The Reith Lectures
Every year since 1948, the BBC has commissioned a "significant international thinker" to write and broadcast a series of audio essays. The subject of those essays varies depending on the interests of the author: in 2013, Grayson Perry wrote with joyful fervour about a life in art; in 2015, Stephen Hawking examined black holes. This year, the twice-Booker-winning Hilary Mantel - she who rose Cromwell from the dead - turns her lively intelligence to the matter of history, presenting five essays, across five episodes, before a live audience. In each one, she turns again and again to the questions that obsess her: the power of the dead, the slipperiness of the past, the unimaginable realness of the people who came before us. In the process, she drags us through time: from the 1930s and a Polish playwright crushed by her own perfectionism, to the restless court of Henry VIII, and into her own family history. The cumulative product is mesmerising - a feat, indeed, of significant thinking. Hear four hour-long episodes now, with one more to come.
Gateway episodes: Silence Grips the Town (27 Jun 2017) / Can These Bones Live? (4 Jul 2017)
Released: Weekly when in series