simon Clothier worked in construction on sites including the iconic Wembley Stadium and Olympic 2012 until his musical talent was recognized by his fellow workers. Construction has now been put on hold as he goes on tour with his band in the new year and has a new album out, 'Songs from a Small Guitar', and a single 'Over and Done', which is in aid of the Children's Society.
Max Zachs is appearing in the Channel 4 series 'My Transsexual Summer' which follows seven transgender men and women as they come together to share their intimate and on-going experiences of changing gender. Max was born female and three years ago began his physical transition to becoming male. He is also a Reform Jew, attends synagogue regularly, and hopes to enter Rabbinical School to fulfil his goal of becoming Britain's first trans-gender Rabbi.
Antonio Carluccio is the much loved and respect
09/11/2011 • 40 minutes 29 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Ceri Levy, Rita Tushingham, Gillian Lynne and Gisli Örn Gardarsson.
Ceri Levy is a film-maker, birdwatcher and co-curator of a new exhibition, 'Ghosts of Gone Birds' which features eighty artists, including Sir Peter Blake, Ralph Steadman and Margaret Atwood, each of whom has depicted an extinct or endangered species of bird. Ghosts of Gone Birds is at the Rochelle School, London E2.
Rita Tushingham's breakthrough movie 'Taste of Honey' is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a screening in Liverpool, her hometown, as part of this year's 'Homotopia Festival'. Rita won a Bafta and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Jo, a young girl with a difficult mother, leaving home, living with a gay flatmate and getting pregnant.
Gillian Lynne is the former ballerina, theatre director and renowned choreographer, best known for her iconic choreography of shows including 'Cats' and 'Phantom of the Opera'. Her memoir, 'A Dancer in Wartime - one girl's journey
02/11/2011 • 41 minutes 53 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Richard Rycroft, Sir Terry Wogan, Matt Croucher and Sona Jobarteh.
After a long career in the police force, Richard Rycroft became an actor and also a stand-up comedian. He says that the two roles of policeman and actor are quite similar, but his only frustration as an actor is that no one will cast him as a policeman - he's just not convincing in that role apparently! He is appearing as the CEO in the improvisational show, 'The Office Party' which is running at London's Pleasance Theatre.
Sir Terry Wogan has been a radio and TV broadcaster since the sixties, first in Ireland and then the BBC. He retired from his Radio 2 show 'Wake Up to Wogan' in 2009, which boasted a regular eight million listeners, including the TOGS - Terry's Old Geezers and Gals. His book, 'Wogan's Ireland', which was also a BBC series, recalls his memories of Ireland, from the politics to the personal. 'Wogan's Ireland' is published by Simon & Schuster.
Matt Croucher GC jo
26/10/2011 • 41 minutes 49 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Gloria Elliott, Des Bishop, Michael Morpurgo and Stanley Jackson.
Gloria Elliott is the Chief Executive of the Noise Abatement Society. Her father, John Connell founded the society in 1959 when he realised that there was no authority to turn to about noise complaints, that noise was in his words, ' the forgotten pollutant'. The Noise Abatement Society are collaborating with 'Sounding Brighton' for Brighton & Hove White Night where a series of sonic artworks, produced especially for the occasion, will challenge notions of sound in public spaces.
Des Bishop is a stand-up comedian. His book 'My Dad Was Nearly James Bond' tells the story of his dad who, as a model and actor in the sixties, nearly became James Bond, but gave it all up to raise a family. For years, Des had wanted to write a show about his dad, and when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2009, the insights that emerged during his dad's illness triggered his stand up show and now the
19/10/2011 • 41 minutes 54 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by David M.Wilson, Fred Baier, Buddy Greco and Kathryn Tickell.
Dr David M Wilson is a polar historian and a great-nephew of Dr Edward Wilson, the Chief of the Scientific Staff, who died with Captain Scott in Antarctica. His book, 'The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott' features photographs from that ill-fated expedition that have never been seen before. There will also be an exhibition - 'The Heart of the Great Alone', marking the centenary of Scott's expedition at the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace and at the Natural History Museum. 'The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott' are published by Little, Brown.
Fred Baier is the British maverick furniture maker who was catapulted to fame by the Crafts Council in the 1970s and toured as a celebrity British export. His work has redefined contemporary furniture with a combination of mercurial intelligence, a playful sense of maths, engineering and colour. An exhibition of his work is at the Craft Study Cen
12/10/2011 • 41 minutes 44 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Peter Brookes, Alexandra Fuller, Albie Sachs and Niamh Cusack.
Peter Brookes is the political cartoonist for The Times newspaper and the current British Cartoonist of the Year. His book, 'Hard Times' is his latest collection of outrageous sketches of contemporary and political life. 'Hard Times' is published by Biteback Publishing.
Alexandra Fuller is a writer. Her new book 'Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness' is an exploration of her family; at its heart is the story of her mother, Nicola. Born on the Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola holds dear the values most likely to get you killed in Africa: loyalty to blood, passion for land and the holy belief in the restorative power of all animals. 'Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness' is published by Simon & Schuster.
Albie Sachs is a former high-court judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and one of the architects of the South African constitution. During the apa
05/10/2011 • 41 minutes 57 seconds
Angie Beasley is the Director of Miss England. A former beauty queen, she won over twenty-five titles including Miss Cleethorpes, before going on to work for Miss World impressario, Eric Morley. Her memoir, Frog Princess, is published by Penguin Fiction.
For the past forty years, Neil Powell has worked with dogs - in mountain search and rescue, drowned victim recovery, collapsed structure searching, and drug detection. Together they have participated in countless rescues and saved many lives throughout the world from Turkey to Scotland (Lockerbie) to Pakistan. He is also a founder member of the British International Rescue Dog team. His book 'Search Dogs and Me: One Man and his Life-saving Dogs' is published by Blackstaff.
Muyiwa is a gospel singer, radio presenter and station director of Premier Gospel radio station. He will be performing with Riversongz at the Metropolitan Black Police Association's "Celebration of Life" concert at the Royal Festival Hall, Soutbank Centre.
