talks & debates

Our year-round programme of talks and debates showcases leading thinkers, activists, politicians and cultural observers. Be stimulated by new thoughts and ideas, or challenged to see the world with fresh eyes by today’s most exciting speakers.

This season documentarian Louis Theroux reflects on two decades of groundbreaking work and Lenny Henry takes us on a trip down memory lane. Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain talks cake and kids and comedian Sara Pascoe assesses what really matters to humans. We also welcome Malcolm Gladwell, Richard Dawkins, Hannah Gadsby and many more.

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Perhaps you don’t recognise that you have power but if you’re doing something to try to make a change you are already exercising power.
Cassa Pancho MBE, Founder of Ballet Black, speaking at Southbank Centre in 2018
The paradox of the last 20 years has been that we have increased our communication, its frequency, participants and methods to do so. But instead of taking this opportunity to produce a clear picture of the world, the content of that information, and what we actually know, is decreasing.
Yannis Varoufakis, speaking at Southbank Centre in 2015

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Brainchild Festival

Free

Free

7:00 pm
Thu 29 Aug 2019
7:00 pm | Thu 29 Aug 2019
talks & debates
family & young people
Break the taboo around death, reframe grief and unearth new rituals with discussion and performance
Break the taboo around death, reframe grief and unearth new rituals with discussion and performance
Etgar Keret, writer
7:15 pm
Tue 03 Sep 2019
7:15 pm | Tue 03 Sep 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Hear from renowned short-story writer Etgar Keret as he presents a new collection, Fly Already
Hear from renowned short-story writer Etgar Keret as he presents a new collection, Fly Already
Richard Ayoade, actor, comedian, writer and director
7:30 pm
Thu 05 Sep 2019
7:30 pm | Thu 05 Sep 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
The writer and director reflects on his award-winning films and comedy in conversation with Adam Buxton
The writer and director reflects on his award-winning films and comedy in conversation with Adam...
Malorie Blackman, writer
2:00 pm
Sun 08 Sep 2019
2:00 pm | Sun 08 Sep 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
The wait is over for the next novel in the groundbreaking young adult fiction series Noughts & Crosses
The wait is over for the next novel in the groundbreaking young adult fiction series Noughts &...
Sara Pascoe, comedian
7:30 pm
Sun 08 Sep 2019
7:30 pm | Sun 08 Sep 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Assess what really matters to humans at this talk with the award-winning comedian and author
Assess what really matters to humans at this talk with the award-winning comedian and author
Nathan Filer, writer
7:15 pm
Mon 09 Sep 2019
7:15 pm | Mon 09 Sep 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
Hear from two award-winning writers as they challenge myths and misconceptions around patient care
Hear from two award-winning writers as they challenge myths and misconceptions around patient care
Osi Umenyiora, American football defensive end
1:00 pm
Sat 14 Sep 2019
1:00 pm | Sat 14 Sep 2019
talks & debates
Explore the complexities, possibilities and personal cost of protest in sport
Explore the complexities, possibilities and personal cost of protest in sport
Africa Utopia Member's Salon

Free

Free

1:00 pm
Sat 14 Sep 2019
1:00 pm | Sat 14 Sep 2019
talks & debates
Turn the pages of timeless and undiscovered works of African literature
Turn the pages of timeless and undiscovered works of African literature
Akala, rapper and activist
2:45 pm
Sat 14 Sep 2019
2:45 pm | Sat 14 Sep 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Consider who decides how and where black cultural memory is preserved at our talk
Consider who decides how and where black cultural memory is preserved at our talk
A woman in glitter on the side of her face
4:30 pm
Sat 14 Sep 2019
4:30 pm | Sat 14 Sep 2019
talks & debates
This event has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances
This event has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances
Beauty: It's a Shady Business
6:15 pm
Sat 14 Sep 2019
6:15 pm | Sat 14 Sep 2019
talks & debates
Beauty: from self-expression and the performance of identity, to purely the skin deep
Beauty: from self-expression and the performance of identity, to purely the skin deep
Africa Utopia Member's Salon at the Royal Festival Hall

