Episodes
Neurologist Dr Guy Leschziner explores the extraordinary sensory experiences of individuals with synaesthesia - a mash-up of senses where one sense automatically triggers another. Some synaesthetes hear colours, others feel sound. We meet James who perceives the world differently from most people, due to his brain’s unusual wiring. Whenever he hears a word he immediately gets a taste and texture in his mouth. As a child, he’d go by train to school with his mum, reading out loud the...
Published 08/26/20
Imagine spraying yourself with a flowery fragrance but all you can smell is rotting flesh? Our senses can be surprisingly strange, especially when they malfunction due to injury, disease or genetic abnormalities. In this episode, neurologist Dr Guy Leschziner, explores two senses, smell and taste - separate yet inextricably linked. We meet Joanne, whose sense of smell is so distorted after a heavy cold, even freshly-cut grass smells repulsive. We also hear from Walter who loves to cook...
Published 08/19/20
From a whisper to the roar of thunder, every sound creates vibrations in our ears which the brain decodes, to tell us what we’re hearing. But, as neurologist, Dr Guy Leschziner explains, when disruptions occur along the way, extraordinary things can happen, changing the way we perceive the world. We meet Mark, who can’t hear his friends in a noisy pub, but can hear the sound of every bodily function is amplified in his head. Kelly gets spinning attacks that send her falling to the floor. ...
Published 08/12/20
Vision is a complex process involving light rays, special nerve cells and electrical signals sent to the brain, which processes the information and tells us what we’re seeing. But even tiny disruptions to any part of this system can result in remarkable visual problems. Neurologist, Dr Guy Leschziner, meets 25-year-old filmmaker Oli, who’s only recently discovered something alarming: he’s missing half his vision in one eye - probably caused by a stroke he never knew he had. We hear from...
Published 08/05/20
Our skin contains millions of nerve endings and touch sensors that collect information about different sensations like temperature, pressure, vibration, pain and send it to the brain for processing and reaction. But it’s when our sensory system goes wrong that we learn most about how our senses help us understand the world around us. Neurologist Dr Guy Leschziner talks to Alison, whose delicious seafood dinner sends her nervous system haywire. Poisoned by fish contaminated with ciguatera...
Published 07/29/20
What will the world look like post-Covid? In an age of increasingly inward focus can a spirit of multilateralism prevail to meet the challenges posed by the reconstruction of national economies as well as the needs of poorer countries and the international organisations? And does the post-Coronavirus moment provide an opportunity to think differently about other global challenges, the foremost being climate change? Will we be able to “build back better”? Ian Goldin, Oxford University’s...
Published 07/22/20
How should governments respond to the pandemic? The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc both to health systems and economies. Above all it has served to expose inequalities both within nations and between them. Hardest hit are countries in the developing world, where government finances do not permit the level of support to citizens or the private sector that has been provided by richer governments. Ian Goldin, professor of globalisation and development at Oxford University, sees the crisis...
Published 07/16/20
Why did coronavirus strike so fast and so hard? There was plenty of warning that a pandemic was inevitable, but when a new virus emerged in a wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the world proved powerless to prevent it spreading. The finger has been pointed in various directions: a failure by the Chinese authorities to communicate, a sluggish response from the World Health Organisation, an ignorance of history, and what Ian Goldin, professor of globalisation and development at Oxford...
Published 07/08/20
The Hubble space telescope has transformed our view of the universe and put our lives on Earth into a truly cosmic perspective. As we celebrate thirty years of Hubble’s achievements, we look to the future of the space telescope and the potential of its ambitious successor. Hubble has produced a multitude of scientific discoveries, but it has also influenced our culture, art and music. It’s easy to forget that following its April 1990 launch, the space telescope was derided as NASA’s...
Published 04/22/20
Published 04/22/20
Tech companies now find themselves in the firing line of free speech debate. To what extent can they duck the issue given their global coverage? Is it up to them to police what people say from the dangerous privacy of their own keyboards? And with truth and fake news being trumpeted by the highest powers in many lands can they be held responsible for drawing the lines in debates about what should or shouldn’t be said, posted or tweeted? And at the heart of the series is a desire to test the...
Published 04/15/20
Robin talks to fellow journalists around the world who have to walk the fine line between an espousal of free speech rights and their own safety. Is there reason to be optimistic about the future? He travels to Paris to the former office of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine which saw many of its cartoonists and journalist murdered by jihadist gunmen. He meets the editor of the magazine which is currently forced to operate from a secret location for security reasons. On the streets...
Published 04/08/20
Robin goes back to his own days as a young reporter when he covered the last blasphemy trial ever held in the UK. At the time it appeared archaic and the end of an era, but blasphemy still exists in many countries across the world. In many ways it is the oldest of all challenges to free speech, so can religions ever truly countenance a world in which free speech is held to be sacred? (Photo: Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy in 2010 and acquitted by...
