History as told by the people who were there.


  • My memories of Chairman Mao

    My memories of Chairman Mao

    01/10/2019 Duração: 08min

    American Sidney Rittenberg first met Mao Zedong in the 1940s during the final years of China's civil war and before Mao's victory over the Nationalist forces. Already a committed socialist, Rittenberg had been stationed in China during WW2 but decided to stay on and fight alongside Mao's Communists. In 2013 he spoke to Rebecca Kesby about his memories of one of the world's great revolutionaries. Photo: a poster of Chairman Mao in Beijing in the 1960s. Credit: AFP.

  • The birth of the Peoples Republic of China

    The birth of the People's Republic of China

    30/09/2019 Duração: 08min

    On 1 October 1949 Chairman Mao declared China to be a communist state. Zhu Zhende was a young recruit in the People's Liberation Army who marched in the celebrations in Beijing that day. He has been speaking to Yashan Zhao about the optimism and excitement of that time. Photo: An officer reads a newspaper to soldiers while they are waiting for the announcement of the foundation of the People's Republic of China on Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949 in Beijing, China. (Credit: Visual China Group via Getty Images)

  • The death of a matador

    The death of a matador

    27/09/2019 Duração: 08min

    In September 1984, the famous Spanish matador, Francisco Rivera, also known as Paquirri, was gored to death by a bull during a fight in the small town of Pozoblanco. The bravery he showed during his final moments turned Paquirri into a legend. In 2013 Simon Watts spoke to El Soro, a matador who shared the bill that fateful day, and to Muriel Finer, an American journalist married to a Spanish bullfighter. Photo: A recent bullfight (Getty Images).

  • The Large Hadron Collider

    The Large Hadron Collider

    26/09/2019 Duração: 09min

    In September 2008, the world's biggest science experiment, the Large Hadron Collider, was started up for the first time at the European Organisation For Nuclear Research, or CERN, in Geneva. Simon Watts talks to Paul Collier, a British engineer whose team built the multi-billion dollar machine designed to investigate the structure of the universe. PHOTO: Inside the Large Hadron Collider (Getty Images)

  • Fighting the Islamic State group online

    Fighting the Islamic State group online

    25/09/2019 Duração: 10min

    When the Islamic State group took over Mosul in Iraq in 2014 they flooded the internet with propaganda, claiming life under IS was fantastic. One historian living in the city decided to post a counter-narrative online. Omar Mohammed set up "Mosul Eye" to expose the atrocities and failings of IS fighters, but it was at great risk to his own safety. Omar tells Rebecca Kesby how he posted news from Mosul to the outside world from right under the noses of the Islamic State group. He says he felt it was his duty to tell the real story. (Photo: Mosul Eye website. BBC)

  • Being black in Nazi Germany

    Being black in Nazi Germany

    24/09/2019 Duração: 08min

    Theodor Wonja Michael was a child when Hitler came to power in Germany. The son of a German mother and a Cameroonian father he faced discrimination and danger under Nazi rule. He has been speaking to Caroline Wyatt about how working as a film actor helped him to survive World War Two. Photo: Theodor Wonja Michael at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2013. Credit: Alamy

  • The Sound of Music on Broadway

    The Sound of Music on Broadway

    23/09/2019 Duração: 09min

    The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was first performed on stage in New York in 1959, several years before it was made into a film. Vincent Dowd has been speaking to two people with connections to the original Broadway production. Tim Crouse is the son of Russel Crouse who wrote the book for "The Sound of Music". Lauri Peters played the eldest daughter of the von Trapp family on stage. Photo: The original Broadway cast of "The Sound of Music" in 1959. Lauri Peters is at the top of the stairs. Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images

  • Sir Anthony Blunt - Soviet spy

    Sir Anthony Blunt - Soviet spy

    20/09/2019 Duração: 08min

    Sir Anthony Blunt, a distinguished British art historian and curator of the Queen's pictures was exposed as a former Soviet spy in the autumn of 1979. He was stripped of his knighthood and publicly shamed as a traitor for being part of the Cambridge spy ring. Susan Hulme has been speaking to Christopher Morris who was the BBC reporter sent to interview Blunt when the story broke. Photo: Sir Anthony Blunt at the press conference in which he explained his motivation in 1979 (Credit: Aubrey Hart/Getty Images)

  • CS Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia

    CS Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia

    19/09/2019 Duração: 09min

    The first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series by the English writer CS Lewis was published in autumn 1950. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would go on to become one of the great classics of children's literature. CS Lewis's stepson, Douglas Gresham, talks to Louise Hidalgo about the academic and theologian who created Narnia's magical world. Picture: CS Lewis, the children's and theological author, seated in his Cambridge study in the early 1950s (Credit: Camera Press/Arthur Strong)

  • Free breakfast with the Black Panthers

    Free breakfast with the Black Panthers

    18/09/2019 Duração: 09min

    The Black Panther Party hit the headlines in the late 1960s with their call for revolution. But they also ran a number of "survival programmes" to help their local communities - the biggest of which was a project providing free breakfasts for schoolchildren. Reverend Earl Neil was one of the organisers of the first Free Breakfast for Children programme at St Augustine's Church in Oakland, California. He speaks to Lucy Burns. (IMAGE: Shutterstock)

  • The repeal of Dont ask, dont tell

    The repeal of 'Don't ask, don't tell'

    17/09/2019 Duração: 09min

    LGBT servicemen and women in the US armed forces had to keep their sexuality secret until the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy was repealed in 2011. Lieutenant Colonel Heather Mack served under the policy for most of her military career. She has been speaking to Rachael Gillman about her experiences. Photo: Lieutenant Colonel Heather Mack (l) with her wife Ashley (r) and their two children. Courtesy of Heather Mack

  • An Ethiopian war hero

    An Ethiopian war hero

    16/09/2019 Duração: 08min

    In the early 1950s the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie, sent thousands of Ethiopian troops to fight in the Korean war. They were called the Kagnew Battalions and they formed part of the American-led UN force supporting South Korea against communist North Korea and their Chinese allies. Alex Last spoke to Captain Mamo Habtewold who won his country's highest honour. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: The Captain as a young man. Courtesy of Mamo Habtewold.

