The Documentary Podcast

The Documentary Podcast

By BBC World Service

Download the latest documentaries investigating global developments, issues and affairs.


Denmark’s Red Van

A unique project aimed at reducing harm to women selling sex in Copenhagen… Every weekend night in Copenhagen’s red light district of Vesterbro, a group of volunteers pull up and park a Red Van. This is no ordinary vehicle. The interior is lit with fairy lights. There is a bed – and a ready supply of condoms. The Red Van constitutes a harm reduction strategy like no other. It is designed for use by women selling sex on the streets – somewhere they can bring their clients. Just as health workers might argue addicts should have a safe place where they can take their drugs to prevent overdoses, the Red Van NGO’s volunteers believe they are creating a more secure environment for Copenhagen’s sex workers or prostitutes. Producer / presenter: Linda Pressly (Image: The Red Van with some of its volunteers – Pauline Hoffman Schroder, Sine Plambech and Aphinya Jatuparisakul. Credit: BBC/Linda Pressly)
21/10/2126m 35s

The lost art of breathing

After recovering from pneumonia for the third time, journalist James Nestor took decisive action to improve his lungs. He questioned why so many humans - and only humans - have to contend with stuffy noses, snoring, asthma, allergies, sinusitis and sleep apnoea, to name but a few. James hears remarkable stories of others who have changed their lives through the power of breath. His deep dive into the unconscious and oft-ignored act of human respiration offers us all a way to breathe easier.
19/10/2127m 16s

A series of unfortunate events

Justin Rowlatt discovers how phosphorus may have held evolution back for a billion years. How plants first colonised the land - precipitating an ice age in the process. And why volcanoes have both rescued and almost wiped out life on the planet, thanks to the carbon dioxide they emit. Anjali Goswami of the Natural History Museum takes Justin on a tour of the big five mass extinction events in the fossil record over the last half billion years.
17/10/2124m 13s

The Story of Aids: 2. Act Up fights back

It began in March of 1987, when the playwright Larry Kramer gave a speech at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York’s West Village, telling half the room to stand up. He bluntly informed those in attendance, that many people would be dead from Aids in just a few years, if they didn’t fight back. The US government’s response to the HIV-Aids crisis had been slow, with President Reagan reticent to offend the conservative morals of the Christian Coalition who helped secure his election. In response, the Aids Coalition to Unleash Power - Act Up - took to the streets to demand politicians and public health agencies do more.
16/10/2150m 25s

World of Wisdom: Forgiveness

Forgiving someone who has hurt us badly can seem impossible. Bearing a grudge can feel like carrying a bag or rocks. Can we learn to move on and forgive?Author of Universal Human, Gary Zukav, offers insights to Joey from Lebanon, now living in Germany, as he struggles to forgive his brother for creating problems in his marriage and seeks to heal the rift it has caused in his family.
16/10/2118m 46s

Climate: Activists

World leaders, scientists and activists are preparing for next month’s UN climate change summit in Scotland. These talks have been taking place for decades - but you sense the world is watching like never before, as awareness increases around how the planet is changing. In 1992, a 12-year-old called Severn Cullis-Suzuki from Canada gave a rousing speech and appeal for action at the Earth Summit in Rio. Severn and her father remain long-term environmental activists and host Nuala McGovern brings them together in conversation to hear their thoughts on whether Severn’s speech would be any different today.
16/10/2124m 13s

Ros Atkins on: China-Taiwan tensions

In recent weeks, China has sent a record number of military jets into Taiwan’s air defence zone. The Taiwanese Defence Minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, has said that tensions between China and the self-governing island are the worst in 40 years. Ros Atkins examines what is behind China’s military pressure on Taiwan.
16/10/2110m 14s

Russia: The limits of freedom

In August, the BBC’s Moscow correspondent, Sarah Rainsford, was expelled from Russia – a country she’s reported on from the start of Vladimir Putin’s presidency over two decades ago. Now she has been designated a ‘national security threat’ and barred indefinitely. The move against the BBC comes at a time of unprecedented pressure on critical voices in Russia – from opposition activists to independent Russian journalists, who are now blacklisted as ‘agents’ of foreign states. For Assignment, Sarah Rainsford explores what happened to her and what this says about the country she’s been forced to leave. Producer/presenter: Sarah Rainsford Producer: Will Vernon (Photo: Sarah Rainsford. Credit: Jonathan Ford)
14/10/2127m 43s

Somalia’s forgotten hostages

The sailors held captive for years, and the man who managed to free them. Somali pirates made millions of dollars hijacking ships and holding their crews hostage, if no ransom was paid though, sailors could spend years languishing in captivity. When retired British Army Colonel John Steed set out to try to free what he called "Somalia’s forgotten hostages" he had no money and no hostage-negotiation experience, so how did he do it? Colin Freeman, who was himself taken hostage in Somalia, hears the remarkable stories of the sailors and their saviours. Producer: Joe Kent Sound: Rob Farquhar and Neil Churchill (Image: Armed Somali pirate standing on the coast looking to sea. Credit: Mohamed Dahir/AFP/Getty Images) ARCHIVE: Captain Phillips (Columbia Pictures) directed by Paul Greengrass
12/10/2127m 39s

World Book Café: PEN

100 years ago English PEN was founded to create a “common meeting ground in every country for all writers.” and it quickly grew into an international organisation. The organisation has long campaigned for Freedom of Expression for writers. To mark the centenary, in a special edition of World Book Cafe, Ritula Shah and her guests discuss current threats to Freedom of Expression around the world and hear from writers, including Tsitsi Dangarembga, about the power and importance of storytelling.
11/10/2149m 8s

A Geochemical History of Life on Earth: 2. When bacteria ruled the world

Justin explores the Precambrian period: a kind of dark ages, spanning most of our planet's history, but about which we have very few fossil records. What we do know is that it contained two of the most important developments in evolution. One gave us a breathable atmosphere. The other made possible all the animals that now breathe it. The Natural History Museum's Imran Rahman introduces Justin to this strange bacterial world, while Aubrey Zerkle of the University of St Andrews explains why cyanobacteria may have been the greatest mass murderers in history.
10/10/2124m 16s

World of Wisdom: Hope and children

The pandemic has made many people unsure about the future. Issues such as climate catastrophe have come to seem all the more real. How do we keep hope alive for our children and ourselves? Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu van Furth offers insights to Liyang from China, now living in New Zealand, as she worries about the world her children will live in and how she should prepare them for it.
09/10/2118m 45s

The Story of Aids: 1. The beginning

We return to the beginning of the global Aids crisis and explore the personal and political struggles of the epidemic, as it unfolded in two very different countries – the United States and South Africa – and hear stories from people who fought through it, and survived. The series begins in the USA, where 40 years ago the Centers for Disease Control published a memo flagging a rare pneumonia found in five previously healthy, young gay men in California. Two of the men had died. These would be the first recorded cases of Aids in the world – a disease which would go on to kill 35 million people.
09/10/2150m 35s

