The management of the BBC is now reconsidering the future of the BBC Singers.
The petition has now closed, with 150,494 signatures, and is here.
A response from the BBC to musicians (28/03/2023) is on a Twitter feed here.
The threat to reduce the staff of the three English orchestras by 20% is now being reconsidered: see a Guardian article here.

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SAT 19:00 A History of Ancient Britain (b010t8s4)
Series 2

Age of Romans

Neil Oliver completes his epic journey through thousands of years of ancient history with the modern marvels of Rome. He digs beneath a London tower block, discovers building work from a massive stadium, and encounters the remains of an African woman who lived in York 1800 years ago - all evidence of the extraordinary multicultural modern world of Rome.

SAT 20:00 Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime (m000ngdw)
Series 1

Episode 2

This episode explores how the success of Around the World in 80 Days opened the door for Michael Palin to tackle an even more ambitious journey for his next series. In Pole to Pole, Michael followed the line of 30-degree-east longitude from North Pole to South, an incredibly challenging route across the USSR, Africa and finally Antarctica.

In the Arctic, Michael meets a solitary trapper who hunts for survival. Then, entering the USSR for the first time, Michael encounters the reality of life and bureaucracy under communism as he visits markets and tries to get a token to allow him to buy vodka. A detour to Chernobyl gives him a sobering insight into that disaster and its effects, but overall it is the warmth of the Russian and Ukrainian people that is the dominant memory he takes away. Two days after he leaves, there is a coup against Gorbachev, and the Soviet system starts to unravel - a truly historical moment.

In Turkey, Michael relaxes with a bath and massage that turns out to be more vigorous than he had bargained for. Then he tackles the biggest challenge of all – Africa. From Egypt, where he spends time with some tourists from his own hometown of Sheffield, Michael travels south through Sudan, where few tourists ever venture. Travelling by train across the desert to Khartoum, he has a magical experience riding on the roof and meeting the passengers who travel up there for free. But then the reality of war-torn Africa hits home as he is prevented from travelling south along the route he had chosen. A trip across Sudan by jeep sees Michael almost get stuck in a volatile recent war zone, but he presses on through the heart of the continent to South Africa, to meet a ship that will take him to the Antarctic. But Michael faces one final obstacle. Having failed to secure passage, he is forced to fly to Chile to make a new connection and complete his epic journey to the South Pole.

SAT 21:00 Inspector Montalbano (m000ng77)
Beloved Salvo, My Livia

It's high summer in Vigata and the murdered body of a young woman, Agata Cosentino, is found in the municipal archives where she worked. But the building was supposed to be closed for the holidays, so what was Agata doing there?

Meanwhile, Adelina's wayward son Pasquale is engaged in a stand-off with a local security guard, Romildo Bufardeci, a former classmate from elementary school who is now intent on putting a stop to Pasquale’s petty criminality. As chief law enforcer, Montalbano must investigate any wrongdoings while also navigating the rivalry between the two men.

In Italian with English subtitles.

SAT 22:50 Francesco's Mediterranean Voyage (b00cp421)
Corfu and Greece

Architect and historian Francesco da Mosto embarks on a journey across the Mediterranean sea. As Francesco and the crew of the Black Swan enter Greek waters, the boat is making the fastest headway since leaving Venice on the long voyage to Istanbul. But disaster strikes as the mainsail rips and they limp into the next port, the island of Corfu. Corfu has more relics of British rule than Venetian, and Francesco is soon drawn into a game of cricket on the island's best cricket pitch.

In the romantic setting of the British Garden Cemetery there are many reminders of British occupation. And Corfu is the island setting of the hugely popular novel, My Family and Other Animals. Author Gerald Durrell is long since dead, but his good friend David Bellamy is there to point Francesco in the direction of the island's animal life. While the Black Swan puts in for repairs Francesco takes the ferry to the Greek coast and heads inland. His first stop is the surprising town of Ioannina - a little bit of Turkey in the middle of Greece. Once it was the stronghold of the evil Ali Pasha whose cruelty was the talk of Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. But peace and hope is restored as Francesco ascends the incredible mountain realm of Meteora - a sacred kingdom in the clouds. Here ancient monasteries perch perilously on the mountaintops with, seemingly, no way to get up to them. Inside are some of the least seen but most brilliant frescoes of the medieval age.

SAT 23:20 Francesco's Mediterranean Voyage (b00cp4k0)
The Gulf of Corinth

Architect and historian Francesco da Mosto embarks on a journey across the Mediterranean Sea. Amidst a sea of dolphins, The Black Swan enters the Gulf of Corinth off the coast of Greece as Francesco continues his voyage from Venice to Istanbul. The boat must manoeuvre under the Rio Antirio bridge and then navigate the narrow Corinth Canal, which separates mainland Greece from the Peloponnese.

At Mount Parnassus, Francesco visits the mystical site of the great Delphic Oracle, the greatest prophetess of the ancient world. She would talk in riddles but her pronouncements determined everything from events of state to romance and marriage. Mount Parnassus was also home to the Pythian games, forerunners of the modern Olympic Games.

Next stop is Athens. Often dismissed as a busy, noisy and overcrowded city, the Greeks prefer to see Athens as the biggest village in the country. Athens was the capital of the ancient Classical world and home to the Acropolis. Birthplace of western art, it is also the site of one of Venice's greatest atrocities against art and culture - an attack on the sacred temple of Parthenon that almost destroyed it. The attack also resulted in a massive loss of human life. Francesco sees the damage from the 700 cannonballs, still evident today. Francesco also has a date in Athens - the woman with the greatest singing voice ever to emerge from Greece - Nana Mouskouri. As they stroll through the romantic setting of Athens's National Gardens, can Francesco persuade Nana to serenade him?

SAT 23:50 More Dawn French's Girls Who Do: Comedy (b0074swp)
Series 1

Whoopi Goldberg

Dawn French talks to Whoopi Goldberg about her life in comedy.

SAT 00:20 Ever Decreasing Circles (b007bn3d)
Series 1

Taking Over

Paul takes over the residents' association meeting and Martin is relieved of his chairmanship. A renewed social life beckons, but their new found freedom is short lived as Martin finds himself being used.

SAT 00:50 Keeping Up Appearances (b007b78b)
Series 4

A Job for Richard

Richard is far from happy when Hyacinth concocts an elaborate plan to turn him into a Frosticle executive with the help of a chukka of golf!

SAT 01:20 Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime (m000ngdw)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today]

SAT 02:20 A History of Ancient Britain (b010t8s4)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today]


SUN 19:00 Our Classical Century (m00041tg)
Series 1


From the films Brief Encounter and Bridge on the River Kwai, to the glamorous classical stars Jacqueline du Pré and Daniel Barenboim, this is the story of how classical music thrived in post-war Britain and found vast popular audiences. Suzy Klein and broadcaster and music lover Joan Bakewell explore a new world of musical collaborations with classical music – from Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar, Rick Wakeman and David Bowie, and Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic.

Elizabeth II’s coronation was a remarkable showcase for British classical music. It was watched by millions on their new TV sets. Suzy explores how the BBC transformed the Last Night of the Proms into a live TV extravaganza under the baton of the dynamic ‘Flash Harry’, Malcolm Sargent. Joan Bakewell meets Sylvia Darley, his private secretary for 20 years, who reveals the ‘love affair’ between Sir Malcolm and the promenaders.

TV was one medium that had grasped the potential of classical music – now film did too. David Lean had already co-opted Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto to unforgettable effect in Brief Encounter. Suzy reveals how Lean commissioned the piece which brought Oscar glory for Best Score to British composer Malcom Arnold in 1958, for Lean’s cinematic tour de force Bridge on the River Kwai. Arnold – an eclectic, dynamic and prolific composer - produced a powerful score for this film about prisoners in a Japanese camp building a bridge for the Burma Railway. Composer Neil Brand reflects on Arnold’s ability to conjure the pain and hardship of wartime imprisonment and forced labour.

