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Bristol Unpacked

Bristol City FC and the highs and lows of the beautiful game with football journalist

Season 3, Ep. 14

Big appointments, fan dissent and the trials and tribulations of covering Bristol City FC with Bristol Live’s dedicated club reporter, Gregor Macgregor. Neil and Gregor chat about nurturing talent, why City struggle sometimes and what’s next for the south Bristol team.

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  • 2. Bristol Unpacked Election Special - Jos Clark // Liberal Democrats

    Jos Clark is an experienced local councillor now leading the Lib Dems into Bristol's local elections. A party that used to have strong support in the city has seen its seats dwindle over the last decade. The critic of Marvin Rees and the mayoral system, who helped manoeuvre the referendum on introducing the new committee system, talks to Neil Maggs about libraries, Bristol's failing bus services and her prediction that Labour will take a kicking after eight years in powerSubscribe to The Bristol Cable on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
  • 1. Bristol Unpacked Election Special - Tom Renhard // Labour

    Just three years after being first elected as a councillor, Labour's Tom Renhard is now leading the party into May's local elections.Neil Maggs asks him about his record as the city's housing chief, why he thinks the Greens aren't up to the task of being in power and Labour's plans for building new homes, campaigning for rent controls and bringing buses back into public ownership.Subscribe to The Bristol Cable on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your audio.
  • 6. Salma Najjar on experiencing the Gaza war as a Palestinian in the UK

    Salma, a lawyer who spent her childhood in Gaza, shares the 'dystopian' experience of life under occupation and knowing your family are in a war zone, as well as discussing happier memories and pro-Palestinian activism in the UK.Content warning: contains graphic descriptions of war and violenceSalma Hajjar is a young trainee solicitor who spent her childhood up to age eight in Gaza, where decades of oppression and violence have been succeeded by a return to the horrors of all-out war.In the latest episode of Bristol Unpacked, the last of the current run, Salma offers a devastating personal perspective on the war – which has taken the lives of some of her loved ones – and on the “dystopian” experience of living under occupation. She reflects on happier memories of the beauty of Gaza – its beaches, its food and its community – and on the pain and loss of being separated from home, and the desire to return one day. Salma, who has now lived in Bristol for five years, also discusses her love for the city, the solidarity she has found, including from Jewish friends, and the value of activism in changing public opinions – and holding politicians’ feet to the fire.With the International Court of Justice recently demanding measures to reduce the suffering inflicted on Palestinian civilians – and continuing to weigh a genocide case brought against Israel by South Africa – pressure for a ceasefire in Gaza is continuing to mount. But under what conditions can such a deal take place? Do the court’s actions go far enough? And are there any grounds for longer-term optimism around an end to Israeli-Palestinian conflict and progress towards a two-state solution?Join Salma and Neil Maggs for a sometimes harrowing but always thought-provoking finale to the winter season of Bristol Unpacked – and with elections on the horizon, be sure to stay tuned for the team’s next moves during the spring.Subscribe to The Bristol Cable on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your audio.
  • 5. Ruth Pitter on the role of the charity sector, pioneering Black theatre and her recent MBE

    Neil chats to Ruth, a daughter of the Windrush generation, on her decades of work with Bristol's voluntary and community groups, how that's changed as public services have been cut – and whether she feels conflicted about receiving an honour associated with empireRuth Pitter has been a stalwart of Bristol’s voluntary sector for decades – and in January 2024 was awarded an MBE as part of the New Year’s honours list for ‘services to equality, charity and community’ in the city.This has included work with Voscur, the umbrella organisation that supports Bristol’s voluntary sector, and SARI, which battles racism and provides support for people who have faced hate crimes. She has also been a pioneer in the local community arts space, co-founding two unique theatre companies – Breathing Fire and Black Women Let Loose – for women of African and Caribbean heritage.Ruth’s career has spanned a period during which councils have faced massive cuts, with community organisations expanding and competing to fill the resulting gaping holes in services – and often bringing innovation to how things have done. What is the role of the voluntary sector these days? Is it right that things have to be this way in the UK? Do countries like Germany, where the state still takes care of things, offer a better model?What has been the impact of Ruth’s theatre companies among communities who are much less likely to feel represented in the audience – or the productions – of mainstream Bristol theatres such as the Old Vic? And as a daughter of the Windrush generation who has spent her life fighting for fairness, does Ruth feel conflicted about accepting an honour that is inextricably linked to empire? Lock in with Neil and Ruth as they chew over these questions and many more, in the latest unmissable episode of Bristol Unpacked.
  • 4. BBC journalist Lucy Proctor on mad cows, Covid and conspiracy theories

