Is Britain Exceptional? Historian, author and Sunday Telegraph columnist Zoe Strimpel believes so, and sifts through the layers of Britain’s culture, politics and religious history to find the roots for the nation’s scientific, intellectual and cultural dynamism and the germ for today’s culture wars.
With the help of leading historians, political activists and scientists, Zoe examines whether Britain's obsession with the glories of 'our finest hour': WWII determined a version of history that eclipsed inconvenient truths that contradict our national myths and identity. She asks whether Britain's 'long island story' has really been as unruptured and stable as commonly believed, revealing a much more compelling Britishness forged out of military conflict abroad and religious and political turmoil at home.
Does the secret to Britain's historical dynamism in scientific discovery, philosophy and culture reside in dissent from religious and political orthodoxy, rather than unstinting allegiance? Has the hidden history of religious noncomformity - a rebellion within a rebellion - been the hothouse encouraging creative genius to flourish?
Zoe meets the modern-day heirs to noncomformity to examine how Britain's unwillingness to put culture at the heart of our holdall national identity has led to tolerance and cultural diversity on the one hand, but also an acceptance of inequality. This might be the cause of our lost sense of who we are and what Britain is now for; perhaps we need to learn from and incorporate our unexamined history to shake off self-loathing, embrace eccentricity and regain the creative dynamism we now lack.
Presenter: Zoe Strimpel
Producer: David Reid
Editor: Clare Fordham
King Charles' Challenge
The Queen’s funeral appeared a resounding reassertion of our enduring commitment to monarchy, but was it a tribute to her rather than the institution? As the coronation approaches, polls suggest support is at its lowest ever, and the King faces difficult questions on several fronts.
As supreme Governor of the Church of England, congregation numbers are falling and divisions are deepening over its stance on gay marriage.
The union is under threat – what would the monarchy mean if Scotland votes for independence and Northern Ireland joins the Republic?
Commonwealth countries from the Caribbean to the Pacific are asking whether it still makes sense to keep a king in London as their head of state.
The coronation will be a grand reminder of our history, but hanging over everything is a dark chapter in that history; the monarchy’s role in the slave trade. If the King is to represent all his subjects, does he need to say sorry? And what about reparations?
Edward Stourton will unravel the challenges and ask how the King meets them.
Presenter: Edward Stourton
Producer: Jonathan IAnson
Editor: Clare Fordham
Does it matter who our MPs are?
Classic theories of representative democracy argue that it’s the representation of ideas not our personal characteristics - such as age, gender, race or class - that should matter. But current debates about the diversity of our politicians suggest many of us are interested in who our MPs are and that they represent us.
We have more women and more ethnic minority MPs than ever before, we have had three women Prime Ministers and our first Prime Minister with an Asian heritage and yet attention has been drawn to the fact that the majority of the current cabinet, unlike the British population, attended private schools. Some have never worked outside of politics. Does this matter? Is personal background and history the most critical factor leading to good political representation? Do the backgrounds of our politicians influence voters’ choices at the ballot box? And how do political parties react?
Presenter: Rosie Campbell
Producer: Vicki Broadbent
Editor: Clare Fordham
The death of globalisation?
Professor Ian Goldin explores globalisation, and asks how far the world is fragmenting politically and economically, and what the consequences of that could be.
Since around 1990, with the end of the Cold War, the opening of China, global agreements to reduce trade barriers and the development of the internet, there has been a dramatic acceleration of globalisation.
But its shortcomings are under the spotlight. Governments are making policy choices that protect their industries, and there’s a knock on effect on other countries and consumers around the world.
How can the challenges be addressed?
With contributions from:
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.
Minouche Shafik, President and vice-chancellor of the London School of Economics
Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor of The Economist
Rana Foroohar, Financial Times commentator and author.
Kishore Mahbubani, former Ambassador to the UN
CBS News, 24.09.19 – Donald Trump addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, pushing his ‘America First’ agenda.
Conservative party, 02.10.19 – Boris Johnson at Conservative party conference ‘Let’s get Brexit done.’
The White House, 04.03.22 – Joe Biden announce his ‘Made in America’ commitments.
World Economic Forum, 18.01.23 - German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, addresses the World Economic For in Davos, warning of the dangers of de-globalisation.
BBC Newsnight,19.02.97 - Reporter Mike Robertson, reports on Xiao Ping’s economic legacy.
BBC interview, 2005 - Tim Berners Lee describes the creation of the worldwide web.
BBC Newsnight, 10.11.89 – reporter piece from the Berlin Wall.
BBC Radio 5Live, 26.01.23 – Latest UK car manufacturing figures from 5Live presenter Rachel Burden and detail from BBC Business editor, Simon Jack.
Courtesy, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, 26.11.88 – Ronald Reagan’s radio address to the nation where he reminds the US to be thankful for economic prosperity generated by global trade.
Courtesy, William J. Clinton Presidential Library, 28.01.2000 - President Clinton addresses the World Economic Forum about the connections between the global economy and US prosperity.
From Brother to Other
It’s a year since Russia launched its war in Ukraine; a year that has brought failure, humiliation, defeat and heavy losses on the battlefield, and international isolation. The conflict has impacted the entire Russian population, with unprecedented sanctions and an unpopular and poorly executed nationwide mobilization. Ukraine was always considered Russia’s closest and most loved neighbour, and yet the Kremlin’s so-called ‘special military operation’ still apparently enjoys considerable support and acceptance among Russians.
Journalists Tim Whewell and Nick Sturdee tell the story of how the war has been presented to the Russian people. They explore the myths, lies and truths that have won Vladimir Putin the support he needs to sustain a war effort on whose success his rule and place in history will depend.
Talking to a Russian state TV talk-show host, Russia’s most famous war reporter, a singer and so-called ‘Z poet’, and volunteer Russian fighters in Ukraine, Analysis investigates how Russians' understanding of and support for the war are forged.