Marina Warner

Broadcasts and radio programmes


EXPeditions: During the pandemic in 2020/2021, Marina was invited to give three lectures for the initiative EXPedtions, an initiative gathering opinions and ideas from thinkers around the world. Her three talks can be found on her page here.

Marina Warner has participated in many film, television and radio broadcasts in the UK, Europe, America, Asia, Australia and the United States. Below are a selection of clips available to stream.

18 December 2020 – Le mille e una Donna, Marina Warner and Nadia Fusini on Angela Carter (Rai Radio 3)
On the occasion of the publication of a collection of Angela Carter’s stories in Italian translation (Le Mille e Una Donna, with a preface by Marina Warner – see here for details on the book), Marina can be heard in conversation with Nadia Fusini on Rai 3 (in Italian; full audo can be played here).

13 December 2020 – Marina Warner on the Sunday Morning with Cathy Macdonald
Fairy Tales never lose their popularity but more and more these traditional tales are being modernised to reflect our values. Performance storyteller, Mara Menzies and author Dame Marina Warner discuss if this is meddling with the magical fantasy or saving the next generation from outdated stereotypes. The programme can be listend to here.

October/November 2020
BBC Radio 4 rebroadcasting What is a Story?, a series of reflections on fiction and story-telling with Marina
Marina Warner – in the company of leading contemporary writers – looks at the world of contemporary fiction. In each programme, she considers a story and story writing from a different angle. Amongst her interlocutors are writers as diverse as Julian Barnes, Michelle Roberts, Fanny Howe, Marlene van Niekerk, Alain Mabanckou, Lydia Davis, Edwin Frank, Elleke Boehmer, Wen-Chin Ouyang, Daniel Medin, Nadeem Aslam and Laszlo Krasznahorkai.Over ten episodes, there are discussions on the reasons for writing, writers as witnesses and political interaction.
The series was originally produced by Kevin Dawson as a Whistledown production for BBC Radio and first broadcast in July 2015)

In the following a list of all episodes with links to the available  audio recording:

1/10 First Times
2/10 Why Write Stories?
3/10 It’s All Absolutely True
4/10 Bearing Witness
5/10 History for the Record
6/10 Filling the Gaps
7/10 Is Anyone Responsible?
8/10 Speaking in Parables
9/10 Ghosts at Home
10/10 As If: Dreams of Shelter

Omnibus episodes: Pt I and Pt II

10th April 2018
BBC Radio 4 – Word of Mouth
Word of Mouth returns with a special programme in which Michael Rosen and guests Marina Warner and Barry Smith discuss the state of language and public debate.
With the rise of the internet there is more political discussion than ever. Yet this torrent of words seems to carry less understanding than ever. This has been attributed to many causes. Some say it is the anonymous nature of internet discussions, or the increasing disparity between rich and poor, or even the efficacy with which media (and propaganda) organisations can affect public opinion. But possibly the problem lies in language itself. Traditionally, political language has been a shared endeavour through which we express our differences. Perhaps now even the language itself has become partisan – words carry profoundly different meanings for different people and the shared understand that public debate relies on is much reduced. Two people can share a word – say government or sovereignty – but if the frame of reference for what that word means has become radically different it’s hard to find the common ground on which meaningful debate can happen. So Michael Rosen and his guests are looking at the state of current political and public debate, delving into the philosophy of language and seeing how words get their meaning in the minds of their users. Perhaps, on top of all our other attendant crises, we can claim to be living through a crisis of language.

Spring 2018
Documentary ‘The Story of The Persian Carpet’
MW contributed an interview to ‘The Story of The Persian Carpet’ a documentary about the cultural heritage of the Persian carpet in Britain, produced by the London Iranian Association and available to watch here. 


28th December 2015
BBC Radio 4 – Thinking Allowed: Rituals at Christmas & beyond
Laurie Taylor presents a special programme on the place of rituals in everyday life. How have they changed over time and do we still need them? He’s joined by Adam Kuper, Centennial Professor in Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science; Marina Warner, writer and mythographer and Elizabeth Pleck, Professor Emeritu of History and Human Development & Family Studies at the University of Illinois.

