On the radio: Anna Chen

On The Radio

Broadcast news, politics and culture from Anna Chen in the 21st century

Anna Chen wrote and presented programmes for BBC Radio 3 & 4. She has also appeared on the World Service, Resonance FM and Monocle.

BBC Radio and Resonance FM

WEDNESDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2016, ST IVES AND ME is being repeated on BBC Radio 4 Extra at 06:30; 13:30; 20:30; and next morning 01:30; and is then available on iPlayer for 30 days. Written and presented by Anna Chen. Produced by Chris Eldon-Lee for Culture Wise. Originally broadcast BBC Radio 4, 11.30am Thursday 1st December 2011.

WEDNESDAY 16TH MARCH 2016, 06:00 and 13:20: Anna May Wong fans can listen to a repeat of my profile of Hollywood’s first Chinese screen legend in A Celestial Star in Piccadilly on BBC Radio 4 Extra and then for 30 days on iPlayer.

THURSDAY 2ND JULY 2015: My programme, Chopsticks At Dawn, about chinoiserie clichés in music, is repeated tomorrow BBC Radio 4 Extra & iPlayer.
It’s on four times: 6:30; 13:30; 20:30 and again the next morning at 01:30, so no excuses.
First broadcast 2010 on BBC Radio 4.
Produced by Chris Eldon-Lee and Mukti Jain Campion for Culture Wise.
With musicologist Dr Jonathan Walker.

Resonance 104.4fm can be found in the internet radio directory in iTunes under the “Eclectic” category.

To listen LIVE, click the Resonance icon in the sidebar or visit Resonance 104.4FM and click on the Radioplayer widget, top left.

RESONANCE 104.4FM Madam Miaow’s Culture Lounge
Presented by Anna Chen. With Charles Shaar Murray

Anna Chen, Charles Shaar Murray and Hi Ching at ResonanceFM
Anna Chen, Charles Shaar Murray and Hi Ching at ResonanceFM (Photo Navjot Singh)

Anna Chen on Resonance FM: second series

22nd April 2014The women of the blues. Concluding Charles Shaar Murray’s Guide to the Blues, Part 3. Guest: Sarah Gillespie.
15th April 2014China’s cultural & scientific contributions to the west. Guests: Liz Lawrence and Paul Anderson.
8th April 2014Slam and Performance Poetry. Guests: John Paul O’Neill, John Crow and Charles Shaar Murray. Plus Kevin Shen talks about the transfer of David Henry Hwang’s play Yellow Face to the National Theatre Shed.
1st April 2014Alternative Theatre. Guests: Dr Susan Croft and Neil Hornick of The Phantom Captain.
25th March 2014Chinese Arts round-up. Guests: Jingan Young, Aowen Jin, Daniel York and Wondermare, and Charles Shaar Murray.
18th March 2014The Life and Crimes of Anna May Wong The story of Hollywood’s first Chinese screen legend, the most famous Chinese woman on the planet in the 1920s and ’30s.
11th March 2014Charles Shaar Murray’s Guide to the Blues, Part 2. The mid-1960s to the present when the white kids got it and joined in. In brief, pre- and post- Stones. With Stephen Dale Petit.
4th March 2014: Charles Shaar Murray’s Guide to the Blues, Part 1. 1920s to the early sixties when the Blues was almost entirely African-American. With special guest Stephen Dale Petit. Part 2, 1960s to the present, next week on Tuesday 11th March.
3rd December 2013: “George Orwell: Left or right?” Was he as right-wing libertarian as some claim? Did he ever drop his revolutionary ideals? Despite giving us the language tools with which to examine Stalinist excesses, Orwell never abandoned his socialism. So says Professor John Newsinger, author of Orwell’s Politics. He’ll be in the studio to discuss this with Paul Anderson, former editor of Tribune and deputy editor of the New Statesman, both publications where Orwell worked.
26th November 2013: “Breaking a butterfly on a wheel: Modern Heroes” John Sinclair was a hippy, the manager of the MC5 and a founder of the White Panthers. In 1969, he felt the full spite of the state when he was sentenced to 10 years for supplying 2 joints to a narc. Only widespread protest — including John Lennon writing and recording a song, “John Sinclair” — got him an early release. John Sinclair is in the studio alongside Oliver Shykles from Queer Friends for Chelsea Manning, who’ll be talking about Manning, Edward Snowden and why we should be wary of governments seizing extra powers.
19th November 2013: “Paul Robeson, meet Anna May Wong.” Tayo Aluko talks about the life, career and politics of the first African American superstar, while Dr Diane Yeh, tells us what other Black and Asian performers were making it in the early years of mass entertainment.
12th November 2013: “Monkey goes western.” An overview of the Chinese rock scene and science fiction. Plus actor Lucy Sheen talks about her career and Chinese in UK theatre.
5th November 2013: “The Super Rich.” A tale of two nations. Plus support for the evening’s Operation Vendetta Million Mask March. Guests: Aditya Chakrabortty and Kate Belgrave.
29th October 2013: “Cultural Revolution.” Guests: Cliff Cocker, Mike Pearn and Elizabeth Lawrence
22nd October 2013: “The Counterculture” plus a report on the day’s Chinatown strike. Guests: Phoenix Rainbow, Tim Concannon and Shruti Narayanswami
15th October 2013: Series launches with “Oh Other, where art thou? Yellow Peril.” Guests: Daniel York, Siu-see Hung, Dr Diana Yeh, Ben Chu and Wondermare (Melody Brown and C Amanda Maude).
The press on Resonance FM: The Guardian calls it “the best radio station in London”; the Village Voice, “the best radio station in the world”.