Published 04/01/20
Robin visits universities in Hong Kong, Oxford and Washington to establish how important free speech is to them and whether moves to block controversial speakers is compatible with what appears a fundamental freedom of expression in places where all ideas are encouraged and tested. Robin explores where the line is drawn regarding freedom of speech in universities, who draws it and what happens to those who cross it. Presenter/reporter: Robin Lustig Producer: Tom Alban and Neil...
Published 03/25/20
Robin Lustig begins his journey in Washington DC where the first amendment is housed in the National Archive and serves as an almost sacred document. In this programme he asks how Courts around the world make decisions on Free speech. Can they find a line in the sand that shouldn’t be crossed? How do they decide what is, in the modern parlance, ‘hate speech’ and what is merely strongly expressed personal opinion? And can they ever be more than extensions of the political environment they...
Published 03/18/20
Why do people who live in five communities around the world – known as Blue Zones- consistently outlive the rest of us on the planet? Professor Cregan-Reid goes in search of the secret of a long life. He visits Sardinia home to one of those long lived communities where several villages boast dozens of people aged 100 or more. What used to kill us routinely no longer does so - at least not in such numbers. By rights many, many more of us should be emulating the residents of the Blue Zones and...
Published 03/11/20
Professor Cregan-Reid explores why we have all grown so fast recently. For four millennia we barely grew an extra inch but in the 20th Century pretty much every nation in the world shot up by between three and six inches. But it is not a uniform story; the Dutch have carried on growing and today their men and women tower over the world but in the US and the UK, height plateaued decades ago. And is being tall good for you? Yes, it seems, if you are a politician or industrialist; less so if...
Published 03/04/20
For two million years we evolved in synch with our environment and our bodies were perfectly adapted for a physically rigorous outdoor life. That all changed when the Industrial Revolution brought about a transformation in how we lived and worked for which our bodies were unprepared. Professor Vybarr Cregan-Reid, describes how the great move indoors to a more comfortable but sedentary experience was changing our feet, our faces and our backs. In this second series he considers how modern...
Published 02/26/20
Tim Samuels and Anna Holligan travel to Warsaw. It is a time of political change in Poland. The recent general election saw the biggest turnout since 1989 and the end of communism. And gender has become one of the most fraught political issues, with the ruling Law and Justice Party holding up LGBT rights and so-called 'gender ideology' as being enemies to the Polish way of life. Anything that goes against traditional values has the potential of being held as a threat to Polish identity. We go...
Published 02/19/20
Tim Samuels and Anna Holligan travel to Warsaw to find out what's on the minds of men and women. It's a time of political change in Poland. The recent general election saw the biggest turnout since 1989. Gender has become one of the most fraught political issues, with LGBT rights and so-called 'gender ideology' being held up by prominent politicians as threats to the Polish way of life. It has been a challenging time for many women, with a proposed tightening of abortion laws and many women's...
Published 02/12/20
Tim Samuels and Anna Holligan travel to Mexico City. As parts of the world go through something of a gender reckoning, have these forces made much of a dent in Mexico? Last time, Anna spent time with women in this sprawling metropolis, hearing how the ever-present threat of violence lingers below the surface for many. In this episode she hears from men. The first wisps of the MeToo movement have belatedly started to blow into Mexico, but this is unlikely to be fertile soil for an outburst of...
Published 02/05/20
Mexico has always felt like a country where men live on their own terms. A place where women strive for equality - and safety. More than nine are murdered in the country every day, according to UN Women. Tim Samuels and Anna Holligan travel to Mexico City and hear from a sports commentator, a domestic worker, journalists, newspaper editors and aspiring actresses. Mexican women are marching, calling on authorities to do more to combat the high rates of femicide - the murder of a woman because...
Published 01/29/20
India and China have a complex and troubled modern history – including a fully-fledged war in 1962. Today Indian consumers seem to love all things Chinese, from the cheap plastic toys to smartphones and apps like Tik Tok. Some Indians think this success is a result of unfair trade. They think that Chinese imports are taking advantage of the relatively open Indian economy, while Indian companies are prevented from getting a foothold in China. This creates a huge trade imbalance between the two...
Published 01/22/20
There has been a lot of media focus on China’s investment in Africa’s physical infrastructure: but what about its play for Africa’s attention? CGTN, China’s state-run international TV station, has steadily increased its footprint on the continent from its African HQ in Nairobi – while Chinese-owned StarTimes is on its way to providing satellite TV access for 10,000 rural villages. Hundreds of African journalists have been trained in China. Does this represent a major shift in international...
Published 01/15/20
Canada has been sucked into a global dispute between the US and China. It started in Vancouver, with arrest on an American warrant of Meng Wanzhou, an executive with the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. China’s furious response caught Canada off guard. Two Canadians have been detained in China – seemingly in response, precipitating an acute foreign policy crisis. Canadian journalist Neal Razzell examines what could be the first of many tests for this nation, in which it is forced to choose...
Published 01/08/20