28/09/2011 • 41 minutes 23 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, Imran Khan, Freer Spreckley and Virginia Ironside.
Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld is a seven times World Champion in the sport of skydiving. He did this despite surviving a plane crash that killed sixteen of the twenty-two people on board, including a close friend and teammate, which left him seriously injured. He now runs Skydive Perris in Southern California, one of the largest skydiving centres in the world. His book 'Above All Else' is published by Skyhorse Publishing.
Imran Khan is the former international cricketer who is now the chairman of the political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. A renowned fast bowler, he made his Test Match debut for Pakistan in 1971 and as Captain lead them to their first ever Test series win in India. Born only five years after Pakistan was created in 1947, his book 'Pakistan: A Personal History' draws on the experiences of his family and his wide travels within his homeland. 'Pakistan: A Personal Hist
21/09/2011 • 41 minutes 36 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Carol Mellin, Steve Walker, Lucy Bailey and Molly Birnbaum.
Carol Mellin is a sheep farmer and sheep dog trainer. She is competing in the 4th International Sheep Dog Society World Trials, taking place on the Lowther Estate, near Penrith in Cumbria. A total of 240 dogs and their handlers from twenty-three competing nations will take part. It will be shown on More4 this week.
Steve Walker is Programme Director of the Ley Community in Oxfordshire, a successful drug rehabilitation centre, where he was treated in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His book 'Steve: Unwanted' tells of his life as a drug addict and dealer before his life was turned around, and saved, by the Ley Community. Steve: Unwanted is published by Short Books.
Lucy Bailey is joint Artistic Director of the Print Room which she founded with Anda Winters in 2008. It took them three years to convert a small fifties warehouse into a simple flexible theatre space, seating under one hundred
14/09/2011 • 41 minutes 42 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Laura Whitfield, Alastair Hignell, Matteo Pistono and Nigel Havers.
Laura Whitfield was a child swimming champion before becoming an actor. She is appearing in the Channel 4 observational documentary series, 'Seven Dwarves', which follows the lives of seven dwarf actors as they live together and perform in a production of Snow White.
Alastair Hignell CBE was a gifted sportsman who played rugby for England and county cricket for Gloucestershire. Forced to retire early through injury, he turned, via teaching, to broadcasting, becoming a commentator for both the BBC and ITV. In 1999 he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In his book 'Higgy: Matches, Microphones and MS' he tells of his journey of discovery about living with disability. 'Higgy: Matches, Microphones and MS' is published by Bloomsbury.
Matteo Pistono is a writer and practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. After first going to Tibet to deepen his meditation skills he was shocked by the stor
07/09/2011 • 41 minutes 36 seconds
This week Anita Anand is joined by Jane Wernick, Douglas Edwards, Prof Gordon Turnbull and Anne Hunter.
Jane Wernick is a structural engineer whose work has included the London Eye, the Treetop Walkway at Kew Gardens and the Young Vic Theatre. She is currently involved in 'Living Architecture', a not-for-profit organisation which designs and builds houses of outstanding architectural merit around Britain that can be rented for holidays, retreats or musical rehearsals.
Douglas Edwards became Google's first director of consumer marketing and brand management and was responsible for setting the tone and direction of the company's communication with their users. In his book, 'I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59', he takes us inside the hyper-energized world of the 'Googleplex'. 'I'm Feeling Lucky' is published by Allen Lane.
Professor Gordon Turnbull is recognised as one of the UK's leading practitioners in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PT
20/07/2011 • 42 minutes 6 seconds
This week Anita Anand is joined by David Westhead, Thapelo Motsumi, Kamin Mohammadi, Pauline Black and Paul Magid.
David Westhead is an actor and filmmaker who organised a photographic course for disadvantaged teenagers from Johannesburg townships. Thapelo Motsumi was one of the young people who attended the course and is now working as a professional photographer. An exhibition of their photographs, 'Wembley to Soweto', is at the Oxo Gallery in London.
Kamin Mohammadi is a journalist who fled the Iranian revolution in 1979 aged nine with her mother, father and sister, leaving behind their large, close-knit family. They came to London where she found a very different world. It took her nearly twenty years to return to her homeland and she tells her story in the book 'The Cypress Tree', which is published by Bloomsbury.
Pauline Black is the actor/director and lead singer with 2-Tone band, The Selecter. Born of Anglo-Jewish/Nigerian parents, she was adopted by a white, working class
13/07/2011 • 42 minutes 15 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Rev. Nicholas Holtam, Rye Barcott, William Rees-Mogg and Sue Tilley.
Rev. Nicholas Holtam has been vicar of St Martin in the Fields for the last sixteen years. He will be ordained as Bishop of Salisbury on 22nd July. In a new book, 'The Art of Worship', he reflects on the pictures in the National Gallery that have inspired him during his time at St Martins. 'The Art of Worship' is published by Yale University Press.
As an American college student on his way into the US Marines, Rye Barcott spent the summer in the Nairobi slums to better understand the ethnic violence he would face in uniform. There, he forged a friendship with a community organiser and a widowed nurse and subsequently set up the organisation, Carolina for Kibera (CFK). He tells his story in the book 'It Happened on the Way to War', published by Bloomsbury.
William Rees-Mogg is the journalist and former Editor of The Times. During his long career he has also been Chairman of the A
06/07/2011 • 41 minutes 58 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Justin Vivian Bond, Ruth Leon, Kenneth Cranham and Noel Tovey.
Justin Vivian Bond is the American actor, singer and performance artist, formerly of the cabaret duo, Kiki & Herb. A Tony Award nominee, he returns to London to perform his solo show as part of the Soho Theatre's Comedy and Cabaret season. His new album is titled 'Dendrophile'.
Ruth Leon is a writer and broadcaster specialising in all performing arts. She is also the widow of the theatre critic Sheridan Morley and has written a memoir, 'But What Comes Next?' about their life together. 'But What Comes Next?' is published by Constable.
