Omnibus

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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01A History Of Ideas20141114

A new history of ideas presented by Melvyn Bragg but told in many voices.

Melvyn is joined by four guests with different backgrounds to discuss a really big question. This week he's asking what does it mean to be Free.

Helping him answer it are philosopher Angie Hobbs, criminal barrister Harry Potter, neuropsychologist Paul Broks and theologian Giles Fraser.

For the rest of the week Angie, Giles, Harry and Paul take us further into the history of ideas with programmes of their own. Between them they examine Plato and the philosophy of freedom, JS Mill on the individual and the state, Piere Simon Laplace on freewill and determinism and William of Ockham on Freedom and Constraint.

In this omnibus edition all five programmes from the week are presented together.

01British Liberalism: The Grand Tour20151211

Anne McElvoy tours British liberalism from the 'Glorious' Revolution to the Edwardian era.

Anne starts in Oxford in 1683, with the story of the last large-scale book burning in Britain. She traces how dissident philosopher John Locke took on the whole principle of the arbitrary power of the monarchy.

As Anne discovers with the help of Justin Champion and Hannah Dawson, dissident texts were burned and Locke was repeatedly driven out of the country and hunted by the King's agents. Yet all the time he was developing his ideas on the proper limits of power, and on religious toleration.

When James II was ousted in 1688, Locke returned to London in triumph, and his ideas have helped to shape how we live ever since.

But, as Anne explores in later episodes, the story of British liberalism is not one of straightforward victories. Locke explicitly excluded non-Anglicans from his vision of liberty. And what about black people, or women?

Over the course of the first five programmes, Anne traces the development of the ideas we now call liberalism through the lives and works of Adam Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Clarkson, John Bright and John Stuart Mill.

She explores how a rebellion led by black Jamaicans led to a massacre - and how demands that the British Governor of Jamaica be put on trial divided Victorian intellectuals against each other.

And she ends the first week of programmes with the apotheosis of one kind of liberalism in the era of William Gladstone, even as a different version of his creed was taking shape.

Producer: Phil Tinline.

01British Liberalism: The Grand Tour20151211

Anne McElvoy tours British liberalism from the 'Glorious' Revolution to the Edwardian era.

Anne starts in Oxford in 1683, with the story of the last large-scale book burning in Britain. She traces how dissident philosopher John Locke took on the whole principle of the arbitrary power of the monarchy.

As Anne discovers with the help of Justin Champion and Hannah Dawson, dissident texts were burned and Locke was repeatedly driven out of the country and hunted by the King's agents. Yet all the time he was developing his ideas on the proper limits of power, and on religious toleration.

When James II was ousted in 1688, Locke returned to London in triumph, and his ideas have helped to shape how we live ever since.

But, as Anne explores in later episodes, the story of British liberalism is not one of straightforward victories. Locke explicitly excluded non-Anglicans from his vision of liberty. And what about black people, or women?

Over the course of the first five programmes, Anne traces the development of the ideas we now call liberalism through the lives and works of Adam Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Clarkson, John Bright and John Stuart Mill.

She explores how a rebellion led by black Jamaicans led to a massacre - and how demands that the British Governor of Jamaica be put on trial divided Victorian intellectuals against each other.

And she ends the first week of programmes with the apotheosis of one kind of liberalism in the era of William Gladstone, even as a different version of his creed was taking shape.

Producer: Phil Tinline.

01Charisma: Pinning Down The Butterfly20150828

Francine Stock's history of the alluring yet elusive quality that is charisma.

This omnibus edition of the first five episodes moves from St Paul's coining of the word in the 1st century of the Christian Era right up the contemporary era, when charisma continues to be a powerful influence, not always for the good, in the fields of politics, banking and terrorism.

Along the way, she takes in early medieval mystics such as Margery Kempe and Joan of Arc; the Elizabethan belief in the so-called "Royal Touch" and its different manifestations today; the powerful healing claims of Franz Mesmer; and radical charismatic leaders from Garibaldi to Osama Bin Laden.

