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The Boring Talks

BBC Radio

Behind every boring subject is another layer of boringness you could have never imagined. Presenter: James Ward Updated: Weekly
Boring Talks #40 - Thank You (again)

01:57 | Feb 27th

James Ward says thank you for listening to series two and chooses the best numbers from each of the talks. Presenter: James Ward Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #39 - Doormats

13:20 | Feb 25th

Can a doormat actually increase the value of your property by £30k? Alex Baxevanis explains all in his study of the doormats from his block of flats. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Alex Baxevanis Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #38 - Markham Moor Roof

15:06 | Feb 18th

Just off the Markham Exit on the A1 motorway lies an architectural wonder. Ed Carter shares his love for an unusual roadside roof, with help from a whistle or two. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Ed Carter Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #37 - Watergate Tape 'Silence'

25:08 | Feb 11th

The neuroscientist Sophie Scott takes a close listen to the long 'silent' gap on the Watergate Tapes. Buzz. Click. Buzz. Click. Buzz. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Sophie Scott Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #36 - Shanghai Architecture

18:58 | Feb 4th

From the 'eye of Sauron' building, to a deserted London town. The designer Hannah Cameron takes a walk back through the buildings that shaped her time living in China's biggest city. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Hannah Cameron Producer: Luke D...Show More
Boring Talks #35 - How Tall Are Celebrities?

17:21 | Jan 28th

Who is taller, Robbie Williams, David Duchovny or the chef James Martin? And what does being ‘solid tall’ actually mean? The writer Greg Stekelman (same height as Emilio Estevez) explores the world of online celebrity measurements. Presenter: James ...Show More
Boring Talks #34 - Sounds of Grassroots Football

39:40 | Jan 21st

The squelch of the white line marking machine, the crack of the ball against the crossbar, the shrill cry of the full time whistle. Sound researcher Paul Whitty captures the sounds of grassroots football. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Paul Whit...Show More
Boring Talks #33 - Change

16:56 | Jan 14th

Are you sick of getting too many coins in your change at the supermarket? Can British coins be better? Fear not people, Adam Townsend has the fix. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Adam Townsend Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #32 - Roads That Don't Exist

22:45 | Jan 7th

A Brixton block of flats, an oddly-angled building in Piccadilly and a park that 'smells like bins'. Road enthusiast Chris Marshall explores how London has been quietly shaped by roads that don't actually exist. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Ch...Show More
Boring Talks #31 - Happy New Year

00:47 | Dec 31st, 2018

James Ward says 'Happy New Year', and that's about it really.
Boring Talks #30 - An Underwhelming Christmas

11:44 | Dec 24th, 2018

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas, or maybe a magical trip through a Winter Wonderland? Well forget it. Rhodri Marsden explores the disappointing realities of the festive period. Ho ho ho. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Rhodri Marsden Produ...Show More
Boring Talks #29 - Animal Vaginas

15:43 | Dec 17th, 2018

Science has historically studied penises more often than vaginas, but why? Florence Schechter and Emma Parkin attempt to redress the balance by examining some curious genitalia from the female of the species, including those of the two-legged, four-l...Show More
Boring Talks #28 - Asterix Puns

18:50 | Dec 10th, 2018

Tracy King, with the help of the Asterix comic books, proves that puns definitely are not 'the lowest form of wit'. Warning: this podcast may contain some Latin jokes. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Tracy King Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #27 - Dutch Landscape Paintings

18:11 | Dec 3rd, 2018

A windmill. Two hunched countrymen. Lots of drab sky. 17th Century Dutch landscape paintings can be very dull, but is there something more exciting going on? Maybe. The writer Andrew Male takes a closer look at these works of art, and discovers a pa...Show More
Boring Talks #26 - Call Centres

30:03 | Nov 26th, 2018

How many days of our lives do we spend 'on hold'? What does 'business in the front, party out back' actually refer to? Has God been replaced by salad? The artist Louise Ashcroft explores the uncertain future of the Call Centre to find some answers....Show More
Boring Talks #25 - Jeremy Bentham's 'Auto-Icon'

21:04 | Nov 19th, 2018

Did Jeremy Bentham leave his body to University College London? Does he really still attend council meetings there? Has anyone actually played football with his head? Subhadra Das debunks some myths about the dead body of this utilitarian philosophe...Show More
Boring Talks #24 - The Taxonomy Of Cornflakes

20:24 | Nov 12th, 2018

From lollipop sticks, to batteries and used car headlight bulbs, the collectaholic Anne Griffiths has always made art from the 'accumulations of the bricolage of everyday life'. But how did Anne get 84 mounted cornflakes accepted in to the Royal Acad...Show More
Boring Talks #23 - NATO Phonetic Alphabet

18:18 | Nov 5th, 2018

Charvy Narain is fed up with people mispronouncing her name, especially when trying to book a taxi down the phone. Could the NATO phonetic alphabet help clarify things? Or will it just add to the confusion? And what does this have to do with Bradley ...Show More
Boring Talks #22 - Toilet Graffiti

16:12 | Nov 5th, 2018

Declarations of love, offers of sex, messages of hope and even film reviews. The graffiti we leave behind in toilets is strange, personal and anonymous. But is there a difference between what is written in male and female bathrooms? Scott Kelly ventu...Show More
Boring Talks #21 - Thank You

01:21 | Jun 7th, 2018

James Ward says thank you for listening to series one and chooses the best word from each of the twenty talks. Presenter: James Ward Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #20 - Carry On Shakespeare

