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The Thought Show

Life As A YouTube Child Star

BBC World Service
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50 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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Life as a YouTube child star – how fame and money can come with online abuse.

Life as a YouTube child star; the truth about carbs and sugar; and why do so many of us love boats?

What’s it like to be a young YouTube star? Siblings Jaadin and Arabella Daho's lives have significantly changed since they went viral on YouTube in 2015. At just 10 and 11 years old their videos racked up 17 million views. But along with the money and fame has come abuse, both online and off. How has YouTube stardom affected these teenagers and their family?

Does a baked potato contain the equivalent of 19 cubes of sugar? We look into this claim to see whether the simple spud is hiding a sweet secret.

Why do so many of us love boats? Lesley Curwen, a proud owner of a yacht, finds out how our love affair with the boat can be a deep, passionate attachment and how in some cultures boats are seen as living things and the best place to create memories far from the busy world of dry land.

(Photo: Jaadin and Arabella Daho shooting one of their YouTube videos. BBC Copyright)

The Thought Show

Sandy Hook Hoaxers Update

BBC World Service
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26 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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An update on the conspiracy theorists who deny the shootings at Sandy Hook took place.

An update on the conspiracy theorists who deny the shootings at Sandy Hook took place; how do you get a hashtag to trend around the world, and the joys of sailing on the sea.

An update on American conspiracy theorists who deny that twenty-six people, mostly young children, died at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. False rumours that the attacks were staged were pushed by media mogul Alex Jones, and his online news site Infowars. Big social media companies have now shut down Infowars’ and Alex Jones’ accounts. This is an update of a story that was originally broadcast in March 2017.

How do you get a hashtag to trend around the world? We look at the numbers behind the case of a politician who is little known outside the United Kingdom but became a hot topic online.

Lesley Curwen has sailed thousands of miles around Europe on her yacht and knows the strange joy of being out of sight of land. Talking to fellow sea-lovers , she asks why we are drawn to go to sea and put ourselves at the mercy of wind and waves.

Photo: Alex Jones, founder of Infowars

Credit: Getty Images

The Thought Show

What is #QAnon?

BBC World Service
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49 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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#QAnon – the online conspiracy theory that is firing up supporters of Donald Trump.

#QAnon – the online conspiracy theory that is firing up supporters of Donald Trump; are wildfires really burning more land than before? Plus, the psychology of boredom.

#QAnon is part of an online conspiracy theory firing up supporters of Donald Trump. We trace how it started on fringe message boards and has moved more mainstream, including to the floor of a President Trump rally.

A Twitter debate erupted recently about the number of wildfires in the US and in southern Europe, so we take a look at the numbers to see whether they have increased or decreased. As usual, the story is more complicated than it appears.

Psychologists describe the purpose of boredom as trying to get us to do something else: it can spur us on to more meaningful activity or tempt us into dangerous behaviours. Sandra Kanthal talks with researchers who think boredom is anything but boring.

The Thought Show

Virtually Making A Fortune?

BBC World Service
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50 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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Why are people spending real money to buy land that only exists in virtual reality?

Why are people spending real money to buy land that only exists in virtual reality? Could computers do a better job than humans at checking fake news; and the appeal of Antarctica.

Why are people spending real money to buy land that only exists in virtual reality? In the virtual world of Decentraland, users can build whatever they can imagine. Some hope to make a profit by trading goods and services using the social platform’s own cryptocurrency. Could this be the birth of a new virtual economy or a cryptocurrency bubble waiting to burst?

Could computers do a better job than humans at exposing fake news? Tim Harford interviews Mevan Babakar of the fact-checking organisation Fullfact about the software tools she and her team are building to try to automatically verify statistical claims.

Why would you go to the coldest place on Earth? A place mostly devoid of life, where there are rarely more than a few thousand other humans spread out across a landmass twice the size of Australia. Shabnam Grewal reports on Antarctica whose sublime beauty is matched by its capacity to kill you, very fast.

(Photo Credit: Decentraland.org)

The Thought Show

The Influencer Business

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50 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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The power of social media influencers - what are the rules and ethics around advertising?

The power of social media influencers - what are the rules and ethics around advertising? How well do you understand your world? Plus, the pain of heartbreak.

Earlier this year, a baker in Liverpool in north-west England vented her frustration on Twitter over constantly being asked by social media influencers for free cakes. Many other businesses publicly sided with Laura Worthington, but were they being fair? We investigate the impact of influencers – people with powerful social media followings. What are the rules and ethics around advertising and promotion?

