All our Todays: Marine life. libel. And how we make financial decisions

What would you highlight if you could guest-edit 'Today'? As the programme hands over the reins of power, we canvassed opinion
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The Independent Culture

Barry Cryer, comedian

A good starting point would be to have the interviewers interviewed. Get John Humphrys, Jim Naughtie, Sarah Montague and Evan Davis grilled by people they have put on the spot.

And I'd like a poetry spot. Lots of unexpected people write poetry. I'd like to take a really serious political figure and ask them on the spot: "What is your favourite joke?" Surprise them into answering truthfully.

Simon Singh, science writer

it would be good to have Prince Charles on the programme. It would be fantastic to have real experts debating with him to find out if his views are based on evidence or just wishful thinking. He tries to influence policy and policy makers, so I would like to see him defend these views in front of experts.

Another subject that's close to my heart is libel. The Government is currently drawing up a defamation bill – a once-in-a-century chance to amend libel law – and this might be a good opportunity to remind the public of the recent spate of absurd cases, in which British scientists – indeed overseas scientists, too – are being silenced because of English libel law.

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, neuroscientist

The first theme of my programme would be neuroeconomics – how the brain goes about making financial decisions. I'd also want to investigate neuroscience and the law. Should brain scans of people accused of serious crimes be used in court? If someone's brain responds differently, does this mean they are not responsible for their actions? The age of criminal responsibility in England is 10 and yet the human brain continues to develop into the 30s or 40s; should this new knowledge about brain development be taken into account? There has been an explosion of interest in the human brain. This new knowledge has great potential use to front-line policy makers. I'd want interviews with neuroscientists, psychologists, economists, teachers and lawyers.

Simon Schama, historian

First up I'd cover the Census of World Marine Life. It has been 10 years in the making; it affirms that there are one million marine species and probably three undiscovered for every one we know. Say hello to the yellow hairy crab; the 4 kilo mega lobster; the seven-metre squid and a species of clam that goes back to the Jurassic period.

And finally, should we bring back the Roman festival Saturnalia?

Rory Stewart, Conservative MP and former diplomat

Officials, inspectors, journalists and lawyers have made Britain one of the world's most risk-averse societies. Evolutionary biologists would describe how early human risk-takers flourished; General Lamb would discuss risk in warfare; entrepreneurs would describe the risks they took. How can we embrace risk again? We'd also look at Scottish border, the history of border raiding and customs and discuss modern life on a cultural frontier. Scottish nationalists want independence, few English argue against. We would interview citizens and Gordon Brown and ask: "Why are so few fighting for the Union?"

Lady Antonia-Fraser, author



i'd stay in bed.



Michael Rosen, author



I would test out my theory that what we call "culture" is very rarely made nationally, but nearly always locally and/or internationally. What goes for "national culture" often turns out to be local and even what's local often turns out to be a mish-mash of international elements too – though not always. The only bit that's national is what governments figure out we should do as part of being the nation... so it's something our rulers work out we should do or think. Ordinary, non-governmental people make culture non-nationally. So I would go about the kingdom, looking for "culture" and seeing what it's made of – is any of it really and truly and uniquely "national" (ie belonging to the UK and all the UK and only the UK)? Or is it local-international? So what does this tell us about the use of the word "British"? What does it really signify beyond being the name for our citizenship? And why is it hard for people to accept and enjoy the fact that they are local-internationalists?

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