The History Hour

The History Hour

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p016tmg1
An hour of historical reporting told by the people who were there.


The first anti-psychotic drug
Jun 14 • 49 min
How a 1950s drug helped revolutionise the treatment of mental illness. Also, how hundreds of thousands of Kosovans fled when NATO bombed former Yugoslavia. Plus, a monumental public artwork in post-Cold War Berlin, Chinese-American relations after WW2,…
D-Day
Jun 8 • 50 min
Eyewitness accounts of the Allied invasion of Nazi occupied Europe on D-day, 6th June 1944. We also hear how the BBC reported events on that momentous day. Plus Vikings in England, the Gurkhas fight for justice and discovering the fate of ‘The Little…
Tiananmen Square
Jun 1 • 50 min
A student protester’s perspective on the Tiananmen Square massacre, the first social network on the internet, the surprisingly controversial early years of Sesame Street, the overthrow of Emperor Bokassa in the CAR, and the death of India’s first prime…
Fighting Uganda’s anti-gay laws
May 25 • 50 min
In 2009 Ugandan MPs tried to introduce new laws against homosexuality that would include life imprisonment and even the death penalty. We speak to Victor Mukasa about his story of fighting for LGBT rights in Uganda, first as a lesbian woman and then as a…
The final days of Sri Lanka’s civil war
May 18 • 50 min
In May 2009 the Sri Lankan army defeated the Tamil Tigers, ending a brutal 25-year civil war; also, the economists who predicted the 2008 global economic crash, plus the Nazis’ stolen children, a victim of China’s One Child policy, and the building of the…
The war on drugs
May 13 • 50 min
US President Richard Nixon’s efforts to deal with illegal drugs in 1971, the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam plus the rise of Jack Ma and his Alibaba empire in China. Also the Bauhaus movement and the global TV hit ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.…
The Malayan Emergency
May 4 • 51 min
Battling a communist insurgency in 1950s Malaya, the sinking of the Belgrano during the UK Argentine conflict, plus how Ellen DeGeneres came out to millions on US TV, also the African who made the Arctic his home because of his fear of snakes and the life…
The al Yamamah arms deals
Apr 27 • 50 min
The huge but controversial Anglo-Saudi deal, the Sri Lankan journalist who predicted his own murder, plus remembering South Africa’s historic election 25 years ago, the day NATO bombed Serbian TV, and the origin of modern Veganism. Photo: Prime Minister…
The Columbine school shooting
Apr 18 • 50 min
The memories of the brother of one of the victims of the Columbine mass school shooting; plus the story behind ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ - the first play on Broadway by a black woman; the world’s first space tourist, the origins of organic farming and the…
The rise of Hindu nationalism
Apr 13 • 50 min
How an Indian religious rally in 1990 sparked the rise of Hindu nationalism, 100 years since the Amritsar Massacre plus the first wing-suit for base jumping, a US food scare in the 1960s and teaching Marilyn Monroe to dance. (Photo LK Advani during rath…
Abolishing the army
Apr 6 • 50 min
After a brief civil war in March-April 1948, the new president of Costa Rica, Jose Figueres, took the audacious step of dissolving the Armed Forces. The Central American country is now one of just over 20 countries without a standing army - we find out…
Drama in the British parliament
Mar 30 • 49 min
Prime Minister Jim Callaghan’s desperate attempts to survive a no-confidence motion in 1979, the record-breaking 20-day balloon flight around the world; plus the Nazi past of Kurt Waldheim, mindfulness and the first home pregnancy test. Picture: James…
Autism and the MMR vaccine
Mar 23 • 54 min
How a British doctor misled the world by linking the MMR vaccine to autism; the early rise of Hungary’s Viktor Orban also what it was like to contest the Soviet Union’s first multi-party elections plus the exposure in the 1970s of a Nazi criminal in…
China’s breakthrough malaria cure
Mar 16 • 50 min
How an ancient Chinese remedy provided a 1970s breakthrough in the fight against malaria; the bombing of Dresden in the Second World War that inspired Kurt Vonnegut’s anti-war novel Slaughterhouse Five; the fall of Singapore; plus the town that America…
I was abused by a President
Mar 9 • 50 min
How allegations of child abuse engulfed Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the campaign to return the Elgin marbles to Greece, Britain’s first black headteacher, the origins of the Barbie doll and how Baroness Warsi made history. Photo: Zoilamerica…
Venezuela’s oil bonanza
Mar 2 • 50 min
When Venezuela was rich; surviving a mid-air airline disaster; Japan’s Red Army militants of the 1970s, the origin of the swine flu epidemic and Iceland’s Beer Day. Photo: Seidel/United Archives/UIG via Getty Images
The curse of Agent Orange
Feb 23 • 50 min
Millions left dead or deformed because of chemicals used in the Vietnam war, UK cigarette smoking warnings ignored, remains of the Nazi ‘Angel of Death’ discovered in Brazil, the Columbia Shuttle disaster which led to huge questions about American space…
Iceland jails its bankers
Feb 16 • 50 min
Why Iceland jailed 40 bankers after the 2008 financial crisis, how the Maastricht Treaty gave birth to the EU, plus America’s first female airline pilots, Cameroon’s historic referendum and homeless, drunk and yet a genius in the USSR. (Photo: Protesters…
