The Generation Gap

BBC Radio 4

The Generation Gap is a long running series in which two people from different generations discuss a topic that reveals the changing nature of Britain. Each week is themed and each episode will explore the theme through the eyes of 2 people of different generations who are performing the same job. The interviewees are “connected” in some way: either members of the same family e.g. grandfather and grandson; or doing the same job but separated by decades.

First Series

The first series covers respect between teachers and pupils in our classrooms, respect between the classes, respect on the streets between police officers and public, respect for the communities we work in and the ultimate respect – the respect for our dead.

Teachers – 22nd Feb 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Kevin Madden started teaching in a Catholic, inner-city Manchester boys’ school in 1945. His grandson Patrick McMahon has just started teaching in a mainly moslem school in Rochdale. They discuss the changing nature of respect between pupils and teachers and how schools have reflected wider society.

Nobility – 23rd Feb 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Viscount De L’Isle and his daughter The Hon Sophia Sidney, whose family have owned Penshurst Place for the past 400 years, discuss the changing attitudes towards the aristocracy during their lifetimes.

Policemen – 24th Feb 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Two policemen who have seen changes on the beat in levels of respect from society.

Postal workers – 25th Feb 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Alistair Redman is a sub-postmaster on the Scottish Isle of Islay and Elizabeth Stuart drives the post bus around the island. They discuss the changing nature of the post business and how change has to respect the society it operates in.

Funeral Directors – 26th Feb 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Michael Ryan, a funeral director in Newport, and his daughter Louise – who, at 21, is the youngest female funeral director in the world – discuss whether changes in funeral styles mean that our respect for the dead has changed.

Second Series

This second series topic covers sex and we reveal the nature of our changing attitudes through conversations between those who are professionally involved such as sex workers, agony aunts and sex shop owners to the personal experiences of gay activists and beauty queens.

Agony Aunts – 1st March 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Irma Kurtz, the original Cosmopolitan agony aunt, talks to her younger counterpart Simone Bienne, who works as a sex and relationship expert for various publications. How has the nature of problems changed?

Gay Campaigners – 2nd March 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

82-year-old gay rights campaigner Anthony Grey was a pioneer. His counterpart is Bobby, a 22-year-old volunteer who goes into schools to help combat homophobic bullying. Laws about homosexuality may have changed, but have attitudes?

Beauty Queens – 3rd March 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Lesley Langley, who was Miss UK and crowned Miss World in 1965, compares notes about her experiences with the current Miss England, Katrina Hodge, who is known as Combat Barbie as she is a lance corporal in the army.

Underwear Shop Owners – 4th March 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Jane runs an underwear shop in a seaside town, and has recently started stocking sex toys for the older generation. Her son helps out in the shop, and they discuss attitudes to sex across the generations.

Prostitutes – 5th March 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Helen worked as a bar hostess and prostitute in the 1970s. She talks to Maria, who is currently funding her way through university by being a sex worker. How do their experiences differ?

Third Series

The third series takes a look at a broad spectrum of the health professions from surgeons to nurses, dentists to birthing specialists, and looks at how technology has changed during the course of their working lives.
How does the new technology affect our society? What social changes does our approach to technology reveal?

Dentists – 2nd August 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

The series begins with two dentists. Alistair McClean, now retired, worked in Perth as a dentist for 40 years, qualifying in 1964. Elaine Halley also works in Perth but qualified in 1992. They compare notes on the vast change in dental techniques and social changes such as the NHS, fluoride in water and views on cosmetic dentistry.

Birth – 3rd August 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

St Mary’s Hospital has a cutting edge birthing centre for new mothers. Daughter and mother Sarah and Jean compare notes on their experiences of how technology helped their birth experience, and how our attitudes have shifted towards a more natural approach.

Community Nurses – 4th August 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Sharon Dempsey nurses in the community, as did Merle Parke. They compare notes on how technology in their jobs affects the relationship with the patient. From computerising records and using high tech equipment to having machinery that can help patients monitor their own symptoms and help nurses make remote diagnoses.

Mental Health – 5th August 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Una Parker had ECT treatment for severe depression in the 1970s. She talks to Andrew Smith who is in his twenties and is being treated for depression by drug therapy. However, ECT is still used today, though there is much greater knowledge around it. How has technology changed our approach to the treatment of mental health?