As the Sixties began, a piece deeply inspired by the wartime experience - The War Requiem - helped seal the reputation of composer Benjamin Britten. It was written for Coventry, a city devastated by WW2 bombing. An experiment in the healing power of music, it was a controversial choice for the reopening of Coventry Cathedral, as Britten was a conscientious objector. Against the backdrop of the Cold and fears of apocalyptic nuclear war, Britten created a piece that resounded with his deeply held opposition to war. Joan Bakewell visits the Red House in Aldeburgh where Britten wrote the piece, and examines Britten’s hand-written score that warns of the inhumanity and consequences of war. Suzy meets a member of the original 1962 audience who recalls the stunned silence that greeted its first performance, and Roderick Williams sings a powerful extract.

As the Sixties arrived and classical music thrived on TV, in cinemas, on records – a glamorous new classical star for a new age burst onto the scene – the dynamic, virtuoso Jacqueline du Pré. With cellists Moray Welsh and Julian Lloyd Webber, Joan Bakewell explores the secrets of du Pré’s magnetic style and the piece that she made her own: the Elgar Cello Concerto. Written in the aftermath of WW1, Du Pré invested the piece with a virtuosic romanticism that sold millions of records. Acclaimed young cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays excerpts and reveals the impact Du Pré’s version had on him as a young player.

The sixties saw a new era of musical collaborations, one famously involving Yehudi Menuhin of whom Albert Einstein said, "The day of miracles is not over. Our dear old Jehovah is still on the job." Menuhin’s musical curiosity lead him to collaborate with Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar. Brilliant contemporary musician Nitin Sawhney helps Suzy examine the secrets of Shankar’s brilliance and the ingredients of their memorable collaboration in their legendary album ‘West Meets East’. The record won a Grammy and brought Indian musical tradition to a western audience. On 24th September 1969 another epic musical collaboration took place between Jon Lord with the heavy metal band Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Arnold at the Royal Albert Hall. Ian Gillan describes how the orchestra turned up their noses at a collaboration with a heavy metal band.

This was the era of experimentation, and in 1971 David Bowie – a fan of Stravinsky and Holst – involved classically-trained Rick Wakeman in the classic Life on Mars. With Rick at the keyboard, Suzy explores the making of this revolutionary song, in which classical music collides with pop brilliance.

In the 70s, political uncertainty and industrial disputes dominated. With advertising guru Sir Frank Lowe, Joan Bakewell looks at how classical music was co-opted by advertisers to hark back to more certain times. Lowe explains how he took a brass band version of the theme from Dvorak’s New World Symphony and transformed it into a nostalgic tune to sell Hovis bread. The programme reveals how the piece was written by a middle European as he travelled through the American West, and was deeply influenced by African-American spirituals.

As post-war Britain changed, opened up to new media and new global cultural influences, so Britain fell in love with classical music in new ways

SUN 20:00 Inside Classical (m0018k39)
Series 1

Life, Love and Tchaikovsky

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales perform on home ground at Hoddinott Concert Hall in the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, under the baton of one of the world's most exciting young conductors, Marta Gardolinska.

The concert fittingly opens with the Overture by trailblazing Pole Grazyna Bacewicz, a celebrated female composer who wrote this work in 1943 when her country was under Nazi occupation. The sense of struggle and combat is heard within the piece with the opening rumble of the timpani, the beat of the snare drum and the brass section playing fanfares. The work also contains a musical message of hope, with the Morse code for ‘V’ (dot dot dot dash), beaten out on the timpani during the piece, symbolising victory.

Following Bacewicz's Overture, the orchestra welcomes BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Johan Dalene to perform Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. Swedish-born Johan, who is 20 years old, began playing the violin when he was four and made his concerto debut three years later. Mendelssohn wrote the Violin Concerto in E minor for his friend Ferdinand David, and the piece has become treasured by soloists and audiences worldwide for its lyrical melodies, fine craftsmanship and charm.

The concert ends with the orchestra performing Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony in F minor. Tchaikovsky made a start to his work on the symphony following his catastrophic marriage, which lasted just two months, to his former student Antonina Miliukova. Emerging from a profound period of writer's block, struggling with his sexuality and battling with a heavy bout of depression, it's perhaps unsurprising that the music is urgent, supercharged and, at points, violent.

Presented by Georgia Mann.

SUN 21:30 Maria by Callas (m000qphk)
Documentary film that for the first time tells the life story of legendary Greek/American opera singer Maria Callas, completely in her own words. Tom Volf’s account, which took four years of painstaking research to assemble, includes performances, TV interviews, home movies, family photographs, private letters and unpublished memoires – nearly all of which have never been seen before.

Maria by Callas reveals the essence of an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings in New York City to become a glamorous international superstar and one of the greatest artists of all time.

SUN 23:25 Discovering... (m0002k5f)
Series 1

The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra - Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1945) is one of the most frequently performed works of any British composer. It has introduced and enlivened the interest of whole generations of children in the instruments of the orchestra, in thrilling style. It is, however, much more than an instruction manual for youngsters. Now a classic of the concert hall, it is frequently performed to children and adults alike.

Katie Derham presents a detailed analysis of the composition, and the story behind its creation, before it is performed in full by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales with guest conductor Moritz Gnann in Cardiff’s Hoddinott Hall.

Orchestra members explain to Katie how Britten drew on the past for themes and techniques, and reapplied them in a twentieth-century context to show off each instrument in captivating fashion. Through interviews and archive Katie learns how the piece was commissioned for a Ministry of Education film during a post-war Britain filled with the optimism and promise of building a new world that would provide high culture for all - a central tenet of Britten’s own approach; to write music that is ‘useful, and to the living’.

The film demonstrates how Britten takes the orchestra apart, allowing each instrument its own variation on Henry Purcell’s theme of 250 years earlier. Through the performance we see how the 13 variations get to the essence of each instrument’s characteristics, showing each section of the orchestra at its individual best.

SUN 00:25 Victorian Sensations (m00059cx)
Series 1

Electric Dreams

Victorian Sensations transports us to the last years of Queen Victoria’s reign to explore a moment of thrilling discovery and change that continues to resonate today.

In the first of three films focusing on the technology, art and culture of the 1890s, mathematician Dr Hannah Fry explores how the latest innovations, including x-rays, safety bicycles and proto-aeroplanes, transformed society and promised a cleaner, brighter and more egalitarian future.

Whereas Victorian progress in the 19th century had been powered by steam and gas, the end of the 1800s marked the beginning of a new 'Electric Age'. Hannah discovers how electrical energy dominated the zeitgeist, with medical quacks marketing battery-powered miracle cures, and America’s new electric chair inspiring stage magicians to electrify their illusions. The future had arrived, courtesy of underground trains and trams (as well as electric cars), and in the 1890s the first houses built specifically with electricity in mind were constructed.

Like our own time, there was concern about where this technology would lead and who was in control. HG Wells warned of bio-terrorism, while the skies were increasingly seen as a future battleground, fuelling the race to develop powered flight.

Hannah outlines the excitement around the coming Electric Age. Electricity was a signifier of modernity, and Hannah discovers how electric light not only redefined the way we saw ourselves but changed what we expected from our homes. The new enthusiasm for all things electric was also something exploited by canny entrepreneurs. In the 1890s, many believed that electricity was life itself and that nervous energy could be recharged like a battery.

In 1896, out of nowhere, the x-ray arrived in Britain. Hannah delves into the story of what Victorians considered to be a superhuman power. This cutting-edge technology was a smash hit with the public, who found the ghoulish ability to peer under flesh endlessly entertaining. In the medical profession, x-rays caused a revolution and, as well as changing our views of our bodies, the x-ray revealed new fears in society about personal privacy and control over technology - concerns that sound very familiar today.

