Documentaries produced by or for the BBC.
In this programme, David Attenborough asks three key questions: how, and why, did Darwin come up with his theory of evolution? Why do we think he was right? And why is it more important now than ever before?
David starts his journey in Darwin's home at Down House in Kent, where Darwin worried and puzzled over the origins of life. David goes back to his roots in Leicestershire, where he hunted for fossils as a child, and where another schoolboy unearthed a significant find in the 1950s. And he revisits Cambridge University, where both he and Darwin studied, and where many years later the DNA double helix was discovered, providing the foundations for genetics.
At the end of his journey in the Natural History Museum in London, David concludes that Darwin's great insight revolutionised the way in which we see the world. We now understand why there are so many different species, and why they are distributed in the way they are. But above all, Darwin has shown us that we are not set apart from the natural world, and do not have dominion over it. We are subject to its laws and processes, as are all other animals on earth to which, indeed, we are related.
Dan Cruickshank presents a documentary revealing the story of the Dalai Lama, his secret Himalayan kingdom and the story of his exile, using eyewitness accounts from Tibetans including the Dalai Lama himself and colour archive footage of Tibet from the 1930s to 50s.
Charles Rangeley Wilson, author, journalist and BBC 2's Accidental Angler, travels to Japan to explore the Japanese people's passionate relationship to fish.
Documentary in which George Lamb dives into the world of legal party pills and herbal highs.
Legal highs are sold openly and legally in shops across the UK and on the internet. There are thousands of different pills, powders and herbs that promise the same effects as illegal drugs, but for much less hassle - no arrests for possession and no backstreet dealers to visit.
Lamb sets out to discover why they are legal and whether this means they can also be called safe. He meets people who take them, a man who sells them and a doctor who says they are potentially more dangerous than class A drugs. He travels to Guernsey, where most of the young people he meets have tried them, and finally decides to try one for himself.
They might be legal and easily accessible, but should they be used? This film presents all the information needed to make a decision.
Writer Paul Morley takes a journey back through time to revisit his own adventures and misadventures in fashion and meets the pop stars who he feels are responsible for the way he looks now.
Cleopatra - the most famous woman in history. We know her as a great queen, a beautiful lover and a political schemer. For 2,000 years almost all evidence of her has disappeared - until now.
In one of the world's most exciting finds, archaeologists believe they have discovered the skeleton of her sister, murdered by Cleopatra and Mark Antony.
From Egypt to Turkey, Neil Oliver investigates the story of a ruthless queen who would kill her own siblings for power. This is the portrait of a killer.
British novelist Marcel Theroux is fascinated by Wabi Sabi, a theory of Japanese aesthetics in which imperfection and transience are the touchstone of beauty.
The Japanese say that if you can understand Wabi Sabi, you will understand Japan and the Japanese. Yet at the same time they have immense difficulty in explaining the concept themselves, so Marcel travels across Japan, from Tokyo to Kyoto and then on to the mountains of Fukui, trying to unravel the meaning of this baffling concept that is at the heart of what makes the Japanese tick.
It is a challenging, funny and ultimately moving journey that starts under the bright neon lights and craziness of Tokyo and ends in an austere Zen Temple in the snowy foothills of Japan's eastern mountains.
An extraordinary insight into the secretive world of the Old Order Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
When two radical Amish men, Ephraim and Jesse Stoltzfus, start to question some of the most fundamental aspects of their Amish culture, they face excommunication from their church and total rejection by their friends and family.
Andrew Graham-Dixon takes a journey into the art and soul of the Samurai, who ruled Japan for 700 years and were much more than mere warriors.
Documentary which tells the story of evolution theory since Darwin postulated it in 1859 in 'On the Origin of Species'.
The theory of evolution by natural selection is now scientific orthodoxy, but when it was unveiled it caused a storm of controversy, from fellow scientists as well as religious people. They criticised it for being short on evidence and long on assertion and Darwin, being the honest scientist that he was, agreed with them. He knew that his theory was riddled with 'difficulties', but he entrusted future generations to complete his work and prove the essential truth of his vision, which is what scientists have been doing for the past 150 years.
Evolutionary biologist Professor Armand Marie Leroi charts the scientific endeavour that brought about the triumphant renaissance of Darwin's theory. He argues that, with the new science of evolutionary developmental biology (evo devo), it may be possible to take that theory to a new level - to do more than explain what has evolved in the past, and start to predict what might evolve in the future.
There are some who believe that Darwin's theory of evolution has weakened religion, fuelled in part by Richard Dawkins' publishing phenomenon The God Delusion. Conor Cunningham argues that nothing could be further from the truth.
Cunningham is a firm believer in the theory of evolution, but he is also a Christian. He believes that the clash between Darwin and God has been hijacked by extremists - fundamentalist believers who reject evolution on one side, and fundamentalist atheists on the other. Cunningham attempts to overturn what he believes are widely held but mistaken assumptions in the debate between religion and evolution.
He travels to the Middle East where he shows that from the very outset, Christianity warned against literal readings of the biblical story of creation. In Britain, he reveals that, at the time, Darwin's theory of evolution was welcomed by the Anglican and Catholic Churches. Instead, he argues that the conflict between Darwin and God was manufactured by American creationists in the 20th century for reasons that had very little to do with science and religion and a great deal to do with politics and morality.
Finally, he comes face to face with some of the most eminent evolutionary biologists, geneticists and philosophers of our time to examine whether the very latest advances in evolutionary theory do in fact kill God.
An estimated 70 per cent of women try to lose weight before they get married and Claire Richards, one fifth of superstar pop group Steps, is no exception.
A documentary exploring the causes of the 1929 Wall Street Crash.
Over six terrifying, desperate days in October 1929, shares crashed by a third on the New York Stock Exchange. More than $25 billion in individual wealth was lost. Later, three thousand banks failed, taking people's savings with them. Surviving eyewitnesses describe the biggest financial catastrophe in history.
In 1919, the US had emerged victorious and dominant from World War One. Britain and its European allies were exhausted financially from the war. In contrast, the US economy was thriving and the world danced to the American tune.
Easy credit and mass production set the tone in the roaring twenties for an era of consumption like none that had ever been seen before. The stock market rose and investors piled in, borrowing money to cash in on the bubble. In 1928, the market went up by 50 per cent in just 12 months. The crash was followed by a devastating worldwide depression that lasted until the Second World War. Shares did not regain their pre-crash values until 1954.
This is the story of a financial disaster that we hoped could never happen again.
We explore the story behind the discovery of an early primate fossil, Darwinius masillae, nicknamed Ida, in a shale quarry in Germany. The fossil is believed to be around 47 million years old, and is extraordinarily well-preserved. Originally unearthed in 1983, Ida lay in the hands of a private collector for 20 years before it was shown to a Norwegian paleontologist, Dr Jørn Hurum. Realising that Ida could turn out to be a significant missing link between modern primates, lemurs and lower mammals, he persuaded the Natural History Museum in Oslo to purchase the fossil and assembled an international team of experts to study it. Their findings were announced in a press conference and the online publication of a scientific paper on 19 May 2009.
Documentary bringing to life Gavin Pretor-Pinney's international bestseller, The Cloudspotter's Guide, which draws on science, meteorology and mythology for a magical journey through the world of clouds.
Presented by the obsessive and excitable Pretor-Pinney, it is no dry treatise on the science of nephology, but a playful trip through the varied beauty and distinctive personalities of the ten principal cloud types.
From the ethereal cirrus to the terrifying cumulonimbus, the film tells the story of the short but eventful life of clouds, and their importance to our planet. We find out how immense quantities of water can stay up in the sky for so long and how lightning and thunder are created.
Aided by his worldwide network of Cloudspotters, Pretor-Pinney also sets out to prove the existence of a totally new type of cloud, which finally leads him to present his findings to a panel of top scientists.
Featuring stunning images filmed by the world's most experienced aerial cameraman, it inspires, informs and challenges all those who have ever wondered about the heavens above.
Fulfilling a life long dream to be an astronaut, May was given the opportunity to fly to the edge of space in a Lockheed U-2 spy plane. To do this he first had to spend three days training with the United States Air Force at Beale Air Force Base and then learning how to use a space suit correctly. Following this he was shown being taken on a 3 hour flight reaching an altitude of over 70,000 feet, piloted by instructor pilot Major John "Cabi" Cabigas.
This programme tied in with another May documentary an hour earlier on BBC Two called James May on the Moon to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings.
In this programme James May commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings.
The show saw May interviewing Apollo moonwalkers Harrison Schmitt, Alan Bean, and Charlie Duke, before himself experiencing weightlessness and G-forces similar to that of a Saturn V rocket launch.
As a passenger in a Lockheed U-2 spy plane, May flies to the edge of space where he is able to clearly view the curvature of the earth.
Can we trust the food we eat? Reporters Tom Heap and Simon Boazman set off on a mission to find out, revealing the tricks of food labelling and uncovering the world of food fraud.
On July 20th 1969, the ‘Great Southern Land’ of Australia had just twelve and a half million inhabitants and was known more for its kangaroos then its space program. But at the moment Neil Armstrong planted the first human footstep on the moon, all that would change in an instant.
One Small Step – The Australian Story, produced exclusively for BBC Worldwide Channels by Freehand premieres on BBC Knowledge, Channel 619 on Monday July 20 at 7:30pm as part of Moon Week.
Presented by Australian journalist and author Peter FitzSimons, the 60 minute documentary explores the front-line role Australian radio astronomers and technicians played in the Apollo 11 moon landing and the uniquely Australian approach they brought to the task.
We meet the characters directly involved in bringing live pictures from the moon to the rest of the world and hear about the dramas of this most remarkable day. Their stories will be interwoven with snapshots of Australia from July 20th 1969 as we relive the day leading up to one of the most significant events in this country’s brief history. Myths will be debunked and real stories uncovered.
Australians saw clearer pictures “live from the moon” than anyone else on Earth – and became the first witnesses to this momentous footstep in history. This was no ordinary television signal. After travelling 384,000km, it would inspire Australians from all walks of life and bring a sense of future possibilities to the nation.
With Neil Armstrong’s “one small step”, Australia – would take a “giant step” onto the world stage. And just like the surface of the moon – would also cease to be a remote place largely unknown to the rest of the world.
Documentary about the love affair between the British and their caravans, which saw the country establish the world's largest caravan manufacturer and transformed the holiday habits of generations of families.
