Monty Don's Italian Gardens
Friday 15th April, 9.00pm
The Gardeners' World presenter turns horticultural historian in a series that finds him touring Italy's gardens. He begins with Renaissance gardens in Rome. These are short on flower beds, but big on architectural statements and Don, ever the enthusiast once he gets warmed up, is a knowledgeable and engaging guide.
Sunday 17th April, 5.30pm
Tony Robinson and co head for Bedford Purlieus Wood in Cambridgeshire. It’s a site where a keen-eyed forest ranger spotted evidence for Roman buildings. The dig proves to be tough because of the cramped and claustrophobic woodland environment, but the team perseveres to find the footprint of a bathhouse and other remains.
The Secrets Of Scott’s Hut
Sunday 17th April, 8.00pm
Ben Fogle heads south to see Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Antarctic base, a wooden bungalow that slept 25, at first hand. Practically untouched for 100 years, it’s a time capsule, a place where you can still see food supplies, sleeping bags and paraffin lamps that date from the early 20th century.
Sunday Feature: The American Civil War
Sunday 17th April, 9.30pm
Dr Adam Smith visits Abraham Lincoln’s hometown, Springfield in Illinois, Washington DC and the battlefields of Virginia as he asks both why the North went to war against the Southern states and what it won. Smith also investigates the beliefs and attitudes of those who backed the Union’s cause.
Pick of the Week
Russia: The Wild East
Monday 18th April, 3.45pm
Martin Sixsmith kicks off an epic series that traces the history of Russia over more than 1,000 years, from 862 AD to the modern era. He begins in Novgorod, where it’s said warring Slavic tribes invited Rurik of Rus, who later gave the nation its name, to impose law and order. Continues every weekday with an omnibus edition on Good Friday (9.00pm).
Monday 18th April, 9.00pm
Here’s a new series that follows the work of the spies and spooks who fought a covert war against the Nazis. The four weekday episodes this week cover the intelligence gathered by German-speaking agents, a series of assassinations dubbed Operation Ratweek, a US deal with the Mafia and a “real-life James Bond”, Dusan Popov.
The Baby Born In A Concentration Camp
Tuesday 19th April, 10.35pm
The Baby Born In A Concentration Camp tells the remarkable story of Anka Bergman, who gave birth to her daughter, Eva, in a death camp after hiding her pregnancy at Auschwitz. Both are still alive today. Meanwhile, Dan Snow concludes his series on historical squalor with life in 19th-century New York (Filthy Cities, BBC Two, 9pm).
If Walls Could Talk
Wednesday 20th April, 9.00pm
Keen-as-mustard Dr Lucy Worsley traces the development of the bathroom down the centuries, or perhaps the lack of development considering that it’s in many respects a Victorian invention in its modern form. Preceded by Petworth House: The Big Spring Clean (BBC Four, 8.30pm), which finds Andrew Graham-Dixon still hard at work on domestic chores.
Secrets Of The Arabian Nights
Thursday 21st April, 9.00pm
Richard E Grant explores how tales told by Eastern merchants in the Middle Ages came to be so popular in the west. It’s in great part down to French orientalist Antoine Galland, who 300 years ago translated the stories of Sinbad, Ali Baba and Aladdin from a 14th-century Syrian manuscript.
What’s The Point Of Forgiveness?
Friday 22nd April, 9.00pm
Bettany Hughes considers the idea of forgiveness down the ages, an exploration that begins with Christ’s dying words, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Followed by The Story Of Jesus (10.00am), the first of two documentaries in which Biblical scholars trace Christ’s life.
Monty Don’s Italian Gardens
Friday 22nd April, 9.00pm
Monty Don continues his exploration of Italian gardens. This week he’s in Florence and out in the Tuscan countryside. As with the plots on display in last week’s show, there’s a formality to these Renaissance-designed spaces, although more flowers this time. Expect plenty of art treasures too, notably at the sculpture-strewn Giardino di Boboli.