Electricity ruled the imagination, but it was a simple mechanical device that brought the greatest challenge to the social order: the safety bicycle. It offered freedom on a scale unimagined before and, for women of the time in particular, a new independence, changes to their clothes to make cycling easier and the opportunity for a chance encounter with a member of the opposite sex. But there was also a darker side, with fears of how technology might be turned against us becoming a constant element in contemporary 1890s fiction.

One technological landmark that the Victorians knew was coming, and that they (rightly) anticipated would one day unleash fire and bombs on British cities, was the flying machine. A thing of fantasy yet also, due to the ingenuity of the age’s engineers, something that might become a reality at any moment. Leading the way for British hopes of achieving powered flight was Percy Pilcher. Hannah looks at how, after several successful flights, Pilcher designed a triplane with an engine he intended to fly, when disaster struck.

SUN 01:25 Our Classical Century (m00041tg)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today]

SUN 02:25 Inside Classical (m0018k39)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today]


MON 19:00 Great American Railroad Journeys (b09pwbxc)
Series 3

Providence, Rhode Island, to New London, Connecticut

Led by his 19th-century Appleton's guidebook, Michael Portillo's railway journey continues through New England. On the banks of the Providence River, he discovers a club that traces its roots and culinary traditions back to the 1840s. Michael joins in with one of its legendary open-air 'clambakes'.

In the Rhode Island capital, Providence, Michael is on the trail of an historic company that counts US presidents among its customers. Portillo practises the art of penmanship at AT Cross, America's oldest manufacturer of writing instruments. Travelling west to New London, Connecticut, Michael visits the elite US Coast Guard Academy. Established around the time of his guidebook in 1876, 300 cadets enrol every year and train to defend more than one hundred thousand miles of American coastline.

On the literary trail, Michael visits the childhood summer home of an American dramatist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Eugene O'Neill's deeply personal and ground-breaking work dealt with human frailty and the struggles of modern life and transformed American theatre.

MON 19:30 Iolo's Snowdonia (b09rjs4p)
Series 1

Episode 3

Over four seasons, Iolo Williams goes to his favourite locations in Snowdonia to look for stunning wildlife, and meets people who help him discover the national park's true nature.

In this episode, it is autumn and Iolo takes us to hidden wildernesses with outstanding views of the season's colours and the big mountains of Snowdonia. On the lower slopes of the Carneddau range, red squirrels have returned to the national park after disappearing some 40 years ago. Below the magnificent Aber Falls, with its 37-metre drop from the high peaks, jays collect acorns in an ancient woodland.

Iolo finds fascinating old sheepfolds and Wales's native black cattle breed on the high slopes - both relics of a time when many more people lived and worked on the uplands and evidence of Snowdonia's changing nature. However, some things remain the same - wild goats rut on the Rhinog Mountains, a tawny owl and bats take up residence in an old church near Dolgellau and, in a nearby wood, dormice fatten up for hibernation. Also, the first whooper swans arrive back from Iceland to a lake below Snowdon - a sure sign that winter is on its way.

MON 20:00 Earth’s Tropical Islands (m000cs0p)
Series 1


In the heart of south east Asia lies the tropical island of Borneo. Twice the size of the British Isles, it is the third largest island on earth and home to possibly the greatest diversity of life of any island - from flying lizards sun bears to orangutans. Its huge variety of habitats, from bustling coral reefs and ancient jungles to towering mountains, has given rise to over 60,000 species of plants and animals - many found nowhere else on earth.

Borneo’s shoreline is fringed by a tangle of mangroves and flooded forests, home to an extraordinary creature – the proboscis monkey. Their unique pot bellies allow them to survive on the nutrient-poor leaves, but even so, they must continually search for the freshest shoots. This means the whole family must cross one of many rivers that cut through the forest – patrolled by giant crocodiles. It is a drama rarely seen.

The island of Borneo is surrounded by some of the richest coral reefs in the world – a single reef can support more species of coral than the entire Caribbean Sea! This remarkable abundance attracted seafaring nomads, the Bajau Laut, ‘people of the sea’. Over generations their bodies have transformed, making them the ultimate human divers – but they are having to adapt to the modern world – using ingenuity to turn plastic waste that washes up on the beach to their advantage.

Heading inland are ancient forests, home to giants – the dipterocarps. Towering up to 100 metres high, they are the tallest rainforest trees in the world. A single tree can hold a thousand different species, and this intense competition has driven many animals to evolve in wondrous ways – on this island reptiles can fly.

At night, this competition in the jungle intensifies as many of Borneo’s 180 species of frog call for a mate. The bigger the frog, the louder the call: a problem for one of the smallest frogs on the island. In this never-before-filmed sequence, a male tree-hole frog, barely larger than a thumbnail, has come up with an ingenious solution to being heard above the noise.

Compared to the abundance of life in the treetops, the forest floor is an impoverished world. With little to eat, many of Borneo’s terrestrial mammals are smaller than on the mainland – including the exceedingly rare Bornean sun bear. At just over 1m long, it is the smallest bear in the world. To survive, they have developed a surprising skill - they are expert climbers, able to climb higher than any other bear, to feed on honey and fruits high up in the canopy.

For those confined to the forest floor, more ingenious methods are required. The Penan are indigenous hunters that have lived in Borneo’s forests for over 4,000 years. They use a remarkable sign language, known as Oroo’, to communicate through the jungle. A long stick is adorned with intricately folded vegetation and shaped bark, to tell a complex story.

In the heart of the island, looming above the rainforest, lies another of Borneo’s diverse habitats – mountains. Their range runs over 500 miles through the centre of the island. At over 4,000 metres, Mount Kinabalu is one of the highest peaks in south east Asia. It rains here almost every day, the water washing away any goodness in the soil. To get the nutrients they need to survive, one group of plants have gone to extreme lengths, becoming carnivores. The modified leaves of pitcher plants form pitfall traps. Insects are lured to the trap’s edge with sweet nectar, before slipping into a lethal pool of digestive enzymes. Borneo holds the greatest collection of pitcher plants in the world, including one that is after something much bigger than insects. Nepenthes hemsleyana is a pitcher plant that has evolved to attract woolly bats. Its traps are perfectly adapted to provide a sheltered roost for the bat. In return the plant gains nutrition from the bats droppings, a remarkable relationship, only recently discovered.

Borneo’s intense rain has carved out vast cave systems through the island. Deer cave is so large you could fly a jumbo jet through it. They are home to millions of bats whose guano forms the basis of an entire ecosystem – sustaining some of the largest concentrations of cockroaches in the world, as well a wealth of other cave critters.
Thanks to the bats, even in this most extreme habitat, Borneo harbours an extraordinary array of life.

For 10,000 years, Borneo’s staggering diversity has been protected by its isolation, but with the arrival of industrial logging, all that has changed. Only half of its ancient forests are left, and much of its unique wildlife is under threat, including the iconic orangutan. Scientists are only just discovering the true scale of their intelligence – recently capturing footage of a mother orangutan using forest leaves to create an anti-inflammatory treatment for her aching joints. But with their forest home being destroyed, how much longer can these remarkable animals survive?

MON 21:00 Queen Victoria's Letters: A Monarch Unveiled (b04p1vx1)
Episode 1

Examining the first half of Queen Victoria's life, biographer AN Wilson goes in search of a monarch too often misunderstood as the solid black-clad matron and reveals a woman who was passionately romantic and who spent her years as a child and young queen fighting the control of domineering men.

Queen Victoria was one of the 19th century's most prolific diarists, sometimes writing up to 2,500 words a day. From state affairs to family gossip, she poured out her emotions onto paper. Those close to her were afraid her more alarming opinions might escape in written form, causing havoc. In fact much of her writing was destroyed after her death and her personal journals edited by her daughter. But what survives frequently reveals a woman quite different to the one we think we know. AN Wilson reads her personal journals and unpublished letters and discovers the factors that shaped the queen's personality. From the tortured relationship with her mother, to the dominant men she clung to in search of a father figure and the powerful struggle that made her marriage to Prince Albert a battleground, Queen Victoria was always a woman in search of intimate relationships. As a daughter, a wife, a mother and the queen of a growing empire, as friends and family came and went, her pen remained her constant companion and friend.

