Seriously...

BBC

Seriously is home to the world’s best audio documentaries and podcast recommendations, and host Vanessa Kisuule brings you two fascinating new episodes every week.

  • 29 minutes 3 seconds
    Shifting Soundscapes

    “Sound is the barometer of the health of the planet.”

    It's almost 60 years since 11-year-old Martyn Stewart made his first recording near his house in Birmingham using a reel-to-reel machine borrowed from his older brother. From that day forward, he set out to capture all the natural sounds of the world, amassing nearly one hundred thousand recordings.

    Now, musician and sound artist Alice Boyd retraces his steps to three locations in Britain to document how these environmental soundscapes have changed, revealing vanishing ecosystems, amplified human noise and the return of endangered species.

    (Photograph courtesy of Tom Bright.) With archive from Martyn Stewart's library, The Listening Planet. Location recordings and original music by Alice Boyd. A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4

    12 July 2024, 5:00 am
  • 28 minutes 21 seconds
    Brood X

    Every 17 years in the eastern United States, a roaring mass of millions of black-bodied, red-eyed, thumb-length insects erupt from the ground. For a few glorious weeks the periodical cicadas cover the trees and the air vibrates with their chorus of come-hither calls. Then they leave a billion eggs to hatch and burrow into the dirt, beginning the seventeen year cycle all over again.

    Sing. Fly. Mate. Die. This is Brood X or the Great Eastern Brood. It’s an event which, for the residents of a dozen or so US states, is the abiding memory of four, maybe five, summers of their lives.

    In a programme that’s both a natural and a cultural history of the Great Eastern Brood we re-visit four Brood X years....1970, 1987, 2004 and 2021…. to capture the stories of the summers when the cicadas came to town.

    Princeton University's Class of 1970 remember the cicadas’ appearance at their graduation ceremony, during a time of student unrest and protest against the Vietnam War; a bride looks back to the uninvited - but welcome - cicada guests attending her wedding; a musician recalls making al fresco music with Brood X; and an entomologist considers the extraordinary life cycle of an insect which is seems to possess both great patience and the ability to count to seventeen.

    Brood X cicadas spend 17 years underground, each insect alone, waiting and listening. In 2021, as Brood X stirred and the air began to thicken with the cicadas’ love songs, we all shared with them that sense of emerging from the isolation of lockdown and making a new beginning.

    Featuring: Elias Bonaros, Liz Dugan, Anisa George, Ray Gibbons, Peter Kuper, Gene Kritsky, Gregg Lange, David Rothenberg, Gil Schrage and Gaye Williams

    Producer: Jeremy Grange

    Cicada audio recorded by Cicada Mania and David Rothenberg

    Programme Image: Prof. Gene Kritsky

    9 July 2024, 4:44 pm
  • 28 minutes 36 seconds
    Stoppage Time for Scunthorpe

    When Bury FC was expelled from the Football League after 125 years, the government commissioned a fan-led review of football's financial stability. Centring the importance of football clubs to hundreds of local communities, it recommended tough new rules about governance and ownership of football clubs. Five years on and with both Labour and the Conservatives supporting the creation of a new regulator, Scunthorpe United has become a case study for why politicians think they need to step in. A succession of owners, a string of relegations and a more than gloomy balance book left the North Lincolnshire town wondering what life without its football club might look like. But the efforts of the local community led to a small piece of hope. For Radio 4, lifelong Scunthorpe fan and BBC political journalist (in that order) Jack Fenwick tells the inside story of how it all went so wrong and what happened next.

    Presenter and producer: Jack Fenwick

    5 July 2024, 5:00 am
  • 28 minutes 29 seconds
    The City That Stayed at Home

    At the last general election, three of the four seats with the lowest turnout, where the lowest number of eligible people came out to vote, were in Hull.

    Alex Forsyth sits down with people who stay at home on election day to find out why.

    She begins in Hull East, the seat which had the lowest turnout in the UK at the last general election, visiting Marfleet, a ward with low turnout at local elections. She explores how a pattern of not voting is repeated in other parts of the city. Alex goes on to examine the complex reasons for not voting and speaks to those who believe key events in the city's history might provide part of the answer.

    Presented by Alex Forsyth Produced by Camellia Sinclair for BBC Audio in Bristol Mixed by Ilse Lademann

    28 June 2024, 5:00 am
  • 28 minutes 45 seconds
    Living Without My Smartphone

    A group of teenagers agree to give up their smartphones for 5 school days. The phones are locked in a box, and our subjects pick up their old style “brick” phone instead. What’s the best and worst of their smartphone free days? Can they cope, and what, if anything, do they, their parents and teachers notice? Rachel Burden has teenagers, and knows all about smartphone parenting. She joins our intrepid students throughout their week, and reflects upon the positives and negatives of a world where everyone can choose to be constantly connected.

