Over a decade ago, two friends from Essex decided to break off from work and drive down to the Alps. Neither knew much about cycling but the plan was to watch the Tour de France dressed in peaked caps and cravats. Probably best not to ask why. By 2014 when the race came to Yorkshire, they'd moved on to full Beefeater outfits - red jackets, black hats, white gloves, matching shades. They love dancing to europop at the side of the road, and in 2019 they were voted the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) fans of the year.
Miles Warde joins the Beefeaters as they load up their shopping trolleys at the bottom of Alpe d'Huez for one of the toughest and hottest stages of this year's race. They are pushing up to Bend 20 where they'll reclaim a little space from a German called Herbert who has been looking after their beer, then set up their generators and loudspeakers and dance for six hours. Unlike other bends on the Alpe - Dutch Corner, Norwegian Corner, Cymru Corner - Beefeater Bend is completely non-national. Everyone is welcome, and everyone comes because everyone loves europop in the blistering sun.
"The nicest programme I've made." Miles Warde
Cornwall with Helen Glover
Helen Glover returns to her beloved childhood patch of Newlyn and Penzance in Cornwall to explore the area where she grew up and discover how it’s changed since she was a girl.
Helen is a double Olympic gold-medal winner and her love of physical activity and the outdoors was shaped by her childhood environment. She recalls running along the prom as part of her training as a schoolgirl athlete, and reflects on fond memories of her Dad’s small but legendary ice-cream business, wheeling supplies up down the road in an old pram. Helen also visits the Penlee Lifeboat with long-time RNLI Coxswain, Patch Harvey and meets the Battery Belles, an outdoor swimming group who plunge into the sea every morning. She considers how the cliffs she’s known all her life are gradually changing through relentless erosion, and speaks to the director of an art school who ran a mass painting event to raise awareness and funds to protect the landscape he loves. She also meets an artist who had a very near miss when the cliff he was painting under collapsed shortly after he left. Helen also reflects on the sad fact that her favourite beaches are now littered with plastic, and catches up with a young beach cleaner who devotes hours to picking up and making art from other people’s waste.
Contributors include: Tina Riggall of the Battery Belles; Landscape painter Paul Lewin; Henry Garfit of the Newlyn School of Art; Patch Harvey, RNLI; Louis-Matisse litter picker and artist. Please scroll down, on the R4 Open Country webpage, for related links.
Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol - Karen Gregor
Helen Mark is in Ullapool in the Scottish Highlands, where she discovers the "lost" village of Balblair, visits the spectacular Corrieshalloch Gorge and tours the Russian Arctic Convoy Museum.
Presented by Helen Mark
Produced by Kathleen Carragher
Emily Knight uncovers an unexpectedly radical story, hidden in the Essex countryside. In the 1940s, men and women horrified by the violence of war, disconnected, disillusioned and despondent, began to turn to the land - and each other - for healing. A new way of life was needed, and a new movement sprang up. Part pacifist philosophy, part radical Christianity, part utopian idealism, the Back-to-the-Land movement of the '40s and '50s saw groups of people coming together to take over pockets of farmland, working collectively, sharing the hardships and the joys of communal living.
But this isn't just a farming movement. It's a story in which pacifist philosophy overlaps with new forms of Christianity, where the literature of DH Lawrence and George Orwell meets a working-class intellectualism, fired up by the possibility of real social change. It's a world of big dreams, hard graft, close communities, and a flowering of music, poetry and theatre, all under the arched roof of a crumbling Essex barn.
In a world ravaged by climate change and Covid-19, could we see a similar movement springing up today?
Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol : Emily Knight
A new road for Kerrera
It's so close to the mainland that most people don't even realise it is there, but Kerrera in early summer is a jewel, and Antonia Quirke - who lives a couple of miles away - is curious about the impact of a new road. Early one summer morning she and producer Miles Warde take the ferry from Oban to find out what has changed.
Antonia Quirke is a broadcaster and author. She moved to the west coast of Scotland at the start of lockdown for love.
Produced for BBC audio in Bristol by Miles Warde