Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin discusses with Ivan six things which should be better known.

Andrew Martin is a prolific author of fiction and non-fiction books, some of which have a railway theme. His ‘Jim Stringer’ thrillers are set on the British railways of the early 20th Century, and the latest of these is Powder Smoke.

His latest stand-alone novel is The Winker, about a 70s pop musician who winks at people, then kills them. 

His new book is a travelogue-cum-memoir about his native county, called Yorkshire – There and Back.

1. Scarborough

2. Robert Robinson

3. Bicycle saddle bags

4. Walter Wilkinson

5. Sparklehorse

6. Alan Godfrey Maps

Rupal Patel

Rupal Patel discusses with Ivan six things which should be better known.

Rupal Patel’s high-octane career has taken her from jungles and war zones to corporate boardrooms and international stages. After a thrilling career at the CIA, she earned her MBA and started her first award-winning business over ten years ago.

Called a ‘Power Woman’ by Harper’s Bazaar Magazine, Rupal is a sought-after international speaker and business consultant who has spoken in front of thousands. As a sitting CEO, author, advisor, coach and mentor, Rupal helps founders, corporate executives, and next-generation change-makers cut through the noise of living and leading and make the impossible possible.

Her new book From CIA to CEO (Bonnier Books UK) provides a powerful new toolkit that reveals how the techniques of the CIA can help anyone find their voice and thrive in the world of business without conforming to stale stereotypes or dated “best practice”. With surgical insights and unique exercises, Rupal helps her audiences and clients leverage the CIA mindset to remake the rules of success and become unstoppable.

1. The Raan of Kutch

2. Ethiopian food

3. Putting yourself forward

4. Being interested

5. Neil de Grasse Tyson

6. Kouign amann

Dr Tori Herridge

Tori Herridge discusses with Ivan six things which should be better known.

Dr Tori Herridge is an evolutionary biologist and Daphne Jackson Research Fellow at the Natural History Museum in London.

Her research addresses big evolutionary and environmental questions using a broad range of lab and field methods, all underpinned by the rich fossil record from the Quaternary Period (aka “The Ice Age”). She is an expert on fossil elephants, particularly those species which lived in Europe during the Ice Age: mammoths and straight-tusked elephants.

She is the co-founder of TrowelBlazers, an organisation dedicated to telling the stories of pioneering women in palaeontology, geology and archaeology, and addressing gender disparity in these fields today.

She also makes TV programmes: Ice Age: Return of the Mammoth? (Channel 4/Science Channel), Woolly Mammoth The Autopsy (Channel 4/Smithsonian), T. rex Autopsy (National Geographic), Hannibal’s Elephant Army (Channel 4/PBS), as well as the series Bone Detectives, Britain at Low Tide, and Walking Through Time for Channel 4.

  1. Finger limes
  2. Shropshire
  3. Trowelblazers
  4. The lost diversity of elephants
  5. Diana Wynne Jones
  6. The Ice Age wasn’t always cold

Benjamin Myers

Novelist Benjamin Myers discusses with Ivan six things which should be better known.

Benjamin Myers was born in Durham in 1976. His latest novel is The Perfect Golden Circle. His novel The Gallows Pole received a Roger Deakin Award and won the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. Beastings won the Portico Prize for Literature and Pig Iron won the Gordon Burn Prize, while Richard was a Sunday Times Book of the Year. He has also published poetry, crime novels and short fiction, while his journalism has appeared in publications including, among others, The GuardianNew StatesmanCaught by the River and New Scientist. He lives in the Upper Calder Valley, West Yorkshire. 

1. Mini

2. Reunion by Fred Uhlman

3. You Suffer by Napalm Death

4. Glenda Jackson

5. Soundcloud rap

6. Hedgehogs

Catriona Seth

Catriona Seth discusses with Ivan six things which should be better known.

Catriona Seth FBA is the Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. She was brought up in the UK, in Switzerland, in Venezuela and in Belgium. Before becoming a university academic, she worked as a translator and interpreter, as a management consultant and as a schoolteacher. She has published widely, mainly in French, on 18th-century literature and culture. Her objects of research have included Marie-Antoinette, smallpox inoculation, women’s life-writing, Germaine de Staël and André Chénier.

1. Bilingualism

2. Loose-leaf Assam tea

3. Auctions

4. Sleeper trains

5. Concert halls for chamber music

6. The life and works of Katherine Read

Neil Brand

Neil Brand discusses with Ivan six things which should be better known.

Neil Brand has been a silent film accompanist for over 30 years, regularly in London at the Barbican and BFI National Film Theatres, throughout the UK and at film festivals and special events around the world, including Australia, New Zealand (three times), America, Israel, Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, and, in Italy, the Bologna, Aosta, Bergamo and Pordenone festivals where he has inaugurated the School of Music and Image to teach up-and-coming young pianists about silent film accompaniment.

Neil now has a very fruitful relationship with the BBC Symphony Orchestra which has resulted in London performances of his acclaimed orchestral score for Hitchcock’s silent Blackmail, the BBCSO / Barbican commission to score Asquith’s silent Underground and Chaplin’s Easy Street. He followed these successes with two through-scored radio adaptations, The Wind in the Willows (Audio Drama Award Nominated) and A Christmas Carol for Orchestra, Choir and Actors commissioned by Radios 3 and 4 – all of these works orchestrated and conducted by maestro Timothy Brock.

