A woman in China sews protective suits for those handling ebola patients. Photo: Getty
Status update: the World Service’s reports on ebola
By Antonia Quirke - 24 October 10:16

Having listened to the show for three weeks, I am repeatedly struck by its unusually fluctuating tone.

Novel Gothic: George Gilbert Scott's St Pancras Station seen in 1905. Photo: Getty
Strawberry Hill forever: Two presenters with a distinctly Gothic side
By Rachel Cooke - 23 October 15:46

Cruickshank seems unable to speak in anything other than an urgent whisper while Graham-Dixon has the kind of face that looks particularly good rounding the top of a stone spiral staircase on a cold March morning.

Stand at easel: Mike Leigh overlays his stylised realism on to costume drama in Mr Turner. Photo: Courtesy of Liveright Publishing Corporation (Lovecraft)
With love and squalor: Mike Leigh’s brand of realism is perfect for Turner
By Ryan Gilbey - 23 October 15:42

An interesting tension exists in the film between that grunginess and passages of intense beauty. It is a compliment commonly paid to well-shot films to say that any one of their frames could be hung in a gallery. This is unmistakably the case here. 

A group of young British children watching television in October 1988. Photo Express/Getty Images
Tracey Thorn: When I got the TV request, I thought: don’t you know who I think I am?
By Tracey Thorn - 23 October 15:06

No thanks – I really don’t want to take part in the “Identity Parade” on Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Cher wigs: but ITV's Great Fire fails to catch fire
Overblown vanilla awfulness: The Great Fire is more Great Farce
By Rachel Cooke - 17 October 11:00

With its 1990s Cher wigs, glossy modern make-up and Disneyfied London, even a lustful Samuel Pepys can’t save ITV’s The Great Fire. 

Theodore Roosevelt speaking at Grant’s Tomb, New York, in 1911. The following year, he was shot in the chest while campaigning. Photo: Browns Brothers/Stirling/PA
Meet Ken Burns, the US pioneer of long-form television
By Erica Wagner - 16 October 17:08

From baseball to the Roosevelts, the film-maker Ken Burns has devoted a career to resurrecting America’s history.

Rebel road: remembering James Dean
By Antonia Quirke - 16 October 15:55

The tenderly shaped ten-minute broadcast included an interview with the California highway patrolman who had taken Dean to task over speeding. Two hours later, Dean was dead.

Gillian Anderson as DSI Stella Gibson in “The Fall”. Photo: BBC/The Fall 2 Limited/Helen Sloan
Is violence against women on TV acceptable if there are complex female characters?
By Clare Wiley - 14 October 11:57

Violent scenes on TV form part of a wider picture of how the media portrays women: as degraded, objectified and patronised victims.

Wild palates: the Mitchell Cotts family in The Kitchen
Eat, pray, love: Britain’s seriously loopy eating habits
By Rachel Cooke - 09 October 16:53

Do people really do this stuff? Apparently, they do. 

"I had him in the back of my cab": Goldfarb picked up Philip Roth (or did he?). Photo: Rex/Courtesy Everett Collection
A writer unbound: driving a New York taxi in the 1970s
By Antonia Quirke - 09 October 10:00

Author and one-time cabby Michael Goldfarb recalled how he’d been behind the wheel to pay for acting lessons, studying under Marlon Brando’s dauntless mentor Stella Adler.

Before they were batty: the cast of TV’s Gotham.
Mark Lawson: What the boy Batman tells us about TV prequels
By Mark Lawson - 02 October 12:02

Gotham follows an established formula in applying to fictional CVs the nostalgic-ironic tactics of TV archive series such as Before They Were Famous.

Astonishing access: remote-controlled cameras follow the officers at Luton Police Station. Photo: Courtesy of Channel 4
24 Hours in Police Custody: a gripping and pretty nuanced look at how policing works
By Rachel Cooke - 02 October 11:47

For this programme, Channel 4’s team used 60 remote-controlled cameras and five roving crews to film what really goes on inside a police station.

Neil MacGregor. Photo: BBC
Is this the perfect radio series? On Germany: Memories of a Nation
By Antonia Quirke - 02 October 8:59

Following on from the global success of A History of the World in 100 Objects, Neil MacGregor is back with a new 30-part series.

White out: paracetamol, the most commonly taken pain reliever. Photo: Getty
Antonia Quirke: until recently, I was addicted to paracetamol
By Antonia Quirke - 25 September 10:00

Don’t bother looking for official statistics on dependency in the UK – because there is “absolutely no data”.

Toby Jones as Neil Baldwin in “Marvellous”. Photo: BBC/Tiger Aspect/Fifty Fathoms/Scott Kershaw
BBC2’s Marvellous lives up to its name
By Rachel Cooke - 24 September 17:12

Marvellous, the world’s least-likely biopic, reminds us of the power of kindness.

Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black in the ITV biopic.
Perky but prosaic: Sheridan Smith’s Cilla Black biopic lacks jeopardy
By Rachel Cooke - 18 September 12:51

Cilla Black’s story is not exactly on-the-edge-of-your-seat exciting, for all that she knew the Beatles.

Nuns cleaning their church for Easter in Caltanissetta, Sicily. Photo: Getty
A holy mess: the ongoing sacred soap opera of Radio Maria in Sicily
By Antonia Quirke - 18 September 9:20

In southern Sicily you often hear Maria in the background in shops, like an ongoing soap opera: the live Mass from Medjugorje, where there have been apparitions of the Madonna since 1981, or the replaying of news from Radio Vaticana.

Poker faces: Friends turned sarcasm into the default mode of conversation for a generation. Photo: Mr Photo/Corbis Outline
The hunting of the snark: Friends, 20 years on
By Andrew Harrison - 12 September 10:00

Twenty years ago, a new sitcom was described as “not very entertaining, clever, or original”. But Friends went on to shape the way we live now.

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman attend a photocall ahead of the new BBC series of 'Dr Who' in Parliament Square on August 22, 2014 in London, England. Photo: Getty Images
The politics of Doctor Who: satire has always followed the Doctor through time
By Pete May - 10 September 17:24

In its use of political satire, from non-deviating Daleks to the Master infiltrating British politics, Doctor Who always been astute and often very funny.

Rebecca Root in the upcoming BBC sitcom “Boy Meets Girl”.
Is the tide turning for transgender actors?
By J Tebble - 09 September 9:27

J speaks to two trans actors in the UK, and asks if the landscape of acting and casting is becoming, slowly, more inclusive to trans people.

Peter Capaldi and a dalek. Photo: BBC/Adrian Rogers
Why Doctor Who is football, but for geeks
By James O'Malley - 08 September 12:02

In the same way that complete strangers can bond instantly over the latest football news, Doctor Who gives geeks an easy solution to awkward silences in conversation.

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor with the TARDIS in Parliament Square, London. Photo: BBC/Guy Levy
Why does Iowa like Doctor Who so much?
By Lea A Donovan - 05 September 9:34

A regional broadcaster in heart of the continental US has been repeating Doctor Who almost constantly since 1974. Why does the Midwest have such an attachment to a British sci-fi show?

Class acts: Mr Bispham in Educating the East End
School’s out: How the “Educating” franchise became predictable and cynical
By Rachel Cooke - 04 September 17:11

If this feels familiar, that’s because it is. Here are all the tired tropes, arranged for our middle-class delectation. 

Suit you, sir: to his adoring young fans, Savile, pictured on the set of Top of the Pops circa 1973, represented wacky style and wish fulfilment. Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images
How Jim fixed it: the strange, dark life of Jimmy Savile
By Rachel Cooke - 04 September 12:20

It is impossible to look back on the world of light entertainment in the Savile era and not come to the conclusion that it was strikingly weird.

James Alexander Gordon. Photo: BBC
Results, riffs and rhythms: Remembering James Alexander Gordon
By Antonia Quirke - 03 September 9:04

Listening to Jag was very much like listening to a musician in the zone.

Legends: Lauren Bacall with her then husband Humphrey Bogart and their son Stevie in 1951. Photo: Getty
Stardust memories: Lauren Bacall on Woman's Hour
By Antonia Quirke - 01 September 12:22

To mark the death of the actress, Woman’s Hour reran a thrilling 2005 conversation between Bacall and Jenni Murray. 

Diana, framed by some crafty editing. Photo: BBC/Love Productions
Diana was framed: why did the Great British Bake Off throw an innocent WI judge to the wolves?
By Caroline Crampton - 28 August 12:40

Accusations of a stitch-up are flying after the baking show’s most controversial episode to date.

Opulent: staff at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai
Don’t blame it on the bellboy: how India does hotels
By Rachel Cooke - 28 August 12:07

The Taj Mahal Palace, which looks like the bastard child of Sandringham and St Pancras Station, is India’s biggest and most epically decadent hotel. 

Moo closer: presenter Michael Mosley
Cattle royale: why red meat should be a treat
By Rachel Cooke - 27 August 10:00

Chicken is permitted to remain on the all-you-can-eat buffet, even if it has been produced in a vast shed containing 54,000 birds. Ditto mussels.

Let’s do the Time Lord again: Laurie Penny and Nicholas Lezard debate Doctor Who
By Helen Lewis - 22 August 16:38

With Peter Capaldi about to step into the Doctor’s shoes, two passionate Whovians talk to Helen Lewis about favourite companions, gender politics and missing theremins. 

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