BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival

Start the Week

Sage Two

To guarantee your ticket, book in advance. There will be some tickets available on the day on a first come, first served basis.

Tom Sutcliffe presents a special edition of BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week exploring the art and science of communication – from the language of diplomacy, to an emotional outburst, to the power of silence. He’s joined by the award-winning filmmaker and journalist Harriet Shawcross, the former US diplomat William J Burns and this year’s Free Thinking Festival Lecturer Professor Thomas Dixon.

Harriet Shawcross is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist. Her first book Unspeakable reflects on how, as a teenager, she stopped speaking at school for almost a year, communicating only when absolutely necessary. Unspeakable considers the limits of language and the power of silence.

William J Burns’ book The Back Channel – American Diplomacy in a Disordered World charts his career as an American diplomat for over three decades. He played a central role in diplomatic episodes from the end of the Cold War to the collapse of relations with Putin’s Russia, to secret nuclear talks with Iran. Now retired from the US Foreign Service, he is President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Thomas Dixon was the first director of Queen Mary University of London’s pioneering Centre for the History of the Emotions, the first of its kind in the UK. His current research is about the science, philosophy, and experience of anger and previously the history of weeping and the British stiff upper lip. His books include Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears and The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain.


For your information…

  • Phase one tickets will be available from 12noon on Friday 15 February, with phase two tickets available from 12noon on Friday 1 March.
  • Tickets are strictly limited to four per person.
  • To guarantee your ticket book in advance. There will be some tickets available on the day on a first come, first served basis.
  • Please take your seats 10 minutes prior to the event start time otherwise you may lose your place.


Part of BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival

Part of BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival 2019

Welcome to the Free Thinking Festival from BBC Radio 3. All weekend here at Sage Gateshead we’re gathering together a throng of talented individuals to wrestle, debate and celebrate the theme of this year’s festival: Emotion. Whether it’s the angry turn in contemporary politics,...

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