Letter From... [world Service]

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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20090411
20090418
20090425
20090425

Clive James wonders about the progress of feminism.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20090509
20090516
20090516

Clive James, he reflects on the furore over British MPs\u2019 expenses.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20090523
20090530
20090530

This week, A Letter from Delhi. Mark Tully takes stock of the new political landscape.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

This week, A Letter from Delhi. In the previous one, broadcast earlier this month, the former BBC Correspondent Mark Tully was preoccupied with the month-long general election which was going on in India. The signals were proving difficult to read: what sort of a government would that vast population return to power? Was the electorate in the mood for change? Well, now the results are in, there’s an opportunity for Mark to take stock of the country’s new political landscape, to see who’s in and who’s out, and to check whether his predictions proved accurate.

20090606
20090613
20090620
20090627
20090627

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20090704
20090711
20090718
20090718

Sir David Attenborough recalls filming the ostentatious Vogelkoptf Bower Bird.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

One of the most extraordinary structures in the natural world is made by a bird. It’s a Bower - a type of arena in which the male Bower Bird displays himself to attract a female.

Sir David Attenborough recalls his visit to New Guinea and Australia to film the most immodest of all Bowers, that made by the Vogelkoptf Bower Bird.

In a wigwam construction of twigs and orchid stems, based around a central maypole, this remarkable bird decorates the ends of the uprights with single pieces of caterpillar dung, and adorns a manicured lawn with colourful objects he thinks will be attractive to the female.

But why go to this length to attract a female? All is revealed….

20090725
20090725

David Attenborough on discovering the Komodo Dragon.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

How would you feel if you were approached on a remote tropical island by a reptile ten feet long, with shiny grey scales and a long, yellow forked tongue whipping in and out of its mouth? Run?!

Luckily for us, David Attenborough stood his ground and became one of the first people to film and document the life of the Komodo Dragon.

These giant lizards live on the relatively small island of Komodo in Indonesia and Sir David recounts his utter amazement encountering such a formidable creature.

If solving the riddle of what they eat on the island wasn’t intriguing enough, Sir David also recounts the revelation when he discovered that females don’t really need males, because they can produce off-spring by cloning themselves.

20090801
20090808
20090815
20090822
20090829
20090905
20090905

A look at the Indian government's plans to tackle the large areas suffering from drought.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20090912
20090919
20090926
20090926

How tourism in Antartica could inadvertently risk one of wildlife\u2019s greatest spectacles.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

For decades now many of us have enjoyed seeing Sir David Attenborough in exotic locations around the world bringing his encounters and understanding of the living world to our homes.

Sir David thinks the dodo’s ancestors were probably pigeons driven onto the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius in a storm. Then over millennia, the offspring of these birds, living with an abundant food supply, with no large predators around evolved until they became the size and shape of turkeys; and with little need to take to the air their wings finally lost the ability to fly.

In the 16th Century, men finally arrived on the island and in a matter of only forty years the dodo was dead.

But these were not the only flightless birds to have become extinct in recent times. Less than 200 years ago the Great Auk, a two foot high relative of the guillemot met the same fate at the hands of man.

Today, in more enlightened times this could never happen, but in Antarctica history could possibly repeat itself as tourism inadvertently poses a threat to one of wildlife’s greatest spectacles.

20091003
20091010
20091017
20091024
20091024

Clive James reflects on the importance of scepticism in every walk of life.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20091031
20091107
20091114
20091121
20091121

Clive James on the revelation of the true identity of blogging call Girl Belle De Jour.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20091128
20091128

Clive James on how his enjoyment of sport depends upon the spirit in which it is played.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20091205
20091205

India's media market is expanding by the second. What problems could be ahead?

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

In many countries broadcasters are in retreat and newspapers are closing. But in India the media continue to expand. They provide a vital check against the political classes. It's not all good news however. As Mark Tully finds in his latest Letter from Delhi… norms of taste and decency are routinely ignored, and some reporters have found very dubious ways to make money.

20091212
20091212

Clive James reflects on the need to hear all voices on the global warming debate.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20091219
20091219

Clive James vents his frustration at automated customer systems.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20091226
20091226

Clive James reflects on the human condition and the need for liberal democracy.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100102

20100102

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100102

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

2010010220100103 (WS)

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

2010010220100103 (WS)

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100109

20100109

Can the advent of electronic books replace the passion for the printed page?

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

2010010920100110 (WS)

Can the advent of electronic books replace the passion for the printed page?

20100109

In her letter this week, Lisa Jardine welcomes the advent of electronic books but retains her passion for the printed page and for sharing traditional books with others.

2010010920100110 (WS)

In her letter this week, Lisa Jardine welcomes the advent of electronic books but retains her passion for the printed page and for sharing traditional books with others.

Can the advent of electronic books replace the passion for the printed page?

20100116

20100116

How does the right level of public supplies get determined - for everything from salt to cope with ice to vaccines for influenza? Lisa Jardine investigates how this challenge is met.

20100116

How does the right level of public supplies get determined? Lisa Jardine investigates.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

2010011620100117 (WS)

How does the right level of public supplies get determined? Lisa Jardine investigates.

2010011620100117 (WS)

How does the right level of public supplies get determined? Lisa Jardine investigates.

How does the right level of public supplies get determined - for everything from salt to cope with ice to vaccines for influenza? Lisa Jardine investigates how this challenge is met.

20100123

20100123

A look at the importance of science education for national prosperity.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

2010012320100124 (WS)

A look at the importance of science education for national prosperity.

20100123

In her letter this week, Lisa Jardine reflects on the importance of science education for national prosperity and she looks back at a failed attempt in the late nineteenth century to make British culture more pro science.

2010012320100124 (WS)

In her letter this week, Lisa Jardine reflects on the importance of science education for national prosperity and she looks back at a failed attempt in the late nineteenth century to make British culture more pro science.

A look at the importance of science education for national prosperity.

20100130

20100130

In her letter this week, Lisa Jardine reflects on the contrasting reputation of American presidents when in office and judged by posterity.

20100130

The contrasting reputation of American presidents when in office and judged by posterity.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

2010013020100131 (WS)

The contrasting reputation of American presidents when in office and judged by posterity.

2010013020100131 (WS)

The contrasting reputation of American presidents when in office and judged by posterity.

In her letter this week, Lisa Jardine reflects on the contrasting reputation of American presidents when in office and judged by posterity.

20100206
20100213
20100213

A look at the power of music and the importance of providing musical education for all.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100220
20100220

The dangers of writing secret missives - from love letters to illicit text messages.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100227

Lisa Jardine reflects on the importance for history of the recording of personal memories.

20100227

Lisa Jardine reflects on the importance for history of the recording of personal memories.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100306

class="blq-clearfix">

20100306

Simon Schama presents the first of a series of personal reflections.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100313
20100313

Clive James welcomes the honouring of Sir Keith Park with a temporary statue in London.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100320
20100320

Simon Schama looks forward to spring with personal reflections on the changing seasons.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100327
20100327

Simon Schama reflects on the politics surrounding President Obama's healthcare reforms.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100411

Simon Schama celebrates the history and culture of New Zealand.

