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Start the Week

A Society and Culture podcast featuring Andrew Marr
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Weekly discussion programme, setting the cultural agenda every Monday


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367 episodes
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Recent Episodes

Escaping the past
Andrew Marr discusses how far nations have managed to confront the past. In Learning from the Germans, the philosopher Susan Neiman contrasts the way in which Germany continues to come to terms with its Nazi past, with the failure of the US to deal with slavery and the legacy of racial violence. The historian Stuart James Ward is interested in how far the ghosts of Empire have haunted the debate around Brexit. From the simplistic caricature of hankering after the past to a global vision of the future, both sides have summoned their own image of Empire. As an Australian academic who has spent his career in Denmark, Ward believes he is in a unique position to observe the unfolding political drama. The former MP David Howell argues it’s time to look ahead and not back in his new book, subtitled ‘Escaping the Prism of Past Politics’. Howell has been at the centre of government for four decades and was a member of Margaret Thatcher’s first cabinet. He believes Britain should be forging new relations and finding a new position in the world. The political scientist Jane Green looks beyond the present impasse in the Commons over the direction of Brexit to focus on public volatility in voting. Not since 1931 has there been such a fracturing of voter loyalty, but Green asks how much we can learn from the past. Producer: Katy Hickman
Epic quests and Greek myths
The playwright David Hare is adapting Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, an epic story of vanity and egotism. He tells Tom Sutcliffe his radical new working keeps the mountain of trolls but becomes a contemporary reflection of toxic masculinity in the age of the selfie. The writer Lucy Hughes-Hallett reincarnates ancient myths and folklore in her collection of short stories, Fabulous. Old tales from Orpheus to Mary Magdalen and Psyche, find new homes in the lives of a people-trafficking gangmaster and a well-behaved librarian. The great story-teller Stephen Fry breathes fresh life into the Greek myths as he prepares to embark on his first UK tour for forty years. From the creation of the Cosmos and the feuding of the Gods, to the extraordinary battles and epic journeys of the heroes, these tales still echo for audiences today. Alison Balsom is a world-renowned trumpeter who moves seamlessly through different periods of music in her curation of this year’s Cheltenham Music Festival. She explains her deep passion for the world of baroque music and the excitement of playing a new piece for the very first time, as she prepares for the premiere of Thea Musgrave’s Trumpet Concerto. Producer: Katy Hickman
The power of poetry
Rowan Williams celebrates The Book of Taliesin – legendary Welsh poems of enchantment and warfare. The former Archbishop of Canterbury tells Andrew Marr how the collection of poems speak of a lost world of folklore and mythology, and the figure of Taliesin is an elusive and exuberant creative poetic fiction. Martin Sixsmith tells the extraordinary story of the Russian poet Sergei Yesenin at the turn of the 20th century. Yesenin lived through the most turbulent times in Russian history, and during an age when poets were stars, and millions could recite his works by heart. The poet Jay Bernard has found inspiration in exploring the black British archive, and the enquiry into the New Cross Fire in 1981 which killed thirteen young people. The poems shine a light on an unacknowledged chapter in British history, and find resonance with the horror of the Grenfell tower fire two years ago. The poet, writer and teacher, Kate Clanchy has seen first-hand poetry’s unique ability to unleash young voices. At the multicultural school in Oxford where she teaches, students speak 30 languages and poetry has become a vital part of bringing pupils together, giving them pride in their work and allowing them to express the reality of their lives. Producer: Katy Hickman Image of Jay Bernard, taken by Joshua Virasami
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Podcast Details
Jan 1st, 1980
Latest Episode
Sep 16th, 2019
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
42 minutes

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