In telling the intriguing story of caravanning in Britain from the 1950s through to the present day, the film reveals how caravans were once the plaything of a privileged minority but after World War II became a firm favourite with almost a quarter of British holidaymakers.
It explores how changes in caravanning across the years reflect wider changes in British society, in particular the increased availability of cars during the 1950s and 60s, but also the improved roads network and changing attitudes towards holidaymaking and leisure time.
Enthusiasts and contributors include Dorrie van Lachterop from the West Midlands and Christine Fagg from Hertfordshire, remarkable and adventurous women who started touring alone in their caravans during the 1950s.
Top chefs and celebrities pay tribute to one of the most original broadcasters of his generation, Keith Floyd. Rick Stein, Marco Pierre White and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall are among those honouring the legendary chef and bon viveur, whose ground-breaking shows changed the face of TV cookery for ever.
Poet and gadget lover Simon Armitage explores people's obsession with upgrading to the latest technological gadgetry.
Upgrade culture drives millions to purchase the latest phones, flatscreen TVs, laptops and MP3 players. But is it design, functionality, fashion or friends that makes people covet the upgrade, and how far does the choice of gadgets define identity? Simon journeys across Britain and to South Korea in search of answers.
Bees are dying in their millions. It is an ecological crisis that threatens to bring global agriculture to a standstill. Introduced by Martha Kearney, this documentary explores the reasons behind the decline of bee colonies across the globe, investigating what might be at the root of this devastation.
Through the life cycle of one mobile phone, this documentary investigates the million and one ways in which the mobile has made itself indispensable to modern life.
One in every two human beings has a mobile, and this inanimate lump of plastic and minerals is made privy to people's innermost secrets - conversations with friends, lovers and family. It holds family photos, plays favourite music and yet, as an instrument of communication, it has its paradoxes. People are dumped by text, some pretend to be deep in a telephone conversation to avoid speaking to real people and others are affronted when their bellowed conversations on public transport are overheard.
Then, at the end of a strangely intimate relationship, it becomes one of the one billion phones discarded every year - reconditioned for re-use or smelted down for the precious metals it contains.
Choirmaster Gareth Malone joins forces with the BBC Singers to explore the styles and techniques that create a choir. He finds out why there are four sections, what is polyphony, what links Bach and the Beach Boys, what difference the venue makes and what is the choral combination that is guaranteed to touch an emotional chord.
Documentary following a generation of post-punk musicians who took the synthesiser from the experimental fringes to the centre of the pop stage.
In the late 1970s, small pockets of electronic artists including the Human League, Daniel Miller and Cabaret Volatire were inspired by Kraftwerk and JG Ballard and dreamt of the sound of the future against the backdrop of bleak, high-rise Britain.
The crossover moment came in 1979 when Gary Numan's appearance on Top of the Pops with Tubeway Army's Are Friends Electric heralded the arrival of synthpop. Four lads from Basildon known as Depeche Mode would come to own the new sound whilst post-punk bands like Ultravox, Soft Cell, OMD and Yazoo took the synth out of the pages of the NME and onto the front page of Smash Hits.
By 1983, acts like Pet Shop Boys and New Order were showing that the future of electronic music would lie in dance music.
Contributors include Philip Oakey, Vince Clarke, Martin Gore, Bernard Sumner, Gary Numan and Neil Tennant.
With Moogs turned up to 11, a 1970s/80s journey through the BBC's synthpop archives from Roxy Music to New Order.
Roxy Music — Do the Strand
Tubeway Army — Are 'Friends' Electric?
Sparks — Beat the Clock
The Human League — The Path of Least Resistance
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark — Messages
Ultravox — Vienna
Depeche Mode — New Life
New Order — Temptation
Soft Cell — Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
Japan — Ghosts
Yazoo — Don't Go
Tears for Fears — Mad World
Eurythmics — Love is a Stranger
Heaven 17 — Temptation
Howard Jones — What Is Love?
Pet Shop Boys — Opportunities
Dan Snow travels to Mexico to investigate the history, character and legacy of Montezuma, the last great ruler of the Aztecs of central America.
He uncovers the extraordinary story of the Aztecs themselves, a cultured and civilised people whose lives were governed by eleborate ceremony and blood-curdling ritual.
Dan Snow also discovers how, in a titanic clash of cultures, their leader Montezuma faced up to a mortal threat from another world - the weaponry, gold-lust and greed of 16th-century Spanish conquistadors.
Documentary telling the story of silicon chip inventor Robert Noyce, godfather of today's digital world. Re-living the heady days of Silicon Valley's seminal start-ups, the film tells how Noyce also founded Intel, the company responsible for more than 80 per cent of the microprocessors in personal computers. Noyce defined the unconventional, innovative culture of Silicon Valley - the likes of Apple and Google would be influenced by his egalitarian management style, which was inspired by his religious upbringing. Podfather shows why Noyce may be the most important person most people have never heard of. Contributors include industry giants Gordon Moore and Andy Grove.
Documentary which looks at how a radical generation of musicians created a new German musical identity out of the cultural ruins of war.
Between 1968 and 1977 bands like Neu!, Can, Faust and Kraftwerk would look beyond western rock and roll to create some of the most original and uncompromising music ever heard. They shared one common goal - a forward-looking desire to transcend Germany's gruesome past - but that didn't stop the music press in war-obsessed Britain from calling them Krautrock.
An eccentric team of British engineers attempts to break the longest standing land speed record in the world in a steam-powered car built in a shed in Hampshire. Driven by Hampshire-based tycoon Charles Burnett III and grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, Don Wales, the attempt takes place at Edwards Air Force Base in California as the team goes in search of a runway big enough to break records on.
At 72, actor Richard Wilson - who famously died himself as Victor Meldrew - wonders why, when it's life's one certainty, people have such difficulty discussing death.
In that Palinesque style that he's developed, Richard travels around the country meeting people and finding out how death is dealt with in the 21st century - how people face it, what happens when we die, and the different ways people cope with death and grief. New rituals like roadside memorials and ghostbikes are regular sights on the roads, but old traditions of cremation and burial still dominate.
Richard meets members of the plethora of people whose jobs bring them into daily contact with the dead. He follows the elaborate processes dead bodies must go through as they are passed from pathologist to embalmer, funeral director to crematorium, and finds out why individuals should make choices about death while they can.
In all it's a gentle and touching film that handles its subject matter with care and grace. It maybe about something that we're all going to have to face whilst rather preferring not to, but mostly, it's about living.
The untold story of two infamous labourers, Burke and Hare, who embarked upon a year-long killing spree in Edinburgh during the 19th century to provide corpses for the most famous anatomist of the day, Dr Robert Knox. The common perception is that Burke and Hare were Scottish graverobbers but, as this programme reveals, they were serial killers from Northern Ireland. Presented by Dr Alice Roberts and Dr Mark Hamilton, this programme uses dramatic reconstruction to investigate this macabre tale.
Documentary which explores television's fascination with forensics, revisiting classic shows like Quincy and Marius Goring's The Expert and looking at the appeal of contemporary dramas such as Silent Witness, Waking The Dead and CSI.
The film examines how scientific advances like genetic fingerprinting have been reflected in the crime drama, finds out how pathology got so sexy, how accurate the science shown on screen actually is, and how TV cops solved crimes before DNA.
Contributors include Sue Johnston from Waking The Dead, Tom Ward and William Gaminara from Silent Witness, and old Quincy himself, Jack Klugman. Plus comment from crime writers, scientists and detectives.
Peter Capaldi reveals a flair for presenting in this new documentary looking at the art of Scotland, as it reflects the changing face of the nation as part of BBC Four's This is Scotland season.
The actor, a graduate of the Glasgow School Of Art, brings an interesting perspective to this feature-length piece, admitting that his early gift for drawing fell by the wayside as a young man but that he has once again taken to sketching.
Peter doesn't pretend to be an expert, but acts as an intuitive guide to cottish art in this programme, which spans the 17th century through to the modern-day Glasgow Boys.
Dropping into his alma mater, Peter says: "What gift I had was for drawing faces, so I'd certainly come to the right place if I wanted to learn that most particular of Scottish arts – the portrait. But then, you see, punk rock happened and whole armies of us abandoned our surplus greatcoats in favour of peroxide hair, pvc trousers and guitars. With this programme, I've been offered a second chance to learn anew about
the great traditions and history of Scottish painting."
With a quizzical look when talking to experts, Peter takes a tour through the early days of Scottish art and its influences, such as the Enlightenment, the Ossian works and representations of famous Scots such as Burns.
He radiates a keen eye and accessible passion for the subject when viewing the paintings featured or talking to some of the major living Scottish artists, including Alison Watt, John Byrne, Sandy Moffat, Peter Howson and Calum Colvin.
Bogey, Bacall and Mitchum play it tough as Matthew Sweet celebrates the hardboiled world of noir movies.
Sue Perkins charts the changes in British taste towards domestic art by delving into the stories of contemporary bestsellers, charting the history of post-war prints and aiming to see first hand what the average British person displays above their mantelpiece. Half of British living rooms have art on their wall bought from high street stores, and many of the British artists who created them are among the country's most successful - but we've never heard of them.
Documentary in which artist and writer Matthew Collings explores the concept of beauty in art. Is beauty only in the eye of the beholder, or is there something more universal we can say about it? Collings takes the viewer on a sumptuously illustrated tour of 10 of his favourite beauty experiences from the history of art. The works of art he chooses each illustrate one of the timeless principles which he believes underpin and explain the rush of pleasure we get from beautiful art. They are all art experiences which he has loved for many years, but in this film he explores with each artwork what it is that is making their particular kind of beauty happen. Collings's personal list inspires some big questions about why art matters to us, and aims to get viewers thinking and arguing about what their own personal Top 10 might look like. The 10 art experiences range right across history, from the prehistoric cave art of the Dordogne to the hi-tech super-modernity of a Norman Foster-designed bridge in southern France, and from some of the indisputable masterpieces of the Renaissance to the much more debatable pleasures of contemporary art. Collings leaps fearlessly across history, making unexpected and revelatory comparisons between the art of different eras, and helping us to see the principles that underlie them. Collings's list includes works by Piero della Francesca, Michelangelo, Magritte, Gauguin and American artist Robert Rauschenberg, amongst others.
Documentary charting the history of the supernatural on British television, and how ghosts have been portrayed on the small screen. From Hamlet to Most Haunted, the apparitions have abandoned their traditional haunts of drama and comedy and crossed over into factual and reality TV.
