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Nationwide search for new intellectual broadcasters

The Arts & Humanities Research Council, BBC Radio 3, and BBC Arts have launched a nationwide search to find the UK’s next intellectual broadcasters in the arts and humanities. The New Generation Thinkers scheme, now in its fifth year, is seeking early career researchers with the ideas, talent, and expertise to develop their research into brand new programmes.

Up to sixty successful applicants will be invited to BBC-run workshops to develop their ideas alongside experienced BBC producers. From these sixty, the ten resident New Generation Thinkers for 2015 will be selected for a year-long partnership with BBC Radio 3. Past New Generation Thinkers have appeared on radio, in print, and at cultural festivals, with opportunities this year to develop ideas for television and to make short taster films for the BBC Arts website.

Two Humanities academics from the University of Exeter, Dr Daisy Hay and Dr Alun Withey, were among those chosen in the 2014 scheme, and recently contributed to BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at the Sage, Gateshead. Dr Hay’s essay, ‘Disraeli the Romantic’, explores how Benjamin Disraeli invented the modern politician as a person of feeling, and asks whether the image he projected as an emotionally in-touch everyman stemmed from fact or fiction. Dr Withey’s essay, ‘Beards and Whiskers’, tackles both the current fashion for full beards and the historical art of shaving, from Jeremy Paxman and George Clooney to medicine and the military. Both essays are still available on BBC iPlayer.

Professor Rick Rylance, CEO of AHRC, described the New Generation Thinkers scheme as “a unique opportunity for talented early career researchers to disseminate their research and bring their ideas into the public arena. There is so much exciting research that deserves a broad audience, and so many members of the public who are interested in it. This scheme connects the two.” In a Twitter chat held on 26 November (#ngt2015) which allowed potential applicants to get more information from those currently involved, Dr Withey said: “[I]t opens doors and is a wonderful way to reach audiences who might not usually find your work.”

Matthew Dodd, Head of Speech programming at BBC Radio 3, said: "BBC Radio 3 is delighted to be working with the AHRC again. As part of BBC Arts commitment to cultural programming, we’re looking for scholars at the start of their career who have a real passion to reach out to a non-academic audience, and who have research that they believe would make great broadcasts. There are many different ways to make a good programme, and that’s why each year BBC Radio 3 is genuinely interested in meeting academics who think they’ve got an idea that will transfer to radio. We’ve been very impressed with the New Generation Thinkers we’ve worked with in previous years. I heartily encourage researchers to apply, and look forward to reading the applications.”

The closing date for applications is 15 December 2014. For further information and how to apply, please visit the AHRC website.

You can listen to Dr Hay and Dr Withey talking about their research on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking on the BBC iPlayer.


Date: 12 December 2014

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