TV & radio: what to tune in to next week (20–26 May 2017)

Can't decide which shows to watch or listen to next week? Here are 10 programmes you won't want to miss...

Arena: American Epic . (BBC)
Arena: American Epic . (BBC)
 

Pick of the week

Arena: American Epic 
BBC Four 
Sunday 21 May, 10.00pm
 
In the 1920s, record companies travelled rural America in search of musicians to record. The result, as this new series on US roots music explores, was that the voices of the poor and oppressed began to be heard far from their homes. First up, among other highlights, is the early recordings of country pioneers, the Carter Family. Robert Redford narrates.
 
 
Home Front 
Radio 4
Monday 22 May, 12.04pm
 
The weekday series set a century ago continues. As well as the regular episodes, Drama: Home Front: A Lightening (Radio 4, Thursday 25 May, 2.15pm) marks the centenary of the first Gotha air raid, when an attack by Germans bombers devastated Folkestone.
 
 
Our Man In The Middle East 
Radio 4
Monday 22 May, 1.45pm
 
Jeremy Bowen’s personal history of the Middle East continues. The latest weekday episodes begin with a programme that considers divisions between Israelis and Palestinians. Other subject this week include Osama bin Laden and the effects of sanctions against Suddam Hussein. 
 
 
War Crimes: Dead Reckoning 
PBS America 
Monday 22 May, 9.00pm
 
Shown over three successive evenings, here’s a series that charts the evolution of how crimes during conflict have been investigated and prosecuted. Also showing over successive nights on PBS America, Japan: Memoirs Of A Secret Empire (Tuesday 23 May, 10.15pm) is a three-part series charting Japanese history between the 16th and 19th centuries. 
 
 

Elizabeth I: Death Of A Dynasty. (Channel 5)
 
 
Elizabeth I: Death Of A Dynasty 
Channel 5
Tuesday 23 May, 9.00pm
 
The drama-documentary series reaches the Tudor monarch’s later life. There’s glory in her rousing speech at Tilbury, made as the Spanish Armada approached, but also sad evidence of decline as a one-time favourite, the Earl of Essex, leads a rebellion against the ageing queen. 
 
 
Sgt Pepper Forever 
Radio 2
Wednesday 24 May, 10.00pm
 
To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Martin Freeman explores the recording of the Beatles’ psychedelic masterpiece. The first of two documentaries includes composer Howard Goodall outlining the album’s many musical innovations.
 
Nazi Wives 
Yesterday 
Thursday 25 May, 7.00pm
 
The first of back-to-back documentary premieres on Yesterday considers the role of women within Nazism. Followed by A Tale Of Two Sisters (8.00pm), which focuses on the Mitfords. Infamously, one of the sisters, Diana, embraced fascism and invited Hitler to her wedding to Oswald Mosley. 
 
 
Drama: The 'B' Word 
Radio 4
Friday 26 May, 2.15pm
 
‘Bloody’ may be regarded as a mild expletive today, but that wasn’t the case when George Bernard Shaw used the word in Pygmalion, the first time it had been uttered on the British stage. Alistair McGowan’s drama looks back at the play’s first production, in 1913, with McGowan himself playing Shaw. 
 

Versailles. (© Tibo & Anouchka, Capa Drama, ZodiakFiction & Docs, Incendo, Canal+)
 
 
Secrets Of Henry VIII’s Palace 
Channel 5
Friday 26 May, 8.00pm
 
The first offering in a history-themed double bill considers the story of the grand home Henry VII pinched from Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Followed by The Queen Mary: Our Royals At Sea (9.00pm), which finds Rob Bell outlining why the liner was a favourite haunt of Edward VIII.
 
 
Versailles 
BBC Two
Friday 26 May, 9.00pm
 
Louis XIV is away at war, battling against William of Orange. Back at Versailles, this means Queen Marie-Thérèse is in charge. Followed by Inside Versailles, in which Professor Kate Williams and Greg Jenner explore the use of aphrodisiacs and potions at court. 
 
 
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