A History Of Britain In Numbers

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20150216

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, brings to life the numbers conveying the big trends that have transformed the shape and scope of the British state.

He looks at what governments through the centuries have spent, borrowed, taxed, regulated and built; and he considers how we came to organise a national life that reaches into every corner of private life, from the delivery of pensions and healthcare to the surveillance of emails or rules about the temperature of a hot cup of tea.

By one measure, the modern British state is roughly 7,000 times bigger than the Tudor state. How and why did that happen?

The story of the state unfolds through muddy fields, smugglers coves and a Victorian village lock-up. Numbers become sound as we hear the dramatic scale of change that has occurred over the centuries.

The evolution of the state may be driven less by party politics than party politicians might like us to think. Although the state's size and functions are a natural subject of fierce political argument, the impetus for the biggest changes has often come from another source - such as war, economic growth, and the power that arises from knowledge.

In this first programme in the series, Andrew looks at knowledge and power.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

20150217

Andrew Dilnot charts Britain's transformation through numbers.

20150218

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, brings to life the numbers conveying the big trends that have transformed the shape and scope of the British state.

He looks at what governments through the centuries have spent, borrowed, taxed, regulated and built; and he considers how we came to organise a national life that reaches into every corner of private life, from the delivery of pensions and healthcare to the surveillance of emails or rules about the temperature of a hot cup of tea.

By one measure, the modern British state is roughly 7,000 times bigger than the Tudor state. How and why did that happen?

The story of the state unfolds through muddy fields, smugglers coves and a Victorian village lock-up. Numbers become sound as we hear the dramatic scale of change that has occurred over the centuries.

The evolution of the state may be driven less by party politics than party politicians might like us to think. Although the state's size and functions are a natural subject of fierce political argument, the impetus for the biggest changes has often come from another source - such as war, economic growth, and the power that arises from knowledge.

In programme three, Andrew discovers how war makes the state.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

20150219

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, brings to life the numbers conveying the big trends that have transformed the shape and scope of the British state.

He looks at what governments through the centuries have spent, borrowed, taxed, regulated and built; and he considers how we came to organise a national life that reaches into every corner of private life, from the delivery of pensions and healthcare to the surveillance of emails or rules about the temperature of a hot cup of tea.

By one measure, the modern British state is roughly 7,000 times bigger than the Tudor state. How and why did that happen?

The story of the state unfolds through muddy fields, smugglers coves and a Victorian village lock-up. Numbers become sound as we hear the dramatic scale of change that has occurred over the centuries.

The evolution of the state may be driven less by party politics than party politicians might like us to think. Although the state's size and functions are a natural subject of fierce political argument, the impetus for the biggest changes has often come from another source - such as war, economic growth, and the power that arises from knowledge.

In the fourth programme of the series, Andrew explores tax.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

20150220

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, brings to life the numbers conveying the big trends that have transformed the shape and scope of the British state.

He looks at what governments through the centuries have spent, borrowed, taxed, regulated and built; and he considers how we came to organise a national life that reaches into every corner of private life, from the delivery of pensions and healthcare to the surveillance of emails or rules about the temperature of a hot cup of tea.

By one measure, the modern British state is roughly 7,000 times bigger than the Tudor state. How and why did that happen?

The story of the state unfolds through muddy fields, smugglers coves and a Victorian village lock-up. Numbers become sound as we hear the dramatic scale of change that has occurred over the centuries.

The evolution of the state may be driven less by party politics than party politicians might like us to think. Although the state's size and functions are a natural subject of fierce political argument, the impetus for the biggest changes has often come from another source - such as war, economic growth, and the power that arises from knowledge.

In part five of the series, Andrew looks at public spending.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

20150223

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, brings to life the numbers conveying the big trends that have transformed the shape and scope of the British state.

He looks at what governments through the centuries have spent, borrowed, taxed, regulated and built; and he considers how we came to organise a national life that reaches into every corner of private life, from the delivery of pensions and healthcare to the surveillance of emails or rules about the temperature of a hot cup of tea.

By one measure, the modern British state is roughly 7,000 times bigger than the Tudor state. How and why did that happen?

