Jonathan Freedland compares the drive to attract more women into intelligence and cybersecurity today to the recruitment of women at Bletchley Park during World War Two.
The government's National Cyber Security Centre - a branch of GCHQ - are keen to address the shortage of women in their workforce. Jonathan travels to Bletchley Park to look at what lessons can be learned from the wartime codebreaking operation where by the end of the war 75% of the workforce were female.
Among Jonathan's guests is Charlotte Webb, who worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War and is author of the book Secret Postings.
Jonathan is also joined by Erica Munro, Exhibitions Manager at Bletchley Park; Jacqui Chard, Deputy Director for Defence & National Security at the National Cyber Security Centre; Elisabeth Braw of the Royal United Services Institute; and Jane Frankland, Cyber Security Consultant.
Producer: Laurence Grissell
Julian Assange and Robert Ferguson
Jonathan Freedland considers the career of Julian Assange and looks back at the life of Robert Ferguson, a seventeenth century pamphleteer and fugitive. Harnessing the power of new media to challenge the authority of English Kings, Ferguson was accused of conspiracy and forced to seek refuge in the Netherlands. Back in England he faced prison and notoriety as a plotter and possible double agent. Joining Jonathan to take the long view of journalists on the run are Justin Champion, Professor of History at Royal Holloway College, University of London, the journalist James Ball, lawyer Michael O'Kane, Senior Partner at Peters and Peters and Dr Karin von Hippel, Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute.
Gender in women's sport
Jonathan Freedland takes the Long View of the gender debate in women's sport. There are currently two points of contention. The success of the Canadian Cyclist Rachel McKinnon, a trans gender athlete, in a master's world cycling event, lead to a number of senior female athletes objecting to the inclusion of trans gender women in international sporting competition. Their development as men, the argument runs, gives them a huge advantage when competing against women who matured as women. At the same time the Court for arbitration for sport is hearing the South African runner Caster Semenya's challenge against an International Amateur Althletics Federation ruling that says she must reduce her natural Testosterone levels in order to compete in women's sport. So where should the line be drawn between mens and women's competition? That's the story today, but it was also the story back in the 1930's when a Polish American runner Stanislawa Walasiewicz was the favourite for the women's 100 metres at the Berlin Olympics.
Walasiewicz had settled with her parents in Cleveland and was better known as Stella Walsh. By 1932 she was also known as the Cleveland Flyer, but faced with unemployment she took up the offer to run for Poland at the Los Angeles Olympics and won Gold in the 100m. Already she was viewed by many as unusually manly in her running style and build. In the years between 1932 and the Berlin Olympics in 1936 insinuations continued but there was no action taken and she went on to compete successfully. However, in Berlin a French journalist suggested that Stella had to shave twice a day. She was favourite to win the 100m again.
In the event she came second to the American Helen Stephens. The Polish team and press raised objections to Stephens suggesting that she was a man. What appears to be the first ever gender identity test was called for and Helen Stephens was its first victim. It would later be described by the legendary British Pentathlon Olympic Gold Medal winner,Dame Mary Peters, some forty years later as 'what in modern parlance, amounted to a grope.” Helen Stephens was exonerated and kept her medal, but it was a crude and profoundly humiliating way of dealing with the problem of gender verification in women's sport.
Jonathan is joined by an Olympic athlete and a trans gender sportswoman to take the Long View of gender verification in women's sport.
Brexit and European Diplomacy
Jonathan Freedland explores parallels between Brexit and a major dispute between King Offa of Mercia and Charlemagne, King of the Franks in the 790s.
In the 790s, King Offa of the English kingdom of Mercia found himself at loggerheads with Charlemagne, King of the Franks on the other side of the Channel. Jonathan and guests examine how the dispute was resolved and explore how the difficulties compare to Britain's relations with the EU in the postwar era.
Jonathan is joined by historian Dr Rory Naismith of King's College London and Sir Stephen Wall, former Private Secretary to John Major and former Europe advisor to Tony Blair. Stephen Wall was also Britain's ambassador to the EU in the late 1990s and is the author of an official history of Britain's relations with the European Community 1963-75.
Produce: Laurence Grissell
Elon Musk's Hyperloop and Brunel's Atmospheric Traction Rail
Jonathan Freedland takes the long view of pioneering invention and the trials and tribulations thereof in the form of Elon Musk's Hyperloop and Isambard Brunel's Atmospheric Rail system.
Both men were driven and capable of challenging accepted engineering norms but in their two rail systems they struggled to make a break through. Elon Musk believes that his Hyperloop system can shoot passengers at breakneck speed through a vacuum tube, cutting journey times and revolutionising rail travel. Ever the coy publicist he refers to his Hyperloop as the "fifth mode of transport" after road, rail, sea and air.
Brunel was convinced that steam wasn't the only way of providing cheap, efficient mass transport. Using a sealed tube in the centre of the rails to deliver vacuum propulsion, his system ran on a 20-mile section of track between Exeter and Newton Abbot and was a match for the speeds available to the best steam trains of the day.
But both systems have proved more than challenging and in Brunel's case the challenges became insurmountable and the inventor's appetite for new adventures saw it fall quickly into disuse. How will Elon Musk's plans mature?
Historian Colin Divall is on hand to help tell the parallel stories of these two men and their transport dreams.
Producer: Tom Alban