Living with the Gods

The "Lion-Man" artefact

Living with the Gods is a 30-part BBC Radio 4 series presented by Neil MacGregor, a former director of the British Museum.[1] It explores human societies and what MacGregor describes as "the connections between structures of belief, and the structures of society".[2] The series examines artefacts from the 40,000 year-old Lion-man sculpture[3] to the contemporary Lampedusa cross created by Francisco Tuccio in response to the 2013 drowning of refugees off the island of Lampedusa.[4]

In the episode Living with Many Gods, MacGregor explained:

"Choosing a title for this series turned out to be extremely difficult, because although some societies have many gods there are others that acknowledge only one, and for whom even the idea of 'gods' in the plural is offensive. And then there are some communities that share the world around them with spirits, or shifting supernatural beings, which wouldn't match our understanding of a god. And a few societies like Soviet Russia have tried to live officially with no god at all. In every case the consequences for society are profound."[5]

The series accompanied an exhibition at the British Museum, running until 8 April 2018.[6]


Writing in the New Statesman, Antonia Quirke asked, "What makes Neil MacGregor the best presenter on BBC radio? His new 30-part series Living With the Gods, about objects connected to belief, ceremony and ritual, begins on 23 October (BBC Radio 4, 9.45am), and listening to the first few episodes it’s clear that it is every bit the equal of Kenneth Clark's Civilisation or Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man. None of them could hope to find a place on television now".[7]


  1. ^ "Living With The Gods - new BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum partnership unveiled for autumn 2017". BBC. 15 May 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Living with gods: a new partnership project with BBC Radio 4". British Museum. 10 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  3. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (10 October 2017). "British Museum and BBC team up to explore belief through objects". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Collection online: The Lampedusa cross". British Museum. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  5. ^ Writer and presenter: Neil MacGregor; Producer: Paul Kobrak (20 November 2017). "Living with Many Gods". Living With The Gods. 0:58 minutes in. BBC. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Quirke, Antonia (19 October 2017). "Living with the Gods is 15 minutes of belief, ceremony and ritual". New Statesman. London. Retrieved 24 October 2017.