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Podcast Seriously...
Podcast Seriously...


BBC 4's Seriously... Podcast presents a rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds.
BBC 4's Seriously... Podcast presents a rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds.

Available Episodes

5 of 300
  • Safe Space
    The idea of ‘safe space’ has migrated into the arts - in all aspects of performance, in arts education and practice, from theatre, public galleries and museums to spoken word, music and dance. It has become a fundamental idea to community and identity-based art collectives and groups. Defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘…an environment in which people, especially those belonging to a marginalised group, can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment or emotional harm…’, safe spaces are not just physical art spaces like galleries and rehearsal rooms. They are metaphorical, therapeutic: spaces free from judgemental speech and unwelcome criticism where identity, at both an individual and group level, is affirmed, nurtured and supported. The term 'safe space' connects with the idea of art as therapy, but it also joins up with anxiety around identity politics. For many young artists from diverse backgrounds, safe spaces are vital in a hostile world, offering protection from prejudice against women and people of colour, against the LGBTQ and trans communities, from Islamophobia. The term has become a key idea in arts education too, now embraced by institutions and students alike. But should the arts really be a ‘safe space’? Isn’t the purpose of art to challenge, interrogate identity and our ideas of who we are? The struggle is between protecting artistic self-expression in a controlled environment, encouraging previously excluded voices on the one hand - and then, on the other, the easy slide into a silencing of troubling ideas, excluding ideas or projects that might make people feel vulnerable, offended or uncomfortable but that have artistic worth nonetheless. Critics of the safe space movement are arguing that art is valuable because it must be, in the best sense, an ‘unsafe’ space. Whereas art once produced manifestos and disrupted safe spaces, it now creates them, looking inward rather than engaging outward. Hearing from artists across a range of backgrounds and disciplines this feature explores the history and politics of ‘safe space’ and its growing hold on the arts today. Contributors include the theatre director Ola Ince, former artistic director of English National Opera Daniel Kramer, psychotherapist Adam Phillips, author and former editor of Frieze Magazine Jennifer Higgie, sound artist and sculptor Abbas Zahedi, director of queer theatre Charlie Caine, poet and compere Rakaya Fetuga, safe space facilitator Katy Jon Went, comedian Tom Walker (aka Jonathan Pie), sociologist Frank Furedi and FUBUNATION dance collective featuring Rhys Dennis and Waddah Sinadah. Produced by Simon Hollis A Brook Lapping production for BBC Radio 4 FUBUNATION photographed by Donnie Sunshine
  • The Imperilled Adventures of the Adventure Playground
    “Better a broken bone than a broken spirit.” So runs the mantra for adventure playgrounds - as coined by the woman who did more than anyone to establish them in the UK, Lady Marjory Allen. In these current days of ours, an increasing aversion to risk means these places designed for children to swing from ropes, jump from trees and generally run free are in trouble. Many of them have been either shut down or re-purposed - a trend only made worse by local authority funding cuts. Josie Long thinks this is a terrible situation. Adventure playgrounds, she argues, have never played a more important role, with children ushered from bubble to bubble between home and school, after decades in which active and seemingly hazardous play has been undermined. But are adventure playgrounds much safer in their own way than the ‘toyland whimsy’ offered by conventional playground designs where children don’t learn to assess risk? Josie talks to Michael Rosen about how much more creative the play offered by adventure playgrounds can be, encouraging independence and developing vital social and psychological skills alongside an amazing amount of fun. She spends two days among the children and play workers at the Baltic Street Adventure Playground in the East End of Glasgow, seeing first-hand the incredible and radical difference such a space can offer - not just to the individual children but also the community at large. Produced by Geoff Bird A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4
  • The Nuclear Priesthood
