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Stephen Sackur is the best!


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

Episode Date
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
James Lovelock: The fragility of life on Earth
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. Lovelock is now 101 years old and still having big thoughts about the future of life on Earth. Have we humans sown the seeds of our own destruction?
Jul 12, 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
Valdis Dombrovskis: Is the EU ready to aggressively defend its interests?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President with responsibility for the economy and trade, Valdis Dombrovskis. Protectionism and nationalism are on the rise in global trade. With the US and China locked in strategic competition, is the EU ready to aggressively defend its interests?
Mar 03, 2021
Harvey Goldsmith: Can live music survive Covid?
Stephen Sackur interviews one of the UK’s top live music promoters, Harvey Goldsmith. One of the many costs of the Covid pandemic means that, in much of the world, we can’t gather to enjoy the arts live; the creative world we used to know may be hard to revive. Has the cultural cost of Covid been ignored?
Mar 01, 2021
Dr Seth Berkley: How to ensure the whole world gets a Covid vaccine
Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that a vast gulf is opening up between Covid vaccination rates in the richest countries and the poorest. But still the numbers are shocking. While the UK has given 27% of its population a first dose, many nations have yet to inject a single arm. Hardtalk speaks to Dr Seth Berkley, head of Gavi, the Global Vaccine Alliance and key driver of the effort to ensure the whole world gets Covid protection. It is a great ambition; is it achievable?
Feb 26, 2021
Elizabeth Neumann: The battle for the soul of the US Republican Party
How far does the Republican party need to go to reinvent itself following Donald Trumps defeat in the November Presidential election? Elizabeth Neumann, a former counter terror official in the Trump Administration says she saw America’s far right, white-supremacists as a growing security threat and she felt Donald Trump was fanning the flames of their extremism. In April 2020 she resigned. Now she says she is fighting for what she calls accountability in the Republican party - but has her stand come too late?
Feb 24, 2021
Timothy Snyder: Lessons from history
Stephen Sackur speaks to Timothy Snyder, renowned American historian of totalitarianism and the Holocaust, about the Trump presidency. Professor Snyder believes the former US president and his movement brought America face to face with early stage fascism. Historical parallels may be seductive, but are they useful?
Feb 22, 2021
Douglas Stuart: Stories of tender souls in tough places
Stephen Sackur speaks to the Booker prize-winning author Douglas Stuart. His novel, Shuggie Bain, centres on a boy growing up amid poverty, addiction and intolerance in Glasgow. There are deep parallels with his own life. How does he extract so much love from hardship?
Feb 19, 2021
Yogendra Yadav: Are farmers' protests a defining moment for India?
Thousands of Indian farmers are keeping up their long-running protest against farm law reform. Stephen Sackur interviews Yogendra Yadav, leader of the Swaraj Party and prominent backer of the farmers’ cause. India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has faced down a host of opponents in the past. Is his government versus the farmers a defining moment for India?
Feb 17, 2021
Kirill Dmitriev: Russia's Sputnik V a vaccine for humankind?
Right now the world is seeing two sides of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The one he wants you to see is the scientifically advanced nation offering the world an effective Covid vaccine known as Sputnik V. The one he’d rather you ignore is the repressive authoritarian state that ruthlessly eliminates those who threaten the status quo. Stephen Sackur speaks to Kirill Dmitriev a Putin ally, the boss of one of Russia’s sovereign wealth funds and a key backer of the Russian vaccine.
Feb 15, 2021
Clément Beaune: Is Covid-19 exposing weaknesses in the EU?
Stephen Sackur speaks to France’s Europe Minister, Clément Beaune. The European Union faces a huge Covid challenge. The vaccine rollout has been slow, internal free movement is a concern, and tensions with Britain post-Brexit have risen. Is the virus exposing weaknesses in the EU?
Feb 12, 2021
Laurie Santos: Can we learn how to be happy?
Stephen Sackur speaks to American psychologist Professor Laurie Santos, whose work at Yale University on the science of happiness has won her an audience of millions thanks to her podcast and free online courses. With strict lockdowns in many countries around the world, isolation, economic insecurity, the absence of family and friends, Covid is putting enormous pressure on our mental health. Can we really learn how to be happy?
Feb 10, 2021
Evan Medeiros: How should Biden approach China?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Evan Medeiros, who was President Obama’s top adviser on China policy. Under Donald Trump, US-China relations soured dramatically. A potentially dangerous era of competition and even confrontation beckons. What should President Biden's strategy be towards China?
Feb 08, 2021
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: Has Belarus’s revolution stalled?
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya says she won last year’s presidential election in Belarus, and she is still intent on toppling Europe’s last de-facto dictator, Alexander Lukashenko. After months of protests and brutal repression, has Belarus’s revolution stalled? (Photo: Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Credit: Reuters)
Feb 05, 2021
Dr Soumya Swaminathan: Is vaccine inequity undermining the fight against Covid?
The roll out of Covid-19 vaccines has boosted hopes the virus can be tamed. But it will have to be worldwide effort if it is to be effective, and right now the signs aren’t good. While tens of millions have already been vaccinated in the rich west, the world’s poor are facing a very long wait. The phrase ‘vaccine apartheid’ has already been coined. Stephen Sackur speaks to the Chief Scientist at the World Health Organisation Dr Soumya Swaminathan. Is vaccine inequity undermining the fight against Covid?
Feb 03, 2021
Madawi Al-Rasheed: Can the Saudi Crown Prince's authority really be challenged?
President Biden has reportedly paused arms sales to Saudi Arabia as his administration reviews relations with its long-time strategic ally. But is there any prospect of external or internal pressure challenging the authority of Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman? Stephen Sackur speaks to exiled opposition activist Madawi Al-Rasheed. What next for Saudi Arabia, reform, repression, or maybe both?
Feb 01, 2021
Thomas Byrne: Ireland's twin challenge
The new year sees Ireland facing the twin challenges of Covid and post-Brexit economics. How is the country coping? And is Dublin’s strategic vision of Northern Ireland’s future changing? Stephen Sackur interviews Ireland’s Europe Minister, Thomas Byrne.
Jan 30, 2021
Leonid Volkov: Protests on the streets of Russia
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is the most resilient opponent Vladimir Putin has ever faced. Navalny survived assassination by Novichok, returned to Russia and is now in a prison cell. Stephen Sackur speaks to Navalny’s chief of staff Leonid Volkov. The opposition movement has supporters willing to take to the streets in anti-Putin protests in Russian towns and cities; but do they have a strategy capable of forcing Putin out of power? (Photo: Leonid Volkov appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Jan 29, 2021
Yuli Edelstein: Israel's Covid-19 vaccination programme leads the world
Israel is leading the world in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine. More than a million Israelis have had their second dose, the prime minister claims the vast majority of adults will have been immunised by mid march, allowing the country to ease restrictions. Does the Health Minister, Yuli Edelstein, think Israel has shown responsible and ethical coronavirus management? (Photo: Yuli Edelstein appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Jan 27, 2021
Lina Khan: Can big tech companies be tamed by US antitrust laws?
Can and should anything be done to halt the inexorable rise of the global technology giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook? Over the past decade we’ve seen these tech titans come to dominate data collection, cloud computing, retail, social media and publishing, but now there is pushback from anti-monopoly lawyers and sceptical politicians. Stephen Sackur speaks to the American lawyer Lina Khan, who is at the forefront of the movement to tame big tech. But whose interest is she serving? (Photo: Lina Khan appears via videolink on Hardtalk)
Jan 21, 2021
Kenneth Chan: Is democracy lost in Hong Kong?
