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It’s a Long Story

A podcast about the moments that made the people who shape our culture

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Hear the stories behind the big ideas of some of Sydney Opera House's most influential and acclaimed guests, such as Henry Rollins, Jad Abumrad, Fran Lebowitz, Lindy West, Lionel Shriver and Giulia Enders. Current edition hosted by Edwina Throsby. It’s a Long Story is produced at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Talks and Ideas program. Previous hosts include Emily Nicol, Marc Fennell, Fenella Kernebone, Ann Mossop and Hamish MacDonald.

Latest episodes

Adam Liaw

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Adam Liaw understands how Australian families eat. Emigrating to South Australia from Malaysia in the 1980s his childhood was a delicious mix of international cuisines. Adam’s precocious smarts fast-tracked his academic career, and landed him at law school well ahead of schedule. Moving to Japan in his twenties to work at Disney Asia, he was settling into Japanese culture. But everything changed when he applied on a whim for the second season of Masterchef Australia. Ten years, six books and one snow egg later, he now hosts award-winning SBS television series Destination Flavour. His columns and recipes provide a thoughtful culinary perspective and a solid knowledge of what you should put on the table tonight.

Liz Jackson

Tuesday 28 May 2019

When Liz Jackson woke up one morning back in 2012 unable to feel her legs, her life radically changed direction. Diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease, Liz left her successful career in television to become a designer and activist, devoted to improving design for disabled people across the world. Her blog, The Girl with the Purple Cane, and her organisation The Disabled List, brings the unique insights and skills of disabled people and designers into the broader design conversation. 

Yotam Ottolenghi

Tuesday 14 May 2019

It’s hard to remember what we used to cook before Yotam Ottolenghi burst into our culinary consciousness. His brand of colourful, vegetable-based food has transformed kitchens and tables the world over. Born in Jerusalem, Yotam was set to pursue an academic career after completing a master’s degree in comparative literature. However at age 30 he decided to move to London to become a chef, and his future was rewritten. His London restaurants have become cult destinations, his cookbooks are on everyone’s shelves, he’s a TV host, he’s one of the world’s most famous gay dads, and he’s one of the loveliest people you’re likely to meet.

Sarah Wilson

Tuesday 30 April 2019

As a hugely successful journalist and writer, and the founder of the international diet and lifestyle empire I Quit Sugar, Sarah Wilson might seem like the poster girl for perfect health. Yet anxiety and bipolar disorder have been with her throughout her life and career. Growing up in rural Australia in a big, poor family, she has always been driven to overachieve, editing national magazines, hosting the first season of Masterchef, writing a series of bestselling cookbooks, and amassing a small army of online followers. In her book First, We Make the Beast Beautiful, Sarah gives an unflinchingly honest account of her struggles with mental illness, and how anxiety doesn’t have to be a negative force in your life.

Jonathan Drori

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Walking through Kew Gardens in London with his family was formative for polymath, writer and tree-lover Jonathan Drori. With a career bridging engineering and broadcasting, he was part of the trailblazing team which created the very first iteration of BBC online, surfed the crest of the dotcom boom, and created a whole lot of very good BBC television programs. Yet the pull of the natural world held strong, and his book, Around the World in 80 Trees, explores the unique relationship of human beings with the trees that surround us, and the ways trees are tipping us off to the health of our societies and our planet.

Lisa Ann Gershwin

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Lisa-Ann Gershwin knows more about jellyfish than you could imagine, and no one gets quite as excited about gelatinous medusas as she does. Raised in California by hippie parents, her undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome marked her an outsider during childhood. It wasn’t until she fell in love with marine biology that she started to find her way. Now an internationally recognised scientist, researcher and author, she has personally discovered 200 species of jellyfish and counting. And despite a life that hasn’t always been easy, Lisa-Ann remains one of the most infectiously joyful people you’re ever likely to hear.

Kevin McCloud

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Kevin McCloud had a childhood where everything was built from scratch, and his home was more like a workshop. So it’s no surprise that the built world eventually became the focus of his life and work. Yet in his earlier years Kevin wore many different hats, from working in an Italian vineyard, studying music, designing sets for the Cambridge theatre troupe the Footlights, owning a lighting design shop and designing the famous ceiling of the Harrods Food Hall in London. While this eclectic mix of experience may have been enough for some, Kevin’s best known as the host of the British Lifestyle program Grand Designs. A champion for social housing and sustainable development, he continues to explore ways that architecture can benefit our lives.

