Richard Klein, who became BBC Four’s controller at the end of 2008, is always on the lookout for new ideas.

“We appeal to viewers who have curious minds, and we reach parts of their brains other channels don’t reach,” he says. “We are always interested in covering mainstream subjects, but we go in deep. One of the natural places to look for people who have a credible, authoritative position and who can argue a strong view of the world is in the academy.”

He and his team recruit suitable academics in a number of different ways. Some are already well known via their books, public appearances and the media. During BBC Four’s autumn/winter season, Robin Lane Fox, reader in ancient history at the University of Oxford, will present a bold new interpretation of the origins of Greek mythology in Greek Myths – Tales of Travelling Heroes. Lisa Jardine, centenary professor of Renaissance studies at Queen Mary, University of London, will be examining the ethics of science through the archives of her father, Jacob Bronowski, in My Father, the Bomb and Me.

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