The Chinese government began this year by intensifying its crackdown on the pro-democracy opposition in Hong Kong. Amid mass arrests, the surveillance of the media and academia is there any safe space left for those fighting for Hong Kong’s political autonomy? Stephen Sackur speaks to long-time activist in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, Kenneth Chan. Is the fight for freedom in Hong Kong lost? (Photo: Keneth Chan appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Jan 20, 2021
Tamara Rojo: Ballet in a pandemic
Some of the things the Covid pandemic has taken away are easier to quantify than others. The death toll and the job losses make headlines, but the closed arts venues, the lack of shared creative experiences, not so much. But make no mistake, the arts face an unprecedented crisis. HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur speaks to Tamara Rojo, the internationally renowned dancer and artistic director of the English National Ballet. Can the performing arts withstand the Covid calamity?
Jan 18, 2021
Alan Dershowitz: Trump's second impeachment
Donald Trump has secured a unique place in the history books as the first president in American history to be impeached twice. What that means in practical terms isn't clear. There’ll be no Trump trial in the Senate before Joe Biden moves into the White House, but Democrats insist he will be held to account for the assault on the Capitol. Stephen Sackur speaks to the veteran lawyer Alan Dershowitz, part of the defence team in the first impeachment. Will he get involved in the sequel, and how will it play in a divided America?
Jan 15, 2021
Virologist Barry Schoub: South Africa's covid situation 'is bleak'
South Africa is now grappling with a highly transmissible new strain of Covid-19 that is causing international concern. Stephen Sackur interviews Professor Barry Schoub, virologist and Chair of the South African Government’s Advisory Committee on Covid-19 vaccines. What does the country’s Covid crisis mean for the worldwide effort to end the pandemic? (Photo: Professor Barry Schoub appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Jan 13, 2021
Alan Rusbridger: Fact v fiction
Stephen Sackur interviews Alan Rusbridger, former editor of The Guardian and now a member of Facebook’s Oversight Board. The Covid-19 pandemic is a test of global public health systems, but it also presents a profound challenge to our media and information networks. How do we ensure that fact prevails over fiction? (Photo: Alan Rusbridger appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Jan 11, 2021
Admiral James Stavridis: The aftermath of the capitol riot
The Trump inspired insurrection on Capitol Hill failed. But the wounds to America’s body politic are now raw and deep. The President remains Commander in Chief with his finger on the nuclear button, but is that tenable for the next two weeks? What are the dramatic death throes of the Trump presidency doing to America’s standing in the wider world? Stephen Sackur speaks to retired US admiral and former Supreme Commander of Nato’s armed forces James Stavridis. How deep is the hole America is in?
Jan 08, 2021
Neil Ferguson: Did the UK get its Covid strategy wrong?
Stephen Sackur speaks to British epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson, whose early modelling of Covid-19 made him an influential advocate of the lockdown strategy. The UK is back in lockdown and infections are surging. What has gone wrong, and why have other countries done better?
Jan 06, 2021
Hermann Hauser: Is Europe failing to create tech champions?
The tech sector is fast becoming a battleground where the world’s greatest economic powers, the US and China, are competing for power and influence. Where is Europe in this race to shape the digital future? We speak to Hermann Hauser, a tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist who has profoundly shaped Europe and the UK’s technology sector. Is Europe failing to build its own tech champions?
Dec 21, 2020
Christopher Ruddy: Is the media amplifying division in America?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Christopher Ruddy, CEO of the conservative Newsmax media group and close personal friend of Donald Trump. His network has tried to outfox Fox News by being Trumpier than Trump. The President's unfounded claims of a stolen election might have been great for ratings, but what's it done to America’s body politic?
Dec 16, 2020
Bernardine Evaristo: Is British culture changing?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Bernardine Evaristo, the Booker Prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other. In any society, the voices that are listened to, and the stories that are shared, say much about who is deemed to belong and who is excluded. On that basis, Britain is changing, but how deep does the cultural change go?
Dec 14, 2020
David Beasley of the World Food Programme: Is the world set for new famines?
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the World Food Programme, the UN agency dedicated to feeding the hungry and fending off mass starvation. This week the award was handed to the body's executive director, David Beasley, in recognition of the agency’s worldwide effort to overcome the challenges of conflict and Covid-19. 2020 has been a terrible year for those experiencing extreme hunger; is there a real danger that 2021 will be even worse? (Photo: David Beasley, director of the WFP appears via videolink on Hardtalk)
Dec 11, 2020
Owase Jeelani: Making life and death decisions
Stephen Sackur speaks to the paediatric neurosurgeon Owase Jeelani. Brain surgery carries with it an awesome burden of responsibility. And within neurosurgery there are particular challenges that take the physical and ethical pressure to an extreme. Imagine doing complex brain surgery on small children; then imagine trying to split conjoined twin babies joined at the head. Mr Jeelani's work has made headlines around the world. How does he deal with the stress of life and death decision-making?
Dec 07, 2020
Ishaq Dar: Pakistan's power struggle
Imran Khan won power in Pakistan two years ago with a promise to root out corruption and take on the country’s vested interests. So how's it going? Rising food prices and the Covid pandemic have left many Pakistanis feeling worse off, while the anti-corruption drive has become a political battleground. Stephen Sackur speaks to Ishaq Dar, who was Pakistan's finance minister. The country's anti-corruption body, the National Accountability Bureau, alleges he owned assets beyond his means of income, which he denies. He and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are trying to rally opposition to Imran Khan, but how much credibility do they have?
Dec 02, 2020
Anthony Gardner: How will Joe Biden handle foreign policy?
With Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the presidential election running out of road, attention is increasingly focused on President Elect Biden’s vision of America’s role in the world. Will he revert back to the policies and assumptions that defined the Obama years? Are there lessons to be learnt from Trump's disruption of foreign policy norms? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Anthony Gardner, US ambassador to the EU under Barack Obama. What should the world expect from President Biden?
Nov 30, 2020
Gedion Timothewos: Is Ethiopia sliding into civil war?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Ethiopia’s Attorney General, Gedion Timothewos. Ethiopia’s federal armed forces have launched the final phase of their assault on Tigrayan rebels in the north of the country. International observers have voiced deep concern about possibly devastating humanitarian consequences. This after many hundreds have already been killed, and tens of thousands have been forced to flee three weeks of fighting. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pledged to bring the country together - why has it gone so horribly wrong? (Photo: Gedion Timothewos appears via videolink on Hardtalk)
Nov 27, 2020
Jeremy Hunt: Britain's battle with Covid-19
The UK has the highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe and one of the steepest declines in economic output. Opinion polls suggest Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s claims of a world-beating governmental response cut little ice with the public. Stephen Sackur speaks to Jeremy Hunt, former Health Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Mr Johnson’s rival for leadership of the Conservative party. Has the pandemic exposed weaknesses in the country and its leader?
Nov 25, 2020
David Nabarro: How can countries minimise Covid damage?
This is a bittersweet moment in the global fight against the Covid pandemic. Joy that at least two vaccine trials have produced extremely promising results is tempered by the continued spread of the disease across much of the world. To put it bluntly, the global containment effort has had limited success. Stephen Sackur speaks to Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s special envoy for Covid-19. Are countries doing enough to minimise the damage done before mass vaccination changes the game?
Nov 23, 2020
Pawel Jablonski: Why is Poland blocking the EU's budget?
The EU is facing an internal political crisis. Two members, Poland and Hungary, are blocking the passage of a new budget and a post-Covid recovery package, claiming it includes unacceptable conditions. At issue is the EU's ability to tie funds to members' adherence to core EU values, such as the rule of law. Stephen Sackur speaks to Pawel Jablonski, Poland's deputy foreign minister. Can Poland afford to defy Brussels' will?