Marwa al-Sabouni

Tuesday 2 April 2019

When the war in Syria was tearing apart their home city of Homs, architect Marwa Al-Sabouni and her husband made the decision to stay there with their two young children, rather than to become refugees. In her memoir, The Battle for Home, she writes about the experience of continuing daily life in a battle zone, and of the importance of architecture in determining the fates of cities. Marwa’s work now is concerned with the impact of conflict on urban environments, and the possibilities that can emerge from rebuilding. She believes architecture can play an essential role in strengthening communities, and in healing her country.

Mark Lynas

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Back in his student days, science writer and journalist Mark Lynas was one of the first and loudest voices of the anti-GMO movement. He wrote some of the most-read articles about genetically modified organisms, led protests, and may or may not have coined the term “Frankenfood”. But then he really looked into the science of GMO, and did a full 180. In a world-famous speech in 2013, Mark retracted his earlier views, and apologised for having destroyed GM crops. He’s since worked with smallholder farmers in Asia and Africa who, use GMO to better cope with pests, diseases and droughts. He is still an activist, but now he forefronts science in his activism.

Raj Patel

Tuesday 19 March 2019

What do you do when you decide at the age of seven that the world is an unfair place and you need to try and change it? Raj Patel’s career has been dedicated to ending inequality. From studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford, London School of Economics and Cornell, to learning about the inner workings of the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank as an intern, Raj was always going to be an activist. His writing about capitalism and contemporary politics is globablly influential, and he continues to look for ways to change the political and economic systems that we live in.

Barbara Kingsolver

Tuesday 31 July 2018

How might literature change the world? American author Barbara Kingsolver has been asking this question through her best-selling novels and essays for years. After a self-described ‘curious childhood’ split between rural Appalachia and remote global locations where her doctor father was posted, she developed an independent spirit and an unshakeable love for the natural world. This passion manifested as activism during her biology degree, but despite becoming a scientist, it was literature than ultimately won out. This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Edwina Throsby.

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Mandy Len Catron

Tuesday 17 July 2018

There’s a widespread assumption that we are all are better off in relationships, and Mandy Len Catron has been aware of the throwaway truisms about love since her childhood in rural Appalachian Virginia. But when the reality of life fell short of these idealised, feminine notions, Mandy turned to science to explore other narratives. Following the research, she wrote 'To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This' for the New York Times, offering the tantalising answer to one of life’s biggest questions: just how do we fall in love? This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Edwina Throsby.

CN Lester

Tuesday 3 July 2018

There aren’t many places where we aren’t boxed in to strict categories. For English singer-songwriter CN Lester, music has always provided a safe space where these restrictions don’t apply. Raised in London by a family that encouraged them to think outside traditional gender roles, CN, who is gender queer and uses the pronoun they, grew up to be a committed activist. Now, they also run a queer performance night in London that has the salient motto: Don’t make assumptions. This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Edwina Throsby.

Rebecca Walker

Tuesday 19 June 2018

The daughter of Alice Walker, who wrote the African-American classic The Color Purple, and Melvyn Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer, Rebecca Walker’s intersecting and sometimes jarring identities were the foundation of her career. Rebecca’s work has always been a response to her personal situation, be it family, identity, becoming a mother, masculinity, race, Buddhism, or a combination of all of these, and she has developed a strong and compelling ethos about what it means to live a feminist life in an ever-changing world. This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Edwina Throsby.

Kate Bolick

Tuesday 5 June 2018

As a middle-class girl from a happy family, Kate Bolick’s life was on track: go to college, get a job, and then, become a wife. But after losing her mother, Kate began to question this predictable trajectory. In 2011, when she was in her thirties and still unmarried, Kate wrote an article that wove together her personal story with an economic analysis of singledom in the 21st Century. It was called All the Single Ladies and it became an online sensation. It served as the catalyst for Kate’s first book called Spinster: Making a life of one’s own. The memoir reflects on the intergenerational lessons and legacies of feminism, and is a call to arms for autonomous women everywhere. This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Edwina Throsby.

Fran Lebowitz

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Growing up in New Jersey, lifelong bookworm Fran Lebowitz has always done things on her own terms. After getting expelled from high school, she answered the call and moved to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. She quickly became part of the legendary New York club scene of the 1970s, hanging out at Max’s Kansas City and writing for Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine. Since then, she’s been watching as the world evolves and changes: and whether it’s sexuality, AIDS, activism, feminism, technology or presidents, she will most definitely have an opinion on it. This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Edwina Throsby.