Queen Victoria's journals and letters are read by Anna Chancellor throughout.

MON 22:00 Queen Victoria's Letters: A Monarch Unveiled (b04pl2mn)
Episode 2

AN Wilson discovers the real story behind the woman who supposedly spent the last half of her life in hiding, mourning the loss of her beloved Prince Albert. Alongside this well-known image of Victoria as the weeping widow, Wilson reveals that the years after Albert's death were actually a process of liberation and her most productive and exciting.

By examining her closest relationships in the four decades after Albert's death, Wilson tells the story of the Queen's gradual freedom from a life spent under the shadow of domineering men. Victoria's marriage had been a source of constraint as well as love, as Albert had used her pregnancies as a way to gain power and punished her for resenting it. But in her widowhood Queen Victoria, although bereft and deranged, was free to move in the world of politics and make deep friendships without concern.

From the controversial friendship with her highland servant John Brown to her most unconventional behaviour with her young Indian servant Abdul Karim, Wilson uncovers Victoria as a woman who was anything but 'Victorian'. Far from being prim and proper, she loved life in all its richness - she was blind to class and colour and, contrary to what we think, had a great sense of humour.

Queen Victoria's journals and letters are read by Anna Chancellor throughout.

MON 23:00 The World's Most Photographed (b0078y3p)
Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria's accession to the throne in 1837 coincided almost exactly with the invention of photography. She would be the first woman in the world to live both her private and public lives in front of the camera.

At first, photography was a private pleasure, a way of capturing images of herself and her family for their own personal amusement. But during the course of her 64-year reign, Queen Victoria began to use the camera as a political weapon. The new art of photography was a vital tool in Victoria's battle to safeguard the British throne. It was a means to quell the forces of republicanism, a way to win the affection and sympathy of her people and an opportunity to establish her as the defining symbol of British imperial power.

By the time Queen Victoria died in 1901, photography had transformed the relationship between the monarchy and the people. The private life of the monarch was more visible to more people than ever before. But Victoria still managed to take one photographic secret to the grave.

MON 23:30 Victorian Sensations (m0005hhg)
Series 1

Decadence and Degeneration

The 1890s was the decade when science, entertainment, art and morality collided - and the Victorians had to make sense of it all. Actor Paul McGann discovers how the works of HG Wells, Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde were shaped by fears of moral, social and racial degeneration.

Paul, seated in Wells’s time machine, sees how the author’s prophecies of a future in which humanity has decayed and degenerated highlighted the fears of the British Empire. Paul finds out how these anxieties were informed by new scientific theories based on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Paul learns how Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton sought to improve the genetic stock of the nation, through a project he coined as ‘eugenics’.

Another of the decade’s prominent scientific thinkers – Austrian physician Max Nordau – declared that it was art and culture, and their practitioners – the aesthetes and decadents – that were causing Britain’s moral degeneration, singling out Oscar Wilde as the chief corrupting influence. Paul explains how Wilde sought to subvert traditional Victorian values. Tucked away in one of Wilde’s haunts - the famous Cheshire Cheese Pub on Fleet Street - Paul hears from Stephen Calloway about how Aubrey Beardsley – the most decadent artist of the period – scandalised society, in much the same way as Wilde, through his erotic drawings. Wilde and Beardsley were not alone in being parodied by Punch Magazine. Historian Angelique Richardson shows Paul caricatures of a new figure who had begun to worry the sensibilities of Victorian Britain. Known collectively as The New Woman, this was a group of female writers, who in more than 100 novels, portrayed a radical new idea of femininity that challenged the conventions of marriage and motherhood. However, as Paul discovers through reading a short story called Eugenia by novelist Sarah Grand, some advocated the idea of eugenics through their writing.

For eugenicists, if one means of keeping a ‘degenerate’ working class in check was incarceration, then that either meant prison or, increasingly by the 1890s, the asylum. Some lost their freedom due to ‘hereditary influence’, others to so-called sexual transgression. Paul explains how the ‘vice’ of masturbation was seen as sapping the vitality of the nation. The idea of sexual transgression was to intrude into the Victorian consciousness as never before when, in 1895, Oscar Wilde was found guilty of gross indecency and sentenced to two years in jail.

While Oscar Wilde had made a very public show of defiance, Paul uncovers another leading – and gay - writer of the period, John Addington Symonds, who together with the prominent physician Havelock Ellis, sought to produce a scientific survey of homosexuality. At the London Library, Symonds expert Amber Regis shows Symonds’s rare handwritten memoirs to Paul, which served as a source for the groundbreaking 1897 work, Sexual Inversion. Paul explains how questions of sex and gender also lie at the heart of a very different book, published in the same year - Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Paul explains how Stoker had his finger – or teeth – on the pulse of the 1890s, infusing his novel with many of the decade’s chief preoccupations and growing fears of racial prejudice and immigration.

Paul also meets Natty Mark Samuels (founder of the Oxford African School) reciting a speech by a young West Indian called Celestine Edwards, who took a brave stand against imperial rule and its racist underpinnings. Edwards became the first black editor in Britain, and his pioneering work would be continued by a fellow West Indian, Henry Sylvester Williams, who in 1897 formed the African Association. Outside the former Westminster Town Hall, Paul describes how, in 1900, Williams set up the first Pan-African Conference to promote and protect the interests of all subjects claiming African descent.

MON 00:30 Great American Railroad Journeys (b09pwbxc)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today]

MON 01:00 Iolo's Snowdonia (b09rjs4p)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today]

MON 01:30 Earth’s Tropical Islands (m000cs0p)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today]

MON 02:35 Queen Victoria's Letters: A Monarch Unveiled (b04p1vx1)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today]


TUE 19:00 Great American Railroad Journeys (b09pwc6p)
Series 3

New Haven, Connecticut, to Mount Washington, New Hampshire

Armed with his Appleton's guide, Michael Portillo's rail voyage goes river deep and mountain high as he continues his journey through Connecticut and heads north through the scenic New England states. In New Haven, a crash course in rowing takes place on a stretch of water where college teams from Yale and Harvard have battled for victory since 1852.

Making tracks north to Vermont, Michael experiences 19th-century rural farm life, when its green pastures were grazed by imported dairy herds from the Isle of Jersey and made it the butter capital of the world. Journey's end is in New Hampshire, where Michael ascends the steep slopes of Mount Washington aboard the world's first mountain climbing cog railway, at whose summit an extraordinary weather station has been recording the mountain's famously extreme weather since 1870.

TUE 19:30 Iolo's Snowdonia (b09sbs00)
Series 1

Episode 4

Over four seasons, Iolo Williams goes to his favourite locations in Snowdonia to look for stunning wildlife and meets people who help him discover the national park's true nature. In this final episode, it's winter and Iolo endures life-threatening wind chill, ice and snow on the Carneddau high peaks. A cold snap takes him to one of his old roaming grounds on the Berwyn moors, where he finds a solitary robin surviving in thick snow. Opposite Portmeirion, the stunning Dwyryd estuary is teeming with winter birds feeding. Crossbills busily eat cone seeds in a forest near Betws-y-Coed. Iolo also heads to Ceunant Llennyrch, a wonderful gorge hidden by an ancient woodland that's existed since trees first colonised Snowdonia after the last ice age. On the foothills of Cadair Idris, he learns that old folk had names for every piece of land.

TUE 20:00 Keeping Up Appearances (b007b7cy)
Series 4

Country Retreat

Sitcom. Hyacinth's plans to buy a small weekend retreat in the country take an unexpected turn, and Richard has an unexpected fall.