Coronavirus: Protecting vulnerable children

Children who have a compromised immune system remain at high risk during the ongoing pandemic if they develop Covid-19. Their parents continue to protect their children from those who no longer wear masks or - in some cases - refuse to get a vaccine. We hear from three mothers, in the US and the UK, who share their hopes and fears for the future. In some US states, mask and vaccination mandates are banned.
09/10/2124m 15s

The UK's net zero challenge

In 2019, the UK became the first major economy to set a net zero carbon emissions goal by 2050. Now, as the country gets ready to host a major UN climate change summit in a few weeks, Ros Atkins looks at the challenges posed by the net zero ambition.
09/10/2110m 10s

Pandora Papers: On the trail of dirty money

Amongst the millions of documents released in the ‘Pandora Papers’ leak of offshore financial information are a number of documents that one British Iranian family business would rather have remained hidden. In this investigation Assignment follows the trail of millions of dollars tainted by bribery and corruption. Piecing together key documents from the leak reveals how earnings from Unaoil – a company involved in winning oil and gas contracts through bribery in the Middle East - were invested into UK property. Why does the UK remain a go-to destination for some of the world’s most tainted money? And why does it take a leak for the truth to be revealed about who’s really invested in some of the country’s prime property? Reporter: Felicity Hannah Producer: Anna Meisel and Kate West Editor: Gail Champion (Image: Pandora Papers illustration. Credit: BBC)
07/10/2126m 28s

Smart women, male genius

Five hundreds years ago a Spanish physiologist declared that genius was stored in the testicles. Even today, studies have shown that people associate men with genius more than women. Award-winning science writer and broadcaster Angela Saini wants to know why. Saini examines why people are so reluctant to credit intellectual brilliance to women - now and throughout history. Einstein, for instance, needed a woman’s help. She hears about a proposal for making the concept of genius more inclusive and discusses the impact on girls in school when teachers take gender out of classrooms.
05/10/2127m 45s

A Geochemical History of Life on Earth: 1. In the beginning

How did this continuous chemical reaction that we call "life" first begin? And why did the hellish conditions of the early Earth provide the perfect birthplace? Justin Rowlatt speaks to two scientists with rival theories about the origin of life, both trying to recreate it in their labs - John Sutherland of Cambridge University, and Nick Lane of University College London. Plus the Natural History Museum's Sara Russell shows Justin a rock that is older than the Earth itself - the Winchcombe meteorite.
02/10/2123m 49s

World of Wisdom: Making decisions

Decisions about the course of our lives can seem overwhelming. When we come to a junction in our life it can be hard to decide which way to turn. Is there a process to make those choices easier, and increase the chance of success? Sister Dang Nghiem offers insights to Pae from Thailand as she tries to make a confident decision about her future career.
02/10/2118m 21s

Coronavirus: Vaccine regret

Despite the life saving properties of vaccination against Covid-19, not everyone has chosen to get the jab - even in countries where vaccines are readily available. Karnie Sharp and James Reynolds hear from two Americans who regret their decisions - including the man who almost died and ended up with a double lung transplant after catching the disease. We also hear from flight attendants in Nigeria, Spain and the US about dealing with unruly passengers during a pandemic - especially when asked to wear a mask. Plus a scientist in Uganda explains the vaccine situation there during the country’s second wave.
02/10/2123m 48s

Global supply chain disruption

The UK and the US have been experiencing supply shortages across a number of industries. There are many factors involved, including the Covid-19 pandemic, which has had a knock-on effect on the global supply chain. Ros Atkins examines how policies, politics and uncertainties impact our daily lives.
02/10/219m 48s

Northern Ireland’s Ceasefire Babies

In the UK’s most disputed region, Northern Ireland, the Unionist community has long been known for tenacity and even, say its critics, inflexibility in its determination to maintain links with Britain. Yet a new generation now seem less interested in the sectarian politics of their parents and grandparents. Born after the 1998 ‘Good Friday’ peace agreement that ended the IRA’s armed insurrection against British rule, many so-called Ceasefire Babies say they have different priorities, including jobs, mental health, LGBT+ rights and tackling climate change. Some refuse to be defined by either British or Irish identity and simply describe themselves as ‘Northern Irish.’ However, sectarian flags and threatening murals on ‘peace walls’ still define the urban landscape in some parts of Northern Ireland. And now, following Brexit, the Westminster government has agreed to a protocol which effectively puts a customs border in the Irish Sea – angering other Unionists who say it means they are being separated from mainland Britain. For Assignment, Lucy Ash travels to Northern Ireland to find out if Unionism’s Ceasefire Babies can really escape the past. Producer: Mike Gallagher Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Young female loyalist band prepares to take part in the annual Relief of Derry march on August 14, 2021. Credit: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
30/09/2126m 28s

Buy me love: Inside the world of love coaching

Love coaching is a multi-billion dollar global industry, and one of the fastest growing in the world. More single people than ever are looking for advice to find a lasting romantic partnership. The result has been an explosion of coaches who claim to guide you to love through viral videos and costly in-person seminars. The BBC attends one such seminar in Kenya, with one of East Africa’s most famous love and lifestyle coaches, Robert Burale. He says he can show women all the secrets and tricks to find love in days. But does it work? Is this really a route to buy love, or simply a way to sell a dream?
28/09/2127m 20s

Buy me love: Inside the world of love coaching

Love coaching is a multi-billion dollar global industry, and one of the fastest growing in the world. More single people than ever are looking for advice to find a lasting romantic partnership. The result has been an explosion of coaches who claim to guide you to love through viral videos and costly in-person seminars. The BBC attends one such seminar in Kenya, with one of East Africa’s most famous love and lifestyle coaches, Robert Burale. He says he can show women all the secrets and tricks to find love in days. But does it work? Is this really a route to buy love, or simply a way to sell a dream?
28/09/2127m 20s

World of Wisdom: Successful relationships

To have a beautiful, strong, lasting, successful relationship at the core of our lives is an ideal that takes root at an early age. But do we always know what a successful relationship looks like? And can we sometimes hope and expect too much? Ferzeen is originally from India, now in the USA, and has had trouble building relationships. She thinks there might be something from her past that is standing in her way. Dr Shefali advises her on the most important step to take first.
25/09/2118m 39s