Nov 20, 2020
Judit Varga: How far is Hungary prepared to go in its defiance of the EU?
The EU has long threatened to punish the populist nationalist government in Hungary for a failure to uphold core EU values. So far the threats have been empty, but now there’s a concerted effort to link post-Covid financial aid to compliance with core principles on the rule of law. Stephen Sackur speaks to Hungary’s Justice Minister Judit Varga. How far is Hungary prepared to go in its defiance of Brussels institutions and EU norms? (Photo: Judit Varga via video link on Hardtalk)
Nov 18, 2020
Arancha Gonzalez: How much influence does the EU have?
In the midst of of a pandemic which has inflicted severe damage on the European economy, it is tempting to see the US election victory of Joe Biden as a boost for the EU. After all, Donald Trump seemed to view Europe more as an economic rival than strategic partner. Stephen Sackur speaks to Spain's foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez. What kind of power and influence can the EU wield on the world stage when it is grappling with a covid-recession, Brexit and deep internal division?
Nov 16, 2020
HR McMaster: Trump and the transition
Donald Trump hasn’t yet accepted it, but he’ll be out of the White House in January next year. Gone but not forgotten. His legacy can be seen in a divided body politic, strained international alliances and deep uncertainty about America’s geopolitical ambition. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Lt. General HR McMaster, who served as Mr Trump’s National Security Adviser until he was fired in 2018. In terms of America’s role in the world, will the Trump years be seen as an aberration or a marker of underlying change?
Nov 13, 2020
Jack Kingston: What is next for Trump?
Donald Trump can't and won't bring himself to concede that he lost the Presidential election. Amid the talk of legal challenges in a slew of states the Republican party is under strain - most senior figures sticking with the President, some very publicly backing away. Stephen Sackur speaks to the former Congressman and loyal Trump backer Jack Kingston. What longer term lessons should his party be taking from the imminent loss of the White House?
Nov 11, 2020
Leopoldo Lopez: An opposition leader in exile
The socialist government of Venezuela presides over an economy in meltdown and a population desperate for change. Yet the country's opposition has failed to build a movement capable of bringing down President Nicolas Maduro. Why? In an exclusive interview, Stephen Sackur speaks to Leopoldo Lopez, the founder of the opposition Popular Will party. Last month, he escaped from Venezuela and found refuge in Spain. Is that the action of a man who has lost faith in the opposition's ability to win their struggle?
Nov 09, 2020
Jacob Bleacher: Putting astronauts back on the moon
Scientists have discovered water on the sunlit surface of the Moon for the first time. Does it matter? Well, maybe it does. The Moon is back in vogue in terms of space exploration – the US says it will put astronauts back on the lunar surface by 2024. It is supposed to be the precursor to a manned mission to Mars. Stephen Sackur speaks to Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist at NASA. In this time of pandemic and climate change here on Earth, is space exploration a potential lifeline or a massive vanity project?
Nov 04, 2020
Perez Hilton: The 2000s' gossip-in-chief
Gossip, scurrilous rumour, a fascination with the flaws of the rich and famous: these human foibles are as old as the hills, but the age of the internet has amplified their power. Perez Hilton, real name Mario Lavandeira, can lay claim to being the godfather of online gossip and scandal mongering. He created his showbiz gossip blog 16 years ago, and made a pile of money trashing reputations and inflicting misery on the famous. Now he says he’s sorry, but should we believe him?
Nov 02, 2020
Jim Clyburn: Can Biden win?
According to the polls Joe Biden is strong favourite to be the next President of the United States. But the party’s leaders bear deep scars from 2016. Donald Trump overcame the odds and beat Hillary Clinton and he claims he can do it again next week. Even if Biden wins does America really know what his presidency would look like? Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the most senior Democrats in Congress, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Is Democratic party confidence more than skin deep? Photo: US House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee Chairman James E. Clyburn Credit: Getty Images
Oct 30, 2020
Dominique Schnapper on secularism in France after Samuel Paty's killing
The beheading of a teacher by an 18-year-old outside Paris struck a particularly jarring blow to the French psyche. Samuel Paty was murdered for teaching his students, including young Muslims, about freedom of speech, including the freedom to mock religion. His killing was seen by some as an attack on France’s secular values. Stephen Sackur speaks to Dominique Schnapper, president of a council which advises the government on secularism in education. Is France's government getting its response to this tragedy right?
Oct 28, 2020
Peter Frankopan: Can history offer us any lessons on the coronavirus pandemic?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Peter Frankopan, historian and author of the bestselling book The Silk Roads. There’s plentiful evidence that the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted more serious damage on the US than China. Has the impact of Covid-19 reinforced the notion that global power and influence is shifting to the East?
Oct 23, 2020
Jack Kingston: Can Trump win?
In a few days time Americans will give their verdict on President Donald Trump. Do they want four more years of Trump in the White House, or will they opt for the other septuagenarian Joe Biden - wholly different in style and worldview? Stephen Sackur speaks to the former Republican Congressman and loyal Trump campaigner Jack Kingston. The polls consistently say Trump is in big trouble. Is there good reason to think they are wrong?
Oct 20, 2020
Jim O'Neill: Is this a time for governments to be bold?
In every crisis there is opportunity. It is a mantra beloved by business schools and political strategists, but should it offer us comfort as Covid-19 continues to ravage the global economy? Stephen Sackur speaks to Jim O’Neill, former chief economist at Goldman Sachs, erstwhile advisor to the British Government and champion of big measures to revive growth. Is this really the time to be bold?
Oct 16, 2020
Rob Schenck: Can Trump still count on the religious right?
We cannot know the contents of Donald Trump’s soul, but its fair to say his personal behaviour doesn't point to deeply held Christian belief. And yet the evangelical Christian right is a key pillar of his support base. Could that change in November’s election? Stephen Sackur speaks to Rob Schenck, an influential evangelical pastor and long-time anti-abortion activist who broke with fellow social conservatives over gun control. Can Donald Trump still count on the loyalty of the religious right?
Oct 14, 2020
Volodymyr Zelensky: How is Ukraine's president faring?
When Ukrainians overwhelmingly voted to make a comedian president, Europeans wondered what the punchline would be. In an exclusive interview, Stephen Sackur speaks to Volodymyr Zelensky, the comic actor who played a president on TV before getting the job in real life. He has had 18 months to make good on his promise to end corruption and find a pathway to peace with Russia. How is he doing?
Oct 12, 2020
Narendra Taneja: How well has India handled the coronavirus crisis?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the national spokesman for India's ruling BJP Narendra Taneja. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dominance of Indian politics is unquestioned but his ability to deliver competent government in a crisis is less certain. India now has the second highest official number of Covid infections in the world, and the real figure is thought to be up to ten times higher. Is Mr Modi’s populist strong man act about to come unstuck?
Oct 09, 2020
Joe Henrich: Is Western society 'weird'?
The debate between nature and nurture is as old as the hills - is genetics or cultural conditioning the key to understanding human evolution? We speak to Joseph Henrich, a Harvard professor whose fascination with human evolution and anthropology has brought him to a radical conclusion. He says Western societies preoccupied with the individual not the collective are weird, and the cultural power of the West has skewed our view of what is normal. How much do we humans really have in common?
