RADIO-LISTS: BBC FOUR
Unofficial Weekly Listings for BBC 4 — supported by bbc.co.uk/programmes/
SATURDAY 20 MAY 2023
SAT 19:00 Himalaya with Michael Palin (b0074qqv)
The Roof of the World
Leaving Everest Base Camp Michael Palin takes the high road to Lhasa to see for himself what the Chinese have done to Tibet. From the Potala Palace to the great monasteries of Tashilunpo and Sera he sees that religion is once again tolerated, while at the same time the old Tibetan centre of the city is being torn down and replaced with modern Chinese shopping malls and nightclubs.
Following the pilgrims to the holy Namtso Lake he finally gets warm in an Olympic sized hotspring before learning how to milk a yak with a nomad family with whom he travels to the summer horse festival in Yushu.
SAT 20:00 Himalaya with Michael Palin (b0074qrs)
Leaping Tigers, Naked Nagas
Michael Palin continues his Himalayan trek.
Following the Yangtze along Tiger Leaping Gorge into Yunnan in China, Palin reaches the easternmost end of the Himalayas.
He gets a medical check-up before exploring medieval Lijiang with the director of the local orchestra. Heading across Myanmar to Nagaland in India he rides the steam train to Tipong Coalmine.
In Assam he rides an elephant and then stays in a strange monastery.
SAT 21:00 Afterglow (p0fg5kpv)
Now Let’s Dance!
Ester is about to turn forty and planning to celebrate the big birthday with all her friends and family. But the day before the party, she receives a phone call that will tip her life upside down.
SAT 21:45 Afterglow (p0fg5m4c)
A Magical Evening
Ester insists on one last magical night out with her closest friends before the cancer treatment begins. Unbeknown to all of them, Charlotte makes an unsettling discovery.
SAT 22:30 A Timewatch Guide (b051h0gy)
The Mary Rose
Historian Dan Snow explores the greatest maritime archaeology project in British history - the Mary Rose. Using 40 years of BBC archive footage Dan charts how the Mary Rose was discovered, excavated and eventually raised, and what the latest research has revealed about this iconic ship and her crew. Dan also investigates how the Mary Rose project helped create modern underwater archaeology, examining the techniques, challenges and triumphs of the divers and archaeologists involved.
SAT 23:30 Victoria Wood: The Secret List (m000qrym)
The first of two programmes featuring more than 20 sketches handpicked by Victoria Wood from her first solo series, As Seen on TV.
Back in 2009, Victoria wrote a list of her favourite moments from her seminal 80s series, intending to use it as a compilation show of self-selected best bits. The list remained locked away in her personal office until now. It features familiar favourites and often overlooked gems, but as these two programmes explore, the chosen sketches serve as a prediction of what was to come in an unparalleled career that crossed just about every genre of stage and screen.
This first programme includes contributions from Russell T Davies, Ken Loach and playwright Winsome Pinnock, who dissect Victoria’s groundbreaking early work, why it is still regarded as a watershed moment in British television and the impact it has had on writers since. Meanwhile, Jane Wymark and Joan Armatrading provide an insight into the private side of their friend.
Rare and unseen material from Victoria’s personal collection, including an early university project, rehearsal tapes, notebooks and photos, completes this examination into the work of one of Britain’s most prolific artists.
SAT 00:30 Victoria Wood: The Secret List (m000qsj1)
An opportunity to see again sketches handpicked by Victoria Wood exclusively from her seminal sketch show As Seen on TV. The list of her favourite sketches was never aired or mentioned, instead sitting among her personal papers, which after her death in 2016 were boxed up and archived.
This tribute continues to unveil Victoria’s favourite moments and is chock-full of indelible sketches, including Shoe Shop, Two Soups and Acorn Antiques, plus matchless comic big belters At the Chippy and, of course, The Ballad of Barry and Freda aka Let’s Do It.
Acclaimed writers Abby Morgan and Winsome Pinnock discuss why Victoria’s comedy subverted outdated preconceptions about women, ageing and other ‘unmentionables’. Ken Loach and Russell T Davies dissect Victoria’s unrivalled use of language. Meanwhile, superfans celebrate a body of work that continues to resonate and inspire.
SAT 01:30 As Time Goes By (p0479v3l)
Jean and Lionel bump into Jean’s sister-in-law and get asked to stay for the weekend. They decide to lie about how long they’ve known each other, but this catches up with them.
SAT 02:00 Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? (b0077j8v)
Appalled by the changes in Newcastle, Terry considers leaving to get a job in Berwick. Meanwhile, his friend's wanderlust sets Bob thinking.
SAT 02:30 Himalaya with Michael Palin (b0074qqv)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
SUNDAY 21 MAY 2023
SUN 19:00 John Williams at the BBC (b073mrky)
Fifty years of spellbinding performances from one of the guitar's greatest players, John Williams. Gold from the BBC's archive that takes in classical masterworks, the prog rock of Sky and comedy with Eric Sykes, as well as duets with fellow guitar maestro Julian Bream.
SUN 20:00 BBC Proms (m001bnjw)
BBC’s Earth Prom
In the centenary year of the BBC, the Proms brings a celebration of its world-famous Natural History Unit through the years, from Sir David Attenborough’s pioneering early adventures to an exciting preview of what promises to be the latest blockbuster series, Frozen Planet II.