20100411

Simon Schama celebrates the history and culture of New Zealand.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Simon Schama celebrates the history and culture of New Zealand and regrets any renewed talk of joining up with Australia.

He understands the appeal of the Australian lifestyle driven by a strong economy, but believes the distinctive and inclusive character of New Zealand society should be cherished and preserved.

20100418

In his letter this week, Simon Schama reflects on food and eating habits in America.

20100418

In his letter this week, Simon Schama reflects on food and eating habits in America.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100425

Simon Schama looks at the drama of national elections in Britain since the 1830s.

20100425

Simon Schama looks at the drama of national elections in Britain since the 1830s.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100502

Mark Tully explores how Indians and others cope with Delhi's dreaded summer heat.

20100502

Mark Tully explores how Indians and others cope with Delhi's dreaded summer heat.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100502

Temperatures have been rising sharply in the sub-continent. In this letter from Delhi, Mark Tully explores how Indians and others cope with the dreaded summer heat.

20100502

Temperatures have been rising sharply in the sub-continent. In this letter from Delhi, Mark Tully explores how Indians and others cope with the dreaded summer heat.

Mark Tully explores how Indians and others cope with Delhi's dreaded summer heat.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100509

Simon Schama reflects on the power and symbolism of the oak tree in British history.

20100509

Simon Schama reflects on the power and symbolism of the oak tree in British history.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100516

Simon Schama reflects on the political dramas following the general election in Britain.

20100516

Simon Schama reflects on the political dramas following the general election in the UK.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100523

A look at the forgotten history of Britain's long tradition of coalition government.

20100523

A look at the forgotten history of Britain's long tradition of coalition government.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100530

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100530

How devastating volcanic eruptions have inspired a long line of writers.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100606

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100606

Mark Tully assesses the first year in office of India's coalition government.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

The Indian press has been weighing up the first year in office of its coalition government. Mark Tully discusses the way that this United Progressive Alliance, led by Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party, has been tackling the country's problems – and takes a longer view of whether coalitions can really get things done in India.

20100613

David Cannadine reflects on the distinctive style of American graduation ceremonies.

20100613

David Cannadine reflects on the distinctive style of American graduation ceremonies.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100620

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100620

David Cannadine reveals the colourful history of passports and identity cards.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100627

David Cannadine reflects on the teaching of history in schools.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100704

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100704

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100711

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100711

Reflecting on the relationship between political and military leaders.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

David Cannadine reflects on the relationship between political and military leaders, comparing British, American and world history.

He traces the tensions between presidents, prime ministers and commanders of the armed forces and he illuminates the times when military men have crossed the line into politics.

20100718

A look at the remarkable history of Asian elephants.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100725

How is the 'end of empire' celebrated?

In the 50th anniversary year of independence for Somalia, David Cannadine looks back at the ceremonies which marked the end of Britain's empire and sees the midnight lowering and raising of flags and the accompanying celebrations as often merely masking deep rooted tensions and resentments.

How is the 'end of empire' celebrated?

20100725

How is the 'end of empire' celebrated?

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100801

The changing styles of architecture and the boldest and best in every age.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the changing styles of architecture and commends the boldest and best in every age.

The changing styles of architecture and the boldest and best in every age.

20100801

The changing styles of architecture and the boldest and best in every age.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100808

Mark Tully examines India's plans to combat malnutrition.

In Letter From Delhi this month, veteran India analyst Mark Tully explores the problems the country’s government will face in implementing a new scheme to combat malnutrition.

Mark Tully examines India's plans to combat malnutrition.

20100808

Mark Tully examines India's plans to combat malnutrition.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100815

The history of fireworks and especially the role they have played in France.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the history of fireworks and especially the role they have played in France.

The history of fireworks and especially the role they have played in France.

20100822

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100822

Lisa Jardine reflects on the colourful career of the founder of the British Museum

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100829

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100829

Lisa Jardine reflects on how reputations are won and lost

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100905

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100905

Mark Tully asks whether India still needs aid when its economy is booming

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100912

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100912

Book lover Lisa Jardine muses on her conversion to the ebook

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20100919

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100919

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20100919

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101003

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101003

Has India\u2019s rapid economic growth made any difference to the country\u2019s poor?

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Has India’s rapid economic growth made any difference to the country’s poor? Recent research suggests there has been a real improvement in the lot of some of its most downtrodden people.

In his latest Letter, the veteran India-watcher Mark Tully has been to talk to a group of Dalits, formerly known as Untouchables.

20101010

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101010

Reflecting on the character of the new generation of British students

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20101017

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101017

20101017

Sarah Dunant owns up to being a member of the greediest generation - the baby boomers

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20101024

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101031

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101107

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101107

Mark Tully considers the battle between religion and secularism in India

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Eighteen years ago, Hindu extremists pulled down the mosque in the Indian city of Ayodhya.

They believed it stood on the birthplace of the god Rama. Now, a court has finally delivered given an official verdict on who the disputed land belongs to.

Mark Tully discusses what the latest developments say about the long-running controversy in Indian politics over the place of Hinduism in this officially secular nation.

20101114

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101121

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101128

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101128

A look at the power of words in defining the faith for traditionalists and modernisers

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

As Britain prepares to celebrate the 400th anniversary next year of the King James Bible, Joan Bakewell reflects in her letter on the power of words in defining the faith for traditionalists and modernisers.

Joan points to the strains placed on the Catholic and the Anglican church by controversial questions of homosexuality, contraception and the status of women priests.

20101205

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101205

The impact of Bihar's Assembly elections on the rest of India

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Assembly Elections were held recently in Bihar, the Indian state with a reputation for poverty and lawlessness. Some observers were surprised that the incumbent Chief Minister won a sweeping victory. In this month’s letter, the veteran India-watcher Mark Tully has been considering what effect the result might have on voting habits in other parts of the country.

20101212

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101212

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20101219

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20101225

Joan Bakewell reflects on the ageing process and the efforts by scientists to reverse it. She weighs up the pros and cons of adding many more years to the human span.

Joan Bakewell reflects on the ageing process and the efforts by scientists to reverse it

20101225

Joan Bakewell reflects on the ageing process and the efforts by scientists to reverse it

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20110109

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20110109

Alain de Botton with a controversial view of the teaching of humanities in universities

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

In the first of a new series, Alain de Botton argues that teachers of humanities in universities have only themselves to blame for many of the swingeing cuts they're facing.

He says they've failed to explain to the government - and the public at large - why what they do really matters. And he says humanities teaching must find a new relevance in today's cash-strapped Britain.

20110116

Why are Indian businesses now demanding reform?

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

India's rapid economic growth has attracted the attention of politicians and investors around the world, but Indian businesses are concerned that a culture of corruption may be putting the country's remarkable growth at risk.

In this month's letter, Mark Tully considers why businesses are now demanding reform.

