Archives for March 2011

Revealed - the Desert Island Discs archive

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Cathy Drysdale Cathy Drysdale 12:31, Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Roy Plomley with Eileen Fowler, fitness expert, in 1974.

What a week for everyone involved in Desert Island Discs. It began with a blizzard of checking, fixing and not a little sweating to get everything ready for the launch of the new web site. Of course in the event, it all went very smoothly and soon there were people passing by my desk saying, "it's live!" with a mixture of amazement and excitement. No time to stop though as we were recording an interview with Tony Robinson at 1030. This was followed by recording some more of our new series for Radio 4 Extra - Desert Island Discs Revisited - in which Kirsty introduces some gems from the archive.

We're kicking off this Sunday at 1000 on Radio 4 Extra with a series of children's authors beginning with the wonderful J.K. Rowling (from 2000). After that it was my chance to show off the website for the first time to Kirsty. She'd seen the designs of course, but it's a very different thing to seeing the sumptuous all-singing, all-dancing version. Happily she was thrilled with it (she thinks people will find it addictive) and she was soon searching for castaways who had choosen 2 of her favourites - tracks by ELO and Joni Mitchell. The site itself is a fantastic technical feat involving lots of brilliant people who do jobs I still don't understand - it's been a pleasure working with them.

A word on the material that's there - from the outset we've treated everything - the track, book & luxury choices, what was written about the programme and the audio as part of the archive. So both what you read and what you can hear should be considered in the context of the time they were written and broadcast. Many castaways have gone on to even greater achievements (David Cameron, Colin Firth), changed or lost jobs - it's fascinating to see what they've done since the original recording. I hope everyone will agree how beautiful the site looks - thanks to iPlayer picture editors - but there are some castaways for whom we've been unable to source copyright-cleared pics. If agents, publishers, family members or the castaways themselves can help us, we'd be delighted to receive an email from them.

Martin Sheen and Desert Island Discs producer Leanne Buckle in a Broadcastng House studio in February 2011.

Martin Sheen and producer Leanne Buckle.

We're building up now to our return on Radio 4 - with the fantastic Martin Sheen. I was distraught to miss the recording (done in February) - I'm a huge fan of The West Wing - and sure enough Martin was an absolute delight, introducing himself to unsuspecting members of staff and public alike in the reception of Broadcasting House with "Hello, I'm Martin Sheen. Good to meet you". A colleague caused great delight apparently as he left the next door studio and came upon him unexpectedly greeting him with, "Well hello Mr President". Wish I'd been there. It's going to be a great start to our next run of programmes and hopefully everyone will enjoy hours of fun searching with website... and that's before you even start listening - there's over 350 hours of archive editions of DID available - both to listen to via the site or to download. As someone who's always been passionate about what the BBC has in its archives, this is one of the most thrilling aspects of the whole project.

Finally, this has been a huge project but I hope you won't mind if I say a public 'thank you' to the stars of the show - David Jones and the Radio 4 interactive team, Caroline Sotorrio and the magneticNorth team in Manchester and the one and only Tony Crabb - our project manager who kept the whole show on the road. They've all been an inspiration to work with. Happy listening.

Cathy Drysdale is Executive Producer of Desert Island Discs

  • The new Desert Island Discs web site is online now.
  • Listen to Martin Sheen's appearance on Desert Island Discs on Sunday at 1115.
  • The pictures show Roy Plomley, the programme's originator and long-time presenter, with guest fitness guru Eileen Fowler in 1974 and the programme's current producer Leanne Buckle with Martin Sheen.

Rocking and rolling on The Reunion

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David Prest David Prest 08:33, Sunday, 27 March 2011

Left-to-right, top: Vince Eager, Bruce Welch, Marty Wilde, bottom: Clem Cattini, Sue MacGregor, Terry Dene.

We recognised Marty Wilde first. He was the tall one with the full head of hair dressed in a camel coat. Vince Eager came next, a man who once quaked the nation with the soda pop fuelled Buzz, Buzz. Buzz. Then came the drummer who has quite possibly played on more No 1's than any other man alive, Clem Cattini. Bruce Welch of The Shadows, recovering from a recent heart op, had immaculately suited and booted for the occasion and last was Terry Dene, the man who was every girl's pin up as the face of innocence in 1957.

Every edition of Radio 4's The Reunion is different with its own rhythms and dynamics. Some are tense and frosty, laced with simmering resentment, others bemused and befuddled. Reunion Number 76 promises it all and more. The fifties rockers are quickly into their groove in the green room, joshing as they probably did at the 2i's coffee bar in the years before the sixties started "swinging".

