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PODCAST: Filling the Sink – all episodes

From sport and culture to news and current affairs, 20-minute podcasts on all things Catalan 


06 December 2021 05:16 PM


ACN | Barcelona

Little by little the sink fills up…

Filling the Sink is a weekly podcast on all things Catalan. The Catalan News team brings you chat, interviews, and features on everything from food to football, culture to current affairs. No need to worry if you don't know much about this corner of land nestled between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. As they say in Catalonia, "de mica en mica, s'omple la pica" – little by little, the sink fills up.

Find out more and listen to all episodes below.

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Episode 56: Sixth wave – Covid certificate FAQs, travel rules, Omicron and Xmas forecast

Catalonia's Scientific Advisory Committee chair Dr. Magda Campins on future restrictions and booster jabs. Lorcan Doherty, Cristina Tomàs White and Guifré Jordan discuss the profile of a sixth wave patient, the latest travel rules, and FAQs from residents and tourists on the use of Covid certificates in cafes, bars, and restaurants. 

Episode 55: Catalan language under threat? - school and streaming woes

Catalan is a vibrant, living language with 10 million speakers and a history stretching back to the Middle Ages, but statistics show a decline in use and language activists say it needs more protection, not least in classrooms and on online streaming platforms. Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones, president of the European Language Equality Network, and Òscar Escuder, president of Plataforma per la Llengua (Platform for the Language), give their views on the social, political and technological challenges.

Episode 54: Barcelona Zoo – research or recreation, conservation or captivity?

Founded in 1892, Barcelona Zoo is part of the fabric of the city. But what should its role be in the 21st century? The zoo's director, Antoni Alarcón, and zookeeper Núria Moreno Gutiérrez, argue that zoos are essential for protecting biodiversity, but animal rights activist Rosi Carro of the ZooXXI group says that more action on agreed changes are urgently needed. Norbert Bilbeny, ethics professor at the University of Barcelona gives his view of how the relationship between humans and animals should be. Cristina Tomàs White and Gerard Escaich Folch join Lorcan Doherty to discuss the past, present and future of the zoo. 

Episode 53: Four-day week and working from home – the post-Covid future of work?

The Covid-19 pandemic completely changed the world of work. Working from home became the norm for many, but is it here to stay? And has the time come for an even bigger change: after 100 years of Monday to Friday, is it time for a four-day working week? Guifré Jordan and Aina Martí join Lorcan Doherty to discuss the future of work and Xavier Güell, Managing Director of CBRE Barcelona, explains how offices are changing.

Episode 52: Anime, manga, sushi and sake – Japanese culture in Catalonia

Cillian Shields visits Manga Barcelona, a celebration of the world of Japanese comics and animation attended by over 122,000 people. Marc Pérez from the El Racó del Manga podcast gives his thoughts on why Catalans are so enamored with the land of the rising sun. Guifré Jordan explains to Lorcan Doherty how his generation was the first to grow up watching anime in Catalan.

Episode 51: Pros and cons of living in Catalonia – international community has its say

The Mediterranean climate, good food, beaches, not to mention excellent health care and public transport: what’s not to like about living in Catalonia? Well, how about high rents, low salaries, and hellish bureaucracy, some of the issues highlighted by Filling the Sink listeners and attendees at Barcelona International Community Day, who tell us the good, the bad, and the funny side of moving to Catalonia from abroad.

Episode 50: Europe's energy crisis – what's behind your soaring electricity bills?

A look at how prices are determined, what actions governments are taking, and the effects of energy poverty in Catalonia.

Episode 49: Covid-19 – the endgame? Measures eased and nightclubs open again

With almost three-quarters of the population fully vaccinated and less than 100 people in ICU – down from nearly 600 at the beginning of August – almost all of Catalonia's Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, meaning Cillian Shields can take a trip to Razzmatazz, one of Barcelona's biggest clubs, as it reopens for the first time in 19 months.

Episode 48: Four years in exile – Puigdemont and the other Catalan pro-independence leaders

The arrest of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on the Italian island of Sardinia in September was the latest twist in the four-year saga of the exiled Catalan pro-independence leaders. Puigdemont's lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, explains why he's certain that Spain's extradition attempts will not be successful.