  • Magellan and the first voyage around the world

    Magellan and the first voyage around the world

    13/09/2019 Duração: 09min

    In September 1519, a fleet led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan set off on what would be the first circumnavigation of the world. Magellan was the first navigator to find a route round South America, but he had to quell several attempted mutinies and he was eventually killed by tribesmen in what is now the Philippines. His circumnavigation was completed in 1522 by one of his subordinates, Juan Sebastian Elcano. Simon Watts tells Magellan’s story through the book published by his on-board chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta. PHOTO: Magellan's fleet (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

  • Conflict timber in Liberias civil war

    Conflict timber in Liberia's civil war

    12/09/2019 Duração: 12min

    How the timber industry fuelled a brutal civil war in West Africa. In the late 1990s, timber companies worked closely with Liberia's warlord-turned-president, Charles Taylor. In return for money and support for his militias, the regime allocated huge swathes of the country's valuable rainforest to timber companies for logging. A group of young Liberians started to document what was happening. Alex Last has been speaking to the award winning activist, Silas Siakor, whose work led to a UN ban on Liberian timber exports. (Photo: Timber near Buchanan in LIberia in 2010. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Indias affirmative action controversy

    India's affirmative action controversy

    11/09/2019 Duração: 10min

    In 1990 the Indian government introduced an affirmative action plan that had been lying unimplemented for a decade. The Mandal Commission recommended guaranteeing a percentage of government jobs to lower caste Hindus. It's implementation was an attempt by the government to quell the rise of Hindu nationalism. But the move proved controversial from the outset and led to weeks of student protests across India.  Farhana Haider has been speaking to a retired superintendent of police, Dilip Trivedi who remembers the implementation of the report and its aftermath. Photo Students protesting Mandal Commission proposal for quotas on govt. jobs for so called backward castes 1990. Credit Getty Images.

  • The TV series Friends

    The TV series Friends

    10/09/2019 Duração: 08min

    A new show called Friends hit American TV screens in September 1994. It was based on the lives of six young New Yorkers and became one of the most successful comedies of all time. It sold around the world. Farhana Haider spoke to one of the show's creators, Kevin Bright. Photo: The cast of Friends in 1994. Copyright: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.

  • The coup, the president and the embassy

    The coup, the president and the embassy

    09/09/2019 Duração: 09min

    In September 2009 the deposed president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, made a sudden return from exile, seeking refuge in the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital. Zelaya had been whisked out of the country at gunpoint after a military coup three months earlier. His unexpected return took the coup leaders totally by surprise. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from two men who spent several months holed up inside the embassy building alongside the Honduran leader. Photo: Manuel Zelaya with supporters inside Brazil's embassy (Credit should read ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • The businessman who defied the Italian Mafia

    The businessman who defied the Italian Mafia

    06/09/2019 Duração: 09min

    In 1991, Palermo businessman Libero Grassi published an open letter in Sicily’s main newspaper denouncing the Mafia for constantly demanding extortion payments. Grassi was hailed as a hero, but his public refusal to pay was intolerable to the Mafia and a few months later he was executed in person by one of Cosa Nostra’s top bosses. Libero Grassi’s defiance is credited with inspiring a new grass-roots movement among businesses in Sicily that stands up to the Mafia. Simon Watts talks to his daughter, Alice Grassi. PHOTO TO COME

  • The Holocaust denial trial

    The Holocaust denial trial

    05/09/2019 Duração: 11min

    The controversial historian, David Irving, tried to sue Penguin Books and professor Deborah Lipstadt for libel after she called him a Holocaust denier in one of her books. The case drew intense media interest. Deborah Lipstadt told Rebecca Kesby what it was like to have to defend her work and the memories of survivors of the Holocaust at the High Court in London in 2000. History was on trial. (Photo: American academic Deborah Lipstadt (C) exults 11 April 2000 at the High Court in London after winning a libel case brought against her and Penguin publications by British revisionist historian David Irving. Credit: Martyn Hayhow/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Inside lunar astronaut quarantine

    Inside lunar astronaut quarantine

    04/09/2019 Duração: 12min

    When the crew of Apollo 11 returned to earth after their historic mission to the Moon, they were immediately placed in quarantine for 3 weeks. It was done to protect the Earth from the dangers of possible lunar alien life. Dr William Carpentier was the flight surgeon for the Apollo 11 mission and was placed in quarantine with the crew to monitor their health and check for any signs of alien life. He talks to Alex Last about his memories of working with the Apollo programme and life in quarantine. Photo: Apollo 11 astronauts (left to right): Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin peer from window of the Mobile Quarantine Facility aboard the U.S.S. Hornet after their July 24th recovery.

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