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 Dec 12, 2020

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Stephen Sackur is the best!


In-depth, hard-hitting interviews with newsworthy personalities.

Episode Date
Ama Ata Aidoo: Celebrating women in Africa
The acclaimed Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo has died aged 81. A former education minister for a brief period in Ghana, she arguably did more than any other writer to depict and celebrate the condition of women in Africa. Zeinab Badawi spoke with her in 2014. How much is there really to celebrate about being female in Africa? Image: Ama Ata Aidoo, pictured in 2017 (Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images)
Jun 02, 2023
Julius Malema: What would he do with power?
The African National Congress has dominated South African politics for the last 29 years, but the party of Nelson Mandela is in trouble. A power crisis is doing new damage to an economy already hit by shocking levels of poverty, inequality and corruption. If the ANC is faltering, who stands best placed to offer an alternative? Stephen Sackur speaks to the leader of the radical populist Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema. What will happen to South Africa if he gets even a share of power?
Jun 02, 2023
Roxane Gay: An unflinching memoir
Stephen Sackur speaks to American writer, academic and cultural commentator Roxane Gay. Her unflinching, extraordinary memoir Hunger deals with her experience of rape and obesity. How scary is the level of self-exposure in much of her writing?
Jun 02, 2023
Martin Amis: The 2013 interview
Coming up after the news from the BBC World Service, it’s HARDtalk with me Stephen Sackur. The influential British author Martin Amis has died at his home in Florida aged 73. Stephen Sackur interviewed him in 2013 after the release of his novel Lionel Asbo: State of England. He was pigeon-holed early in his career as the ‘enfant terrible’ of the British literary world and throughout his career he remained one of the most closely scrutinised novelists of his generation. His books were filled with greed, lust, addiction and ignorance, and yet he suggested he wrote in a celebratory spirit. So, what exactly was he celebrating?
May 31, 2023
John Steenhuisen: Is he a credible alternative to the ANC?
Stephen Sackur speaks to John Steenhuisen, the leader of South Africa’s biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance. He thinks South Africans are ready to throw out the ANC thanks to their failure to fix the economy, the energy sector and corruption, but is he a credible alternative?
May 29, 2023
Fikile Mbalula: Will the ANC pay the price of failure?
The ANC has ruled in South Africa since the racist apartheid system was overthrown. But right now the country is in a big mess, with a protracted energy crisis, unemployment, inequality and systemic corruption. Stephen Sackur is in Johannesburg to speak to Fikile Mbalula, secretary general of the ANC. Many South Africans feel their country is failing. With elections looming, will the ANC pay the price?
May 24, 2023
Sir Isaac Julien: The lasting impact of art
Zeinab Badawi speaks to the British artist and filmmaker Sir Isaac Julien, whose forty year career is steeped in powerful cultural and political messages. What is more important to him: Art or activism?
May 19, 2023
Jane Horrocks: The pathway to empowerment
Stephen Sackur speaks to the actor Jane Horrocks, whose extraordinary range has seen her star in musicals, comedies and gritty dramas. In a capricious, sometimes cruel industry, she embraced writing as well as performing. Was that her pathway to empowerment?
May 17, 2023
Hartmut Dorgerloh: Where do colonial treasures belong?
The Humboldt Forum is one of Germany’s great cultural institutions, housing a collection of thousands of works of non-European art. Germany, like many former imperial powers, is now asking itself whether treasures grabbed by European colonisers should be returned to their countries of origin. Stephen Sackur interviews the director of the Humboldt, Hartmut Dorgerloh. Is Germany taking the lead in the restoration movement?
May 11, 2023
Wavel Ramkalawan: Are the Seychelles becoming paradise lost?
Stephen Sackur talks to Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan. His tiny nation is a tourist magnet, but there are huge challenges: climate change, a shocking rate of heroin addiction and a political culture tainted by corruption allegations. Is this a case of paradise lost?
May 10, 2023
Karin Kneissl: Vienna’s ties to Moscow and the impact of Austrian neutrality
Stephen Sackur speaks to Austria’s former foreign minister, Karin Kneissl. Her ties to Moscow are close - Vladimir Putin attended her wedding, she sat on the board of a Russian energy company, and condemns Europe's arming of Ukraine on Russian TV. What does her story say about Vienna’s close ties to Moscow and the impact of Austria’s neutrality?
May 08, 2023
Penpa Tsering: Preserving Tibet's identity
It is more than 60 years since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet and set up a government-in-exile, hopeful of one day going back. Since then, China has banned any mention of the spiritual leader in his homeland, and there are reports of widespread human rights abuses. Sarah Montague speaks to the president of that self-declared government-in-exile, Penpa Tsering. Will he ever get to see his ancestral homeland, let alone govern it?
May 05, 2023
Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann: Has war in Ukraine led to a rethink in Germany?
Stephen Sackur is in Berlin to talk to the influential chair of the German parliament's defence committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann. Has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine really led to a fundamental strategic rethink in Berlin?
May 03, 2023
Niels Annen: Germany's new foreign policy
Stephen Sackur is in Berlin for a special interview with Niels Annen, Germany’s State Secretary for Economic Co-operation. For decades Germany built its economic power on Russian energy and trade with China – that has left Germany looking vulnerable. So what is the new strategy? (Photo: Niels Annen, State Secretary for Economic Co-operation)
Apr 27, 2023
Baaba Maal: Can the Sahel overcome its challenges?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the acclaimed Senegalese musician Baaba Maal. His records and musical collaborations have won him millions of fans worldwide, and he’s intent on helping his native Sahel region overcome its many challenges. Can this music icon make a difference?
Apr 26, 2023
John Cooper Clarke: Punk and poetry
Stephen Sackur speaks to the pioneering performance poet John Cooper Clarke. From his early days as the bard of punk to a decade lost to heroin and then the worldwide success of his poem I Wanna Be Yours and now a new tour, John Cooper Clarke has used words, rhythm and rhyme to find humour and truth in the chaos of everyday life. Where does his word magic come from?
Apr 24, 2023
Vladimir Kara-Murza: Defying Putin
Earlier this week, Russian political activist Vladimir Kara-Murza was sentenced to 25 years in prison in Russia for charges linked to his criticism of the war in Ukraine. He was found guilty of treason, spreading "false" information about the Russian army and being affiliated with an "undesirable organisation" – charges he denied. In 2017, HARDtalk spoke to him as he recovered in the US from what he said was a poisoning attempt in Moscow. Shortly before, he had been rushed to hospital in the Russian capital when his organs started shutting down. He said he knew immediately what was happening because the same thing had happened to him two years earlier. Both times he claimed he was the victim of deliberate poisoning, and that he was targeted because of his opposition to President Putin and the Russian government. He told the programme that despite the risks, he intended to return to Russia.
Apr 21, 2023
Péter Szijjártó: Is Hungary alienating the EU and Nato?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign minister. Budapest is an outlier in both the EU and Nato, unwilling to arm Ukraine, eager to maintain close ties with Moscow, and dismissing demands to respect EU values. Will its defiance come at a price?
Apr 19, 2023
Christo Grozev: Investigating Russia
Stephen Sackur speaks to Christo Grozev, Bellingcat's lead Russia investigator. His work has exposed crimes and embarrassed the Kremlin. What motivates this digital detective?
Apr 16, 2023
Danny Danon: Is Netanyahu jeopardising Israel’s future?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Israeli MP and former UN ambassador Danny Danon. Amid political turmoil at home, a deteriorating security situation and stinging criticism from Israel’s allies overseas is the Netanyahu administration now jeopardising Israel’s future?
Apr 13, 2023
Ben Ferencz: The last Nuremberg trials prosecutor
Ben Ferencz, the last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg Nazi trials, has died aged 103. He also helped liberate the death camps of Europe when he was serving in the US military. In 2017, Zeinab Badawi travelled to Florida to interview him at his home. Did he believe the Nuremberg trials have made genocide and crimes against humanity less likely to be committed in the world today?
Apr 11, 2023
Richard Neal: How Northern Ireland affects US-UK relations
As President Biden visits Belfast and Dublin to mark 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement, Stephen Sackur speaks to Congressman Richard Neal, an influential voice when it comes to US policy on Northern Ireland. Will US/UK relations be tied to what happens next in Northern Ireland?
Apr 09, 2023
Geoffrey Robertson: The case for international justice
Stephen Sackur speaks to the renowned lawyer and author Geoffrey Robertson KC, who has long experience as an international human rights defender and a war crimes trial judge. Is the fact that President Vladimir Putin faces war crimes charges while still sitting in the Kremlin a sign of how far we’ve come, or how far we have to go when it comes to global justice?
Apr 03, 2023
David Beasley: Can the world afford to feed its most vulnerable?
Sarah Montague speaks to David Beasley, the outgoing head of the World Food Programme. During his tenure, the agency’s budget has more than doubled but the number of those close to famine is growing and conflict is disrupting food supply. How can the world’s most hungry be fed? (Photo: David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme appears via videolink on Hardtalk)
Mar 31, 2023
Bogdan Aurescu: How is Romania handling the pressure from the war on Ukraine?
The fallout from Putin’s war on Ukraine is having a big impact on Romania, from the refugee crisis to fears of conflict spreading to neighbouring Moldova. How is Romania handling the pressure? Stephen Sackur speaks to the country’s Foreign Minister, Bogdan Aurescu. (Photo: Bogdan Aurescu in the Hardtalk studio)
Mar 29, 2023
Petr Pavel: Can Ukraine still count on Europe's support?
Stephen Sackur is in Prague for an exclusive interview with the newly elected president of the Czech Republic, Petr Pavel. What does the election of this former NATO General tell us about the resolve of Europeans to continue their economic and military support for Ukraine?
Mar 27, 2023
Evgeny Popov: Are cracks appearing at the Kremlin?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Russian MP and pro-Kremlin TV host Evgeny Popov. The Ukraine invasion is beset with problems and Putin faces war crimes charges. Are cracks appearing?
Mar 22, 2023
James Daunt: Is the books industry a place where creativity and diversity truly thrive?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the hugely successful bookseller James Daunt. From Waterstones to Barnes & Noble he has fought off ebooks and online retail to revive bricks and mortar bookstores. But is the books industry a place where creativity and diversity truly thrive? (Photo: James Daunt in the Hardtalk studio)
Mar 20, 2023
Mustafa Barghouti: Can Palestinians improve their situation?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Palestinian politician, physician and civil rights activist Mustafa Barghouti. The seemingly endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be on the brink of getting a lot worse. If the two-state solution is dead, what option do the Palestinians have? (Photo: Mustafa Barghouti, leader of the Palestinian National Initiative, appears via videolink on Hardtalk)
Mar 17, 2023
Sergei Pugachev: Inside Putin's rise
Stephen Sackur is in Nice to speak to the former Russian oligarch and billionaire businessman Sergei Pugachev. He was once dubbed Putin’s banker, a close confidant who helped Putin reach the top. But their relationship soured. Pugachev was accused of massive financial crimes; he renounced his Russian citizenship and now lives with armed guards in the south of France. What does his extraordinary story tell us of Putin’s strengths and weaknesses?
Mar 13, 2023
Simcha Rothman: Is Israel plunging into chaos?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Israeli politician Simcha Rothman, a key architect of the Netanyahu government’s controversial legal reforms aimed at radically overhauling the country’s judicial system. Critics say the plans threaten Israel’s democracy. This, alongside the rising violence in the occupied West Bank, raises questions about the strategic direction of Netanyahu’s ultra-nationalist government. Is Israel plunging into chaos?
Mar 10, 2023
Notis Mitarachi: Has Greece's government lost the confidence of the people?
The devastating train crash in Greece which killed 57 people generated a wave of grief and anger. Many Greeks see the disaster as symptomatic of a failing state, characterised by a lack of investment in public infrastructure and a lack of accountability at the heart of government. Other aspects of public policy are also facing harsh scrutiny, from migration to internal security. Stephen Sackur speaks to Greece’s asylum and migration minister Notis Mitarachi. Has his government lost the confidence of the Greek people?
Mar 08, 2023
Félix Maradiaga: Standing up to Nicaragua's president
Stephen Sackur speaks to Félix Maradiaga, the former opposition leader and presidential candidate imprisoned by Nicaragua’s veteran autocrat Daniel Ortega. Maradiaga was recently released, deported to the US and stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship. Ortega is trying to eliminate all Nicaraguan opposition - could he succeed?
Mar 03, 2023
Tikhon Dzyadko: Is there an audience for independent news in Russia?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Tikhon Dzyadko, editor-in-chief of Russia’s independent TV news channel Dozhd (or TV Rain). Closed down in Moscow, now they are broadcasting online from Latvia, using YouTube to reach Russians. Is there a Russian audience for this alternative to Putin’s propaganda machine? (Photo: Tikhon Dzyadko, editor-in-chief of Dozhd TV appears via videolink on Hardtalk)
Mar 01, 2023
Ece Temelkuran: Is Erdogan's control of Turkey under threat?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Ece Temelkuran, a prominent exiled Turkish writer and critic of President Erdogan. Erdogan has dominated Turkey for two decades but after the terrible earthquakes, with economic and political problems mounting and an election imminent, could his opponents finally bring him down? (Photo: Ece Temelkuran in the Hardtalk studio)
Feb 24, 2023
Olesya Khromeychuk: Conflict and identity
Stephen Sackur speaks to the British-Ukrainian historian and author Olesya Khromeychuk. She's written a book and a play about her brother Volodya, a soldier killed defending Ukraine in the Donbas long before Russia’s all out invasion began last year. Has Putin’s assault on Ukrainian identity strengthened what he set out to destroy?
Feb 22, 2023
Stefanie Green: The ethics of assisted dying
Stephen Sackur speaks to Dr Stefanie Green, a leading advocate for Canada’s liberal assisted dying laws, who has herself overseen more than 300 deaths by euthanasia. Is Canada at ease with its role as a testing ground for complex ethical and medical arguments about assisted dying?
Feb 20, 2023
Waris Dirie: The fight against FGM
Stephen Sackur speaks to Waris Dirie, the Somali born model, writer and activist. She was raised in poverty, and later became the muse of big fashion houses in New York and beyond. She chose campaigning over the catwalk, speaking out against female genital mutilation, which she experienced and is now determined to eliminate. Is this a fight she can win?