20110123

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20110206

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20110206

Mark Tully considers the role of the media in modern India

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20110213

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20110220

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20110227

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20110306

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20110313

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20110320

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

...India20090801

Mark Tully thinks about how Britain and India differ.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

A trip back home to Britain gives veteran India correspondent Mark Tully the chance to think about how the two countries differ, in their attitudes towards the law and time-keeping, not to mention the way the trains run.

He compares what he views as the heavy-handed nanny state of his native country with the more relaxed style of his adopted one. Mark suggests that Britain and India could actually learn quite a bit from each other.

...India20090802

Mark Tully thinks about how Britain and India differ.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

A trip back home to Britain gives veteran India correspondent Mark Tully the chance to think about how the two countries differ, in their attitudes towards the law and time-keeping, not to mention the way the trains run.

He compares what he views as the heavy-handed nanny state of his native country with the more relaxed style of his adopted one. Mark suggests that Britain and India could actually learn quite a bit from each other.

01/08/200920090802

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

01/08/201020100731

The changing styles of architecture and the boldest and best in every age.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

02/01/201020100103

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

02/01/201020100103

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

02/05/201020100501

Mark Tully explores how Indians and others cope with Delhi's dreaded summer heat.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

03/10/200920091004

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

03/10/201020101002

Has India\u2019s rapid economic growth made any difference to the country\u2019s poor?

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Has India’s rapid economic growth made any difference to the country’s poor? Recent research suggests there has been a real improvement in the lot of some of its most downtrodden people.

In his latest Letter, the veteran India-watcher Mark Tully has been to talk to a group of Dalits, formerly known as Untouchables.

04/07/200920090705

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

04/07/201020100703

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

05/09/200920090906

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

05/09/200920090906

A look at the Indian government's plans to tackle the large areas suffering from drought.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

05/09/201020100904

Mark Tully asks whether India still needs aid when its economy is booming

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

05/12/200920091206

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

05/12/200920091206

India's media market is expanding by the second. What problems could be ahead?

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

In many countries broadcasters are in retreat and newspapers are closing. But in India the media continue to expand. They provide a vital check against the political classes. It's not all good news however. As Mark Tully finds in his latest Letter from Delhi… norms of taste and decency are routinely ignored, and some reporters have found very dubious ways to make money.

06/02/201020100207

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

06/03/201020100307

Simon Schama presents the first of a series of personal reflections.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

06/03/201020100307

Simon Schama presents the first of a series of personal reflections.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

06/06/200920090607

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

06/06/201020100605

Mark Tully assesses the first year in office of India's coalition government.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

The Indian press has been weighing up the first year in office of its coalition government. Mark Tully discusses the way that this United Progressive Alliance, led by Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party, has been tackling the country's problems – and takes a longer view of whether coalitions can really get things done in India.

07/11/200920091108

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

08/08/200920090809

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

08/08/201020100807

Mark Tully examines India's plans to combat malnutrition.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

09/01/201020100110

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

09/01/201020100110

Can the advent of electronic books replace the passion for the printed page?

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

09/05/200920090510

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

09/05/201020100508

Simon Schama reflects on the power and symbolism of the oak tree in British history.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

10/10/200920091011

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

10/10/201020101009

Reflecting on the character of the new generation of British students

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

11/04/200920090412
11/04/201020100410

Simon Schama celebrates the history and culture of New Zealand.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Simon Schama celebrates the history and culture of New Zealand and regrets any renewed talk of joining up with Australia.

He understands the appeal of the Australian lifestyle driven by a strong economy, but believes the distinctive and inclusive character of New Zealand society should be cherished and preserved.

11/07/200920090712

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

11/07/201020100710

Reflecting on the relationship between political and military leaders.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

David Cannadine reflects on the relationship between political and military leaders, comparing British, American and world history.

He traces the tensions between presidents, prime ministers and commanders of the armed forces and he illuminates the times when military men have crossed the line into politics.

12/09/200920090913

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

12/09/201020100911

Book lover Lisa Jardine muses on her conversion to the ebook

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

12/12/200920091213

Clive James reflects on the need to hear all voices on the global warming debate.

12/12/200920091213

Clive James reflects on the need to hear all voices on the global warming debate.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

13/02/201020100214

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A look at the power of music and the importance of providing musical education for all.

13/02/201020100214

A look at the power of music and the importance of providing musical education for all.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

13/03/201020100314

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

13/03/201020100314

Clive James welcomes the honouring of Sir Keith Park with a temporary statue in London.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

13/06/200920090614

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

13/06/201020100612

David Cannadine reflects on the distinctive style of American graduation ceremonies.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

14/11/200920091115

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

15/08/200920090816

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

16/01/201020100117

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

16/01/201020100117

How does the right level of public supplies get determined? Lisa Jardine investigates.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

16/05/200920090517

Clive James, he reflects on the furore over British MPs’ expenses.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

16/05/200920090517

Clive James, he reflects on the furore over British MPs\u2019 expenses.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

16/05/201020100515

Simon Schama reflects on the political dramas following the general election in the UK.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

17/10/200920091018

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

17/10/201020101016

Sarah Dunant owns up to being a member of the greediest generation - the baby boomers

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

18/04/200920090419

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

18/04/201020100417

In his letter this week, Simon Schama reflects on food and eating habits in America.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

18/07/200920090719

Sir David Attenborough recalls filming the ostentatious Vogelkoptf Bower Bird.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

18/07/200920090719

Sir David Attenborough recalls filming the ostentatious Vogelkoptf Bower Bird.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

One of the most extraordinary structures in the natural world is made by a bird. It’s a Bower - a type of arena in which the male Bower Bird displays himself to attract a female.

Sir David Attenborough recalls his visit to New Guinea and Australia to film the most immodest of all Bowers, that made by the Vogelkoptf Bower Bird.

In a wigwam construction of twigs and orchid stems, based around a central maypole, this remarkable bird decorates the ends of the uprights with single pieces of caterpillar dung, and adorns a manicured lawn with colourful objects he thinks will be attractive to the female.

But why go to this length to attract a female? All is revealed….

18/07/201020100717

A look at the remarkable history of Asian elephants.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

19/09/200920090920

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

19/12/200920091220

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

19/12/200920091220

Clive James vents his frustration at automated customer systems.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20/02/201020100221

The dangers of writing secret missives - from love letters to illicit text messages.

20/02/201020100221

The dangers of writing secret missives - from love letters to illicit text messages.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20/03/201020100321

Simon Schama looks forward to spring with personal reflections on the changing seasons.

20/03/201020100321

Simon Schama looks forward to spring with personal reflections on the changing seasons.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

20/06/200920090621

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

20/06/201020100619

David Cannadine reveals the colourful history of passports and identity cards.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

21/11/200920091122

Clive James on the revelation of the true identity of blogging call Girl Belle De Jour.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

21/11/200920091122

Clive James on the revelation of the true identity of blogging call Girl Belle De Jour.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

22/08/200920090823

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

22/08/201020100821

Lisa Jardine reflects on the colourful career of the founder of the British Museum

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

23/01/201020100124

A look at the importance of science education for national prosperity.