The last days of Hitler
Feb 9 • 50 min
Hitler’s secretary on the last days in the bunker; a CIA operative on the killing of Che Guevara, remembering the US invasion of Iraq, a child of the Soweto Uprising and the tricky task of bringing Disneyland to France. Photo: Getty Images
The Iranian Revolution
Feb 2 • 49 min
In February 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile to Iran in the defining moment of a revolution that would change his country and the whole Middle East. In a special edition of the programme, Rebecca Kesby hears eye-witness accounts from the…
Vatican II: Reforming the Catholic Church
Jan 26 • 41 min
In January 1959 Pope John XXIII announced a council of all the world’s Catholic bishops and cardinals in Rome. It led to sweeping reforms. Plus Carmen Callil recalls setting up Virago, the most successful feminist publishing house to date; India gives…
Strikers in Saris
Jan 19 • 50 min
How South Asian women led thousands of UK workers in an industrial dispute in the late 1970s, plus Dr Crippen’s alleged gruesome crime, Judy Garland’s emotional last performances, the ‘miracle waters’ in Mexico and excitement over a whale in London’s…
When Stalin Rounded Up Soviet Doctors
Jan 14 • 49 min
Stalin’s last terror campaign against the best Soviet doctors, Castro’s triumphant entry into Havana, the extraordinary story of how a destitute single mother produced a best selling memoir about her life in a Brazilian favela. Also, the controversy over…
Vikings in North America
Jan 5 • 50 min
The discovery that proved the Vikings got to North America, a former Marxist rebel describes how his group overran an army base in El Salvador’s bitter civil war in the 1980s, the enormous palace built by the Romanian communist dictator, Nicole Ceausescu,…
UFO Sightings: The Rendlesham Forest Incident
Dec 29, 2018 • 51 min
The most striking and well documented UFO “sightings” there have ever been plus the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the theft of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey in 1950 also one of the first electronic instruments and how Britain has long…
Stopping The ‘Shoe Bomber’
Dec 22, 2018 • 50 min
Passenger Kwame James recalls how he helped overcome the British-born Richard Reid on American Airlines flight 63. Reid had hidden explosives in his shoe which failed to go off. Plus, the US apology for the internment of thousands of Japanese Americans in…
Apollo 8
Dec 15, 2018 • 50 min
At Christmas 1968, the biggest audience in TV history watched NASA’s Apollo 8 mission beam back the first pictures from an orbit around the Moon. The broadcast captured the world’s imagination and put America ahead of the Soviet Union in the Cold War…
Adopted By The Man Who Killed My Family
Dec 8, 2018 • 50 min
A child survivor of a Guatemalan army massacre during the country’s brutal civil war, the women who cleared up post war Berlin, plus Armenia’s 1988 earthquake, how Bokassa became Emperor of the Central African Republic, and Angela Merkel’s rise to power.…
The Man Who Inspired Britain’s First Aids Charity
Dec 1, 2018 • 50 min
The first man in Britain to die of AIDS, whale hunting in the South Atlantic in the 1950s, how Norway voted not to join the EU, the American adventurer who inspired the Indiana Jones stories, and Saddam Hussein’s draining of Iraq’s southern marshes in a…
The ‘Braceros’ - America’s Mexican Guest Workers
Nov 24, 2018 • 50 min
From 1942 to 1964 the US actively encouraged American farmers to hire tens of thousands of migrant workers to come to work legally from Mexico - they were known as ‘braceros’; also, when Moscow invited thousands of foreign students to attend an…
Japanese Murders in Brazil
Nov 17, 2018 • 50 min
How Japanese immigrants in Brazil fell out with each other after the end of the WW2, how Britain helped to get disabled people on the road in the 1940s plus life for Jews under Imperial Russia, the victims of Brazil’s military dictatorship in the 1970s…
The End of World War One
Nov 10, 2018 • 51 min
11th November 1918 saw the end of a four year war that had killed an estimated 20 million soldiers and civilians around the world. We hear eyewitness accounts of the conflict which was fought by many nations, on many continents. The historian, Professor…
When Russia’s Richest Man Was Jailed
Oct 26, 2018 • 50 min
Russia’s struggles with big business, when Nigeria struck oil, why Maximilian Kolbe was made a saint, the London arrest of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and Desmond Tutu. Photo: former head of Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky leaving the courtroom in…
The Nazi Black Book
Oct 26, 2018 • 49 min
The Nazi black book, a list of those to be arrested and dealt with if Germany occupied Britain, privation in wartime and Allied-occupied Austria, racial tension in 1940s Sweden, plus how Britain’s Labour party moved against hereditary peers in the House…
When Belgium Banned Coca Cola
Oct 20, 2018 • 51 min
A strange illness strikes Belgian teenagers, Brazil’s forgotten Amazon war, diverting Mount Etna’s lava, arguments over aid and trade in the UK, and the 1973 oil crisis. (Photo: A poster saying ‘out of order’ is stuck on a Coca Cola vending machine in…
The Street Battle That Rocked Brazil
Oct 6, 2018 • 50 min
In October 1968, students from two neighbouring universities in the centre of São Paulo clashed in a battle which left one dead and many injured. We hear how the so-called ‘Battle of Maria Antônia’ drove Brazil deeper into a military dictatorship which is…
