TV & radio: what to tune in to next week (14–20 November)

Can't decide what programmes to watch or listen to? Here we round up the history TV and radio shows you won't want to miss

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World War II In Colour
Channel 5
Friday 14 November, 7.00pm

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The series chronicling the Second World War reaches 1944 and charts Hitler’s attempts to shift the balance of power back in his favour. Followed by the final episode of Rome: The World’s First Superpower (8.00pm), in which Larry Lamb profiles Julius Caesar. On ITV, Secrets From The Sky (8.00pm), with Bettany Hughes, looks down on Sutton Hoo in Suffolk.

Find out more here.

A History Of Ideas
Radio 4
Friday 14 November, 9.00pm

The first omnibus edition of the series devoted to big notions gathers up the thoughts of Melvyn Bragg’s learned panel on the subject of freedom. The weekday shows from Monday 17 November (12.04pm) focus on beauty and such questions as whether beauty has moral force.

Find out more here.

Walking Through History
Channel 4
Saturday 15 November, 8.00pm

Tony Robinson heads for Guernsey and Jersey, where he sees the remains of bunkers and machine gun posts, reminders of Nazi occupation. He also learns about the hardships endured by islanders during the Second World War and hears how locals helped to hide Russian slave labourers brought in to build fortifications.

Find out more here.

War of Words: Soldier-Poets of the Somme
BBC Two
Saturday 15 November, 9.45pm

Here’s a documentary that charts the experiences of poets and writers who served at the Somme, including Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves and JRR Tolkien. How did the battle shape their literary lives? The documentary incorporates animation, battalion war diaries and the landscape itself to link the men’s work to the terrible events that inspired it. Narrated by Michael Sheen.

Find out more here.

Dancing Cheek To Cheek: An Intimate History of Dance
BBC Four
Monday 17 November, 9.00pm

Strictly judge Len Goodman and historian Lucy Worsley take a two-step through the stories of Britain’s favourite dances down the centuries. First up, the duo look at how dancing went from being widely seen as a debauched pastime in the 17th century to being an essential social skill in the 18th century. 

Find out more here.

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Spin The Globe
Radio 4
Tuesday 18 November, 4.00pm

Michael Scott looks back at events in 1929, the year of the Wall Street crash. As well as examining what caused the financial crisis, Scott recounts tales of the Rothbury miners’ strike in Australia, flooding in Tasmania and the civil war in China.

Find out more here.

To read a behind-the-scenes interview with Michael Scott, click here.

Pick of the week…

Secrets of the Castle With Ruth, Peter And Tom
BBC Two
Tuesday 18 November, 9.00pm

Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold head for France’s Burgundy region, where they join an ongoing project to construct a medieval-style castle using only the tools and materials available in the 13th century. First up, Peter and Tom get quarrying, while Ruth lays a rush floor in the wattle-and-daub hovel that will serve as the trio’s base.

Find out more here.

Great Continental Railway Journeys
BBC Two
Wednesday 19 November, 9.00pm

Bradshaw’s from 1913 as ever in hand, Michael Portillo journeys through Poland. Dancing, stoking a steam-powered steam train and driving around in a Trabant are all on the agenda as Portillo strikes out from the capital, Warsaw, to Krakow, a key location in the history of opposition against Soviet-style Communism.

Find out more here.

Confessions of a Copper
Channel 4
Wednesday 19 November, 10.00pm

Eight police officers look back on their working lives during the 1970s, dealing with such subjects as the arrival of patrol cars, sexism and riots on Britain’s streets. That it all sounds like something from an episode of Life On Mars isn’t surprising, but that doesn’t make the testimony here any less shocking.

Find out more here.

Queen Victoria’s Letters: A Monarch Unveiled
BBC Four
Thursday 20 November, 9.00pm

AN Wilson concludes his two-part study of Queen Victoria’s later years. Here the focus is largely on the men in her life, notably her Scottish servant John Brown (whom Wilson considers kept Victoria sane) and her Indian attendant Abdul Karim. As in the first documentary, the picture Wilson presents is of a far from prim-and-proper woman.

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Find out more here.