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A podcast for people who like the unexpected. Join the surgeon and academic Professor Roger Kneebone in conversation with unorthodox people whose careers defy traditional boundaries and who swim against the tide. Many of the people in Countercurrent feature in my new book Expert: Understanding the Path to Mastery (Penguin Viking, 2020) https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/313/313248/expert/9780241392058.html
 
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show series
 
Jeff Bezemer and I discuss our collaboration aimed at making sense of the operating theatre as a pedagogic space. Jeff’s background in applied linguistics and ethnomethodology gives him completely different perspectives from mine as a surgeon. In this podcast we explore points of intersection between our different ways of looking at professional co…
 
The moral philosopher Onora O’Neill (Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve) has a longstanding fascination with trustworthiness. She has explored these ideas extensively, through writing and broadcasting (including her 2002 BBC Reith Lectures). Her 2022 book A Philosopher Looks at Digital Communication examines the impact of contemporary forms of communicat…
 
As a postdoctoral synthetic chemist, Luke Delmas is fascinated by the challenges of conducting experimental work and teaching students the skills of the laboratory. He is a core member of the Chemical Kitchen project at Imperial, where undergraduate students gain laboratory skills by mastering culinary tasks.…
 
Sarah Whatley trained as a dancer. She has a longstanding interest in how dance and choreography intersect with ways of thinking about movement in other professional areas. In this podcast we uncover unexpected similarities between our experiences in dance, medicine and education.
 
Even as a child, Nina Baker was unorthodox. In her first career, she became the first female navigating officer in the British Merchant Navy. After several years on BP tankers she went to university to study engineering, then completed a PhD in concrete studies at Liverpool University. Later she became a research administrator at Glasgow and Strath…
 
Johnny Messum has a background in art history. In 2016 he established Messums Wiltshire, a multi-purpose gallery and arts centre in a converted 13th century tithe barn in Tisbury, near Salisbury. In this conversation we discuss the nature of craftsmanship and explore the triangular relationship between artist/maker, gallerist and buyer/collector, w…
 
Kishor Gulabivala specialises in endodontics and restorative dentistry. His work requires him to integrate different forms of perception and intervention in order to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the inner contours of his patients’ teeth. We discuss how he gained these skills himself and how he passes them on to those he teaches.…
 
Alex Auerbach is sport psychologist and Director of Wellness and Development for the Toronto Raptors, an elite basketball team based in Canada. In this conversation we discuss the nature of coaching and psychological support for individuals and teams. We uncover intriguing parallels between our experiences in sports coaching and GP training.…
 
Rick and I collaborated on Experimental Words, a project bringing together the perspectives of artists and scientists through the medium of poetry. In this conversation we explore Rick’s approach to collaborative work, bringing together his background in psychology with his work as a poet and performance artist. https://experimentalwords.bandcamp.c…
 
Ben Thomas’s description of his role as an independent financial adviser resonates with my experience as a clinician, and especially as a general practitioner. For both of us, our roles involve developing relationships of trust and care against a background of professional knowledge and experience. In this podcast we explore the similarities and di…
 
Ben Griffiths has been the Aurora Orchestra’s Principal double bass player since 2012. The orchestra is widely known for its electrifying performances of symphonies played entirely from memory. In this conversation we examine role of risk in professional performance, whether in music or medicine.
 
Tilda Lewis has a longstanding fascination with historical costume design and creation, having studied at Wimbledon College of Arts. Especially passionate about eighteenth century women’s hats and bonnets, Tilda talks to me about the role of ‘trimming’ at that time, and the subtleties of hat-wearing then and now.…
 
Alan Powers has been fascinated by twentieth century architecture throughout his career. Alongside his work as an architectural historian and teacher he is a well-known author, watercolour artist and print maker. In this conversation we explore similarities and differences between our ways of seeing and thinking. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_…
 
Edwina Ibbotson is a couture milliner who studied in London, New York and Paris. She’s known for combining striking designs with meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail. Based in London, she is a member of the British Hat Guild and the Art Workers’ Guild and has had work exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum. http://www.edwinaibbotson.…
 
Peter Morris is managing director of the London-based architectural practice AAHM (Alford, Hall, Monaghan, Morris). He and his partners design buildings with a huge variety of scale and style. In this conversation we discuss similarities and differences between practising architecture and medicine and explore the role of the ‘expert generalist’. ht…
 