The Arnhem Parachute Drop
Sep 22, 2018 • 50 min
Operation Market Garden - the failed attempt to end the war against Hitler; plus, a deadly nuclear accident in Brazil, the film of the Battle of Algiers, the last regular steam train to run in Britain and one of the Cuban Five jailed in America for spying…
How I Survived a Fire on a Plane
Sep 15, 2018 • 50 min
A lucky escape from a jet plane fire in the 1970s, Chamberlain’s talks with Hitler in 1938 plus the killing of the South African anti-apartheid campaigner, Steve Biko. Also toxic waste being shipped around the world in the 1980s and how Britain became…
Living under Gaddafi
Sep 8, 2018 • 50 min
Award-winning writer Hisham Matar on life in Gaddafi’s Libya, plus how British Bengalis faced the far-right in 1970s east London, the last battles of WW1, the struggle to name St.Petersburg and the first MRI scanner. Photo: Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in…
Surviving the “Death Railway”
Sep 1, 2018 • 51 min
A former prisoner of the Japanese in WW2, plus Hitler’s girl guides, how Benidorm became a tourist hotspot, Italian migrant tragedy in post-war Belgium, and the Lake Nyos disaster. Photo: Allied Prisoners of War in a Japanese prison camp 1945 (British…
Albert Speer - Hitler’s Architect
Aug 25, 2018 • 50 min
Hitler’s architect and minister of war, Albert Speer, was one of the few top Nazis to live on into old age. In the late 1970s, following his release from Spandau prison, he gave an interview to the British journalist, Roger George Clark. Plus, the Soviet…
Vera Brittain: Anti-Bombing Campaigner
Aug 18, 2018 • 50 min
Baroness Shirley Williams recalls her mother, WW2 anti-bombing protestor; 20 years since a mass killing in Omagh, the African-American photographer whose coverage of Martin Luther King’s funeral won him a Pullitzer Prize, plus when TV finally came to…
WW1: Britain’s Conscientious Objectors
Aug 4, 2018 • 50 min
The treatment of Britain’s First World War conscientious objectors, Iran bends the nuclear rules, the CIA’s first coup in Latin America, what happened to Eastern Europe’s dancing bears, and the culling in Wales of a sacred bull. Photo: A crowd of…
The Whitewashing of Zimbabwe’s Ancient History
Jul 27, 2018 • 50 min
The true history of the Great Zimbabwe ruins uncovered after independence, why Churchill lost the post-war election also the first women at the US military academy West Point and the crack down on leftist supporters in the south before the Korean war.…
The Killing of the Russian Tsar
Jul 21, 2018 • 50 min
The murder of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, four daughters and young son in 1918, plus how the Soviet Union struggled to feed its people in the 1950s; also the IRA attacks on mounted troops in London’s Hyde Park in 1982, the Zionist bombing…
Smiling Buddha: India’s First Nuclear Test
Jul 14, 2018 • 50 min
The scientist at the forefront of India’s first successful nuclear test in 1974, plus how an undersea mission finally found the remains of nearly 300 migrants drowned off Italy in the 1990s; also, Der Spiegel journalists under threat in Germany, and…
When The US Shot Down An Iranian Airliner
Jul 7, 2018 • 50 min
How a US warship downed a passenger jet killing 290 people, plus the story behind The Toilet, the controversial 1990s Russian ‘masterpiece’, Madeleine Albright on Kosovo, the history of adventure playgrounds. and the hunt for Deep Throat. Photo: The USS…
The Ex-President and the Gun Lobby
Jun 30, 2018 • 50 min
This week, how former US President George Bush Senior took on the all-powerful National Rifle Association; the murder of the campaigning Irish journalist, Veronica Guerin; and how a Soviet submarine got stuck on a Swedish rock during the Cold War. Plus,…
Korea Divided: A Bitter History
Jun 16, 2018 • 50 min
From the 1945 division of the peninsula, to the Korean war and the death of Kim II-sung, we have first-hand accounts from the turbulent recent history of North and South Korea. Plus, expert analysis from Dr Owen Miller of SOAS University of London. Photo:…
The 1968 Belgrade Student Revolt
Jun 9, 2018 • 50 min
The 1968 student revolt in Communist Yugoslavia, an assassination attempt that sparked Lebanon’s war, Adolf Eichmann’s execution, plus the sudden death of Nigeria’s strong man in less than clear circumstances and ‘from couch to 5k’ that inspired a global…
Free Health Care for All
Jun 3, 2018 • 50 min
The birth of the British health service in 1948; the battle for compensation over Thalidomide; the world’s first bicycle-sharing scheme; discovering a perfectly-formed frozen baby mammoth in Siberia, and the great science-fiction writer, Isaac Asimov.…
The Fall of Suharto in Indonesia
May 26, 2018 • 50 min
In 1998, the Indonesian dictator, President Suharto, resigned after 31 years in power. He stood down in the wake of nationwide demonstrations sparked by the killing of four student protestors. We hear from Bhatara Ibnu Reza, who was with one of the…
May 1968 Paris Riots
May 19, 2018 • 51 min
A French riot policeman’s view of the violence that swept through France in May 1968; plus the man who led a team that made safe two nuclear weapons that had crashed to ground in the US. Also, the origins of Montessori education, one of the airmen on the…
The Last King of Bulgaria
May 12, 2018 • 50 min
From child king in the Second World War to post-communist prime minister, the story of Bulgaria’s King Simeon II; the first ever surgery performed on a foetus in the womb, an American family selling secrets to the Soviets in the 1980s, plus the 1963…
