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Ramblings

Literary Walks Episode 6: Alderley Edge - Alan Garner

BBC Radio 4
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23 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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Clare Balding explores the countryside of Alderley Edge with author Alan Garner.

Alan Garner spent his childhood in Alderley Edge and many of his works have been inspired by the area. Clare Balding takes a walk with the author in the landscape he grew up in.

Alan Garner spent his early childhood in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, England, and he remains associated with the area. Many of his works, including The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, are drawn from local legends and locations. Clare Balding walks with him to hear more about the area and how it inspired his writing.

Front Row

Disenchantment, Alan Garner, tips to boost your creativity

BBC Radio 4
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30 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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We review Disenchantment the new animated series from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening.

We review Disenchantment the new animated series set in a fantastical medieval world from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening.

Disenchantment, Netflix's new animated series set in a fantastical medieval world from The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening is released this week. TV critic Andrew Collins and comedy writer Natasha Hodgson discuss whether the fantasy series has brought some Simpsons' magic to Netflix.

Alan Garner's debut novel, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, is regarded as one of the great 20th century works of children's literature. It was inspired by the Cheshire landscape he grew up in, like many of his other novels like The Owl Service. His new memoir, Where Shall We Run To?, is a series of recollections of his wartime childhood but it's far from nostalgic.

The Oscars have just announced the introduction of a new award category for outstanding achievement in popular film, making superhero films like Black Panther more likely to win an Oscar. Film critic Anna Smith comes into talk about the repercussions.

Plus author and creative expert Dave Birss gives us his tips and tricks on how to improve our creativity.

Presenter: Samira Ahmed

Producer: Kate Bullivant.

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Front Row

Books and Authors

The Cheltenham Literary Festival

BBC Radio 4
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28 minutes Available for over a year Web Only

Mariella Frostrup talks to Salman Rushdie, James Ellroy and in his 50th year of Alan...

Mariella Frostrup talks to Salman Rushdie, James Ellroy and in his 50th year of writing, Alan Garner.

The Essay

Cornerstones Episode 1: Flint

BBC Radio 3
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15 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:

Alan Garner sparks with flint, the stone that has enabled human civilisation.

Alan Garner sparks with flint, the stone that, perhaps more than any other, has enabled human civilisation.

The writer Alan Garner sparks with flint, the stone that, perhaps more than any other, has enabled human civilisation. It's a stone that has featured in some of his novels, such as Red Shift, where the same Neolithic hand axe resurfaces across different times to haunt his characters. And it is time and evolution that he looks at in this essay: "My blood walked out of Africa ninety thousand years ago. We came by flint. Flint makes and kills; gives shelter, food; it clothes us. Flint clears forest. Flint brings fire. With flint we bear the cold."

Alan's essay is the first of five Cornerstones this week in which different writers reflect on how a particular rock shapes both people and place.

Producer: Mark Smalley

Image: Courtesy of the artist Rose Ferraby.

BBC Radio 4 Extra
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30 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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His home's Bronze Age legacy and nearby Jodrell Bank inspire author Alan Garner to write.

4 Extra Debut. How the Bronze Age legacy of Alan Garner’s home and nearby Jodrell Bank, inspires his novels. With Martin Goodman. From 2014.

Writer, Alan Garner lives in a medieval building on a Bronze Age site, within a mile of the Jodrell Bank radio telescope.

Alan explains how this has inspired his writing for over 50 years. He describes how it gives him a unique sense of place, and a perspective on the passage of time reflected in his book trilogy, and which first propelled him to fame with the children's classic fantasy story, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen in 1957.

Martin Goodman, Professor of Creative Writing at Hull University, visits Jodrell Bank with Garner to find out more about the timeline the author traces from the Bronze Age artifacts found around his home, through to the contemporary exploration of space which the telescope undertakes today. Garner takes inspiration from making these connections and expresses them through his fantasy stories.

Goodman also re-visits the locations which make Garner's books so memorable by heading to Alderley Edge - an outcrop of rock in Cheshire, with dramatic views of the Pennines. The physical features of this landscape, such as stones and hidden places have been given a mythical dimension by Garner, who explains how the Edge has cast a spell over him since his childhood.

Producer: Philip Reevell

A City Broadcasting production for BBC Radio 4, first broadcast in May 2014.

Last Word

James Garner, Joep Lange, Alan Alan, Philip Wayre, Dora Bryan

BBC Radio 4
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28 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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Julian Worricker on an actor, a physician, a naturalist, an actress and an escapologist

Julian Worricker on actors James Garner and Dora Bryan, naturalist Philip Wayre, physician and AIDS researcher Joep Lange, and escapologist Alan Alan

On Last Word this week:

James Garner, the film and television actor who starred in Maverick and the Rockford Files....

The Dutch physician, Joep Lange, who's regarded as one of the world's top clinical AIDS researchers....

Alan Alan, an escapologist described as Britain's answer to Houdini....

Philip Wayre, a naturalist who's credited with saving the otter from extinction in England....

And the Bafta award winning actress, Dora Bryan, whose career embraced the stage, screen and television.

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Last Word

Open Book

10/10/2010

BBC Radio 4
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30 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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Mariella Frostrup talks to writers Salman Rushdie and James Ellroy.

