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The Untold

Author: BBC Radio 4

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Grace Dent presents a series documenting the untold dramas of 21st-century Britain.
141 Episodes
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John’s mother thinks he is involved with county lines. How can she get him to stop? From a fun and gorgeous, football-loving youngster John has turned into an uncontrollable teen. He has had several run-ins with the police, has vast amounts of money in the house and sleeps with a knife under his pillow. Tanya and Antony are middle-class professionals and had big dreams for their son. Now they just want to keep him safe. “I went from academic expectation, to no GCSEs - then I got down to be alive, and actually not harm anyone else." They’ve reached out for years for support as John has special needs; they have had to fight his diagnosis, for his education and now they are struggling to find a way to keep him from a life of drugs and crime. They’ve tried every parenting trick in the book. “‘It's all about setting boundaries’. Yeah, right! We're kind of beyond boundaries.” Now they might have to deprive him of his liberty to keep him alive. Producer: Sarah Bowen Narrator: Grace Dent
Young entrepreneur Jack needs to earn big this Christmas if he wants to save his global company. Jack is only 27, but he's already CEO of his own firm. He left school to start up an online business, establishing a successful international trade in fancy dress costumes...until the pandemic hit. With everything he'd built under threat, he's decided to risk it all on a new venture: BargainFox, an online store selling discounted items. It's an industry full of big players, with whom he'll have to compete. He's invested a lot and expanded the workforce, including hiring school friends, but needs to see huge returns if they are going to survive. Grace Dent follows Jack and his team through the autumn and into a make or break Christmas season. Producer: Sam Peach
On the verge

On the verge

2020-11-2327:58

In March this year the musical 'City of Angels' was about to open in the West End. Sadie-Jean Shirley was one of the youngest members of the cast. As well as a key role in the ensemble she'd also been chosen as a cover for one of the leads. After years of training and earning her spurs in the business this was a real breakthrough moment for the 24 year old performer. And then lockdown. 'City of Angels' didn't even make it to the first night. Producer Tom Alban has been in touch with Sadie-Jean since the summer as she faced the continuing hardship of a profession that couldn't operate and the desperate need to find income. Sadie-Jean's plight has been shared by thousands of others but that doesn't make it any easier, and as a BAME performer in a world which is only recently seeing increasing diversity, there's a danger that people like her will not be able to afford the luxury of waiting for the theatres to re-open. And if she can hold onto her chosen career, will 'City of Angels' still be viable? Producer: Tom Alban
Young, Rural and Black

Young, Rural and Black

2020-11-1627:58

24 year old Khady Gueye loves the area of Gloucestershire she lives in but doesn't want her young daughter to grow up facing the same prejudice she has encountered over the years. In June, she and her close friend set out to organise a small event in Lydney, a town in the heart of the Forest of Dean, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Initially, they were granted the permissions they needed, but as word spread, so did local opposition. We follow Khady through the summer and into the autumn as she tries to make the demonstration happen. Can she manage it, and will it mean anything more long lasting? Produced by Mair Bosworth Introduced by Grace Dent
Grace Dent follows a parent-led campaign to stop Ocado from opening a new distribution depot next to a primary school in North London. Yerbury Primary School in Upper Holloway backs onto a light industrial estate. Over the past year, Ocado has been developing a distribution centre at the site. With the Covid pandemic the demand for online grocery services has risen dramatically. But this has also led to a conflict with the school and parents who believe a depot like this, adjacent to a primary school, will be detrimental to the health of the children and the local community. Grace follows the 'Nocado' campaign from its early stages, through Lockdown, and into autumn as it tries to overturn the local council's permission for Ocado to operate from the site. Producer Neil McCarthy
Grace Dent follows Cornwall Airport Newquay as it fights for survival during one of the most difficult periods in aviation history. The Untold first visited the airport earlier in the year when the regional airline Flybe collapsed. Then the national lockdown forced the temporary closure of the passenger terminal. Now the terminal has reopened for business, but the airport continues its struggle to remain viable. The Untold follows the airport’s director and staff over a tough summer, as well as speaking to one of the airport’s taxi drivers and the owners of the nearby airport hotel, the Smugglers' Inn. Producer: Laurence Grissell
Goodbye, Hong Kong?

Goodbye, Hong Kong?

