From Our Own Correspondent Podcast

From Our Own Correspondent Podcast

United Kingdom

Insight, wit and analysis as BBC correspondents, journalists and writers take a closer look at the stories behind the headlines. Presented by Kate Adie and Pascale Harter.


Men On A Mission  

White candles for a murdered Mexican journalist, purple glitter for an Iranian President and the Pope's modest blue car. Kate Adie introduces correspondents' stories. On his first full day in office, the recently elected French President Emmanuel Macron was in Berlin to “breathe new dynamism" into Franco-German relations. But what does Germany make of Macron? Damien McGuinness has been finding out. Purple was the signature colour of President Rouhani’s re-election campaign in Iran and, following his victory, Nanna Muus Steffensen finds it everywhere; purple glitter, headbands, t-shirts, even hair dye. In Mexico Juan Paullier is among the journalists protesting the murder of one of their own – the committed chronicler of the country’s drug wars, Javier Valdez. While the Pope wants a simpler, humbler Church, he’s also very willing to use the grandeur of the Vatican to his advantage, finds Christopher Lamb as President Trump meets Pope Francis for the first time. And in America, could a good walk help heal a divided country? Phoebe Smith goes for a hike along the Appalachian Trail.

Pride and Prejudice  

Patriotic clubs in Uganda and gang violence in America. Kate Adie introduces correspondent’s stories from around the world. In America, Lucy Ash visits Long Island – not the opulent and extravagant mansions of The Great Gatsby but the other Long Island. The site of several murders linked to MS-13 - the street gang President Trump has vowed to crush. In Uganda, a teacher stands bolt upright, legs apart, with a rather stern expression. The words ‘Belief’ and ‘Determination’ are emblazoned on the wall. Mike Thomson attends a class in patriotism. Nicola Kelly meets the Yazidi families who fled violence in Iraq, only to find they are not always welcome among the Yazidis of Armenia. We take tea in Malawi as Nick Redmayne visits one of the country’s traditional tea estates trying to reinvent itself in response to changing tastes and falling prices. And in Goa, Paul Moss finds talk of body rebalancing, tantric imitation and a reptilian elite.

A Funny Old Game  

A diplomatic dance, football playing politicians, mountain music and robotic sex dolls. Kate Adie introduces correspondent’s stories from around the world. In Germany - he almost became a professional footballer now he wants to be Chancellor - Jenny Hill meets a former teammate, and childhood friend, of Martin Schulz. In Sierra Leone Bob Howard meets the ‘friends of the dead’ as young entrepreneurs seek any way they can to escape the country’s staggering levels of unemployment. Micky Bristow reflects on the diplomatic games being played out between China and Taiwan. Special number plates and invitations to Swiss summits may seem insignificant to some, but not when on you’re an island that few nations recognise as an independent country. In Peru, Robin Denselow samples the sounds of mountain music at a reconciliation concert high in the Andes. And in San Marcos, California, Jane Wakefield takes a tour of a rather unusual factory offering the latest in AI equipped, robotic sex dolls.

Enemies of Old  

Somalia faces famine, ethnic conflict continues in Myanmar and the ‘She-Wolf’ retires. Kate Adie introduces correspondents’ stories from around the world. On a rare trip into the remote Northern Shan State of Myanmar, Nick Sturdee meets one of the ethnic militias still at war with the military. There are harrowing sights for Mary Harper in Somalia and Somaliland, as she sees for herself the toll that severe drought and threat of famine are taking on the population, particularly the children. In contrast Will Grant finds something to celebrate for Cuba’s socialist leadership. As the annual May Day workers’ march took place, the US Congresswoman described by Fidel Castro as the ‘big bad she-wolf’ announced her retirement. Elizabeth Hotson reflects on tales of the Cold War spies and challenges to press freedom, as she joins the Ski Club of International Journalists in France. And in India, Melissa Van Der Klugt watches a tent being cleaned. Rajasthan's Royal Red Tent, which is taller than a double bus and made from exquisite silk, velvet and gold, is being given its first proper spring clean in 350 years.

In Search of Happiness  

The summer fighting season has begun in Afghanistan and, as Justin Rowlatt discovers, there is already a shortage of coffins following a Taliban attack. As the world worries about North Korea, Nick Danziger gets a glimpse of life in Pyongyang; designer coats, European football shirts and courting couples furiously tapping away on locally-manufactured mobile phones were not what he was expecting. In Uzbekistan, it’s the crunch of crinoline and sound of snapping cameras that surprise Caroline Eden – because now is wedding season in the former Soviet state. In the UAE, Julia Wheeler discovers a road named ‘Happiness Street’, a Minister of State for Happiness and fines for those who aren’t quite happy enough. And Mark Stratton goes to Sao Tome and Principe to see how a new approach to the cocoa trade is replacing the bitter legacy of the slave trade.

Getting Out  

Birthday cakes, icons of cool and the candidate coining new words in the French election. Kate Adie introduces correspondents’ stories from around the world. On the campaign trail in France, Hugh Schofield finds visions of a new world and calls to ‘“get em out’ ahead of the election on Sunday. Alastair Leithead asses the political turmoil in South Africa - not by speaking with protesters, but by mingling with party-goers at a presidential birthday-bash. In Argentina, Newsnight’s Stephen Smith meets Che Guevara’s younger brother and discovers that the revolutionary's legacy is probably not what he would have hoped for. As President Donald Trump approaches his 100th day in office Shaimaa Khalil has been on a road trip across middle-America, visiting the states that helped get him elected. And in Kabul Nanna Muus Steffensen meets that young student asking herself ‘should I stay and be part of Afghanistan’s future or get out while I can?’

Stamina of the Strongmen  

Controversial votes in Turkey and Kashmir, and a university challenged in Hungary. Kate Adie introduces correspondents' stories: Justin Rowlatt is in Kashmir on election day where he sees plenty of police and protestors, but where are the voters? In Turkey Mark Lowen finds that paranoia has reached the level of absurdity ahead of the country’s referendum. Not only are TV chefs accused of being spies, but our own correspondent comes under suspicion of being a foreign agent, though thankfully not for long. In Cuba Linda Pressly meets the scientists behind a cancer vaccine now being trialled in the US; they owe everything to Fidel Castro, they tell her. As part of the World Service Life Stories season, Sahar Zand meets the Toraja people of Eastern Indonesia for whom death doesn’t always mean goodbye. And in Hungary Nick Thorpe dips his toe into the stream of controversy that surrounds the government’s ongoing war against liberalism.

Excitement and disgust  

Pastry police, pardoned bulls and pricey pigeons. Correspondents’ stories with Kate Adie. Stephen Sackur's visit to Venezuela ends rather more abruptly than he'd intended, foreign journalists are rarely welcome he discovers. In Spain the debate about the ethics of bullfighting has started its annual dance and Antonia Quirke finds both excitement and disgust. One hundred years after the Russian Revolution, a President Lenin will soon take office in Ecuador. Joe Gerlach watches election day unfold from an airport lounge in the capital. Flora Bradley-Watson is among the pigeon fanciers of Istanbul talking politics and feathered friends. And Owen Bennett-Jones finds himself answering, rather than asking, questions as he gets to know the Somali Americans living in Minneapolis.

Tumbling Down  

Robbery, extortion, kidnapping; bananas with everything; and a monkey cascade. Kate Adie introduces correspondents' stories: Tom Stevenson is in the Libyan capital Tripoli, where the lights are out, the militias are enriching themselves, and chaos reigns. Matthew Brunwasser tells the story of the man fighting for justice in Serbia, 17 years after his three brothers were murdered. Gemma Newby tucks into bananas for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Dominican Republic as she visits a now crumbling town built by one of the banana giants; Kieran Cooke is in the town in the West of Ireland which used to have the highest pub to people ratio in the country. That, and much else, has changed but the spirit remains undiminished. And in Ethiopia's Highlands, the writer Tim Butcher witnesses the extraordinary and heart-warming spectacle of the great African monkey cascade

Saying It Straight  

Tall stories, strange names, ancient giants and linguistic confusion. Kate Adie introduces correspondents' stories. Colin Freeman, in the Pakistani city of Quetta, wonders if it is still a Taliban stronghold. Chris Haslam, in Zambia, is shocked by some of the strange names given to children. Tim Ecott is among giants on Mexico's Baja Peninsula - both in the ocean and on land. Sodaba Haidare visits a special restaurant in the Afghan capital Kabul which is empowering women victims of domestic abuse. And Joanna Robertson reaches for the NervenTee in Italy's South Tyrol region - but which language should she use? More tea please!