    Bristol Unpacked with BBC journalist Lucy Proctor on mad cows, Covid and conspiracy theoriesThirty years ago, BSE was spreading across the UK while the government insisted beef was safe. Neil asks Lucy, producer of The Cows are Mad podcast, about the scandal – and how conspiracy theories have thrived as trust in the establishment has nosedived.Over the past few years, BBC podcast producer Lucy Proctor has built a reputation for shining a much broader and more searching beam into the world of conspiracy theories than most other mainstream journalists.Last year, her 10-part series The Cows Are Mad looked back more than 30 years to the BSE scandal, which sent shockwaves through Britain's meat industry. It re-examined how the UK government repeated the line that beef was safe, with those questioning the mantra dismissed as cranks. Since 1996, 177 people have gone on to die from the human form of 'mad cow disease'. But the truth of its origins remains a mystery, leaving theories to fill the vacuum.The intervening 30 years have seen public trust in the establishment nosedive, both here and across the Atlantic. Competing narratives, misinformation and politicians' lies over a more recent public health crisis, Covid, have only fuelled the process. As Lucy and her colleague Gabriel Gatehouse explored in their 2022 podcast The Coming Storm, which looked at the QAnon movement in the States, it’s becoming increasingly difficult even to agree on what’s real any more.So how did we get here? What has been the impact of mainstream media skirting round difficult issues, failing to report important stories properly and reducing people with ‘fringe’ views to caricatures? How have canny operators exploited information gaps and deployed social media to supercharge the spread of conspiracy theories? And is there any way back for trust in the powers that be?Join Lucy and Neil as they chew over these weighty questions and, getting back to mad cow disease, discuss whether Bristol was ground zero for the epidemic. It’s almost certainly lashing down as you read this, so find somewhere dry and cosy and settle in for the first Unpacked of 2024…
  • 3. Watershed CEO Clare Reddington on cinema, class and council cuts

    Listen: Bristol Unpacked with Watershed CEO Clare Reddington on cinema, class and council cutsAs Bristol City Council slashes spending on venues including arthouse cinema Watershed, Neil asks its boss Clare why funding the arts matters, and whether the sector's reputation as catering mainly to the well-heeled is justified. Over the past year Clare Reddington, the chief executive of Bristol's flagship arthouse cinema Watershed, has not been shy about fighting her corner in the midst of a tough financial environment.Back in the summer Clare, who has been at the venue for 20 years and in charge for four, sounded a warning that indie cinemas' business model was under threat from soaring inflation and the big streaming operators gobbling their market share. This month she blasted Bristol City Council bosses for lacking a "clear cultural strategy" after they cut funding from Watershed as well as other renowned arts centres including the Old Vic theatre.With the cash-strapped local authority struggling to keep crucial services such as social care afloat, is this simply entitled moaning from a venue – and sector – seen by some as catering mainly to well-heeled cinephiles still able to afford £6 pints alongside their culture fix? Or does that viewpoint itself represent a bad case of inverted snobbery by suggesting that only the middle classes enjoy a bit of high art?Why does it matter that the arts get funded, even while public services are getting sliced left, right and centre? Is the picture in Bristol really bleaker than in other provincial cities? And do the market pressures facing the wider cinema industry – which have seen big operators closing their doors here recently – present an opportunity for canny independents to grow their business and boost their inclusivity?As 2023 draws to a close, join Neil and Clare for a wide-ranging chat over these issues in the final Bristol Unpacked of the year. We'll be returning right after the Christmas break for the rest of the season, so stay tuned.
  • 2. ACORN's Wesley Bear on the Barton House evacuation and housing activism in the city

