Alison Joseph is the author of the Sister Agnes series of crime novels featuring a detective nun. In this podcast we discuss how Alison’s background as a philosopher, a documentary film maker and a writer of radio plays has shaped her career as a successful novelist. We explore her fascination with particle physics and discuss how conversations with experts from diverse fields can bring unexpected insights.
Simon Callaghan is an international concert pianist who performs and records all over the world. In this conversation we discuss the nature of performance, the role of memorisation and the ability to improvise in response to different contexts.
Theresa Hickey is a leading theatrical agent with a large stable of actors. In this podcast we discuss the relationship of care between agent and actor, exploring similarities with the clinical context before turning to the stresses and pressures of working in a rapidly changing world.
Dimitri Bellos has been Restaurant Manager at The Fat Duck for over five years. In this podcast he describes his philosophy of service in this 3 Michelin starred restaurant where waiters are ‘storytellers’ in a culinary narrative based on Heston Blumenthal’s childhood experiences. We discuss parallels between fine dining and clinical care, exploring Dimitri’s ideas around attentiveness and presence as the foundations of an outstanding experience for diners.
Ben Marks trained as a conservator and restorer of historical pianos, working with Lucy Coad in the West Country. Now he is responsible for seventeen early keyboard instrument, the oldest of which is over 450 years old. We discuss Ben’s relationship of care with fragile and irreplaceable instruments which nevertheless need to be played and explore how his experience resonates with mine in the world of medicine.
When John Acland retired he was managing director of Williamson’s Diamond Mine Ltd in Tanzania, having turned it from being a failed mine into a highly profitable organisation. After cutting his teeth as a miner in northern Canada he trained at the Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall before a career that took him from South Africa and Botswana to Angola, Namibia and Tanzania before changing direction and becoming an olive farmer in South Africa’s Western Cape.
Petur is Head of Classical Guitar at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. He studied classical guitar in Mexico and Spain. He is a performer of contemporary music as well as more traditional repertoire. He has an interest in music technology, plays in a rock band and is currently studying for a PhD at the Royal College of Music. He divides his time between London and Reykjavik.
Nicholas Serota’s studies moved from economics to art history before he became Director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London. He was appointed Director of the Tate in 1988 and was responsible for the conversion of Bankside Power Station into Tate Modern, one of the world’s most successful art gallery spaces. Since 2017 he has been Chair of Arts Council England. In this conversation we explore the challenges and opportunities we have both experienced in our careers.
Tony Saner’s first degree was from South Africa’s only veterinary school. He practised as a vet, then took up a Rhodes Scholarship to study cardiac physiology at the University of Oxford before returning to South Africa to study medicine. His long career as a general practitioner was profoundly shaped by his time as a GP trainee in Norfolk. Five years ago he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma but despite all predictions remains alive and well. In this conversation we explore the implications of changing career paths, discuss the nature of general practice and hospital medicine and talk about the impact of serious illness in our own lives.
Johan Esterhuizen studied drama in South Africa before spending time in the United Kingdom. After returning to Cape Town he was involved in experimental and political theatre at a time of huge upheaval and change. A longstanding commitment to applied theatre took him to the townships and schools of South Africa, working with a wide variety of communities. Later in his career he turned to lecturing at Stellenbosch University, while continuing to develop his career as an actor and director. In this conversation we discuss how our careers have changed directions and how early experiences have shaped our later professional direction.
Pete Atkin’s collaboration with Clive James led to six ground-breaking LPs in the 1970s, starting with Beware of the Beautiful Stranger. Narrowly avoiding stardom, Pete’s career then took a different direction and he became a radio producer for the BBC. He is perhaps best known for his series This Sceptr’d Isle on BBC Radio 4, which ran to 396 fifteen minute episodes and covered British history from 55 BC to the present.
Sam Cooper writes speeches for leading figures in the Corporation of London and other institutions. Building on his understanding of language and metaphor and his PhD in English, he crafts speeches that recreate the rhythms and nuances of a speaker so they sound entirely natural - a form of bespoke. We discuss the challenges of writing when there are ‘many hands on the pen’ and the need to combine creativity, diplomacy and technical mastery in a under-recognised area of expertise.
