The Guardian

Elisabeth Mahoney
Thursday 8 January 2009

Claudia Hammond has one of the finest radio voices. It's crisp, clear and entirely engaging, even when she's reading, and yet just as importantly it doesn't hog the limelight. Quite simply, you listen to what she says rather than how she says it. When dealing with an important, thorny topic such as mental health issues - the subject of State of Mind (Radio 4) - that's a blessing.

This new series looks at the changing professional theories and practice for treating mental illness since the 1950s, and is bolstered by testimony from Radio 4 listeners. Some of this is terribly powerful, both snippets of detail and longer anecdotes. We heard from one woman admitted to a mental asylum in 1960 aged 16 "because she couldn't keep a job and seemed a bit remote". Another former patient recalled the intimidating layout of the Victorian asylum hospitals. "When you looked down the corridor," she said, "you couldn't see the bottom of the corridor."

Different treatments emerged in the 50s and early 60s, and we got first-hand accounts of these. While ECT worked for some, it traumatised many others. "You're wide awake," said one former patient of having ECT. "You know. I still get it in nightmares.

Radio 4

State of the Mind

"Hammond's sympathetic but unsoppy interview style and clear reporting has been illuminating throughout"
(Miranda Sawyer, The Observer on State of Mind, BBC Radio 4, 2009)

"Claudia Hammond's admirable series"
(Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, on State of Mind, BBC  Radio 4, 2009)


Radio 4

Mind Changers

"Presented with just the right air of breathless disbelief by Claudia Hammond, Mind Changers is a compelling series!" (Simon Garfield, Mail on Sunday, on Mind Changers Series 3, Radio 4, 2007)

"Fascinating programme"

(Miranda Sawyer, Observer on Mind Changers Series 3, Radio 4, 2007)

"This was riveting, scandalous stuff"

(Rachel Cooke, New Statesman on Mind Changers Series 2, Radio 4, 2005)  

"A fascinating new series"

(Stephanie Billen, Observer, on Mind Changers, Radio 4, 2003)

"A fascinating subject, brilliantly unravelled"

(Ruth Cowen, Sunday Express, on Mind Changers, Radio 4 2003)

Emotional Rollercoaster

"Emotional Rollercoaster is one of those perfect 15-minute shows that Radio 4 does so well, short enough to be manageable at that time in the morning but long enough to be substantial."
(Helen Stewart,The Scotsman on the Radio 4 series Emotional Rollercoaster, 2004)

"An intriguing investigation into the science of human emotions"
(Fiona Sturges, Independent, on Emotional Rollercoaster Series 2, Radio 4, 2004)

"A fascinating kaleidoscope of voices, observations and ideas"
(Sunday Express, on Emotional Rollercoaster, Radio 4, 2002)

Brain Waves

"Another absorbing episode in a great series…… difficult science made clear and entertaining."
(Susan Jeffreys, Daily Mail on Brain Waves, Radio 4, 2001)

Raging Hormones

 "Whoever thought up Raging Hormones knows how to attract the eye and the programmes have the lively feel that is so essential in selling what is basically a science programme to a nation not famous for an interest in science."
(Peter Barnard, The Times, on Raging Hormones, Radio 4, 2000)

"At last someone has decided to explain to the unscientific community what hormones actually are and how they work" (The Guardian on Raging Hormones, Radio 4, 1999)

ABC of Vitamins

"A refreshingly cynical look at vitamin supplements"
(Dr Mark Porter, Radio Times, on The ABC of Vitamins, Radio 4, 2000)

"Claudia Hammond continues to scare the nation"
(Harold Jackson, The Guardian, on The ABC of Vitamins, Radio 4, 2000)

"A useful new series …. although it's true that everything that is said to be good for us eventually spawns a radio programme which scares us to death, the approach here is properly measured."
(Peter Barnard, The Times, on The ABC of Vitamins, Radio 4, 2000)