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Episodes

Balancing Brexit, Libby Purves, A youthful Moral Maze  

Now Article 50 has been triggered, Roger Bolton speaks to BBC News Editor James Stephenson about whether the BBC can move on from broadly balancing remain and leave sentiment in its discussion of the Brexit process. With Radio 4's Midweek programme at an end after 35 years, presenter Libby Purves is Roger Bolton's latest guest for our Open Mic interviews about the careers of some of your favourite radio broadcasters. Also, can young panellists teach old hands some new tricks on Moral Maze? Listeners praise The thoughtful sixth formers who took over from the regular panel in the latest edition are praised by the audience for listening closely and politely challenging witnesses - and each other. Presenter: Roger Bolton Producer: Katherine Godfrey A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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Westminster coverage, the end of Midweek and the editor of The Archers  

Roger Bolton puts listener questions about coverage of the Westminster attack by Khalid Masood, to the Deputy Editor of BBC News, Toby Castle. And Roger reports from the Nations and Regions Media Conference in Salford on the important BBC radio headlines from the event. While there, he talks with the Editor of The Archers, Huw Kennair-Jones. Huw answers listener questions on all manner of subjects from sex and fruity language, to whether he wants to run another Helen and Rob-style hard-hitting subject in the near future. Also this week, some listeners wonder whether the BBC has been too cowed by criticism from MPs to report sufficiently impartially on the recent Unite for Europe march. And there's a fond farewell to BBC Radio 4's Midweek programme after 35 years. Presenter: Roger Bolton Producer: Katherine Godfrey. A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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Westminster attack  

Roger Bolton hears listeners' responses to BBC Radio's coverage of the Westminster attack. Also, following a letter from more than 70 - mainly Conservative - MPs to the BBC which called the Corporation's coverage of Brexit pessimistic and skewed, BBC Economics Editor Kamal Ahmed discusses his role in uncertain economic times. This week, a documentary took listeners inside a hospital in northern Israel for 24 hours. Tim Samuels' Sleepover: Inside the Israeli Hospital followed doctors at Ziv hospital treating patients who had crossed over the border from Syria. Many listeners said it shone a light on a little-known story, while a few others raised concerns about what they saw as a lack of political context in the programme. Roger speaks to Tim Samuels. And Feedback reporter Rob Crossan is in Gateshead for an on-location recording of BBC Radio 3's long-running Jazz Record Requests programme from the Sage, as part of the network's Free Thinking Festival. Rob speaks to presenter Alyn Shipton about just how particular listeners are when it comes to specific versions of records and asks the audience whether it makes a difference to see as well as hear the programme. Presenter: Roger Bolton Producer: Katherine Godfrey. A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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Is it time to re-think the Official Chart show?  

Radio 4's forum for audience comment.

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Keeping it impartial  

This week a storm of controversy has surrounded Woman's Hour presenter Jenni Murray. Many listeners feel a newspaper article she wrote breached the BBC's guidelines on impartiality and compromised her presenter role. Others supported her right to free speech. We hear from listeners on both sides of the argument. John Humphrys has also attracted criticism. During a Today programme interview he suggested that referring to MP Jo Cox's murder as an act of terrorism could "muddy the waters". Listeners say he "muddied the waters" himself and was inaccurate. They share their views on his remarks. On Wednesday, Philip Hammond got to his feet to deliver his first Budget. TV and radio teams braved the rain and mud, crowding onto College Green to cover the story. We follow Emma Barnett and the 5 Live Daily team to find out the secrets of broadcasting the budget from a flimsy tent in the pouring rain. And finally, Val McDermid has been pondering the horrifying prospects of a world where antibiotics no longer work. Her drama Resistance was inspired by a two-day Experimental Stories workshop hosted by the Wellcome Trust and Radio 4, where radio producers and writers met scientific researchers to develop dramas. Starring Gina McKee, listeners loved the dram's dystopian vision. Val McDermid talks about why she chose a music festival as the setting for her unnerving story. Presenter: Roger Bolton Producer: Katherine Godfrey A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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Dramatising real-life disasters  

