This Union

This Union

A BBC Radio 4 series exploring the history and future of the U.K.


A BBC Radio 4 season exploring the history and future of the United Kingdom

In this remarkable collection exploring the state of the United Kingdom and the future of its union, five presenters examine the identities, history and struggles of the nations, and ask what keeps them together as a united country.

In the first episode, Jonathan Freedland and a team of historians and BBC correspondents take The Long View of the Union of the United Kingdom, at the constitutional, economic and cultural bonds between the nations, particularly after Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, and at three moments in the UK's history when its future was under similar scrutiny.

In A Sea Between Us, Andrea Catherwood looks back at the Ireland she left, when the the IRA was still active, the prospect of a united Ireland seemed remote, and unionist parties enjoyed a comfortable majority at the polls. Now, she meets voices from Belfast's unionist community, looks at the Northern Ireland Protocol's potential damage to Northern Ireland's place in the UK, and talks to those from a traditionally pro-union background, who now say they're agnostic about their country's place in the UK.

The Ghost Kingdoms of England sees Ian Hislop telling the stories of the four great Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms - East Anglia, Northumbria, Mercia and Wessex - celebrating their golden ages and trying to understand their journey from groupings of North Sea peoples to powerful kingdoms, and eventually a single entity. He talks to such varied experts as curator of Medieval coinage Gareth Williams, head of archeology at Durham University Sarah Semple, writer Bernard Cornwell, and art historian Janina Ramirez, as he uncovers how the regional identities have left their mark, and how the nations stabilised into becoming 'England'.

In Two Kingdoms, Allan Little presents the epic story of how and why Scotland entered into union with England, why that Union endured for so long, and the historic changes that have brought Scotland closer to independence than it's been since 1707. This is a story about the emergence of a powerful partnership forged in Empire, industry and war, and Allan asks what happens when their values diverge and then clash, with profound consequences for millions of people on both sides of the border.

The final episodes, Being Welsh, see Jeremy Bowen examine what it means to be Welsh, taking in Welsh politics, language, history and culture from the starting point of a Cardiff Stadium rugby match. With contributions from Jac Larner, Martin Johnes, and Siân James, as well as Rhys Jones, Rebecca Thomas, and Uzo Iwobi, Being Welsh investigates the distinct identities across the country, the construction of modern Wales, and the complicated relationship between Wales and England.

'Sensitive but to the point... clear and fair' Guardian

Presented by Jonathan Freedland, Andrea Catherwood, Ian Hislop, Allan Little and Jeremy Bowen
Produced by Mohini Patel, Conor Garrett, Tom Alban, Jonathan Brunert, Caitlin Smith and Glyn Tansley

The Long View
Produced by Mohini Patel
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2021

A Sea Between Us
Produced by Conor Garrett
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2021

The Ghost Kingdoms of England
Produced by Tom Alban
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in August 2021

Two Kingdoms
Produced by Jonathan Brunert and Caitlin Smith
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2021

Being Welsh
Produced by Glyn Tansley
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January and February 2022

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


  • 'Sensitive but to the point... clear and fair'

About the authors

Andrea Catherwood

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Ian Hislop

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Allan Little

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Jeremy Bowen

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