What proportion of your country are immigrants? What proportion of teenage girls give birth each year? Research suggests most people get the answers to these questions, and many others about their own countries, very wrong. Tim Harford interviews Bobby Duffy, Global Director of Ipsos Social Research Institute and author of the book, Perils of Perception: Why We’re Wong About Nearly Everything.

Heartbreak after love lost has been written about for generations in literature and in songs. But what causes this physical feeling of pain? Is it a figment of our imagination, prompted by our society and culture, or can we fall sick or even die from a broken heart?

Photo Caption: Influencer Lisa Linh promotes a number of brands – including hotels and credit card companies

Photo Credit: Lisa Linh

The Thought Show

Did Facebook Fuel Hate in Myanmar?

BBC World Service
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49 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:

Did Facebook fuel hate in Myanmar by failing to control hate speech against Rohingyas?

Did Facebook fuel hate in Myanmar by failing to control hate speech against Rohingyas? How new technology can improve road safety; plus, why do we forget the things we’ve learned?

Facebook’s dream of a more open and connected world has turned into a nightmare in Myanmar. The price of a smartphone SIM card dropped from around $200 to $2, and Facebook quickly became the app of choice, but it failed to control hate speech against Rohingyas and had very few employees who could read Burmese. What, following criticism in a UN report, is it doing now?

Is one particular model of car really the safest on the road in the UK, and how can new technology reduce road accidents round the world?

Have you ever been captivated by a book, full of stories you never knew, revelled in that new knowledge …and then forgotten it all? If the answer is yes, take heart; you are not alone. Sandra Kanthal asks why do we remember some facts easily, and but let others slip away, completely forgetting the things we’ve learned.

Photo: Rohingya refugees pictured in August 2017. Credit: Getty Images

The Thought Show

Russian Extremism Memes

BBC World Service
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50 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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Why are some Russians being placed on extremist watch lists for posting memes?

Why are some Russians being placed on extremist watch lists for posting memes? Are you more chimp or Neanderthal? Plus, the importance of fathers for their sons.

Why are some Russians put on extremist watch lists for saving or posting memes online? Maria Motuznaya was investigated by police after saving edgy memes on her account on the social network VKontakte. Hundreds of Russians are being targeted for using memes declared to be racist, offensive or against the Russian Orthodox Church. People on the list have their bank account frozen and some face criminal charges. Will a blogger’s campaign make a difference?

Are you more chimp or Neanderthal? We often hear scientists talking about how we are related but what’s the difference between 96% similarity and sharing 20% of our DNA, and do some of us literally have pieces of Neanderthal within us? Tim Harford talks to Peter Donnelly, Professor of Statistical Science at the University of Oxford.

Why is the relationship between fathers and sons so important? Nastaran Tavakoli-Far investigates.

(Photo: A pair of hands in handcuffs hold a mobile phone showing the VKontakte website. Credit: Anton Vaganov/Interpress/TASS)

The Thought Show

Social Media And Losing Weight

BBC World Service
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49 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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Can social media help you to lose weight or is some advice less healthy than it seems?

Does social media help or hinder people losing weight? Calculating the death toll after a natural disaster; plus, the impact of feminism on the mother and son relationship

Do dieting influencers and online communities help or hurt when you’re trying to get in shape? Some find social media groups a useful source of support, but there are concerns that some of the advice might not be as healthy as it seems, and that social media celebrities are setting unhelpful and unrealistic body expectations.

President Trump disputed the official figures for the death toll after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico a year ago, tweeting that the Democrats were inflating the death toll to "make me look as bad as possible". So, who is right, and how do you determine who died as a result of a natural disaster?

How has feminism affected the relationship between mothers and their sons. Feminist mothers share with Nastaran Tavakoli-Far the complexities of bringing up boys.

Photo Caption: A woman stands on a bathroom scale

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Thought Show

Catching The Killers Behind A Viral Murder Video

BBC World Service
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50 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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Were Cameroonian forces behind a shocking viral murder video?

Were Cameroonian forces behind a shocking viral murder video? What was the life expectancy of Spitfire pilots during the battle of Britain and what is compassion fatigue?

In July 2018, a disturbing video began to circulate on social media. In it two women and young children are shown being led at gunpoint by a group of soldiers. The captives are blindfolded, forced to the ground and shot 22 times.

The government of Cameroon initially dismissed the video as ‘fake news’. But through open-source investigations – examining details such as buildings, shadows, and uniforms – BBC Africa found that the blame lay squarely on Cameroonian Forces.

