There are few things that make long commutes or half an hour on the cross trainer just about bearable. Podcasts are my go-to distraction when I am in need of a bit of inspiration, a laugh, or want to learn something new. Give me great conversation, an insightful panel discussion, or an inspirational TED talk any day of the week. So, unsurprisingly when the BBC announced that Riot Girls was returning to BBC Radio 4 I was beside myself with excitement. But what is Riot Girls? The show started in 2016 and shines a spotlight on the stories of amazing female writers, campaigners, and creatives. These are the women you want in your girl gang. If January is leaving you wanting a little bit of a push to do something new Riot Girls will provide you with all of the inspiration you will need.
Riot Girls returned on Jan. 12 and runs until Jan. 16. Listeners are in for a real treat as this series explores the stories of three amazing female writers. Founding member of Pussy Riot and activist Maria Alyokhina will reveal what it was like campaigning, fighting, and being imprisoned in Russia as part of an all-female punk protest group. Caitlin Moran will also tell her story about how she found feminism and what being a woman in 2019 means. Lastly Ayeesha Menon’s will share her international crime drama examining sexual assault in London, Saudi Arabia and Mumbai. All three women are seriously inspirational in their own way and listening to them on your morning commute will make you tempted not to go in at all.
Speaking about the return of Riot Girls in a BBC press release Alison Hindell, BBC Radio 4’s Commissioning Editor for Drama and Fiction said, “this year Riot Girls is distinctly contemporary and centres on women with provocative views of the world we live in. Each series of Riot Girls has challenged and entertained and this year, at a time when debate sparked by women demands full attention it seems more relevant than ever. With the writing of Maria Alyokhina, Caitlin Moran and Ayeesha Menon 2019’s Riot Girls will not disappoint.”
The series will be kicked off my a dramatization of Riot Days, the autobiographical tale by Maria Alyokhina. She tells the fascinating tale of the fight in Russia for women’s rights and Pussy Riot which would lead to her imprisonment. Dramatised by E V Crowe and starring Katie West, Kerry Gooderson and Kathryn Drysdale, if you love all things feminism then you have to listen to Riot Days. Whilst it was first aired on Radio 4 on Jan. 12 you can listen back to it on the BBC Sounds app.
Caitlin Moran will follow Alyokhina with a dramatisation of her first, critically acclaimed book How To Be A Woman. Moran narrates the story of her childhood, early career as a journalist, and what she has learnt so far about what being a woman in modern Britain really means. She teaches listeners what the only four fashion rules worth knowing are, the most important being “leopard skin is a neutral" and how to spot the patriarchy in action. You will laugh until your stomach hurts. Louise Brealey stars as a young Moran in the dramatization and it first aired at 10:45 a.m on Jan. 14 on Radio 4. The entirety of How To Be A Woman on Riot Girls can be listened to on the BBC Sounds app.
Last but certainly not least, Ayeesha Menon will round off this series of Riot Girls with a dramatisation of her feminist thriller, Into The Maze. Through characters Jamila and Saira, Menon explores issues surrounding sexual assault, rape, harassment, and the criminal justice system. After Saira is raped, Jamila takes to the internet to raise the profile of her sister’s case. However, she starts to be harassed, receiving death threats. Menon highlights the struggle experienced by sexual assault survivors around the globe. Into The Maze will be on Radio 4 on Jan. 14-16 and after the first episode airs it will be available on the BBC Sounds app.