Documentaries produced by or for the BBC.
Presented by Robert Winston, How to Sleep Better is a practical guide to the world of sleep. The programme explores the common problems, dangers and the mysteries that have puzzled scientists for years.
One in five motorway accidents are attributed to a lack of sleep, which was also a contributory factor in disasters such as Chernobyl and the Challenger shuttle explosion.
This programme looks at the dangers of poor sleep, how people perceive their sleep and provides real solutions.
Viewers can find out about practical tools to help them get a good night's sleep rather than resorting to over the counter drugs.
Most people have suffered the torment of a sleepless night at some point in their lives - for some it's an ongoing misery. How to Sleep Better follows a group of self-professed poor sleepers as they take part in a 'sleep lab' to pinpoint what is keeping them awake.
Ben Lewis (The King of Communism, Art Safari), traces the strange history of French atomic tests in the South Pacific from the 1960s to the 90s - a story of liberty, equality and radioactivity.
Thousands of Polynesian islanders were transformed from fishermen into nuclear technicians and Greenpeace activists sailed a tiny yacht into the test zone to end atmospheric testing.
The film also shows how a tiny group of Tahitian radicals set up the world's only anti-nuclear resistance cell and how some former test workers from France and Tahiti now suffer from cancers that many believe are linked to fall-out from the tests.
One hundred years ago, on the Island of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas, a syphilitic and alcoholic Frenchman called Paul Gauguin died of a heart attack. At that point nobody realised the incredible impact Gauguin's work was to have on modern art.
Art critic and broadcaster, Waldemar Januszczak has written and directed this examination of a man who was not only a great painter but sculptor, wood carver, musician, print maker, journalist and ceramicist. As well as telling the remarkable story of Gauguin's life, Januszczak also celebrates Gauguin's achievements and examines the various accusations of sexual misconduct, familial neglect and racism that are frequently made against him.
In World War II, there were mounting fears that Hitler was building an atomic bomb. Such a prospect depended on two of the world's top nuclear scientists; brilliant German physicist Werner Heisenberg, and his Danish mentor, Niels Bohr. In 1941, Heisenberg travelled 200 miles in secret to Copenhagen to meet Bohr.
The meeting put both men at immense risk, and had a cataclysmic effect on their relationship. This film was made with access to their personal correspondence and newly released documents kept secret for half a century.
It was the defining moment of the 20th Century - the scientific, technological, military, and political gamble of the world's first atomic attack. This drama-documentary attempts to do what no other film has done before - to show what it is like to live through a nuclear explosion, millisecond by millisecond.
In August 1995 Blur and Oasis were engaged in a head-to-head chart battle which divided music fans and led to a wider argument about British pop music.
John Harris, journalist and author of The Last Party - the definitive study of the entwinement of music and politics in the 1990s - presents a documentary charting the rise of Britpop, its brief romance with New Labour and the emergence of 'new lad' culture. Finally, as Britpop declines, he asks what legacy it has left.
Powerful myths and misconceptions have shaped our understanding of the moment which changed the course of WW2 - the evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940. But what really happened at Dunkirk and in the crisis before the days of the evacuation?
This documentary takes a European look at the crisis and asks new questions from a French and German perspective as well as from a British point of view. Featuring interviews with veterans and historians from all three key protagonists, providing revealing insights into the events of May and June 1940.
In 1162 deep in the heart of Asia, a child was born. He was clutching a bloodclot: a sign from heaven that he was destined to be a great warrior, whose life was to become a legend. His name: Genghis Khan.
The massive fluctuations that El Nino causes in the world's weather systems have changed the course of history. Unusually cold winters and the resulting poor crops helped forment the French Revolution. Hitler's march across Russia was halted by one of the harshest winters on record. Severe drought in India in 1877 killed millions while a drop in sea temperatures, leading to dwindling food stocks, precipitated the fall of the mighty Aztecs. Would these events have happened without the impact of El Nino?
Film about the drawings of Michelangelo and the way that they illuminate this life, his artistic development, his religion and his inner torments. The film is presented Neil MacGregor Director of the British Museum and is filmed on location in Florence and in the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo's drawings are some of the greatest of all time.
The Selfish Green was the opening event of Wildscreen 2004, a landmark debate on the future of conservation led by Jonathan Dimbleby with Sir David Attenborough, Professor Richard Dawkins, Dr Jane Goodall and Dr Richard Leakey.
