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The BBC releases In Our Time in free-to-download MP3 format…

I was planning to post about this last week, but I got distracted with something. Hope you can forgive me. Anyway, a while ago BBC Radio and Music Interactive (where I hang out during the day for cash) released Radio 4’s Reith Lectures in DRM-free MP3 format for people to download. It was something that we were all terribly proud to be able to be associated with.

Well now the department has gone one better. There’s this show on Radio 4 called In Our Time that’s concerned with the history of ideas. Each week Melvyn Bragg brings together three guests (serious guests at the top of their fields) and they have a discussion around the major themes. It’s kind of awesome if you’re interested in science or history. Just to give you an example of the kind of things that they cover there have been programmes on:

  • The Origins of Life with Richard Dawkins, Richard Corfield and Linda Partridge
  • Cryptography with Simon Singh, Fred Piper and Lisa Jardine
  • Homer’s Odyssey with Simon Goldhill, Edith Hall and Oliver Taplin
  • Hysteria with Juliet Mitchell, Rachel Bowlby and Brett Kahr
  • Dreams with V S Ramachandran, Mark Solms and Martin Conway

And if that lot doesn’t whet your appetite, then nothing will. Now all of this stuff has been available online for people to listen to using the BBC RadioPlayer (you can launch it from here), but now it’s got even better. Starting from shortly after last week’s episode, now you can download and listen to the whole programme in non-DRM’d, easy to understand, iPod (and other media player) -compatible MP3 format! The latest episode (about the origins of Electricity, and featuring Simon Schaffer, Patricia Fara and Iwan Morus) is currently available for download here. And if you particularly enjoy it then you can explore the subject further with the BBC reading list.

How neat is that? You loving this as much as we are yet?

24 replies on “The BBC releases In Our Time in free-to-download MP3 format…”

I’ve been meaning to ask you to kiss whoever is responsible for this for me. It’s like…like…oh my.
Now, if I ask really nicely, can they convert the archives too? And then make a torrent of a zip of them all? Please?
I know, I know…

I was disappointed to see that it’s only the most recent episode. I guess it’s back to the old ‘mplayer -dumpstream’ method to get the Dawkins episode. It’s going onto the iPod for tomorrow and then, hopefully, I’ll be loving this as much as you are.

BBC Radio: In Our Time
In this day and age of TV, Internet and streaming video/audio, I still find myself listening to radio a lot. My car radio, my alarm clock and the radio in my office are all always tuned into WILL Am 580, the local public radio network of the University of

You know, I just received an iPod as a gift today, and this is like getting a second one for free…thank you!
And also as someone who has spent considerable time in Europe I just want to say I am sincerely sorry to everyone — at least my city came in on the side of reality based government.

I was thrilled to see this! The sound quality is quite far from broadcast radio though.
The next step would be to try out the free formats again. I’m still waiting for the Ogg Vorbis to come back.
For these programs it would be ideal to use Ogg Speex!

Thanks to Dan for getting the heads up out earlier, but after downloading two bits I am hooked. This is a great step forward. If this becomes permanent form there are some definite needs, such as a central listing of what is available for download. Along the same line a RSS feed announcing what is available for download would be fantastic and inline with the usually wonderful BBC products.

In Our Time available in mp3 format
Tom announces in pants-wetting mode that the BBC are releasing Radio 4’s In Our Time in unencumbered mp3 format, which is great news for all the reasons he gives, but it’s got me thinking. The first R4 program to get the mp3 treatment was the 2004 Reit…

Great stuff.
I’ll second the request for some way to get a handle on everything that is available would be good, and also some sort of archive for older broadcasts.
Onwards and upwards!

I’ve a problem. I’ve got a Mac and I want to know how can I download mp3 files from the BBC in order to listen them in my ipod? Please, help
When I download one of them, I only can hear it with my browser (Saffari) but I can’t find the file in my computer.
What is the problem?

I’m all in favour of the BBC dabbling with the mp3 stuff. I know they are hamstrung with other copyright stuff as far as their music programming but more comedy/reviews as mp3 would be great.

I’m a heavy user of the ram streams and have even gone as far as manually recording them as mp3’s – this would free me from my desks and have freedom to roam with my ‘pod.
Lets go one step further than RSS feed of new shows. I want an audio Tivo/Sky+ application that will collect and make a playlist of my favourite shows! Aim high.

Also found a great link to an
online Dictionary of the History of Ideas on coudal.com. Scarily interesting, if you like that kinda thing.

loving your work Tom.

Links for 10th of November 2004
PZ Myers is eloquently disappointed with America Have Great Britain’s restrictive gun laws contributed to the rise in violent crime? (The Straight Dope) Crib of biological directional terms BBC releases In Our Time (and others) as MP3! Guardian profil…

‰ntligen!
Gud gˆr bˆn! Eller i alla fall BCC BBC! Nu kan man ladda ned en del av deras material som mp3:or! Se till exempel h‰r. N‰r ska SR l‰ra sig? Hittat via Henrik Thorstensson och Plasticbag.org. UPDATE Nu har dom virkat ihop en feed fˆr programmet ocksÂ! W…

Links for 10th of November 2004
PZ Myers is eloquently disappointed with America Have Great Britain’s restrictive gun laws contributed to the rise in violent crime? (The Straight Dope) Crib of biological directional terms BBC releases In Our Time (and others) as MP3! Guardian profil…

Something seems to have gone wrong with the In Our Time MP3s over the Xmas break… The most recent episode was Faust, however the episode that is offered for download is the previous week’s episode (2nd law of thermodynamics).
Can you find out what has gone wrong!

The downloaded mp3 of In Our Time plays perfectly on my XP computers. but it is the only .mp3 that I have encountered that won’t play on my PDA (iPaq 5450, with the latest windows media player available for that operating syste, v. 8,5)
Anybody know why?

Does anyone have the episode on Human Evolution from 16 Feb 06? I downloaded it but it’s only 21 mins long and I would really like to hear the rest.

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