Featuring breathtaking images, natural sounds, spoken words and, of course, music, this spectacular event will include classic documentary scores from renowned composers such as George Fenton, Murray Gold, Sarah Class and Nitin Sawhney and a collaboration by Hans Zimmer and Camila Cabello. The evening culminates with the world premiere of Earth Symphony, a work arranged by Iain Farrington that draws on scores from Planet Earth II, Blue Planet II and Seven Worlds One Planet. Ben Palmer conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
Presented by Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin from the stage of the Royal Albert Hall.
SUN 21:55 Hans Zimmer: Hollywood Rebel (m001d9jf)
The story of one of the most celebrated and sought-after movie composers, as told by the man himself and his closest collaborators.
Across a glittering 40-year career, Hans has redefined the movie score, thrilling audiences, pioneering new techniques and introducing new generations to the drama of orchestral music. In this portrait, Hans reveals the musical secrets of his craft - how he goes about terrifying, moving and raising an audience's spirits through his music.
SUN 22:55 imagine... (b0bpx05m)
Tracey Emin: Where Do You Draw the Line?
2018 has been an extraordinary year for British artist Tracey Emin. With large-scale commissions catapulting her from London's St Pancras station to the streets of downtown Sydney - only pausing for breath with exhibitions in Hong Kong and Brussels along the way - she has proven yet again that she packs a punch like no other.
But as she turns 55 and enters what she likes to call the 'last stage' of her life, is it time for a more mature, reflective Tracey? Following the death of her mother in 2016, she has decided to return to her home town of Margate and convert a derelict printworks there into a new studio where she can live and make art.
imagine... has spent the past 12 months following Tracey at home and abroad in a bid to chart her creative process at work. She tells Alan Yentob about her life to date, from her troubled early years in Margate to a series of breakthroughs in the 1990s as a leading light of the Young British Artists, featuring career-defining work like My Bed and her embroidered tent Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995.
With contributors including Sir Nicholas Serota, Jay Jopling, Maria Balshaw and David Dawson, this is the definitive account of one of Britain's most infamous artists.
SUN 00:10 Simon Schama Meets (p0dcxclx)
Ai Weiwei is arguably the world’s most famous dissident artist, celebrated for his prolific and profound output of sculpture, installation, architecture, photography and film-making, which is never afraid to take on systems of power and oppression.
What is less well known, however, is his extraordinary backstory. His father was distinguished poet Ai Qing, who was a key cultural figure during the Communist rise to power but was one of over half a million intellectuals who fell afoul of the state during the Cultural Revolution. He lost everything and was exiled alongside his young son to ‘Little Siberia’ in northernmost China. For the first 20 years of his life, Ai Weiwei’s experience of his father was not as a writer but as an ‘enemy of the state’. Ai Weiwei tells Simon the harrowing story of his childhood, and his memories of his father’s stoicism in the face of decades of persecution. He reflects on the lessons he took from his father, above all that ‘freedom of expression is the foundation for humanity.’
Ai Weiwei also describes his own journey towards becoming a dissident artist and a voice for the downtrodden, and how he – like his father – continuously pays a heavy price for speaking truth to power. Ai Weiwei has carried this sense of duty with him throughout his career and recalls how he took on the Chinese state in the early days of the internet and social media, and the life-threatening consequences he faced, including 81 days in state detention, an experience he recounts in chilling detail.
In the years since, he has continued to use his work and notoriety to stand up for the oppressed in the face of authoritarianism, and he speaks candidly to Simon about the vital role that truth and the preservation of memory can have in the battle for democratic freedom all over the world. Ai Weiwei reflects powerfully on the need to ‘fight’ for ‘all those values’ that are ‘meaningful for life itself’.
SUN 00:40 Berlin 1945 (m000p9tw)
The British, French and Americans are waiting to enter Berlin. In the meantime, the Soviets appoint mayors, organise the food supply and go on the hunt for war criminals. The Jewish community, among whom there are few survivors, regroup.
The fate of the city is determined at the Potsdam Conference. Life returns to the ruins, theatres reopen and orchestras play in the open air. By the end of 1945, the bond that held the Allies together is torn apart - and the Cold War begins.
SUN 01:35 BBC Proms (m001bnjw)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
MONDAY 22 MAY 2023
MON 19:00 Railways: The Making of a Nation (b07x4f3t)
The Age of Leisure
The very idea of an excursion to distant places became popular from the 1840s onwards. People were taking day trips and seeing parts of the country they had never seen before. However, it wasn't all seaside and sand. Some excursion trains were set up to satisfy the public's demand to witness public executions. Other lines transported people to enjoy horse racing and sporting events. Thousands visited resorts, spa towns and the coast. A new wave of Victorian tourists spent their cash on holidays and visited hotels at stations and beyond. The ultimate experience was often to head to the hills and sample clean air, far away from industrial grime and pollution. Working-class northerners now had access to the Lake District. However, one particular Lakeland resident, William Wordsworth, was initially not so happy about the influx of this new type of visitor.
