Great Continental Railway Journeys
Friday 20 November, 9.00pm
As ever clutching his trusty Bradshaw’s, Michael Portillo heads for Germany, and a journey from the Black Forest to Hannover. En route, he learns how Hansel and Gretel helped unify a nation, views the ruins of Heidelberg castle, and learns about student life at the turn of the 20th century.
Friday 20 November, 11.00pm
Visual artist Edmund de Waal explores the theme of memory and art. As well as profiling the Aurora Orchestra, known for performing classical works without sheet music, de Waal uncovers some history that’s largely passed from memory: the story of the Nazis’ obsession with porcelain.
Drama: Blood, Sex and Money by Emile Zola
Saturday 21 November, 2.30pm
A hugely ambitious “mash-up” adaptation of Emile Zola’s 20-novel cycle, Les Rougon-Macquart, which charts the story of three branches of the same family during the Second French Empire era, gets underway. Glenda Jackson heads the cast as 104-year-old matriarch Dide Fouque. Continues Sunday (3.00pm) and weekdays (2.15pm).
Sunday Feature: Making an Entrance – Asian Theatre in Britain
Sunday 22 November, 6.45pm
As part of the BBC On Stage season, Sarfraz Manzoor tells the story of Asian theatre in Britain. It’s a tale that encompasses temple dancers who came to London from India in the 1830s, and explores how unrest in the 1970s led to the founding of Britain’s first high-profile Asian theatre company.
Building Hitler’s Supergun
Sunday 22 November, 8.00pm
In 1943, the Nazis drew up plans for the biggest gun the world had ever seen: the V-3 supergun. The intention was to smash London to rubble with the weapon. Engineer Hugh Hunt investigates how the gun might have been constructed and how it worked.
Collings Foundation B-24 Liberator flying over America. (Nathalie Mohoboob/Production Company/Windfall Film/Channel 4)
The Secret History of the British Garden
Sunday 22 November, 9.00pm
Monty Don continues his exploration of plots of the past by looking at the 18th century. This was an era when vast landscape gardens were all the rage, at least for those who could afford to employ Lancelot “Capability” Brown and his legions of earthmovers.
His Master’s Voice
Monday 23 November, 1.45pm
Over five weekday episodes, Cerys Matthews and Tris Penna tells the stories behind some of Britain’s earliest gramophone records. The duo begin by telling the story of the Gramophone Company, which opened offices in London’s Covent Garden in 1898. Subsequent shows deal with such subjects as early comedy and novelty records, and theatrical recordings.
Pick of the Week…
Britain’s Outlaws: Highwaymen, Pirates and Rogues
Monday 23 November, 9.00pm
Historian Sam Willis looks back at the lives of outlaws in the 17th and 18th centuries. He begins with highwaymen, who represented a new kind of gentleman criminal when they first emerged in the wake of the Civil War. Expect dressing up in period costume and the true story of Dick Turpin.
Dominic Sandbrook: Let Us Entertain You
Wednesday 25 November, 9.00pm
Dominic Sandbrook concludes his history of post-Second World War British culture by focusing on the theme of individualism. It’s an idea largely rooted in the Victorian era, Sandbrook argues, for all his documentary pulls in such anti-establishment figures as John Lennon and Martin Amis’s John Self.
In Our Time
Thursday 26 November, 9.00am
Melvyn Bragg and expert guests discuss the outbreak of Salem witch trails, which took place in Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693. Also today on Radio 4, listen out for Open Country (3.00pm), which finds Helen Mark exploring another location associated with allegations of witchcraft, Pendle Hill in Lancashire.