TV & Radio
TV and radio listings will be updated every Friday
Devised by Liverpool-born Arthur Wayne, the first crossword made its appearance close to 100 years ago, in The New York Times. So what’s the appeal of solving clues and putting letters in a grid? Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots And Leaves) investigates, discovering along the way that code breakers at Bletchley Park were hired on their ability to solve crosswords.
The classic adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas gets a four-part adaptation from playwright Sebastian Baczkiewicz. Starring Iain Glen as Edmond. Also listen out for Book Of The Week: The Black Count (Radio 4, weekdays from Monday 26 November, 9.45am), Tom Reiss’s biography of soldier Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, whose extraordinary life helped inspire his son’s writings.
Part of a Why Poverty? season, this Storyville documentary examines Bob Geldof and Bono’s efforts on behalf of Africa. The film also looks more widely at celebrity activism. Also look out for Poor Us – An Animated History of Poverty (Wednesday 28 November, 10.30pm, BBC Four), which considers how life has changed for the poor over the millennia.
Laurence Rees’s exemplary series concludes with a study of how Hitler clung onto power even as the Soviet army massed to take Berlin. A documentary that draws on extraordinary archive footage, notably Joseph Goebbels (contender for the world’s worst stand-up ever) trying to raise a crowd of the faithful in 1943 with the cheery promise of “total war”.
It’s 70 years since the publication of William Beveridge’s Social Insurance And Allied States, a crucial moment in the foundation of the welfare state. Want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness were five “giants” society needed to slay, he argued. How did Beveridge’s vision shape our society and is it sustainable in times of austerity? A three-hour special.
In a new four-part series, Waldemar Januszczak argues the so-called dark ages were a time of huge artistic achievements. First up, he looks at early Christian art. With no description of Jesus in the Bible, how were the faithful to represent the Messiah? The answer lay partly in images of ancient gods.
Within India’s Dalit communities, the English language is worshipped as a goddess modelled on the Statue of Liberty. Why? Writer Zareer Masani looks at the history of western education in India, introduced by Lord Macaulay and reviled by many nationalists, yet seen by many of the country’s former ‘untouchables’ as a liberating force.
Professor Andrew Hussey goes on the road… to Paris, where he visits an address with strong associations with the beat writers, the cheaper-than-pomme-frites and appropriately named Beat Hotel, where many counter-cultural luminaries stayed in the 1950s and 1960s. It was here that William Burroughs completed the text for Naked Lunch.
Michael Portillo visits Switzerland, which was a hugely popular destination with Edwardian visitors. You can understand why as the politico-turned-broadcaster takes the Glacier Express through glorious Alpine scenery as its heads for the Reichenbach Falls, famed for its associations with Sherlock Holmes.
You can tell a lot about a society by focusing on the way it deals with its garbage. The first instalment in a two-part documentary charts the transition from make-do-and-mend years in the wake of the Second World War, when ashes and cinders made up the bulk of household waste, through the birth of a consumer society.