Professor Ruth Morgan began her academic career studying geography. After a doctorate in forensic geoscience she became fascinated by forensic science more widely. Now she is Director of the University College London Centre for the Forensic Sciences. In this conversation we discuss the challenges of interpreting evidence within a criminal context and the intersection between laboratory science and human interaction in this complex and rapidly evolving field.
Flora Smyth-Zahra trained as a dentist and has a special interest in periodontology. In this podcast we explore the nature of clinical care, whether in dentistry and medicine, sharing our perspectives and experiences of surgery in different domains. Alongside her clinical practice, Flora has expertise in education, literature and the arts and has pioneered dental humanities as an emerging part of the dental curriculum. In our conversation we discuss how cross-disciplinary exploration can enrich clinical practice.
David Owen QC has developed parallel careers as a barrister (now specialising in mediation and arbitration for complex business disputes) and a magician and member of the Magic Circle. In this podcast we explore similarities and differences between our worlds of medicine and the law, and explore performative aspects of our work and interests.
Thomas Schlich’s career spans clinical medicine and the history of medicine. In this conversation we explore similarities and differences between these two approaches, including how the idea of ‘taking a history’ plays out in different contexts. We discuss how the perspectives of clinical practice and historical scholarship complement one another before talking about Thomas’s seminal work documenting the Swiss ‘osteosynthesis’ movement (fixing broken bones with screws and plates) in the mid twentieth century.
Fabrice Ringuet has been a hair stylist for 35 years. Initially trained in France, he has made his career in the UK, first as a stylist and then as a teacher and hair styling coach. In this podcast we explore unexpected parallels between hair styling and medicine, where technical expertise must be matched by sensitivity, performance and interpersonal skill.
Richard Jones is one of the UK’s most well-known directors of theatre and opera. His productions have been staged all over the world and he has a reputation for challenging expectations and disrupting traditional boundaries. In this conversation we compare the dramatic theatre and the operating theatre, discuss where theatre and opera intersect and explore our experiences of success and failure.
Bridget Bailey is a leading textile artist and designer who co-founded the Bailey Tomlin brand, creating and producing millinery for major labels. In this conversation we explore ideas around inspiration, precision and perfectionism. Over the years Bridget has moved from creating ‘trim’ for hats to more abstracted work which has echoes of the natural world.
In this conversation the distinguished medical artist Phil Wilson and I explore how expertise in illustration allows medical artists to convey the essence of a clinical procedure or anatomical idea. We dissect the notion of visual narrative and discuss how Phil’s perspectives as an artist and my perspectives as a clinician intersect and overlap. Phil describes how the shift from pen and watercolour to working in the digital arena entails radical new techniques, but how the essentials of close observation remain unchanged.
Jeremy Herbert’s career has taken many unexpected swerves. He is fascinated by the aesthetics and the practicalities of design, both in theatre and outside. An expert maker with a strong sense of the mechanical, he creates imaginative landscapes for a wide range of productions. In this conversation we discuss how our different perspectives on practicality overlap and intersect.
Jane Dorner’s first career was in publishing. From art editor for Longman’s and then as fiction reader for Penguin. After thirty years she fell in love with glass-making and developed a parallel career designing and making art works in glass. In this conversation we discuss the similarities and differences between our worlds of medicine, publishing and the arts.
In this conversation Chris Peters and I discuss the fast-moving world of robot-assisted surgery and explore new developments that are changing how surgeons operate. We talk about the shifting balance between vision and touch as surgery has evolved from ‘open’ procedures to keyhole surgery and now to robot-assisted operating supported by augmented reality and artificial intelligence.
Roberto di Napoli graduated in modern languages and linguistics in Italy before developing a career in education which has taken him to many institutions. A gifted teacher, he is passionate about making complex educational concepts accessible to people with expertise in a wide range of domains. In this conversation we explore the roles of performance and human interaction in teaching and learning.
Heather Mayfield joined the London Science Museum in 1979 as a museum assistant. By the time she left in 2014 she was its Deputy Director. In this podcast she describes her excitement in being part of the team unpacking and cataloguing Sir Henry Wellcome’s extraordinary collection for the first time since his death. She maps her career within the world of museums and her passion for engaging with people around the ideas and controversies of science. Now CEO of Nottingham Castle Trust, Heather is back in the city where she grew up.