Coronavirus: Vietnam and the Philippines

Vietnam was, until recently, one of the world’s Covid success stories. Its policy of early border closures, lockdowns and track and tracing ensured that fewer than 40 people had died from the disease since the start of the pandemic. This all changed in May and host Karnie Sharp talks to two journalists in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi about what happened and what went wrong. She also hears from three parents and their children in Manila on the effect of remote learning for over 18 months, with most children also unable to leave their homes.
25/09/2124m 17s

Ros Atkins on: Germany’s election

Germany’s first female chancellor, Angela Merkel, is standing down after 16 years in office. This matters because a major figure is exiting the global stage. She has worked with four US presidents and been at the centre of European and global politics. As Germans head to the polls, Ros Atkins looks at the race to succeed one of Europe’s most influential leaders.
25/09/2110m 15s

A long way from Vietnam

Vietnamese migration to the UK is the second highest after Albania and each year the numbers are rising. Not even the tragedy of the Essex lorry disaster in 2019 has been enough to put people off. Then 39 Vietnamese migrants suffocated in a container lorry as they came over the English channel. BBC journalist Nga Pham talks to people in Vietnam about their desperation to leave their country. Coming from some of the most economically deprived provinces, families pay between $30-45,000 to people smugglers to send hundreds of their children out each year in the hope of a better future. She meets people who are now working in the shadow economy in the UK, in nail bars, cannabis farms and restaurants, hiding in plain sight. She also talks to those who were caught up in trafficking networks, discovered by the police and deported back to Vietnam with nothing to show for their years of slave labour. Reporter: Nga Pham Producer: Anna Horsbrugh-Porter A Just Radio production for the BBC World Service (Image: A group of women harvest rice, Vietnam. Credit: BBC)
23/09/2126m 28s

The Fake Paralympians: 6.Fallout

After years in the wilderness, athletes with a learning disability are back at the London 2012 Paralympics - and Dan is among them. There are new tests designed to stop cheating. Do they work? And why, 21 years on from the basketball scandal, are there still fewer medals for intellectual impairment athletes than there were at Sydney 2000? Plus Dan catches up one last time with Ray, the genuinely disabled captain of the infamous Spanish basketball team. The scandal has taken a big toll on his life.
21/09/2128m 7s

Afghanistan and me

As Afghanistan reaches a turning point with American troops leaving the country, BBC Pashto presenter Sana Safi tells the story of how her own life has been intertwined with the fate of her country. She tells the story of what it was like for a child to survive in a country caught between the crosshairs of geopolitical conflict, of surviving religious fundamentalism, of growing up in a country without music or books. She describes how violence and conflict forced her family to move from Kandahar to Helmand, only to find themselves caught in the crossfire of a gun battle. How under Taliban rule she effectively became a prisoner in her own home. How the continuing decades of conflict brought tragedy to her own family – and how she could only find security by moving to the UK, where she suffered the pain of separation from her family and homeland.
18/09/2151m 8s

World of Wisdom: Dreams

Can sticking to our dreams end up holding us back? Diane and her husband promised they would sell their home on retirement and travel the world. Sadly, he passed away before they could do that. Diane wants to carry on with that plan but the pandemic has made her realise the richness of her community and given her a sense that as she gets older she needs to make best use of the time she has. Perhaps she is wrong to turn her back on where she lives and what she has. Sister Dang Nghiem, a Buddhist Nun, offers gentle counsel and helps Diane towards a resolution. She discusses with the BBC's Sana Safi that the long-long dreams we hold may be found to actually be a distraction from what really matters.
18/09/2124m 59s

Coronavirus: Vaccinations and hospitals

The United States continues to record some of the highest infection and death rates in the world due to Covid-19. Host Nuala McGovern brings together two hospital nurses in Florida. They share the heartbreak and exhaustion of treating severely ill and dying patients, often young, who they say could have avoided hospital completely by getting vaccinated. Two doctors working in Delhi and Mumbai, say vaccination numbers are soaring. But they worry that festivals and other celebrations may lead to another surge of the disease. They are also concerned the real legacy of coronavirus in India may be its impact on mental health and the education of children in poorer communities. We also hear from teachers in India and the Philippines.
18/09/2124m 42s

Ros Atkins on: The ethics of Covid booster jabs

The UK joins a growing number of rich countries offering Covid booster vaccines, whilst across Africa only 3% of people have been vaccinated against the virus. Ros Atkins looks into the issue of vaccine inequity
18/09/2110m 41s

The Rise and Fall of an International Fraudster

Assignment reveals the inside story of Ramon Abbas, one of a new breed of global cyber-fraudsters. Snared by the FBI in 2020, Abbas is better known as Instagram influencer Hushpuppi, who flaunted a life of designer clothes, private jets and penthouse apartments to millions of followers. Little did they know that his lavish lifestyle was funded through a complex web of cyber-heists. Most cyber-criminals remain nameless, faceless, anonymous and all but untraceable. Now, Assignment unmasks Ramon Abbas, revealing a complicated, sometimes ruthless character driven by a thirst for wealth and celebrity status.
16/09/2126m 29s

The Fake Paralympians: 5. Court

A criminal case is brought against the so-called fake Paralympians and the team’s organisers. The prosecutor gives the inside take on the legal process and an outcome that left many frustrated. And Dan hears about the man accused of being the mastermind behind the scam and his surprising back story. Will he explain himself and apologise to the victims?
14/09/2128m 48s

World of Wisdom: Jealousy

Jealousy, rudeness, lack of respect - it can be hard not to be troubled by the way people treat us. Sometimes we may feel that people that we know are jealous and are trying to hold us back. After a personal question from Sneha in India, author of 'Universal Human' Gary Zukav joins the BBC's Sana Safi to explore how to reduce the hurt and distress caused by what others may think.
11/09/2118m 36s

Afghanistan protests

The Taliban is stamping its authority on Afghanistan, and dealing forcefully with those demonstrating against the new regime. In recent days, the details of the new government's all-male cabinet have provoked some to take to the streets in protest. Host Karnie Sharp hears from people who have been caught up in the demonstrations. Two female medical professionals, a dentist and a doctor, describe how their working lives have changed, having been told they can no longer treat male patients - or even drive to their jobs. Another Afghan woman, a flight attendant, describes her late-night escape from the country.
11/09/2124m 8s

9/11: The day that changed our lives forever

Twenty years on from the 9/11 terror attacks, New Yorkers and those affected by the events recall where they were and how they have managed to process the horror of what happened. Presenter and New Yorker Joan Mastropaolo, now a volunteer at the 9/11 Tribute Museum, takes us on a tour of the 9/11 memorial and explains what it means to her. Former US poet laureate Billy Collins recalls how writing and performing the official memorial poem – Names. Annie Thoms, a teacher from one of the schools close to ground zero explains how High School students, forced to evacuate amid the confusion. Wajahat Ali, a 20-year-old student at the time recalls how 9/11 changed his and the lives of fellow Muslims overnight.
10/09/2150m 35s