23/01/201020100124

A look at the importance of science education for national prosperity.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

23/05/200920090524

Clive James on why democracy is the best hope for achieving justice for women.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

23/05/201020100522

A look at the forgotten history of Britain's long tradition of coalition government.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

24/10/200920091025

Clive James reflects on the importance of scepticism in every walk of life.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

24/10/200920091025

Clive James reflects on the importance of scepticism in every walk of life.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

25/04/200920090426

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

25/04/200920090426

Clive James wonders about the progress of feminism.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

25/04/201020100424

Simon Schama looks at the drama of national elections in Britain since the 1830s.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

25/07/200920090726

David Attenborough on discovering the Komodo Dragon.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

25/07/200920090726

David Attenborough on discovering the Komodo Dragon.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

How would you feel if you were approached on a remote tropical island by a reptile ten feet long, with shiny grey scales and a long, yellow forked tongue whipping in and out of its mouth? Run?!

Luckily for us, David Attenborough stood his ground and became one of the first people to film and document the life of the Komodo Dragon.

These giant lizards live on the relatively small island of Komodo in Indonesia and Sir David recounts his utter amazement encountering such a formidable creature.

If solving the riddle of what they eat on the island wasn’t intriguing enough, Sir David also recounts the revelation when he discovered that females don’t really need males, because they can produce off-spring by cloning themselves.

25/07/201020100724

How is the 'end of empire' celebrated?

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

25/12/201020101226

Joan Bakewell reflects on the ageing process and the efforts by scientists to reverse it

25/12/201020101226

Joan Bakewell reflects on the ageing process and the efforts by scientists to reverse it

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

26/09/200920090927

How tourism in Antartica could inadvertently risk one of wildlife’s greatest spectacles.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

26/09/200920090927

How tourism in Antartica could inadvertently risk one of wildlife\u2019s greatest spectacles.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

For decades now many of us have enjoyed seeing Sir David Attenborough in exotic locations around the world bringing his encounters and understanding of the living world to our homes.

Sir David thinks the dodo’s ancestors were probably pigeons driven onto the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius in a storm. Then over millennia, the offspring of these birds, living with an abundant food supply, with no large predators around evolved until they became the size and shape of turkeys; and with little need to take to the air their wings finally lost the ability to fly.

In the 16th Century, men finally arrived on the island and in a matter of only forty years the dodo was dead.

But these were not the only flightless birds to have become extinct in recent times. Less than 200 years ago the Great Auk, a two foot high relative of the guillemot met the same fate at the hands of man.

Today, in more enlightened times this could never happen, but in Antarctica history could possibly repeat itself as tourism inadvertently poses a threat to one of wildlife’s greatest spectacles.

26/12/200920091227

Clive James reflects on the human condition and the need for liberal democracy.

26/12/200920091227

Clive James reflects on the human condition and the need for liberal democracy.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

27/02/201020100228

Lisa Jardine reflects on the importance for history of the recording of personal memories.

27/02/201020100228

Lisa Jardine reflects on the importance for history of the recording of personal memories.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

27/03/201020100328

Simon Schama reflects on the politics surrounding President Obama's healthcare reforms.

27/03/201020100328

Simon Schama reflects on the politics surrounding President Obama's healthcare reforms.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

27/06/200920090628

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

27/06/200920090628

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

27/06/201020100626

David Cannadine reflects on the teaching of history in schools.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

28/11/200920091129

Clive James on how his enjoyment of sport depends upon the spirit in which it is played.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

28/11/200920091129

Clive James on how his enjoyment of sport depends upon the spirit in which it is played.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

29/08/200920090830

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

29/08/201020100828

Lisa Jardine reflects on how reputations are won and lost

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

30/01/201020100131

The contrasting reputation of American presidents when in office and judged by posterity.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

30/01/201020100131

The contrasting reputation of American presidents when in office and judged by posterity.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

30/05/200920090523

This week, A Letter from Delhi. Mark Tully takes stock of the new political landscape.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

This week, A Letter from Delhi. In the previous one, broadcast earlier this month, the former BBC Correspondent Mark Tully was preoccupied with the month-long general election which was going on in India. The signals were proving difficult to read: what sort of a government would that vast population return to power? Was the electorate in the mood for change? Well, now the results are in, there’s an opportunity for Mark to take stock of the country’s new political landscape, to see who’s in and who’s out, and to check whether his predictions proved accurate.

30/05/200920090524

This week, A Letter from Delhi. Mark Tully takes stock of the new political landscape.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

This week, A Letter from Delhi. In the previous one, broadcast earlier this month, the former BBC Correspondent Mark Tully was preoccupied with the month-long general election which was going on in India. The signals were proving difficult to read: what sort of a government would that vast population return to power? Was the electorate in the mood for change? Well, now the results are in, there’s an opportunity for Mark to take stock of the country’s new political landscape, to see who’s in and who’s out, and to check whether his predictions proved accurate.

30/05/200920090531

This week, A Letter from Delhi. Mark Tully takes stock of the new political landscape.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

30/05/200920090531

This week, A Letter from Delhi. Mark Tully takes stock of the new political landscape.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

This week, A Letter from Delhi. In the previous one, broadcast earlier this month, the former BBC Correspondent Mark Tully was preoccupied with the month-long general election which was going on in India. The signals were proving difficult to read: what sort of a government would that vast population return to power? Was the electorate in the mood for change? Well, now the results are in, there’s an opportunity for Mark to take stock of the country’s new political landscape, to see who’s in and who’s out, and to check whether his predictions proved accurate.

30/05/201020100529

How devastating volcanic eruptions have inspired a long line of writers.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

31/10/200920091101

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

A history of fireworks20100814

Lisa Jardine reflects on the history and political significance of fireworks

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

A history of fireworks20100815

Lisa Jardine reflects on the history and political significance of fireworks

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

A Time for Empathy20101219

Joan Bakewell wonders how we recover true empathy in a culture of self-regard

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Are museums our new churches?20110130

Alain de Botton asks if museums are our new churches

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Cakes and coupons

Cakes and coupons20100925

Lisa Jardine reveals her inner conflict between two passions inherited from her mother

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Lisa Jardine reveals her inner conflict between two passions inherited from her mother, who recently passed away. On the one hand is a carefulness about money which leads Lisa to a perpetual search for a bargain. On the other is a wild extravagance in baking, creating rich, multi-layered cakes, stacked high with lashings of butter icing.
Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Cakes and coupons20100926

Lisa Jardine reveals her inner conflict between two passions inherited from her mother, who recently passed away. On the one hand is a carefulness about money which leads Lisa to a perpetual search for a bargain. On the other is a wild extravagance in baking, creating rich, multi-layered cakes, stacked high with lashings of butter icing.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Lisa Jardine reveals her inner conflict between two passions inherited from her mother

Lisa Jardine reveals her inner conflict between two passions inherited from her mother

Cakes and coupons20100926

Lisa Jardine reveals her inner conflict between two passions inherited from her mother

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Lisa Jardine reveals her inner conflict between two passions inherited from her mother, who recently passed away. On the one hand is a carefulness about money which leads Lisa to a perpetual search for a bargain. On the other is a wild extravagance in baking, creating rich, multi-layered cakes, stacked high with lashings of butter icing.
Producer: Adele Armstrong.

