Secrets From The Sky
Friday 17 October, 8.00pm
In a new six-part series that offers an aerial perspective on British history, Bettany Hughes and Ben Robinson head for Tintagel Castle in Cornwall. It’s a place where, it’s said, King Arthur was conceived, but is there any evidence to support this idea?
Archive On 4: Speaking As A Member Of The Public
Saturday 18 October, 8.00pm
Broadcaster and humorist Danny Wallace explores the surprisingly rich history of ‘vox populi’ or ‘voxpops’, where journalists take to the street to ask passers-by what they think about issues. Is there any value to this or would it be better for reporters to speak with experts?
Schama On Rembrandt: Masterpieces Of The Late Years
Saturday 18 October, 9.00pm
Wearing his art historian hat, Simon Schama considers Rembrandt’s later years, when in the wake of personal setbacks the painter created some of his greatest portraits. Followed by The Culture Show: Rankin Shoots Rembrandt (10.00pm), in which the photographer takes inspiration from Rembrandt’s unflinching take of the ageing process.
Hitler’s Hidden Drug Habit: Secret History
Sunday 19 October, 8.00pm
The fuehrer’s health, it’s long been known, was bad. This rather ghoulish documentary explores just how bad and reveals how Hitler took a cocktail of drugs, including crystal meth. Followed over on More4 by Nazi Megastructures (9.00pm), which looks at Wernher von Braun’s development of long-range rockets.
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
Sunday 19th October, 8.00pm
For those with satellite TV, here’s a treat as acclaimed American filmmaker Ken Burns’ superb history of an American political dynasty gets a UK broadcast. He begins with Teddy Roosevelt, a sickly child who reinvented himself as an action man president. Later episodes will focus on Franklin and Elinor Roosevelt.
Pick of the week…
The Art Of Gothic: Britain’s Midnight Hour
Monday 20 October, 9.00pm
As part of a BBC season, The Wonder of Gothic, Andrew Graham-Dixon begins a three-part series by looking at out Georgian-era forebears’ fondness for “terror and weirdness”. It’s a documentary that takes in architecture, bad behaviour, lurid novels, Edmund Burke’s notion of the sublime and some disturbingly spooky paintings. Excellent.
Afternoon Drama: Tommies
Tuesday 21st October, 2.15pm
The drama series continues with an episode that finds signalman Mickey Bliss joining a British offensive. Also, this week, in Soldiers Of The Empire: The Fight In Fairyland (Radio 4, Wednesday 22nd October, 11.00am), Santanu Das tells the story of the Indian Army on the Western Front.
Dan Cruickshank And The Family That Built Gothic Britain
Tuesday 21 October, 9.00pm
The architectural historian profiles the Scott family. Over the course of a century, Sir George Gilbert Scott, his son George Junior and grandson Giles created many of our most celebrated buildings, including St Pancras Station, Battersea Power Station and even the red phone box.
Gunpowder 5/11: The Greatest Terror Plot
Wednesday 22 October, 9.00pm
While most of us are familiar with the broad outline of events on 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes and chums tried to blow up parliament, it’s a story that bears retelling. This docudrama draws heavily on the statement given by one of the leaders of the conspiracy, Thomas Wintour.
Thursday 23 October, 8.00pm
Rob Bell takes a subterranean tour of Britain for a six-part series that features plenty of history. In the first episode, he visits Scotland, and visits the nation’s longest cave system, where the discovery of prehistoric animal bones has helped scientists to build a picture of life during the Ice Age.