Free

Free

12:30 pm
Sun 15 Sep 2019
12:30 pm | Sun 15 Sep 2019
talks & debates
An open conversation on how we identify as African and what our labels mean
An open conversation on how we identify as African and what our labels mean
Simon Frederick, actor
1:00 pm
Sun 15 Sep 2019
1:00 pm | Sun 15 Sep 2019
talks & debates
A panel discussion on the power of black perspectives, both in front of and behind the lens
A panel discussion on the power of black perspectives, both in front of and behind the lens
Africa Utopia Member's Salon at the Royal Festival Hall
3:30 pm
Sun 15 Sep 2019
3:30 pm | Sun 15 Sep 2019
talks & debates
Yes, there are roles outside rap for black men in the music industry - our panel explores
Yes, there are roles outside rap for black men in the music industry - our panel explores
The Music That Made Us
4:30 pm
Sun 15 Sep 2019
4:30 pm | Sun 15 Sep 2019
talks & debates
How does the music made by black artists explore the breadth of blackness?
How does the music made by black artists explore the breadth of blackness?
Philippa Perry
7:30 pm
Thu 19 Sep 2019
7:30 pm | Thu 19 Sep 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
How much does our own upbringing affect our parenting?
How much does our own upbringing affect our parenting?
Richard Dawkins, ethologist
7:30 pm
Sun 22 Sep 2019
7:30 pm | Sun 22 Sep 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Join the author as he helps us rethink the big questions about how our world came to be
Join the author as he helps us rethink the big questions about how our world came to be
Sabrina Mahfouz, poet
7:45 pm
Mon 23 Sep 2019
7:45 pm | Mon 23 Sep 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Join us for the launch of this anthology of working-class artists on art, life and making it happen
Join us for the launch of this anthology of working-class artists on art, life and making it happen
Sir John Rowland Tomlinson, opera singer

Free

Free

7:00 pm
Wed 25 Sep 2019
7:00 pm | Wed 25 Sep 2019
talks & debates
What else stirs the soul like singing does? The Royal Philharmonic Society hosts a panel talk
What else stirs the soul like singing does? The Royal Philharmonic Society hosts a panel talk
Antoni Porowski, TV personality
7:30 pm
Wed 25 Sep 2019
7:30 pm | Wed 25 Sep 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
Serve up your burning questions about food and healthy living for the Queer Eye star and author
Serve up your burning questions about food and healthy living for the Queer Eye star and author
Louis Theroux, filmmaker
7:30 pm
Wed 25 Sep 2019
7:30 pm | Wed 25 Sep 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Journey through the highs and lows of two decades of groundbreaking work with the documentarian
Journey through the highs and lows of two decades of groundbreaking work with the documentarian
Cardbard Citizens workshop

Free

Free

7:00 pm
Thu 26 Sep 2019
7:00 pm | Thu 26 Sep 2019
performance & dance
performance & theatre
Take your part in an interactive theatre piece that shines a light on homelessness
Take your part in an interactive theatre piece that shines a light on homelessness
Giovanna Fletcher, author
7:30 pm
Fri 27 Sep 2019
7:30 pm | Fri 27 Sep 2019
talks & debates
Author Giovanna Fletcher presents a live episode of her frank podcast on the realities of parenthood
Author Giovanna Fletcher presents a live episode of her frank podcast on the realities of parenthood
Lenny Henry, comedian
7:30 pm
Mon 30 Sep 2019
7:30 pm | Mon 30 Sep 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
Get ready to guffaw as the cherished comedian takes the stage to share his long-awaited autobiography
Get ready to guffaw as the cherished comedian takes the stage to share his long-awaited...
Celeste Ng, author
7:30 pm
Sun 06 Oct 2019
7:30 pm | Sun 06 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
What creates compelling and realistic characters? Ask the bestselling author at this in-depth talk
What creates compelling and realistic characters? Ask the bestselling author at this in-depth talk
Randall Munroe, cartoonist
7:30 pm
Mon 07 Oct 2019
7:30 pm | Mon 07 Oct 2019
talks & debates
accessible events
Open up new dimensions on the everyday in this talk by the webcomic creator and author
Open up new dimensions on the everyday in this talk by the webcomic creator and author
Man Booker at Southbank Centre
7:30 pm
Sun 13 Oct 2019
7:30 pm | Sun 13 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
Meet the 2019 Booker Prize shortlist in an evening of readings and conversation
Meet the 2019 Booker Prize shortlist in an evening of readings and conversation
Armistead Maupin, writer
7:30 pm
Thu 17 Oct 2019
7:30 pm | Thu 17 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
The much-loved author recounts his favourite Tales of the City in his first ever UK tour
The much-loved author recounts his favourite Tales of the City in his first ever UK tour
Lemn Sissay, author and broadcaster