Heart Surgeons – 6th August 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Mr Terence Lewis is one of the country’s pioneering heart surgeons. He recently retired but he returns to the building named after him at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth to meet heart surgeon Clinton Loyd, who is conducting cutting-edge surgery using minimally invasive techniques. Technology has moved on quickly in the last 50 years, but technology has also got to be measured against cost.

Fourth Series

The series takes a look at how our relationship with money has changed in the last 50 years. It covers the lifespan from our earliest encounters with pocket money, to our views on money as we face retirement. With ever more complicated ways of managing money and shifting attitudes, what changes have been seen in our society over the last 50 years?

Pocket Money – 9th August 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Jean is 83 and was given half a penny a week pocket money which she spent on sweets to share with friends less fortunate. It’s a contrast to her young great granddaughter Simone who gets £6 a week. Simone and her friends go shopping regularly and get extra handouts on top of their pocket money in sharp contrast to Jean who had to save hard.

Student Budget – 10th August 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Andrew McCormack was the first pupil at his school to get into Oxford. He is finding student life a strain financially and is often mixing with students who have more money than he has. He compares notes with his father Peter McCormack who was at Strathclyde University in the 1970s.

Debt – 11th August 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Joy and her grandson Phillip discuss their attitudes to debt, in particular mortgages. Joy has never bought anything on credit in her life and the only debt she had was a very small mortgage. Phillip, on the other hand, is happy to have a large mortgage and take gambles with money.

Benefits – 12th August 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Two single fathers from different generations discuss their family’s experience of the benefit system. Stuart currently looks after his 14-year old son who has special needs and gets all kinds of benefit including disability allowance. His friend Kevin – now a grandfather – has had two children in different marriages and a range of experiences as a single parent.

Retirement – 13th August 2010, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

John Luff is in his 50s and has just taken early retirement from BT and is now running a consultancy business. He is able to retire fully, and his plans for retirement revolve around travel and leisure. His mother Rose is in her late 80s and has relied on her husband’s pension from the post office which has been tough. A new retirement village concept has enabled her to part-buy a flat and live in a community which offers 5 star facilities including shops, hairdressers, restaurant, and a gym. They compare their experiences.

Fifth Series

In this new series of The Generation Gap (series 5), two people from different generations discuss how our approach to dealing with crime has changed.   The two people are linked in some way – either they both do the same job in different eras, or they are two generations of the same family working in the same profession.  The series sheds light on changes of society over the last 30 – 50 years.
Over the course of the week we follow changes in the process of criminal investigation and punishment from the crime scene to prison.  In 5 montage-style programmes, we hear how forensic pathologists unpick the evidence at the crime scene and autopsy room, how a suspect is dealt with at the police station, how  support for victims has changed, the differences in the role of  magistrates as well as how criminals are treated in prison.

Forensic Pathologists – 28th February 2011, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Two forensic pathologists highlight the scientific advances in evidence gathering at the crime scene and autopsy from DNA to the study of blood splatter.  Pathologist Basil Purdue started work in the field 30 years ago and compares notes with Stuart Hamilton who has recently joined the elite band of less than 40 Home Office forensic pathologists called out to suspicious deaths throughout the country. How has their role at the crime scene changed?  And how much better is forensic science now in providing evidence for a case or ruling out murder or manslaughter?

Police Custody Officers – 1st March 2011, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Custody sergeants  Jon Avetoomyan and John Metcalkfe (retired) working on the front line in Gwent discuss the differences in how they deal with a suspect coming into police custody.   No longer is the first contact the sergeant in a small police station with one or two cells, but in the computerised improved facilities of a modern centralised custody unit holding suspects from all over the area – with the option of an interpreter to translate from Welsh to English as well as other languages to meet the needs of present day diverse communities.

Women’s Refuge Workers – 2nd March 2011, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

The way we deal with the victims of crime has completely changed over the years.  In this programme we hear from refuge CEO Sandra Horley and Independent Domestic Violence Advocate Julia who compare how victims of domestic abuse are treated – not only reflecting changes in legislation but the attitudes of both the police and society.  When Sandra Horley began work in the 1970s, women turned up at the refuge, terrified and without hope of any help from police or courts. She compares her experience with a Julia who supports women and helps them take their case to court.

