Friday, 24 November 2017

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 24th November 2017

Simon was very excited in the studio today.  Each time he was asked how his week went, he giggled and patted his hands on his trousers in a most animated fashion.  This is unusual for Simon, as he hasn't been particularly animated in any noticeable way since the 1980s.  When probed, Simon eventually admitted that he saw his radio rival Mark Kermode at an event and used an adjacent toilet cubicle.  Undoubtedly, this will add a chapter to Simon's forthcoming memoirs.

Unbelievably, almost none of that was made up this week!

Here are Simon's choice of films on free-to-air TV for the forthcoming week:


9.00pm – 11.20pm


Ex Machina
9.00pm – 11.05pm
Channel 4


9.00pm – 11.35pm
Channel 5


The Road
11.45pm – 1.55am


Mars Attacks!
10.50pm – 1.00am


The Riot Club
9.00pm – 11.05pm


9.00pm – 11.20pm

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Bond Themed Dining With @BreakawayAmDram

Today on West Herts Drivetime Danny was joined by Lesley and Margi of Breakaway Theatre company to talk about their Top Secret dining even, No Mr. Bond, I Expect You To Die!

The licenced to thrill pair visited the Radio Verulam studios to discuss their murder mystery event, which takes place at Inn on the Park at Verulanium Park in St. Albans, which will be a play presented in stages in between courses.

The show focuses on a group of spies competing to become the next Double O agent and are currently at a testing facility to be appraised, when things start to go wrong. The audience are given clues and information about the characters and are invited to figure out who's behind it all.

During the chat they also talked about their previous murder mystery evenings and upcoming projects.

The event takes place on December 1st at 7:30pm. Tickets for the event are £30 and will include a 3 course meal. Tickets are available at

You can reach the Breakaway Theatre Company on their Facebook page BREAKAWAYTHEATRE or their Twitter @breakawayamdram

Charlotte's Film Club: Limitless

Charlotte's last film based in New York for this week is 'Limitless'.

Released in 2011, this sci-fi thriller sees unemployed writer Eddie's (Bradley Cooper) life changes when an old friend gives him a drug that produces enhanced mental acuity. Stoked on the untested chemical, Eddie rises to the top of the financial world and attracts the attention of a tycoon (Robert De Niro) who intends to use him to make a fortune. But terrible side-effects and a dwindling supply threaten to collapse Eddie's house of cards.


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Drivetime Sessions with @DariaKulesh sponsored by @FightingcocksSA

On this week's Drivetime Sessions we were joined by the singer-songwriter Daria Kulesh and accompanying guitarist Tristan Seume. She performed her singles 'Rusalka' and 'Vasilisa', and performed a cover of 'Pride of Petravore' originally by Percy French.

For more information on Daria Kulesh you can visit her Facebook page or for more information about upcoming gigs.

If you would like to listen to the Drivetime Sessions again then visit and navigate to Wednesday at 5:30.

Charlotte's Film Club: Phone Booth

Our next 'New York' based film is Phone Booth from 2002.

Colin Farrell is Stu, an arrogant publicist who is cheating on his wife.
He picks up a ringing payphone to find himself talking to The Caller, a mysterious man armed with a sniper rifle and the determination to get Stu to admit his faults.
Also stars Kiefer Sutherland, Radha Mitchell and Katie Holmes.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: The Day After Tomorrow

Continuing to look at films centralised on the city of New York, today on the Film Club, Charlotte focuses on 'The Day After Tomorrow'.

This 2004 disaster film sees an enormous "superstorm" develop as a result of global warming, setting off catastrophic natural disasters throughout the world. The Climatologist (Dennis Quaid) who discovered this storm desperately tries to get to his son(Jake Gyllenhaal), who is trapped in New York.

Talking Movember with Steve Markwell

Today we talked to Steve Markwell about his Movember campaigning, fundraising and activism: raising awareness for men's issues.  'Movember' is a movement which encourages men to grow moustaches in November and to raise money for the Movember Foundation, which raises awareness and supports charities which help men with mental health issues and with testicular and prostate cancer. 

3/4 suicides are committed by men, and on average men die 4 years earlier than women.  Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer amongst men, with one man dying every 45 minutes.  The problem is, these statistics are rarely talked about, and one of Movember's aims is to raise awareness about them. 

Movember was started in Australia in 2003, when some men had the idea of growing moustaches to draw attention to male issues.  Steve started taking part in Movembers in 2008.  Recently, his father has been suffering with prostate cancer and this has led Steve to realise how these health issues can impact whole families and communities.  This has made his fundraising and activism much more personal- and makes his ultimate aim of advertising and raising awareness of men's issues much more crucial.