Feb 17, 2023
Mick Lynch: Strife, strikes and workers' rights
Stephen Sackur speaks to Mick Lynch, leader of Britain’s biggest rail union the RMT. His members are striking for inflation proofed pay and job protection. It is a test case in a new era of worker versus employer fights with resonance across the world. But can the workers win?
Feb 15, 2023
Kenneth Roth: Is the fight for human rights being lost?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Kenneth Roth, who spent three decades leading the campaign group Human Rights Watch. Why is the fight for human rights being lost in so many places?
Feb 13, 2023
Kira Rudik: Can Ukraine win this war?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Kira Rudik, a Ukrainian MP and leader of the opposition party Golos. As the first anniversary of Putin’s invasion looms, does Ukraine have the external support and the internal cohesion it needs to win this war?
Feb 09, 2023
Pervez Musharraf: Power in Pakistan
Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani army chief who masterminded a coup in 1999 and ruled the country for nine years, has died in Dubai aged 79 after a long illness. Stephen Sackur spoke to General Musharraf in 2014, after he had returned from exile to Pakistan in an attempt to revive his political career. What did his rise and fall tell us about the realities of power in Pakistan? Image: Pervez Musharraf, pictured in 2013 (Credit: Mian Khursheed/Reuters)
Feb 08, 2023
Zsuzsanna Szelényi: How strong is Viktor Orbán's grip on Hungary?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Zsuzsanna Szelényi, a former ally, and now prominent opponent, of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Has Orbán found a political formula, illiberal democracy, for which his opponents have no answer?
Feb 06, 2023
Sergey Karaganov: Is Putin placing bets he cannot win?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the Russian foreign policy strategist and sometime Kremlin adviser Sergey Karaganov. Russia is widely expected to launch a major new offensive in Ukraine very soon, but this war has already exposed Moscow’s vulnerabilities. Is Putin placing bets he cannot win?
Feb 03, 2023
Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah: How should international aid work?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the boss of Oxfam Great Britain, Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah. He took over after Oxfam was hit by scandal with staff abusing their positions and power in Haiti. He promised to reimagine how international aid should be done and to put a new focus on global economic justice. Is his approach working?
Feb 01, 2023
Robert Malley: What next for US policy on Iran?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Robert Malley, US special envoy for Iran. He’s an experienced diplomat facing a looming crisis. The attempt to revive a deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions appears to be dead, Tehran is repressing protests at home and arming Putin’s Russia in Ukraine. What can the US and its allies do about it?
Jan 30, 2023
Leopoldo Lopez: Has Venezuela’s opposition been outmanoeuvred?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Leopoldo Lopez, a key leader of Venezuela’s opposition. Once a political prisoner, now in exile in Spain, his efforts to topple the socialist regime led by Nicolas Maduro have been thwarted. Has Venezuela’s pro-democracy movement been outmanoeuvred?
Jan 27, 2023
Dmytro Kuleba: Is the West's hesitation undermining Ukraine?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba. The war with Russia has hit a winter stalemate, but what will spring bring? From battle tanks to air defences, Ukraine wants more help from its allies. Is Western wavering undermining Kyiv’s strategic options?
Jan 25, 2023
Ruben Vardanyan: Nagorno-Karabakh and Putin
Stephen Sackur speaks to Ruben Vardanyan, state minister of the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, run by ethnic Armenians but surrounded by Azerbaijan and the subject of years of conflict. The Armenians have traditionally been backed by Russia, but is Putin a reliable ally?
Jan 23, 2023
Celso Amorim: Is Brazil becoming ungovernable?
Brazilian President Lula must figure out whether another assault on government institutions is likely, and hold those responsible to account. All of that while he faces a mountain of economic, social and political challenges. How close is Brazil to being ungovernable? Stephen Sackur interviews Celso Amorim, formerly Brazil's foreign minister, now President Lula’s foreign policy advisor.
Jan 20, 2023
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Is global free trade possible?
Stephen Sackur is in Geneva to speak to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the World Trade Organization. Her job is to maximise free and fair trade across the world. How is that possible in this age of big power tension and increased suspicion of globalisation?
Jan 18, 2023
Jagath Weerasinghe: Sri Lanka's bloody past
Zeinab Badawi is in Sri Lanka to talk to one of the country’s most influential artists and archaeologists, Jagath Weerasinghe. What does his art tell us about Sri Lanka’s bloody and difficult past, and its prospects for a more peaceful future?
Jan 16, 2023
Marilyn Stafford: A life in pictures
What makes a great photograph? In 2019, Stephen Sackur spoke to one of the pioneers of photojournalism, Marilyn Stafford. She was born in the United States but moved to Paris in the 1950s, where she became the protégé of the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Like him, Stafford loved to capture intimate portraits of ordinary people. She photographed everything from refugees fleeing war to models on the fashion catwalks. Later in life, her work was discovered and admired by a new generation. This is another chance to listen to the interview with Marilyn Stafford after her recent death aged 97. The interview was updated on 13th January 2023.
Jan 13, 2023
Boris Bondarev: Speaking out against Putin
Stephen Sackur speaks to the former Russian diplomat Boris Bondarev, who quit his post and launched a scathing attack on the Putin regime after the invasion of Ukraine. Why haven’t more Moscow insiders followed his lead?
Jan 11, 2023
Waheed Arian: Migration in the Western world
War and extreme poverty drive millions of people from their homes every year. Some of them try to reach the rich Western world, where such inward migration routinely prompts fear and draconian counter-measures. Stephen Sackur interviews Waheed Arian, who fled war in Afghanistan as a child, made it to the UK and is now a doctor running his own medical charity. Do perceptions change when the story of migration is personalised?
Jan 09, 2023
Fawad Chaudhry: Is Pakistan heading for economic meltdown?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s former information minister and a senior figure in Imran Khan’s opposition PTI party. Pakistan is dealing with rampant inflation, an energy crisis and soaring national debt. Having lost the premiership, Khan is trying to bring down the current coalition government. Could political chaos tip the country into full-scale economic meltdown?
Jan 06, 2023
Evgenia Kara-Murza: Has Putin neutralised his Russian opponents?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the Russian opposition activist Evgenia Kara-Murza, whose husband Vladimir, a prominent opponent of Vladimir Putin, is in prison in Russia having survived two apparent poisonings in recent years. Has Putin’s repression effectively neutralised meaningful opposition?
Jan 04, 2023
Hardtalk in 2022
Passion, pain, tension, denial. This past year we’ve seen it all. Stephen Sackur presents excerpts from some of our most powerful interviews concerning matters of war and peace, human rights (in particular women’s rights), freedom of expression and freedom of information.
Dec 23, 2022
Ericka Huggins: Do the Black Panthers have lessons for Black Lives Matter?
Stephen Sackur is in in Oakland, California, to speak to Ericka Huggins, an original member of the 1960s Black Panther Party. She experienced violence, imprisonment and vilification in the controversial campaign for black power. Do the Panthers have lessons for the Black Lives Matter movement?
Dec 19, 2022
Wes Streeting: Is Britain ready for a new government?
British nurses are striking, and the health service is in trouble. Stephen Sackur speaks to Wes Streeting, a rising star of the UK's Labour party and their shadow health secretary. Does Labour have a credible plan to fix public services and save the UK from a winter of economic discontent?
Dec 16, 2022
Oleksandra Matviichuk and Yan Rachinsky: Fighting for civil rights
Stephen Sackur is in Oslo to talk to two of the three joint winners of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Oleksandra Matviichuk is the head of the Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine. Yan Rachinsky is chairman of the human rights group Memorial in Russia. The third winner, pro-democracy activist Ales Bialiatski, is a political prisoner in Belarus. What can civil society activism achieve in the face of authoritarian aggression? Image: Yan Rachinsky (L) and Oleksandra Matviichuk (R) (Credit: NTB/Haakon Mosvold Larsen via Reuters)
Dec 14, 2022
Allen Ault: The most premeditated murder
Another chance to hear Stephen Sackur’s 2014 interview with Allen Ault. As the former Commissioner of Corrections in the US state of Georgia, Ault was responsible for state-sanctioned executions. He organised the killing of criminals until he could stand it no more. What made him leave his post and take up the campaign to end the death penalty?
Dec 09, 2022
David Friedberg: Can tech fix our biggest challenges?
In a special edition from San Francisco, Stephen Sackur speaks to billionaire tech investor David Friedberg. He’s convinced science and technology can fix the world’s biggest challenges – climate, sustainable food, and energy production. But will we use our knowledge wisely?
Dec 07, 2022
Daniel Ellsberg: Does the US military have too much power?
In an exclusive interview from California, Stephen Sackur speaks to Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower who exposed US government lies about Vietnam. He helped hasten President Nixon’s downfall and he’s warned Americans about the dangers of unchecked military power ever since. But are they listening?
Dec 06, 2022
London Breed: What does San Francisco reveal about the US?
Stephen Sackur is in the US to speak to San Francisco’s mayor London Breed, a rising star of the Democratic Party. Her city is one of contrasts - vast tech wealth alongside rampant crime, drug use and homelessness. It symbolises America’s urban dysfunction. Can the mayor fix it?
Dec 02, 2022
Rachel Clarke: Talking honestly about the end of life
Stephen Sackur speaks to the palliative care doctor and author Rachel Clarke. She has written thought-provoking, moving accounts of what it's like to be a junior doctor, and how it felt to confront the Covid pandemic. But perhaps her most powerful book focuses on a subject that many doctors, and the public, find it difficult to discuss: Death. In Dear Life, she weaves together the personal story of a daughter facing the terminal cancer illness of her beloved father with that of a doctor who made a deliberate choice to focus her care on the dying. In the process of dying, which will of course be the fate of every one of us, Rachel Clarke finds life lessons which we would all do well to learn. She asks us to consider a tough question: can dying be life affirming?
Nov 30, 2022
Barbara Chase-Riboud: Monuments and controversy
Zeinab Badawi speaks to American artist and writer Barbara Chase-Riboud at the Serpentine Galleries in London. Over a career spanning seven decades, Chase-Riboud has explored public memory and commemorative forms, as well as shone a light on historical perspectives that have been overlooked or neglected. Her work raises fascinating questions about how society deals with public monuments of controversial figures from the past.
Nov 28, 2022
Getachew Reda: Have Tigray's rebels surrendered?
One of the most costly conflicts of the 21st century may be over. Representatives of the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan rebels signed a peace agreement earlier this month. After two years of war, and perhaps half a million civilian deaths, Tigrayan forces are to give up their weapons; the Ethiopian army will take control of Tigray; and aid should begin to reach millions of desperate people. Stephen Sackur speaks to Getachew Reda, who signed the deal on behalf of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Was this in effect the TPLF’s surrender?
Nov 25, 2022
Chelsea Manning: Does transparency justify leaking state secrets?
Stephen Sackur interviews former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who leaked a trove of military secrets and spent seven years behind bars. Did her actions undermine American security?
Nov 23, 2022
Salome Zourabichvili: How much does Georgia have to fear from Russia?
The war in Ukraine has triggered fears that Vladimir Putin may set his sights on other former Soviet republics. Zeinab Badawi speaks to Salome Zourabichvili, the President of Georgia, whose country shares a long border with Russia. How worried is she?
Nov 21, 2022
Ronald Lamola: Does the ANC have answers for South Africa's problems?
Next month, the ruling ANC in South Africa holds its five-yearly national conference. President Cyril Ramaphosa is seeking re-election as leader of the party, which would him in position to contest nationwide elections in 2024. But South Africa is currently in the midst of a severe economic meltdown, with mass unemployment and crippling power cuts, and many are warning its political culture could bring the state to the point of collapse. Zeinab Badawi speaks to South African justice minister Ronald Lamola, seen as one of the rising stars of the ANC’s younger generation. How does he account for the government’s failure to address the myriad challenges it faces?
Nov 18, 2022
Mark Wolf: Does the world need a new anti-corruption court?
Global leaders often come together to work for what they hope is the greater good, such as tackling climate change, conflict and the economic crisis. But does the world need a new body to put leaders on trial? Zeinab Badawi speaks to the American judge and academic Mark Wolf, who is trying to establish an international anti-corruption court to bring to justice leaders who abuse their power for private gain. Is this an idea whose time has come, or do we already have sufficient levers to bring the kleptocrats to court?
Nov 16, 2022
David Dimbleby: Are journalistic values under threat?
Where do you get your news from, and do you trust it to be true? For many of us, the answers to these questions are changing. Social media is an increasingly dominant source of information; long-established news sources, like the BBC, are in a fight for audiences and for trust too. Stephen Sackur speaks to David Dimbleby, who, in the course of a long broadcasting career, became the face and voice of the BBC on the biggest occasions, from elections to royal ceremonies. Can his journalistic values survive in a world where opinion so often trumps truth?
Nov 11, 2022
Gerard Lyons: Is Britain's economy up to scratch?
The UK economy is in a hole. Inflation is high, interest rates are rising, public debt is soaring and, according to the Bank of England, Britons face two years of recession. Stephen Sackur speaks to Gerard Lyons, an economist and sometime adviser to governing Conservative politicians. Can Britain’s economy bounce back, or is any optimism misplaced?
Nov 09, 2022
Sauli Niinistö: Finland's new strategic direction
Stephen Sackur is in Helsinki for an exclusive interview with Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö. After decades of pragmatic coexistence with Moscow, Finland has made a big strategic decision: to join Nato, back Ukraine with weapons and reinforce their border with Russia. Are Finns ready for potential tension with their giant neighbour to the east?
Nov 07, 2022
Ben Hodges: Is Ukrainian victory inevitable?
Stephen Sackur speaks to General Ben Hodges, former commander of the US army in Europe. He claims a Ukrainian victory in the war with Russia is inevitable, maybe within months. But given Putin’s pledge to use all means necessary to prevail, how does victory happen?
Nov 04, 2022
Rafael Grossi: Is nuclear power ever risk-free?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Rafael Grossi, director general of the world’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. He’s been to Ukraine and has visited Putin in his continuing efforts to avert disaster at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant. Is the Ukraine war a lesson that nuclear power is never risk-free?
Nov 02, 2022
Dimitar Kovačevski: Can North Macedonia finally join the EU?