In this 90-minute documentary, Rageh Omaar uncovers the hidden story of Europe's Islamic past and looks back to a golden age when European civilisation was enriched by Islamic learning.
Rageh travels across medieval Muslim Europe to reveal the vibrant civilisation that Muslims brought to the West.
This evocative film brings to life a time when emirs and caliphs dominated Spain and Sicily and Islamic scholarship swept into the major cities of Europe.
His journey reveals the debt owed to Islam for its vital contribution to the European Renaissance.
This is the tragic story of Stuart Sutcliffe, the talented young artist who died at the age of 21 from a brain haemorrhage. Not only was he a painter whose work showed massive potential, he was also one one of the biggest influences on the Beatles, providing them with both their style and their name during his brief time as their bassist. With contributions from Stuart's fiancee, Astrid Kirschherr, and his sister Pauline.
In the past the green iguanas of Central America have been used in movies to depict dinosaurs. This film explores how the social lives of these modern lizards may hold the clue to the behaviour of dinosaurs. Narrated by David Attenborough
A celebration of the toys which have survived across the decades, presented by a man who still plays with them.
When James May was three, his father gave him a toy car for Christmas, and a life behind the wheel and under a bonnet became his destiny. Forty-two-year-old James takes us on a tour of his childhood mind as he rifles through his boy toy favourites which include Meccano, Lego, Scalectrix, Airfix and, his all time number one toy, the train set. His love of engineering and building things has shaped the ingredients of his entire toy cupboard. There's not a microchip in sight. He still plays with his toys - still loves building things with his various sets. Each toy prompts a story - a history told via archive, anecdote and obsessive collector.
Documentary telling the story of the day that music rocked the world. Bob Geldof recalls how, after 12 weeks of manic preparation, the big day finally arrived. But would it work, would the punters watch, and more importantly would they part with their cash?
Documentary which traces the story of Live Aid from its humble beginnings, a pop tune cobbled together in the back seat of a taxi, to the eve of the biggest televised event ever staged on both sides of the Atlantic.
The inside story of the Beach Boys from their formation in 1961 to the present day (2005).
All eight members of the Pogues return to the studio where their biggest hit - and one of the nation's favourite Christmas songs - was recorded. Fairytale of New York's producer Steve Lillywhite strips the song down to the basics, and video director Peter Dougherty reveals the tricks behind the making of the video - including how a cameo from Hollywood star Matt Dillon stopped the Pogues from almost being arrested.
Novelist Ian Rankin discusses the relationship between crime fiction and real life cases with authors including PD James, James Ellroy and Minette Walters. Show in relation to Jean-Xavier de Lestrade's documentary 'Death on the Staircase' aka The STAIRCASE.
A follow up to Jean-Xavier de Lestrade's acclaimed documentary series, The Staircase, this documentary reports on what happened to the film's leading protagonist, author Michael Peterson, since he was found guilty of murder. In an interview from prison, Peterson speaks on camera for the first time since his trial. Defending attorney, David Rudolf and prosecutor, Jim Hardin offer their thoughts on the trial as well as on the director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade.
They were the glamour girls on James Bond's arm, the vestal virgins in Up Pompeii, and the girls-next-door in Man About The House. They were the vampire victims dispatched in the first reel of Hammer Horrors. And they were the Carry On dolly birds, guaranteed to elicit a 'Phwooar' from Sid James. They were Crumpet! And this is their story. Tony Livesey sets out to rescue Crumpet from the condescension of history. Recalling his own childhood, growing up in front of the TV in a Burnley terrace, Tony takes us on a trip through three decades of popular culture. How did our thirty year fascination with Crumpet come about - and why did it end? What does it say about the unique British sense of humour - and about our changing attitude to sex? With contributions from Honor Blackman, Ingrid Pitt, Madeline Smith, Hill's Angel Sue Upton, Leslie Philips and Wendy Richards, and with cultural commentators like Dylan Jones, Germaine Greer and Ned Sherrin, Tony gets to the bottom of this uniquely British phenomenon.
A documentary charting the rise and fall of the spiv (dodgy dealer) in post-war Britain.
Drama documentary on the life of author John Wyndham. With contributions from writer Brian Aldiss, Keith Roberts (plant
biologist), Amanda Rees (science historian), Keith Budge (headmaster, Bedales), Steve Jones (geneticist), Sam Youd
(writer), David Ketterer (Wyndham's biographer), Sister Bede (family friend), Dan Rebellato (dramatist), Armand Leroi
(geneticist), Maire McQueeney (literary guide), Nick Davies (zoologist), Matthew Smith (parapsychologist), Gerald
Hodgett (Penn Club resident), Linda Partridge (biologist), and Tom Kirkwood (gerontologist).