The mystery of Havana syndrome

Gordon Corera investigates the mysterious illness that has struck American diplomats and spies. It began after some reported hearing strange sounds in Havana 2016, but reports have since spread around the world. Doctors, scientists, intelligence agents and government officials have all been trying to find out what exactly causes these sounds and the lingering health effects. Some call it an act of war, others wonder if it is some new and secret form of surveillance while others believe it could even be in the mind. So who or what is responsible? Producer: Emma Wells Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Illustration of a man sitting in a chair in a laboratory, a device behind him pulsing wavy beams of microwave energy through his head. Credit: BBC/Gerry Fletcher)
09/09/2126m 30s

The Fake Paralympians: 4. Probe

There are allegations the cheating went wider within intellectual disability sport, and that it wasn’t just the gold-winning Spanish basketball team. An investigator for the International Paralympic Committee reveals what he found, and discusses specific accusations he heard about another of the basketball teams. The probe has shocking consequences for intellectual disability sport: a total ban from the Paralympic Games. Dan has a heart-to-heart with his mum and dad about the impact on his budding swimming career. And Dan speaks to the man who was in charge of the International Paralympic Committee when it took the decision that has overshadowed Dan’s life ever since.
07/09/2128m 4s

Mikis Theodorakis remembered

Zorba’s theme from the 1964 film is what the composer Mikis Theodorakis will always be known for outside his native Greece, but in his time he was a figure on the world stage, rubbing shoulders with poets, politicians and artists like Pablo Neruda, Olof Palme and Salvador Dali. His most powerful music evokes a spirit of heroic rebellion that resonated with liberation movements from Greece to Latin America. And, far beyond Zorba, he wrote classical symphonies, ballets, operas, and popular songs as light as a sea breeze. Maria Margaronis recalls this most prolific and energetic composer and political activist, who was arrested, exiled, imprisoned and tortured many times during the most turbulent years of Greece’s 20th Century.
05/09/2150m 33s

World of Wisdom: Opening up again

When Covid restrictions are lifted, the effort to return to our former lives can present unexpected personal trials. Shops, restaurants and offices have re- opened in Detroit, USA but Alex is finding it very hard to go back into the outside world and start socialising again. Dr Shefali helps him find a way forward and discusses the challenges of leaving home and re-entering the public world in places that have started opening up again, with presenter Sana Safi.
04/09/2118m 32s

Women of Afghanistan

The last US soldier has left Afghanistan, leaving the Taliban in control of the vast majority of the country. Working women have been told to stay at home for now, for their own safety. Host Nuala McGovern hears from two sisters, who say they feel trapped in their family home in Afghanistan, unable to set foot outside and terrified of the Taliban. She meets Afghan women, who are volunteering at a community centre in London, helping those who have fled their country. They share their own stories of anguish, while helping hundreds of people a day, who continue to try to get their relatives out of the country. Nuala also catches up with a young woman who managed to flee the country on one of the last planes out. She's now in the US - but is still feeling pursued by the Taliban, who are sending her threatening messages in the middle of the night.
04/09/2124m 1s

Moria - after the fire

The fire that destroyed the sprawling Moria asylum seekers’ camp on the Greek island of Lesvos last September made headlines around the world. For the asylum seekers who lost their makeshift home and most of their possessions, it was a devastating setback. For Greece, still hosting thousands of migrants Europe won’t take in, the fire intensified a determination to move them on elsewhere. What’s happened to some of Moria’s former residents since then? Working with Athens-based journalists Katy Fallon and Stavros Malichudis, Maria Margaronis follows a few of them - all Afghans - as they negotiate the search for safety and stability some migrants call “the game.” After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, tens of thousands of Afghans are trying to leave their country. These are the stories of some who had already made the journey. Presented and produced by Maria Margaronis Special thanks to Lighthouse Reports for their support in gathering this material (Image: Refugee girl playing in the ashes of the ruined Moria camp. Credit: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
02/09/2126m 43s

The Fake Paralympians: 3. Lost

The cheating is now out in the open and the players - including genuinely-disabled captain Ray - have to hand back their gold medals. But how and when did the cheating start? An ex-coach of the team, who was in charge until just two years before the scandal, says he began to suspect something was wrong way before Sydney 2000. Plus Dan tries to find an answer to one of the biggest questions of all - why did the cheats do it?
31/08/2128m 4s

The world according to search

What can we learn about a culture from what they search online? From xenophobia in Nigeria, shut-in teenagers in Japan, India’s biometric identity card, and the creation of viral TikTok slang, we look at the search trends that have come to define us. Ben Arogundade investigates what the most popular searches reveal about our approach to death, dating, and digital identity. Tech journalist Nilesh Christopher tell us that India’s pandemic searches may be more complicated than they first appear, and Peruvian writer María José Osorio muses on a strangely nostalgic query that was among one of Peru’s most frequently probed questions online.
28/08/2150m 26s

World of Wisdom: Peace of mind

Keeping some peace of mind when the world around you is in turmoil is a great challenge. Mohammed finds it hard to maintain concentration, he sleeps 12 hours a night but awakes exhausted. He lives in Afghanistan, which is in a state of conflict, and spends a lot of time on social media. Sister Dang Nghiem offers advice on how to make your mind a beautiful refuge from the chaos and insecurity in the outside world. She discusses the North Korean communists taking over Saigon when she was a child and the BBC’s Sana Safi compares her own experience of life in Afghanistan under the Taliban.
28/08/2118m 36s

Chaos in Afghanistan

Despite terror warnings, Afghans continued to gather at Kabul’s airport, desperate to get onto a plane. What was feared, and what is sadly familiar in Afghanistan, happened - bomb blasts brought further devastation. Around 100,000 people have been flown out of the country though since the Taliban takeover. We hear stories from two women who have been at the airport and managed to get a flight. Also, two students in Kabul and Herat share their fears about being unable to continue their education at present. For one, an encounter with a member of the Taliban on the streets brought both physical and mental pain. Host Nuala McGovern also connects two sportswomen, who have represented their country. They share their concerns about the future of female footballers and athletes in Afghanistan.
28/08/2124m 5s

Catalonia: Squatters, eviction and extortion

How Catalonia’s housing crisis spawns opportunities for organised crime… Spain has a history of squatting. After the property crash of 2008 many families were forced to occupy homes that did not belong to them because they could not pay their mortgages. Now a darker side to ‘okupacion’ has emerged. Organised crime has seen an opportunity. Some flats in Barcelona have become ‘narcopisos’ - properties used to process or sell drugs. Other empty properties have been ‘sub-let’ by gangs to families who cannot afford a commercial rent. And the pandemic has spawned a new commercial model – extortion. These are cases where squatters occupy a property and demand a ‘ransom’ from the owner of several thousand Euros before they will leave. Enter the controversial ‘desokupa’ companies – firms run by boxers and bouncers who will evict unwanted 'tenants.' Producer / Presenter: Linda Pressly Producer / Presenter in Spain: Esperanza Escribano Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Jorge Fe, director of FueraOkupas – a company dedicated to evicting squatters and unwanted tenants. Credit: BBC/Esperanza Escribano)
26/08/2126m 40s

