Author Jerry Barnett investigates why across the western world there has been a recent, steep decline in sexual activity. With the help of experts, activists and the winners and losers in the mating game, Jerry explores this complex issue, and asks where it might lead.
(Photo: A couple in bed looking at mobile phones. Credit: Getty Images)
Legendary sumo wrestling star Konishiki Yasokichi discovers how the ancient Japanese tradition is being taken up by people all over the world - from people following the Japanese tradition but developing their own style of amateur sumo, amateur wrestlers training in England, from a mother and daughter in Sydney who sumo wrestle together, and from the Dallas Sumo Club where wrestlers have developed their own style and wear cowboy Stetsons.
Konishiki soaks up the atmosphere at Tokyo’s famous Ryōgoku Kokugikan stadium - the home of sumo - and hears how the Japanese dominance of professional sumo has been threatened in recent years by wrestlers from Mongolia. Women remain barred from the pro-tradition in Japan but barriers are breaking down in amateur sumo with wrestlers like 24-year-old Hyori Kon (nicknamed Little Miss Sumo) blazing a trail as she campaigns for equality.
Producers: Ashley Byrne/Darryl Morris
Photo: Konishiki Yasokichi
In the 1990s, doctors in Berlin began a cutting-edge treatment programme that led to a patient being cured of HIV/AIDS. The so-called "Berlin patient" was Timothy Ray Brown: he was suffering from leukemia as well as HIV/AIDS, and was given a bone marrow transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation which killed off the HIV virus. Timothy Ray Brown was a campaigner for AIDS research until his death, from leukemia, in 2020. Ashley Byrne speaks to his partner, Tim Hoeffgen.
PHOTO: Timothy Ray Brown in 2012 (Getty Images)
Trying to cancel some online accounts can be a maze of searches and false hopes, multiple clicks through a puzzle of seemingly unrelated destinations. This is what has become known as a 'dark pattern'; complex web design that makes it hard for you to do something the website does not want you to do, and employs behavioural psychology to make you do things it does want you to do. It is just one of the techniques used to make us click, buy or subscribe.
Journalist and broadcaster Darryl Morris digs into the methods being used to grip your attention, and examines the persuasive power that is being harnessed. What impact is it having on your free will, and is there anything that can be done to resist it
(Photo: Abstract images on the theme of computers, Internet and high technology. Credit: Getty Images)
The Invention of Google Maps
In 2005, a revolutionary online mapping service called Google Maps went live for the first time. It introduced searchable, scrollable, interactive maps to a wider public, but required so much computing power that Google's servers nearly collapsed under the strain. Lars Rasmussen, one of the inventors of Google Maps, talks to Ashley Byrne.
PHOTO: Google Maps being used on a mobile phone (Getty Images)
Vonetta Flowers became the first black athlete to win a Winter Olympic gold, when her US pair won the two-woman Bobsleigh event in 2002. Flowers started her career as a sprinter and long-jumper, but switched to bobsledding after failing to make the American summer Olympic team. She was a natural for the brake-woman role and formed a successful team with driver, Jill Bakken. Vonetta Flowers speaks to Iain Mackness.
PHOTO: Vonetta Flowers celebrating her Olympic victory in 2002 (Getty Images)
Pro-wrestler Matt Powell, AKA Mad Dog Maxx, explores the history of British wrestling and its recent resurgence, especially in the Midlands. Mad cap professional wrestling was huge in the 1970s and 80s. Characters like Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy became a firm fixture on television with ITV devoting Saturday lunchtimes to the clashes between the titans. The public loved it, viewing figures were huge and these were massive stars. But in 1988, ITV pulled the plug and wrestling seemingly fell into obscurity. However, in one corner of England it never really went away and, four decades on, wrestling isn’t just remembered, it’s surviving and thriving. Matt Powell is someone whose love of those literally larger than life characters became such an obsession that, for the past few decades, he's been emulating them as a top wrestler himself. He introduces us to a world that is far from a fad of the past but a sport inspiring cross generational participation and interest in the heart of Britain. Recorded on the road in the West Midlands including the Black Country, we get to the very crux of what it both means to be a professional wrestler and how the sport is helping create a community which embraces and unites people from many different backgrounds. The producers were Emma Purshouse and Steve Pottinger. The executive producers were Iain Mackness and Ashley Byrne
Comedian and writer David Baddiel explores why some people are choosing to send their elderly relatives abroad for 24 hour dementia care. From soaring costs to reports of staff under pressure, covid concerns and neglect in some homes, deciding where in the UK to house loved ones who need intense support poses a huge dilemma for relatives. David Baddiel, whose father suffers with dementia, hears how some people from Britain and Europe are choosing to send their mums, dads and partners as far away as Thailand for dedicated round the clock support. David hears from relatives who are attracted by both the type and the cost of care in Thailand, and those running the facilities.
