TV & radio: what to tune in to next week (7–13 November)

Can't decide what programmes to watch or listen to? Here we round up the history TV and radio shows you won't want to miss

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The Louis Zemperini Story
Radio 4
Friday 7 November, 11.00am

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Louis Zemperini was the youngest athlete ever to represent the USA. At the Berlin Olympics, he pinched one of Hitler’s flags. In 1943, serving with the US Air Force, he spent 47 days on a raft in the Pacific after being shot down. Ahead of a soon-to-be-released biopic directed by Angelina Jolie, Unbroken, a salute to a remarkable life.

Find out more here.

World War II In Colour
Channel 5
Friday 7 November, 7.00pm

Early evening on Friday appears to have become the history slot on Channel 5. Tonight, World War II In Colour, which this week begins with preparations for the Normandy landings, is followed by Rome: The World’s First Superpower (8.00pm), in which Larry Lamb charts the life of Tiberius Gracchus, who spoke up for ordinary farmers.

Find out more here.

The Great War: An Elegy – A Culture Show Special
BBC Two
Saturday 8 November, 8.00pm

Simon Armitage has composed seven new poems about the first world war. Here, on Remembrance weekend, he considers the true-life stories that inspired his verse. Also this evening, there’s the Royal British Legion Festival Of Remembrance (9.10pm, BBC One). BBC One also carries live coverage of the annual service for Remembrance Sunday: The Cenotaph (Sunday 9th November, 10.25am).

Find out more here.

Walking Through History
Channel 4
Saturday 8 November, 8.00pm

Retracing the steps of the Normans, Tony Robinson takes a hike through Pembrokeshire, an area the invaders only conquered after years of slog and violence.

Find out more here.

Archive On 4: The Mersey Militants
Radio 4
Saturday 8 November, 8.00pm

Liverpool journalist Liam Fogerty looks back at 1980s, when the Militant Tendency took over the politics of his city. How did Derek Hatton and Tony Mulhearn come to yield such power, and lead the council into confrontation with the Thatcher administration?

Find out more here.

Sunday Feature: God and the Great War
Radio 3
Sunday 9 November, 6.45pm

Writer Frank Cottrell Boyce challenges the idea that events in 1914–18 somehow killed God. The real story, he argues, is more complex and involved a change in our relationship with the Supreme Being, so that, for instance, Anglicans accepted an idea rooted in Catholicism: saying prayers for the dead.

Find out more here.

A History Of Ideas
Radio 4
Monday 10 November, 12.04pm

For a new weekday series, Melvyn Bragg invites a panel of experts to explore different important notions. First up, here’s a short debate on the nature of freedom. To be followed by authored pieces from the contributors: philosopher Angie Hobbs, barrister Harry Potter, Neuropsychologist Paul Broks and theologian Giles Fraser.

Find out more here.
 

Spin The Globe
Radio 4
Tuesday 11 November, 4.00pm

Michael Scott returns with a new series of the show where he takes a global view of familiar historical dates. He begins with 1485, associated with Henry VII’s victory at Bosworth. Meantime, Scott outlines, Ivan the Great was trying to unite Russia, and Leonardo da Vinci was dreaming of flight.

Find out more here.

To read a behind-the-scenes interview with Michael Scott, click here.

Pick of the week…

Teenage Tommies
BBC Two
Tuesday 11 November, 9.00pm

Officially, young men had to be 19 to fight on the Western Front. In reality, many lied about their ages. Fergal Keane tells some of their stories, including the tale of St John Battersby, a vicar’s son who, aged just 16, was the youngest officer at the Somme. Keane also looks at a movement to bring the youngsters home.

Find out more here.

Great Continental Railway Journeys
BBC Two
Wednesday 12 November, 9.00pm

As ever clutching a vintage Bradshaw’s Guide, Michael Portillo travels down the spine of Italy. In Rome, he takes to a 1950s Vespa to explore the city. In Naples, he admires the view across the bay. He concludes his latest jaunt at Taormina in Sicily, an atmospheric hilltop town that sits in the shadow of Mount Etna.

Find out more here.

Queen Victoria’s Letters: A Monarch Unveiled
BBC Four
Thursday 13 November, 9.00pm

Biographer AN Wilson challenges the idea that Queen Victoria spent all the years after Albert’s death in deepest mourning. Rather, the biographer argues, she finally escaped from the constraints of domineering men and a controlling husband. The first of two documentaries. Anna Chancellor reads from Victoria’s letters and journals.

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Find out more here.