Archiving Black America

"We are our history," said James Baldwin. But how history is remembered depends on what materials survive, and who deems those materials worthy of preserving. Maya Millett - a writer, editor and founder of Race Women, an archive project dedicated to honouring early Black American feminists - speaks to the archivists who are working to ensure the voices and stories of African-Americans are not forgotten. As racism and violence against African-Americans continues, collecting, cataloguing, and preserving the truth has never been so vital in preventing the distortion of history.
25/08/2127m 34s

The Fake Paralympians: 2. Caught

A basketball journalist in Spain recognises three of the players in the gold-medal-winning intellectual disability basketball team - and they are not disabled. He has even played on the same team as one of them. But when he publishes his story in a national basketball magazine, the team’s organisers show certificates supposedly proving the players’ disability status. The denials continue until another of the players - who turns out to have been a journalist - publishes his own article exposing the fraud.
24/08/2124m 34s

A bad business

Twenty years ago, the brash Texan energy company Enron collapsed after its massive fraud was finally exposed. Investors and pension funds worldwide lost billions of dollars. The case was meant to signal a sea-change in the way businesses were policed. How difficult would it be to weave a similar web of financial deceit today? Lesley Curwen travels to the dark side of business to find out whether it is still just as easy to fleece investors – which in the end means us – out of our money.
21/08/2149m 49s

World of Wisdom: Bereavement and acceptance

Akinkunmi has lost both his mother and his sister. Dr Shefali Tsabary helps him come to terms with bereavement, and discusses the idea of 'acceptance' and how we can learn from brutal realities. In a series of intimate one to one conversations presented by the BBC’s Sana Safi ,three spiritual advisers – Sister Dang Nghiem, Dr Shefali Tsabary and Eckhart Tolle offer guidance to members of the public from across the world as they ask for advice and inspiration.
21/08/2118m 30s

Trying to flee Afghanistan

As the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan, thousands are attempting to leave the country, fearful for their safety. During the 20-year conflict, some Afghans worked as translators, interpreters and support staff with international armies and foreign organisations. Taliban officials have been keen to allay widespread safety fears but reports suggest the militant group are intensifying their hunt for such residents. Some of those who are afraid managed to immediately relocate to other countries, but many who want to leave find themselves stuck in their homes or their access to the airport prevented. Hosts Karnie Sharp and Nuala McGovern hear from three Afghan interpreters who fear for their lives, as well as military veterans in the US and the UK.
21/08/2124m 1s

India's living dead

What would it be like if everyone believed you were dead? Lal Bihari knows exactly what that feels like. When he was 22 years old the Indian farmer was told by his local government office that he was dead and no protestations that he was standing before them would persuade the bureaucrats otherwise – after all, his death certificate was there as proof. Whether the victim of a scam or a clerical error, the end result for Bihari was to lose his business and all the land he was hoping to inherit. It took him more than two decades to reinstate himself among the living during which time he tried everything from going on hunger strike to kidnapping someone in the hopes that the police would be forced to concede that a dead man could not be arrested. Today, more than a quarter of a century later, Bihari runs the Association for the Living Dead of India through which he says he has helped thousands of people who have fallen victim to the same thing. He tells his extraordinary story to Chloe Hadjimatheou for Assignment. Production Team in India: Ajit Sarathi; Kinjal Pandya; Piyush Nagpal and Praveen Mudholkar Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Lal Bihari holding a banner for the Association of the Living Dead. Credit: Piyush Nagpal/BBC)
19/08/2126m 45s

The Fake Paralympians: 1. Gold

Ex-Paralympic swimmer Dan Pepper investigates the cheats who won gold and left a devastating legacy for learning disability sport. Ray Torres used to get beaten up every day at school. He stood out because he had a learning disability. But when his dad gave him a basketball, he found an escape and a kind of friend that didn’t hit him or call him names. He took the ball everywhere - even using it as a pillow. When Spain started an intellectual disability basketball team, Ray was picked as one of the best players in the country and within a few years he was made captain. And when he found out the team had qualified to take part in the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, it was beyond his wildest dreams…
17/08/2124m 31s

OS Conversations: Afghanistan

This audio was updated on 16th August. The Taliban is advancing towards Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, as foreign forces prepare to fully withdraw from the country. Thousands of people are being displaced and many more are fearful about what lies ahead. Reporting the news in the country can result in death threats and loss of life, and host Nuala McGovern hears from Afghan journalists who are determined to continue working despite the dangers, including losing colleagues. Two women also share their fears for the future, concerned that their rights will go back two decades, to a time when women were not allowed to work or leave the house without an escort.
16/08/2123m 46s

World of Wisdom: Self-help for the spirit

Life presents many personal challenges. Three spiritual advisors – Sister Dang Nghiem, Dr Shefali Tsabary and Eckhart Tolle offer guidance to members of the public from across the world on coping with anxiety, the pressures of parenting and how to learn life-lessons from the pandemic.
13/08/2118m 18s

What’s Killing Israel’s Arabs?

Israel’s Arab population is in the grip of a violent and deadly crime wave. Since the start of the year, scores of Arab citizens have lost their lives and increasingly, even women and children are victims of drive-by killings, point-blank shootings and escalating gang warfare. Arabs account for only around one in five of all Israelis, yet they are now the majority of the country’s murder victims. Many say the problem of organised crime has grown out of control within their communities; others argue that the police do little to combat it. Some claim that Israel’s Jewish majority simply does not care. With a new coalition government now in office, which includes an Arab party, the BBC’s Yolande Knell meets victims’ families and those in authority to find out what is going on, and what hope there is for an end to the carnage. Producers: Quique Kierszenbaum in Israel and Michael Gallagher in London Editor: Bridget Harney
12/08/2126m 28s

Hiroshima successors

When photographer Haruka Sakaguchi set out to Hiroshima to document atomic bomb survivors' stories, she discovered they were far more difficult to find than she expected. Stigmatisation and survivor’s guilt discourage many from disclosing their past, and with dwindling survivors left to tell their story, memories of the atomic bomb are fading. But a new generation has developed an unusual method of keeping those memories alive. Denshosha are the designated guardians of survivors’ memories. They act as storytellers, working with survivors to record their story and pass it down to future generations, embodying the survivor in a deeply personal way, so they do not permanently disappear.
10/08/2127m 19s