Reader: Simon Russell Beale

Producer : Beaty Rubens.

01Charisma: Pinning Down The Butterfly20150828

Francine Stock's history of the alluring yet elusive quality that is charisma.

This omnibus edition of the first five episodes moves from St Paul's coining of the word in the 1st century of the Christian Era right up the contemporary era, when charisma continues to be a powerful influence, not always for the good, in the fields of politics, banking and terrorism.

Along the way, she takes in early medieval mystics such as Margery Kempe and Joan of Arc; the Elizabethan belief in the so-called "Royal Touch" and its different manifestations today; the powerful healing claims of Franz Mesmer; and radical charismatic leaders from Garibaldi to Osama Bin Laden.

Reader: Simon Russell Beale

Producer : Beaty Rubens.

01Foreign Bodies20121026

Mark Lawson uses crime fiction to trace modern Czech, German, Swedish and Dutch history.

Foreign Bodies: A History Of Modern Europe Through Literary Detectives

Crime fiction reflects society's tensions. Helped by famous literary detectives including Maigret, Montalbano, Dalgliesh and Wallander, Mark Lawson shows how crimes reflect Europe's times from the world wars of the 20th century to the Eurozone crisis and nationalist tensions of the 21st.

Beginning with the template set by Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Georges Simenon's Jules Maigret. Mark Lawson hears from Val McDermid, Lord Grey Gowrie, Andrea Camilleri, PD James and David Suchet.

We move to a Swiss view of Germany in the novels of Friedrich Dürrenmatt which explore guilt, responsibility and justice after World War II. Contributions come from Ferdinand von Schirach, Simon McBurney, Josie Rourke, Hollywood scriptwriters Jerzy Kromolowski and Mary Olson-Kromolowski; and Professor Katharina Hall (aka Mrs Peabody Investigates)

Josef Skvorecký's depiction of Czech history is discussed by translator (and former member of the Plastic People of the Universe) Paul Wilson. After his novel The Cowards was banned by the Communist authorities, Skvorecký began the Lieutenant Boruvka series.

Inspector Van Der Valk brought an image of Holland to '70s viewers of the TV dramatisations starring Barry Foster. Mark Lawson finds out the Dutch view of Nicholas Freeling's cop from best seller Saskia Voort

The Martin Beck crime novels written by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö deliberately traced changes in Swedish society between 1965 and 1975. Their influence is discussed by Jo Nesbø, Henning Mankell, Åsa Larsson, Camilla Lackberg, Jens Lapidus and Gunnar Staalesen.

BBC Radio 4 is dramatising all 10 Martin Beck novels starring Steven Mackintosh as Beck and Neil Pearson as Kollberg.

: A History Of Modern Europe Through Literary Detectives

01Lucy Kellaway's History Of Office Life20130726

Writer and satirist Lucy Kellaway traces the origins of today's corporate culture in an omnibus edition of the first week's episodes.

In today's Britain, more of us spend more time at an office than ever before. It dominates our lives. It's made more of us middle class, transformed the lot of women, raised standards in education and been the reason for many technological advances.

But the office itself seems to have no history. We accept without question the way we work now. We endure the charade of the annual appraisal. We gawp at endless PowerPoint presentations in interminable meetings. We work in open plan offices where we can overhear our colleagues phone calls to their plumber. That's how things are done. But why?

For the last twenty years, writer Lucy Kellaway has been an observer of the peculiarities of corporate culture in her column for the Financial Times. In this series, she looks back at the history of office life. How did it end up like this?

Readings by Richard Katz, Sasha Pick, Adam Rojko and Kerry Shale

Historical Consultant: Michael Heller

Producer: Russell Finch

A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

01Plants: From Roots To Riches20141010

The first of five omnibus editions of Prof Kathy Willis' timely new history of our changing relationship with plants.