Geoffrey Durham’s career as a stage magician has been through many stages, from his early days in variety and his persona as The Great Soprendo, his later years as a performer in his own name, and his current work mentoring and coaching other professional magicians. We discuss the techniques of stage magic and Geoffrey’s ability to transfix an audi…
 
Logan Murray is well known in the world of stand up comedy. We explore how Logan helps people ‘bring their inner idiot out to play’, finding aspects of themselves they didn’t know were there. Alongside the obvious differences between medicine and comedy we discover unexpected parallels with aspects of clinical communication. https://loganmurray.com…
 
Ian Shircore combines a career writing books under his own name with his work as a ghost writer for others. After discussing his recent book about the decades-long songwriting partnership of Clive James and Pete Atkin and another about Clive James’s poetry, we explore the world of ghost writing. Ian outlines how he uses his writing skills to captur…
 
Equally at home with jazz, classical repertoire and works by contemporary composers, Simon Mulligan is one of the world’s leading pianists. A gifted composer himself, Simon has worked with musicians from many traditions. In this conversation we explore ideas around improvisation, genres and technical skill - and talk about responding to unexpected …
 
Dr Sally Frampton is a medical historian who focuses on developments in surgery. Her 2018 book Belly Rippers traces the development of abdominal surgery in the nineteenth century. We discuss our different perspectives on the world of surgery and talk about our work documenting the development of keyhole surgery in the 1980s through simulation-based…
 
Paul Craddock’s 2021 book Spare Parts: A Surprising History of Transplants brings together his interests in cultural history, writing and engagement. In this podcast we discuss how he came to write the book and talk about the ideas within it. We look back at our collaborations over many years and explore how our ideas have shaped one another’s thin…
 
Bill Beswick has decades of experience as a top-level sports coach and pioneering sports psychologist. In this podcast we explore his approach to working with diverse teams, asking how the question ‘if a coach supports the players, who supports the coach?’ resonates with clinical practice. https://billbeswick.com…
 
Simon Akam is a British writer and journalist who studied journalism in New York before working all over West Africa as a freelance correspondent. He writes for the Economist’s 1843 magazine and other publications. His 2021 book The Changing of the Guard, telling the inside story of the British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11, has proved hi…
 
Miss Sarah Itam is a consultant urological surgeon with a special interest in male and female reconstructive urology. She is passionate about communication, education and engagement, inspiring young people from all backgrounds. She gained a Distinction in the Masters in Education in Surgical Education which I lead at Imperial College London. She is…
 
The classicist Dr Emily Kneebone talks to me about her recent book Oppian’s Halieutica: Charting a Didactic Epic (published by Cambridge University Press in September 2020). We discuss how Oppian's overlooked 3,500-line poem from the second century AD provides insights into relationships between people, fish and nature in the ancient world - issues…
 
Alexandru Bolboaca has developed the idea of software design and engineering as an instance of craftsmanship. In this conversation he describes the nature of his work, and we explore its similarities with words, musical notation and other forms of expression through symbols. Alex's podcast Think. Design. Work Smart explores issues around adapting t…
 
Jeff Mills served a four-year apprenticeship in the 1980s, learning every aspect of his trade through constant repetition. As he became more experienced he began to lead teams of painters, working on large construction projects. Now he focuses more on small-scale work where he can attend to every aspect of a job himself. In this conversation we exc…
 
In addition to his career as a rheumatologist, Ronan is the medical director of dotMD, which he describes as ‘a two day festival of curiosity for doctors and healthcare practitioners looking for more from medicine’. This brings together his interests in medicine, music and the arts. Our conversation ranges across looking after patients with chronic…
 
From her early days as a Principal at the Royal Opera House, Teresa Cahill has sung all over the world and worked with leading opera companies and conductors. She has a wide and eclectic repertoire and a longstanding fascination with bel canto. In addition to performing she is a professor in the vocal department of Trinity Laban, London. In this co…
 
David Hockings is Head of Percussion at the Royal College of Music and Principal Percussionist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He’s much in demand as a performer and a teacher and has worked with all the major London symphony orchestras. As Principal Percussionist with the London Sinfonietta he plays highly demanding contemporary music involving a…
 
Marnie Chesterton is radio producer and presenter who works with scientists to explore listeners’ questions about science. She is also passionate about stand-up comedy. In this podcast we develop ideas around performance and presentation, exploring explore parallels between Marnie’s experience in broadcasting and mine in medicine.…
 
Martin is a solo jazz and finger style guitarist who has won countless awards and performed all over the world. He started his career at the age of three. A self-taught guitarist, he has played with some of the world’s leading musicians, including Stephane Grappelli, George Harrison, Bill Wyman and Chet Atkins. He is an inspirational teacher and es…
 
