There has been a BBC Radio 4 series titled ‘A History Of The World In A Hundred Objects’. Each programme is broadcast for fifteen minutes. The BBC are currently broadcasting the third and last tranche of the series. Each week there has been a focus, such as a certain element of development, culture, faith, or exploration, through objects.

A certain frisson is building up as the last – the hundredth – object that will bring us up to modern times, is not yet known. Today I heard there is a short-list of five objects. I wondered about the validity of the announcement as one of the five possibilities was a football shirt. I am sure a fifteen minute broadcast could be devised around such an object, but would it be a fitting finale and descriptor of our predominately electronic times?

Having heard that the BBC programmes could be downloaded to keep, I searched for a link that would allow me to copy the episodes to my computer hard disk. Failing to do so, I finally contacted the BBC. It seems I may have misunderstood what ‘downloading to keep’ means. The programmes are not available to download in CD/DVD format. We can access the BBC iPlayer and ‘listen again’ to episodes, I was advised, through the following link:


All that said, the episodes can be downloaded in MP3 format. and I currently have the episodes broadcast to date, on my iPod. I will ensure I obtain all of them.

I have visited the British Museum where the objects referred to in the programme reside. Time did not permit me to see as many of the 100 objects as I would have liked. I have seen object 91, yet to be broadcast. When it is discussed, very soon, I shall listen and recall what I saw. It will be the first time I will have been able to combine my visual experience in advance of one of the broadcast episodes.

Museum staff say that there have been lots of requests for a CD of the BBC Radio series; they, like the visitors to the museum, (and many listeners to the series, I suspect) hope that a CD will be produced. For maximum effect, it needs to be done really soon.




  1. Sounds like an interesting series, I am completely out of the habit of listening to the radio these days, I don’t know when this happened. I will have to review my habits and give it a try again.

  2. If you are around to listen, you can give it a try either at 09.45 or, 7.45pm Monday – Friday. There’s two weeks left of this third and last part of the series. Object 91, which I recently saw, is being broadcast, I believe, this coming Monday 11th October.

    The other possibility is to click into the BBC iPlayer and listen again to as many of the quarter hour slots as you want to, when you want to. How long they will be available on site, is anyone’s guess.

  3. Yes, it is Neil MacGregor the Director of The British Museum who appears to have devised the production. The concept is brilliant. I was so excited at having the opportunity to actually see some of the objects (and other artefacts) in the museum.

  4. Amongst other important things to do, the period away was very much a cultural bath. The soap nearly slipped out of my grasp because I was flowing against the tide of time. I do intend to make another visit to the museum in the foreseeable future, as part of an expedition South. (Not the plug hole I hasten to add).

  5. I remember I finished my degree a full month before the end of the semester and before my money ran out. I was a student in London and I decided I was going to do and see all the things I hadn’t had time or money to do in the previous three years. What fun … hope you make it south soon! (preferably avoiding soap and plug holes).

  6. You did well.

    When you live and work in a place, visits of interest can be neglected. It is currently easier to visit as museums introduced free entry some years ago. I noticed that people do seem quite good with their donations. (Not all special exhibitions within museums are gratis).

  7. No – it’s easy to be caught out by that.

    I agree – local places of interest do get neglected – we only get round to seeing them when we have visitors to take!

  8. I did make a point of enjoying the Wallace and Gromit exhibition at The Science Museum some time ago. As it was only me, the entry price was manageable. A family of various sizes would have been left with empty purses. I did notice that the place was populated with either grannies and a child, single adults like me, and a very few families, most of whom were foreign visitors.

    If you’re not specific about particular things to view at some museums and galleries, a general visit works well and that applies to the majority of them, nationwide. I did pay for the Art from Hungary, in the R.A. but, in that case I expected to.

    The other thing to watch are the cloakroom fees. No bags of hand-luggage or larger sizes are allowed for obvious reasons. Small bags are. In some of the cloakrooms there is no charge; in the British Museum the charge is £1.50 per item. A donation of £4 for visiting is suggested at the BM, not unreasonable for the quality of what you can enjoy, with loads of time for the visit.

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