TV & Radio

TV and radio listings will be updated every Friday

But They Are Only Russians
But They Are Only Russians
Radio 4
Friday 13th January, 11.00am

John Sweeney contrasts the attitudes of journalists Walter Duranty (1884-1957) and Gareth Jones (1905-35) towards famine in Stalin’s Soviet Union during the 1930s. Moscow-based Duranty won a Pulitzer despite denying that anyone was starving, while Jones, who exposed the truth, was vilified.

The Lark Ascending
The Lark Ascending
BBC Four
Friday 13th January, 7.30pm

Dame Diana Rigg explores the perennial popularity of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, written as the clouds of war gathered over Europe in 1914. The programme concludes with a performance of the piece at the Public Hall in Shirehampton, near Bristol, where it was publicly debuted in 1920.

Call The Midwife
Call The Midwife
BBC One
Sunday 15th January, 8.00pm

Another week, another retro drama. Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, this follows the adventures of a newly qualified and rather posh midwife (played by Jessica Raine) as she works alongside an order of nursing nuns in the East End of 1957. Expect street urchins and overcrowding.

Great British Railway Journeys
Great British Railway Journeys
BBC Two
Monday 16th January, 6.30pm

Once again getting out on the tracks to explore Britain, Michael Portillo travels from Oxford through the Malvern Hills and ultimately on to Milford Haven in South Wales. In the first of five weekday shows, he samples a brew made by steam power that was a favourite of Victorian navies.

Illuminations: The Private Lives Of Medieval Kings
Illuminations: The Private Lives Of Medieval Kings
BBC Four
Monday 16th January, 9.00pm

The theme is ‘What a King Should Know’, as Dr Janina Ramirez continues her series on medieval illuminated manuscripts. Her subjects include how the texts that Edward III read as a boy prepared him to lead his troops to triumph against the French at the battle of Crécy in 1346.

The Crusades
Pick of the Week
The Crusades
BBC Two
Wednesday 18th January, 9.00pm

In a major new three-part series, Dr Thomas Asbridge re-examines what we think we know about the Crusades. He begins by retracing the 3,000-mile journey of the First Crusaders as they set out for the Holy Land to capture Jerusalem. Starvation, disease and violence – it proved to be an eventful trip.

Britain In Bed
Britain In Bed
BBC Three
Wednesday 18th January, 9.00pm

Bearing in mind this is on BBC Three, we probably shouldn’t expect a self-consciously highbrow approach here. Still, this documentary promises a history of sex in Britain over the last 50 years, a story that encompasses the pill, pornography and scandal. Presented by Jessica-Jane Clement of The Real Hustle fame.

Jonathan Meades On France
Jonathan Meades On France
BBC Four
Wednesday 18th January, 9.00pm

For his latest travelogue, the erudite Jonathan Meades explores our near-neighbour across the English Channel. He begins in Lorraine. Located on the country’s eastern border, it’s nevertheless central to French identity, a place where romantic nationalism is never too far from the surface.

In Our Time
In Our Time
Radio 4
Thursday 19th January, 9.00am

Melvyn Bragg and expert guests discuss 1848. In what’s been dubbed both the Year of Revolution and the Spring of Nations, liberals across Europe rose against conservative governments. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives, but to what end?

The Mystery Of The Mystery Of Edwin Drood
The Mystery Of The Mystery Of Edwin Drood
Radio 4
Thursday 19th January, 11.30am

Following the recent BBC Two adaptation, crime writer Frances Fyfield investigates Charles Dickens’s last, unfinished novel, looking at the original manuscript along the way. How might the great man have shaped the story had be been granted the time to do so? Can we see evidence of failing health in the text?

Pugin: God’s Own Architect
Pugin: God’s Own Architect
BBC Two
Thursday 19th January, 9.00pm

Richard Taylor explores the work of Augustus Northmore Welby Pugin. The 19th-century architect was not only responsible for Big Ben’s clock tower and much of the Palace of Westminster, but he also did much to inspire the Gothic revival movement.

On Hannibal's Trail
On Hannibal's Trail
BBC Two
Friday 20th January, 8.30pm

Three brothers embark on a bicycle journey to follow in the footsteps of Carthaginian military commander Hannibal Barca, who marched from Spain to Rome at the head of an invading army that included war elephants.

Vaclav Havel © Dreamstime
The Friday Play: The Prague Trial
Radio 4
Friday 20th January, 9.00pm

In 1979, dissident writer Vaclav Havel was among those subjected to a show trial in the former Czechoslovakia. A drama mixing in reconstructions, expert comment and personal testimonies as it revisits a case that reveals much about the future president’s role in helping to bring down the Iron Curtain.