TV & Radio
TV and radio listings will be updated every Friday
Jonathan Hyde stars as the scientific genius in an intriguing drama-documentary that focuses not just on Newton’s work in physics, but explores his interest in such arcane subjects as alchemy and heretical theology. Understandably, in his own lifetime, Newton wasn’t too keen for some of this work to be made public. Plus we learn about Newton’s feuds with contemporaries.
Gary Younge tells the largely forgotten story of prisoner bands in the 1960s and 1970s, when inmates were encouraged to make music as part of their rehabilitation. At Huntsville, Texas, for example, there was a bespoke recording studio, and some prisoners made albums that were released commercially.
At the end of the Second World War, the British authorities were determined to track down the killers of the airmen who tunnelled out of Stalag Luft III. Stephen Tompkinson stars as Squadron Leader/CID detective McKenna, the man leading the hunt.
Another week, another tramp through the past as Tony Robinson takes a hike through the Weald of Kent and the East Sussex Downs. It’s an area strongly associated with the Tudor era, and Robinson learns about treason at court, the production of iron ore and Thomas Cromwell’s ambitious nature.
Anne McElvoy presents a three-part series that looks at the challenges faced by those who have governed Europe over the centuries. She begins with the Romans, and how they assimilated rebellious Britain into the wider empire. What are the parallels with today?
Lucy Worsley turns her attention to the Stuarts and Hanoverians as she continues her series on how royal health issues shaped Britain’s past. It’s in many respects a tale of the pressure to procreate and secure the line, as we hear of childless William, Prince of Orange’s chronic frailties and Queen Anne’s many miscarriages.
Jonny Dymond considers how linking the Pacific and Atlantic across the narrow isthmus at Panama changed the world. In the first of two episodes, he charts the construction of the canal by the USA at a time when it was emerging as a global superpower.
This week’s theme is having fun at the seaside. Items include the story of how steamships crossing Scottish seas inspired Thomas Cook’s travel-agency business, the history of the lido and a profile of Cornish painter Alfred Wallis, whose naïve art has made its way into the Tate’s collection.
Adam Nicolson explores how the 17th-century writing revolution helped change the way people saw the world. It’s a tale of changing attitudes towards the idea of God, and also of how increased literacy allowed people to share creative ideas in the arts and sciences.
Andrew Graham-Dixon charts how the Low Countries region became culturally important in the modern age. Expect works from Van Gogh, Mondrian, Magritte and Delvaux. Followed by A Night at the Rijksmuseum (BBC Four, 10.00pm), in which Graham-Dixon goes behind the scenes at the Amsterdam museum prior to it reopening after extensive renovations.
Historian and novelist AN Wilson charts the life of his hero, Josiah Wedgwood (1730–95). The potter-industrialist emerges from the past as a man who was both a pioneering scientist and someone with a passion for social justice. Plus of course, there’s some lovely crockery to see here.
In a 10-part series, the Hollywood director, with the aid of historian Peter Kuznick, surveys the history of the USA through the 20th century. The series, which aims for a global perspective, begins with the Second World War, looking at how political and business interests influenced the course of the conflict.