Val McDermid on Miss Marple; Sarah Harding's death; Sam Quek; Japanese 'Womeneconomics'

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Miss Marple is one of the classic heroines of crime fiction. Quick-witted, devilishly observant and with a keen sense of justice, Jane Marple has delighted readers since she first appeared in a series of short stories by Agatha Christie in 1927. But now, almost a century later, she is being given a new lease of life in a collection of short stories penned by twelve of today's most famous crime writers, due out next year. Queen of crime fiction Val McDermid joins Emma to talk about writing one of the stories, and why she believes an elderly spinster makes for the perfect super-sleuth. Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding died at the weekend, aged just 39 from breast cancer following a diagnosis last summer. In her memoir, Sarah admitted she avoided seeing her doctor because of coronavirus and revealed how she thought she had a cyst before her diagnosis. We know that the number of urgent GP referrals for cancer dropped by 60% in April compared with the same month last year, latest figures for England show. Government data also show that the number of people starting treatment following a GP urgent referral declined by 18% in the same period. Emma speaks to Deborah James aka Bowel Babe from the BBC Podcast You Me and the Big C, and Kris Hallenga, founder of the charity Coppafeel, about their reactions to Sarah's death. A Question of Sport is the world's longest TV sports quiz - it first appeared on our TV screens way back in 1970 and has clocked up 1,295 episodes - but it took until Friday night for Sam Quek to make history as the first ever female team captain. The 2016 Olympic Gold winning hockey player features in the new revamped BBC series alongside other team captain former rugby player Ugo Monye. While Sam joins the programme, the long running host and former tennis player Sue Barker has been replaced by the comedian and TV presenter Paddy McGuiness. Sam Quek joins Emma. The Japanese Prime Minister has announced he is standing down. His popularity was at an all time low, and because of Covid many in Japan are very unhappy that the Olympics and Paralympics were held there. The Prime Minister took over from Shinzo Abe, who introduced a policy called Womeneconomics. This was a five year plan which ended last year, and aimed to get more women into the workforce and up the career ladder. Abe vowed to make women 'shine', and set a goal for them to hold 30% percent of leadership positions by 2020. So why did this deadline quietly pass without getting close to its target? Emma speaks to Kathy Matsui, who coined the term 'Womenomics' in 1999 and to Cynthia Usui - author of the Japanese book Eight Things Full-Time Housewives Should do Before Entering the Workforce. Boris Johnson is making a statement in the House of Commons today, defending his handling of the Afghanistan crisis and reiterating his vow to use 'every economic, political and diplomatic lever' to help Afghans. On Saturday, for a second day in a row, women marched through Kabul, the Afghan capital demanding their freedoms are guaranteed following the Taliban takeover. The group say the Taliban broke up the demonstration, targeting them with tear gas and pepper spray as they tried to walk to the presidential palace. BBC Correspondent Yalda Hakim joins Emma to discuss this and other developments for women in Afghanistan. Image: Joan Hickson as Miss Marple in the 1984 BBC TV adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel The Body in the Library.

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