311 episodes

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas, people and events that have shaped our world.

In Our Time BBC Podcasts

    • History
    • 4.4 • 751 Ratings

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas, people and events that have shaped our world.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    Wilfred Owen

    Wilfred Owen

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the celebrated British poet of World War One. Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) had published only a handful of poems when he was killed a week before the end of the war, but in later decades he became seen as the essential British war poet. His works such as Anthem for Doomed Youth, Strange Meeting and Dulce et Decorum Est went on to be inseparable from the memory of the war and its futility. However, while Owen is best known for his poetry of the trenches, his letters offer a more nuanced insight into him such as his pride in being an officer in charge of others and in being a soldier who fought alongside his comrades.

    With

    Jane Potter
    Reader in The School of Arts at Oxford Brookes University

    Fran Brearton
    Professor of Modern Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast

    And

    Guy Cuthbertson
    Professor of British Literature and Culture at Liverpool Hope University

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 56 min
    The Fish-Tetrapod Transition

    The Fish-Tetrapod Transition

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the greatest changes in the history of life on Earth. Around 400 million years ago some of our ancestors, the fish, started to become a little more like humans. At the swampy margins between land and water, some fish were turning their fins into limbs, their swim bladders into lungs and developed necks and eventually they became tetrapods, the group to which we and all animals with backbones and limbs belong. After millions of years of this transition, these tetrapod descendants of fish were now ready to leave the water for a new life of walking on land, and with that came an explosion in the diversity of life on Earth.

    The image above is a representation of Tiktaalik Roseae, a fish with some features of a tetrapod but not one yet, based on a fossil collected in the Canadian Arctic.

    With

    Emily Rayfield
    Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol

    Michael Coates
    Chair and Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago

    And

    Steve Brusatte
    Professor of Palaeontology and Evolution at the University of Edinburgh

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 55 min
    Berthe Morisot

    Berthe Morisot

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the influential painters at the heart of the French Impressionist movement: Berthe Morisot (1841-1895). The men in her circle could freely paint in busy bars and public spaces, while Morisot captured the domestic world and found new, daring ways to paint quickly in the open air. Her work shows women as they were, to her: informal, unguarded, and not transformed or distorted for the eyes of men. The image above is one of her few self-portraits, though several portraits of her survive by other artists, chiefly her sister Edma and her brother-in-law Edouard Manet.

    With

    Tamar Garb
    Professor of History of Art at University College London


    Lois Oliver
    Curator at the Royal Academy and Adjunct Professor of Art History at the American University of Notre Dame London.

    And

    Claire Moran
    Reader in French at Queen's University Belfast

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 1 hr
    The Knights Templar

    The Knights Templar

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the military order founded around 1119, twenty years after the Crusaders captured Jerusalem. For almost 200 years the Knights Templar were a notable fighting force and financial power in the Crusader States and Western Europe. Their mission was to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land, and they became extremely wealthy yet, as the crusader grip on Jerusalem slipped, their political fortune declined steeply. They were to be persecuted out of existence, with their last grand master burned at the stake in Paris in 1314, and that sudden end has contributed to the strength of the legends that have grown up around them.

    With

    Helen Nicholson
    Professor of Medieval History at Cardiff University

    Mike Carr
    Lecturer in Late Medieval History at the University of Edinburgh

    And

    Jonathan Phillips
    Professor of Crusading History at Royal Holloway, University of London

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 49 min
    The Electron

    The Electron

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss an atomic particle that's become inseparable from modernity. JJ Thomson discovered the electron 125 years ago, so revealing that atoms, supposedly the smallest things, were made of even smaller things. He pictured them inside an atomic ball like a plum pudding, with others later identifying their place outside the nucleus - and it is their location on the outer limit that has helped scientists learn so much about electrons and with electrons. We can use electrons to reveal the secrets of other particles and, while electricity exists whether we understand electrons or not, the applications of electricity and electrons grow as our knowledge grows. Many questions, though, remain unanswered.

    With

    Victoria Martin
    Professor of Collider Physics at the University of Edinburgh

    Harry Cliff
    Research Fellow in Particle Physics at the University of Cambridge

    And

    Frank Close
    Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics and Fellow Emeritus at Exeter College at the University of Oxford

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 49 min
    Plato's Atlantis

    Plato's Atlantis

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Plato's account of the once great island of Atlantis out to the west, beyond the world known to his fellow Athenians, and why it disappeared many thousands of years before his time. There are no sources for this story other than Plato, and he tells it across two of his works, the Timaeus and the Critias, tantalizing his readers with evidence that it is true and clues that it is a fantasy. Atlantis, for Plato, is a way to explore what an ideal republic really is, and whether Athens could be (or ever was) one; to European travellers in the Renaissance, though, his story reflected their own encounters with distant lands, previously unknown to them, spurring generations of explorers to scour the oceans and in the hope of finding a lost world.

    The image above is from an engraving of the legendary island of Atlantis after a description by Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680).

    With

    Edith Hall
    Professor of Classics at Durham University

    Christopher Gill
    Emeritus Professor of Ancient Thought at the University of Exeter

    And

    Angie Hobbs
    Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 54 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
751 Ratings

751 Ratings

ipodlist ,

All

Enjoy it most of the time but MB interrupts too much and apologizes but still interrupts if the others don’t follow his script

Pod list

Laileesolei ,

The most terrible host

Interesting subjects, but I can’t stand the arrogance and the constant interruptions by the host. Stopped listening just for this reason.

HarrietBrown666 ,

Melvyn Bragg is a belligerent boob!

Thematically this podcast is excellent but my god, man. Is Bragg a lush? He asks questions and then interrupts his guests before they can even answer! Not is only that poor manners, it’s poor hosting. I appreciate the timbre of his voice and the intelligence of his guests, but I wish there were less erratic outbursts from Bragg and that he would let his guests actually share their knowledge.

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