2020-10-1928:08

Grace Dent follows two young Hong Kongers over a crucial two weeks in their bid to make the UK home. Friends and housemates Chris and Louise have been living in the UK for the past two years. After the recent turmoil in Hong Kong, they now want to settle in the UK permanently. There's just one problem - Chris's visa is about to expire. The Untold follows them over a critical couple of weeks which will determine their future forever. Producer: Laurence Grissell
The Perfect Bench

The Perfect Bench

2020-10-0527:48

A year ago, when Sam graduated with a masters in Modern History, and headed back to his hometown near Bristol, he had no idea what the year would bring. But it wasn’t this. Suddenly, something Sam’s done has become an international news story. As he finished his degree, his friends convinced him to start up an Instagram page – rating public benches. It was a joke. But in the gloomy days of readjusting to life at home without a job, back sharing his childhood bedroom with his brother, it became a lifeline – something he bonded with his Dad over, and eventually, a hobby which got him a girlfriend. 180 benches later, he's never awarded a 10/10, but through the international trauma of 2020, his quest for the perfect bench has captured the imagination of the news cycle. With this unexpected fame, he’s been faced with a dilemma. One of the marking criteria is whether the bench is dedicated to anyone. The page has become a touching tribute to deceased strangers he has never met. Now, bereaved relatives have begun contacting him, asking him to rate their loved one’s bench. To Sam, it would undermine the integrity of the page, and he would never want to upset anyone by writing something which might disappoint. Yet, as a consequence of his principles, something remarkable happens. Presented by Grace Dent Produced in Bristol by Polly Weston
The Virus Between Us

The Virus Between Us

2020-04-0628:031

In the first of a new series, we hear the stories of people on different sides of isolation in the midst of the Coronavirus. OnHand is an app set up not long ago. Its purpose was to match older adults who needed help with verified volunteers in their local area. A way find someone to fetch the shopping, walk the dog or just come round for a chat. Then in March 2020, in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, everything changed. OnHand went from a source of help to a lifeline for vulnerable people. This episode follows its CEO Sanjay as he and his team adjust to taking on this challenge. Two users of OnHand offer different perspectives on our new world, from either side of isolation. Annie is 73 year old woman now required to isolate at all times and Nathan is a young volunteer in London looking to help those in need. Produced by Sam Peach
Help for the Helpline

Help for the Helpline

2020-02-1727:44

In Autumn last year AMIS, an organisation and helpline for Abused Men in Scotland based in Edinburgh, faced the prospect of closure. In spite of being busier than it had ever been in almost a decade of operation, a crucial element of their funding had been cut. It left them unable to pay for the office, phones and staff required to keep even the most basic Helpline service available. In the run up to Christmas Producer Joel Cox follows Iris, Alison and Elizabeth as they face the crisis while knowing that the service they provide is vital and not being covered by any other organisation in Scotland. Will crowd funding, grant applications and a raffle be enough to keep the lines open, and what does it mean to the women who strive to keep this unfashionable branch of victim abuse support running. Producers: Joel Cox and Tom Alban
Game Over in Dover?

Game Over in Dover?

2020-02-0427:51

Grace Dent follows the story - through the autumn - of the owner of a family business at the crossroads over Brexit uncertainty. For John Shirley the stakes are high: he's put his house up for sale because he believes leaving the EU Customs Union will ruin his Dover based freight agency company. We follow the Shirley's - who have different views about leaving the EU - through Brexit deadlines and the General Election as John works out what to do. Producer Neil McCarthy
Four Months for Niyi

Four Months for Niyi

2020-01-1327:52

Niyi's eating disorder has stopped him coming home for Christmas. This year, after nearly losing his mother to a brain tumour, he wants to change that. Niyi is a young, successful Cambridge student with a bright future ahead of him. But for the past few years, he has struggled with an eating disorder. It has made him very conscious of eating with others and the pressure of being around the family dinner table at Christmas has been too much. So he stayed away. But this year is different. When his mother was taken to hospital with a brain tumour she nearly lost her life. Niyi was there for her when she was ill and he knows how much it would mean to her for him to make it home. He's starting a new course of therapy to help him work through his eating issues, it might give him the help he needs. Amidst it all Niyi is trying to keep up with the rest of his life. He's deciding the next step in his academic career and attempting to negotiate the dating scene. Produced by Sam Peach
Alabama 3