One of his aims is to encourage men to go to their GPs to get checked for early signs of cancer.  Prostate cancer in particular, if caught early, is treatable- whereas if caught too late it can be deadly.  When caught early the chance of surviving beyond 5 years is 98%. Prostate cancer can be tested for by a PSA, which is a blood test.  Without a national screening service, like the breast cancer screening service, it is crucial that men be proactive and go to the GP to take care of their health.

Beyond growing his moustache, Steve has been organising events to raise money and awareness.  On 7:15pm on Sunday 26th, at the Craft and Cleaver on St Catherine's Street, there will be a pub quiz.  It will contain many great rounds such as moustache rounds, music rounds, and trivia rounds. This is right after the Christmas Lights Switch on, so if you're passing through, why not drop in and support a great cause?  Everyone is welcome (even children!) 

Steve's Mobro Account -including Craft & Cleaver event details- Call Adam to book your team in.
The Movember Website

Monday, 20 November 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: Sully

This week on the Film Club, Charlotte is setting our theme to 'New York', the Big Apple, the City of Dreams. Up first is Tom Hanks Drama 'Sully'.

Based on the real life story of Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who made an emergency landing in New York's Hudson River after a US Airways Flight 1549 strikes a flock of geese. Miraculously, all of the 155 passengers and crew survived the harrowing ordeal, and Sullenberger becomes a national hero in the eyes of the public and the media. Despite the accolades, the famed pilot now faces an investigation that threatens to destroy his career and reputation.


Entertainment Update

David Widdowson joined us tonight to provide an update on local events in the theatre.

Abbey Theatre
FRI 24 NOV 17 8PM

Adapted by Gareth Armstrong from the writings of Oscar Wilde
A solo adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis, a letter Wilde wrote to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, from Reading Gaol.
De Profundis is an astonishingly brilliant, searingly honest composition that illuminates all the nooks and crannies of Oscar Wilde’s embittered mind and bruised soul. TICKETS £12

The Maltings Friday 1st December
The Foxglove Trio seeks out lesser-known traditional and contemporary folk songs and, with care and creativity, transforms them into moments of breathtaking beauty. This concert is part of its autumn tour for its second album, Distant Havens, and is a chance to hear the powerful signature sound which is based on Patrick Dean’s bold melodeon playing, Cathy Mason’s intricate cello lines and Ffion Mair’s clear, soaring vocals

Friday, 17 November 2017

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 17th November 2017

Simon and Danny were on their own this week.  No Chris, no Sam, no Charlotte, no Max, no Harry.  No one else.  Just them.  After several years of hand-holding, babysitting and general supervision, the others finally felt that Simon and Danny could cope on their own.  What could possibly go wrong?

Fortunately, no one was hurt in the fire though Radio Verulam is now looking for new premises.

That might not necessarily be true but here are Simon's choice of films on free-to-air-tv for the forthcoming week:

10.40pm – 12.50am

11.00pm – 2.05am

11.00pm – 1.15am
Channel 4

The Five Year Engagement
1.05am – 3.35am

The Charge of the Light Brigade
12.40pm – 3.15pm

This world is not enough
8.00pm – 10.40pm

11.15pm – 1.20am

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: Mad Max: Fury Road

And Charlotte's final apocalyptic choice for this week's Film Club is 2015's Mad Max Sequel 'Fury Road'.

Tom Hardy is Max (who is somewhat mad) and he teams up with Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa, a road warrior in her own right, to save several young women from the grasp of the evil warlord Immortan Joe. Expect exciting chases and lots of explosions. Oh so many explosions.


A Conversation With @HarpendenWriter

This afternoon Danny was joined by Jo & Derek of Harpenden Writers to talk about the origins of the group as a creative writing class all the way to celebrating their 20th Anniversary by releasing an anthology of works from members past & present.

During the conversation they chatted about some of the inspirations for stories in the anthology, what goes on during their monthly meetings, and we also learned that Jo used to be a presenter here at Radio Verulam!

Harpenden Writers meet on the first Friday morning of every month at the Friends Meeting House on Southdown Road, Harpenden. The group are welcoming of anybody curious about joining and encouraging of all of their members. For more information, or if you would like to get involved or pick up a copy of their anthology 'The Words', visit

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Drivetime Sessions with @amelialappert sponsored by @FightingcocksSA

On this week's Drivetime Sessions we were joined by the singer-songwriter Amelia Lappert. She performed her singles 'Fall like the Rain' and 'All the Way to the Moon', and performed a cover of 'Stitches' originally by Shaun Mendes.

For more information on Amelia Lappert you can visit her Facebook page for more information about upcoming gigs.