Chips and Mayonnaise  

Rancid fried onion, a great wall of iron, chips and mayonnaise with a healthy sprinkle of identity. Kate Adie introduces correspondents' stories: Lucy Ash is in northern France, in Denain, scene of Emile Zola's Germinal. The poverty may be less extreme today but it's part of the "forgotten France" being targetted by the Front National. Gabriel Gatehouse grew up in Amsterdam in a time when questioning immigration would label you a racist. That's all changed as, it seems. And if the famous Dutch tolerance has gone, what's left? The vast region of Xinjiang, in western China, is home to 10 million people from the Uigher minority. The government says it's also the front line in its war on terror. It's not a place which the authorities like journalists to visit. But Carrie Gracie did get there. Lebanon has a million and a half Syrian refugees - the most per capita of any nation. Martin Bell is in the Bekaa Valley, where the refugees have become a profitable source of cheap labour. Many would like to return home but their chances of doing so are slight. And Kevin Connolly's mother is proud of the name she chose for him. But he's not so sure anymore - especially when he heard about "The Curse of Kevin" in a French magazine.

Political Distractions  

Pets and Politics; football and narcotics; and building a country with a flag. Kate Adie introduces correspondents' stories. South Korea is in political turmoil but, as Steve Evans explains, people seem more concerned with the fate of the now ex-president's pets. The narcotic plant Qat and Premiership football provide a welcome distraction from boredom in the Horn of Africa, says James Jeffrey. And governments are quite happy with that. How do you unify a country? That was a challenge faced by Kyrgystan's flag designers, as Caroline Eden discovered. The village of Deià, on Mallorca's north shore, is where the poet and novelist Robert Graves lived and died. Graeme Fife used to be a frequent visitor. Now he wonders how much the place has changed. Belize is one of the countries that still has the death penalty on its statute books. But it hasn't executed anyone for decades. And now others, including a woman with the nickname of the anti-Christ, are having their life sentences reduced. Charlotte McDonald explains why.

Cutting Through  

The duffel-coated outcast; from bomb factory to museum; icy cooperation; singing for home; greening sands. Kate Adie introduces correspondents' stories: Hugh Schofield meets a defiant - and chipper - Jean-Marie Le Pen, the outcast founder of the France's Front National; in north-west Pakistan, close to the Afghan border, Colin Freeman is shown a bomb-making factory - just the latest evidence of the violence that has dominated the region for more than a century; in the icy seas off Finland, fears of Russian 'little green men' are put aside as a Finnish icebreaker - with Horatio Clare on board - introduces a moment of peace and cooperation. Singing for home and a lost culture - Nicola Kelly hears how Nubians in Egypt are trying to reconnect with their lost homeland. And, in Oman, it's not golden sands that Antonia Quirke sees in the desert but a carpet of green.

The Unsolved  

Voting with your husband, unsolved murders, cooking on the centre spot, shamans and mud. Kate Adie introduces correspondents' stories. Melissa Van Der Klugt is in India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, where a giant exercise in democracy has been taking place but where illiteracy and political ignorance remains high. Peter Walker, in Malawi, comes across worrying signs that the police are ready to sweep murder under the carpet. In China, they're spending a fortune on football but will it bring world cup glory, as the President wants. Richard Dove has his doubts. In Peru, Simon Parker comes face to face with an Andean Shaman for the first time and hears concerns that too many tourists are more interested in bragging rights and profile pictures than in the sacred heritage of Machu Picchu. And in Vermont, winter is fading and they're on the cusp of spring - it's time to get dirty, says Christine Finn, because it's Mud Season.

A Journalist's Best Friend  

Lost confidence, fake seeds, masked assignations, steaming glory and animal insights. Humphrey Hawksley is in a fishing village in the Philippines, hard hit by China's expanding maritime claims. Adam Shaw is in rural Kenya where a precarious existence for farmers is made even worse by crooks selling counterfeit seeds. In Venice, it's a time to dress up in your feathers and mantillas and, of course, masks - to look your very Carnivale best - but not if you're a local. Petroc Trelawny takes the slow train through Germany's Harz mountains, once the frontline between east and west. And Andrew Harding has travelled far and wide as a correspondent, experiencing the excitement, the tension, and the vets.

