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Private Passions

A weekly Music podcast
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Episodes of Private Passions

Mark Solms is a neuroscientist who has spent his whole career investigating the mysteries of consciousness. His research throws light on some of the most difficult questions of all: how does the mind connect to the body? Why does it feel like s
Esther Freud talks to Michael Berkeley about her extraordinary childhood and her passion for story telling in both words and music. After attending drama school and making appearances in The Bill and Dr Who, Esther Freud changed direction at
Walter Iuzzolino is an Italian television presenter who has become well known on our screens thanks to Walter Presents, Channel 4’s free streaming service of European television dramas. He’s a man with a mission to open up European culture to t
Francesca Stavrakopoulou is fascinated by the Bible, and she’s a leading scholar of those ancient texts which have so profoundly shaped how we see the world. She’s Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter; she’
The writer Helena Attlee transports Michael Berkeley to the sounds, smells, tastes and music of Italy. Helena has spent most of her life immersed in Italian culture, and she has written two bestselling books that take her readers to the heart
Peggy Seeger’s extraordinary musical career spans six and a half decades. Since the age of 17 she has been writing, performing and recording songs pretty much non-stop. At the age of 80 she won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best New Song with
Michael Berkeley’s guest is the theoretical physicist Dr Michio Kaku - without doubt the only guest ever to have built a particle accelerator in their garage while still in high school. After that auspicious start Michio went onto become the co
Carole Boyd is an accomplished theatre actress: she has recorded some three hundred audio books, and she does all the female voices in Postman Pat. But all this pales into insignificance compared with the role she has played on radio for thirty
One of the things that stands out, over more than 20 years of Private Passions, is the very strong connection between music and memory: as people choose music, which takes them way back, vividly evoking pivotal moments in their lives, it can be
For almost a decade, Alastair Campbell was Tony Blair’s right-hand man, first as Press Secretary and then as Downing Street Director of Communications. He was at the heart of power through the Good Friday Agreement, the 9/11 attacks and the Ira
Comedian and classicist Natalie Haynes talks to Michael Berkeley about her favourite music, making the classics funny and the joy of running. Just like the ancient Greek dramatists she loves, Natalie excels in both tragedy and comedy. She has
If you’ve ever wondered why you love blue and hate the colour khaki, or have spent hours arguing over a colour chart because you and your partner can’t agree on how to paint the bedroom, you’ll be fascinated by Professor Anya Hurlbert. She’s a
The writer and art critic Laura Cumming talks to Michael Berkeley about the music and art she loves and the extraordinary story of her family. Laura has been writing about art for The Observer for more than two decades, but her books suggest
With her shocking pink hair and extravagantly colourful clothes, Dame Zandra Rhodes has been an instantly recognisable figure on the British fashion scene for more than fifty years. An artist as much as a clothes designer, she tells Michael Ber
George Szirtes arrived in Britain at the age of eight, wearing only one shoe. It was 1956, and as the Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest, George and his family fled on foot across the border to Austria, eventually ending up (with many others) as
Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of eight, Camilla Pang struggled to understand the world around her; in fact, she asked her mother if there was an instruction manual for humans that could help. Twenty years on – after taking
The writer and entrepreneur Margaret Heffernan shares her lifelong passion for classical music with Michael Berkeley and describes how we can best prepare for an unpredictable future. Born in Texas, raised in Holland and educated in Britain, M
James Shapiro is one of the world’s great Shakespeare scholars. A professor of English at Columbia University in New York, he is the author of seven major books, including the bestsellers "1599" and "1606", each of which zoomed in on one year,
Kieran Hodgson tells Michael Berkeley how he turned his lifelong obsession with Mahler, and his own struggle to write a symphony, into comedy gold. Fortunately for us Kieran put aside an early ambition to become a train driver and has instead
Nearly forty years ago Teresa Keswick exchanged her career as a London lawyer for life as a nun in an enclosed and largely silent Carmelite monastery in Norfolk. She’s devoted her life to prayer and work and has become a highly skilled embroide
Bill Browder describes himself as Vladimir Putin’s number one enemy. When Putin came to power, Browder was the most successful international businessman in Moscow, seizing the opportunities offered by the collapse of communism to build up a mul
The shepherd and writer James Rebanks shares his favourite music with Michael Berkeley and describes how he is restoring the balance of nature on his Lake District hill farm. James Rebanks’s family have lived and farmed in Cumbria for over six
Dublin-born artist Sean Scully is known worldwide for his abstract paintings of blocks and stripes of bold colour. You can see his work in the Tate, the Guggenheim, and the National Gallery of Ireland, among many other prestigious collections.
Caroline Bird was only fifteen when she had her first collection of poems published; she’s been writing since she was eight, hiding in the corner behind her bunk beds at home. This was in Leeds, where Caroline was brought up, the daughter of pl
The economist Tim Harford shares his passion for contemporary classical music with Michael Berkeley. Tim Harford has for many years been the Undercover Economist at the Financial Times; he is the author of nine books, and is a familiar voice o
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