Ghosts in the Machine celebrates classic ghost stories like The Stone Tape, and Whistle and I'll Come to You. It revisits controversial shows like Derren Brown's Seance and 1992's Ghostwatch, which convinced thousands of viewers that Michael Parkinson was possessed by a poltergeist.
The film examines the recent explosion of interest in the paranormal. How did ghosts get their own genre, and how did television become the medium of the medium?
To mark his 75th year, a rare glimpse into the life and work of Alan Bennett, one of the UK's best-loved writers.
Given exclusive access to the key moments in his year, including final rehearsals of his new play, The Habit of Art, the programme gains unique insight into someone who can truly be described as a national treasure - a title Bennett would, no doubt, hate.
Through candid interviews, classic archive footage, new work and personal testimony, this documentary celebrates the many sides, public and private, of the reluctant elder statesman of English culture.
In 1979, artist Kit Williams turned Britain into a giant treasure map, promising a golden hare, buried in the earth, to the first person who solved the riddle of his book Masquerade. The hysteria that followed the hunt drove Williams underground, where he has continued to create complex and beautiful art, which he refuses to publicly exhibit.
In his first interview in two decades, Kit lifts the lid on life before and after Masquerade. Did the hare deprive us of one of our most gifted painters?
Documentary which explores the most important day in the career of the legendary Johnny Cash.
Cash's concert at Folsom State Prison in California in January 1968 touched a raw nerve in the American psyche and made him a national hero at a troubled time in American history.
Using the stark images of rock photographer Jim Marshall, graphic techniques, archive footage and interviews with Merle Haggard, Cash's daughter Rosanne, band members Marshall Grant and WS 'Fluke' Holland, alongside former inmates of the prison, the film documents this explosive concert, the live album that followed and a transformative moment in the lives of Cash, the inmates of Folsom Prison and the American nation in the troubled year of 1968.
Every year millions of people in Britain try to lose weight, and most fail. We are constantly bombarded with advice about dieting and the latest slimming fads. But what really works? In this programme, medical journalist Michael Mosley investigates the latest scientific breakthroughs in slimming, uncovering ten of the simplest ways you can shed those pounds. From the slimming secrets of soup to our brain's response after skipping meals, what he discovers may completely change the way you think about diets, health and losing weight.
Professors Iain Stewart and Professor Kathy Sykes take a timely look at global warming ahead of the Copenhagen summit, exploring the world's leading climate scientists' vision of the planet's future.
For the first time since 1990, Delia returns to television screens at Christmas time to unveil a celebration feast packed with indulgent, scrumptious recipes.
The story behind Not The Nine O'Clock News, which launched the careers of its key performers Rowan Atkinson, Mel Smith, Griff Rhys Jones and Pamela Stephenson.
Documentary about progressive music and the generation of bands that were involved, from the international success stories of Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson and Jethro Tull to the trials and tribulations of lesser-known bands such as Caravan and Egg.
The film is structured in three parts, charting the birth, rise and decline of a movement famed for complex musical structures, weird time signatures, technical virtuosity and strange, and quintessentially English, literary influences.
It looks at the psychedelic pop scene that gave birth to progressive rock in the late 1960s, the golden age of progressive music in the early 1970s, complete with drum solos and gatefold record sleeves, and the over-ambition, commercialisation and eventual fall from grace of this rarefied musical experiment at the hands of punk in 1977.
Professor Jim Al-Khalili shows how chaos theory can answer a question that mankind has asked for millennia - how does a universe that starts off as dust end up with intelligent life? It's a mindbending, counterintuitive and for many people a troubling idea. But Professor Al-Khalili reveals the science behind much of beauty and structure in the natural world and discovers that far from it being magic or an act of God, it is in fact an intrinsic part of the laws of physics.
Aminatta Forna tells the story of legendary Timbuktu and its long hidden legacy of hundreds of thousands of ancient manuscripts. With its university founded around the same time as Oxford, Timbuktu is proof that the reading and writing of books have long been as important to Africans as to Europeans.
Documentary which tells the story of the British love affair with the American dream cars made at Ford in Dagenham in the 1960s and 70s. Ford helped put the nation on wheels with its fast, sexy cars such as the Zephyr, the Cortina and the Capri, which were pure rock'n'roll and hugely appealing to the younger generation.
Documentary about Falklands War veteran and ex-firefighter Jim Armstrong, who is now a farmer in Dorset.
The film follows Jim through 2007 as he helps to raise a herd of traditional Longhorn cattle and his own flock of sheep. Sad echoes of his war experiences 25 years earlier resurface at times, but they never dent his optimistic spirit or his delight in selling meat locally and spending his days in the great Dorset outdoors.
Documentary unfolding the science behind the idea of six degrees of separation. Originally thought to be an urban myth, it now appears that anyone on the planet can be connected in just a few steps of association. Six degrees of separation is also at the heart of a major scientific breakthrough; that there might be a law which nature uses to organize itself and that now promises to solve some of its deepest mysteries.
Documentary telling the story of Rolls-Royce in India through the fortunes of India's princes.
Paul Merton continues his love affair with silent cinema in an exploration of Alfred Hitchcock's British films.
Before Hitchcock became the master of suspense, he made all kinds of movies while learning his profession and honing his technique. His later, much loved American pictures are full of visual sequences which owe a huge debt to his early days as a silent film director.
Stars of the hit drama series Merlin, Colin Morgan and Bradley James, set off across Wales to explore the country's centuries-old connections to the legend of King Arthur and his wizard Merlin. Along the way they encounter enthusiasts and experts in Arthurian lore, and visit some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Wales.
Penelope Keith tells the story of Edwardian 'it girl' and motoring pioneer Dorothy Levitt.
She retraces Levitt's 1905 journey from London to Liverpool in a De Dion motor car, with the aid of Dorothy's handbook The Woman and the Car and advice from motoring historians and veteran car enthusiasts. The story is further illustrated by archive material from the period.
In September 2009, the Girl Guides celebrated their centenary. With a membership of over 600,000, nearly half the female population of Britain has been involved with the Brownies and Girl Guides at some time during their lives.
Throughout its history, the movement has given girls the opportunity to have fun and form life-long friendships. Narrated by Dominic West (The Wire), 100 Years of the Girl Guides delves into the movement's extraordinary archive and interviews a host of former Girl Guides from veterans to such household names as Kelly Holmes, Clare Short, Kate Silverton and Rhona Cameron.
An exclusive TV premiere, Attenborough Explores... Our Fragile World, a documentary looking at the impact of climate change in the UK.
Our planet is the hottest it has been since records began - and it's getting hotter. Many predictions have been made about the future fate of a warming planet and its wildlife but, Attenborough Explores... Our Fragile World takes a look at the impact on the animals and habitats affected today. Global warming isn't a future phenomenon - it is happening right now
Nation on Film documentary telling the story of youth hostelling, which was founded in 1909 in Germany and was established in Britain in 1930, through fascinating archive films discovered in a storeroom at the Youth Hostel Association's headquarters in Derbyshire.
Tristram Hunt shows how motoring has gone from allowing us to explore the beautiful English countryside to the present day of speed cameras, congestion charges and environmental issues. Along the way, he looks at different cars through the ages that define a decade and a generation.
As the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew prepare to celebrate their 250th anniversary, Dan Cruickshank unearths some of the surprising stories that shaped the famous gardens. His travels take him from the royal gardens to the corridors of power and the outposts of the Empire as he pieces together Kew's story, uncovering tales of bravery, high adventure, passion and drama.
Damian Lewis-narrated documentary telling the colourful story of Island Records, the Jamaican-founded record label built by maverick boss Chris Blackwell which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009.
The film features a rare, in-depth interview with Blackwell alongside contributions from former Island artists Grace Jones, Toots Hibbert, Amy Winehouse, Sly and Robbie, PJ Harvey, U2, Brian Eno, Spencer Davis, Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens, the B52s, Kid Creole, Greg Lake, Ian Anderson, Trevor Horn, Paul Weller, Richard Thompson and Keane.
News archive and rare performance footage are used to tell the story of the label - its part in bringing reggae music into the world; its expansion into progressive rock in the late 1960s; the rise of Bob Marley into a global star; and the label's reputation for consistently signing, producing and championing innovative acts from the UK and all over the world.
Documentary telling the story of Balmoral, the Royal Family's most private residence. For over 150 years this Scottish castle has been home to royal traditions of picnics, stag hunting and kilts. From prime ministers to Princess Diana, life at this tartan-bound holiday home hasn't appealed to everyone.
But there's another story of Balmoral, of how the Royal Family has played a role in shaping modern Scotland and how Scotland has shaped the Royal Family. Queen Victoria's adoption of Highland symbols, from tartan to bagpipes, helped create a new image for Scotland. Her values, too, helped strengthen the union between Scotland and England. Ever since, Balmoral has been a place that reflects the very essence of the Royal Family.
Whether in his golden youth or premature old age, legendary jazz trumpeter Chet Baker's musical virtuosity always shone through.
In this frank and revealing documentary made a year before his death, interviews, recording sessions, archive footage and home movies are used by director Bruce Weber to show a man ravaged by his long involvement with drugs.
The story of a special train, the Lifeline Express. It is known as the Magic Train. With two state-of-the-art operating theatres, recovery rooms, offices and accommodation, each project requires a team of volunteer doctors, surgeons and nurses to give their services for free. For four weeks, cameras follow the Mandsor project as operations are carried out on poor rural people while the train is standing in a station in the middle of India.
The story of Frank Chalmers, an open water swimmer setting off on the challenge of his life. Having successfully swum the English Channel, Frank has been training for over a year in preparation for his toughest swim yet - to cross the Pentland Firth.
Little more than 100 years ago, Scottish mountains standing at more than 3,000 feet were virtually unknown. Today they are familiar terrain to many thousands of climbers, thanks to Victorian adventurer Hugh Munro's determination to list the high peaks which now define the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
This documentary tells the story of the magnificent peaks that bear his name and the people who have been possessed by them.
Historian Michael Wood returns to his first great love, the Anglo-Saxon world, to reveal the origins of our literary heritage. Focusing on Beowulf and drawing on other Anglo-Saxon classics, he traces the birth of English poetry back to the Dark Ages.
Is Margaret Thatcher the mother of the Scottish Parliament? BBC World Affairs Correspondent Allan Little looks back at the tumultuous Thatcher years, and assesses the effect they had on Scotland.
Poet Simon Armitage goes on the trail of one of the jewels in the crown of British poetry, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written about 600 years ago by an unknown author. The poem has got just about everything - it is an action-packed adventure, a ghost story, a steamy romance, a morality tale and the world's first eco-poem.
