Great Continental Railway Journeys
Friday 27 November, 9.00pm
Michael Portillo concludes his latest series of European jaunts by travelling from Barcelona to Majorca. It’s a journey where the Spanish Civil War, which drove the former politician’s father into exile, is a recurring theme. Plus the work of Antoni Gaudi and how to make the perfect paella.
Blood, Sex And Money by Emile Zola
Saturday 28 November, 2.30pm
The eighth instalment of Radio 4’s adaptation of Zola’s Les Rougon-Macquart novel cycle finds Dide (Glenda Jackson) focusing on the life of her great-grandson, Jacques. He’s a train driver who loves machines more than women, and a man with a dark secret. Concludes Sunday 29 November, 3.00pm.
Guy Martin: Last Flight of the Vulcan Bomber
Sunday 29 November, 7.30pm
The mechanic and speed freak joins a team of engineers preparing the last airworthy Avro Vulcan bomber for a farewell tour of Britain. It’s a chance for Guy to get close to a plane that must have seemed like something from a science-fiction novel when it went into service back in the 1950s.
Ireland with Simon Reeve
Sunday 29 November, 8.00pm
The explorer concludes his journey around Eire and Northern Ireland. Beginning with a visit to the Giant’s Causeway, he travels down the east coast via Belfast (where he sees depressing evidence of sectarian divisions) and Dublin, and ends his trip in the Wicklow Mountains.
Simon Reeve at Giant’s Causeway. © BBC/Ruth Mayer
The Secret History of the British Garden
Sunday 29 November, 9.00pm
In the 19th century, Britain’s gardens changed dramatically. In great part, that’s because plant hunters began to bring back exotic specimens from far afield, at the same time as technological innovations meant it was easier to keep even the most tender plants alive. Monty Don charts what occurred.
Britain’s Outlaws: Pirates, Highwaymen, Pirates and Rogues
Monday 30 November, 9.00pm
Sam Wills turns his attention to the lives of pirates during the early 18th century. This was the era when the legendary likes of Captain Kidd, Blackbeard and Calico Jack were in their pomp. What impact, Wills asks, did their violent thievery have in the era of colonial expansion?
Wednesday 2 December, 2.15pm
Tumanbay is the capital of a vast medieval Egyptian empire. But it’s a place under threat, both from without and from within. Writer and director John Dryden’s 10-part historical drama, set during the Mamluk slave dynasty era, focuses on Gregor (Rufus Wright), master of the palace guard and a man charged with crushing an insurgency.
Pick of the Week…
Dan Cruickshank: Resurrecting History – Warsaw
Wednesday 2 December, 9.00pm
Architectural historian Cruickshank, who lived in Warsaw as a boy, returns to Poland’s capital for the first time in nearly 60 years. The purpose of his journey? To explore how the city rose from the ashes in the wake of the Second World War, when it was all but destroyed.
The Last Kingdom
Thursday 3 December, 9.00pm
The terrific adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s historical novels continues with ascetic Alfred (David Dawson) in a spot of bother on account of the Danes having invaded Wessex. Cue the monarch hiding out in marshlands, where he can’t be trusted to prevent cakes from burning.
What a Performance! Pioneers of Popular Entertainment
Thursday 3 December, 9.00pm
Over three episodes, Frank Skinner and Suzy Klein team up to explore the history of entertainment for the masses in the years before television was invented. The duo begin in the 19th century, when music hall was all the rage.