Episode 47: Devils, dragons and a golden goat – Catalan myths and legends

Catalonia has a rich tradition of myths and legends, full of strange characters and mysterious creatures. Cillian Shields and Alan Ruiz Terol join Lorcan Doherty to ask where these stories come from, what they tell us about the past, and what relevance they have in today's world.

Episode 46: Superblocks and tactical urbanism – who owns Barcelona's streets?

We visit a so-called superblock in the Sant Antoni neighborhood to see if cars, bicycles, electric scooters and pedestrians can co-exist, and recount the fascinating urban history of Barcelona, from the ancient Roman walled city to Ildefons Cerdà's 19th century expansion plan. 

Episode 45: Parlem català? – Learning Catalan, at home and abroad 

Filling the Sink listeners and Catalan News readers from around the world explain how and why they joined the more than 9 million people that speak Catalan. They also reveal some of their favorite words, such as somiatruites, or daydreamer, which literally translates as omelette-dreamer! 

Episode 44: Catalonia's National Day - history, symbols, independence rallies

Catalonia celebrates its National Day on September 11, known in Catalan as La Diada. We talk about the history behind the date – a military defeat in 1714 – and the symbols used to mark the day. We look back on the last decade of massive pro-independence demonstrations that have taken place on the National Day, and their impact on Catalan politics. 

Episode 43: Harvest time! A taste of the world of Catalan wine

September in Catalonia is harvest time - la verema – when grapes are picked to go from vine to wine. Winegrower and co-owner of the Celler Can Roda winery, Enric Gil, explains the challenges posed by climate change and how this year's crop is shaping up after a difficult harvest last year. Enric Bartra from INCAVI, the Catalan Institute of Vine and Wine, on what makes Catalan wines stand out on the world stage and the remarkable growth of organic wines in Catalonia.

Episode 42: A whole new ball game – cricket, Gaelic football and American football in Catalonia

Cillian Shields and Lorcan Doherty discuss how these three sports - not traditionally associated with Catalonia - are going from strength to strength. Local Catalans in Sitges are being bitten by the Gaelic football bug, the citizens of Barcelona have voted to invest in a new cricket ground, and Catalan American football teams are dominating the Spanish league and setting their sights on Europe. 

Episode 41: Val d'Aran – the Pyrenean valley with a distinct history, culture and language

On the northern side of the Pyrenees, surrounded by high mountain peaks, lies the beautiful Val d'Aran, the Aran valley, one of Catalonia's most distinct areas. Its geographic isolation has helped foster and protect its unique culture, including the Aranese language, a dialect of Occitan.

Episode 40: Catalan cuisine – superstar chefs and Michelin-starred restaurants

A celebration of Catalonia's rich and innovative gourmet culture, from the pioneers who led the gastronomical revolution that shook the world decades ago, to younger chefs opening new restaurants. In this episode, we interview Carme Ruscalleda, the most decorated female chef, and take our listeners inside a temple of Catalan gastronomy: the Alkímia restaurant.

Episode 39: Fruit pickers and street vendors – migrants' struggle for decent work

Many migrants coming to Catalonia from lower-income countries find themselves doing precarious summer work, such as harvesting fruit in the fields around Lleida, or selling goods on the streets of Barcelona and other cities. Serigne, Papalaye and Lamine recount the reality of their situation and their struggle for the right to decent work.

Episode 38: Supercomputer and particle accelerator – cutting edge research in Catalonia 

From black holes to climate change to Covid-19, Barcelona Supercomputing Center and ALBA Synchrotron are two high tech research facilities that are key to the country's contribution to the global scientific effort to enhance our understanding of the world around us and address the challenges of the 21st century.   

Episode 37: Fifth Covid wave - causes, restrictions and FAQs

Catalonia is in the midst of its fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Faced with record numbers of daily cases and rising hospitalizations, the government has introduced a 1am to 6am curfew for the worst-hit towns and cities, including Barcelona, affecting some 80% of the population. UPC researcher Enric Alvarez considers the reasons behind this dramatic rise in transmission, especially among young people, and whether it could have been predicted or avoided. 

