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The Story of X

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 06 September 2012

Stephen Fry's X rated account of the 24th letter of the English alphabet starts in ancient Greece and ends with exploitation movies carrying X ratings. On the way we hear the truth about how x was used as a signature, its place in algebra, marketing and medicine, and with the help of Mr Gyles Brandreth why X is a mixed blessing in the English version of Scrabble.

We venture into the unknown with the story of physicist Willhelm Roentgen who discovered an odd luminescent ray that appeared to have immoral properties, and Mark Kermode explains to Stephen why marking movies with an X made them seem more attractive to the very audience they were designed to exclude.

And we end with some affectionate xxxx kisses on the bottom with a mathematical explanation as to how and why you gottem and what they mean, courtesy of Rene Descartes and Fats Waller.

Producer: Nick Baker
A Testbed Production for BBC Radio 4.


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