TUE 20:30 Ever Decreasing Circles (b036d6db)
Series 1

A Strange Woman

Martin and certain others in the Close are nearly scandalised by Paul's outlandish behaviour, burning perfectly good house signs and entertaining scantily clad women in his back garden.

TUE 21:00 Gateways Grind: London’s Secret Lesbian Club (m0018k3h)
Sandi Toksvig goes behind the iconic green door of one of the most famous lesbian venues in the world, The Gateways Club in London. Starting off as a meeting place for bohemians, it became lesbian-only under the watchful management of the enigmatic Gina Ware and her sidekick Smithy until its closure in 1985.

The Gates’ former clientele recount the many stories of love, heartbreak, friendship, scandal and sanctuary that played out in the club, including the venue's appearance in a Hollywood film. They open up the secret history of this haven for women, who could lose homes, jobs and children if their truth became known.

TUE 22:00 Storyville (m0018k3k)
Into My Name

A compelling coming-of-age story of four friends, sharing important turning points in their lives as they transition to a new gender.

Nic, Leo, Raff and Andrea meet in Bologna, where each of them is going through their gender transition. Their discussions gently revolve around their personal experiences, providing a unique insider’s look at hormones, surgery, the longing for facial hair and the legal hurdles faced by transgender people.

TUE 23:30 Victorian Sensations (m0005pr9)
Series 1

Seeing and Believing

In the final episode of this series, psychotherapist Philippa Perry time-travels back to the 1890s to explore how the late Victorian passion for science co-existed with a deeply held belief in the paranormal. Using a collection of rare and restored Victorian films from the BFI National Archive, she shows how the latest media innovations made use of contemporary ideas of ghosts and the afterlife – and how this ‘new media’ anticipated today’s networked world.

The final years of Queen Victoria’s reign were a moment when the old Victorian order rubbed shoulders with the beginnings of our modern world. It was a chaotic, febrile time of discovery and innovation in science and technology, entertainment and art, and the Victorians had to make sense of it all.

Philippa finds out how Marconi’s early experiments with wireless telegraphy encouraged speculation amongst the public and scientists that telepathy – communication between minds – would be the next scientific breakthrough. She also replicates eminent physicist Oliver Lodge’s pioneering experiment with radio waves and discovers his fascination for exploring the paranormal with the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). This Victorian group of ghost hunters included William James, a pioneer of psychology, biologist Alfred Russel Wallace and even Prime Minister William Gladstone. Buried in the archives of the SPR in Cambridge University Library, Philippa finds an incredible Census of Hallucinations that contains 17,000 ghostly encounters sourced from the Victorian public.

Maybe it’s not surprising that people of the age saw so many ghosts because, in a sense, spirits did haunt the Victorian home. Every Victorian innovation - from photography to motion pictures, phonographs to fantasy books – had its own supernatural genre. Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the hyper-rational Sherlock Holmes, drew on his real-life experience as a ghostbuster to write his ghostly fiction. Philippa learns the art of spirit photography from Almudena Romero and poses for her own ghostly picture as well as exploring a rare private collection of phonographs, the recent craze that allowed Victorians to hear communications from the past and listen to their loved ones after their deaths for the first time.

Philippa also explores the impact of the arrival in 1896 of motion pictures, the decade’s greatest and most magical media innovation. BFI curator Bryony Dixon shows her restored Victorian trick films, from the funny and feminist to a disturbing fake execution. Philippa then creates her own homage to the Big Swallow trick film and eats the cameraman.

The boundary between fact and fantasy was often blurred, and sensationalism infused the new tabloid journalism. At Cambridge University’s Institute of Astronomy, Philippa learns about other forms of long-distance communication and the flurry of press interest in stories from Mars. Dr Joshua Nall reveals that some of the greatest public figures of the decade, from Nikola Tesla to Sir Francis Galton, were convinced that signalling with Martians was possible. HG Wells’s story The Crystal Egg takes up this theme and predicts future media developments and the power of communications. And even Queen Victoria herself took advantage of the globally networked world that was emerging to allow the film cameras in to capture her triumphant Diamond Jubilee procession for all her imperial subjects. The jubilee was the first global mass media event and the footage captures the essence of the 1890s: the old Victorian order with an empire and an empress, rubbing shoulders with a world we recognise - a modern one of film cameras and global communications. This was the decade the future landed.

TUE 00:30 Secrets of Skin (m000cf0y)
Series 1


Why are male mandrill faces (big bold primates from West Africa) red and blue? How are birds' feathers so colourful? What do ringtail lemurs do to talk to one another? Their skin holds the key. As Professor Ben Garrod explores how animals communicate with one another, he uncovers a myriad more wonderful ways.

Skin has evolved in some remarkable ways to enable animals to communicate with each other, from vibrant displays of colour to skin pouches to amplify sound. Ben shows how animals have evolved to use skin to make themselves heard loud and clear. Birds are notable for their use of coloured feathers to attract mates, show status and as displays of aggression. But, as Ben discovers, long before birds evolved their unrivalled use of colour, it is now believed that their ancestors, the dinosaurs, could well have been using colour to communicate. Ben also uncovers how one species of fish communicates using electricity, and a common British bird has been secretly communicating for years, without us ever knowing.

TUE 01:00 Secrets of Skin (m000cf0t)
Series 1


What is the most toxic animal on earth? How are porcupine quills helping us in medicine? Why is a rhino armour plated, and it is not to protect them from lions?

Professor Ben Garrod discovers the complex ways, from camouflage to deadly toxins, in which the skin helps defend animals against threats of all kinds. From the barbed quills of the North American porcupine to the battering ram of a rhino’s horn, the skin has developed an impressive armoury of weapons and warnings to keep predators at bay.

With experiments and specialist factual insight, Professor Ben Garrod reveals the toughest and most resilient of animals defend themselves through their skin. One of the most iconic warnings in nature is that of the rattlesnake. Ben takes a teaching sample of a rattlesnake’s tail to the University of Bristol to test just how fast it can vibrate. He uncovers how poison-dart frogs produce their toxins, and how cuttlefish are the masters of disguise when it comes to hiding in plain sight.

TUE 01:30 Great American Railroad Journeys (b09pwc6p)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today]

TUE 02:00 Iolo's Snowdonia (b09sbs00)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today]

TUE 02:30 Queen Victoria's Letters: A Monarch Unveiled (b04pl2mn)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 on Monday]


WED 19:00 Earth's Natural Wonders (b09rbtsb)
Series 2

Surviving the Extreme

Earth's Natural Wonders are parts of the natural world that nature has carved on such a scale, that they beggar belief - vast mountain ranges, impenetrable rainforests and dazzling tropical islands. Places where nature is visible at its most primal, most powerful, and most extraordinarily beautiful. Survival for human beings can be an incredible challenge.

The Natural Wonders are epic in scale: often rugged, possessing an awe-inspiring beauty. But the factors that create these stunning landscapes, can also present enormous challenges for the people who call them home. The extremes of nature encountered in many of Earth's natural wonders, can threaten human survival, or make human lives extraordinarily demanding. Yet human beings have devised remarkable ways to survive and even thrive in many of these places. Now these Natural Wonders are undergo all sorts of changes, and human survival techniques must also evolve

In the high Himalaya, yak-herder Thokmay Lowa and his small group steer his herd through one of the region's extreme mountain passes. For several months of the year, these herders live isolated lives away from their families, before returning in spring to the summer pastures. Their journey is fraught with hazards, as the terrain they must cross is highly treacherous. With baby yaks being born later than usual this year, some are only a day old when they must tackle the pass.

In the Canadian Arctic, traditional Inuit communities still forage for much of their food. 63-year-old Minnie Nappaaluk and her granddaughter Eva embark on one of the most hazardous expeditions for food - the mussel harvest. Winters here are so extreme the surface of the sea freezes, and when the spring tides go out, the sea ice is suspended above the seabed. Just as Inuit women have done for centuries, Minnie and Eva cut a hole through the sea ice and venture below this shifting, dangerous ice-layer to collect their bounty.

