TV & Radio
TV and radio listings will be updated every Friday
Alistair McGowan profiles his musical hero, Erik Satie. The documentary draws heavily on Satie’s unsent letters to artist Suzanne Valadon, with whom he had his only love affair. Also listen out for the McGowan-penned Afternoon Drama: Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear (Radio 4, Monday 15 July, 2.15pm), centred on key relationships in the composer’s life.
A rather confused Henry VI is back on the throne but, as history records, this isn’t a state of affairs that will last too long. Accordingly, the fifth episode of Auntie’s lavish Wars of the Roses drama finds Edward IV resorting to arms as he bids to reclaim the crown. Bloody battlefield scenes follow.
Around 650 of the musical instruments made by Antonio Stradivari (1644–1737) survive, including violins that fetch millions if they come on the market. But what is it that makes these instruments so special? Clemency Burton-Hill investigates, charting Stradivari’s life via four special violins on display at this summer’s Stradivarius exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
See our gallery of images from the exhibition at www.historyextra.com/stradivarius
Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland looks for parallels between today’s concerns over tax avoidance and the eighth century, when the Venerable Bede grumbled that people only joined monasteries to avoid paying the state. Freedland’s guests include Margaret Hodge, forthright chair of the Public Accounts Committee.
The actor concludes his journey through northern England’s industrial past by focusing on the metal and shipbuilding industries. If more recent royal history appeals, today also brings Princess Diana’s Dresses: The Auction (Channel 4, 9.00pm), which considers what frocks worn by Diana, including her wedding dress, tell us about her life and times.
Tom Chadwick is unemployed, single and not a little glum. Then he inherits a collection of family memorabilia from a long-lost great-aunt, Victoria, and begins to trace his family history. Co-written by Christopher Guest of This Is Spinal Tap fame, a new sitcom starring Chris O’Dowd.
In a two-part documentary, Philippa Gregory explores the lives of the three women central to her Cousins’ War novels, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville. As reflected in the BBC drama The White Queen, which is based on Gregory’s books, it’s a story of brutal dynastic rivalries.
In a new three-part series, art historian Helen Rosslyn charts how so many great paintings ended up in Britain. She begins in the 17th century, when pioneers such as Thomas Howard, the Earl of Arundel and a man with a passion for the Old Masters of the Italian Renaissance, sparked an appreciation of fine art amongst the elite.
The actor discusses Percy Bysshe Shelley’s The Masque Of Anarchy, which was written in response to the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. Touring Manchester in the company of journalist Miranda Sawyer, Peake, who’s performing the piece at the city’s International Festival, argues the poem is more relevant today than ever.
Peter Hennessy meets Jack Straw to discuss the Labour politician’s life and career, including the then foreign secretary’s support for the Iraq War. Also today on Radio 4, Absinthe Makes The Art Grow Fonder (11.30am) finds writer Michèle Roberts telling the story of a liquor associated with both creativity and madness.