The story of the state unfolds through muddy fields, smugglers coves and a Victorian village lock-up. Numbers become sound as we hear the dramatic scale of change that has occurred over the centuries.

The evolution of the state may be driven less by party politics than party politicians might like us to think. Although the state's size and functions are a natural subject of fierce political argument, the impetus for the biggest changes has often come from another source - such as war, economic growth, and the power that arises from knowledge.

In this sixth programme, Andrew turns to social security.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

20150224

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, brings to life the numbers conveying the big trends that have transformed the shape and scope of the British state.

He looks at what governments through the centuries have spent, borrowed, taxed, regulated and built; and he considers how we came to organise a national life that reaches into every corner of private life, from the delivery of pensions and healthcare to the surveillance of emails or rules about the temperature of a hot cup of tea.

By one measure, the modern British state is roughly 7,000 times bigger than the Tudor state. How and why did that happen?

The story of the state unfolds through muddy fields, smugglers coves and a Victorian village lock-up. Numbers become sound as we hear the dramatic scale of change that has occurred over the centuries.

The evolution of the state may be driven less by party politics than party politicians might like us to think. Although the state's size and functions are a natural subject of fierce political argument, the impetus for the biggest changes has often come from another source - such as war, economic growth, and the power that arises from knowledge.

In programme seven, Andrew analyses the numbers around debt.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

20150225

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, brings to life the numbers conveying the big trends that have transformed the shape and scope of the British state.

He looks at what governments through the centuries have spent, borrowed, taxed, regulated and built; and he considers how we came to organise a national life that reaches into every corner of private life, from the delivery of pensions and healthcare to the surveillance of emails or rules about the temperature of a hot cup of tea.

By one measure, the modern British state is roughly 7,000 times bigger than the Tudor state. How and why did that happen?

The story of the state unfolds through muddy fields, smugglers coves and a Victorian village lock-up. Numbers become sound as we hear the dramatic scale of change that has occurred over the centuries.

The evolution of the state may be driven less by party politics than party politicians might like us to think. Although the state's size and functions are a natural subject of fierce political argument, the impetus for the biggest changes has often come from another source - such as war, economic growth, and the power that arises from knowledge.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

20150226

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, brings to life the numbers conveying the big trends that have transformed the shape and scope of the British state.

He looks at what governments through the centuries have spent, borrowed, taxed, regulated and built; and he considers how we came to organise a national life that reaches into every corner of private life, from the delivery of pensions and healthcare to the surveillance of emails or rules about the temperature of a hot cup of tea.

By one measure, the modern British state is roughly 7,000 times bigger than the Tudor state. How and why did that happen?

The story of the state unfolds through muddy fields, smugglers coves and a Victorian village lock-up. Numbers become sound as we hear the dramatic scale of change that has occurred over the centuries.

The evolution of the state may be driven less by party politics than party politicians might like us to think. Although the state's size and functions are a natural subject of fierce political argument, the impetus for the biggest changes has often come from another source - such as war, economic growth, and the power that arises from knowledge.

In programme nine, Andrew explores the numbers around building the state.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

20150227

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, brings to life the numbers conveying the big trends that have transformed the shape and scope of the British state.

He looks at what governments through the centuries have spent, borrowed, taxed, regulated and built; and he considers how we came to organise a national life that reaches into every corner of private life, from the delivery of pensions and healthcare to the surveillance of emails or rules about the temperature of a hot cup of tea.

By one measure, the modern British state is roughly 7,000 times bigger than the Tudor state. How and why did that happen?

The story of the state unfolds through muddy fields, smugglers coves and a Victorian village lock-up. Numbers become sound as we hear the dramatic scale of change that has occurred over the centuries.

The evolution of the state may be driven less by party politics than party politicians might like us to think. Although the state's size and functions are a natural subject of fierce political argument, the impetus for the biggest changes has often come from another source - such as war, economic growth, and the power that arises from knowledge.

In the final programme of the series, Andrew turns his attention to enfranchisement.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

01Population20131118

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, tells the story of a transformation in personal life in Britain, through the numbers that capture change on the grand scale.

