Andrew Lownie

Andrew Lownie discusses with Ivan six things which he thinks should be better known.

Andrew Lownie was educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was Dunster History Prizeman and President of the Union, before taking his Master’s and doctorate at Edinburgh University. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he later returned to Cambridge as a visiting fellow at Churchill College.

He has been a bookseller, publisher and journalist, writing for the Times, Telegraph, Wall Street Journal , Spectator and Guardian, and since 1988 has run his own literary agency specialising in history and biography.

He is President of the Biographers Club, sits on the advisory board of Biographers International Organisation and is a Trustee of the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

1. The author John Buchan and his writing

2. Ave Maria

3. Haggis

4. The Campaign for Freedom of Information

5. The Writers Museum in Edinburgh

6. House histories 

Viv Groskop

Viv Groskop discusses with Ivan six things which she thinks should be better known.

Viv Groskop is a writer, critic, broadcaster and stand-up comedian. She is the author of How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking, also a Top 10 iTunes podcast, now in its 8th series, featuring guests like Hillary Clinton, Margaret Atwood, Nigella Lawson, Julie Andrews, Sarah Hurwitz (Michelle Obama’s speechwriter). Her latest book is Au Revoir Tristesse: Lessons in Happiness from French Literature. She has presented Front Row and Saturday Review on BBC Radio 4, is a regular on BBC1’s This Week and has hosted book tours for Graham Norton, Jo Brand and Jennifer Saunders.

1. Saturday Night Live’s The Californians

2. The poetry of Anna Akhmatova

3. Lipcote   

4. The music of Janis Ian

5. Vermouth and vermuterias

6. “Yes and” as a verb — the improv concept,_and

Tom Barber

Tom Barber discusses with Ivan six things which he thinks should be better known.

Tom Barber was a journalist for many years, writing for GQ, the Evening Standard and Tatleramong others before founding the award-winning travel company Original Travel with two friends in 2003. Original Travel has gone on to win a number of industry awards, and specialises in tailormade trips to original destinations around the world, with particular expertise in adventurous and educational family holidays, sabbaticals and sustainable travel, including a new portfolio of train-only trips from the UK. He is currently also Travel Contributing Editor for Esquire, Conde Nast Traveller’s only recognised family travel expert, and Glorious Leader of the No Fruit Out of Context Party. Tom lives in Norfolk with his wife and four children.

1. Paddy Leigh Fermor books A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water and

2. Transylvania

3. Chateau Musar

4. Philantourism

5. Picture This app

6. Sabbaticals

Madeleine Bunting

Madeleine Bunting discusses with Ivan six things which should be better known.

Madeleine was a journalist on the Guardian and held a number of positions including columnist 1999-2012. She wrote on a wide range of subjects including politics, social affairs, faith and global development.

Her book Love of Country was shortlisted for the Wainright and the Saltire Prizes 2017, and she won the Portico Prize for The Plot in 2010 which was also shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize.Her first novel, Island Song, won the Waverton Good Read Award in 2020.

Her new book is Labours of Love: The Crisis of Care.

1. Mindfulness

2. Care

3. Ana Silvera

4. Scarborough

5. How to do nothing by Jenny Odell

6. Alison Crowther

Marty Jopson

Scientist Marty Jopson discusses with Ivan six things which he thinks should be better known.

Marty Jopson has been making science television for over twenty years. He has worked behind the camera as a researcher, prop builder, director, producer, executive and company manager. His career as a presenter spans over ten years as the science reporter on the BBC1 flagship programme, The One Show. He has written The Science of Everyday Life, The Science of Food and The Science of Being Human. Find out more about Marty at

1. Jane Marcet

2. The Kirkaldy Testing Works

3. The origin and manufacture of marmite

4. The best limestone pavement in the Yorkshire Dales

5. Small things down a microscope   

6. Denis Papin

Kavita Puri

Journalist Kavita Puri discusses with Ivan six things which she thinks should be better known.

Kavita Puri is an award-winning journalist, executive producer and broadcaster for the BBC. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed book Partition Voices: Untold British Stories.