Armitage follows in the footsteps of the poem's hero, Gawain, through some of Britain's most beautiful and mystical landscapes and reveals why an absurd tale of a knight beheading a green giant is as relevant and compelling today as when it was written.
Actress Melissa Suffield plays teenage tearaway Lucy Beale in EastEnders, a character famous for her bad behaviour. But now Melissa is coming of age - she has turned 16, is paying tax and is leaving school - and thinks she wants a say in how things are run. So she hits the road to find out whether 16-year-olds should get the vote.
On her journey across Britain, Melissa meets teenage protesters, the mother of a 17-year-old soldier killed in Iraq and new citizens who have just won the right to vote. There are tears in a polling station, filming is stopped in the Houses of Parliament and Melissa visits the first country in Europe to grant all 16-year-olds the vote.
At a time when our interest in politics has never been so high and our respect for politicians has never been so low, is giving 16-year-olds the right to vote the best way to refresh democracy?
Documentary looking at events in Gloucester, Massachusetts, when an unusually large number of teenage girls turned up for pregnancy tests at the clinic of a school. Within hours the news of an alleged 'pregnancy pact' had travelled round the world, appearing in newspapers, TV bulletins and chat shows. Town officials denied the rumours, but was there any truth in them?
Featuring interviews with the girls, their families and friends, the film tells the human story behind the headlines.
Singer and Strictly Come Dancing star Alesha Dixon investigates the potential fallout of not knowing who your father is.
Alesha talks to children and experts as she examines both the emotional and practical implications of not knowing where and who you come from; from the extreme case scenario of potentially sleeping with a half brother or sister that you did not know you had, to the possible backlash of not knowing your medical background.
Alesha wants to get the nation thinking and talking about the issue of absent fathers as seen from the child's perspective. Along the way, she also takes on the ambitious task of helping one young person in their hunt to track down their biological father.
Documentary telling the little-known story of how Darwin came to write his great masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, a book which explains the wonderful variety of the natural world as emerging out of death and the struggle of life.
In the twenty years he took to develop a brilliant idea into a revolutionary book, Darwin went through a personal struggle every bit as turbulent as that of the natural world he observed. Fortunately, he left us an extraordinary record of his brilliant insights, observations of nature, and touching expressions of love and affection for those around him. He also wrote frank accounts of family tragedies, physical illnesses and moments of self-doubt, as he laboured towards publication of the book that would change the way we see the world.
The story is told with the benefit of Darwin's secret notes and correspondence, enhanced by natural history filming, powerful imagery from the time and contributions from leading contemporary biographers and scientists.
Kirsten O'Brien takes a warm-hearted and irreverent tour of Britain's Most Embarrassing Parents.
We get a peek into the lives of ten families across the UK and hear first-hand from the mortified kids who've been brought up by some of the country's most unconventional parents.
Fashion photographer Rankin recreates seven of his favourite images as he takes a journey through a brief history of the fashion photograph. By re-staging iconic images by Cecil Beaton, Erwin Blumenfeld, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, David Bailey and Guy Bourdin, Rankin exposes the ways in which fashion photography uses fantasy and beauty to communicate something about reality.
Central Valley, California, is home to some of the most impoverished rural towns in America, where crystal meth addiction is prolific. In Fresno, Louis finds a community ravaged by this cheap and highly addictive drug.
As he infiltrates the town, he experiences the reality of meth abuse, as addicts who are high (or 'tweaking', as it is known) invite him into their homes to see them take hit after hit of their favourite drug. Louis becomes surrounded by the madness of daily addiction and the meth-addled confusion which is breaking this community apart.
He sees its impact through the eyes of the local police, and meets Diane and Karl, a couple who have sustained their marriage despite a 25-year meth addiction and losing custody of their five children. He witnesses arrests of sons doing meth with their mothers, and family after family broken apart from generations of meth abuse.
At the Westcare residential centre, Louis sees the work being done to combat the destruction caused by the drug. Run by ex-addicts, it offers a six-month rehab programme. He witnesses the extraordinary challenges they face dealing with meth-addicted families - babies born already hooked, with mothers caring for them while attempting to kick their own habit too.
Addiction is laid bare as Louis seeks out the stories and the people behind the drug.
Fleetwood Mac, one of the biggest-selling bands of all time, are back on the road again. Their story, told in their own words, is an epic tale of love and confrontation, of success and loss.
Few bands have undergone such radical musical and personal change. The band evolved from the 60s British blues boom to perfect a US West Coast sound that saw them sell 40 million copies of the album Rumours.
However, behind the scenes relationships were turbulent. The band went through multiple line-ups with six different lead guitarists. While working on Rumours, the two couples at the heart of the band separated, yet this heartache inspired the perfect pop record.
Professor Brian Cox takes a look through nearly 50 years of BBC archive at the story of man's relationship with the moon.
From the BBC's space fanatic James Burke testing out the latest NASA equipment to 1960s interviews about the bacon-flavoured crystals that astronauts can survive on in space, to the iconic images of man's first steps on the moon and the dramatic story of Apollo 13, Horizon and the BBC have covered it all.
But since President Kennedy's goal of landing a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s was reached, no one has succeeded in reigniting the public's enthusiasm for space travel and lunar voyages. Why?
On his journey through the ages, Professor Cox explores the role that international competition played in getting man to the moon and asks if, with America no longer the world's only superpower, we are at the dawn of a bright new space age.
In 1926 John Logie Baird became the first man in history to give a successful public demonstration of television. During WWII, with the help of one assistant, a part-time glassblower and a refugee from Germany, he built his masterpiece and swansong - the Telechrome. It was the foundation of all modern electronic colour television.
In a lifetime blighted with ill health, JLB - as he was known - produced 178 patents crucial to the technology that would define the 20th century. But since his early death in 1946, his achievements have been allowed to slip from view, obscured by ignorance about what he pioneered.
Few are aware that much of his greatest work was done in complete seclusion, in his personal laboratory and entirely at his own expense.
Filmed in the UK, USA and Germany between 1994 and 2002 and featuring previously unseen archive and historic eyewitness testimony led by his son Malcolm, this documentary reveals the unknown story of the central figure behind the most powerful technology on earth.
A documentary celebrating the golden age of air travel, when in the 1920s and 1930s Britain ruled the skies, and style and glamour were a passport to adventure.
In 1988, teenager John Davidson featured in a BBC documentary about Tourettes. At that time, few people had even heard of Tourettes Syndrome, let alone knew anything about the neurological condition which, at its worst, causes violent body movements and outbursts of swearing.
John was 16, and trying to come to terms with a frightening world where his language and behaviour was a constant form of offence to everyone around him. In 2002, he took part in a follow-up film alongside 8-year-old Greg Storey, who had recently been diagnosed with Tourettes.
Now, seven years on, this film revisits both John (aged 37) and Greg (aged 15), and sees how their worlds have changed. Greg is now the same age as John was when he first took part in a documentary. How does Greg's experience of being a teenager with Tourettes compare to John's, and how does John's life continue to change?
Documentary telling the forgotten story of a heroic battle fought by the children of the British Memorial School to help liberate Europe from the Nazis.
The school served a unique horticultural community of ex-First World War soldiers and their families living in Ypres in Belgium who lovingly tended the war graves. Steeped in ideals of patriotic service and sacrifice, many pupils and ex-pupils refused to surrender to the invading Nazi forces.
Three surviving school pupils tell their extraordinary stories of resistance, illustrated with rare archive film.
Documentary telling the story of what happened to blues music on its journey from the southern states of America to the heart of British pop and rock culture, providing an in-depth look at what this music really meant to a generation of kids desperate for an antidote to their experiences of living in post-war suburban Britain.
Narrated by Nigel Planer and structured in three parts, the first, Born Under a Bad Sign, focuses on the arrival of American blues in Britain in the late 50s and the first performances here by such legends as Muddy Waters, Sonnie Terry and Brownie McGhee.
Part two, Sittin' on Top of the World, charts the birth of the first British blues boom in the early 60s, spearheaded by the Rolling Stones and groups such as the Yardbirds, Manfred Mann, the Animals and the Pretty Things.
The final section, Crossroads, looks at the next, more hardcore British blues boom of the mid-to-late 60s, with guitarists Eric Clapton and Peter Green and the international dominance of their respective bands, Cream and Fleetwood Mac.
Documentary in which writer and journalist Christopher de Bellaigue explores the fraught but often surprisingly intimate history of Britain's relations with Iran, and asks why Iranians think that if something goes wrong in Iran then Britain must have something to do with it.
De Bellaigue has lived in Tehran, speaks fluent Persian and knows well the phenomenon of 'Uncle Napoleonism', the notion that the cunning British are 'out to get you' that has been a common attitude in Iranian society for 100 years.
He looks at some key events in the relationship, notably Britain's role in the overthrow of several Iranian governments, its control of Iran's oil and the on-off support for Iran's democrats.
Meeting prominent Iranians, including Uncle Napoleon's inventor and others with direct knowledge of these events, he examines the foundations and justification for these Iranian suspicions and asks if they are still there after 30 years of isolation.
Most young adults take their freedoms for granted - they can choose their friends, stay out late, learn to drive and decide what they want to do as a career. But for people growing up on the autistic spectrum, life is very different. Stuck in a strange limbo between childhood and adulthood, they are unable to make these choices.
This documentary follows three people with autism at pivotal moments on the rocky road to being accepted as an adult. They are all fighting for independence and responsibility, but being frustrated by the shackles imposed on them by their disability, their families and the preconceived ideas of mainstream society.
Twenty-three-year-old Oli has high-functioning autism (HFA) and is looking to find work. He is finding it tough as his condition means that he can't communicate or deal with pressure in the same way others can.
Thomas has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and is approaching 16, the legal age of adulthood. As he does so, he is demanding more independence and wants to escape his family. But the freedom he is after is not forthcoming from his parents.
Alex, 24, is looking for love, but when you have the type of autism known as Asperger syndrome, communicating and socialising can seem an impossible task
Documentary following writer and broadcaster Stephen Smith on the trail of Vladimir Nabokov, the elusive man behind the controversial novel and 1962 film, Lolita.
The journey takes him from the shores of Lake Geneva to Nabokov's childhood haunts in the Russian countryside south of St Petersburg to the streets of New York City and a road trip through the anonymous world of small-town America.
Along the way Smith meets fellow Nabokov admirer Martin Amis and puts in a cheeky visit to Playboy's literary editor who is publishing an extract of Nabokov's last work.