This documentary focuses on Marilyn's health problems, including endometriosis and depression, and her addiction to prescribed drugs.
Based on David Maraniss's book They Marched into Sunlight, a documentary telling the story of two seemingly unconnected events in October 1967 that changed the course of the Vietnam War. Whilst a US battalion unwittingly marched into a Viet Cong ambush which killed 61 young men, half a world away angry students at the University of Wisconsin were protesting the presence of Dow Chemical recruiters on campus.
The ghost story's history, from oral tradition to the modern day.
Michael Cockerell describes the low politics of the 1975 European Referendum, complementing his 1970s documentary on the same subject. Thirty years on, both sides were more willing to discuss the referendum openly. The original political debacle made strange bedfellows: Enoch Powell, Harold Wilson and Tony Benn opposed continued membership, whilst Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams and Margaret Thatcher supported staying in the Common Market, as the EU then was.
A profile of one of England's truly unique and underrated bands, The Fall. One of the most enigmatic, idiosyncratic and chaotic garage bands of the last 30 years, The Fall are led by the belligerent and poetic Mark E Smith and grew out of the fringe of the Manchester punk scene. By 2005, they had released in excess of three dozen albums, toured relentlessly, inspired two successful stage plays, recorded 24 Peel Sessions, and performed with contemporary ballet dancer Michael Clark along with various spoken word events.
All this has happened under the guidance of Smith with various line-ups totalling over 40 different members. They have never conformed to fashion or musical trends and when asked why they were his favourite band, John Peel replied 'they are always different, they are always the same'.
This is the first time that Mark E Smith has agreed to the story being told on television and he along with many of the major players take us through this unique English rock 'n' roll story. It is told alongside footage of their most recent and sadly now last Peel Session recorded in August 2004 at the BBC Maida Vale studios, and there is also film of John playing out the session at Peel Acres a week later.
Contributors include past and present band members such as Marc Riley, Una Baines, Steve Hanley, Ben Pritchard and Eleni Smith, plus thoughts from key fans/critics including Paul Morley, Tony Wilson, Stewart Lee, promoter Alan Wise, original Buzzcocks manager Richard Boon, and Franz Ferdinand.
Short documentary about a pair of roe deer who have made a Scottish cemetery their home. Surrounded on all sides by a sprawling metropolis, these normally shy creatures are a magical addition to the city's urban population.
Documentary on the life of legendary composer/bandleader Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount).
They say that blood is thicker than water and this documentary puts that to the test by examining the brothers who have formed and fronted rock bands. From the Everlys to the Gallaghers via the Kinks and Spandau Ballet, it tells the stories of the bands of brothers who went from their bedrooms to become household names - often with a price to pay.
With contributions from Martin Kemp, Matt Goss, Dave Davies, Phil Everly, David Knopfler and the Campbell brothers of UB40.
The documentary Clear the Skies explains how in the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center, fighter pilots were sent into the sky to ground every plane that was in the air. There were nearly 5,000 aircraft in the air that needed to be brought back down to the ground. The film includes interviews with pilots and government officials.
A hundred years ago, three quarters of the Herero people of the German colony of Namibia were killed, many in concentration camps.
Today, the descendants of the survivors are seeking reparations from the German government. This film tells for the first time this forgotten story and its links to German racial theories.
This powerful documentary by David Adetayo Olusoga took a sensitive and uncompromising look at the tragic circumstances leading to the massacre of three quarters of the Namibia population in German concentration camps built in Africa.
The program included graphic reconstructions and did not shirk from showing disturbing scenes which revealed the savagery of European colonial ideology put into practice.
The documentary also showed the 2004 footage of Germany's ambassador to Namibia expressing regret for their killing of thousands of Namibia's Hereros during the colonial era. Unsurprisingly, the Germans refused to agree to the justifiable calls for reparations.
The program also explored the current call for land reforms where most of Namibia's commercial land is still owned by European farmers who make up 6 percent of the country's population of 1.8 million.
Throughout it included interviews and powerful testimony from African survivors, descendants and reparation movement representatives thus making this a compelling program which both educated the audience whilst treating the sensitive subject matter with the respect it deserved.
