Episodes

  • In this episode, Greg Jenner is joined by Professor Bill Sillar and comedian Sue Perkins to learn all about the South American Inca empire. At their height, the Inca controlled a vast territory from their base in Peru, one that stretched down the mountainous west coast of the continent, from Ecuador all the way down to Argentina. But the empire barely lasted for a century. Beginning in the mid-fifteenth century, it fell in the 1530s with the arrival of Spanish conquistadores, led by Pizarro. This episode goes beyond famous sites like Machu Picchu and explores all aspects of Inca life, death – and taxes! Along the way, it takes in social and family structures, food and drink, religious practices, art and architecture.

    Research by: Andrew HimmelbergWritten by: Andrew Himmelberg, Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow, Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerProduced by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Greg JennerAudio Producer: Steve HankeyProduction Coordinator: Caitlin HobbsSenior Producer: Emma Nagouse

  • In this episode, Greg Jenner is joined by Dr Jillian Stinchcomb and comedian Sadia Azmat to learn all about the legendary Queen of Sheba. From her first appearance in the Hebrew Bible, the Queen of Sheba has fascinated Jewish, Muslim and Christian writers. But do we know anything about her as a historical figure? And how has her story been told, used and reinterpreted throughout history? This episode traces the legends written about the Queen of Sheba across Europe, Africa and the Middle East from 600 BCE to today, exploring the ambiguous and contradictory depictions of her as a wise and powerful ruler, an exoticised and seductive woman, the founding member of an Ethiopian royal dynasty, and a possible half-demon!

    Research by: Jon MasonWritten by: Jon Mason, Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow, Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerProduced by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Greg JennerAudio Producer: Steve HankeySenior Producer: Emma Nagouse

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  • In this episode, Greg Jenner is joined by Professor Sunny Singh and broadcaster Poppy Jay to learn all about the history of Indian cinema, colloquially known as Bollywood. Filmmaking technology arrived in India in 1896, only six months after the Lumiere brothers debuted their invention in Paris. Nowadays, over 700 films are released in India every year, and it is the most popular cinema in the world, reaching over a billion more viewers a year than Hollywood. From the first Indian film in 1913, through the arrival of 'talkies' and colour in the 1930s, to its incredible success today, this episode explores the vibrant history of Bollywood, and the way it has reflected and shaped modern Indian society and politics.

    Research by: Madeleine BraceyWritten by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow, Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerProduced by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Greg JennerAudio Producer: Steve HankeyProduction Coordinator: Caitlin HobbsSenior Producer: Emma Nagouse

  • In this episode, Greg Jenner is joined by historian Dr Francisco Eissa-Barroso and comedian Katie Green to learn all about the complicated life and legacy of nineteenth-century South American revolutionary leader Simón Bolívar. Bolívar liberated six modern countries from Spanish colonial rule, but also had himself appointed president for life, and argued that popular elections had led to the failure of earlier revolutions. Taking in Bolívar’s political philosophy, scandalous personal relationships, and constant military struggles to liberate and unify South America, this episode explores the life, times, and legend of this complex man. Hosted by: Greg JennerResearch by: Roxy MooreWritten by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow, Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerProduced by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Greg JennerAudio Producer: Steve HankeyProduction Coordinator: Caitlin HobbsSenior Producer: Emma Nagouse

  • In this episode, Greg Jenner is joined by Professor Noliwe Rooks and comedian Athena Kugblenu to learn all about the life and business savvy of nineteenth-century Black American haircare entrepreneur Madam C. J. Walker. After working as a sales agent for another haircare brand, Walker founded her own company, selling products to help Black women look after their hair and becoming incredibly wealthy in the process. But how did she make so much money, and what did she spend it on? From impoverished beginnings to a lavish villa in New York, via her charitable and political work, this episode charts Walker's journey to becoming the first self-made woman millionaire in American history. Hosted by: Greg JennerResearch by: Andrew HimmelbergWritten by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow, Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerProduced by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Greg JennerAudio Producer: Steve HankeySenior Producer: Emma Nagouse

  • In this episode, Greg Jenner is joined by Professor Edith Hall and comedian Desiree Burch to learn all about ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras. Pythagoras is famous in maths classes everywhere for his triangle theorem, but surprisingly little is known about his actual life, and his theorem was actually invented by Babylonian mathematicians centuries before he was born! Taking in his beliefs about reincarnation, his possible divine parentage, and the cult he might have started, this episode explores the myths and legends that grew up in the ancient world about Pythagoras’s life in the centuries after his death.

