back to article There are 10 types of people in the world, but there is only one Melvyn

The podcast is the great civiliser of the modern journey to work: consume as you commune as you commute. The career-minded IT Pro, isolated and ear-shelled up like Mildred Montag in Fahrenheit 451, can simultaneously CPD up the latest tech while elbowing down the carriage to be near the woman who, having stowed her iPad in its …

  1. Admiral Grace Hopper

    A perfect encapsulation of the In Our Time experience. Hearing Melvyn Bragg failing to understand quantum mechanics is one my favourite things. He does it two or three times a year.

  2. x 7 Silver badge

    to be honest, the program would be much more enjoyable if Bragg kept his mouth shut. Or if he wasn't there at all. His random injections of speech seem only to exist to justify his pay cheque by proving he was awake during the recording

    Bring back James Burke - he would be a much better interrogator

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      re: if Bragg kept his mouth shut

      He's brilliant.

      Compared to Stephen Fry, who seems to get work purely due to having ACTED the part of smart Jeeves and having a certain kind of voice.

      Wonderful Stob!

  3. Dr. G. Freeman

    The In our time on X-ray crystallography made it on to the reading list (I know, but it sounds better than multimedia list) for the subject for undergrunts here at the University.

    It was that good an introduction to it.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p0s9s if you're interested.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "The In our time on X-ray crystallography"

      Bragg on Bragg and Bragg?

      I wonder if they were related? Bragg and Bragg and Bragg, of course, I know Bragg and Bragg were related.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Bragg on Bragg and Bragg?"

        Oh, well played sir. One to brag about...

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      The 'Janet and John' book of computers was used by MOD in the 1970s as a basic introduction course...

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    The best Stobb ever! "Bragg, now fully awake, and reaching levels of incredulity not achieved since he learned that oxygen is the waste product of the chlorophyll reaction" is a particular gem.

  5. fedoraman

    If you press litmus paper to Jim Al-Khalili, does it go blue?

    There are some truly wonderful episodes of IoT, it is always a favourite to listen to. And, I might add, Inside Health, Inside Science, Material World, Costing the Earth, All in the Mind, A History of the World, The Bottom Line. Best of all - The Life Scientific.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: If you press litmus paper to Jim Al-Khalili, does it go blue?

      You missed out The 'Monkey Cage.

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        re: a dimension free ape confinement unit

        Noooo ... strawberries ... or dead strawberries ... possibly ... or not ... :-)

        1. Dr_N Silver badge

          Re: re: a dimension free ape confinement unit

          And Rutherford & Fry's Curious Cases which is good for a giggle.

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: If you press litmus paper to Jim Al-Khalili, does it go blue?

        Dr_N mentioned, "You missed out 'The Monkey Cage'."

        Is it finite?

      3. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: If you press litmus paper to Jim Al-Khalili, does it go blue?

        And The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry.

        And More or Less, which is *sort of* sciency.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: If you press litmus paper to Jim Al-Khalili, does it go blue?

          More or Less is brilliant.

          I love the fact that they explained government spending cuts and unemployment during the recent recession via the medium of making members of the Trumpton Fire Brigade redundent.

          Then when prosititution got included in GDP figures it was back to Trumpton to find out what the ex-fireman was doing now that he'd found a new job...

          I believe it was the piece on Cambridge Analytica that had many a Reg commentard outing themselves as Radio 4 listeners. Then this. It's almost like El Reg knows...

        2. Blitheringeejit
          Thumb Up

          ...and..

          Wot, no mention of the Digital Human? Aleks Krotowski rocks!

          1. fedoraman

            Re: ...and..

            Not to mention her "Codes that changed the world"

      4. davidradio

        Re: If you press litmus paper to Jim Al-Khalili, does it go blue?

        Yes he missed Monkey Cage LMAO!

    2. CT

      Re: If you press litmus paper to Jim Al-Khalili, does it go blue?

      The litmus paper gag made me literally laugh out loud. Thanks.

      1. fedoraman

        Re: If you press litmus paper to Jim Al-Khalili, does it go blue?

        I have to confess, it wasn't originally mine. Heard it on some random R4 comedy.

        Still, that's writers for you: chisel off the serial number, and pass it off as your own work

    3. /dev/null

      Re: If you press litmus paper to Jim Al-Khalili, does it go blue?

      And not forgetting the great stuff Neil MacGregor's done on R4 too (A History of the World in 100 Objects, Germany: Memories of a Nation etc).

    4. Glenturret Single Malt

      Re: If you press litmus paper to Jim Al-Khalili, does it go blue?

      Only if the limus paper is damp (and not blue already).

  6. hamiltoneuk

    Baron Bragg is cool. If I have 1/2 a brain cell left should I reach his age I'll count myself lucky. Was his screenplay for Michael Caine's Play Dirty film in 1969 any good though?