If you would like to listen to the Drivetime Sessions again then visit and navigate to Wednesday at 5:30.

Charlotte's Film Club: Children of Men

Another dystopian future for the Film Club today, as Charlotte looks at 2006's 'Children of Men'.

As infertility reaches an all-time high in the future, a disillusioned bureaucrat (Clive Owen) becomes the unlikely champion in the fight for the survival of Earth's population; He must face down his own demons and protect the planet's last remaining hope from those who would wish to harm her.

Julianna Moore, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Michael Caine also star.


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: The Hunger Games

Up next on this week's Film Club, Charlotte looks at 2012 post-apocalyptic thriller 'The Hunger Games'.

Based on the wildly successful series of books, the film is set in a future where America is divided into 12 districts, each forced to send 2 youths into a nationally broadcast fight to the death.

Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Donald Sutherland.

Health Matters - Hill End Hospital; Colds, Nascot Lawn; and A Special Thank You

Four Issues in Tonight’s DriveTime

·         Operation Meadow
·         Colds & Flu
·         Nascot Lawn
·         A Special Note of Thanks

1. Operation Meadow
Are you aware of any physical or sexual abuse at Hill End Hospital Adolescent Unit, between 1969 and 1995, when the facility closed? The Police are appealing for anyone who may have any information relevant to the on-going investigation to make contact with them. There are some really good web pages dedicated to Op Meadow on the Constabulary’s website.

These provide details about the background and outlines how you can support this investigation. The police stress that officers are specially trained to deal with these type of crimes and will support victims in a sensitive, empathetic and caring manner.

2. Common Cold Myth Busting
There’s lots of myths around the common cold; here’s just a few of them!
·         Feed a Cold; Starve a Fever – being sick often kills the appetite, and forced feeding won’t help! What will help is staying well hydrated and make sure you’re getting enough calories. So the best advice is to skip dieting if you’re not feeling too well!
·         You’ll get Sick if You don’t wear a Coat – colds and flu are caused by germs that circulate more readily in the cold winter months. But studies show that you’re more likely to catch a cold indoors than out! Of course, if it’s really cold and you don’t have a coat you’re likely to get hyperthermia – but that’s another issue!
·         A Wet Head will Make You Sick! – you’ll probably feel chilly if you skip the blow dry on a chilly day, but that won’t mean those wretched little germs will find you more easily! Again, hyperthermia could make you more vulnerable if you catch a cold – but that’s a consequence, not a cause!
·         Wearing Garlic Prevents Colds! – that pungent smell may keep germ spreading friends and co-workers away; but here’s the point – garlic has many great qualities bit you need to eat it – not wear it! Garlic’s antioxidant properties boost immunity and fight inflammation – so add a couple of cloves a day to your diet!
If you feel a cold coming on, here’s the best advice

3. Nascot Lawn
 Nascot Lawn is a large Victorian house in Watford that has been converted to provide respite care for children with complex health needs and learning disability. The current position is that HVCCG has acknowledged that it was acting on incorrect advice and has put the funding back until Jan 18; however, on NOV 16 there is a committee meeting to determine how provision will be made in future is to be held; it is likely to recommend that they will simply fund the Continuing Health Care Needs of those children and young people assessed as eligible.
This has been a very difficult time for the families who obviously have been campaigning to keep the service and who are deeply worried that alternatives will mean a reduced service - which seems highly likely.  A very sad business.

4. And Finally

A massive thank you to Listener David and his wife Anne in Bricketwood for the support and help you gave me last TUE. Very best wishes to you and your family from all of us at Radio Verulam

Monday, 13 November 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: I Am Legend

This week, Charlotte is setting the Film Club theme to bleak futures, starting us off today with Will Smith thriller 'I Am Legend'.

Brilliant scientist, Robert Neville (Will Smith) is the sole-survivor of a man-made plague that transforms humans into bloodthirsty mutants. He lives alone in New York city,  hoping to find others alive like him, and works on finding a cure for the plague using his own immune blood. Neville knows he is badly outnumbered and the odds are against him, and all the while, the infected wait for him in the shadows.


Consumer Advice

Our monthly consumer advice update from Elizabeth Crampton from St Albans Citizens Advice  bureau.

On Line Fraud
Over £100 million pound has been lost to on line fraud this year already particularly via money being taken from bank accounts.

Many people can find themselves in debt for a number of reason and have debt collection agencies contacting them to reclaim money , for advice on this matter go the link:

More details on these items and many other consumer issues can be found at the web site

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 10th November 2017

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 10th November 2017

Simon's Best Film GUide. Sim,on is back this wee3k for a bumper film guide as he N Danny get carried away with film chi8t-chat because Simon was away for so ;long they had loads to talk ab0out. By Simon Carver. #typing is ha4rd.