Episode 36: Expanding Barcelona Airport - economic necessity or environmental folly?

A new satellite terminal and a runway extension. That's what AENA, the company that manages Barcelona Airport, says is needed if it is to be an international hub. Catalan society and local authorities are divided on the issue, with business leaders arguing it is essential for the economy, while environmentalists warn against the destruction of the Llobregat delta and increased carbon emissions.

Episode 35: After pardons for independence leaders, what comes next?

June 23, 2021 saw the release of nine Catalan politicians and activists in jail for their roles during the 2017 independence push, after they received pardons from the Spanish president. But what comes next? Talks are set to resume but the two sides remain very far apart, with the Catalan government pushing for an amnesty and agreed referendum, while Spain remains firmly opposed. With Marc Sanjaume-Calvet, professor of political science at the Open University of Catalonia.

Episode 34: Housing crisis – soaring rents and eviction epidemic

Soaring rents in Catalonia – especially in the capital Barcelona – have pushed housing to the top of the social and political agenda. Evictions, sometimes with a heavy police presence, are commonplace, despite a moratorium for vulnerable people during the pandemic. We hear the stories of three women in Barcelona affected by the crisis and take a look at the legal battle over Catalonia's rent cap law.

Episode 33: A guide to visiting Catalonia this summer, despite Covid

A look at where to go and what to do in Catalonia this summer. All the rules and regulations for entering Spain from abroad as well as the Covid measures in place on arrival. Cillian Shields and Guifré Jordan join Lorcan Doherty to chat about summer plans and tourist itineraries, including everything from adventure sports to wine tasting. They discuss what is open for tourists in Barcelona and, after a devastating summer last year, ask what hopes the tourism industry has for a recovery.

Episode 32: Barça Femení and women's football – treble success and fight for fairness

Barcelona women's football team have had a record-breaking season, conquering all before them and doing it in style. Defender Laia Codina tells us the impact she hopes this will have on and off the field and we reflect on the wider issues facing the game as the league turns professional after a bitter struggle.

Episode 31: Taxis vs Uber – Barcelona, hotspot of the conflict in Europe

Barcelona's taxi associations are not happy with Uber's return to the city after a two-year absence, but the ride-railing app insists that the two groups should work together. We hear from both sides and also from Pieter Van Cleynenbreugel, a law professor at the University of Liège in Belgium, who explains what impact the conflict in Barcelona is having at an EU level.

Episode 30: Montserrat – the mystic mountain with a 700-year-old boys' choir

Montserrat is a natural wonder, a rocky mountain range that rises from the plains of central Catalonia. It's a holy place, home to La Moreneta, the Virgin of Montserrat, and a Benedictine Abbey with a history stretching back one thousand years. Alan Ruiz Terol visits the Escolania de Montserrat, a 700-year-old boys' choir, and chats to Lorcan Doherty about what makes this place so special, for Catalans and visitors alike.

Episode 29: Catalonia's new pro-independence government - what to expect

Three months on from polling day, Catalonia's new pro-independence government is taking shape. Pere Aragonès has been elected the 132nd president of Catalonia and will lead a coalition of Esquerra Republicana and Junts per Catalunya. Marc Sanjaume-Calvet, professor of political science at the Open University of Catalonia joins the podcast to discuss the make-up of the new administration, its priorities and the challenges ahead.

Episode 28: Independence campaigns in Scotland and Catalonia – siblings or distant relatives?

Pro-independence parties in Scotland and Catalonia have enjoyed success in recent elections, but how much do the movements have in common and where do they go from here? With contributions from Esquerra Republicana MEP Jordi Solé, Scottish National Party MP Gavin Newlands and University of Glasgow Lecturer in Politics Robert Liñeira.

Episode 27: Covid-19, Summer '21 and the end of the state of alarm

The state of alarm comes to an end after more than six months. There's no more curfew, bars and restaurants can open until 11pm and travel in and out of Catalonia is allowed again, but what will the summer look like?

