Wednesday 3 October 2018

Something for the BBC to Bragg about

Melvyn in the 'In Our Time' studio just prior to going on air each week

As regular readers will probably know I'm a massive fan of Melvin Bragg's magnificent In Our Time (with or without the mumbling). 

His Lordship is quoted in The Times today (via The Radio Times) ascribing the popularity of his programme (including with the young) to our becoming "a more serious country", partly thanks to the recent huge spread of university education...

...a contention which might well call for that most traditional of university essay question closing commands: "Discuss". 

The Times goes on:

Of course, it's not "a week" from Friday to Monday, and In Our Time isn't a "Monday morning live show", being broadcast on Thursday, but otherwise The Times is (probably) spot-on. 

Long may 78-year-old Lord Bragg of Wigton continue to spend less than a week boning up on Bonhoeffer, Brunel, Bruegel, bird migration, black holes, Beowulf,  blogs about BBC bias, behavioural ecology, and the Boxer Rebellion, among other B-related topics (not yet including Billy Bragg) - and all subjects under every other letter of the alphabet too!


  1. Yes it's very good. The back catalogue is wonderful and I download a few podcasts for long journeys. Having said that I have felt recently that Bragg was sounding a bit doddery, and at 78 maybe that's to be expected. As any replacement would be a black muslim woman and the topics would very sharply into identity-based discussions, I have to hope he can keep going, but BBC does have a problem with the die-hards who just keep on and on like Simpson and Humphries.

    1. Yes,for all Bragg's lefty pretensions, it's really quite an old fashioned sort of programme dealing with old fashioned (ie important) issues. It's definitely due a PC makeover. The irritating Mary Beard perhaps.

      I have often wondered why - when the programme was getting (maybe still does) 2 million listeners - the BBC never thought to put an equivalent programme on our TV screens. I think it would work well and could incorporate some visual material - graphs, photographs and so on. It's almost as if the BBC don't want us to think.

    2. Yes, he slurs words. Mostly you can fill in any missed words from the sense of the sentence but I can never catch the names of the guests. It's the same with Jenni Murray of Woman's Hour. They are broadcasters but not voice-trained actors so diction can be a problem.

      There used to be an interesting and serious programme on the World Service called The Forum, chaired by Bridget Kendall, which also had a very varied range of subjects. Sadly she has retired. They've been repeating some of them on Radio 4 on Saturday mornings.

    3. Yes, The Forum was quite good as well though I think the subjects were a bit more predictable. BK retiring? Good God - just seen she's 62.

  2. Melvin Bragg still seems pretty sharp to me. Amazingly the anti-elitists and the detractors of dead white males haven't got their sweaty little hands on the subject matter yet. When Melvin does eventually go...

    1. Melvyn may be a lefty but he is an old fashioned lefty: educated, interested in lots of ideas, prepared to change his views in the light of evidence, not one to wallow in self-pity, and able to produce work of a high standard whether it's novels, broadcasting, biography or whatever. You could equally cite Roy Jenkins, Michael Foot, Richard Crossman or Denis Healey as exemplars of a now dead tradition.

      What current Labour front bencher is actually capable of producing a reasonable novel or biography or anything else of note eg starting a business? Dawn Butler? Tom Watson? Jeremy Corbyn? Diane Abbott? Rebecca Long-Bailey? Angela Rayner?

      If they ever get their hands on power it will be the first ever Low IQ Government. I guess that will be their first equalities triumph! :)

    2. Quite apart from their academic shortcomings most of them haven’t done anything at all apart from political activism. Corbyn is a classic case. He has never made anything, sold anything, provided employment for anybody or had any kind of meaningful career outside the trade union movement and the Labour Party.


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