David Baddiel Tries to Understand

David Baddiel Tries to Understand

United Kingdom

David Baddiel tries to make sense of some apparently puzzling topics.



In the last episode of this series, David sets out to understand the rules of rugby union. Producer: Giles Edwards.

The US Electoral System  

David Baddiel tries to get to grips with the US electoral system. 2016 has seen lots of twists and turns in American politics, and David isn't the only one to have found them confusing. So after a tweet from Susie Dent, David sets out to understand what has been going on. He starts by speaking to an academic expert on American politics, which doesn't completely clear things up. So he asks the US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, to help clear up a few points, and comes away from the meeting with more than just a better understanding of the process: the Ambassador shows David how he can get involved. Producer: Giles Edwards.

The IMF  

David Baddiel tries to understand what the International Monetary Fund actually does. He starts by speaking to the former Chancellor, Alastair Darling, and rapidly discovers that he might first need a quick course on basic macroeconomics. But even once he's got through that, can he figure out what this very opaque-seeming international body is and does? Producer: Giles Edwards.


David is asked by a member of the public to try and understand Pi, and what it means for its digits to continue infinitely. He starts out with a mathematician and the biggest circle he can find, and then tracks down a philosopher. But can he understand it well enough to explain it himself - to one particularly demanding member of the public? Producer: Giles Edwards.

The Cloud  

After receiving suggestions of topics that merit explanation through social media, David Baddiel sets out to make sense of The Cloud (as in computing, rather than meteorology). David speaks to the head of IT for the Chartered Institute of Information Technology, and visits an IBM data centre as he tries to grapple with what this term actually means, before returning to explain it to the man who originally suggested he try to understand it. Producer: Giles Edwards.


David Baddiel sets out to make sense of some apparently puzzling topics. In the first programme of this series, after receiving suggested topics on social media, David tries to understand why nuts have hard shells. He visits the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew to meet the head of the arboretum, and a nut tree; and speaks to Thor Hanson, the author of 'The Triumph of Seeds'. On his journey to understanding David finds himself discussing evolution, fruit, badger poo, concrete and absent-minded squirrels. Producer: Giles Edwards.

Sunni and Shia Islam  

In the final episode in the series, David Baddiel tries to understand the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam. David speaks to senior theologians from both traditions, but can he navigate his way through the complicated theological, political and social distinctions? Producer: Giles Edwards.


Continuing his quest for understanding, David Baddiel explores derivatives. What are they and how do they work? David begins by meeting journalist Janice Turner, who initially suggested the subject, and she explains why she believes we should all try to understand derivatives. Then David visits the London Metals Exchange, the last place with open outcry trading in London, where he discusses the history of derivatives with financial historian D'Maris Coffman. And on a trading floor at Canary Wharf he hears how the market works today. At the end, he returns to try to explain to Janice what he's learned, with D'Maris ready to pass judgement on his understanding. Producer: Giles Edwards.

Cryptic Crosswords  

Continuing his new series where he tries to make sense of apparently puzzling matters, David Baddiel seeks to understand something which is meant to be puzzling: cryptic crosswords. David gets help from a crossword champion and and also from a leading compiler who sets him a special crossword. Can he put his learning into practice and complete it? Producer: Giles Edwards.


In a new series, David Baddiel sets out to make sense of some apparently puzzling topics. In this first programme, and after hearing suggestions from his followers on social media, David seeks to understand electricity. He travels to Manchester to learn the basics from a professor of high voltage technology, and to Staffordshire to grasp the operations of a huge power station. Producer: Giles Edwards.

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