Documentaries produced by or for the BBC.
Harpist Catrin Finch takes a musical journey to discover the ancient and fascinating history of the harp in Wales and the world, with interviews and performances from internationally-renowned guests including Alan Stivell, Carlos Orosco, Alemu Aga, Isabelle Perrin and Elinor Bennett.
Professor Brian Cox visits Geneva to take a look around Cern's Large Hadron Collider before this vast, 27km long machine is sealed off and the experiment begins. When up and running, it is capable of creating the conditions that existed just a billionth of a second after the Big Bang. Brian joins the scientists who hope that the LHC will change our understanding of the early universe and solve some of its mysteries.
Anglican priest Peter Owen Jones explores the huge number of ancient Christian texts that didn't make it into the New Testament. Shocking and challenging, these were works in which Jesus didn't die, took revenge on his enemies and kissed Mary Magdalene on the mouth. Pete travels through Egypt and the former Roman Empire looking at the evidence of a Christian world very different to the one we know, and finds over seventy gospels, acts, letters and apocalypses all circulating in the early Church.
2008 sees the 20th anniversary of the Carbon 14 dating of the Shroud of Turin that deemed the most famous relic in Christendom a fake. But since then, despite many attempts, no one has been able to determine who the forger was or how the forgery might have been done. This documentary sets out to discover exactly what it is about the image on the Shroud of Turin that has defied imitation and explores new evidence that may challenge the Carbon 14 verdict.
Lionel Mill's film has unique access to Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsen, one of the rulers of the rich, powerful and secretive Saudi royal family. This is a fascinating insight into the conflicts between tradition and modernity in one of the world's most conservative and autocratic countries.
Former Bond girl Joanna Lumley investigates the life of Ian Fleming to coincide with the centenary of his birth and the UK release of the 22nd Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. On a journey which takes her from London to Jamaica, driving Aston Martins, firing Berettas and being surrounded by 24 million pounds' worth of diamonds, Joanna discovers how Fleming poured his personal experiences of war-time espionage, love, luxury and death into his most alluring literary creation, James Bond.
What happens when young women pursue the glamorous lifestyle of WAGs? Is it all it's cracked up to be? Radio 1's Annie Mac meets the winners and losers of the WAGs' world and discovers the amazing tactics some women are using to bag a footballer, but soon she discovers that it can also be a world of exploitation and ruthlessness which has many victims. A recent survey suggests young women are choosing 'celebrity' over traditional jobs. Annie wants to know why and what happens to this wannabe generation when they pursue their dream. Amongst the champagne and excitement, Annie finds young women turning their youth and beauty into cash, careers and opportunity. At first she is impressed by their hard work, toughness and optimism. She teams up with club hostess Maria and meets Lizzy, the presenter of TV's WAGs World, who has a range of business ventures based on her WAG status. But Annie also meets other women who have had a tough time. As their stories unfold, she realises just how ruthless and cutthroat this world really is, one where both men and women can be exploited and where nearly everything has a price.
Documentary examining the the events leading up to the Israeli war of Independence in 1949, its continuing impact on Arab/Israeli relations and the implications for the Middle East peace process.
Fashion journalist Louise Roe goes on a journey to discover why women have boob jobs not just once but, in some cases, again and again. She meets four women in their twenties who have gone under the knife to get the perfect pair of boobs.
Documentary following Chelsea White, a teenager considering a career as a Page 3 girl. She began modelling when she was six but at 17 is too old to be a teenage model and too small for the catwalk. Inspired by Kelly Brook and Jordan believing topless modelling is a fast route to fame and fortune, but it is illegal to do a glamour shoot until the age of 18. For the two months leading up her birthday Chelsea goes on a journey to learn what the glamour industry is really like, seeking advice from agents, photographers and the current queen of glamour, Keeley Hazell, on whether or not she should bare all.
Documentary presented by Anglican priest Pete Owen Jones which explores the huge number of ancient Christian texts that didn't make it into the New Testament. Shocking and challenging, these were works in which Jesus didn't die, took revenge on his enemies and kissed Mary Magdalene on the mouth - a Jesus unrecognisable from that found in the traditional books of the New Testament.
Documentary introducing the world of the body-part double: men and women who have such perfect hands, feet, legs - even bottoms - that they earn a living modelling them and standing in for the stars. Not even in the world of film, pop videos and magazines can models be all-over beauties, or acting heroes perfect physical specimens. Appearing as Michelle Pfeiffer's legs, Kate Moss's hands and Kylie's body, meet the people who are in demand as standards of beauty become ever more exacting.
Journalist Nicky Taylor travels to Amsterdam to investigate the growing debate about the legal classification of cannabis. While there she helps out in a coffee shop that sells the drug, and discovers first hand what the effects of cannabis are on everyday life. Back in the UK Nicky finds out about the genetically modified cannabis skunk, cheap and increasingly sold on the streets. The programme asks whether the drug can make you mad, if it is worse than alcohol and if it is stronger than it used to be. Nicky takes part in a month-long medical trial to find out.
It is five times hotter than the sun and turns sand to glass in an instant. It can shoot 80 kilometres up above storm clouds. And it may even have provided the original spark that created life itself. This pacy, stylish documentary reveals the full power of lightning, why it is so dangerous, and what scientists are doing to protect us. Statistically, you are most likely to be struck in Florida, playing golf on a Sunday in July. Hear victims tell touching stories of the real experience, and why they feel it has changed them forever. View cockpit footage of NASA pilots flying through active lightning storms and find out why some scientists think the pollution in big cities could be 'baiting' lightning on an incredible scale. The more we learn about this maverick force of nature, it seems, the more we have to fear...
David Howard, professor of music technology at the University of York, presents a documentary about the human voice, explaining just how it works and why replicating it is such a challenge. Comedian Jeremy Hardy and impressionist Rory Bremner are amongst the contributors.
An amazing journey in Norway's Far North as Joanna Lumley pursues a lifelong dream to track down the elusive, stunningly beautiful Northern Lights - 'the true wonder of the world,' as she puts it. Joanna grew up in tropical Malaysia, and as a little girl never saw snow or felt cold. Inspired by fairytales and picture books, she always longed to make the journey north. At last she travels north across the Arctic Circle, up through Norway to Svalbard, the most northerly permanently inhabited place on Earth, where she has to cope with temperatures approaching minus 30 deg C. With a box of crayons in hand, her journey takes her from train to boat, to husky-sled, to snowmobile, as she is pulled ever northwards by what she calls 'the strongest point of the compass'. She explores the romantic fjords of Lofoten and learns to ride a snowmobile, speeding across endless expanses of Lapland tundra with a Sami herdsman in search of his reindeer. As she reaches the Arctic Ocean, she prepares for bed in a hotel made entirely of ice. Everywhere she goes, she asks about the mysterious Northern Lights.