Multi-buy discount

Multi-buy discount

8:15 pm
Fri 18 Oct 2019
8:15 pm | Fri 18 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Reflect on self-expression and Britishness at this discussion on Sissay’s new memoir
Reflect on self-expression and Britishness at this discussion on Sissay’s new memoir
Jung Chang, author

Multi-buy discount

Multi-buy discount

2:00 pm
Sat 19 Oct 2019
2:00 pm | Sat 19 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Delve into the gripping secrets of 20th-century China in this talk with the acclaimed author
Delve into the gripping secrets of 20th-century China in this talk with the acclaimed author
Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman, writers

Multi-buy discount

Multi-buy discount

7:30 pm
Sat 19 Oct 2019
7:30 pm | Sat 19 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Discuss the themes of the groundbreaking essay collection with those who edited and contributed to it
Discuss the themes of the groundbreaking essay collection with those who edited and contributed to...
 Srishti Krishnamoorthy-Cavell, PhD candidate
3:30 pm
Sun 20 Oct 2019
3:30 pm | Sun 20 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
poetry
Discuss the Forward Prize-shortlisted collections at this event organised with the Poetry School
Discuss the Forward Prize-shortlisted collections at this event organised with the Poetry School
Kishani Widyaratna, editor
7:00 pm
Mon 21 Oct 2019
7:00 pm | Mon 21 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
writers
Get advice on how to evaluate your manuscript and tackle rewriting from the Picador Books editor
Get advice on how to evaluate your manuscript and tackle rewriting from the Picador Books editor
Nikki Giovanni , poet

Multi-buy discount

Multi-buy discount

7:30 pm
Mon 21 Oct 2019
7:30 pm | Mon 21 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
Reflect on the breadth of the poet and activist’s work in this evening of poetry and conversation
Reflect on the breadth of the poet and activist’s work in this evening of poetry and conversation
Emma Paterson headshot
7:00 pm
Tue 22 Oct 2019
7:00 pm | Tue 22 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
What do literary agents do and how can you find the right one for you?
What do literary agents do and how can you find the right one for you?
Elizabeth Day, writer and journalist
7:30 pm
Tue 22 Oct 2019
7:30 pm | Tue 22 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Part memoir, part manifesto, this is a book for anyone who has ever failed - in other words, everyone
Part memoir, part manifesto, this is a book for anyone who has ever failed - in other words,...
Brett Anderson, singer-songwriter

Multi-buy discount

Multi-buy discount

7:30 pm
Wed 23 Oct 2019
7:30 pm | Wed 23 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Here they come, the beautiful ones: Suede's frontman reads from his second volume of memoirs
Here they come, the beautiful ones: Suede's frontman reads from his second volume of memoirs
7:00 pm
Thu 24 Oct 2019
7:00 pm | Thu 24 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
Whether you’ve been writing for a while or are just starting, get some tips on the routes to publication
Whether you’ve been writing for a while or are just starting, get some tips on the routes to...