MON 19:30 Fred Dibnah's Age of Steam (b0078lbl)
Steam on the Water
A look at how steam power revolutionised shipping, from the earliest paddle steamers with screw propellers to more modern vessels like the Royal Yacht Britannia.
MON 20:00 Italy's Invisible Cities (b088nl33)
Documentary series. Using the latest 3D scanning technology, Alexander Armstrong and Dr Michael Scott explore the watery wonderland of Venice.
They uncover how a city built in a swamp became one of the most powerful in medieval Europe and dive into its canals to experience how the city remains standing. Plus, they reveal how the city's beauty once masked a ruthless secret state and a world of excess and vice.
MON 21:00 Saving Venice (m001m7p1)
How Venetians are turning to revolutionary engineering, restoration of the natural environment and knowledge from their past in order to save Venice.
MON 22:30 The 15 Billion Pound Railway (m0002p93)
Under Pressure, Over Budget
With exclusive access, this returning series follows the construction workers of Crossrail as they battle to finish the final stages of the new Elizabeth Line underground railway beneath the streets of London.
Costing over fifteen billion pounds and stretching 120km across the capital, this extraordinary construction project is one of the biggest in Europe and one of the most ambitious engineering feats in Britain since the time of Brunel.
In the final part of the series, our cameras pick up immediately after the shock news that the Elizabeth Line has been delayed by over a year and will cost hundreds of millions of pounds more than planned. The show discovers how engineers, technicians and train staff must pull together - working on borrowed time - to build and fit out ten brand new stations, learn to operate the new trains, and test out the new 21-km twin tunnels under London, before it can open to the public. At stake are the reputation of the engineers, the reputation of the new railway and the reputation of British engineering.
Project manager Lih-Ling Highe is back to lead the installation of thousands of kilometres of vital power cables through the largest station on the Elizabeth Line – Tottenham Court Road. Tottenham Court Road is also expected to be one of the busiest underground stations attracting 200,000 passengers a day. If the cables are damaged or incorrectly wired, the station cannot be switched on and the project will be delayed once more.
At Bond Street Station, beneath London’s most expensive shopping street, Tim Weihen and his team are tasked with installing three 65-metre-long escalators – the longest on the railway – in the tightest of shafts so passengers can get to the trains. In a nail-biting process, the team must lower the bulky escalator sections, weighing up to seven tonnes, over the edge of a 30-degree drop in order to build all three escalators on time.
One of the world’s most famous train stations - Paddington Station – is getting a new Elizabeth Line station hub next door, and site manager Cynthia Myndhardt is in charge of building and fitting it out. The most daring feature of the station is a 130m-long great glass canopy to soar above the site, and help plug it into Brunel’s original grade one listed station – a nerve-wracking feat considering any damage to the historic building could result in a prison sentence.
The show also meets up with new recruit Rochelle as she continues her quest to become an Elizabeth Line driver. We follow her on her most nerve-wracking challenge to date – driving 1,500 passengers from Shenfield, Essex, to central London - in rush hour. Ahead of her lies 32km of busy track, 73 warning signals and 16 strict speed restrictions to follow, all of which must be intensely monitored along her route.
The episode ends with the a second, shock announcement that the project must delay again and that an even bigger bailout of £2 billion is needed. With station construction, tunnel fit out and train testing still incomplete, the fate of the now £17 billion-pound railway hangs in the balance.
MON 23:30 Building Britain's Biggest Nuclear Power Station (m000ww0l)
In the second episode, our cameras pick up and follow the projects’ next major construction milestones.
We get up close and personal with the world’s largest land-based crane during the biggest lift on the project to date. We learn how the team has created an extensive flood defence system to protect the site from the worst imaginable weather events - including a once-in-10,000 year storm surge - to avoid a nuclear disaster like the one that befell the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan. We also follow specialists as they work to uncover unexploded World War II bombs that threaten the installation of the 4500-tonne cooling water intake heads.
MON 00:30 H2O: The Molecule That Made Us (m000zgd9)
Gaza is a microcosm of a world without access to water. As the planet heats up, droughts may have become more commonplace, but that doesn't mean that water is disappearing.
Storm chasers and photographers track the global changes in giant storms and floods across America. Nasa’s Grace satellites reveal a new map showing global overuse of aquifers. In some places, underground water is being ‘mined’ – finite reserves, which are being used up for profit.
But there are solutions too. New York City uses nature and the Catskill mountains instead of an industrial plant for water treatment, demonstrating a collective appreciation for the importance of water.
MON 01:25 Novels That Shaped Our World (m000bpvx)
The Class Ceiling
Class is present from the time the very first novels in English appeared. This episode begins with one of the most famous portrayals of the fate of the poor and the destitute - Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, published in 1837. The ‘Condition of England’ novel, by writers such as Dickens, Disraeli and Elizabeth Gaskell, whose Mary Barton is set in industrial Manchester, drew attention to and invoked pity for the lives lived by the have-nots in a ‘two-nation’ society. But, though sympathetic, they fell short of offering support for the aims of working-class movements. By the turn of the next century, though, these had grown in strength. Novels like Robert Tressell’s The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, published in 1914, pressed not just for reform, but for socialism to take root. In the USA, meanwhile, class was thought by some not to exist. F Scott Fitzgerald’s high society The Great Gatsby showed that it did, while the sparkling Jeeves and Wooster series of PG Wodehouse showed that it could be funny.