    In the last few months, Wesley Bear has been at the forefront of actions by ACORN. That's the community union known nationally for taking direct action to stand up for tenants' rights, which originated in Bristol almost a decade ago.On 17 November Wesley, ACORN's communications officer, was involved in an altercation with security guards at the Holiday Inn in Bristol city centre. Residents of the Barton House tower block evacuated that week have been temporarily housed in the hotel – in conditions many have complained are far from suitable for families. A recording heard at the start of this week's episode captures Wesley trying to speak to Bristol's mayor, Marvin Rees, during the incident, which he claims ended with him being assaulted by those security staff. The exchange, in which Wesley calls Rees a "villain" of the situation, marks the latest downward spiral in relations between the mayor – and the council more widely – and ACORN activists.Over recent weeks the union has been calling out the council over its handling of the high-rise evacuation. People were moved out very suddenly over fears the structure is unsafe – and ACORN is calling for an independent inquiry into what happened. It's also been taking the council to task over proposals to reduce council tax relief for the poorest households – which have now been scrapped.Things weren't always so oppositional. So what has turned them so sour? What exactly does ACORN believe the council has done wrong in its handling of the tower block emergency? Does the union really speak for the wider Barton Hill community? And does Wesley – as a communications man – see any way back to friendlier ties between ACORN and the powers that be?Join Neil Maggs for another engrossing chat as he puts these questions, and many others, to Wesley.ReplyForward
  • 1. Filmmaker Aodh Breathnach on surviving being stabbed – and documenting the aftermath

    Content warning: audio contains graphic discussions of violenceEight years ago, filmmaker Aodh Breathnach was stabbed multiple times during a night out on Stokes Croft, and rushed in a taxi to the Bristol Royal Infirmary.Aodh was lucky. He recovered from injuries to his head and body within a few weeks and tried to put the attack out of his mind, deleting photos from his phone and throwing away the clothes he had been wearing.But the mental scars the stabbing inflicted proved far more resistant to healing, leaving him with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): night terrors, panic attacks and an ever-present feeling of fear.The aftermath of trauma led Aodh into therapy and, several years later, to make a documentary based on his experience – and that of other people who have been victims of knife crime, which have been tragically common in Bristol and other cities. As part of the process, Aodh went as far as meeting his attacker to explore the impact of restorative justice. Can this technique, in which the survivors, their families and perpetrators of crime open up channels of communication, begin to repair the terrible harm that violent incidents cause? What support is out there to help people move on from the impact of PTSD? And how does it feel for someone accustomed to documenting others' personal experiences to turn the camera back on themselves?In a fascinating first episode of a brand-new series of Bristol Unpacked, join Neil Maggs in a conversation with Aodh exploring these issues and discussing his thought-provoking film, Scars: Surviving a Stabbing.Aodh Breathnach’s documentary, Scars: Surviving a Stabbing, is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.
  • 13. Babbasa CEO Poku Osei on working from the inside to change the system

    Poku Osei transitioned from hustling to sell sugar and DVDs in Ghana to running one of Bristol’s most celebrated social enterprises. Babbasa focuses on helping young people access and thrive with new opportunities, including through alliances with corporates and big institutions. But does this ‘social mobility’ approach undermine more wide scale change by lifting up individuals but not addressing why their communities are under served? Neil and Poku get philosophical and pragmatic on whether a system can or should be changed from the inside.