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Outlook

BBC World Service, BBC
300 episodes
Extraordinary first person stories from around the world

Disclaimer: the content and artwork of this podcast are the property of its owner and are not affiliated with nor endorsed by Audiotrails.

The music star who was born into a cult

Mikel Jollett started life in a California-based cult called Synanon. What began as a drug rehabilitation programme that helped his father kick a heroin addiction later turned into a cult where children were taken away from their parents at just six months old and married couples were forced to spl…

I was the sole survivor of a plane crash

When a plane carrying 11-year-old Norman Ollestad, his father and his father’s girlfriend got caught in a snowstorm and crashed into the remote California mountains in 1979, Norman was the only survivor. In a harrowing tale of survival, Norman describes how, stranded on the edge of a cliff, he reli…

How I sang for my freedom

When Kurdish folk singer Nawroz Oramari was a teenager growing up in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, he was told he'd be executed if he was caught singing - he and his father even had to sign a pledge saying that they accepted the death penalty if they did so. Nawroz tells Anu Anand about his remarkable lif…

The surfer who fought apartheid to become a world champion

Cass Collier grew up surfing with his dad in apartheid South Africa, where signs designated the beaches as "whites-only", "blacks-only", or "coloureds-only" areas. The rules were enforced, often brutally, not only by the police but also by white surfers who would tell the Collier family to "go to y…

Hunting for my past in a Hong Kong stairwell

In 1960, Claire Martin was abandoned in a Hong Kong stairwell at just two days old. Like many babies at the time she was taken to the UK for adoption, but growing up, she became more and more determined to find her biological relatives. After years of searching, she's finally found family in a very…

The daring prison escape of an Argentine footballer

In November 1977 two men kidnapped minor league footballer Claudio Tamburrini. He was taken to a detention centre run by the Argentine Air Force where he was tortured and imprisoned. The country had just experienced a military coup and under the new regime many people suspected of left-wing sympath…

My mother’s fake name and secret past

American lawyer Justine Cowan grew up in a wealthy neighbourhood of San Francisco; her childhood was full of privilege, with music lessons and horse riding. It was a lifestyle that seemed fitting for Justine's mother Eileen. She was a highly accomplished English woman who'd always spoken about goin…

I became a supermodel overnight and didn't know

Lisa Ray was just a teenager when she fell in love with the glamour of 1990s Mumbai. She was dipping her toe into modelling when a serious car crash at home in Canada left her mother paralysed and her tight-knit family reeling. Lisa fled back to Mumbai where an image of her, famously in a red swims…

From saving goals to saving lives

In 1989, Canadian ice hockey goaltender Clint Malarchuk was playing for top National Hockey League team the Buffalo Sabres, when he suffered a horrific injury to his neck. Knowing his mother was watching the NHL match on live TV, he staggered off the ice. Luckily Clint survived and within ten days …

My mission to save the 'Russian spy whale'

Norwegian fisherman Joar Hesten was fishing for cod in the Arctic when he came across a white whale wearing a harness. He freed the mysterious beluga from the straps, and then saw the harness was labelled ‘Equipment St Petersburg’. Theories started swirling that this whale had escaped the Russian m…

My life as a millennial Yoruba priestess

Beyoncé, mermaids and Satan? Outlook Weekend is in Nigeria looking at the mysteries and misconceptions surrounding the traditional Yoruba religion – and what it takes to be a modern devotee of this ancient faith. Reporter Laeila Adjovi travels to the city of Ibadan to meet one of youngest women to …

Singing for my murdered sister helps me heal

In 2015, Nathalie Warmerdam was murdered by her ex-partner. She was one of three victims that day; he also killed two other former partners, Anastasia Kuzyk and Carol Culleton. Basil Borutski was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in 2017. Now as a way to deal with his grief, Nathalie's b…

My 30-year fight for justice for my mum

Lee Lawrence was 11 years old when his mother, Cherry Groce, was shot during a police raid on their family home in Brixton, south London. The police had been looking for Lee’s brother, Michael, who didn’t live there at the time. The shooting sparked an uprising in Brixton – where tensions were alre…

Hunting for a monster in the desert

Following a chance encounter with a Moroccan fossil hunter, palaeontologist Dr Nizar Ibrahim embarked on a search for the skeleton of the elusive Spinosaurus dinosaur. Presenter: Jo Fidgen Producer: Harry Graham Picture: Paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim (left) in 2014. Credit: Photo by Bill O'Leary…