From the birth of modern plant classification, harnessing botany and imperial progress in furthering Britain's destiny as the major civilising power in the world , to estabishing the laws of what grows where and why, Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, examines new attitudes to plants during the 18th and early 19th century.

From plants as tools to exploit to flowers as objects of beauty, Kathy Willis draws upon Kew's archives and its herbarium collection of pressed plants that was to play a pivotal role in establishing insights into plant relationships and their distribution around the world. It was to help establish the first accurate maps of the world's flora by the mid 19th century.

Producer: Adrian Washbourne

Presenter: KATHY WILLIS is director of science at Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. She is also professor of long-term ecology and a fellow of Merton College, both at Oxford University. Winner of several awards, she has spent over 20 years researching and teaching biodiversity and conservation at Oxford and Cambridge.

01Plants: From Roots To Riches20141010

The first of five omnibus editions of Prof Kathy Willis' timely new history of our changing relationship with plants.

From the birth of modern plant classification, harnessing botany and imperial progress in furthering Britain's destiny as the major civilising power in the world , to estabishing the laws of what grows where and why, Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, examines new attitudes to plants during the 18th and early 19th century.

From plants as tools to exploit to flowers as objects of beauty, Kathy Willis draws upon Kew's archives and its herbarium collection of pressed plants that was to play a pivotal role in establishing insights into plant relationships and their distribution around the world. It was to help establish the first accurate maps of the world's flora by the mid 19th century.

Producer: Adrian Washbourne

Presenter: KATHY WILLIS is director of science at Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. She is also professor of long-term ecology and a fellow of Merton College, both at Oxford University. Winner of several awards, she has spent over 20 years researching and teaching biodiversity and conservation at Oxford and Cambridge.

02A History Of Ideas20141121

A new history of ideas presented by Melvyn Bragg but told in many voices.

Each week Melvyn is joined by four guests with different backgrounds to discuss a really big question. This week he's asking 'Why are things beautiful?'

Helping him answer it are Mathematician Vicky Neale, historian of science Simon Schaffer and philosophers Barry Smith and Angie Hobbs.

For the rest of the week Vicky, Simon, Barry and Angie will take us further into the history of ideas about beauty with programmes of their own. Between them they will examine the mathematics of beauty, whether beauty has moral force, whether beauty can be explained in evolutionary terms and how David Hume developed a theory of good taste.

In this omnibus edition all five programmes from the week are presented together.

02British Liberalism: The Grand Tour20151218

Anne McElvoy traces liberalism's development since the Suffragists.

Producer: Phil Tinline.

02British Liberalism: The Grand Tour20151218

Anne McElvoy traces liberalism's development since the Suffragists.

Producer: Phil Tinline.

02Charisma: Pinning Down The Butterfly20150904

The second omnibus of Francine Stock's major history of the alluring yet elusive quality that is charisma.

This edition brings the power and appeal of charisma up to date by exploring its role in theatre and film stars such as Sarah Bernhardt; self-made businessmen such as W.K.Kellogg, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs; totalitarian leaders including Hitler, and new forms of political extremism such as the so-called Islamic State; civil rights leaders, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama; and the volatile world of contemporary banking.

Francine Stock concludes the series by considering our continuing hunger for charisma, and signs off with this warning: "we get the charismatics we deserve."

Producer: Beaty Rubens

02Charisma: Pinning Down The Butterfly20150904

The second omnibus of Francine Stock's major history of the alluring yet elusive quality that is charisma.

This edition brings the power and appeal of charisma up to date by exploring its role in theatre and film stars such as Sarah Bernhardt; self-made businessmen such as W.K.Kellogg, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs; totalitarian leaders including Hitler, and new forms of political extremism such as the so-called Islamic State; civil rights leaders, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama; and the volatile world of contemporary banking.

Francine Stock concludes the series by considering our continuing hunger for charisma, and signs off with this warning: "we get the charismatics we deserve."

Producer: Beaty Rubens.

02Foreign Bodies20121102

PD James' Adam Dalgliesh and Ruth Rendell's Reginald Wexford first appeared in novels written in 1962 and 1964.