Award-winning 87-year-old actress Liz Smith does the one thing she has never managed to achieve in her life - go on a proper holiday.
Liz, known and loved by millions as Nana in The Royle Family and Leticia in The Vicar of Dibley, finally fulfils her modest ambition to join a group of like-minded individuals on a summer cruise across the Adriatic to Venice.
The film gives an intimate and personal insight into Liz's life, both past and present, from the moment she plans her holiday, packs her bags and bids farewell to her friends in the security of her sheltered accommodation.
Was the holiday everything she dreamed of?
Documentary about the pioneering computer animation studio Pixar, featuring contributions from the studio's bosses and a host of actors who have lent their voices to their creations, including Tom Hanks. Films such as Toy Story and A Bug's Life have led to the studio becoming one of the most consistently successful, both critically and financially, of recent years.
Documentary which sheds new light on the greatest crisis to rock the British monarchy in centuries - the abdication of King Edward VIII. Usually, it has been presented as the only possible solution to his dilemma of having to choose between the throne and the woman he loved.
Using secret documents and contemporary diaries and letters, this film shows a popular monarch whose modern ideas so unsettled the establishment that his love for Wallis Simpson became the perfect excuse to bounce him off the throne.
A look at the legacy of actress, singer and comedienne Gracie Fields who, during her lifetime, was a national institution. Through interviews and some previously unseen archive footage, the programme explores the extraordinary singing voice, comic genius and unique talent that made her arguably the greatest female entertainer Britain has ever produced.
'Our Gracie' was one of the world's first megastars: not so much a person as an event. The secret of her popularity lay in her relationship with her audience, as she goaded them into enjoyment, fed them the kind of cheek that passes for affection and appealed to a shared contempt for pretension.
Her films were sentimental and reassuring, but they also tapped into real social anxieties and reflected the spirit of a troubled pre-war decade. When the press began its lengthy campaign of vilification against her, after she moved to America during World War Two to prevent her Italian husband from being interned, the public, by and large, remained loyal. From her triumphant return to the London stage in the late 1940s until her death some 30 years later, she continued to maintain her place in the nation's heart.
Fields, although still a huge star in many people's living memory, encapsulates the spirit of a bygone age. It is too easy to say we don't make them like that anymore; the truth is, we no longer want to. Our national institutions are built on shakier foundations these days and the sheer uncomplicated pleasure that she delivered for the best part of a century seems a world away. This documentary reminds us of what we have lost.
Sir Jackie Stewart is one of Britain's all time great sporting personalities - winner of three Formula 1 world championships and 27 grand prix, and ranked as one of the ten greatest racing drivers of all time.
With his black cap and sideburns, he became an unmistakable icon in the glorious era of style, glamour and speed of the 1960s and 70s.
Venturing beyond the world of motor sport, this documentary is an insight into the triumphs and tragedies of Stewart's eventful life, and includes contributions from friends and colleagues such as Niki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Connery, Murray Walker and Edsel Ford, as well as the last ever interview with the late Ken Tyrrell, without whom Stewart's career might have taken a very different turn.
Produced by Stewart's youngest son Mark, the film is enriched with family photographs, home movies and scrapbooks kept by Lady Helen Stewart that document her husband's career.
The film recreates the life and loves of France's most famous king, Louis XIV. Dubbed the Sun King by his admiring court, Louis conquered half of Europe, conducted dozens of love affairs and dazzled his contemporaries with his lavish entertainments. But perhaps his greatest achievement - and certainly his longest lasting love - was the incredible palace he built at Versailles, one of the wonders of the world.
Just after midnight on Good Friday 1989, the giant supertanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound to create one of the biggest man-made ecological disasters of the 20th century.
Eleven million gallons of crude oil gushed from the stricken tanker into the pristine waters of the Sound, killing whales, millions of fish and birds, and thousands of sea otters. The spill had a catastrophic effect on local communities, wiping out their herring fishery and severely depleting the Alaskan salmon industry for years to come.
The Berlin Wall was the ugly, concrete obstacle that for more than a generation (from 1961 to 1989) split the city and divided its families. Hundreds of people, mainly young, were killed there trying to escape to the West.
The people who built the Wall thought they were building a brave new socialist world. But their dream turned into a nightmare as over time the Wall poisoned, corrupted and brutalized the little world it encircled.
In The Secret Life of the Berlin Wall, the dreams and nightmares come dramatically back to life as the spies, informers, double agents and interrogators of Cold War Berlin weave their nervy spells of double lives and double dealing.
Duran Duran came out of Birmingham and conquered the world during the 1980s.
Originally a New Romantic band in full make-up and cossack pants, they rapidly
became bedroom pinups for a generation of teenage girls.
Led by Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and John Taylor, Duran Duran dominated the
British and American charts in the mid 1980s with classic singles such as Rio,
Save a Prayer and Wild Boys. Pioneers of the MTV-style promo video - from the
X-rated Girls on Film to Raiders of the Lost Arc spoof Hungry Like the Wolf -
Duran Duran were the 80s equivalent of the Beatles in America and outsold
Spandau Ballet and Wham! in their pomp.
Sixty million records later, Le Bon and Rhodes are seen touring America with
their Pop Trash project from the early 2000s. The documentary reflects on the
heady heights of Duran Duran's career, the cracks in their make-up plus the
effects of sex, drugs and fame on ordinary boys from working class backgrounds.
Apart from the key Durannies - Le Bon, Rhodes and John Taylor - the programme
also features celebrity interviews with Debbie Harry, Yasmin Le Bon, Duran
Duran managers Paul and Michael Berrow, Claudia Schiffer, Nile Rodgers and Lou
An unconventional look at the best of Steve Coogan's television work and character comedy. With classic archive moments and some rarely seen early appearances, this one-hour special includes interviews with well-known faces who have collaborated with Steve, and others who are simply fans of Alan Partridge, Paul and Pauline Calf, Tony Ferrino and Tommy Saxondale - to name only a few of his great comic creations.
Along with Julia Davis, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer also appear in several guises to give the inside scoop on what it's like to work with Steve Coogan - while Steve himself appears as his Irish auntie Peggy and Mickey Gold - his first showbiz agent. Narrated by Mark Williams.
Part of the BBC Christmas 2009 season.
Documentary which explores the ways that cars have been presented on television in the motoring programmes that have tapped into our collective subconscious.
It looks at the classic motoring magazine shows of the 1960s and 70s like Wheelbase, which showcased some of the world's latest innovations and spawned the next generation of programming such as the original Top Gear with Angela Rippon and Noel Edmonds.
The film investigates how more recent motoring programmes changed to accommodate society's view of the car. The new Top Gear and shows such as Panic Mechanics and Stars in Fast Cars reflect a shift away from the traditional car review show towards a more topical, aspirational and spectacular viewing experience.
Celebrating the achievements of Ballets Russes under Diaghilev's guidance and their continuing influence on dance, art and music today.
The English National Ballet perform extracts from two Ballets Russes' masterpieces, Les Sylphides and Scheherazade, as well as a new version by David Dawson of the iconic Nijinsky ballet Afternoon Of A Faun.
Karl Lagerfeld talks about the influence of Coco Chanel and the design legacy of the Ballets Russes. The music from the period is discussed by great French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, who is joined by prolific English composer and broadcaster Howard Goodall.
Ninety-five-year-old Frederick Franklin recounts what it was like to see the scandalous ending of Nijinsky's Afternoon Of A Faun, while dancers, musicians, writers, critics, stylists and historians paint a vivid portrait of this unique dance company and discuss the legacy of Diaghilev's genius on the creative arts.
Documentary which follows the story of Mark Devlin and his team of scientists as they try to figure out how all the galaxies formed by launching a revolutionary new telescope under a NASA high-altitude balloon.
Their adventure takes them from Arctic Sweden to Inuit Canada, where failure forces the team to try again on the desolate ice of Antarctica. The obsessions, personal and family sacrifices, and philosophical and religious questioning of a professional scientist are all laid bare.
In a special programme showing on St. David's Day, we celebrate the awesome beauty of some of Wales' iconic engineering achievements, structures which help define the landscape of Wales.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in the Dee Valley is a masterpiece of engineering. Completed in 1805, Thomas Telford's design was extraordinarily ambitious and marked the beginning of a new confidence in 19th century engineering. Eddie Butler tells the story of the acqueduct, along with three other great feats of engineering in Wales, namely the Severn Tunnel, the Menai Suspension Bridge and Snowdon Mountain Railway.
Featuring experts, the programme looks at the brilliance of these structures.
Gary Lineker presents a special tribute to the late Sir Bobby Robson. Recorded in 2003, the former England player and manager talks about his life, from humble beginnings as the son of a Durham coal miner through to his days as one of the most successful managers in history. Contributors include Paul Gascoigne, Terry Butcher and Alan Shearer.
Science writer Rita Carter tells the story of how modern neuroscience has revealed that reading, something most of us take for granted, unlocks remarkable powers. Carter explains how the classic novel Wuthering Heights allows us to step inside other minds and understand the world from different points of view, and she wonders whether the new digital revolution could threaten the values of classic reading.
Do you get enough sleep? Many of us don't. 10 Things You Need to Know About Sleep reveals the science behind why so many find it difficult to nod off, and offers practical tips on the best ways to get a good night's sleep.
In a series of experiments, presenter Kate Silverton sets out to help those insomniacs desperate to get some shut eye, help travelers beat jet lag, and see if there is anything that can be done to stop loud and persistent snorers.
Chef Aldo Zilli discovers how the food we eat affects our sleep, while volunteers in a sleep laboratory test the effects of alcohol and coffee on the rhythm of sleep.
Record-breaking round-the-world yachtswoman Dee Caffari learns the best time to take a nap and catch up on lost sleep, while journalist Dominik Diamond finds out that less sleep can help an insomniac break bad habits.
Joe Swift from Gardeners World tries out some herbal sleep remedies, and comedian Russell Kane checks out techniques that can reduce the stress that keeps him awake at night.
Kate takes a hot bath before bed and discovers the surprising secret to a good night's sleep, as well as how a trick of the light can both wake you up and keep you asleep.
Art historian explores the state of British art in 2009 and asks whether a new era in art is dawning and whether there is a reason to be optimistic.
Has beauty disappeared from modern art? Several influential modern thinkers insist that it has. Art critic Waldemar Januszczak fiercely disagrees, believing that great art is as interested in beauty as ever.
