In Our Time, By Melvyn Bragg

As the BBC confronts a 16 per cent cut in revenue, where will its axe swing? For many listeners, In Our Time by itself has justified the licence fee – and a withdrawal from such ventures would damn Auntie to indefensible mediocrity.

These transcripts select a treasure-trove of discussions from a decade of the Radio 4 jewel. In company with his trios of interpreters, inquisitor Melvyn Bragg bestrides the arts and sciences, from the Calendar to Angels; from Shakespeare's Language to Plate Tectonics; and Witchcraft to Tea.

Those who listened can revisit past delights; those who didn't can discover what the BBC does that it absolutely must still do. Bragg calls his involvement with the show "pure pleasure and paradise for an autodidact". It is.