1,055 episodes

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

In Our Time BBC Podcasts

    • History
    • 4.6 • 363 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

    The Sistine Chapel (Summer Repeat)

    The Sistine Chapel (Summer Repeat)

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the astonishing work of Michelangelo (1477-1564) in this great chapel in the Vatican, firstly the ceiling with images from Genesis (of which the image above is a detail) and later The Last Judgement on the altar wall. For the Papacy, Michelangelo's achievement was a bold affirmation of the spiritual and political status of the Vatican, of Rome and of the Catholic Church. For the artist himself, already famous as the sculptor of David in Florence, it was a test of his skill and stamina, and of the potential for art to amaze which he realised in his astonishing mastery of the human form.

    With

    Catherine Fletcher
    Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University

    Sarah Vowles
    The Smirnov Family Curator of Italian and French Prints and Drawings at the British Museum

    And

    Matthias Wivel
    The Aud Jebsen Curator of Sixteenth-Century Italian Paintings at the National Gallery

    Producer: Simon Tillotson
    In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio Production

    Tocqueville: Democracy in America (Summer Repeat)

    Tocqueville: Democracy in America (Summer Repeat)

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) and his examination of the American democratic system. He wrote De La Démocratie en Amérique in two parts, published in 1835 and 1840, when France was ruled by the July Monarchy of Louis-Philippe. Tocqueville was interested in how aspects of American democracy, in the age of President Andrew Jackson, could be applied to Europe as it moved away from rule by monarchs and aristocrats. His work has been revisited by politicians ever since, particularly in America, with its analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of direct democracy and its warnings of mediocrity and the tyranny of the majority.

    With

    Robert Gildea
    Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford

    Susan-Mary Grant
    Professor of American History at Newcastle University

    and

    Jeremy Jennings
    Professor of Political Theory and Head of the School of Politics & Economics at King's College London

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    In Our Time is a BBC Sounds Audio Production

    Bacteriophages

    Bacteriophages

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the most abundant lifeform on Earth: the viruses that 'eat' bacteria. Early in the 20th century, scientists noticed that something in their Petri dishes was making bacteria disappear and they called these bacteriophages, things that eat bacteria. From studying these phages, it soon became clear that they offered countless real or potential benefits for understanding our world, from the tracking of diseases to helping unlock the secrets of DNA to treatments for long term bacterial infections. With further research, they could be an answer to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

    With

    Martha Clokie
    Director for the Centre for Phage Research and Professor of Microbiology at the University of Leicester

    James Ebdon
    Professor of Environmental Microbiology at the University of Brighton

    And

    Claas Kirchhelle
    Historian and Chargé de Recherche at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research’s CERMES3 Unit in Paris.

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio Production

    Reading list:

    James Ebdon, ‘Tackling sources of contamination in water: The age of phage’ (Microbiologist, Society for Applied Microbiology, Vol 20.1, 2022)

    Thomas Häusler, Viruses vs. Superbugs: A Solution to the Antibiotics Crisis? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

    Tom Ireland, The Good Virus: The Untold Story of Phages: The Mysterious Microbes that Rule Our World, Shape Our Health and Can Save Our Future (Hodder Press, 2024)

    Claas Kirchhelle and Charlotte Kirchhelle, ‘Northern Normal–Laboratory Networks, Microbial Culture Collections, and Taxonomies of Power (1939-2000)’ (SocArXiv Papers, 2024)

    Dmitriy Myelnikov, ‘An alternative cure: the adoption and survival of bacteriophage therapy in the USSR, 1922–1955’ (Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 73, no. 4, 2018)

    Forest Rohwer, Merry Youle, Heather Maughan and Nao Hisakawa, Life in our Phage World: A Centennial Field Guide to Earth’s most Diverse Inhabitants (Wholon, 2014)

    Steffanie Strathdee and Thomas Patterson (2019) The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir (Hachette Books, 2020)

    William C. Summers, Félix d`Herelle and the Origins of Molecular Biology (Yale University Press, 1999)

    William C. Summers, The American Phage Group: Founders of Molecular Biology (University Press, 2023)

    Monet in England

    Monet in England

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the work of the great French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840-1926) in London, initially in 1870 and then from 1899. He spent his first visit in poverty, escaping from war in France, while by the second he had become so commercially successful that he stayed at the Savoy Hotel. There, from his balcony, he began a series of almost a hundred paintings that captured the essence of this dynamic city at that time, with fog and smoke almost obscuring the bridges, boats and Houses of Parliament. The pollution was terrible for health but the diffraction through the sooty droplets offered an ever changing light that captivated Monet, and he was to paint the Thames more that he did his Water Lilies or Haystacks or Rouen Cathedral. On his return to France, Monet appeared to have a new confidence to explore an art that was more abstract than impressionist.