From the 10th July to the 31st of October 1940 the skies above Britain were a battle zone. The German Luftwaffe launched large scale attacks aiming to reach London, they were held back and ultimately defeated by the Royal Airforce which included many nationalities. The bravery of the pilots – known as ‘The Few’ - cannot be disputed but is it really true that the average life expectancy of a spitfire pilot during the Battle of Britain was just four weeks, as is often claimed. Tim Harford and Lizzy McNeill look into the statistics and consider which of the armed forces had the highest death rate.

Thanks to our TVs and smartphones we are bombarded 24/7.

Those whose job it is to care – doctors, nurses, mothers even – face even more relentless demands on their compassion. Until one day some feel they cannot go on anymore.

We are all vulnerable to compassion fatigue – whether we are unable to deal with more bad news, or to care for our patients and children. But why do we get it? Why do we stop caring? And what is the impact on society when people just switch off and tune out?

(Photo: A still from the video showing the murder of women and children by Cameroonian soldiers)

The Thought Show

The People Who Remove Facebook Posts

BBC World Service
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50 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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How hard is the job of being a content moderator on Facebook posts?

How hard is the job of being a content moderator on Facebook posts? Why do more women than men in same sex marriages get divorced? Plus, the art of rhetoric.

They decide what you can and cannot see on the world’s biggest social network. Who are Facebook’s content moderators? We speak to a woman who worked in a moderation centre in Germany, often watching violent and pornographic videos and deciding what posts should be deleted.

New figures reveal that same-sex divorce rates are higher among women than among men. Tim Harford discusses why this may be with Marina Ashdade, economist at the Vancouver School of Economics and author of Dirty Money, a book about the economics of sex and love.

In the age of non-stop tweets, news updates and digital distractions, Sandra Kanthal finds out why, in the age of the 280 character polemic, it could be useful to rediscover the ancient art of rhetoric.

(Photo: Close up of an eye. Credit: Getty Images)

The Thought Show

The Men Who Hunt Stolen Motorbikes

BBC World Service
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53 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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In one city hit by motorbike theft, volunteers are using social media to fight back.

In one British city hit by motorbike theft, volunteers are using social media to fight back; can economic growth co-exist with sustainability? Plus, why do we keep open secrets?

In Bristol, in the south-west of England, motorbike theft is rife, and criminals use social media to brag about their exploits and even extort money from their victims. But some bikers, sick of losing their treasured possessions, have started to take matters into their own hands. They’ve formed a Facebook group to try to hunt down stolen motorbikes, but will they be successful?

What causes economies to grow and might this growth outstrip our planet’s capacity to sustain it? The new joint winners of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, economists, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, have enabled us to edge closer to an answer. Tim Harford joins Ruth Alexander to talk about how these economists’ works have challenged our perceptions of materialism, productivity and climate change.

Why do we keep open Secrets - when everybody knows something is going on but it is never officially acknowledged? Things are left unsaid, remaining in this strange unacknowledged state for decades. So why do some open secrets not come out sooner? Nastaran Tavakoli-Far looks at the Catholic church, the trading floor and to the wrestling ring for some answers.

Photo Credit: BBC

The Thought Show

A ‘Manspreading’ Video Goes Viral in Russia

BBC World Service
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53 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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A ‘Manspreading’ Video Goes Viral in Russia – is it propaganda?

A ‘Manspreading’ Video Goes Viral in Russia – is it propaganda? Which country is the most generous foreign aid donor? Plus, why have women taken to ‘wellness’?

A protest against “manspreading” went viral in Russia – but is it Russian propaganda? Activist Anna Dovgalyuk denies that she staged a stunt where a woman was filmed throwing diluted bleach at the crotches of men whose legs were sprawled out over multiple seats on the St Petersburg Metro. But media reports suggested one of the men was an actor, and a European Union website has described the film as “staged Kremlin propaganda”. So, is it real or just a hoax? And how does it fit into a larger pattern of Russian social media bots and trolls stoking culture wars online?

How do you measure a country’s generosity when it comes to overseas aid? We crunch the numbers and talk to Brad Parks from research lab Aiddata about aid donations from some of the world’s more secretive countries.

From yoga and mindfulness to so-called clean eating, women are increasingly turning to “wellness” to look after their minds, bodies and emotions. Nastaran Tavakoli-Far asks what is driving some women away from the medical establishment in an effort to improve their health.