Kenneth Cranham is one of our best known stage, film and TV character actors, currently in the National Theatre production of 'The Cherry Orchard'. After becoming a household name in the eighties in television's 'Shine on Harvey Moon', he has gone on to star on stage and screen, most recently in films including 'Made in Dagenham' and 'Layer Cake'. 'The Che
29/06/2011 • 41 minutes 51 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by guests including Princess Campbell, Simon Day, Clare Peake and Henry Winkler.
Princess Campbell was one of the first black ward sisters working in the NHS; she was one of a pioneering group of African-Caribbean workers who began to challenge barriers of prejudice. Her uniform goes on display at M-Shed, Bristol's new city museum in the old 1950s transit sheds at Prince's Wharf on the historic waterfront.
Simon Day is the actor and stand-up comedian, probably best known from 'The Fast Show'. He publishes his memoir, 'Comedy and Error' in which he writes about his life as a celebrity as well as his childhood growing up in SE London, being sent to borstal for petty thieving, and about his addiction to drugs, money and success. 'Comedy and Error' is published by Simon & Schuster.
Clare Peake is the daughter of the writer Mervyn Peake, author of the Gormenghast series of novels. Her memoir, 'Under a Canvas Sky', tells of her bohemian childhood and the
22/06/2011 • 41 minutes 47 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Phil Davison, Sylvia Holder, Iris Krass and Bill Collison.
Phil Davison is a craft-maker who worked as a couture pattern cutter to top London designers before learning the ancient art of cross-stitch on an exchange trip to Arkansas. Since then he has combined his obsession with street-art and cross-stitch, creating 'Urban Cross Stitch' kits with new designs that appeal to a new generation of stitchers. He also runs 'Cupcake, Cocktail and Cross Stitch' evenings. His first book 'Twisted Stitches' is published by Fil Rouge Press.
Sylvia Holder was a London PR consultant on a business trip to India when she first met Venkat, a young Indian boy on a beach, and subsequently agreed to pay for his education. Sadly, at the age of twenty seven, just when all his efforts were beginning to show results for him and his family, he was killed in a road accident. Sylvia set up the Venkatraman Memorial Trust, in his memory, to support thousands like him, changing
15/06/2011 • 42 minutes 1 second
This week Libby Purves is joined by Meeta Raval, Kate Allatt, Gene David Kirk and Nell Gifford.
Meeta Raval is recognised as a rising star of the new generation of opera singers and is one of the contestants in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. She attended Wells Cathedral School and was the first Head Girl Chorister in the country. The competition will be broadcast on BBC Two, BBC Four, BBC Two Wales, Radio 3, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru.
Fell-runner and mother of three, Kate Allatt's life was torn apart when she suffered a massive stroke leading to locked-in syndrome. Totally paralysed, she became a prisoner inside her own body and her family were warned that she may never walk, talk or lead a normal life again. However, through her own determination she made a remarkable recovery and did run again. Her book 'Running Free: Breaking out from locked-in syndrome' is published by Accent Press.
Gene David Kirk is Artistic Director of London's Jermyn Street Theatre, who s
08/06/2011 • 41 minutes 42 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Carol Furtado, Col Sgt Simon Panter, Vince Hill and Barry McGuigan.
Carol Furtado is lead dancer in 'The Merchants of Bollywood', a theatrical dance extravaganza, charting the history of the world's largest and most prolific film industry. 'The Merchants of Bollywood' is at the Peacock Theatre, London.
Colour Sgt Simon Panter features in 'Our War' on BBC Three which marks the 10th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan by using footage shot by the soldiers themselves. Part one, 'Ambushed', tells the story of the 1st Royal Anglian's bloody tour in Helmand Province, and the death of 19-year-old Private Chris Gray in a Taliban ambush.
Singer Vince Hill rose to fame in the sixties with the million-selling No. 1 record 'Edelweiss'. In a career spanning fifty years, considered one of the most respected vocalists in the business, his melodic, modulated delivery earned him the title of 'the singer's singer'. His memoir, 'Another Hill to Climb' is published
01/06/2011 • 41 minutes 36 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Professor Nicky Clayton, Bill Roedy, Edward Petherbridge and Steve Greenhaugh.
Nicky Clayton is Professor of Comparative Cognition at Cambridge University and is an expert in bird behaviour. She is also passionate about dance and now combines these two strands as the Rambert Dance Company's first 'Scientist in Residence'. She is working with the Rambert on a new production, "Seven for a Secret, Never to be Told" and will be at this year's Hay Festival.
Bill Roedy is the former Chairman and Chief Executive of MTV. In his book, 'What Makes Business Rock', he tells the story of how he built MTV into a global phenomenon. 'What Makes Business Rock' is published by Wiley.
Edward Petherbridge is a distinguished stage actor who has had a long and varied career. He was part of Laurence Olivier's National Theatre Company at the Old Vic and starred as Lord Peter Wimsey in the BBC adaptation of the Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries. He is currently playing the pro
25/05/2011 • 41 minutes 35 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Dr Kevin Jones, Vic Armstrong, Vidal Sassoon and Peter Jefferson.
Dr Kevin Jones is an NHS Consultant in Acute Medicine at the Royal Bolton Hospital and is also a comedian. He features in a short film, 'Dying for a Laugh', along with stand-up comedians including Shappi Khorsandi, Ricky Tomlinson, and Dave Spikey, all reflecting (and joking) about the taboo subject of death. The film supports National Dying Matters Awareness Week which aims to get people talking more openly about end of life care and dying.
Vic Armstrong is a British-born stuntman and director. He has worked in the movie industry for forty years, as stunt double for Indiana Jones, James Bond and Superman, and has directed action scenes for three James Bond movies, 'Mission Impossible 3' and 'I Am Legend', to name but a few. His autobiography, 'The True Adventures of The World's Greatest Stuntman' is published by Titan Books.
Vidal Sassoon is known as the man who 'changed the world
18/05/2011 • 41 minutes 1 second
This week Libby Purves is joined by Jon Cousins, Paul Broda, Suggs and Patsy Rodenburg.