He delves into the data for the big patterns and trends in history, finding new ways of thinking about the whole shape of the population - the balance between adults and children, for example, or the shifting shape of what we do with our lives, from infancy to retirement and death. He seeks answers in history to some of the problems that perplex us now, such as how badly austerity has bitten or the paradox of why no-one seems able to afford a house but so many people own one. And he tells these stories not just with data, but through people and the real experiences that bring the numbers to life.

In the search for data to measure how we've changed, the programme counts rotten teeth and adds up what people ate, what they own and throw away. What did we earn through the centuries, how do we know, and what could we do with it? What was our health like, or our homes, our jobs or education? What was the status and experience of women? And how has it all changed?

This is all presented with innovative radio techniques to capture data in sound - for example, new ways of creating graphs for the senses so that we can not just know, but feel, the changes.

Each of these ten programmes takes one theme, to explore how far we have made progress, and why it might continue, or falter.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

The reshaping of population over centuries would make us unrecognisable to our ancestors.

02Prosperity20131119

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, tells the story of a transformation in personal life in Britain, through the numbers that capture change on the grand scale.

He delves into the data for the big patterns and trends in history, finding new ways of thinking about the whole shape of the population - the balance between adults and children, for example, or the shifting shape of what we do with our lives, from infancy to retirement and death. He seeks answers in history to some of the problems that perplex us now, such as how badly austerity has bitten or the paradox of why no-one seems able to afford a house but so many people own one. And he tells these stories not just with data, but through people and the real experiences that bring the numbers to life.

In the search for data to measure how we've changed, the programme counts rotten teeth and adds up what people ate, what they own and throw away. What did we earn through the centuries, how do we know, and what could we do with it? What was our health like, or our homes, our jobs or education? What was the status and experience of women? And how has it all changed?

This is all presented with innovative radio techniques to capture data in sound - for example, new ways of creating graphs for the senses so that we can not just know, but feel, the changes.

Each of these ten programmes takes one theme, to explore how far we have made progress, and why it might continue, or falter.

2. Prosperity

Andrew Dilnot continues the story of Britain in numbers by looking at the history of how well off we have been over the years. He reveals the rich man's income from only a few generations ago that would be worth less than today's minimum wage, and uses striking audio techniques to capture the changes in our prosperity.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Andrew Dilnot looks at the history of how well-off we have been over the years.

03Health20131120

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, tells the story of a transformation in personal life in Britain, through the numbers that capture change on the grand scale.

He delves into the data for the big patterns and trends in history, finding new ways of thinking about the whole shape of the population - the balance between adults and children, for example, or the shifting shape of what we do with our lives, from infancy to retirement and death. He seeks answers in history to some of the problems that perplex us now, such as how badly austerity has bitten or the paradox of why no-one seems able to afford a house but so many people own one. And he tells these stories not just with data, but through people and the real experiences that bring the numbers to life.

In the search for data to measure how we've changed, the programme counts rotten teeth and adds up what people ate, what they own and throw away. What did we earn through the centuries, how do we know, and what could we do with it? What was our health like, or our homes, our jobs or education? What was the status and experience of women? And how has it all changed?

This is all presented with innovative radio techniques to capture data in sound - for example, new ways of creating graphs for the senses so that we can not just know, but feel, the changes.

Each of these ten programmes takes one theme, to explore how far we have made progress, and why it might continue, or falter.

3. Health

Andrew Dilnot explores the history of our health numbers, turning statistics into sound to reveal the startling changes in what we have come to think of as normal, and discovering how the numbers translated into lives through the centuries.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Andrew Dilnot explores the history of Britain's health numbers.

04Stuff20131121

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, tells the story of a transformation in personal life in Britain, through the numbers that capture change on the grand scale.

He delves into the data for the big patterns and trends in history, finding new ways of thinking about the whole shape of the population - the balance between adults and children, for example, or the shifting shape of what we do with our lives, from infancy to retirement and death. He seeks answers in history to some of the problems that perplex us now, such as how badly austerity has bitten or the paradox of why no-one seems able to afford a house but so many people own one. And he tells these stories not just with data, but through people and the real experiences that bring the numbers to life.

