The writer Fatima Bhutto celebrates the new global popular culture emerging from the East. She tells Andrew Marr that the West’s soft power dominance is on the wane as K-Pop, Dizi and Bollywood take the world by storm.
The Korean artist Nam June Paik was among the first to foresee the importance of mass media and new technologies, coining the phrase ‘electronic superhighway’. Sook-Kyung Lee is co-curating a global tour of his work, starting at Tate Modern.
A new play, Museum in Baghdad, brings together the stories of its British founder Gertrude Bell in 1926 with Ghalia Hussein’s attempts to reopen it in 2006 after looting during the war. The RSC director Erica Whyman says the play questions the role of culture in helping to create a nation.
And the writer John Burnside turns to the poets of the 20th century to give voice to an alternative cultural history of the time. He draws on the work of poets, both renowned and unjustly obscure, to give shape and meaning to the world.
Producer: Katy Hickman
Picture credit: Tate
Against a backdrop of fierce political battles in Parliament and in court, Andrew Marr explores political power and examines those who wield it - from absolutism to anarchism.
The political commentator Steve Richards has been in the House of Commons for many nights of political strife. Watching the behaviour of parliament and government today, he considers how different British Prime Ministers have used their many powers. In his new book 'The Prime Ministers' he reflects on the individual characters of leaders. From Harold Wilson to Boris Johnson, he recalls moments when Prime Ministers buckled or thrived under the pressure of their role.
At the other end of the power spectrum, the academic Ruth Kinna explores ‘the government of no one’: anarchism. She argues that this much maligned ideology is far more adaptable and effective than we might expect. And she rejects the stereotyped view of it as chaotic and disordered.
The theatre director Eleanor Rhode is bringing Shakespeare’s King John to the stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company. This rarely performed tale depicts a tumultuous nation reeling, as a weakened King fights to retain his crown from the invading French and his rebellious noblemen.
And in a week that saw a landmark Supreme Court ruling on the government's use of prorogation, Catherine Haddon from the Institute for Government explains where constitutional power now lies: whether with parliament, government, the judiciary, the Prime Minister, or the Queen. She predicts major changes ahead...
Producer: Hannah Sander
Picture credit: Royal Shakespeare Company
Antony Gormley: challenging conventions
Antony Gormley talks to Tom Sutcliffe about his forthcoming major show at the Royal Academy. The sculptor returns to his enduring interest in the inner dark space of the body and the body’s relation to its surroundings. As well as the famous casts of this own figure, seawater and clay fill one gallery, evoking the depths from which life emerged.
The award-winning playwright Laura Wade discusses her revolutionary adaptation of Jane Austen. Her new play, The Watsons, is based on Austen’s unfinished novel, and shows what happens when characters threaten to break free from the original work and take control of the drama.
The conductor Charles Hazlewood celebrates the rebellious side of classical music – minimalism. Minimalists in the 20th century, like Steve Reich and Terry Riley, flouted conventions and sought to redraw musical boundaries. But the music was also a direct response to the political and social fervour of the 1960s and 70s.
One of the most creative and hedonistic periods of British culture was the nineties: the era of Cool Britannia, born in Thatcher’s Britain and flaunted by Tony Blair. The writer Daniel Rachel looks back at how art, comedy, fashion, film, football and music came together in a flowering of national self-confidence, and what broke it apart.
Producers: Katy Hickman and Hannah Sander
Escaping the past
Andrew Marr discusses how far nations have managed to confront the past. In Learning from the Germans, the philosopher Susan Neiman contrasts the way in which Germany continues to come to terms with its Nazi past, with the failure of the US to deal with slavery and the legacy of racial violence.
The historian Stuart James Ward is interested in how far the ghosts of Empire have haunted the debate around Brexit. From the simplistic caricature of hankering after the past to a global vision of the future, both sides have summoned their own image of Empire. As an Australian academic who has spent his career in Denmark, Ward believes he is in a unique position to observe the unfolding political drama.
The former MP David Howell argues it’s time to look ahead and not back in his new book, subtitled ‘Escaping the Prism of Past Politics’. Howell has been at the centre of government for four decades and was a member of Margaret Thatcher’s first cabinet. He believes Britain should be forging new relations and finding a new position in the world.
The political scientist Jane Green looks beyond the present impasse in the Commons over the direction of Brexit to focus on public volatility in voting. Not since 1931 has there been such a fracturing of voter loyalty, but Green asks how much we can learn from the past.
Producer: Katy Hickman