Are we living in a ‘golden age’ of political conspiracy theories and what does belief in them tell us about voters and politicians? James Tilley, a professor of politics at the University of Oxford, talks to historians, psychologists and political scientists to ask why conspiracy theories are so common and who are the people spreading them. Why are so many of us drawn to the notion of shadowy forces controlling political events? And are conspiracy theories, in which things always happen for a reason and where good is always pitted against evil, simply an exaggerated version of our everyday political thinking?
Producer: Bob Howard
Do children of married parents do better?
Does being born to non-married parents affect a child's prospects? It is a question that is notoriously hard to answer. BBC Education Editor Branwen Jeffreys investigates research from Princeton's landmark Fragile Families study, which has gathered data from 5,000 births over the last 18 years. She speaks to principal investigator Professor Sara McLanahan to find out how much we know about the differing outcomes of children raised by married, cohabiting or single parents.
Branwen asks how applicable the results of the study are to British society, where very soon, a minority of births will be to married parents. Professor Emla Fitzsimons has been following the lives of 19,000 children, born across the UK in 2000-01. She reveals what the project, know as The Millennium Cohort Study has found.
Producer: Diane Richardson
The War for Normal
We live in a world where everyone is trying to manipulate everyone else, where social media has opened up the floodgates for a mayhem of influence. And the one thing all the new propagandists have in common is the idea that to really get to someone you have to not just spin or nudge or persuade them, but transform the way they think about the world, the language and concepts they have to make sense of things.
Peter Pomerantsev, author of an acclaimed book on the media in Putin's Russia, examines where this strategy began, how it is being exploited, the people caught in the middle, and the researchers trying to combat it. Because it is no longer just at the ‘fringes’ where this is happening – it is now a part of mainstream political life.
Producer: Ant Adeane
From a US president who is turning the world upside down – with a relish for dismantling global agreements – the message is clear: it’s America first. But where does that leave old European allies? Few expect the transatlantic relationship to go back to where it was before Trump. Europe, says Angela Merkel, now has to shape its own destiny. James Naughtie explores the uncertain future for America's friends. Producer: Kate Collins
The Trumped Republicans
Republican insider Ron Christie discovers how Donald Trump's presidency is changing his party. Trump arrived in the White House offering a populist revolt in America, promising to drain what he calls "the swamp that is Washington D.C". So what does his own Republican Party - traditionally a bastion of the nation’s establishment - really make of him? Where is he taking them and what will he leave behind? Christie, a long-time Republican who has served in the West Wing under George W Bush, takes us on a journey behind the scenes to meet Trump’s inner circle - including figures like Mercedes Schlapp, White House director of strategic communications, and to influential conservative broadcaster Sean Hannity. He talks to the supporters and the sceptics alike who watch in amazement as one of the most controversial presidents of all time takes his country and his party by storm.
Producer: Kirsty Mackenzie