In an exclusive interview, Stephen Sackur is in Skopje to speak to North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski. His nation emerged out of the former Yugoslavia and is now in the queue for EU membership. But progress is slow. Could Brussels’s reluctance to embrace the Balkan candidate nations see this region sink back into dangerous instability?
Oct 31, 2022
Matthew Collins: Taking on the far right
Stephen Sackur speaks to the writer and anti-racism campaigner Matthew Collins. In his youth he was himself a far-right thug, but he changed sides and became an informer. Now he’s a leading activist in the battle against violent extremism. He's written a book - The Walk In - about his experiences. What is the best antidote to today’s peddlers of race hate? This edition of Hardtalk contains references to racist language.
Oct 26, 2022
Audrey Tang: Can Taiwan forge its own path?
Zeinab Badawi is in Taiwan to speak to Audrey Tang, the country's digital minister. The Taipei government says it stands for democracy in the face of increasing belligerence from China, which claims the self-governed island as part of its territory. Can Taiwan really forge its own path?
Oct 24, 2022
Jan Lipavský: Will energy crisis break Europe's stand against Moscow?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Czech foreign minister, Jan Lipavský, an ardent supporter of Ukraine in a country facing an energy and economic crisis this winter. Vladimir Putin thinks Russia’s energy dominance can break Europe’s united stand against Moscow. Is he right?
Oct 20, 2022
German Galushchenko: How vulnerable is Ukraine?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Ukraine’s energy minister, German Galushchenko. His country’s energy and power infrastructure is being targeted by Russian rockets and kamikaze drones. As Putin doubles down on his escalation strategy, how vulnerable is Ukraine?
Oct 19, 2022
Dr Anthony Fauci: What did the US get wrong about Covid?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Dr Anthony Fauci, soon to retire as President Biden’s chief medical adviser. Under Trump, then Biden, Dr Fauci was at the forefront of America’s Covid response, which compares poorly with other rich world nations. What went wrong, and who’s to blame?
Oct 13, 2022
Amin Salam: Is Lebanon heading for meltdown?
Lebanon is experiencing one of the most disastrous economic collapses of the last 100 years. The national economy is less than half the size it was just three years ago, while people are holding up banks in a desperate attempt to get their money out amid rampant inflation and a currency crisis. Stephen Sackur interviews Amin Salam, Minister of Economy and Trade for Lebanon. Politicians have failed the country for decades - will that change before the meltdown is complete?
Oct 12, 2022
Maggie Haberman: Donald Trump and journalistic responsibility
Zeinab Badawi speaks to the award winning American journalist Maggie Haberman. She has published a book that chronicles the rise and fall of Donald Trump, and her revelations are creating sensational headlines in the US. What is the responsibility of a good journalist?
Oct 07, 2022
Boris Grebenshchikov: Culture and protest in Russia
Zeinab Badawi speaks to Russian rock musician Boris Grebenshchikov, who last played in Russia the day before Putin invaded Ukraine. Now living in exile in London, BG (as he is known to his fans) risks prosecution if he returns to Russia for his anti-war comments. The role cultural icons have to play in the politics of protest is a well-trodden one. But do their voices have any impact inside Russia?
Oct 05, 2022
Masih Alinejad: A revolution for Iranian women?
Stephen Sackur speaks to exiled Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad. The death in police custody of a young woman arrested for showing strands of her hair sparked protests across Iran, led by women, backed by many men. Could repression of women be the regime’s undoing?
Sep 29, 2022
Evgeny Popov: Russia's mobilisation
Stephen Sackur speaks to Russian MP, Putin loyalist and influential state media commentator Evgeny Popov. Amid military reverses, mass mobilisation, and signs of internal dissent in Russia, is Putin’s Ukraine strategy doomed to fail?
Sep 27, 2022
Reverend Richard Coles: Living with grief
For most of us, death and grief remain a private affair. An irreversible, life-altering shock when we lose someone close, for which there is no guide or preparation. Stephen Sackur interviews Reverend Richard Coles, a broadcaster and Church of England vicar, whose frank account of his own grief has struck a chord with many. Why did the death of his husband nearly break him?
Sep 26, 2022
Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze: Can Putin’s threats undermine support for Ukraine?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the Ukrainian MP, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, who currently chairs the Ukrainian parliament’s EU Integration Committee. Kyiv’s battlefield gains have prompted Vladimir Putin to announce a partial mobilisation and ramp up his nuclear threats. What does this mean for Ukraine and for the support it relies on in the west?
Sep 23, 2022
Maria Pevchikh: Where does Russia's anti-Putin movement go from here?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Maria Pevchikh, investigations chief for Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, which is now outlawed in Russia. With Vladimir Putin putting a tighter squeeze on Russian civil society and criticism of the war risking years in prison, where does Russia’s anti-Putin movement go from here?
Sep 12, 2022
Vadym Prystaiko: Can Ukraine count on its allies?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine's former foreign minister, who now serves as the country's ambassador to the UK. With the war in Russia becoming protracted and attritional, and with Putin putting an energy squeeze on Europe, can Kyiv count on the staying power of its allies?
Sep 09, 2022
Enrico Letta: Is Italy set to choose a far-right government?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Enrico Letta, leader of Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party. With a momentous General Election looming, can Italians be persuaded against embracing a coalition of the far right?
Sep 07, 2022
Lindsey Graham: Trump and the midterms
In a special edition of HARDtalk from the Ambrosetti Forum in Italy, Stephen Sackur speaks to long-time Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham. He is perhaps the most forceful and voluble defender of former President Donald Trump in Washington DC. The expectation is that Trump will run again for president and try to regain the White House in 2024. But with legal troubles piling up, Republicans must decide: Can they afford to remain the party of Trump?
Sep 04, 2022
Tova Friedman: Learning from history
Stephen Sackur speaks to Tova Friedman, one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz. Never has it felt more important to remember the lessons of one of history’s greatest crimes, the Nazi genocide of the Jews. Europe is again witnessing a war of aggression, anti-Semitism is on the rise in many countries, and surveys of young people reveal alarming ignorance of the Holocaust. Now in her eighties, Tova Friedman has written a memoir and taken to social media to tell her story. Is the world listening?
Sep 02, 2022
Gwen Adshead: Getting inside the minds of murderers
Zeinab Badawi speaks to Dr Gwen Adshead, a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist who has spent more than three decades trying to treat some of the UK’s most violent offenders. Why does she urge compassion and understanding for those who many brand as simply evil?
Aug 30, 2022
Pinchas Goldschmidt: Is the Ukraine war deepening Jewish anxiety?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Pinchas Goldschmidt, who was chief rabbi of Moscow until he fled Russia after the Ukraine invasion and left his post. His fate has exposed the scale of wider Jewish flight from Russia, and divisions within the Jewish community. Why is this war deepening Jewish anxiety?
Aug 29, 2022
Olga Rudenko: Is there room for government critique in Ukraine's fight for survival?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Olga Rudenko, chief editor of the Kyiv Independent - set up by Ukrainian journalists to hold their government to account. Is there room for independent journalism when Ukraine is in a fight for survival against Russian aggression?
Aug 25, 2022
Sir Peter Blake: What keeps his creativity alive?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the artist Sir Peter Blake, whose work came to define the freshness and optimism of the 1960s. Now aged 90, he is still painting. What keeps his creativity alive?
Aug 22, 2022
Krišjānis Kariņš: Is Latvia still vulnerable?
Stephen Sackur is in Riga to speak to the Prime Minister of Latvia, Krišjānis Kariņš. Latvia is now an established member of the EU and NATO, but Putin’s Ukraine invasion has revived fears of Russian expansionism. Three decades on from the collapse of the Soviet Union, is Latvia still vulnerable?
Aug 18, 2022
George Monbiot: Surrounded by fear
Humans face a series of interlinked existential challenges. How do we feed a global population heading towards ten billion? Can it be done without degrading ecosystems and exacerbating climate change to a calamitous extent? Stephen Sackur interviews writer and environmental activist George Monbiot, who has spent decades addressing these questions and framing radical answers. Why are so many politicians and voters seemingly unwilling to listen?
Aug 17, 2022
Shon Faye: The transgender issue
According to research in the US and the UK, roughly one in 100 may be transgender. But the fact that the debate about transgender rights has become a political battleground isn’t driven so much by the numbers but more by conflicting ideologies. Stephen Sackur asks author and journalist Shon Faye if all the attention on issues of sex, gender and identity is making it easier to be trans or not. This programme is subject to clarifications. In the interview with the transgender activist and writer Shon Faye, the presenter said: “There's quite a lot of data now on this, self-harm is a problem for people who are in this situation and suicide is also more common among trans young people than among the rest of the population”. In fact, the overall position is unclear as there is limited data on suicides among young trans people. On the point made by Shon Faye that puberty blockers are reversible, the NHS says little is known about their long term side effects in children with gender dysphoria, and that although the Gender and Identity Service (GIDS) advises this is a physically reversible treatment if stopped, it is not known what the psychological effects may be. Details here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/helpandfeedback/corrections_clarifications/
Aug 15, 2022
Amrullah Saleh: Is resistance in Afghanistan viable?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the former First Vice President of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh, now a leader of the resistance dedicated to overthrowing the Taliban. A year after the Islamists returned to power, Afghanistan is in the grip of repression and starvation. Is resistance a viable option?
Aug 12, 2022
Albert Woodfox: Freedom after a life inside
There are some human experiences which most of us find it very hard to get our heads around. In 2019, Stephen Sackur spoke to Albert Woodfox, who experienced the unimaginable torment of more than four decades in solitary confinement, in a tiny cell in one of America’s most notorious prisons. He was the victim of ingrained racism and brutality inside America’s system of criminal justice. He was released from prison in 2016 and reflected on the meaning of freedom after everything he’d been through. This is another chance to listen to the interview with Albert Woodfox after his recent death. (Photo: Albert Woodfox, a former member of the Black Panthers, who was put in solitary confinement at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Credit: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images)
Aug 10, 2022
Gregory Doran: Why does Shakespeare still captivate us?
Stephen Sackur is in Stratford-upon-Avon, interviewing Gregory Doran, artistic director emeritus of the Royal Shakespeare Company. More than 400 years after his death, Shakespeare’s words and stories live on, transcending languages and borders. Why do we continue to make much ado about Shakespeare?
Aug 05, 2022
The Singh Twins: Mixing art and politics
Zeinab Badawi is at the Firstsite gallery in Colchester to speak to acclaimed contemporary British artists the Singh Twins. Their work combines Eastern and Western traditions with sharp political comment. What inspires their artistic vision?
Aug 03, 2022
James Lovelock: The future of life on Earth
In an interview recorded in 2021, Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the past century's most influential environmentalists, James Lovelock. He introduced us to the Gaia hypothesis – the idea that our planet and all the life on it are part of one dynamic, self-regulating system. At the age of 101, Lovelock still had big thoughts about the future of life on Earth. Have we humans sown the seeds of our own destruction? Audio for this episode updated on Monday 1st August 2022.
Aug 01, 2022
Julius Malema: Is South Africa on the brink of chaos?
Stephen Sackur speaks to South Africa’s controversial populist politician Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters. Allegations of political corruption, power cuts and mass unemployment are pushing South Africa to the brink of chaos. Could one of Africa’s richest nations be consumed by insurrectionist violence?
Jul 29, 2022
Fatih Birol: Could short-term panic derail the clean energy transition?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, and an influential advocate of the global transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Has that green transition been hampered or hastened by the Ukraine war and Europe’s deepening energy crisis?
Jul 27, 2022
Sharan Burrow: Do workers have faith in collective action?
Stephen Sackur interviews the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, Sharan Burrow. There are signs of deepening worker discontent around the world; inflation is outstripping wages, and global corporations stand accused of putting profits before people, while many governments see organised labour as a threat. Have workers lost their faith in collective action?
Jul 22, 2022
Omah Lay: Is there a universal message in his music?
Sarah Montague speaks to Afrobeats musician Omah Lay. With its roots in the social activist Afrobeat music pioneered by Fela Kuti, is there a universal message in the music of this young Nigerian singer-songwriter? (Photo: Omah Lay talks to Sarah Montague)
Jul 17, 2022
Meaza Ashenafi: What are the prospects for peace in Ethiopia?
The conflict in Ethiopia between the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front and government forces is one of many challenges to the country’s stability. Now, there is a glimmer of hope, with both sides saying they are willing to start efforts to end the war. Zeinab Badawi speaks to Meaza Ashenafi, the Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia. What are the prospects for peace and justice in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands?
Jul 15, 2022
Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda: Does Christianity in Iraq have a future?
Twenty-five years ago, almost one and a half million Christians lived in Iraq. Now there are around a quarter of a million, and after years of war and communal violence many of them have been displaced from their ancestral homes. Can anything be done to reverse this trend toward extinction? Stephen Sackur speaks to Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of Erbil, home to the largest remaining Christian community. In a country and a region where Christianity has deep roots, does it have a future?
Jul 13, 2022
Nury Turkel: Will the world stand up for China's Uyghurs?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Nury Turkel, a prominent Uyghur activist in exile and chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. He is a key leader in the effort to pressure China to end the repression of the Uyghurs. But is his campaign doomed to fail? (Photo: Nury Turkel in the Hardtalk studio)
Jul 07, 2022
Ibram X. Kendi: America's unhealed racial wounds
The fractures in American society are widening, over guns, abortion, education and more. But the deepest, most traumatic fracture is surely over race. The US is post-slavery, post-segregation, but definitely not post-racism. Stephen Sackur speaks to Ibram X. Kendi, an influential writer and academic, who argues the only way to not be racist is to be actively anti-racist - a message he says children must hear. But does his approach risk intensifying America’s internal conflict?
Jul 06, 2022
Steve Thompson: Rugby's traumatic legacy
Steve Thompson is a World Cup-winning England rugby player whose brain has been irreparably damaged by years of collisions. His wife Steph helps him deal with a life blighted by early-onset dementia. What happens when the game just isn’t worth it?
Jul 05, 2022
Lord Patten: Were promises to Hong Kong broken?
When the UK handed Hong Kong back to China 25 years ago, the last words of the departing British Governor to the people of the territory were: “Now Hong Kong people are to run Hong Kong. That is the promise. And that is the unshakeable destiny.” Sarah Montague speaks to Lord Patten, the man who made that pledge, to ask if that promise has been broken - and if the UK could have done more to honour it.
