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TV and radio listings will be updated every Friday
In a new series, engineering fan Guy Martin celebrates the expertise of Britain’s industrial revolution-era workers by joining six of the country’s biggest restoration projects. First up, that means helping out a team of volunteers overhauling a steam locomotive for use on the Severn Valley Railway.
It’s 1492 and Christopher Columbus bumps into the Bahamas when he was hoping to reach China. Such is Andrew Marr’s starting point for the story of “Europe’s rise from piracy to private enterprise”. Over on Downton Abbey (ITV1, 9.00pm), there’s tension between Robert and Cora.
In a 15-part weekday series, Mark Lawson looks at how crime fiction reflects what’s happening within society in different eras. The first episode considers Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Georges Simenon’s Jules Maigret. Contributors include Val McDermid, PD James and David Suchet.
Over three successive weeknights, Professor Alice Roberts and Dr George McGavin journey into the distant past to ‘reconstruct’ prehistoric people from the bones up. In the first show, that means enlisting the help of model makers and experts to build a Neanderthal. Continues Tuesday and Wednesday.
In the decades following the second world war, thousands of troops served with the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). But what was it like to live in a British enclave in Germany? Contributors include Max Hastings, former soldier and sports commentator Barry Davies, plus military wives and children.
The weekday series on figures from the Anglo-Saxon era continues, with historian Richard Gameson profiling King Edwin, remembered for struggling over whether to convert to Christianity. On Tuesday, Michael Wood considers a pagan king, Penda of Mercia, and his possible links to the Staffordshire Hoard.
It’s 35 years since Nasa launched the Voyager probes. As Voyager I reaches the very edge of the solar system, Dallas Campbell considers the dazzling discoveries made by the spacecraft. In a scientific history lesson, he also looks back to the beginning of the space age and the construction of Sputnik.
There will be a Christmas special, but for now we’ve reached the final episode of the living history series. It finds the presenters, Peter Ginn, Ruth Goodman and Alex Langlands, recreating 1945 as they bring in the wheat harvest. Back in the day, it was food needed beyond Britain’s borders, to help feed the hungry in ruined Europe.
The aerial documentary series concludes with the story of Francis ‘Gabby’ Gabreski, an American-Polish pilot who served over Europe and later in the Korean conflict. Followed by Hatfields & McCoys (9.00pm), an Emmy-winning western drama based on real events in the aftermath of the American civil war and starring Kevin Costner.
Dan Snow turns his attention to Dover Castle. In 1216, the castle faced one of its greatest tests when it came under siege from the future Louis VIII of France, part of his campaign to take the English throne during the first barons’ war (1215-17).