Mark Lawson continues his series about the way crime fiction has depicted modern European history by looking at the shifts in UK society they have encountered from rural racism and road rage to fears about changes in the Church of England and the rise of an environmental movement.

You can hear an extended interview with PD James on the Front Row Crime Writers' Archive.

Producer: Robyn Read.

02Plants: From Roots To Riches20141017

Prof Kathy Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, with the omnibus edition of her history of our changing relationship with plants during the early 20th century.

Kathy Willis examines how the complete picture of photosynthesis led to new opportunities to manipulate plant growth; the ability of plants to exhibit multiple forms that shed light on why flowering plants evolved so quickly; the legacy of tree diseases during the 20th century; the hunt for wild ancestors of our domestic crops in order to maintain resilience within our future food supplies; and botanical medicines and the hunt for new medicinal cocktails at home and abroad.

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

02Plants: From Roots To Riches20141017

Prof Kathy Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, with the omnibus edition of her history of our changing relationship with plants during the early 20th century.

Kathy Willis examines how the complete picture of photosynthesis led to new opportunities to manipulate plant growth; the ability of plants to exhibit multiple forms that shed light on why flowering plants evolved so quickly; the legacy of tree diseases during the 20th century; the hunt for wild ancestors of our domestic crops in order to maintain resilience within our future food supplies; and botanical medicines and the hunt for new medicinal cocktails at home and abroad.

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

02 LASTLucy Kellaway's History Of Office Life20130802

Writer and satirist Lucy Kellaway traces the origins of today's corporate culture in an omnibus edition of the second week's episodes.

In today's Britain, more of us spend more time at an office than ever before. It dominates our lives. It's made more of us middle class, transformed the lot of women, raised standards in education and been the reason for many technological advances.

But the office itself seems to have no history. We accept without question the way we work now. We endure the charade of the annual appraisal. We gawp at endless PowerPoint presentations in interminable meetings. We work in open plan offices where we can overhear our colleagues phone calls to their plumber. That's how things are done. But why?

For the last twenty years, writer Lucy Kellaway has been an observer of the peculiarities of corporate culture in her column for the Financial Times. In this series, she looks back at the history of office life. How did it end up like this?

Readings by Richard Katz, Sasha Pick, Adam Rojko and Kerry Shale

Historical Consultant: Michael Heller

Producer: Russell Finch

A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

03Plants: From Roots To Riches20141024
03Plants: From Roots to Riches20141024

Prof Kathy Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, with the omnibus edition of her history of our changing relationship with plants during the early 20th century.

Kathy Willis examines how the complete picture of photosynthesis led to new opportunities to manipulate plant growth; the ability of plants to exhibit multiple forms that shed light on why flowering plants evolved so quickly; the legacy of tree diseases during the 20th century; the hunt for wild ancestors of our domestic crops in order to maintain resilience within our future food supplies; and botanical medicines and the hunt for new medicinal cocktails at home and abroad.

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

03 LASTA History Of Ideas20141128

A new history of ideas presented by Melvyn Bragg but told in many voices.

Melvyn is joined by four guests with different backgrounds to discuss a really big question. This week the question is 'How do I tell wrong from right?'

Helping him answer it are Neuropsychologist Paul Broks, Philosopher Angie Hobbs, Theologian Giles Fraser and Lawyer Harry Potter.

For the rest of the week Paul, Angie, Giles and Harry will take us further into the history of ideas about morality with programmes of their own.

Between them they will examine the idea of conscience and moral intuitions, the relationship between morality and the law, whether moral systems can work on the battlefield and what the brain seems to do when we are making moral decisions.

In this omnibus edition all five programmes from the week are presented together.

03 LASTForeign Bodies20121109

Mark Lawson continues his series looking at the way shifts in modern European society have been depicted in crime fiction.