10th November 2015, 10am
BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour
Writer Marina Warner appears to move effortlessly between fiction and non-fiction. This month she publishes a new collection of short stories, Fly Away; she explains how she weaves her love of myths and fairy tales into her contemporary stories. 

31st October 2015
A film of Marina Warner in conversation with Kari Jegerstedt in Bergen as part of the Holberg Prize 2015 will be shown on 31 October 2015 on Norwegian National Television, all details can be found here.

27th October 2015 10pm
BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking: Witch-Finding
As Halloween fast approaches, Matthew Sweet is joined round the Free Thinking cauldron by guests including Marina Warner and Suzannah Lipscomb to consider the season of the witch. Author Marina Warner discusses her father’s relationship with the ghost writer M.R. James.

19th October 2015
Frieze Magazine Playlist
Marina Warner selects eight films as part of a YouTube guest playlist for Frieze Magazine, view all films here.


23rd March 2015 4pm
MW contributed to the The Wicked Queen produced by Cathy FitzGerald broadcast on BBC Radio 4, here.
The Wicked Queen responds to grey hair and crow’s feet by trying to take her competition out of the running with a poison apple. Cathy FitzGerald investigates whether there are more productive ways to deal with ageing. Can she rescue the Queen from the mirror’s spell?

March 2015
Marina Warner’s ‘Learning My Lesson’ was the third of this year’s London Review of Books Winter Lectures 2015 at the British Museum, a podcast can be heard here.

19th March 2015, 9pm
BBC Radio 4 Broadcast
Afternoon Reading: ‘The Family Friend’ By Marina Warner. Egypt 1901, some English army officers indulge in fox-hunting. Read by popular veteran actor Alan Howard.
Previously broadcast:  18 Oct 2007, 3.30pm on BBC Radio 4 and  19 Mar 2015, 11:00 am on BBC Radio 4 Extra

January 2015
Marina Warner,Noam Chomsky, AC Grayling and Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws answer the questions: What is Well-being? and How can Governments increase Well-being? as part of The British Academy youtube page published on Jan 13, 2015, here.

October 2014
BBC Radio 4
MW’s short story Mink was chosen as one of the BBC’s favourite commissions of the last 10 years for a celebration of the Short story on BBC Arts online site – here’s a link to the Short Stories page on the BBC Arts website.Listen here.
First broadcast 02 August 2013 Part of ‘ Feminine Mystiques’ By Marina Warner, read by Emma Fielding
Fifty years since the first publication of Betty Friedan’s seminal feminist work The Feminine Mystique, Radio 4 has commissioned three leading writers to celebrate her influence in new short stories exploring the contemporary feminist landscape.Emma Fielding reads the first story in this series, by award winning writer and mythographer Marina Warner. Just as some of Angela Carter’s short stories from The Bloody Chamber were first published in high fashion magazine Vogue, and Carter’s retelling of fable and myth turned on the original meaning of ‘glamour’ as a spell, Marina Warner explores feminine mystique through a housewife in the 1950s who weaves hope and freedom into her longing for a mink coat.

29th May 2014 11.30am
BBC Radio 4
MW interviewed for Radio 4’s ‘A German Genius in Britain’ – documentary on W.G. Sebald. Can be streamed here.

Wed 9 Apr 2014 at 20:45 and Sun 13 Apr 2014 at 05:45
BBC RADIO 4 Broadcast
The Power and the Passion – Marina Warner on the power of places.
MW contributes to BBC Radio 4 Lent Talks, more details can be found here and the Lent Talks can be streamed here.

Winter 2012 – Online stream
Moby Dick Big Read
MW reads ‘Moby Dick’ by Herman Melville, chapter 102: A Bower in the Arsacide, introduced by Peter Donaldson with artwork by Jem Finer.