    Produced by Victoria Farncombe and Tim O'Callaghan Mixed by Nicky Edwards Edited by Clare Fordham

    25 June 2024, 4:07 pm
  • 28 minutes 38 seconds
    The Beauty of Everyday Things

    Poet Ian McMillan has a gift for the art of small pleasures; the joy of close observation; revelling in everyday things, places and encounters; describing and re-describing them endlessly. In the company of fellow poets Helen Mort, Steve Ely and Dave Green he takes us to ordinary places that fascinate him: a railway platform with a striking red bench, on a bus journey, to a village cafe, and a local museum of curiosities; where we discover they can be portals into different ways of thinking, of feeling, and of being, where anything can happen, where the ordinary can become the extraordinary if we simply open our eyes and our ears.

    Presented by Ian McMillan

    Produced by Cecile Wright

    21 June 2024, 5:00 am
  • 29 minutes 2 seconds
    Conflict on Campus

    Examining how the Israel-Gaza war is affecting students here in the UK. Anwar Akhtar is a director at the Samosa Project, a media and arts charity working to create understanding across cultures. He heads to Leeds, and gets a close-up view of the tensions bubbling over at the university.

    This programme was first broadcast on 12 May, 2024.

    18 June 2024, 5:00 am
  • 28 minutes 14 seconds
    The Switch

    Three people from three different eras reveal what it's like to live with multiple personalities, or Dissociative Identity Disorder.

    A retired librarian who lived through the disorder's most controversial time and has found peace as several parts; an early YouTuber who fought stigma about DID and now lives as one person; and a young TikToker navigating life as a 'system'.

    The BBC has been sharing stories and tips on how to support your mental health and wellbeing. Go to bbc.co.uk/mentalwellbeing to find out more.

    Presenter/producer: Lucy Proctor Researcher: Anna Harris Mixed by: James Beard

    14 June 2024, 9:04 am
  • 28 minutes 30 seconds
    The Beaches

    A top secret little-known mission that changed the outcome of World War II. Not Alan Turing's Enigma code-breaking mission but a daring foray, conducted behind enemy lines on the shores of Normandy.

    Harrison Lewis and wetland scientist Christian Dunn re-enact one of the most remarkable feats of the Second World War and discover the intricate details of the daring but forgotten science that underpinned D-Day.

    7 June 2024, 1:53 pm
  • 28 minutes 41 seconds
    Broken Politicians, Broken Politics

    Are British politicians at breaking point?

    In this new digital age with its high level of public scrutiny, the sheer amount of abuse, disdain and direct threat politicians get is causing their mental health to take a real hit.

    And this matters. Broken politicians equal broken politics and that’s bad news for us all.

    Few can dispute that in the wake of a near constant stream of scandals, public perceptions of politics and politicians have become increasingly cynical and toxic.

    So what impact is this all having on our politicians and our politics?

    Jennifer Nadel - Co-Founder of Compassion in Politics - hears raw personal testimony from MPs across the House who have reached breaking point and worse, asking what this means for the health of our democracy?

    In this Radio 4 investigation into the mental health and wellbeing of politicians, MPs talk candidly about the incessant pressures of the job and the escalating mental health crisis in parliament.

    The programme reveals shocking testimony including one former government minister who tells us ‘Politics has left me a broken human being.’ A young MP describes attempting to take his own life, revealing to the BBC that he is not alone.

    This programme asks whether the mental health crisis is affecting MPs' ability to govern. Many say it does, and that good people are simply being driven out or away from public life.

    In the face of these mounting personal testimonies Radio 4 asks MPs what can be done?

    If you have particular experiences or a story related to this podcast that you would like to share in confidence with the programme makers, you can e-mail: [email protected]

    Producer: Daniel Tetlow Presenter: Jennifer Nadel Studio Manager: Rod Farquhar Production Coordinator: Gemma Ashman Editor: Richard Vadon The music was composed by Daniel Tetlow and Benjamin Bushakevitz and performed by Ammiel Bushakevitz

    4 June 2024, 11:27 am
  • 28 minutes 13 seconds
    Portugal’s Carnation Revolution

    25th April 2024 marked the 50th anniversary of Portugal's 'Carnation Revolution', which overthrew the authoritarian dictatorship of the Estado Novo ('New State') which had governed Portugal since the 1920s. A largely bloodless revolution, marked by the carnations that were placed in the rifles of the soldiers, it led to the successful establishment of democracy in Portugal and the integration of more than half-a-million 'retornados' - returnees - Portuguese citizens from its former African colonies.

    Portugal's revolution was indeed televised, and recorded in sound. One of those who bore witness to its aftermath was journalist, and former Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow, who reported from Portugal at the time for LBC Radio. At this important anniversary, he remembers his time there, and tells the story of what unfolded, through archive and interviews with those who organised and lived through those heady days of April 1974.

    Presenter: Jon Snow Producer: Michael Rossi

    With thanks to RTP (Rádio e Televisão de Portugal) and LBC for archive.

    21 May 2024, 5:00 am
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