Sue MacGregor arrives after some last minute studio prep. She makes sure everyone feels equally greeted and well met. It's a critical moment. If we linger too long, they'll start blowing the bonhomie before we've got them in the studio. Not enough time to re-bond, and they'll freeze when we start recording. I look at Sue, she looks at me, and just as we reach the tipping point, we whisk them in in.

Co-producer Brian McCluskey has spent weeks cajoling and reassuring them all. Along the way he's been checking facts, focussing hazy memories and digging up obscure pieces of archive to give shape to their story.

Green light, and all is quickly well. Bruce recalls the thrill of arriving in London from Newcastle with his bespectacled chum Hank Marvin and "just deciding not to go home". Vince is more pragmatic. It wasn't the music at the 2is, "it was the girls that were the draw". We have to tell Clem to stop tapping his fingers on the studio table top. "Bloody drummers" says Bruce.

We end an archive sequence with a 1961 clip of Marty Wilde's Mum talking about the pride of seeing her boy on stage. Straight back to the studio, and for one poignant moment, Marty's lost for words. Terry recalls in frank detail his breakdown during National Service, he's still angry at the military management who left him broken. Clem talks about the pride of being in the first British group to top the American charts (Telstar by The Tornados). Bruce bristles (The Shads never made it to number one in the U.S. and Clem knows it!)

They recall characters as if it were yesterday. Sue mentions Larry Parnes, the pop Svengali of the day, and they all start. He gave them all character names: "Wilde, Eager, Fury", even put them up at his flat in Knightsbridge. Marty admired his chutzpah, recalling the publicity scams he used to pull. Vince tells a ripe (possibly too ripe for Radio 4) story about his bedroom proclivities which ends with the punchline "I might be called Eager, but I'm not desperate".

The end of their era at the top came too soon. The Beatles arrived in 1962, and everything changed. But there's no bitterness from our boys. These were their glory days. Sue asks them to pick a play-out song, and they've all settled on Billy Fury's Maybe Tomorrow. It was almost made to be.

David Prest is Series Producer of The Reunion

  • Listen to The Reunion: 50s Rockers at 1115 this morning or, for seven days after that, on the Radio 4 web site.
  • The picture shows, left-to-right, top: Vince Eager, Bruce Welch, Marty Wilde; bottom: Clem Cattini, Sue MacGregor, Terry Dene.
  • Since the beginning, David has taken a photo at every recording. Pictures taken up to 2009 are on Flickr.

On the way out - Sir Michael Lyons on Feedback

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Roger Bolton Roger Bolton 13:55, Friday, 25 March 2011

Sir Michael Lyons on his first morning as BBC Chairman outside the BBC Television Centre in Shepherd's Bush, London.

"Events, dear boy Events"!

That was the apparently unflappable Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan, discussing what most concerned him. He meant the crises that arrive out of clear blue skies and changed the political weather overnight. Well we have had plenty of 'events' during this latest run of Feedback programmes.

There was the almost peaceful revolution in Egypt, and widespread demonstrations in the Arab world, then the Japanese Tsunami which caused tens of thousands of deaths, followed by the crises at one of its nuclear power stations.

And now there is the latest in Libya. Even as late as two weeks ago, who would have thought that our aircrews would be in action over Tobruk, a place that older listeners amongst us only associate with the Second World War?

BBC Chairmen have to get used to 'events', and to leaks from all over the Corporation when vested interests see what they most care about being threatened by cuts. The Director General has just announced 21 options for cuts and the internal and external battles have begun.

Newspapers of course lap it up, MPs find comment irresistible and the result is massive pressure on the BBC Trust to step in to protect the 'public interest', about which few can agree. Sir Michael Lyons, the outgoing BBC Chairman, says that everyone who does his job soon gets used to 'incoming fire' from all sides. Yet when he decided to step down there was no shortage of applicants for the job, which has gone to the former Conservative Party Chairman and the last Governor of Hong Kong, Lord Patten.

This week, shortly before he steps down,I spoke to Sir Michael and here is the complete interview, extracts of which we used in the programme.

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By the way can I just say that Sir Michael Lyons was unfailingly charming on and off the record and was, I think, genuinely committed to ensuring that the licence fee payer had more of a say in the strategic decisions of the organisation they, we, pay for. He certainly never ducked being interviewed on Feedback. Our invitation to his successor to appear has already been dispatched.

