BBC In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas - including topics drawn from philosophy, science, history, religion and culture.
Weekly English United Kingdom Religion & Spirituality
52 Episodes
1 – 20

Fielding's Tom Jones

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss "The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling" (1749) by Henry Fielding (1707-1754), one of the most influential of the early English novels and a favourite of Dickens. Coleridge wrote that it had one of the 'three most perfect plots ever planned'. Fielding had made his…
11 Jul 54 min

The Orkneyinga Saga

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Saga of the Earls of Orkney, as told in the 13th Century by an unknown Icelander. This was the story of arguably the most important, strategically, of all the islands in the British Viking world, when the Earls controlled Shetland, Orkney and Caithness from…
4 Jul 51 min

Marsilius of Padua

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the canonical figures from the history of political thought. Marsilius of Padua (c1275 to c1343) wrote 'Defensor Pacis' (The Defender of the Peace) around 1324 when the Papacy, the Holy Roman Emperor and the French King were fighting over who had supreme power…
27 Jun 56 min

Empress Dowager Cixi

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the woman who, for almost fifty years, was the most powerful figure in the Chinese court. Cixi (1835-1908) started out at court as one of the Emperor's many concubines, yet was the only one who gave him a son to succeed him and who also…
20 Jun 50 min

Philippa Foot

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most significant philosophers of the twentieth century, Philippa Foot (1920 - 2010). Her central question was, “Why be moral?” Drawing on Aristotle and Aquinas, Foot spent her life working through her instinct that there was something lacking in the prevailing philosophy of…
13 Jun 1 hour

Sir Thomas Wyatt

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss 'the greatest poet of his age', Thomas Wyatt (1503 -1542), who brought the poetry of the Italian Renaissance into the English Tudor world, especially the sonnet, so preparing the way for Shakespeare and Donne. As an ambassador to Henry VIII and, allegedly, too close to…
6 Jun 58 min

Mercury

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the planet which is closest to our Sun. We see it as an evening or a morning star, close to where the Sun has just set or is about to rise, and observations of Mercury helped Copernicus understand that Earth and the other planets orbit…
30 May 53 min

Bertolt Brecht

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the greatest European playwrights of the twentieth century. The aim of Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was to make the familiar ‘strange’: with plays such as Mother Courage and The Caucasian Chalk Circle he wanted his audience not to sit back but to engage, observe…
23 May 1 hr 02 min

Napoleon's Hundred Days

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Napoleon Bonaparte's temporary return to power in France in 1815, following his escape from exile on Elba . He arrived with fewer than a thousand men, yet three weeks later he had displaced Louis XVIII and taken charge of an army as large as any…
16 May 1 hr 01 min

Lysistrata

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Aristophanes' comedy in which the women of Athens and Sparta, led by Lysistrata, secure peace in the long-running war between them by staging a sex strike. To the men in the audience in 411BC, the idea that peace in the Peloponnesian War could be won…
9 May 58 min

Nikola Tesla

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) and his role in the development of electrical systems towards the end of the nineteenth century. He made his name in New York in the contest over which current should flow into homes and factories in America. Some such…
2 May 55 min

The Kalevala

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Finnish epic poem that first appeared in print in 1835 in what was then the Grand Duchy of Finland, part of the Russian Empire and until recently part of Sweden. The compiler of this epic was a doctor, Elias Lönnrot (1802-1884), who had travelled…
25 Apr 52 min

Julian the Apostate

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the last pagan ruler of the Roman Empire. Fifty years after Constantine the Great converted to Christianity and introduced a policy of tolerating the faith across the empire, Julian (c.331 - 363 AD) aimed to promote paganism instead, branding Constantine the worst of all his…
18 Apr 52 min

The Waltz

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the dance which, from when it reached Britain in the early nineteenth century, revolutionised the relationship between music, literature and people here for the next hundred years. While it may seem formal now, it was the informality and daring that drove its popularity, with couples…
11 Apr 54 min

The Mokrani Revolt

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the revolt that broke out in 1871 in Algeria against French rule, spreading over hundreds of miles and countless towns and villages before being brutally suppressed. It began with the powerful Cheikh Mokrani and his family and was taken up by hundreds of thousands, becoming…
4 Apr 1 hour

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the German physicist who, at the age of 23 and while still a student, effectively created quantum mechanics for which he later won the Nobel Prize. Werner Heisenberg made this breakthrough in a paper in 1925 when, rather than starting with an idea of where…
28 Mar 58 min

The Sack of Rome 1527

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the infamous assault of an army of the Holy Roman Emperor on the city of Rome in 1527. The troops soon broke through the walls of this holy city and, with their leader shot dead early on, they brought death and destruction to the city…
21 Mar 48 min

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Lewis Carroll's book which first appeared in print in 1865 with illustrations by John Tenniel. It has since become one of the best known works in English, captivating readers who follow young Alice as she chases a white rabbit, pink eyed, in a waistcoat with…
14 Mar 50 min

Hormones

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss some of the chemical signals coursing through our bodies throughout our lives, produced in separate areas and spreading via the bloodstream. We call these 'hormones' and we produce more than 80 of them of which the best known are arguably oestrogen, testosterone, adrenalin, insulin and…
7 Mar 52 min

The Hanseatic League

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Hanseatic League or Hansa which dominated North European trade in the medieval period. With a trading network that stretched from Iceland to Novgorod via London and Bruges, these German-speaking Hansa merchants benefitted from tax exemptions and monopolies. Over time, the Hansa became immensely influential…
29 Feb 50 min
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