The speaking clock turns 80 this year. Lynne Truss marks this momentous birthday by tracing the history of a service that once functioned thanks to a system involving rotating glass discs. Featuring contributions from Stephen Hawking and Professor Martin Rees, the astronomer royal.
Archive on 4: The League of Extraordinary Housewives
Saturday 16 July, 8.00pm
Jo Fidgen traces the postwar history of the homemaker via the story of the British Housewives League. Formed in 1945, this was an organisation that fought austerity yet was politically and socially conservative, also opposing the idea of the welfare state.
Tony Marchant scripts an excellent three-part adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novel about extremism and the planning of a bomb attack in Victorian London. Toby Jones heads a strong cast as Verloc, a Soho shopkeeper paid by the Russian embassy to keep an eye on an anarchist cell.
In the series that considers the present through the prism of the past, Jonathan Freedland focuses on the high-profile arrivals of José Mourinho at Manchester United and Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. What do previous celebrity managers and their rivalries have to tell us here?
On the first day of the Somme alone, more than 19,000 British empire troops lost their lives. Yet perhaps the sheer scale of the carnage even now stops us from having a clear view of what happened. In a three-part series, military historian Peter Barton reappraises events with the help of German archive documents relating to the battle.
The Somme 1916: From Both Sides of the Wire. (BBC/Jake Robinson)
Tuesday 19 July, 4.00pm
In 1946, the Chinese ambassador to the Soviet Union, Fu Bingchang, was a witness to negotiations between the USSR, UK and US over the presence of Soviet troops in Iran. It was a key moment in the genesis of the Cold War. Seven decades on, his granddaughter, Yee Wah Foo, opens up his diaries.
The Search For The Lost Manuscript: Julian Of Norwich
Tuesday 19 July, 9.00pm
In 1373, Julian of Norwich published Revelations Of Divine Love, which put forward the idea that God was unconditionally loving and forgiving. Dr Janina Ramirez traces the story of the first book known to be written by a woman in English, and why it was suppressed for six centuries.
King Louis has a fever. Which provides a perfect excuse those unhappy with his rule to try and organise a coup. The glossy drama continues with an episode that also finds Philippe facing his own troubles. Followed by Inside Versailles(9.55pm), which details Louis XIV’s love of ballet and his impact on its development.
All aboard with Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn and Alex Langlands, as the historians swap farming for riding on steam trains. Kicking off a six-part series on how railways shaped modern Britain, the trio first outline how building the rail network meant that raw materials – which previously had to be sourced locally – could be transported around the country.
Taking a fan’s-eye perspective, Danny Baker traces the story of pop music between 1966 and 1976. Among the highlights is the story of how a then unknown Bob Marley, struggling to get noticed in the UK, performed for pupils at Peckham Manor School in London.