We are now off the air until May 20th, but please keep in touch and let us know what you love and hate and want investigated. All of BBC Radio is our territory, national and local and international.

Thanks for listening.

Roger Bolton is presenter of Feedback

  • Listen again to this week's Feedback, produced by Karen Pirie, get in touch with Feedback, find out how to join the listener panel or subscribe to the podcast on the Feedback web page.
  • Feedback is on Twitter. Follow @BBCR4Feedback.
  • The picture shows Sir Michael arriving at Television Centre on his first day in the job in 2007.

Elizabeth Taylor, 27 February 1932 - 23 March 2011

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Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick 11:46, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Elizabeth Taylor, perhaps the last of the movie icons of the golden era, has died, aged 79. She was a troubled person but an undisputed star. Philip French, The Guardian's film critic, said in a profile:

...she was exploited by every gossip columnist and patronised by virtually every film reviewer, dismissed as a substandard actress, condemned as a predatory home-breaker - but elevated to superstar status.

Front Row, this evening at 1915, has interviews with director Nicolas Roeg, who first worked with Elizabeth Taylor in 1952; Paul Gambaccini, who was the DJ at her 50th birthday party; Barry Norman, who gives an overview of her career; and director Michael Winner. Listen live at 1915..

Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Neil Coghill filming an interview at Merton College, Oxford in 1967.

Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Neil Coghill filming an interview at Merton College, Oxford in 1967.

Elizabeth Taylor in front of the River Thames in 1963.

Elizabeth Taylor in front of the River Thames in 1963.

Elizabeth Taylor in front of the River Thames and Houses Of Parliament

Elizabeth Taylor in front of the River Thames and Houses Of Parliament

Steve Bowbrick is editor of the Radio 4 blog

Controller Andy Parfitt on Radio 1 and Asian Network

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Roger Bolton Roger Bolton 18:24, Friday, 18 March 2011

Chris Moyles, Dave Vitty, family and friends at the end of their record-breaking 52-hour show

Andy Parfitt, the Controller of Radio 1, is clearly devoted to his job. Why else would you agree to curl up in a sleeping bag on the floor of Chris Moyles' studio while the Breakfast King and his sidekick Comedy Dave try to stay awake for 51.5 hours in order to create a new world record for Red Nose Day?

As I am probably the same age as the grandparents of some Radio 1 listeners I clearly needed some help , so we recruited 17-year-old Jenny Dontenvile, 20-year-old Emma Corsham and 22-year-old John Adams to help me out. Here is part of our conversation:

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Andy Parfitt is also head of the Asian Network which was seemingly sentenced to death last year by BBC management. Of course, as with the condemned, then reprieved, 6 Music, the audiences went up considerably as soon as sentence was passed. Nothing concentrates the mind of BBC radio listeners as the prospective death of their favourite network. So is the Asian network also to be reprieved in another BBC u-turn? (We've heard rumours).

Here is Andy Parfitt's reply.

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By the way, next week, in the final Feedback of the present run, I'll be talking to the departing Chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons. If you have any questions that you would like me to ask him, please let me know asap.

Roger Bolton is presenter of Feedback

  • Listen again to this week's Feedback, produced by Karen Pirie, get in touch with Feedback, find out how to join the listener panel or subscribe to the podcast on the Feedback web page.
  • Feedback is on Twitter. Follow @BBCR4Feedback.
  • The picture shows Chris Moyles and Dave Vitty at the end of their record-breaking 52-hour show in aid of Comic Relief. More on the Radio 1 web site.

Ambridge Extra on BBC Radio 4 Extra

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Keri Davies Keri Davies 18:16, Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Scott Arthur (Rhys, the barman at The Bull), The Archers

Editor's note: it's a new Archers drama. It's going to be on Radio 4 Extra twice a week and you'll be able to download it as a free podcast. More information from scriptwriter Keri Davies on The Archers blog - SB.

People who follow me on Twitter will be aware that I've been very busy recently but I haven't been able to say why.

Now at last I can.

I'm one of the two scriptwriters from The Archers team who have been working on a spin-off from the main programme. 'Ambridge Extra' will launch on BBC Radio 4 Extra (the new version of Radio 7) in the first week of April.

The idea is that you'll be able to hear more stories from in and around Ambridge, and also we'll be able to go further afield with Archers-related characters.

Read the rest of Keri's post on The Archers blog...

