Shakespeare’s Restless World

Remember that class artefact-oriented BBC series from a few years back, A History of the World in 100 Objects? Sure, we all do. Well Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum and the guy who was responsible for that, did a similar series on Shakespeare, and it’s ace.

Maybe a bit too into finding modern-day parallels, but expert analysis, well-acted excerpts and does a great job of bringing in the whole of society, rather than just royal fracas.

Melvyn Bragg: The Matter of the North

After watching Game of Thrones I’ve become terribly sentimental about the North of England, so the timing on me finding out about this series was bang on. Public service broadcasting at its best, the BBC’s resident brain Melvyn Bragg goes through the history of the North of England, from the Norman invasions to The Beatles. Judi Dench is also in it, being class. Public service broadcasting at its best, etc. etc.

John Banville’s tour of Dublin

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1 R UMAX PowerLook III X1.6 [2]
Short podcast/radio documentary of John Banville giving Mariella Frostrup, host of Open Book on BBC Radio 4, a tour of Dublin and going over some of his own memories/impressions of the city from back in the day. Features excerpts from Benjamin Black’s crime novels, read by Owen Roe, who should read every audiobook.

Glenn Patterson in Belfast

pattersonNorthern Irish novelist Glenn Patterson gives a tour of Belfast to Mariella Frostrup on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book and tells some teenagers what books to read. Also features readings of his novel The Mill for Grinding Old People Youngwith some Belfast seagulls as an audio bed. Very atmospheric.

(And read The International if you haven’t)

Colm Tóibín on Desert Island Discs

colmtoibin_raptoresquireColm Tóibín being interviewed is always nice to listen to, and fortunately, he was on Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 at the start of the year, talking about how novel writing is sustained by little details rather than big ideas, how he doesn’t enjoy writing and how he’d nearly bring a scissors on the desert island. Annoyingly, he forgets to explain why and the show ends. If you see him, ask him for me please.