Philosopher Roger Scruton presents a provocative essay on the importance of beauty in the arts and in our lives.
Coverage of the 2009 Barclaycard World Freerun Championship from London's Trafalgar Square, presented by Reggie Yates and Kirsten O'Brien. The best athletes in the world compete at the foot of Nelson's Column on a specially-constructed stage, with a crowd of nearly 10,000 fans packed in around them.
The runners leap, tumble and vault across the konk and cat boxes, bars, kicker walls, pipes and railings. 27 athletes from 17 different countries compete, including last year's winner Gabe 'Jaywalker' Nunez from USA, Britain's Paul 'Blue Devil' Joseph and Mexico's Erick 'Daer' Sanchez all hoping to win the world crown.
Commentary from David Croft.
Portrait of Jim Clark, one of the most talented and intriguing characters of the 1960s. From unlikely beginnings on a farm in Scotland, the introverted and media-shy Clark emerged to become the most successful racing driver of his time, and forged a reputation as one of the all-time great heroes of motor sport.
Using previously unseen archive footage, testimonials from friends, family and former colleagues, the film tells the extraordinary but tragic story of an enigmatic racing legend.
Glamorous, talented and decidedly unconventional, Lee Miller led one of the most fascinating lives of the 20th century. A model for Vogue in 1920s New York, pupil and lover of Man Ray in Paris and the only female photojournalist covering the Second World War, her photographic work encompassed striking surrealist images and shocking reportage from Dachau. Having given up photography in later life and virtually disowned her work, Miller's extraordinary archive of 40,000 negatives was only rediscovered after her death in 1977.
George Melly, David Hare, Miller's friends and colleagues and her son Tony Penrose trace the story of her life through her own pictures, photographs of Miller herself and rarely-seen archive footage.
An insight into the world of design through 12 stories, shot across a range of countries, ranging from product design to world class feats of engineering and design projects which have a social impact.
When the Japanese ambassador saw Rick Stein preparing sushi on a boat off Cornwall, he was not impressed. However, this sparked off an idea where Rick would go on a voyage of discovery to the ultimate seafood lover's destination - Japan. On his return he promised to create a banquet fit for an ambassador and his friends.
Documentary in which artist and writer Matthew Collings explores the concept of beauty in art. Is beauty only in the eye of the beholder, or is there something more universal we can say about it?
Documentary about 13-year-old Deborah Drapper, who, unlike other British teens has never heard of Britney Spears or Victoria Beckham. She has been brought up in a deeply Christian family and her parents have tried to make sure she and her ten brothers and sisters have grown up protected from the sins of the outside world.
Deborah is a bright, confident girl who has big ambitions for her life and the film spends a summer with her as she ventures out in the world to see what life outside her family could be and starts putting her beliefs forward to a wider audience.
Documentary telling the amazing true story of a top secret US government-backed attempt to build a spaceship the size of an ocean liner and send it to Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, propelled by thousands of miniature nuclear bombs. Awesome, fantastic and possibly crazy, Project Orion employed some of the best scientists in the world, including the brilliant British mathematician and physicist Freeman Dyson.
Original transmision: 26 March 2003
Documentary featuring interviews with soldiers on the act that defines them: killing. For civilians, it is a crime. For soldiers, it is a job. Soldiers who have done it usually do not talk about it, but five former British infantrymen recall the reality of combat in compelling and candid detail. Through powerful personal testimonies, the programme traces the journeys of these men, from young recruits through training and frontline combat to where killing places them today.
In 1962 an unknown group from Liverpool entered Abbey Road Studios to record their debut single. During the next eight years they created what is arguably regarded as the greatest collection of studio recordings of the 20th century. This film charts how The Beatles developed as musicians, matured as songwriters and created a body of work that sounds as fresh now as the time it was recorded.
It has been said that ten thousand years from now, only one name will still be remembered - that of Neil Armstrong. But in the four decades since he first set foot on the moon, Armstrong has become increasingly reclusive.
Andrew Smith, author of the best-selling book Moondust, journeys across America to try and discover the real Neil Armstrong.
Naoki 56, had it all in Japan's bubble economy days: he ran a business with 70 staff, drove a brand new BMW, and lived in a 6 bedroom house. But when Japan's economy crashed in the early 1990's he lost everything, ending up divorced (for the third time) and penniless.
He was saved from being homeless by his new girlfriend, Yoshie 29, who took him in, despite living in a tiny one-room apartment with no windows.
The Rough Trade story begins more than thirty years ago on 20th February 1976. Britain was in the grip of an IRA bombing campaign; a future prime minister was beginning to make her mark on a middle England in which punk was yet to run amok; and a young Cambridge graduate called Geoff Travis opened a new shop at 202 Kensington Park Road, just off Ladbroke Grove in west London. The Rough Trade shop sold obscure and challenging records by bands like American art-rockers Pere Ubu, offering an alternative to the middle-of-the-road rock music that dominated the music business.
In January 1977, when a record by Manchester punk band Buzzcocks appeared in the shop, Rough Trade found itself in the right place at the right time to make an impact far beyond that of a neighbourhood music store. When Spiral Scratch was released in 1977, the idea of putting out a single without the support of an established record company was incredible. But Rough Trade was to become the headquarters of a revolt against this corporate monopoly - it was stocking records by bands inspired by the idea that they could do it themselves.
But selling a few independent records over the counter was not going to change the world. Early independent labels had to hand over their distribution to the likes of EMI or CBS. But one man at Rough Trade challenged that monopoly. Richard Scott joined Rough Trade in 1977 and became the architect of a grand scheme that was nothing short of revolutionary: independent nationwide distribution.
The shop could now offer experimental musicians the chance to sell records nationwide and so it was inevitable that Rough Trade became a record label in its own right. In 1978 the Rough Trade label was born and by the end of the year it had released a dozen singles by an eclectic mix of post-punk artists and become not just an alternative ideological force, but genuine competitors in the commercial music world.
Few musicals can claim to capture the mood of a historical period as well as the 1972 classic Cabaret.
In this documentary, actor Alan Cumming explores the truths behind the fiction. He meets many of those closely involved with the original film, including Liza Minnelli, and talks to cabaret artists, among them acclaimed performer Ute Lemper.
1959 was the seismic year jazz broke away from complex bebop music to new forms, allowing soloists unprecedented freedom to explore and express. It was also a pivotal year for America: the nation was finding its groove, enjoying undreamt-of freedom and wealth; social, racial and upheavals were just around the corner; and jazz was ahead of the curve.
Four major jazz albums were made, each a high watermark for the artists and a powerful reflection of the times. Each opened up dramatic new possibilities for jazz which continue to be felt: Miles Davis, Kind of Blue; Dave Brubeck, Time Out; Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um; and Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come.
Rarely seen archive performances help vibrantly bring the era to life and explore what made these albums vital both in 1959 and the 50 years since. The programme contains interviews with Lou Reed, Dave Brubeck, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, Joe Morello (Brubeck's drummer) and Jimmy Cobb (the only surviving member of Miles' band), along with a host of jazz movers and shakers from the 50s and beyond.
Slapstick comedy special narrated by Miranda Hart, charting the highs and lows of physical comedy and examining the audience's love of visual humour. Featuring pies and pratfalls from over a century of comedy and entertainment programming including Monty Python, Charlie Chaplin, Morecambe and Wise and even Hole in the Wall.
From the craft of the Buster Keaton classics to the cartoon antics of The Goodies and the absurdly violent anarchy of Bottom, the genre has shifted through silent films, surrealism, sketch and sitcom, and today even filtered in to Saturday night family entertainment.
Featuring analysis from great physical gag practitioners including Vic Reeves, Mathew Horne, Reece Shearsmith, Ben Miller and Sally Phillips. A festive treat that features physical comedy both classic and contemporary, including the inappropriate manhandling of Manuel from Fawlty Towers, the roller-skating Frank Spencer epic from Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em and more funny physical pain than you can fling a Frying Pan at!
Documentary examining claims that CS Lewis's Narnia Chronicles contain a hidden meaning.
CS Lewis wrote the Narnia Chronicles over 50 years ago, yet they are more popular today than ever. When they were first published, many critics thought them little more than childish scribblings, replete with random characters and unexplained events. Even Lewis's good friend JRR Tolkien thought them confused and misconceived.
Other scholars were sure there was something more, something hidden beneath the stories. Although many tried, none could find this secret key of Narnia - until now. Dr Michael Ward, a young academic and expert in all things Lewisian, claims he has found the answer at last: he has discovered the Narnia Code.
Using dramatisations of Lewis's early life and career, the programme travels the world, from the Mid-West of modern America to the battlefields of the First World War, meeting experts, testing evidence and uncovering surprising questions and ideas that still challenge readers today.
One in four people have a mental illness at some point in their lives. No-one likes to think it could happen to them, or someone close to them. David Tennant narrates a documentary showing what living with mental illness is like.
Thirty years on from the no confidence vote that brought down the 1979 Labour Government, Carolyn Quinn tells the story of one of the most dramatic nights in Westminster history.
If Peter Green had only written Black Magic Woman, his name would still have a place in blues rock history forever. His three short years leading Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac saw the band established as one of the biggest-selling groups of the 1960s.
Featuring archive performances and interviews with Carlos Santana, Noel Gallagher, founding members of Fleetwood Mac and Green himself, this film tells the story of one of blues rock's living legends.
To mark the 175th anniversary of the destruction of the Palace of Westminster by fire, Mark D'Arcy looks back at the disaster and its aftermath.
Updating the impression of life on the Isle of Lewis given by the MacDonald Sisters. First broadcast in 1969.
Manet is one of the main candidates for the title of the most important artist there has been. As the reluctant father of Impressionism, and the painter of Dejeuner sur l'herbe, he can probably be accused of inventing modern art.
Using the life of Manet as his narrative arch, Waldemar Januszczak tells the story of a complex and difficult man who started a revolution that continues to rumble on today
A personal history of the Thatcher years and their legacy, told through the stories of three Welsh children born the year Margaret Thatcher came to power.
Thirty years on, this film traces the course their lives have taken, and the way one woman's vision shaped the fortunes of three families.
Alexander Armstrong travels the country to explore the state of the great British holiday.
It is widely acknowledged that 2009 is a bumper year for the UK tourist industry. With the Euro and the Dollar strong, and consumers tightening their belts, Visit Britain, the national tourism body, reckons around one in five Brits - or some 4,000,000 people who holidayed abroad in 2008 - will holiday in the UK. For many in the tourist industry this is the news they have longed for, after two years of falling numbers owing to bad weather.