In a special edition of the programme from the Cheltenham Literary Festival, Mariella Frostrup talks to Booker of Booker winner Salman Rushdie and to crime writer James Ellroy.

In a special edition of the programme from the Cheltenham Literary Festival, Mariella Frostrup talks to Booker of Bookers winner Salman Rushdie about his new novel, Luka and the Fire of Life. A companion piece to his earlier book for children 'Haroun and the Sea of Stories', this book has the same family at its heart but the adventure and magic belong to Haroun's younger brother, Luka.

Joining them will be American crime writer James Ellroy who will be talking to Mariella about his memoir "The Hilliker Curse" in which he describes his obsessive pursuit of women following his mother's murder when he was ten.

Plus - an appreciation of the work of Alan Garner, author of the classic children's book The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, published 50 years ago. Set in Alderley Edge, the novel follows the story of Colin and Susan and the Wizard who saves them. The literary editor of The Times, Erica Wagner, pays tribute to Garner's arresting and unique imaginative world.

PRODUCER: SALLY SPURRING.

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Open Book

The Essay

Cornerstones Episode 3: North Sea Oil and Gas

BBC Radio 3
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15 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:

Esther Woolfson contrasts Aberdeen, the 'Granite City', with its oil and gas industry.

Writer Esther Woolfson contrasts the solidity of Aberdeen, the 'Granite City', with the decline of the North Sea oil industry, on which its economy has so relied since the 1970s.

The writer Esther Woolfson contrasts the solidity of Aberdeen, the 'Granite City', with the decline of the North Sea oil and gas industry, on which its economy has so relied since the 1970s. It's part of this week's series of Cornerstones - nature writing about rock, place and landscape.

Author of 'Field Notes from a Hidden City', about her encounters with Aberdeen's wildlife, Esther reflects on the city's relationship with the North Sea hydrocarbons industry, and how much the city has been affected by the waning oil boom. She contrasts the city's big, public granite Victorian edifices with the slow creation in past milennia beneath the seabed of the oil and gas hydrocarbons which have powered the modern world.

Among the other Cornerstones essays this week, the writer Alan Garner reflects upon flint, the stone that has enabled human civilisation, and Sara Maitland considers Lewisian gneiss, so much a rock of ages that it is two thirds the age of the earth itself.

Producer: Mark Smalley

Image: Courtesy of the artist Rose Ferraby.

The Essay

Cornerstones Episode 4: Gypsum and Alabaster

BBC Radio 3
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15 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:

Archaeologist Rose Ferraby gets to grips with gypsum, the key mineral in plaster.

Artist and archaeologist Rose Ferraby gets to grips with gypsum: the key constituent of plaster, it covers the walls around us. Highly soluble, it causes sink holes in Ripon.

The artist and archaeologist Rose Ferraby gets to grips with something that is always around us, but which we almost never stop to consider: gypsum, the chief constituent of the plaster on the walls around us. It's part of this week's series of Cornerstones - nature writing about how rock, place and landscape affects us.

Gypsum's use dates back to at least the ancient pyramids of Egypt. Rose explains how gypsum, being highly soluble, is responsible for the notorious sink holes around the city of Ripon, frequently causing subsidence and damage to homes. She also considers alabaster, a soft, luminous stone composed of gypsum, and which was used to stunning effect for medieval memorials and sometimes even in place of stained glass in windows.

Among the other Cornerstones essays this week the writer Alan Garner takes flint, the stone that has enabled human civilisation, and Esther Woolfson contrasts Aberdeen's granite solidity with the decline of the North Sea oil and gas industry, on which its economy has relied for the last forty years.

Producer: Mark Smalley

Image: Courtesy of the artist Rose Ferraby.

BBC Radio 4
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28 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
Latest broadcast:

Exploring the darker side of the landscape and the revival of Folk Horror in the arts.

Exploring the darker underside of the pastoral idyll and the revival of the traditions of Folk Horror among a new generation of artists, film-makers and writers.

Documentary maker Simon Hollis explores the darker underside of the pastoral idyll and the traditions of Folk Horror being revived by a new generation of writers, musicians and filmmakers.

From the nuggets of evil turned up by the plough in The Blood on Satan's Claw to the cursed woodland, furrows, stone circles and rituals that haunt a wealth of British film, television and fantasy literature. Far from being a green and pleasant land, ours is a countryside inhabited by darker mythology, uncanny foreboding and even terror - of isolated places and older belief systems, places where the Enlightenment never reached and where the soil incubates evil, traumas that rise to the surface, remote communities where hapless city dwellers are lured to meet their fate.

Following the ritual slaying of the Jack in the Green and summer rites in the fields for Lammas, visiting lonely, de-sanctified churches sinking into the soil and recording incantations in the dark-wood, Simon faces the Fear in the Furrows.

Contributors include fantasy writer Alan Garner, musician and composer Sharron Kraus, writer and filmmaker Adam Scovell, author Ben Myers, field folklorist Jonathan Huet, occult historian Gary Parsons, Piers Haggard the director of The Blood on Satan’s Claw, and Maxine Sanders "Queen of the Witches".

A Brook Lapping production for BBC Radio 4

Image Credit: Grey Malkin & Andy Paciorek

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