Anna Chen interviews Aowen Jin at ResonanceFM in London
Anna interviews Aowen Jin at ResonanceFM (Photo Navjot Singh)

Anna Chen on BBC Radio 4

Chinese In Britain
Repeated daily on BBC Radio 4 Extra from Monday 27th October 2014, 00:15 and 14:15.
Anna Chen presents the groundbreaking ten-part series Chinese in Britain made for BBC Radio 4 in 2007, repeated from 27th October 2014 on R4 Extra. Available to listen again for 30 days after broadcast. Produced by Mukti Jain Campion for Culture Wise.

BBC World Service WEEKEND programme
Saturday 18th October 2014
Anna is a guest on the BBC World Service Weekend programme 6:30-8:30am Saturday 18th October 2014, talking about the news. With Daniel Johnson (editor of Standpoint magazine), presented by Paul Henley.

Model opera red detachment of women
Model Opera: The Red Detachment of Women

Madam Mao’s Golden oldies
Repeated BBC R4 at 3.30pm Saturday 26th October 2013
Written and presented by Anna Chen. First broadcast July last year. Available to listen on iPlayer until Saturday 2nd Nov.
In Madam Mao’s Golden Oldies, I revisit the Chinese Cultural Revolution Model Operas that I first heard as a child in the 1960s and 70s and discover how they are, somewhat surprisingly, enjoying a new lease of life.
My Hollywood sensibility found these crude melodramas puzzling and somewhat turgid but then they weren’t made for (relatively) pampered East End kids like me: they were made for the peasants and workers who had rarely if ever been represented in their own culture.
Within living memory, mass starvation, imperialist conquest and the horrors of the Japanese invasion had devastated the nation. Barely twenty years into its communist revolution, the population was struggling to get back onto its feet.
More about Madam Mao’s Golden Oldies on the BBC here.

Anna Chen’s series of hour-long shows every Tuesday starts 5.30pm 15th October and opens with Oh Other, where art thou? looking at yellowface, the return of blackface and whether it’s all going backwards.

Overwhelming China
BBC Radio 4, 11am, Friday 1st November
Anna is an interviewee on this Radio 4 programme that examines the origins of the current anti-Chinese yellow peril scare manifesting in a slew of books with titles like Martin Jacques’ When China Rules the World. Presented by Philip Dodd.

Madam Mao’s Golden Oldies, BBC R4 
Written and presented by Anna Chen
Produced by Mukti Jain Campion, Culture Wise
BBC Radio 4 Broadcast 11:30am, Tuesday 17th July 2012
A programme about Madam Mao’s model operas which were made during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
More about the Model Operas HERE

Molly Parkin with Anna Chen at Molly's Chelsea home filled with her paintings
With Molly Parkin at her Chelsea home filled with her paintings

St Ives and Me, BBC Radio 4
11.30am Thursday 1st December 2011
Anna shows why the Cornish fishing town is such a magnet for artists and writers.
Written and presented by Anna Chen. Producer: Chris Eldon-Lee for Culture Wise
Pick of the Day in the Telegraph, Times, Mail, Observer, Independent, Radio Times, Time Out. ” … a lovely evocation …”Express
Molly Parkin, Bob Devereux, Valerie Hurry, Steve Dove, Tony Carver, Jo McIntosh, Denise Ingamells, Annie Jackson, Iain Robertson, Clare Wardman

Night Waves, BBC Radio 3
10pm, Tuesday 14th June 2011
Host Matthew Sweet. On with Chris Frayling talking about Anna May Wong and representation of Chinese in the British media.