Jon Cousins set up the website 'Moodscope' to help people manage their moods. Through his own personal experience of suffering from depression he used research by an American psychologist to create a site that lets fellow sufferers monitor their own wellbeing through a brief, daily online test. The results produce a "happiness number" that comforts those worried about their own state of mind, and the results can also be e-mailed to concerned friends or relatives.
Paul Broda is a micro-biologist. His memoir 'Scientist Spies', centres on the lives of his mother, father and stepfather, the latter two spies who passed nuclear secrets to the Russians in the 1940s. He also describes how from early childhood his own life was shaped by his family life and influences. 'Scientist Spies - a memoir of my three parents and the Atom Bomb' is published by Matador.
Suggs, real name Graham McPherson, is the sing
11/05/2011 • 42 minutes 13 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Baroness Jenkin, Walter Schwarz, Doreen Mantle and Gary Cockerill.
Anne Jenkin, Baroness Jenkin of Kennington is a PR consultant. She was made a member of the House of Lords in recognition of her charitable and political work for the Conservative Party. She is taking part in a fundraising and awareness campaign, 'Live Below the Line', for the charity 'Restless Development'. The campaign is challenging people to live below the poverty line, by spending just one pound a day on food and drink for five days.
Walter Schwarz was The Guardian newspaper's foreign correspondent from 1964 to the 1990s. He reported from Nigeria, Israel, France and as a War Correspondent in India/Pakistan during the 1972 conflict. In his memoir 'The Ideal Occupation' he tells of his many adventures and misadventures including his deportation from Nigeria and time spent in prison in Biafra during the Civil War.
Actor Doreen Mantle is probably best known for her role as Mrs W
04/05/2011 • 41 minutes 52 seconds
Libby Purves is joined by Wayne Bartholomew, Mary King, Roger Garfitt and Randle Siddeley
Wayne Bartholomew is the general manager of the Lake District hotel The Damson Dene in Windermere which features in a 'fly on the wall' series on Channel 4 called The Hotel.
Mary King is a singing coach, singer and conductor and Director of the Southbank Centre's VoiceLab. Mary will be training 750 singers who will be taking part in the Messiah Concert at the Chorus! Festival at the Southbank with the acclaimed orchestra/choir The Sixteen.
Roger Garfitt is a poet who has written a memoir called The Horseman's Word which is published by Cape.
Randle Siddeley is a landscape architect. He also holds the title The Lord Kenilworth. His book Garden draws on his long career, taking the reader through gardens he has created, both large and small, town and country, British and international. It is published by Frances Lincoln.
Producer: Chris Paling.
27/04/2011 • 42 minutes 12 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Dion Dublin, Robert Irwin, Gary Wiltshire and Molly Naylor.
Dion Dublin is a retired English footballer turned amateur percussionist and musician. He has invented a percussion instrument called "The Dube". During his football career he played for teams including Norwich City, Manchester Utd, Aston Villa and Celtic and was capped four times for England. Since retiring he has become a football pundit for Sky and has co-presented 5 Live's 606 and currently the BBC's Late Kick Off East programme.
Robert Irwin is a writer on the history and culture of the Islamic world and is Middle East editor of the TLS. In his book, 'Memoirs of a Dervish' he tells of how he left Oxford in the summer of 1964 and went to Algiers, while a military coup was taking place there, in search of enlightenment. 'Memoirs of a Dervish - Sufis Mystics and the 60s' is published by Profile Books.
Gary Wiltshire worked as a market trader, van boy for R. White's Lemonade, porter at
20/04/2011 • 41 minutes 41 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Raghu Dixit, Beata Zatorska, Linda Nolan and Brian Deighton.
Raghu Dixit is an Indian crossover musician from Mysore. He founded the Raghu Dixit Project, an open house for musicians and artistes from different genres to come together, collaborate and create a dynamic sound and expression. He is a former Microbiologist and a proficient Indian Classical Dancer and his latest CD is entitled 'Raghu Dixit'.
Beata Zatorska was born and raised in Communist Poland in the sixties and seventies by her grandmother, a professional chef. In 1981 she moved to Australia and became a doctor. After twenty years away, she returned to the village in Poland where she was brought up and rediscovered her grandmother's family recipes. Her book 'Rose Petal Jam - Recipes and stories from a summer in Poland' is published by Tabula Books.
Linda Nolan is one of the Nolan sisters, originally from Ireland, who are probably best known for their hit song 'I'm in the Mood for D
13/04/2011 • 42 minutes 2 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Joshua Foer, Marianne Talbot, Tom Renouf and Lydia Carmichael.
Joshua Foer's book 'Moonwalking with Einstein' tells of his year spent investigating memory, in which he talks to experts around the world including neuroscientists, chess masters and 'memory historians'. He also undertakes training under a Memory Grand Master, and finds himself in the finals of the US Memory Championship, among competitors who can recite pi to ten thousand decimal places. 'Moonwalking with Einstein is published by Allen Lane.
Marianne Talbot is Director of Studies in Philosophy at the University of Oxford's Department of Continuing Education. Her book 'Keeping Mum' tells of her personal journey, looking and caring for her own mother who suffered from dementia. 'Keeping Mum: Caring with someone with dementia' is published by Hay House.
Dr Tom Renouf served in the legendary Black Watch during the Second World War. In his book, 'Black Watch', he tells the story of the 51
06/04/2011 • 42 minutes 4 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Travis Meinolf, Vernon Rapley, Prof Lewis Wolpert and Rachel Clare.
Travis Meinolf is an 'action weaver' who travels around the world engaging communities in interactive weaving, drawing on human connections, conversations and stories and embeds them into cloth woven on the move. He is interested in the symbolism and meaning of cloth and has been observing the way people in Libya are representing themselves through sewing their own flags. As part of an event organised by 'Curious About Craft', he will work with the local community in Birmingham.
