Beloved BBC Documentary Bought Back To Life

The hugely popular ‘Touching the Elephant’ recording is now available on CD or to download for the first time since its initial broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1997. The documentary was well loved by listeners young and old, reflected in the decision to use it as an official representative for the BBC’s 90 by 90, marketed as ‘the biggest broadcasting event in our 90 year history.’

The much anticipated re-release of the recording means everyone has an opportunity to experience one of the most emotional broadcasts in BBC recording history.

The programme's idea comes from an ancient Indian fable about a group of blind men who undergo a first time encounter with an elephant. As the men cannot see it, they use the sense of touch to establish what it could be. The man feeling the elephant’s leg suggests it may be a pillar while the man touching the tusk suggests it is a spear. There are age-old debates as to the meaning of the story, some interpreting it as an illustration of the benefits of shared knowledge while others think it shows humans can never agree on anything. In this radio version it was truly fascinating when the experiment was repeated in a modern day scenario and four blind people were introduced to the majestic animal. The four participants, a child, a female guide dog trainer, an IT expert and a piano tuner, were taken to London Zoo and were able to meet and touch an elephant with their own hands. It was a humbling and poignant radio moment, the excitement of delight of the participants pulling at the heartstrings of all who were listening.  

The Bishop of Bath and Wells was one of many to praise the event, saying 'The ecstasy of touching the elephant sounded like the ecstasy of touching the hem of God's garment.'

John Humphries of the Today Programme is also an avid fan, describing the broadcast as 'a wonderful programme.' 

The documentary was a life affirming broadcast that embodied the essence of radio as a medium capable of captivating the imagination. The programme received critical acclaim from an array of different listeners claiming a varied list of emotions. Some gained resounding insight into how life is experienced by the blind, some gained religious inspiration and some were given the gift of realising how important it is to value life and exercise gratitude.

The revival of the programme is a wonderful chance for the public to relive the famous broadcast and introduce the recording to those who did not have the opportunity to tune in to BBC R4 at the time. New opinions and interpretations will in turn be formed, allowing ‘Touching the Elephant’ to continue its celebrated status as one of the most fascinating documentaries ever to be broadcast on radio.

Journalists can listen to the full 25' ‘Touching the Elephant’ at a press page (Please do not post or print the website address).  CDs are also available by request.  

The public can buy CDs or downloads at Amazon, Amazon MP3 or iTunes

Please direct press queries to Rebecca Appleton at Dakota Digital. Email or Tel: 01623 428996.

About Touching the Elephant: First broadcast in 1997 by BBC R4, Touching the Elephant takes listeners on an emotional, insightful and sensory journey into the experiences of four blind people touching and feeling an elephant for the first time. The program is based on an ancient Indian story that has gained multiple meanings and interpretations over the years. The broadcast is now available as CD and for download on Amazon and iTunes.