TV & Radio
TV and radio listings will be updated every Friday
Three chords played in a repeating pattern over a dozen bars. What is it about this sequence that so endures? Nick Barraclough investigates the history of the 12-bar blues, demonstrating how it shows up in sometimes surprising ways in songs including 'Hound Dog' and Duffy’s 'Mercy'.
In what, to judge by the first episode, will be an excellent series, David Starkey charts how royals helped shape the development of British music. He begins with Henry V, who thought it essential to take a choir with him when campaigning in France, a way to get God on his side.
No, not the Hurricane, Spitfire or Lancaster, but the Mosquito. Former Royal Marines commando and pilot Arthur Williams speaks up for a plane made of plywood and canvas that was so fast the enemy simply couldn’t keep up. Williams gets to take the controls of a Mosquito, a plane restored to airworthiness by an American billionaire.
Episode six of the historical drama finds Henry and Elizabeth back on the throne. However, this being the Wars of the Roses, the plotting continues. Also this week, The Real White Queen and Her Rivals (BBC Two, Wednesday 24 July, 9.00pm) finds author Philippa Gregory concluding her profiles of Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville and Margaret Beaufort.
In a 10-part weekday series, Financial Times columnist and satirist Lucy Kellaway charts the history of white-collar work. She begins with essayist Charles Lamb’s account of life at the East India Company in the early 19th century. Suffice to say Lamb often angrily despaired of the “Philistines” he served.
In 1983, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor shared a stage in a production Noel Coward’s Private Lives. What might have passed between them? A superb one-off drama featuring outstanding performances from Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter. Also this week, Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood (BBC Four, Tuesday 23 July, 9.00pm) looks back at when the couple met.
In an episode originally scheduled for transmission last week, 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 celebrity genealogy series returns for a 10th series. First up, actor Una Stubbs, lately seen as Mrs Hudson in the hit BBC drama Sherlock, traces her roots. She discovers forebears who endured terrible poverty and, more happily, she investigates an ancestor who was the founder of the garden city movement.
How did Britain’s country houses get so full of top-notch paintings? It’s in part, suggests Helen Rosslyn, down to 18th-century aristocrats buying art during the Grand Tour era. The art historian also explores the roots of the Royal Academy.
Norman Tebbit reflects on his life and career in the company of historian Peter Hennessy. It’s the tale of a Thatcher arch-loyalist who entered parliament in 1970 after working as a pilot, arguably came to be seen as the public face of Essex man and was injured in the 1984 Brighton bombing.