Artist Angela Cockayne and writer Philip Hoare convened and curated a unique whale symposium and exhibition at Peninsula Arts, the dedicated contemporary art space at Plymouth University, under the title, Dominion. Inspired by their mutual obsession with Moby-Dick and with the overarching subject of the whale, they invited artists, writers, musicians, scientists and academics to respond to the theme.
More readings and full details can be found here.

17th – 28th December 2012
Grimm Thoughts on BBC Radio 4
To mark the bicentenary of the Grimm brothers’ tales, writer Marina Warner explores selected stories from a new angle each day. In the first programme, she tells the story of the brothers themselves. With beautifully narrated extracts from the tales themselves and contributions from renowned academics and artists who work closely with the Grimm’s rich heritage.
Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 between 1.45-2pm weekdays beginning on 17th December 2012.
Stream each episode here.

‘Away with the fairies: Grimm Thoughts on BBC Radio 4’ a review by Antonia Quirke, published in New Statesman 13 December 2012, the review can be read here.

Episode 1 broadcast: 17th December 2012 LISTEN
Marina Warner introduces the Grimm brothers and examines the story of The Frog King.

Episode 2 broadcast: 18th Decenber 2012 LISTEN
Marina Warner traces Grimms’ tales back to their ancient origins.

Episode 3 broadcast: 19th December 2012 LISTEN
Marina Warner enters the magical worlds of the fairy tale.

Episode 4 broadcast: 20th December 2012 LISTEN
Marina identifies real people and places believed to have inspired the Grimms’ collection.

Episode 5 broadcast: 21st Decenber 2012 LISTEN
Marina Warner is drawn into the tales’ rich history of illustration.
Episode 6 broadcast: 24th December 2012 LISTEN
Marina Warner probes the fate of the tales at the hands of the Nazis.

Episode 7 broadcast: 25th December 2012 LISTEN
Marina examines the deeper meanings read into the tales by writers and psychologists.

Episode 8 broadcast: 26th Decenber 2012 LISTEN
Marina Warner explores the Grimm brothers’ tales.

Episode 9 broadcast: 27th Decenmber 2012 LISTEN
Marina Warner examines the tales’ history of censorship.

Episode 10 broadcast: 28th Decenber 2012 LISTEN
Marina Warner considers the future of the Grimm brothers’ tales.

4th December 2012
Tate Gallery BP British Art Lecture: Marina Warner
Contemporary artists profane taboos and create new zones of the sacred, often drawing on votive, ritual, and amuletic techniques from religious tradition. Marina Warner will explore belief in art today.
All details can be found here.

October 13th and 14th, 2012
MW gave a talk on storytelling and memory at the Memory Marathon, the seventh annual festival of ideas inspired by the annual pavilion commission, held at Serpentine Gallery, London.
A video of the talk can be viewed here.

20th September, 1130am.
MW interviewed for ‘True Tales from the Crypt’ Roger Luckhurst’s investigation into the mummy curse on BBC Radio 4. Details can be found here.

15th September, 7-10pm
MW contributes a reading to the temporary radio station Writtle Calling / 2EmmaToc broadcasting from the Essex landscape 11-18 September 2010. The grounds of Writtle College, Writtle College, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 3RR, Essex, CM1 3RR. More information can be found here and here.

August 2012
The Folio Society’s edition of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. A video of Marina Warner introducer of The Folio Society’s edition of The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories in conversation with Folio Society editor Johanna Geary can be viewed here.

23rd July 2012, 8:40pm BBC Radio 3
MW interviewed for ‘Episode 2 of 2, Goethe and the West-Eastern Divan’ on BBC Radio 3 Tweny Minutes.
To complement the series of Beethoven concerts by the West-Eastern Divan orchestra, Paul Farley explores Goethe’s poetic sequence, ‘The West-Eastern Divan’, from which Daniel Barenboim’s orchestra takes its name. Paul examines Goethe’s engagement with the ideas and imagery of Persian literature, and talks to contemporary German poets and writers about the continuing legacy of his ‘West-Eastern Divan’ poetry cycle. The programme can be heard here.

