Sound of Song
Friday 16th January, 9.00pm
Neil Brand looks at the elements that make a great song: how they are written, performed and recorded – and also how we listen to music. First up, he considers how the microphone changed the way artists sang. Bing Crosby’s crooning, we learn, was once regarded as scandalously intimate and suggestive.
Archive on 4: Musn’t Grumble – The Noble British Art of Complaining
Saturday 17th January, 8.00pm
Writer Bidisha explores the way we British like a good grumble. Which is confusing because, as the title here hints, we often introduce complaints with an apology or a self-deprecating remark. Those helping Bidisha figure out how this came about include classicist and comedian Natalie Haynes.
The Inflating Shopping Basket
Sunday 18th January, 1.30pm
Using annual statistics as his starting point, Andrew Webb looks at how our grocery-shopping habits have changed since 1947. It’s a documentary that takes in the development of brands and advertising in the 1970s and 1980s, and the invention of the ready meal.
Call the Midwife
Sunday 18th January, 8.00pm
The hit drama returns for a fourth series, and a new nurse, Barbara Gilbert, gets off to a bad start at Nonnatus House. Taking its cues from the past in a very different fashion, Up The Women (BBC Two, Wednesday 21st January, 10.05pm), Jessica Hynes’ suffragette sitcom, is back this week too.
Great British Railway Journeys
Monday 19th January, 6.30pm
Michael Portillo yet again rides the rails, guided on his way by his battered copy of Bradshaw’s. First up, he heads from the East Midlands to Lindisfarne, via Grantham, birthplace of one Margaret Hilda Thatcher, under whom Portillo served as a junior minister. Continues every weekday.
The Eichmann Show
Tuesday 20th January, 9.00pm
Martin Freeman and Anthony LaPaglia head the cast in a docu-drama recalling how the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem came to be broadcast to the world. The coverage of the event led to a new interest in the Holocaust and a greater understanding of its horrors.
The Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home
Tuesday 20th January, 9.00pm
Dr Suzannah Lipscomb looks back at domestic life in the 16th century, an age when explorers brought back exotic goods previously never seen in Europe. And some of which were a danger to life and limb. Plus, how ideas about the idea of ‘home’ developed during the era.
Hugely anticipated and, on the evidence of episode one, utterly justifying the hype, the BBC’s adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novels arrives on our screens. Mark Rylance holds the attention throughout as Thomas Cromwell, whom we first meet as a trusted advisor to ageing and out-of-royal-favour Cardinal Wolsey (Jonathan Pryce).
The Secret Horse: Quest for the True Appaloosa
Wednesday 21st January, 9.00pm
Equine enthusiast Scott Engstrom thinks the spotted Appaloosa horse made its way to North America from Asia rather than Europe, as most believe. If she’s right, we may have to revisit what we think we know about human patterns of migration to the New World. A travelogue following Engstrom’s journey to Kyrgyzstan in search of Appaloosa.
Surviving the Holocaust: Freddie Knoller’s War
Thursday 22nd January, 9.30pm
Freddie Knoller, now 93, looks back on his life. It’s a truly remarkable story, which encompasses living in Nazi-occupied Paris while using false papers to hide the fact he was Jewish, joining the French Resistance and eventually being sent to Auschwitz.