Oct 06, 2020
James Rebanks: Sustainable food in a growing world
In a special edition of the programme, HARDtalk is in the area known as the Lake District in north-west England. The landscape is beautiful, but is not wild. The fields have been shaped by generations of shepherds and stockmen. Stephen Sackur speaks to James Rebanks, whose farm has been in his family's hands for at least 600 years. In his book - English Pastoral - he advocates for a better kind of farming that is more sustainable and environmentally responsible. But are his ideas compatible with putting affordable food on all of our tables?
Oct 04, 2020
Leroy Logan: How hard is it to root out discrimination in the police?
The sense of systemic racial injustice in policing that has fuelled the Black Lives Matter movement is shared far beyond the shores of the United States. In Britain, it is two decades since a top level inquiry into London's police force found it to be institutionally racist. How much has really changed? Stephen Sackur speaks to Leroy Logan, who was one of London's top black policemen until his retirement seven years ago. How easy is it to root out discrimination dressed in a police uniform?
Oct 02, 2020
Paolo Gentiloni: Can Europe's economy recover?
The economic fallout of Covid-19 has been tough, and with new waves of the virus appearing, restrictions on economic activity are being reimposed in many countries. Zeinab Badawi speaks to Paolo Gentiloni, the European Commissioner for the Economy. How confident is he that the world's second-largest economy can make a recovery?
Sep 30, 2020
Yusef Salaam: How to reform the US criminal justice system
Yusef Salaam was just 16 when he and four other black and Latino teenagers were wrongly convicted of the rape and assault of a woman jogging in New York’s Central Park. Even before their trial the then property tycoon Donald Trump took out newspaper ads calling for the death penalty. The five served out their sentences before being exonerated when another man admitted to the crime. Yusef Salaam says their case is the story of the criminal system of injustice in America. But as anti-racism protests continue, and fears of worse unrest to come, is the chance of real change even more remote than in the America of his youth?
Sep 28, 2020
Leonid Volkov: What next for Russia's opposition?
As soon as he emerged from his coma Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition leader apparently poisoned by novichok nerve agent, expressed his determination to return to Moscow. But what future is there for an anti-Putin political movement in a country where dissent is all too often seriously bad for your health? Stephen Sackur speaks to Leonid Volkov, opposition politician and chief of staff to Mr Navalny. Is there any weakening of the Kremlin’s grip on power?
Sep 23, 2020
Thomas Chatterton Williams: Race, identity and power
Not just in the United States, but across the world the Black Lives Matter movement has prompted debate about race, identity and power. It is a campaign predicated on ideas about what it means to be black and white; but what if those very terms are themselves part of the problem? Stephen Sackur speaks to Thomas Chatterton Williams, a mixed-race American writer and self-declared ex-black man, whose ideas present a challenge to so-called 'woke' culture. How much room is there right now for respectful, thoughtful debate?
Sep 18, 2020
Rafael Grossi: Is the world's nuclear watchdog being undermined?
What is the point of the world’s nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency? Its task is to ensure that countries intent on developing nuclear power don’t use their programmes as cover for development of weapons of mass destruction. But is the task impossible? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the new IAEA chief, Rafael Grossi. From the continued bitter arguments over Iran, to North Korea, and Saudi Arabia, is the IAEA another example of a global agency undermined by geopolitical division?
Sep 16, 2020
Douglas Ross: Can the new Scottish Conservative leader preserve the UK?
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces momentous challenges. The coronavirus pandemic, an economic slump and a looming moment of truth for Britain’s relations with the EU. In the midst of this turbulence the future of the United Kingdom itself looks uncertain. Polls suggest increasing numbers of Scots want out of the Union. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the new leader of the Scottish Conservative party, Douglas Ross. Are events playing into the hands of the Scottish nationalists? (Photo: Douglas Ross, newly announced Scottish Conservative leader, talks to media in Forres, Scotland, Britain 5 August, 2020. Credit: Russell Cheyne/Reuters)
Sep 13, 2020
Gitanas Nausėda: Will people power take Belarus in a new direction?
Will Moscow’s will prevail in Belarus, or will people power take the country in a new direction? Stephen Sackur speaks to Gitanas Nausėda, the president of neighbouring Lithuania. The daily street protests demanding the resignation of Belarus’s authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko haven’t yet tipped the balance against the regime. Lukashenko is still there; the security forces are still doing his bidding. So how is the geopolitics of this going to play out?
Sep 11, 2020
Frank Luntz: Can Donald Trump win?
With just two months until the US presidential election, the polls show the incumbent Donald Trump trailing Democrat Joe Biden by a significant margin. This is an extraordinary election year marked by a pandemic, economic crisis, street protests over alleged police racism and a toxic political atmosphere. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the veteran Republican party pollster and consultant Frank Luntz. Can Donald Trump win, and should Republicans want him to?
Sep 08, 2020
Laura Kövesi: Can the EU's 'corruption buster' deliver?
The EU is thought to have lost more than €10 billion to fraud over the last two decades, and yet its anti-fraud and anti-corruption agencies have long lacked the teeth to root out the problem. Could that be about to change? Stephen Sackur speaks to Romanian Laura Codruta Kövesi, the EU's first public prosecutor. She has enhanced powers to tackle transnational crime. But if member states refuse to play ball, how can she succeed?
Sep 06, 2020
UN Secretary General António Guterres: Is multilateralism dead?
The annual UN General Assembly gets underway this month in New York and this year it will be like no previous one. The coronavirus pandemic means the summit will be held virtually. The medical, social and economic impact of Covid-19 has not only brought much suffering, it is also reshaping the world. HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres. He believes the pandemic is unleashing a tsunami of scapegoating, hate and xenophobia. As the UN marks its 75th anniversary, is it equipped to deal with these unprecedented global challenges?
Sep 03, 2020
Alfre Woodard: The artist and the activist
Alfre Woodard has had a distinguished acting career, spanning five decades, with roles ranging from Winnie Mandela to a part in hit TV series Desperate Housewives. She grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and for much of her career she has been an activist and campaigner, speaking out against race discrimination in the movie business, and lending her support to the Democratic party. Have her art and her activism merged into one?
Sep 02, 2020
Sam Harris: A place for conversation in an angry world
Thanks to the internet and the mobile phone our ability to communicate, inform and persuade has never been greater. So why is public debate getting ever more polarising and toxic? Stephen Sackur speaks to the american philosopher, neuroscientist and podcaster Sam Harris whose takes on everything from religion to race generate intense heat. Are extremism and intolerance drowning out reasoned debate?
Aug 30, 2020
Natalia Pasternak: Brazil's battle between science and politics
The global Covid-19 pandemic has put a fierce spotlight on the relationship between scientists and policy makers. Leaders across the world have responded to the science with everything from respect to scepticism. Foremost amongst the sceptics, president Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, one of the countries hit hardest by the virus. Stephen Sackur speaks to the Brazilian microbiologist Natalia Pasternak who has launched a crusade against her President in the name of science. But is she winning the argument? (Photo: Microbiologist Natalia Pasternak)
Aug 27, 2020
Natalia Kaliada: Where do Belarus activists go from here?
His people have turned against him in the streets but Belarus's dictator Alexander Lukashenko is still in power and his security forces are still following his orders. So where do the anti-Lukashenko activists go from here? Stephen Sackur speaks to Natalia Kaliada, one of the founders of the Belarus Free Theatre, an artist dissident in exile. Will Belarus's summer rebellion be blown away with the autumn leaves?
Aug 26, 2020
Katie Hill: When a politician's nude photos are leaked
Zeinab Badawi speaks to the American politician Katie Hill. She was a star of the US mid-term elections in 2018, but barely a year after winning a Congressional seat, she resigned, after reports of an inappropriate relationship with a staff member and after nude photographs of her were published. What does her case tell us about American politics in the MeToo era?
