Letter From [World Service]

Episodes

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Broadcast
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20090411A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world
20090418

Synopsis

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

20090425Clive James wonders about the progress of feminism.

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

20090509
20090516A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

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

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

20090523In his letter this week, Clive James says democracy is the best hope for achieving justice for women as he celebrates the election of four women to the parliament in Kuwait and criticises western feminists for being slow to support women suffering under tyrannical regimes.

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

20090530This 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
20090627A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world
20090704
20090711
20090718One 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….

Sir David Attenborough recalls filming the ostentatious Vogelkoptf Bower Bird.

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

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….

20090725How 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.

David Attenborough on discovering the Komodo Dragon.

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

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

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

20090808

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

20090815A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world
20090822
20090829
20090905A 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
20090926For 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.

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

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.

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
20091024Clive James reflects on the importance of scepticism in every walk of life.

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

Clive James reflects on the importance of scepticism in every walk of life, and he criticises extreme reactions to those who are sceptical about man-made global warming.

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
20091121Clive 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.

Clive James reflects on the revelation of the identity of Belle De Jour, the author of The Diary of a London Call Girl.

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

20091128Clive 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.

Clive James says that the spirit in which the game is played determines whether he likes or loathes the sport.

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

20091205A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

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.

20091212Clive 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.

Clive James reflects on the need for a fair hearing for all voices, including the sceptical ones, on the subject of global warming.

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

20091219Clive James vents his frustration at automated customer systems.

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

20091226Clive James reflects on the human condition and the need for liberal democracy.

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

Clive James reflects on the human condition, and stresses that, as each generation gives way to the next, the need for the spread of liberal democracy to enable true human progress only increases.

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

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

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?

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.

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

20100213A 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.

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.

20100220The dangers of writing secret missives - from love letters to illicit text messages.

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

Lisa Jardine reflects on the art and dangers of writing secret missives - from love letters and confidential documents to illicit text messages.

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

20100227Lisa 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.

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

20100306Simon Schama presents the first of a series of personal reflections.

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

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

In Letter From this week, Simon Schama presents the first of a series of personal reflections.

20100313Clive 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.

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

20100320Simon Schama looks forward to spring with personal reflections on the changing seasons.

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

Simon Schama looks forward to spring with personal reflections on the changing seasons and he commends Geoffrey Chaucer's upbeat opinion of April compared with T.S. Eliot's more pessimistic view.

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

20100327Simon Schama reflects on the politics surrounding President Obama's healthcare reforms.

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

Simon Schama reflects on the politics surrounding President Obama's healthcare reforms, which he sees as a turning point of historic proportions.

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

20100411Simon Schama celebrates the history and culture of New Zealand.

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.

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.

Simon Schama celebrates the history and culture of New Zealand.

20100418In his letter this week, Simon Schama reflects on food and eating habits in America.

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.

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

In his letter this week, Simon Schama reflects on food and eating habits in America and welcomes the growing popularity of ethnic dishes and local farm produce.

20100425Simon 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.

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

Simon Schama looks at the drama of national elections in Britain, and the momentous events of the 1830s, when civil unrest might have led to revolution but was deflected by parliamentray reform.

20100502Temperatures 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

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.

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

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.

20100509Simon 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.

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

Following the general election in the United Kingdom, Simon Schama reflects on the role played by the oak tree in British history.

20100516Simon 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.

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

Simon Schama reflects on the political dramas following the general election in Britain and favourably compares the British system with a swift handover of power and the more cumbersome American one.

20100523A 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.

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

Historian David Cannadine recalls Britain's long tradition of coalition government, reflecting that the new politics of the Conservative-Liberal alliance is not as unprecedented as some may think.

20100530How devastating volcanic eruptions have inspired a long line of writers.

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

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

20100606A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

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.

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

20100613David Cannadine reflects on the distinctive style of American graduation ceremonies.

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

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

David Cannadine reflects on the distinctive style of American graduation ceremonies and the life-long sense of identity they forge between graduates and their fellow alumni.

20100620David Cannadine reveals the colourful history of passports and identity cards.

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

20100627David Cannadine reflects on the teaching of history in schools.

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

20100704A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world
20100711A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

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.

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

20100718A look at the remarkable history of Asian elephants.

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

20100725How is the 'end of empire' celebrated?

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

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.

20100801The changing styles of architecture and the boldest and best in every age.

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

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.

20100808Mark Tully examines India's plans to combat malnutrition.

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

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.

20100815The 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.

20100822Lisa 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.

20100829Lisa Jardine reflects on how reputations are won and lost

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

20100905Mark Tully asks whether India still needs aid when its economy is booming

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

20100912Book lover Lisa Jardine muses on her conversion to the ebook

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

20100919A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world

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

20101003Has India's rapid economic growth made any difference to the country's 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.

