What have I done for Radio?
With ace producers John Byrne and Mary Ward-Lowery I recorded four new
Eureka years programmes, covering the years 1650, 1879, 1893, and
1923. Each of these years had one major event and a bunch of minor ones.
In 1650 coffee reached England - the first coffee shop was in Oxford,
but they soon found their way to London.
1879 was the year in which Joseph Wilson Swan
demonstrated the world's first successful light bulb and George William
Garrett launched the world's first steam-powered submarine. Eadweard
Muybridge was doing extraordinary things with cameras and naked people,
and the Tay bridge collapsed in a storm, killing a trainload of people
and prompting William McGonagall to write what may be the world's worst
1893 brought the world's first motor cars. The
German engineers were first, but Henry Ford was not far behind.
Finally in 1923 came Clarence Birdseye and frozen
peas, arguably better tasting and better for you than fresh ones.
On 26 December listen out for the Christmas special
edition of Eureka Years.
All four of the previous series of these programmes are available on
CD from the BBC shop
http://www.bbcshop.com/invt/9781405677707 and the programmes
received at least one
I presented an "engineering solutions" special
programme about the building of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which
was broadcast on "Big Bang Day" 10 Sepember, and another about SESAME,
the multinational science research project in Jordan, broadcast on 10
And in previous years................
I have presented various other programmes for
Radio 4. With Welsh producer Paul Evans I made The angelic organ of
evil, a fascinating half-hour about the glass armonica, an
instrument invented by the American Benjamin Franklin, whose tone was
said to drive people to madness. Then there was The archive hour –
back to the future, about the future predicted by Tomorrow’s
world which never happened, The personality test, and a
splendid programme about public lavatories.
And I have been interviewed on the Asian Network in
London, and on many local BBC stations, from West Midlands to Southern
Counties, usually to plug one of my books.
I contributed to the BBC
Radio 4 programme,
Excess Baggage, in the programme 'The Steppes and Toilets around
the World'. Listen to my report on the work done by
Wateraid in cleaning up the
water supply and improving the disposal of toilet waste
With Great Pleasure
Stories about my life and favourite writing. Readers were Bill Wallis,
Jenny Coverack and John Telfer.
In Search of Mornington Crescent
I contributed to the Radio 4 programme 'In
Search of Mornington Crescent' which was broadcast on Christmas Eve
2005. Andrew Marr endeavoured to uncover the history and rules of
Mornington Crescent (the most popular and mysterious of British games)
with help from myself and others!
On New Years Eve 2005 I was a guest on the Radio 4 programme 'Loose
Ends'. In 2006 I made
another appearance, this time plugging my book,
Just Another Day
Engineering Solutions invited its audience to "explore some of the
most ambitious civil engineering projects currently under construction in
the UK". To which much of its potential audience presumably responded: "Is
that the time? Now I really am going to be late for work ..." That would have been an unfortunate reaction, because Engineering
Solutions is brilliant."
And Chris Campling writes in the Guardian Choice section:
"I don't so much admire Adam
for what he has done to popularise science, but rather for the fact that
my 9-year old daughter never misses his programmes. He is one
of the great communicators of our age, and if he could just expand his
range to encompass middle-school maths, say, there is a fiver for him
any time. Here, he unleashes his boundless enthusiasm on the
engineering feats of today and tomorrow. He starts by meeting Alan
Myers, contract manager on the Channel Tunnel, who is presently bringing
his tunnel vision to bear on London. You might have the thought the
capital was tunnelled out by now, but no."
In 2006 I presented Engineering Solutions again for Radio 4, this time
from five different countries: high-rise office blocks in London, the
vast LNG project at Milford Haven in Wales, the lovely new sewers of
Belfast, the Airbus A380 in Toulouse, and the Glendoe hydroelectric
scheme on a glorious mountain above Loch Ness.
I was a regular team leader (against Lewis Wolpert) in the panel game
Taking the P*** out of London
John Byrne and
I were awarded the
British Science Writers award for best communication of
science in a non-science context for our
BBC Radio 4 programme in
2003 called 'Taking the Piss out of London'. I charted the
many uses of human urine through history, exploring how the Romans
used it both to harden leather and to whiten their teeth, and discovering
why thousands of gallons of urine were shipped from London to fuel the alum
industry on the North Yorkshire coast in the 18th century. Then John, the producer, cast about for
something even more tasteless - and what he came up with was:
Flogging A Dead Horse, which catalogued the extraordinary range of
uses of ex-horses, from horsehair sofas to the leather of German
cavalry officers' trousers, and the cannon-bones used as ice skates.
This was transmitted in November 2004. Goodness knows what he'll come
up with next!
For Radio 4, I contributed to the science quiz show Inspiration! I have
also presented several series of
Inventors Imperfect, which covered the lives and work of
British mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and inventors.
These programmes were produced by Mary Ward-Lowery and John Byrne, and broadcast on
Radio 4 in September 2002.
Comprised six eclectic programmes, about foam, zero, navigation,
the Eddystone Lighthouse, aspirin, and cold-survival. They were
broadcast in early 2001 and produced by Louise Dalziel.
Elements of Surprise
Also produced by Louise Dalziel, with one
programme each on oxygen, carbon, nickel and mercury. These were
broadcast in the summer of
Reinventing the Wheel
Produced by John Byrne, covered the potter’s
wheel, the water-wheel, the Ferris wheel, and the spinning wheel.
These were broadcast late in