Saturday 3 December 2016

Radio review: The delight of going against the grain

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 26/09/2016 | 02:30

Melvyn Bragg
Melvyn Bragg

Between 1348 and 1349, approximately half the population of England died of the Black Death; but BBC Radio Four's Making History explained how the disaster also opened up "huge opportunities" for survivors to get more land and jobs and earn higher wages.

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Fascinating stuff, and a reminder that radio doesn't always have to be about conflict and confrontation. Sometimes people talking knowledgeably about subjects they care about can work equally well. That's what makes the same station's In Our Time one of the best shows on air.

It returned last Thursday with a panel of academics discussing Greek philosopher Zeno's paradoxes, formulated to test the limits of common sense by asserting, for example, that an arrow in flight can never reach its target. They've proved surprisingly hard to refute. Presenter Melvyn Bragg, who can get amusingly testy with boffins who fail to explain themselves clearly enough, was on his best behaviour, and ended by saying: "I really enjoyed that." He wasn't the only one.

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