Comedian Steve Punt once again turns investigator to look back at unusual, controversial and often downright puzzling cases. In the first episode, he considers the death of Emile Zola in 1902 from carbon monoxide poisoning. Was the passing of the novelist really accidental, caused by a blocked chimney, as the authorities ruled?
Jeremy Vine and Louise Minchin present a live retelling of the 1966 World Cup final. Also marking 50 years since Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet trophy, look out for the oral history show 1966: A Nation Remembers (ITV, Saturday 30 July, 9.00pm); and, looking at other events that year too, Generation ’66 (BBC Four, Sunday 31 July, 9.00pm).
In the final episode of the current series, Jonathan Freedland considers the EU referendum through the prism of the English Reformation. Followed by Our Man In Greeneland (9.30am), in which five BBC reporters follow in Graham Greene’s footsteps. First up, Katy Watson retraces the novelist’s 1938 travels in Mexico.
Historian Peter Barton looks at the final phase of the battle of the Somme, outlining how a change in German tactics both frustrated the Allies and extended the war. Barton also puts forward the argument that the battle ended not in 1916, but in the spring of 1917.
The Somme 1916: From Both Sides of the Wire. (BBC/Steve Robinson)
Tuesday 2 August, 3.00pm
The history magazine show returns for a new series. In the opening episode, Tom Holland considers how Brexit might contribute to the already complex story of border politics between Northern Ireland and Eire. Helen Castor co-presents. Also today, Great Lives (Radio 4, 4.30pm) returns, with Hilary Devey championing singer Gracie Fields.
Professor Alice Roberts heads for the Cambridgeshire Fens and a spot where a Bronze Age village burned down three millennia ago. Today, archaeologists are painstakingly uncovering a near miraculously preserved site that offers precious insights into how our ancestors lived.
Britain’s Pompeii: A Village Lost in Time. (BBC/360 Production/Paola Desiderio)
Masters of the Pacific Coast: The Tribes of the American Northwest
Wednesday 3 August, 9.00pm
The second part of Dr Jago Cooper’s documentary about the indigenous people of the American north-west begins in the 18th century. This was a time when Europeans had little interest in conquest and so initially simply traded with locals. Gradually, though, a more familiar narrative of colonialism and, tragically, epidemic disease emerges.
In episode three of the living history series, Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn consider how the railways transformed the national diet. The tradition of the Sunday roast, for example, can be linked to mass transportation of livestock beginning during the Victorian era.
Having dealt with the 1970s at some length, the historian now turns his attention to the following decade. The first of three episodes in a new series takes in a typically eclectic range of subjects, including the popularity of Delia Smith, youth subcultures and the reasons behind the splintering of Britain’s political left.
In a documentary first shown north of the border, geologist Iain Stewart traces Scotland’s now little-remembered 19th-century oil rush. It was kicked off when inventor James ‘paraffin’ Young first refined lighting fuel from a shale rock known as torbanite. In West Lothian, this led to the creation of an industry that employed thousands.