In Germany, Mark Lawson meets Jakob Arjouni to discuss his Turkish PI Kemal Kayankaya and the way events including the war in Yugoslavia and re-unification have fed into his writing. Outside the Scottish parliament building, Ian Rankin describes the changes in Scottish politics which his Rebus stories have charted and the links he sees with Scandinavia - where authors including Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson and Liza Marklund have tackled racism and the increasing gap between rich and poor in their novels. In Russia, the tradition of crime writing is less developed and Boris Akunin and Andrey Kurkov reflect on their different approaches.

Producer: Robyn Read.

04A History Of Ideas20150116

A new history of ideas presented by Melvyn Bragg but told in many voices.

Melvyn is joined by four guests with different backgrounds to discuss a really big question. This week he's asking How did everything begin?

Helping him answer it are Cosmologist Carole Mundell, Historian Justin Champion, theologian Giles Fraser and Creation myth Expert, Jessica Frazier.

For the rest of the week Carole, Giles, Justin and Jessica will take us further into the history of ideas about origins with programmes of their own. Between them they will examine early modern comet theory, Thomas Aquinas, The big Bang and Hindu Creation myths.

In this omnibus edition all five programmes from the week are presented together.

04Plants: From Roots To Riches20141031

Prof Kathy Willis, Director of Science at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, with an omnibus edition of her history of our changing relationship with plants from the early 20th century.

She examines new insights into plant hormones during the first few decades of the 20th century, the manipulation of which underpinned the perceived success of the so called Green Revolution; unlocking biodiversity through the creation of plant flora encyclopaedias - and their influence in conservation; the surprising benefits to emerge from the devastation wreaked by the great storm of 1987; what can be gained by preserving the diversity of plants through seed banking; the legacy of Arabidopsis - the first plant to have its entire genome sequenced.

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

04Plants: From Roots To Riches20141031

Prof Kathy Willis, Director of Science at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, with an omnibus edition of her history of our changing relationship with plants from the early 20th century.

She examines new insights into plant hormones during the first few decades of the 20th century, the manipulation of which underpinned the perceived success of the so called Green Revolution; unlocking biodiversity through the creation of plant flora encyclopaedias - and their influence in conservation; the surprising benefits to emerge from the devastation wreaked by the great storm of 1987; what can be gained by preserving the diversity of plants through seed banking; the legacy of Arabidopsis - the first plant to have its entire genome sequenced.

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

05A History Of Ideas20150123

A new history of ideas presented by Melvyn Bragg but told in many voices.

Melvyn is joined by four guests with different backgrounds to discuss a really big question. This week he's asking What makes us human?

Helping him answer it are Philosopher Barry Smith, Classicist Catherine Edwards, historian Simon Schaffer and theologian Giles Fraser.

For the rest of the week Barry, Catharine, Simon and Giles will take us further into the history of ideas about what makes us human. With programmes of their own they will examine the evolution of language, the Stoic philosopher Seneca, the classification of all living species and the film Bladerunner.

This omnibus edition has all five programmes together.

This omnius edition has all five programmes together.

05 LASTPlants: From Roots to Riches20141107

Professor Kathy Willis, director of science at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, with the final episodes of her new history of our changing relationship with plants

Kathy Willis examines how the technology that helped map whole genomes in plants and animals was to revolutionise the classification of flowering plants; the evolution of our rainforests as revealed by DNA fingerprinting; plants as essential regulators of our planet's atmospheric carbon and water cycles; how green spaces and ecosystems have a positive effect on our health and well being; the future role of plants as providers of food to feed the planet's growing population.

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

05 LASTPlants: From Roots To Riches20141107

Professor Kathy Willis, director of science at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, with the final episodes of her new history of our changing relationship with plants

Kathy Willis examines how the technology that helped map whole genomes in plants and animals was to revolutionise the classification of flowering plants; the evolution of our rainforests as revealed by DNA fingerprinting; plants as essential regulators of our planet's atmospheric carbon and water cycles; how green spaces and ecosystems have a positive effect on our health and well being; the future role of plants as providers of food to feed the planet's growing population.