Some Natural Wonders are threatened as never before - nowhere more so than the Brazilian Amazon. In the Mato Grosso, as a result of deforestation, the region's microclimate has changed. Now fires rage out of control in the dry season. Not only do these destroy wild habitats - they also threaten the very existence of the indigenous peoples still living traditional lives in the rainforest. Now, one project aims to tackle these blazes by teaching indigenous peoples how to effectively fight the fires. It's a daunting and dangerous task, but the continuance of their traditional way of life depends upon it.

In the blistering Australian Outback, cattle ranching requires a lot of space. The only way to efficiently round up the herds on these vast farms is through the use of helicopter cowboys like Chris Weyand. It's a dangerous job - he must fly low and slowly over difficult terrain, and every year some pilots are killed. But thanks to the efforts of people like Chris, farming on this scale in the Outback is now possible.

Deep in the Siberian interior, survival is tough. But climate change is opening up a new niche for the human inhabitants of this region - mammoth tusk collection. The tusks have been locked in the Siberian Permafrost for thousands of years, but as the climate changes and the permafrost starts to melt more each summer, it is giving up this unexpected bounty. These tusks are made of ivory, and can sell for thousands of dollars. It is a controversial activity - conservationists argue that it encourages the ivory trade. But for now at least this is a legal pursuit.

WED 20:00 Age of the Image (m000fzm9)
Series 1

A New Reality

Documentary series in which art historian James Fox explores how the power of images has transformed the modern world. James starts at the beginning of the 20th century, when an explosion of scientific and technological advances created radical new ways of looking at the world.

From the impact of aerial photography on modern art to our ability to peer inside the body and freeze time itself, the first episode is a dizzying journey of visual invention, which makes fascinating connections between the work of artists, film-makers, photographers and scientists.

Revealing Salvador Dali’s debt to Einstein, the groundbreaking trickery of Buster Keaton and shockingly modern fakery of WWI photos, James Fox offers an endlessly surprising, eye-opening look at the beginnings of our image-saturated age.

WED 21:00 Thatcher: A Very British Revolution (m0005pt1)
Series 1


The third episode sees Mrs Thatcher plunged into dramatic conflicts with determined enemies that will define her premiership and her legacy.

Against a backdrop of economic downturn Mrs Thatcher is struggling in the opinion polls and is labelled the “least popular prime minister since polling began” but her public image is transformed by a totally unexpected turn of events in the South Atlantic. When Argentine forces occupy the British Falkland Islands Mrs Thatcher finds herself a war leader. She wins the respect of the public by remaining resolute in her belief that the islands should be recovered. She wins respect in cabinet and the military by remaining calm and clear through the short conflict in the Falklands despite the serious political jeopardy she faces and the emotional toll of sending men into war. The triumph of the British forces transforms Mrs Thatcher’s reputation in the country and in the world.

Following her victory in the 1983 general election Mrs Thatcher begins to assert herself in global politics, beginning an engagement with Mikhail Gorbachev, a rising star of the Soviet Communist party. At home she faces another challenge to her leadership from the left-wing leadership of the National Union of Miners.

The controversial decision to call a national strike puts Mrs Thatcher into a conflict she had long anticipated. Having watched the miners destabilise the Conservative government of Edward Heath in the 1970s Mrs Thatcher has prepared for this dispute. In the background, she plays a role in a strategy that will eventually force the miners into a return to work and allow the government to claim a historic and transformative victory. The price is a sense of nation divided by class, region and economic fortunes.

The jeopardy of the Falklands and miners is surpassed by the threat of another enemy. At the 1984 Conservative Party conference the IRA bomb her hotel in an attempt to kill her and her most senior colleagues. She has a narrow escape as close friends die or suffer terrible injuries.

This episode includes interviews with defence secretary John Nott, press secretary Bernard Ingham and cabinet members Norman Tebbit, Michael Heseltine and Malcolm Rifkind, senior civil servants Robin Butler, John Coles and Andrew Turnbull, personal assistant Cynthia Crawford, Downing Street administrator Janice Richards, Falklands commander Sir Julian Thompson, opposition leader Neil Kinnock and striking miner Chris Kitchen.

WED 22:00 Rainbow City (m0018k3z)
Series 1

What Sort of a Boy?

The first episode of a groundbreaking BBC series from 1967 about the experience of the West Indian community living in and around Birmingham.

Never before had a black actor taken the lead role in a British television drama. Errol John plays John Steele, a lawyer dealing with the personal and professional difficulties faced when representing people of colour in the 1960s.

WED 22:30 Fighting for King and Empire: Britain's Caribbean Heroes (b05v08b7)
This programme is based on a film entitled Divided By Race - United in War and Peace, produced by

During the Second World War, thousands of men and women from the Caribbean colonies volunteered to come to Britain to join the fight against Hitler. They risked their lives for king and empire, but their contribution has largely been forgotten.

Some of the last surviving Caribbean veterans tell their extraordinary wartime stories - from torpedo attacks by German U-boats and the RAF's blanket-bombing of Germany to the culture shock of Britain's freezing winters and war-torn landscapes. This brave sacrifice confronted the pioneers from the Caribbean with a lifelong challenge - to be treated as equals by the British government and the British people.

In testimony full of wit and charm, the veterans candidly reveal their experiences as some of the only black people in wartime Britain. They remember encounters with a curious British public and confrontation with the prejudices of white American GIs stationed in Britain.

After the war, many veterans returned to the Caribbean where they discovered jobs were scarce. Some came back to Britain to help rebuild its cities. They settled down with jobs and homes, got married and began to integrate their rich heritage into British culture. Now mostly in their 80s and 90s - the oldest is 104 - these pioneers from the Caribbean have helped transform Britain and created an enduring multicultural legacy.

With vivid first-hand testimony, observational documentary and rare archive footage, the programme gives a unique perspective on the Second World War and the history of 20th-century Britain.

WED 23:30 Secret Agent Selection: WW2 (b0b110v4)
Series 1

Episode 3

The students are dropped in the middle of the remote Scottish Highlands, where they learn survival skills required for life in the field. Training in the same mountains as 1940s agents, they are schooled in the same techniques which prepared a group of agents tasked with putting a stop to Hitler's atomic ambitions in Norway. In a freezing Scottish lake and on a sheer rock face, some of the students are forced to find previously-untapped reserves of mental and physical strength, but not everyone makes it to the Special Operation Executive's famous 'finishing school'.

WED 00:30 Secret Agent Selection: WW2 (b0b1z88n)
Series 1

Episode 4

In episode four, the students are transported to a British Stately home - this is SOE Finishing School - a 1940s spy school which prepared agents for a life living undercover in enemy territory. They learn to pick locks, send coded messages and see some real SOE gadgets, before facing an intense mock interrogation designed to prepare agents for the eventuality of capture, torture and possible execution.

WED 01:30 Earth's Natural Wonders (b09rbtsb)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today]

WED 02:30 Thatcher: A Very British Revolution (m0005pt1)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today]


THU 19:00 Earth's Natural Wonders (b09s8dkg)
Series 2

Surviving with Animals

In many of the earth's natural wonders there is an abundance of animals. These can be a devastating threat to the people who live there, or they can provide a means of survival, but often at a high price.

In the coastal salt marshes of northern Australia's Arnhem Land, Indigenous Australians still go hunting for the eggs of one of the world's most aggressive predators - the saltwater crocodile. Following a hunting ban their numbers are recovering well, and the local rangers, like Greg Wilson, are licensed to take a quota of eggs to supply the region's commercial crocodile farms. Despite their ancient hunting skills, this remains a dangerous job - a croc could always be lurking nearby, protecting its nest.