17:17 | Jun 4th, 2018

Infamy! Infamy! The writer and broadcaster Samira Ahmed explains just why the Carry On films are actually better than Shakespeare. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Samira Ahmed Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #19 - Ice Cream Vans

15:56 | May 28th, 2018

Good maths, a strong bladder and the ability to hold eight '99s' in one hand. Ali Coote remembers the important lessons she learned as an Ice Cream Van driver. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Ali Coote Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #18 - Kinder Egg Linguistics

16:32 | May 21st, 2018

What's 119mm long & 55 mm wide, and contains a world of linguistic pleasure? Keith Kahn-Harris explores the wonders of the Kinder Surprise warning label. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Keith Kahn-Harris Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #17 - Gasometers

13:14 | May 14th, 2018

Tall rusting skeletal relics of our industrial past. Why would anyone care about London's Gasometers? Sarah O'Carroll explains. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Sarah O'Carroll Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #16 - Toilet Roll Serial Numbers

11:22 | May 7th, 2018

'Do you recall the fogged beef, mate?'. The writer Nicholas Tufnell proves that poetic inspiration can be found in the most unlikely places, including a toilet roll. But what is 'fogged beef'? Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Nicholas Tufne...Show More
Boring Talks #15 - Smell Walks

28:16 | Apr 30th, 2018

The artist and designer Kate McLean leads us, nose first, on a smell walk across the world. This podcast may include the odours of cooking sausages, carbolic soap, shattered dreams and bins. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Kate McLean Produc...Show More
Boring Talks #14 - Name Change

14:41 | Apr 23rd, 2018

Can you change your name to your existing name? And, more importantly, why would you bother? James Michael Ward explains what happened when he tried to become James Michael Ward. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: James Ward (the same one) Contr...Show More
Boring Talks #13 - Basalt

14:05 | Apr 16th, 2018

Is basalt really the most boring type of rock in the world? Not according to Dr Anne Jay. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Dr Anne Jay Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #12 - British Earthquakes

11:25 | Apr 9th, 2018

Rhodri Marsden is underwhelmed by British earthquakes. He thinks it's time to reassess how we report these 'tremors'. Is he right? Maybe. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Rhodri Marsden Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #11 - Sneezing

13:26 | Apr 2nd, 2018

Since 2007 Peter Fletcher has been counting and documenting all of his sneezes. Every single one. Now he tells us why, and what he has learned along the way. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Peter Fletcher Producer: Luke Doran
Boring Talks #10 - Lampposts

18:18 | Mar 26th, 2018

Are you for or against lampposts? The author and design historian Dr Eleanor Herring looks at the controversial history of the lamppost, and those that have railed against them. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Eleanor Herring Producer: Luke D...Show More
Boring Talks #09 - Sounding Gestalts

11:52 | Mar 19th, 2018

What exactly is a 'Sounding Gestalt'? And how can you make music from a Gentleman's cravat or E. coli? The artist Laurence Jordan will explain. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Laurence Jordan Producer: Luke Doran Editor: Moy McGowan
Boring Talks #08 - Danish Public Information Films

20:44 | Mar 12th, 2018

From brick making to motorbikes, Dr Claire Thomson celebrates the golden age of Danish Public Information Films (that's 1935 to 1965, in case you were wondering). Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Claire Thomson Producer: Luke Doran Editor: Mo...Show More
Boring Talks #07 - Green Belt Land

13:59 | Mar 5th, 2018

Once called 'Green Girdles', today's Green belts are strange and relatively unknown places. Follow the writer John Grindrod on his guided tour through a world of naturists, cavemen and rancid pies. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: John Grindrod...Show More
Boring Talks #06 - The Argos Catalogue

24:55 | Feb 26th, 2018

The artist Louise Ashcroft takes us inside the mysterious portal that is the Argos catalogue, and examines what it reveals about people’s desires and aspirations. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Louise Ashcroft Producer: Luke Doran Editor: M...Show More
Boring Talks #05 - Model Villages

13:16 | Feb 19th, 2018

From beautifully crafted tourist attractions, to nightmarish dystopian visions, the broadcaster Tim Dunn shares his love for the 'little works of art' that are model villages. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Tim Dunn Producer: Luke Doran Edi...Show More
Boring Talks #04 - Wooden Pallets

11:43 | Feb 12th, 2018

How did the wooden pallet become the 'single most important object in the global economy'? Liam Shaw delves deep in to the history of this ubiquitous object. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Liam Shaw Producer: Luke Doran Editor: Moy McGowan
Boring Talks #03 - Yellow Lines

13:26 | Feb 5th, 2018

The journalist Andrew Male takes a personal journey in to the mysterious beginnings of yellow line road markings. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Andrew Male Producer: Luke Doran Editor: Moy McGowan
Boring Talks #02 - Book Pricing Algorithms

11:13 | Jan 29th, 2018

A book for $1.7 million? To a computer, it made sense. Sort of. Tracy King explains. Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Tracy King Producer: Luke Doran Editor: Moy McGowan Commissioners: Tony Pilgrim, Rhian Roberts and Eli Sessions
Boring Talks #01 - The End Of The World

20:59 | Jan 29th, 2018

What is the specific date of Armageddon according to Douglas Adams? Steve Cross close-reads The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy to find out Presenter: James Ward Contributor: Steve Cross Producer: Luke Doran Editor: Moy McGowan
Boring Talks #00

02:12 | Jan 7th, 2018

Behind every boring subject is another layer of boringness you could have never imagined. Presenter: James Ward Producer: Luke Doran Editor: Moy McGowan