Behind the scenes with a British film, theatre and TV actor
I can only do it by understanding what drives them. And it means you can play murderers, you can play psychopaths, you can play whoever. You have to have some sort of understanding of how they're brought up, where they're living at what time they're living, what's allowable within the society. That's still quite an intellectual thing. One of the interesting things I think I learned early on was I read, or someone told me is, they said, you can't, you cannot judge your character. Okay. You cannot bring your morality as an actor into the character you're playing. You can't judge them. You just have to do what's on the page. I sort of feel it and if it sounds right, coming out of my mouth, cause I'm my harshest critic. If I don't think I'm being truthful, I'll have another go. I'll have another take. Or if you're on stage go right. That didn't work well that night I've really got to try and get that working better the next night. And I think if I believe what I'm saying, then we're all right.
Christmas books for blind children
Lady Tanni Grey-Thompson talks about her journey as a wheelchair athlete, and treats us to anecdotes about the Paralympics and London Marathon.
Medal winning Paralympic athlete on the velodrome track chats about her journey in the sport, training and some anecdotes!
Go behind the scenes with Rob Tarr (Assistant Coach Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby) and hear about his journey in the sport, the history of the game and some funny and dangerous anecdotes!
Tactile, braille and audio picture books for a starry night-time
Spooky books for Halloween
Books about the environment for blind children and young people
Multi-sensory autumn activities and books
Model, actress and eco warrior reveals her favourite designers
Who would you say is one of your favorite fashion designers? And could you describe me their style? The two first ones that came to mind, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen, two British designers. I've always been a big, big fan of, um, McQueen's work. I used to work with him a lot when I was in modeling a lot about eight, 10 years ago. And he kind of blew me away with his creativity. I think he's a real kind of true artist. And his imagery was often pretty mad and out there sometimes had a darkness to it, you know, that it looked, it was like kind of almost the borderline of, of where beauty and pain can meet. And, uh, every season he would do shows that were always unlike any other fashion show that were more like theater, where he would just create really creative and unusual experiences for the audiences. Uh, for example, I did show in Paris with him that was half dancers, half, uh, models. And it was based on the film They Shoot Horses, don't they, and it involved dancing around a ballroom stage in his clothes. And Vivienne Westwood, I just think she's a really cool character and has always kind of stuck by her guns and expressed her opinion. I admire her for that and her clothing. It often kind of feels like old fashioned in it's tailoring. So small waist, kind of wide breasts almost as like a corset-like feeling, but then she brings a lot of kind of punk dynamism in how it's cut and isn't traditional in any way. Actually, when you look at it.
Popular BBC radio DJ takes us behind the scenes
My day begins because I've got kids, I have to get up quite early in the morning. So I'll get up at seven and I'll do my whole kind of Jo's life sort of thing, rushing around shopping, all that sort of stuff. And then I'll head into work for about three, four o'clock and start to get my show together. This'll vary. Sometimes we have sessions. For example, this week we have sessions with the Foo Fighters, which meant that I had to get to Maida Vale. So spend the whole day there, which obviously was a real chore, interviewing the band and then watching them record five tracks. And then I went to do my show. After that today I was for example, interviewing Robert Plant. So I had to go again to meet and did an interview with him and then moved on to do my show in the evening.
Um, I'll get to my desk and I'll talk to my producer. There are two other people working on my show. So it's a small team. It doesn't really take that many people to make a radio show. Um, and we just chat. So I'll get in there and they'll say, Oh, this new song came in today. It's from Alt Jay. Um, listen to it. So we'll listen to songs and I'll say which ones I really like, which ones I think we should be playing in the show. I will have read about something and I'll ask my team to track it down. So we just sit and kind of work out what order the songs should go in. We do try and plan this in advance, but a much, much prefer making radio when it's fairly spontaneous. So we have a loose playlist, so I'll have a bit of paper and it will have list of all my songs that I'm going to play.