In the search for data to measure how we've changed, the programme counts rotten teeth and adds up what people ate, what they own and throw away. What did we earn through the centuries, how do we know, and what could we do with it? What was our health like, or our homes, our jobs or education? What was the status and experience of women? And how has it all changed?

This is all presented with innovative radio techniques to capture data in sound - for example, new ways of creating graphs for the senses so that we can not just know, but feel, the changes.

Each of these ten programmes takes one theme, to explore how far we have made progress, and why it might continue, or falter.

4. Stuff

Andrew Dilnot's history of the big trends in history in numbers continues with the story of stuff - the things we consume, from light to concrete - packed with revealing statistics and stories of the way stuff changed our lives.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Andrew Dilnot presents revealing statistics and stories of the way stuff changed our lives

05Homes20131122

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, tells the story of a transformation in personal life in Britain, through the numbers that capture change on the grand scale.

He delves into the data for the big patterns and trends in history, finding new ways of thinking about the whole shape of the population - the balance between adults and children, for example, or the shifting shape of what we do with our lives, from infancy to retirement and death. He seeks answers in history to some of the problems that perplex us now, such as how badly austerity has bitten or the paradox of why no-one seems able to afford a house but so many people own one. And he tells these stories not just with data, but through people and the real experiences that bring the numbers to life.

In the search for data to measure how we've changed, the programme counts rotten teeth and adds up what people ate, what they own and throw away. What did we earn through the centuries, how do we know, and what could we do with it? What was our health like, or our homes, our jobs or education? What was the status and experience of women? And how has it all changed?

This is all presented with innovative radio techniques to capture data in sound - for example, new ways of creating graphs for the senses so that we can not just know, but feel, the changes.

Each of these ten programmes takes one theme, to explore how far we have made progress, and why it might continue, or falter.

5. Homes

Andrew Dilnot tackles the history of our homes in numbers, looking for the big trends and statistical details over the centuries that might help explain why housing has become a national obsession. Continues next week.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

06Education20131125

Andrew Dilnot looks into education data, finding a story of a sudden spread of privilege.

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, tells the story of a transformation in personal life in Britain, through the numbers that capture change on the grand scale.

He delves into the data for the big patterns and trends in history, finding new ways of thinking about the whole shape of the population - the balance between adults and children, for example, or the shifting shape of what we do with our lives, from infancy to retirement and death. He seeks answers in history to some of the problems that perplex us now, such as how badly austerity has bitten or the paradox of why no-one seems able to afford a house but so many people own one. And he tells these stories not just with data, but through people and the real experiences that bring the numbers to life.

In the search for data to measure how we've changed, the programme counts rotten teeth and adds up what people ate, what they own and throw away. What did we earn through the centuries, how do we know, and what could we do with it? What was our health like, or our homes, our jobs or education? What was the status and experience of women? And how has it all changed?

Each of these ten programmes takes one theme, to explore how far we have made progress, and why it might continue, or falter.

6. Education.

Andrew looks into the data concerning education, and finds a story of a sudden spread of privilege, largely in the space of a century or two - first in school, then in university. In other words, it's a story about 'access', the modern buzzword for an old problem.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

07Work20131126

Andrew Dilnot asks how our long-working-hours culture compares with the past.

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, tells the story of a transformation in personal life in Britain, through the numbers that capture change on the grand scale.

He delves into the data for the big patterns and trends in history, finding new ways of thinking about the whole shape of the population - the balance between adults and children, for example, or the shifting shape of what we do with our lives, from infancy to retirement and death. He seeks answers in history to some of the problems that perplex us now, such as how badly austerity has bitten or the paradox of why no-one seems able to afford a house but so many people own one. And he tells these stories not just with data, but through people and the real experiences that bring the numbers to life.

In the search for data to measure how we've changed, the programme counts rotten teeth and adds up what people ate, what they own and throw away. What did we earn through the centuries, how do we know, and what could we do with it? What was our health like, or our homes, our jobs or education? What was the status and experience of women? And how has it all changed?