Multi-buy discount

Multi-buy discount

7:30 pm
Thu 24 Oct 2019
7:30 pm | Thu 24 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Break down what’s behind contemporary Britain's culture, attitudes and roots at this talk
Break down what’s behind contemporary Britain's culture, attitudes and roots at this talk
Hannah Gadsby, comedian
Various times
25 Oct 2019 - 3 Nov 2019
Various times | 25 Oct 2019 - 3 Nov 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
The Australian comedian found her voice with Nanette, and with Douglas she plans to use it
The Australian comedian found her voice with Nanette, and with Douglas she plans to use it
Audience at the Literature talk

Free

Free

1:00 pm
Sat 26 Oct 2019
1:00 pm | Sat 26 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
Find out about prizes, initiatives and schemes that can advance your writing career in a day of free short talks
Find out about prizes, initiatives and schemes that can advance your writing career in a day of free...
Hind Hassan, news reporter
3:00 pm
Sat 26 Oct 2019
3:00 pm | Sat 26 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Journalists Roula Khalaf, Hind Hassan and Heba Shibani reflect on their formidable reporting careers
Journalists Roula Khalaf, Hind Hassan and Heba Shibani reflect on their formidable reporting careers
Helen Seymour
Various times
Sat 26 Oct 2019
Various times | Sat 26 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
Helen Seymour is struggling to keep her head above water in her very funny, very dark second solo show
Helen Seymour is struggling to keep her head above water in her very funny, very dark second solo...
Anthony Daniels and C-3PO

Multi-buy discount

Multi-buy discount

7:00 pm
Sun 27 Oct 2019
7:00 pm | Sun 27 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Join Star Wars actor Anthony Daniels as he reflects on his role as one of cinema's most famous droids
Join Star Wars actor Anthony Daniels as he reflects on his role as one of cinema's most famous...
Anne Carson, poet
7:30 pm
Wed 30 Oct 2019
7:30 pm | Wed 30 Oct 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Cheers to 40 years of the London Review of Books at an evening of poetry, music and collaboration
Cheers to 40 years of the London Review of Books at an evening of poetry, music and collaboration
Dame Julie Andrews, actress
2:30 pm
Sat 02 Nov 2019
2:30 pm | Sat 02 Nov 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
In a UK-exclusive event, the beloved star of stage and screen celebrates the publication of her memoir
In a UK-exclusive event, the beloved star of stage and screen celebrates the publication of her...
Sold out
Mariam Khan, editor and activist
7:00 pm
Thu 07 Nov 2019
7:00 pm | Thu 07 Nov 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
Hear from writers, poets and activists as they discuss the contemporary Muslim female experience
Hear from writers, poets and activists as they discuss the contemporary Muslim female experience
Yara Rodrigues Fowler, novelist
7:45 pm
Tue 19 Nov 2019
7:45 pm | Tue 19 Nov 2019
literature & poetry
talks & debates
Meet the lauded and vibrant voices of British Latinx writers at this discussion and reading
Meet the lauded and vibrant voices of British Latinx writers at this discussion and reading
Malcolm Gladwell, journalist
7:30 pm
Mon 25 Nov 2019
7:30 pm | Mon 25 Nov 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
Dive into the many facets of why we misread other people with the bestselling author and journalist
Dive into the many facets of why we misread other people with the bestselling author and journalist
Nadiya Hussain, baker and television presenter
7:30 pm
Sun 01 Dec 2019
7:30 pm | Sun 01 Dec 2019
literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature
The Bake Off winner celebrates the publication of her memoir in her own warm, honest and humorous way
The Bake Off winner celebrates the publication of her memoir in her own warm, honest and humorous...

Pages

highlights

30 Sep
literature & poetry
talks & debates
Get ready to guffaw as the cherished comedian takes the stage to share his long-awaited autobiography

Randall Munore

Image Credit 
Adrianne Mathiowetz
Randall Munroe, cartoonist
7 Oct
talks & debates
accessible events
Open up new dimensions on the everyday in this talk by the webcomic creator and author
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blog: talks & debates

podcast
Dissect the making and unmaking of civilisations and cultures with Akala and David Olusoga
story
The best-selling writer and essayist discusses finding her place in feminism, intersectionality and grappling with pop culture