The Yamal Peninsula in northern Siberia is a frozen environment stretching deep into the Arctic Circle. Known to local nomadic peoples as the edge of the world, temperatures can reach minus 50 degrees Celsius or lower in the depths of winter. Very few animals can live here, but one that can is the reindeer. Adapted to survive on a diet of lichen, the reindeer in turn enable people to survive. For thousands of years the Nenets people have survived by following these herds, in a symbiotic relationship that benefits both people and animals. For 65-year-old reindeer herder Medko Serotetto the journey is becoming harder than ever, as climate change makes weather patterns increasingly unpredictable.

Vanuatu is an island paradise in the south Pacific, but life here isn't perhaps as idyllic as it appears. Overfishing has reduced fish stocks, making food harder to come by for the indigenous islanders like 45-year-old Nigasau. The islanders are dependent on fish for their food, as there is little arable land or wildlife on the islands, but the catch is falling further with every year that goes by. Nigasau's 15-year-old son Misakofi is learning his trade as a fisherman and faces his greatest test - freediving at night to catch highly prized lobster. All around the world, as animal populations decline, life is becoming tougher for the indigenous people who depend on them.

In other parts of the world, it is living space that is in short supply. For countless years, elephants of north east India have migrated around the forests in the Himalayan foothills and lived in the plains of Assam. The growth of Assam's famed tea plantations has led to an influx of workers, some of whom have made their homes on the ancient elephant migration routes. Conflict is hard to avoid, especially when the elephants are drawn to the villages by the smells of food and palm toddy. The elephants themselves are a protected species, and it is illegal to harm them, but survival for them too is becoming ever harder.

THU 20:00 Arena (b01pjlhv)
Screen Goddesses

Documentary about the early female movie stars: Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe - immortal goddesses made by Hollywood to reign over the silver screen.

With the beginnings of Hollywood, the star system was born with an archetypal bad girl - the vampish Theda Bara - and the good girl - the blazingly sincere Lillian Gish. From the 1920s, vivacious Clara Bow and seductive siren Louise Brooks are most remembered, but none made the impact of Marlene Dietrich, an icon of mystery, or Greta Garbo, with her perfect features and gloomy introspection.

From the power of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis to the seductiveness of Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner, Hollywood studios produced their own brand of beautiful, sassy and confident women. But it wasn't to last. The era drew to a close with the supreme fame of Elizabeth Taylor and the tragic death of Marilyn Monroe.

Narrated by Elizabeth McGovern.

THU 21:00 The African Queen (m0018k6p)
At the outbreak of the First World War, with the death of her brother and the destruction of their Methodist mission, spinster Rose Sayer is persuaded to escape a burnt-out village by Canadian mechanic Charlie Allnut, proud owner of small steam launch the African Queen.

Together, they navigate their way down the Ulanga River, but while Charlie is content to sit the war out, Rosie is set on revenge and comes up with an unlikely plan.

THU 22:45 The Nun's Story (m000rgxz)
Audrey Hepburn starts as a nun who wants to be perfect, but is inhibited by her pride. Gabrielle van der Malenters enters a nunnery as a nursing postulant, but is frequently at odds with her superiors as she can't help putting care for the patients above her obedience to the order. Her greatest wish is to work in a hospital in the Congo.

THU 01:10 Earth's Natural Wonders (b09s8dkg)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today]

THU 02:10 Arena (b01pjlhv)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today]


FRI 19:00 Cricket: Today at the Test (m0018kbm)
England v New Zealand 2022

Third Test: Day Two Highlights

Highlights of the second day of the third Test match between England and New Zealand.

FRI 20:00 Glastonbury (m0018kbp)

Crowded House

Highlights of the performance by Antipodean band Crowded House, led by Neil Finn and featuring two of his sons, from the Pyramid Stage on the first full day of the Glastonbury Festival.

Expect songs from the group’s classic back catalogue and their long-awaited seventh studio album, dropped in 2021, Dreamers Are Waiting.

FRI 20:30 Glastonbury (m0018kbr)

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

The award-winning and best-selling collaboration of rock legend Robert Plant and bluegrass singer Alison Krauss is likely to draw a huge crowd to the Pyramid Stage on the first full day of the Glastonbury Festival.

Expect songs from their two hugely successful albums as a duo, featuring a whole range of covers, 2007’s Raising Sand, and Raise the Roof, which was released in November 2021.

FRI 21:30 Glastonbury (m0018kbt)

Arlo Parks & Idles

Highlights of two shows from artists who have come to the fore in recent years. Mercury Prize winner, poet and soulful singer-songwriter Arlo Parks performs on the Park Stage, and Bristol post-punk outfit Idles take to the Other Stage.

FRI 22:30 Robert Plant: By Myself (b00vy78w)
Documentary in which Robert Plant discusses his musical journey from Stourbridge, the British blues boom, superstardom with Led Zeppelin in the 70s to 2010's Band of Joy album. He also looks at his work with the Honeydrippers and North African musicians, his reunion with Jimmy Page and his pairing with Alison Krauss.

FRI 23:30 Rock Island Line: The Song That Made Britain Rock (m000433l)
In January 1956, a new pop phenomenon appeared in the UK charts: a British artist playing a guitar. His name was Lonnie Donegan and the song he sang was Rock Island Line.

Donegan’s rough-and-ready style was at odds with the polished crooners who dominated the charts. He played the guitar in a way that sounded like anyone could do it. Rock Island Line sounded like nothing else on the radio and it inspired a generation of British youths to pick up guitars and begin a journey that would take them to the top of the American charts.

Rock Island Line, the biggest hit of the skiffle craze, spoke directly to a generation of British teenagers who had grown up during post-war rationing. Within 18 months of its release, sales of acoustic guitars in the UK had rocketed from 5,000 to over 250,000 a year.

The song began its life in the 1920s as a jingle in the workshops of the Rock Island Line railroad in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1933, John A Lomax visited Cummins Prison Farm, south of Little Rock, collecting work songs for the Library of Congress. On the day of the recording, a group of eight prisoners, led by Kelly Pace, came up to Lomax’s mic and sang Rock Island Line. Lomax’s driver was the African-American musician who became the celebrated folk singer Lead Belly. He was so impressed that he learned the tune, added verses and made it a staple of his own repertoire.

In the late 1940s, young music fans in the UK began to seek out recordings from the early years of jazz, becoming obsessed with the New Orleans style (known as Trad Jazz) that favoured collective interaction over the prevailing emphasis on soloists. Blowing on their instruments very hard, they found that their lips were numb after half an hour. So as to not lose their audience, they put down their instruments and picked up guitars, a double bass and a washboard.

These ‘breakdown sessions’ were initiated by Ken Colyer, a trumpet player who sought out his heroes in New Orleans. Because he was so familiar with their recordings, he was able to sit in with them, but a white kid playing with black musicians soon drew attention and when he went to renew his visa, he was arrested and held in jail for over two months. Returning to the UK, his brother pulled together a bunch of musicians to form a band that included Chris Barber on trombone, Monty Sunshine on clarinet and, on banjo, Lonnie Donegan. Lonnie was a natural front man, with a voice that sounded American. He stood at the back with the rhythm section during the jazz numbers, but when he came to the front during the breakdown, he grabbed the audience with his renditions of Lead Belly’s most famous songs, Rock Island Line prominent among them. Asked what kind of music they were playing, they replied that it was skiffle.

Now known as Chris Barber’s Jazz Band, they secured an offer to make a record for Decca. When they gathered in the label’s studios on 13 July 1954, it became apparent that the band did not have enough material to fill an album so it was decided that they should record songs from the band’s popular skiffle breakdown. They cut an incendiary version of Rock Island Line as well as another Lead Belly standard, John Henry.