Roger Bolton hears listener concerns about satirising Donald Trump in a news programme, and considers how far writers can go when dramatising real disasters. Every Friday on the World at One, reporter Jonny Dymond has been documenting the movements of Trump's first 100 days in office with a wry twist. While some listeners have enjoyed the touch of humour, others have said it's out of place in what they say should be an objective news programme. Roger chairs a discussion between two listeners with opposing opinions. On 6th March 1987, the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry left its dock on a journey from Belgium to Dover. The ferry capsized within the first half hour of the journey, leading to the loss of 193 lives. Thirty years on, Radio 4 has aired a dramatic re-telling of the story in Herald of Disaster. For many, it was intensely gripping and emotionally captivating. Writer Stephen Phelps explains why he felt the event deserved new exploration, and he discusses his technique of weaving fictional characters around factual accounts. Also, the BBC World Service says it's undergoing its biggest expansion since the 1940s. Jamie Angus, the former Editor of Today and now Deputy Director of the BBC World Service Group, answers listeners' questions on how the network will ensure its reputation as a reliable broadcaster in the era of fake news and about the expansion of language services into new territories. Presenter: Roger Bolton Producer: Katherine Godfrey A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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Radio 2 Schedule Changes  

Listeners have been voicing their concerns about a significant shake-up to Radio 2's schedule including time changes, the moving of beloved presenters and an apparent lack of diversity. As the new schedule comes into effect this weekend, Head of BBC Radio 2 Lewis Carnie answers a range of audience questions - from his side of the Brian Matthew story, to ensuring Radio 2 will fill the space left by Desmond Carrington with a similarly eclectic sound. Earlier this month, the new editor of The Archers gave his verdict on the future of Rob Titchener - he's "gone, but not dead" said Huw Kennair-Jones. Rob, who exerted coercive control on his partner, Helen for four years, has fled to America. But the actor who plays him, Timothy Watson, is in the Feedback studio to give listeners an understanding of this devious and manipulative mind - and whether he would ever return. It's not only the hard-hitting, emotive storylines that keep Archers fans hooked. Feedback reporter Rebecca Pearce went behind the scenes of this year's Academic Archers conference - where academics and life-long fans gather to discuss everything from serious panels on Helen's life in prison to flower and producer shows. And listeners pay tribute to broadcaster Steve Hewlett. Presented by Roger Bolton Produced by Katherine Godfrey A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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Time to re-think Russia?  

Roger Bolton asks if journalists are stuck in cold war thinking about Russia, and discovers if Radio 4's interactive drama Hashtag Love was truly interactive. Following National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's resignation this week and stories of alleged Russian involvement in the US elections, some listeners have suggested that reporting about Russia follows only one narrative line - presenting the country as enemy of the West. So are journalists sticking to a one-sided portrayal that sounds like cold war fear? Radio 4's documentary "The Pull of Putin aimed to present a broader range of perspectives from pro-Moscow voices, and many listeners found it to be expertly balanced and a refreshing insight. Presenter and producer Tim Whewell discusses whether western media needs to re-frame the relationship with Russia. Meanwhile, some listeners say that one candidate in the French Presidential elections is dominating coverage - Marine Le Pen of France's National Front party. Is the BBC being influenced by controversial statements from populist parties? BBC Radio Newsroom editor Richard Clark responds. And how often have you listened to radio drama and wanted to influence the characters' decisions? Radio 4 attempted to give listeners that opportunity with Hashtag Love. The interactive drama was staged live, incorporating reactions from social media and allowing the audience to influence the ending. Writer Peter Souter explains how he conducted the twists and turns of this live drama. Presenter: Roger Bolton Producer: Katherine Godfrey A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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Melvyn Bragg, Feisty Moral Maze, Brexit agriculture  

