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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 ever poem.

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 favourable review!

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 October.

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.

Excess Baggage


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!

Loose Ends

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  


Adam on the cover of Radio Times magazineEngineering Solutions

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 Inspiration!


Taking the P*** out of London


John Byrne and I were awarded the Association of 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!


Inventors Imperfect


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.

High Resolution


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 2001.

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 2001.


BBC Radio 4 92-95FM 198LW


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Page last updated: Tuesday, 29 July 2014 11:52



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