    With

    Karen Serres
    Senior Curator of Paintings at the Courtauld Gallery, London

    Frances Fowle
    Professor of Nineteenth-Century Art at the University of Edinburgh and Senior Curator of French Art at the National Galleries of Scotland

    And

    Jackie Wullschläger
    Chief Art Critic for the Financial Times and author of ‘Monet, The Restless Vision’

    In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio Production

    Producer: Simon Tillotson
    Studio production: John Goudie

    Reading list:

    Caroline Corbeau Parsons, Impressionists in London: French Artists in Exile 1870-1904 (Tate Publishing, 2017)

    Frances Fowle, Monet and French Landscape: Vétheuil and Normandy (National Galleries of Scotland, 2007), especially the chapter ‘Making Money out of Monet: Marketing Monet in Britain 1870-1905’

    Robert Gordon and Andrew Forge, Monet (Harry N. Abrams, 1983)

    Paul Hayes Tucker, Monet in the ’90s: The Series Paintings (Yale University Press, 1990)

    Paul Hayes Tucker, Monet in the 20th Century (Yale University Press, 1998)

    Katharine A. Lochnan, Turner, Whistler, Monet (Tate Publishing, 2005)

    Nicholas Reed, Monet and the Thames: Paintings and Modern Views of Monet’s London (Lilburne Press, 1998)

    Grace Seiberling, Monet in London (High Museum of Art, 1988)

    Karen Serres, Frances Fowle and Jennifer A. Thompson, Monet and London: Views of the Thames (Paul Holberton Publishing, 2024 – catalogue to accompany Courtauld Gallery exhibition)

    Charles Stuckey, Monet: A Retrospective (Random House, 1985)

    Daniel Wildenstein, Monet: The Triumph of Impressionism (first published 1996; Taschen, 2022)

    Jackie Wullschläger, Monet: The Restless Vision (Allen Lane, 2023)

    Karma

    Karma

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the doctrine of Karma as developed initially among Hindus, Jains and Buddhists in India from the first millennium BCE. Common to each is an idea, broadly, that you reap what you sow: how you act in this world has consequences either for your later life or your future lives, depending on your view of rebirth and transmigration. From this flow different ideas including those about free will, engagement with the world or disengagement, the nature of ethics and whether intention matters, and these ideas continue to develop today.
    With
    Monima Chadha
    Professor of Indian Philosophy and Tutorial Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford
    Jessica Frazier
    Lecturer in the Study of Religion at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
    And
    Karen O’Brien-Kop
    Lecturer in Asian Religions at Kings College London
    Producer: Simon Tillotson
    In Our Time is a BBC Studios Audio Production
    Reading list:
    J. Bronkhorst, Karma (University of Hawaii Press, 2011)
    J. H. Davis (ed.), A Mirror is for Reflection: Understanding Buddhist Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2017), especially ‘Buddhism Without Reincarnation? Examining the Prospects of a “Naturalized” Buddhism’ by J. Westerhoff
    J. Ganeri (ed.), Ethics and Epics: Philosophy, Culture, and Religion (Oxford University Press, 2002), especially ‘Karma and the Moral Order’ by B. K. Matilal
    Y. Krishan, The Doctrine of Karma: Its Origin and Development in Brāhmaṇical, Buddhist and Jaina Traditions (Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, 1997)
    N.K.G. Mendis (ed.), The Questions of King Milinda: An Abridgement of Milindapañha (Buddhist Publication Society, 1993)
    M. Siderits, How Things Are: An Introduction to Buddhist Metaphysics (Oxford University Press, 2022)
    M. Vargas and J. Dorris (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Moral Psychology (Oxford Univesrity Press, 2022), especially ‘Karma, Moral Responsibility and Buddhist Ethics’ by B. Finnigan
    J. Zu, 'Collective Karma Cluster Concepts in Chinese Canonical Sources: A Note' (Journal of Global Buddhism, Vol.24: 2, 2023)

    • 50 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
363 Ratings

363 Ratings

Neil de Corcaigh ,

The best of the BBC

Melvyn Bragg is an absolute legend. One of the BBC’s best productions.

Carmarandus ,

None better

Best of BBC standards.
Probably the best exemplar of how a podcast for enquiring minds should be.

Liffordennis ,

Simply the best

My first podcast that I listened to and still the best. Diverse & really interesting topics. I look forward to every Thursday.

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