Jun 30, 2022
K. Shanmugam: Will Singapore have to choose between the US and China?
Stephen Sackur speaks to K. Shanmugam, Singapore’s minister of home affairs. Economically open, socially conservative and highly politically controlled, Singapore has thrived in the era of globalisation, but could rising US/China tensions force it to take sides?
Jun 28, 2022
Henry Huiyao Wang: Is China exposing its vulnerabilities?
Stephen Sackur speaks to China thinktank founder and sometime government adviser Henry Huiyao Wang. From its strategic partnership with Putin’s Russia, to its draconian and economically damaging Covid policy, is Beijing making calls which expose its vulnerabilities?
Jun 24, 2022
João Vale de Almeida: Have UK-EU relations become toxic?
Stephen Sackur speaks to João Vale de Almeida, the EU’s Ambassador to the UK, who is at the sharp end of the bitter fight between Boris Johnson’s government and Brussels over Northern Ireland. If Britain backs out of the Brexit deal and the EU retaliates, how toxic could things get?
Jun 21, 2022
Semyon Bychkov: Artists speaking out against Putin
Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the world’s great conductors, Semyon Bychkov. Born in the Soviet Union, exiled from Russia, and a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, does he fear the fall out for artists when nationalism and politics take centre stage?
Jun 19, 2022
Olha Stefanishyna: Will Kyiv get the support it needs?
Stephen Sackur speaks to one of Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Ministers, Olha Stefanishyna. The country faces a moment of truth: Russian firepower on the frontline is beginning to tell, as the EU contemplates whether to accept Ukraine as a candidate for membership. Will Kyiv get the support it needs?
Jun 16, 2022
Nicu Popescu: How can Moldova protect itself?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Nicu Popescu, Moldova’s foreign minister and deputy Prime Minister. Poor, beset with corruption and strategically vulnerable, Moldova has reasons to fear that Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine could end on its soil. How does Moldova best protect itself?
Jun 14, 2022
Josef Aschbacher: Is Europe losing the space race?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the head of the European Space Agency, Josef Aschbacher. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put an end to space cooperation with Moscow, leaving key projects in disarray. Has it also left Europe looking like an also-ran in the space race?
Jun 13, 2022
Vassily Nebenzia: Is Putin's plan failing?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia. More than 100 days into its invasion of Ukraine, Russia is locked in attrition, costly fighting in the Donbas, enduring economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation. Is Putin’s plan failing?
Jun 09, 2022
Fawzia Koofi: Do Afghans still have hope?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Fawzia Koofi, one of Afghanistan’s most prominent women politicians, who has been in exile since the Taliban returned to power last year. Faced with economic collapse and political repression, can Afghans see any glimmer of light in the darkness? (Photo: Fawzia Koofi in the Hardtalk studio)
Jun 07, 2022
Dr Njoki Ngumi – Artist and film-maker
Zeinab Badawi is in Nairobi to talk to one of Kenya’s most ground-breaking cultural figures Dr Njoki Ngumi. She abandoned a promising career in medicine to help set up an arts collective and believes that creative endeavours can help transform societies. One of the collective’s films exploring homosexuality was banned in Kenya where gay sex is a crime. So how far is Njoki Ngumi shifting opinions? (Photo: Dr Njoki Ngumi)
Jun 05, 2022
Iván Fischer, Conductor and Composer
Stephen Sackur speaks to the world-renowned Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer. He’s one of the most innovative, idiosyncratic maestros in the world of classical music. In the current climate, how easy is it to find the magic in music-making?
Jun 02, 2022
Serhii Plokhy: How Putin weaponises history
Stephen Sackur speaks to internationally renowned Harvard historian Serhii Plokhy, who specialises in the complex histories of Ukraine, Russia and the Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin has tried to weaponise history to undermine Ukrainian identity and nationhood - how does this historian fight back?
Jun 01, 2022
Danica Roem: America's culture wars
Stephen Sackur is in Washington DC to speak to America’s first transgender state lawmaker, Danica Roem. She overcame long odds to win a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Now she’s a powerful voice in the US culture wars. From trans rights to abortion, are progressives or conservatives in the ascendant?
May 29, 2022
Luis Lacalle Pou: Why is Uruguay moving to the right?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Uruguay’s President Luis Lacalle Pou. He’s a conservative advocate of free market economics and tougher crackdowns on crime. Why is Uruguay going right when so much of Latin America is currently trending to the left?
May 26, 2022
Jens Stoltenberg: Is Nato being undermined by internal divisions?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He claims the West’s military alliance has been steadfast in support of Ukraine since Russian President Putin’s invasion. But in Kyiv, there is increasing frustration. Is Nato being undermined by internal divisions?
May 24, 2022
Iván Duque: Has Colombia's president failed?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the President of Colombia, Iván Duque. His term is coming to an end with the country’s biggest problems unresolved: mass poverty, inequality and alarming levels of violence. Does the Duque Presidency signal the conclusive failure of Colombia’s ruling elite?
May 22, 2022
Franklin Graham: An era of moral decline?
Stephen Sackur speaks to evangelist Franklin Graham, who has followed in his father Billy’s footsteps and become one of the biggest Christian preachers in America. In the intensifying culture war over abortion and LGBTQ rights in the US, have the evangelists and the Republicans joined forces?
May 20, 2022
Stella Moris: Will Julian Assange be extradited to the US?
Stephen Sackur speaks to lawyer Stella Moris, wife of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and mother of two of his children. The British government is about to decide whether to extradite him to the United States to face espionage charges. With his fate on the line, why is Assange such a polarising figure?
May 17, 2022
Inger Ashing: Is the war in Ukraine overshadowing other crises?
Zeinab Badawi speaks to Inger Ashing, CEO of the charity Save the Children International. What is her organisation doing in Ukraine, and is the war with Russia taking the focus off other global hotspots, leaving millions of children in peril?
May 16, 2022
Victoria Spartz: Does her party share her commitment to defeating Putin?
Stephen Sackur is in Washington to speak to the Ukrainian born Republican Congresswoman Victoria Spartz. She is an ardent advocate of US support for Kyiv in the war with Russia. Does her party and in particular Donald Trump, share her commitment to defeating Putin? (Photo: Victoria Spartz, Republican Congresswoman)
May 13, 2022
Senator Mark Warner: Are we facing a new Cold War?
Stephen Sackur is in Washington DC to speak to the Chairman of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, senior Democrat Senator Mark Warner. America is sending weapons and money to Ukraine to confront Vladimir Putin. But with economic troubles and political polarisation at home, is the US well equipped for a new era of conflict? (Photo: Democrat Senator Mark Warner)
May 11, 2022
Jim Green: Has Nasa lost its way?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Jim Green who has just retired as chief scientist of Nasa. He was involved with extraordinary missions to Mars, Jupiter and Mercury but he also saw Nasa funding slashed and ever more reliance on co-operation with billionaire privateers. Has Nasa lost its way? (Photo: Jim Green appears on Hardtalk via videolink)
May 08, 2022
Zoltán Kovács: Whose side is Hungary really on?
Hungary is at odds with fellow Nato and EU members thanks to its close ties to Russia and suspicion of Ukraine’s president Zelensky. Stephen Sackur speaks to Zoltán Kovács, Hungary’s Secretary of State for International Communication. Whose side is Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán really on? (Photo: Zoltán Kovács, Hungary Secretary of State for International Communication)
May 05, 2022
Bill Browder: Sanctioning Russia
Stephen Sackur speaks to Bill Browder, the American investor who made a fortune in post-Soviet Russia before falling foul of Vladimir Putin. Browder has long campaigned for Russia’s economic isolation - his lobbying has been instrumental in the US passing the Magnitsky Act in 2012, which imposed targeted sanctions on Russian individuals directly connected to rights abuses. Thanks to the invasion of Ukraine, Russia is now facing further Western sanctions. But Putin’s war machine hasn't yet ground to a halt and he shows no sign of reversing course. Has Russia’s economic resilience been underestimated? (Photo: Bill Browder in the Hardtalk studio)
May 04, 2022
Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of Slovakia
Stephen Sackur is in Bratislava for an exclusive interview with Slovakia's Prime Minister Eduard Heger. Slovakia is hosting tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees and is shipping arms to Ukraine yet it still relies on Russian gas. The country faces tough choices. What will they do?
May 01, 2022
Frances O'Grady: How can workers defend their interests?
As rising inflation eats into wages, and machine learning and the gig economy transform the world of work, how do workers defend their interests? Stephen Sackur speaks to Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the UK’s Trades Union Congress.
Apr 28, 2022
Slava Vakarchuk: A rock star on the frontline
Stephen Sackur speaks to Slava Vakarchuk, a Ukrainian rock star who has exchanged stadium gigs for a military uniform and morale-boosting visits to the frontline. As Ukraine fights for its survival in the face of Russia’s aggression, what role can this cultural icon play?
Apr 26, 2022
Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Making an enemy of Putin
Stephen Sackur speaks to the the former Russian oligarch turned Putin foe, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He was once the boss of energy company Yukos and Russia’s richest oligarch. After falling out with President Putin, he spent 10 years in prison. Now he wants tougher western sanctions on Moscow and more arms for Ukraine in the war with Russia. If Putin faces defeat in Ukraine, how will he respond?
Apr 22, 2022
Kylie Moore-Gilbert: 804 days in an Iranian jail
Iran’s rocky relations with the West have cost a host of individuals their freedom. The Islamic republic has imprisoned citizens from the US, Britain and a number of other countries for spying. The charges may be trumped up, but Tehran’s determination to use western prisoners for political purposes is very real. Stephen Sackur speaks to Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was released from an Iranian jail in 2020 after 804 days behind bars.
Apr 19, 2022
Omid Djalili: Can jokes be funny without being mean?
Comedy challenges taste and convention, and it can arouse strong reactions, as we saw at this year’s Oscars when a joke earned Chris Rock a slap in the face from Will Smith. Stephen Sackur speaks to Omid Djalili, who has spent more than 25 years finding laughs in sometimes unlikely places. He was born in London to Iranian parents, and has thrived as a cross-cultural comedic chameleon. Is it possible to be funny without being mean?
Apr 17, 2022
Dr Njoki Ngumi: Can art change Kenya?
Zeinab Badawi is in Nairobi to talk to one of Kenya’s most ground-breaking cultural figures, Dr Njoki Ngumi. She abandoned a promising career in medicine to help set up an arts collective, and believes that creative endeavours can help transform societies. One of the collective’s films exploring homosexuality was banned in Kenya, where gay sex is a crime. So how far is Njoki Ngumi shifting opinions?
Apr 14, 2022
Sergei Guriev: Is Moscow outmanoeuvring the West's sanctions?
What will it take to end the war Vladimir Putin has initiated in Ukraine? In military terms, Russia now seems intent on a grim campaign of attrition in the east and south - a strategy which is already taking a terrible human toll. Could economic isolation inflict enough pain to force the Kremlin to reconsider? Stephen Sackur speaks to the exiled Russian economist Sergei Guriev. Is Moscow outmanoeuvring the west when it comes to sanctions?
Apr 12, 2022
Tsai Ming-yen: Could Putin’s strategy be a template for China to follow?
While the West says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must fail, China holds back. Stephen Sackur speaks to a top diplomat from Taiwan, Taipei’s representative to the EU, Tsai Ming-yen. Could Putin’s strategy be a template for Beijing to follow in territory it still claims as its own, namely Taiwan?
Apr 10, 2022
Nikita Mazepin: Sanctions on Russia 'are cancel culture'
Stephen Sackur interviews former Russian F1 driver Nikita Mazepin, who was fired from his F1 team after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. He and his billionaire oligarch father now face EU and UK sanctions. What kind of impact will sporting isolation have on Russia? (Photo: Nikita Mazepin appears on Hardtalk via videolink)
Apr 07, 2022
Dmytro Kuleba: Is diplomacy at a dead end?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba. Horrifying evidence of atrocities has emerged from towns around Kyiv recently vacated by Russian troops. Ukraine calls it Putin’s genocide, Moscow says it’s fake. As the war turns ever darker, is diplomacy at a dead end? (Photo: Dmytro Kuleba appears on Hardtalk via videolink from Warsaw)
Apr 05, 2022
Claude Joseph: Can Haiti be saved?
Haiti is one of the world’s most broken nations, and internal fractures are tearing the country apart. Last summer, the president was assassinated, and the perpetrators still haven’t been brought to justice. Elections have been shelved, and Haitians live in grinding poverty amid gang violence and international indifference. Stephen Sackur speaks to Claude Joseph, Haiti’s former foreign minister and briefly acting PM. Can Haiti be saved?
Apr 03, 2022
Maria Butina: What is Russia achieving in Ukraine?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Maria Butina, a pro-Putin member of Russia’s state Duma. Where does Vladimir Putin’s self-styled 'special military operation' in Ukraine go from here? He expected Kyiv to fall quickly; it didn’t. Ukraine’s determination to resist hasn’t crumbled, despite the terrible human cost. Russian losses mount, and its economy is hurting. In the invasion’s second month, what do Russians think it is achieving?
Mar 31, 2022
Mairead McGuinness: How far will the EU go to support Kyiv?
Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine united the EU in shock and outrage. But four weeks into the war, with Ukrainian cities besieged and civilians suffering unimaginable horrors, cracks are already evident in the European response. Stephen Sackur speaks to the EU Commissioner for Financial Services, Mairead McGuinness. How far should sanctions go? Solidarity with Ukraine is one thing, but is the EU prepared to endure real pain to support Kyiv?
Mar 29, 2022
Ilya Ponomarev: A former Russian MP on fighting Putin
Gabriel Gatehouse speaks to Ilya Ponomarev, a former member of the Russian parliament who is fighting in Ukraine – against Russia. Ponomarev has long said he wants to bring down Vladimir Putin, but was once on the Russian government payroll. He has had his feet in many camps: among the Russian elites, inside the popular opposition, and now with Ukraine’s defence forces. What will the repercussions be of this war be, in Ukraine and in Russia?
Mar 25, 2022
Francis Fukuyama: The end of the end of history?
Sarah Montague speaks to the renowned US political scientist Francis Fukuyama. Thirty years ago, the Soviet Union collapsed and communist governments fell across Eastern Europe. Liberal democracy appeared to have won the Cold War and triumphed in the battle of ideas. Dr Fukuyama posed a question – if humanity had arrived at the most effective form of government, were we at the end of history? In the years since, liberal democracy has often seemed in retreat. But when Russia invaded Ukraine the world changed again. Francis Fukuyama is convinced that President Putin has miscalculated and is heading for defeat. What does that mean for the course of history and the progress of liberal democracy?
