In a fresh weekly series debuting on BBC Radio 4 from Tuesday, 3rd October at 6:30 pm, Kiri Pritchard-McLean will be tasking her guests with presenting their arguments for what they believe constitutes ‘the best medicine’. They will delve into a wide array of responses: from groundbreaking scientific discoveries to obscure inventions, everyday remedies, uplifting philosophies, uncelebrated historical heroes, and futuristic remedies. Kiri and her guests will also hear from individuals whose lives have been directly impacted by extraordinary medical advancements.

Whether it’s micro-robotic surgery, virtual reality syringes, Victorian clockwork surgical tools, a multitude of ingenious cancer treatments, groundbreaking life-saving heart procedures, epidurals, therapy, dance, faith, or laughter – this series will broaden our notions of what medicine encompasses and explore its human ramifications.

In a reprise of the successful pilot that secured the series, episode one will feature medical historian Dr Lindsey Fitzharris recounting the tale of the pioneering World War I surgeon who revolutionised the faces of wounded soldiers. Comedian Darren Harriott will champion the case for dance, while biomedical engineer Professor Eleanor Stride will delve into the fantastical realm of cancer-curing micro bubbles. Brain surgeon Professor Mark Wilson will discuss a phone application capable of summoning a first-aider with a touch. Kiri will also hear from an audience member whose life was saved by the app, when a neighbour, whom he had never met, arrived at his door to administer first aid.

Other standout moments in the series will encompass a pioneering treatment that reprograms herpes viruses to combat cancer; the significance of touch, as demonstrated by virtual injections; and the extraordinary saga of Henrietta Lacks, whose astonishing ‘immortal’ cells have played a role in everything from the inception of the first Polio treatment to the Covid vaccine – yet her own life narrative is frequently overlooked. Additionally, there will be a special episode coinciding with Breast Cancer Awareness month, featuring radiobiologist Dr Samantha Terry, historian Dr Lindsey Fitzharris recounting her own encounter with breast cancer along with a historical overview of breast cancer surgeries, comedian Jordan Gray, and Sarah Kerruish unveiling the astounding diagnostic capabilities of MIA, an algorithm capable of diagnosing breast cancer within seconds.

Episodes will air on Radio 4 on a weekly basis and will also be accessible each week on BBC Sounds.

Julia McKenzie, Radio 4 Commissioning Editor for Comedy, says: “This series is brilliant at uncovering extraordinary eyebrow-raising facts and stories from the world of medicine in a very entertaining and funny way. I hope listeners find plenty to inspire and uplift them.”

Kiri Pritchard-McLean says: “I’m so excited to share Best Medicine with listeners on Radio 4 and Sounds – it’s everything I look for in a programme: fascinating, hilarious, horizon-expanding and full of heart. I’ve been endlessly talking to people about the show and now they can finally listen to it, rather than politely nod through my enthusiasm and half-remembered medical facts!”

Produced by Ben Worsfield. A Large Time production for BBC Radio 4.