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TV and radio listings will be updated every Friday
During the First World War, as men went off to fight, women filled their roles. Having had a taste of different kinds of work, many of these women were reluctant to return to a starch-and-servitude life. As Dr Pamela Cox relates, the era of the live-in servant class was coming to an end.
Riffing off the title of the Beatles’ first single, here’s a romantic drama that plays out against a backdrop of the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. There’s more Fab Fourness in The Casbah: The Birthplace of Merseybeat (Radio 2, Wednesday 17 October, 10.00pm), in which ex-Beatles drummer Pete Best remembers a venue located in his mum’s basement.
Taking a global view of the middle ages, Andrew Marr largely eschews muddy Europe and instead tells stories of the golden age of Islamic learning, Genghis Khan and Mali’s empire. Meantime, over at Downton Abbey (ITV1, 9.00pm), Edith receives an exciting offer.
Anna Maxwell Martin reads the first of five extracts from Adrian Fort’s biography of Britain’s first female MP. Another weekday series, China: As History Is My Witness (Radio 4, 1.45pm) finds Carrie Gracie continuing to look at how stories of China’s past help explain the country today.
As the 70th anniversary of El Alamein approaches, historian David Reynolds explores the rationale behind the Second World War battles that took place in north Africa and around the Mediterranean. Winston Churchill, he argues, became increasingly obsessed with fighting in a theatre he described as Hitler’s “soft underbelly”.
In a major weeknight series that will eventually run to 30 episodes, scholars and writers profile key figures from the Anglo-Saxon era. First up, Barry Cunliffe focuses on Vortigern, the fifth-century ruler who is reputed to have invited the first Anglo-Saxon invaders, Hengist and Horsa, into Britain.
The Private Eye editor concludes his series on the British national character by looking at how it’s evolved in the years since the end of the First World War. Britons are now much more self-conscious about the idea of the stiff upper lip, it seems, and generally more blubbery judging by the reaction to Princess Diana’s death in 1997.
Former footballer John Barnes traces his family history. He focuses largely on his grandfather, Frank Hill, a writer and political activist who was a key figure in Jamaica’s struggle for independence. The island’s governor, we learn, was so suspicious of Hill that he had him interned in 1942.
The living history series reaches the run-up to D-Day. This had a profound effect on British agriculture because farmers had to increase production of flax, used in parachutes, aircraft fuselages, tents and ropes. Plus the role of racing pigeons during the conflict.
Dan Snow visits the Château Gaillard. Originally built by King Richard I to assert his authority over his French holdings, the now ruined building towers over the Seine. In 1203, Philip II of France besieged the castle, part of an effort to push the English from the continent.