300 episodes

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

In Our Time BBC

    • History
    • 4.4 • 171 Ratings

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

    The Gold Standard

    The Gold Standard

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the system that flourished from 1870 when gold became dominant and more widely available, following gold rushes in California and Australia. Banknotes could be exchanged for gold at central banks, the coins in circulation could be gold (as with the sovereign in the image above, initially worth £1), gold could be freely imported and exported, and many national currencies around the world were tied to gold and so to each other. The idea began in Britain, where sterling was seen as good as gold, and when other countries rushed to the Gold Standard the confidence in their currencies grew, and world trade took off and, for a century, gold was seen as a vital component of the world economy, supporting stability and confidence. The system came with constraints on government ability to respond to economic crises, though, and has been blamed for deepening and prolonging the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    With

    Catherine Schenk
    Professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Oxford

    Helen Paul
    Lecturer in Economics and Economic History at the University of Southampton

    And

    Matthias Morys
    Senior Lecturer in Economic History at the University of York

    Produced by Eliane Glaser and Simon Tillotson

    • 49 min
    Thomas Hardy's Poetry

    Thomas Hardy's Poetry

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Thomas Hardy (1840 -1928) and his commitment to poetry, which he prized far above his novels. In the 1890s, once he had earned enough from his fiction, Hardy stopped writing novels altogether and returned to the poetry he had largely put aside since his twenties. He hoped that he might be ranked one day alongside Shelley and Byron, worthy of inclusion in a collection such as Palgrave's Golden Treasury which had inspired him. Hardy kept writing poems for the rest of his life, in different styles and metres, and he explored genres from nature, to war, to epic. Among his best known are what he called his Poems of 1912 to 13, responding to his grief at the death of his first wife, Emma (1840 -1912), who he credited as the one who had made it possible for him to leave his work as an architect's clerk and to write the novels that made him famous.

    With

    Mark Ford
    Poet, and Professor of English and American Literature, University College London.

    Jane Thomas
    Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Hull and Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Leeds

    And

    Tim Armstrong
    Professor of Modern English and American Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 50 min
    Fritz Lang

    Fritz Lang

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Austrian-born film director Fritz Lang (1890-1976), who was one of the most celebrated film-makers of the 20th century. He worked first in Weimar Germany, creating a range of films including the startling and subversive Mabuse the Gambler and the iconic but ruinously expensive Metropolis before arguably his masterpiece, M, with both the police and the underworld hunting for a child killer in Berlin, his first film with sound. The rise of the Nazis prompted Lang's move to Hollywood where he developed some of his Weimar themes in memorable and disturbing films such as Fury and The Big Heat.


    With

    Stella Bruzzi
    Professor of Film and Dean of Arts and Humanities at University College London


    Joe McElhaney
    Professor of Film Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York

    And

    Iris Luppa
    Senior Lecturer in Film Studies in the Division of Film and Media at London South Bank University

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 55 min
    The Hittites

    The Hittites

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the empire that flourished in the Late Bronze Age in what is now Turkey, and which, like others at that time, mysteriously collapsed. For the next three thousand years these people of the Land of Hatti, as they called themselves, were known only by small references to their Iron Age descendants in the Old Testament and by unexplained remains in their former territory. Discoveries in their capital of Hattusa just over a century ago brought them back to prominence, including cuneiform tablets such as one (pictured above) which relates to an agreement with their rivals, the Egyptians. This agreement has since become popularly known as the Treaty of Kadesh and described as the oldest recorded peace treaty that survives to this day, said to have followed a great chariot battle with Egypt in 1274 BC near the Orontes River in northern Syria.

    With

    Claudia Glatz
    Professor of Archaeology at the University of Glasgow

    Ilgi Gercek
    Assistant Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and History at Bilkent University

    And

    Christoph Bachhuber
    Lecturer in Archaeology at St John’s College, University of Oxford


    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 52 min
    A Christmas Carol

    A Christmas Carol

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Charles Dickens' novella, written in 1843 when he was 31, which has become intertwined with his reputation and with Christmas itself. Ebenezer Scrooge is the miserly everyman figure whose joyless obsession with money severs him from society and his own emotions, and he is only saved after recalling his lonely past, seeing what he is missing now and being warned of his future, all under the guidance of the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet To Come. Redeemed, Scrooge comes to care in particular about one of the many minor characters in the story who make a great impact, namely Tiny Tim, the disabled child of the poor and warm-hearted Cratchit family, with his cry, "God bless us, every one!"

    With

    Juliet John
    Professor of English Literature and Dean of Arts and Social Sciences at City, University of London

    Jon Mee
    Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University of York

    And

    Dinah Birch
    Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Cultural Engagement and Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool


    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 56 min
    The May Fourth Movement

    The May Fourth Movement

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the violent protests in China on 4th May 1919 over the nation's humiliation in the Versailles Treaty after World War One. China had supported the Allies, sending workers to dig trenches, and expected to regain the German colonies on its territory, but the Allies and China's leaders chose to give that land to Japan instead. To protestors, this was a travesty and reflected much that was wrong with China, with its corrupt leaders, division by warlords, weakness before Imperial Europe and outdated ideas and values. The movement around 4th May has since been seen as a watershed in China’s development in the 20th century, not least as some of those connected with the movement went on to found the Communist Party of China a few years later.

    The image above is of students from Peking University marching with banners during the May Fourth demonstrations in 1919.

    With

    Rana Mitter
    Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China and Fellow of St Cross College, University of Oxford

    Elisabeth Forster
    Lecturer in Chinese History at the University of Southampton

    And

    Song-Chuan Chen
    Associate Professor in History at the University of Warwick


    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 52 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
171 Ratings

171 Ratings

Churdoy71 ,

Excellent material - average presentation.

Melvin has got TB .

og Rozzu ,

Consistently Stimulating & Enriching

A rigorous, curious investigation of humanity. Perfect.

M Todrick ,

Let the experts speak

Melvyn’s desire to interrupt the experts is incredibly jarring and can make for quite an awkward listen experience. However, the academics are incredibly interesting and engaging....while they are allowed to keep their train of thought.
Melvyn seems to watch the clock soo closely that one can not help but feel anxious for any poor academic that risks speaking for longer than the allotted time that Melvyn has set in his head.
Still a very enjoyable podcast...especially if Melvyn is in a generous mood.

Top Podcasts In History

Wondery
BBC Radio 4
NOISER
Immediate Media
RNZ
Dan Carlin

You Might Also Like

BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
Immediate Media

More by BBC

BBC World Service
BBC World Service
BBC World Service
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4