In the late 1950s, DH Lawrence’s infamous adultery-across-the-classes novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover was put on trial for obscenity, and a new generation of working-class writers emerged with honest portraits of their own communities. Working-class people could now read novels by and about themselves. The episode closes with two books from recent decades that Charles Dickens would surely have recognised - Irvine Welsh’s incendiary Trainspotting and Avarind Adiga’s 2008 Booker Prize-winning The White Tiger. Dickens and Gaskell wrote about the fallout from the industrial revolution in the United Kingdom. The White Tiger shows the fallout from the tech revolution in India. The story of class in the novel has never gone away.
MON 02:25 Railways: The Making of a Nation (b07x4f3t)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
MON 02:55 Himalaya with Michael Palin (b0074qrs)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 on Saturday
TUESDAY 23 MAY 2023
TUE 19:00 Railways: The Making of a Nation (b07x4f7s)
The New Commuters
Historian Liz McIvor explores how Britain's expanding rail network was the spark to a social revolution, starting in the 1800s and continuing through to modern times. A fast system of transportation shaped so many areas of our industrial nation - from what we eat to where we live, work and play. The railways generated economic activity but they also changed the nature of business itself. They even changed attitudes to time and how we set our clocks! Our railways may have reflected deep class divisions, but they also brought people together as never before, and helped forge a new sense of national identity.
This episode looks at the railways enabled us to live further and further from the places where we worked. Before the age of steam you would need a horse to travel long distances on land. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries our railways encouraged the development of suburbia inhabited by a new type of resident and worker - the commuter. In some cases, new places emerged on the map simply because of the railways - places like Surbiton. Liz visits London and the south east of England, our nation's largest commuter zone. The Victorian rail network was never part of a single grand plan, but emerged and evolved, line by line, over decades. For today's commuters, work is still going on to create a system that serves their needs!
TUE 19:30 Fred Dibnah's Age of Steam (b0078lf9)
Steam and the Modern Age
Fred looks at the major advance that was made in the application of steam power with the invention of the steam turbine, and at its continued use today for the generation of electricity in both coal-fired and nuclear power stations. He also looks at the way our steam heritage is preserved in museums and by steam preservation societies.
TUE 20:00 As Time Goes By (p0479vfc)
Jean’s personal life has become the focal point of conversation between Judy and Sandy. Lionel offers Jean a free cruise holiday, but her response is not what he’d imagined.
TUE 20:30 Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? (b0077jfw)
I'll Never Forget Whatshername
Terry tries to track down some of his old flames, but probing into the past produces embarrassing results.
TUE 21:00 Expedition Volcano (b09hlzbb)
In the heart of Africa, deep in the Congo, is one of the most spectacular volcanoes on Earth - Nyiragongo. This spectacular volcano contains a massive boiling cauldron of molten rock - the world's largest continually active lava lake. But it is also one of the most dangerous volcanoes on the planet. It has erupted twice in the last 50 years, most recently in 2002, wreaking havoc and destruction on the people who live in the nearby city of Goma. This region is also dangerous for another reason - it has been racked by war and humanitarian crises for most of the last 30 years, so Nyiragongo is one of the least studied active volcanoes on Earth.
But now, an international and local team of scientists are mounting a major expedition to study the volcano. They are attempting to discover the warning signs that it is building towards a new eruption, so they can alert the people of Goma before it erupts again. The team will take around four tonnes of climbing equipment, scientific instruments and supplies up to the crater rim. Then a small team will descend into the crater itself - 350m down a potentially deadly rockface - to spend a week camping right next to the lava lake. The expedition is led by Belgian scientist Dr Benoit Smets, who is an expert on Nyiragongo. He is joined by British geologist Prof Chris Jackson. Together, they work with the rest of the team using gas-sampling equipment, thermal cameras and sound waves to try and predict when the volcano will next erupt.
But there is another side to this volcano. As well as the threat of eruption, it impacts life in Goma and the surrounding area in many surprising ways. Humanitarian doctor Xand van Tulleken investigates how Nyiragongo has transformed people's lives by looking at the hidden dangers - from deadly disease to suffocating gases. In charge of expedition logistics is former Royal Marine Aldo Kane. It is his job to get everyone in and out of the crater safely. But during the expedition, he will also risk his life to get the team as near to the lava lake as possible.
TUE 22:00 Storyville (m001m6p2)
When the Taliban returned to power in 2021, the lives and destinies of two young Afghani women, Raha and Marwa, were changed forever.
Inside Kabul is an animated film based on the voice notes that Raha and Marwa exchanged in the months that followed.
Raha chose to stay in Kabul, where she was confronted with the violence of the regime, the sudden change in what ordinary people, especially women, were allowed to do and the crisis into which the country gradually sank.
Marwa left with her husband just in time and found herself in a refugee camp in Abu Dhabi, waiting to be welcomed to another country.
TUE 22:30 Escape from Kabul Airport (m001cc0g)
A landmark documentary tells the inside story of the 18 monumental days in August 2021 when the US withdrew its troops from Afghanistan and subsequently evacuated thousands of Afghan citizens from Kabul airport after the Taliban seized the city. It was the largest airlift in US modern history, which despite the chaos and suffering, rescued 124,000 people.