Two smiley faces: Episode six

In the future, 10 years from now, will our fingers still reach for a laughing face with crying eyes? Will Unicode and its strict approval process for new emoji be relevant at all? Possibly not. We travel to Zimbabwe to hear how some designers are bypassing Silicon Valley by building their own emoji and sticker sets that reflect life in Africa. And we end the series in Shanghai, where we hear how in some parts of Asia, emoji have already been forgotten.
07/08/2123m 52s

OS Conversations: Olympic golden moments

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics were always going to be different. They took place a year later than planned and were the first to be held during a pandemic, with fans banned. So as the Games come to an end, host James Reynolds hears the experiences of three gold medallists: Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus; triathlete Flora Duffy, who won Bermuda’s first ever gold medal; and Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim. He delighted the world when he shared that coveted top spot with Italian counterpart Gianmarco Tamberi. Italy enjoyed an incredible few hours in Japan’s National Stadium and Viviana Masini reveals her son’s challenging childhood that ultimately put him on a path to become the fastest man on the planet. Lamont Marcell Jacobs was also the first Italian to claim the men’s 100 metres Olympic gold. We also hear from residents in Tokyo. Two of them explain their change of heart about holding the Games in the capital. Meanwhile, the pandemic remains an emergency and two doctors in the city discuss the latest rise in Covid rates.
07/08/2123m 53s

Malta and the El Hiblu 3

This is the curious story of how a child refugee ended up in Malta accused of the most serious crime - of being a terrorist. Lamin was 13 when he ran away from his home in Guinea in search of a better life. He had never even heard of Malta. But after attempting the perilous sea crossing to Europe, he and two other teenagers were accused of hijacking the ship, the El Hiblu, that rescued them and brought them to shore. If found guilty he and the young men could face life in prison. Two years on the case has still not been taken to trial and the three remain in limbo. For Assignment, the BBC’s Europe correspondent Jean Mackenzie travels to Malta to hear Lamin’s story, as she searches for answers about what happened on board the ship that day and why Malta is taking such a tough stance on these young migrants. Producer Kate Vandy.
05/08/2126m 28s

Africa’s vaccine ambitions

Africa is a continent of 1.3 billion people, but makes less than 1% of the lifesaving vaccines it needs. The continent’s 54 nations are almost entirely dependent on agencies like Unicef and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for these essential pharmaceuticals. But the pandemic of 2020 has been a harsh lesson in the dangers of relying on other countries and agencies for support. Numerous vaccine clinical trials have been conducted in Africa, yet these nations still find themselves at back of the queue for Covid-19 jabs. However, efforts are now underway to change this. At a conference in early April, African leaders pledged to manufacture 60% of the vaccines they need by 2040. But is this an achievable goal?
03/08/2127m 42s

Two smiley faces: Episode five

Our journey into the emoji universe takes some surprising directions. We reveal some of the human stories behind those tiny pictures on our screens. From the early days of reggae in Kingston, Jamaica to San Francisco’s Chinatown, we meet some of the people responsible for the emojis we have today.
01/08/2123m 55s

Beijing: Beyond the masks

Over a year after the Covid-19 pandemic hit the headlines in China, Liyang Liu explores the hidden impacts on people in her home city Beijing. Life has in some ways got back to normal in China’s capital, especially compared to many other global cities, but Liyang discovers things have changed in more subtle ways beyond the masks in this mega city of over 20 million people. We hear from business owners and entrepreneurs about the economic impacts of pandemic restrictions, and from those in the tourist industry about how the year has affected this vast industry in Beijing.
31/07/2150m 25s

Extreme weather

In recent weeks the world has seen floods in Europe and China and devastating wildfires in Canada, the United States and Siberia. It’s difficult to link single events to global warming but climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events. Host Nuala McGovern hears from those affected by flooding in Germany and Belgium as well as people in the city of Zhengzhou, in Henan, China, which recently recorded the equivalent of a year’s average rainfall in just three days.
31/07/2123m 54s

Rebuilding Beirut’s village in a city

A year ago Johnny Khawand saw the home he grew up in ripped apart by the massive explosion in a chemical dump in the port of Beirut, Lebanon – one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history. For hours Johnny fought to save neighbours trapped in the rubble, seeing some die in front of him. Now, after months of restoration work, he’s coming back to try to rebuild his life, hoping that the unique spirit of his close-knit, multi-faith neighbourhood – Karantina – will survive. As he enters his house again for the first time, memories flood back – both comforting and distressing. Johnny and other survivors have formed close bonds with some of the volunteers, including engineers and architects, who’ve spent the last year rebuilding the district for free. They’re passionate about restoring its ancient buildings exactly as they were before. But they’re angry that they’ve received no help from the Lebanese state, which is accused of negligence over the explosion. And Johnny and others now fear that wider redevelopment plans will bring in big money and change Karantina’s character forever. Tim Whewell asks if Beirut’s “village in a city”, with its many layers of history and memory, can survive? Reporter and producer: Tim Whewell Producer: Mohamad Chreyteh Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Beirut explosion survivors Manal Ghaziri and Johnny Khawand outside the ruins of a neighbours' house in the Karantina district. Credit: Mohamad Chreyteh/BBC)
29/07/2126m 28s

A tale of two Tokyos

The wait is finally over for the Tokyo Olympics, 2020. Ken Nishikawa and Nick Luscombe take inspiration and hope from the Tokyo Olympics of 1964, which kick-started a new internationalism in Japan as the first Olympic games to be held in Asia. Together they meet the designer of the new grand stadium Kengo Kuma and many more Tokyo residents whose lives were touched by the games in 1964 to contrast the Tokyo of the past with the city and its people today.
27/07/2127m 25s

Two smiley faces: Episode four

So how do you get an emoji added to the list? We hear from the women who have had hundreds of emoji approved between them, from the sari, to the mirror, to the one-piece bathing suit. How did they do it? And will Amy and Rachel finally get their drone emoji? We ask the woman who is in charge of it all.
25/07/2123m 59s

The road to rock'n'roll

In a segregated US, black audiences, entertainers and entrepreneurs established their own network of live performance venues known as the Chitlin’ Circuit. Concentrated primarily in the Deep South, it provided many pioneers of modern music with the platform to hone their craft and perfect their style as they travelled the country. Virtually every notable African-American performer from the '30s to the '60s graced the circuit. From famous urban institutions like The Apollo Theater in New York or The Howard Theatre in Washington D.C, to a run-down barn on a country back-road. It was in these settings, amidst a backdrop of segregation, that the sounds of rhythm and blues and rock’n’roll emerged and evolved, long before they captivated the world. Bobby Rush shines a light on a hugely influential network of venues that paved the way for rock’n’roll and shaped music history.
24/07/2149m 5s