When Margaret Thatcher Came to Power
May 5, 2018 • 49 min
Working for Britain’s first female PM, the rare story of prisoners on the high seas in WW2, plus the Children’s Crusade for civil right in 60s Alabama, the origin of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the story behind the Japanese TV hit, Takeshi’s Castle.…
The Oslo Peace Talks
Apr 28, 2018 • 49 min
The story behind the secret Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Oslo in 1993, the woman who swam from the USA to the Soviet Union, plus remembering Pablo Picasso, how art transformed notorious Scottish prisoners, and one of the most famous figures of World…
Earth Day
Apr 21, 2018 • 50 min
The birth of the modern environmental movement, Germany’s 1918 Spring Offensive, the discovery of the concentration camp horrors of Bergen-Belsen plus the rebuilding of the World Trade Centre site; and the last occupiers of Europe’s most westerly…
The Zimbabwe Massacres
Apr 14, 2018 • 50 min
In this week’s episode, Robert Mugabe’s brutal crack down on the opposition in the 1980s, a mass expulsion of Soviet spies from Britain in the 1970’s and the working class film revolution of the 1960’s. Plus the first frozen embryo and the death of a…
The Good Friday Agreement
Mar 31, 2018 • 50 min
In 1998, the political parties in Northern Ireland reached a peace agreement that ended decades of war. We hear from Paul Murphy, the junior minister for Northern Ireland at the time. Plus, a cross-community choir in Bosnia and women pioneers from the…
The Battle of the Airwaves in Latin America
Mar 17, 2018 • 50 min
Why the BBC started broadcasting to South and Central America, plus the My Lai Massacre, Brazil’s careful transition to democracy, and Moscow’s show trials in the 1930s. Photo: Members of the BBC’s Brazil service rehearsing in a London studio in 1943.…
Deaf Rights Protest
Mar 10, 2018 • 50 min
A landmark protest by deaf students in the US; the early fight for women’s reproductive rights; the life and times of political thinker, Hannah Arendt; language and history in Azerbaijan, and Wonder Woman. Picture: Student protestors, courtesy of…
China’s Barefoot Doctors
Mar 3, 2018 • 51 min
How China’s barefoot doctor scheme revolutionised rural healthcare; plus M*A*S*H, the ground-breaking American TV show that taught a generation about war; the assassination of the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme; the German and Russian soldiers who…
The Boy in the Bubble
Feb 24, 2018 • 49 min
How a young boy lived with a rare genetic disorder; plus “Ghana Must Go” - when 1 million Africans were expelled from Nigeria, battling the last major smallpox epidemic in India, reporting the Jimmy Swaggart scandal and the story behind the acclaimed…
Women’s Rights In Iran
Feb 17, 2018 • 50 min
We hear from Mahnaz Afkhami, Iran’s first ever minister for Women’s Affairs, appointed in 1975. Plus, the so-called “headscarf revolutionaries” who fought for improvements in Britain’s notoriously dangerous fishing industry, a member of the Viet Cong…
The Munich Air Disaster
Feb 9, 2018 • 50 min
The plane crash that killed eight of Manchester United’s top players, the courage of the British Suffragettes, uncovering South Africa’s nuclear secrets, plus tracking down Nazis in South America and the attack on a South Korean airliner ahead of the…
The Tet Offensive
Feb 3, 2018 • 50 min
In January 1968, North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong guerrillas launched a huge surprise attack on towns, cities and military bases across South Vietnam. The events of the Tet offensive had a profound impact on American public opinion and marked a…
The Capture of the USS Pueblo
Jan 27, 2018 • 50 min
When North Korea and the US came close to war in 1968; plus Salvador Dali, re-creating Francis Bacon’s studio, the first veggie burger and the origins of Lego Photo: Members of the USS Pueblo’s crew being taken into custody. Credit: Korean Central News…
Truth And Reconciliation in South Africa
Jan 20, 2018 • 50 min
After Apartheid was abolished in the 1990s, South Africa set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to try to confront the legacy of its brutal past. We speak to Justice Sisi Khampepe, who served on the Commission. Plus, the inspiring story of the…
When France Said ‘Non’ to Britain Joining Europe
Jan 13, 2018 • 49 min
When France stopped Britain joining Europe in the 1960s, the boy who set a record for continuously staying awake, the launch of the first iPhone, hands reaching out in friendship between Britain and Germany after the Second World War, and a notorious…
Boris Yeltsin’s Surprise Resignation
Jan 6, 2018 • 49 min
Mrs Yeltsin, on the day her husband shocked the world, half a century since the Mafia’s grip on America was exposed, the 1999 protests in Iran - the biggest since the revolution - a student tells us how a photograph led to his death sentence and the…
Kwanzaa - The African-American Holiday
Dec 30, 2017 • 49 min
How Black activists invented a new holiday, flying around the world without refuelling, what not to do if you win a fortune, and the mountaineers who risked their lives climbing the spires of Leningrad during WW2. Then there’s the obligatory Christmas…
To Kill A Mockingbird
Dec 23, 2017 • 51 min
One of the most successful American films of all time was released on Christmas Day 1962. Based on the best-selling book by author Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird starred Gregory Peck as a lawyer who stood against prejudice in the Deep South of the USA.…