Combining previously unseen on-the-ground archival footage from the evacuation with exclusive interviews with evacuees, eye-witnesses, US marines and Taliban fighters, the film also includes dramatic testimony from Afghan citizens attempting to flee. They recount their struggle to reach the airport, which was their last hope of leaving the country before the widely feared Taliban took control.
TUE 23:45 Britain and the Sea (b03lbv22)
Trade and Romance
This third episode traces the crucial importance of the sea to Britain's trade and to individual livelihoods of coastal communities. Joined on this leg of his epic sail by his son Fred, David follows the trade routes of the west coast of Scotland along the monumental channels that cut through the romantic Highlands and brought wealth and prosperity to the heart of Scotland. The journey starts at Craobh Haven and takes David along the Crinan Canal, around the Isle of Bute and up the River Clyde towards Glasgow.
TUE 00:45 Storyville (m000kjnt)
Welcome to Chechnya: The Gay Purge
Welcome to Chechnya: The Gay Purge lays bare the Russian Federation republic's deadly war against its gay citizens. Countless victims have been killed and hundreds more are missing. With the LGBTQ community living in fear and secrecy, this brave and searing film follows the underground team fighting to rescue them before it is too late.
Since 2017, Chechnya’s tyrannical leader Ramzan Kadyrov has waged a depraved operation to ‘cleanse the blood’ of LGBTQ Chechens, overseeing a government-directed campaign to detain, torture and execute them. With no help from the Kremlin, and only faint global condemnation, activists have taken matters into their own hands. From a safe house in a secret location in Russia, they risk their own lives by running rescue missions into Chechnya and providing temporary shelter.
This film follows the extraordinary bravery of the activists and Chechens whose lives are being threatened. Deploying a groundbreaking, new digital ‘face-double’ technique that has never been used before in documentary film-making, the identities of those most at risk are protected. By the close of the film, 151 people have been located with the help of the LGBTQ pipeline. Yet 40,000 others remain in hiding and in need of protection.
TUE 02:25 Railways: The Making of a Nation (b07x4f7s)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
TUE 02:55 The 15 Billion Pound Railway (m0002p93)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:30 on Monday
WEDNESDAY 24 MAY 2023
WED 19:00 Railways: The Making of a Nation (b07x4f1y)
Food and Shopping
The railways changed what we eat and the culinary tastes of the population. Moving produce around at speed was suddenly possible - fresh meat, wet fish, dairy, fruit and veg were now widely available. And it was in London where arguably the nation's diet changed the most. With a new system of rapid transport it was now possible for the capital to enjoy food supplies from all corners of the nation. Diets improved in terms of the variety and quality of food available. Victorian men and women developed a taste for one particular dish that would be popular with the masses for generations to come - fish and chips.
WED 19:30 Oak Tree: Nature's Greatest Survivor (b06fq03t)
George McGavin investigates the highly varied and dramatic life of oak tree. Part science documentary, part historical investigation, this film is a celebration of one of the most iconic trees in the British countryside. It aims to give viewers a sense of what an extraordinary species the oak is and provide an insight into how this venerable tree experiences life.
Filmed over a year, George uncovers the extraordinary transformations the oak goes through to meet the challenges of four very different seasons.
In autumn, George goes underground, digging below an oak tree to see how its roots extract precious resources from the soil. And he sees why the oak's superstrong wood made it the perfect material for building some the most famous ships in naval history, including Nelson's flagship The Victory.
In winter, George discovers the sophisticated strategies the tree uses to survive gales and bitter frosts. He finds out about the oak's vital role in architecture, showing how some very familiar sights, such as the tower of Salisbury Cathedral, are in fact giant oak structures.
In spring, George investigates how the oak procreates, spreading its pollen through the countryside. He discovers the incredibly sophisticated strategies it uses to withstand savage onslaughts from predators hellbent on eating it alive.
In summer, George uses a high-powered microscope to see the hundreds of species that regard the oak as their home. Humans too rely on the oak for their own form of 'sustenance'. Whisky gets its unique flavours from the oak wood barrels in which it's matured.
WED 21:00 Secrets of Size: Atoms to Supergalaxies (m0017frm)
What would the universe look like if you were a billion times smaller or a billion times bigger? In this mind-bending series, Jim Al-Khalili looks at the various sizes in the universe, ranging from the tiniest objects measuring just a few atoms to vast structures consisting of hundreds of thousands of interconnected galaxies. Investigating these astonishing objects reveals fundamental truths about our universe. At the end of each film, the audience sees the largest structures ever discovered in the universe and the smallest objects whose images scientists have managed to capture to date.
In the first episode, Jim enters the Alice in Wonderland world of objects that are too tiny to glimpse with the naked eye. Starting with the smallest insects, he moves on to encounter living cells with amazing superpowers and confronts some of humanity's deadliest enemies in the form of viruses. Going smaller still, he encounters wondrous new nanomaterials such as graphene, discovered by physicist Andre Geim. These are revolutionising engineering, medicine, computing, electronics and environmental science.
Finally, Jim comes face to face with the fundamental building blocks of the world around us – atoms – and reveals why understanding the science of the small is crucial to the future of humanity.