Mar 23, 2022
Tobias Ellwood: How should the West stand up to Putin?
Russia has launched its most deadly attack on western Ukraine so far, striking a military base just 15 kilometres from the Polish border. This is being seen as a warning to Nato that, in supplying weapons to Ukraine through Poland, it risks an escalation of the war. Zeinab Badawi speaks to the senior British Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee and a former soldier. He believes that Nato and the West need to change radically their stance on the Ukraine war. Does he have a clear strategy to stand up to Putin and save lives?
Mar 16, 2022
Jonas Gahr Støre: Easing Europe off Russian energy
Europe's dependence on Russian energy sits uneasily with Putin’s war in Ukraine. Moscow is financing its invasion through revenues from such exports. One EU leader has said Russian oil and gas is being bought with the blood of the Ukrainian people. Zeinab Badawi speaks to Norway’s Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre. Norway is one of the world’s biggest oil and gas exporters. What can it do to help ease Europe off its addiction to Russian energy supplies, and can this be done quickly enough to starve the Kremlin war machine of funds and save the lives of innocent Ukrainians?
Mar 14, 2022
Jonas Gahr Støre: Easing Europe off Russian energy
Europe's dependence on Russian energy sits uneasily with Putin’s war in Ukraine. Moscow is financing its invasion through revenues from such exports. One EU leader has said Russian oil and gas is being bought with the blood of the Ukrainian people. Zeinab Badawi speaks to Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. Norway is one of the world’s biggest oil and gas exporters. What can it do to help ease Europe off its addiction to Russian energy supplies and can this be done quickly enough to starve the Kremlin war machine of funds and save the lives of innocent Ukrainians?
Mar 11, 2022
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya: Is the fate of Belarus tied to the fate of Ukraine?
With the world focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s easy to overlook one other key element of Vladimir Putin’s Greater Russia strategy: Moscow’s ever tighter grip on Ukraine’s northern neighbour Belarus, now used as a launchpad for the Ukraine assault. Belarus’s authoritarian President Lukashenko seems to be in Putin’s pocket, whether he likes it or not. Stephen Sackur speaks to the exiled leader of the anti-Lukashenko movement, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Is the fate of Belarus now tied to the fate of Ukraine?
Mar 11, 2022
Michael Carpenter: Is this a new age of conflict?
Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine represents the biggest seismic shock to European security since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The US, NATO allies and the EU are now arming the Ukrainian government. Stephen Sackur speaks to Michael Carpenter, US Ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Are we in a new age of conflict, and will Russia's invasion of Ukraine lead to a new, long-term cold war?
Mar 09, 2022
Arseniy Yatsenyuk: Former Ukrainian PM
Stephen Sackur speaks to former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Russia’s invasion hasn’t delivered Moscow a quick decisive victory, but it is taking a terrible toll on Ukraine. How realistic is Kyiv’s insistence that this is a war they’ll ultimately win?
Mar 07, 2022
Andrey Kurkov: Putin's attack on Ukraine's identity
Stephen Sackur speaks to Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov. He was born in Russia, writes in Russian and now fears for his life at the hands of Russian troops. What does his personal story tell us about Moscow’s attempt to undermine Ukraine’s independence and identity?
Mar 02, 2022
David Miliband: President of the International Rescue Committee
Stephen Sackur speaks to David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee and former British foreign secretary. Hour by hour Vladimir Putin intensifies the scale and violence of the Russian military assault on Ukraine. Civilian buildings hit by rocket fire, towns and cities encircled, and the capital Kyiv now facing a vast build-up of Russian firepower. Is the West doing enough in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine?
Mar 01, 2022
Iván Fischer: The power and joy of music
Stephen Sackur speaks to the renowned Hungarian conductor and composer Iván Fischer. Much of the world is transitioning from locking down to living with Covid-19. And that means cultural life is returning to cities like London. Performers can return to the stage, audiences can gather again. After the pandemic, how easy is it to find the magic in music-making? (Photo: Iván Fischer)
Feb 28, 2022
Leonid Volkov: How strong is Putin's grip on Russia?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Leonid Volkov, a prominent figure in Russia’s anti-Putin opposition. Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine represents a gamble by the Kremlin - projecting regional supremacy will come at a high price. Just how strong is the president’s grip on Russia?
Feb 25, 2022
Ingrid Betancourt: Can Colombia defeat corruption?
Colombians will elect a new President this year, and amid a crowded field, one candidate has reason to view the coming campaign with mixed emotion. Ingrid Betancourt was running for president 20 years ago when she was captured by Farc guerrillas and held captive in the jungle for more than six years. Colombia’s guerrilla war is over, and now she’s running again, promising a war on corruption. She says she’ll finish what she started - is that possible?
Feb 21, 2022
Jamie Raskin, Democrat Congressman, House Committe to Investigative January 6th Attack
Early last year American democracy came under attack from within. Supporters of defeated President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol and provoked deadly violence. Stephen Sackur speaks to the Democrat Congressman Jamie Raskin, a key player in the subsequent impeachment of Trump and the Congressional investigation into the 6 January assault. All this, as Congressman Raskin has faced up to personal tragedy - what happens when the pillars of personal and political life come crashing down all at once.
Feb 18, 2022
Yuri Vitrenko: Russia, Ukraine and Europe's energy
Russia and Ukraine have powerful ties of geography, history and energy. And when it comes to the geopolitics of the current crisis energy is a key factor. Ukraine has long profited from being the middle-man for Russian gas exports into Europe. Moscow is in the business of changing that reality. Stephen Sackur speaks to Yuri Vitrenko, CEO of Naftogaz, Ukraine's biggest energy company. As Kiev and Moscow face off, where does the economic leverage lie?
Feb 16, 2022
Kiril Petkov: Is Bulgaria ready to stand up to Russia?
Vladimir Putin knows how to probe for weakness in the West. With his troops building up on the Ukrainian border, Russia’s president is testing the unity of NATO. In particular, he is putting pressure on Europe’s eastern flank. How will nations once in the Soviet orbit respond? Stephen Sackur speaks to Kiril Petkov, Prime Minister of Bulgaria, which Moscow says must not host a NATO military presence. This is a big test for a new prime minister in the EU’s poorest country. Is Bulgaria ready to stand up to Russia?
Feb 14, 2022
Michael McCaul: Is Biden up to facing off with Putin?
Republican Congressman Michael McCaul accuses President Biden of failing to stand up to the challenge of Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. After four years of Donald Trump, are Republicans credible when they condemn Biden for foreign policy failure? (Photo: Congressman Michael McCaul appears on Hardtalk via videolink)
Feb 11, 2022
George Takei, Actor
Stephen Sackur talks to George Takei, forever famous as Lieutenant Sulu in Star Trek. Interned as a child in the United States for being of Japanese origin, he now campaigns for gay and immigrant rights. Do the values of Star Trek still resonate?
Feb 09, 2022
Marine Le Pen: France's future president?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the longtime leader of France's far right, Marine Le Pen. She's hoping to win the French presidency for her party, National Rally, in elections this spring. But the far right is now divided, and rivals accuse her of going soft in the defence of French civilisation. Have her efforts to detoxify her party’s image backfired?
Feb 07, 2022
Gabrielius Landsbergis: Tension in Eastern Europe
Russian forces continue to gather close to Ukraine’s eastern and northern borders, and still the world waits to see what Vladimir Putin’s end game is. If the goal is to wring security concessions out of the US and its Nato partners, does he have any chance of success? Stephen Sackur speaks to Gabrielius Landsbergis, who is foreign minister of Lithuania and on the frontline of tensions between Russia and Nato.
Feb 04, 2022
Bassem Youssef: Do we expect too much from satire?
Stephen Sackur speaks to comedian and writer Bassem Youssef. He made his name and won an audience of tens of millions with a satirical comedy show during Egypt’s popular uprising more than a decade ago. But the revolution quickly morphed into authoritarianism and Youssef fled to the US, taking his gift for comedy with him. Did he, and do we still, expect too much from political satire?
Feb 02, 2022
Isabel Allende: What does South America's future hold?
The decisive victory by Gabriel Boric, the left-wing candidate, in Chile’s recent elections has reset the button on the country’s political path. He defeated the right-wing presidential contender in a result which observers believe may be replicated when other Latin American countries go to the polls this year. Zeinab Badawi speaks to Isabel Allende, the acclaimed Chilean writer whose uncle was Salvador Allende, the left-wing Chilean leader removed in a coup in 1973. Isabel Allende has lived in four Latin American countries and knows the continent well. How does she view current trends in South America?
Jan 31, 2022
Mariana Mazzucato: The space race and our economic futures
What is the galvanising force behind transformational economic change? Capitalism encourages us to look to the raw power of markets as the driver of innovation. But is that really true? Stephen Sackur speaks to the economist Mariana Mazzucato. Her faith in the transformational power of the proactive state has made her the go-to adviser to a host of governments. Does her "moonshot" economics ignore some earthly realities?
Jan 28, 2022
Dominic Lee: China's Hong Kong takeover
Stephen Sackur speaks to Hong Kong Legislative Councillor Dominic Lee Tsz-king, a high profile defender of Beijing’s increasingly tight grip on the territory. With China’s increasing crackdown in the city and pro-democracy activists arrested, exiled or cowed into silence, has "one country, two systems" become "one country, one system"?
Jan 26, 2022
Mohammad Marandi: Iran's nuclear negotiations
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the adviser to Iran’s negotiators in Vienna, Mohammad Marandi. Time is running out for negotiators trying to break the impasse between the United States and Iran and revive the deal curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran is still enriching uranium; the Biden administration is talking of giving up on the current diplomatic track. If a nuclear deal can’t be done, how real is the danger of a catastrophic war in the Middle East?
Jan 24, 2022
Damian Collins: Can Boris Johnson be trusted?
Stephen Sackur interviews British Conservative MP Damian Collins, who has been working on online regulation. After the stream of revelations about lockdown socialising in Downing Street, he and his party colleagues must decide whether they want Boris Johnson to continue as party leader. Is the Prime Minister damaged beyond repair?
Jan 21, 2022
Oleksii Reznikov: An invasion of Ukraine?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov. With more than 100,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border, a Russian military offensive may be imminent. If war comes, what will it mean for Ukraine and the security of Europe?
Jan 19, 2022
Kathleen Stock: The debate about sex, gender and equality
Stephen Sackur speaks to philosopher and author Kathleen Stock whose views on the immutability of biological sex and the limitations of gender self-identity have made her a hate figure for some transgender activists and supporters. Why has debate about sex, gender and identity become a culture war battleground? (Photo: Kathleen Stock in the Hardtalk studio)
Jan 17, 2022
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC: Fighting for equality in British law
Women are still fighting for equality all over the world. Even in long established democracies like the UK plenty of evidence suggests that from the workplace to the law courts there is a long way to go. Stephen Sackur speaks to Baroness Helena Kennedy who has been trying to loosen the grip of the patriarchy in the British legal system for five decades.
Jan 14, 2022
Sathnam Sanghera: Confronting Britain's history
Stephen Sackur speaks to author and journalist Sathnam Sanghera, whose bestselling book Empireland takes a critical look at Britain’s imperial past. Confronting truth means challenging cultural norms. Can it be done without opening another front in the culture wars?
Jan 12, 2022
Bryan Stevenson: Will equality ever be more than a dream in the US?
Black and white Americans have always had vastly different experiences within their country’s justice system. You see it in so many different data sets, from police violence to incarceration and sentencing. It's impossible to understand without reference to America’s history of institutionalised racism. But understanding is one thing; the real challenge is how to change it. Stephen Sackur speaks to Bryan Stevenson, civil rights lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Will equality ever be more than a dream?
Jan 10, 2022
Nureldin Satti: Sudan's coup
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Sudanese diplomat Nureldin Satti. It’s surely hard for the people of Sudan to be optimistic about their country’s prospects in 2022. The new year began with the nominal head of the transitional government quitting his post, leaving Sudan, once again, in the grip of the military. Street protests in recent months have left more than fifty people dead. Nureldin Satti was fired from his post as Ambassador in the US after last October's military coup. Will Sudan’s generals ever give up political power?
Jan 07, 2022
Laurence Tribe: Is the US system of government in peril?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Laurence Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard University. It’s a year since pro-Trump protesters stormed the US Capitol and unleashed a spasm of violence which left five people dead. While hundreds of people have since been charged, none have been key associates of Donald Trump, and the former president seems to be contemplating another run for the White House while insisting, without evidence, that the 2020 election was stolen. Is partisanship on both sides eroding faith in American democracy?
Jan 05, 2022
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Trust in science
Stephen Sackur speaks to Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of National History in New York. He is one of America’s most popular scientists and shares his fascination with space with millions of Americans. But here on Earth, science is under pressure, from Covid to climate change. Is trust in science dwindling?
Dec 20, 2021
Ernesto Araújo: Has Brazil failed to protect its people?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Brazil’s former Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo who was an arch critic of global efforts to contain Covid, calling them communistic. Brazil’s government now stands accused of failing to protect its people. Is that fair? (Photo: Ernesto Araújo appears via video-link on Hardtalk)
Dec 17, 2021
Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov: Fighting for a free press
Stephen Sackur is in Oslo to interview the joint winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Both are independent journalists who have defied threats and repression to continue their work. Maria Ressa, founder of the Rappler news website in the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov, long time editor in chief of Novaya Gazeta in Moscow. Theirs is a fight for freedom of expression. But is it a fight they are losing? (Photo: Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony. Credit: Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB/Reuters)
Dec 15, 2021
John Kerry: US Special Envoy for Climate
Can America lead an effective global response to the climate change emergency? At last month’s COP26 summit in Glasgow the chorus of concern from world leaders was deafening, but the really tough decisions on deeper emissions cuts to reduce global warming were put off until next year. Stephen Sackur speaks to the US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry. His mission is to restore American leadership on the biggest existential challenge facing our planet. But is that mission impossible? (Photo: John Kerry in the Hardtalk studio)
Dec 10, 2021
Moeed Yusuf: What will a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan mean for Pakistan?