The Unsung Hero of Heart Surgery
Dec 15, 2017 • 50 min
The African-American lab technician, Vivien Thomas, who pioneered surgery that saved millions of babies, Otis Redding remembered 50 years on from his tragic death, the killer smog of the 1950’s London, the man brave enough to hypnotise Uday Hussein and…
British Withdrawal from South Yemen
Dec 9, 2017 • 50 min
Fifty years since Aden gained independence from Britain, plus an amazing discovery under the oceans, a celebration of Finnish independence, Russian art punished by the Bolsheviks and the building of Mount Rushmore’s famous statues. Photo: Aden 1967…
The Poisoning of Litvinenko
Dec 2, 2017 • 51 min
In November 2006, the world was shocked by the murder in London of former Russian intelligence officer, Alexander Litvinenko. We hear from his widow Marina about his life and agonising death, and get an analysis of the case from Luke Harding, author of “A…
The Siege of Mecca
Nov 25, 2017 • 50 min
The secret battle for the holiest site in Islam in 1979; the coup that changed the Vietnam war, plus an East German musical icon, prosecuting Charles Manson and Toy Story’s digital revolution. Photo: Fighting at the Grand Mosque in Mecca after militants…
The ‘Disappeared’ of Lebanon
Nov 18, 2017 • 50 min
The women searching for their loved-ones who went missing during the Lebanese civil war, plus the man who first discovered diamonds in Botswana, a pioneer of the Indian restaurant business in the UK, an exploding whale, and naked dancing in post-war…
The Russian Revolution: The Bolsheviks Take Control
Nov 11, 2017 • 49 min
Eye-witness accounts from the Russian Revolution of October 1917; the first dog in space; Sabah, one of the biggest 20th-century stars of the Middle East; the last journalist to interview Osama Bin Laden; and horror and heartbreak: memories of the First…
Martin Luther’s 95 Theses
Nov 4, 2017 • 50 min
The German monk who began a religious uprising; the book that made us think of humans as animals; how the murder of a Brazilian journalist by the secret police became a symbol of Brazil’s military brutality; plus the Lebanese architectural dream that was…
The Fake IDs That Saved Jewish Lives
Oct 28, 2017 • 50 min
How tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews escaped the Nazis by using false papers; what happened when abortion became illegal overnight in 1960s Romania; the murder of campaigning Nigerian journalist Dele Giwa; the creation of British satire magazine…
The 43 Group: Battling British Fascists
Oct 21, 2017 • 54 min
How Jewish veterans fought fascism in post war Britain; plus investigating the death of Mozambique’s president Samora Machel, we hear from a survivor of the Moscow theatre siege, inside the Cuba Missile Crisis and the mystery of Booker prize winner JG…
The Death of Che Guevara
Oct 14, 2017 • 51 min
In October 1967 the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara was captured and killed in Bolivia - we hear from the CIA operative who was one of the last people to speak to him. Plus, the plan to rescue Italy’s art from the Nazis; remembering a hero of Catalan…
The Hate Crime That Changed American Law
Oct 7, 2017 • 50 min
Why the brutal killing of a young gay man in Wyoming prompted change, how white people came to terms with their past after segregation in deep south America, living alongside Israeli soldiers in Gaza, plus modern treasures uncovered in Iran and…
Walking the Great Wall of China
Sep 29, 2017 • 50 min
Walking the Great Wall of China; the death of Pope John Paul 1 after just a month in the job; turning against a colonial power - how Guinea gained independence from France; the life and times of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, and the British Land…
When Animals Make History
Sep 24, 2017 • 49 min
Five remarkable stories of animals in recent history - from the guide dog who led her owner out of the World Trade Center on 9/11 to a ferocious shark attack to the locust swarm that flew more than 5000 miles across the Atlantic ocean. Photo: a Great…
The Collapse of Northern Rock
Sep 16, 2017 • 50 min
The run on a British bank which signalled the coming global financial crisis, a schoolboy arrested in East Germany for writing a letter, a doctor remembers the Sabra Shatila massacre in Beirut, and a Nigerian archaeological treasure trove. Photo: Northern…
The Fairy Photos
Sep 9, 2017 • 50 min
The search for a spirit world after WW1 that led people to believe that photographs of fairies were real. Plus Jamaica’s worst train crash, France’s last execution by guillotine, the man who saved the Proms and life in a giant greenhouse in Arizona -…
The Death of Princess Diana
Sep 2, 2017 • 49 min
Princess Diana’s brother remembers the passionate speech he gave at her funeral, and one of the doctors who treated her at the scene of her fatal car crash remembers her death. Plus, how George Orwell wrote Animal Farm, the development of a revolutionary…
Medicine in World War One
Aug 26, 2017 • 49 min
In BBC archive recordings, veterans tell the story of how medical care dealt with the horrors of WW1. Plus when Germany put Nazis on trial, race riots in London’s Notting Hill in 1958, and in East Germany in 1992. And the inventors of Botox. Photo:…
Nike and the Sweatshop Problem
Aug 19, 2017 • 50 min
On this week’s programme, how campaigners took on Nike in the 1990s, plus the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the newspaper which defied Argentine’s military dictatorship. We also find out more about nudism in East Germany and the great Indian poet…