The Tokyo Olympics

A year later than planned, due to the pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics are underway. Yet Covid cases in the capital are rising, and a recent poll showed that 55% of people in Japan were opposed to the Games being held in Tokyo with fears that it could become a super spreader event. For the athletes, it’s business as usual, albeit under extraordinary circumstances. Host Nuala McGovern hears from 19 year old US-born Joseph Fahnbulleh, who is representing Liberia on the athletics track in the 200 metres race; and Mary Hanna who has competed in five previous Olympics as part of the Australian equestrian team
24/07/2123m 58s

Dangerous liaisons in Sinaloa

The Mexican state of Sinaloa is synonymous with drug trafficking. With the profits from organised crime a driver of the local economy, the tentacles of ‘narco cultura’ extend deep into people’s lives – especially those of women. In the city of Culiacan, plastic surgeons service demand for the exaggerated feminine silhouette favoured by the men with guns and hard cash. Often women’s surgery will be paid for by a ‘sponsor’ or ‘godfather.’ Meanwhile, a group of women trackers spend their weekends digging in isolated parts of the state, looking for the remains of loved ones who disappear in Sinaloa’s endless cycle of drug-fuelled violence. Producer / presenter: Linda Pressly Producer in Mexico: Ulises Escamilla Editor: Bridget Harney (Photo: Lawyer Maria Teresa Guerra advocates for women in Sinaloa. Credit: BBC/Ulises Escamilla)
22/07/2126m 38s

Lex Gillette: A leap in the dark

Lex Gillette was seven years old when his eyes stopped working. At first, things were a little blurry, a little distorted. Then, after 10 operations to treat the retinas that kept detaching in both his right and his left, he saw nothing but darkness. But that did not stop him: Lex learned to ride a bike. He learned to run around. And eventually, he learned to to jump - jump farther than any other blind person in the world. Lex Gillette - world record long jumper, four time Paralympic medal winner - is on his way to Tokyo in 2021 to get the gold medal he has wanted since he was a child. The other half of the Lex Gillette Paralympic success story is his guide coach, Wesley Williams.
20/07/2127m 29s

Two smiley faces: Episode three

We travel to California to find out who controls the emoji available on every single smartphone in the world - the mysterious Unicode Consortium. This secretive organisation decides what is included and what is left off the official emoji keyboard. But are they up to the job? Not everyone is convinced. Presenter: Sarah Treanor and Vivienne Nunis Producer: Sarah Treanor
18/07/2123m 55s

China in slogans

As the Chinese Communist Party celebrates its 100th anniversary, Celia Hatton looks at how party slogans reveal the turbulent history of modern China. Throughout its existence, the party has used key slogans to communicate policy and mobilise the country's vast population. These messages reflect not just the ambitions of party leaders but also have a profound impact on the lives of millions. Using the BBC archive Celia examines the story behind eight key Communist Party slogans, from their early years as a guerrilla movement to the campaigns of China's current all-powerful leader Xi XInping.
17/07/2158m 7s

Breaking through

Breaking, also known as break-dancing, borne in New York City in the 1970s, is set to make its debut at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. Four-time breaking world champion, BoxWon (Benyaamin Barnes McGee), traces how breaking went from Bronx block parties to NYC’s downtown art scene, to the world. Speaking to legends of the scene, such as Rock Steady Crew's Ken Swift and B-Boy Glyde from Dynamic Rockers, BoxWon reveals how punk impresario, Malcolm McLaren, helped breaking become a worldwide craze in the 1980s - before it vanished. When the International Olympic Committee proposed breaking as a new sport for the Olympic Games in Paris 2024, the general public were taken by surprise.
17/07/2149m 25s

Coronavirus: England Unlocking

England is about to do what no country has done before during the coronavirus pandemic - open up in the face of rapidly rising infections, driven by the more transmissible Delta variant. Nearly all remaining Covid restrictions will end on 19 July. It will mean an end to legal requirements on social distancing, no limits on how many people can meet and face coverings will no longer be required by law. England has high levels of immunity with significant numbers of the population vaccinated. The government’s plan is that this new so-called ‘natural’ wave of infections will be allowed to play itself out without lockdown restrictions. But many experts are warning that it is a gamble
17/07/2123m 53s

Finding Grace

In November 1990 a body of a woman was discovered - near an abandoned farm house in Missouri. The victim had been restrained with six types of rope. Police had no idea who she was, let alone who had killed her. With no clues to go on, and no leads, the police dubbed her ‘Grace’ after one officer said ‘only by the grace of god will she be identified’. For three decades there wasn’t a single lead in the case. However earlier this year, the young woman was identified using a revolutionary technique. It combines advanced DNA genome processing with genealogy websites which people use to trace ancestors and build their family trees. The BBC’s North American technology reporter, James Clayton, discovers Grace’s true identity and meets the victim’s siblings who are grateful to finally get some sense of closure after years of uncertainty. The new method has already solved hundreds of cold cases across America. Yet some worry that uploading DNA onto police databases violates privacy and could be open to abuse. Radio producer in London - Lucy Ash (Image: Shawna Beth Garber aged two, who was later known to police as "Grace." Picture courtesy of Danielle Pixler)
14/07/2127m 8s

Sporting heroines of history

Multi Gold-winning Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson explores the role of women in sport through history. She looks at some of the milestones in sport for women and acknowledges several people who were pivotal in helping to make sure women were finally recognised – among them Alice Milliat, the French woman who organised that first international women’s sporting event in Monte Carlo in 1921. She reflects on the achievements of athletes like Dale Greig, the first woman to run a marathon in under 3.5 hours, Russian Olgo Korbut who helped to change the perception of women in gymnastics, tennis player Althea Gibson, the first African-American to win a Grand Slam and the footballers who battled a five-decade ban on women playing on official grounds in England.
13/07/2127m 25s

Two smiley faces - part two

The emoji, invented in Japan in the 1990s, and now standardised on every device and platform we have, has become a new type of global communication. Whether you love them or hate them, they stir up surprisingly strong feelings and the fight for representation on the emoji keyboard can get very heated. In episode two, we explore how sometimes, emoji are more than they seem. In fact, for some dating app users, criminal gangs and even human traffickers, emoji take on secret meanings. The BBC's Vivienne Nunis and Sarah Treanor are here to crack the code.
11/07/2123m 49s

The mixed beat

The voices of those from mixed race communities are more frequently heard today and are playing a more central role in shaping discussion around race, identity and what it means to straddle different cultures and experiences. The BBC's Nora Fakim takes this opportunity to reflect on what is happening across the globe and to reflect on what the changes mean across the generations.
10/07/2150m 24s

