Some Suggested Holiday Listening From the Beeb

My blog posts have been fairly serious, dealing with issues we face as information professionals at a time of constant change, ranging from exciting digital futures to confronting publishers to saving endangered species (ie, books). However, even librarians and lawyers need to have some time out.

As I have spent a lot of time on planes this year, I thought I would go through some of the ‘must take’ podcasts I listen to on the long flight home. Listening live via the internet is marvellous, but sometimes when there is no wifi, this is just impractical – in the sky, on a beach, out on walks –and podcasts are just made for these moments. As the northern summer break is nigh, you might find there are worthwhile options to help you chill out.

Because I live in the UK and happily pay my licence fee to support it, I have decided to list some of the great resources provided by the BBC, and to explain why you might like to explore these. The BBC provides the most amazing range of resources, free of charge and accessible world wide, with podcasts of programmes, readings of novels, plays, etc. Unfortunately TV programmes on the IPlayer are regionally restricted (as are those of every country, sadly..)[1] but most radio programmes are not.

Podcasts can be downloaded directly from the site, but you can also occasionally find links from the radio programme sites themselves to the podcasts, eg Desert Island Discs mentioned below. Some genres, such as readings, are only available for listening, not downloading, so I will not dwell on them.

If you have ever wanted to hear a more private side of famous people, Desert Island Discs is worth investigating. The format is tried and true – 8 favourite pieces of music to sustain you when marooned on an island. But the personal revelations that accompany the choices make this a really interesting choice. Since 1942 there have been over 1500 castaways, including the most amazing people from Grace Kelly, David Attenborough, Peter Ustinov, Lord Denning, through to Margaret Thatcher.

In our time with Melvyn Bragg explores the history of ideas, with topics as diverse as Chivalry, the Medici, James Joyce Ulysses, Cultural Rights – the format is a discussion between 2 or 3 leading experts in the field bouncing ideas and information between each other. Talk about life-long learning – this is as good as any MOOC!

Being professional for a moment, I should also mention Law in Action, with Joshua Rozenberg – a range of great titles like Bringing Bankers to Book, legal issues behind the Wikileaks story, and Are Drones Legal.

Science is wonderfully represented with programmes like The Infinite Monkey Cage among many others.

The Food section of the podcasts has some recipes, but under the list of chefs at the online site, one finds the most remarkable listing of recipes, with a search facility provided – from Nigella through to Heston, and my own fishy hero, Rick Stein, some of the best have worked with the BBC.

On a holiday we often like to have a good laugh, and the Comedy selection is another one to explore.

The point of this is that we are surrounded by some of the best broadcasting in the world, much of it broadcast when we are at work, or in another country, and podcasts are a solution as great educational resources, useful diversions in web-free locations, or a serious time waster for rainy weekends…


[1] There are VPN proxy add-ons services such as Hola which can be used for borderless access, or professional apps such as and IPVanish

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