You know, this really did deserve more than just a small aside on the recently redesigned IOT web site...
...For the first time, listen online to every episode ever broadcast, from Aristotle to the History of Zero...The list includes many, perhaps all, of the legendary lost episodes...
... These ‘lost editions’ include topics such as Science and Religion, Childhood, Consciousness, The End of History and Quantum Gravity, and they’re discussed by guests including Nobel prizewinner Amartya Sen and the sadly deceased Stephen Jay Gould. The term ‘treasure trove’ is bandied around quite casually these days, but for anyone who enjoys In Our Time, these transcripts are very valuable...
I found Quantum Gravity (RealMedia only) from Feb 22, 2001 - but they "by year" list currently only goes back to 2004. So they've got some bugs to work out.
By walking backwards from Quantum Gravity, however, I was able to locate Evolutionary Psychology (Nov 2000), Imagination and Consciousness June 2000, The Renaissance (June 2000), Death (May 2000), Grand Unified Theory (incl Brian Greene and Martin Rees, Feb 2000), Climate Change Jan 2000 w/ George Monbiot), Time w/ Lee Smolin Dec 1999, Consciousness w/ Roger Penrose (Nov 1999), Utopia (first one not available to play - Oct 1999 - so it's not every episode) ...
Sometime around 1999 the format drops to 30 minutes and the theme becomes "the 20th century". Then we come to the very first episode (Oct 15, 1998):
... In the first programme of a new series examining ideas and events which have shaped thinking in philosophy, religion, science and the arts, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss warfare and human rights in the 20th century. He talks to Michael Ignatieff about the life of one of the 20th century’s leading philosophers, Isaiah Berlin, and to Sir Michael Howard about the 20th century will be remembered; as a century of progress or as one of the most murderous in history.
When we see pictures on television of starving people in war torn areas most of us feel we must ‘do’ something. Where does the feeling that we are in some way responsible for our fellow human beings originate historically? How has technology affected the concept of the Just War? And what are the prospects for world peace as we enter the next century?
With Michael Ignatieff, writer, broadcaster and biographer of Isaiah Berlin; Sir Michael Howard, formerly Regius Professor of History, Oxford University and joint editor of the new Oxford History of the Twentieth Century.Ignatieff now leads the Liberal Party of Canada.
I have my work cut out for me.
Thank you BBC and thank you Lord Bragg and brave guests. There is still hope for humanity.
Update: ok, so go easy on the hope bit.
Update 3/4/2010: The handful that weren't online have since been added. It appears to now be complete!
Update 3/17/2010: The older material mostly uses RealAudio. That's easy to capture using AudioHijack Pro (you do need to read the manual, see also my old directions). Some of the very oldest material, however, is now rendered with the newish BBC iPlayer. To capture that I had to change the AudioHijack source to "Safari"; AHP switches Safari to 32 bit mode to Hijack the stream. I think I would have to change it back to 64bit myself, but I'm inclined to leave it in 32 bit mode for a while. Quite a bit of software doesn't like 64bit.
Update 5/21/2010: I gave up half way through the 30 minute 1999 (year two) Utopia program. It wasn't exactly bad, but the newer material is much better. I suspect today's guests rise to greater expectations than those of early days, and Melvyn is better at keeping people, including Melvyn, on track. It's also likely that ten years of intense study have moved Melvyn into a different world of background expertise. Incidentally, there's a painful point in the Utopia program where the guests expound on a cheesy essay about a posthuman utopia of the genetically enhanced. Melvyn's guests have almost no science fiction background; their futurist dialogs are pathetically naive. We ought to make post-1980 science fiction reading a requirement for a liberal arts degree.