Down the Line is back

Gary Bellamy Gary Bellamy 14:40, Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Editor's note: when Down the Line first appeared on Radio 4 there was uproar. A popular phone-in with an award-winning presenter most obviously recruited from a different part of the speech radio spectrum? Not a popular commission. However, Radio 4 listeners - ever tolerant - have taken the show, and its enthusiastic (and award-winning) host to their heart - SB.

Well it's been a long time, but after a two-year hiatus, Down The Line is back for a fourth series and I am back where I belong on Radio 4.

I would be lying if I didn't say I was disappointed with the reaction to 'Bellamy's People.' We were all hoping that the series would become as successful as 'Coast,' 'Islands of Britain with Martin Clunes' or 'Britain by Hot Air Balloon with Stephen Tompkinson', the latter was particularly entertaining, though I still don't know who Stephen Tomkinson is as I never watched that Ballykissthingy he was in, or indeed Drop the Dead Whatever.

Anyway, I shan't blame poor scheduling or publicity for the show's demise. Truth is, maybe I, the Award-Winning Gary Bellamy am to blame. Maybe it's true what they say about having a great face for radio. After all, I am not the only person who failed to make the jump to TV (Steve Wright, Simon Mayo, Christian O'Connell, Chris Moyles, Terry Wogan and Chris Evans to name but a few). But I am so glad to be back with the intellectuals at Broadcasting House rather than those creatively-barren Costa Coffee addicts bumbling around Television Centre making yet another dancing programme.

After the show was cancelled, I spent a long time considering my future and went to some very dark places. Pot holing is one of my favourite past times, Michaela likes it too. We'd spent months apart whilst I was traveling Britain meeting all of those guys on 'BP', and a nice pot holing trip in the Peak District brought us together as a team and we saw some amazing underground caverns and lakes. It also led me to call up the controller of Radio 4 and talk to him about a new series of Down The Line. He was over the moon (they were desperate for some more, as everything else in the 6.30 slot since had failed miserably).

Whilst tackling a particular tricky calcified stemple a mile below the ground, Michaela and I decided it was high time (or low time considering our current situation) that we took the next step and made a new Bellamy - a baby that is.

We had been putting it off for a while as there had been plans for Bellamy's Europe and Bellamy's World (and even a one-off Bellamy's Universe where I met some astronauts) and I didn't want her to give birth on her own. As the TV series came to nothing, a baby was the perfect antidote to our disappointment. Neither of us were getting any younger, both of our hairlines were receding (Michaela's a little more than mine) and the body clock was ticking. But it was still a difficult decision and a big step for professional people like us. Curiously, it was Elton John and David Furnish who convinced us to go ahead. Not personally, we watched them on 'Daybreak.' If they could have kids, why couldn't we? Sir Reginald Dwight is a fine example of the miracle of modern science, a new heart, hair and fertility implants.

So anyway, as we speak, Michaela and I are trying for a baby and all that it entails - which turns out to involve many trips to the fertility clinic, both here and in Spain - yep, when I said the clock was ticking, I was wrong. Michaela's has stopped. As part of our ongoing journey for a baby I have decided to share this experience with you in my blogs and on the show as this is such a familiar story for many women aged between 34 and 60 still trying for a baby. It's time we were all more open about this very sensitive subject. Don't worry fans, I haven't gone wet and turned into Lorraine Kelly or Trisha. 'Down The Line' will still be as groundbreaking and hard hitting as ever.

So why don't you join me, leave a comment here - and yes, now you can even tweet me @garybellamydtl

It's good to be back!

Gary Bellamy is presenter of Down the Line

Lord Patten in the hot seat

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Roger Bolton Roger Bolton 16:45, Friday, 11 March 2011

Lord Patten, frontrunner for the job of Chairman of the BBC Trust.

The Time - 10am on Thursday 10th March.

The Place - The Grimond Room in Portcullis House.

The Occasion - pre-appointment hearing with the Government's preferred candidate for the role of the Chairman of the BBC Trust.

In the corridor outside, the media pack compares notes about what is a unique event, the first time that the appointment of the top job in the BBC has been subject to scrutiny by a parliamentary committee.

There is a suddenly flurry and a well-fed Lord with a shock of white hair, deep sunk eyes and a wry smile, moves modestly past the hacks to sit in what most candidates would have thought of as a hot seat, but which Lord Christopher Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University and former Chairman of the Conservative Party, last Governor of Hong Kong etc etc etc, makes seem very cool indeed.

Over the next two hours or so the parliamentary committee, polite but forensic, probes Lord Patten's politics, business interests, possible biases and rather elitist listening habits. The noble Lord never raises his voice and cracks a number of rather good jokes, but resolutely refuses to exhibit any passion until a committee member remarks on its absence.