Terry Jones hosts this documentary on the number one. It looks at early evidence of counting, the use of numbers for simple arithmetic in Sumeria, the development of large numbers and their use for engineering in Egypt, the worship of numbers by Pythagoras and the theoretical mathematics of the Archimedes. It also looks at the use of numbers by the Romans, the development of Arabic numerals in India, the discovery of the number zero, the development of algebra in the Islamic world, the decline of Roman numerals in the west, and the development of the binary system.
Documentary charting the formation, instant rise and success of Californian pop group the Mamas and the Papas. Interviews with the band, coupled with performance and archive footage, show the group in their heyday, and the band give detailed accounts of the writing and recording of their hit songs, as well as their personal responses to (and problems with) instant fame and success.
To generations Arthur Ransome's books, including Swallows and Amazons, were an integral part of growing up. But was there a darker side to the author?
In this drama-documentary, the enthusiastic Griff Rhys Jones follows a trail that begins in Russia, reveals close links with many leading Bolsheviks, an affair with Trotsky's secretary and previously unreleased KGB documents about Ransome. But was Ransome actually spying for the British secret service all along?
Seventy years ago, Scottish regiments fought a forgotten war in the malaria-infested jungles of the far east. This documentary remembers the men who fought at close range with the Japanese and witnessed some of the greatest events of the 20th century.
Drama-documentary telling the story of one of the last trials by battle to be fought in Europe, a tale of sex, brutality and political machination set in 14th century medieval France.
A knight, Sir Jean de Carrouges, accuses his former best friend, Jacques Le Gris, of raping his wife Marguerite. Unable to obtain justice from his feudal overlord, Carrouges appeals to the king for the ancient right to fight a duel to the death to find out God's truth. There is much at stake. If Carrouges dies in the battle, Marguerite will also be burned to death as a liar.
This tense story, told from records of the day, is set against the backdrop of the 100 years war between England and France, 14th century attitudes towards women, crime and punishment and the political intrigues of the feudal system.
Drama documentary with Michael Portillo exploring the beliefs and passions that drove Horatio Nelson's life, as reconstructions illustrate his military genius, scandalous lifestyle and heroic death.
Using the latest research into the original Christian and Muslim ancient sources and the insight of leading experts from both east and west, this drama-documentary challenges the popular view of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin's epic clash for control of Jerusalem.
Richard emerges as a man who earned the name Lionheart for his murderous brutality as much as his chivalry. Equally, Saladin was not demonised in Europe, but revered for his displays of mercy towards the crusaders.
Filmed on location in the Middle East, Richard the Lionheart and Saladin: Warriors of God recreates the heroic encounter between these two great men. It traces their very different origins, their struggle to understand each other, and the mutual respect that emerged as they battled for the destiny of the world's most sacred city.
Documentary directed by Paul Merton which traces the history of the Soho club, which served as the birth place of alternative comedy in the 1980s.
Talking heads include Jack Dee, Clive Anderson, Alexei Sayle and Keith Allen.
Alton Towers, the second most paid for tourist attraction in the UK,
spent £12 million on the ride 'Oblivion' - the world's first vertical
roller-coaster and the subject of this documentary.
1945 - The year of Winston Churchill's greatest victory and his most devastating defeat. Just weeks after VE Day, a General Election saw him and his government rejected and the Labour Party swept to power.
In 1945, Winston Churchill was cast out of office by the British electorate. It was a terrible blow for the man who had just led his country to victory in the Second World War. But he refused to accept defeat, fighting back to become Prime Minister once more and writing a monumental history of the war. Professor David Reynolds tells the moving story of Churchill's wilderness years, in which old age and illness could not overcome his undiminished ambition.
A look at the life of Ian Fleming from when he was in Naval Intelligence as a Commander until his death in 1964. This docudrama gives an insight into what Fleming was really like and how he wrote the Bond novels.
Short documentary taking a look at a devoted pair of little owls who set up home in an old orchard in rural Herefordshire. From spring blossom to autumn apples, it follows a year in the life of the parent birds, their baby owls and the old fruit trees.
Weapons of Mass destruction are seen as a singularly modern concern. But this film reveals the secret story of Britain's development of WMD after the second World War, half a century before Bush and Blair and 'the axis of evil'.
