Sporting Witness: Bula Choudhury - India's Queen of the Oceans

In 2004, the Indian long-distance swimmer Bula Choudhury became the first woman to complete the challenge of crossing straits of the world’s seven seas. Choudhury is a former Indian national swimming champion in the pool, who was inspired to switch to the open ocean by a traditional Bengali folk tale. Her challenge took her to five continents, although she says one of her hardest swims was in the cold waters of the English Channel. Bula Choudhury talks to Maya Mitter. An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: Bula Choudhury (personal collection)

The Likely Dads

Former Blue Peter presenter Tim Vincent hosts a new comedy discussion series. Tim has undertaken many challenges throughout the course of his life - from painting Blackpool Tower and snow survival training with the army in Norway to flying in Tornado jets and running the New York marathon. But do any of them compare to his latest challenge - being the middle-aged father to two-year-old twin boys? And how does his experience of fatherhood so far compare to that of other dads? In this first episode, Tim and his fellow Likely Dads, Russell Kane and Mick Ferry, reflect on their expectations of fatherhood, from pregnancy through to their kids' teenage years and adulthood. Is it easier becoming a dad when you’re full of the vigour of youth or when you’re a bit older and, hopefully, wiser? In a regular feature, we ask the children of one of our Likely Dads a series of questions to determine which of them knows their children better - and vice versa. Our special guest Likely Dads joining Tim, Russell and Mick this week are actor Chris Bisson and comedian Che Burnley. An MIM production for BBC Radio 4

Sporting Witness: Susie O'Neill - Australia's 'Madam Butterfly'

The Australian swimmer Susie O'Neill became a star of her sport despite a constant battle against nerves. At her home Olympics in Sydney in 2000, O'Neill took gold in a freestyle event but suffered an unexpected - and devastating defeat - in the 200 metres butterfly, a discipline in which she was considered virtually unbeatable. She talks about her career with Ashley Byrne. An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: Susie O'Neill in action in 2000. Credit: Getty Images Sport

Agatha Christie's The Lie

Trapped in an unhappy marriage and provoked by her husband's obsession with her younger sister, Nan disappears from the family home for a night – with devastating consequences. A series of dramatic revelations will lead either to divorce or reconciliation - but the outcome depends on whether Nan's sister will lie to protect her. Agatha Christie's extraordinary early play, which predates her famous stage thrillers, lay unread in her family's archives until it was discovered by theatre producer Julius Green. Seemingly written in the mid-1920s, during the breakdown of Christie's first marriage, The Lie is an intensely personal piece of writing - a hard-hitting domestic drama which bears many of the hallmarks of her later work for the theatre, and which offers a unique insight into her complex emotional response to events in her own life at the time. An MIM production for BBC Radio 4

Sporting Witness: Lucy Ejike - Nigeria's powerlifting hero

Lucy Ejike is Nigeria’s most successful female paralympian and the winner of gold medals in para-powerlifting at three different Paralympic Games. Ejike’s twenty-year career has been marked by her rivalry with her friend Fatma Omar of Egypt, whom she finally defeated with a world-record lift at the 2016 games in Rio. She talks to Iain Mackness. An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: Lucy Ejike in 2017 (Getty Images)

Tongue and Talk: The Dialect Poets

A return of the series on dialect poetry in different parts of the UK.

In episode 1, actor and writer Catherine Harvey heads to Blackpool for the annual Dialect Festival, which took place before lockdown. The festival is a celebration of dialect speaking and writing - with participants from as far afield as Cornwall and Northumberland, Kent and Cumbria, gathering for a weekend of poetry, storytelling and song. 

In episode 2, Alan Mumby, Chairman of Far Welter’d, the East Lincolnshire Dialect Society, explores dialect poetry written and spoken in his native county.He visits the birthplace of the county’s most famous poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, whose little-known dialect poetry reveals his cherished memories of the villagers who he grew up with. 

In episode 3 - The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire has a long literary legacy, from early dialect writing by William Wickenden to Dennis Potter and Winifred Foley. Academic Jason Griffiths talks to colleagues at the University of Gloucestershire about Reading the Forest, their project exploring the area’s literary landscape.

In episode 4, writer and performance poet Emma Purshouse explores The Black Country and its poetry in an attempt to discover why the contemporary writers of the region are still using dialect in their work. In a programme made during lockdown, Emma considers the impact of industry, heritage, landscape, and the changing nature of close-knit communities upon dialect writers, as she catches up with some of the key players of the current Black Country Poetry scene.

An MIM production for BBC Radio 4

Sporting Witness: Matthias Steiner - Tears of a Weightlifter

In August 2008, the weightlifter Matthias Steiner created one of the most emotional moments of the 2008 Olympics when he sank to the floor in floods of tears after winning a gold medal. Steiner had lost his wife in a car accident shortly before the games and dedicated the victory to her. He had to lift eight kilos more than his previous personal best in order to win. Matthias Steiner talks to Ashley Byrne.  An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: Matthias Steiner taking gold (Getty Images)

The Day I Met Tom Jones

A special programme to mark Sir Tom Jones' 80th birthday. In 'The Day I Met Tom Jones' people who have been touched in some way by meeting Sir Tom, recall encounters they've never forgotten. People from Wales and the world speak candidly about the meetings which stretch from his early years to more recent times. The programme hears from those who worked with Sir Tom as well as those who only met him fleetingly but for whom he left a lasting impression. As the equally heart-warming and funny memories come flooding back the show is peppered with Sir Tom's greatest hits.  An MIM Production for BBC Radio Wales.