Two more programmes for BBC Radio 4 coming up:
Found In Translation, an exploration of the Chinese sense of humour and what makes China laugh to be broadcast July 2011. And a programme about St Ives in Cornwall taking in the art, the history and the people, due early 2012. Both written and presented by Anna Chen.

The Forum, BBC World Service

9am, Sunday 14th November 2010
You can hear me talking about Hollywood legend Anna May Wong this Sunday on the BBC World Service’s The Forum at 9am. Chaired by Bridget Kendall, I’m on with Professor Dimitar Sasselov, discussing Super-earths, and Kwame Anthony Appiah on honour revolutions.

Anna Chen Ben Chan Jane Ng BBC Chopsticks at Dawn
Anna Chen interviews pianist Ben Chan and violinist & pianist Jane Ng for Chopsticks At Dawn for BBC Radio 4

Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Anna tackles embedded dehumanisation of Chinese in the culture, making visible the invisible. Or, in this case, making audible the unperceived subtleties of manipulation through music.
Chopsticks At Dawn – BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 — 13:30
Tuesday 8th June 2010 
Written and presented by Anna Chen with Dr Jonathan Walker. Produced by Mukti Jain Campion and Chris Eldon-Lee for Culture Wise.
Pick Of The Day: RadioTimes, Observer, Sunday Telegraph, Time Out, Mail On Sunday. Also daily choice in the Times, Telegraph and Independent
“Anna Chen reflects, through gritted teeth, on representations of Chinese music, the ingy pingy clichés as used by everyone from George Formby to David Bowie, demeaning a culture which, in other fields, we respect. This isn’t a dreary sermon, though. It’s a lively, rueful journey through aural conditioning. Why do some sounds suggest the Orient to us? She listens to Ravel and has the pentatonic scale (as played on a piano’s black keys) explained to her as a short cut to something that to Westerners signals ‘east’. But there’s more to it than that.” – Daily Telegraph
What makes certain configurations of notes in Western music sound Chinese? And why does it set my teeth on edge?
Chinese decorative arts are revered in the West. From Willow pattern dinner plates to the Brighton Pavilion, their designs are regarded as beautiful and sophisticated. But for the past two centuries European composers and musicians have had no qualms about mercilessly parodying what they thought of as ‘Chinese tunes’.

Friday, 19th March 2010
This is where the West wants to keep China, making our tat instead of innovating and steadily developing as the world’s lifeboat and growth engine. I made this programme in 2010 and look how far they’ve come.
China, Britain and the Nunzilla Conundrum

Written and presented by Anna Chen. Producer Sally Heaven.
BBC Radio 4 – 11.00-11.30am 
PICK OF THE DAY Guardian Guide, Radio Times and Daily Telegraph which says, ” … tying it with a ribbon of her wit. “
PICK OF THE WEEK Sunday Telegraph ” … refreshingly original …”
Recommended by the Diocese of Liverpool
Made in China, designed in Britain, consumed in the West. Anna Chen asks what throwaway gifts such as the fire-breathing wind-up Nunzilla toy or Mummy Mike tell Britain about both its own society and its relationship with China.
“Perhaps a taste for tat signals an economy in the later stages of capitalism which, staring into the abyss, finds solace (if no actual solution) in fits of giggles. For the Chinese, with memories of deprivation rooted in centuries of foreign exploitation, imperial rule and civil wars, wasting money on trivia is serious business. …
… “People want to buy into the brand,” he says of a nation entering the equivalent of Britain’s 1960s economic explosion. “There is extreme wealth, and they aspire to European brands and European-made products.”
“Simon Collinson of Warwick University Business School says change is underway. “As the Chinese get better at understanding what is needed in the West they will get better, not just at designing, but actually coming up with new innovations.”
“The good news is that the government is closing down the bad old factories, with fewer but higher-tech facilities surviving. Only 3,000 out of 8,000 toy factories survive. And in 2006 they would have relaxed their restrictions on unions had the American Chamber of Commerce, backed up by the Europeans, not lobbied hard to stop it happening. …” continues