Aug 23, 2020
Kishore Mahbubani: Has Covid-19 weakened the West?
Increasing tensions between the US and China have plunged relations to the lowest level for decades. This comes at a time when the world is facing its worst recession in living memory due to the coronavirus. Could this lead to a reshaping of the global order? Zeinab Badawi speaks to former Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani, who believes that Covid-19 has fundamentally weakened the west. Is he right that this is now Asia's century?
Aug 21, 2020
Abdalla Hamdok: Exclusive interview with Sudan's Prime Minister
It is exactly a year since a historic power-sharing agreement was signed between the military and civilians in Sudan, after the fall of President Omar al-Bashir. In an exclusive interview, Zeinab Badawi speaks to the civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who heads a transitional government charged with steering Sudan to democratic elections in 2022. Has the euphoria that followed last year's revolution given way to harsh realities and unfulfilled expectations?
Aug 19, 2020
Wu'er Kaixi: China's crackdown on Uighur dissent
China goes to extraordinary lengths to monitor and mould the lives of its citizens. The most extreme example can be seen in Xinjiang, home to more than 10 million muslim Uighur people; but the principle of stability through authoritarian control applies across the country. Stephen Sackur speaks to Wu'er Kaixi, a Chinese political dissident in exile since the Tiananmen uprising and himself a Uighur. Has China found a way of successfully suppressing dissent?
Aug 16, 2020
Nikol Pashinyan: Peace for Armenia and Azerbaijan?
One of the worlds most strategically sensitive conflict zones heated up dramatically last month when Armenian and Azerbaijani forces engaged in fighting which cost 17 lives. It is the latest twist in the long struggle over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh and it prompted warnings from Moscow and Washington. Stephen Sackur speaks to Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. He swept to power promising reform, so how come Armenia seems preoccupied with fighting old battles?
Aug 13, 2020
Raoul Nehme: Can Lebanon be saved from collapse?
After the unimaginable horror of the mega blast which devastated Beirut the people of Lebanon are now forced to live with a zombie government - dead in all but name, not yet replaced. Stephen Sackur speaks to Raoul Nehme, still Lebanon's Minister of Economy and Trade until a new government can be formed. The outgoing Prime Minister blamed the catastrophic situation on deep rooted corruption. Is Lebanon a country beyond rescue?
Aug 12, 2020
Chris Packham: 'Finding the good in the bad' of Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has inflicted huge economic damage, but it has also offered the natural world a little bit of respite – room to breathe. What will come next? Will it be a return to the old ways of resource exploitation and consumption? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Chris Packham, one of the UK’s best-known naturalists and environmental campaigners. Are we humans capable of fundamentally changing our priorities? Photo: Chris Packham Credit: BBC
Aug 10, 2020
Vanessa Neumann: Did Venezuela's opposition miss their chance?
Eighteen months ago, Venezuela seemed to be on the brink of political upheaval. The leader of the National Assembly declared himself president, and 50 countries offered him official recognition. But the ruling party has not been toppled. Nicolás Maduro is still in the presidential palace, overseeing a country deep in economic and healthcare crisis. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Vanessa Neumann, London envoy of the would-be president Juan Guaidó. Did the Venezuelan opposition blow their chance?
Aug 07, 2020
Sir Jeremy Farrar: 'I do believe there will be a vaccine' in 2020 and 2021
Amid the talk of spikes and second waves one thing is clear – people predicting an early end to the coronavirus pandemic are indulging in wishful thinking. Can we find a way of living with Covid-19 that respects the science while mitigating the damage being done to our economic and social lives? Stephen Sackur speaks to Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a key scientific adviser to the UK government. How dangerous is the moment we’re in? (Photo: Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust)
Aug 05, 2020
Leader of Ireland's Sinn Fein party Mary Lou McDonald
Last February the talk in Ireland was of a political earthquake. The nationalist party Sinn Féin won the most votes in the general election and promised to smash the status quo. Well, so much for that. Ireland’s two old established political parties instead formed a grand coalition and are steering the country through the Covid-19 crisis and Brexit. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Mary Lou McDonald, the leader of Sinn Féin. Has her party missed its moment? Photo: Mary Lou McDonald Credit: PA
Jul 31, 2020
Angus Deaton: The cost of the 'deaths of despair'
How do we judge the health of our economic systems? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the Nobel Prize winning economist Sir Angus Deaton who believes it’s about much more than the headline numbers on jobs and growth. He has focused on what he calls the deaths of despair – those attributed to suicide, drug and alcohol abuse – and concludes American capitalism is sick. Now, of course, coronavirus is having its own impact on mortality data. Does capitalism itself need emergency surgery? Photo: 2015 Nobel Prize winner in Economics Angus Deaton Credit: AFP
Jul 29, 2020
Gloria Allred: Epstein victim lawyer
HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to the veteran lawyer Gloria Allred. She is among the most famous attorneys in the US and her firm handles more women's rights cases than any other in America. For more than four decades her name has been synonymous with feminist causes. She is currently representing victims of the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. What motivates her and how much has her work brought about real change in America?
Jul 23, 2020
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: 'No-one will be safe until everyone is safe'
If Covid-19 spreads across Africa, it could be a catastrophe. Its health systems are already under strain and could buckle under more pressure. Lockdowns have badly affected local economies and pushed millions into poverty. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the chair of GAVI, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. She's also a Covid-19 envoy for the African Union. As the world races to find a vaccine, how will she ensure lower income countries don't get forgotten? (Photo: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Credit: AFP)
Jul 22, 2020
Adam Goodes: How racism drove him from Australian Rules football
Nowhere has the symbolic power of the Black Lives Matter movement been more evident than in the sports arena. All too often racism undermines the notion of a level playing field. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to an athlete who made a stand. Adam Goodes was a star player in Aussie Rules football. One of the greatest ever players of Aboriginal descent, he quit the game after years of racist abuse. What lessons can Australia and the wider world learn from his experience?
Jul 20, 2020
Husam Zomlot: How could Palestine respond to annexation?
It’s not clear when, or even if, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going to deliver on his promise to annex a large chunk of the occupied West Bank. It’s even less clear what the Palestinian strategy will be if it happens. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the Palestinian ambassador in London, Husam Zomlot. With the conflict at a turning point, does the Palestinian leadership have the vision, imagination and credibility to mount an effective response?
Jul 16, 2020
Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law
The international outcry prompted by Beijing’s imposition of a new national security law in Hong Kong has been long and loud – but will it make any difference? Inside the territory protests have been muted and the main pro-democracy activist movement has disbanded itself. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the co-founders of that movement, Nathan Law. He’s now in self-imposed exile – is China’s Hong Kong strategy working? Photo: Nathan Law Credit: EPA
Jul 15, 2020
Jane Goodall: A life with chimpanzees
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the world-famous conservation activist Jane Goodall. She has made a unique contribution to humankind’s understanding of our closest living animal relatives, the primates, and in particular the chimpanzee. Dr Goodall was in her twenties when she began her meticulous observation of chimp behaviour deep in Africa. Now she’s 86, and still campaigning to protect the natural world. Can the primates and so many other species be saved from mass extinction?
Jul 12, 2020
Ronny Tong: Has China killed Hong Kong's special status?
Residents of Hong Kong are living with a new reality - a draconian national security law made in China and imposed on the territory with no meaningful consultation. Pro-democracy activists call it the death of the 'one country, two systems' principle established 23 years ago. HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur speaks to Ronny Tong, once a pro-democracy politician, now a loyalist of the Beijing-backed Hong Kong government. Has China just killed Hong Kong's special status?