Can Britain's holiday destinations cope with the masses? Alexander Armstrong visits tourism-dependent businesses before, during and after the busiest season. In this boom-or-bust summer, are the owners ready and prepared for the demands of their guests? Can they thrive and survive, or will the pressure be too much for them? Visiting hotspot locations, Alexander explores life in themed hotels, quaint and quirky B&Bs, family-run holiday parks and unusual attractions. There are moments of tension and jeopardy, as summer 2009's takings may safeguard their business futures. For some their livelihood is at stake.
Showcasing the splendour of Britain's most beautiful scenery, Alexander travels the country by a variety of transport, from the back seat of the Jones family's Ford Sierra to a packed holiday train, bringing the best of eccentric Britain to life
The date is 1959. The place is Le Mans racing circuit, France. A little known Texan racing driver, Carrol Shelby, wins the most prestigious event in motor racing at his first attempt and is universally acclaimed as one of the best drivers in the world. But Shelby had a secret that was to prevent him ever driving again.
This is the comeback story of a man driven by the desire to beat the world on the race track, and specifically to beat the might of motor racing, Ferrari. From his base in California with only a team of hot rodders for support, in three years Shelby put together a car that would take on the world and win. The Shelby Cobra, as it was known, is still an automotive icon today.
In this moving and sometimes disturbing film, actress and writer Meera Syal meets young people who self-harm to find out why they do it, and how parents like herself can avoid it happening to their own children.
Phill Jupitus looks at how we thought the car of the future was going to turn out and finds out why it didn't happen that way, focusing on the classic era of the 1950s and 60s, a time when they hadn't quite yet worked out how to make cars fly and instead just made them look like they could.
BBC FOUR pays tribute to musical maverick John Martyn, who died at the age of 60 on 29th January 2009, with an intimate documentary portrait originally transmitted in 1994. This honest and often blackly hilarious film shows Martyn at home in Ireland, during the lead-up to and aftermath of an operation to have one of his legs amputated below the knee.
Contributors include sometime collaborator and buddy Phil Collins, the late Robert Palmer, Ralph McTell, Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, fellow hellraiser bassist Danny Thompson, John's ex-wife Beverley Martyn and younger generation fan Beth Orton.
We see a man incapable of compromising his creative vision, from his folk club roots in the Sixties, through a career of continuous musical experimentation. Along the way there is a surreal roll-call of accidents and incidents, including a collision with a cow.
an Hislop takes an amused look at one of the most peculiar offices in the British establishment, that of Poet Laureate. Its 341-year history produces a gloriously eccentric picture of who we are, how we are ruled, what we want to say about ourselves and just how hard it is to do that in verse.
We know that Poets Laureate write about royal weddings but Hislop discovers a whole lot more, such as 534, John Masefield's brilliant poem on the launch of the Queen Mary from the Clydebank shipyards and Nicholas Rowe's New Year's Ode for 1716 dedicated to the Princess of Wales's labour pains. There was Colley Cibber, the Laureate so ashamed of his poor output he adopted a pseudonym and wrote poems attacking himself, and Alfred Tennyson, who wrote the nation's favourite laureate poem, Charge of the Light Brigade.
The film also throws light on the shadowy process by which the appointment is made. Lord Gowrie, the arts minister in Mrs Thatcher's cabinet, reveals how Ted Hughes came to be Thatcher's choice for Laureate, when many people were still hostile towards him due to his wife Sylvia Plath's suicide.
A visit to the National Archive unearths a hilarious list by C P Duff, a top civil servant, ranking the poets of the day for the benefit of one very confused prime minister, and Candida Lycett Green reveals to Ian just how much whisky it took before her father, John Betjeman, could summon up a poem to celebrate Princess Anne's wedding.
Ian gets to the bottom of the bizarre tradition of the payment in sherry (650 bottles of the stuff), and after trying a glass or two himself, poetic inspiration strikes and he concludes the film with his very own ode to Carol Ann Duffy, our newest Poet Laureate.
The untold story of how a giant of science was erased from history by the jealous rival who owed him more than most - Isaac Newton. A drama revealing the extraordinary, prolific, bizarre and conflict-riddled life of Robert Hooke, one of the greatest scientists in English history, on the tercentenary of his death.
In science, Hooke was a colossus. As Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society he wrote the laws of elasticity (Hooke's Law), built a radical reflecting telescope and found major new stars, made the first powerful microscope, coined the word cell, wrote the first science best-seller, Micrographia and co-discovered the diffraction of light with Newton, but got no credit.
New research confirms that Hooke stated an inverse square law of gravitation years before Newton's legendary Principia. However, he not only got no credit but also became the target of the most protracted, vitriolic campaign of character assassination in the history of science.
The main plot of the film presents a disturbing portrait of the dark side of Isaac Newton, revealing for the first time how heavily he borrowed from Hooke and how, after fermenting in neurotic isolation, he conspired to have his reputation destroyed and his memory erased from history.
In the years after the second world war, in preparation for sending the first man into orbit, the Soviets began sending dogs into space.
Featuring unique archival footage, including that of the first 'dog flight' into space taken inside the capsule, this documentary tells the secret history of dog cosmonautics in Russia. Alongside famous dog cosmonauts Belka and Strelka were a large team of other test dogs. All the characteristics of weightlessness on a living organism were tested on these defenseless creatures given up for the conquest of space.
The programme cost more than 20 dogs' lives and each loss was a personal blow to the trainer. As the relationship between the men and dogs developed, scientists began to treat them as colleagues and true companions and to this day, Russian scientists keep photographs of their departed four-legged friends.
Felix Mendelssohn was a passionate Christian. He was also born a Jew. This film, marking the 200th anniversary of his birth, tells the extraordinary story of what happened, generations later, both to Mendelssohn's family and to his music, when the Nazis remembered the Jewish roots of Germany's most celebrated composer.
It also examines how the influences of both Judaism and Christianity affected Mendelssohn's music and was made by documentary-maker Sheila Hayman, Mendelssohn's great-great-great-great niece.
Anorexia and bulimia were once more commonly associated with teenage girls but are now on the increase among older women. This film goes into the seemingly perfect world of four housewives who are struggling with the fallout from their eating disorders.
They may seem to have it all with their nice houses, perfect children and middle class lives, but behind the wisteria, they are having a constant battle with their food and eating.
Jane in her early fifties now has the bone density of a 92 year old; 36-year-old Zoe has turned to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to reclaim her life from anorexia; bubbly Tracey is bulimic and spends her nights binging and vomiting in secret from her children; and young mum Georgia tries hard to lose her baby weight, but will her obsession with weight see her falling back into the anorexic danger zone?
Happy Birthday OU - 40 Years of the Open University
In 1969 change was in the air. Man stepped on the moon and Britain launched a revolutionary new kind of university, one where the lectures were televised and the students could study at home. It was greeted with scepticism, both by politicians and academics, but went on to become a much-loved, and often spoofed, British institution.
Lenny Henry tells the story of the Open University and reveals how it changed his own life. Featuring contributions from Sir David Attenborough, Myleene Klass and Anna Ford.
Documentary which joins former hobo and festival favourite bluesman Seasick Steve on a trip back to his old stomping grounds in America's Deep South. Filmed in Mississippi and Tennessee, the programme follows the musician into his natural habitat of run-down juke joints, roadside diners and freight-train yards, as he reflects on his past life and recent rise to fame.
In addition to Steve's raw, stomping tunes, the soundtrack features Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Johnson, RL Burnside and BB King.
The watchwords of the French Revolution were liberty, equality and fraternity. Maximilien Robespierre believed in them passionately. He was an idealist and a lover of humanity. But during the 365 days that Robespierre sat on the Committee of Public Safety, the French Republic descended into a bloodbath.
'The Terror' only came to end when Robespierre was devoured by the repressive machinery he'd created. This drama-documentary tells the story of the Terror and looks at how Robespierre's revolutionary idealism so quickly became an excuse for tyranny, and why a lover of liberty was so keen to use the guillotine.
When Chairman Mao died in 1976, he left China in chaos and poverty. He was succeeded by Deng Xiaoping, who overturned Maoism and taught the Chinese to love capitalism, creating special investment zones for the West. But Deng's crash course in capitalism went wrong when inflation grew and workers lost jobs.
By 1989, China faced disaster. Now, 20 years after the tragic events in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, this programme reveals an interpretation of the motives of the demonstrators that may well overturn the conventional view in the West.
The demonstrators did not begin by demanding democracy. Corruption, inflation and the hardship caused by economic reforms drove students and workers to confront the government and the army. Students went on hunger strike, and troops killed more than 2,000.
Deng Xiaoping gave the order to fire, but his ideas prevailed. This film argues that Deng's capitalist revolution created today's China.
Warren Buffett is the greatest investor of all time. His decisions about buying shares and companies have beaten the stock market year after year and made him the richest person in the world - thought to be worth 37 billion dollars.
Yet Buffett lives modestly in his native Omaha, in America's mid-West, and runs his 150 billion dollar business with a staff of just twenty. Evan Davis meets him to find out about his unique investment strategy and his eccentric lifestyle. He talks to Buffett's family, friends and colleagues about the man they call the Sage of Omaha, and Buffett's friend Bill Gates praises his philosophy of life.
As the greed of the super-wealthy is widely criticised in the current financial crisis, Davis asks whether Warren Buffett is the acceptable face of the filthy rich.
Documentary looking at one of Britain's worst mining disasters, in 1934 in Gresford, when 265 men were killed. Eye witness accounts and archive footage tell a story of sadness, courage, cover-ups and lies.
In the years after the second world war, in preparation for sending the first man into orbit, the Soviets began sending dogs into space.
Featuring unique archival footage, including that of the first 'dog flight' into space taken inside the capsule, this documentary tells the secret history of dog cosmonautics in Russia. Alongside famous dog cosmonauts Belka and Strelka were a large team of other test dogs. All the characteristics of weightlessness on a living organism were tested on these defenceless creatures given up for the conquest of space.
The programme cost more than 20 dogs' lives and each loss was a personal blow to the trainer. As the relationship between the men and dogs developed, scientists began to treat them as colleagues and true companions and to this day, Russian scientists keep photographs of their departed four-legged friends.
1972 was the year a great affair ended, as the human race fell out of love with the moon. Just three years after the world was gripped by Neil Armstrong's giant leap for mankind, the last man left the moon and we have never been back.
This film tells the epic story of our love affair with the moon - what inspired it, how it faded away and how we are now falling in love all over again.