Clive James20090411

Clive James, on the resignation of Britain's Prime Minister's senior aide Damian McBride.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Clive James20090412

Clive James, on the resignation of Britain's Prime Minister's senior aide Damian McBride.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Clive James20090418

Clive James, on the resignation of Britain's Prime Minister's senior aide Damian McBride.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Clive James20090419

Clive James, on the resignation of Britain's Prime Minister's senior aide Damian McBride.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Clive James20090509
Clive James20090509

Clive James wonders about British attitudes to the poetry establishment.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Clive James20090510

Clive James wonders about British attitudes to the poetry establishment.

Clive James20090510

Clive James wonders about British attitudes to the poetry establishment.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Clive James - 12/11/200920091114
Clive James - 12/11/200920091114

Battle of Britain commander Sir Keith Park is honoured with a public monument.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Clive James - 12/11/200920091115

Battle of Britain commander Sir Keith Park is honoured with a public monument.

Clive James - 12/11/200920091115

Battle of Britain commander Sir Keith Park is honoured with a public monument.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Clive James - 31/10/200920091031
Clive James - 31/10/200920091031

Clive James reflects on the postal workers' current dispute.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Clive James - 31/10/200920091101

Clive James reflects on the postal workers' current dispute.

Clive James - 31/10/200920091101

Clive James reflects on the postal workers' current dispute.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Conspicuous Consumption20101023

Sarah Dunant reflects on public attitudes in the past to conspicuous consumption.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Sarah Dunant reflects on public attitudes to conspicuous consumption and attempts to police it in previous centuries by means of "sumptuary laws."

While the rules curbing showing off were hopelessly ineffectual, are they a useful reminder of the antagonism that the flaunting of wealth can cause, especially in times of austerity?

Conspicuous Consumption20101024

Sarah Dunant reflects on public attitudes in the past to conspicuous consumption.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Sarah Dunant reflects on public attitudes to conspicuous consumption and attempts to police it in previous centuries by means of "sumptuary laws."

While the rules curbing showing off were hopelessly ineffectual, are they a useful reminder of the antagonism that the flaunting of wealth can cause, especially in times of austerity?

David Attenborough20090606

Sir David Attenborough explains what he would like to be if he returned as an animal.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

David Attenborough20090607

Sir David Attenborough explains what he would like to be if he returned as an animal.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

David Attenborough - 04/07/200920090704

Sir David talks about his experience with a giant egg and the investigation that followed.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

For decades now many of us have enjoyed seeing David Attenborough in exotic locations around the world bringing his encounters and understanding of the living world to our homes.

One of Sir David’s enduring fascinations remains what is and who laid the world’s largest egg. In this week's Letter from David Attenborough he continues his personal account of some of his great experiences and revelations around the world – And this week he presents, in his own words, “Giant Birds”.

The scene is set in Madagascar where, in a break between filming, Sir David starts piecing together large fragments of an egg with sticky tape to discover it is clearly “the size of a rugby ball”.

Whether this is the largest egg in the world and when and which creature laid it is all revealed in David Attenborough’s letter here on World Service.

David Attenborough - 04/07/200920090705

Sir David talks about his experience with a giant egg and the investigation that followed.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

For decades now many of us have enjoyed seeing David Attenborough in exotic locations around the world bringing his encounters and understanding of the living world to our homes.

One of Sir David’s enduring fascinations remains what is and who laid the world’s largest egg. In this week's Letter from David Attenborough he continues his personal account of some of his great experiences and revelations around the world – And this week he presents, in his own words, “Giant Birds”.

The scene is set in Madagascar where, in a break between filming, Sir David starts piecing together large fragments of an egg with sticky tape to discover it is clearly “the size of a rugby ball”.

Whether this is the largest egg in the world and when and which creature laid it is all revealed in David Attenborough’s letter here on World Service.

David Attenborough - 08/08/200920090808

Sir David Attenborough looks at the missing link between reptiles and birds.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

This is the story of Archaeopteryx, the missing link between reptiles and birds and the fossil that provided evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Sir David Attenborough recalls the discovery of a feather, which, like any other we’re familiar with, has a central shaft and interlocking branches to trap air.

It was found in Germany, dated to a time in earth's history when birds had not evolved.

David Attenborough - 08/08/200920090809

Sir David Attenborough looks at the missing link between reptiles and birds.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

This is the story of Archaeopteryx, the missing link between reptiles and birds and the fossil that provided evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Sir David Attenborough recalls the discovery of a feather, which, like any other we’re familiar with, has a central shaft and interlocking branches to trap air.

It was found in Germany, dated to a time in earth's history when birds had not evolved.

David Attenborough - 10/10/200920091010

Sir David recounts how while in the Amazonian rainforest he found himself in need of help.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Sir David is charmed by the thought that an Aboriginal man can often identify a relative just by footprints left in the Australian desert.

Interpreting tracks of living animals is an ability many aboriginal tribes across the world possess great skills in, such skills often lacking in Western cultures.

He recounts how while following tracks in the Amazonian rainforest he became hopelessly lost and had the ignominy of needing help. Following tracks made by long dead animals is an entirely different skill but recent fossil remains are now increasing our understanding of our ancestors who lived 3.6 million years ago. Did they indeed stand fully erect as we do today?

Well, as evidence unearthed in Tanzania in the late 1970’s suggests they were not as dissimilar to us as we thought.

David Attenborough - 10/10/200920091011

Sir David recounts how while in the Amazonian rainforest he found himself in need of help.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Sir David is charmed by the thought that an Aboriginal man can often identify a relative just by footprints left in the Australian desert.

Interpreting tracks of living animals is an ability many aboriginal tribes across the world possess great skills in, such skills often lacking in Western cultures.

He recounts how while following tracks in the Amazonian rainforest he became hopelessly lost and had the ignominy of needing help. Following tracks made by long dead animals is an entirely different skill but recent fossil remains are now increasing our understanding of our ancestors who lived 3.6 million years ago. Did they indeed stand fully erect as we do today?

Well, as evidence unearthed in Tanzania in the late 1970’s suggests they were not as dissimilar to us as we thought.

David Attenborough - 10/10/200920091017

Sir David confesses an addiction - to collecting books.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

David Attenborough - 10/10/200920091018

Sir David confesses an addiction - to collecting books.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

David Attenborough - 11/07/200920090711

Sir David looks at why animals sing and draws on experiences from the UK, Africa and Asia.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Why do animals sing? Not calling, screeching, roaring, piping but putting harmonious sequences of calls together to make melodies and repeated phrases. This is the sound of the wild which is a joy to listen to.

And why indeed do people sing and enjoy others singing? Sir David Attenborough offers his personal insight into why some animals sing, and draws on experiences from the UK, Africa and Asia. Sir David comes to the conclusion that the reason some animals sing is not very different to the reasons we sing.