And I'll always know what songs are going to start off with, but then it will change and it will evolve. And I think that makes for much more energetic and fun show, really because I'll be playing a song and all of a sudden it just won't feel right to play the song that I'm scheduled to play straight afterwards. So I'll just go quick. Can you get me Meatloaf Bat Out of Hell? And then we'll find that. And within literally a whisker within a second of there being dead air and nothing going out the radio, I'll suddenly have meatloaf in front of me and I'd press the button and then butter of hell will start. And that's fun. That's really good. There's a real energy. When you do a show like that. And the program I do is really very varied. So I will play the likes of the Food Fighters, all the Killers I'll play Coldplay. Um, but then I'll also play really great old disco classics. I'll play some Bowie or play Stevie Wonder, and then some of the crooners as well. So, you know, we'll play Elvis and we'll play Frank Sinatra. And then I love just having those, those curve balls, you know, maybe a Bonnie Tyler, Total Eclipse of the Heart, people just go, Oh no, that's a terrible song. Actually. It sounds really great every so often, right?
And my day winds up when the show finishes at 10 o'clock, I sometimes have bands playing live on the show. Generally once a week, we have a live band had Jessie Ware couple of weeks ago now. Um, and she was fantastic. So that just involves her doing a couple of songs, me chatting, everybody, getting to know them a little bit better, these artists, and, um, it's always really terrifying for them cause they're doing live radio and you can see the relief on their face when it's finished. They just I'm really, really happy that they haven't messed up. And it's a really fun show to do so I finish at 10 o'clock. I probably get home about 12 o'clock I'll get into bed and I'll sit and watch the Great British Bake Off, or I'll listen to some music just to drift myself off into sleep and then get up in the morning and it will start all over again. Sometimes an early morning run. Very rarely though.
Channel 4 broadcaster talks about accessibility in museums and galleries
Hi, I'm Corie and I work in the media and creative industry in London. Being in London means I'm rather spoiled for choice when it comes to art and cultural events, there's a lot going on. And the great thing is most of it is free. One exhibition that I've come to enjoy every year is the design awards which showcases amazing innovation in a host of categories, from technology to architecture and fashion. It's hard to go and not feel utterly inspired, and I would recommend it to anybody I'm visually impaired. So I prefer to visit galleries and exhibitions with friends who I know will just make the experience more enriching by describing things that I can't see or pointing things out that I might not have noticed. But I have also found in recent years that technology has really started to enhance my experience in these spaces. Um, some galleries have their own apps with detailed descriptions of certain exhibitions, and I've also started to use a text to speech scanning app on my phone, to read information boards in galleries. And I've found that this has made a massive difference to the way in which I can enjoy these spaces. And I think this sort of assistive technology will only get better and it makes me feel very, very excited about what the future might bring.
Actor and art lover chats about his love of visiting galleries
Does Rocky come with you when you go kind of gallery tour? Yeah. Yes. Well, I'm going to the Christie's and Sotheby's got big previews, so I've run upstairs. Second. I'll bring the dog. And I said, yeah, absolutely. He's going to be coming around, looking at all this expensive art. And are you going, cause you want to have a look at the art, but also because you're interested in buying as well. Yeah. And in terms of going to other galleries, I love The Tate Modern, I love the Tate Britain. Take Modern, gets me excited every time I'm in there. And so that turbine hall she's in her gallery, Camden Arts center, South London gallery, all like little ones. And the fact they're all free because when you go abroad, you realize how lucky we are that you can go into all these galleries and you don't have to pay anything. And you obviously travel for work as well. Do you get time? Go to galleries. Yeah, totally. I make time. It's my thing. I love it. And what galleries abroad have you been to recently? I went to the Keith Haring exhibition at the de young museum in San Francisco recently, which is coming here. But I think it's not coming here for like another two years. And it's just brilliant. Absolutely brilliant because you see so many of his works recreated in art books, but when you see them in the flesh, you really see the detail on how gifted he was, that the line, just as a linesman, how he's able to articulate that on a page and to see it all together in one exhibitions, mind mind blowing. That was brilliant. And do you ever go and see art kind of outside the gallery space? I go to a degree shows. I try and see that. And young artists work. That's really exciting when you go around and you see something really fresh and then all the commercial galleries or are London really, but East London, West London, that's a very exciting place to discover good artists,
Which one's in East London, kind of your go to ones that you think, yeah, they're going to have something good on.My go-to galleries in East London would be a cool gallery called Carlos Ishugawa, which is off the white chapel road, tiny little gallery, some of the hottest artists around at the moment, one called Oscar Murillo, which is a Colombian artist who only graduated from the Royal Academy about two years ago. And now his work is selling for like hundreds of thousands of pounds at auction, but his work is so exciting. And then there's another gallery called Carl Freidman gallery, which has a great selection of really cool artists. And I go there a lot. Kate McGarry, Jonathan Vinner gallery is one of my absolute favorites. I'm obsessed with an artist at the moment called Will Boon and another called Joe Bradley. And he represents them.