Roger Bolton hears the comments and concerns of listeners on the past week's radio broadcasting and raises their issues with those involved in making the programmes. As In Our Time prepares to celebrate its 750th episode, Roger Bolton talks to the programme's presenter Melvyn Bragg, who reveals how he ramps up the pressure to achieve the best live programme and talks about the programmes that have transformed his thinking. Long-standing BBC Correspondent Hugh Sykes considers the importance of accurate language, responding to listeners' critiques of one of his recent reports regarding President Trump's executive order banning immigration for people from seven, predominantly Muslim, countries. Charlotte Smith speaks to Feedback about her Radio 4 series Against the Grain, which considered the implications for British agriculture of leaving the European Union. The series has been praised by both listeners and farmers. But some ask if it would have been better to broadcast such a series before the EU Referendum? Also, listeners respond to heated outbursts about President Trump in an edition of The Moral Maze about the Morality of International Trade. Presenter: Roger Bolton Producer: Katherine Godfrey A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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New Editor of Today  

Roger Bolton asks if interviews with President Trump supporters require more care - or even censorship. And listeners give their reaction to the announcement of a new Today programme editor. Earlier this week, the Today programme interviewed Frank Gaffney. Introduced as a former government official, Gaffney was invited to discuss his support for Donald Trump's ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. But some listeners thought his so-called controversial political stance and alleged conspiracy theories should have been made clearer, while others believed his alleged anti-Muslim views should have prevented him from appearing at all. Roger invites two Feedback listeners to discuss their views. The task of dealing with such issues in the future has fallen into new hands - London Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands has been announced as the new editor of the Today programme. Listeners give their initial thoughts on the appointment - with some raising eyebrows over her lack of broadcast experience. At this week's BBC Audio Drama Awards, James Fritz took home trophies for Best New Writer and Best Drama Script - the first time a writer has won both awards in the same year. His award winning drama was Comment is Free, which tackles the spiral of abuse on social media. James discusses how recent political events, including the tragic murder of Jo Cox, took the drama out of his imagination and aligned it with real fears. The Welsh Assembly believes more should be done to reflect Welsh life in broadcasting. One station charged with doing just that is BBC Radio Cymru - which recently celebrated its 40th birthday. Reporter Llinos Jones goes behind the scenes to hear how the stations is meeting its audience's needs. Producer: Katherine Godfrey Presenter: Roger Bolton A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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27/01/2017  

Roger Bolton hears from listeners who claim the BBC may be out of step with popular opinion, and staffed by people from privileged middle-class backgrounds. Following Radio 4's recent series The New World, Commissioning Editor Mohit Bakaya and one of the presenters, Jo Fidgen meet some of those listeners to discuss their thoughts about the series and its ideological starting points. GF Newman's The Corrupted has just finished its third series of ten episodes, broadcast across two weeks. It's a gritty saga of crime and corruption among police and the corridors of power through the decades - most recently, the 1970s. It was loved by many, including Feedback listener David Dent - although he had some questions about the combination of real-life and fictional characters. He and Roger discuss walking the dramatic line with producer Clive Brill. Radio 2's live night-time programme After Midnight ends this weekend much to the disappointment of many listeners. Will that be to Radio 5Live's gain? Reporter Rob Crossan meets Dotun Adebayo and Rhod Sharp, the presenters of 5 Live's overnight show, Up All Night. Presenter: Roger Bolton Producer: Karen Pirie A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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20/01/2017  

Roger Bolton follows up the issues that are concerning listeners and asks if the BBC Reality Check team can combat the spread of 'fake news'. With audiences across the world getting caught out by viral stories, and dodgy statistics and shocking facts beginning to have a direct impact on politics, the BBC is responding with concrete efforts to tackle the growing phenomena of 'fake news'. The corporation has established a permanent statistic verification team called Reality Check. From the central newsroom of the BBC, News Editor James Stephenson details the inner workings of this group and what he hopes they will achieve, and discusses how much attention the BBC should give to stories based on 'fake news'. Ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration as President of the USA, Michael Gove was invited onto Radio 4's Today Programme to discuss his exclusive interview with the President Elect. But some listeners were left scratching their heads over the heavyweight 8:10am slot being given to a backbencher - and the lengthy time he was allocated. Listeners have also been expressing their dismay at the news that Radio 2 are axing live overnight presenters Alex Lester and Janice Long from the After Midnight show - to be replaced with repeats and pre-recorded playlists. Roger Bolton asks Lewis Carnie, the relatively new head of BBC Radio 2, to justify the cutbacks. And can music be the flame to ignite radio drama? Listeners give their poignant and personal reflections to recent Radio 4 drama On Kosovo Field, which was inspired by and written from previously unreleased music by PJ Harvey. Writer Fin Kennedy explains how he translated emotive lyrics into dramatic narratives. Producer: Karen Pirie A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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28/10/2016  

