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25/03/2017
BBC Radio 4

    Can the world's population really fit on the Isle of Wight? More or Less is back

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    "And, this week, that train of thought led us to try to squeeze as many Radio 4 presenters and producers
    into our studio as possible..."

    A bunch of attention seekers would be one way of describing the More or Less team.

    With the Financial Times' Undercover Economist Tim Harford at the helm, we go to great lengths to get listeners to tune in to chat about statistics. They can be revealing, surprising, unexpected and, of course, confusing, contradictory or plain bogus.

    But on More or Less, we aim to provide a clear way through the numbers of the moment.

    And, this week, that train of thought led us to try to squeeze as many Radio 4 presenters and producers into our studio as possible.

    With the UN recently announcing that the world's population had grown to 7bn, we thought there was no time like the present to test the popular belief that you could fit everyone in the world on the Isle of Wight (people really do believe this, and have done for a long time - type it into your search engine), if they stood shoulder to shoulder.

    If we could fit about 74 people into our studio, we calculated, then the whole world could move to the Isle of Wight. If it so wished.

    Measuring just 4m2, once you take away the furniture, our studio's modelled in the finest BBC broom cupboard tradition.

    It wasn't immediately clear it was advisable to stuff it full of human beings. But we did. (We consulted a BBC health and safety adviser - and persuaded him to squeeze in too).

    We had strict rules - keep your hands to yourself and you're only allowed in if you've deodorised. Money Box presenter Paul Lewis was first through the door, followed - if you'll believe us - by dozens of his production staff. Other Radio 4 presenters appeared, rallying round to help the programme. And it was a tight fit.

    "Oh, I can't get in there!" Jim Naughtie was heard to exclaim, while Gerry Northam sat on Winifred Robinson's knee. Tim was in charge of the counting, partly because he is good with numbers but mainly because he's really tall.

    Meanwhile I, as producers always are, was in charge of worrying that something might go wrong.

    You'll have to listen to find out how many we squashed in and how many of the big name presenters were really there. Suffice to say, I was quite surprised. And a bit hot.

    Ruth Alexander is series producer, More or Less, BBC Radio 4

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