Neil is also a prolific radio playwright including Sony- and Tinniswood- nominated dramas Stan (which he adapted for BBC TV) and Getting the Joke, as well as establishing the regular live-recorded musical series The Big Broadcast. He has twice toured nationally with Paul Merton as well as appearing in, and supplying music for, Paul’s silent film-related TV documentaries.

Neil is a TV presenter on BBC4 with his hugely successful series Sound of Cinema, The Music that Made the Movies and Sound of Song, is a regular presenter on Radio 4’s Film Programme, a Fellow of Aberystwyth University and a Visiting Professor of the Royal College of Music and is considered one of the finest improvising piano accompanists in the world.

1. Richard Rodney Bennett

2. Sheridan Le Fanu

3. The musical of the Mystery of Edwin Drood

4. Satie House

5. Radio Drama

6. Rango

JD Dickey

Historian JD Dickey discusses with Ivan six things which should be better known.

JD Dickey has for more than 20 years been observing and writing about American history, society and culture. Of his book, Rising in Flames, Harold Holzer in the Wall Street Journal wrote, “No one interested in Sherman’s March should be deprived of his lively narrative. Absolutely spellbinding.” His earlier book, Empire of Mud, was a New York Times bestseller and described the troubled landscape of Washington, D.C., in the nineteenth century. He has also written and spoken on on a broad range of historical and political topics in media such as TIME magazine, C-SPAN’s Book TV, Public Radio International’s The Takeaway and Literary Hub. In addition, he has lectured for the New-York Historical Society, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, and the Atlanta History Center, among other organizations. His current work, The Republic of Violence: The Tormented Rise of Abolition in Andrew Jackson’s America, was published in March 2022 by Pegasus Books.

1. The Built, The Unbuilt and the Unbuildable

2. The Museum of Jurassic Technology

3. The Visitor

4. Gregory Crewdson

5. The Flagellation of Christ

6. Pandora and the Flying Dutchman

Rory Sutherland

Rory Sutherland discusses with Ivan six things which he thinks should be better known.

Rory is the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy, an attractively vague job title which has allowed him to co-found a behavioural science practice within the agency.

He works with a consulting practice of psychology graduates who look for ‘unseen opportunities’ in consumer behaviour – these are the often small contextual changes which can have enormous effects on the decisions people make – for instance tripling the sales rate of a call centre by adding just a few sentences to the script. Put another way, lots of agencies will talk about “bought, owned and earned” media: we also look for “invented media” and “discovered media”: seeking out those unexpected (and inexpensive) contextual tweaks that transform the way that people think and act.

It is a hugely valuable activity – but, alas, not particularly lucrative. This is because clients generally do not have budgets for solving problems they did not know they had.

Before founding Ogilvy’s Behavioural Practice, Rory was a copywriter and creative director at Ogilvy for over 20 years, having joined as a graduate trainee in 1988. He has variously been President of the IPA, Chair of the Judges for the Direct Jury at Cannes, and has spoken at TED Global. He writes regular columns for the Spectator, Market Leader and Impact, and also occasional pieces for Wired. He is the author of The Wiki Man, available on Amazon (at prices between £1.96 and £2,345.54, depending on whether the algorithm is having a bad day), and the best-selling Alchemy, The surprising Power of Ideas which don’t make Sense, and, co-written with his former colleague Pete Dyson, the newly released Transport For Humans on the behavioural science of transport. His latest book is Alchemy: The Magic of Original Thinking in a World of Mind-numbing Conformity.

Rory is married to a vicar and has twin daughters. He lives in the former home of Napoleon III – unfortunately in the attic. He is a trustee of the Benjamin Franklin House in London and a Patron of Rochester Cathedral.

1. Sherry

2. East Kent

3. The works of Iain McGilchrist

4. Haydn

5. Henry George

6. Air fryers

Andy West

Philosopher Andy West discusses with Ivan six things which should be better known.

Andy West is philosopher in residence at HMP Pentonville, London. His writing has been published in The Guardian, Aeon, The Big Issue, 3AM Magazine and Lito. He is the author of The Life Inside: A Memoir of Prison, Family and Philosophy.

1. Rectify

2. Little Bad Thing

3. Nietzsche’s idea of The Festival of Punishment 

4. Kafka’s short story Prometheus

5. Nostalgia for the Light

6. The Graybar Hotel

Katja Hoyer

Katja Hoyer discusses with Ivan six things which should be better known.

Katja Hoyer is an Anglo-German historian and journalist. She is a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She writes about German politics as a Washington Post columnist as well as for several British newspapers like The Spectator and The Telegraph. Katja’s debut book Blood and Iron – The Rise and Fall of the German Empire 1971-1918 became a bestseller in the UK. She is currently working on a new history of East Germany from 1949 to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

1. The Baltic coast

2. Shrewsbury Prison

3. Louise of Prussia

4. German cakes

5. Octopuses

6. Cultural output from behind the Iron Curtain