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The Fourcast

Author: Channel 4 News

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From Channel 4 News, an in-depth look at the news stories you need to know about; how the past shapes the present and what might lie ahead for us all.
63 Episodes
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Face masks are one of the most fiercely contested issues of the last year, and a striking visual reminder that we are in the midst of a pandemic. But do they actually protect against Covid-19? Why is there so little scientific evidence that they are effective? And how did a piece of health advice get so political?  On today's podcast, the award-winning Channel 4 News FactCheck team takes us through the science behind the mask, and asks why a small bit of cloth has caused such furious debate.   Sources: Fox News, New York Times, Sky News, World Health Organisation
This is the second episode of a two-part podcast on Northern Ireland, which this year marks its 100th anniversary. In this episode, Paraic O’Brien looks at the impact of Brexit, the Irish sea border, and demographic shift which could see Catholics outnumbering Protestants for the first time in Northern Ireland’s history, throwing the future of the nation into doubt.  As some say the call for a border poll on a United Ireland is growing, what would it take to get to that point, and O’Brien asks: what would it mean to be a Unionist, if the Union no longer exists? Sources: BBC, ITN
This is the first episode of a two-part podcast on Northern Ireland, which this year marks its 100th anniversary. Yet given this country’s difficult past, and with old sectarian divides flaring up again, there have been no ceremonies: instead, violence in the streets and the resignation of the First Minister have been the ominous markers.  In this episode, reporter Paraic O’Brien explores how even though Northern Ireland’s youth weren’t around during the Troubles, the stories they are told strengthen the bonds of Unionism today.
Has a year of lockdowns, shut cinemas and limited red carpet events changed celebrity culture forever?   As attention has shifted to the pandemic and everyday heroes, some celebrities have used their platform for activism, be it supporting the NHS or Black Lives Matter, while others have seemingly forgotten their privilege and flouted Covid restrictions.   In today's episode, Red Carpet veteran Minnie Stephenson delves into the past year and asks whether this is a turning point in celebrity culture?   Will we ever return to the glitz and glamour of old, or is the pandemic a catalyst in the shift from the old school celeb to the modern influencer?    Sources:  BBC News, ITV, Eyewitness News, 'Imagine' / John Lennon/ Yoko Ono via @gal_gadot (Instagram)   
Covid cases above 300,000 every day, deaths above 2,500 every day, and that’s an underestimate. India, the vast nation that stretches from the Himalayas to the backwaters of Kerala, this land of colour is now darkened by a Covid dystopia unlike anything we’ve seen before. An early lockdown last year seemed to help matters, but that masked the uneven spread of this pandemic and made the government and citizens alike complacent when it came to this new wave, with a new Covid variant. Today, we look at the situation on the ground right now at the heart of this Covid hell and ask: what went wrong in India? Sources: BBC, India Today, ITN
Sickle cell disease is a painful blood condition that affects thousands, mainly among those with an African or Caribbean family background. A painful disease that is not known by many - even healthcare professionals. The recent case of Richard Okorogheye, a 19 year old found dead in Epping Forest, has revealed the difficulties and discourse around sickle cell, the struggle of shielding for the past year, and the lack of understanding around this condition.  Our Health and Social Care Producer Toby Bakare talks about living with the condition, how he has found shielding this past year, and about the shocking stories of medical racism where Black pain is not taken seriously. Sources: Sky News, 5 News
On the morning of the 9th of April, La Soufrière , a volcano on the island of St Vincent and the Grenadines, awoke for the first time in more than 40 years. This beautiful nation is now divided into safe zones and no-go areas, the lush green of the Caribbean replaced by blankets of grey - the slug caused by the volcano’s ash mixing with rain. And while there have been no deaths - there is still danger. Water supplies are running low, crops have been destroyed, livelihoods at a loss, and with thousands still unable to return home. This volcano has not erupted since 1979 - the same year St Vincent became independent from British rule - now a member of the Commonwealth, will the UK step up to help?
Britney Spears fans across the world have formed a Free Britney campaign. They want the pop star out of a legal arrangement called a conservatorship. The controversial arrangement gives her father control of her career, estate and much of her personal life. Now their views are being talked about in big documentaries raising questions about the whole process as well as the singer's treatment by the media. As the latest court case in this saga is to take place on the 27th April, Ayshah Tull takes us on her journey as a Britney fan and  what she's discovered about the life and complexities of her childhood icon. Music & Sources:  'Overprotected' / Max Martin / Rami '...Baby One More Time' / Max Martin / Rami 'Oops!... I Did It Again' / Max Martin / Rami 'Toxic' / Cathy Dennis / Christian Karlsson / Pontus Winnberg / Henrik Jonback 'Framing Britney Spears' / New York Times / FX / FX on Hulu 'How I Met Your Mother' / 20th Century Fox Television / Bays Thomas Productions 'The X Factor USA' / Syco Televesion / Fremantle                          'The View / ABC News 'Clarrissa Explains It All' / Rachel Sweet / Anthony Battaglia / Willa Bassen 'Aw, Here It Goes' / Victor Concepcion 'I Want You Back' / Max Martin / Denniz Pop  Good Morning America / ABC News, ET News, Barcroft Media, Entertainment Tonight, NBC, Clevver News 
Australia has just opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand: two nations that have suppressed Covid-19 and have everyday normality. Australia, home to 25 million people, has seen just under 1,000 deaths in total and daily Covid cases are often in the single digits. But suppression of the virus comes at a cost: its borders to the rest of the world have been shut for more than a year. That means people inside the island haven’t been able to leave - and thousands are stranded abroad. In this podcast, we speak to two Australian Channel 4 News journalists - one stuck in New South Wales and one stuck in London - and ask about the pluses and minuses of the Australian model, and whether a slow roll out of the vaccine may mean the borders are closed for a lot longer.