Reagan’s Bombing Joke
Aug 11, 2017 • 52 min
Ronald Reagan’s joke about bombing Russia in the 1980s, the murder of a Palestinian cartoonist in London, communal violence in India a year before partition, the man who discovered the Great Pacific Garbage patch, and Florence Nightingale, in her own…
When Homosexuality Was a Crime
Jul 29, 2017 • 50 min
Comedian and broadcaster Pete Price speaks about being subjected to horrific aversion therapy to “cure” him of his homosexuality in 1960s Britain. Plus the 99-year-old former aide to the Chinese nationalist leader, Chiang Kai Shek, a radical new approach…
Psychological Warfare
Jul 22, 2017 • 50 min
Spooking fighters during the Vietnam War, building the Mont Blanc Tunnel, designing a Nintendo legend, the murder of Gianni Versace and archive voices from the ‘Bonus Army’ a protest movement of WW1 veterans which shook the US government in 1932.…
The Oka Crisis
Jul 15, 2017 • 50 min
A watershed moment for Canada’s indigenous people as Mohawks take on the developers, the birth of UKIP in Britain, memories of the poet Irina Ratushinskaya who died earlier this month - plus dance music with ballet star Nureyev’s defection and illegal…
The Roswell Incident
Jul 8, 2017 • 50 min
In July 1947 a US rancher found some debris in the New Mexico desert - did it come from an alien spacecraft? Witness hears from the son of one of the US servicemen who investigated the incident, and from Dr David Clarke, expert on UFO history at Sheffield…
The History of Modern Tourism
Jul 2, 2017 • 50 min
In a tourism special we look at the original low-cost transatlantic airline, based in Iceland, the 1960s Hippie trail. Also the journey that led to the best selling Lonely Planet travel guides, political tensions caused by a luxury resort on the Red Sea…
Italy’s Secret “State-within-a-State”
Jun 24, 2017 • 50 min
Murder and conspiracy among Italy’s elite, an Italian atrocity in 1930s Ethiopia, Christians in the Korean War, Japan hosts the first Body Worlds, and Asian Americans struggle against racism and violence in the 1980s. Photo: Robert Calvi, head of Banco…
The Woman Who Stopped Equal Rights in America
Jun 17, 2017 • 50 min
Phlyllis Schalfly, the woman who defeated a law to guarantee gender equality in the US; plus, the first performance of the Beatles hit “All You Need Is Love”, a forgotten WW2 disaster, Berber rights in Algeria, and the volcanic eruption on the island of…
The Six Day War 1967
Jun 10, 2017 • 50 min
Soldiers from both sides on the battle for Jerusalem; plus Robert Kennedy’s assassination, the child who fought slavery in Pakistan, and the cousin of Anne Frank Photo:Israeli forces advancing in the Sinai desert during the Six-Day War, June 1967. (Photo…
Operation Lifeline: Canada’s Refugee Revolution
Jun 3, 2017 • 50 min
How private citizens in Canada sponsored Vietnamese boat-people. Plus the first ever charity rock concert for Chernobyl, the actor who stared in a Hitchcock murder movie, America’s first ever female rabbi and Mr Sanitation brings clean toilets in India.…
Brown v The Board of Education
May 20, 2017 • 51 min
The 1954 US Supreme Court ruling that led to the end of racial segregation in US schools, the Iranian woman protestor whose death on film shocked the world; the start of the worldwide dieting franchise, Weight Watchers and who was Alexander Hamilton?…
The Trial of Maurice Papon
May 13, 2017 • 50 min
The French minister tried for colluding with the Nazis, the USSR’s version of James Bond, the beginning of China’s economic boom, plus the first time Americans were told they were too fat - but that their wine was better than France’s. PHOTO: Maurice…
The Invention of Liposuction
May 6, 2017 • 51 min
In the 1970s, Italian cosmetic surgeons Arpad and Giorgio Fischer developed the modern technique of liposuction, which involves sucking out fat from under the skin. The global cosmetic surgery industry is now booming and liposuction is one of the most…
Searching For Argentina’s Disappeared
Apr 29, 2017 • 50 min
In April 1977 a group of women in Argentina held the first ever public demonstration to demand the release of thousands of opponents of the military regime. It was the start of a long campaign by the women, who became known as the Mothers of the Plaza de…
Charlie Chaplin Returns to America from Exile
Apr 22, 2017 • 49 min
Charlie Chaplin’s son on his father’s political views and his rocky relationship with his one-time adopted home, America. Plus the Hubble telescope produces the first clear pictures of the furthest galaxies; shaking off colonialism with the world’s first…
The Takeover of Russia’s NTV
Apr 15, 2017 • 50 min
NTV was Russia’s only nationwide independent TV station until it was taken over in April 2001. We hear from the head of the station at the time. Plus, Ethiopia’s Red Terror; the Katyn massacre during WW2; a breakthrough for disability rights in the US…
How Princess Diana changed the perception of AIDS
Apr 10, 2017 • 50 min
The royal handshake that changed attitudes to AIDS, America enters WW1, plus Egypt’s Facebook girl, Nagorno Karabakh and remembering Jane Fonda’s workout (Photo: Princess Diana with an AIDS patient at the Middlesex Hospital April 1987. Credit…
The Flavr Savr Tomato - The World’s First Genetically Engineered Food
Apr 1, 2017 • 50 min