WED 22:00 Screen Two (p03scq8k)
Young, handsome and alone in London. Will Sunil’s luck hold out against the seductions of pretty girls, the wiles of con-men and a hundred temptations of the great city?
WED 23:15 Andrew Davies: Rewriting the Classics (m0001v0q)
Controversial, witty, irreverent – Britain’s best-known screenwriter, Andrew Davies, has created some of the most iconic small-screen dramas of the past 50 years.
At the age of 82 he is following his smash hit adaptation of War and Peace with another global epic, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.
As he watches the production come to life during 2018, he looks back at the influence of his childhood in Cardiff. And he explores how he boils down and spices up his dramas – transforming our best-loved novels into prime-time television. Contributors include Sarah Waters, Helen Fielding and Dominic West.
WED 00:15 Oak Tree: Nature's Greatest Survivor (b06fq03t)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today
WED 01:45 Railways: The Making of a Nation (b07x4f1y)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
WED 02:15 Secrets of Size: Atoms to Supergalaxies (m0017frm)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today
THURSDAY 25 MAY 2023
THU 19:00 Railways: The Making of a Nation (b07x4fvm)
A Touch of Class
Trains reflected class divisions with separate carriages for first, second and third class passengers. Yet, seen at the time, they were also bringing people physically closer together. In the early 1800s, Britain was clearly divided between upper, middle and working classes. On the railways they shared the same stations and arrived at the destination at the same time!
The trains gradually acted as a great catalyst, mixing the country up as people were travelling to regions and places for the first time. Locations, accents, culture and fashions were all new. The nation's relationship with royalty also changed. Queen Victoria was now able to venture far and wide across her kingdom and visit more of her subjects. Over time, we developed a stronger sense of shared identity and culture.
THU 19:30 Fred Dibnah's Building of Britain (b0074n9f)
Fred takes a look at the 11th-century building programme undertaken by the Normans which resulted in mighty fortress cathedrals like Ely and Peterborough.
At Peterborough Cathedral, Fred reveals the secret weapon the Norman builders had at their disposal - the stone arch - and demonstrates just how the early stonemasons constructed them. At Ely, Fred climbs high up inside the building to examine the alterations and additions made by later builders. Inspecting this construction masterpiece sees Fred scaling rooftop ladders to examine the incredible octagonal lantern built in the 14th century, an amazing feat of early engineering. Fred also has the lowdown on exactly how this feat was accomplished.
Fred's final destination is Rochester, this time to examine a Norman castle rather than a cathedral. Here, he demonstrates how the tactics used all those centuries ago by attackers to try and destroy tall towers bear a startling resemblance to the way he used to pull down tall buildings.
THU 20:00 A House Through Time (m000jr9f)
David Olusoga investigates the residents of Number 10 Guinea Street from the end of the 18th century until the 1870s. They are an extraordinarily diverse bunch, from a middle-class solicitor who becomes mayor to a struggling former servant trapped in an abuse relationship.
His first investigation picks up the story of the Holbrook family at the death of sea captain Joseph Holbrook. Joseph’s will hints at a rift with his youngest daughter Ann when he writes that she has ‘misbehaved and disobliged’ him and her mother Hester. Curious to discover what this phrase means and what Ann may have done to anger her parents in this way, David sets out to investigate.
He discovers that Ann Holbrook gets married nine years after her father’s death to a clergyman called James Poulson. But sadly, this marriage, which could have saved Ann’s damaged reputation, instead proves to be a catastrophic error. Poulson is not the man he claims to be, and the lies and scandal that surround him eventually have devastating consequences for Ann and the Holbrook family.
David’s next search leads him to the Haberfield family, who appear in the house’s records from 1804. While the senior Haberfields, Andrew and Mary, make little dent on history, the same is not true of their teenage son John Kerle Haberfield. Young John makes his way up the professional ladder, becoming first a solicitor, then a local politician. By 1831, he is working in local government when riots erupt in Bristol, led by angry citizens protesting the notoriously corrupt voting system. The riots end with bloodshed, looting and central Bristol in flames.
Six years later in 1837, John Haberfield is made mayor of Bristol. It is a huge honour, but a tumultuous time to rise to power. In 1839, unrest boils up once again as protesters begin to rally around the Chartist cause, demanding the vote for all working men. Full-scale riots soon threaten to erupt, and Haberfield is called upon to formulate the official response. Keen to avoid the bloodshed of 31, he must make some difficult choices.
The next residents in Number 10 Guinea Street are the Harris family, who live in the house for over two decades, from the early 1840s to the 1860s. Although their lives are relatively uneventful, David discovers that living alongside them is a domestic servant named Hester Gray. Curious to find out more about the life of a woman in service, David decides to investigate.
Hester is the sole servant in the house, so would have had a relentless routine of cleaning, cooking and household chores keeping her busy from dawn until dusk. But Hester leaves her job to get married and appears to be making a fresh start. David’s next step is to trace her movements from Guinea Street to slum accommodation nearby.
Sadly, David discovers from a series of newspaper articles from the 1870s that Hester’s relationship with her husband Henry is a troubled one. The reports detail a shocking case of domestic violence involving the couple. The incident begins with a drunken argument in a local pub, and ends at the family home with a violent assault and a tragic accident involving Hester’s sister-in-law.
