Four speakers to deliver the BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures 2022

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lord Rowan Williams, Darren McGarvey and Dr Fiona Hill to deliver lectures inspired by Franklin D Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech


BBC Radio 4

In the BBC’s centenary year, the Radio 4 Reith Lectures will be delivered by four speakers, each exploring one of the themes from Franklin D Roosevelt’s famous 1941 Four Freedoms speech: the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear.

The series of lectures will be recorded in London, Glasgow, Wales and Washington DC in late October and November. They will be broadcast on Radio 4 and the World Service towards the end of the year and they will be available on BBC Sounds.

Mohit Bakaya, Controller of Radio 4, says: “Freedom is one of the defining values of our age. It is the fault line drawn in so many of our contemporary debates about the nature of society and the kind of world we want to live in. However, there are different types of freedom and, in this BBC centenary year, I wanted to seek out four perspectives on this complex idea based on FDRs famous Four Freedoms speech – a speech made in 1941 at such a precarious moment for the world. I’m delighted that these four brilliant thinkers have agreed to explore freedom as it relates to their knowledge and expertise.”

Chimamanda Adichie will explore freedom of speech in her lecture. Born in Nigeria in 1977, Ngozi Adichie is a multi-award winning author. Her 2013 novel Americanah won the US National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of The New York Times Top Ten Best Books of 2013. In November 2020, Half of a Yellow Sun was voted by the public to be the best book to have won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in its 25-year history. Her 2012 TEDx Euston talk We Should All Be Feminists started a worldwide conversation about feminism and was published as a book in 2014. She was named as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2015, and in 2017 Fortune Magazine named her one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

Lord Rowan Williams will explore freedom of worship in his lecture. He will discuss how religious freedom is the basis of political freedom, as well as the current state of religious freedom around the world. Rowan Douglas Williams is a bishop, theologian and poet. He was born in Swansea, south Wales in 1950, into a Welsh-speaking family. Williams was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, a position he held from December 2002 to December 2012. From 2012 to 2020, he was Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge and chair of the international development charity, Christian Aid. He continues to write on cultural and political issues for the New Statesman.

Darren McGarvey will explore freedom from want in his lecture. He will discuss themes of inequality and poverty, and of personal responsibility and system change. McGarvey is the Orwell Prize-winning author of Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain's Underclass, and The Social Distance Between Us: How Remote Politics Wrecked Britain. As his critically-acclaimed musical alter-ego Loki, McGarvey is one of Scotland’s most influential urban music artists. His recent works include Government Issue Music Protest and Trigger Warning; two interconnected conceptual albums exploring themes of identity, class and nationalism.

Dr Fiona Hill will explore freedom from fear in her lecture. 1922 welcomed the birth of the BBC, but it was also the year that marked the creation of Soviet Ukraine (following the Russian Revolution and Civil War 1917 - 1921), and a year which saw a rise in organised working class movements. Hill will draw upon this time in history, and discuss how knowledge can help us alley our fears and better understand the world. Fiona Hill is a foreign affairs specialist originally from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, who advised Presidents George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. In 2017 she joined the National Security Council at the White House as deputy assistant to THE President AND Senior Director for Europe and Russia. She left the administration in 2019 and later that year testified to the US Congress as a witness in the hearings which led up to Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020.

The lectures will be chaired by presenter, journalist and author, Anita Anand.

Audiences can apply for free tickets to the recordings from Monday October 3, via the BBC website:


About The Reith Lectures

The Reith Lectures were inaugurated in 1948 by the BBC to mark the historic contribution made to public service broadcasting by Sir John (later Lord) Reith, the corporation's first director-general.

John Reith maintained that broadcasting should be a public service which enriches the intellectual and cultural life of the nation. It is in this spirit that the BBC each year invites a leading figure to deliver a series of lectures on radio. The aim is to advance public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest.

The very first Reith lecturer was the philosopher, Bertrand Russell who spoke on 'Authority and the Individual'. Among his successors were Robert Oppenheimer (Science and the Common Understanding, 1953) and J.K. Galbraith (The New Industrial State, 1966). The Reith Lectures have also been delivered by the Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks (The Persistence of Faith, 1990), Onora O’Neill (A Question of Trust, 2002), Daniel Barenboim (In The Beginning Was Sound, 2006) and Michael Sandel (A New Citizenship, 2009). Most recently the Reith Lecturers have been Stephen Hawking (Black Holes, 2016), Kwame Anthony Appiah (Mistaken Identities, 2016), Hilary Mantel (Resurrection: The Art And Craft, 2017), Margaret MacMillan (The Mark of Cain, 2018), Jonathan Sumption (Law and the Decline of Politics, 2019), Mark Carney (How We Get What We Value 2020) and Stuart Russell (Living With Artificial Intelligence 2021).

The Reith Archive is available here:

Source BBC Radio 4

October 3, 2022 4:00am ET by BBC Radio 4  

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