Jul 06, 2020
Nadya Tolokonnikova: Pussy Riot & Russian protest
Vladimir Putin can now seek to extend his rule in Russia to 2036 thanks to a constitutional referendum, stage managed by the Kremlin. Is there any prospect of an opposition movement ever challenging Putin’s grip on power? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the founders of the Pussy Riot punk protest collective, Nadya Tolokonnikova. What, if anything, can stir Russians to rebel?
Jul 02, 2020
Kathy Sullivan: Exploring space and the Mariana Trench
The human impulse to explore new frontiers has taken us into space and to the deepest, most remote corners of our own planet. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to one woman who has done both. Kathy Sullivan was the first American woman to walk in space, in 1984. She has just returned from a mission to the deepest point underneath the oceans, the Mariana Trench in the Pacific. She is first and foremost a scientist; as we try to navigate our future, are we properly respecting the science?
Jul 01, 2020
Armando Iannucci: Is this a bad time to be funny?
It’s the job of the professional satirist to find the funny and expose the absurd in humanity’s most serious endeavours. But are there times when satire just doesn’t work, and is now one of them? Should we be laughing at Covid-19, or at racial discrimination? Stephen Sackur speaks to Armando Iannucci, a hugely successful writer and director of comedy on TV and film, whose credits include Veep, In the Loop and The Death of Stalin. Is there ever a bad time and place to be funny?
Jun 29, 2020
Maria Ressa: Is the press under attack in the Philippines?
No world leader better epitomises the strong man style of political leadership than President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. One hallmark of his rule? A visceral dislike of scrutiny from the independent media. Stephen Sackur speaks to journalist Maria Ressa who founded the Rappler news website and has just been convicted of cyber-libel in a case that has raised worldwide concern. Is press freedom being strangled by populist politics?
Jun 25, 2020
André Leon Talley: Race, fashion and Vogue
Since George Floyd died in Minneapolis with a white police officer’s knee on his neck, new conversations about racism and discrimination have begun all over the world. It’s not just about policing, it’s about business, sport, culture – every aspect of life. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to André Leon Talley, who was creative director of American Vogue magazine when the fashion industry was almost devoid of senior black men. He’s just written a controversial memoir of his life in what he calls “the chiffon trenches”.
Jun 24, 2020
Chile Eboe-Osuji: Can the International Criminal Court achieve its goals?
President Trump has just widened the scope of US sanctions placed on top officials of the International Criminal Court describing the court as an extraordinary threat to the United States. Stephen Sackur speaks to the president of the ICC, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji. It was an institution set up to end impunity for the worst of crimes – is it time to conclude that grand ambition will never be realised? (Photo: President of the ICC, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji)
Jun 22, 2020
Jim McGovern: Can Biden unite the left?
President Donald Trump is in trouble. Coronavirus has plunged the US economy into recession, the killing of George Floyd has inflamed racial tensions and the president’s poll ratings have slumped. This summer the Democrats can sense an historic opportunity. But are they capable of seizing it? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern – is it enough for Democrats and their presidential candidate Joe Biden to be the party of Not Trump?
Jun 19, 2020
Arancha Gonzalez: Why isn't the world working together?
Covid-19 has presented governments across the world with a common threat, but the response has been far from united and collaborative. Has the pandemic further weakened the multilateral institutions that were the hallmark of globalisation? Stephen Sackur speaks to Spain's foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez. Is Europe's liberal political elite struggling to cope with a geopolitical reality increasingly defined by nationalism in the US and China?
Jun 17, 2020
Epidemiologist Ian Lipkin: Are we getting the pandemic response right?
All of us fervently want to believe the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is over. Governments around the world are easing lockdowns and focusing on economic recovery. But Covid-19 hasn’t gone away. Infection rates are rising in Latin America, parts of the US and Africa. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the internationally renowned epidemiologist Ian Lipkin, the scientific advisor for the movie Contagion which, nine years ago, predicted a scenario uncannily like this one. Are we getting the real-life pandemic response right?
Jun 15, 2020
Simon Cheng: 'We need to fight for democracy in Hong Kong and China'
One year ago, pro-democracy street protests began in Hong Kong. At the time, Simon Cheng was an employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong. Last August, he was arrested in mainland China and, he says, interrogated and physically abused. A year on, Mr Cheng is seeking asylum in the UK, and China is about to impose a new national security law in Hong Kong. Will anything stop Beijing imposing its will on Hong Kong?
Jun 12, 2020
Mary Frances Berry: A new era in civil rights?
Will the waves of protest and anger that have swept through US cities since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis make a lasting difference to race relations? African Americans must surely be sceptical. Racism, discriminatory and violent policing have survived all previous efforts to make real the promises of equality and justice for all. Stephen Sackur speaks to the historian and civil rights activist Mary Frances Berry. What will it take to engineer genuine change? (Photo: Mary Frances Berry Credit: Cheriss May/NurPhoto/Getty Images)
Jun 09, 2020
James Graham: How much do we care about protecting our culture?
The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to the performing arts. No one knows when audiences will again be able to pack into a theatre to see a show. So what happens to the writers, performers and venues that enrich our lives? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to James Graham, the prolific and hugely successful young British playwright whose work has chronicled our turbulent political times. How much do we care about protecting our culture?
Jun 08, 2020
Rutger Bregman: Are humans essentially good?
In times of crisis we learn plenty about who we really are – and so it is that the global coronavirus pandemic is revealing truths about humankind – and how we balance self and collective interest. Stephen Sackur speaks to writer and historian Rutger Bregman whose book Humankind: A Hopeful History, is making waves around the world. Do we humans massively underestimate our capacity to change things for the better? (Photo: Rutger Bregman)
Jun 05, 2020
Mário Centeno: Can the Euro survive Covid?
Europe has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic – now that most countries have controlled the spread of infection and begun to ease their lockdown, does the EU have a coherent strategy for recovery? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the Finance Minister of Portugal and Head of the Eurozone Group of Ministers, Mário Centeno. For all the talk of solidarity, has the virus exacerbated the EUs greatest weakness, economic divergence?
Jun 03, 2020
National General Secretary of India's BJP, Ram Madhav
In some countries the coronavirus pandemic appears to have enhanced national unity and solidarity, in others it’s exposed deep fault lines. In India the crisis has hit the poorest migrant workers disproportionately hard; it’s also deepened tensions between the Hindu majority and Muslim minority. Is that the fault of the Hindu nationalist BJP government? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the National General Secretary of the BJP Ram Madhav. Is Prime Minister Modi stoking communal tensions even in a national emergency? Photo: BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav Credit: Getty Images
Jun 01, 2020
Raghuram Rajan: Should economies pile up debt to cope with Covid-19?
The Covid-19 pandemic has plunged the world economy into a deep recession. How long will it last and what kind of recovery can we expect? That in part depends on what governments do now. Should they be piling up future debt to cope with today’s crisis? Stephen Sackur speaks to the former Governor of India’s Reserve Bank and IMF chief economist Raghuram Rajan. Do the old rules of fiscal discipline no longer apply? (Photo: Raghuram Rajan, IMF chief economist)
May 29, 2020
Rocco Forte: Can hotels recover?
No sector of the global economy has been harder hit by Covid-19 than the travel and hospitality industry. Millions of workers dependent on travel and tourism have been laid off around the world. Stephen Sackur speaks to Sir Rocco Forte, boss of a string of luxury hotels and a powerful voice in an industry chafing under strict lockdown rules. What future is there for an industry that depends on mobility and confidence?
