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Small, Medium and Large

Episode 2 of 5

Novelist and critic Ian Sansom uncovers the unlikely history of the scientific measurement of the average man and woman's dimensions.

Novelist and critic Ian Sansom believes that the idea of the average is one of the key terms and principles of the modern age, encompassing human productivity, relationships, politics and art. So, how did average become a byword for mediocrity?

In the second essay of the series, he uncovers the unlikely history of the scientific measurement of the dimensions of the average man and woman. We learn that our ever-changing dimensions matter - size matters - for all sorts of obvious reasons, not least because average sizes literally determine the shape of the world we all live in: the height of our tables and chairs, the shape of our clothes, our cars, our phones - and of course our coffins. We all live and die according to the average.

Producer: Stan Ferguson.

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15 minutes

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