Battle of Britain: The Day the War Was Won Channel 4 Sunday 13 September, 7.00pm
As we approach battle of Britain Day, Dermot O’Leary meets veterans from the summer of 1940, including pilots and members of the crews who kept the RAF’s planes in the air. On Tuesday 15 September, Battle Of Britain: Return Of The Spitfires (Channel 4, 8.00pm) charts a commemorative fly-past of fighters from the era.
Time Crashers Channel 4 Sunday 13 September, 8.00pm
The celebrities head back to 1796, where they sample life as Georgian agricultural workers. Cue yet more scenes of Kirstie Alley complaining, trimming the muck from a sheep’s bottom so it looks presentable and, for Greg Rutherford, a pigsty-cleaning assignment.
The King Who Invented Ballet: Louis XIV and the Noble Art of Dance BBC Four Sunday 13 September, 8.00pm
David Bintley, director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, examines how Louis XIV influenced the development of dance in the 17th and 18th centuries. We learn how cutting a rug was a key social skill in Louis’ royal court, and we discover how the monarch founded the world’s first ballet school.
Hubert Hazebroucq, a Baroque dancer, dressed as Louis XIV outside the Palace of Versailles in Paris. (Credit: BBC/Alex Jonas)
Computing Britain Radio 4 Monday 14 September, 1.45pm
Part of the BBC’s Make It Digital season, Hannah Fry presents a 10-part weekday series examining Britain’s role in the development of computing. In Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing (BBC Four, Thursday 17 September, 9.00pm) Fry tells the story of a woman who was among the first to acknowledge the significance of Charles Babbage’s steam-powered proto-computers.
Oil: A Crude History of Britain Radio 4 Monday 14 September, 8.00pm
John Naughtie continues the story of how North Sea Oil has transformed life in Britain by reflecting on whether the country should have founded an oil fund, as was done in Norway. Plus, Naughtie remembers the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster, when 167 men lost their lives.
Treasures of the Indus BBC Four Monday 14 September, 9.00pm
Sona Datta travels across the state of Tamil Nadu, an area key to the development of the Hindu religion and famed for its temples. Also this week, William Dalrymple presents The Essay: A Short History of Indian Art (Radio 3, weekdays, 10.45pm), which focuses on five pieces of Indian art and sculpture.
Canals: The Making of a Nation BBC Four Tuesday 15 September, 8.00pm
Before railway mania, there was canal mania. This was when our forebears dug waterway after waterway to link cities and towns across Britain. Travelling the Grand Union Canal, Liz McIvor outlines how this frenzy of building helped give birth to London’s finance sector.
Lucy Worsley’s Reins of Power: The Art of Horse Dancing BBC Four Tuesday 15 September, 9.00pm
Horse dancing, or manège, has long fascinated Lucy Worsley. In a one-off documentary, she explores how some of our forebears were obsessed with this precursor to dressage, and also looks at the role of horsemanship in commanding power. Expect scenes of a novice rider clearly having a lot of fun.
The Ascent of Woman BBC Two Wednesday 16 September, 9.00pm
Amanda Foreman reveals how powerful women have helped to shape our world’s history. In this episode, she profiles Theodora, who rose from being a street performer to become co-ruler of the Byzantine Empire in the sixth century. Foreman also explores the life of Christine de Pizan, who wrote about women’s rights in the 14th century.
Contributors Annabel, Imogen and Liz with an image of Queen Elizabeth I. (Credit: BC/Silver River)
Titchmarsh on Capability Brown More4 Thursday 17 September, 9.00pm
Alan Titchmarsh profiles his hero, Lancelot “Capability” Brown – a gardener who famously made the earth move for aristocrats by creating things on a grand scale. This three-part series also charts bringing a Brown design, long thought lost, to life at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire.