The Essay

The Essay

United Kingdom

Leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond, themed across a week - insight, opinion and intellectual surprise

Episodes

Donald Sturrock on the events that made the man and writer  

To celebrate the centenary of Roald Dahl's birth his biographer, Donald Sturrock remembers meeting the genius storyteller in the writing hut at the bottom of his garden. Here Dahl revealed how he used both the darkness and lightness of his childhood to fire his writing. Donald Sturrock wrote Storyteller: The Life of Road Dahl and has edited his letters, Love From Boy: Roald Dahl's Letters to His Mother. Written and read by Donald Sturrock Produced by Justine Willett.

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Michael Rosen on the exuberance of Dahl's poetry  

In the centenary year of Roald Dahl's birth the dazzling language, clever observation and rude humour that infuses Dahl's poetry is celebrated by the acclaimed children's writer and former children's laureate, Michael Rosen. Written and read by Michael Rosen Produced by Justine Willett.

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Laura Dockrill on Dahl's heroine Matilda  

In the centenary year of Roald Dahl's birth Laura Dockrill remembers growing up with Matilda and discovering through Dahl's heroine that it was OK to be different. Laura Dockrill is a writer, illustrator and performance poet. She is the creator of Darcy Burdock, shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2014. Written and read by Laura Dockrill Produced by Justine Willett.

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Jeremy Dyson on the delicious lure of Dahl's adult fiction  

To celebrate the centenary of Roald Dahl's birth Jeremy Dyson remembers his ten-year-old self and the day he discovered Dahl's short stories for adults. The deliciously dark lure of that first encounter has never left him. In his essay he reflects on Dahl's storytelling genius and its influence on his own writing. Jeremy Dyson is a screenwriter and with Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reese Shearsmith created The League of Gentlemen. Written and read by Jeremy Dyson. Produced by Justine Willett.

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Frank Cottrell Boyce on flying and myth-making  

To mark the centenary of Roald Dahl's birth Frank Cottrell Boyce writes about the myth that the celebrated storyteller Dahl constructed out of his near fatal plane crash during the Second World War, and how he so perceptively captured a child's-eye view in his writing. Cottrell Boyce also recalls his very first encounter with Dahl's writing, which ended in outrage. The award-winning Frank Cottrell Boyce's first novel, Millions, was made into a feature film. He is a successful screenwriter and helped devise the Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Roald Dahl at 100 is a celebration of the storyteller's work and legacy ahead of the centenary of his birth in September 2016. Five acclaimed writers, the screenwriter and children's novelist, Frank Cottrell Boyce; the screenwriter and co-creator of The League of Gentleman, Jeremy Dyson; the author and performance poet, Laura Dockrill; the writer and former children's laureate, Michael Rosen, and the biographer Donald Sturrock, explore their passion for Dahl's dazzling worlds, his dark humour and wild language and how it inspired their own work. Written and read by Frank Cottrell Boyce Produced by Justine Willett.

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The Somme: Daljit Nagra - On your 'A 1940 Memory'  

In a week of broadcasts tracking the 100th anniversary of the first week of the Battle of the Somme, Radio 3's Essay series is featuring five new poems written in response to the battle. The poems have been commissioned by 14-18Now and these programmes will broadcast the poems for the first time and also hear from the poets about their inspiration and writing. 4th July: Paul Muldoon: July 1st 1916, With the Ulster Division 5th July: Yrsa Daley-Ward: When your mother calls you, come. 6th July: Bill Manhire: Known Unto God 7th July: Jackie Kay: Private Joseph Kay 8th July: Daljit Nagra: On your 'A 1940 Memory' Daljit Nagra's poem was commissioned by 14-18 NOW:WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Writers' Centre Norwich. It was published by Gatehouse Press. Producer: Tim Dee.

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The Somme: Jackie Kay - Private Joseph Kay  

In a week of broadcasts tracking the 100th anniversary of the first week of the Battle of the Somme, Radio 3's Essay series is featuring five new poems written in response to the battle. The poems have been commissioned by 14-18Now and these programmes will broadcast the poems for the first time and also hear from the poets about their inspiration and writing. 4th July: Paul Muldoon: July 1st 1916, With the Ulster Division 5th July: Yrsa Daley-Ward: When your mother calls you, come. 6th July: Bill Manhire: Known Unto God 7th July: Jackie Kay: Private Joseph Kay 8th July: Daljit Nagra: On your 'A 1940 Memory' Jackie Kay's poem was commissioned by 14-18 NOW:WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Writers' Centre Norwich. It was published by Gatehouse Press. Producer: Tim Dee.

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The Somme: Bill Manhire - Known unto God  

In a week of broadcasts tracking the 100th anniversary of the first week of the Battle of the Somme, Radio 3's Essay series is featuring five new poems written in response to the battle. The poems have been commissioned by 14-18Now and these programmes will broadcast the poems for the first time and also hear from the poets about their inspiration and writing. 4th July: Paul Muldoon: July 1st 1916, With the Ulster Division 5th July: Yrsa Daley-Ward: When your mother calls you, come. 6th July: Bill Manhire: Known Unto God 7th July: Jackie Kay: Private Joseph Kay 8th July: Daljit Nagra: On your 'A 1940 Memory' Bill Manhire's poem was commissioned by 14-18 NOW:WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Writers' Centre Norwich. It was published by Gatehouse Press." Producer: Tim Dee.

