History TV and radio in the UK: what’s on our screens in August 2021?

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

A woman looks over a colourful striped table laid with crockery and a teapot

King Louis The First Of Britain

Radio 4

Saturday 31 July, 3.30pm

 Trumpeter and vocalist Louis Armstrong connected friends wherever he went. Marking the 50th anniversary of Satchmo’s death, Byron Wallen explores why he so connected with people in the UK. Also this weekend, listen out for Louis Armstrong Remembered By Gregory Porter (Radio 2, Sunday 1 August, 9pm).

Archive On 4: Singled Out

Radio 4

Saturday 31 July, 8pm

Historian and journalist Zoe Strimpel searches through the archives to explore the history of the singleton. She begins with the story of those dubbed ‘surplus’ women, unable to marry because of a combination of the carnage on the Western Front and the effects of the 1918 flu pandemic. Plus Helen Fielding talks Bridget Jones.

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Radio 4

Monday 2 August, 1.45pm

How should you, as a parent, tell your children about the horror of events in Rwanda in 1994? It’s a question considered over five weekday episodes by London-based journalist Alice Musabende, who lost her family as a teenager in the country’s genocide.

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Secrets Of The London Underground


Monday 2 August, 8pm

Continuing their adventures down the Tube, Tim Dunn and Siddy Holloway explore disused parts of Piccadilly Circus, the grandest station in the system. Followed by the final episode in WWII: Frontlines(9.00pm), which charts the brutal battle for Berlin in 1945.

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Pick of the week

This Union: The Ghost Kingdoms Of England

Radio 4

Monday 2 August, 8pm

The series focusing in turn on each of the four home nations continues, with Ian Hislop exploring the story and legacy of England’s four great Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. What might looking back in this manner teach us about English identity? Always good company, Hislop begins in East Anglia at the site of the Sutton Hoo excavation.

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Robert Kirkmans Secret History of Comics

Sky History

Monday 2 August, 10pm

Walking Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman tells the story of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the co-creators of Superman, who first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938. It’s in many respects a cautionary tale: the duo signed away their copyright to the character and ended up suing DC Comics.

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Great Lives 

Radio 4

Tuesday 3 August, 4.30pm

The series in which public figures speak up for people from the past returns. First up, writer Michael Booth nominates Danish children’s author Hans Christian Andersen as someone who lived a great life. Writer Michael Rosen offers the expert’s perspective and Matthew Parris presents.

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Secrets Of The Museum


Tuesday 3 August, 8pm

The latest episode of the fly-on-the-wall series finds the V&A preparing to stage an exhibition devoted to Alice In Wonderland. Elsewhere, print curator Gil marvels at a new acquisition: a rare set of etched prints by Lucian Freud.

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Write Around The World With Richard E Grant

BBC Four

Tuesday 3 August, 9pm

In a new three-part series, actor Richard E Grant travels in the footsteps of great writers. He begins in southern Italy. Naples, we learn, fascinated Charles Dickens, while Patricia Highsmith was inspired to create Tom Ripley in Positano. All episodes will be available via iPlayer after transmission.

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Fake Or Fortune?


Wednesday 4 August, 9pm

In the late 19th century, French Orientalist Jean-Léon Gérôme was one of the most famous artists in the world. His reputation may not be quite as great now, but a small oil painting reliably attributed to Gérôme would still be worth £100,000. Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould investigate the provenance of a canvas that its owner is convinced was painted by Gérôme.

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