(Photo: Screenshot from the ‘manspreading’ video that went viral in Russia. Credit: Anna Dovgalyuk)

Profile

Jonathan Evans

BBC Radio 4
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14 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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A profile of the new Director General of MI5, Jonathan Evans.

Dennis Sewell of Talking Politics takes a walk down the secret corridors of power to find out as much as he can about the new Director General of MI5, Jonathan Evans.

Brand

Profile

Profile

Sir Gus O'Donnell

BBC Radio 4
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14 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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Mary Ann Sieghart profiles the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell.

Mary Ann Sieghart profiles the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, a key figure in the controversy over Gordon Brown's alleged bullying of Downing Street staff.

Mary Ann Sieghart profiles the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, a key figure in the controversy over Gordon Brown's alleged bullying of Downing Street staff. It's said that Britain's most senior civil servant is not a typical Whitehall mandarin. He gives straight answers and didn't go to Oxbridge. Can a man with such influence stay clear of the political storm?

Brand

Profile

Last Word

05/02/2010

BBC Radio 4
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30 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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The lives of Sir Percy Cradock, Lucienne Day, Lt Col Lee Archer and Pernell Roberts.

John Wilson presents the obituary series. Marking the lives of Sir Percy Cradock, Lucienne Day, Lieutenant-Colonel Lee Archer and Pernell Roberts.

John Wilson presents the obituary series, analysing and celebrating the life stories of people who have recently died.

Marking the lives of Sir Percy Cradock, Lucienne Day, Lieutenant-Colonel Lee Archer and Pernell Roberts.

Brand

Last Word

Jon Ronson On

Series 5 Episode 5: Ambition

BBC Radio 4
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28 minutes Available for years First broadcast:
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Jon interviews people at different points in their lives to assess how ambition shapes us.

Jon Ronson interviews people at different points in their lives to assess how driving ambition shapes us. From February 2010.

The writer Jon Ronson asks how our driving ambitions shape us. By interviewing several people at different points in their lives, he sees how ambition can make and break people.

He talks to an 11 year old boy who has plans to be a world class architect, a young woman who has set her sites on being Prime Minister and an ambitious stock broker whose success led him down a dangerous path towards a high security prison in the US.

Producer: Laura Parfitt

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Taking a Stand

02/02/2010

BBC Radio 4
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30 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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Fergal Keane talks to Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter, Flora, died in the Lockerbie bombing.

Fergal Keane talks to Dr Jim Swire, who has waged a long campaign to expose those he believes were responsible for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, in which his daughter, Flora, died.

Fergal Keane talks to Dr Jim Swire, who has waged a long campaign to expose those he believes were responsible for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, in which his daughter died.

It has been 21 years since his daughter, Flora, died when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, yet Jim Swire's demands for a full public enquiry into the incident remain undimmed. Only then, he believes, might the full story be exposed. Jim has also fought for the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, a man he helped bring to trial but has long believed was innocent.

Making History

02/02/2010

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

Vanessa Collingridge hears about a writing tablet from Roman Cumbria.

Vanessa Collingridge asks listeners to suggest objects that help tell A History of the World. Today a writing tablet from Roman Cumbria and an original blueprint for garden suburbs.

Vanessa Collingridge asks listeners to suggest objects that help tell A History Of The World. Today, a writing tablet from Roman Cumbria and the original blueprint for garden suburbs.

Great Lives

Series 20 Episode 9: Bill Hamilton

BBC Radio 4
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30 minutes Available for over a year First broadcast:
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Professor Richard Dawkins discusses the evolutionary theorist Bill Hamilton.

4 Extra Debut. Richard Dawkins explains why he believes Bill Hamilton was one of the great evolutionary theorists of the 20th century. With Mary Bliss. From February 2010.

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

Professor Richard Dawkins explains why he believes Bill Hamilton to have been one of the greatest evolutionary theorists of the 20th century. Dr Mary Bliss offers expert advice.

Taking a Stand

09/02/2010

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

Featuring Barbara Harris, whose organisation pays addicted women to take contraception.

Fergal Keane talks to Barbara Harris, whose organisation pays drug- and alcohol-addicted women to take long-term contraception.

Fergal Keane talks to Barbara Harris, whose organisation pays drug- and alcohol-addicted women to take long-term contraception.

Barbara's experience of fostering babies born to those addicted to drugs and alcohol led her to one conclusion: that these women should be offered financial inducement to be sterilised, or given long-term contraception to stop them having children they are unable to care for. Founded over a decade ago in the United States, her organisation, Project Prevention, has so far made payments to over 3,000 women.

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