And have you been to the Venice Biennale as well? Yeah, I went when, I know Tracy a bit, so I went when she was representing Britain. And do you like to surround yourself like at home or in life with ar. Summer exhibition Royal Academy, it's everything's kind of, the walls are covered in this stuff everywhere. Do you like to create art yourself? A few years ago I wanted to be a photographer for a little while, but then I wanted to be Wolfgang Tillmans. That's what I wanted to be on Nan Goldin. But then I feel like, because I love what artists do so much. I want to keep them on a pedestal and I don't ever want to, feel like, I'm going to put myself trying to compete with them because I just love it so much that I want to keep it slightly pure and separate from what I do. And yeah, sometimes you see work and you think literally anyone could do that. I feel like what they haven't and that whole argument, I just feel like, I want them to keep doing what they're doing because it makes me happy. And I'm able to enjoy that separate from what I do. As well as contemporary artists. Do we, you briefly mentioned that at the beginning, like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Do you like to kind of go and look at their works as well? As what, as the contemporary side? Yeah. All the artists looking back. I love, I love going to the National Portrait Gallery and seeing all the Holbein’s. I used to be obsessed with Kings and Queens. So suddenly seeing all these portraits of the boy King, Edward the sixth and Henry eighth and Anne Boleyn and all these incredible paintings just there in front of you that are hundreds of years old, like incredibly famous. Well, thank you so much, Russell chatting to us about art. Really appreciate it.
ESA astronaut reveals his song choices too!
Ask an astronaut with Tim Peak for Living Paintings. This question is from Patricia in Suffolk. Uh, Patricia is a massive fan of yours, Tim and followed your time in space. What is the picture in your mind when traveling to and from the international space station and how would you describe it to someone who has never seen this process?
Well, the journey to the ISS is absolutely incredible, of course, for a rookie Astronaut myself, it's, it's our first view of planet earth. So when you look out of the Soyuz window and you see earth beneath you, it's absolutely mesmerizing. We actually got launched into the night part of the orbit. And so all I could see was the blackness below me and then brilliant twinkles of lights as the city started to come out. And then of course, as you're traveling towards the space station, the space station itself starts to come out of the gloom, this massive 400 ton, piece of hardware, but you also get this feeling inside the Soyuz that you are very vulnerable. I mean, it's a tiny, tiny spacecraft, and you're looking out the window at earth and at the sun and the stars, and you suddenly realized how tiny you are in this big black vastness of space. So it's quite comforting when you do finally see the space station and you get to actually see something that's bigger than you are.
Did the ESA astronaut really have an alien encounter
Ask an astronauts with Tim Peake for Living Paintings. This question is from Finn aged three and a half. Did you see any aliens in space?
