The show is beloved in the U.K.; for American podcast enthusiasts, it might be experienced as a refreshing change of pace. It’s nothing like the “This American Life” style of audio entertainment, marked by self-effacing narrative authority, inventive sound design, human intimacy of various kinds, and artfully revealed narrative surprises. It is not organized into themed seasons or arcs. Nor is it an NPR-style show about current events, scientific discoveries, or new books, satisfying a need to keep up with the cultural conversation. It’s just four intelligent people in a studio, discussing complex topics that are, as a friend of mine once said of Bragg’s openers, aggressively uncommercial.There is really nothing like the eclectic selection of topics that are covered in In Our Time. Each week, host Melvyn Bragg and three experts delve into things I'd often never thought about, but am always glad I was exposed to by the end of the episode. Art, science, personalities, history, religion, philosophy, culture, and more are all grist for their mill. Moby Dick, The Bronze Age Collapse, Cephalopods (squid, octopus, etc.), The Congress of Vienna, and Frederick Douglass have all recently streamed through my iPod. The experts vary with the topics so Bragg is the only constant, other than the endearing producer who ends each episode by bringing in the tea trolley. The conversation is unfailingly polite, even when there are basic disagreements, a la the manners we've seen in The Great British Baking Show. And Bragg's questions and observations bring everyone back on point when they stray from the path. For more, do read the article linked above. It is a love letter with which I heartily agree.
In Our Time website
In Our Time iTunes