Simon & Schuster UK will publish the official BBC Radio 4 In Our Time Companion by Melvyn Bragg, celebrating 20 years of the popular live discussion show.
Iain MacGregor, publishing director of non-fiction at S&S UK, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights excluding Canada for the title from Luigi Bonomi at LBA. In Our Time will be published in hardback on 4th October retailing at £25.
“In Our Time” has been presented by arts broadcaster Bragg since the first episode which aired on 15th October 1998. The live discussion panel show, in which discusses a particular issue with three experts, has spanned two decades and more than 800 episodes. It has grown to be BBC Radio 4’s most successful discussion show.
The arts broadcaster said: “Twenty years ago, when I left 'Start The Week' I was offered a chance to set up a new programme on Thursday mornings at 9am, then known in the BBC as "the death slot”. The decision was to make a programme which allowed no books to be plugged, was peopled by three of the finest academics we could find to discuss that week's single subject, and to make those subjects as varied as we possibly could.”
Bragg revealed that “the variety is still part of the fun in putting the schedule together” and described how “it seems to have caught the imagination of people in this country and, over the last two years, globally”.
Bragg, who also presented “The South Bank Show” for 35 years, said: “It's become a sort of encyclopaedia of the airwaves, and we get correspondence from students, factory workers, teachers, academics, and others who find it, as those of us who make it do, a way to extend or embellish their education and give them a view of the treasures of knowledge across many disciplines.”
MacGregor revealed that he has always been an “avid listener” of the programme.
He said: “It is 40 minutes of a Thursday morning one doesn’t want to go without and the range of subjects are never intimidating and the guest academics are rarely dull, such as repeating guests Mary Beard and Diarmaid MacCulloch.”
The publishing director described the book as “a celebration of the very best episodes of the series with insightful commentary from Melvyn and current series producer Simon Tillotson”.
“We aim to produce a lavish, gifting book that does justice to 20 years of broadcasting excellence.”