Eurovision At 60
Friday 22nd May, 9.00pm
Six decades of boom-bang-ding-a-dong tunes and not a hope these days, it seems, of Britain winning, but still we tune in every year. Why? There may be some clues in a documentary that tells the story of what is, after all, a great cultural institution. Longtime BBC host Terry Wogan is among those sharing his memories.
Britain’s Greatest Generation
Friday 22nd May, 9.30pm
Between 1942 and 1945, Britain’s young men and women served and fought across the world. The series gathering the testimony of the last survivors hears tales of El Alamein, the Dambusters raid, the war in Asia and the invasion at Normandy.
Saturday 23rd May, 9.00pm & 10.00pm
The historical drama continues with Denmark on the cusp of going to war against Prussia. It’s a conflict depicted as arising from a kind of jingoistic over-confidence amongst parts of Denmark’s elite. For young men such as Laust and Peter, who join up, the effects will be devastating.
Pick of the Week…
Armada: 12 Days To Save England
Sunday 24th May, 9.00pm
A series that mixes up CGI, expert analysis, dramatic reconstructions starring Anita Dobson as Elizabeth I, and host Dan Snow aboard a yacht in the Channel explores how England came to best Spain in 1588. The first of three episodes looks at the reasons for the armada being sent and charts the first meeting between the two fleets.
1945: The Savage Peace
Sunday 24th May, 10.00pm
For German speakers living in Czechoslovakia and Poland, the end of the war in Europe was a catastrophe as they all too often found themselves under brutal attack from those seeking vengeance for Nazi crimes. Featuring the testimony of eyewitnesses and victims, and rarely seen archive footage.
Monday 25th May, 12.04pm
The drama of life in Blighty exactly 100 years ago returns with a new batch of weekday episodes, this time set in Folkestone. Also today, listen out for Drama: Tommies (Radio 4, 2.15pm), which sees central character Mickey Bliss in London, taking time out from his signals training.
Churchill: When Britain Said No
Monday 25th May, 9.00pm
A few weeks after VE Day, Britain held a general election. The result was a humiliating defeat for Winston Churchill as Clement Attlee and the Labour Party took power. Why did the nation reject the man who led the country to victory? Max Hastings, Juliet Gardiner and Antony Beevor are among those offering their perspectives.
(BBC/Oxford Film & Television)
Joan of Arc: God’s Warrior
Tuesday 26th May, 9.00pm
How did a French peasant girl come first to rescue France and then, at the age of just 19, be burned at the stake as a heretic? Dr Helen Castor charts the life of the Maid Of Orleans, along the way drawing on an extraordinary manuscript that enables us to hear Joan’s own words at her trial.
Fats Waller And Al Capone
Tuesday 26th May, 10.00pm
In 1926, or at least so it’s said, pianist Fats Waller found himself taken at gunpoint to play for Al Capone. It was the gangster’s birthday and he was a present from Capone’s cronies. Jazz vocalist Kurt Elling looks for the truth among differing accounts of what happened.
Britain’s Underground Army
Wednesday 27th May, 11.00am
One in 10 of the young men called up during 1939-45 didn’t go to fight. Instead, they were sent down the mines to hack out the coal essential to powering the nation. Three of the so-called Bevin boys (after Ernest Bevin) recall their experiences, and how being denied the chance to go on active service affected their lives.