Vernon Rapley is Director of Security at the V&A. Formerly Detective Sergeant, he led London's Metropolitan Police Art and Antiques Unit until June 2010. With a team of just three full time police officers, he was dedicated to the policing of the world's second largest art market, recovering an average of £7 million of stolen and laundered art each year. He will be giving two lectures - Introducing Fakes
30/03/2011 • 41 minutes 44 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Ben Goddard, Dame Catherine, Jeff Pearce and David Wood.
Ben Goddard is playing the role of Jerry Lee Lewis in the musical 'Million Dollar Quartet' inspired by the actual event that took place on 4th December 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis, when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis came together to make music for the first and only time. 'Million Dollar Quartet' is at the Noel Coward Theatre, London WC2.
Dame Catherine was a banker before becoming a Benedictine Nun. She co-founded The Benedictine Nuns of Holy Trinity Monastery, East Hendred, the first community of contemplative Benedictine nuns to be established in England for more than fifty years. They are using the internet and other innovations in order to make their message work in the 21st Century and are launching online retreats this month.
Jeff Pearce was born in the slums of Liverpool in 1953, and from an early age he worked with his mother selling second hand clo
23/03/2011 • 42 minutes 2 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Jean-Marie Akkerman, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Katie Piper and Laura Lee.
Jean-Marie Akkerman, a fourth generation circus performer, is founder of Cirque Nova, the only circus in the world working specifically with people who have physical, learning and mental health disabilities . Among is his liberating ideas has been to adapt trapeze swings to enable wheelchair-users to fly through the air upside down. Cirque Nova is one of the Comic Relief supported projects.
Sir Cameron Mackintosh is the theatre producer who, over the last thirty years, has produced a string of hits - from Cats and Miss Saigon to Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and My Fair Lady. Opening this month is his first new musical in ten years, 'Betty Blue Eyes', based on Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray's comic film 'A Private Function'. 'Betty Blue Eyes' is at the Novello Theatre.
Katie Piper was badly scared after a horrific acid attack destroyed her face two years ago. Since
16/03/2011 • 40 minutes 9 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Clarence B Jones, Carodoc King and Yangzom Brauen.
Clarence B Jones was the co-author of the 'I Have a Dream' speech and a close confidant to Martin Luther King himself. He was there, on the road, collaborating with the great minds of the time, and hammering out the ideas that would shape the civil rights movement. He is the sole survivor of those who had direct participation in these events. His book 'Behind the Dream', co-written by Stuart Connelly, is published by MacMillan.
Carodoc King is a leading literary agent. In his memoir 'Problem Child' he tells of his childhood growing up in the 1950s in a large and eccentric family in Essex. He was treated harshly by his mother, sent to boarding school aged six and when he was fifteen found out he was adopted and a year later his parents removed him from school and ejected him completely from the family. With a natural survival instinct he got a place at Oxford, and thirty years later he goes in searc
09/03/2011 • 42 minutes 10 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Mary Wilson, Larry Lamb, Siza Mtimbiri and Arthur Jeffes.
Mary Wilson is the singer and a founding member of sixties group The Supremes. On the legendary Motown record label, they were able to cross racial boundaries to become one of the most successful musical acts of all time - the only group to have five consecutive number one hits. She's now an author, motivational speaker, and an international spokeswoman for the 'Humpty Dumpty Institute', a humanitarian organisation in which she speaks against landmines. She is currently touring the UK.
Actor Larry Lamb is probably best known for his roles in two of the UK's best-loved television series as the villain Archie Mitchell in 'Eastenders' and as loveable dad Mick in 'Gavin and Stacey'. In his memoir, 'Mummy's Boy' he looks back at his own difficult relationship with his father, and how that in turn shaped his own close relationship with his son, George. 'Mummy's Boy' is published by Hodder.
02/03/2011 • 41 minutes 53 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Eva Petulengro, Izzeldin Abuelaish, Rebecca Peyton and Mark Todd.
Eva Petulengro is a member of the last generation of true Romany gypsies who spent her childhood on the road with her family. She read palms on Brighton Pier and became one of the country's leading clairvoyants and astrologers, with famous clients including The Beatles and Michael Crawford. Her book 'The Girl in the Painted Caravan - Memories of a Romany Childhood' is published by Pan MacMillan.
Izzeldin Abuelaish is a Palestinian doctor and infertility expert who was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. On 16th January 2009 he witnessed the death of his three daughters and a niece, by shell-fire and his response, moments after the attack, was broadcast live on Israeli television. His steadfast, active advocacy for peace and reconciliation, despite his loss, has earned him international recognition, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. He tells
23/02/2011 • 41 minutes 59 seconds
This week Sian Williams is joined by Sean Foggett, Andrew Barrow, Magsie Hamilton-Little and David Morrissey.
Shaun Foggett is the UK's answer to 'Crocodile Dundee'. His passion is crocodiles; and he's been keeping twenty-seven of them in the back garden of his semi-detached house in Oxfordshire. Shaun's efforts to open the UK's first Crocodile Education and Conservation Centre are the subject of the TV documentary Croc Man, which is on the Discovery Channel.
Andrew Barrow is a writer and journalist. At the age of twenty-two his younger brother Jonathan was killed in a car crash. He left behind the manuscript of a novel, 'The Queue', in which he prophesised his own death. Jonathan and his book form the framework of Andrew's new book which tells the story of his eccentric family. 'Animal Magic - A Brother's Story' is published by Jonathan Cape.
On July 7th 2005, Magsie Hamilton-Little was a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies when she witnessed the carnage caused
16/02/2011 • 42 minutes 19 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Fiona Stanford, Mark Henderson, Father Ray and Raymond Gubbay.
Fiona Stanford is married to a high ranking army officer, a former commander of the Welsh Guards. Her book 'Don't Say Goodbye', is the story of the men and women who are left behind when their partners go to war, with first hand accounts from mothers, wives, girlfriends and children. She was prompted to write the book after the death of one of her closest friends husbands', Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe who was killed in Afghanistan. Proceeds from the book will go to the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal. 'Don't Say Goodbye' is published by Hodder & Stoughton.
