TV & radio: what to tune in to next week (29 May–4 June 2015)

Can't decide what programmes to watch or listen to? Here are 10 you won't want to miss...

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Britain’s Greatest Generation
BBC Two
Friday 29th May, 9.00pm

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The final episode in the oral history series looks at the post-second world war era. Those offering their perspectives on years of immense social change include writer Diana Athill, Bermuda-born actor Earl Cameron and campaigner Brian Rix, shockingly recalling a doctor’s prejudice against his daughter, who was born with Down’s syndrome.

Find out more here.

Archive on 4: The Tokens And The Foundlings
Radio 4
Saturday 30th May, 8.00pm

Caro Howell, director of London’s Foundling Museum, tells the story of the Foundling Hospital. The nation’s first children’s charity has its roots in the 18th century when a former shipbuilder and philanthropist, Thomas Coram, became concerned about the number of babies being abandoned.

Find out more here. 

1864
BBC Four
Saturday 30th May, 9.00pm & 10.00pm

Episodes five and six of the terrific Danish drama find things not going well at the front as, in the wake of the shaming evacuation of Danevirke, Laust’s division is caught in a snowstorm. In Copenhagen, those in positions of power, caught up in their own delusions of grandeur, refuse to countenance another retreat.

Find out more here. 

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(BBC/Per Arnesen/Miso Film 2013)

Drama: The Last Chronicle of Barset
Radio 4
Sunday 31st May, 3.00pm

Radio 4 completes its adaptations of Anthony Trollope’s Barchester novels with the tale of how the penniless vicar of Hogglestock, Josiah Crawley, is accused of theft. A small drama? Perhaps, but the joy of Trollope is the way he shows us how Victorian society, especially the interface between gentry and clergy, operated. Starring Maggie Steed.  

Find out more here. 

Armada: 12 Days To Save England
BBC Two
Sunday 31st May, 9.00pm

Dan Snow charts how, in 1588, the English and Spanish fleets shadowed each other in the Channel. If the idea the English ships were nimbler than Spanish galleons seems familiar from school lessons, there’s also plenty here that’s less well known, notably in the analysis of the two sides’ tactics.

Find out more here. 

To read about Elizabeth I’s war with England’s Catholics, click here. 

To read 10 things you (probably) didn’t know about the Spanish Armada, click here. 

Pick of the Week…

Rome’s Invisible City
BBC One
Monday 1st June, 9.00pm

Alexander Armstrong and Dr Michael Scott explore subterranean Rome, a way to learn how what was built beneath the streets helped the world’s first metropolis to function. Expect insights into how the Colosseum functioned and, more prosaically, the sewers too. For our full preview of the show, originally scheduled for broadcast earlier in the year, click here. 

Find out more here. 

Natural Histories
Radio 4
Tuesday 2nd June, 11.00am

In a 25-part series, Brett Westwood explores the impact nature has had on culture and society. Taking in King Kong and David Attenborough’s extraordinary encounter with gorillas during the filming of Life On Earth, he begins with the way we see ourselves reflected in primates. 

Find out more here. 

Sons of Liberty
History
Tuesday 2nd June, 10.00pm

Here’s a three-part mini-series that tells the story of the American revolution. The show takes its name from an organisation formed by colonists to protect their rights, and which was behind the Boston Tea Party. The cast includes Brits Ben Barnes and Rafe Spall.

Find out more here. 

Shadow of the Sun King
Radio 4
Wednesday 3rd June, 11.00am

Professor Julian Swann reevaluates the life and times of Louis XIV (1638–1715), a man often portrayed as a totalitarian dictator. Not correct, argues Swann, who also looks at how, via foreign policy errors, Louis unwittingly paved the way for Britain to become a global superpower.

Find out more here. 

In Our Time
Radio 4
Thursday 4th June, 9.00am

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the myth of Prester John, who in the Middle Ages was said to rule a lost Christian nation somewhere in the east. How did this myth come to be so pervasive? And what are we to make of “evidence” of Prester John’s existence, including the stories of travellers who claimed to have met him?

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Find out more here.