Did I see any aliens in space no I wish I had, uh, but uh, I didn't see any aliens in space. Um, uh, we spend a lot of time looking out of the coupla windows and we're always interested in anything unusual that we might see. And, um, of course, a lot of these have explanations, just, just looking at the weather systems on earth, the thunderstorms, the Aurora Borealis, Aurora Australis and things like red sprites, which are these unusual streaks of red light that you get near thunderstorms. And so we quite often see some unusual things. One day I looked out and it was daylight and I saw three bright lights flying in formation. Now in the daytime, we normally don't see any bright lights outside, uh, because the, the light from the sun and the reflected off the earth is so bright that you don't see any stars.
You just see complete blackness of space. So if you see a light in space in the daytime, it's normally another spacecraft coming towards you. And we certainly didn't have any cargo vehicles coming towards us that day. So I called one of my crew mates over and said, Hey, Jeff, you know, take a look at this. What do you make of that? And he was as bemused as I was about these three lights in formation, there's suddenly a fourth light, joined them as well information. Uh, and then I realized that the lights, which I thought were a long, long way away, we're actually very, very close and they were tiny, tiny lights, and it was droplets of liquid. And the light was reflecting off the liquid and it was actually leaking out of a progress resupply vehicle. So, uh, what we first thought might be a, you know, sort of alien ships coming towards us actually ended up being leaking liquid out of a progress vehicle.
A werewolf tale brought to life by Bill
Hi, my name's Bill Bailey. And today I've been reading the story, Dear Vampa my Ross Collins, a touch to see book about vampires and werewolves and how they don't really make the best neighbours. You think they would both being nocturnal and all, but some people just can't and get on. Having been mistaken for a werewolf myself on many occasions, I personally prefer werewolves. I know I shouldn't, but I'm naturally biased to our hairy anthropic brothers.
The great British actor on the beloved bard
We don't know a great deal about William Shakespeare. We know where he was born. We know where he died. We know when he married, we knew how many children he had. We know something about his brothers and his sisters. We know a little bit about his father who was the mayor of Stratford on Avon for a while. Um, but there are big chunks of Shakespeare's life, which we don't know anything about at all. All we know is that in the fairly early 1590s, he showed up in London as a member of one of the theater companies, uh, apparently playing quite small parts. And then very soon after that, we hear of him starting to write plays. And the first place that he wrote, which were the plays about King Henry, the sixth in three plays, part one part two and part three. Um, he told one of the stories of England English history, and it was a huge, huge success.
It was a blockbuster really, and audiences were absolutely riveted by it. The story of the fairly recent past that he was describing events of only a hundred years before, events which had shaped the England in which everybody was then living. He created fantastic parts for the actors. He gave them marvelous kind of rip roaring words to say, and there was a lot of blood and there was a lot of death on the stage. And all of that was very, very much to the taste of the Elizabethan audience. Um, Shakespeare, who, as I say, carried on playing as far as we know, smallish parts in his own plays and also in other people's plays. Sometimes his contemporary Ben Johnson, the other most famous playwright at the period wrote plays that Shakespeare appeared in, but Shakespeare just got better and better and better as he went on.
And as his plays got better, the actors got better too. And so from being quite a kind of a, knockabout sort of a playwright who could, uh, you know, get the crowd roaring, he started to become the great master of human psychology. And he started to write parts that the actors who he'd started with probably wouldn't have been good enough to play parts of tremendous complexity of deep and dark motives. And, uh, and also of course, who spoke the most extraordinary poetry. So he grew and grew and grew, his plays got more and more ambitious, more and more profound, more and more funny. And, uh, they were absolutely the most successful plays of that time, uh, plays like Henry the fifth and Hamlet and Henry the fourth part one and two, which contains the great character of, Sir John Falstaff, wonderful place, people felt that they were watching their own lives being lived out in front of them.