Stuart Greengrass is fascinated by the interplay between technology and professional practice. He worked across professional boundaries throughout his career and played a pivotal role in the pioneering days of keyhole surgery in the 1980s, working as part of a collaborative team led by the late Mr John Wickham.…
 
Izzy Mant, screenwriter and comedian, is a BAFTA-winning producer of scripted comedy for television. She has directed theatre, live comedy and radio, and she wrote and performed her hour-long stand-up debut POLITE CLUB for the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe. We discuss how how the idea of performance plays out in our different worlds. https://www.izzymant.c…
 
Jonathan Burrows trained as a dancer with the Royal Ballet before forming his own group and developing his career as a choreographer. He collaborates widely and his longstanding work with the composer and performer Matteo Fargion has continued over decades. In this conversation we explore the idea of choreography within and beyond the world of danc…
 
David Dolan is a concert pianist, teacher and researcher who has spent much of his career reintegrating classical improvisation into his performances. This is in the spirit of what was standard practice in musical performance up until the twentieth century. In this podcast we explore the idea of improvisation in classical music and in conversation.…
 
Sam Gallivan is a consultant-level hand surgeon who is fascinated by ideas of narrative and cross-disciplinary exploration. In August 2020 she was featured on BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought, exploring the craft of surgery. In this conversation we discuss our experiences in the world of medicine and beyond. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000ls8m…
 
As an academic, David Dobson performs high-pressure experiments on deep Earth rocks and minerals. He’s also a passionate climber, mountaineer and expedition leader. In addition he’s a talented self-taught artist and a member of the Society of Wood Engravers. In this podcast we explore how these strands come together in his work and unpick similarit…
 
Alongside her many research and academic commitments, Susan Standring has been the editor-in-chief of Gray’s Anatomy for twenty years and will be stepping down from her role once the 42nd edition is published. For Susan, anatomy is about looking and making sense of what you see - whether at a gross, microscopic or molecular level. In this podcast w…
 
Jeanie Finlay is an artist and documentary film maker. Her 8 films include Seahorse, Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, and Game of Thrones: The Last Watch. In this podcast she describes her approach to film making and we explore parallels with other kinds of expert performance - including medicine https://www.jeaniefinlay.com…
 
Michele Clapton has a stellar career as a costume designer, winning many awards for her creative work in film and television. Her designs for Game of Thrones and The Crown are widely acclaimed. In this conversation we explore how she inspires and brings together teams of craftspeople as she develops her vision for each production.…
 
Mark Wilson specialises in treating patients with brain injuries and is an expert in pre-hospital care. He’s worked in extreme environments all over the world and has been part of a NASA team monitoring intracranial pressure in astronauts. He was awarded an OBE in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours, recognising his pioneering work developing the Goo…
 
Sir Antony Gormley RA is a well-known British sculptor who tries to ‘identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise’. In this conversation we explore how our perspectives from art and medicine intersect and sometimes overlap. https://www.antonygormley.com…
 
Dave Gibbons is best known for the iconic Watchmen, which he wrote with Alan Moore and John Higgins. His recent book How Comics Work, written with Tim Pilcher, explains the complex processes of design and development, with many examples of his own work. In this extended conversation we explore the world of comics and graphic novels and discuss poin…
 
Eleanor Crook trained in sculpture at Central Saint Martin’s and the Royal Academy Schools. She is widely known for her wax sculptures inspired by human anatomy and for the emotional intensity of her work. In this podcast we explore the regions where sculpture, anatomy and medicine intersect. https://eleanorcrook.net…
 
Justin Margovan has been providing his technical expertise for my Countercurrent podcasts since the series started in August 2014. In this podcast we discuss his varied career and explore how his experience as a DJ and his expertise in becoming a ‘curator of music’ has fed into his current role at the Wellcome Trust.…
 
Mr Dan Saleh, a consultant in Newcastle, is an expert in reconstruction after complex cancer surgery. In this conversation we start by discussing the unique characteristics of this branch of surgery and the skills of moving living tissue from one part of a patient’s body to another. We then explore issues around face transplantation, an area which …
 
Hannah Peel has a distinguished career as a musician. As a composer and performer she works with a wide variety of styles and approaches. Her latest soundtrack album is for The Deceived (Channel 5). In this podcast we discover unexpected parallels between our worlds of music and medicine and agree on the importance of close listening. http://www.ha…
 
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