Night Waves, Radio 3, Tuesday, Wednesday
The Reith Lectures, Radio 4, Tuesday

Thought, reason, humour...whatever will they think of next?

We're not keen on intellectuals in this country, placing them in the vicinity of journalists, politicians and traffic wardens on the national scale of contempt, but Radio 3 does its best to give them succour.

Its latest attempt to feed our heads is the New Generation Thinkers scheme, the culmination of an X Factor-style contest for young academics that drew more than 1,000 applicants. There were workshops in which they were given a grounding in programme-making, and the final 10 each get a few minutes on Night Waves to talk about their current interests, which range from the significance of the desert in modern culture to the history of fan mail, and how economics shapes the moral landscape.

It kicked off on Tuesday with Alexandra Harris of Liverpool University. Her big thing now is the cold. "Has English coldness in some way determined who we are?" she asked, and went on to trace wintriness in literature, from the Anglo-Saxon poem The Wanderer through to WH Auden and his does-what-it-says-on-the-tin essay "I like it cold". Although it was only about six or seven minutes in a 45-minute programme, Harris established her broadcasting credentials with a diverting talk that ended with the thought that the examples she'd cited "give us new ways of feeling cold, and the assurance that at times imagination can keep us warmer than a jumper". I'm not entirely sure about that, but it was interesting stuff.

Wednesday's talk, by Zoe Norridge of York University, was about cultural responses to the Rwandan genocide. She talked about the genocide memorial at Murambi. There, corpses preserved in quicklime lie starkly on tables, soft tissue intact. Do the remains help to deal with the past, Norridge wondered, or do wounds remain unhealed while there are bodies unburied?

It was Lord Reith who established the BBC as the keeper of Britain's intellectual flame, and in the first of the Reith Lectures, Aung San Suu Kyi reflected on freedom, with a light touch that came as a slight and welcome surprise. In the course of a moving talk she painted a vivid picture of the headquarters of her National League for Democracy, which, she, observed, has been described as a "cowshed". She doesn't mind: "After all, didn't one of the world's most influential movements begin in a cowshed?"

She found time to tease the writer Timothy Garton Ash, one of her most fervent supporters over the years. In the question-and-answer session there was some pessimism expressed about things changing in Burma any time soon – but not from Suu Kyi: "I'd just like to remind Tim that he wrote in the late 1980s that change was not going to come to East Germany for a very, very long time." Touché.

By the way, I've been meaning to comment on the iPlayer website's "More Like This" facility, which recommends similar programmes to the one you're listening to. Allegedly. The More Like This suggestion for The Reith Lectures when I was listening was Loose Ends, which is frankly bizarre. What's the thinking there? That house arrest means that Suu Kyi has been at a loose end for the past couple of decades? Or am I missing something?

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor