David Byrne


David Byrne was a founding member of the band Talking Heads. Born in Dumbarton, Scotland, he emigrated first to Canada and then to the USA before the age of ten.

He started playing in bands at school and, when art school didn't work out for him, he founded Talking Heads with a couple of friends. They played their first gig, opening for the Ramones, at the legendary New York club CBGB's, in June 1975. Eight studio albums later, cracks were beginning to show in the relations between band members, and by 1991 Talking Heads had officially split up.

Since then, he has enjoyed a solo career, and also made films, published photographic books, composed scores for musicals, created art installations and written books. He has received an Academy Award for Best Original Music Score, as well as a Golden Globe and a Grammy, for his soundtrack to the 1987 film The Last Emperor.

He and his fellow Talking Heads members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. He lives in New York and has a daughter in her late twenties from his 17 year marriage to Adelle Lutz.

Presenter: Kirsty Young
Producer: Cathy Drysdale.

John Gray


John Gray is a philosopher. His academic career included professorships at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, and visiting professorships at Harvard and Yale in the USA. He retired from academia in 2008, and has dedicated himself to writing full time since then. He is the lead book reviewer of the New Statesman and a regular contributor to the Guardian.

Born in 1948 in South Shields, his father was a Tyneside dock worker, his mother a homemaker. A voracious reader as a child, and encouraged by his history teacher at his grammar school, he won a scholarship to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford. Initially of the political Left, he became an advocate of the policies of the Right before the advent of Thatcherism. He then moved again to the Left. He supported the Leave cause in the Brexit referendum.

John contends that history is not progressive, but cyclical, and that any improvements other than certain scientific discoveries can be easily lost or reversed. He cites the use of torture against terror suspects as an example.

John has written several influential books, including False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism (1998), which predicted the global financial crisis; Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals (2002), which attacked philosophical humanism; and Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (2007), a critique of Utopian thinking in the modern world.

Presenter: Kirsty Young
Producer: Cathy Drysdale.