TV & Radio
TV and radio listings will be updated every Friday
To understand the work of William Shakespeare, argues Simon Schama, you need to understand the times through which the playwright lived and the way he dramatised his own world. An excellent two-part series begins with the Bard and ideas of Englishness, as seen through the history plays and, in particular, the rotund figure of Sir John Falstaff.
It’s 40 years since David Bowie unleashed his glam rock masterpiece on the world. Narrated by Jarvis Cocker, this documentary charts the recording of the album and considers its continuing influence on our wider culture. Interviewees include Marc Almond and Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet fame.
The series about life behind the scenes at some of the world’s great museums returns. First up, it’s off to the Imperial War Museum. Also on Yesterday this week, Who Betrayed The Bomber Boys? (Thursday 28 June, 9.00pm) explores the experiences of those who served with RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War.
The series drawing on archive film of the capital continues. The focus here is on the East End. Expect footage of the docks that were once so key to London’s prosperity, the rag trade and the migrants who have made the area their home down the years.
Taking its title from a line in Shipbuilding, co-written by Elvis Costello and Clive Langer, here’s a documentary that looks back at the writers’ reflective, mournful take on the Falklands War. DJ Annie Nightingale meets musicians, veterans and shipyard workers as she seeks to explain the song’s enduring power.
The subject of Niall Ferguson’s second Reith Lecture is The Darwinian Economy. According to the economic historian, we’re in danger of taking the wrong lessons from the global financial crisis. Is regulation, he asks, “the disease of which it purports to be the cure”?
In a new living history series, three families recreate life in different eras from the 20th century. Temporarily resident at different houses on the same street in Morecambe, Lancashire, they begin in the highly stratified Edwardian world, with their social status in part decided by the experiences of direct forebears.
How things change. That’s certainly the lesson of the latest episode of this social history series, which looks at how Portland Road in Notting Hill has changed down the years. Once, this was a poor neighbourhood. Today it’s a road of contrasts: a place of both bankers’ multi-million pound homes and council housing.
Barrister Harry Potter’s history of the English legal system continues with tales of those who fought tyranny to win rights. Not all of these figures are particularly attractive: former chief justice Edward Coke, who challenged Charles I’s autocratic ways, was by all accounts an unpleasant and arrogant man.
Stepping outside the 1950s home, Brendan Walker looks at how developments in science and technology transformed our leisure time. From pesticides that allowed gardens to bloom through to superbikes, new opportunities for fun were the order of the day.
The historian turns his focus on the Bard’s attitudes towards royalty. Via such tragedies as Richard II, Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear, Schama argues that Shakespeare’s first-hand knowledge of the courts of Elizabeth I and James I of England had a profound effect on shaping these plays.