Stephen Sackur speaks with Moeed Yusuf, National Security Adviser of Pakistan. The Taliban is back in power in neighbouring Afghanistan. US and Nato forces are gone. Pakistan sees opportunities in this new reality but are there grave dangers too? (Photo: Moeed Yusuf appears via videolink on Hardtalk)
Dec 08, 2021
Paul Auster: Is New York still the heartbeat of America?
Stephen Sackur speaks to one of New York City's most famous writers, Paul Auster, whose novels and screenplays have done much to capture the New York state of mind. The city prides itself on being a 24/7 melting pot of glitz, glamour and buzz, but it has been hit hard by Covid; only now are overseas visitors being allowed back in. In this era of pandemic and political polarisation, is New York no longer the heartbeat of America? (Photo: Paul Auster)
Dec 06, 2021
Ken Buck: Big tech and Republican politics
We speak to Republican congressman Ken Buck, a libertarian on issues of gun control and Covid, but a supporter of breaking up America’s big tech giants. Do America’s conservatives have a coherent worldview, and is Donald Trump still at the heart of it?
Dec 01, 2021
Nicolai Tangen: Can Norway move on from fossil fuels?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Nicolai Tangen, head of Norway's $1.4 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the biggest in the world. Fossil fuels have given Norwegians vast wealth. Are they now ready to wean themselves off oil and gas?
Nov 29, 2021
Rana Ayyub: Abuse, intimidation and legal threats
Stephen Sackur speaks to the Indian investigative journalist Rana Ayyub whose determination to dig deep into the past and present of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has prompted abuse, intimidation and legal action. What does her case say about the health of India’s democracy? (Photo: Rana Ayyub appears via videolink on Hardtalk)
Nov 26, 2021
Péter Márki-Zay: Can Viktor Orban be beaten at the ballot box?
Next Spring, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the EU's most controversial leader, will seek a new mandate. His grip on power in Budapest is tight, covering the parliament, the media and the economy. His opponents at home and in Brussels call him an autocrat, but can he beaten at the ballot box? Stephen Sackur speaks to Péter Márki-Zay, who will lead a united opposition front into the election. He’s a small town mayor with big ambition, but is being the candidate who is not Orban enough?
Nov 24, 2021
Ryan Girdusky: Race and education in America
Scratch beneath the surface of everyday American life and you find an increasingly polarised culture. Donald Trump is no longer in the White House, but the culture wars he inflamed are still raging. In a special edition of HARDtalk from New York, Stephen Sackur speaks to an influential conservative activist in the thick of the fight. Ryan Girdusky, the founder of the 1776 Project Political Action Committee, says America’s schoolchildren are being brainwashed about race and he’s out to stop it. What does it say about America that the classroom is now a political battleground?
Nov 22, 2021
George Takei: Growing up in an internment camp
Stephen Sackur talks to George Takei, forever famous as Lieutenant Sulu in Star Trek. Interned as a child in the United States for being of Japanese origin, he now campaigns for gay and immigrant rights. Do the values of Star Trek still resonate?
Nov 17, 2021
Ritchie Torres: Is America ready to embrace progressive politics?
Stephen Sackur is in the south Bronx, New York, to speak to Ritchie Torres, a rising star of the Democratic Party. He is the first gay black man elected to Congress, and a vocal champion for the poorest district in the country. Is America as a whole ready to embrace progressive politics?
Nov 15, 2021
Pawel Jablonski: Could Poland exit the EU?
Poland is the biggest rebel in the European family, and matters are coming to a head over its latest disputes with the EU. Brussels accuses the centre-right government in Warsaw of a blatant disregard for EU law, in particular over changes it wants to make to the judicial system. Zeinab Badawi speaks to Pawel Jablonski, the country's deputy foreign minister. Could Poland follow Britain’s lead and exit the EU? (Photo: Pavel Jablonski appears on Hardtalk via video link)
Nov 12, 2021
Patrice Evra: The flaws in football
Football's global appeal can’t disguise the problems facing the game. Some fans say the sport is being ruined by financial greed, and racism is still to be rooted out. Stephen Sackur speaks to the former Manchester United and France star, Patrice Evra. He’s just done something most footballers never do, by revealing his deep emotional scars. What made him do it?
Nov 10, 2021
Mike Leigh: Art and the cinema
Stephen Sackur speaks to Mike Leigh, the acclaimed writer and director of films such as Secrets and Lies, Vera Drake, Happy-Go-Lucky and Mr Turner. For five decades, he has told stories about believable characters facing very human dilemmas. They’re painstakingly put together and not always easy to watch. But is the demand for his kind of artistic vision dwindling?
Nov 08, 2021
Prime Minister Albin Kurti: Is he a source of instability in the Balkans?
Kosovo has enjoyed independent statehood for 13 years but almost half the world does not recognise it. Stephen Sackur speaks to Prime Minister Albin Kurti who has had a turbulent career. He has been a political prisoner, he launched five tear gas attacks on his own parliament and he has a vision of Kosovo unifying with Albania. Is he a source of instability in the Balkans? (Photo: Prime Minister Albin Kurti appears on Hardtalk via videolink)
Nov 05, 2021
Fiona Hill: What did Trump mean for America and the world?
The Trump Presidency challenged many public officials to make a choice: obey directives from the White House against their better judgment, or take a stand and face the wrath of the pro-Trump movement. Fiona Hill, a former Russia adviser at the White House, took a stand. She was a key witness in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, and has since had time to reflect on what his presidency meant for America and its geopolitical standing. (Photo: Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Europe and Russia. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Nov 03, 2021
Fatih Birol: Can greenhouse gas emissions be eliminated?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency. He believes greenhouse gas emissions can effectively be eliminated within a generation. But is he ignoring the political realities he’ll encounter at the COP26 summit in Glasgow?
Nov 01, 2021
Bruno Le Maire: Is France looking for a new economic direction?
Stephen Sackur speaks to French finance minister Bruno Le Maire. France is in recovery mode after the damaging impact of Covid but is struggling to deliver on long promised economic reform. With a presidential election looming, is France looking for a new direction? (Photo: Bruno Le Maire, Economy and Finance Minister for France. Credit: Oan Valat/EPA)
Oct 28, 2021
Ariel Dorfman: Ghosts of the past
Stephen Sackur speaks to the acclaimed novelist and playwright Ariel Dorfman. His life has been shaped by political upheaval and exile. He fled Chile after General Pinochet seized power in 1973 and his books were banned and burned. Dorfman’s work explores humankind’s capacity for sin and salvation. Do we have it in us to overcome our worst instincts?
Oct 26, 2021
David Baddiel, Comedian and writer
Stephen Sackur speaks to writer and comedian David Baddiel, who has a gift for finding the funny in some of the darkest corners of the human psyche. Now he is taking on our often toxic online culture - is comedy becoming a casualty of the culture wars?
Oct 24, 2021
Andrew Forrest: Mega-polluter turned climate revolutionary
Stephen Sackur speaks to Andrew Forrest, an Australian billionaire mining magnate who is using a chunk of his fortune to push a green, hydrogen-based energy solution. In the run up to the Glasgow climate change summit, his conversion to decarbonisation is timely, but is it credible? (Photo: Andrew Forrest in the Hardtalk studio)
Oct 21, 2021
Henry Marsh: A doctor arguing for assisted dying
Stephen Sackur speaks to brain surgeon Henry Marsh whose book “Do No Harm” became a bestseller. Now he is confronting his own advanced cancer, and lobbying for the legislation of assisted dying for the terminally ill. Should death ever be the desired outcome for a doctor?
Oct 19, 2021
Philippe Sands: Is international justice working?
When the first Nuremberg trial of Nazi war criminals came to an end, the ground-breaking international tribunal handed down 12 death sentences. Seventy-five years on, is the world any better at delivering justice for the worst of crimes? In the years that followed, there were hopes that an evolving mechanism of international justice would deter and punish further heinous acts of mass murder and genocide. Does it remain an impossible ideal? Stephen Sackur speaks to international lawyer and author Philippe Sands. (Photo: Philippe Sands in the Hardtalk studio)
Oct 18, 2021
Adela Raz, Afghanistan's Ambassador to the US
Stephen Sackur speaks to Adela Raz, still officially Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States, though the Taliban disowns her and the Americans ignore her. In the face of a looming humanitarian catastrophe is it time for the outside world to come to terms with Afghanistan’s new rulers? (Photo: Adela Raz appears via videolink on Hardtalk)
Oct 15, 2021
Sergei Ryabkov: Russia and energy security
Stephen Sackur speaks to Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. Moscow is set to be a major beneficiary of the extraordinary spike in fossil fuel energy prices - does that mean Moscow will flex its muscle more aggressively on the world stage?
Oct 13, 2021
Richard Deverell: The battle to save the planet
Do we understand the urgency of the global biodiversity and climate change crisis? Stephen Sackur speaks to the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Richard Deverell. Kew Gardens in London is a UNESCO world heritage site and home to one of the largest collections of living plants in the world and an unrivalled repository of preserved specimen plants collected by scientific pioneers such as Charles Darwin. Richard Deverell has big ambitions to put Kew at the centre of the fight to avert environmental catastrophe by helping the public to grasp the scale of the challenges caused by biodiversity loss and a warming planet.
Oct 11, 2021
Richard Thaler: Is a nudge enough to change our behaviour?
From Covid to climate change, governments around the world face challenges which demand modifications of human behaviour. When it comes to getting people to do things differently, what works best: the carrot of persuasion, or the stick of coercion? Stephen Sackur speaks to Richard Thaler, the world renowned economist and behavioural scientist who believes a nudge often works better than a shove when change is needed. Does that hold good when the problems we face become urgent and existential?
Oct 07, 2021
Ben Ferencz, prosecutor at the Nuremberg Nazi Trials
Seventy-five years after the Nuremberg Military Tribunals convicted some of the most senior Nazis of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the last surviving prosecutor from the trials, Ben Ferencz talks to Zeinab Badawi. Does he believe the Nuremberg trials have made genocide and crimes against humanity less likely to be committed in the world today? This programme was first broadcast in 2017. (Photo: Ben Ferencz Hardtalk interview in 2017))
Oct 05, 2021
Michel Barnier on Brexit fallout
The crisis over a lack of supplies in the UK triggered by a shortage of truck drivers has reignited the debate about the consequences of Brexit. This comes on top of concerns about the impact on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and what it means for the historic peace agreement there. Zeinab Badawi speaks to Michel Barnier, who was the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator and has declared himself a centre-right candidate for the presidential elections in France next year. How does he see the fallout from Brexit and why does he think he’s fit to be the next president of France? (Photo: Michel Barnier in the Hardtalk studio)
Oct 01, 2021
Rafael Grossi - Nuclear fallout
Zeinab Badawi speaks to Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, amid concern about renewed tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme. Tehran insists that it is only developing nuclear power for civilian purposes but now Israel has warned that it crosses all “red lines” and that it won’t allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. This follows warnings by Washington and the EU that Iran must allow international weapons inspectors full access to its workshops. Has the IAEA’s inspection programme failed and dashed all hopes of a diplomatic solution to this crisis? (Photo: Rafael Grossi appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Sep 28, 2021
Nitin Sawhney, Musician and Composer
Stephen Sackur speaks to renowned British Indian musician and composer Nitin Sawhney. From a childhood disfigured by racism to the embrace of the UK’s cultural elite, what are the common threads in his remarkable career?
Sep 26, 2021
Roger Deakins: How is technology changing cinema?
Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the world's most celebrated cinematographers, Roger Deakins. He has won Oscars for his work on 1917 and Blade Runner 2049, and also shaped the look of modern classics such as O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Skyfall, The Big Lebowski and The Shawshank Redemption. But is technology, from CGI to the ubiquitous camera phone, changing everything we thought we knew about making films?
Sep 23, 2021
Bryan Hughes: Abortion in Texas
Republicans in Texas have managed to ban abortion in almost all cases in their state. Anyone performing, aiding or abetting the termination of a pregnancy after roughly six weeks can be sued in court. The implications are enormous, not just in Texas but across the US. And it points to a wider phenomenon. Ideological conservatives are using state activism to confront federal power. Stephen Sackur spoke to Texas Republican State Senator Bryan Hughes just hours before the first law suit was filed against a doctor under the new law.
Sep 21, 2021
Carlos Fernando Chamorro: Exiled from Nicaragua
Stephen Sackur speaks to Nicaraguan journalist and former revolutionary Carlos Fernando Chamorro. He is currently in exile as President Daniel Ortega intensifies his crackdown on dissent. Why has the country slumped back into authoritarianism?
Sep 19, 2021
Naomi Campbell, supermodel and businesswoman
In an exclusive interview for the BBC’s 100 Women season, Zeinab Badawi speaks to supermodel Naomi Campbell. (Photo: Naomi Campbell smiles at Zeinab Badawi)
Sep 16, 2021
Robin Hanbury-Tenison: An explorer protecting indigenous lands
Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the world’s great modern-day explorers, Robin Hanbury-Tenison. He has committed himself to the protection of indigenous people and their lands, but have his efforts made a difference?
Sep 14, 2021
Former interrogator for the CIA, James Mitchell
American psychologist James Mitchell helped devise the CIA’s enhanced interrogation programme after the 9/11 attacks. He personally interrogated some of the top terrorist suspects using the programme’s techniques, including waterboarding. His critics label him a torturer; he says he has nothing to apologise for and what he did was harsh, but legal and necessary.He speaks to Zeinab Badawi. (Photo: James Mitchell)
Sep 12, 2021
Rudy Giuliani: Reflecting on 9/11
It’s 20 years since the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center were reduced to dust and ash. This week, the US is again immersed in memories of the attack and what came after. In 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Stephen Sackur spoke to the man who was mayor of New York City on that fateful day, Rudy Giuliani. His response back then earned him the title “America’s Mayor”; a decade later, HARDtalk invited him to reflect on how he and his country had been changed by the horrifying events of 9/11.
Sep 09, 2021
Nadia Calviño: Is Europe too fragmented to shape the 21st Century?
The covid pandemic and emerging superpower rivalries have presented the EU with troubling questions. Stephen Sackur speaks to Spain's Deputy Prime Minister and Economy minister Nadia Calviño. Is Europe too inward looking and too fragmented to shape the 21st Century? (Photo: Nadia Calviño, Deputy Prime Minister and Economy minister of Spain. Credit: Reuters)
Sep 08, 2021
Lindsey Graham: What is the Republican vision for America?