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The Somme: Yrsa Daley-Ward - When your mother calls you, come  

In a week of broadcasts tracking the 100th anniversary of the first week of the Battle of the Somme, Radio 3's Essay series is featuring five new poems written in response to the battle. The poems have been commissioned by 14-18Now and these programmes will broadcast the poems for the first time and also hear from the poets about their inspiration and writing. 4th July: Paul Muldoon: July 1st 1916, With the Ulster Division 5th July: Yrsa Daley-Ward: When your mother calls you, come. 6th July: Bill Manhire: Known Unto God 7th July: Jackie Kay: Private Joseph Kay 8th July: Daljit Nagra: On your 'A 1940 Memory' Yrsa Daley-Ward's poem was commissioned by 14-18 NOW:WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Writers' Centre Norwich. It was published by Gatehouse Press." Producer: Tim Dee.

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The Somme: Paul Muldoon - July 1st 1916, with the Ulster Division  

In a week of broadcasts tracking the 100th anniversary of the first week of the Battle of the Somme, Radio 3's Essay series is featuring five new poems written in response to the battle. The poems have been commissioned by 14-18Now and these programmes will broadcast the poems for the first time and also hear from the poets about their inspiration and writing. 4th July: Paul Muldoon: July 1st 1916, With the Ulster Division 5th July: Yrsa Daley-Ward: When your mother calls you, come. 6th July: Bill Manhire: Known Unto God 7th July: Jackie Kay: Private Joseph Kay 8th July: Daljit Nagra: On your 'A 1940 Memory' Paul Muldoon's poem was commissioned by 14-18 NOW:WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Writers' Centre Norwich. It was published by Gatehouse Press. Producer: Tim Dee.

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The Earl Grey Whistle Test: Hope I Die Before I Get Old  

In a week of Essays, David Hepworth and Mark Ellen reflect on their nearly 40-year partnership as music journalists and TV presenters and what they've learned along the way. On the legendary BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test and on numerous magazines from Smash Hits in the 1980s to Q to The Word Hepworth and Ellen worked so closely together that they still get mistaken for each other. Today - David Hepworth on what keeps rock stars going - like McCartney, Dylan, the Rolling Stones. Whereas all their peers who got proper jobs were chucked on the scrapheap years ago, they can still play to larger crowds than ever, for more money than ever, to greater acclaim than ever. If you could do that, wouldn't you? Hope I die before I get old? I don't think so.

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The Earl Grey Whistle Test: It's All About the Drummer, Stupid  

In a week of Essays, David Hepworth and Mark Ellen reflect on their nearly 40-year partnership as music journalists and TV presenters and what they've learned along the way. On the legendary BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test and on numerous magazines from Smash Hits in the 1980s to Q to The Word Hepworth and Ellen worked so closely together that they still get mistaken for each other. Today - David Hepworth on the only member of bands who matters: It's all about the Drummer, Stupid!

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The Earl Grey Whistle Test: The Writer's Wardrobe  

In a week of Essays, David Hepworth and Mark Ellen reflect on their nearly 40-year partnership as music journalists and TV presenters and what they've learned along the way. On the legendary BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test and on numerous magazines from Smash Hits in the 1980s to Q to The Word Hepworth and Ellen worked so closely together that they still get mistaken for each other. Today, The Writer's Wardrobe - David Hepworth on the dress code for the creative homeworker.

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The Earl Grey Whistle Test: Dancing About Architecture  

Programme 2 in The Earl Grey Whistle Test, a series of Essays by David Hepworth and Mark Ellen, considers the tricky business of describing music in print. From Philip Larkin and Jack Kerouac, through Nick Kent and Charles Shaar Murray, many great writers have tried. More recently, reviewers describe the looks or the social lives of musicians because their readers can stream or download the music before they can write about it. Magazine editor and broadcaster Mark Ellen reflects on the art and craft of music criticism in Dancing About Architecture.

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The Earl Grey Whistle Test: The Indivisible Men  

This week's series of Essays, The Earl Grey Whistle Test, begins with David Hepworth and Mark Ellen reflecting on their nearly 40-year partnership. On the legendary BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test and on numerous magazines from Smash Hits to Q to The Word they've worked so closely together that they often get mistaken for each other. In this first programme they discuss other double acts and analyse their own creative and personal relationship in The Indivisible Men..

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A Reflection on Worrying: The Comedy of Worry  

We all have worries but rarely do we speak honestly about them. In this series of personal essays, five essayists share their intimate relationship with worry. Comedian Steve Punt muses on how worry has always been a bedfellow of comedy, how our worries can be a source of shared observational humour and how a lack of perspective between the trivial and serious can lead to hilarious consequences.

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A Reflection on Worrying: Worry and Music  

We all have worries but rarely do we speak honestly about them. In this series of personal essays, five essayists share their intimate relationship with worry. As a young, impressionable musician, classical guitarist Tom McKinney witnessed first-hand the debilitating worry that can come with performing music. In this essay Tom explores how his own worry runs much deeper than that of stage fright and leads him to question the validity of being a musician.

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A Reflection on Worrying: Parental Worries  

We all have worries but rarely do we speak honestly about them. In this series of personal essays, five essayists share their intimate relationship with worry. As both a parent and historian, Professor Emma Griffin explores how parental worries have changed throughout the centuries and asks whether worry has always been a part of raising children.

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A Reflection on Worrying: The Rituals of Worry  

We all have worries but rarely do we speak honestly about them. In this series of personal essays, five essayists share their intimate relationship with worry. Professor Francis O'Gorman, examines the rituals and ceremonies that often accompany worry. He explores how these rituals are a signal of an ancient human need to care for those people that are precious to us.

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A Reflection on Worrying: Worry and Communication  

We all have worries but rarely do we speak honestly about them. In this series of personal essays, five essayists share their intimate relationship with worry. As a novelist, Emma Jane Unsworth, is no stranger to hearing the nagging voices of characters in her head. But there's another, needling voice, that keeps her awake at night and that is the voice of her social media fears. In her essay she delves into the perils of modern communication and its scope for fuelling persistent and repeated personal anxiety.

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