    Research by: Josh RiceWritten by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow, Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerProduced by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Greg JennerAudio Producer: Steve HankeySenior Producer: Emma Nagouse

  • For the 100th episode, Greg Jenner is joined by Dr Jane Goldman and comedian Suzi Ruffell as he travels back a century to1920s London to learn all about the members of the Bloomsbury Group. A collection of intellectuals and artists active in London in the early twentieth century, the Bloomsbury Group included such luminaries as Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, and John Maynard Keynes. From their origins at the University of Cambridge to their bohemian lifestyle in London in the 1910s and 20s, and taking in their political work, artistic output, and boundary-pushing relationships, this episode explores the lives, loves and cultural impact of Bloomsbury Group members. Research by: Madeleine Bracey, Andrew Himmelberg, and Josh RiceWritten by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow, Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerProduced by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Greg JennerAudio Producer: Steve HankeySenior Producer: Emma Nagouse

  • In this episode, Greg Jenner is joined by Dr Leon Rocha and comedian Phil Wang to learn all about the surprising history of kung fu, from ancient China to the present day. Rooted in ancient Chinese exercises designed to promote long life, kung fu was pioneered by the monks of the Shaolin temple before spreading throughout China. But how did peaceful Buddhist monks come to create a martial arts style that would gain global popularity? From the mountains of medieval China to the movie screens of Hollywood, via plundering pirates and legendary nuns, this episode explores the historical development of Chinese martial arts.

    Hosted by: Greg JennerResearch by: Jon MasonWritten by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow, Emma Nagouse, and Greg JennerProduced by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Greg JennerAudio Producer: Steve HankeySenior Producer: Emma Nagouse

  • In the first episode of a new series, Greg Jenner is joined by Dr Julia Leikin and comedian David Mitchell to learn all about the life of Catherine II of Russia, better known as Catherine the Great. Catherine’s story is full of contradictions and ambiguities. She was a German princess who became empress of all Russia, a ruler who believed in Enlightenment philosophy but championed imperial expansion, and a sexually open woman in the patriarchal eighteenth century. From her childhood in Germany through her marriage to the heir to the Russian throne and eventual coup against his rule, this episode charts the twists and turns of Catherine’s life, and asks what kind of ruler she really was. Hosted by: Greg JennerResearch by: Jon MasonWritten by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow, Emma Nagouse, and Greg JennerProduced by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Greg JennerAudio Producer: Steve HankeySenior Producer: Emma Nagouse

  • Greg Jenner is joined by Dr Emily Bell and Mike Wozniak to find out what Christmas was like with Charles Dickens.

    We take a walk through the many Christmases of the renowned Victorian author. From elephants walking on ice to the family Christmas punch recipe, we take a closer look at the factors that may have influenced some of his most famous works and unpick what the phrase Dickensian has come to mean over the years.

    Written by Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerProduced by Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerAssistant Producer: Emmie Rose Price-GoodfellowResearcher: Jessica WhiteProject Management: Isla MatthewsAudio Producer: Steve Hankey

  • In this episode, recorded live at the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot, Greg Jenner is joined by Professor Farah Karim-Cooper and comedian Richard Herring to learn all about the life, legend and legacy of William Shakespeare himself. 2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, which preserved his work for future generations. But how did a boy from the Midlands become the most famous playwright in the English-speaking world, and how did the publication of the folio contribute to his legacy? This episode explores Shakespeare’s life, career and dramatic works, as well as the reception of his plays in the centuries after his death, and the creation of his legend in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

    Research by: Jon MasonWritten by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow, Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerProduced by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Greg JennerAudio Producer: Steve HankeyProduction Coordinator: Caitlin HobbsSenior Producer: Emma NagouseExecutive Editor: Chris Ledgard

  • In this episode, recorded live at the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot, Greg Jenner is joined by Professor Farah Karim-Cooper and comedian Richard Herring to learn all about the life, legend and legacy of William Shakespeare himself. 2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, which preserved his work for future generations. But how did a boy from the Midlands become the most famous playwright in the English-speaking world, and how did the publication of the folio contribute to his legacy? This episode explores Shakespeare’s life, career and dramatic works, as well as the reception of his plays in the centuries after his death, and the creation of his legend in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

    Research by: Jon MasonWritten by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow, Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerProduced by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Greg JennerAudio Producer: Steve HankeyProduction Coordinator: Caitlin HobbsSenior Producer: Emma NagouseExecutive Editor: Chris Ledgard

  • Greg Jenner is joined by Dr Michael Carter and actor Mathew Baynton to learn all about ghost stories in the European Middle Ages. From the twelfth century onwards, medieval Europe produced a huge number of ghost stories, often written in monasteries. But why were monks so interested in ghosts? How were ghost stories related to wider Christian beliefs about death and the afterlife? And what happened to these beliefs with the arrival of the Protestant Reformation?

    From creepy child ghosts to friendly apparitions via the fires of purgatory, this is a glimpse into the strange, spooky and sometimes sinister side of medieval beliefs.

