A. R. Wallace show on BBC tonight

Remember that 2013 is Wallace Year—the centenary of Alfred Russel Wallace’s death. If you don’t know who he is—and you must—read the Wikipedia article.  We’ll be featuring Wallaceiana throughout the year.

At the moment (it’s early!) I’m listening to a show on the man, the co-discoverer of natural selection, live on BBC Radio 4. It’s very good, and my pal Steve Jones, who is featured, is quite eloquent. It’s too late to announce the program now, but it will be repeated on BBC4 tonight (FM only) at 21:30 London time (5:30 p.m. EST US), presumably at the link above, and then later as a podcast.

It’s a nice show that I recommend; I’ll post the link to the podcast when it’s up.

The BBC blurb:

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the work of Alfred Russel Wallace, a pioneer of evolutionary theory. Born in 1823, Wallace travelled extensively, charting the distribution of animal species throughout the world. This fieldwork in the Amazon and later the Malay Archipelago led him to formulate a theory of evolution through natural selection. In 1858 he sent the paper he wrote on the subject to Charles Darwin, who was spurred into the writing and publication of his own masterpiece On the Origin of Species. Wallace was also the founder of the science of biogeography and made important discoveries about the nature of animal coloration. But despite his visionary work, Wallace has been overshadowed by the greater fame of his contemporary Darwin.


Steve Jones
Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College London

George Beccaloni
Curator of Cockroaches and Related Insects and Director of the Wallace Correspondence Project at the Natural History Museum

Ted Benton
Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex

Producer: Thomas Morri

A. R. Wallace

A. R. Wallace

h/t: Dom


  1. Mal
    Posted March 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    The programme will not just be on FM. It will be on all the different BBC platforms I.e. FM, digital radio, digital TV, internet (including phone apps). It just won’t be on the long wave because that will have cricket.

    BBC4 is a digital TV Channel. This will be on BBC Radio 4 or just plain radio 4. I have no idea, by the way, how you might get it in the US!

  2. GrahamH
    Posted March 21, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    The 9:30 broadcast is a revised repeat – 30 minutes against the original 45. You can listen to the morning broadcast on the link Jerry posted above. As it’s a radio show I think it is available outside the UK.

    • Bonzodog
      Posted March 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      If not, there are a few people (like myself) who have UK based VPNs ……

  3. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted March 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic: now at NPR:

    Frans de Waal’s Bottom-Up Morality: We’re Not Good Because Of God
    by Barbara J. King
    March 21, 201310:03 AM

    In a book coming out next week called The Bonobo and the Atheist, primatologist Frans de Waal argues that morality is built into our species. Rather than coming to us top-down from God, or any other external source, morality for de Waal springs bottom-up from our emotions and our day-to-day social interactions, which themselves evolved from foundations in animal societies.

  4. steve oberski
    Posted March 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Would this be the same Melvyn Bragg who attacked Richard Dawkins for “atheist fundamentalism” ?

    Bragg, who self describes as not religious and
    described going to church as “a tribal thing” says that “while he did not believe God existed, there were aspects of religion, such as its sense of community and ethical structure, which were attractive”.

    He goes on to say:

    “Ever since civilisation began people have believed in many gods, one god or none,” he said. “There have also been atheists, people who say that this is unprovable, that there could not be resurrections and reincarnations and miracles. These are all respectable traditions.

    “What’s changed recently is the animus and the ignorance that has entered into the atheist argument, led by Richard Dawkins, most improbably a fine zoologist, a good scholar, Oxford trained, who seems to have thrown everything off in this odd pursuit, particularly of Christianity.”

    “Things come to us outside the realms of reason; intimations of love, surprise by joy, little pulses that we don’t know where they come from, we don’t know where they lead to, but they satisfy us or they make us despair. Dawkins shows no respect for religion at all.”

    • Harry
      Posted March 21, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Bragg certainly dropped in my admiration when he declared himself being in love with religion. I actually stopped listening to In Our Time after his strident and shrill anti-Dawkins sermon. He has taken “accomodationism” to a whole new level. If memory serves, he has also said that our western civilisation owes its existance to the Bible and Christianity.

      The sermon can, of course, be seen on Youtube:

      • Dominic
        Posted March 22, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        I agree but I still listen to some.

  5. Posted March 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the heads up, Prof. Coyne.
    I just listened to the show, and it’s wonderful… lots of perhaps little-known things about Wallace. He was quite fascinated, not only with the amazing creatures he found on his long explores, but also with the indigenous tribes he met on his long explores, and had long science discussions with them, explaining about the movement of the sun and moon in the heavens.

    • Posted March 21, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      sorry… the editing of my own post above pst sux big time!

  6. zackoz
    Posted March 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    “Curator of Cockroaches and Related Insects”

    Now there’s a job anyone would want!

  7. John
    Posted March 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m a real fan of Steve Jones. You are fortunate to have him as a friend and colleague. I never miss a Melvin Bragg program because I get the podcast on BBC Radio 4. Steve Jones has been a frequent guest, as you know.

  8. Richard Wein
    Posted March 22, 2013 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    There’s a podcast archive of In Our Time episodes going back a few years:


    (I record them on my PVR every week, but I haven’t listened to this one yet.)

  9. Posted March 22, 2013 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    don’t forget you can use the iPlayer to listen to this at any time for at least the the next week.

    On the link Jerry shared you can click “Listen” to hear the show at any time.

  10. John Scanlon, FCD
    Posted March 22, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    “In 1858 he sent the paper he wrote on the subject to Charles Darwin, who was spurred into the writing and publication of his own masterpiece On the Origin of Species.”

    That bit (emphasis added) is poppycock. It would mislead anyone who didn’t already know better, because “writing” is not normally understood to mean making a massive existing manuscript short enough to fit into a single printed volume. I hope the radio show itself was more accurate.

  11. Posted March 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

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    and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. After all I will be subscribing for your rss feed and I hope you write once more very soon!

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