Producer Adrian Washbourne.

06A History Of Ideas20150130

Omnibus edition of Melvyn Bragg's History of ideas series. Five programmes examining how technology has changed us from flint axe to sat nav.

07A History Of Ideas20150403

A new history of ideas presented by Melvyn Bragg but told in many voices.

Each week Melvyn is joined by four guests with different backgrounds to discuss a really big question. This week he's asking 'How do I live a good life'?

Helping him answer it are historian Justin Champion, neuropsychologist Paul Broks , theologian Naomi Appleton and philosopher Jules Evans.

For the rest of the week Jules, Paul, Justin and Naomi will take us further into the history of ideas about the good life with programmes of their own. Between them they will examine Aristotle's idea of flourishing, selfishness, the Protestant work ethic and Buddhism's Four Noble Truths.

This Omnibus edition has all five programmes together.

08A History Of Ideas20150410

A new history of ideas presented by Melvyn Bragg but told in many voices.

Each week Melvyn is joined by four guests with different backgrounds to discuss a really big question. This week they're tackling the question 'What is Justice?'.

Helping him answer it are lawyer Harry Potter, philosopher Angie Hobbs, criminologist David Wilson, and the historian Alice Taylor. Between them they will dismantle the idea of deterrence, investigate civil disobedience, tackle how to build a just society, and look at how this has been done throughout history. Then each of them attempt to take us further into the history of ideas about justice, with programmes of their own. This Omnibus edition has all five programmes together.

09A History Of Ideas20150417

A new history of ideas presented by Melvyn Bragg, but told in many voices.

Each week Melvyn is joined by four guests with different backgrounds to discuss a really big question. This week they're tackling the question 'What does it mean to be me?'.

Helping him answer it are the writer A. L. Kennedy, the neuropsychologist Paul Broks, the philosopher Jules Evans, and the ontologist Barry Smith. Between them they will investigate consciousness, delve into memory, examine ideas about the 'self' and veer into existentialism. Then each of them attempt to take us further into the subject, with programmes of their own. This Omnibus edition has all five programmes together.

09A History Of Ideas20150417

A new history of ideas presented by Melvyn Bragg, but told in many voices.

Each week Melvyn is joined by four guests with different backgrounds to discuss a really big question. This week they're tackling the question 'What does it mean to be me?'.

Helping him answer it are the writer A. L. Kennedy, the neuropsychologist Paul Broks, the philosopher Jules Evans, and the ontologist Barry Smith. Between them they will investigate consciousness, delve into memory, examine ideas about the 'self' and veer into existentialism. Then each of them attempt to take us further into the subject, with programmes of their own. This Omnibus edition has all five programmes together.

10A History Of Ideas20150724

Economist Kate Barker, historian Justin Champion and philosophers Timothy Secret and Angie Hobbs discuss the history of ideas around how to live together. Melvyn Bragg presents.

10A History Of Ideas20150724

Economist Kate Barker, historian Justin Champion and philosophers Timothy Secret and Angie Hobbs discuss the history of ideas around how to live together. Melvyn Bragg presents.

11A History Of Ideas20150731

Melvyn Bragg hosts as theologian Giles Fraser, writer Lisa Appignanesi, classicist Edith Hall and psychotherapist Mark Vernon discuss the history of ideas around Love.

11A History Of Ideas20150731

Melvyn Bragg hosts as theologian Giles Fraser, writer Lisa Appignanesi, classicist Edith Hall and psychotherapist Mark Vernon discuss the history of ideas around Love.

12A History Of Ideas20150807

Melvyn Bragg asks 'How can I know anything at all?' Bishop Berkley, Karl Popper, David Hume and Ludwig Wittgenstein provide the answers.

12A History Of Ideas20150807

Melvyn Bragg asks 'How can I know anything at all?' Bishop Berkley, Karl Popper, David Hume and Ludwig Wittgenstein provide the answers.