5th July 2012, Podcast for London Review of Books
Once a Catholic…Marina Warner on Damien Hirst at Tate Modern’
London Review of Books, Voume 34, Number 13, 5th July 2012, page 16-17. Marina Warner reads the article as an audio podcast here.

4th July 2012, 10.20pm ABC National Radio Australia
‘How the magic of the Arabian Nights changed the west’
Mythology and magic expert Marina Warner discusses The Arabian Nights and the profound impact they had on Western literature, thinking and progress. The programme can be downloaded here.

2nd June 2012, 9.30pm BBC Radio 3
MW interviewed for ‘Invisible Cities’. Inspired by Italian writer Italo Calvino’s novel “Invisible Cities”, on the 40th anniversary of its publication, this Between the Ears explores the hidden, fantastical and surreal stories caught between the cracks of the modern city. The programme can be heard here.
23rd May 2012
The Humanities and Arts Research Centre (HARC) at Royal Holloway University of London presents:
‘What’s Hecuba to him?: Terror, pity and the matter of Troy (from Homer to Alice Oswald)’
Professor Marina Warner.
When the First Player dissolves in tears as he recites scenes from the fall of Troy, Hamlet exclaims at the intensity of the actor’s identification, by contrast with his own frozen feelings and incapacity. Hecuba’s tragedy becomes the emblem of empathy, produced more intensely by dramatic representation than by real life.
Recent, near obsessive returns to the Iliad and the matter of Troy, refract current conflicts, and these renderings and revisionings act upon the emotions and attitudes of the spectator and the reader. Marina Warner will explore the way this return to the most ancient war in literature, especially in the work of women writers and artists, makes a claim for the function of art and realigns the question of catharsis.
The lecture can be downloaded here.

27th April 2012
‘Marina Warner on Enchanted Forests’ – Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Red Riding Hood… fairy tales are full of stories that take place in enchanted forests. And sacred woods and trees figure strongly in mythic traditions, from the British Isles to the Norselands to ancient Sumeria. Marina Warner writes about art, symbolism, myth and fairy tales. She explores the many meanings of forests in the human imagination. An interview for TTBOOK radio can be downloaded here.
30th March 2012
‘ The Arabian Nights – A new twist on the old magic in the tales of the Arabian Nights’
MW interviewed by Tom Ashbrook on Stranger Magic: Charmed States and The Arabian Nights’ for WBUR Boston NPR Radio. The programme can be downloaded here.

25th February 2012, 8pm BBC Radio 4
MW interviewed for ‘The Politics of Art’.This “Archive on 4” uses the fortieth anniversary of John Berger’s ground-breaking BBC-2 series on art and society – called “Ways of Seeing” – and Tim Marlow’s extensive knowledge and popular appeal to do three things. Full details here.

17th February 2012, 10pm BBC Radio 3
Marina Warner and Christopher Frayling join Ian McMillan to mark the twentieth anniversary of Angela Carter’s death with a celebration of her writing for The Verb on BBC Radio 3. Full details here.

16th February 2012, 11:30am BBC Radio 4
MW interviewed for ‘Writing in Three Dimensions: Angela Carter’s Love Affair with Radio’ broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Full details here.
3rd January 2012, 12pm RTE Ireland
Interview on RTE Radio Ireland: Arts Tonight.
Marina Warner on the Arabian Nights stories. The programme can be heard here.



26th December 2011, 12pm
‘The Virgin Mary in history and art’.
Miri Rubin, Catherine Marshall, Colm Toibin and Marina Warner on imaginings of Mary. Broadcast on on Arts Tonight with Vincent Woods, RTÉ Radio One, Ireland. The programme can be heard here.

3rd November 2011, 10am
MW is interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour about her recent book ‘Stranger Magic, Charmed States and the Arabian Nights’. The stories in the Arabian Nights feature a world of magic, genies, flying carpets, hidden treasures, evil spirits and iconic heroes.