Since his assassination in 1968, Martin Luther King has become known and celebrated throughout the world as a champion of freedom. But there's another side to this man that's in danger of being forgotten - King the raging prophet of God's judgement on the West, the Baptist pastor who said that his mission was 'to redeem the soul of America'. Forty years after his death, politician and campaigner Oona King goes on a journey through the Deep South in search of this aspect of his leadership.
Documentary presented by Jeremy Clarkson on the raid of the German drydock facilities in St Nazaire, France. This was the only site capable of repairing the German battleship Tirpitz, due to it's size. The St. Nazaire Raid (also called Operation Chariot) was a successful British seaborne attack on the heavily defended docks of St. Nazaire in occupied France on the night of March 28, 1942 during World War II. The operation was undertaken by Royal Navy and Army Commando units under the auspices of Louis Mountbatten's Combined Operations. The obsolete destroyer HMS Campbeltown commanded by Stephen Halden Beattie and accompanied by 18 shallow draft boats, rammed the St. Nazaire lock gates and was blown up, ending use of the dock. Commandos landed on the docks and destroyed other dock structures before attempting to fight their way out. All but 27 of the commandos were either killed or captured: 22 escaped back to Britain in the motor torpedo boats and 5 to the Spanish border. The loss of St. Nazaire as a dry dock would force any large German warship in need of repairs to have to return to home waters. Five Victoria crosses were awarded to men involved in the raid, which has been called The Greatest Raid of All.
End Day is a 2005 docu-drama produced by the BBC that depicts various doomsday scenarios. The documentary follows the fictional scientist Dr. Howell, played by Glenn Conroy, as he travels from his London hotel room to his laboratory in New York City, and shows how each scenario affects his journey as well as those around him, with various experts providing commentary on that specific disaster as it unfolds. The following descriptions of the program were released by the BBC: "Imagine waking up to the last day on Earth..." "Inspired by the predictions of scientists, End Day creates apocalyptic scenarios that go beyond reality. In a single hour, explore five different fictional disasters, from a giant tsunami hitting New York to a deadly meteorite strike on Berlin."
For a year, BBC cameras have filmed the Prince of Wales at home, abroad, at work and on duty. Now, for the first time, we can see and hear for ourselves the private and passionate man behind the controversy and the headlines. As the Prince of Wales turns 60, he has defied convention to become one of Britain's most outspoken and prolific campaigners, as well as being a businessman, ambassador for Britain and a father. This revealing film goes behind the closed doors of the Prince's world and gives us the chance to make up our own minds about the man who, one day, will be king.
Documentary in which a team of top UK virologists exhume the body of statesman, military officer and diplomat Sir Mark Sykes from a country churchyard in an attempt to detect the genetic footprint of one of the most dangerous viruses the world has ever seen, the Spanish Flu. It may be that an aristocrat who died nearly 90 years ago holds the key to preventing a modern bird flu pandemic.
Stephen Fry examines the story behind the first media entrepreneur, printing press inventor Johann Gutenberg, to find out why he did it and how, a story which involves both historical enquiry and hands-on craft and technology. Fry travels across Europe to find out how Gutenberg kept his development work secret, about the role of avaricious investors and unscrupulous competitors and why Gutenberg's approach started a cultural revolution. He then sets about building a copy of Gutenberg's press.
Documentary telling the story of enduring 1960s children's animated marionette show, Thunderbirds. Creator Gerry Anderson, as well as cast, crew and fans, reveal how space travel and new technology promised an exciting future, as Thunderbirds captured the spirit of the age. There's a look at how Gerry's team created futuristic special effects from their humble studios in Slough and why the show was axed after just 32 episodes. Contributors include the voice of Lady Penelope, Sylvia Anderson.
Documentary tracing how human understanding of the jet stream - a ribbon of fast moving air high in the atmosphere - has grown. It has been responsible for bewildering effect on bomber pilots in World War II, turbocharging modern transatlantic flyers, the infamous 1987 hurricane and the devastating floods of recent years. Scientists now believe this powerful weather phenomenon is now changing its pattern of behaviour and could have an even bigger impact on our climate and the way we live our lives.
As the credit crunch bites and a global economic crisis threatens, Robert Peston reveals how the super-rich have made their fortunes, and the rest of us are picking up the bill.
Historian Michael Wood delves through medieval court records to follow the fortunes of a village in Hertfordshire and, more particularly, the family of peasant Christina Cok. The 14th century was a perilous time in British history, shot through with famine, plague and war. It was a time of climate change, virulent cattle diseases and, above all, the Black Death. But it was also the time when modern mentalities were shaped, not just by the rulers but increasingly by the common people. It was the beginning of the end of serfdom, the growth of individual freedom and the start of a capitalist market economy. Michael chooses an everyday story of a medieval country family through which to illustrate the bigger picture of how the character and destiny of ordinary British people was being shaped. It is history told not from the top of society but from the bottom - and especially through the eyes of the forgotten half of the workforce, women. Michael brings to life the story of a 14th-century extended family: peasant Christina Cok, her father Hugh, estranged husband William, and her children John and Alice. Michael shows us that though their lives might at first seem quite alien, you only have to scratch below the surface to find uncanny connections with modern-day Britons. In them, you can see our beginnings as a nation of shopkeepers and the roots of the British love affair with beer and football. Perhaps more importantly is the triumph of that sturdy and cussed streak of individualism that has been a characteristic of 'Britishness' down the centuries.
Documentary looking at how Detroit became home to a musical revolution that captured the sound of a nation in upheaval. In the early 60s, Motown transcended Detroit's inner city to take black music to a white audience, whilst in the late 60s suburban kids like the MC5 and the Stooges descended into the black inner city to create revolutionary rock expressing the rage of young white America. With contributions from Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, George Clinton, Martha Reeves, John Sinclair and the MC5.
Documentary looking at the history of Liverpool, the former gateway to the British Empire whose character was built on the dockside by seafarers and immigrants who came from around the world seeking a new beginning. It examines how the city's maritime history and mixture of people has made its citizens uncertain of their English identity.