In 1994 the world’s first genetically-engineered food went on sale in the US. It was a tomato, called the ‘Flavr Savr’ which stayed fresh for up to 30 days. Plus, a mysterious anthrax outbreak in the Soviet Union; the murder of a Catholic archbishop in El…
The First Russian Revolution of 1917
Mar 18, 2017 • 51 min
100 years since the Russian Revolution, Imperial Russia in colour, AIDS and the mystery of ‘Patient Zero’, when Indian sex workers marched for employment rights and the British Lord who fled the Nazis in Czechoslovakia as a six year old on the…
Kuwaiti Women Secure the Vote
Mar 10, 2017 • 50 min
Women in Kuwait win the right to vote, and the only women on the front line on the Western Front in World War One; battling smog in Mexico City in the 1980s, the artist Georgia O’Keeffe, and America’s first incident of Islamic terror forty years ago.…
Mother Teresa - The Nun Who Became A Saint
Mar 4, 2017 • 50 min
Life with Mother Teresa among the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, how the World Health Organisation came to realise that obesity was a global problem and Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House. Plus the immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks - a remarkable…
The German American Bund
Feb 25, 2017 • 50 min
In the 1930s, a group of German-American Nazi sympathisers known as the German American Bund held rallies and summer camps across the US. Also, the lawyers who helped Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic defend himself against war crimes charges and how…
Love and Marriage
Feb 18, 2017 • 50 min
From speed-dating to gay romance, from divorce to bigamy we look at recent changes in the way society perceives love and marriage. Plus - an expert view on how to make sure your love endures. Photo: A heart hanging over Carnaby Street in London. Credit:…
Sanctuary Cities in the USA
Feb 10, 2017 • 50 min
This week how American cities like San Francisco became safe havens for undocumented immigrants, the story of Tilikum and first recorded killing of a human by an orca whale, discovering DNA, the ship wreck that gave locals whiskey galore and Kenya’s smash…
The End of Apartheid
Feb 4, 2017 • 50 min
Former South African police minister on ending apartheid, eyewitness to Black Hawk Down, landmark sexual harassment case in India, the last South American war and a record breaking solo trek across the Antarctic Picture: Anti-apartheid protestors…
The Aboriginal Tent Embassy
Jan 28, 2017 • 50 min
On 26 January 1972 four Aboriginal men began a protest outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. They erected a beach umbrella on the grass and called it an ‘embassy’. Plus, the murder of five lawyers in Madrid in 1977, which became a turning point…
Roots - The TV Series
Jan 21, 2017 • 50 min
The epic mini-series about slavery in the US hit TV screens in January 1977. We hear from actor Leslie Uggams, who played the character Kizzy, recalling how “Roots” revolutionised perceptions about African-American history. Plus: when peace deal ended El…
Princess Diana’s Minefield Walk
Jan 14, 2017 • 50 min
In 1997, the Princess of Wales made a high-profile visit to a landmine clearance programme in Angola. Her trip is credited with boosting the campaign for a global landmine treaty signed later that year. Also, the man who rewrote the rules on transitions…
American Communists
Jan 7, 2017 • 50 min
The early American Communists, a North Vietnamese tunneler who helped outsmart the Americans and win the war in Vietnam, plus the pyramid scheme failure in Albania which left gun-toting children on the streets. Also how five American missionaries paid the…
The Break-Up of the Soviet Union
Dec 31, 2016 • 50 min
December 1991 saw the end of 70 years of communist rule and the collapse of the Soviet Union. We hear from two of the key signatories of the dissolution treaty, a witness to the ensuing crisis in one of the newly independent states, and from an American…
Death of an Anarchist
Dec 24, 2016 • 50 min
The controversial death in police custody of Italian anarchist, Giuseppe Pinelli, the Irish playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett how Greece and Turkey almost came to war over a tiny rocky island in the Aegean sea, also the experimental film-maker Derek…
Yoyes, ETA’s female icon
Dec 16, 2016 • 50 min
The life and untimely death of a Basque separatist fighter, resisting the Nazis in Lithuania, a medical breakthrough that prevented babies from dying in their cots, the grand old lady of Brazilian TV soaps, and the Hindu milk miracle. Photograph: Maria…
100 Women History Hour
Dec 10, 2016 • 49 min
A special edition of the programme remembering some of the women that history has overlooked. From women warriors to women scientists. From rural women, to factory workers we bring you the stories of women who made a contribution to history - and who…
Bob Marley Survives Assassination Attempt
Dec 3, 2016 • 50 min
The shooting of Bob Marley in 1976, the resistance of the Mirabal Sisters, how Ralph Nader made Americans safer, discovering Colombia’s ancient Lost City and when Le Corbusier built Chandigarh - India’s 1950s modernist marvel. Photo: Bob Marley, 1970s…
The 1948 French Miners’ Strike
Nov 25, 2016 • 50 min
This week, the French Miners’ strike of 1948, 50 years since the launch of the Cabaret musical, the Silk Letters Movement of British India, the plane-spotters jailed for spying and how to save baby elephants! (Photo: French President Francois Hollande…
The Dili Massacre
Nov 19, 2016 • 50 min
