Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of the idea of Sovereignty, the authority of a state to govern itself and the relationship between the sovereign and the people. These ideas of external and internal sovereignty were imagined in various ways in ancient Greece and Rome, and given a name in 16th Century France by the philosopher and jurist Jean Bodin in his Six Books of the Commonwealth, where he said (in an early English translation) ‘Maiestie or Soveraigntie is the most high, absolute, and perpetuall power over the citisens and subiects in a Commonweale: which the Latins cal Maiestatem, the Greeks akra exousia, kurion arche, and kurion politeuma; the Italians Segnoria, and the Hebrewes tomech shévet, that is to say, The greatest power to command.’ Shakespeare also explored the concept through Richard II and the king’s two bodies, Hobbes developed it in the 17th Century, and the idea of popular sovereignty was tested in the Revolutionary era in America and France.
The Missing Hancocks are five episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour either missing or lost from the archive which BBC Radio 4 have remade to celebrate the show’s 60th anniversary.
In this "directors’ commentary" Andy Hamilton introduces the first episode of the series, The Matador. Andy stops the action as he talks to co-producer Neil Pearson and - the actor charged with playing the lad ‘imself - Kevin McNally about the challenges, and joys, of recreating a 1950s sitcom in 2014.
The conversation takes in the casting, production and even the music of the show, as well as what got changed in these new recordings.
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Zeno of Elea, a pre-Socratic philosopher from c490-430 BC whose paradoxes were described by Bertrand Russell as "immeasurably subtle and profound." The best known argue against motion, such as that of an arrow in flight which is at a series of different points but moving at none of them, or that of Achilles who, despite being the faster runner, will never catch up with a tortoise with a head start. Aristotle and Aquinas engaged with these, as did Russell, yet it is still debatable whether Zeno’s Paradoxes have been resolved.
Marcus du Sautoy Professor of Mathematics and Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford
Barbara Sattler Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of St Andrews
James Warren Reader in Ancient Philosophy at the University of Cambridge
Producer: Simon Tillotson.
Podcast pioneer, arch-noodler, jingle-master and YouTube cosmonaut, Adam Buxton invented loads of your favourite stuff before it was famous. We talk about the creative urge; exploiting one’s family for material; and how to cope with criticism. We also explore the dynamic between Adam and long-term collaborator Joe Cornish. But which one is the best? It’s Adam.
We live in fearful times. All over the world renewed wars of religion are being fought. Politicians exploit our fears of one another in order to win power. 350 years ago, the philosopher Benedict Spinoza put his very, big brain to work on the problem of religion in politics. His theories led to the Enlightenment and its ideas of democracy and the separation of Church and State in the role of government. To do this he had to argue that God was not the God of the Bible. Spinoza’s reward: excommunication. But no threat could stop him imagining a new kind of liberty.
Michael Goldfarb tells the story of Spinoza with the help of philosophers and musicians in a programme that will make listeners think and reflect on the big questions of life, the universe and our place in it.
Melvyn Bragg explore Stoicism, the most influential philosophy in the Ancient World.
Hour-long zombie drama presented in the form of fictional news reports, from WUHN 106.9 Peoria IL, broadcast in the early 1970s.
Ken Campbell worked with Martin Robinson on Education and Creativity. As part of that project Ken spoke to teachers, the results of which we present here, in edited form. Part entertainment, part allegory, Ken argues that a good teacher gives your life a ‘spine’ around which all can grow. Crucially those who think creativity is all about freedom might be surprised to see it is more about constraints.
Jewish Book Week 2014. British Museum curator Irving Finkel launches his book The Ark Before Noah. Event 27 February 2014 at Kings Place, London.
Sue Lawley’s castaway this week is the comedian Jim Moir, best known by the name of his alter ego Vic Reeves. Jim was born in Leeds but soon moved to Darlington with his family. He attended the local school and left with one O level in Art. He fulfilled the expectations of his school by getting a job in a factory, completing his apprenticeship and working there for four years. However, he was bored so he moved to London with three friends. After trying a few different jobs he began running club nights - with music, acts and entertainment. He would hire a venue and the bands and he would be the compere.
Jim decided to take on the persona of Vic Reeves as it gave him an excuse to act up. A comedy night came up and instead of booking three comedians, he decided to do the whole night himself. Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out was born. After teaming up with Bob Mortimer, a solicitor who had been in the audience of one of his shows, the show went from strength to strength. It was a huge success and TV rights were fought over by the BBC and Channel 4. Since then, he has appeared on both channels with a variety of programmes including The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, Shooting Stars and Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased). The programmes have won BAFTA Awards for Originality and Best Live Performance plus British Comedy Awards.
[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]
Favourite track: Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams Book: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome Luxury: Potato seeds