Film historian Matthew Sweet presents a documentary reappraising over half a century of British B movies, from John Mills on the wrong end of a whipping in The Lash through to the giant gorilla Konga running amok in Croydon. Sweet argues that the cheapness of these films, unlike the A film, ensured they often portrayed Britain as it really was, even when (as in the case of 1970s sex movies) that wasn't necessarily a nice place to be. John Mortimer and Michael Winner are among the interviewees.
Art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon visits an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, which contains a treasure trove of the world's most important illuminated manuscripts. Germaine Greer joins the modern-day illustrator Quentin Blake to consider the religious and political power of these beautiful medieval masterpieces, and to assess their place in the history of art and book production.
Comedian Rich Hall goes west to find out what killed off that most quintessentially American of all film genres, the western. Through films such as The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, Little Big Man, The Wild Bunch and Unforgiven, Rich charts the rise and fall of America's obsession with its own creation myth - the Wild West. He explores how the image of the cowboy as a moral, straight-talking heroic figure was created by Hollywood but appropriated by Washington, as one president after another sought to associate themselves with this potent symbol of strength and valour. From Tombstone to Texas, Montana to Wyoming, Rich travels across a landscape that is both actual and mythic in the minds of not just Americans, but all of us. With his customary wit and intelligence he unpicks the truth from the fiction of Hollywood's version of frontier life, draws parallels between popular western narratives and America's more questionable foreign policy, and celebrates the real heroes of the west - John Ford, John Wayne, Sam Peckinpah, Arthur Penn and Clint Eastwood. Filmed on location in Arizona, Montana and Wyoming and incorporating interviews and archive clips of some of the best-loved westerns of all-time, the film is Rich Hall's personal salute to a genre of film he feels passionate about.
Using unseen archive footage, new filming and interviews with those closest to the action, Michael Cockerell tells the inside story of the 20 years that took Margaret Thatcher from Commons new girl to her election in 1979 as the first ever female British prime minister.
John Harvey presents a documentary about writer Henning Mankell, Sweden's most popular author internationally and the creator of the Kurt Wallander detective series.
Victoria Wood presents the true story behind Britain's timeless comedy (and the Queen Mother's favourite show), with footage of the cast on location and incredible personal tales about the making of the series. Was Arthur Lowe really just like Captain Mainwaring? Why did the Warden always end up in the water? And how did Corporal Jones find a bomb down his trousers?
The great cathedrals were the wonders of the Medieval World - the tallest buildings since the pyramids and the showpieces of Medieval Christianity. Yet they were built at a time when most of us lived in hovels. Architectural historian Jon Cannon explores who were the people that built them and how were they able to achieve such a bold vision.
A discussion of the mathematics of chaos that tries to tie it to climate change and fluctuating financial markets.
James Martin sets his sights on the gruelling Mille Miglia, the annual 1000-mile race through Italy in which over 300 classic cars compete. In its infamous history, the race has tested the talents and endurance of such legends as Fangio, Nuvolari and Sir Stirling Moss. Ever since he was kid in Yorkshire, James Martin has been mad about cars. Now a successful chef, he has put his money where his dreams are and has a garage full of Formula One cars, American classics and oddball delights - from hand-painted Harleys to bubble cars, fibreglass cross-country rough riders and a newly restored Mustang with all the trimmings. Having the power has not been enough - he wants the glory too. So he sets his sights on the Mille Miglia. Taking part has always been a dream for James. He searches for the right car and the right co-driver, and the costs mount as the day of his dreams draws near. In Italy, the support crew, girlfriend Sally and his real pride and joy assemble. The 1948 Maserati has left a 800-thousand-pound hole in the Martin finances - a lot of omelettes. Will the car stay the course? Will Sarah measure up? Is James as tough as he thinks he is? Can a non-Italian actually win? Can he beat the three other competitors with whom he bets on the race? Do the Italians always drive on the right? Should he have bought an English car instead? Crucially, what makes 700 grown men and women drive headlong through the elements for three days with little sleep and less comfort than offered by a sit-on lawn mower?
Northern Ireland has had many historic days in the last 40 years. October 5th, 1968 could be the most important. In this documentary, many of those who took part in the Civil Rights march in Derry on this date talk of the international influences that drove them to take to the streets in protest. Featuring interviews with the voices of dissent in America, Europe and Northern Ireland.
Drama about the life of Florence Nightingale, based largely on her own words, which tells the true and unexpected story behind this most unusual woman - adored by the masses, hated by the few and credited by historians as the brilliant mother of modern nursing.
Documentary in which novelist James Hawes attempts to demolish a number of myths and misconceptions about the life and work of cult writer Franz Kafka. The programme was filmed on location in Prague and Frankenstein in the Czech Republic.
In 1961 Newry man Robert McGladdery was convicted and executed for the brutal murder of local girl Pearl Gamble. His trial caused a media storm and proved a landmark in the debate on capital punishment in the United Kingdom. Now for the first time, using never-before-seen police evidence and private court papers, BBC Northern Ireland tells the story.
A look at the mythical roots in art and literature of Merlin - magician, hero and historical mystery. Merlin is the archetypal wizard, Welsh and Celtic in origin but with connections across the water in Cornwall and middle Europe, and, of course, the Arthurian legends. Clearly, Merlin is the distant relative of Dumbledore and all those weird and wonderful wizards in literature.
In one of the most magical stories ever told, a bright star led the wise men from the east to the new Messiah. Now scientists are looking back into the skies of the ancient world to find out if the Magi could have witnessed a real astronomical event. Could the star of Bethlehem have been a comet, an alignment of planets or even a supernova? Who were the wise men, and why were they watching the night skies? Could evidence from a clay tablet from Babylon, an ancient manuscript from China, a fresco in the Catacombs of Rome and biblical texts help to finally unravel the greatest astronomical story in history?
Documentary in which singer Alesha Dixon, concerned about the increasing pressure on women to conform to an ideal body type, investigates the practice of airbrushing and retouching that has become a staple of magazine photos. Keen to discover whether these images simply celebrate the female form or whether they make harmful, unrealistic demands on women and society, her journey sees her sitting in on 18-year-old Ellie's boob job, hearing fashion mag insider Liz Jones and celeb mate Cheryl Cole complain about the beauty industry and appearing on a front cover with her own body beautiful untouched.
Documentary which follows 19-year-old Amy Hall, full-time drama student, single mum and lap dancer. She can make up to 300 pounds a night dancing but the money doesn't go far, with food and nappies to buy, childcare to pay for and a college course to fund. The late nights also mean she feels both her daughter and college work are being neglected. Amy stands at a crossroads - to give up dancing and concentrate on her degree and dream of becoming an actress or carry on for the sake of her daughter.