After the US-led withdrawal from Afghanistan, how does America see itself and its place in the world? Stephen Sackur is at the Ambrosetti Forum in northern Italy to speak to one of the Republican Party's most prominent voices, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham.
Sep 06, 2021
Omar Zakhilwal: What ideology will prevail in Afghanistan?
Will pragmatism or zealotry prevail in Afghanistan, as the Taliban grapple with the reality of ruling a broken country? Stephen Sackur speaks to former finance minister Omar Zakhilwal, who has been involved in talks with the Taliban.
Sep 01, 2021
Maggi Hambling: An evolving creative vision
Stephen Sackur speaks to the artist Maggi Hambling. Her works have won international acclaim, but some have also stirred controversy, including a sculpture unveiled in London last year for 18th century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. How has her creative vision evolved over the last six decades?
Aug 30, 2021
Andrei Kelin: Russia, Afghanistan and the UK
The chaotic evacuation operation still underway at Kabul airport has put a harsh spotlight on two decades of US and NATO military commitment in Afghanistan. It looks and feels like a strategic defeat, but what does it tell us about the wider geopolitical balance of power? Stephen Sackur speaks to Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Andrei Kelin. Is this reverse for the US and her allies a positive for Russia?
Aug 26, 2021
Paula Kahumbu: Saving Africa's wild spaces
Stephen Sackur speaks to Paula Kahumbu, CEO for WildlifeDirect, Kenya. Her campaign to protect elephants and other endangered species asks Kenyans to prioritise protection of the country’s wild spaces – is it working?
Aug 25, 2021
Gedion Timothewos: Ethiopia's civil war
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Ethiopia’s Attorney General Gedion Timothewos. The conflict between government forces and Tigrayan rebels has cost thousands of lives and revived the spectre of famine – is there a way to avert catastrophe?
Aug 22, 2021
Kamila Sidiqi: What future do Afghanistan's women face?
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Kamila Sidiqi, a leading Afghan women's rights campaigner, entrepreneur and government adviser under President Ghani. She escaped from Kabul as the Taliban took over. Is her cause now lost and who is to blame?
Aug 20, 2021
Tobias Ellwood: Britain's Afghanistan exit
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to British Conservative MP and former soldier Tobias Ellwood. Two decades after they were expelled from Kabul the hard-line Islamists are back. US and British troops are scrambling to complete a humiliating evacuation. It looks like an historic defeat for western powers. How damaging could the consequences be?
Aug 17, 2021
Aly Raisman: Are gold medals put above athletes' wellbeing?
The athletic excellence seen at the Tokyo Olympics will live long in the memory, but so will the moment the brilliant US gymnast Simone Biles chose not to compete to safeguard her mental and physical health. US gymnastics is still reeling from the repercussions of a sex abuse scandal - what can go wrong when results are put above care of individual athletes? Stephen Sackur speaks to Aly Raisman, a multiple Olympic gold medallist who testified about being abused by the team's former doctor. Is there a wider lesson for elite sport in the shame of American gymnastics?
Aug 16, 2021
Getachew Reda: What is the endgame for Tigray's rebels?
The humanitarian suffering in northern Ethiopia is appalling, as conflict continues on multiple fronts. Tigrayan rebel forces have won a string of victories over the Ethiopian military, and Ethiopia’s prime minister now says all the state's military resources will be deployed to crush the rebels. Stephen Sackur speaks to Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. With the death toll rising and man-made famine taking hold, what is the endgame for Tigray’s rebels?
Aug 13, 2021
Daryl Davis: Reaching out to the KKK
Stephen Sackur speaks to Daryl Davis, a black musician who has spent four decades trying to talk to America’s most diehard racists, the Ku Klux Klan. He claims to have forged friendships with white supremacists and opened their minds, but is reaching out to the KKK a distraction from the bigger task of dismantling systemic racism?
Aug 11, 2021
Hamid Mir: Is Pakistan a safe place for journalists?
In the last year, there have been a string of attacks on reporters in Pakistan. The perpetrators remain unknown and unpunished. The government insists Pakistan is a bastion of media freedom. Hamid Mir is a high-profile columnist and TV presenter, a survivor of several assassination attempts, and is currently facing accusations of sedition. Is the state out to silence independent journalism?
Aug 09, 2021
Sir Andrew Pollard: The war on Covid-19
Stephen Sackur speaks to Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and a key figure in the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. Science has offered up tools to beat the virus - but from vaccine hesitancy to vaccine inequality - are we making the most of them?
Aug 06, 2021
RoseAnne Archibald: Uncovering Canada's dark past
Stephen Sackur speaks to RoseAnne Archibald, newly elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Canada. The truth about the deaths of thousands of indigenous children in schools infamous for abuse and neglect has shocked the world. Why has Canada failed to heal the wounds of a dark past?
Aug 04, 2021
Sir Hilary Beckles: Reparations for slavery
Zeinab Badawi speaks to the eminent historian professor Sir Hilary Beckles in Barbados. Over three centuries, Africans were transported to the Caribbean to toil on sugar and cotton plantations - a trade that made Britain rich. For decades there have been calls for compensation to atone for the sins of slavery. Sir Hilary is Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission. Can there be justice for the descendants of enslaved Africans?
Aug 02, 2021
Lazarus Chakwera: President of Malawi
Sarah Montague speaks to the President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera. The preacher turned politician won power last year pledging to create a million jobs and “clear the rubble” of corruption. But a year on, the economy is being hit hard by the effects of Covid, his government admits it has no idea how many jobs have been created and he’s been accused of nepotism. Can President Chakwera keep the promises he made during the election? (Photo: Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi in the Hardtalk studio)
Jul 30, 2021
Péter Szijjártó: Is Hungary undermining European values?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó. On a range of issues from press freedom to LGBT rights, Hungary routinely ignores the collective interpretation of EU values. Populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban seems to regard his increasingly toxic relationship with the EU’s institutions as a badge of honour and a political asset. But could Hungary's ongoing row with Brussels cost the country dear? (Photo: Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Jul 28, 2021
Hamdullah Mohib: Can the Afghan government hold out against the Taliban?
Since the United States pulled its troops out of Afghanistan at the beginning of July, the Taliban have continued to retake vast swathes of the country. Reports have emerged that they are once again enforcing the same repressive practices of their past rule; including the closure of girls' schools, public beatings and a prohibition on women travelling unaccompanied outside their homes. Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are not making progress and there are real fears of an all out civil war. Sarah Montague speaks to Afghanistan's National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib. Can the Afghan government hold out against the Taliban? Photo: Afghanistan"s National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 2021 Credit: Reuters
Jul 26, 2021
Fikile Mbalula: Is South Africa's government being confronted with its own failure?
South Africa is facing its deepest political crisis of the post-apartheid era. Days of violence and looting saw more than 200 people killed and thousands arrested. Stephen Sackur speaks to Fikile Mbalula, the country's transport minister. Is the ANC government being confronted with its own failure?
Jul 23, 2021
Laurent Lamothe: Can anything be done to end Haiti's suffering?
Stephen Sackur speaks to former Haitian Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe. Pity the eleven million people of Haiti; it is hard to think of a nation more comprehensively shattered by many decades of misrule and the ravages of natural disaster. In the latest lurch toward chaos the president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated earlier this month. Who ordered the hit is not clear but a protracted struggle for power seems certain. Can anything be done to end Haiti’s suffering? (Photo: Laurent Lamothe appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Jul 21, 2021
Michael Holding: Can sport win its fight against racism?
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Michael Holding, the former West Indies cricket great who is now a prominent voice confronting racism. In England, there’s a fierce debate about how best to root out racism, following vile abuse aimed at black footballers. But it’s an issue confronting many sports. Is this a fight sport can win? Image: Michael Holding (Credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire)
Jul 19, 2021
Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho: Can courage overcome injustice?
Measured by the number of murders Mexico is the most dangerous country in the world to be a journalist. Eight were killed last year; and countless more suffered threats, intimidation and violence. Stephen Sackur speaks to Lydia Cacho - one of Mexico’s most prominent journalists who - after decades of assaults, death threats and at least one assassination attempt - is currently in exile for her own safety. Her particular focus is the violence done to women in Mexico and the failure of those in power to make good on promises of protection. Can courage overcome injustice? (Photo: Lydia Cacho appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Jul 16, 2021
Jess Phillips: What happened to progressive politics?
Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the leading figures in the British Labour party, Jess Phillips MP. She’s a tireless campaigner against domestic violence and has won plaudits for her direct, from-the-heart style of politics. Across continents and cultures there is a common, and corrosive, political phenomenon – rising anger and alienation amongst voters who feel neglected and ignored by the system. Is there a way out of today's polarised politics?
Jul 14, 2021
Writer Lionel Shriver
In our culture of 24/7 news and trending social media reactions, it sometimes takes a novelist’s eye to chart the deeper, current events swirling beneath society’s surface. Lionel Shriver is a British-based American writer whose fiction has addressed school shootings, obesity, economic crisis and in her latest book, voluntary euthanasia. She’s a contrarian, but is she also a combatant in the western world’s culture wars?
Jul 07, 2021
Christian Happi: Can Africa become a world leader in vaccine development?
Zeinab Badawi speaks to Professor Christian Happi whose ground-breaking research is helping tackle diseases that kill thousands every year. He gave up a career at Harvard University in the US and moved back to Africa where is setting up a world-class laboratory in Nigeria which will have a pandemic early detection system. He believes Africa could become a global centre of knowledge about infectious diseases such as Covid-19. How realistic is his vision?
Jul 05, 2021
Victor Gao: 100 years of the Chinese Communist Party
As the Chinese Communist Party marks its 100th anniversary, Stephen Sackur speaks to veteran party loyalist Victor Gao, vice president of the Centre for China and Globalization in Beijing. The party has engineered a remarkable transformation that’s made China a global superpower, but is the level of internal control and repression sustainable?
Jun 30, 2021
Zainab Ahmed: Can Nigeria avert financial meltdown?
Africa is going through its first recession in more than a quarter of a century because of the global downturn caused by the Covid pandemic. The economic crisis is being keenly felt in Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country. Its 200 million people are struggling with long-standing challenges, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic and deteriorating security. Zeinab Badawi speaks to Nigeria’s finance minister, Zainab Ahmed. What is her plan to avert financial meltdown as well as help deliver stability?
Jun 25, 2021
Rawdah Mohamed: Fashion and Muslim women
Somali-born fashion editor Rawdah Mohamed has taken up a senior role at the soon-to-be launched Vogue Scandinavia. After moving to Norway as a child, she became a model, and in April created a social media storm with a post called ‘Hands off my Hijab’. How far can she use fashion to overturn negative stereotypes of Muslim women?
Jun 23, 2021
REM lead singer Michael Stipe
Michael Stipe was the lead singer of one of the most influential bands of the last four decades, REM. He was the figurehead of indie rock, enigmatic, serious, political. Now he’s a visual artist, so how has his creative vision evolved?
Jun 21, 2021
Johan Lundgren, EasyJet CEO: Can his business model survive Covid and climate change?
No industry has been hit harder by the global pandemic than aviation. Cross-border travel is either banned or constrained by tests and quarantines across much of the world. And, in a time full of uncertainty and insecurity, who wants to travel for either business or pleasure? Stephen Sackur speaks to Johan Lundgren, CEO of EasyJet, Europe’s second biggest budget airline. Can his business model survive the double whammy of Covid and climate change? (Photo: Johan Lundgren in the Hardtalk studio)
Jun 17, 2021
Jens Stoltenberg: Is the old alliance ready to tackle new threats?
President Biden says the US is determined to lead NATO's response to evolving geographical and technological threats. But there have been marked disagreements between alliance members on relations with Russia, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, defence spending and the so-called ‘systemic challenge’ posed by China. Just how united is the West’s military alliance?
Jun 16, 2021
Ben Rhodes: President Biden's foreign policy challenges
Stephen Sackur speaks to former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama, Ben Rhodes. He has written a new book, After the Fall, reflecting on his time in the White House, the legacy of President Trump and the foreign policy challenges facing President Biden. With the rise of authoritarian, nationalist trends around the world, is the US in any position to lead a much touted global alliance of democracies? (Photo: Ben Rhodes appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Jun 11, 2021
Michael Rosen: Surviving Covid-19
Last March, the author and educator Michael Rosen was placed into an induced coma after contracting Covid-19. He has now released a dark, sad and uplifting memoir about his experience, but how did he find the poetic in a pandemic?
Jun 07, 2021
Tom Kerridge: Has the pandemic changed the way we eat?
How long will it take the hospitality business to recover from the pandemic, and is there a new recognition of the link between our food and our health? Stephen Sackur speaks to British chef Tom Kerridge. (Photo: Tom Kerridge sits in his restaurant with Stephen Sackur)
Jun 03, 2021
John Nkengasong: Can Africa meet its vaccination targets?
Africa appears to have been relatively spared in the pandemic so far, but plans to have at least 30% of the continent's populations vaccinated by the end of 2021 seem far away. Hardtalk speaks to John Nkengasong, the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jun 01, 2021
Doug Gurr: Advocating for planet Earth
Stephen Sackur speaks to the new director of London’s world-renowned Natural History Museum, Doug Gurr. They still love their ancient fossils here, but the real focus now is on the fragile future of our planet. Has this become a museum on a mission?
May 31, 2021
Fawad Chaudhry: Is Imran Khan reneging on his promises to Pakistan?
Who holds the reins of power in Pakistan? Prime Minister Imran Khan leads a government elected in 2018; if Pakistan is a genuine democracy, then that’s where power resides. But many government critics say the military dictates much that happens inside the country, particularly when it comes to silencing opposition to the covert power of the so-called deep state. Stephen Sackur speaks to Pakistan’s Information Minister, Fawad Chaudhry. What happened to Imran Khan’s pledge to deliver clean, transparent governance?
May 27, 2021
Tito Mboweni: How much has Covid damaged South Africa?
South Africa is wrestling with a continued health and economic crisis courtesy of Covid-19, but the country’s ruling ANC party is also distracted by internal divisions over corruption. Stephen Sackur speaks to Tito Mboweni, South Africa’s finance minister .
May 26, 2021
Ben Hodges: Is America's global power waning?