During the decade following WWII, British scientists plan - not for peace - but for a war which will be fought with chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. This film exposes the dangerous, top secret tests, which were not just performed on British citizens, but actually put the British public at risk
Thirty years after the introduction of affirmative action, American universities have seen a new generation of black academics, including a brain drain from Britain. What are the implications on both sides of the Atlantic?
Drama-documentary recounting the events of the 1st July 1916 and the Battle of the Somme on the Western Front during the First World War. Told through the letters and journals of soldiers who were there.
Documentary exploring the lesser-known side of Arthur Conan Doyle, who solved real crimes as chilling and baffling as those investigated by his creation Sherlock Holmes.
His two most infamous cases involved tracking down a madman who mutilated horses and brought terror to a quiet, leafy English village, and the brutal murder of a wealthy spinster which led Doyle to expose corruption at the heart of Britain's justice system.
Driven by a deep sense of justice, Conan Doyle strove to prove the innocence of two wrongfully convicted men, so confirming the belief in minds of many that Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle were one and the same.
Professor David Reynolds tells the story of Labour's postwar government and examines the achievements of Clement Attlee, including the introduction of the NHS in Britain.
We Have Ways of Making You Talk is a documentary examining interrogation techniques and they’re consequences. Does water boarding work? What is the history behind that technique? These and other questions will be answered in this intriguing and sometimes disturbing documentary. Filmed in France, Israel, USA, Algeria, Argentina, Uruguay, South Africa and the UK, this BBC documentary explores the history of modern interrogation techniques and the rise of modern torture using revealing interviews with state interrogators and state torturers. The legacy of this history continues to shapes our present, especially in the United States, and some of these techniques have now become routine in the war on terror – be it the use of dogs, water-boarding, or sexual humiliation. This long, unbroken line of inhuman cruelty connects Nazi Germany to Abu Ghraib, and is an essential issue in today’s political landscape.
The latest documentary by award-winning filmmaker Antony Thomas, Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She sensitively explores the controversial subject of the blurring of gender as well as the serious social and family problems - even dangers - often faced by those whose gender may fall somewhere in between male and female. Narrated by noted author Gore Vidal and filmed in the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America, Middle Sexes examines the ways different societies and cultures handle the blurring of gender, sexual identity and sexual orientation. Through interviews with transgender, intersexual and bisexual men and women, as well as experts from the scientific and academic communities, the film considers the entire spectrum of sexual behavior, personal identity and lifestyles among people of different backgrounds and cultures. From this, a theme of tolerance and appreciation of diversity emerges in the film.
A sardonic look at the dark secrets of the British Film Industry of the 1920s and 30s, where scandal and sordid behaviour was almost as rife as in Hollywood.
Ronnie Corbett. David Jason and Leslie Phillips are among those paying tribute to the much-loved comedy legend, who died in October. Including clips from The Two Ronnies, Open All Hours and Porridge. Narrated by Jonathan Ross.
Profiling Ronald Searle , one of Britain's greatest graphic artists and the creator of the St Trinian's cartoons who, after growing exasperated by the public's obsession with the fictional schoolgirls, left the country in 1961. But what effect did Searle's self-imposed exile and experiences in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp have on his work? Featuring contributions from fellow cartoonists Gerald Scarfe, Steve Bell, Martin Rowson and Posy Simmonds.
Tracing the 150-year history of the spiritualist movement and revealing the unlikely and surprisingly close relationship between science and a faith that claims not only that there is life after death, but also that communication between the two worlds is possible.
Doris Day has often been dismissed as an actress and overlooked as a singer, despite career highs such as Calamity Jane and Pillow Talk. Covering her early years as a band singer, and her troubled private life, this documentary re-evaluates one of the screen's most enduring legends.
29 May 1985: riots ahead of the European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus cause a wall to collapse in Belgium s Heysel Stadium. Thirty-nine fans die and many more are injured. Incredibly, the match goes ahead and is broadcast around the world, as the authorities claim postponement could incite further trouble - yet many remain haunted by the decisions taken. Bruce Grobbelaar is among the players returning to Heysel to tell their stories for the 20th anniversary; this powerful and moving documentary also has contributions from victims and officials, and harrowing footage of the tragedy.
His ground-breaking albums such as the politically charged What's Going On revolutionised American soul, yet Marvin Gaye's personal life was marred by failed relationships, drug addiction and an abusive father who eventually destroyed him. This bittersweet profile features interviews with the singer and those who knew him, including Martha Reeves, plus performances of Let's Get It On, I Heard It through the Grapevine, Sexual Healing and others.