Chris Patten then starts to express his "passion" for the BBC and much of its output without departing from that same dry low-key delivery.

He is only discomforted when having to confess that the last time he watched Eastenders was before he ate his last MacDonalds, surely as a desperate student late at night in the 1960s. One MP suggests that Patten's idea of dumbing down was switching from BBC4 to BBC2 and the candidate admitted that he only listens to Radio 1 by accident when he is trying to find Radios 3 and 4.

For these last two networks he expresses undying love, like a young Romeo, and we soon learn that Melvyn Bragg, Nick Robinson and Jeremy Bowen are safe in the rosy glow of his approval.

However Lord Patten made clear that he expects to be unpopular in his BBC role and that "there will be all hell let loose" as the corporation is forced to cut its spending on programmes.

I sat in on the hearing together with Jocelyn Hay, President of the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, the public service broadcasting pressure group, and afterwards asked her what she had made of it:

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Later that afternoon I caught up with the John Whittingdale, Chairman of the committee which had lightly grilled Lord Patten:

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By the way if you want to get a complete record of what the new BBC Chairman said at the hearing you can find it in the archive at Transcripts will shortly be available from The Stationary Office.

Next week in Feedback I'll be talking to the Controller of Radio 1 and BBC1Xtra so if you have any questions you'd like me to ask him, please send them to

Roger Bolton is presenter of Feedback

  • Listen again to this week's Feedback, produced by Karen Pirie, get in touch with Feedback, find out how to join the listener panel or subscribe to the podcast on the Feedback web page.
  • Feedback is on Twitter. Follow @BBCR4Feedback.
  • Lord Patten was the subject of Radio 4's Profile two weeks ago.

Stand up for Comic Relief - the contenders

As this video preview confirms, the brutal inter-station comedy smackdown that is Stand up for Comic Relief is under way. Six of the BBC's national radio networks are represented this time; Radio 4 by Woman's Hour legend Jenni Murray and the others by various presenters I can't quite bring myself to name (this, remember, is the Radio 4 blog).

Each has taken a crash course in the indelicate art of stand-up comedy with a big name mentor from the comedy world and, at 1830 this coming Wednesday you can hear their live sets in front of an audience at London's Comedy Store on Radio 4. Then, from 1900 on the same day (right after the programme), you'll be able to see videos of all six sets on the BBC's Red Nose Day web site and (this is the important bit) the lines will open for you to vote for the one you thought best. Let battle commence.

Steve Bowbrick is editor of the Radio 4 blog

  • The three-episode chronicle of the six presenters' unlikely journey to the stage at the legendary Comedy Store starts tomorrow evening at 1830 on Radio 4. Listen to all three episodes for seven days after transmission on the Radio 4 web site.

Doorstepping Hardeep Singh Kohli - the Alternative Census on Feedback

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Roger Bolton Roger Bolton 19:27, Thursday, 3 March 2011

Hardeep Singh Kohli with Sylvia Singer for Radio 4's 'Alternative Census'.

Nine a.m. on a cold March day in North London. I knock on the door of a flat in a new tower block. When the door opens I'm straight in with my questions before the occupant can shut it in my face.

How long have you lived here? Are you on your own? Who else lives here? Emboldened by the fact that the door is still open, I press on.

How many times have you been in love? Do you remember your first kiss?

Hardeep Singh Kholi smiles at me with a weary tolerance.

I have of course come to talk to him about his Radio 4 series, Alternative Census, and have put to him the rather personal, not to say intimate, questions he has been asking of people in Liverpool and Mallaig, Merthyr Tydfil and Great Yarmouth among other places.

"Why do people reveal their private feelings and experiences in such a public manner" , I think in my stiff upper lip way. "Or am I just emotionally constipated?" (No comment required).

The series has received great praise from Feedback listeners who feel they are hearing fresh voices which are often absent from network radio.

They are also very complimentary about Hardeep's gentle probing which elicits such fascinating revelations. The series was, of course, commissioned before the latest BBC Trust review of Radio 4 which encouraged the network to redouble its efforts to attract audiences from outside the M25 and from minorities. Hardeep's Alternative Census must be right up their street.

Once I had got past HSK's front door into his kitchen we sat down for a proper conversation. Here is an extract.

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By the way, in a couple of weeks I'll be talking to Andy Parfitt the Head of Radio 1, and shortly afterwards to the outgoing Chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons.