This is all presented with innovative radio techniques to capture data in sound - for example, new ways of creating graphs for the senses so that we can not just know, but feel, the changes.

Each of these ten programmes takes one theme, to explore how far we have made progress, and why it might continue, or falter.

7. Work

How does our long-working-hours culture, often with low wages and job insecurity, compare with the past?

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

08Old Age20131127

Andrew reveals the changing shape of our lives by compressing a whole life into 20 seconds

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, tells the story of a transformation in personal life in Britain, through the numbers that capture change on the grand scale.

He delves into the data for the big patterns and trends in history, finding new ways of thinking about the whole shape of the population - the balance between adults and children, for example, or the shifting shape of what we do with our lives, from infancy to retirement and death. He seeks answers in history to some of the problems that perplex us now, such as how badly austerity has bitten or the paradox of why no-one seems able to afford a house but so many people own one. And he tells these stories not just with data, but through people and the real experiences that bring the numbers to life.

In the search for data to measure how we've changed, the programme counts rotten teeth and adds up what people ate, what they own and throw away. What did we earn through the centuries, how do we know, and what could we do with it? What was our health like, or our homes, our jobs or education? What was the status and experience of women? And how has it all changed?

This is all presented with innovative radio techniques to capture data in sound - for example, new ways of creating graphs for the senses so that we can not just know, but feel, the changes.

Each of these ten programmes takes one theme, to explore how far we have made progress, and why it might continue, or falter.

8. Old Age

Andrew reveals the changing shape of our lives by compressing a whole life into 20 seconds and comparing it over the centuries. Did we once grow old in the comfort of family life? How old was old?

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

09Women20131128

How do the repeated patterns of change in the data explain the way women's lives changed?

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, tells the story of a transformation in personal life in Britain, through the numbers that capture change on the grand scale.

He delves into the data for the big patterns and trends in history, finding new ways of thinking about the whole shape of the population - the balance between adults and children, for example, or the shifting shape of what we do with our lives, from infancy to retirement and death. He seeks answers in history to some of the problems that perplex us now, such as how badly austerity has bitten or the paradox of why no-one seems able to afford a house but so many people own one. And he tells these stories not just with data, but through people and the real experiences that bring the numbers to life.

In the search for data to measure how we've changed, the programme counts rotten teeth and adds up what people ate, what they own and throw away. What did we earn through the centuries, how do we know, and what could we do with it? What was our health like, or our homes, our jobs or education? What was the status and experience of women? And how has it all changed?

Each of these ten programmes takes one theme, to explore how far we have made progress, and why it might continue, or falter.

9. Women

The changes in women's lives have been vast, and many of them have come in a blink at the end of recorded history. But the patterns of change in the data can be found repeated as long ago as the Black Death. What were they, and how do they help explain the way women's lives changed?

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

10 LASTLiving20131129

If the economic struggle for survival is over, do we now need to work out how to live?

Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, tells the story of a transformation in personal life in Britain, through the numbers that capture change on the grand scale.

He delves into the data for the big patterns and trends in history, finding new ways of thinking about the whole shape of the population - the balance between adults and children, for example, or the shifting shape of what we do with our lives, from infancy to retirement and death. He seeks answers in history to some of the problems that perplex us now, such as how badly austerity has bitten or the paradox of why no-one seems able to afford a house but so many people own one. And he tells these stories not just with data, but through people and the real experiences that bring the numbers to life.

In the search for data to measure how we've changed, the programme counts rotten teeth and adds up what people ate, what they own and throw away. What did we earn through the centuries, how do we know, and what could we do with it? What was our health like, or our homes, our jobs or education? What was the status and experience of women? And how has it all changed?

Each of these ten programmes takes one theme, to explore how far we have made progress, and why it might continue, or falter.

10. Living

Is the history of the economic struggle for survival over, as Keynes once said it would be? If so, has it been replaced with what he said would be a much harder problem - not working out how to survive, but working out how to live? Some think we will only do this when we balance our expectations with the sustainability of the planet; others that it has become a moral problem, not an economic one.

Producer: Michael Blastland

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.