About Average

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
01On The Average20150928

Novelist and critic Ian Sansom believes that the idea of the average is one of the key terms and principles of the modern age, encompassing human productivity, relationships, politics and art. So, how did average become a byword for mediocrity?

'Average Is Over' proclaims the title of one recent best-selling book about economics. 'Start: Punch Fear In the Face, Escape Average And Do Work That Matters' suggests the title of another. 'Conquering Average'. 'Mastering Average'. 'Overcoming Average'. This has become the mantra of our times.

In the opening essay of this series of investigations into the average, Sansom takes a sideways look at the history and meaning of the ordinary and the everyday and discovers what it means to be the opposite of 'awesome'.

Producer: Stan Ferguson.

02Small, Medium And Large20150929

Novelist and critic Ian Sansom believes that the idea of the average is one of the key terms and principles of the modern age, encompassing human productivity, relationships, politics and art. So, how did average become a byword for mediocrity?

In the second essay of the series, he uncovers the unlikely history of the scientific measurement of the dimensions of the average man and woman. We learn that our ever-changing dimensions matter - size matters - for all sorts of obvious reasons, not least because average sizes literally determine the shape of the world we all live in: the height of our tables and chairs, the shape of our clothes, our cars, our phones - and of course our coffins. We all live and die according to the average.

Producer: Stan Ferguson.

03Working 9 To 520150930

Novelist and critic Ian Sansom believes that the idea of the average is one of the key terms and principles of the modern age, encompassing human productivity, relationships, politics and art. So, how did average become a byword for mediocrity?

In the third essay of the series, he explores the changing concept of the average working week in an age of zero hours contracts. Is the idea of an average working week now as redundant and old-fashioned as the idea of the tea-drinking, bowler-hatted man on the Clapham omnibus, with his 2.4 children living comfortably in suburbia, in a nation of cheeky-chappie shopkeepers?

Producer: Stan Ferguson.

05Middletown20151002

Novelist and critic Ian Sansom believes that the idea of the average is one of the key terms and principles of the modern age, encompassing human productivity, relationships, politics and art. So, how did average become a byword for mediocrity?

In the final essay of the series, he attempts to locate the most average place in the UK, the heart of Middle England, the spiritual home of Joe and Josephine Public.

Producer: Stan Ferguson.