Raiders of the Lost Past
Friday 27th March, 9.00pm
The documentary series following the work of explorers and archaeologists returns with an episode about American lawyer John Lloyd Stephens and British artist Frederick Catherwood, central figures in the rediscovery of the Mayan civilisation. Followed by Codebreaker (10.00pm), which charts how Hitler’s personal code machine was hacked.
The Clocks Go Forward Tonight
Saturday 28th March, 10.30am
Ahead of the clocks changing, Stephen Fry tells the story of daylight-saving time, which he traces back to the 18th century. Also this weekend, listen out for the second episode of Bettany Hughes’ history of the area where Europe and Asia meet, Sunday Feature: Caucasian Roots (Radio 3, Sunday 29th March, 9.00pm).
Sunday 29th March, 9.00pm
Need a change from Poldark, Mr Selfridge and Indian Summers (BBC One, ITV and Channel 4 respectively, all 9.00pm)? Those with satellite can check out this two-parter charting the later life of Jesus of Nazareth. A starry cast includes Kelsey Grammar as Herod. There’s more Biblical drama on Monday 30th March with The Ark (BBC One, 8.30pm).
A History of Ideas
Monday 30th March, 12.04pm
The weekday series returns with Melvyn Bragg and guests including historian Justin Champion, considering the question of how we might live good lives. Bragg also hosts In Our Time (Radio 4, Thursday 2 April, 9.00am), which this week looks back at the California Gold Rush of the 1850s.
Portillo’s State Secrets
Monday 30th March, 6.30pm
Michael Portillo hosts another five episodes of the weekday series that sees him trawling through previously classified documents from the National Archives. He begins with tales of espionage, including the debacle surrounding a double agent’s escape at the height of the Cold War.
Pick of the Week…
Drills, Dentures and Dentistry: An Oral History
Monday 30th March, 9.00pm
The history show with the best title of the week is also worth a look for its contents, as Professor Joanna Bourke gets her gnashers into dentistry’s transition over five centuries. Along the way, we discover how rich Londoners used the teeth of some of those who died at Waterloo as dentures.
(Credit BBC/Raw/James Gray)
Visions of the Valleys
Tuesday 31st March, 8.00pm
Ex-Labour minister Kim Howells celebrates 250 years of art inspired by the Welsh Valleys. He begins with JMW Turner, who visited the Vale of Neath in the 1790s to paint its spectacular waterfalls, before exploring how the brave new world of industrialisation also attracted painters.
Back In Time For Dinner
Tuesday 31st March, 8.00pm
The Robshaw family samples the food of the 1970s. Mother Rochelle, it turns out, is rather looking forward to being able to get out of the kitchen and back to work. Except she still does the cooking, even if she’s able to serve such convenience foods as canned mince and boil-in-the-bag grub. Yum…
(Credit BBC/Wall to Wall/Duncan Stingemore)
Great Irish Journeys with Martha Kearney
Wednesday 1st April, 8.00pm
As the travel series continues, the journalist retraces the footsteps of painter and geologist George Victor Du Noyer (1817-69). Followed by panel show The Quizeum (BBC Four, 8.30pm), which this week comes from Hertford House in London, home of the Wallace Collection.
Strangeways: Britain’s Toughest Prison Riot
Wednesday 1st April, 9.00pm
It’s a quarter of a century since the biggest riot in British prison history, when 1,600 inmates escaped from their cells and took control of Manchester (Strangeways) Prison. Those who were there, including prisoners, guards and governor Brendan O’Friel, recall events that culminated in a rooftop siege.