Kavita is a regular presenter of The Inquiry on the BBC World Service and Radio 4. Her landmark three-part series, Partition Voices, on Radio 4 marked the 70th anniversary of the partition of India. It was awarded The Royal Historical Society’s Best Radio and Podcast prize and its overall Public History Prize. Partition Voices: Untold British Stories, based on the series, was published in 2019 by Bloomsbury. She presents Three Pounds in My Pocket, a social history of South Asians in post-war Britain, on Radio 4. For more information about Kavita, please go to

  1. Partition
  2. Southern Spain
  3. Letter-writing
  4. Cast Courts
  5. Dance
  6. Recording your family history

Johnnie Boden

Johnnie Boden, the founder of Boden, discusses with Ivan six things which he thinks should be better known.

Johnnie Boden founded Boden in 1991 with eight menswear products, sold through a catalogue hand-drawn on his kitchen table. As ambitious as he was, he couldn’t have imagined that the fashion line bearing his name would become a multi-million-pound global business producing a huge range of clothes for every member of the family.

The success of the business – which last year chalked up 2.5 million customers worldwide and sales of over £350 million – is all the more impressive given that Johnnie started out with no fashion training. He had, however, spent much of his teens hunting down vintage tweed overcoats and Converse high-tops in Portobello Road, and cut his teeth as Men s Fashion Editor of Harpers & Queen s teenage edition in August 1977.

After graduating from Oxford, Johnnie fell into a job as stockbroker. An overseas posting to New York in 1988 opened his eyes to how well Americans operated in the mail-order market for top-quality basics – and, more importantly, how the UK was failing to compete.

In 2017, Boden opened its first central London flagship shop on the King’s Road. Boden’s stylish range of clothing and accessories are available to buy via catalogue in the UK, USA, Germany, France, Australia and Austria, and online – trading in over 60 countries with more than 1000 employees across all markets.

1. Greek wine

2. Fashion illustration

3. Antique buying in regional sale rooms

4. Lemon juice and olive oil

5. Choral music

6. Majella national park in Italy

Caroline Eden

Caroline Eden discusses with Ivan six things which she thinks should be better known.

Caroline Eden is a writer and critic contributing to the Guardian, Financial Times and the Times Literary Supplement. In 2020, she was awarded the prestigious Art of Eating Prize. She is the author of two food and travel books, Samarkand (2016) and Black Sea (2018). Her new book, Red Sands, looking at the food and culture of Central Asia, will be out in November 2020. You can follow her @edentravels on Twitter and Instagram.

1. Kazakhstan as a destination

2. Cornucopia magazine

3. Sea buckthorn as an ingredient

4. Sanmao

5. Roz Chast

6. Gaye Su Akyol

Adam Hart-Davis

Adam Hart-Davis discusses with Ivan six things which he thinks should be better known.

Adam Hart-Davis is a freelance writer and lecturer – former presenter on television of Local Heroes, Tomorrow’s World, What the Romans (and others) Did for Us, How London was Built, and many other series. He has collected various awards for both television and radio, as well as four medals and 14 honorary doctorates.

He has read several books, and written about 35, most of them about science and history.He spends a lot of time hacking at green wood, making chairs, tables, bowls, and spoons

He is a member of many associations, including the Association of Pole-lathe Turners, and the British Toilet Association.

He lectures on diverse subjects, from Toilets and history to Are we alone in the universe? and has given more than 100 talks, to audiences ranging from The Royal Society, The Royal Institution, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers to schools, small local history groups, and the captive audiences on cruise ships.

He lives in south Devon with his wife Sue Blackmore, two cats, and four chickens.

1. Sandy Bain and the fax machine

2. Colin Pullinger and his mousetrap

3. The skating stones of Racetrack Playa

4. The short stories of Somerset Maugham

5. Fibonacci’s rabbits

6. If you haven’t tested it, it doesn’t work

Jini Reddy

Jini Sweden Bohuslan coast. taken by emelie persson

Author Jini Reddy discusses with Ivan six things which she thinks should be better known.

Jini Reddy’s most recent book Wanderland has been shortlisted for the 2020 Wainwright Prize. The prize celebrates the best in UK travel and nature writing. Her first book Wild Times was published in 2016. It won the book prize at the British Guild of Travel Writers Awards 2017. You can follow her @Jini_Reddy on Twitter and @jinireddy20 on Instagram.

Wanderland book cover high res

  1. Time Travel novels–The-ground-breaking-masterpiece/21900895
  2. Slow cycling
  3. Inspiring ways to support refugees and asylum seekers and
  4. ASMR
  5. The unconventional journey
  6. The view from Richmond Hill