Whistledown Newsletter – No 9. August 2006
With a SONY award over the fireplace, Sue MacGregor returns with the second series of the year for THE REUNION and a what hot line up: from the founders of Private Eye to the former prisoners of South Africa’s Robben Island. Other summer highlights include Bill Nighy giving voice to the Greek poet Cavafy, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top enthusing about Border radio, Matthew Parris’ take on the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and an exclusive look at the history of the Russian space programme with Jonathan Charles.
We’ve also been diving headlong into the world of PODCASTING, including one of Radio 4’s trial podcasts 'Generating Genius', worked with the charity Turning Point, a major holiday company and Nature magazine.
If you know anyone who needs help with their podcasts or any other audio content, then get in touch with Christina (email@example.com).
BBC Radio 4, Sunday 27th August, 3rd,10th,17th September at 11.15 am
(rpt Fridays at 9am)
“A terrific idea, brilliantly realised. The Reunion cleverly confronts newsmakers with their past and, with gently probing questions and imaginative use of archive, draws out new insights."
That’s what the judges in this year’s Sony awards said, and we were all delighted with our Bronze award in the Speech category. As Desert Island Discs takes a break, and swaps presenter (Sue Lawley making way for Kirsty Young), we return with another four programmes. Firstly, Christina Captieux produces a programme packed with revelations about the way our rail network was privatised under John Major. Stand by for some memorable spats as the team responsible come clean about what went wrong. Then we’re off to South Africa, with Sarah Cuddon producing, for what promises to be a moving gathering as we reunite some of the prisoners of Robben Island. The magazine Private Eye has sailed close to the wind on several occasions in its 40 odd year history: Emily Williams has gathered some of the prime movers to chew over the highs and lows. And finally, we end the series with a reunion of those families affected by the 1989 Marchioness disaster, which claimed 51 lives. Kate Taylor produces.
C.P.CAVAFY: REACHING ITHAKA
BBC Radio 4, Sunday 20th August 4.30pm (rpt Sat 26th at 11.30pm)
Hailed as one of the great poets of the 20th century, but unpublished in his lifetime, the work of the Greek poet, C.P.Cavafy who died in 1933 is currently undergoing a revival. `Ithaka', read out at the funeral of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, is for many still his most famous poem tracing as it does the joy of the journey without a foreseeable end. In this programme, produced by Diana Bentley, we visit Alexandria in Egypt, where he was part of the Greek ex-pat community in the 1920’s and 30’s and where he lived a modest life working at the Ministry of Irrigation. We hear how this meek and unassuming man produced some extraordinarily beautiful work against the backdrop of a boisterous and turbulent city. Bill Nighy gives us a wonderful reading of some of his most famous poems in this special programme for the Poetry Please slot.
BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 22nd August 11am
In the early 1920s, having gained his medical degree in a matter of months, Dr JR Brinkley pioneered a surgical procedure, which involved implanting thin slivers of a billy goat’s testicles into the scrotum of impotence sufferers. He claimed this would reinvigorate a man’s sex drive and make him “The ram that am with every lamb.” The medium that Brinkley chose to publicise his process was radio, and his 5000 watt Border station, based in Del Rio, Texas brought him a cult following, and many thousands of patients. Sarah Cuddon produces this fascinating story, based on the archive collected by presenter Nick Barraclough. Among those taking part are Brinkley enthusiast Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and members of the Brinkley family.
THE GIBBON TEST
BBC Radio 4, Sunday 27th August, 3rd, 10th September 10.45 pm
(rpt: Wednesdays at 8.45 pm)
Edward Gibbon is arguably the most famous political historian of all time. Two hundred years after the publication of the first volume of ‘The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’, Matthew Parris explores its relevance to Britain today in a three part series produced by Anna Fowler. Speaking to some of the foremost thinkers in modern politics, including Paul Flynn and Roy Hattersley, the programmes provide surprising insights into Britain today, as well as bringing Gibbon alive in new ways both for listeners familiar with his work and those coming to his ideas for the first time.
BBC Radio 4, Friday 8th September at 11am
BBC correspondent Jonathan Charles has long been fascinated by the history of the Russian Space programme, but has always been frustrated by a lack of openness on the part of the Russian authorities about Laika the dog, Yuri Gargarin and the Soyuz missions. Now in an exclusive visit for BBC Radio 4, he finally gets to talk to the men and women who have worked at the famous Star City, 40 km north of Moscow, and who helped to pioneer Russia’s highly successful space programme. In contrast to the slick modernist surroundings of NASA, Space City is something of a 60s time-warp. However the centre is now being rejuvenated with international money and the prospect of tourism in space becoming a reality. Patricia Lalla produces this terrifically revealing programme.
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