See below for Simon's recommendations for films on free-to-air TV this week:

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
12.10am – 2.15am
Channel 4

30 Days of Night (2007)
11.10pm – 1.25am

Chicago (2002)
11.10pm – 1.25am

The Fifth Element (1997)
8.00pm – 10.30pm

X-men 2 (2003)
9.00pm – 11.40pm

Exodus: God and Kings (2014)
9.00m – 11.55pm

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
9.00pm – 11.35pm

Interview with @theAliceRoberts about #Tamed on @WestHertsDrive show with @smrolfe ahead of Alban Arena appearance Mon 13th Nov

12 01 2016 Alice headshot.jpg
Danny and Science Correspondent Sam Rolfe spoke to Professor Alice Roberts on Thursday ahead of her tour stop at the Alban Arena on Monday 13th November.

Professor Roberts is touring with her show "Tamed" based on her new book of the same name about Ten Species That Changed Our World.

The book, with a chapter dedicated to each species, brings to life the stories about how humans domesticated various animals and plants to our advantage, including dogs, horses, maize and apples.

She encourages us to think about our ancestors, those early farmers who, at the time couldn't have realised it but were paving the way for civilisation and "creating incredible bonds with [these] species that are still with us today".

The tour brings the latest genetics and archeology, and "hot off the press" revelations about where dogs come from to how wheat spread around the world. She said she is bringing the topic to the public by "putting science back into everyday life and looking at what science can tell us about the humanties [and] history and who we are"

When asked what her choice of scientific or technological discovery would be if stranded on a desert island, she said that her #DesertIslandScience would be Wi-Fi (an excellent choice for escaping said island).

Listen to the interview:

More details about Professor Robert's work and her tour on

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: Chronicle

It's the last day of Charlotte's 'Found Footage' Film club, and today she looks at 2012 Drama/Thriller 'Chronicle'.

The film follows a group of teenagers who discover a mysterious substance in an underground cave, and record the emergence of their powers due to exposure from it. As their abilities become more powerful, the teens' lives spin out of control when their darker sides begin to emerge.

Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan star as the main cast.

The Great @radioverulam Play Off with @rvkevee

We were joined in the studio by Kevee Lynch, from Wake Up with Kevee, who was discussing Radio Verulam's latest competition: The Great Radio Verulam Play Off. This gives listeners a chance to write a 5 minute play that will be performed on-air. The important things to know are:

  • We aim to broadcast a show consisting of 6 plays around the Christmas period.
  • The object is to get our local community engaged with writing.
  • Your play can be about anything you like but please bear in mind we are regulated by Ofcom (nothing hateful and keep it clean please)
  • A panel will select 6 plays to be broadcast.
  • Do not fear though, if we have a lot of submissions and the first show goes well we will hopefully record more shows.
  • Please submit a copy of your script here:
  • Include, title of play, your name and contact details.
  • Entries closing date 30th November

What are you waiting for? Get writing!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Drivetime Sessions with @Hidden_Jules_ sponsored by @FightingcocksSA

On this weeks Drivetime Sessions we were joined by the acoustic duo Hidden Jules. They performed their singles 'Catch The Leaves' and 'Let Love Go' and performed a cover of 'People Are Strange' originally by The Doors. 

For more information on Hidden Jules, including details of their album "Spirits In My Wine" which is available now, you can visit their Facebook for more information about upcoming gigs.

If you would like to listen to the Drivetime Sessions again then visit and navigate to Wednesday at 5:30.

Charlotte's Film Club: Paranormal Activity

During this week of 'Found Footage', Charlotte certainly couldn't have missed out iconic 2007 Horror 'Paranormal Activity'.

After a couple move into a new suburban home, they become increasingly disturbed by going-ons within the house that seem to be from a supernatural presence. Deciding to capture evidence of the happenings on film, they set up cameras all over their home, but could not prepare for the terrifying events that follow.


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: Cloverfield

The week of 'Found Footage' continues today with another pick from Charlotte, 2008 thriller 'Cloverfield'.

A group of friends gather in New York for a going-away party, which is abruptly ended by an enormous monster terrorising the city. As everyone begins to panic, the group attempt a rescue mission to save a missing friend, then evacuate away from the creature.


Local Literary Feature with Chris Aikman @ccaikman

The Man Booker Prize was awarded to George Saunders for 'Lincoln in the Bardo'.  This novel was the favourite to win the prestigious prize, and it was Saunders' first novel.  Saunders previously has only written short stories.  The novel is about US President Abraham Lincoln visiting the tomb of his young son. 

Another prize of the literary world that was awarded recently was the Nobel Prize for Literature, which went ot Kazuo Ishiguro on the 5th October.  Kazuo Ishiguro is best known for novels such as 'Remains of the Day' (which won the Man Booker Prize), 'Never Let Me Go' and 'The Buried Giant.'  

Another topic discussed was how 17% of eBooks are pirated- a figure amounting to about 4 million books.  Authors such as Maggie Stiefvater and Samantha Shannon have been speaking out about the dangers of piracy, highlighting that if sales are low, then authors might stop writing altogether. 

Chris' Books of the Month:
Fiction- 'Winter' by Ali Smith.
This is the second novel in Smith's Seasonal cycle, and has been billed as a 'Brexit' novel.  Its themes include 'post-truth', love, and winter.  It is published by Penguin.

Non-Fiction- "Tamed- Ten Species that Changed our World" by Professor Alice Roberts
Professor Robert's latest book is about ten familiar species whom humans have tamed, and how domestication has changed them and how they became essential to our survival.

Professor Roberts is speaking at the Alban Arena on Monday 13th November.  Tickets are available here.

More Local Literary Events:
Speakers at the Chorleywood Literary Festival include-

Henry Blofeld (Friday 10th November),
Adam Kay (Saturday 11th November),
Gordon Brown (Monday 13th November)
Billy Vunipola (Thursday 16th November)

Monday, 6 November 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: The Blair Witch Project

Charlotte's back with a new theme for this week's Film Club, choosing to look at the best 'Found Footage' out there.

Our first found footage film for the week is 'The Blair Witch Project' from 1999. This mystery horror sees three film students visit a small town to collect documentary footage about the Blair Witch, a legendary local murderer. Over the course of several days, the students interview townspeople and gather clues to support the tale, before taking a frightening trip to the woods.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: Jane Eyre

Charlotte concludes a week of 'Fassbender and Vikander' Films with 2011 Romance Drama, and adaptation of a classic tale, "Jane Eyre".

Orphaned child Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) has a rough life in which she is abused by her Aunt, and further abused as she goes into education. Eventually, she is able to take a job as a governess at the estate of Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender), where the two begin to bond, though his dark moods trouble her. When Jane uncovers the terrible secret Rochester has been hiding, she finds no choice but to run from him.


Katie and James from @stalbansmusical

This afternoon we had Katie and James from the St Albans Musical Theatre Company in to discuss their production of West Side Story, which will be performed at the Alban Arena November 7th - 11th. James, who plays Tony, performed 'Maria' from the show for us.

More information about the show can be found here and tickets can be purchased here, although be warned, they are running out fast!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: Macbeth

Our week dedicated to looking at Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander's best works continues today with 2015 Shakespeare adaptation 'Macbeth'.

The tragedy tells the story of Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, who is driven to murder the King of Scotland and take the throne for himself by his wife and a prophetic vision. Guilt and paranoia begins to enshroud the two new rulers of Scotland, as they begin to perceive threats to the throne from all directions.

Along with Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, David Thewlis, Paddy Considine and Sean Harris star.


The Drivetime Sessions with @EmmaMcgrathUK sponsored by @FightingcocksSA

On this weeks Drivetime Sessions we were joined by local artist Emma McGrath! She performed her singles 'White Lines', 'Love You Better' and a cover of Lumineer's 'Ho Hey'.

For more information about Emma, including details of her upcoming gigs, you can visit her Facebook at Alternatively visit her website on

If you would like to listen to the Drivetime Sessions again then visit and navigate to Wednesday at 5:30.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Adam and Alex from Plasma Music TV @PlasmaMusicTV

Today we talked to Adam and Alex from Plasma Music TV, which is an internet broadcast studio for live video broadcasts of music artists.  PMTV has been running for about one year; Alex and Adam both have experience in audio broadcasting, however the video aspect of the production was new to them.  They started off just having local artists on the show but they have recently booked a band from France.  Many of the bands they've featured, such as the Hidden Jules and Starseedz, have also been guests on our very own Drivetime Sessions. If you visit their website, you can buy tickets for some of their fabulous shows.  All the money generated from ticket sales go to thank the volunteer crew.  Just go to the website, and navigate to 'audience' to buy tickets.  If you are a musician and you'd like to apply to be on the show, visit the website and go to the 'artist' area to apply.

This is a not for profit endeavour, however Adam and Alex are looking for sponsorship.  If you are a business and you would like to sponsor PMTV, get in touch via the website.
Plasma Music TV are looking for presenters. If you're charismatic, with a passion for local music and interested in volunteering email:
Plasma Music TV's website
PMTV's twitter: @PlasmaMusicTV

Charlotte's Film Club: The Danish Girl

This week's Film Club focusing upon Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander continues today with 2015's 'The Danish Girl'.

This historic drama is inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda's (Alicia Vikander) marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili's groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.

The film won an Oscar for Vikander's 'Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role'.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: The Light Between Oceans

It's the first official week of 'Charlotte's Film Club', and now that she's been given full control of the Film Vaults, anything could come up! This week, in celebration of their recent marriage, the theme is films "starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander"

Tom is a World War I veteran who lives with his wife Isabel in a lighthouse on the shore off Australia. Isabel's prayers for a child are answered when an infant washes up on shore in a rowboat, despite Tom's thoughts they should notify the authorities. Fate strikes again when they meet the babies' mother on the mainland, and must make a life-altering decision.

Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz star.


#AI computer beats all of humanity at Go, #OCD gene, #SotM Eva Crane and Leonid #meteor shower - Radio Verulam Science Feature 30-10-2017 with @smrolfe

AI Go-playing computer beats all of humanity

Artificial intelligence has come a long way in just a few years – previously unable to beat human players, computers have now beaten the best human players in the world time and again.
DeepMind, a Google project, has an AI player called AlphaGo. The normal approach for the AI to learn the game was to watch thousands of hours of humans playing humans to learn strategies and techniques. The newest AI player, AlphaGo Zero, didn’t bother with watching humans play, it simply started playing Go against itself. A mere three days later, having honed its skills over 4.9 million games in this time AlphaGo Zero beat a predecessor version 100-0. This predecessor had trained for several months and had previously beaten the 18-times (human) world champion.
Advanced AI like this can be applied computer learning and problem solving, not just game playing. It can help solve scientific and complex problems such as protein folding (a team is already working to apply this method to this), climate science, drug discovery and quantum chemistry.
However, it currently relies on the fact that the self-taught AI has to learn based on the rules it is given. Simple rules are ok, but tasks quickly become more challenging and then impossible, the more rules and complexity there is, such as driving.

Source: New Scientist Magazine, 21st October 2017

Genes linked to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

A team working at MIT and Harvard, led by Hyun Ji Noh, have identified four genes that are linked to OCD. The genes are active in parts of the brain (the striatum, thalamus and cortex regions) that control learning and decisions. In people with OCD, the messages passing between these regions can become corrupted, suggesting it can be harder for sufferers to tell whether a situation is safe or risky.
A genetic link also suggests that it is possible that you are more likely to develop the disorder if a close relative has it, though of course it is possible to develop it if no family member has it and it doesn’t mean that you would develop it if a parent has it.
Understanding this genetic link adds to the hope that better treatments can be developed. For example, by developing a drug that reverses the effect by targeting the linked genes or the pathway it regulates.

Source: New Scientist Magazine, 21st October 2017, Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-00831-x

Scientist of the Month

Eva Crane (1912 – 2007)

Her work culminated in two seminal textbooks: Bees and Beekeeping: science, practice and world resources and The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting.

Originally a lecturer in physics at Sheffield University, with a BSc in mathematics, an MSc in quantum mechanics and a PhD in nuclear physics, her resulting lifetime work and interest in bees began when she and her husband were gifted a beehive for their wedding, where the giver hoped it would help supplement their wartime sugar ration.

She was shy and self-effacing and wrote over 300 papers, articles and books, contributing widely to the subject. She founded the Bee Research Association in 1949, an organisation with international aims, but only became the International Bee Research Association in 1976. She also formed the Eva Crane Trust, with aims to advance the understanding of bees and beekeeping by the collection, collation and dissemination of science and research worldwide.


Night Sky this month

13th Nov: Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter
               Can be seen between 6:15 and 7:15 am (before sunrise) on the eastern horizon. The planets will appear only 0.3 degrees apart, so less than the diameter of the full Moon (0.5 degrees).

17th/18th Nov: Peak of the Leonids Meteor Shower
               Has a rate of 15 meteors per hour. Meteors appear to radiate from the constellation of Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky. Best viewed after midnight, from a dark location. This meteor shower results from the debris trail left by the comet Temple-Tuttle, discovered in 1865.

18th Nov: New Moon
               The new Moon will help with viewing the Leonids meteor shower.


Friday, 20 October 2017

The Radio Verulam Film Guide: Friday 20th October 2017

So, I've got a confession to make. Sometimes, Simon and Danny pre-record the film guide. I know, I know, you're shocked. What's even more shocking is that the pre-record for today's show happened in July 2003. Simon, who used to be a bit boring and repressed, not the flamboyant and expressive character you see today, managed to successfully predict the UK box office top 10, as well as all the new releases in the cinema this week. How did he do it, you say? Well, theories vary. One is that Simon is a Dr Who-esque timetraveller (which is why he wears all that beige, because beige blends in boringly into whichever time period you're in); another is that he's some kind of wizard or warlock. My personal view is that he is a being outside of time and space, one who sees all of history and all of the future at once, which is why he occasionally seems to space out and lose touch with this reality. That's my theory at least.

Ok, that was a lie, but Simon was in the studio to talk about the UK box office, new releases in the cinema, and his pick of films on TV for the coming week.

11.35pm – 1.40am

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
6.45pm – 10.20pm

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
6.25pm – 10.00pm

11.05pm – 1.10am

11.55pm – 1.40am

Tomorrow Never Dies
9.00m – 11.25pm

Unlikely Angel
1.00pm – 3.00pm
True Entertainment

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: Kingsman 2

Charlotte rounds off her first official week of being in charge of the Film Club with another recent release and sequel, "Kingsman 2".

After the events of the first film, the Kingsman must face a new enemy as their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, and band together with the American secret service 'The Statesmen'. In an adventure that tests their strength and wits, the elite secret agents from both sides of the pond band together to battle a ruthless enemy and save the day, something that's becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy.

The film features an all-star cast, including; Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Juliane Moore, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges.


Ian McNabb from 'The Icicle Works'

Our guest this week was Ian McNabb, from the 1980s band 'The Icicle Works', who had a hit with 'Love is a Wonderful Colour', which reached #15 in 1984.  The band broke up in 1990 but reunited in 2006 for a series of UK concerts.  Ian has also had a solo career, and has worked with artists such as Ringo Starr.  He was also a member of band 'The Wild Swans'. 

Ian McNabb and the Icicle works are playing at Harpenden Public Halls on the 20th October. Tickets are available: click here

Ian's website: click here
Ian's Twitter: @empiresend

If you want to listen to the program again, click here:

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Drivetime Sessions with @Thepapersnakes sponsored by @FightingCocksSA

On this weeks Drivetime Sessions we were joined by local artists The Paper Snakes! They performed their singles 'On My Own', 'Do The Walk' and a cover of Stevie Wonder's 'I Wish'.

For more information on The Paper Snakes, including details of their upcoming gigs, you can visit their Facebook at

If you would like to listen to the Drivetime Sessions again then visit and navigate to Wednesday at 5:30.

Charlotte's Film Club: Blade Runner 2049

Following on from Charlotte's pick yesterday of "Blade Runner", today the Film Club looks at the recently released sequel "Blade Runner 2049".

The Denis Villeneuve-directed sequel to the neo-noir classic sees Ryan Gosling as new Blade Runner Officer K, who discovers a long-buried secret when hunting down replicants that threatens to change society dramatically. To get answers, he must track down Rick Deckard, who has not been seen for thirty years.

Along with Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto and Ana De Armis star.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: Blade Runner (The Final Cut)

Charlotte continues to rule over this weeks Film Club today, looking at the final cut of  Sci-fi classic "Blade Runner" today, in anticipation for the recently released sequel.

Set in a bleak distant future, Harrison Ford plays Deckard, a man who is searching for escaped ‘replicants’,androids who look just like humans.  Directed by Ridley Scott it also stars Rutger Hauer in a memorable role as Ford's nemesis, Young and Edward J Olmos.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Charlotte's Film Club: The Mountain Between Us

Chris, after several years of diligent service, has decided to pass the reigns of the Film Club onto someone younger and more knowledgeable about films! Shocker! In his place, Charlotte has been given control of the Film Club, starting us off with 2017 release "The Mountain Between Us".

This dramatic thriller sees two strangers stranded on a mountain together after a plane crash work together to endure the extreme elements of the remote terrain. Realizing that help is not on the way, they embark on a perilous journey across hundreds of miles of wilderness, pushing each other to survive and discovering their inner strength.

Kate Winslet and Idris Elba star.


Theatre update

David Widdowson from OVO joined us tonight providing an update on upcoming local events.

The Crucible

8th – 18th November 2017
Maltings Arts Theatre, St Albans
By Arthur Miller | Directed by Janet Podd

A Musical Tour of Europe
20th & 21st October 20.00 at the Maltings Art Theatre

St Albans Chamber Opera present A MUSICAL TOUR OF EUROPE via London, Paris Vienna, Berlin, Prague, Seville, Venice and many more. With Verdi, Mozart, Puccini, Handel, Bizet, Strauss and others.
Hazel Neighbour… Soprano, Olivia Barry…. Mezzo, Peter Martin… tenor, Jonathan Saunders… Baritone. With the SACO chorus and Julian Barber MD at the piano.

Tickets: £15

More details can be found at the web site

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Chris' Film Dump: Funny People

Chris saves the best (or worst?) for last on the Film Dump this week, looking today at Adam Sandler drama from 2009 "Funny People".

Recently learning that he has a fatal disease, comic George Simmons (Adam Sandler) spots a struggling performer named Ira (Seth Rogen) and decides to become his mentor. As George teaches Ira the art of stand-up comedy they become close friends, with Ira helping George define his legacy. When an old flame (Leslie Mann) reappears and the disease goes into remission, George gets a chance to re-evaluate his life and figure out what is truly important to him.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Drivetime Sessions with @GraeJ Wall & Los Chicos Muertos! Sponsored by @FightingCocksSA

On this week's Drivetime Sessions we were joined by the blues and folk band Grae J and Los Chicos Muertos! They performed the singles 'Murder In Mind', 'Into The Sun' and a cover of Tom Petty's 'I Won't Back Down'.

For more information on Grae J and Los Chicos Muertos, including details of their upcoming gigs, you can visit their website at and their Facebook

If you would like to listen to the Drivetime Sessions again then visit and navigate to Wednesday at 5:30.

Chris' Film Dump: Speed 2: Cruise Control

Chris continues to fill the "Film Dump" with features to avoid this week, today choosing  "Speed 2: Cruise Control".

Moving the action of the first film to a boat, Annie (Sandra Bullock) is looking forward to a Caribbean cruise with her cop boyfriend, Alex (Jason Patric), but their trip (unsurprisingly) turns dangerous. When an explosion disables the ship's communication system and it becomes clear that the vessel is under someone else's control, Alex and Annie must fight for survival as they discover that John Geiger (Willem Dafoe), a crazed passenger, is behind the chaos.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Chris' Film Dump: The Man with the Iron Fists

Continuing to look at Films worth avoiding, "The Man with the Iron Fists" is the "Film Dump" entry for today.

This 2012 Martial Arts thriller sees a humble blacksmith settle down in a feudal Chinese village. When a band of warriors, assassins, and a rogue British soldier descend upon the village and its people, the blacksmith is left with no choice but to turn himself into a living weapon to protect his people.

RZA, Russell Crowe, and Lucy Liu star.


Health Matters - NHS Future, Stay Well, Patient Transport, Nascot Lawn

Four Issues in Tonight’s DriveTime

·         NHS Future is Precarious
·         Stay Well This Winter
·         Patient Transport
·         Nascot Lawn

1. NHS Future is Precarious says CQC
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) published a report this morning on the NHS highlighting
·         Staff shortages (vacancy rates up 16% over the last two years)
·         Bed shortages as a result of reduced capacity and bed blocking
·         Falling numbers of nursing home beds (down by 4,000 beds over 2 years)
·         1.2m people now not getting social care support they need (up 16% in 12 months)
While the quality of care was being maintained currently thanks to the efforts of staff, that resilience is not inexhaustible given the rising pressures. The report says “We are going to see a fall in the quality of services that are offered to people and that may mean that the safety of some people is compromised.”
Locally, we’re already experiencing this as a result of the Commissioning Groups £45m deficit; this leads to rationing and operational delays.

2. Stay Well This Winter
There’s a lot we can do to help ourselves, and this web site covers them all
·         Keep Warm – wrap up warm; keep your house warm; get help if you need it; watch out for others
·         Ten Common Problems, and how to deal with them! There are tips for each of them! They cover Heart Attacks,  Colds, Sore Throats, Asthma, Winter Sickness, Painful Joints, Cold Sores, Cold Hands & Feet, Dry Skin, and of course the FLU!
·         Watch Out For Winter Tiredness – get as much light as you can, sleep well, relax, and eat a healthy diet.

3. Patient Transport – another Commissioning Group problem!  The company providing patient transport in our area (“Private Ambulance Service”) went into receivership at the beginning of OCT. The local Ambulance Service is providing a caretaker service until new arrangements are completed.
Patients are being prioritised based on clinical need, but if you need any help call 01603 481 208; it operating weekdays 8:00 am to 6:00 pm each day.

4. Nascot Lawn – Nascot Lawn is a large Victorian house in Watford that has been converted to provide respite care for children with complex health needs and learning disability. In June our local commissioning group (HVCCG) announced that they were cutting £600K a year of funding to the unit. But, after the threat of a judicial review they have changed their position and Nascot Lawn, or rather what remains as some staff have already left, will remain open. A short-term relief for patients, but such a pity they’ve had to endure the last 4 months of chaos – and the future is still uncertain!

Have you been affected by these issues? Have you had a good or bad experience with the NHS in the last few weeks? Let us know here.