History TV and radio: what’s on next week? (12–18 October 2019)

Can't decide which shows to watch or listen to this week? Here are 10 history radio and TV programmes airing in the UK that you won't want to miss...

World on Fire. (Photo by BBC/Mammoth Screen)

Pick of the week

Drama: The Republicans

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BBC Radio 4

Saturday 12 October, 2.30pm

Jonathan Myerson’s study of the Republican Party, as told via the personal stories of US presidents, returns with three new episodes. This time around, it’s 1987 and Ronald Reagan (Kerry Shale) hits problems as Congress investigates the Iran/Contra arms deal.

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Great British Car Journeys

Channel 4

Saturday 12 October, 8pm

Christopher Timothy and Peter Davison team up again for a second series of the show where they try to recapture the spirit of the golden age of motoring. The actors begin by returning to the Yorkshire countryside where they filmed All Creatures Great and Small.

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Archive On 4: Our Anniversary Obsession

BBC Radio 4

Saturday 12 October, 8pm

We are preoccupied with anniversaries, but does this distort our understanding of the past? Historian Hannah Mawdsley, who wrote her thesis on the Spanish flu and suddenly found herself in demand during the centenary year of the outbreak in 2018, investigates with the help of the archives and of fellow historians. 

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Handmade in Bolton

BBC Four

Sunday 13 October, 7.30pm

The series in which Shaun Greenhalgh tries to recreate the techniques of the past concludes with Janina Ramirez setting the reformed art forger his toughest task yet. Can he carve an Islamic bottle out of rock crystal in the style of the 10th-century Egyptian Fatimid dynasty?

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Lost Pharaohs of the Nile

Channel 4

Sunday 13 October, 8pm

For a century, Egypt was ruled by a dynasty known as the Black Pharaohs, who originally hailed from the Kingdom of Kush in what’s now Sudan. A documentary charting recent archaeological work undertaken below the water table in a burial chamber, and also offers evidence that Kush was an ancient African superpower.

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World on Fire

BBC One

Sunday 13 October, 9pm

The Second World War drama continues with Tom fighting for his life aboard HMS Exeter, and a difficult meeting between embittered former lovers, Lois and Harry. Over on ITV, Sanditon (9pm) concludes with a ball and with the fate of the community hanging in the balance.

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The Troubles: A Secret History

BBC Four

Tuesday 15 October, 9pm

In the closing years of the Troubles, it wasn’t the IRA who were responsible for the greatest number of killings, but unionist paramilitaries. Mandy McAuley looks back at a time when the Ulster Volunteer Force targeted the families of Irish republicans. 

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In Our Time

BBC Radio 4

Thursday 17 October, 9am

Melvyn Bragg and learned guests discuss The Time Machine (1895). HG Wells’ classic science-fiction novella told a story of travelling thousands of years into a future where the descendants of humankind have become two distinct species – the childlike Eloi and the brutal Morlocks – and touched on evolution and the effects of industrialisation.

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Steam Train Britain

Yesterday

Thursday 17 October, 8pm 

The age of steam may have left the station decades ago, but enthusiasts around the country ensure that heritage railways continue to run. This gentle new series eavesdrops on some of the volunteers who happily give up their time to keep lines running.

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Catherine the Great

Sky Atlantic

Thursday 17 October, 9pm

For a man of action such as soldier Grigory Potemkin (Jason Clarke), court life is a bore. Can Catherine (Helen Mirren) keep her lover from causing trouble as he stomps around in the manner of a petulant adolescent? Plus Catherine becomes a grandmother.

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The Name of the Rose

BBC Two

Friday 18 October, 9pm

The adaptation of Umberto Eco’s medieval murder mystery continues with William of Baskerville (John Torturro) racing against time to discover the identity of the murderer. Poison, William ascertains by working with the abbey’s herbalist, Severinus, was involved in the killing.

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