An MIM production for BBC Radio 4
In November 2009, Zenyatta became the first – and only – mare to win the Breeders Cup Classic, one of the most prestigious horse races in America. Undefeated in all but one of her races, Zenyatta became wildly popular with the public; she was as well-known for her dance moves in the paddock as she was for coming from behind to snatch victory at the last moment. Zenyatta’s jockey, Mike Smith, talks to Jonathan Holloway
PHOTO: Zenyatta and Mike Smith in action in 2010 (Getty Images)
Twenty years on from the 9/11 terror attacks which left 3,000 people dead, New Yorkers and those affected by the events recall where they were and how they have managed to process the horror of what happened. Presenter and New Yorker Joan Mastropaolo, now a volunteer at the 9/11 Tribute Museum takes us on a tour of the 9/11 memorial and explains what it means to her. Former US poet laureate Billy Collins recalls how writing and performing the official memorial poem – Names - helped him and others reflect on the individuals who lost their lives in the immediate aftermath. Annie Thoms, a teacher from one of the schools close to ground zero explains how High School students, forced to evacuate amid the confusion, recorded and eventually performed individual stories of fellow New Yorkers caught up in the attack. Ann Nelson recalls how she turned her own experience of befriending a fire chief struggling to deal with the events into a duologue eventually performed on stage in the shadow of Ground Zero - and in a film starring Sigourney Weaver. Wajahat Ali, a 20-year-old student at the time recalls how 9/11 changed his and the lives of fellow Muslims overnight. He would create a drama reflecting on how the lives of Muslims in America were affected by the backlash.
(Photo: Flowers are placed at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, New York, 11 September 2020. Credit: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)
Sporting Witness: Jackie Joyner-Kersee
In 1988, the American athlete, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, put in one of the greatest performances in the history of women’s athletics at the Seoul Olympics. She set a world record that still stands in the Heptathlon and won a second gold medal in the individual High Jump event.
PHOTO: Jackie Joyner-Kersee at the 1988 Olympics (Getty Images)
Sporting Witness - Japan's Keirin cycling phenomenon
In the year 2000, the Japanese track cycling sport of Keirin made its Olympic debut at the Sydney Games. Wildly popular in Japan, Keirin races begin with the cyclists following a motorized pacer, who gradually cranks up the speed until the riders are released into a final frenetic sprint. Ashley Byrne talks to former Japanese cyclist, Shinichi Ota, about trying to win the first gold medal in the sport his country invented.
PHOTO: A Keirin race at the 2016 Olympics (Getty Images)
In episode one of this three part series, actor and writer Catherine Harvey explores the poetry and language of Northern Ireland, asking how the way people speak and write is connected to the place itself.
In episode two, writer and performer Shane Strachan uncovers the breadth of exciting initiatives promoting the North East Scots dialect, Doric, to new audiences. He finds that Doric is not only surviving; it's thriving.
In episode three, BAFTA Award winning actor Rakie Ayola looks at how the words and accent of the area where she grew up has changed over time. Rakie was raised in the Ely district of Cardiff and, in this programme, she meets others from the same area and close by.
A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4
In this two-part series multi-gold-medal-winning Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson charts the road to the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo for a variety of athletes from Wales. From archery to rowing, wheelchair rugby to boxing, across the series Tanni chats to some of Wales’s top talent about how they’ve reached this point in their careers - and what their hopes and dreams are for what is likely to be a rather unusual Games as the world slowly recovers from the worst pandemic in just over 100 years. We hear some of our stars in action as they train while Tanni talks to them about their inspiration and motivation for their different sports.
At the Tokyo 1964 Olympics, British sweethearts Ann Packer and Robbie Brightwell became household names all over the world when they both competed in the running events. Ann would win a gold medal at her least favourite distance, the 800 metres, while Robbie had to make do with a silver in the 4x400 relay. As this was the amateur era, the couple retired after their first and only Olympic to get married and work as school-teachers.
PHOTO: Ann Packer and Robbie Brightwell pictured with their Olympic medals in 1964 (Getty Images)
Multi Gold winning Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson explores the role of women in sport through history. She will be remembering some of the milestones in sport for women over the decades – from athletes like Dale Greig, the first woman to run a marathon in under 3 and a half hours, Russian Olgo Korbut who helped to change the perception of women in gymnastics, tennis player Althea Gibson, the first African-American to win a Grand Slam and the footballers who battled a 5 decade ban on women playing on official grounds in England.
PHOTO: Tanni Grey-Thompson after finishing Fourth in the 200m T54 for Women at the 2004 Paralympic Games, Athens, Greece
The first Olympic Games in Japan were held in 1964, less than 20 years after the country lost the Second World War. The bombed-out centre of Tokyo had been virtually rebuilt following the Allied Occupation, and the Japanese took the opportunity to showcase new technology such as the Bullet Train and colour TV broadcasts. Ashley Byrne talks to wrestling gold medallist, Yojiro Uetake, about his memories of the games.
PHOTO: Japanese student Yoshinori Sakai about to light the Olympic Cauldron in October 1964 (Keystone/Getty Images)
At the opening ceremony of the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, Chinese athlete Hou Bin stunned the huge global audience with an amazing feat of strength. As the world held its breath, he used a rope to haul himself, his wheelchair and the Olympic flame 39 metres into the air to light the cauldron. Hou Bin talks to Ashley Byrne.