The actors, especially Richard Burbage, who was a, um, Shakespeare's best friend, as well as being the leading actor in the company became immensely famous for playing parts like Richard the third and Mark Antony in Julius season. And, um, Shakespeare success came to a sort of climax with his play, the Tempest. And then he seems to have slowly withdrawn from playwriting, partly because he'd made quite a lot of money and retired back home to Stratford Upon Avon, partly because the situation was getting quite difficult politically and partly because the fashion had changed. So Shakespeare had a very brief period of glory about 20 years, really in which he was the supreme writer of the English stage. And then other younger men started to take over and Shakespeare's plays were very nearly forgotten and might've been totally forgotten. Had it not been for the fact that two of his friends in the company actors by the name of Hemmings and Kondo decided to gather all his players together and publish them, which they did after his death. And really it's because of that, because of those two actors wanting to preserve their friend's work, which they thought were the best plays ever written and they were right. Uh it's thanks to them that we have these players at all. Otherwise he might just have been a footnote in the history book.
Paralympic track cyclist share an insight into a pro-athlete's life
Living paintings caught up with Paralympic cycling champion, Sophie Thornhill. And she explained about her diet and training schedule.
In terms of training. I'm a sprinter so we, we don't spend a huge amount of time actually riding our bikes because we have a lot more areas we need to target. So we we’re spending a lot of time in the gym, which allows us to get big and strong, um, which allows us to produce more power when we ride our bikes Don't get me wrong, we still ride our bikes more than we're in the gym. You know, we're, we're on the track two, three times a week and then out on the road as well. So that can involve some short sprints efforts from 60 metres up to 500 metres, and then even further in some box. And then in terms of food, we, there's not a strict diet, everything in moderation. We're still a treat. We just need to make sure that we're getting enough protein. And so then we recover from our training sessions and our muscles can recover, tissue doesn't break down too easily. In terms of carbohydrates, we don't eat a huge amount of carbohydrates. Cause as sprinters, unfortunately, we don't do a lot. So we're seen as a little bit lazy, so we're not allowed too many carbs, which is a shame cause I love bread, but yeah, not in terms of diet it’s everything in moderation and you'll be fine.
Behind the scenes with Equestrian athlete
I'm talking today to Verity Smith who competes at international level in the exacting equestrian discipline of dressage. She's been riding since the age of three, competing since the age of five. And she also happens to be blind.
At this moment in time, I'm actually sitting in France, I've bought my horse over to France to compete. So Keith and I are here. We actually had a competition on Sunday, which was a pre son George, which is a very high level of dressage. And at the moment we are competing solely against able-bodied riders. And we won it! And considering that there’s a high wind and I had, instead of in England, I have a group of callers who helped me with my lessers around the arena because dressage is based in a 20 by 60 metre arena and we have lessers around the outside. The arena is like a stage upon which you perform a dance with your horse. And it's judged apart from just on the beauty and the elegance is a movement. It's also judged on the accuracy of the movements and the judges judge this by coordinating and seeing how close you come to the lessers around the arena. So you might have a movement between two lesser markers and you have to hit those lesser markers exactly. So you can imagine being blind. I mean, I count my strides, but obviously as we had on Sunday, high wind, sometimes the horse takes a bigger, bigger step because there's a gust of wind. So I'm allowed by the International Federation to have people standing on the lessors, which makes it a bit like a Muppet show because it's, everyone's screaming lesser at my poor horse. And we won on Sunday and we have another one on Saturday. The goal is to compete at the international able-bodied competition in Northern France in Samur, which is a big international. So we're working incredibly hard to get, make sure that we go to that. That's my aim.
BBC radio DJ shares her passion for nature
The thing I always loved most as a child was to say no, or to say why or to just explore. And the best place to explore in my mind is what nature gives us, because it's still such a huge mystery. So it was the sights and the smells and the feel and the mystery that really attracted me. We had a woods behind our house in Swansea when I was growing up, there were the magic of what nature brings us. So there were berries and mushrooms and garlic plants and wild rhubarb that you could taste. You know, once you've done a bit of reading and my Bible at that point was Roger Phillips's Wild Food, which told you what was toxic, what you shouldn't touch or what you could touch and what you could use or eat, or just play with.