Roger Bolton investigates the demise of Detective James McLevy, protagonist of the much-loved and long-running Radio 4 drama. Also, many listeners want to know why the former Cabinet minister Michael Gove got so much airtime this week, with lengthy interviews on the World at One and a 15 minute special on The Pursuit of Power. The programme goes behind the scenes at a recording of The Kitchen Cabinet, talking to panellists, audience members and the programme's presenter Jay Rayner. Everything We've Ever Known is a series of short comic histories of science presented by Jake Yapp. They are currently on the Radio 4 website but, for the first time, have no connection with any Radio 4 programme. Roger Bolton discusses this development with the creators. A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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21/10/2016  

The editor of Today defends his programme against audience accusations of sexism in its coverage of Donald Trump's obscene comments, and a listener goes behind the scenes at Radio 5Live. When the Today programme ran an item on so-called "locker-room banter" following Donald Trump's comments about women, it prompted an angry reaction from the guest who had been invited to discuss the story on air. Laura Bates from Everyday Sexism accused the programme of a serious error of judgement in conflating two very different issues. Today's editor, Jamie Angus, tells Roger Bolton why he thinks he was right to run the item. Also, listener Tony Baker goes behind the scenes at BBC Radio 5Live Drive as they cover the victory parade of Britain's successful Olympians and Paralympian teams. The BBC's Head of Newsgathering, Jonathan Munro, explains why budget cuts means fewer presenters being jetted off to foreign climes to cover international stories. And Fi Glover, the presenter of Radio 4's The Listening Project, talks about the decision to devote a week of programmes to Brexit. Presenter: Roger Bolton Producer: Kate Dixon A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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14/10/2016  

With the US presidential elections less than 3 weeks away the BBC's North America Editor, Jon Sopel talks to Roger about the challenges of covering a campaign dominated by personalities rather than policies. He responds to listeners' suggestions that the BBC has been too focused on Donald Trump and too soft on Hillary Clinton. The Radio 4 documentary Body Count Rising argued that modern fiction is increasingly portraying violence against women in a voyeuristic way. Listeners were divided over the arguments. The programme's producer Gemma Newby answers her critics. And after a bumper summer of sport, the Controller of Radio 5Live Jonathan Wall defends his network against the accusation that its news brief is being swamped by too much sport. Producer: Kate Dixon A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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07/10/2016  

Roger Bolton hears listener views on BBC radio programmes and developments. From next year, users will need to login and give their postcode to access BBC iPlayer, iPlayer Radio and some mobile apps. The BBC says the move will enable it to offer a more personalised service - tailoring content to individual preferences. Some Feedback listeners and concerned the information gleaned will be used to crack down on the non-payment of the licence fee. The BBC's Director of Homepage and myBBC, Phil Fearnley, explains the Corporation's thinking. We find out more about binaural Beckett. Radio 3's Head of Speech Programming, Matthew Dodd, talks to Roger about why he commissioned new productions of five plays Samuel Beckett wrote especially for the Third Programme and how they were recorded binaurally - with voices and sounds in 360 degrees, coming not just from left and right but also from behind and in front of the listener. The Daily Telegraph's radio critic, Gillian Reynolds, gives her thoughts on the appointment of James Purnell as the head of a new BBC division - Radio and Education. And the Radio 4 Documentary A Casual Clearance explored the practical and emotional difficulties involved in clearing out a parent's house when they have died. It struck a chord with a number of listeners. Producer Clare Jenkins explains why and how she made the programme. Producer: Kate Dixon A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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30/09/2016  

