15 By 15

What's in a word? Where did it come from? Where does it lead? Hardeep Singh Kohli chooses a word and sees where it leads him.

In 15 minutes he expects to learn 15 things he didn't know before.

His journey takes him to lexicographer Susie Dent, who knows about words and can tell him where the word first appeared in the English language.

From there he sets off in different directions, meeting people who in different ways are connected to that programme's word.

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
0101Mattress2011050120120116

What's in a word? Where did it come from? Where does it lead? Hardeep Singh Kohli chooses a word and sees where it leads him.

In 15 minutes he expects to learn 15 things he didn't know before.

His journey takes him to lexicographer Susie Dent, who knows about words and can tell him where the word first appeared in the English language.

From there he sets off in different directions, meeting people who in different ways are connected to that programme's word.In the first programme 'Mattress', Hardeep meets Gerry, who's buying a mattress at an open air stall in a market, Lauren Child, adaptor and illustrator of 'The Princess and the Pea', David Cain who exterminates bedbugs, and opera singer Julie Unwin who falls on one from a height.

0102Trifle2011050820120117

Hardeep meets head pastry chef Jocky Petrie who went on a mission to make the perfect trifle, Shakespeare scholar Luke Healy, and remembers the inimitable TV cook Fanny Cradock.

0103Heels2011051520120118

Hardeep meets Meg Matthews, who owns 400 pairs of high heels, takes lessons from Chyna Whyne, visits Northampton's shoe museum, and asks ballroom dancer Lilia Kopylova what she thinks about the saying that Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did, but backwards, and in high heels.

0104Spin2011052220120119

Hardeep spins round at over 600 miles per hour, visits the New Lanark Heritage site where Arkwright's revolutionary spinning machine is still in action, hears cricket commentator Christopher Martin Jenkins recall Shane Warne's test match debut, and touches on political spin with political commentator Peter Oborne.

0105 LASTStroke2011052920120120

Hardeep Singh Kohli takes the word 'stroke' and sees where it leads him. Along the way Hardeep talks to art critic Richard Cork about the brushstrokes of Claude Monet, meets massage therapist Martin Kingston, remembers Botham's cricket strokes, and hears about the Stroke Association's preventative campaign.

0201Box2013080520131112

Today's word is 'box' and Hardeep joins boxing coach Naomi Gibson in the ring. Naomi runs a boxing school for aspiring women boxers and, for Hardeep, there is no hiding place.

The word 'box' comes from Greek and Latin roots, and Russell Coates is an expert on topiary, running a nursery specialising in different shapes made from the slow-growing box wood tree.

Susie Dent is on hand to explain phrases like 'box and cox', and Hardeep ends his journey at one of the many gigantic storage facilities, where Sonia Pirie tells him that a considerable part of her job is acting as a therapist for people whose relationship breakdowns mean they need to put their stuff somewhere fast.

0202Check2013080620131119

Today's word is 'check' and Susie Dent is on hand to explain that all the meanings that 'check' has developed come from the game of chess.

Hardeep's other encounters include 9 year old Samuel, a pupil at one of the many schools that takes part in the Chess in Schools initiative, founded by Malcolm Pein.

Hardeep stands in the middle of Carnaby Street with fashion lecturer Amber Butchart on the look-out for checks as they pass by, and he encounters the check list with one of the many people who need a 'to do list' to help them organise their lives and check off what they have to do that day.

0203Clog2013080720140101

Hardeep Singh Kohli chooses a word and sets off on an exploration into its origins, meeting people for whom it has different associations. He hopes to learn 15 things along the way.

Today's word is 'clog', and etymologist Susie Dent is on hand to explain the origin of the word as a block of wood, which came to mean the footwear as well as the notion of clogging or blocking anything from arteries to drains.

Hardeep meets Phil Howard, one of the few remaining clog-makers in Great Britain, and hears tales of three clog-busters who deal with obstructions of all kinds, in drains and down manholes.

He also talks to Kate Tattersall who runs the Camden Clog, a group of dancers who trace their dances back to the Lancashire cotton mills, where the millworkers tapped their clogs in time to the machines - a moment of history restaged by Sarah Angliss and Caroline Radcliffe.

Producer: Richard Bannerman

A Ladbroke production for BBC Radio 4.

0204Jam2013080820131126

Today's word is 'jam', and etymologist Susie Dent is on hand to explain the origin of the word as an onomatopoeic sound of the jaws 'champing' or chomping away at food. Soon it developed the meaning of being squeezed or trapped, and first appeared in Daniel Defoe's 'Robinson Crusoe'.

Hardeep encounters Russell Holden who reports on traffic jams across the UK and, on a more tasty track, he samples the preserves of Emmerline Smy, who has been making jams, jellies and chutneys for 20 years.

Susie Dent shows how the musical sense of 'jam' came along in the 30's, and Hardeep visits the Blues Jam at The Globe in Hackney and a Maths jam in Holborn.

Producer: Richard Bannerman

A Ladbroke production for BBC Radio 4.

0205 LASTHip2013080920131203

Hardeep Singh Kohli chooses a word and sets off on an exploration into its origins, meeting people for whom it has different associations. He hopes to learn 15 things along the way.

Today's word is 'Hip', which shoots off in various directions from different roots.

Susie Dent is on hand to trace the origins of the different meanings, from the anatomical sense to the essence of 'cool'.

Hardeep tests Amber Butchart on who is 'hip' and who is not, talks to orthopaedic surgeon Adrian O'Gorman about the sharper points of hip replacements, and gets his come-uppance from salsa teacher Douglas Gomes as he tries to make Hardeep's hips move to the Latin-American beat.

And there are shorter excursions into the origins of hip hip hooray and hip hop.

Producer: Richard Bannerman

A Ladbroke production for BBC Radio 4.