Episode 26: Last orders - Barcelona bars and restaurants' pandemic struggle

Cafe culture and eating out are at the heart of the Barcelona lifestyle, but the Catalan capital's bars and restaurants - all 9,000 of them nearly - have had a tough year trying to survive amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Episode 25: A wind farm off the Costa Brava - the debate is on

Catalonia needs to transition from 20% to 50% renewable energy by 2030 to meet its climate change goals but plans for an offshore floating wind farm in the Gulf of Roses have been met with opposition from environmentalists and businesses reliant on tourism.

Episode 24: Sant Jordi's Day – books, love and roses

April 23 is one of Catalonia's most important dates of the year, when the country celebrates its patron Sant Jordi in unique style, buying books and roses as gifts for their loved ones. Writer, publisher and director of the Institut Ramon Llull, Iolanda Batallé Prats, joins Guifré Jordan and Lorcan Doherty to discuss what makes Sant Jordi such a special day and explains how Catalan literature is going from strength to strength. Acclaimed Catalan writer Marta Orriols reads from her novel Learning to Talk to Plants.

Episode 23: The truth about Catalonia's witches and witch-hunts

Centuries ago, the Catalan Pyrenees were a cradle of witch-hunts in Europe, with hundreds or even thousands of marginalized women accused and convicted of causing storms, killing children, and poisoning cattle with witchcraft. Sònia Casas from the Barcelona-based history magazine Sàpiens joins Alan Ruiz Terol and Lorcan Doherty as they attempt to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the story of witch-hunts in Catalonia.

Episode 22: How religious is Catalonia today?

In the space of a generation, the religious landscape of Catalonia has changed utterly. The number of atheists, agnostics and non-religious has skyrocketed as the influence of the Catholic Church has waned since the transition to democracy. Dr Mar Griera, the director of ISOR (Research in Sociology of Religion) at UAB, explains the reasons behind Catalonia's rapid and intense secularization. We also take a look at some of the Easter traditions that are still going strong.

Episode 21: The crown in crisis – corruption scandals rock the Spanish monarchy

Spain's royal family has been rocked in recent years by wave after wave of scandal and controversy. The former king, Juan Carlos I, fled to the United Arab Emirates last August amidst ongoing corruption investigations. In this episode, Sylvain Besson on Juan Carlos' $100m Swiss bank account and Albert Calatrava, one of the writers of The King's Armor (L'Armadura del rei), which examines how Spain has protected its scandal-ridden monarchy for the past four decades. Plus a look at the rise and fall of the monarchy's popularity in Catalonia and whether there could be a republic in the future.  

Episode 20: First Catalan nanosatellite in space - small step, giant leap or a load of hot air?

As Catalonia launches its first nanosatellite, science writer and educator Joan Anton Català Amigó joins the Filling the Sink team to talk all things space. Catalan Digital Policies minister Jordi Puigneró defends the formation of the Catalan Space Agency, Alan Ruiz Terol takes a visit to Montsec Observatory and Astronomical Park in western Catalonia and Dr Carolina Arnau Jimenez tells Cristina Tomàs White how the European Space Agency's research at the Autonomous University of Barcelona could pave the way for humans to voyage to Mars in the future.

Episode 19: Covid-19 – impact one year on and hopes for the future

Exactly twelve months on from the declaration of the state of alarm and first lockdown, a look at the social and economic impact of the pandemic and the latest figures and measures. Salvador Macip, from the University of Leicester gives his view on the vaccine rollout, the new variants, and the easing of measures in Catalonia compared to the UK.

Episode 18: Gender inequality - at work, at home and during the pandemic

Ahead of International Women's Day on March 8, we take a look at the ongoing fight for gender equality and how the pandemic has affected women more than men in Catalonia. We focus on the gender pay gap, work-life balance, gender-based violence, unemployment, and other challenges ahead. Plus, the stories of four women working in traditionally male-dominated jobs.

Episode 17: The wizard, the vampire and the curse – Dark tales from Barcelona's Old Town

Medieval herbalists, occultist signs, missing children, blood and bones, angry monks and letters from owls. The lines between fantasy and reality are blurred in these three tales from Barcelona's Old Town about an ancient wizard, Astruc Sacanera, the Vampire of Raval, Enriqueta Martí, and the curse of the Liceu, the city's iconic opera house.