Ian Hislop brings his customary humour, analysis and wit to the notorious Beeching Report of 1963, which led to the closure of a third of the nation's railway lines and stations and forced tens of thousands of people into the car and onto the road.
Documentary about how Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island in the world and a seven-day boat trip from Africa, could hold the key to unlocking one of the great mysteries of modern medicine - the genetic basis for asthma.
Documentary telling the story of Lee Barnes, a student who took the banks at their word and helped himself to 40,000 pounds of their credit in just over a year. Lee shows how he got away with it, how he went on the run and how finally he decided to give himself up. The big question now is whether he does or does not go bankrupt.
Drama based on the true story of an outrageous medieval heist, told in the style of Ocean's 11. When Dick Puddlecote is released from a Flanders jail in 1302 to discover his friends, his livelihood and his woman are all in hock to the king, he decides to exact a very modern form of revenge - break into the vault at Westminster Abbey and steal the king's gold. There’s just one catch - failure would earn him and his gang ruthless torture, swift punishment and potentially an eternity in hell. A true story sourced from original trial records, this bold comedy-drama combines the energy of a British heist comedy with the veracity of factual dramas and the bawdiness of Chaucer, breathing life into a strange and foreign world full of priests and prostitutes.
There could be nothing more sweet and sentimental than the sound of traditional carols performed by a velvet-voiced choir at Christmas. Or so you would think. Composer Howard Goodall uncovers the surprising and often secret history of the Christmas carol. Far from being accepted as part of the celebrations of Jesus' birth, over the centuries carols have been banned by both church and state. The carols we sing seem set in stone and yet they can have up to 400 regional variations. Individual carols have caused controversy - While Shepherds Watched had to be cleaned up by the Victorians for being too crude and there's a suspicion that O Come All Ye Faithful was a call to 18th century Jacobites to rebel. The documentary celebrates the enduring power of the carol with a variety of performances from folk singer Bella Hardy to the choir of Truro Cathedral.
During the 1970s, BBC shows like Morecambe and Wise, the Two Ronnies, the Generation Game, Dad's Army and Parkinson transformed the world of television entertainment and delighted audiences in their millions. The man behind the success of these shows was entertainment impresario Sir Bill Cotton, who died in 2008. Stars including Ronnie Corbett, Sir Michael Parkinson and Bruce Forsyth celebrate the golden age of entertainment and remember the man who made it happen.
Jeremy Marre tells the story of Marvin Gaye, one of the great and enduring figures of soul music. His life was one of sexual confusion, bittersweet success and death by the hand of his own father. Includes interviews with the singer's family, friends and musical colleagues, with re-enactments, and archive film of Marvin on stage, at home, and in the recording studio.
This new documentary takes a side-ways look at one of Scotland's highest profile industries, Scotch whisky production. The Whisky Dream, made by Demus Productions, is a wry look at the amazing tale of two English wine merchants Mark and Mary Reynier, who together with Gaelic speaking islanders Jim McEwan and Duncan MacGillivray, embarked on a venture some whisky purists dubbed ‘a hair-brained scheme’. In December 2000, eccentric vintner Mark Reynier overcame astonishing odds to raise the £7.5million needed to buy Bruichladdich, one of the world’s last 19th Century malt whisky distilleries. Aiming to recreate a malt whisky which ‘died’ with American Prohibition in 1929, they have further ‘stirred the pot’ in the whisky industry by, controversially, using a wide variety of wine casks to mature the spirit. The Whisky Dream witnesses through their eyes the birth of the first new Scottish single malt for a decade, debunks some whisky mythology and goes behind the marketing hype to uncover the art of the master blender. MD of the company Mary Reynier says: “We’ve created something new, brought into the world something that’s never been seen…And we’ve created it ourselves.”
As the British Museum prepares to launch its spectacular exhibition on the Emperor Hadrian, Dan Snow takes us on a journey around Hadrian's vast empire. Immortalised in the UK after building a Wall on the edge of his Empire, which bears his name to this day. Hadrian's Wall, as it is known, is just a tiny portion of a massive structure Hadrian had built to protect the Roman Empire, with similar, sister walls running through northern Europe and still more in north Africa. His legacy also includes the Pantheon in Rome. Hadrian brought the Empire to an unparalleled period of peace and prosperity. At the heart of this great Empire, however, lay a mystery - Hadrian's relationship with a young man, Antinous. The friendship led to Antinous being deified by Hadrian following his death, in strange circumstances, on the Nile. Dan Snow uncovers the genius and the dark side of Hadrian: peace-maker, frontier-builder, star-crossed lover, architect - and ruthless oppressor of the jews. But still, Dan concludes, Hadrian was one of the greatest Roman emperors.
Documentary detailing the creation of Ming Emperor Yongle's palace, the Forbidden City. Forged from hundreds of thousands of timbers felled in the remote corners of his empire, and massive stones dragged across ice from the frozen north, Yongle marshalled a million workers to his vision. At 180 acres and with 9000 rooms, it remains the greatest palace on Earth. For five centuries, what went on behind its blood red walls was forbidden to all but the intimate court of the Emperor. Now, the long neglected chronicles of the Ming Dynasty, many specially translated into English for the first time, will tell how the despotic emperor clawed his way to the top, betrayed his own family and killed all in his path to steal the throne. And how he constructed a gilded palace that was also a prison; stocked with concubines, policed by eunuchs and rife with greed and treachery.
Documentary to mark the 500th anniversary of arguably the world's most influential architect, Andrea Palladio. The villas, palaces and public buildings he designed for the aristocrats of Vicenza and Venice, as well as his seminal Four Books of Architecture, defined an architectural style that became known as Palladianism. Its influence can be seen everywhere, from the stately homes of England to the White House. The Palladian villa has been described as the 'perfect house', combining austere grandeur with an inspiring, intimate human scale. The film takes us on a ravishing journey through the plains of the Veneto, visiting the surviving villas and exploring in detail what makes them work, with contributions from leading experts as well as the owners who know and love them.
Professor David Reynolds takes a fresh look at the extraordinary events and personalities that brought about the armistice of 1918, venturing beyond the familiar British account of Remembrance Day to unravel how the other side, the Germans, plunged to total defeat in just a few months at the end of the war. In a journey that takes him through command centres and battlefields, he uncovers a story of wounded egos, mental illness and political brinkmanship as statesmen and generals haggled over the terms of peace, while, at the front, the soldiers fought on with sustained brutality. For many Germans, the armistice was a betrayal of all they had fought for and it caused lasting resentments that would eventually fuel Adolf Hitler's rise to power. Reynolds argues that the bitter endgame of the 'war to end all wars' tragically sowed the seeds of even more appalling conflict to come.