Anna Chen's BBC Radio 4 profile of Anna May Wong: A Celestial Star in Piccadilly
Anna May Wong’s big seduction scene in Piccadilly

TV – Copenhagen COP15 and China – opening day debate: Videos: Anna Chen on BBC World Service TV. 7 December 2009

TV – Copenhagen summit final day debate: Videos: Anna Chen on BBC World TV. What has Cop15 achieved? 18 December 2009

Tuesday, 13 January 2009 
Anna’s first attempt to introduce a new generation to Hollywood’s first Chinese screen legend, Anna May Wong, was rejected by the BBC in 2005 (AMW’s birth centenary) on the grounds that, “No-one knows who she is”. Second time lucky and it was finally made in 2008. 
Anna May Wong: A Celestial Star In Piccadilly – BBC Radio 4
Anna Chen writes and presents a half-hour profile of Hollywood’s first Chinese movie star for BBC Radio 4. Produced by Mukti Jain Campion for Culture Wise.
Born in Los Angeles in 1905, during the height of the Yellow Peril fears about the Chinese, Anna May Wong overcame prejudice and racism enshrined in US law to become Hollywood’s first Chinese screen legend, making more than 60 movies.
Broadcast 11:30, Tuesday 13th January 2009. 
Chosen as Pick of the Week by BBC R4, Guardian Guide, The Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday. 
Anna May Wong Must Die! 

Monday, 30 April 2007 
Anna Chen and Culture Wise challenge Chinese invisibility in western culture with this groundbreaking series on the history of the Chinese in Britain from the perspective of Chinese in Britain. 
Chinese In Britain — BBC Radio 4 
A ten-part series first broadcast April/May 2007, repeated 2014, presented by Anna Chen. Produced by Mukti Jain Campion for Culture Wise. Written by Mukti Jain Campion with Anna Chen, originated by the late Jessie Lim.
“A fascinating story” – Chris Campling, The Times
“Each episode sounded effortless only because it had been crafted with such supreme care” – Gillian Reynolds, The Daily Telegraph
Repeated as omnibus editions 9pm Fridays 16th and 23rd May 2008 on BBC Radio 4 
Visit the Chinese In Britain BBC page 
Pictures of the series launch
More info at Culture Wise.

Anna Chen in interviews & discussion

8-9.15pm, Wednesday 22nd July 2009. Guest of Jan Kooper at Raiders FM, themed around politics in music.

9-10pm, Tuesday 10th February 2009, guest host on Resonance 104.4FM’s Lucky Cat hour.

11:40pm, Saturday 23rd August. BBC R5Live, the Stephen Nolan Show on the Beijing Olympics

10pm, Friday 8th August. BBC R5Live, the Stephen Nolan Show on the Beijing Olympics

1:10pm, Thursday 7th August. BBC Radio 2, the Jeremy Vine Show on the Beijing Olympics

10pm, Sunday 3rd August. BBC R5Live, the Stephen Nolan Show on China and the Beijing Olympics

5.20pm, Monday 14th July. BBC Radio London, Kath & Eddie Drivetime on the Chinese in Britain

Tuesday 24th June. BBC Radio 4, fourth and last of the Reith Lectures. Prof Jonathan Spence on China, the Beijing Olympics and the Body Beautiful. As an invited guest asking a question.

Thursday 10th April. BBC World Service, World Have Your Say on the proposed Olympic boycott

Wednesday 9th April. BBC R5Live, the Victoria Derbyshire programme

Thursday 14th February. BBC World Service, World Have Your Say

Red Guard, Yellow Submarine, BBC Radio 4, November 2005. Drama written and narrated by Anna Chen. BBC page here

Yoko Ono: A Life In Flux, Presented by Anna Chen. Produced by Lance Dann. BBC Radio 3, March 1999. Featured the first interviews with Yoko Ono carried out by a UK broadcasting company for 20 years. The programme looked into her past as an artist, her relationship with John Lennon, her current work and her influence as a cultural figures. It featured inteviews with Kate Millet, John Hendricks, Geoff Hendricks and a host of other 60s art figures.

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