If you have any questions you'd like me to ask them, please send them to

We read, learn, and inwardly digest, all your emails.

Roger Bolton is presenter of Feedback

In Our Time reaches 500

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Tom Morris 08:00, Thursday, 3 March 2011

I Love In Our Time graphic

On 15th October 1998 Melvyn Bragg welcomed listeners to a new Radio 4 programme called In Our Time. "In this series," he said, "I hope we'll look at the ideas and events which have shaped the century." The first subject was War in the Twentieth Century; Melvyn's guests were the military historian Sir Michael Howard and the writer (and now leader of the Canadian Liberal Party) Michael Ignatieff.

Thirteen years later, on March 10th, IOT will celebrate its 500th edition. In Our Time was originally produced by Olivia Seligman and she and Melvyn worked together on the format for the programme. It has changed quite a bit since those early days. In 2000 it was extended from half an hour to 45 minutes, and the original two guests became three. And the programme's original remit - to survey the key ideas of the 20th century- seemed a bit passé post-millennium; so Melvyn, Olivia and his then producer Charlie Taylor came up with the brilliantly simple formula that persists, a decade on.

I've been a fan since that first series, and many highlights still stick in my mind: a gripping account of the writing of the Encyclopedie; a lively discussion of Robin Hood, whose many surprises included Melvyn's on-air debut as a singer; and a fascinating programme about gravity and what causes it.

That diversity of subject matter has always been one of IOT's great strengths. Even the first few programmes included discussions of brain function, the nation state and attitudes to work. Melvyn Bragg, as one of the few people to have been made a Fellow of both the Royal Academy and the Royal Society, is as interested in science as he is in history and literature. Look back through previous IOT subjects and you'll find quantum physics rubbing shoulders with medieval philosophy, calculus with Egyptology.

When we came to plan the 500th programme, Melvyn and I were determined to show off that range as much as we could. So number 499 will look at the age of the universe - and the state of current knowledge of the subject - with a panel which includes the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees; the 500th examines one of the oldest problems of philosophy, Free Will (are we free to act as we choose?); and the 501st will look at the medieval universities and the tremendous influence they exerted on European intellectual life.

One of the great joys of taking over as producer of In Our Time a year ago was browsing the archive (every programme is available on our website) and finding juicy subjects the programme had never covered. Here was a great excuse to learn more about Pliny's Natural History, random numbers and Foxe's Book of Martyrs. So on the list they went; and thus our current run of programmes reflects my interests, as it does Melvyn's and those of our contributors.

In future weeks we'll be covering subjects including Hinduism, the Iron Age and neutrino physics. But, as I quickly discovered, we've still barely scratched the surface of several millennia of human endeavour. So we'd love to know what subjects you think we should discuss - and also what your highlights of the last 499 programmes have been. Please do make your suggestions - either by submitting a comment below or on Twitter, using the hashtag #IOT500.

Tom Morris is producer of In Our Time

  • As Tom points out, you can listen to the whole In Our Time archive on the Radio 4 web site - the largest programme archive at the BBC.
  • Get In Our Time delivered to your computer automatically every week - sign up for the In Our Time podcast.
  • Sign up for the free In Our Time newsletter - a rather clever and often very funny weekly update written by Melvyn Bragg - often while he's crossing St James's Park on the way to the office.
  • In The Guardian, Radio reviewer Elisabeth Mahoney asks "Is In Our Time Radio 4's best programme?"

New digital programmes - and a new name for Radio 7

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Tim Davie Tim Davie 13:38, Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Roy Plomley and Noel Coward on Desert Island Discs in 1963, for the 21st anniversary of the programme.

Today we announced a series of new programmes which will be appearing on our digital radio stations. Also, we confirmed that we are changing the name of BBC Radio 7 to BBC Radio 4 Extra in April. You can find all the details in the press release.

Some people have questioned why we are altering a much-loved service: is this just unnecessary management tinkering? Firstly, let me offer a few words of reassurance. Radio 4 Extra will not be fundamentally different to Radio 7. The vast majority of the programming will remain much-loved archive productions, and we will continue to focus on comedy, drama and entertainment rather than offering news or current affairs...

Continue reading this post on the BBC Radio blog...

Tim Davie is Director of Audio & Music

  • The picture shows Roy Plomley and his guest Noel Coward on the occasion of the twenty-first anniversary of Desert Island Discs in 1963. Coward had been on the list of guests drawn up by Plomley when he devised the programme in 1941.

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