Radio Archive

Barbara Demick on North Korea

Earlier this month, the short list was announced for the “Winner of Winners” award, drawn from the previous 24 winners of the annual Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction. Among the six titles is Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea, in which Barbara Demick — who was based as a journalist in South Korea — talks to  defectors about love, family life and the terrible cost of the 1990s famine. Demick told Tom Sutcliffe in Front Row on Radio 4 yesterday that the book was “a work of obsession and frustration”.

Postcards from the Arctic with Bathsheba Demuth

In a series of essays next week for Radio 3, Bathsheba Demuth, author of Floating Coast, a prize-winning environmental history of the Bering Strait, looks into the interconnectedness of people and animals in the Arctic landscape. Postcards from the Floating Coast starts at 10.45pm on Monday. In the first episode, Demuth examines “the shifting historical relationship between humans and dogs and the impact of that intimacy on commerce and imperial aspiration”.

Travelling back on to BBC radio

The first dedicated travel show on BBC radio for more than a decade was welcomed by Patricia Nicol in her column for this week’s Culture section of The Sunday Times. Your Place or Mine with Shaun Keaveny (BBC Sounds) sells itself as “the travel show that’s going nowhere”. In each episode, a guest sets out to sell a favourite place to Keaveny and his fellow presenter, Iszi Lawrence, trying to persuade them to give up the comforts of home to try out an unfamiliar destination — or, as Keaveny puts it, to talk them into “swapping Gogglebox for the Gatwick Express”. The first series of 10 episodes includes Sarah Kendall, the stand-up comedian, on her home town of Newcastle, Australia; Ching He Huang, the food writer, on her birthplace of Taipei; Aatif Nawaz, the comedian and cricket commentator, on his parents’ birthplace, Lahore; and Guy Garvey, lead singer and lyricist of Elbow (born in Bury, Greater Manchester), on New York.

While largely appreciative of the new show, Nicol laments the scrapping in 2012 of Excess Baggage, presented by John McCarthy, which “informed a wanderlust but also grappled with the ethics of tourism”.

Hit the road (again) with Laura Barton

Laura Barton’s American Road Trip, “a grand audio adventure” (first broadcast in 2018) in which Barton journeys from New York to LA, is being given another well-deserved re-run on Radio 4 Extra. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

‘Islands of Abandonment’ on Radio 4

Cal Flyn’s Islands of Abandonment, which you’ll have seen mentioned here a few times, is Book of the Week on Radio 4 from 09:45 this morning.

Voices from ‘Osebol’ on Radio 4

I’ve now read Osebol: Voices from a Swedish Village. I finished its 800 pages in a couple of days — partly because they’re laid out like a prose poem, partly because they’re full of life and I didn’t want to stop. The author, Marit Kapla, was on Start the Week on Radio 4 this morning; you can catch up on BBC Sounds.

‘Jan Morris: Writing a Life’

A year on from the death of Jan Morris, Horatio Clare assesses her remarkable legacy and explores some of the myths she built up about herself and her life. Jan Morris: Writing a Life will be broadcast in the Archive on 4 slot on Radio 4 on Saturday (November 13).

A book of essays Morris prepared for posthumous publication, Allegorizings, came out in Britain at the start of this month (Faber, £14) and in the US in April.

Robert Macfarlane’s ‘Desert Island Discs’

Robert Macfarlane is a name that’s hitched often to the words “nature writer”. How would he describe himself? Sharing the soundtrack to his life today on Desert Island Discs, he told Lauren Laverne that, if profession were still something you had to state on a passport, his would be “Teacher”.

A blast of fresh air with Horatio Clare

Happy New Year. If you’ve started 2021 having to self-isolate (and even if you haven’t), I’d recommend escaping for an hour with Horatio Clare on his Sunrise Sound Walk, crossing “the land that the sea owns” to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which was first broadcast on Radio 3 on Christmas Day. Listen to it with headphones and you’ll get the full force of a “proper rushing wind”. Clare has also welcomed dawn in Lincolnshire along the Wash, but I’ve not yet had a chance yet to listen to that one.

Tunes to take you away

The writer Laura Barton, denied the open road in 2020, has been reliving some of her best trips through a playlist of 10 songs she has shared on Guardian Travel. As I’ve mentioned before, her journeys for radio are well worth seeking out.