Documentary in which art critic Robert Hughes travels across Spain in search of the reality beyond the mythology of Spanish painter Francisco Goya. Goya has long been Hughes' favourite artist but has become a particular obsession since a near-fatal car accident left Hughes living with nightmares of Goya's often dark and violent imagery.
Blondie is perhaps the most commercially successful band to emerge from the 1970s punk scene. The original lineup consisted of Deborah Harry (vocals), Clem Burke (drums / percussion), Jimmy Destri (keyboards), Chris Stein (guitar / bass guitar) and Gary Valentine (bass guitar / guitar). New York City-based Blondie was formed in 1974, honing its musical skills at the famous punk rock club, CBGBs, and eventually emerging on top of the new wave scene and then crossing over to the pop music mainstream. Their self-titled first album, Blondie, reflected a punk ethos and 1960s girl group sensibilities or, the Ramones meets the Ronettes, as one music critic opined. Blondie made six albums from 1976 to 1982, the most successful being Parallel Lines, considered by many music critics to be one of the best rock albums of all time. Within this time span, from the late seventies to the early eighties, Blondie constituted a major force on the rock/pop scene, producing a string of hit singles internationally. The most well-known of these singles are the reggae-inspired "The Tide Is High," the rap song "Rapture," and the disco-flavored "Heart of Glass" and "Call Me." More recently, in 1999, the single, "Maria," debuted at number one in the United Kingdom, making this song the sixth number one single for the group there. With this hit single, Blondie reached yet another milestone–the first band to have had a number one single in each of the last three decades in the United Kingdom. And the new album, The Curse of Blondie, and its first single "Good Boys" build on that success. So Blondie continues to make music history and the band's legacy grows. The members of Blondie are true pioneers in every sense of the word. Mark Radcliffe narrates a documentary about New York band Blondie, from their early beginnings in Bowery clubs like CBGBs alongside other up and coming bands like The Ramones, Patti Smith & Talking Heads. The documentary tracks their years of international success, through their internal problems and decline and then to their recovery and re-establishment leading to their being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 - an event that wasn't without its problems. With exclusive backstage and performance footage from their recent UK tour plus in-depth interviews with current and ex band members and friends Iggy Pop, Shirley Manson, Tommy Ramone and Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads. Also lots of clips of them performing through the years.
Professor Jim Al Khalili delves into over 50 years of the BBC science archive to tell the story behind the emergence of one of the greatest theories of modern science, the Big Bang. The remarkable idea that our universe simply began from nothing has not always been accepted with the conviction it is today and, from fiercely disputed leftfield beginnings, took the best part of the 20th century to emerge as the triumphant explanation of how the universe began. Using curious horn-shaped antennas, U-2 spy planes, satellites and particle accelerators, scientists have slowly pieced together the cosmological jigsaw, and this documentary charts the overwhelming evidence for a universe created by a Big Bang.
Portrait of the eccentric, charismatic British motor racing legend Graham Hill, a man who lived and died during a time when sex was safe and racing was dangerous. Uniquely, he won the Formula 1 World Championship, the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24 hours; he won the Monaco Grand Prix five times and was a great raconteur and a dashing figure with a keen eye for the ladies. Features contributions from family, close friends and former colleagues including son Damon and track rival Jackie Stewart.
Cultural historian Andrew Hussey goes on a gastronomic tour through French history, from Versailles, the spiritual centre of French power politics and the birthplace of French cuisine, via the French Revolution and the creation of the Michelin guide, through to nouvelle cuisine and ethnic fusion food. For Hussey, France emerges as the 'Republic of Food', a place where the health of both its democracy and its civilisation can at any one time be gauged by how well its people are being fed. Some of France's top chefs, including Paul Bocuse and Pierre Gagnaire are among those he meets on the way.
Benjamin Woolley presents the gripping story of Nicholas Culpeper, the 17th century radical pharmacist who took on the establishment in order to bring medicine to the masses. Culpeper lived during one of the most tumultuous periods in British history. When the country was ravaged by famine and civil war, he took part in the revolution that culminated in the execution of King Charles I.
In 1986, Alastair Campbell had a mental breakdown, the culmination of months of intensive stress at work, too much alcohol, and myriad complex issues. Campbell believes that speaking openly about mental illness helps to de-stigmatise it and so in this startlingly frank documentary he relives the traumas of his breakdown. He talks to some of those who witnessed it, and though it was more than 20 years ago, the journey opens up painful memories. In the end Campbell believes the experience left him stronger and able to cope with the stresses and strains of working at the seat of power.
Documentary tracing the modern history of the comedy pop song from the birth of the charts in 1952 to its reinvention in the new millennium. We discover that George Martin was the missing link between the Goons and the Beatles, that the Barron Knights invented the parody song and that the Two Ronnies were not big fans of Not the Nine O'Clock News. Almost everyone appears in the comedy song's chequered history of peaks and troughs, from the 1960s satire boom to the 1970s golden period of Monty Python and Billy Connolly and on through the wilderness years of 1980s novelty naffness and the genre's redemption in alternative comedy and the likes of Victoria Wood and Alexei Sayle.
Documentary in which self-confessed medieval foodie Clarissa Dickson Wright tracks down Britain's oldest known cookbook - The Forme of Cury, a 700-year-old scroll written during the reign of King Richard II from recipes created by the king's master chefs - and wonders if this ancient manuscript may have influenced the way people eat today. On her culinary journey through medieval history she reawakens recipes that have lain dormant for centuries and discovers dishes that are still prepared now.
Documentary telling the story of swing, an obscure form of jazz that became the first worldwide pop phenomenon, inspired the first ever youth culture revolution and became a byword for sexual liberation and teenage excess well before the Swinging Sixties. In the process, swing threw up some of the greatest names in 20th century music, from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra. The film uses archive and contemporary accounts to shed light on why it endures today.
For a century, Britain's newspapers have been run by a handful of extraordinary men - the press barons. Andrew Neil tells the remarkable story of Britain's newspaper proprietors and their relationships with the Prime Ministers of the day. From Lord Northcliffe and Lloyd George, to Lord Beaverbrook and Winston Churchill, to Rupert Murdoch and Gordon Brown, it's a tale of power and intrigue at the very top, and the epic battles between Fleet Street and Downing Street.
