The Secret of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony
Saturday 28th May, 9.00pm
Received wisdom has it that Beethoven was railing against the loss of his hearing when he wrote his Fifth Symphony. But could the music actually express his belief in the French Revolution? It’s an idea discussed by Ian Hislop and John Eliot Gardiner in a documentary that explores the story behind the music.
Saturday 28th May, 9.30pm
Series three of the historical romp begins with Aramis in pacifist mode, having vowed never to take up his sword again. That is until a violent mercenary arrives at the monastery where the former musketeer now resides… Plus Rupert Everett joins the cast as the villainous Marquis de Feron.
The Musketeers. (BBC/Dusan Martincek)
Battle Of Jutland: The Navy’s Bloodiest Day
Sunday 29th May, 9.00pm
Dan Snow, Shini Somara and Nick Hewitt explore why the battle of Jutland, a naval clash between British and German fleets, resulted in so many casualties, and how it affected the outcome of the First World War. Elsewhere, World War One Remembered: The Battle Of Jutland (BBC One, Tuesday 31st May, 10.45am) features live coverage of centenary commemorations.
Battle Of Jutland: The Navy’s Bloodiest Day. (BBC/True North)
Storm Troupers: The Fight to Forecast the Weather
Monday 30th May, 9.00pm
Alok Jha considers the role of predicting the weather in the history of military strategy. In 1944, for instance, forecasters working at a secret location were called upon to answer a crucial question: would the weather be good enough for the D-Day landings to proceed?
The Real Versailles
Monday 30th May, 10.30pm
Ahead of a sumptuous new drama set in the court of Louis XIV, historians Lucy Worsley and Helen Castor tell the story of the absolute monarch’s long reign. Expect tales of extravagant palace building, royal sibling rivalry and Machiavellian intrigue.
The Real Versailles. (BBC)
Revolution and Romance: Musical Masters of the 19th Century
Tuesday 31st May, 9.00pm
Suzy Klein tells the story of music through the 19th century. She begins by considering how the rise of an affluent new middle class freed composers to rip up the rulebook, as they no longer had to rely on the patronage of conservative nobles and royals in order to make a living.
Ben Building: Mussolini, Monuments and Modernism
Wednesday 1st June, 9.00pm
Jonathan Meades visits Rome, Milan, Genoa and the new town of Sabaudia as he ponders what we can learn from the architecture of fascist Italy. There’s more architectural history in the final episode of Dan Cruickshank: At Home with the British (BBC Four, Thursday 2nd June, 9.00pm), which tells the story of the high-rise flat.
Wednesday 1st June, 9.00pm
Naomi Alderman tells the story of how Paul Ehrlich (1854–1915) pioneered a cure for syphilis. It’s an important story, not just because the treatment worked against a terrible disease, but also because Ehrlich’s ‘magic bullet’ approach – the idea of targeting a specific condition – transformed medicine more widely.
Pick of the week
Wednesday 1st June, 9.30pm
We’re in France. It’s 1667. King Louis XIV wants to consolidate his power. So what does he do? He decides to build the grandest palace ever seen on the site of his father’s hunting lodge. Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft’s lavish historical drama, which comes with lashings of sex and violence, makes its courtly bow.
Thursday 2nd June, 2.15pm
Jonathan Ruffle’s ambitious drama chronicling life during wartime exactly a century ago returns with five new episodes. This time around, we’re back on the western front, where Kitchener’s new army is gathering in the valley of the Somme ahead of an attack on German lines.