Roger Bolton discusses audience views on BBC radio programmes. The news coming out of Aleppo in Syria becomes more horrific each day but, while the human suffering of civilians caught up in the conflict is undeniable, hard facts about what's happening on the ground are very difficult to come by. As in everything else, the BBC's duty is to remain duly impartial in its reporting. But some listeners believe the BBC has been less than even-handed in its coverage of recent events. Can the BBC ever be truly neutral in reporting wars? Roger discusses the issue with Dr Peter Busch, Senior Lecturer in War Studies at King's College London, and the BBC's Director of Editorial Policy and Standards, David Jordan. And is the BBC guilty of pushing stories about its own programmes at the expense of more newsworthy items? Some listeners say they think coverage of The Archers trial and The Great British Bake Off in recent weeks has blurred the line between real news and self-promotion. Finally - making Tracks. The last episode of Radio 4's nine-part drama goes out on Tuesday 4th October, and one of its producers, James Robinson, gives Roger the inside track on how the programme was conceived and made. Producer: Kate Dixon A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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23/09/2016  

Roger Bolton with views from the audience on BBCX radio programmes and issues. Sir David Attenborough's two part documentary series for Radio 4, The Waterside Ape, delved into the developments on the aquatic ape theory - the idea that our human ancestors evolved not on the wide savannahs of Africa, but alongside water. It's a contentious idea and some scientists have claimed it played fast and loose with the evidence and promoted a minority thesis unnecessarily. Roger hears the views of listeners. The Controller of Radio 1, Ben Cooper, wants to make his network the "Netflix of Music Radio". To do that he's putting in place what he calls a phone-first strategy - 25 hours a week of content will be made available for people to download onto their smartphones and listen to whenever they want. He tells Roger why he thinks all BBC stations will eventually have to follow suit. And how good are BBC journalists at explaining which statistics are reliable? The BBC Trust recently conducted a review of the impartiality of the BBC's reporting of statistics in its news and current affairs output. The verdict, according to one of the authors of the report, Paul Johnson from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, is that the BBC is doing a "pretty good job" but there are two to three areas of concern. And listeners give their reaction to last week's interview with Katy Searle, the BBC's Editor of Political News, about perceived bias in the Beeb's coverage of Jeremy Corbyn. Producer: Kate Dixon A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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16/09/2016  

Roger Bolton asks if BBC coverage has been biased against Jeremy Corbyn, putting listener concerns to Political News Editor Katy Searle. Have radio programmes looked too much at Jeremy Corbyn's personality at the expense of his policies? In the week that the Chair of the BBC Trust handed in her resignation, the draft BBC Royal charter was released. Chairman of the Voice of the Listener and Viewer Colin Browne talks to Roger Bolton about the Charter and its repercussions. Will it safeguard the independence of the Corporation? In 1986 a specialist music programme took to the air on Radio Ulster. The Bottom Line - or Across the Line as it's now known - celebrated its 30th birthday earlier this month with a live concert featuring performances from some of the bands it helped to launch. How has the programme outlived so many of its rivals? And a week on from the biggest trial in the history of Ambridge, we hear why some listeners of The Archers were left dissatisfied, while others were delighted with the outcome. Producer: Kate Dixon A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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09/09/2016  

It's the first of a new series, and one of the big stories over the summer was the Olympic Games in Rio. But are Radio 4 news bulletins the place for sports coverage - and did the BBC go too far in championing Team GB? Feedback listeners have their say, and Roger Bolton puts their thoughts to Editor of Radio 4's Six O'clock News, Dominic Ball. The long-awaited trial of Helen for attempted murder has had many glued to The Archers this week, and the fictional village of Ambridge has featured in real life news headlines across the world. With the storyline of Rob's coercive control reaching a climax, it's both gripped and repelled listeners. We hear from two avid fans on either side of the fence. And, as recording for the new series of Ramblings gets underway, we couldn't miss the opportunity to take a walk in the countryside with presenter Clare Balding. She's traipsed the British Isles for 17 years with producer Lucy Lunt, and Roger discovers why the simple act of walking in the fresh air with incredible scenery elicits such openness from their guests. Producer: Kate Dixon A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

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