TV & radio: what to tune into next week (5–11 February 2016)

Can't decide which programmes to watch or listen to? Here are 9 you won't want to miss...

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Great American Railway Journeys 
BBC Two 
Friday 5th February, 6.30pm
 
Michael Portillo’s weekday series continues with the broadcaster learning about the remarkable history of the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge. Next week’s shows find Portillo taking in the splendour of Niagara Falls, treading the famous boardwalk at Atlantic City, and seeing where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg address.
 
 
 
Greece With Simon Reeve 
BBC Two 
Sunday 7th February, 8.00pm
 
While not precisely history series, Simon Reeve’s travelogues inevitably touch on the way the past shapes the present. This time around, he journeys through a country where the economic crisis never seems to end and where thousands of refugees arrive daily, displaced by conflict to the east.
 
 
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Greece with Simon Reeve. (BBC/Olly Bootle)
 
War And Peace 
BBC One
Sunday 7th February, 9.00pm
 
The final episode of Auntie’s epic Tolstoy adaptation finds Napoleon itching for a fight. Instead, Russia’s military leaders decide to wait for him to run out of supplies. This all leads to desperate scenes in Moscow. Andrew Davies’ script, via the privations endured by Pierre, explores Tolstoy’s philosophy without letting it get in the way of the story.
 
 
 
Herman Melville’s Sea Change 
Radio 4
Monday 8th February, 4.00pm
 
How did Herman Melville come to write Moby Dick? Poet Paul Farley considers the role of Liverpool in the novel’s genesis, bound up with Melville visiting the great port city. Melville considered settling, it seems, which he thought might lead to his being “annihilated”. 
 
 
 
Making History 
Radio 4
Tuesday 9th February, 3.00pm
 
The historical magazine show returns for a new series. In the first of eight episodes, Mary Beard explains why 212 AD was a crucial year in world history, Helen Castor considers British victory myths, and Tom Charlton looks at the future of libraries. Hosted by Tom Holland.
 
 
 
Back In Time For The Weekend 
BBC Two 
Tuesday 9th February, 8.00pm
 
The Ashby Hawkins family sample leisure time as it was lived in the 1960s. This turns out to involve getting a family Mini, playing Subbuteo with former West Ham midfielder Sir Trevor Brooking, and hearing about the era’s fashions from singer Sandie Shaw. Giles Coren presents.
 
 
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Back in Time for the Weekend transports us to the 1960s this week. (BBC/Wall to Wall/Duncan Stingemore)
 
 
Surviving Alcatraz: Escaping The Rock 
Yesterday
Tuesday 9th February, 9.00pm
 
On 11 June 1962, bank robbers Frank Morris and Clarence and John Anglin launched a raft made from raincoats into San Francisco Bay. The men have never been seen since, could they possibly have survived? Dutch scientists take a fresh look at one of the world’s most famous jail breaks. 
 
 

Pick of the Week…

 
Elizabeth I: A Timewatch Guide
BBC Four 
Wednesday 10th February, 9.00pm
 
Drawing on the BBC archives, Vanessa Collingridge explores the life of Elizabeth Tudor. As well as considering some of the most important events in Elizabeth’s reign, most notably her victory against the Spanish Armada, Collingridge considers how what we think we know about the Virgin Queen has changed over the centuries. 
 
 
 
The Story Of China 
BBC Two
Thursday 11th February, 9.00pm
 
Michael Wood traces the role of rebellious peasant Hongwu in founding the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). The regime was authoritarian, we learn, a quality that found expression the vast fortifications of the Great Wall and the closed-off ritual spaces of the Forbidden City. Wood also considers why the dynasty fell from power.
 
 
 
 
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