In 2003 Mark Henderson was one of eight backpackers taken hostage whilst trekking in the Colombian jungle. He was eventually released after 101 days. In a bizarre twist, eleven months after his release, Mark received an email from Antonio, one of his kidnappers. This email was the start of a five-year correspondence between ho
09/02/2011 • 42 minutes 2 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Sophie Thompson, Patrick Cockburn, Kevin Skelton and Fred Sirieix.
Sophie Thompson is the award-winning stage, film and television actor who is currently reprising her role in the critically acclaimed Clybourne Park, an hilarious satire which explores the fault line between race and property. Written in two parts, over two generations in 1959 and 2009, the company play a different role in each act. Clybourne Park has just transferred to the West End and is playing at Wyndham's Theatre.
Patrick Cockburn is Iraq correspondent for the Independent. Seven years ago he was halfway around the world in Afghanistan when he learned from his wife that their son Henry had been admitted to a hospital mental health ward having appeared to have suffered a mental breakdown. Ten days later, Henry was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. In their book, 'Henry's Demons', Patrick and Henry give their extraordinary account of Henry's rapid descent into mental illness
02/02/2011 • 42 minutes 4 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Bran Symondson, Joan Woodcock, Greg Hicks and Phillip King.
Bran Symondson is a serving soldier in the British Army Reserve. Whilst on a six month tour of Afghanistan he became fascinated by the Afghan National Police (ANP), their ethos and their daily existence in the war with the Taliban. When he was given the opportunity to return and document these characters as a civilian photographer in 2010, with the Sunday Times, he was able to capture a unique perspective on the current conflict. An exhibition: The Best View of Heaven is from Hell is at Idea Generation Gallery, London E2.
Joan Woodcock was sixteen when she began her nursing career as a cadet nurse, a career that spanned over forty years in NHS nursing. Working on hospital wards, casualty units and out in the community, as well as prison and a police unit dealing with sexual assault, Joan has seen it all. 'Matron Knows Best - the true story of a 1960s NHS nurse' is published by Headline.
26/01/2011 • 41 minutes 53 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by David M Lutken, Lee Mack, David Threlfall and Janet Street-Porter.
David M Lutken is an American actor and writer. He is the co-writer (with Nick Corley) and the star of a new musical, 'Woody Sez', about Woody Guthrie, who according to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was "the original folk hero; a man who, in the Thirties and Forties, transformed the folk ballad into a vehicle for social protest and observation, and paved the way for the likes of Bob Dylan". 'Woody Sez - the Life and Music of Woody Guthrie' is at the Arts Theatre, London.
Lee Mack is a writer and comedian who has established himself as one of the UK's biggest comedy stars. The last twelve months alone have seen him extend his 2010 national tour 'Going Out' twice, return as resident team captain on TV's 'Would I Lie To You?' and he now returns to BBC One with the award-winning sitcom 'Not Going Out' for a fourth series.
David Threlfall is the acclaimed actor probably best known for
19/01/2011 • 41 minutes 53 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Lorraine Pascale, Wilbert Rideau, Dame Kelly Holmes and Stephen Hough.
Lorraine Pascale was spotted aged 16 by a model scout whilst shopping in Covent Garden. She was whisked off to New York to model for Chanel, Lagerfeld and John Galliano and was the first British black model on the cover of American Elle magazine. She's now left the catwalk to qualify as a professional chef, baker and patissiere and is about to appear in a new series for BBC Two, Baking Made Easy, in which she shares her baking secrets.
Wilbert Rideau was sentenced to death for murder in 1961 at the age of 19. He robbed the local bank in an ill-thought-out and bungled robbery, killing the bank teller. He spent the next 44 years in prison. While in there he edited the prison magazine The Angolite, which became the first prison magazine to publish uncensored news in the world and won national journalism awards. "In the Place of Justice" (Profile) is his autobiography.
12/01/2011 • 42 minutes 2 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by John Sergeant, Rufus Sewell, Wasfi Kani and Tom Pey.
John Sergeant is the former political editor of ITN. Since appearing on Midweek in 2002 ahead of the publication of his autobiography 'Give Me Ten Seconds' he has left political journalism behind in favour of writing, acting, presenting and making documentaries about everything from Grimefighters to Indian railways to tourism. He also won a place in the nation's heart when he took part in the BBC's 'Strictly Come Dancing'.
Rufus Sewell is probably best known for period roles such as Will Ladislaw in 'Middlemarch' and Charles in 'Charles II: the Power and the Passion' and Channel 4's 'Pillars of the Earth'. He is about to star in three films for BBC One as the fictional Italian detective Aurelio Zen. Set in and around Rome, and based on the best-selling novels by the late Michael Dibdin.
Wasfi Kani OBE is the founder and director of Grange Park and Pimlico Opera which is one of the leading smal
29/12/2010 • 41 minutes 12 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Gordon Buchanan, Les Persaud, Reece Shearsmith and Vicki Amedume.
Gordon has worked as a wildlife cameraman for nearly twenty years, specialising in filming dangerous predators, including tigers and leopards in Bhutan, jaguars in the Amazon, and lions in Africa. In 'The Bear Family and Me' on BBC Two, Gordon spends a year with a family of wild Black Bears in the forests of Minnesota.
Les Persaud's sixteen year old son Stefan was killed in South London after a minor row between him and another teenager. Out of this tragic event, he came up with the idea of mentoring children caught up in gang culture, got his son's friends together and set up 'The Options Project', which goes into primary schools to help children understand the consequences of knives and knife crime.
Reece Shearsmith is the actor and writer who first came to prominence as the co-writer and one of the stars of the cult BBC comedy series 'The League of Gentlemen'. He is also co-writ
22/12/2010 • 41 minutes 55 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Professor Chris Rapley, Boyd Clack, Elisabeth Parry and Jamelia.
