Rupert Murdoch might deeply dislike the UK’s government-funded public broadcaster, but for most people in the world with an ear or eye for intelligent content, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a fountainhead.
Well, ear more than eye really. The BBC’s legal regulations prevent the excellent iPlayer online video service from beaming any of their shows to India. But if you can make do with just some audio entertainment, there is no way you cannot find something to pique your interest in the BBC’s list of 259 podcasts available on the Web (not all podcasts have episodes available all year round).
No news junkie’s daily schedule can be complete without an early morning listen to NewsPod, a daily summary of highlights from across the BBC radio news networks. Yes, there is a lot of British news in there, but nothing else can make you so world aware while you are shaving.
Cast in stone: The Rosetta stone with engraving in Greek and hieroglyphics is part of the history podcasts.
Book lovers rejoice: The monthly World Book Club podcast features interviews with authors and includes readings and audience questions (you can email them or call in to leave a message). With years worth of archives, and plenty of advance notice before shows, the World Book Club is a good way to get into a fun reading rhythm.
Easily bored by books and news? Then try the Friday Night Comedy podcast for weekly doses of brutal British humour.
The standout show for us right now though is the excellent A History of the World in 100 Objects. The podcast and accompanying website is a boon for history lovers, students and children. Over a series of 100 episodes, the show—a collaboration between the British Museum and the BBC—aims to give you a snapshot view of human history through objects ranging from prehistoric stone axes to Chinese bells and even a credit card.
The first set of 30 shows narrated by Neil MacGregor, director of the museum, ended in February. The next set, life after Confucius, starts mid-May. Which leaves you with just enough time to clear your backlog.
For children and easily distracted adults who need more than an interesting voice on the iPod, the series website has an interactive flash timeline that lets you zoom in and out of time, clicking on objects along the way. There are also games for children, celebrities choosing their own objects on video, and a blog. 100 Objects is a show for curious children of all ages.