The Reith Lectures

  • Author Grayson Perry, Hilary Mantel, Dr Atul Gawande, Eliza Manningham, Michael Sandel, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Tom Kirkwood, Margaret MacMillan, Daniel Berenboim, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
  • Narrator Various Various
  • Publisher BBC Audio
  • Run Time 7 hours and 30 minutes
  • Format Audio
  • Genre Popular philosophy, Popular science, Theory of art.

Listen to a sample

What to expect

Ten emblematic lectures by world-leading thinkers, specially selected by the series producer

Since 1948, the BBC’s iconic annual lecture series has provided a platform for brilliant, entertaining individuals to discuss and develop their ideas on radio. The topics range from art and science to history, culture, politics and more, and each Reith Lecture – which is a little longer than a TED talk – is followed by a lively question-and-answer session showcasing the speaker’s expertise, wisdom and wit.

This collection brings together ten of the very best Reith Lectures, chosen by the series producer, Jim Frank. Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry argues that art can no longer shock us – we’ve seen it all before; bestselling novelist Hilary Mantel explores how art can bring the dead back to life; Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former MI5 director, tells us what it was like to head up the security services in the aftermath of 9/11; Tom Kirkwood asks whether ageing and death are the price we pay for sex; and Margaret MacMillan discusses the relationship between war and humanity, and the role of the soldier.

In addition, Atul Gawande considers the future of medicine; Michael Sandel examines the expansion of markets, Kwame Anthony Appiah appeals for a world free of racial fixations; Vilayanur S. Ramachandran looks at the process we call ‘seeing’ and Daniel Barenboim celebrates the power of music to bring us together. Illuminating, captivating and thought-provoking, these superlative radio lectures are full of insight and inspiration.

Production credits
Presented, chaired and introduced by Sue Lawley
Produced and curated by Jim Frank
Edited by Hugh Levinson

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on the following dates:
Tom Kirkwood: Sex and Death 18 April 2001
Vilayanur S. Ramachandran: Synapses and the Self 9 April 2003
Daniel Barenboim: In the Beginning was Sound 7 April 2006
Michael Sandel: Markets and Morals 9 June 2009
Eliza Manningham-Buller: Terror 6 September 2011
Grayson Perry: Nice Rebellion – Welcome In! 29 October 2013
Atul Gawande: The Century of the System 2 December 2014
Kwame Anthony Appiah: Colour 1 November 2016
Hilary Mantel: The Day is for the Living 13 June 2017
Margaret MacMillan: Fearing and Loving – Making Sense of the Warrior 3 July 2018

© 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd.

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