It is 25 years since Indonesian troops attacked protestors in the East Timorese capital, plus the impact of The Satanic Verses on British society, smuggling endangered birds out of the jungles of South America, a palace burns in Madagascar and the…
The Pitcairn Sex Abuse Trial
Nov 12, 2016 • 50 min
A mass child sex abuse trial on a remote island in the Pacific that shocked the world, a controversial Kurdish song, the birth of Rolling Stone magazine, men versus computers, and street fighting in San Salvador in the 1980s Photo: Adamstown, seen in this…
Dickey Chapelle - War Reporter
Nov 5, 2016 • 50 min
On this week’s programme, how pioneering American woman war reporter, Dickey Chapelle, was killed in Vietnam; plus two very different perspectives on Mao’s China, Mexican writer Octavio Paz and the escape which made Harry Houdini’s name. PHOTO: Dickey…
Shell Shock
Oct 29, 2016 • 55 min
World War One veterans describe Shell Shock and Prof. Edgar Jones of Kings College on the psychiatric cost of war; plus Hungary’s 1956 uprising, how French intelligence was rocked by the abduction of activist Mehdi Ben Barka, the history of Marvel Comics…
The Mayak Nuclear Disaster
Sep 30, 2016 • 50 min
One of the world’s worst nuclear disasters, the most notorious prison riot in America, Second World War internment in Australia, resistance in apartheid South Africa, and one of Britain’s most celebrated artists, Stanley Spencer, through the eyes of his…
The University of Texas Shooting
Aug 8, 2016 • 50 min
On 1 August 1966, student Charles Whitman shot dead 14 people and injured another 32 in America’s first mass shooting at a university. Plus, the oldest arts festival in the Middle East; how President Reagan smashed the power of the trade unions; and…
First CIA coup in Latin America
Jul 30, 2016 • 50 min
In this week’s programme, we hear personal accounts of two fronts in America’s Cold War fight against communism: Guatemala and Russia itself. Plus, the earthquake in China that killed a quarter of a million; riots in the English city of Liverpool; and…
Tanzania’s Ujamaa
Jun 4, 2016 • 50 min
Socialism in Tanzania, the man who assassinated the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, the crash of the Soviet supersonic jet Concordski, 20 years to build a road and Date Rape (Photo: Tanzanian women cultivating the soil. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
The Thalidomide Trial
May 28, 2016 • 50 min
Executives of the German company that made the drug Thalodomide go on trial. Plus, Chechen rebels negotiate peace with President Yeltsin; the Israeli airlift of 14,000 Ethiopian Jews; Hands Across America, the day millions of Americans formed a human…
Remembering Chernobyl
Apr 30, 2016 • 50 min
Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear disaster; the funeral of Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution changed the world; plus, the impact of being accused during the McCarthy era in America, and two style icons of the Sixties, the Mini and Yves St…
The Original Revolutionary Feminist
Mar 12, 2016 • 50 min
Russia’s revolutionary feminist, British women after the First World War, poisoning in the Balkans, a miscarriage of justice in Britain, and the world’s worst aviation disaster
The Battle of Verdun
Feb 20, 2016 • 50 min
The World War One battle that traumatised France; the Austrian mountaineer who wrote Seven Years in Tibet; how Christian Dior revolutionised fashion with the ‘New Look’. Plus, how Foot-and-Mouth disease broke the hearts of British farmers and the botched…
Prozac
Feb 6, 2016 • 50 min
The birth of the Prozac generation, the battle to save Afghanistan’s ancient artworks and death and violence in the Spanish embassy in Guatemala. Plus we hear about an American political corruption scandal and the launch of the Disney classic, Snow White…
The Challenger Disaster
Jan 30, 2016 • 50 min
The launch of space shuttle Challenger goes horribly wrong, Rupert Murdoch goes to war with his print unions, Australia’s 18th century penal colonies, Sharia law in Nigeria, and Batman comes to TV. Photo: Christa McAuliffe (left) and Barbara Morgan.…
Michael Jackson’s Thriller
Dec 31, 2015 • 45 min
The 1982 release of the world’s best selling album; plus the untimely death of General George S Patton; the former child star Karolyn Grimes on the film It’s A Wonderful Life, the Beagle 2 mission to Mars, and Vladimir Nabokov’s scandalous book, Lolita.…
The Battle of Tora Bora
Dec 12, 2015 • 50 min
The hunt for Bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan; a Ku Klux Klan trial in 1965; the siege of Kut in World War 1; an unexpected alliance in 1980s Britain with Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners; and seminal alternative rock band the Velvet…
The Amman Bombings
Nov 14, 2015 • 50 min
Suicide bombings in Amman; a massacre in East Timor that was a turning point on the road to independence; the fall of the Taliban; anti-Sikh riots in India; and the BBC’s first wildlife broadcaster
The Death of Rock Hudson
Oct 3, 2015 • 50 min
Angie Dickinson remembers her friend, the Hollywood superstar who became the most high profile celebrity to acknowledge he was suffering from Aids; plus one of the founding members of Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club, the Danish cartoon controversy,…
Korea Divided
Aug 15, 2015 • 49 min
In this programme: Korea split along the 38th parallel, child prisoners of the Japanese during World War Two, the notorious Devil’s Island penal colony, the man who published Harry Potter and Sue the T-Rex skeleton. Photo: Korea 38th parallel Credit: AFP