Sin, sexuality and how Beyoncé became a lifeline

Paul Mendez is a British writer, Beyoncé superfan and once devout Jehovah's Witness. Growing up in the Midlands, where his Jamaican grandparents settled, Paul was all about preaching, paradise and playing Monopoly with elderly ladies. But at 17, he was cast out from his congregation. Alone and look…

Bringing down a dictator

In the late 1990s, lawyer Jacqueline Moudeina took on one of the most important cases in African legal history – the trial of Chad's former dictator Hissène Habré. He's a man who had massacred and tortured his people, including members of Jacqueline’s own family. She was determined to get justice, …

Searching for a serial killer from my bedroom

Paul Haynes’ search for an elusive serial killer started when he was out of work and had to move back to his childhood home; this soon took over his life and became a full-time occupation. He then teamed up with the crime writer Michelle McNamara who came up with the name 'Golden State Killer.' He …

The bowl of porridge that changed my life

When Elizabeth Nyamayaro was eight years old a severe drought hit her small Zimbabwean village. She was saved from starvation by a local United Nations aid worker, who gave her a bowl of porridge after finding her collapsed on the ground. It was an experience that made Elizabeth determined that one…

The break-up that cost me my voice

Shirley Collins grew up in a folk music-loving family in Sussex, England, during World War Two, and announced her intention to become a folk singer when she was still just a teenager. Her career would lead her to record music with her sister Dolly; to record folk songs in America with legendary son…

Secrets and Lies: China’s dissident cartoonist

Badiucao is one of China's most famous dissident cartoonists. His art is political and provocative - from poking fun at powerful Chinese figures like President Xi Jinping, to capturing the final days of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo. For years, Badiucao operated in secrecy: he moved into exile in Austr…

Secrets & Lies: Family secrets

In episode nine of Outlook's Secrets and Lies series we bring you two extraordinary stories of family secrets unravelled. Growing up in California, Rachel Mason and her brother Josh didn't know exactly what was sold in their unassuming and straight-laced parents' bookstore. They had no idea th…

Secrets & Lies: Imposters

This episode of our Secrets and Lies series is all about imposters. From the Outlook archive, we have two stories of lies so audacious that, when exposed, they caused shockwaves globally. Fab Morvan became world famous with the 80s pop band Milli Vanilli. He and his bandmate Rob Pilatus notched up…

Secrets & Lies: Fraudsters and forgers

In this episode we're reaching into the archive and retrieving stories of secrets and lies from the world of art. Over many years Shaun Greenhalgh created art forgeries in his garden shed in the English town of Bolton. He fooled the art world into thinking his paintings and sculptures were lost m…

Secrets & Lies: Messages hidden in music

In this episode of our Secrets and Lies series we've delved into the archive to bring you incredible stories of secrets hidden in music. Advertising executive Juan Carlos Ortiz grew up in Colombia, a country which has suffered decades of armed conflict and has long been among the major producers o…

Secrets & Lies: The man who stole the President’s secrets

For many years, Uzbekistan was a particularly dangerous place to be a journalist. Speaking out against the government of former president Islam Karimov could lead to torture and a lengthy spell in prison. So it was a surprise for many when in 2004 secret messages started appearing online, containin…

Secrets & Lies: Lives lived in shame

It's Secrets and Lies season on Outlook and we're revisiting some of the most fascinating stories from our archive on the theme. In this episode we hear about secrets borne out of shame. When Gail Lukasik was growing up in the US, she'd always wondered about her mother's quirky habits. For instan…

Secrets & Lies: The undercover operatives

In this episode of Outlook's Secrets and Lies series we're revisiting two astonishing stories from our archive about life undercover. As a young woman Ieva Lesinska was faced with an agonising choice. To renounce her father as a traitor, or defect to the US and leave behind everything she knew in …

Secrets & Lies: What my parent hid from me

We're delving into the Outlook archive to bring you stories about parents who kept shocking secrets from their children. In April 1997 a woman dressed as a nurse walked into a Cape Town hospital and left with a new born baby. The baby's name was Zephany Nurse - that child would not discover her t…

Secrets & Lies: Lives destroyed online

It's secrets and lies season here on Outlook and we have two stories about the way lies and fake news online can wreak havoc in our offline lives. Monika Glennon is a Polish-born estate agent living in the US. One morning she got a frantic call from a colleague: an explicit post had been written …

Spain's fearless barnacle-hunting sisters

Isabel and Susana González hunt percebes, also known as gooseneck barnacles. They're rather ugly crustaceans that can fetch thousands of dollars per kilogram at auction. To collect them, the González sisters must traverse slippery rocks along the Spanish coastline where they risk falling and drowni…