David Attenborough - 11/07/200920090712

Sir David looks at why animals sing and draws on experiences from the UK, Africa and Asia.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Why do animals sing? Not calling, screeching, roaring, piping but putting harmonious sequences of calls together to make melodies and repeated phrases. This is the sound of the wild which is a joy to listen to.

And why indeed do people sing and enjoy others singing? Sir David Attenborough offers his personal insight into why some animals sing, and draws on experiences from the UK, Africa and Asia. Sir David comes to the conclusion that the reason some animals sing is not very different to the reasons we sing.

David Attenborough - 13/06/200920090613

This week, Sir David talks of a giant flower found deep in the rainforest of Sumatra.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Sir David Attenborough continues his series of letters, recalling his lifetime of experiences and encounters with wildlife.

He recalls his quest for a very special flower - one that blooms for just three days, deep in the rainforest of Sumatra.

Along the way he finds one plant with a stem as wide and tall as a telegraph post, and another with a flower one meter across.

David shares his fascination with these gigantic flora, and ponders the puzzle - why so big?

David Attenborough - 13/06/200920090614

This week, Sir David talks of a giant flower found deep in the rainforest of Sumatra.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Sir David Attenborough continues his series of letters, recalling his lifetime of experiences and encounters with wildlife.

He recalls his quest for a very special flower - one that blooms for just three days, deep in the rainforest of Sumatra.

Along the way he finds one plant with a stem as wide and tall as a telegraph post, and another with a flower one meter across.

David shares his fascination with these gigantic flora, and ponders the puzzle - why so big?

David Attenborough - 15/08/200920090815

Sir David Attenborough reminisces about his first pet - a fire salamander.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Can you remember your first pet? Whatever it was, it is unlikely to have been a fire salamander. But it was exactly one such amphibian that was the first pet of David Attenborough, given to him by his father on his eighth birthday.

In David Attenborough’s Life Stories, he casts back to this momentous time in his life and tells us about the natural history of this bizarre and ancient group of amphibians.

One of his vivid memories is of giving his own son a fire salamander - again, on his eighth birthday - and both witnessing, to their great surprise, the salamander giving birth to live young in a little pool in the enclosure; young that were later given as presents to the family's neighbours.

A very long-lived animal, the fire salamanders are still there - long after their children have left home.

Hardly the story of many of us, whose first pet was a hamster or guinea pig...

David Attenborough - 15/08/200920090816

Sir David Attenborough reminisces about his first pet - a fire salamander.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Can you remember your first pet? Whatever it was, it is unlikely to have been a fire salamander. But it was exactly one such amphibian that was the first pet of David Attenborough, given to him by his father on his eighth birthday.

In David Attenborough’s Life Stories, he casts back to this momentous time in his life and tells us about the natural history of this bizarre and ancient group of amphibians.

One of his vivid memories is of giving his own son a fire salamander - again, on his eighth birthday - and both witnessing, to their great surprise, the salamander giving birth to live young in a little pool in the enclosure; young that were later given as presents to the family's neighbours.

A very long-lived animal, the fire salamanders are still there - long after their children have left home.

Hardly the story of many of us, whose first pet was a hamster or guinea pig...

David Attenborough - 20/06/200920090620

Sir David Attenborough continues his series of letters with the Platypus.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

One of the strangest creatures alive today lives in the wooded valleys of south eastern Australia. It has webbed feet, a beak and lays an egg. None of those characteristics are particularly surprising for a bird or reptile, but it most certainly is for a mammal, which is what this is. Sir David Attenborough continues his series of letters with the Platypus. Sir David recalls the two occasions, twenty years apart, where he tried to film the Platypus in the wild. And as will be revealed, there are aspects of the Platypus's life history that remain as enigmatic today as then.

David Attenborough - 20/06/200920090621

Sir David Attenborough continues his series of letters with the Platypus.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

One of the strangest creatures alive today lives in the wooded valleys of south eastern Australia. It has webbed feet, a beak and lays an egg. None of those characteristics are particularly surprising for a bird or reptile, but it most certainly is for a mammal, which is what this is. Sir David Attenborough continues his series of letters with the Platypus. Sir David recalls the two occasions, twenty years apart, where he tried to film the Platypus in the wild. And as will be revealed, there are aspects of the Platypus's life history that remain as enigmatic today as then.

David Attenborough - 22/08/200920090822

David Attenborough makes no secret of his passion for the Bird of Paradise.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Perhaps the most beautifully adorned bird in the world is the Bird of Paradise. This is the view of David Attenborough who makes no secret of his passion for this group of birds that live on the island of New Guinea.

Birds of Paradise evolved on a forested island in the tropics without any ground predators. This scenario of birds being safe from hungry mammals on the ground gave the male Bird of Paradise the opportunity to evolve dazzling arrays of feathers, streamers, flashes of colour and amazing display routines that emulate the most glossy catwalks in the fashion world.

David Attenborough - 22/08/200920090823

David Attenborough makes no secret of his passion for the Bird of Paradise.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Perhaps the most beautifully adorned bird in the world is the Bird of Paradise. This is the view of David Attenborough who makes no secret of his passion for this group of birds that live on the island of New Guinea.

Birds of Paradise evolved on a forested island in the tropics without any ground predators. This scenario of birds being safe from hungry mammals on the ground gave the male Bird of Paradise the opportunity to evolve dazzling arrays of feathers, streamers, flashes of colour and amazing display routines that emulate the most glossy catwalks in the fashion world.

David Attenborough - 29/08/200920090829

Sir David Attenborough takes us into the alien world of the underground.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Fear of spiders, rats and other creatures are common phobias. And yet surprisingly, they all have to be learnt. But some argue a wariness of snakes does not - instead, they say it is built into us all.

Sir David Attenborough takes issue with snakes, and takes us into the alien world of the underground. There, animals have evolved very differently; subterranean creatures have a different shape, different senses and are even different to the touch.

Sir David argues that the ancestor of snakes was an underground reptile and, as a result of its more recent evolution to live above ground, has given the species one very eerie characteristic that un-nerves him enormously. Tune in to find out what that is.

David Attenborough - 29/08/200920090830

Sir David Attenborough takes us into the alien world of the underground.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Fear of spiders, rats and other creatures are common phobias. And yet surprisingly, they all have to be learnt. But some argue a wariness of snakes does not - instead, they say it is built into us all.

Sir David Attenborough takes issue with snakes, and takes us into the alien world of the underground. There, animals have evolved very differently; subterranean creatures have a different shape, different senses and are even different to the touch.

Sir David argues that the ancestor of snakes was an underground reptile and, as a result of its more recent evolution to live above ground, has given the species one very eerie characteristic that un-nerves him enormously. Tune in to find out what that is.

Dear Diary20110102

Joan Bakewell celebrates the art of diary writing

Joan Bakewell celebrates the art of diary writing by public figures and private individuals whose accounts of everyday life help shape our view of the past.

Joan Bakewell celebrates the art of diary writing

Dear Diary20110102

Joan Bakewell celebrates the art of diary writing

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Delhi20091003

A new era for right-wing politics in India?