    How do we send a warning a hundred millennia into the future? Poet Paul Farley considers how we might warn people three thousand generations from now about the radioactive waste we’ve left in geological disposal facilities deep underground. As he does so he explores the essence of communication and storytelling and the elements of our language, art and culture which are truly universal. In countries across the world, including the UK, USA, France and Finland, the hunt is on for underground sites which will survive shifting tectonic plates or passing ice ages and remain secure for tens of millennia - maybe a hundred thousand years - until the radioactive waste they contain is no longer a danger. And once it’s buried, how do we leave a clear, unambiguous warning message - that this site is dangerous and should not be disturbed - for a society which may be utterly different from our own? Can we still use written language? Would pictures and symbols be more easily understood? Or could we construct a landscape of vast monuments to instil fear in anybody who saw them. Paul talks to writer Helen Gordon about her experience of visiting the Onkalo nuclear repository in Finland and the challenges of warning the future about what it contains. He hears from Jean-Noël Dumont, Manager of the Memory for Future Generations programme for the French nuclear agency Andra. For several years Andra has asked artists to devise a warning of the existence of a nuclear repository. Stéfane Perraud and Aram Kebabdjian responded with the idea of a Zone Bleue – a forest of genetically-modified blue trees which act as a memorial rather than a warning. In 1981 linguist Thomas Sebeok proposed the idea of a ‘nuclear priesthood’. The idea takes its inspiration from world faiths which have passed on their message for thousands of years. At an ancient Christian site in the shadow of Heysham nuclear power station Paul meets Robert Williams, Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cumbria who, with American artist Bryan McGovern Wilson, has brought to life the idea of a Nuclear Priest, imagining their vestments, their rituals and role. There’s compelling evidence that oral traditions can carry memories of events not just for centuries but for thousands of years. Professor Patrick Nunn has been researching Indigenous Australian stories which appear to carry the folk memory of a time after the last ice age when sea levels were much lower – around ten thousand years. So could a story, a poem or a song be the answer? As the programme unfolds, Paul devises a poem to carry a warning to distant generations. Producer: Jeremy Grange Programme image courtesy of Robert Williams and Bryan McGovern Wilson with Michael Coombs. It was taken during the Alchemical Tour of Archaeological Sites in Cumbria and North Lancashire, as part of the Cumbrian Alchemy Project.
  • Lights Out: Fallout
    Part of the 'Lights Out' series, documentary adventures that encourage you to take a closer listen. The image of the atomic mushroom cloud is powerfully symbolic, yet the grainy black and white footage that we're familiar with can create a sense of something historical, abstract and almost cinematic. The legacy of the UK's atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in Australia and the South Pacific is still, to some degree, shrouded in mystery. But for veterans and their offspring, as well as often forgotten islanders, these events are something very present that they carry with them everyday in an ongoing fight for acknowledgement. This documentary brings together these interconnected, intergenerational testimonies and considers the possible physical, psychological and cultural fallout that has occurred in the years following Operation Grapple on Kiritimati (then Christmas Island) and the Minor Trials in Maralinga. With contributions from Tekaobo Wainwright, John and Laura Morris, Steve Purse, Philomena Lawrence and Stacy & Rose Clark. Producer: Hannah Dean Consultant: Becky Alexsis-Martin. and additional research from Susie Boniface A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4 (photo credit: Eric Meyer)
  • Song of the Thames
    Singer and song collector Sam Lee traces a map in stories, folklore and song along England’s longest and most famous river, the Thames. Beginning at its underground source in the idyllic Gloucestershire countryside, Sam follows the Thames from a trickling stream to a majestic river carrying a myriad of human and animal lives. He witnesses its changes of mood and meaning as it squeezes through its busy, embanked, central London stretch searching for the soul of the river - the deep stories of its waters and banks. Through folklore, music, ecology and lives lived along 215 miles of water, Sam uncovers the past, present and future influence of the river’s deep cultural roots. Who is fed and who is starved by the Thames now and what does it mean to the people who come under its influence? With storyteller, Druid and mead maker Chris Park at Thames Head, via author and land rights activist Nick Park on his houseboat in Oxfordshire, Debbie Leach of Thames 21 working to help communities reconnect with and clean up the river in London, retired Thames lighterman Dave Jessop and Sourav Niyogi who explains the river’s significance to many in London’s Hindu community, Sam explores a flow of ideas running from source to sea. Finally, with author Rachel Lichtenstein, he stands on Two Tree Island on the Essex shore of the Thames estuary and gazes out across the Thames’s final incarnation, as a 5 mile wide delta mouth. We are a world away from the pure waters of the river's beginnings as Sam considers the ambiguous future of the Thames, its communities and the attention owed to it by the people who live along its banks. Presenter: Sam Lee Producer: Michael Umney Executive Producer: Katherine Godfrey A Novel production for BBC Radio 4

About Seriously...

BBC 4's Seriously... Podcast presents a rich selection of documentaries aimed at relentlessly curious minds. Presented by Ashley John-Baptiste, this twice weekly podcast replaces the Radio 4 Documentary of the Week.

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