Professor Chris Rapley MBE is the Director of the Science Museum in London. Before that he was Director of the British Antarctic Survey. The new high tech, interactive 'Atmosphere' gallery opened last week and aims to outline the basics of climate science and explain about human activity and our impact on weather patterns. The Science Museum will be the first and only museum in the UK to display an Antarctic ice core, an object many scientists consider to be pivotal in the study of climate science. The 'Atmosphere' gallery is at the Science Museum, London SW7.
Boyd Clack is a Welsh actor, writer and musician. In his memoir 'Kisses Sweeter Than Wine' he tells of how an ordinary lad from Tonyrefail via Vancouver learns to cope with the early loss of his father and abandonment by his widowed mother. After leaving the Welsh valleys to seek fame and fortune in Australia and Canada, it was
15/12/2010 • 42 minutes 2 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Klaus Kruse, Bryn Terfel, Sir Patrick Stewart and Becky Unthank.
Klaus Kruse is a German director, scenographer, performer and poet. His research into audience/performance spatial relationships and the effecting potential of space within a theatrical experience led him to co-found 'Living Structures'. 'Cart Macabre' is their newest work and two years in the making, part theatre, part installation, it is on at The Old Vic Tunnels, described as "a nightmare fairground ride through a dreamlike landscape".
Bryn Terfel is the Welsh bass-baritone who rose to prominence when he won the Lieder Prize in the 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. Now considered as one of the world's greatest living opera singers, his new album 'Carols and Christmas Songs' is released on Deutsche Grammophon and the new single 'White Christmas' is hotly tipped as the Christmas No. 1.
Sir Patrick Stewart is the acclaimed actor, known for successfully bridging the gap
08/12/2010 • 41 minutes 2 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Xander Rawlins, Jane Milligan, Mary Ward, Mark Logue and Matthew Kelly.
Xander Rawlins is a Captain in the Grenadier Guards. He releases his debut single '1000 miles Apart' this month, a song that was written whilst he was serving on the front line in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. He performed off-the-cuff concerts which he found was a way of bringing everyone together, and his two acoustic guitars travelled with him throughout his 6 month, 8000 mile tour of duty.
Mark Logue is the grandson of Lionel Logue, the Australian speech therapist to King George VI, soon to feature in a film with Colin Firth. Mark is custodian of the Logue Archive and has written a book, 'The King's Speech', with Peter Conradi, based on recently discovered diaries of his grandfather. His grandfather was famously dubbed by one newspaper in the 1930s 'The Quack who saved a King'. 'The King's Speech is published by Quercus.
Jane Milligan is an actor and the youngest child
01/12/2010 • 41 minutes 45 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Nina Conti, Anne Downie, John Stewart and Ann Martin-Davis.
Ventriloquist Nina Conti returns to London's Soho Theatre, following a sell out run at this year's Edinburgh Festival, with her new solo show, 'Talk to the Hand'. Familiar favourite, the incorrigible Monk is joined by a host of new characters, including poetry penning Owl, mischievous Granny and vodka swilling Lydia. 'Talk to the Hand' is at the Soho Theatre.
Anne Downie is a Scottish actor and writer who has worked in many of the major Scottish theatres. She is currently performing in Ena Lamont Stewart's 'Men Should Weep', a moving and funny portrayal of impoverished 1930s Glasgow, written in 1947. It was voted one of the top hundred plays of the 20th century in the NT2000 millennium poll. 'Men Should Weep' is at the Lyttelton Theatre.
John Stewart began his career in photography in the 1950s, having previously served in the British army during WWII, including three and a half years as
24/11/2010 • 42 minutes 5 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Samantha Bond, Seckou Keita, Ryan Bingham and Brendan Cole.
Samantha Bond is the actor, probably best known for her role as 'Miss Moneypenny' in the James Bond films starring Pierce Brosnan. She has appeared in many television series, including the BBC Comedy 'Outnumbered' as Aunt Angela and on stage in 'Amy's View' opposite Dame Judi Dench. She is currently playing the scheming Mrs Cheveley in Oscar Wilde's classic 'An Ideal Husband' at the Vaudeville Theatre, The Strand.
Seckou Keita is a Senegalese born Kora player and drummer, who has been called the 'Hendrix of the Kora'. This year he launched a partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross in which he will donate 50% of all the proceeds made from his latest album, 'The Silimbo Passage'.
Ryan Bingham is an Oscar-winning songwriter and country singer. An ex-Rodeo rider from New Mexico, he co-wrote, with T. Bone Burnett, 'The Weary Kind' which featured on the soundtrack of the
17/11/2010 • 40 minutes 36 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Michael Allen, Giles Coren, Ludovico Einaudi and Priscilla Coleman.
Michael Allen is a Chelsea Pensioner who served in the the Royal Engineers and Royal Military Police for twenty-four years before becoming a Chelsea pensioner in 2007. During his career he served all over the world including Germany, France, North Africa, Borneo and Hong Kong and was a bodyguard to Sir Alec Douglas-Hume. He's one of the Pensioners performing on their new album 'Men in Scarlet' released on Rhino Records.
Giles Coren is the writer, critic, columnist and television presenter. In a new series on BBC Two, 'Giles and Sue Live the Good Life', Giles and Sue Perkins celebrate the 35th anniversary of one of the UK's best-loved sitcoms by going back to 1975 and trying their hands at self-sufficiency, recreating Tom and Barbara Good's lifestyle.
Ludovico Einaudi is an Italian pianist and composer. Playing to sell out audiences around the world, his music appears in films an
10/11/2010 • 41 minutes 12 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Jo Wilding, Michele Dotrice, Ronald Blythe and Jane Green.
In 2003 Jo Wilding spent several months in Iraq before, during and after the invasion, documenting civilian casualties and writing a weblog which became a book, 'Don't Shoot the Clowns'. She also set up and ran a small circus working with traumatised and internally displaced children there. A new play, Don't Shoot The Clowns, by Paul Hodson, inspired by Jo's book, is currently touring the UK.
