Friday 12th December, 9.00pm
What’s life like behind the scenes at Canterbury Cathedral? This three-part documentary series offers the chance to find out. First up, the new archbishop, Justin Welby celebrates his first Christmas at the cathedral, and a precious stained glass window is removed for renovation. Continues Monday 15th December (9.00pm).
Tomorrow’s Worlds: The Unearthly History Of Science Fiction
Saturday 13th December, 9.45pm
Dominic Sandbrook’s series on the fiction of the future turns its attention to the past as well because the theme in the final episode is time travel. Expect learned reflections on HG Wells’ The Time Machine, Back To The Future and, of course, Doctor Who.
Archive On 4: Gone With The Wind – A Legacy
Saturday 13th December, 8.00pm
Drawing on archive interviews, Diane Roberts examines the impact of one of Hollywood’s most successful movies, 75 years after its release. Unsurprisingly, race relations are a central theme as we learn, for instance, how actor Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Academy Award, was segregated from her co-stars at the Oscars ceremony.
The Rest Is History
Sunday 14th December, 7.15pm
Frank Skinner loves history but doesn’t know much about it. How better to find out than invent and host a history-themed comedy discussion show? Guests in the first of six episodes are Dave Gorman and Sara Pascoe. Dr Kate Williams is historian-in-residence.
The Ideas That Made Us
Monday 15th December, 1.45pm
The weekday series where Bettany Hughes tells the story of ideas rooted in the Ancient Greek world returns. She begins by investigating her own psyche. Contributors through the week include writer Ben Okri, classicist Paul Cartledge and Today host John Humphrys.
Bullseyes And Beer: When Darts Hit Britain – Timeshift
Monday 15th December, 9.00pm
How did darts go from being a gentle pub game to a national obsession? As outlined in a superb Timeshift doc, it’s a tale bound up with television coverage and the emergence of a charismatic group of players, including Eric Bristow and Bobby George. Contributors include Martin Amis, who made darts central to his 1989 novel London Fields.
Texas Servant Girl Murders
Monday 15th December, 9.00pm
In 1884, a killer, or killers, murdered eight women in Austin, Texas. Six of the victims were African-Americans and the crimes were never solved. Made for the PBS America History Detectives strand, a documentary that explores, among other questions, whether the murders were racially motivated.
Secrets Of The Castle With Ruth, Peter And Tom
Wednesday 17th December, 9.00pm
Final episode of the terrific living-history series, and the presenters turn their attention to life beyond the castle walls. It turns out many medieval people travelled widely, for work, war and trade, but also on pilgrimage. Plus the team helps out with the construction of an ornate chapel window.
Afternoon Drama: Ebola
Thursday 18th December, 2.15pm
The Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976, in what was then Zaire, during an outbreak centred on a mission hospital. Mike Walker’s drama recalls how a medical team was sent into the rainforest to study and fight the deadly virus. Narrated by a member of the team, Professor Peter Piot.
Castles: Britain’s Fortified History
Thursday 18th December, 9.00pm
Concluding his series on Britain’s castles, Dr Sam Willis explores how castles have come to embody a nostalgia for the age of chivalry – if such an era ever existed. Over on Channel 5, Dan Jones profiles Richard II in the final episode of Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty (9.00pm).