Cover art for podcast The Boring Talks

The Boring Talks

56 EpisodesProduced by BBC RadioWebsite

James Ward introduces another curious talk about a subject that may seem boring, but is actually very interesting... maybe.

episodes iconAll Episodes

#55 -Farts

April 28th, 2021


The colorectal surgeon and comedian Jenan Younis wants to get to the bottom of a taboo subject, that everyone has struggled with at some stage. Farts.


July 6th, 2020


It started with 'regency wedding scene' puzzle purchased for £2 in a charity shop.

Now Anya Driscoll is a jigsaw junkie.

In this edition of The Boring …

#53 - Car Boots

June 1st, 2020


From Anglo-American differences, to escaping kidnappers and celebrating the classic car boot sale. In this Boring Talk, Auto Express journalist Hugo Griffiths climbs inside the 'space of temporariness' that is the car …

#52 - Breakfast Cereals

May 4th, 2020


Family holidays for the artist Louise Ashcroft meant one thing - variety pack cereals. Would it be Cornflakes? Or Frosties? Coco Pops or Ricicles? …

#51 - Oboe Reeds

April 20th, 2020


Gouging, scraping and chopping. The reporter Chloe Veltman shows us the painstaking art of making an oboe reed, and how it can be the difference between sounding like a singing nightingale, or a belligerent duck.

James …

#50 - Windows

April 6th, 2020


Where does the word 'Window' derive from? And what does it have to do with a Norwegian architectural historian and a bohemian Austrian poet? On a lyrical journey from death to inspiration, Anne Ulrikke Andersen takes a …

#49 - Coal Holes

March 30th, 2020


They are either 12, 14 or 16 inches wide, they live just outside our doors, and they come in a variety of striking designs. So why has no one heard …

Data Centres

March 23rd, 2020


What do we all use, but never visit?

The sound artist Matt Parker takes us inside the bizarre world of remote Data Centres, where our wireless world is powered by rows and rows of computers running all day, everyday.

#47 - Crinoline Ladies

March 16th, 2020


It began as an image of Victorian femininity, became a 1920s style icon, and perhaps ended as a 1970s toilet roll cover. Dr Kathryn Ferry looks at …

# 46 - Teletext

March 9th, 2020


James Ward introduces another curious talk about a subject that may seem boring, but is actually very interesting.... maybe.

From Bamboozle, to being switched off, and now being salvaged for the digital age. James …

#45 - Box Certificates

March 2nd, 2020


One day while breaking down a box in a corridor, Joyce Smith noticed a box certificate. Quickly followed by a second one. Now Joyce had 2 of them, …

# 44 - Swearing: a personal cross-cultural comparative study of Hindi and English

February 24th, 2020


If you hit your thumb with a hammer, what swear word would you immediately scream? Charvy Narain asked her friends and family this question, which …

The Sounds Of Computer Games Loading

February 17th, 2020


James Ward introduces another curious talk about a subject that may seem boring, but is actually very interesting.... maybe.

The clunk and click of the datasette machine. The white noise of the tape loading. The strange …

#42 - The Lexicon Of Breakups

February 10th, 2020


James Ward introduces another curious talk about a subject that may seem boring, but is actually very interesting.... maybe.

In 2011, comedian Rosie Wilby was dumped by email. (Though she did feel better about it after …

#41 - Pencils

February 10th, 2020


James Ward introduces another curious talk about a subject that may seem boring, but is actually very interesting.... maybe.

Brian Mackenwells is passionate about pencils. In this Boring Talk he shares his passion for …

#40 - Thank You (again)

February 27th, 2019


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

#39 - Doormats

February 25th, 2019


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

#38 - Markham Moor Roof

February 18th, 2019


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: …

#37 - Watergate Tape 'Silence'

February 11th, 2019


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

#36 - Shanghai Architecture

February 4th, 2019


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: …

#35 - How Tall Are Celebrities?

January 28th, 2019


Who is taller, Robbie Williams, David Duchovny or the chef James Martin? And what does being ‘solid tall’ actually mean?
The writer Greg Stekelman …

#34 - Sounds of Grassroots Football

January 21st, 2019


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 …

#33 - Change

January 14th, 2019


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

#32 - Roads That Don't Exist

January 7th, 2019


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.

#31 - Happy New Year

December 31st, 2018


James Ward says 'Happy New Year', and that's about it really.

#30 - An Underwhelming Christmas

December 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

#29 - Animal Vaginas

December 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 …

#28 - Asterix Puns

December 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: …

#27 - Dutch Landscape Paintings

December 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 …

#26 - Call Centres

November 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?

Jeremy Bentham's 'Auto-Icon'

November 19th, 2018


James Ward introduces another curious talk about a subject that may seem boring, but is actually very interesting.... maybe.

Did Bentham leave his …

#24 - The Taxonomy Of Cornflakes

November 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 …

#23 - NATO Phonetic Alphabet

November 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 …

#22 - Toilet Graffiti

November 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 …

#21 - Thank You

June 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

#20 - Carry On Shakespeare

June 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

#19 - Ice Cream Vans

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 …

#18 - Kinder Egg Linguistics

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: …

#17 - Gasometers

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

#16 - Toilet Roll Serial Numbers

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 …

#15 - Smell Walks

April 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, …

#14 - Name Change

April 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 …

#13 - Basalt

April 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

#12 - British Earthquakes

April 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

#11 - Sneezing

April 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 …

#10 - Lampposts

March 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 …

#9 - Sounding Gestalts

March 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.

#8 - Danish Public Information Films

March 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 …

#7 - Green Belt Land

March 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 …

#6 - The Argos Catalogue

February 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

#5 - Model Villages

February 19th, 2018


From beautifully crafted tourist attractions, to nightmarish dystopian visions, the broadcaster Tim Dunn shares his love for the 'little works of …

#4 - Wooden Pallets

February 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

#3 - Yellow Lines

February 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

#2 - Book Pricing Algorithms

January 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

#1 - The End Of The World

January 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 …

Boring Talks #00

January 7th, 2018


Behind every boring subject is another layer of boringness you could have never imagined.

Presenter: James Ward

Producer: Luke Doran

Editor: Moy …

Loading ...

Are you the creator of this podcast?

Verify your account

and pick the featured episodes for your show.

Listen to The Boring Talks


A free podcast app for iPhone and Android

  • User-created playlists and collections
  • Download episodes while on WiFi to listen without using mobile data
  • Stream podcast episodes without waiting for a download
  • Queue episodes to create a personal continuous playlist
RadioPublic on iOS and Android
Or by RSS
RSS feed

Connect with listeners

Podcasters use the RadioPublic listener relationship platform to build lasting connections with fans

Yes, let's begin connecting
Browser window

Find new listeners

  • A dedicated website for your podcast
  • Web embed players designed to convert visitors to listeners in the RadioPublic apps for iPhone and Android
Clicking mouse cursor

Understand your audience

  • Capture listener activity with affinity scores
  • Measure your promotional campaigns and integrate with Google and Facebook analytics
Graph of increasing value

Engage your fanbase

  • Deliver timely Calls To Action, including email acquistion for your mailing list
  • Share exactly the right moment in an episode via text, email, and social media
Icon of cellphone with money

Make money

  • Tip and transfer funds directly to podcastsers
  • Earn money for qualified plays in the RadioPublic apps with Paid Listens