Translated into French and English in the early days of the Enlightenment, this Arabic collection of folk and fairy tales became a hugely popular especially tales such as Ali Baba and the forty thieves’ and ‘Aladdin’. At the heart is the heroic figure of Shahrazad, the teller of the tales. However, many of the women in the Arabian Nights are often seen as conniving, adulterous and even cruel.
The programme can be heard here.

30th October 2011, 8am
MW is interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme about the protests outside St Pauls Cathedral. More information here.

24 September 2010
‘The Magic Carpet Flight Manual’, radio documentary for BBC World Service.
Cathy FitzGerald explores the past, present, and very real future of the magic carpet and wonders what our desire to defy gravity tells us about ourselves. Cultural historian Marina Warner explains the origins of the symbol in the Arabian Nights, and wonders whether we had to invent flying carpets in order to learn how to fly. We dream of flying and often long to fly unaided – is that part of it? Details and programme can be heard here.
3rd August 2011 at 4pm ‘BBC Radio 4
‘Thinking Allowed’ Laurie Taylor discusses the mummy’s curse and other Oriental myths with Marina Warner and Roger Luckhurst. The programme is repeated on Monday 8th August at 00:15.

8th July 2011, 10:45pm,
MW contributed ‘Wild Ecstasy’ an essay for BBC Radio 3 for ‘Wild Nature’ the last in the series of five on Dark Arcadias, the history of the idea.

MW at BBC Radio 4 with Adjoa Andoh, Eloise Secker and Anthony Calf
recording ‘From Fact to Fiction’, London June 2010

MW contributed to the BBC Radio 4 World At One Election special edition presented by Martha Kearney’s along with former CBI Director General and government business advisor Digby Jones.The programme was broadcast on April, 12th, 2010.

19th March 2011, 23:30 BBC Radio 4
MW interviewed for ‘The Company of Poets’ on BBC Radio 4. Susannah Clapp goes to the British Library to look at the poems in Angela Carter’s journals, and her lists of the things that she was reading at the time she wrote them. More information here.

18th October, 2007
MW contributed to a discussion on the myths, tales and legends of The Arabian Nights for ‘In Our Time’ on BBC Radio 4 broadcast on October, 18th, 2007, with Robert Irwin and Gerard van Gelder, Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford. The programme details are here.

27th March 2007 BBC Radio 4
MW contributed to a A Good Read with Sue MacGregor and Tim Marlow on Radio 4 broadcast on 27th and 30th March 2007.

MW delivered the BBC Reith Lectures between January and March 1994.
‘Managing Monsters’ examined how myths express and shape our attitudes. All details, podcasts and transcripts can be found here.

1st Lecture: Monstrous Mothers’ examines the role of the ‘she-monster’ in myth; from Medea to Jurassic Park.
Click here to listen and Download.

2nd Lecture: ‘Boys will be Boys’ examines the threads linking ancient myths and modern machismo and argues that ideas about masculinity are not naturally inculcated. Click here to listen and download.

3rd Lecture: ‘Little Angels, Little Devils: Keeping Children Innocent’ examines the various depictions of children in myths and stories and looks at the burden of dreams that children bear from Peter Pan to Poltergeist.
Click here to listen and download.

4th Lecture: ‘Beautiful Beasts: The Call of The Wild’ examines the changing value of the animal, from King Kong to the teddy bear. Click here to listen and download.

5th Lecture: ‘Cannibal Tales: The Hunger for Conquest’ explores myths of cannibalism from The Tempest to Hannibal Lecter, and considers how their message of ‘either we eat them or they eat us’, helped to justify the presence of the invader. Click here to listen and download.

6th Lecture: ‘Home: Our Famous Island Race’ explores the myths of national identity and asks: what is home ground? Click here to listen and download.



9th March 2014 9pm
MW interviewed for BBC Four documentary ‘Good Swan, Bad Swan: Dancing Swan Lake’ . The film can be watched here.

MW contributed to the BBC Four documentary ‘Secrets of the Arabian Nights’. Richard E Grant traces the roots of The Arabian Nights first broadcast on 27th April 2011. A link to the programme page with clips of MW discussing the Arabian Nights can be found here.