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

In India a political era is coming to an end, as the leader of the Hindu nationalist BJP party is stepping down. Lal Krishna Advani helped promote the BJP from a bit player in Indian politics to a major national force. But what direction will the party go in now that its tough-talking no-nonsense leader is gone?

Delhi20091004

A new era for right-wing politics in India?

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

In India a political era is coming to an end, as the leader of the Hindu nationalist BJP party is stepping down. Lal Krishna Advani helped promote the BJP from a bit player in Indian politics to a major national force. But what direction will the party go in now that its tough-talking no-nonsense leader is gone?

Delhi - 07/11/200920091107
Delhi - 07/11/200920091107

Mark Tully on why the Indian government is taking on Maoist rebels.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

The Indian government has announced it will launch a new campaign to combat Maoist rebels who control a vast mineral-rich area of central India.

The Maoists have retaliated with a series of attacks on the police. They say they're fighting on behalf of India’s 'tribals' – people who have stuck to their traditional way of life in the jungle. Now the tribes are caught in the middle of the fighting.

Mark Tully warns that the government's campaign could be long and brutal.

Delhi - 07/11/200920091108

Mark Tully on why the Indian government is taking on Maoist rebels.

Delhi - 07/11/200920091108

Mark Tully on why the Indian government is taking on Maoist rebels.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

The Indian government has announced it will launch a new campaign to combat Maoist rebels who control a vast mineral-rich area of central India.

The Maoists have retaliated with a series of attacks on the police. They say they're fighting on behalf of India’s 'tribals' – people who have stuck to their traditional way of life in the jungle. Now the tribes are caught in the middle of the fighting.

Mark Tully warns that the government's campaign could be long and brutal.

History through Religion20101114

Sarah Dunant finds religion a powerful lens for a fresh look at history

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

India20100403

How the president of the Congress party pushed through a controversial act.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Last month Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Congress party, pushed a controversial act through the Upper House of Parliament. It reserves a certain number of constituencies for women in the next general election.

Mark Tully examines the thinking behind the legislation, the perils Sonia Gandhi faces before it is passed in the Lower House, and the impact it will have on women throughout India.

India20100404

How the president of the Congress party pushed through a controversial act.

India20100404

How the president of the Congress party pushed through a controversial act.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Last month Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Congress party, pushed a controversial act through the Upper House of Parliament. It reserves a certain number of constituencies for women in the next general election.

Mark Tully examines the thinking behind the legislation, the perils Sonia Gandhi faces before it is passed in the Lower House, and the impact it will have on women throughout India.

Letter From Delhi20110306

Mark Tully asks if Indian democracy is malfunctioning

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Letter from India20090404

Mark Tully examines how he has seen India gain in self confidence.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Letter from India20090405

Mark Tully examines how he has seen India gain in self confidence.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Letter From Nature: Canopy20110220

David Attenborough relives the moment when he was first encouraged to ascend into the treetops of the jungle.

The jungle canopy is one of the most inaccessible places to reach in the entire natural world. David was one of the first to film high in the treetops.

If you walk into a rainforest you are immediately met by quite literally a forest of trees. And all the tree trunks look like cathedral pillars, smooth and wet from the rain.

Not a single branch emerges from the trunk for tens of metres - and when they do, you see a breath-taking interlocking jungle of branches and leaves, ferns and flowers and all number of creatures great and small.

The canopy is a bonanza of tropical forest life, in the bright light and gentle breeze - a far cry from the dark and humid underworld of the forest floor. Not surprising then that David Attenborough knew this would be a perfect place to film wildlife.

David Attenborough recalls his first ascent into the treetops of the jungle

David Attenborough recalls his first ascent into the treetops of the jungle

Letter From Nature: Canopy20110220

David Attenborough recalls his first ascent into the treetops of the jungle

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

David Attenborough relives the moment when he was first encouraged to ascend into the treetops of the jungle.

The jungle canopy is one of the most inaccessible places to reach in the entire natural world. David was one of the first to film high in the treetops.

If you walk into a rainforest you are immediately met by quite literally a forest of trees. And all the tree trunks look like cathedral pillars, smooth and wet from the rain.

Not a single branch emerges from the trunk for tens of metres - and when they do, you see a breath-taking interlocking jungle of branches and leaves, ferns and flowers and all number of creatures great and small.

The canopy is a bonanza of tropical forest life, in the bright light and gentle breeze - a far cry from the dark and humid underworld of the forest floor. Not surprising then that David Attenborough knew this would be a perfect place to film wildlife.

Letter From Nature: Charnia20110313

David Attenborough's fascination with the fossilised evidence of the beginning of life

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Charnia are fossils of some of the earliest life on Earth. Few people know that the name comes from a forest frequented by David Attenborough when he was a boy.

Attenborough has always been fascinated by fossils, even as a boy he'd spend many hours exploring the local quarry near his home in Leicestershire in the English Midlands.

And near his family home was a forest which he visited frequently, but didn't hunt for fossils in, because he thought the rocks were too old to have any post cards of early life embedded in their layers.

But he was wrong – those rocks harboured a wonderful secret - a secret that would rattle the cages of the big thinkers of the time and would change the story of life on earth for ever.

Letter From Nature: Cicada20110327

David Attenborough tells a tale of one species of Cicada that strums once every 17 years

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

One of the great wild sounds of North America is the purring of insects in the evening, especially that of Cicadas, one of the great stridulating sounds in the wild.

There is one Cicada, the 17-year Cicada, that stunned the community in New England 13 years after the Pilgrim Fathers had landed. There was a plague of insects, all with red eyes on stalks – And all emerging continuously out of the soil.

When the plague subsided a few weeks later the people of Plymouth Rock were braced for another onslaught, but nothing happened until 17 years later.

David Attenborough recalls a filming trip to New England to film this species of Cicada with both fascinating natural history and a hilarious twist.

Letter From Nature: Kiwi20110227

David Attenborough muses over the peculiar Kiwi, a bird more mammal-like in its habits.

The Kiwi is the last-remaining flightless bird still in existence in New Zealand. It’s a most peculiar bird, Attenborough tells us, but why?

David Attenborough tells us New Zealand had several species of flightless bird living across the islands, all of which are now extinct, bar one.

The Kiwi has become one of those species iconic of the country, like the Koala to Australia, the Giraffe to Africa and the Alpaca to South America.

Historically, New Zealand didn’t have ground predators such as wild cats and stoats – and allowed birds to exploit living on the ground.

Being flightless in New Zealand was a good way to be a bird. David Attenborough has filmed Kiwis, and in this programme he muses on the niche the Kiwi occupies on the ground.

He argues the Kiwi behaves more like a mammal than a bird, but what mammal do you think, in Attenborough’s view, the Kiwi most resembles?

David Attenborough muses over the peculiar Kiwi, a bird more mammal-like in its habits

David Attenborough muses over the peculiar Kiwi, a bird more mammal-like in its habits

Letter From Nature: Kiwi20110227

David Attenborough muses over the peculiar Kiwi, a bird more mammal-like in its habits

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

David Attenborough muses over the peculiar Kiwi, a bird more mammal-like in its habits.

