Main content

Are you related to Edward III…and Danny Dyer?

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

The BBC series ‘Who do you think you are?’ has traced the ancestors of the actor Danny Dyer, famous for parts in Eastenders and many films. The programme revealed that he is in fact related to Edward III. But how unusual is that? We look at the odds of someone with English heritage being descended from this medieval king who died in 1377.

How many cows for a fiver?
The news that products from cows have been used to make the new five pound notes has caused consternation. Vice News have tried to work out statistically how many animals must have died in order to make these new notes in circulation. It is a very low number.

Five year olds not so bad after all
‘Shocking’ stats were revealed this week by the Department of Education. School assessments showed that just under a third of five year olds were below the expected standards for children of their age. But not only are these results not that shocking there is another reason why the statistics are not all they seem.

How to wrap a football
Christmas is approaching and Tim Harford has a puzzling present-related question – what’s the best way to wrap a spherical object? Fortunately mathematician Hannah Fry has been thinking about this and gives her best thoughts on how to tackle this festive problem.

Cleaning up water
In the Desk of Good News, we look at how improving sanitation has transformed lives. We speak to Johan Norberg, author of ‘Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future’ about the Great Stink of 1858.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Image: Danny Dyer on 'Who do you think you are?'. BBC Copyright

Available now

28 minutes


Download this programme

Download this programme

Subscribe to this programme or download individual episodes.