Arts > Putting theory into practice

16 March 2017 | by D.J. Taylor

Putting theory into practice

The Ferryhill Philosophers BBC Radio 4


The first instalment of Michael Chaplin’s latest despatch from Ferryhill, County Durham (14 March) stirred welcome memories of Peter Flannery’s mid-1990s television saga Our Friends in the North. Not only did it feature Alun Armstrong as Joe, the ex-miner who enjoys ruminative chats with posh philosophy-lecturing Hermione (Deborah Findlay), but also Gina McKee in the role of his old friend Isabel, last seen 25 years back, but returning with some deeply upsetting news.

The Ferryhill format relies on a sudden acceleration from theoretical to practical in which the abstract good sense generally expounded by Hermione is forced to assume a human focus. Isabel, it turned out, needed Joe’s help with what Hermione rightly described as “an ethical dilemma of a most shattering kind” – nothing less than the cycling accident that, seven years ago, had left her “golden boy” Danny in a vegetative coma from which he would never emerge.


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