Stephen Sackur speaks to retired US general Ben Hodges, former Commander of the US Army in Europe. The 20th century was in many ways shaped by America’s unrivalled power; two decades into the new century, and it's clear the story arc is shifting. China is projecting its power across the globe, Russia is out to reassert its regional supremacy, and the limits of American power have been exposed from Iraq to Afghanistan. Is the US in danger of losing the race to define the 21st century?
May 24, 2021
Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s Ambassador to the EU
Russia’s relations with the West have been poor for some time but now they have reached a new level of hostility. Since the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, new sanctions have been imposed by both the US and EU. The Ukraine conflict, allegations of cyber attack and covert operations – the list of unresolved issues is growing. Stephen Sackur speaks to Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s Ambassador to the EU. Is confrontation with the West, President Putin’s strategic choice?
May 21, 2021
Husam Zomlot: Palestine's balance of power
The latest round of conflict between Israel and militant groups in Gaza has left the Palestinian Authority looking sidelined and powerless. Is this a permanent shift in the Palestinian power dynamic? Stephen Sackur speaks to Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian Mission to the UK.
May 19, 2021
Kaja Kallas: Do Nato and the EU have Estonia's back?
When hostility between Russia and the West, is high the Baltic states get nervous. Will membership of the EU and Nato protect Estonia from the possibility of Russian aggression? Hardtalk speaks to Kaja Kallas, the prime minister of Estonia.
May 17, 2021
Tzipi Hotovely: Israel's ambassador to the UK
The escalating violence between Israel and the militant Islamic groups in Gaza has the potential to inflict terrible bloodshed, but will it change any of the underlying realities in this seemingly endless conflict? Stephen Sackur speaks to Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely. (Photo: Tzipi Hotovely in the Hardtalk studio)
May 13, 2021
Harry Theoharis: What is in store for European summer holidays?
We have reached the point in the Covid pandemic where the impacts of the virus are varying wildly. Here in the UK, infection rates have been contained and a rapid vaccine roll out is having its effect, but in many other countries the situation remains critical. In this patchwork pandemic how much scope is there for a resumption of travel and tourism? Stephen Sackur speaks to Greece’s Minister of Tourism Haris Theoharis. (Photo: Haris Theoharis, Greece's Minister of Tourism)
May 11, 2021
Fawzia Koofi: The future for women in Afghanistan
Zeinab Badawi interviews Fawzia Koofi, the first woman to lead a political party in Afghanistan, and is part of an Afghan delegation in talks with the Taliban. Yet she is one of their fiercest critics, endures constant intimidation, and has survived several attempts on her life. Why is Fawzia Koofi so worried about the future stability of Afghanistan and its women?
May 10, 2021
Mohammed Alyahya: Does Saudi Arabia still have America's support?
Month by month, US President Joe Biden is shifting away from Trump-era foreign policy positions. But how dramatic will the pivot be? In the Middle East, there are signs of a changed approach to the region's two oil-rich adversaries Saudi Arabia and Iran; more pressure on the Saudis, more engagement with Tehran. Stephen Sackur speaks to the influential boss of Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya English news channel, Mohamed Alyahya. Have the Saudis forfeited America’s unstinting support? (Photo: Mohamed Alyahya appears via video link on Hardtalk)
May 07, 2021
Mohamedou Ould Slahi: What is the Guantanamo legacy?
Stephen Sackur interviews Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian citizen who was once identified as a high value al-Qaeda terrorist, serving 14 years in America’s Guantanamo Bay prison. He was eventually released without charge, and now a film, The Mauritanian, has been released telling this remarkable story. What is the Guantanamo Bay legacy? (Photo: Mohamedou Ould Slahi appears via videolink on Hardtalk)
May 05, 2021
Artists Gilbert Prousch & George Passmore
Gilbert Prousch and George Passmore first met as art students in London in the late 1960s and ever since then they've been together as a couple and as an artistic duo. From the beginning they’re own physical presence has been central to their work and they see themselves as living sculptures. They appear in most of their work, wearing their distinctive tweed jackets and ties. Their subject matter is the stuff of daily life in London, including the stuff other artists would never dream of using including bodily fluids, faeces and trash. Over the decades they’ve had work exhibited in many of the world's top modern art galleries and have sold works for millions of dollars. Now in London they’ve presented a collection of lockdown era work entitled New Normal pictures but is there anything normal about Gilbert and George?
May 03, 2021
Dmytro Kuleba: Has the Russian threat to Ukraine receded?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba. A few days ago, the Ukrainian Government was pleading for international help to confront the threat of a Russian military offensive from the East, but the feared assault never came. Russia declared its military exercise was over, and began to redeploy its forces. What did Ukraine and the outside world learn from this rattling of Russian sabres? (Photo: Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Apr 28, 2021
Sir Peter Westmacott: Are we at peak geopolitical risk?
Russian troops are massing on Ukraine’s border, while China and the US are locked in Cold War-style hostility. Cyberwarfare makes states, systems and individuals feel newly vulnerable. Stephen Sackur interviews Sir Peter Westmacott - he was Britain’s Ambassador in Washington, Paris and Ankara. Does he think we are at peak geopolitical risk?
Apr 26, 2021
Navalny aide Vladimir Ashurkov: Is Putin about to eliminate his most dangerous opponent?
The imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny describes himself as a walking skeleton. He’s refusing food in protest at his medical treatment, and thousands of Russians joined protests to show their solidarity. The Kremlin seems intent on destroying Navalny’s movement, irrespective of internal dissent or international condemnation. Stephen Sackur speaks to Vladimir Ashurkov, a key Navalny ally and executive director of his anti-corruption foundation. Is Putin about to eliminate his most dangerous opponent?
Apr 23, 2021
Michael Mann: The new climate war?
President Biden is promising hundreds of billions of dollars to speed up the decarbonisation of the US economy – the White House wants cooperation with China to make good on the Paris agreement on emissions cuts. Stephen Sackur interviews Michael Mann, one of America’s leading climate scientists. He says a new climate war is unfolding. If so, who are today’s biggest climate enemies?
Apr 20, 2021
Silvia Foti: When truth trumps family loyalty
Stephen Sackur interviews Silvia Foti, an American writer whose grandfather was a Lithuanian man hailed as heroic patriot who paid with his life resisting the Soviets. But according to his granddaughter, Jonas Noreika was no hero - he had the blood of thousands of Jews on his hands. She’s chosen to speak out, angering many in Lithuania. What happens when truth trumps family loyalty?
Apr 16, 2021
Serj Tankian: System of a Down frontman on activism and music
Serj Tankian is the frontman of world-renowned rock band System of a Down, but is also an arch advocate for his family’s homeland, Armenia. His passionate views on genocide, war and corrupt governance have won him millions of fans and numerous enemies. What matters more to him: the politics or the music?
Apr 14, 2021
Tsitsi Dangarembga: Are better days coming for Zimbabwe?
Zeinab Badawi interviews playwright, novelist and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga, one of Zimbabwe’s most influential and acclaimed cultural figures. Arrested for her political activism, she says her art gives her a platform to call for change. Is she optimistic about her country's future? What are the prospects for better days in Zimbabwe, when every day is a struggle?
Apr 12, 2021
Amrullah Saleh: Is the Afghan peace process running out of road?
If Afghanistan is to find a way out of seemingly never-ending war the next few weeks will be critically important. The Biden Administration is pressing the Afghan Government and the Taliban to accept a transition plan based on a ceasefire and power-sharing. It’s a tough sell, given the taliban has intensified its military campaign in recent months. But what’s the alternative? Stephen Sackur speaks to Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh. Is the Afghan peace process running out of road?
Apr 09, 2021
Ken Rogoff: Does Bidenomics make sense?
The Covid pandemic looks like a watershed moment in global economics. Big Government is back as the failsafe engine of economic growth, as the usual fears such as soaring debt and rising inflation have been pushed aside. Stephen Sackur interviews acclaimed US economist Ken Rogoff, once dubbed ‘the godfather of austerity’. Is he a convert to Bidenomics?
Apr 06, 2021
Barbara Amiel: What do the super-rich owe the rest of the world?
The proportion of wealth owned by a super-rich elite continues to grow in societies around the world. The glaring disparity between the 'have-mosts' and the 'have-nothings' has fuelled a wave of political anger. Stephen Sackur speaks to the former newspaper columnist, editor, and one-time high society hostess Barbara Amiel, whose recent memoir, wittingly or not, paints an extraordinary, even grotesque, picture of the lives of the wealthy.
Apr 05, 2021
Sir Vartan Melkonian: From Beirut street child to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Vartan Melkonian began his life as an Armenian refugee in Lebanon, spending his early years in an orphanage outside Beirut, followed by living rough on the streets for many years. He is now a renowned musician, conductor and composer. Zeinab Badawi hears his remarkable story.
Apr 02, 2021
Erika Lust: Can porn be feminist?
Porn is one of the biggest drivers of internet traffic and a generator of vast amounts of money, but also an industry in a state of flux. The biggest online porn platforms have been accused of profiting from criminality and abuse. Stephen Sackur interviews Erika Lust - pornographer, feminist and entrepreneur. Is there such a thing as ethical porn?
Mar 30, 2021
Marina Abramović: A remarkable career pushed to the limits
Much of the art we love is presented via a medium - be it a canvas, a recording or celluloid. Stephen Sackur interviews Marina Abramović, an artist whose primary resource is her own body. In the course of a remarkable career, the world's most famous and garlanded performance artist has pushed herself to the very limits of physical endurance and stirred intense reaction from audiences confronting her eye to eye. Her art and life are one; so what do they tell us?
Mar 29, 2021
Jean-Claude Juncker: Is Covid an unprecedented test of EU cohesion?
The Covid-19 pandemic has presented the European Union with an unprecedented test of its cohesion and competence. Right now, the scorecard looks decidedly mixed, with many member states facing a third wave of infection while, the vaccination rollout lags far behind that in post-Brexit Britain. Stephen Sackur speaks to the former president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. He once bemoaned a loss of collective EU libido, but is the problem getting worse?
Mar 26, 2021
Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee: Is the concept of ‘one country, two systems’ dead?
It seems the Biden Administration is putting greater emphasis on human rights issues in its already fraught relationship with China. Will that prompt Beijing to think twice about the crackdown on pro-democracy activism in Hong Kong? Stephen Sackur interviews Regina Ip, Chair of the New People’s Party, member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and one of Beijing’s most loyal backers in the territory. Is the concept of ‘one country, two systems’ dead? (Photo: Regina Ip appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Mar 24, 2021
Baroness Minouche Shafik: What do we owe each other?
The idea of a social contract between the individual and the state is a staple of political philosophy. But what happens when that contract is threatened by forces beyond the control of any government, like a climate crisis or, right now, a global pandemic? Stephen Sackur speaks to Baroness Minouche Shafik, director of the London School of Economics and former top official at the World Bank. Is humanity capable of collective action to meet global challenges?
Mar 22, 2021
Stephen King: Are you afraid of the dark?
Millions of readers all over the world are drawn to fiction that explores our fears. Horror sells and no-one does it better or more prolifically than Stephen King. He’s written more than 60 books, sold close to 400 million copies - he is the master manipulator of dark places and the paranormal. If you're not a reader you may have seen the Shining, Carrie, Stand by Me - all films based on his stories. He's been writing for half a century – how has our appetite for fear evolved?
Mar 19, 2021
Vjosa Osmani: Acting President of Kosovo
The legacy of conflict and hate left behind after the collapse of Yugoslavia is not easily overcome. They know that in Kosovo, which declared independent statehood a dozen years ago but has yet to make a lasting peace with neighbouring Serbia. Right now Kosovo is experiencing a major political shift. Stephen Sackur speaks to the country’s Acting President Vjosa Osmani. She is part of a new generation of young, post-war politicians challenging the old guard of the Kosovar independence struggle. She promises clean government and a fresh start, but can she deliver?
Mar 17, 2021
Adar Poonawalla: How to vaccinate the world
Stephen Sackur speaks to Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the biggest vaccine producer in the world, Serum Institute of India. He went all-in on a production deal with Astrazeneca, and for many of us, the jab we get will have been made by him. He’s a super-rich vaccine visionary; is he driven by more than profit?
Mar 15, 2021
Dr Sasa: Does Myanmar have a democratic future?
Dr Sasa has a remarkable life story, which has taken him from a remote mountain village in western Myanmar to a place in the international media spotlight as a key spokesman for the political movement intent on reversing February’s military coup. He is from the Chin people - one of many minorities to have suffered long-term discrimination and persecution in Myanmar, or Burma as it was. He was the first child in his village to go to high school. He went on to train as a doctor and has devoted much of his life to improving medical and educational opportunities for the Chin people. For the past decade he’s been an activist in the National League for Democracy. He was with party leader and national figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi just hours before the generals mounted their coup on February 1. She was detained, along with many members of Myanmar’s Government and parliament. Dr Sasa managed to flee to a neighbouring, but undisclosed country. He’s since been appointed as UN representative of the Committee representing the ousted parliament, and is a leading voice in the pro-democracy movement. But with the military continuing to use lethal force against street protests what options do the opponents of the coup really have?
Mar 12, 2021
Jewher Ilham: Fears for her Uighur family in China
A combination of personal testimony, leaked documents and satellite imagery points to a systematic policy of repression of the Muslim Uighur population of Xinjiang province in China. Jewher Ilham, a young Uighur woman, currently living in America, tells Stephen Sackur about her campaign to save her father who has been imprisoned for the past 7 years. The fate of the Uighurs has become a geopolitical issue - but is anything going to change?
Mar 10, 2021
Evan McMullin: What next for anti-Trump Republicans?
Despite losing the presidency and both Houses of Congress, Donald Trump still seems to have a chokehold on the Republican party. So what will Republican anti-Trumpers do next: continue the fight from within the party, or get out and create a new one? Evan McMullin is one of the most prominent American Republicans determined to loosen President Trump's grip on the Party, and one of the key organisers and strategists behind the Stand Up Republic group of unhappy Republicans.
Mar 08, 2021
Khin Zaw Win: Protests in Myanmar
Mass protests against military rule across Myanmar have been met with increasing force, and the death toll is rising. Stephen Sackur interviews Khin Zaw Win, a prominent political prisoner under the previous junta. What do the people of Myanmar want now - and what are they likely to get?
Mar 05, 2021