Once upon a time, total surveillance was the province of George Orwell and totalitarian states, but we now live in a world where oceans of data are gathered from us every day by the wondrous digital devices we have admitted to our homes and that we carry with us everywhere. At the same time, our governments want us to let them follow everything we do to root out evil before it can strike. If you have nothing to hide, do you really have nothing to fear?
In Who's Looking At You , novelist and occasional futurist Nick Harkaway argues surveillance has reached a new pitch of penetration and sophistication and we need to talk about it before it's too late.
This is our brave new world: data from pacemakers are used in criminal prosecutions as evidence, the former head of the CIA admits 'we kill people based on meta-data,' and scientists celebrate pulling a clear image of a face directly from a monkey's brain.
Where does it end, and what does it mean? Surveillance used to end at our front door, now not even the brain is beyond the prying eyes of an information-hungry world. The application of big data brings many benefits and has the potential to make us wealthier, keep us healthier and ensure we are safer - but only if we the citizens are in control.
The programme uses rich archive to illustrate how the 'watchers' have adapted to technology that has super-charged the opportunity to snoop. It examines the arguments of those who claim the right to keep their secrets while demanding that we the people give up more and more of ours. Transparency for the masses? Or simple necessity in a chaotic technological future? What happens to us, to our choices under the all-seeing eye? One thing is certain: if we don't make choices about surveillance, they will be made for us.
Dads and Daughters
The relationship between fathers and daughters has been the subject of countless cultural explorations down the centuries, from Elektra's distress to Bonjour Tristesse. Some of them are idealised ('To Kill A Mockingbird', 'All the Lights We Cannot See'); some highly damaging and dysfunctional ('This is England', 'The Beggar's Opera'); some, as any A'Level pupil who's studied 'King Lear' can attest, are both. What is clear in all these cases is just how particular and powerful the relationship can be, and in this highly personal programme Lauren Laverne heads home to team up with her own dad, Les, to talk about their relationship and how it matches up with some of these cultural imaginings. Among anecdotes about growing up in Sunderland and later on Les playing roadie to Lauren's gigs with the likes of the Ramones, we also hear from artists who in one way or another are engaging with the dad/daughter relationship now, including Helen MacDonald, Glyn Maxwell and The Unthanks.
Presenter: Lauren Laverne
Producer: Geoff Bird.
It's Just a Joke, Comrade: 100 Years of Russian Satire
The Russian Revolution unleashed a brand of humour that continues to this day. In this two-part series, comedian and Russophile Viv Groskop explores a century of revolutionary comedy and asks how it continues to shape the national psyche.
The series will rediscover comedy of the Revolution: Bolshevik satire, early Communist cartoons and jokes about Lenin, as writers, satirists and comedians recall the jokes and cartoons shared by their parents and grandparents.
Viv will investigate the birth of the 'anekdot' and trace the development of dark humour through the purges. She will look at how dissident humour in the late 1950s influenced comedy in London and New York, and meet contemporary comedians to gain an understanding of the shape and sound of the comedy circuit in Russia today.
Producer: Georgia Catt
Hull 2017: The Spirit of Hessle Road
Hessle road is an infamous working class district in Hull. But to those who live and work there, it's much more than that - it's a place of character, community but also hardship. This montage documentary pieces together the ghosts of Hessle Road's past through some of its most colourful characters.
It's a collection of moving, funny tales over a bed of traditional folk music from the beating heart of Hull, crowned as City of Culture 2017.
Hull's heritage is anchored in the sea. Its fishermen, the last of the great hunters, lived in the most colourful community in the world but were exposed to extreme danger in the perilous waters within the Arctic Circle. Their lives were held together by a set of primitive folk beliefs - magic and music. But behind the closed doors of this community are darker stories - 6,000 men left Hull for the sea but never returned. The families of those lost still live in the city's terraced houses.
"They were the underdogs, fighting against nature at sea and social prejudice at home.... George Orwell talked about society standing on the shoulders of the miners. But the port of Hull prospered on the backs of the trawlermen." - Historian and photographer Alec Gill, who has documented Hessle Road since the 1970s.
Among the Hessle Roaders we meet are the last remaining "headscarf revolutionary" Yvonne, a former night club singer and friend to Lillian Bilocca who marched to Downing Street to change the safety laws on trawler ships - and the raucous folk veteran Mick McGarry and HillBilly Troupe, keeping Hull's folk music scene alive.
Produced by Hana Walker-Brown
A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4.
A portrait of singer, songwriter and truck driver Will Beeley.
The myth of the road is deeply rooted in America - it's the thing that delivers escape, promises freedom, fuels new hopes and, once upon a time at least, thoughts of a new nation. And it provides its own opening onto the vastness and variety of the country today.
The distances can be dizzying. And these days Will Beeley spends more time on the road than he does at home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city in the desert, with Route 66 running through its heart.
In another life Will Beeley was a musician - a singer and songwriter - an anxious romantic at the end of the 1960s and a smooth-voiced folkie ten years later. He played gig after gig, made records and, for a while at least, hoped for the big time.
But now, like a different road taken, a different stop along the way, he spends his life behind the wheel of a hulking truck, sharing the driving with his wife, as the highway and the days blur by.
It's a unique vantage point. And as America spools past outside, framed by the huge windscreen, does he - like all of us now and then - think of times gone by, of unfinished business, of what might have been? Or is his attention fixed ahead on the road as it rolls towards him, flowing beneath his wheels?
Producer: Martin Williams.