David’s final search is into the house’s next resident, William Martin. William is an entrepreneurial young teacher and part-time physiognomist who runs a business school out of No 10 Guinea Street. But there is more to his story than first meets the eye. William’s promising career is abruptly cut short when he is admitted to the local lunatic asylum. Here, David finds a series of extraordinary letters, written in William’s own hand, which give an insight into his deteriorating state of mind and shed light on this tale of thwarted ambition and wasted potential.
THU 21:00 This Cultural Life (m001m6nv)
Actor Whoopi Goldberg reveals the most important influences and experiences that shaped her own creativity.
THU 21:30 The Color Purple (m0012jfs)
Celie, a poor black girl, fights to hold on to her self-esteem when she is separated from her sister and forced into a brutal marriage. Spanning the years 1909 to 1947 in a small Georgia town, the film chronicles the joys, pains and people in her life.
Adapted by Steven Spielberg from Alice Walker's seminal novel.
THU 23:55 Italy's Invisible Cities (b088nl33)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 on Monday
THU 00:55 Hans Zimmer: Hollywood Rebel (m001d9jf)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:55 on Sunday
THU 01:55 Railways: The Making of a Nation (b07x4fvm)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
THU 02:25 Fred Dibnah's Building of Britain (b0074n9f)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today
THU 02:55 A House Through Time (m000jr9f)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
FRIDAY 26 MAY 2023
FRI 19:00 Top of the Pops (m001m6qn)
LIST OF THIS WEEK'S PROGRAMMES
Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis present the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 6 October 1994 and featuring CJ Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Michelle Gayle, Bon Jovi, Elton John, Take That, INXS and Whigfield.
FRI 19:30 Top of the Pops (m001m6qq)
Mark Goodier presents the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 13 October 1994 and featuring PJ & Duncan, Cappella, Gloria Estefan, Snap!, Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories, Pato Banton, 2wo Third3, Sting and Take That.
FRI 20:00 Top of the Pops (b07z3cn5)
John Peel presents the weekly pop chart show, first broadcast on 27 May 1982. Includes appearances from Debbie Harry, Genesis, Japan, Soft Cell, Duran Duran and Madness. Also includes a dance performance from Zoo.
FRI 20:30 Top of the Pops (b0446m6t)
David 'Kid' Jensen presents another edition of the weekly pop chart show, including performances from the Skids, Roxy Music, ELO, Tubeway Army, Liner, David Bowie, Blondie and Elvis Costello and The Attractions. With dance sequences by Legs & Co.
FRI 21:00 Cilla at the BBC (b067543w)
Much-mourned national treasure Cilla Black commenced her eminent career as a TV host in 1968 on the BBC. Her career as perhaps the nation's favourite female pop singer of the decade had already been established after landing her first Number 1 with Anyone Who Had a Heart, the biggest-selling hit by a female singer in the 1960s.
This tribute compilation celebrates the BBC's coverage of Cilla's 60s pop star years on programmes like Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's Not Only...But Also, The Ken Dodd Show, Top of the Pops and The Royal Variety Performance, before selecting just some of the golden moments from the long-running self-titled series she hosted for the BBC between 1968 and 1976 including the Paul McCartney-penned theme song Step Inside Love and that 1973 famous duet with Marc Bolan on Life's A Gas.
FRI 22:00 Sounds of the Sixties (b0074qcb)
The Singer and the Song
Rock, pop and R'n'B performances from the BBC archives, with Sandie Shaw, Dusty Springfield, Long John Baldry, Lulu, Tom Jones, Brenton Wood, Cliff Richard, Cilla Black and Peter Sarstedt.
FRI 22:30 Dusty (m0015npy)
Dusty Springfield's 1960s variety show, first broadcast on 22 August 1967, with the voices of Madeline Bell, Leslie Duncan and Maggie Stredder. Her special guest is singer Mel Tormé.
FRI 22:55 Lulu's Back in Town (b00k35lc)
Edition of Lulu's 1960s TV variety show, in which she sings solo numbers and duets with guests Les Dawson and the Everly Brothers.
FRI 23:20 Sir Cliff Richard at the BBC (m000ng7h)
As the Peter Pan of Pop reaches the milestone of his 80th birthday, the BBC celebrates with a look back through its archives at some of his most memorable performances and biggest hits.
Starting with the release of Sir Cliff’s first single Move It in 1958, we follow his incredible career through his appearances on a variety of BBC music programmes and television specials. The programme takes in his early, much-loved songs of the 1960s, the comeback and credibility of his work in the 1970s, the successes he enjoyed throughout the 80s and 90s, as he consolidated his reputation as a pop superstar, right up until the controversy and vindication that came with his Millennium Prayer.
Amongst the classic songs featured are The Young Ones, Living Doll, Bachelor Boy, the Eurovision Song Contest contenders Congratulations and Power To All Our Friends, Devil Woman, Miss You Nights, Wired for Sound and Cliff’s much-praised 80s duet with Van Morrison, Wherever God Shines His Light.
