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The Race to Fingerprint the Human Voice
Impressionist Rory Bremner explores the role of the human voice in forensic phonetics. Forensic phonetics - or voice identification - has long been used in legal proceedings to help determine if the voice on a recording is that of the defendant. But with the electronic age enabling the recording and storage of more data than ever before, its role in criminal investigations is changing rapidly and the race is on to "fingerprint the human voice". Rory Bremner looks at some of the new research in this growing area of forensics - its applications in the fields of law enforcement and counterterrorism, and why there is such resistance to it in the UK, where we still prefer to rely on the human voice analyst than on an automated system. He hears about high profile cases involving speaker identification - including Michael Stone's conviction for the murder and Lin and Megan Russell and the conviction of John Humble as the hoax caller claiming to be the Yorkshire Ripper. Rory also talks to Francis Nolan, Professor of Phonetics, about how the way we think of people as having "a voice" oversimplifies matters. Compared to a fingerprint pattern, which is always a constant, physical characteristic, the voice is the product of two mechanisms which vary considerably - the speech organs and language. Fingerprints are identified through literal analysis; voices are identified through comparative voiceprints. Your voice as your password is now becoming an everyday reality rather than a SciFi cliche. But can it really be said that every voice is unique, as some have claimed? The development of increasingly sophisticated automated speaker recognition systems is now bringing the prospect of a "voiceprint" enticingly close. But how accurate are these systems? Can they differentiate between 'real' Trump and Rory's impression of Trump...? Contributors: Professor Peter French Professor Hugh McLachlan Dr Helen Fraser Dr Kirsty McDougall Professor Francis Nolan Erica Thomson A Terrier production for BBC Radio 4.
Welcome to Wakaliwood
In the slums of Wakaliga, Uganda, a group of self-taught filmmakers run one of the world's most unlikely movie studios. Known as Wakaliwood they have released fifty-two feature films in ten years, with kit built from scrap metal and old car jacks. Despite this, their distinctive brand of kung fu action has found a global audience far beyond Kampala, with trailers going viral on YouTube and festivals around the world putting on sold-out screenings. Filmmaker Isis Thompson travels to Uganda to experience life on the set of the latest Wakaliwood production, and find out how the tiny studio's unexpected success is changing the fortunes of its cast and crew. Photo of Wakaliwood action scene by Tess Williams Presenter: Isis Thompson Producer: Olivia Humphreys A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.
The Myth of Homosexual Decriminalisation
On the 50th Anniversary of the ground breaking 1967 Sexual Offences Act, the campaigner Peter Tatchell takes a sceptical look at its impact on Britain's gay communities. Although it was a major staging post in the long and tortuous fight for the decriminalisation of male homosexual behaviour in Britain, Peter argues that the years immediately after 1967 were far from friendly towards homosexuality and convictions of men for same-sex offences increased dramatically. Peter goes on to examine discrimination against homosexual men in areas such as employment and housing in the 1970s, and revisits the fierce battles in the 1990s for reducing the age of consent for gay men from 21 to 16. Drawing on extensive archive from the last fifty years, Peter chronicles the continuing struggle for equal rights for Britain's LGBT communities - a story that takes us right up to 2017. Presenter: Peter Tatchell Producer: Tim Mansel Executive Producer: Samir Shah A Juniper production for BBC Radio 4.
Since the Grenfell Tower fire in June, the architectural dream of Le Corbusier's 'streets in the sky' has, in many minds, become a living nightmare. Every high rise building in the country, and each of their residents, has become embroiled in the Grenfell story. As this debate with its practical and policy considerations continues, High Rise offers a radio meditation on the experience of tower block life. What has come of that vision of airy existence above the bustle of the streets, with open horizons and light-filled apartments? What future can tower blocks now have in the provision of social and private housing? Who will want to live in them and, more to the point, what happens to the current residents? In a mosaic of interviews gathered around the country, we hear from Rita in Margate's famous Arlington House, a block her father helped build. "It gleamed like a diamond back then," she says. Nicole, who lives in Cables Wynd House in Leith, featured in the film of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, shares the horror she experienced as a teenager living locked in the sky. We visit Rochdale where residents have mounted a campaign to stop the proposed demolition of their iconic Seven Sisters tower blocks. In London, Bill speaks of his long, happy years on the notorious Pepys Estate in Deptford. Across the city, JP Ajunonwu, a resident in the iconic Trellick Tower, describes the night of the fire in neighbouring Grenfell Tower. Francesca and her young daughter visit what, until that night, she'd anticipated as being her wonderful new home on the 13th floor of a high rise. And architectural writer Shumi Bose, who grew up in a tower block in Kolkata, outlines the dreams of the architects and urban planners who designed our modern cityscapes. Produced by Rebecca Lloyd-Evans and Alan Hall A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.
A Brief History of the Truth
It's time to travel down the rabbit hole of truth as American satirist Joe Queenan explores a murky world of fake news, prejudice and alternative facts. "Recent politics have shown that the truth is no fun," he explains. "It's like a vegetable your mother makes you eat. Yes it may be nourishing, but it tastes terrible." With archive contributions from Donald Trump, Doris Lessing, Jeremy Corbyn, Peter Mandelson and Theresa May; plus new interviews with Mark Borkowski, Edith Hall and Julian Baggini, author of a Short History of Truth. This is Joe Queenan's follow up to previous editions on Blame, Shame, Irony and Anger. The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.