The Spark (and other radio work)

What’s the big idea? In BBC Radio 4’s The Spark, Helen Lewis talks to leading thinkers about how to change the world. From evidence-based parenting to abolishing prisons, from Karen Stenner on authoritarianism to Henry Marsh on assisted dying, discover the people – and the ideas – shaping our world.

The first four series of the Spark are now available as an audiobook. The seventh series, featuring Louise Perry on the backlash to the sexual revolution, and James Bridle on non-human intelligence, runs from August 19.

Great Wives graphic

Why did Mrs Nabokov carry a gun? Why didn’t Mrs Tolstoy believe her husband was serious about his vow of celibacy? And why did Mrs Gertrude Stein – also known as Alice B. Toklas – not even get to write her own autobiography?

Great Wives explores the pain – and joy – of living with a genius. Meet the women who knitted socks, cooked dinners, posed in bathtubs, typed manuscripts and wrangled wombats – all for their more well-known, and well-rewarded, husbands.

Barack Obama condemned it. Black American activists championed it. Meghan Markle brought it to the Royal Family. “Wokeness” has become a shorthand for one side of the culture wars, popularising concepts like “white privilege” and “trigger warnings” – and the idea that “language is violence”.

In Radio 4’s The Roots of Woke Culture, Helen Lewis is on a mission to uncover the roots of this social phenomenon. 

Helen Lewis in church

Helen Lewis was raised a Catholic, but is now an atheist – and has also spent the last ten years writing about feminism. Recently, she was asked if she thought feminism had replaced religion in her life.

It’s a timely question, since the British Social Attitudes Survey says that the decline of religious belief is “one of the most important trends in post-war history”. But have we really become less religious? Or has politics taken its place?