As three unconventional politicians - Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson and Brian Paddick - battle it out to be Mayor of London, John Sergeant tells the story of Westminster's lone riders, the rebels who have refused to play by the rules. Combining interviews and archive, he explores our enduring fascination with politicians who dare to be different and do their own thing.
A documentary looking at Enoch Powell's Rivers of Blood speech on the 40th anniversary of its delivery. The documentary charts sacking from the Cabinet of Edward Heath after the controversial speech which predicted violence on the streets of Britain and which quoted Roman poet Virgil's prophesy: "I see the Tiber foaming with much blood". The documentary also examines the effect of the speech on Britain's immigration policy.
Former cabinet minister Michael Portillo assesses the legacy and continued influence of Margaret Thatcher on the Conservative Party. He talks with former colleagues about the highs of the Thatcher years and the lows that followed for the Tories, speaking frankly about his own personal regrets and the damage Thatcher inflicted on the party in the wilderness years after John Major's premiership.
Simon Russell Beale tells the story behind Allegri's Miserere, one of the most popular pieces of sacred music ever written. The programme features a full performance of the piece by the award-winning choir The Sixteen, conducted by Harry Christophers.
Jimmy Doherty, pig farmer and star of Jimmy's Farming Heroes, travels to Nepal to meet an ancient group of people who risk their lives to farm their local honey. A keen beekeeper with a passion for honey, Jimmy has always been blown away by the sheer variety of flavours, appreciating a good honey like others enjoy a fine wine. So when he heard about an ancient group of people in Nepal who are willing to risk their lives to taste their local honey, he knew he wanted to share the experience. As a 'honey hunter' Jimmy must scale a massive cliff to reach the home of more than two million bees and dangle 200 feet up to get their honey. If successful, the reward is not only to learn more about these amazing bees, but also to taste one of nature's finest bounties - beautiful wild honey.
Fifty years after his death, this musical and psychological portrait of Ralph Vaughan Williams explores the passions that drove a giant of 20th-century English music. It explores the enormous musical range of an energetic, red-blooded composer whose output extends well beyond the delicate pastoralism of his perhaps most famous piece, The Lark Ascending. The film tells the story of his long marriage to his increasingly disabled wife Adeline and his long affair with the woman who eventually became his second wife, Ursula. The effect of these complicated relationships on his music is demonstrated in performances of orchestral and choral works, specially filmed at Cadogan Hall, London by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Richard Hickox and by the singers of Schola Cantorum of Oxford. Among the contributors is the late Ursula Vaughan Williams, who was interviewed shortly before she died at the age of 96.
Documentary looking at how life in the Welsh countryside has changed in the last 50 years. Long-lost archive clips give a rare glimpse of the sights and characters.
John McDouall Stuart was Australia's greatest inland explorer. His maps enabled Charles Todd to construct a telegraph line through the continent, which allowed Australia to communicate on the world stage. It made Todd a hero - but it cost Stuart his life.
Marking the 2008 centenary of Alistair Cooke's birth, this documentary is a revealing portrait of one of the most celebrated broadcasters of the 20th Century, whose Radio 4 programme Letter from America spanned 58 years. Seen for the first time are extraordinary 8mm home movies shot by Cooke from 1933 onwards, charting his discovery of America, his passions and his friendships. This is a chance to see America as Cooke first saw it - the raw material for a lifetime of journalism. Some of the most fascinating of these films were made during his close friendship with Charlie Chaplin. Thought lost for years, they show Chaplin at leisure on his yacht with Paulette Goddard and Cooke, and are among the most candid footage ever shot of the star. Cooke's story is told in his own voice and in interviews with family and close friends. Both first wife Ruth Emerson Cooke and Jane Cooke - his wife from 1946 - share their memories, and actress Lauren Bacall also recalls their friendship.
In December 1938, Eilean nan Ron was abandoned by its people. This film accompanies one of the few surviving residents, 90-year-old Kitty Ann MacQueen, as she takes to the air in a helicopter to return to her childhood home - the tiny remote island near Skerray in Sutherland. During Kitty Ann's last years on the island, she was a school teacher and has clear memories of what life was like for the islanders. Despite having lived in England for 60 years, Kitty is one of the few remaining speakers of what was the prevalent language of the island - Sutherland Gaelic.
A look at pre-1980s British policing techniques, and whether the "old-style" policing techniques were as bad as their portrayal in "Life on Mars" (2006) or whether they may have proved more effective than modern-day political correctness.
Film about one of the most iconic images of the 20th century, when the radical spirit of the Sixties upstaged the greatest sporting event in the world. Two men made a courageous gesture that reverberated around the world and changed their lives forever. There were a number of unforgettable performances at Mexico City Olympic Games and many world records were broken, but the enduring image from the 1968 Games was when African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their gloved clenched fists in support of the Black Panther movement during the Star Spangled Banner, after receiving gold and bronze medals for the 200m sprint. They were subsequently banned from the Games for life. This documentary asks what inspired them to make their protest, why it carried such a powerful message and what happened to the unlikely revolutionaries following the Games.
Documentary which reveals how the humble mouth-organ has been bent to different forms of music-making, featuring interviews and demonstrations from the world's leading players. With over a billion sold, the harmonica, often dismissed as a toy, was the first great democratiser in music creation, and Rory McLeod, Will Galison, Paul Jones, Brendan Power and Charlie Leighton are among those highlighting the instrument's appeal.
Following on from the BAFTA-shortlisted Panorama programme ]Taking on the Taliban, and the critically acclaimed follow up, What happened after taking on the Taliban, Ben Anderson catches up with 24-year-old Lance Corporal Jack Mizon of the Queen's Company, Grenadier Guards. Mizon was a hero in Aghanistan, in the thick of some of the fiercest fighting that left two of his fellow soldiers dead and many more seriously wounded. He was honoured for his bravery, but back home in the UK he is struggling to readjust to civilian life and has become involved in frequent fights near his Aldershot barracks. Anderson follows his exploits for two months in Afghanistan and then back home as Jack is charged with assault and GBH, stripped of his rank, and faces the prospect of four years in a civilian prison.
Walter Tull was a pioneering black British footballer and the first black officer in the British army, who died heroically fighting in the First World War and yet is virtually unheard of today. Former Eastenders star Nick Bailey relates the story of this forgotten hero, investigating war records to establish whether there was a colour bar in the British Army and asking how Tull managed to become an officer despite army regulations requiring only men of 'pure European descent'. Bailey also tries to discover why Lieutenant Tull was denied a Military Cross for heroism even though his commanding officer recommended him for one. Tull's parents died before he was seven years old and he was sent to an orphanage in London's East End, but despite that he won a place in the first team of one of Britain's most famous clubs, Tottenham Hotspur. However, after just seven games and great match reports, he received such racial abuse he never played for the first team again. Far from giving up, Tull rebuilt his football career and then signed up for military service at the first opportunity.