FRI 00:20 Top of the Pops (m001m6qn)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
FRI 00:50 Top of the Pops (m001m6qq)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today
FRI 01:20 Top of the Pops (b0446m6t)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:30 today
FRI 01:50 Top of the Pops (b07z3cn5)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
FRI 02:15 Cilla at the BBC (b067543w)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today
FRI 03:15 Sounds of the Sixties (b0074qcb)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 today
(Note: the times link back to the details; the pids link to the BBC page, including iPlayer)
A House Through Time 20:00 THU (m000jr9f)
A House Through Time 02:55 THU (m000jr9f)
A Timewatch Guide 22:30 SAT (b051h0gy)
Afterglow 21:00 SAT (p0fg5kpv)
Afterglow 21:45 SAT (p0fg5m4c)
Andrew Davies: Rewriting the Classics 23:15 WED (m0001v0q)
As Time Goes By 01:30 SAT (p0479v3l)
As Time Goes By 20:00 TUE (p0479vfc)
BBC Proms 20:00 SUN (m001bnjw)
BBC Proms 01:35 SUN (m001bnjw)
Berlin 1945 00:40 SUN (m000p9tw)
Britain and the Sea 23:45 TUE (b03lbv22)
Building Britain's Biggest Nuclear Power Station 23:30 MON (m000ww0l)
Cilla at the BBC 21:00 FRI (b067543w)
Cilla at the BBC 02:15 FRI (b067543w)
Dusty 22:30 FRI (m0015npy)
Escape from Kabul Airport 22:30 TUE (m001cc0g)
Expedition Volcano 21:00 TUE (b09hlzbb)
Fred Dibnah's Age of Steam 19:30 MON (b0078lbl)
Fred Dibnah's Age of Steam 19:30 TUE (b0078lf9)
Fred Dibnah's Building of Britain 19:30 THU (b0074n9f)
Fred Dibnah's Building of Britain 02:25 THU (b0074n9f)
H2O: The Molecule That Made Us 00:30 MON (m000zgd9)
Hans Zimmer: Hollywood Rebel 21:55 SUN (m001d9jf)
Hans Zimmer: Hollywood Rebel 00:55 THU (m001d9jf)
Himalaya with Michael Palin 19:00 SAT (b0074qqv)
Himalaya with Michael Palin 20:00 SAT (b0074qrs)
Himalaya with Michael Palin 02:30 SAT (b0074qqv)
Himalaya with Michael Palin 02:55 MON (b0074qrs)
Italy's Invisible Cities 20:00 MON (b088nl33)
Italy's Invisible Cities 23:55 THU (b088nl33)
John Williams at the BBC 19:00 SUN (b073mrky)
Lulu's Back in Town 22:55 FRI (b00k35lc)
Novels That Shaped Our World 01:25 MON (m000bpvx)
Oak Tree: Nature's Greatest Survivor 19:30 WED (b06fq03t)
Oak Tree: Nature's Greatest Survivor 00:15 WED (b06fq03t)
Railways: The Making of a Nation 19:00 MON (b07x4f3t)
Railways: The Making of a Nation 02:25 MON (b07x4f3t)
Railways: The Making of a Nation 19:00 TUE (b07x4f7s)
Railways: The Making of a Nation 02:25 TUE (b07x4f7s)
Railways: The Making of a Nation 19:00 WED (b07x4f1y)
Railways: The Making of a Nation 01:45 WED (b07x4f1y)
Railways: The Making of a Nation 19:00 THU (b07x4fvm)
Railways: The Making of a Nation 01:55 THU (b07x4fvm)
Saving Venice 21:00 MON (m001m7p1)
Screen Two 22:00 WED (p03scq8k)
Secrets of Size: Atoms to Supergalaxies 21:00 WED (m0017frm)
Secrets of Size: Atoms to Supergalaxies 02:15 WED (m0017frm)
Simon Schama Meets 00:10 SUN (p0dcxclx)
Sir Cliff Richard at the BBC 23:20 FRI (m000ng7h)
Sounds of the Sixties 22:00 FRI (b0074qcb)
Sounds of the Sixties 03:15 FRI (b0074qcb)
Storyville 22:00 TUE (m001m6p2)
Storyville 00:45 TUE (m000kjnt)
The 15 Billion Pound Railway 22:30 MON (m0002p93)
The 15 Billion Pound Railway 02:55 TUE (m0002p93)
The Color Purple 21:30 THU (m0012jfs)
This Cultural Life 21:00 THU (m001m6nv)
Top of the Pops 19:00 FRI (m001m6qn)
Top of the Pops 19:30 FRI (m001m6qq)
Top of the Pops 20:00 FRI (b07z3cn5)
Top of the Pops 20:30 FRI (b0446m6t)
Top of the Pops 00:20 FRI (m001m6qn)
Top of the Pops 00:50 FRI (m001m6qq)
Top of the Pops 01:20 FRI (b0446m6t)
Top of the Pops 01:50 FRI (b07z3cn5)
Victoria Wood: The Secret List 23:30 SAT (m000qrym)
Victoria Wood: The Secret List 00:30 SAT (m000qsj1)
Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? 02:00 SAT (b0077j8v)
Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? 20:30 TUE (b0077jfw)
imagine... 22:55 SUN (b0bpx05m)