Jon Ronson

Things Fell Apart

Things Fell Apart

Strange stories from the history of the culture wars


Jon Ronson delves into the extraordinary history of our current cultural conflicts

'A thoroughly satisfying listen' Miranda Sawyer, The Guardian

From taking the knee to transgender rights, wedge issues are everywhere in modern life - dividing opinions, polarizing debate and tearing friendships and families apart. Even something as seemingly innocuous as wearing a facemask can provoke vicious disagreement. But how did we get here, and what does it mean for society going forward? In this gripping series, acclaimed writer and journalist Jon Ronson searches for the origin stories of the hostilities - the pebbles thrown in the pond, creating the ripples that led to where we are today.

His quest leads him from the Swiss Alps in the 1970s to contemporary Michigan, as he tracks down the cultural warriors involved in shaping some of the defining ideological battles of our era. Among them are filmmaker Frank Schaeffer, whose debut documentary triggered the explosive abortion rows that still rage over 40 years later; AIDs activist Steve Pieters, who prompted a crisis of conscience for televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker; Kelly Michaels, a daycare worker embroiled in America's 'Satanic panic'; and Brad Templeton, who shared a joke on a message board in the early days of the Internet - and became the very first person to be publicly shamed for something they did online.

Surprising, nuanced and full of unexpected twists, these amazing human stories shed new light on our most ferocious cultural clashes, illuminating how we got caught up in them - and what we can learn from them.

NB: Contains language which some may find offensive and deals with adult themes

Cast and credits
Written and presented by Jon Ronson
Produced by Sarah Shebbeare
Assistant Producer: Sam Peach
Original music by Phil Channell
Mixed by Bob Nettles
Editor: Philip Sellars

With Frank Schaeffer, Amanda Robb, Rev Rusty Thomas, Alice Moore, Rev Jim Lewis, Roger McGough, Rev Ron English, Christian Gregory, Jay Bakker, Steve Pieters, Bob Larson, Jon Trott, Kelly Michaels, Brad Templeton, Luisa D'Amato, Brian Reid, Eric Charles, John Sack

With thanks to Trey Kay
Archive from the PTL network's 'Tammy's House Party' and the 'PTL Club'

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 9 November-28 December 2021

© 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd
(p) 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd