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Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Guest editor: Colin Firth

Colin Firth

Each year, the Today programme hands over the editorial reins to five public figures, giving them a chance to decide what goes on the programme between Christmas and New Year.

The programme broadcast on Tuesday 28th December was edited by actor Colin Firth.

While Colin Firth did not want arts and culture to dominate his programme, he did want to include a little poetry, starting with a reading of The British by Benjamin Zephaniah.

Scientific research commissioned by this programme on behalf of our guest editor, Colin Firth, has shown a strong correlation between the structure of a person's brain and their political views. Science correspondent Tom Feilden analysed the theory.

The human rights organisation, Reprieve UK, is threatening to take legal action against the government unless it bans the export of two drugs used in executions. BBC reporter Andrew Hosken explained the situation.

The question of how to teach history in schools is a topic that concerns the coalition as well as this morning's guest editor, Colin Firth. The historian Tariq Ali and Niall Ferguson, Professor of History at Harvard University, debated the right way to teach the past.

The human rights organisation, Reprieve UK, wants the government to stop two drugs that are manufactured in Britain from being exported for use in US executions. Guest editor Colin Firth commissioned BBC reporter Andrew Hosken to find out more.

Colin Firth has played a gay man in several roles, most notably A Single Man, which won him a Bafta and an Oscar nomination this year. Colin asked Evan Davis to talk to the actor Rupert Everett about the problems faced by homosexuals when casting for films.

Over the last four decades, aid to Africa has quadrupled from around $11bn dollars a year to $44bn , according to the UN. Guest editor, Colin Firth, has long supported the work of Oxfam, but was keen to hear the BBC's Mike Thomson report on the arguments against aid. Chief Executive of Oxfam, Barbara Stocking, responded to claims that aid can cause more harm than good.

Guest editor Colin Firth has noticed that people in the film industry often find it hard to tackle the theme of religion and faith. Catholic screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce explained what it is like to be a religious man in Hollywood.

In this time of austerity, the coalition government refuses to cut international aid, pointing to its conviction that aid agencies do valuable work. Guest editor Colin Firth asked the BBC's Mike Thomson to investigate the effectiveness of humanitarian aid through the prism of Sierra Leone in West Africa, which has received more than £100m in UK aid since the end of its civil war.

Colin Firth, heard and enjoyed the encounter on this programme last year between John Humphrys and Dame Edna Everage. He requested a rematch, so we brought them together again for a look back at this year's big stories.

Are our political values and beliefs the result of experience or genetics in the brain? Colin Firth asked science correspondent Tom Feilden to report on an experiment involving two well-known political figures, Alan Duncan and Stephen Pound to see if it is possible to predict an individual's politics from the structure of their brains.

Today's guest editor, Colin Firth, was keen to hear some poetry on his programme. The young poet Haroon Anwar, who won a performance poetry competition for under-16s run by The Poetry Society Slambassadors, recites Western Child.

Colin Firth became a household name playing Mr Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and continued with a string of films including Bridget Jones's Diary. Justin Webb spoke to him about his experience and how he had approached the task of guest editing.


Colin Firth, Bafta winner and Academy Award-nominated actor, has starred in films including A Single Man, Mamma Mia and Love Actually. His latest film is The King's Speech.

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