In 1953 the BBC produced a short black and white film of a train journey from London to Brighton in four minutes. The journey was repeated in 1983. Here are the two films side by side in wide screen. (c) 2008 on end of film.
Documentary examining the the events leading up to the Israeli war of Independence in 1949, its continuing impact on Arab/Israeli relations and the implications for the Middle East peace process.
Documentary recalling the revolution in British advertising during the 60s and three men who were instrumental in bringing it about. David Puttnam, Alan Parker and Charles Saatchi, who all worked for the same agency, were among the first to recognise the social changes, with the emphasis on individualism, which were taking place, and the style of advertising needed to appeal to the new breed of customer.
Rob Brydon narrates a dramatised/animated documentary which reveals the clash at the heart of the Medieval mind - between the reason and the supernatural - using rational process to dissect the divine. In 1307 the full weight of medieval justice descended on the sleepy town of Hereford. But this court wasn't summoned to prove innocence or guilt. The man on trial wasn't a murderer, or a criminal. In fact he wasn't even alive. This was a holy inquiry, called by the Catholic Church to prove whether a dead English bishop was actually a miracle-worker - and whether he should be made into a saint. His case comprised several alleged miracles, the most notorious being the spectacular resurrection of a hanged man. A Welsh terrorist executed by the state, hanged twice just to make sure, this wanted criminal somehow came back from the dead. And now a papal court would use all the instruments of legal process - witness statements, forensic evidence, cross examination - to prove whether it was truly a miracle.
Documentary about the evolution of innuendo on the BBC and how it led to the collapse of the corporation's prim and proper attitudes.
Daisy Asquith investigates the mysterious world of children's entertainers. The idea for the film came to her whilst on a typical seaside holiday where a different children's entertainer would set up in the hotel ballroom at six o'clock each evening and perform a different act. From animal petting to sea shanties to balloon buffoonery, it seemed an almost thankless task. Kids screaming, crying, badgering and demanding whilst performers attempted to maintain their professional cool and pull yet another hankie from their sleeve or fall face down again, knowing it's guaranteed to make a four-year-old laugh. She started to wonder who these people were, how they ended up here, whether this was their life-long ambition and how they knew what the children wanted. Then those creeping doubts and stereotypical fears stated to rear their ugly heads: don't you have to be a bit weird to do this sort of thing, are they all failed adult entertainers and do they all still live with their mothers? Back home, Daisy started to investigate further and soon found all her preconceptions challenged in a world of pirates and pumpkins, comedy handshakes and rabbits in hats. This is a film about what she found.
Documentary using archive footage, eye-witness testimony and contributions from some of the world's most distinguished historians to tell the story of the British wartime operation that rescued Hitler's hoard of looted art. During the war, the Fuhrer amassed about 2,000 old masters, stripped from the greatest galleries and museums in Europe. The Bonzos were the covert group sent to retrieve these treasures
Writer and pop addict Paul Morley explores and celebrates the beauty and mystery of the pop single.
Documentary charting the success of Scottish pop bands in the 1980's and 90's.Featuring acts such as; Orange juice, The Associates , The Bluebells and The Proclaimers
Documentary looking at the history of the iconic quiz show University Challenge. Featuring famous ex-contestants such as Stephen Fry, John Simpson, Julian Fellowes and Miriam Margoyles plus hosts Bamber Gascoigne and Jeremy Paxman, it traces the origins and development of the programme. From the first show transmitted in 1962 to the present day as it is being immortalised on film in Starter for Ten, a celebration of the triumphs, disasters and quirky characters of an enduring TV institution.
With a passion for art that is rivalled only by travel, Michael Palin combines both in a European journey to discover more about Vilhelm Hammershoi, an enigmatic Danish artist that has fascinated him for years. Curious to see more of Hammershoi's paintings and discover what kind of life the artist lived, Michael searches for clues in London, Holland and Copenhagen.
A journey back to the 1950s for a look at the wildest pop music of all time in a film that tells the stories of Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly, giants from an era when pop music really was mad, bad and dangerous to know. The programme features the artists themselves, alongside people like Bill Haley's original Comets, the Crickets, Buddy Holly's widow Maria Elena, Jerry Lee Lewis's former wife Myra Gail and his sister, Chuck Berry's son and many more, including June Juanico, Elvis' first serious girlfriend. Other contributors include Tom Jones, Jamie Callum, Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard, Joe Brown, Marty Wilde, Green Day, Minnie Driver, Jack White, the Mavericks, Jools Holland, Hank Marvin, Fontella Bass, John Waters and more. Elvis's pelvis was just the start. Who had to change the lyrics to their biggest hit because the originals were too obscene? Who married their 13-year-old cousin? Who used lard to get their hair just right? And what happened on the day the music died?
Respect Yourself is an authoritative film about one of the great stories in rock and roll. The story is about Stax Records whose hits include Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay, Soul Man, If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Wanna Be Right), Knock On Wood and Respect.
The Two Ronnies, Noel Edmonds, Andre Previn, Morecambe & Wise and Tony Blackburn are among the famous faces on this nostalgic feast - from soap-opera cliffhangers to tension on Top of the Pops. Presented by Phill Jupitus
Documentary in which Andrew Graham-Dixon reveals how the Medici family transformed Florence through sculpture, painting and architecture and created a world where masterpieces fetch millions today. Without the money and patronage of the Medici we might never have heard of artists such as Donatello, Michelangelo or Botticelli. Graham-Dixon examines how a family of shadowy, corrupt businessmen, driven by greed and ambition, became the financial engine behind the Italian Renaissance.
Profile of the 1970s glam band Roxy Music, who reformed after 25 years to make a new album. The film traces the musical development of the group from 1972 up to the present day, as we discover how they influenced a generation of musicians such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Duran Duran and U2 and why they are still a musical force to be reckoned with today. Featuring interviews with band members Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay, Paul Thomson, Eddie Jobson and Gary Tibbs, plus fans including Bono, Siouxsie Sioux, Nile Rodgers of Chic, John Taylor of Duran Duran and Alison Goldfrapp.
Tribute to the prolific television and film producer, who was involved in making such shows as the original Doctor Who, Jonathan Creek , Minder and Eldorado.
Documentary celebrating the marvellously mirthful saga of Edmund Blackadder. Featuring interviews with key cast and crew members, and rare rehearsal footage.
A compilation of BBC studio performances of some of the great Manchester bands from the 1960s to the present, including Freddie and the Dreamers, The Hollies, 10CC, the Buzzcocks, The Fall, Joy Division, James, M-People, Oasis and many more.
An Irish language documentary featuring the natives of Inishbofin Island off the coast of Donegal, which is only habitable during the summer months, whether by humans or by the rare and elusive corncrake. The film chronicles the annual migration of the two populations to the island - the return of the corncrakes from sunnier climes and that of various families and individuals from the mainland to their ancestral homes where, isolated from most modern conveniences, they struggle to preserve a dying way of life.
Profiling the leading men of the glam rock era, Lisa Tarbuck guides us through the glittering careers of Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Noddy Holder, Brian Ferry, Elton John and honorary glam king Suzi Quatro. Industry men including producer Tony Visconti, songwriter Mike Chapman and photographer Mick Rock give the insider angle to the work of these artists.
Antonio Carluccio travels to Sicily to discover more about Lampedusa's novel The Leopard.
Documentary. At the Munich Olympics of 1972, Ugandan John Akii Bua powered round the inside lane in the 400m hurdles, past English favourite and reigning Olympic Champion David Hemery, to win the gold medal, 10m clear of the field. The clock showed 47.82, an astonishing new world record. Akii Bua was the first African to win gold in an event under 800 metres. He was also the first man to break the 48 seconds barrier in the 400 metre hurdles, an event so gruelling its nickname is 'The Mankiller'. But, while David Hemery retired to respectable fame and fortune, Akii Bua returned to a Uganda carving the name of its military 'President', Idi Amin, into genocidal notoriety. After the glory of 1972, John never found prosperity in his country, beautiful but blighted by the Amin slaughter, tribal rivalries and poverty. Akii Bua's tribe, the Langi, were the primary victims of Amin's slaughter, and John's national popularity could only protect him for so long. In 1979, Akii Bua fled for his life to Kenya. In the trauma, his wife gave birth prematurely, and the baby died. The couple did not even have the money to bury him. Shortly afterwards, Akii Bua presented his former coach, Englishman Malcolm Arnold, with 12 foolscap notebooks. Arnold, astonished, found they contained Akii Bua's life story, written in longhand, in pencil, in English, his third language. In 1983, with Amin ousted, Akii Bua returned to Uganda, his achievements and place in history seemingly forgotten. This is a film about the pinnacle of athletic achievement - and the search to discover what followed. The John Akii Bua Story is the story of one man, and of Africa itself; its glory, potential and tragedy.
On a wild autumn night in 1588 a gold-laden warship from the Spanish Armada was wrecked on Antrim's treacherous north coast. For nearly four centuries the Girona lay undiscovered, until treasure hunter Robert Stenuit found the wreck and secretly began to salvage its golden hoard.
Don Letts's hilarious and colourful profile of the godfather of funk, whose 50-year career has defined the genre. From his 1950s days running a doo-wop group out of the back of his barber store, through the madness of the monster Parliament/Funkadelic machine of the 70s to his late 90s hip-hop collaborations with Dre and Snoop, George Clinton has inspired generations of imitators. Contributors include Outkast's Andre 3000 and Macy Gray.
Documentary about the 18-year odyssey of a group of enthusiasts who set out to build a brand new mainline steam engine from scratch in 1990.
Around the World in 20 Years is a BBC television travel documentary first broadcast in December 2008, presented by Michael Palin. It follows him as he retraces the Dubai - Mumbai leg of his journey Around the World in 80 Days. Also featured is his reunion with the captain and crew of the al-Sharma dhow, in which he had undertaken the journey 20 years ago. Palin finds the captain of the al-Sharma in Gujarat and is heartily welcomed. He also reunites with several of the surviving crew members and discovers several of them have since died, including the old man whom he'd let listen to Bruce Springsteen on his Walkman during the voyage. The captain also reveals that the al-Sharma was lost at sea in the Indian Ocean some years before when it was being towed for repairs.
Back in 1980, a teenage Steve Cram was part of a team of British athletes who defied their government to go behind the iron curtain and compete in the Olympic Games. Steve Cram returns to the Russian capital to relive the story of the most controversial Olympics of modern times. An Olympics boycotted by the United States because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and blighted by allegations of cheating and state sponsored doping. But these were also the games of Daley Thompson, Duncan Goodhew, Alan Wells and the incredible rivalry between Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett. It's a fascinating story in which we hear how the games that threatened the very existence of the Olympic movement actually changed it for the better and, decades later, provided an unexpected bonus for the whole of British sport.
Michael Portillo revisits the family of a school friend who committed suicide as a teenager, discovering how the tragedy has coloured their lives ever since. His friend Gary was popular and good-looking, a gifted musician and a clever student. But just before his 16th birthday he committed suicide, leaving a note telling his parents he loved them and asking them not to be sad. In detailed and moving interviews with Gary's parents and younger brother, Michael learns how incredibly difficult it was for them to fulfil this plea. The implicit message from Gary's family to anyone who may be in despair and thinking of ending their life is to think hard about how it is going to affect those they are leaving behind. Despite the sadness, the courage shown by the family as they revive such painful memories is uplifting. Home videos reveal a happy and carefree family. The music in the programme was composed by Gary. After being lost for 40 years, it was rediscovered in the making of the film and performed by his younger brother.
In July 1992, Rachel Nickell was murdered on Wimbledon Common in front of her two-year-old son. What followed was one of the nation's most controversial murder investigations. Police used a honey trap to get a confession from one man, Colin Stagg. He suffered death threats, physical attacks, imprisonment, and became one of the most hated men in Britain. This drama documentary tells the shocking story of how police targeted an innocent man, and includes an exclusive interview with Stagg.
Britain's National Health Service celebrates its sixtieth birthday on 5 July this year. Serving over one and a half million patients and their families every day, the NHS is the biggest service of its kind in the world. It is universally regarded as a national treasure - the most remarkable achievement of post war Britain. Yet, surprisingly, the National Health Service very nearly did not happen at all. In the months leading to its launch it was bitterly opposed - by the Tory Party and the national press. But its most vicious and vocal opponents were the very people its existence depended on - surgeons, nurses, dentists and Britain's 20,000 doctors. To get the NHS at all required the persistence and determination of one man - Nye Bevan, Labour's minister of health. This film tells the extraordinary story of the six months leading up to its traumatic birth.