  7. Terry 6 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Not great for car radio

    I really ought to listen to these podcasts. I only ever seem to hear bits of IoT/Monkey Cage etc. I don't know why it is but they always seem to begin on R4 a few minutes before I start a car journey or end a few minutes after I get out.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Not great for car radio

      You can fill most of an iPhone's memory with them ... apparently ... :-)

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Not great for car radio

      Terry noted that radio shows "always seem to begin....a few minutes before I start a car journey or end a few minutes after I get out."

      It's 2018 and humans have still not coordinated the timing of radio shows and employment (and thus commuting) schedules.

      e.g. 7:59am, pull into the parking lot, "And now, the BBC News....", switch off car and enter work.

      e.g. 5:01pm, walk out to car, turn on car and radio, "...and that was the BBC News."

      As the Doomsday Asteroid streaks across the sky, many of us will be caught unawares.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Not great for car radio

        "As the Doomsday Asteroid streaks across the sky, many of us will be caught unawares"

        ..... and the more puritanical amongst us will be having the local constabulary chase it down to charge it with gross indeceny.

        "Don't look Ethel!!!!"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not great for car radio

          "Don't look Ethel!!!!"

          But it was too late...

          ...She'd already seen the big one comin!

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Devil

        Re: Not great for car radio

        I reckon they might interrupt The Archers to give news of the impending species-ending asteroid strike. And a blessed release it will be for the listeners...

  8. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Bragg on language

    If you ever get the chance, listen to Bragg's BBC series on the development of the English language. Erudite, articulate, typical Bragg but I have never heard so many swear words on the BBC :-)

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Bragg on language

      Better yet, read his book "The Adventure of English". To my surprise it remains one of my favourites on the topic even after many years. Genuinely fascinating.

  9. israel_hands

    Worth the price of admission alone for reminding me of Borge's phonetic punctuation. Haven't heard that in years.

  10. Roj Blake Silver badge

    I forget who it was, or what they were talking about, but I once heard a comedian opine on Radio 4 that "this combines the fascinating topics of conversation from one of Melvyn Bragg's dinner parties combined with the mind-numbing tedium of one of Melvyn Bragg's dinner parties."

  11. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    ..There are 10 types of people in the world...

    There may be only 10 people who understand binary, but there are FA people who understand hex...

    1. phuzz Silver badge
  12. SonofRojBlake

    The IOT titled simply "Heat" is one of the best explanations of a slippery concept I've ever heard. Highly recommended.

  13. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Letter from American

    And no, I'm not talking about The Proclaimers.

    Alistair Cooke's. Radio 4 have put many/all (well nearly 1,000) of the things online. I think the later ones are a bit less impressive, though I still liked them. But as an interesting piece of commentary on US 20th Century history, many of them are great. After the first few hundred you might notice him repeating the odd story, but given he'd been doing the damned things for 40 years by that point (and had never heard of a podcast) I'd happily forgive him.

    The Media Show is a good podcast too. But I'm still getting used to the new host, since Steve Richards died.

    Oh, and on the subject of podcasts. Mike Duncan's 'History of Rome' and then 'Revolutions' are truly brilliant. Although the first few start a bit shakily - given he'd never cast his pod before.

    And my new favourite is David Crowther's 'The History of England'. He started with the Romans, and is now up to Henry VIII - but he's been slowing down. Hard to do ten years in a single podcast, when there is so much more information. Though I believe he prefers to call them shedcasts.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Letter from American

      Cooke's Letter following the Bobby Kennedy assassination was one of the best pieces of journalism ever.

  14. Jed

    Railspeak

    Not "...at the next...",

    but "...when arriving into the next..."

  15. Len Silver badge
    Devil

    Melvyn Bragg in his fiery lair on the roof of the Tate

    There was a comedy drama podcast some time ago where the protagonist was someone wishing to join the intellectual elite (or at the very least able to understand the Times Crossword) and their journey through life from a young age to achieve this.

    The big reveal and climax of the show is that it is all just theatre, there are no solutions to the Times Crossword (people just use them as a kind of shibboleth and pretend to solve them) most versions of high art are not understood by anyone and the evil genius behind the whole charade is Melvyn Bragg who, as some kind of end boss, resides in a fiery lair on the roof of the Tate.

    I wish I could remember who it was by...

  16. Lyndon Hills 1

    Lovely turn of phrase

    the joule in the low-calorie podcast meal,

    Made my day.

  17. Jonathan Richards 1
    Thumb Up

    In Our Time, and repeated at a later time

    The morning broadcast is actually live, and so it often has the features that Verity describes, with lurches of logic and certain academics trying to hog the microphone. I listen to these on morning drives, and then often hear the evening repeat. The latter has had the benefit of attention from the editing suite, and often there are entire segments that have been shifted so that things make more sense, and fluffs have been taken out. I guess the polished versions are the ones that make it onto iPlayer and the podcast platforms.

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