May 27, 2020
French Minister for Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire: EU faces 'gravest crisis'
When faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Union struggled to respond with collective action. The countries first and worst affected, Italy and Spain, complained of a lack of solidarity. Is that changing? The leaders of France and Germany are backing a plan to inject at least 500 billion euros into an economic recovery programme. Stephen Sackur speaks to French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. Is the pandemic taking the EU in a new direction?
May 22, 2020
Anders Tegnell: Is Sweden the best model for coronavirus response?
Much of the world responded to the Covid-19 pandemic with a lockdown strategy. Now there's much focus on finding a sustainable post-lockdown strategy that doesn’t prompt a second wave of infection. Could Sweden be the model? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the architect of a controversial no-lockdown strategy that continues to stir interest across the world. Has it worked?
May 18, 2020
David Miliband: President, International Rescue Committee
It may be a global pandemic but Covid-19 has hardly united the world around a collective response. We have seen world leaders focus on national self-interest rather than international collaboration. That could spell disaster for those countries least able to cope with a protracted public health crisis. Stephen Sackur speaks to David Miliband, president of the international charity the International Rescue Committee and a former UK Foreign Secretary. What kind of world will emerge from this pandemic? (Photo: David Miliband)
May 15, 2020
Luiz Henrique Mandetta: Brazil's sacked Health Minister speaks out
While some countries are claiming success in their effort to curb Covid-19, Brazil is increasingly looking like an outlier. The rate of new infections is still increasing, the death toll is mounting, and all the while President Jair Bolsonaro focuses on easing social distancing and reopening the Brazilian economy. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Brazil’s former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta who was fired by Mr Bolsonaro after a series of disagreements. Is President Bolsonaro putting his nation at risk?
May 11, 2020
US Democrat Senate Candidate Jaime Harrison: Joe Biden 'bringing calm to the storm we're in'
The Covid-19 death toll in the US has gone beyond 70,000 and scientists now expect it to go far beyond 100,000 within the next month. At the same time President Trump is doubling down on his calls for American states to relax the lockdown and get back to work. In this presidential election year dealing with the pandemic is now the dominant political issue. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to senior Democratic party official and candidate for the US Senate Jaime Harrison. Has Covid-19 changed America’s political landscape? (Photo: Jaime Harrison, senior Democratic Party official and candidate for the US Senate)
May 08, 2020
Dutch MEP Sophie in't Veld: 'Decline of the EU is possible but it's in our own hands'
The coronavirus pandemic has presented Europe with a massive challenge – and so far the EU’s response has been found wanting in several key respects. As the death toll has mounted and the economic damage worsened, European solidarity and coordinated action has been questioned by member states like Italy and Spain. Stephen Sackur speaks to the influential Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld. Has Covid-19 exposed the weakness at the heart of the European project? (Photo: Sophie in 't Veld, Dutch MEP)
May 04, 2020
Liu Xiaoming: Is China a victim of Covid-19 or the source of the problem?
As the global effort to control Covid-19 continues so arguments about culpability for the spread of the pandemic intensify. At the centre of the story is China, where the outbreak began. Did the Chinese government’s impulse to cover up the truth cost the world dear? Or did China respond with admirable determination? Stephen Sackur speaks to the veteran Chinese Ambassador in London Liu Xiaoming. Is China the villain or the hero of this pandemic? (Photo: Chinese Ambassador in London Liu Xiaoming. on the Andrew Marr show, 9 February, 2020. Credit: Reuters)
May 01, 2020
Jens Stoltenberg: Has Nato risen to the challenge of Covid-19?
The coronavirus pandemic is a multi-layered global crisis. It starts with public health, but it reaches deep into the world economy and the global security system too. Could Covid-19 fears be used for malign purposes? Will it enhance or undermine multi-lateral institutions? Stephen Sackur speaks to Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of Nato. Has his organisation risen to this massive challenge? (Photo: Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of Nato)
Apr 29, 2020
Yuval Noah Harari: Covid-19 - a new regime of surveillance?
The coronavirus pandemic has presented humanity with an almighty shock. Here we are, with our evermore interconnected, technologically-advanced societies, living in lockdown and fearful for our health and economic futures - thanks to an invisible virus. Stephen Sackur interviews Israeli historian and best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari. What 21st-century lesson can we draw from the spread of Covid-19? (Photo: Yuval Noah Harari lecture on artificial intelligence at the X World Future Evolution 2017, Beijing. Credit: Visual China Group/Getty Images)
Apr 27, 2020
Brian Cox: From poverty to Succession
Brian Cox, star of the global hit HBO drama Succession, is currently in New York, the US city worst affected by the virus. His long career has taken in everything from King Lear to the ruthless, media mogul Logan Roy in the HBO drama Succession. He defied childhood poverty and tragedy to make it; where does his fierce passion for acting come from?
Apr 26, 2020
David Nabarro: Is the WHO failing its greatest test?
With nation states across the world struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic, there’s an urgent need for an internationally coordinated response. That’s where the UN agency the World Health Organisation should have a vital role to play; but right now, the WHO is at the centre of a political storm. Donald Trump has withdrawn US funding, accusing the agency of being China-centric. Stephen Sackur speaks to David Nabarro, the WHO special envoy for Covid-19. Is the organisation failing its greatest test?
Apr 24, 2020
Zoltan Kovacs: Is the EU facing its first de facto dictatorship?
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted governments around the world to take emergency measures. Liberties have been restricted in the name of safeguarding public health, but no European nation has gone further than Hungary in the embrace of authoritarianism. In Hungary, democracy has in effect been suspended indefinitely. Stephen Sackur interviews the country’s State Secretary for International Communication, Zoltan Kovacs. Has Covid-19 ushered in the EU’s first de facto dictatorship? (Photo: Zoltan Kovacs via video link)
Apr 24, 2020
Ola Källenius: Surviving coronavirus's economic shock
Every day, the havoc wrought by the coronavirus pandemic on public health and on the global economy worsens. Economic activity beyond the barest of essentials has been frozen in much of the world. What on Earth will the economic landscape look like when this is over? Stephen Sackur interviews Ola Källenius, the CEO of Daimler, one of Europe's biggest vehicle manufacturers. What will it take to survive the greatest economic shock in most of our lifetimes?
Mar 27, 2020
Antonio Guterres: How should the UN fight Covid-19?
Zainab Bedawi talks to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, who has described the Covid-19 crisis as "a threat to the whole of humanity". How can the UN help countries fight the coronavirus?
Mar 26, 2020
Margaret Heffernan: Is it time to embrace uncertainty?
The worldwide spread of coronavirus and its significant negative impact on the global economy represents a powerful illustration of the perils of forecasting. Countries in lockdown, financial markets in turmoil; this isn’t the way 2020 was supposed to pan out. HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur interviews acclaimed writer and businesswoman Margaret Heffernan, who has just published a book on the fallacies of forecasting.
Mar 23, 2020
Laurence Boone: Is enough being done to prevent a recession?
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Laurence Boone, chief economist at the global economic forum, the OECD. Leaders around the world have adopted the language of war to capture the scale of the threat posed by coronavirus. But are they deploying the right weaponry, not just to protect public health, but to prevent a worldwide economic depression? Will we get the dramatic, coordinated, emergency intervention needed to stave off economic disaster?
Mar 20, 2020
Eoin Ó Broin: Will Sinn Fein be part of Ireland's government?