PHOTO: Hou Bin climbing to the top of the Olympic stadium (Getty Images)
Karoshi, or death from overwork, has been common in Japan for decades. Now the plight of women is coming more into focus following high profile deaths and signs more women are suffering. Yoshie Matsumoto examines how an overwork culture is affecting women in Japan. She hears from the parents of journalist Miwa Sado who died at the age of 31 after putting in more than 150 hours in overtime a month. She also hears from the mother of 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi who had been working 20 hours a day.
(Photo: Yukimi Takahashi beside her daughter Matsuri’s shrine at her home in Mishima. Credit: Makiko Segawa)
At the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Zimbabwean sprinter Elliot Mujaji won his country’s first ever Paralympic gold medal when he sprinted to victory in the 100 metres. Mujaji had been a promising runner as a teenager, but suffered severe burns and the amputation of his right arm while working in a part-time job as an electrician. Mujaji then faced a tough battle to get sponsorship in a country where there was virtually no support for Paralympic athletes.
PHOTO: Elliot Mujaji at the 2004 Paralympics (Getty Images)
In this third programme, guest presented by actor and star of Welsh soap Pobol Y Cwm Dyfan Rees, 'Life Matters' looks at the impact of suicide on LGBTQI+ people. Dyfan chats to Ian Howley from the charity LGBTHero and examines how gay men in particular have been affected during the Covid-19 pandemic, Ashley Byrne reports on new research being carried out around lesbian and bisexual women in America, Freddy Chick talks to Talen Wright about micro-aggression faced by trans people and bisexual journalist Nichi Hodgson tells her personal story.
In 1982, the first ever Gay Games were held in San Francisco. Attracting a large crowd and featuring more than 1000 athletes from more than 100 countries, the event was organised by a group of LGBT activists, including former Olympians, to raise awareness about homophobia in sport. The Gay Games are now held every four years at venues around the world.
At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Maria Mutola won Mozambique’s first ever gold medal in the 800 metres. Mutola had long been regarded as the finest female middle-distance runner of her generation, but she had suffered shock defeats at the previous two Olympics. Her exceptionally long Olympic career would continue until Beijing 2008, her sixth games. She talks to Ashley Byrne.
PHOTO: Maria Mutola winning her gold medal in Sydney, 2000 (Getty Images)
Professor Alice Roberts presents a ten-part narrative history series about the human body - a time-travelling tour of anatomical knowledge from the Stone Age to the Silicon Age.
Actor: Jonathan Kydd
An MIM production for BBC Radio 4
Forty years after the death of reggae singer Bob Marley, British writer and dub poet, Benjamin Zephaniah, remembers the day Jamaica came to a standstill for the singer’s funeral.
Bob Marley was laid to rest on the 21 May 1981, 11 days after dying from lung cancer. The extraordinary day saw the island come together to mourn their most famous son – and to celebrate his life and work. He was more than a singer and writer to the people of Jamaica, he was a national hero and prophet with his beliefs in peaceful resolution and Rastafarian religion.
Among those remembering this extraordinary day – I3s singer Marcia Griffiths, reggae musician Michael Ibo Cooper, reporter Robin Denselow and Edward Williams who was a 13-year-old boy living in Kingston at the time.
(Photo: Bob Marley performing at the Brighton Leisure Centre. Credit: Mike Prior/Redferns/Getty Images)
Mike Bubbins looks back at the life and career of the Welsh comedian and magician Tommy Cooper. Known for his large gawky appearance together with his trademark red fez and famous catchphrase 'just like that' people would often laugh the moment they saw him. Tommy broke every rule in the comedy book, he told jokes no other comedian would get away with, and he based his act around getting things wrong. In doing so he secured his place in our hearts forever. And a century after he was born in Caerphilly in March 1921, Tommy Cooper is still finding new fans. An MIM production for BBC Radio Wales
In 2011, US Navy bomb disposal officer Brad Snyder was blinded by an IED while serving in Afghanistan. Formerly a successful college swimmer, Snyder used sport as part of his recovery and exactly a year later took two gold medals at the London Paralympic Games. He talks to Ashley Byrne.
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. 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.
It’s 25 years since South Africa won football’s African Cup of Nations on home soil following the fall of Apartheid. Former Leeds United defender Lucas Radebe was part of the team and was later hailed by Nelson Mandela as his hero. He talks to Ashley Byrne about an emotional victory for the new “Rainbow Nation” and his own upbringing in Soweto.
Marc Almond is joined by his friend and record producer Tris Penna for a three part series about torch songs and torch song singers. Marc explains what a torch song is and traces the origins of the classic torch singers, and takes us through the decades - bringing us right up to date.
Former Blue Peter presenter Tim Vincent hosts a new comedy discussion series. Each week Tim and his fellow Likely Dads, Russell Kane and Mick Ferry, reflect on fatherhood. Guests include John Thompson, Chris Bisson, Craig Kelly, Laurence Clark, Prince Abdi, Will Mellor and Mr Motivator