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
12 – 32

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

Panpsychism

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the idea that some kind of consciousness is present not just in our human brains but throughout the universe, right down to cells or even electrons. This is panpsychism and its proponents argue it offers a compelling alternative to those who say we are nothing…
22 Feb 54 min

Nefertiti

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the woman who inspired one of the best known artefacts from ancient Egypt. The Bust of Nefertiti is multicoloured and symmetrical, about 49cm/18" high and, despite the missing left eye, still holds the gaze of onlookers below its tall, blue, flat topped headdress. Its discovery…
15 Feb 52 min

Condorcet

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-94), known as the Last of the Philosophes, the intellectuals in the French Enlightenment who sought to apply their learning to solving the problems of their world. He became a passionate believer in the progress of society, an advocate for equal rights…
8 Feb 50 min

Twelfth Night, or What You Will

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of Shakespeare’s great comedies, which plays in the space between marriage, love and desire. By convention a wedding means a happy ending and here there are three, but neither Orsino nor Viola, Olivia nor Sebastian know much of each other’s true character and even…
25 Jan 55 min

Vincent van Gogh

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Dutch artist famous for starry nights and sunflowers, self portraits and simple chairs. These are images known the world over, and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) painted them and around 900 others in the last decade of his short, brilliant life and, famously, in that…
18 Jan 56 min

Tiberius

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Roman emperor Tiberius. When he was born in 42BC, there was little prospect of him ever becoming Emperor of Rome. Firstly, Rome was still a Republic and there had not yet been any Emperor so that had to change and, secondly, when his stepfather…
11 Jan 56 min

Karl Barth

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century. Karl Barth (1886 - 1968) rejected the liberal theology of his time which, he argued, used the Bible and religion to help humans understand themselves rather than prepare them to open themselves to divine revelation…
4 Jan 56 min

Edgar Allan Poe

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Poe (1809-1849), the American author who is famous for his Gothic tales of horror, madness and the dark interiors of the mind, such as The Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell-Tale Heart. As well as tapping at our deepest fears in poems…
28 Dec 2023 1 hr 01 min

Marguerite de Navarre

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Marguerite, Queen of Navarre (1492 – 1549), author of the Heptaméron, a major literary landmark in the French Renaissance. Published after her death, The Heptaméron features 72 short stories, many of which explore relations between the sexes. However, Marguerite’s life was more eventful than that…
21 Dec 2023 46 min

The Theory of the Leisure Class

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the most influential work of Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929). In 1899, during America’s Gilded Age, Veblen wrote The Theory of the Leisure Class as a reminder that all that glisters is not gold. He picked on traits of the waning landed class of Americans and showed…
14 Dec 2023 57 min

The Barbary Corsairs

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the North African privateers who, until their demise in the nineteenth century, were a source of great pride and wealth in their home ports, where they sold the people and goods they’d seized from Christian European ships and coastal towns. Nominally, these corsairs were from…
7 Dec 2023 54 min

Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Aristotle's ideas on what happiness means and how to live a good life. Aristotle (384-322BC) explored these almost two and a half thousand years ago in what became known as his Nicomachean Ethics. His audience then were the elite in Athens as, he argued, if…
30 Nov 2023 53 min
12 – 32