Death of an Altruist

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BBC Radio 3; November 2003
Producer: Janet Whitaker
1h 08 min

Winter 1974. A policeman, a scientist, and a clergyman meet in a derelict squat near Euston station. Their task is to collect the remaining possessions (and make sense of the life) of George Price, a mathematical biologist who committed suicide in that desolate place. Was it madness, despair or too much reality that drove him to sever his carotid artery with a pair of nail scissors? Price’s lasting legacy to society is an elegant mathematical theorem showing how altruism works to increase our chances of genetic survival. But was it Price’s own special brand of selflessness that eventually cost him his life?

Starring Paul Rhys (as the biologist William Hamilton) and James Laurenson (as Price), the play explores the limits of our understanding of altruism.

Listen to the play

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