Magistrates – 3rd March 2011, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

When at 38, Anne Fuller wanted to be a magistrate in the 1970s, she was told she was too young. Then magistrates were often middle-aged and middle-class.  The women had to wear a hat and gloves. Two years later she applied again and was accepted. Now magistrates can be as young as 18 and diversity is encouraged.  David Singh was only 27 when he joined the bench at Wimbledon. There have also been many changes in legislation from traffic offences to the Children Act and Human Right’s Act and more recently a move to virtual courts with video links to prisoners in jail and witness video evidence.

Prisoners – 4th March 2011, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Ex-offenders Tony and Patrick were both prisoners in Liverpool’s Walton jail.   Both had been in and out of trouble since their teenage years with a string of offences including robbery and in Tony’s case drug-dealing.  Patrick is in his 50s and Tony is in his 30s and they had very different experiences of prison life.   Tony was urged to improve his skills and gained qualifications in painting and decorating whilst Patrick’s only experience of ‘education’ was making fluffy toys.   These days there are complaints in the press that prisoners have TVs and computers in their cells.  In Patrick’s day, the complaints were about roast potatoes on Christmas day.  We hear how the emphasis is more on rehabilitation than punishment these days.

Sixth Series

In this series of The Generation Gap (series 6), two people from different generations discuss how ‘The Road’ has changed and how those changes reflect shifts in society.   The two people in each programme are linked in some way – either they both do the same job in different eras, or they share the same passion, or they are two generations of the same family working in the same profession.  The series sheds light on changes of society over the last 40 – 50 years.
In this series, we look at a day in the life of our roads –from the night time workers who prepare the street for the day ahead to the different kinds of vehicle drivers via the people who provide services along the road.   In  5 montage-style programmes, we hear from night time street cleaners, lollipop people, motorcyclists, service station owners and truck drivers.

Night Time Street Cleaners – 7th March 2011, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

We speak to 2 street cleaners – Vince Smith and Lawrence Foley to see how the road at night has changed.   As our city centres operate 24/7 there is a constant need for cleansing teams to clear up after us, but what is our attitude to the night time street cleaner and in a more environmentally conscious Britain, has our attitude to litter changed?  Are the people who do the job now different and do they still take pride in their work and what of the night-time communities such as the homeless?

Lollipop People – 8th March 2011, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

We hear a street-eye view on how drivers’ attitudes have changed towards pedestrians across generations.   Road crossing patrols in Somerset like Helen Bailey are piloting a CCTV camera in their lollipop stick because of the problem of cars which drive through regardless of safety and road rage.  In the past Terry Cross experienced fewer and friendlier motorists, more cyclists and even a horse and cart using the road.

Bikers – 9th March 2011, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

Bruce has a passion for motorcycles and as soon as he was 16, he bought his first bike from his uncle for £25. For him in the late 1950s, a motorbike was an economic necessity as he couldn’t afford a car but it soon became his life.  He used it to travel to work and then when he married and had his first two children, used his bike as family transport with a sidecar and a trailer for when they went on holiday. They even took the dog.  He compares his passion with that of Steve Willis who only got into bikes 8 years ago and has ended up with a company which sells bikes for up to £35,000 to people who have bikes as  a consumerist bauble but hardly dare to take them out of the garage.    This change reflects societal shifts in income and attitude.

M People – 10th March 2011, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

When the M6 was built through the Dunning family farm near Penrith in the 1960s, John Dunning decided to build Tebay Motorway service station even though he was told there wouldn’t be enough passing traffic.  Now the motorway is very busy and his daughter Sarah has taken over and modernised the business.  She now plans to open a new motorway services on the M5.  The family pride themselves on good quality food sourced locally including from the farm’s herd of Galloway cattle. (The Dunnings still run the farm)  However some customers complain there is no ‘Burger King’ .We talk to father and daughter about how expectations of the service station have changed and how motorways have opened up travel for all of us – as well as bringing employment and sustainability to a remote rural area.

HGV Drivers – 11th March 2011, 3:45 – 4:00 pm

The Woodall family have been running their road haulage business near Birmingham since the 1930s.  It has grown from a one-man truck driving operation to a company employing long and short haul lorry drivers.  It has gone from transporting Dunlop tyres to carrying palettes of all manner of things.  John Woodall started driving for his father in the 1960s when the roads were very different – now traffic jams and fuel efficiency are part of the transport business.  John compares what it was like when he started as a truck driver to the experiences of a present day driver – Andy Anderson, who now trains other drivers in safe and efficient trucking, including fuel conservation and tighter legislation.

A Juniper Connect production for BBC Radio.