Cleopatra: Mother, Mistress, Murderer, Queen
Friday 8th April, 9.00pm
Why does Cleopatra’s name sustain down the centuries? It’s a question tackled in this feature-length docudrama, that explores how the Egyptian royal survived murderous and incestuous dynastic politics, and traces her relationship with Mark Antony. Historian Bettany Hughes is among those offering expert perspectives on Cleopatra’s life – and death.
World War One: The Cultural Front
Saturday 9th April, 10.30am
Francine Stock’s series looking at the arts during the First World War returns with another three episodes. This time around, we’re in 1916, the year of Verdun and the Somme. How did the artists and writers of Paris react to battles that heralded a horrific new age of mechanised warfare?
Archive On 4: The Unabomber
Saturday 9th April, 8.00pm
Between 1978 and 1995, survivalist and former academic Theodore Kaczynski waged a one-man terror campaign in the USA, a protest against modern technology. His bombs killed three people and injured 23. Kaczynski himself, now jailed for life, is among those whose voices we hear in a documentary looking back at the manhunt that ultimately resulted in his arrest.
Sunday Feature: 1816, The Year Without A Summer
Sunday 10th April, 6.45pm
In 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted, in an explosion that could be heard more than 2000km away. As cultural historian Corin Throsby charts, the eruption brought cold and wet weather to Europe and New England, and indirectly led to Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein.
The Rest Is History
Sunday 10th April, 7.15pm
The entertaining historical panel show continues with an episode that includes discussions of Robin Hood, wartime slogans and a statuesque mystery. Frank Skinner hosts and historian Kate Williams offers an expert perspective, while this week’s guests are comedians Al Murray and Isy Suttie.
Sunday 10th April, 9.00pm
The Women’s Institute drama about life during wartime continues with news of a divorce causing a scandal. Over on Channel 4, Indian Summers (9.00pm) also continues, in an episode that finds Ralph and Cynthia trying to protect Lord Hawthorne’s attacker. Then an earthquake strikes, literally.
Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics
Monday 11th April, 4.00pm
The series in which classicist and writer Natalie Haynes performs comedy routines about figures from the ancient world returns for a new series. Her first subject is the Greek comic playwright, Aristophanes. We’re told to expect, “a chorus of frogs, rather too much information about padded costumes and a sex strike”.
The Essay: Minds At War – Ulysses
Monday 11th April, 10.45pm
As part of programming to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising, contemporary writers and academics reflect on how Irish thinkers and artists reacted to the First World War. In the first of five weekday episodes, Fintan O’Toole considers James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922).
Pick of the week
Europe: Them Or Us – An Island Apart
Tuesday 12th April, 9.00pm
With the referendum on EU membership fast approaching, political journalist Nick Robinson offers a historical perspective on our relationship with Europe. In the first of two programmes, he charts how Britain lobbied to join a Common Market it once shunned, and considers the respective roles of Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan and Edward Heath in what occurred.
BBC: The Secret Files
Thursday 14th April, 9.00pm
In a follow-up to a documentary last year that blew the dust from documents in the BBC’s archives, Penelope Keith looks at some of the files held by Auntie. The documents she finds range from internal memos dealing with much-loved stars through to records charting a long-running feud between Winston Churchill and Lord Reith.