The Radio 3 Documentary

The Radio 3 Documentary

United Kingdom

Exploring different aspects of history, science, philosophy and the arts.


Sunday Feature: Not Suitable for Children  

Dr Sophie Coulombeau explores the history of children's literature and censorship.

Dawn on the Somme  

Kate Kennedy explores the Somme through the lives of musicians who took part

Sherlock, Sigmund and Signor Morelli  

Giovanni Morelli, exposer of fakes and European man of mystery, who may have inspired Conan Doyle's detective, and Freud's theory of the unconscious. Naomi Alderman investigates.

An Explosion of Geraniums - The International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936  

Ian McMillan on the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936,that changed everything

Antonio Carlos Gomes, the Brazilian who conquered La Scala  

Travelling to both Brazil and Milan, Fabio Zanon tells how Carlos Gomes, the Brazilian mixed-race composer, conquered La Scala in the 19th century, becoming a hero at home too.

Literary Pursuits: Dubliners  

Sarah Dillon on James Joyce's epic struggle to publish his first book, Dubliners.

Literary Pursuits: Jane Austen's Persuasion  

Sarah Dillon discovers how Jane Austen's last completed novel, 'Persuasion' was written. The novel has sometimes been viewed as Austen's valedictory novel - written while she was suffering with her final illness. But Sarah Dillon uncovers a more complex story: dates of revisions on the manuscripts in the British Library confirm her sister's story that Persuasion was completed almost a year before Austen's death, but it was only published posthumously. By talking to Dr Kathryn Sutherland from St Anne's College, Oxford, Paula Byrne, author of 'The Real Jane Austen, A Life In Small Things' and writer Margaret Drabble, we go behind the scant details of Austen's life and uncover reasons for the delay: her last illness; the possibly personal inspirations for the plot of the novel; the state of her finances; her fascinating creative process; and the radical reaches and determination of her literary ambitions.

God Intoxicated Man - The Life and Times of Benedict Spinoza  

Michael Goldfarb tells the story of Dutch philosopher Benedict Spinoza, who 350 years ago, asked Who is God? and what role should religion play in government. In the middle of 17th-century Europe religion and politics were inseparable and the result was bloodshed everywhere. Then a Dutch Jew, Benedict Spinoza, wrote a book that challenged this idea of government. His argument: get priests and clergy out of politics. People should not be ruled by monarchs who claimed they were anointed by God. Let there be democracy, where reason and intellect guide the state. You can guess how this argument was received. Spinoza was called "the renegade Jew from Hell." Michael Goldfarb tells the story of this God Intoxicated Man and the world in which he lived - the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic - and how he has become the philosopher with new relevance for our times. Atheist, pantheist, heretic, or none of those things; man of science and moral philosopher, Spinoza's conception of the universe has influenced scientists, playwrights, novelists, poets and musicians. Using Spinoza's own words, interviews with philosophers and music inspired by his thoughts, Goldfarb tells the story of the man of whom it was said, "Christ was sent to redeem man. Spinoza was born for a far greater purpose. He was born to redeem God.".

Sunday Feature: Arnold Wesker  

Arnold Wesker, who died in April of this year,looking back at his life and career.

Sunday Feature: Still Will  

For a poet and playwright whose virtuosic way with words continues to dominate all of English literature four centuries on, there's an extraordinary and often overlooked potency also in his silences, stillness and quietness. On the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, Laura Barton listens closely to the spaces between the Bard's words and explores the acoustic qualities of the circumstances in which they were performed. She talks with the actor Niamh Cusack, who's played Desdemona and Juliet in large theatres and, most recently, Paulina in The Winter's Tale at the intimate Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Acoustician Byron Harrison imagines the soundworld inhabited by actors on the Elizabethan stage and unpicks the science of theatre design. Shakespeare scholar Lesel Dawson reads the plays for moments of silent wonder, resistance, horror and narrative tension and Steven Connor considers how the celebrated wordsmith communicates 'beyond words' - looking with ears, hearing with eyes.

Sunday Feature: First Folio Road Trip  

Emma Smith traces how Shakespeare's First Folio helped make our national poet

Sunday Feature: Menuhin at 100  

Menuhin at 100 marks the life and career of this prodigy, through the interviews he gave.

Sunday Feature: 1816 - The Year Without A Summer  

Corin Throsby explores how the extreme weather of 1816, caused by the eruption of Indonesia's Mount Tambora, had a considerable cultural and social impact in Europe and beyond.

Sunday Feature: Taking it all back Home  

British singer and song-collector Sam Lee explores how archives around the world are looking to repatriate sound recordings and asks in what sense can a sound be ‘taken back’?

The Women Who Staged The Rising  

Marie-Louise Muir explores the impact Woman and theatre had on the 1916 Easter Rising.

Brainwash Culture  

If brainwashing is a just a Cold War myth, why does it still trouble us? With Daniel Pick

The Venice Ghetto  

Jerry Brotton travels to Venice to tell the story of the first ghetto founded in 1516.

Sunday Feature:Real Pretenders  

Film critic Antonia Quirke investigates the evolution of acting. She asks some of Britain's best actors from Michael Sheen to Robert Hardy what makes a spellbinding performance.

Step Inside: A 21st-Century Gallery Guide  

Paul Morley on the changing world of the art galleries of Britain.

Folk Connections: Cecil Sharp's Appalachian Trail  

Andy Kershaw follows song collector Cecil Sharp's Appalachian trail in the spring of 1916

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