    Research by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Jon MasonWritten by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow, Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerProduced by: Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow and Greg JennerAudio Producer: Steve HankeyProduction Coordinator: Caitlin HobbsSenior Producer: Emma NagouseExecutive Editor: Chris Ledgard

  • Greg Jenner is joined by Dr Vanessa Heggie and comedian Darren Harriott to learn about the bodybuilding boom of the 19th and 20th centuries.

    The latter part of the 19th century saw the beginning of a fitness craze where the seeds of the modern-day gym and fitness culture were sown. But physical fitness also tapped into other parts of the psyche of British society at the time. From concerns over the fighting fitness of the British army to the racist pseudoscience of eugenics, this novel leisure activity tells us a surprising amount about the societal and intellectual currents that existed in this period.

    For the full-length version of this episode, please look further back in the feed.

    Research by Caitlín Rankin-McCabeWritten by Emma Nagouse, Caitlín Rankin-McCabe and Greg JennerProduced by Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerAssistant Producer: Emmie Rose Price-GoodfellowProject Management: Isla MatthewsAudio Producer: Steve Hankey

    You’re Dead To Me is a production by The Athletic for BBC Radio 4.

  • Greg Jenner and his guests discuss the life, times and crimes of Russia's first tsar, the infamous Ivan the Terrible.

    Joining Greg are Prof Peter Frankopan from the University of Oxford and Russian-born comedian Olga Koch, whose BBC appearances include OK Computer, Human Error, Fight, QI and The Now Show.

    For the full-length version of this episode, please look further back in the feed.

    A production by The Athletic for BBC Radio 4.

  • Greg Jenner is joined by historian Dr Emma Southon and comedian Cariad Lloyd in first-century Rome to meet Agrippina the Younger.

    Empress, overbearing mother of the Emperor Nero and murderess, but how much of what has been written about this extraordinary woman is true? What does it really take to survive as a woman at the top of the Roman Empire?

    For the full-length version of this episode, please look further back in the feed.

    A Muddy Knees Media production for BBC Radio 4.

  • Greg Jenner is joined by historian Prof Benjamin Reiss and comedian Desiree Burch in 19th-century America to meet the self-proclaimed showman, P.T. Barnum. He was a man famous for his museums and shows as well as "curiosities" such as General Tom Thumb, Bearded Ladies and The Fiji Mermaid. But look beyond Barnum’s infamous spin and you’ll find that contrary to his pop culture image this showman was far from the greatest.

    For the full-length version of this episode, please look further back in the feed.

    Produced by Cornelius MendezScript by Greg Jenner and Emma NagouseResearch by Charlotte Potter

    A production by The Athletic for BBC Radio 4.

  • Greg Jenner is joined by special guests Kemah Bob and Dr Campbell Price as they head back to Ancient Egypt to meet the unique and powerful ruler, Hatshepsut. She reigned for over 20 years, built a temple which is still admired today, had a ‘special’ relationship with statues and was one of the first rulers to focus on divinity rather than gender norms. So why did history try to erase her?

    For the full-length version of this episode, please look further back in the feed.

    Research by Genevieve Johnson-SmithWritten and produced by Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerAssistant Producer: Emmie Rose Price-GoodfellowProject Management: Siefe MiyoAudio Producer: Abi Paterson

    You’re Dead To Me is a production by The Athletic for BBC Radio 4.

  • In this special, live episode of You’re Dead To Me, Greg Jenner is joined by Prof Catherine Fletcher and comedian Dara Ó Briain to learn about Leonardo da Vinci.

    Leonardo lived from 1452 to 1519 during an era of plague and warfare across Western Europe. It was also the height of the Italian Renaissance.

    From mathematics to military maps, and some paintings which you may have heard of, Leonardo da Vinci did it all. But was he a generational genius or an "ideas man" who had a chronic inability to finish what he started?

    For the full-length version of this episode, please look further back in the feed.

    Research by Anna Nadine-PikeWritten by Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerProduced by Emma Nagouse and Greg JennerAssistant Producer: Emmie Rose Price-GoodfellowProject Management: Isla MatthewsAudio Producer: Steve HankeyThe You're Dead To Me theme tune was performed by Charles Mutter and the BBC Concert Orchestra

    You’re Dead To Me is a production by The Athletic for BBC Radio 4.

  • Greg Jenner is joined by Dr Stephen Kershaw and comedian Sophie Duker to dive into the myth of Atlantis.

    The Atlantean story has its origins in the writings of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. And literally nowhere else. Yet the enduring appeal of this mythical city and a sophisticated civilisation lost beneath the waves has lasted for thousands of years. It has inspired a huge number of stories and some very ropey documentaries. The myth also has a darker side, as the allegory of Atlantis has been used to try and justify racist philosophies and policies during some of the darkest events in history.

    For the full-length version of this episode, please look further back in the feed.