TV & Radio
TV and radio listings will be updated every Friday
It’s that time of year again, when government papers are released to the wider world. Martha Kearney considers what official documents reveal about life in 1981, a year of rapidly rising unemployment, a fairytale royal wedding (or so we thought) and tensions in Britain’s relationship with European neighbours.
Charles Dickens has long been associated with heartwarming depictions of Christmas. But how might the festive season have seemed through the eyes of Dickens’s wife, Catherine, from whom the writer became estranged? Sue Perkins investigates, portraying Dickens as a man who saw women as either virgins or frumps.
Where exactly did the Battle of Watling Street, where tens of thousands of ancient Britons were massacred by the Romans, take place? In a lighthearted documentary, comedian Steve Punt turns detective as he travels along the A5 to hunt for the site of an epic encounter.
Neil Oliver explores a recently rediscovered temple on Orkney that predates Stonehenge by 500 years. The vast site holds out the promise of revolutionising our understanding of our Neolithic forebears, and finds so far include painted wall decorations and even Stone Age paint pots.
In a five-part series broadcast on successive weekdays, Melvyn Bragg explores how the written word has shaped the world’s intellectual history. First up, he looks at the technology behind writing on clay, wood or parchment. Subsequent shows consider the invention of the book, and how the written word has impacted on science, religion and history.
Armando Iannucci argues that we shouldn’t see Charles Dickens’s work simply as part of the Victorian canon of great literature. Rather, he says, get in the thick of the prose, and you discover that Dickens still has plenty to say to the 21st century on such subjects as corruption, the legal system and money (or a lack thereof).
Elizabeth II’s grandparents rescued the institution of the monarchy from potential disaster, inventing the Windsor brand that endures to this day. Documentaries shown on successive nights profile George the unlikely moderniser whose bullying alienated his son, Edward; and Mary, who evolved from obedient wife to formidable matriarch.
With its symbol of a fist clenched in defiance, Black Power politicised African-American music. This two-part documentary looks at the growth of the Black Arts movement in the late 1960s, and features contributions from such luminaries as Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp and the late, great Gill Scott-Heron’s co-writer, Brian Jackson.
Hard to believe in these days when public schoolboys dominate the cabinet, but Britain’s grammars once gave us prime ministers and leading figures in many other fields too. In a two-part series, David Attenborough and Joan Bakewell are among those looking back at schools that aimed to educate the best and brightest, whatever their background.
Art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon and chef Giorgio Locatelli team up to explore the history and cuisine of the Mediterranean island. It may sound like a curious idea, but this works. First up, the duo explore the markets of Palermo and the 12th-century Zisa Palace.