Two Thousand Years Of Puzzling

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
0101To Entertain and Amaze20180122

Chris Maslanka traces the history of mankind's seemingly insatiable delight in puzzles.

Chris Maslanka sets out on his journey to describe the long and endlessly satisfying human appetite for the setting and solving of puzzles. In five programmes he takes a series of narratives following the developments of the Maze, of riddles, of mathematical puzzles and the use of grids, as well as covering the period in the 19th century when a new middle class established enough leisure to make the business of puzzling exactly that, a business. In the process Chris solves some of the conundrums about the utilitarian nature of puzzling and why it is that puzzles travel so well and respond to the catalyst of mechanical invention.

0102Riddle-me-ree20180123

Chris Maslanka traces the history of mankind's seemingly insatiable delight in puzzles.

After tracking the narrative of the maze through history, Chris turns to the word maze that is the riddle. With the help of Anglo-Saxon specialist Dr Katie Lowe and access to the Exeter Riddle book he explores the way language and its rich supply of ambiguity has provoked playfulness from the Thebans to the people conjuring up riddles for Christmas crackers.

0103Recreational Maths!20180124

Chris Maslanka traces the history of mankind's seemingly insatiable delight in puzzles.

The third strand of Chris Maslanka's narrative history of Puzzling tackles the territory that brings a sizeable proportion of the population out in a cold sweat. However, he's adamant that there is, and always has been creation and, more to the point recreation in Maths. In the company of the celebrated Mathematician and fellow puzzler David Singmaster he describes the evidence of that over the centuries and together they argue that to teach Maths without the use of puzzles and the inherent satisfaction of their solution is to diminish the language itself.

0104Creatures of Leisure20180125

Chris Maslanka traces the history of mankind's seemingly insatiable delight in puzzles.

While Chris Maslanka's series about the history of Puzzling has been constructed from a series of puzzling strands reaching across the centuries this programme concentrates on just one century, the 19th, and the rise of a leisured class in Western Europe and the United States which resulted, amongst many other things, in the inexorable rise of the printed puzzle. There was also a focal figure in the form of Lewis Carroll. Chris discusses his importance with the graph theorist Robin Wilson as well as contemplating the Dodo in Oxford's Natural History Museum, the creature that inspired Carroll and prompts Chris to reflect on the way Puzzles can sometimes become extinct.

0105On The Grid20180126

Chris Maslanka traces the history of mankind's seemingly insatiable delight in puzzles.

Of all the puzzles that burden the newsagent's shelves it's the Grid Puzzles that dominate. In the final programme of his series on the history of Puzzling Chris Maslanka takes a long hard look at the two across, blank a, blank i, blank a, blank i, blank (fascinating!) world of grids from Sudoku to the Cryptic crossword. He talks to Don Manley about the appeal of the shapes and restrictions of the grid and the language of the cryptic clue. They discuss the grid puzzle's future, future dimensions and how they thrive and survive in the digital age.

Producer: Tom Alban.