From comedians to best-selling authors, C-3PO to a former First Lady, we’ve certainly had a broad range of speakers pull up a seat on our Southbank Centre stages in 2019. And whenever able to, we’ve tried to share some of these fascinating discussions to those unable to make it to Royal Festival Hall via Southbank Centre’s Book Podcast.
Now, as the year draws to an end, we thought we’d take the opportunity to revisit some of our favourite podcasts from the year. Listen in now to discover how Nikki Giovanni met Rosa Parks; Louis Theroux’s thoughts on tattooed fans; Sara Pascoe on why the people who found Pompeii thought they’d discovered a brothel; Richard Ayoade’s childhood love of Happy Eaters, and Malcolm Gladwell explaining why no-one wants to fight a naked pensioner.
A leading light in the Black Arts Movement of the mid 1960s to mid 1970s, Nikki Giovanni is the winner of numerous awards, including the Langston Hughes Medal and NAACP Image Award, as well as a Grammy Award nomination for her album The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection.
In October she joined writer Bridget Minamore in conversation here at Southbank Centre as part of Poetry International. In a thoroughly engaging, wide-ranging and entertaining discussion, Giovanni began by talking about a memorable meeting and subsequent friendship with Rosa Parks. And from there moved on to everything from wanting to be the International Space Station’s poet-in-residence, the immortality of the Queen, and her love of rap and hip-hop.
In late September, the popular documentary-maker and broadcaster Louis Theroux joined is at Southbank Centre to discuss his new book, Gotta Get Theroux This, and his two decades of documentaries, with comedian and podcaster, Adam Buxton.
The two long-term friends discussed Theroux’s distinctive interview style and techniques, some of his most notable documentaries – those on the subjects of Michael Jackson, and eating disorders – and how odd it is that someone who had a tattoo of Louis, might deem turning up to see him in person a stretch too far.
In her book Sex, Power, Money, the comedian Sara Pascoe draws in anecdotal experience, unqualified opion, interviews and research to explore questions such as; why don’t people care about the welfare of the people they masturbate to, or make any connection with the stigma around those who work in the sex industry?
In September Pascoe appeared on stage here at Southbank Centre to discuss the book with host of The Guilty Feminist, Deborah Frances-White. The pair explored the differences in perceptions on what can be considered erotica, why those who first discovered Pompeii believed the town to be full of brothels, and why pornography is to blame for 9/11.
Also joining us in September was the much-loved actor, writer, director and broadcaster Richard Ayoade; here to talk about his new book Ayoade on Top – the definitive breakdown of the Gwyneth Paltrow cabin-crew rom-com, View From the Top.
Adam Buxton was once again in the host’s chair, as he asked what it was that drove Ayoade to document the film in print, and prompted him on overcoming introvertedness, and the childhood appeal of Happy Eaters. Ayoade also hinted at other movies that may have merited the same treatment as that which he afforded View From the Top. Can you guess the films that narrowly avoided his critical eye?
The author of five international bestsellers, Malcolm Gladwell, joined us in November for a fascinating discussion with broadcaster Afua Hirsch. Prompted by Gladwell’s latest book Talking to Strangers, the author talked of the misinterpretations and misunderstandings at the heart of the tragic case of Sarah Bland. He also asked, why are human beings so bad at detecting lies? And discussed taking risks in his writing, particularly when attempting to analyse interactions between strangers that led to sexual assaults.
But there was also a lighter side to this recording, as Hirsch and Gladwell talked of identity and biracial upbringing, how most rich people are really terrible at being rich, why no-one wants to fight a naked pensioner, and the author suggested that if we are to have meaningful televised political debates, they should not be between politicians, but between their former spouses.
Southbank Centre is the home of literature and spoken word events in the UK. See what’s coming up in our literature and poetry programme in 2020.
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by Glen Wilson