Nancy Storace, Mozart's English Soprano: BBC Radio 4, October

Soprano Catherine Bott investigates the career and voice of the woman who first performed one of Mozart's finest operatic roles - Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro - 21 year old Londoner Nancy Storace.

Nancy was an 18th century superstar, who sang personally for Marie Antoinette as well as Napoleon and Josephine, and whose life was as dramatic as the times she lived through.

Producer: Bob Dickinson


Lucy Mangan's Literary Solutions to the Economy: BBC Radio 4, August

Writer Lucy Mangan turns to literature to find fictional economic remedies that could conceivably add something to the debate surrounding the UK's economic recovery. In the first edition, she discusses the financial logic riddled in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, with Professor Mary Morgan from the London School of Economics, and author Bob Swarup, who has written a guide to 2,500 years of `boom and bust'.

In episode 2, she looks at the economic theories in The Treasure Seekers by E Nesbit. Other literary solutions are found in Mark Twain's short story The Million Pound Bank Note, Anthony Trollope's The Last Chronicle of Barset and the enduring fairy story of Cinderella.

Producer: Janet Graves


The Lost Poets of the Raincoat Shop: BBC Radio 4, July

Ian McMillan tells the story of two lost poets - through the letters , diaries and scattered pages of poetry found in a derelict raincoat shop in Sheffield. The papers were found by an engineer who saved them from the skip and took them home to read. Fascinated by the story they revealed, he donated them to the Sheffield Archive.

He looks through the dust-covered pages that still, he reckons, give off a faint whiff of raincoat. The letters document the friendship between the shop owner and an uneducated man who were brought together by a love of words and writing. Ian says, 'It's an extraordinary tale of friendship, and what is left behind.'

He talks to John Gregory, who devoted his lunchtimes to going through the derelict shop gathering together the pages before they were put in a skip, and to Tim Knebel, the archivist who has created order out of the scattered pages.

Ian also talks to historian Helen Smith about the uniqueness of Sheffield during the early years of the 1900s, when uneducated steelworkers yearned to better themselves by learning about philosophy and poetry.

Producer: Janet Graves


Bella Hardy Goes Home: BBC Radio 4, June 

Bella Hardy, Radio 2's Folk Singer of the Year 2014, is also a song-writer - and she plays the fiddle too. Most of the time she's on tour or living in her adopted home city of Edinburgh but, in this programme, she goes back to her roots - Edale in the High Peak of Derbyshire.

She talks to friends old and young about the special character of the valley where she grew up. She explains how so many of her songs were inspired by this dramatic landscape, and she celebrates her 30th birthday with an evening of singing at the Rambler Inn.

Everywhere she goes - on the train, in the pub, at the local school - there's home-made music. Is it folk? Well, as Louis Armstrong said, "All music is folk music; I never heard a horse sing."

Producer: Peter Everett




 Catherine Bott



     Lucy Mangan








 Ian McMillan







Bella Hardy and friends