History TV and radio: what’s on next week? (7–13 December)

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

Lucy Worsley’s Christmas Carol Odyssey. (Image by BBC/Lorian Reed-Drake)

Drama: Middlemarch

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Radio 4

Saturday 7 December, 2.45pm

The concluding episode of Katie Hims’s adaptation of George Eliot’s classic novel. We return to Middlemarch for the final interweaving and unravelling of the stories of life, love and politics in an English town.

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This Is Your Country Now, Too

Radio 4

Sunday 8 December, 3pm

A seven-episode series seen through the eyes of children, exploring what it is to be a child refugee. The first episode is set in the days after the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, when a Jewish family is faced with a terrible dilemma – whether to save their two children, nine-year-old Gustav and his elder sister Franziska, but possibly never see them again. Cast includes Damian Lewis.

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Pick of the week

Lucy Worsley’s Christmas Carol Odyssey

BBC Four

Monday 9 December, 9pm

Why do we celebrate and sing at Christmas – and what’s on the songsheet? In this festive treat featuring the Kingdom Choir and Hampton Court Choir, Lucy Worsley reveals that there’s much more to our best-loved carols than meets the eye. She reveals how their stories add up to a special kind of history of Christmas itself. In the ancient past, the wassail, a pagan fertility ritual, gave us door-to-door carol singing. Elsewhere, Worsley explores how hymns contributed to the Christmas truce of 1914.

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Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways

Channel 5

Monday 9 December, 9pm

TV presenter Christ Tarrant travels through Turkey, reflecting on the achievements of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – the founder of the republic who oversaw the modernisation of the country and its railways. This episode’s adventure begins at the grand Istanbul Railway Station, which used to serve as the last stop for the Orient Express.

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Making history

Radio 4

Tuesday 10 December, 3.30pm

Tom Holland and Iszi Lawrence explore the historical connections behind today’s issues. In this episode, the pair meet top journalists to ask whether they consider they are history’s first chroniclers. From Today programme newsgatherers to ancient Greek historian Herodotus, the team discusses who really “makes history”.

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Great Lives: Lee Miller

Radio 4

Tuesday 10 December, 4.30pm

In the early summer of 1945, Lee Miller sent a telegram back to London about what she had seen in the Nazi death camps. “I implore you to believe this is true,” she wrote. Her employers were Vogue magazine. How did a famous beauty like Miller end up covering the war? Her extraordinary life and the images she left, famously posing in Hitler’s bath, are explored here by Lindsey Hilsum of Channel Four News.

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Digging For Britain

BBC Four

Wednesday 11 December, 9pm

The final episode of the latest archaeological series, which explores digs in the south of England. This week the team is on an archaeological hunt for artefacts from World War II. They join marine archaeologists in the Solent as they raise the once-in-a-lifetime find of a Fairey Barracuda dive bomber. Also featured, a dig in the Lake District that tells the moving story of the Windermere Boys and the role the area played in rehabilitating these children liberated from the Nazi concentration camps after the Second World War.

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My Grandparents’ War

Channel 4

Wednesday 11 December, 9pm

Actor Kristin Scott Thomas uncovers the story of how her grandfather William saved thousands at Dunkirk while serving as a commanding officer in the Royal Navy throughout WWII.

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Who Do You Think You Are?

BBC One

Thursday 12 December, 9pm

Oscar-winning actor Kate Winslet is the next subject of the BBC’s genealogy documentary series in which celebrities trace their family trees. The episode sees Winslet follow a rumour of Scandinavian ancestry on her late mother Sally’s side of the family and is delighted when it turns out to be true and that she has Swedish heritage. But her joy turns to tears and anger when she uncovers the extreme hardships her ancestors endured, from famine to flogging and imprisonment.

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Three Pounds In My Pocket 

Radio 4

Friday 13 December, 11am

The series tracing the social history of British South Asians in post-Second World War Britain returns. The second episode covers the mid-1980s, by which time many of the ‘three pound generation’ had been in Britain for longer than they had lived on the Indian subcontinent. And as the decade drew to an end, we see how dramatic events would lead to the South Asian community fragmenting. Presented by Kavita Puri.

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