Alabama 3

2020-01-0627:50

The Alabama 3 singer and co-founder Jake Black died in May: as the next tour date draws near band members must decide whether they can continue without him and how they mark his absence on stage. The decisions on a way forward started within days of Jake's unexpected death and whilst his body was still in the mortuary - moulds were taken of his face and hands in the hope that a death mask might help recreate his presence on stage. In addition of the death mask, sound experts have painstakingly resurrected early out takes of Jake - otherwise known as the Very Reverend D Wayne Love. As preparations gather for the new tour, the forgotten tapes of the talented singer are a constant reminder of his huge talent. The mask is made from the moulds taken by band member Nick Reynolds. He’s the son of Bruce, the great train robber and as well as playing harmonica he’s also a sculptor specialising in death masks. He's convinced that immortalising him in this way will be cathartic for all of them: During the grieving process band members travel to a huge Sopranos Convention in New Jersey, with thousands of fans eager to meet the musicians behind the Sopranos theme tune, 'Woke up this Morning.' It is a bitter sweet experience for Rob Spragg, otherwise known as Larry Love, who formed Alabama 3 with Jake in 1996: "Jake was larger than life, a real fusion of what we stood for and being in America without him is very hard." Rob has made big changes in his own life following Jake's death, largely giving up drugs and alcohol: "It's so hard - he should be here with us and hearing him during rehearsals and performances is bringing so many tears." Produced by Sue Mitchell
In a community centre in inner city Bristol, next to the nursery, and the café and the hall for local meet-ups and yoga, sits a very special place. The BCfm – Bristol Community FM – radio station. From their studio next to Easton community centre’s reception, 204 volunteer radio presenters broadcast to the city of Bristol and beyond. Dezzi Rankin (the resident Sunday morning reggae host), Shout Out (LGBTQ+), Silver Sound (for the older listener), Mid-Week Sports bar, Real Women – they’re all here. Pat Hart has been the station manager for ten years – and also the station’s breakfast presenter. “I don’t think there’s a single part of life in Bristol we don’t represent.” It is always a struggle, but with grants drying up, the station has found itself living more and more of a hand to mouth existence. At the beginning of 2019 he found himself asking the council for more support, but nothing could prepare him for what was around the corner. “If I’d have had a crystal ball, I might have run away at the beginning of 2019.” One fateful day in August at 11am, Tony Johnson launched his 50th Anniversary of the Moon landings special with Telstar. “I plugged my MP3 stick into the usual slot… and then I smelt something strange. Looked to my left, and saw the smoke coming from somewhere behind the desk.” He did his next link, alerted the receptionist to the need for a fire engine, and then as the studio filled with acrid smoke, he queued up an hour’s worth of music. “The radio host’s worst nightmare is dead air.” Pat arrived to find the studio completely destroyed, the insurance documents illegible from fire damage, and his thoughts turned to the listeners. The longer the station is off air, the more perilous their situation becomes. Can Pat get the station back on air - and fast? Produced by Polly Weston
Voice of an Angel

Voice of an Angel

2019-12-2327:59

This Christmas Eve, for the first time, Croydon Minster's midnight mass is being broadcast to millions. But when you're a choirboy whose voice is about to break, there's no guarantee you'll make it. In the edition of The Untold, two boys are coming to the end of their time in Croydon Minster Boy's choir. They're desperate to hold on until Christmas Eve, when they will have the chance to sing for the nation at BBC One's Midnight Mass. If they can hit the notes there's the chance of a solo, but with a voice deepening every day, only time will tell. Produced by Sam Peach with Andy Fallon
Jay-Z and Me Part II

Jay-Z and Me Part II

2019-12-1628:00

In 2017 Jay-Z phoned Hannah… three times… and she missed the calls because she was surrounded by fifty of her music students on a coach back from Leeds. For a decade, Hannah had been making soul music – juggling being head of music at the University of Winchester, fronting a soul band and being a mum to Leo. Her little known nine piece band, Hannah Williams and the Affirmations, had recently released an album. It turned out Jay-Z had stumbled on a song from her album, Late Nights and Heartbreak, and had written his public apology to Beyoncé for cheating on her around Hannah’s voice. After fourteen years at the University of Winchester, Hannah decided to quit her job to pursue music full time. Offers to play around the world started to fly in, and the press suddenly took an interest in what they were doing – yet Hannah quickly realised this was no fairy tale. The track was one of the few songs from the album which the band hadn’t actually authored. Their friend Kanan had written it. Two years ago, in the episode Jay-Z and Me, we followed Kanan as the revelation turned his world upside down – the song went platinum selling over a million copies, he was nominated for a Grammy, and the royalties began to roll in. But for Hannah, as a sampled voice – not a feature, and not a songwriter, this was no cash cow. The story was only just beginning. After putting everything on the line for her music career, can the band make it work? And what does it mean for the most important things in her life - her son Leo and her husband Dave? Produced by Polly Weston.
Expectations