Too Many Ways to Talk  

How do you keep your audience listening if the story's so hard to hear? That's what Alastair Leithead grapples with in South Sudan's civil war. Warsaw was all but destroyed in the Second World War, and the repercussions of that are still being felt today; Anna Meisel tells the story of the "property cleansers" who have pushed thousands out of their homes, and of the woman who tried to fight back. In New York's subway, John Mervin gets caught up in a rescue - and there's a message for those too attached to their phones. If Pelicans are your thing, Albania is the place to go because, as Elizabeth Gowing explains, these are philopatric birds. Tourism across North Africa has taken a hit because of terrorism; but Nick Redmayne, heads to Egypt's highest mountain, in Sinai, and hears how the old ways gave people a story to tell.

Hidden Dangers  

Kate Adie introduces correspondents' stories. Colin Freeman sees the devastating consequences of IS mines and booby traps, left behind for civilians anxious to return to their homes. Elisabeth Kendall hears how social media have broadened the horizons of Yemeni tribesmen armed to the hilt. British citizens living and working in Germany are worried about what might happen to them once the UK leaves the EU; Damien McGuinness hears how many of them are rushing to town halls to become German. The new Gambian president has vowed to improve his poor nation's economy; Andy Jones argues that tourism - and brightly painted murals - could be part of the answer. And Margaret Bradley sees and hears the destruction trail of a red peril that's invaded Portugal.

Digging In  

Kate Adie introduces correspondents's stories. Vincent Woods on the whistleblowing scandal that has threatened the Taoiseach and what it says about modern Ireland. Cathy Otten is with the gravediggers of Mosul, in Iraq, as they ignore the missiles overhead and continue their work with death. Owen Bennett Jones is in Ukraine, where the memory of a meeting with a political dissident during the Cold War pushes him to search him out. Puerto Rico has a conflicted relationship with the United States. On the island of Vieques Datshiane Navanayagam hears about a love-hate tussle. And in southern Chile Rob Crossan joins the local community in a feast that has existed for thousands of years.

The All-Seeing Eye  

Kate Adie introduces correspondents' stories. With President Putin enjoying sky-high approval ratings, Sarah Rainsford travels to the hear the verdict in the trial of a man hoping to replace Mr. Putin. Just how difficult is it to be in opposition in Russia? In Turkey, there have been tens of thousands of arrests, numerous terrorist attacks, and the government is planning to hold a referendum, aimed at giving the President more powers. Its a time of instability. As a result, as Louise Callaghan has found, people are flocking to the psychics. The scale of the sex trafficking trade is hard to determine, though many governments have now admitted they need to do more about the problem. Often the victims are reluctant to talk. In south east Nigeria, Colin Freeman finds that the belief in a slave goddess is now being exploited by traffickers to instill fear into trafficked women. In Indonesia, Rebecca Henschke is invited to a judge in the annual transgender beauty contest. But amid all the glamour and glitter, there is an underlying worry about growing intolerance in the country. And our man in Paris, Hugh Schofield, says sometimes the cliche that a teacher can change your life is actually true. He reminisces about a man called "Mush" who taught him French, in 1960s Dublin.

From the Vatican to Vienna  

Kate Adie introduces correspondents' stories. Christopher Lamb on the opposition to Pope Francis within the Vatican - visible for all to see in the streets. Humphrey Hawksley, on the Taiwanese island of Kinmen, hears how President Trump must understand the importance of face to China. Pay respect and give compliments because no-one wants it to end in blood. Diana Darke is in the southern Lebanese city of Tyre, the birthplace of Queen Dido, where the different communities have grown weary of war and are now seeking to build together. Daniel Pardo marvels at the resilience he witnesses in Chile, in the face of the worst forest fires the country has faced in its recent history. And Bethany Bell, with an intoxicating sense of giddiness, on why the Blue Danube Waltz - now 150 years old - is Austria's second national anthem.

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