TV & Radio
TV and radio listings will be updated every Friday
Seven decades after American GIs first started arriving in the UK, Martha Kearney tells the story of their social and cultural impact. The two-part series draws on new interviews with surviving soldiers and their brides; and recalls such incidents as the so-called battle of Bamber Bridge in 1943, when tensions between black and white GIs boiled over.
Marking the 90th anniversary of the first broadcast by the BBC, Dominic Sandbrook explores the earliest days of radio in Britain. It’s a tale that takes in Australian diva Dame Nellie Melba and one Captain Plugge, who made the first commercial broadcast from the roof of Selfridges in London.
As the presidential election approaches, here’s how campaigning used to be done, as BBC Four shows Robert Drew’s fly-on-the-wall documentary following the Wisconsin primary between JFK and Hubert Humphrey. Also on the theme of recent American history, In Alistair Cooke’s Footsteps (Radio 4, Tuesday 6 November, 9.30am), finds Alvin Hall revisiting Cooke’s Letter From America broadcasts.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Spanish monarchy began to lose its grip on its European territories. Continuing his history of Spain, Misha Glenny focuses on a time of revolts in Catalonia and the establishment of the Dutch Republic.
The widescreen history series reaches the industrial revolution, an era when power moved from aristocratic landowners to the cities. Over on ITV1, series three of Downton Abbey (9.00pm) concludes, with a house-versus-village cricket match and, quite possibly, a glow of feel-good nostalgia for an England that never really existed.
Mike Thomson tells the strange tale of a journalist’s notebook left in a pub. The jotter contained state secrets, but how did the reporter come across the information? Also this week on Radio 4, The Long View (Tuesday 6 November, 9.00am), the series in which Jonathan Freedland looks at a current issue through the prism of the past, returns.
Marking the 70th anniversary of Monty’s victory over Rommel, famously described by Churchill as “the end of the beginning”, Jonathan Dimbleby looks at one of the key campaigns in the Second World War. It’s a story that begins in 1940, when Mussolini ordered 80,000 Italian troops to march into Egypt.
Lucy Worsley looks back at the life of social historian and food writer Dorothy Hartley. Central to an excellent documentary is Hartley’s Food In England (1954), which explored traditional recipes. The bit when Worsley saws opens a pig’s head is probably not for the squeamish.
In a two-part series, cameras follow archaeological work at Messines in Belgium, site of one of the bloodiest battles of the first world war. Ahead of a two-kilometre pipeline being laid around the town, the dig reveals trenches, bunkers and tunnels.
Holding a copy of George Bradshaw’s 1913 guide to Europe’s railways, Michael Portillo sees how our forebears travelled on the continent in the run-up to the first world war. In the opening episode of a five-part series, he heads from London to Paris and then south to Monte Carlo.