Sporting Witness: Rulon Gardner - Wrestling Hero

At the 2000 Olympics, American Rulon Gardner pulled off the greatest shock in the history of modern Greco-Roman wrestling when he beat the Russian Aleksander Karelin. Karelin had not been defeated for 13 years and had already prepared a party to celebrate his latest gold medal. The win made Gardner a hero in America and is credited with sparking a boom in the popularity of his sport. He talks to Ashley Byrne.  An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: Rulon Gardner (Getty Images)

Pandemic 1918

As the coronavirus affects the whole world, leading virologist Professor John Oxford presents a three part series on the origin, spread and reaction to the Pandemic that devastated much of the planet just over 100 years ago. The so-called Spanish flu of 1918/19 is estimated to have killed more than 50 million of the 500 million people it infected, including 228,000 in the UK. It was the planet's biggest single natural human catastrophe - a flu pandemic that killed more people than both world wars put together in a fraction of the time. And yet this huge moment in history remains largely under the radar. Despite massive advances in health care and medical science, the parallels to today are stark. Professor John Oxford has warned of a similar kind of pandemic for years and has continually argued such a threat should be at the very heart of disaster planning for all governments. In three programmes, he charts the story of how the 1918/19 flu pandemic affected the UK and the world. Produced by Ashley Byrne and Iain Mackness. An MIM production for BBC Radio 4

Young & Cool - A Brief History of Country

Country fan Kerri Mcilroy from Ballymena meets some of the biggest names in country as she goes in search of the history and roots that inspired young artistes like Nathan Carter, Lisa Mchugh, Catherine McGrath and Derek Ryan. An MIM production for Downtown Country, with support from the Audio Content Fund.

Sporting Witness: Defying the Taliban

In December 2012, Maria Toorpakai Wazir reached the top 50 of women’s squash after an extraordinary struggle to become a professional player. Born in the tribal areas of Pakistan, Maria’s family disguised her as a boy until she was a teenager so she could try sport. After the Taliban discovered her true identity, Maria was threatened and she went into hiding until a Canadian former squash champion got her out of Pakistan. She talks to Ashley Byrne. An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: Maria Toorpakai Wazir (Getty Images)

Pandemic: How the Flu Changed Wales

As the world battles the coronavirus pandemic, Professor John Oxford, one of the world’s leading virologists, examines how the last truly global pandemic affected Wales. It’s estimated between 50 and 100 million people died in three outbreaks of the so-called ‘Spanish Flu’ which hit in 1918 and 1919. It remains the most devastating pandemic in modern history and to this day, scientists are still trying to pinpoint its origins. More people died than perished in World War One and Two combined. It even killed more than the bubonic plague, yet in many parts of the world it is virtually forgotten. But now the story of the 1918/19 pandemic is more relevant than ever! We hear how otherwise healthy soldiers returning safely from war to Wales would be dead within three or four days, how whole families would be wiped out in a week and how the authorities in different parts of Wales struggled to cope with looking after the sick and burying their dead on such a huge scale.  An MIM Production for BBC Radio Wales.

Sporting Witness: The perfect bull-ride

In 1991, Wade Leslie stunned the world of professional rodeo by becoming the first – and only – cowboy to achieve a perfect score of 100 points for a bull-ride. Leslie stayed in full control of an angry 1500-pound bull called Wolfman at a meeting in Oregon. He talks to Jonathan Holloway.  An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: Wade Leslie (courtesy Wade Leslie)

The Tragic Life, and Death of Timothy Evans

25 year old Timothy Evans from Merthyr Tydfil was hanged in March 1950 after being falsely convicted of the murder of his daughter at their flat in Rillington Place in London's Notting Hill district. Three years after his execution, his downstairs neighbour John Christie was found to be a serial killer who had killed six women in the same house. Criminologist Harriet Pierpoint looks back at the life, trial and execution of Timothy Evans and its subsequent impact. The case generated much controversy and debate and along with that of Derek Bentley and Ruth Ellis, played a major role in the abolition of capital punishment in the United Kingdom for murder in 1965. The documentary includes the dramatic reconstruction of elements of the trial and hears from historians, crime writers and Harold Evans, the former Sunday Times editor who raised the Evans case and campaigned for his conviction to be overturned alongside broadcaster and human rights campaigner Ludovic Kennedy. This programme assesses the case's significance, its role in the abolition of the death penalty and Timothy Evans's place in history. The actors are Dyfan Rees (Timothy Evans), Rowe David McClelland (John Christie), Stephanie Turner (Ethel Christie), Christopher Strauli (Mr Justice Lewis), Andy Hill (Clerk of the court) and Jonathan Kydd (Malcolm Morris KC and Christmas Humphreys). An MIM Production for BBC Radio Wales.

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