20101010Reflecting on the character of the new generation of British students

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

20101017Sarah 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.

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

20101024
20101031

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

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

20101121

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

20101205

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

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

20101219

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

20101225Joan 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.

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.

20110109

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

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.

20110116Why 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

20110206Mark Tully considers the role of the media in modern India

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

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

20110220
20110227
20110306

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

20110313
20110320
...india20090801Mark 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
01/08/200920090802 A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world
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02/05/201020100501
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03/10/201020101002
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05/09/201020100904
05/12/200920091206India'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. Liverpool Philharmonic Chamber Music Series 2018

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.

06/02/201020100207A topical audio essay by a leading commentator from around the world
06/03/201020100307Simon 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
06/06/201020100605Mark 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
08/08/200920090809
08/08/201020100807
09/01/201020100110
09/05/200920090510
09/05/201020100508
10/10/200920091011
10/10/201020101009
11/04/200920090412
11/04/201020100410
11/07/200920090712
11/07/201020100710
13/02/201020100214A 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.

13/03/201020100314
13/06/200920090614
13/06/201020100612
14/11/200920091115
15/08/200920090816
16/01/201020100117
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

In this week's Letter From Clive James, he reflects on the furore over British MPs’ expenses and celebrates the fact that Britain is a country where corruption is not the norm.

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

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

16/05/201020100515
17/10/200920091018
17/10/201020101016
18/04/200920090419
18/04/201020100417
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

18/07/201020100717
19/09/200920090920
19/12/200920091220
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
22/08/201020100821
23/01/201020100124A look at the importance of science education for national prosperity.
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
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
25/04/201020100424
25/07/200920090726 David Attenborough on discovering the Komodo Dragon.

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

25/07/201020100724
25/12/201020101226Joan Bakewell reflects on the ageing process and the efforts by scientists to reverse it

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

26/12/200920091227 Clive James reflects on the human condition and the need for liberal democracy.
27/02/201020100228
27/03/201020100328Simon Schama reflects on the politics surrounding President Obama's healthcare reforms.
27/06/200920090628
27/06/201020100626
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
29/08/201020100828
30/01/201020100131The 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
30/05/200920090524
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.

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

30/05/201020100529
31/10/200920091101
A History Of Fireworks20100814Lisa 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
A Time For Empathy20101219Joan 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?20110130Alain de Botton asks if museums are our new churches

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

Cakes And Coupons20100925Lisa 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 Coupons20100926Lisa 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, 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 James20090411Clive 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 James20090418
Clive James20090419
Clive James20090509Clive James wonders about British attitudes to the poetry establishment.

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

In his letter this week, Clive James wonders what it says about the British attitude to poetry that we have the institution of the Poet Laureate.

Clive James wonders about British attitudes to the poetry establishment.

Clive James20090510 Clive James wonders about British attitudes to the poetry establishment.
Clive James - 12/11/200920091114Battle of Britain commander Sir Keith Park is honoured with a public monument.

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

Battle of Britain commander Sir Keith Park is honoured with a temporary statue in London's Trafalgar Square alongside other military greats.

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.
Clive James - 31/10/200920091031Clive James reflects on the postal workers' current dispute.

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

In his letter this week, Clive James reflects on the postal workers' current dispute and gives his personal view of the history of modern labour relations.

Clive James reflects on the postal workers' current dispute.

Clive James - 31/10/200920091101 Clive James reflects on the postal workers' current dispute.
Conspicuous Consumption20101023Sarah 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
Dear Diary20110102Joan Bakewell celebrates the art of diary writing

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

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.

Delhi20091003A 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
Delhi - 07/11/200920091107Mark 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.

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.

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.
History Through Religion20101114Sarah Dunant finds religion a powerful lens for a fresh look at history

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

India20100403How 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.

India20100404How the president of the Congress party pushed through a controversial act.

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.

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

Letter From Delhi20110306Mark Tully asks if Indian democracy is malfunctioning

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

Letter From India20090404Mark 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
Letter From Nature: Canopy20110220David 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

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.

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

Letter From Nature: Charnia20110313David 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: Cicada20110327David 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: Kiwi20110227David 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

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?

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...20100207
Letter From... Delhi20090502Mark 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.

In the second of his dispatches for the BBC World Service Mark Tully offers his assessment of the forces at play during the current election process in India.

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.
Letter From: David Attenborough20110320Why 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 Fossils20090912One 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.

Finding fossils in Leicestershire and Morocco's Atlas mountains

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
On Marriage20110213Alain 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".

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 Free20101121Joan Bakewell reflects on the irreplaceable value of reading

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

The Coelacanth20090919Veteran 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.

How a fish caused an international incident.

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 Ecological Sublime20110123Alain 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 Tapestries20100918Lisa 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
Tribute To Teachers20101030Sarah 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
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