Author Zadie Smith and former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker are among the guest editors taking over BBC Radio 4’s Today programme between Christmas and the New Year.
Each year, when regular presenters John Humphrys, James Naughtie, Sarah Montague, Edward Stourton and Evan Davis take time off over the festive period guest editors from all fields including music, religion and literature take over.
Although they work with BBC editorial staff to produce their programme, the BBC claims the guests are responsible for between a third and a half of their programme’s output.
This year, award-winning author Smith is reporting from Liberia, investigating ‘whether British comdedy is still all about class”.
Brit pop legend Cocker will be giving his own personal take on the credit crunch and will also be looking at whether politicians are bland because we’re ‘too censorious’about what they get up to in their private lives.
Also in the line-up is Citigroup chairman Sir Win Bischoff, who will be looking at what business can learn from the success of the British Olympic team, also putting BBC business editor Robert Peston head-to-head with Olympic medal winning cyclist Chris Hoy in a cycle race.
The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, will be asking what makes certain music spiritual and will be dueting on the piano with a British concert pianist in his quest.
Pritzker Prize-winning British Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid will be reflecting on life in the Fifties and Sixties in Baghdad.
Today editor Ceri Thomas said: “The guest editors have turned into one of the highlights of the Today year. They think of things that wouldn’t normally occur to us; they take us places we wouldn’t ordinarily go. I think this year’s group is the most fascinating we’ve ever worked with.”
Previous guest editors include Damon Albarn, Bono, Professor Stephen Hawking, Yoko Ono and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.