MW was interviewed for the Channel 4 documentary ‘The Bible: A History’ for Episode 4 ‘The Daughters of Eve’, broadcast 14th February 2010, programme details can be found here.


Tuesday 26 March 2013 6.20pm
Marina Warner interviewed in ‘The Royal Paintbox – The Movie: A Margy Kinmonth Film’ screening with Q&A at Curzon Mayfair Cinema London. Details here.

‘ In a story previously untold on film, HRH The Prince of Wales reveals an extraordinary treasure trove of rarely seen artworks by members of the Royal Family past and present and explores a colourful palette of intimate family memory and observation.
Shot in the spectacular landscapes of Balmoral, Birkhall, Highgrove, Windsor Castle, Frogmore and Osborne House, Royal Paintbox features artworks by members of the Royal Family down the centuries including some of HRH The Prince of Wales’ own watercolours and with contributions from Lady Antonia Fraser, Lady Jane Roberts, Charles Saumarez-Smith, Marina Warner, Jane Ridley, Catherine Goodman, Susannah Fiennes, Countess Mountbatten Of Burma, Sarah Armstrong-Jones and the voices of Penelope Wilton and Freddie Fox .’

MW was interviewed for the documentary film about painter, poet and writer Leonora Carrington ‘Open Up Stone Door’ Directed by Dominique et Julien Ferrandou for Seven Doc Films, France. Available on DVD here.


April 8th, 2010 6.30pm for Royal Society of Literature ‘Reading the Universe: Alberto Manguel’, chaired by Marina Warner recorded at 1 Belgrave Square, London. An audio recording of this event can be heard here.
MW was interviewed for ‘Une vision politique et historique’ as part of ‘Elles @ Pompidou’ Women Artists in the Pompidou Collection’, Pompidou Centre, Paris, 2011. The video can be streamed below.

World Literature Weekend for London Review of Books, 19th August 2009.

Marina Warner addressed the wide variation in translated versions of Russian texts. Her conversation with Robert Chandler focuses on Andrey Platonov in particular. Chandler has translated and co-translated several of Platonovs novels, including, with Elizabeth Chandler and Olga Meerson, a new edition of the absurdist parable The Foundation Pit, Platonovs most overtly political book, written in direct response to the brutalities of Stalins collectivisation of Russian agriculture. It is a literary masterpiece which deforms and transforms language in seeking to evoke unspeakable realities. This English translation is the first and only one to be based on the definitive edition published by Pushkin House in Moscow.


17th December 2008
A Discussion on Edward Said with Marina Warner at (NYU Abu Dhabi Institute).

The late Edward W. Said was one of the most formidable public intellectuals and cultural critics of the last fifty years. He is remembered chiefly for his highly influential Orientalism, his detailed critique of cultural and intellectual imperialism in the colonial period. Orientalism is a – perhaps the – founding text of the post-colonial study of literature, culture and politics.

It also eclipses his other works in public consciousness and memory, and can lead one to forget the author’s interest in literature tout court. The more purely literary aspect of his scholarship was explored in this conversation, with its starting point in a reading of The World, the Text, and the Critic.

More information can be found here.

A video of the conversation can be found by clicking on the image below.

MW gave the talk ‘The Voice of the Toy: Writing Magic and Enchanted States’ at Stanford University, USA on 14 April 2008. Marina Warner’s talk included bottle imps, genies in lamps, flying carpets, speaking fruits, toys, and severed heads. Touching on the influence of “Arabian Nights” and other Eastern narratives on western European fictions, Warner discussed the changing uses of enchantment in contemporary imagination, the different states of belief and disbelief that are developing, and the experience of the “digital uncanny.” The video can be streamed below.

A video of MW speaking about her book Signs & Wonders: Essays on Literature and Culture can be found here.

Audio recordings of discussions involving Marina Warner recorded by the Women’s Audio Archive at ICA, Chisenhale Gallery London can be found here.