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Sinn Fein’s Eoin Ó Broin. Coronavirus is first and foremost a global health crisis. But its impacts go so much further. The economic damage is deep and worldwide, and political systems face profound challenges too. Ireland is a telling case study. Last month’s election left the country without a stable government. Eoin Ó Broin is a leading figure in Sinn Fein, the party that won the most votes, but failed to form a government. Does political uncertainty now make Ireland especially vulnerable?
Mar 18, 2020
Mufaddal Hamadeh: Is the world indifferent to Syria's sufffering?
Idlib, Syria’s sole remaining rebel province is on the verge of the biggest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century". So says the UN’s top official responsible for emergency relief. Almost a million civilians have fled their homes since December. Shaun Ley interviews Dr Mufaddal Hamadeh, president of the Syrian American Medical Society. He’s been to Idlib this year, and seen for himself the carnage of war, and how hospitals and clinics which should give sanctuary have been bombed. After nine years of war, have we become indifferent to Syria’s pain?
Mar 16, 2020
Ian Goldin: Will Covid-19 cause a new recession?
The Covid-19 crisis is not only a threat to people's health and wellbeing, it is already having severe financial consequences, which many fear will result in a crisis of the kind we saw over a decade ago. Zeinab Badawi interviews Ian Goldin, a professor on globalisation and development, who six years ago predicted that the next financial crash would be caused by a pandemic. Will his prophesy come to pass, or can this be averted?
Mar 13, 2020
Congressman Anthony Brown: Is Joe Biden really the best the Democrats can do?
The US political landscape has shifted dramatically in the last few weeks. The Democratic Party’s search for the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in November now seems likely to end with the nomination of a 77-year-old establishment politician, written off as ‘past it’ just a month ago. Is Joe Biden really the best the Democrats can do? And could the coronavirus crisis change everything? (Photo: Democrat Congressman Anthony Brown)
Mar 11, 2020
William Kentridge: The unnaturalness of apartheid
Zeinab Badawi is in Johannesburg, interviewing William Kentridge. He is considered one of the world’s greatest living artists. He is versatile, hard-hitting and his talent spans many different genres. How has South Africa’s difficult, violent and racist past influenced his work? (Photo: William Kentridge, Rome, 2015 Credit: Stefano Montesi/Corbis/Getty Images)
Mar 09, 2020
Gabriel Attal: Has the magic worn off France's Emmanuel Macron?
President Emmanuel Macron’s bold promise to break the political mould in France has collided with reality. His reform plans, from tax to pensions, have stirred a backlash against what protesters call his neo-liberal elitism. And as his internal problems have mounted, so too have doubts about his ability to be the EU’s visionary leader. HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur interviews Gabriel Attal, Minister for Youth and a rising star in the President’s En Marche party. Photo: Gabriel Attal Credit: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images
Mar 06, 2020
David Tait: Speaking out about sexual abuse
David Tait appeared to have a perfect life: all the trappings of a successful and highly lucrative career in the City of London, a wife and young family at home. But on the inside, he was in turmoil. He suffered sexual abuse as a child, which had catastrophic consequences into his adult life. After a breakdown that nearly cost him everything, he’s dedicated himself to increasing the awareness of abuse against children, and has climbed Everest five times to raise millions for charity. Has David Tait found a way to deal with the pain of the past?
Mar 04, 2020
Mmusi Maimane: Can his new party become a force in South Africa?
Hardtalk is in Cape Town to speak to Mmusi Maimane, who stood down last October as leader of the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance. In his first major interview to an international broadcaster since he left the DA, Zeinab Badawi asks Mmusi Maimane what his resignation says about the state of politics in South Africa and his ambitions for the new Movement for One South Africa which he hopes will become a new political force in the country
Mar 02, 2020
Professor David Heymann: The fight against coronavirus
"Get ready" is the message from health experts fighting COVID-19, the coronavirus. At least 80,000 people are already infected in more than 40 countries, and that number is expected to rise. Is the World Health Organisation moving fast enough? We speak to WHO adviser Professor David Heymann.
Feb 28, 2020
Dr Yasser Abu Jamei: Mental health in Gaza
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Dr Yasser Abu Jamei, director of Gaza’s biggest mental health program. The past few days have seen rising tension in Gaza – Islamist militants fired rockets into Israel; the Israelis responded with air strikes aimed at the Islamic Jihad group. Hardly unusual and certainly not the stuff of international headlines but that in itself is telling. In Gaza conflict is the norm, so too an economic blockade that has long choked the economy. What happens to a people living with trauma and collective despair?
Feb 26, 2020
Alan Dershowitz: Are the rich above the law?
In the United States all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law, but having money and power helps if you need legal difficulties to disappear. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to lawyer Alan Dershowitz. He's one of America’s most high profile and outspoken lawyers – his long list of past clients includes Claus von Bulow, OJ Simpson, Jeffrey Epstein and, yes, Donald Trump. Prof Dershowitz joined the legal team arguing for acquittal in the recent Senate impeachment trial. He’s a skilled lawyer, has he used those skills wisely? Photo: Alan Dershowitz (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Feb 24, 2020
Tarana Burke: What difference has #MeToo made?
Tarana Burke first coined the phrase MeToo, long before the Harvey Weinstein case. She continues to reach out to marginalised women and girls. What difference has the MeToo movement made to the bigger picture? (Photo: Tarana Burke at New York Fashion Week. Credit: Getty Images)
Feb 21, 2020
Halima Aden: Challenging supermodel stereotypes
The designer catwalk and the glossy magazine cover are powerful cultural signifiers. Top models who occupy those spaces are deemed to have a look that attracts and sells. But how diverse is that look? How inclusive? Stephen Sackur interviews Halima Aden, a supermodel who challenged a host of stereotypes. She is a refugee from Somalia’s civil war; she’s Muslim and follows a modest dress code. Hers has been an extraordinary journey to international fame and fortune - how has it changed her?
Feb 19, 2020
Agnes Callamard: Investigating the Khashoggi and Soleimani killings
There are international laws and norms designed to prohibit states from bumping off their enemies, internal or external. But look around the world, and its clear those laws are being violated, often with impunity. Stephen Sackur interviews Agnes Callamard, a renowned human rights investigator who serves as the UN Special Rapporteur on extra judicial killing. Given the scale of the problem, have her investigations become an exercise in futility?
Feb 17, 2020
Paul Krugman: Nobel Prize-winning economist warns of threat to America’s economic future
Remember the time when political discourse was founded on those quaint concepts - facts, evidence, and expertise? Now it seems partisanship infects every corner of the realm of ideas, according to Paul Krugman. Stephen Sackur interviews the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist, whose latest book suggests America’s political and economic future is threatened by zombie ideas peddled largely by America’s conservative movement. Has he become addicted to the partisan warfare he professes to despise?
Feb 14, 2020
Len McCluskey: What's the future of the UK Labour Party?
Like many of Europe’s long-established parties of the left, the UK Labour Party is in big trouble. In last December’s election, Labour wasn’t just beaten, it was humiliated, losing its grip on working-class heartlands in the midlands and the North. Stephen Sackur interviews Len McCluskey, who will have a big say in the choice of the party’s next leader. He leads the Unite Union, which is Labour’s biggest financial backer. Who can save Labour from a slow death?
Feb 12, 2020
John Kani: Art and activism
For a generation of black South African artists who came of age in the apartheid era, art and activism were intertwined; the liberation struggle was their life force. Now, a quarter of a century after Mandela became president, things are more complicated. Stephen Sackur speaks to John Kani, a giant of South African theatre. His career spans five decades of acting and writing. He’s been in Hollywood blockbusters, and is currently starring in his own West End play. What drives his artistic vision?
Feb 10, 2020