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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/313248/expert/9780241392034.html
 
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show series
 
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…
 
Chau-Jean Lin’s company Marulin is all about tea. Chau-Jean’s family has been growing oolong tea in Taiwan for five generations. She herself trained as a materials scientist and engineer, living and working in France, the Netherlands and the UK before establishing her own company. Working with a co-operative of tea farmers, including family and fri…
 
Sheridan Tongue is a composer, performer and songwriter, well known for composing music for programmes including Silent Witness and the recent BBC Northern Ireland series Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History. In this podcast we explore points of connection between his career and mine, especially around the need for attentiveness, team-workin…
 
Brian Lobel is Professor of Theatre and Performance at Rose Bruford College. His personal experience of cancer when he was 20 has shaped his career as a performer and a passionate advocate for patients’ voices. Brian and I got to know one another when we were both Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellows, and we share an interest in crossing conventional …
 
Ollie Howell is a jazz performer and composer whose career crosses many disciplinary boundaries. As a music student specialising in jazz drumming, Ollie needed neurosurgery for an Arnold-Chiari malformation of the brain. While recovering he composed his first album Sutures and Stitches. Since then he was awarded a prestigious Sky Academy Arts Schol…
 
Luke Blair began his career as a newspaper journalist for the Reading Chronicle. He then became a lobby journalist and political correspondent before moving into communications for many public and private sector organisations. In his current role at Imperial College London he bridges the worlds of education, research and external relationships. In …
 
Andy McKillop was an editor and publisher for many years, becoming Publishing Director at Random House and reading up to 40 books every week. In 2003 he suffered a stroke which radically affected his speech and language. Unable to continue in his former role, he underwent a long period of speech therapy during his recovery. He then changed directio…
 
Roger Neighbour is well known to GPs as the author of The Inner Consultation and The Inner Apprentice, two books which had a powerful influence over Roger Kneebone when he was a GP. In this conversation we discuss how Neighbour combined his interests in medicine, psychology, Zen Buddhism and clinical medicine to write books which have shaped what i…
 
Howard Williams is a distinguished musician who has conducted many leading orchestras in the UK and across the world, including the English National Opera and Royal Ballet. He is professor of conducting at the Royal College of Music and has a particular interest in teaching conductors. In this conversation we explore parallels between our experienc…
 
Will Liddell studied zoology at university before working on cotton pests in South America. He then changed direction, studied medicine, and eventually became a general practitioner. In this conversation we discuss how his many interests, including Neuro-Linguistic Programming, have fed into his clinical work over the years. Will also owns a farm a…
 
Erma Hermans combines academic knowledge with practical skill. Trained as a painting conservator and holding a doctorate in art history, Erma is also an art teacher and has a wide knowledge of fine and decorative arts. In this conversation we discuss what it means to become an ‘expert generalist’, exploring parallels between her world and my experi…
 
David Roach started his career by training to become a professional footballer. Injuries compelled him to change direction and he became a personal trainer and sports coach, working with clients at every level of fitness. David’s passion is climbing, which he sees as a kind of three dimensional chess - combining strength, agility, problem-solving a…
 
Tabitha Tuckett’s career has moved across poetry, Classics and Renaissance literature. She has been an editor at the Oxford English Dictionary. As a musician she specialises in baroque cello and has performed and taught extensively. In this podcast we explore what it means to cross disciplinary boundaries and discuss ideas around identity and chang…
 
Darren McHugh started his career as an actor and playwright before changing direction and joining the world of fine dining. He has been at The Ledbury for seven years, where his responsibilities extend from front of house dining to the financial and organisational sides of the restaurant. He sees developing his team as central to his role and he be…
 
Averil Mansfield’s career was in vascular surgery. A consultant surgeon at St Mary’s Hospital in London, in 1993 she became the first female professor of surgery in the United Kingdom. In addition to her clinical practice, teaching and research, she has been a role model for women in surgery, establishing Women in Surgical Training (WIST). An accom…
 
A pianist by training, George Waddell’s many interests include the evaluation of performance and the role of technologies in music education. Brought up in rural Manitoba (where his parents are both vets), he studied piano in Brandon before moving to London for his PhD in performance science at the Royal College of Music. He researches and teaches …
 
Professor Sara Rankin is a leading scientist in the field of stem cell and leukocyte research. Throughout her career she has crossed disciplinary boundaries, working with experts across medicine, science and the arts. She only recognised her own dyslexia and dyspraxia in mid-career. In our conversation we explore the drawbacks and benefits of neuro…
 
In this podcast we discuss Merlin’s work as an medical illustrator, exploring her fascination with narrative and the need to make sense of people’s stories. Merlin’s unorthodox career has moved from studying English and History at university to developing a widening array of skills around illustration, including drawing, painting, wax modelling and…
 
Fulceri Bruni Roccia’s career and interests cross many disciplinary boundaries. From his long experience in the world of banking he became Visiting Professor on Global Political Economy at the University of Bologna. In this podcast we discuss the the opportunities and challenges of changing direction and becoming an expert generalist connector.…
 
Paul Smith has been singing since he was a child. In 2005 he co-founded VOCES8, now one of the worlds leading vocal ensembles, with his brother Barnaby. He is passionate about music education and the importance of music at all stages of life. We explore how VOCES8 combine vocal precision with intensive listening and discuss parallels with the world…
 
Lewis Macleod is one the UK’s leading voice actors. Well known for his wide-ranging roles, from Start Wars to Postman Pat, Lewis is a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Dead Ringers, where his Donald Trump is a particular favourite. In this conversation we explore the range and diversity of Lewis’s interests and discuss how his use of voice and silence in sa…
 
Alison Joseph is the author of the Sister Agnes series of crime novels featuring a detective nun. In this podcast we discuss how Alison’s background as a philosopher, a documentary film maker and a writer of radio plays has shaped her career as a successful novelist. We explore her fascination with particle physics and discuss how conversations wit…
 
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