Live Performance from 1974
Documentary examining the thoughts and observations of writer, raconteur and national treasure, Sir John Mortimer.
He enjoyed a successful career as a QC before becoming a full-time writer, a staunch defender of civil liberties who was involved in the Oz magazine obscenity trial in the 1960s and the man who won the Sex Pistols the right to put the word 'bollocks' in the title of their infamous album.
Opinionated and unconventional, Mortimer persists in speaking out against the ludicrous ways in which politicians try to curtail our liberties and, very often, our fun. This characteristic outspokenness is delivered with such gentlemanly charm and wit that he continues to be admired and adored by all.
Ten extraordinary women, all in their seventies, come to Arizona for a special reunion. They are each different but have one thing in common - each was married to an Apollo astronaut. These women were right at the heart of the most ambitious journey ever made, as America shot for the moon.
In exclusive interviews, they tell how it felt to watch their husband blast off into space and about the death, danger and divorce as many of their men struggled to come back to Earth.
Documentary telling the story of the US space programme, from the early days of the space race with the Soviet Union to the first moon landing in 1969. Includes interviews with astronauts and ground staff, rare archive footage and an introduction by Neil Armstrong.
On 14th November 1940, the Luftwaffe launched the most devastating bombing raid so far on Britain. The target was Coventry, deep in the heart of England.
In a 12-hour blitz, the Luftwaffe dropped thousands of tons of bombs. Three-quarters of the city centre was devastated, including the ancient cathedral. The Nazis coined a phrase - 'to Coventrate' - to describe the intense destruction.
It was a baptism of fire for Coventry and Britain. For years, the government feared that aerial bombardment could destroy civilian morale. In Coventry, those fears were tested, and in the immediate aftermath of the blitz the evidence was not encouraging. Panic and hysteria gripped the city, and half of Coventry's population fled. However, within weeks - and contrary to all expectations - the city revived. Factories were soon turning out aircraft parts which would be used to avenge the attack on Coventry.
The RAF studied the Nazi bombing techniques and perfected the art of 'Coventration'. In Dresden, Hamburg and Berlin, the Nazis reaped the whirlwind they had sown in their devastating attack.
Lord Richard Attenborough makes a moving and very personal contribution to The Kindertransport Story, to mark the 70th anniversary of the unique British rescue mission to save nearly 10,000 children, mostly Jewish, from the Nazis. As the dark clouds of the Second World War descended upon Europe, Lord Attenborough's parents were among those who responded to the urgent appeal for foster families. The two young refugee girls they took in were cherished ever after as sisters by the Attenborough boys.
Three rescued children, Dorothy, Otto and Edith, all from Vienna, and now in their eighties, tell their moving stories. They describe the violent persecutions of the Jews under Hitler, and how their desperate parents strived to acquire the necessary papers to send them away to Britain on the precious few places available on the Kindertransport trains. Little did the children realise, when they said their last goodbyes to distraught parents on the railway platform, that they may never see their parents again.
On reaching Britain, the new arrivals faced an uncertain future, as the hastily-assembled rescue mission struggled to accommodate this unprecedented influx of young Jewish immigrants. As Britain lurched towards war, prospective foster parents were not readily available. As German-speaking child refugees in wartime Britain, separated from their parents, life was not going to be easy, and yet Dorothy, Otto and Edith consider themselves to be the lucky ones.
One and a half million children who were not able to benefit from any sort of rescue, like that of the Kindertransport, died in the Holocaust.
TV producer and presenter William G Stewart investigates the allegation that journalist and prominent MP Tom Driberg, who died in 1976, was a KGB spy.
Stewart was Driberg's secretary in the 1960s and goes in search of the man he thought he knew well, talking to some of his surviving friends and colleagues and to experts in the murky world of spying.
It is a journey that encompasses public schools, Oxford, luxurious country houses, the back streets of the East End of London, left-wing labour politics and the seedy bohemia of postwar Britain.
Among others Evelyn Waugh, John Betjeman, Edith Sitwell, Guy Burgess and Nye Bevan all feature in Tom Driberg's incredible life, a colourful one that included astonishing sexual risk-taking, but above all Stewart wants to discover if his former boss betrayed his friends and his country.
In 1835 the mummified remains of Takabuti were unwrapped in Belfast. Now for the first time in thousands of years, her true face is revealed.
In October 2006, the Ulster Museum closed its doors to allow major refurbishment to take place. Its contents were stored away in a dark, secret location. Light was soon to be shed, however, on one of the museum's most beloved exhibits, the mummy Takabuti.
Show Me The Mummy: The Face Of Takabuti, takes advantage of the mummy's retreat from public life by gathering together a crack team of top scientists and historians to help piece together the remarkable history of the mysterious Takabuti.
Borderline Productions & Straight Forward Productions for BBC Northern Ireland
A look back at Victoria Wood's hugely successful television career. Featuring sketches, stand-up, characters and songs from her incredible repertoire as well as exclusive interviews with Victoria and friends and fans, including Dawn French, Julie Walters and Sir Roger Moore.
Skin lightening is big business. The market for cosmetics to lighten darker skin is now reported to be worth millions of pounds; Anita Rani (presenter of Watchdog and The One Show) is on a journey to find out why. Starting in her own family, with her mother's preference for lighter skin, she explores the pressures within the Asian community that lead a growing number of people to want to "lighten up".
English literature professor John Mullan explores the dramatic increase in reading which took place in 18th-century Britain, as it went from being the preserve of the rich to the national pastime it is today.
In 1695 a tiny amendment to the British constitution allowed for a flood of publications, without which Britain would be almost unrecognisable. This was the era that gave us the first ever magazines, newspapers and perhaps most vitally, the novel.
Mullan takes us from raucous, politically-charged coffee houses to the circulating library, the social space of the late 1700s. There is a glimpse inside an 18th century lady's closet where she hid with her novel, and Mullan also celebrates the hero of the reading revolution, Dr Samuel Johnson.
In 1979 Scotland went to the polls to vote on the Scottish Devolution Referendum Bill to define her place in the United Kingdom. Thirty years later Scotland's first minister is proposing Scotland go to the polls again to vote in a new referendum on Scottish independence.
Scotland's Conspiracy Files takes a fresh look at the events building up to the 1979 referendum and asks if all the truth has come out or, as some allege, there was a conspiracy surrounding the original refendum. The film looks at the role oil played, the political manoeuvring and of course the now famous '40 percent rule' requiring that at least 40 percent of the registered electorate vote 'Yes' in order to make it valid.
In the search to discover the truth surrounding the 1979 referendum, the programme sees what parallels can be drawn to the politics of today and whether there are lessons Scotland can learn if we go to the polls again as the first minister is suggesting.
With the Moogs turned up to 11, a 1970s and 80s journey through the BBC's synthpop archives from Roxy Music and Tubeway Army to New Order and Sparks.
Documentary looking at how going on strike became almost a rite of passage at one time.
To commemorate the centenary of the birth of one of Britain's most influential and best-loved poets, this film combines dramatisations of telling events in the life of WH Auden with interviews from the TV and radio archives and extracts from Auden's poetry, notebooks, letters and journals.
Documentary film looking at the poetry of W H Auden, revealing how it came not just from inspiration but from a rigorous scientific analysis of love itself. When he died in 1973, he left behind some of the greatest love poems of the 20th century. Most of his unpublished material was destroyed, apart from two short journals and a series of jottings, containing diagrams and notes about the nature of love.
In the autumn of 2008, Al Gentry from Albemarle, North Carolina, achieved his goal of 22 years hard work - he had Betty Neumar arrested for the murder of his brother Harold who was Betty's husband back in 1986.
Only then did it emerge that Harold Gentry was just one of Betty's former husbands. She'd in fact been married five times in total - and all five husbands appear to have died in suspicious circumstances. The US media had a field day and labelled her 'The Black Widow', but could this 76-year-old grandmother really have got away with murder, not just once but five times?
In 1968, John Betjeman, the poet and architectural critic, was asked by the BBC to make a television programme about Leeds. The film was never broadcast, but now, 40 years on, extracts are being shown by Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
Elvis is alive and well and in Porthcawl - at least at the Elvis Porthcawl Festival. This programme tracks some of the performers as they pay tribute to the King, and looks at how this seaside town is transformed, for one weekend a year, into a veritable Elvisfest.
To mark Previn's 80th birthday, this profile of the celebrated pianist, conductor and composer follows his long journey from escaping Nazi Germany to the studios of Hollywood and fame.
Milton is often considered too difficult and obscure for today's reader, but to Armando Iannucci Paradise Lost is a thrilling work of creative genius that we ignore at our peril.
In this film, Iannucci journeys through Milton's life and his great poem, taking in everything from Satan and the start of spin to farting angels and the questioning of God's existence, offering his own passionate and illuminating response to Paradise Lost.
Along the way, he talks to schoolchildren, politicians and former prisoners to build up a picture of what Milton was like, and why his art may have turned out the way it did.
Mark Benton narrates a step-by-step guide to how the Brits tie the knot. From the stag do to the table plan, from the rings to the first dance, this is a look at how the Brits just about manage to rise to the occasion on one of the most momentous days of our lives - the wedding day.
Mark Benton has been abroad, he knows all about it: 'The British are an island race - abroad is really abroad, not just across the border but actually over the horizon. It's far away - outlandish, exotic and scary. Frankly, we're terrified of it.'
The Brits, foreign travel and all points in between - how we got there, what we did there and how we got back.
To commemorate the 'Ruby Jubilee' of Monty Python, this film takes us on a journey telling the story of the Pythons from start to finish. Starting with the very humble beginnings of how the legendary British comedy troupe emerged, we learn how the cast met, their early influences and how they went on to create groundbreaking television, and their transition into movies that would change the face of comedy forever. Featuring interviews with John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Eric Idle, as well as archive interviews from Graham Chapman, this film explores the highs and the lows, and examines how Monty Python became a British institution.
This is the first time the Pythons have come together for a film project since 1983's Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
Documentary using specialist photography and 3D animation to show how the common fruit fly has been crucial to a hundred years of genetic research.
When Orson Welles went into self-imposed exile in Europe, he first found stardom with The Third Man and then immersed himself in challenging films, television, theatre and bullfighting. Simon Callow trails the complex actor-director.
When Orson Welles went into self-imposed exile in Europe, he first found stardom with The Third Man and then immersed himself in challenging films, television, theatre and bullfighting. Simon Callow trails the complex actor-director.