Expectations

2019-12-1127:55

Hazel loves her job. She is very good at. But there is pressure on her to leave. An impressive career has led Hazel to a perfect job at The University of Chichester: it’s stimulating, she loves the students and she is widely respected. With no age discrimination, Hazel could continue forever. And she would like to. Work is her very identity and the idea of pootling around the garden and joining a choir fills her with horror. But Hazel suspects friends, family and colleagues think it is time to go. “The expectation seems to be, from a lot of people, that I will give it all up, that my right job is to look after the grandchildren a bit, do a bit of painting and care for Phil, but that isn’t me, it isn’t me at all.” When her husband, Phil, is diagnosed with Parkinson’s, the pressure escalates but Hazel doesn't see her future as just his carer. “The joy of Phil’s and my relationship is that we’ve always been independent of each other. I don’t want to rush off and leave him, but I don’t want the burden of having the life sucked out of both of us.” She feels judged for thinking this, for not abandoning her career to look after Phil, but if she were a man, would expectations be different? Hazel has always been a clear-headed decision maker. She knew within 10 minutes of meeting her husband she should marry him. She even wants to write her PhD on decision-making. But this choice is proving impossible to make. What should she and what will she decide? Producer: Sarah Bowen
Lacey is a drag queen. Her drag persona is Lacey-Lou, a pink, over the top, ultra fem with lots of feathers, pearls and lace. Lacey is also a woman and although she's been doing drag for seven years, she's been dogged by critics who screen-shot the dictionary definition to prove that drag is for men only. So Lacey approaches the Oxford English Dictionary in an attempt to get the dictionary definition changed, to remove its gender specificity and to give her detractors one less thing to throw at her and the many other female, trans and non-binary queens. But will she succeed? Producer: Sara Conkey
Selina Medford grew up in Port Talbot, South Wales, where people of West Indian heritage were in a minority. Now she takes her daughter back to relive her experiences. Touring around the town, they delve into the good, the bad and the ugly struggles that Selina and her family faced growing up during the 1960s. On the way, her daughter Sian, who was born and raised in Birmingham, begins to understand her mother’s experience and how the multi-cultural world she grew up in, and often took for granted, was denied to her mother. A Young Sel in a Small Town paints a retrospective picture that highlights the musical and cultural life of the time, navigating through Selina’s early years of growing up in a harsh household with her Jamaican father, step mother and four other siblings - yet trying to fit in with the everyday European white world around her. A trip down memory lane, meeting old friends and faces in a collage of sounds and music, bringing back hard memories and hope for the future. New Storytellers presents the work of radio and audio producers new to BBC Radio 4 and this first series features the five winners of this year's Charles Parker Prize for the Best Student Radio Feature. A Young Sel in a Small Town won the top award, the Gold Charles Parker Prize, for its producer Sian Medford in Parker's centenary year. Sian has just graduated from the University of West London and the Judges thought her colourfully creative feature was “such a lovely simple idea. An important piece of social history mixed with modern reaction as the family reunites – a rich, dynamic production, with its rich sense of hard lives lived to the full – a really worthy Gold Charles Parker winner.” Producer: Sian Medford A Soundscape production for BBC Radio 4
Three survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire - Alison Moses, Emma O’Connor and Antonio Roncolato - recount the hardships they have endured since that fateful night in June 2017. Starting with memories of the disaster, the survivors then describe what has happened to them since - from being re-housed in temporary accommodation to their feelings about the immediate and long-term political responses to the fire. How do you cope with losing friends and family and still living in the charred shadow of Grenfell Tower itself? New Storytellers presents the work of radio and audio producers new to BBC Radio 4 and this first series features the five winners of this year's Charles Parker Prize for the Best Student Radio Feature. The award is presented every year in memory of pioneering radio producer Charles Parker who produced the famous series of Radio Ballads with Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. My Life After Grenfell was produced by Rhys Gunter who has just graduated from the University of Westminster. The Charles Parker Award judges said, “although Grenfell is a well-known story, this chilling retelling of the fire and its aftermath brings a new authentic perspective – a very high-level achievement.” Producer: Rhys Gunter A Soundscape production for BBC Radio 4
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Comments (3)

Bronwyn Fraser

very difficult to feel sympathy for this girl

Mar 15th
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Bronwyn Fraser

this podcast is unfinished! It just ends like it's been uploaded wrong

Mar 15th
Reply

Carly Jones

A couple of times there was a large block of silence during this episode for some reason?

Jan 21st
Reply
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