Michele Dotrice an actor probably best known for playing Betty, the long-suffering wife of Frank Spencer in comedy 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em'. She comes from a great acting dynasty, the daughter of actor Roy Dotrice and wife of the late Edward Woodward. She is currently starring in JB Priestley's comedy 'When We Are Married' at the Garrick Theatre.
Ronald Blythe is a writer whose career began in 1960 with the publication of 'A Treasonable Growth', a novel set in Suffolk and reissued this year. Howeve
03/11/2010 • 41 minutes 48 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Sheridan Smith, Sir Johnny Scott, Andrew Sharp and Alan Titchmarsh.
Sheridan Smith is the actor probably best known for her many award-winning television roles which include the comedies Two Pints of Lager & A Packet of Crisps, Gavin and Stacey and Benidorm. She has recently taken the West End by storm in the hit musical Legally Blonde, playing the role of college sweetheart Elle Woods and has extended her run until next year. Legally Blonde: The Musical is at the Savoy Theatre.
Sir Johnny Scott is a historian, broadcaster, countryside campaigner and farmer. He wrote and co-presented the BBC2 series Clarissa and the Countryman and writes for magazines and periodicals on field sports, food, farming and rural issues. His new book, 'A Book of Britain' celebrates the landscape and people, and reveals why, through centuries of careful management, conservation and cultivation, Britain looks as it does. 'A Book of Britain' is published by Collins.
27/10/2010 • 41 minutes 44 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Simon Fisher Turner, Maggi Hambling, Sheila Steafel and Rumer.
Composer Simon Fisher Turner is a former child actor and teenage pop idol. He has written a new score for the documentary The Great White Silence (1924) which is a record of Captain Scott's last Polar expedition (1910 -1912). The world premiere screening, newly restored by the BFI National Archive, is one of the highlights of the 54th BFI London Film Festival.
Maggi Hambling is one of Britain's most celebrated artists. Since the unveiling in 2003, her Scallop sculpture on Aldeburgh Beach in Suffolk has never been far from controversy. In her book, 'The Aldeburgh Scallop' she traces her love of the sea back to her earliest childhood and records how this lifelong passion has fired her work, culminating in the Scallop sculpture. 'The Aldeburgh Scallop' is published by Full Circle Editions.
Actress Sheila Steafel grew up in apartheid-torn South Africa during the thirties and forties befor
20/10/2010 • 41 minutes 26 seconds
Libby Purves is joined by Vicki Butler-Henderson, Derren Brown and Dave Spikey.
Vicki Butler-Henderson presents Fifth Gear on Channel 5. As well as presenting, she is also well known for her racing, holding a Race International 'C' Class licence. Her first book, 'Vicki Butler-Henderson's 100 Sexiest Cars' is published by Carlton Books.
Derren Brown has been dubbed the 'psychological illusionist'. He's a performer who combines magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship in order to seemingly predict and control human behaviour, as well as performing mind-bending feats of mentalism. His new book 'Confessions of a Conjurer' is structured around the various stages of a conjuring trick, combined with autobiography. Published by Channel 4 Books.
Dave Spikey is an award-winning comedian. The recipient of two British Comedy Awards, he co-wrote and co-starred in the acclaimed 'Phoenix Nights' as the inimitable Jerry St Clair. Before becoming a professional comedian he worked
13/10/2010 • 38 minutes 40 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Segun Lee-French, Ray and Vi Donovan, Mary Coughlan and Simon Winchester.
Segun Lee-French is a Nigerian/Mancunian a singer, poet, composer, playwright and film-maker. His latest work is an autobiographical play 'Palm wine and stout' which tells of his journey, with his mother, to a small Nigerian village to meet his dad who he'd only met once before. 'Palm wine and stout' is on tour.
Ray and Vi Donovan's son Christopher was murdered in 2001. Since then they have done voluntary work visiting prisons to make offenders more aware of their effects on victims, through a programme called The Sycamore project, run by Prison Fellowship. They are among the curators of 'Art by Offenders', an exhibition organised by the Koestler Trust, in which people whose lives have been changed by crime curate art works by prisoners. Art by Offenders is on Spirit Level, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre.
Mary Coughlan is the Galway born singer renowned for her abili
06/10/2010 • 41 minutes 53 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Paul Burns, Kit Chapman, David Cohen and Jane Davis.
Paul Burns is a former soldier who survived an IRA bomb at Warren Point in Northern Ireland on 27th August 1979. He went on to become the first disabled member of the elite Red Devils parachute display team, and was a member of "Time and Tide", the first ever disabled crew to sail around the world. His story is featured in the BBC One series My Story.
Kit Chapman is the owner of The Castle Hotel in Taunton, Somerset which his family have run since the 1950s. He was born into a long line of glamorous hoteliers: his grandfather Henry Pruger was once General Manager of London's Savoy and responsible for re-establishing the hotel's pre-eminence. His book My Archipelago is published by Mercer Books.
David Cohen is a writer and psychologist. When he was twelve he was abandoned by his parents. He knew he'd be put in an orphanage if anyone found out, so he made sure no one did. His book, Home Alone, is
29/09/2010 • 41 minutes 58 seconds
This week Libby Purves is joined by Philip Townsend, Alexei Sayle, Tony Fitzjohn and Harriet Mead.
Philip Townsend is the celebrated sixties photographer who was renowned for taking the Rolling Stones' first ever photo shoot. In a new exhibition at The Lowry, over sixty images documenting the people, the style and the musical revolution of that decade will be on show, many for the first time including Grace Kelly, Twiggy, The Beatles and private fashion shows at Mary Quant's HQ. Mister Sixties: Philip Townsend's Portraits of a Decade is at The Lowry, Salford Quays.
Alexei Sayle is the writer and stand-up comedian who was a central part of the alternative comedy circuit and a star of shows such as The Young Ones. In his newly published memoir he tells of his growing up in Stalinist household in the 1950s and 60s in Liverpool and how it made him want to leave home and become a stand up comic. Stalin At My Homework is pubished by Hodder.
Tony Fitzjohn was George Adamson's assistant at