The Kiwi is the last-remaining flightless bird still in existence in New Zealand. It’s a most peculiar bird, Attenborough tells us, but why?

David Attenborough tells us New Zealand had several species of flightless bird living across the islands, all of which are now extinct, bar one.

The Kiwi has become one of those species iconic of the country, like the Koala to Australia, the Giraffe to Africa and the Alpaca to South America.

Historically, New Zealand didn’t have ground predators such as wild cats and stoats – and allowed birds to exploit living on the ground.

Being flightless in New Zealand was a good way to be a bird. David Attenborough has filmed Kiwis, and in this programme he muses on the niche the Kiwi occupies on the ground.

He argues the Kiwi behaves more like a mammal than a bird, but what mammal do you think, in Attenborough’s view, the Kiwi most resembles?

Letter from...20100206

Delhi. Looking at the country's often fraught relationships with its neighbours.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Letter from...20100207

Delhi. Looking at the country's often fraught relationships with its neighbours.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Letter from... Delhi20090502
Letter from... Delhi20090502

Mark Tully looks at the forces at play during the current election process in India.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Letter from... Delhi20090503

Mark Tully looks at the forces at play during the current election process in India.

Letter from... Delhi20090503

Mark Tully looks at the forces at play during the current election process in India.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Letter from: David Attenborough20110320

Why do you suppose there a two different kind of Artichokes? David Attenborough explains

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Letter From: Faking fossils20090912
Letter From: Faking fossils20090912

Finding fossils in Leicestershire and Morocco's Atlas mountains

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

One of Sir David Attenborough’s enduring passions is to collect fossils. Fossils are time capsules of the Earth’s natural history and the process of fossilisation sometimes preserves the creature or plant in such detail that profound insight can be gained from studying them. But, apart from their scientific value, Sir David recalls the sheer joy of discovering a fossil.

He takes us back to his childhood in Leicestershire in the UK – exploring a disused limestone quarry near his home and the utter exhilaration of cracking open a stone and discovering an Ammonite.

After decades of exploring every corner of the earth, Sir David’s passion for fossils has never diminished. He reflects on one memorable trip to the Atlas mountains of Morocco where a local seller of fossils gave him a unique trilobite which was somehow fossilised whilst in the middle of extraordinary behaviour.

Sir David still has this fossil in his collection today and it’s there for a very good reason. All of which will be revealed.

Letter From: Faking fossils20090913

Finding fossils in Leicestershire and Morocco's Atlas mountains

Letter From: Faking fossils20090913

Finding fossils in Leicestershire and Morocco's Atlas mountains

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

One of Sir David Attenborough’s enduring passions is to collect fossils. Fossils are time capsules of the Earth’s natural history and the process of fossilisation sometimes preserves the creature or plant in such detail that profound insight can be gained from studying them. But, apart from their scientific value, Sir David recalls the sheer joy of discovering a fossil.

He takes us back to his childhood in Leicestershire in the UK – exploring a disused limestone quarry near his home and the utter exhilaration of cracking open a stone and discovering an Ammonite.

After decades of exploring every corner of the earth, Sir David’s passion for fossils has never diminished. He reflects on one memorable trip to the Atlas mountains of Morocco where a local seller of fossils gave him a unique trilobite which was somehow fossilised whilst in the middle of extraordinary behaviour.

Sir David still has this fossil in his collection today and it’s there for a very good reason. All of which will be revealed.

On marriage20110213

Alain de Botton muses on why a bookish life is a poor preparation for marriage! He says Western literature's obsession with unrequited love means the average love story is of help only to the lovelorn.

And he argues that the blandness of the word marriage hides a "welter of intensity and depth that put to shame the most passionate works of literature".

Alain de Botton muses on why a bookish life is a poor preparation for marriage

Alain de Botton muses on why a bookish life is a poor preparation for marriage

On marriage20110213

Alain de Botton muses on why a bookish life is a poor preparation for marriage

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Alain de Botton muses on why a bookish life is a poor preparation for marriage! He says Western literature's obsession with unrequited love means the average love story is of help only to the lovelorn.

And he argues that the blandness of the word marriage hides a "welter of intensity and depth that put to shame the most passionate works of literature".

Reading for Free20101121

Joan Bakewell reflects on the irreplaceable value of reading

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

The Coelacanth20090919
The Coelacanth20090919

How a fish caused an international incident.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Veteran British broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough takes us back to 1952 when, as a TV producer, he was dispatched to report on a fish that was causing a diplomatic incident.

The fish was the Coelacanth – a supposedly extinct animal that was thought to be the fish ancestor of all creatures with backbones that, later in evolution, were to emerge and walk on land.

Sir David describes the attempts to film this ancient creature in the ocean for his BBC series, Life on Earth. On that particular occasion he failed, but a future mission was more successful.

He reveals how his programme became the first on television to film the Coelacanth alive.

The Coelacanth20090920

How a fish caused an international incident.

The Coelacanth20090920

How a fish caused an international incident.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Veteran British broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough takes us back to 1952 when, as a TV producer, he was dispatched to report on a fish that was causing a diplomatic incident.

The fish was the Coelacanth – a supposedly extinct animal that was thought to be the fish ancestor of all creatures with backbones that, later in evolution, were to emerge and walk on land.

Sir David describes the attempts to film this ancient creature in the ocean for his BBC series, Life on Earth. On that particular occasion he failed, but a future mission was more successful.

He reveals how his programme became the first on television to film the Coelacanth alive.

The ecological sublime20110123

Alain de Botton gives a philosopher's take on our ecological dilemmas

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Alain de Botton gives a philosopher's take on our ecological dilemmas. He argues that fear of environmental destruction has changed for ever our relationship with nature. Far from being a threat, it is now something to be pitied and protected.

There are also changes in the way we view ourselves. As we take a trip to Florence to see some Titians or run water to brush our teeth, we're being asked to reconceeve of ourselves as unthinking killers.

The Sistine tapestries20100918

Lisa Jardine reflects on the extraordinary tapestries in London for the Pope's visit.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Five centuries after they were created, some extraordinary tapestries have been brought from the Sistine Chapel to London. The Raphael tapestries, from the series, "The Acts of the Aposles", are on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, to mark the Pope's visit.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the significance of these works - each one slighter bigger than a double decker bus.

The Sistine tapestries20100919

Lisa Jardine reflects on the extraordinary tapestries in London for the Pope's visit.

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Five centuries after they were created, some extraordinary tapestries have been brought from the Sistine Chapel to London. The Raphael tapestries, from the series, "The Acts of the Aposles", are on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, to mark the Pope's visit.

Lisa Jardine reflects on the significance of these works - each one slighter bigger than a double decker bus.

Tribute to Teachers20101030

Sarah Dunant pays tribute to outstanding women teachers who inspired her own generation

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

Tribute to Teachers20101031

Sarah Dunant pays tribute to outstanding women teachers who inspired her own generation

A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world.

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