Episode 16: Rapper Hasel jailed and riots on streets - freedom of speech debate spills over

On February 16, the Catalan rapper Pablo Hasel was arrested at the University of Lleida after being sentenced to two years and nine months in jail for two cases of glorifying terrorism and insulting the Spanish crown in his tweets and lyrics. Hasel's arrest has led to widespread protests in cities and towns across Catalonia and Spain, with dozens of arrests and injuries following clashes between demonstrators and police, and reignited the debate around the boundaries of freedom of expression.

Episode 15: Catalan election - winners, losers, and what's next

The Catalan election is over, but who will lead the next government? And will this be a turning point for the independence movement? Episode 15 of Filling the Sink brings you everything you need to know about the election winners, the biggest losers, and what lies ahead.

Episode 14: Catalonia's booming videogame industry

Barcelona is a global hub for game developers. With Catalonia accounting for more than half of the industry's earnings in Spain, Filling the Sink hears from several figures in the gaming community about its successes and its challenges.

Episode 13: Catalan election – the runners and riders

It's election time. Episode 13 of Filling the Sink has got everything you need to know about the parties, the polls and the permutations. Will the independence bloc retain a majority in parliament? Will the far right enter the chamber for the first time? Which party will top the polls and what will the next government look like? And, with only 5.3 million entitled to vote in Catalonia, home to around 6.2 million adults, who should have a say in a democracy?

Episode 12: The climate crisis threatening Catalonia

Forest fires, floods, rising temperatures and sea levels: Catalonia is vulnerable to climate change. One year on from Storm Gloria, we look at the effects global heating is already having, with a special report from the Ebre delta.

Episode 11: Brexit – Listener questions answered (and more)

Don't know your TIE from your NIE? Or how you can prove residency? Bradley de Abreu from Age in Spain answers questions from British Catalan News readers. And we hear from Catalan businesses and universities on the impact of Brexit.

Episode 10: Coronavirus – vaccine rollout, research, and latest measures

Leading researcher Dr Bonaventura Clotet on the need for a pan-coronavirus vaccine, the threat of the variant discovered in Britain, and some of Catalonia's contributions to the global scientific effort. Plus a look back on the "day of hope" that saw 89-year-old Josefa Pérez make history by becoming the first person in Catalonia to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

Episode 9: 2021 – a look ahead

A preview of what's in store for Catalonia in 2021 including the vaccine rollout and elections on February 14, as well as a look back on the last twelve months.

Episode 8: Christmas in Catalonia

Who needs Santa Claus? In Catalonia, kids hit a wooden log with sticks until it poos out presents. Learn about the Tió de Nadal and many other Catalan Christmas traditionssome excrement-related, some notin this special festive edition of Filling the Sink.

Episode 7: Catalonia’s late eating habits - time for a change?

Have you ever tried to book a table for 7pm at a restaurant in Catalonia? Or gone to do some shopping in the early afternoon? You might well have run into a little trouble. We explore the origins of this late schedule, and whether it can change.

Episode 6: BCN and tourism – a love–hate relationship

Barcelona has a love–hate relationship with tourism, vital for many jobs and businesses but a bane for many residents. Episode 6 of Filling the Sink asks if the current tourism model is broken and what can be done to fix it.

Episode 5: Barça – A Catalan Icon in Crisis

FC Barcelona is one of the world's biggest football clubs. To its supporters, it's more than a club, 'més que un club'. But what's behind the current malaise, both on and off the pitch?

Episode 4: Open Wounds – Dealing with the Francoist Past

Historical memory, or how to deal with the legacy of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship, is the subject of episode 4 of Filling the Sink.

Episode 3: Mushroom Hunting

Filling the Sink is filling its basket with rovellons, camagrocs and trompetes de la mort as we go foraging for mushrooms in the Pyrenees.

Episode 2: Covid-19 in Catalonia – a snapshot

A reflection on the first eight months of living with the pandemic and a look at what the Covid data tells us about Catalonia and Europe.

Episode 1: Halloween v Castanyada

In the red corner, the undisputed champion of autumnal holidays in Catalonia, it's La Castanyada. And in the blue corner, the challenger. It's got costumes, it's got candy, it's Halloween. Which should be celebrated on October 31 in Catalonia? The debate is on.


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