The British record industry was scrambling to find artists who might jump on the rock bandwagon, and someone at Decca remembered Lonnie Donegan. Here was a chap who looked the part - open-necked shirt, acoustic guitar, sounding like an American cowboy, singing about railroads. More importantly, his song had the word ‘rock’ in the title.

In January 1956, Rock Island Line hit the top ten and the skiffle craze was born. Donegan sent a revolutionary message to the youth of Britain: you don’t have to be a trained musician to play this music. When Lonnie toured in late 1956, he took skiffle to the masses. During his six-night stand at the Liverpool Empire, thirteen-year-old George Harrison went every night. His pal, fourteen-year-old Paul McCartney also saw Donegan and promptly asked his dad to buy him a guitar. It is not known if John Lennon saw the show, but just two weeks later he had formed his own skiffle group, The Quarrymen.

Schoolboys in their thousands picked up guitars and formed skiffle groups. The pop charts began to feature other skiffle artists, mostly following Donegan’s Rock Island Line blueprint by recording songs about the American railroad like Freight Train by Chas McDevitt and Nancy Whiskey.

The skiffle craze was short-lived, lasting barely eighteen months, but in that time it inspired a generation of British boys to pick up a guitar and play. It was DIY, self-empowering and set out to challenge the bland chart music of the day. Skiffle provided a nursery for the British invasion of the American charts in the 1960s. We have taken it for granted that British kids always played guitars and wrote their own songs. It was skiffle that put guitars into the hands of the war babies – and all of skiffle’s influence can be traced back to Rock Island Line.

FRI 00:30 Cigar Box Blues - The Makers of a Revolution (m000c7pf)
We meet the passionate makers and players of cigar box guitars. Many of these craftsmen and musicians are from post-industrial British towns, and have created a self-identity through making these unique three-stringed guitars. Born from the blues, their simple, low-cost, ‘no-rules’ approach means anyone can try their hand.

These are the fervent advocates of the ‘cigar box guitar revolution’ who express their love of designing and constructing hand-made instruments, recycled from almost anything. The democratic, pro-recycling, local-production ethos of the movement inspires new recruits, while the emotional connection they feel for their instruments creates a unique and evocative sound that totally transports musicians and audiences alike.

Although the cigar box guitar has a long history in the USA, where it formed part of the culture of traditional blues music, it has only recently become popular with musicians in the UK. This film reveals how just three chords, played on their unique, DIY instruments, handmade from recycled materials, connect them to their truth.

FRI 01:00 Blues & Beyond with Cerys Matthews and Val Wilmer (b0bpb14f)
DJ and broadcaster Cerys Matthews and acclaimed blues photographer Val Wilmer select their favourite blues musicians, several of whom Val has met and photographed.

As they view their selection, they reveal the reasons behind their choices. Discover why Muddy Waters is their master of mojo, and how Val rescued Jimi Hendrix from some over-eager fans. From Howlin' Wolf to John Lee Hooker, Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Peggy Lee and many more, their playlist is packed with classic blues and punctuated with great stories.

Blues and Beyond offers new insights on both the subject and the narrators, as well as providing a heady nostalgic hit of the very best in blues music, from the intimate to the epic.

FRI 02:00 The Old Grey Whistle Test (m0012c2r)
Ralph McTell

Bob Harris introduces Ralph McTell in concert at the BBC Television Theatre in London's Shepherds Bush in 1976.

FRI 02:40 Robert Plant: By Myself (b00vy78w)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:30 today]

(Note: the times link back to the details; the pids link to the BBC page, including iPlayer)

A History of Ancient Britain 19:00 SAT (b010t8s4)

A History of Ancient Britain 02:20 SAT (b010t8s4)

Age of the Image 20:00 WED (m000fzm9)

Arena 20:00 THU (b01pjlhv)

Arena 02:10 THU (b01pjlhv)

Blues & Beyond with Cerys Matthews and Val Wilmer 01:00 FRI (b0bpb14f)

Cigar Box Blues - The Makers of a Revolution 00:30 FRI (m000c7pf)

Cricket: Today at the Test 19:00 FRI (m0018kbm)

Discovering... 23:25 SUN (m0002k5f)

Earth's Natural Wonders 19:00 WED (b09rbtsb)

Earth's Natural Wonders 01:30 WED (b09rbtsb)

Earth's Natural Wonders 19:00 THU (b09s8dkg)

Earth's Natural Wonders 01:10 THU (b09s8dkg)

Earth’s Tropical Islands 20:00 MON (m000cs0p)

Earth’s Tropical Islands 01:30 MON (m000cs0p)

Ever Decreasing Circles 00:20 SAT (b007bn3d)

Ever Decreasing Circles 20:30 TUE (b036d6db)

Fighting for King and Empire: Britain's Caribbean Heroes 22:30 WED (b05v08b7)

Francesco's Mediterranean Voyage 22:50 SAT (b00cp421)

Francesco's Mediterranean Voyage 23:20 SAT (b00cp4k0)

Gateways Grind: London’s Secret Lesbian Club 21:00 TUE (m0018k3h)

Glastonbury 20:00 FRI (m0018kbp)

Glastonbury 20:30 FRI (m0018kbr)

Glastonbury 21:30 FRI (m0018kbt)

Great American Railroad Journeys 19:00 MON (b09pwbxc)

Great American Railroad Journeys 00:30 MON (b09pwbxc)

Great American Railroad Journeys 19:00 TUE (b09pwc6p)

Great American Railroad Journeys 01:30 TUE (b09pwc6p)

Inside Classical 20:00 SUN (m0018k39)

Inside Classical 02:25 SUN (m0018k39)

Inspector Montalbano 21:00 SAT (m000ng77)

Iolo's Snowdonia 19:30 MON (b09rjs4p)

Iolo's Snowdonia 01:00 MON (b09rjs4p)

Iolo's Snowdonia 19:30 TUE (b09sbs00)

Iolo's Snowdonia 02:00 TUE (b09sbs00)

Keeping Up Appearances 00:50 SAT (b007b78b)

Keeping Up Appearances 20:00 TUE (b007b7cy)

Maria by Callas 21:30 SUN (m000qphk)

Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime 20:00 SAT (m000ngdw)

Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime 01:20 SAT (m000ngdw)

More Dawn French's Girls Who Do: Comedy 23:50 SAT (b0074swp)

Our Classical Century 19:00 SUN (m00041tg)

Our Classical Century 01:25 SUN (m00041tg)

Queen Victoria's Letters: A Monarch Unveiled 21:00 MON (b04p1vx1)

Queen Victoria's Letters: A Monarch Unveiled 22:00 MON (b04pl2mn)

Queen Victoria's Letters: A Monarch Unveiled 02:35 MON (b04p1vx1)

Queen Victoria's Letters: A Monarch Unveiled 02:30 TUE (b04pl2mn)

Rainbow City 22:00 WED (m0018k3z)

Robert Plant: By Myself 22:30 FRI (b00vy78w)

Robert Plant: By Myself 02:40 FRI (b00vy78w)

Rock Island Line: The Song That Made Britain Rock 23:30 FRI (m000433l)

Secret Agent Selection: WW2 23:30 WED (b0b110v4)

Secret Agent Selection: WW2 00:30 WED (b0b1z88n)

Secrets of Skin 00:30 TUE (m000cf0y)

Secrets of Skin 01:00 TUE (m000cf0t)

Storyville 22:00 TUE (m0018k3k)

Thatcher: A Very British Revolution 21:00 WED (m0005pt1)

Thatcher: A Very British Revolution 02:30 WED (m0005pt1)

The African Queen 21:00 THU (m0018k6p)

The Nun's Story 22:45 THU (m000rgxz)

The Old Grey Whistle Test 02:00 FRI (m0012c2r)

The World's Most Photographed 23:00 MON (b0078y3p)

Victorian Sensations 00:25 SUN (m00059cx)

Victorian Sensations 23:30 MON (m0005hhg)

Victorian Sensations 23:30 TUE (m0005pr9)