Even since the Black Lives Matter protests and the tearing down of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol, there have been calls for a reckoning with Britain’s history - for a decolonising of the curriculum and a greater understanding of our past. That in turn has spurned a backlash, with a defence of Britain’s empire and a rallying around the flag. But what exactly does our curriculum say? What should we be teaching? And should history create some form of national identity or simply give us a better sense of our place in an ever-changing world? In this podcast, we ask: what’s the point of history?
On March 24th, a group of jihadis struck the town of Palma in Mozambique, killing dozens and burning government buildings to the ground.   ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack - but doubts have been cast over who was behind the siege. With a wave of Islamist extremism sweeping up Africa’s Eastern coast and across the Sahel, the origins of the attack could be far-reaching.    Our international editor, Lindsey Hilsum, explains how attacks like these are on the rise across the African continent; a consequence of poverty, domestic grievances new and old, and Africa’s resource “curse”, which paradoxically impoverishes people living on land which is rich in natural resources.   Sources: Africanews, ITN
Throughout most of the major events of this ever-changing, ever-twisting and turning century, there has been one constant: Angela Merkel, a calming, pragmatic presence amidst the chaos. For 16 years, she has not just been the consensus building chancellor of Germany, but the conscience of Europe. Yet she will not be standing for a fifth successive term in September, leaving her party and her country at a loss. Our Europe Editor, Matt Frei, explains how Merkel became the powerful presence she is today, someone uniquely qualified for the role: a unifier, a pragmatist, the most talented politician of her generation.
It’s already protected millions from Covid and is an essential tool in the fight against the pandemic.  But is the AstraZeneca jab safe? Spoiler alert: yes, probably. So why has it been dominating the headlines for weeks? And do broken promises and missed targets mean that the supply of the AstraZeneca vaccination is under threat?  The award-winning Channel 4 News FactCheck team have been looking into the AstraZeneca saga, and today, FactCheck’s Paddy Worrall explores the scale of the risk of potential side effects from the jab, and a potentially bigger problem: can AstraZeneca deliver?
In the early weeks, we clapped for our carers, the doctors and nurses on the frontline who gave their all. With the second wave, the clapping stopped and the conspiracies started – and so did the hate. To some, our NHS was no longer full of heroes – but full of fakers. Our Home Affairs Correspondent, Andy Davies, has met the brave NHS staff speaking out about the online abuse and why they want big tech to do more to stop it. This episode originally aired on 13th February 2021. 
As restrictions are slowly lifted and the country looks ahead to the key dates along the path out of lockdown, the Channel 4 News Factcheck team ask: how safe are schools? Does the latest data show that the vaccines are working? And why, if the most vulnerable have received their first dose, don’t we open up more quickly? Does our Covid “roadmap” mean that this could be the final lockdown? This episode originally aired on 8th March 2021. 
When the bodies of 39 Vietnamese migrants were discovered in a lorry container in Essex in 2019, it shocked the nation. In December 2020, two men, Eamonn Harrison and Gheorghe Nica, were found guilty of multiple counts of manslaughter at the trial. We look into the story of one woman found in that container – who risked it all to come to the UK and provide for her family. A warning, this episode includes descriptions of suffocation, and physical violence. This episode originally aired on 6th January 2021. 
Some of history’s most beautiful goals are thanks to football’s iconic header. But has the move harmed, even killed, some of our most treasured football stars? In recent years, we’ve lost many of the heroes of England’s World Cup winning team of ‘66 – and many of them suffered from dementia. Our North of England Correspondent, Clare Fallon, has been looking at sport and the long-term effects of head injuries. This episode originally aired on 23rd December 2020. Sources: ITN, PBS
Polls suggest that support for Scottish independence has never been stronger. Could this be the end of the Union? Our Scotland correspondent Ciaran Jenkins has been talking to voters who previously rejected independence to see if the tide is turning, and what might be behind their change of heart. This episode originally aired on 14th December 2020. Sources: ITV, BBC, Twitter (@ruthdavidson).
Back in early December 2020, the first vaccinations for COVID-19 began in the UK, after months of despair and restrictions. But after a summer where concerns were raised over the numbers of BAME people dying in the community, should they have been offered a vaccine early? Our Home Affairs Correspondent Darshna Soni has spent the year telling the stories of Black and brown families affected by the virus and reflects on whether enough is being done to protect people of colour during the pandemic. This episode originally aired on 9th December 2020. Sources: BBC, ITV, CSPAN
There’s a huge conversation going on right now, with women speaking out about how safe they feel, following the Sarah Everard case. Amongst the outpouring of grief, concerns are being raised about indecent exposure, or as many call it, flashing, an issue that’s widely underreported. But depressingly common.   Today, our North of England Correspondent, Clare Fallon, has been looking into this issue for over a year and questions whether we are taking this offence as seriously as we should. 
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