Hazel Findlay: elite rock climber

Hazel Findlay is a top professional climber, constantly touring the world in search of new adventures, and breaking records. In recent years she has been working as a coach, helping climbers of all abilities to overcome their fears and progress to the next level.

Some of the subjects covered in this chat include idea of mastery vs competitiveness, the mental health benefits of climbing, coaching as a kind of giving back, how climbing is similar to public speaking, managing fear, and how training an awareness of the body helps to increases one’s awareness in general.


This episode was recorded at an arts organisation called Access Space in Sheffield. Access Space supports those developing skills and interests in creative technology and is well worth checking out.

If you enjoy these episodes, you can help more people find them by rating and/or reviewing Hack Circus on iTunes, or just tell a friend about it!

Hazel’s blog

Hazel’s Wikipedia page

Watch her climb

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iTunes link


Spotify coming soon!

Tom Tobia – consulting creatively


The Hack Circus podcast is back with a bang after an enormous break of two years!

The star guest this episode is Tom Tobia – a creative entrepreneur based in Sheffield. We cover the origins of an organisation he helped to found, Makerversity, his principled drive, and the way he approaches consulting with the range of businesses he works with. We also exchange some thoughts about creativity – how it arises from constraints, its relationship to failure, and why people should embrace a more open-ended approach to planning.

If you enjoy these episodes, you can help more people find them by rating and/or reviewing Hack Circus on iTunes, or just tell a friend about it!

Tom’s website:

Tom’s new project:

Libsyn feed (browser)

iTunes link


Spotify coming soon!

Emma Bearman – The Willy Wonka of Leeds

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Emma Bearman founded Playful Leeds – now Playful Anywhere, and is the proud proprietor of the Playbox, a shipping container full of surprises, entertainment and imaginative potential that turns up in public spaces all over Yorkshire. Emma also founded The Culture Vulture, the very successful magazine site rounding up the best of the Leeds arts scene.

In this chat, we find out about the challenges of facilitating a vision of this scale on your own, how play relates to disobedience, and where the drive to create playful spaces comes from in the first place. (Urban Mischief video, with the diving board etc)

The National Fairground & Circus Archive

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This week I meet showmen and fairground archivists at the National Fairground & Circus Archive in Sheffield, and learn about the fascinating and community-minded history of travelling show people of the UK.

Lionel Bathe’s photos of fairgrounds

Anthony Harris (Youngest wall of death rider in the world, in the 1940s)

Neil Mullarkey – Improv for everyday life

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Neil Mullarkey is known as one of the Comedy Store Players – the famous long-running improv troupe with their own theatre in central London.

He also works with brands and businesses, helping the corporate environment to benefit from the agility of improvisational thought.

In this fun chat we discuss (among other things) Neil’s creative background, a comedy career that started in his youth as President of the Cambridge Footlights, his old double act with Mike Myers, the everyday benefits of improv, and the careful systems put in place to make this style of performing work in a theatre – and on TV.

Mike Kewley – Mindfulness and Reality

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Mindfulness and meditation are portrayed as serene but it can also be a serious confrontation with the self which brings a raw, often brutal, truth to the surface.

Mike, a mindfulness teacher based on the Isle of Man, discusses the reality of mindfulness – processing negative emotions that rise up, the positive breaking down of the self, how to properly watch your self, and how to find the courage to let go.

His excellent TEDx talk on Happiness can be found here.

Mike has had his own fundamental consciousness-expanding experience, which we also talk about in this episode.

Mike’s website is: and you can find him on twitter at MyFreeMind_IOM

Valentina Fois – creative in business

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We all have our dreams – run a gallery, open a cafe, do a Masters degree, learn a language…

Most of us are lazy and distracted and never quite seem to get off the blocks, but serial entrepreneur, curator and marketing guru Valentina Fois has made all these dreams come true for herself, and more.

Valentina’s new cafe Lele’s is open throughout the festive period (in Clapton, East London) and has various seasonal offers HC listeners should check out – including panettonne (of course!) and original art and design work from independent creators, in a specially curated pop-up shop.

We talk about that, plus the future of consumer tech, wake-up calls, being the boss, and more, in this special festive episode.

It’s always great to talk to someone who actually does things rather than just talks about doing themHopefully this chat will give us all a much-needed boost as we go into 2017.

You can follow Valentina on Twitter, and check out her cafe, Lele’s, next time you’re in the area. If you’re enjoying Hack Circus, give us a quick iTunes rating or tell a friend about the show. You can also find us on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Snapchat, IRC etc.

Rhodri Marsden – facilitating creativity

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Rhodri Marsden has his finger in many creative and media pies.

A journalist for publications including The Independent, writer of talks and books, keyboardist in Scritti Politti and Dream Themes, musical saw player, and prolific and entertaining tweeter with a huge following, he’s constantly generating new material and surrounded by creative people – but interestingly, doesn’t classify himself as ‘creative’.

Rhodri knew Chris Sievey, the man behind Frank Sidebottom, and played in the band supporting Frank’s act. We talk about Rhodri’s musical background and collaborators, his current projects, the importance of just making stuff, and what it’s like to be someone who likes an efficient system, yet who seems destined, like an inspirational Midas, to make creativity happen wherever he goes.

You can follow Rhodri’s antics on Twitter and Instagram.

Alexandra Heminsley – the female George Plimpton

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This week we meet Alex Heminsley, or “Hemmo” – in many ways, the female George Plimpton. She’s an author, reviewer, wit, runner, swimmer, broadcaster, and champion of women in sports.

Alex is incredibly inspiring; she chases down goals with more tenacity and creativity than anyone else I’ve ever met. You may have seen her best-selling book Running Like A Girl, the funny, informative and true story of how she came to run five marathons from a standing start.

Alex’s forthcoming book, Leap In, chronicles her recent adventures in outdoor swimming. And she’s now co-writing the story of tennis pro, trainer and mother of world champions, Judy Murray.

Alex embodies the value of setting ambitious targets and going after them with all your energy and a great attitude. We discuss a life of challenges, sportiness, glamour, creativity and humour in this entertaining chat.

She is also tremendously witty and insightful on social media, and you can follow her on twitter or instagram.

Simon Munnery – creative comedy

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Simon Munnery is often considered one of the most inventive and intelligent comedians of his generation. His character comedy has appeared on TV and radio, but he’s perhaps best-known for his live shows – an unpredictable mixture of original insights delivered through stand-up, poetry, solo sketch performance, visual art, songs and more.

Simon is so unassuming in person that it would be easy to overlook just how hugely influential he has been on contemporary comedy writers, artists and performers over the last few decades. We reminisce about his work in the 90s, discuss audiences, making and fixing things, raising teenagers, and the influence of avant garde art movements – among other things.

Hope you enjoy this one. If you do, please give the show a quick rating on iTunes or just tell a friend about it. These shows take up to two full days each to make, and iTunes ratings help increase our chances of getting regular sponsors which means we can keep making them after our 50 episode target.

Hack Circus goes up every Monday and Thursday, and you can peek behind the curtain by following us on Facebook (hackcircuspodcast), Instagram (hackcircus), Twitter (hackcircus) and Snapchat. It’s also a magazine.