Coronavirus: Refusing the vaccine

Official figures suggest the global death toll from Covid-19 now exceeds four million with the virus proliferating in Asia, Africa and South America, where fewer people have been vaccinated. Host James Reynolds brings three doctors together from Namibia, Bangladesh and Russia, which are among the countries struggling to deal with second and third waves of infections. They describe the constant challenge on the hospital wards and highlight the impact of vaccine hesitancy among patients.
10/07/2123m 39s

Missing from Manhattan

Last spring New York looked like the epicentre of the pandemic with boarded up shops, makeshift morgues in refrigerated trucks and the constant wail of ambulance sirens echoing through the deserted streets. This summer, as America’s biggest city emerges from the coronavirus crisis, what has changed? For Assignment, Lucy Ash focuses on the most dramatically affected area – the Midtown section of Manhattan – and goes on a hunt for the missing people in this once dynamic, densely populated part of the Big Apple. She talks to those who have fled for the greener pastures of New Jersey where property prices have spiked and she meets a Broadway star who became a florist when theatres went dark. Lucy also finds out what happened to tens of thousands of Midtown cleaners and restaurant staff who couldn’t work from home and were abruptly laid off with no safety net. As undocumented migrants, most didn’t qualify for any state aid. New York producer: Guglielmo Mattioli Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: A view of Midtown Manhattan and Bryant Park. Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri)
08/07/2127m 20s

Bats: Friend or foe?

Bats are depicted in some cultures as devil-like vampires through images of death and Halloween. But in others they are the opposite and are believed to bring luck and good fortune in China. Fear of bats has been exacerbated in the past 18 months by the Coronavirus pandemic and a blame game, pointing the finger at bats as a potential source of Covid-19. But environmentalists love them for being natural pest controllers – hoovering up harmful insects. Scientists love them too - as a vital source of medical research. How can they carry viruses without getting ill and what is their anti-ageing secret?
06/07/2127m 20s

Two Smiley Faces

The emoji, invented in Japan in the 1990s, and now standardised on every device and platform we have, has become a new type of global communication. Whether you love them or hate them, they stir up surprisingly strong feelings and the fight for representation on the emoji keyboard can get very heated. In this first episode, we explore how for many of us, these cute symbols have become a natural part of our daily digital lives. We also meet two emoji lovers as they prepare to take on Silicon Valley and try to have their longed-for emoji approved.
04/07/2123m 36s

Coronavirus: Face masks

Face coverings have been part of the fight against the spread of the virus in many countries but the debate around them continues. Israel has been one of the most successful countries in the world in tackling the pandemic but, just days after lifting the requirement of wearing face masks indoors, the restriction was reimposed. The decision was made after a rise in Covid cases due to the Delta variant. We also hear from two students in Italy about their feelings now that they are allowed to go outdoors without a face mask for the first time since October 2020.
03/07/2123m 45s

The runaway maids of Oman

Two hundred young women from Sierra Leone, west Africa, have been trapped in the Arabian sultanate of Oman, desperate to get home. Promised work in shops and restaurants, they say they were into tricked becoming housemaids, working up to 18 hours a day, often without pay, and sometimes abused by their employers. Some ran away, to live a dangerous underground existence at the mercy of the authorities – but now they’re being rescued and repatriated, and some are empowering themselves as independent farmers back home. Tim Whewell tells their story. (Image: Sierra Leonean women hoping for repatriation after leaving their employers in Oman. Credit: Do Bold)
01/07/2126m 37s

Guru: Who knew what and when?

For the last year, BBC journalist and passionate yoga teacher Ishleen Kaur has been investigating allegations of sexual and emotional abuse at the heart of an organisation she once called home. Fellow practitioners share with her their stories of cruelty, rape and even the sexual assault of a child - but she wasn't prepared for what she uncovered next. Join Ishleen on a deeply personal journey into the dark legacy which haunts Sivananda Yoga, one of the world’s most revered yoga schools.
29/06/2126m 38s

Marvellous medicine

During the pandemic, the world witnessed how fast medicine can advance with an abundance of cash and collaboration. Is progress at this speed and cost sustainable? Sandra Kanthal asks if drug development is something which should still take decades, or have we learned how to permanently accelerate the process?
27/06/2123m 36s

A right to health

What will be the biggest healthcare issue in the next decade? What is the future of public healthcare around the world? The BBC World Service brings together the acclaimed US physician and Berggruen Prize winner, Dr Paul Farmer, with health experts and members of the public from across the globe to discuss one of the most urgent issues of our time.
26/06/2150m 1s

Coronavirus: Survivor's guilt

Worldwide almost four million people have now died from Covid-19. For each individual who has lost a loved one, each statistic is a deeply personal experience. The disease has not just attacked our physical health, it has also had a mental impact - whether from anxiety, depression or loneliness. We hear from three people from Nepal, South Africa and the United States who are all dealing with survivor’s guilt.
26/06/2123m 38s

Nigeria’s kidnapped children

Since December, gangs have seized more than a thousand students and members of staff from schools in armed raids across northern Nigeria. The wave of abductions is having devastating consequences for the country, which already has the highest number of children out of education anywhere in the world. Parents face extortionate financial demands in exchange for the freedom of their sons and daughters, and many families in Africa’s most populous nation are now too afraid to send their children to class. Some have decided to flee rural areas for the relative security of cities, adding to demographic pressures and threatening food supplies as crops go untended. For Assignment, the BBC’s Mayeni Jones travels across north-western Nigeria, meeting those who have been affected by the crisis in order to understand why it has arisen – and what the authorities can do to stop it. Producers: Naomi Scherbel-Ball in Lagos and Michael Gallagher in London Sound mix: James Beard Production Co-ordinator: Gemma Ashman Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Mrs Sani shows a photo of her two daughters Rejoice and Victory. They were kidnapped from their school in March and were finally released after being held captive for almost two months. Credit: BBC)
24/06/2126m 28s

Guru: A dark legacy

For the last year, BBC journalist and passionate yoga teacher Ishleen Kaur has been investigating allegations of sexual and emotional abuse at the heart of an organisation she once called home. Fellow practitioners share with her their stories of cruelty, rape and even the sexual assault of a child - but she wasn't prepared for what she uncovered next. Join Ishleen for three programmes on a deeply personal journey into the dark legacy which haunts Sivananda Yoga, one of the world’s most revered yoga schools.
22/06/2126m 39s

Guru: A dark legacy

For the last year, BBC journalist and passionate yoga teacher Ishleen Kaur has been investigating allegations of sexual and emotional abuse at the heart of an organisation she once called home. Fellow practitioners share with her their stories of cruelty, rape and even the sexual assault of a child - but she wasn't prepared for what she uncovered next. Join Ishleen on her deeply personal journey into the dark legacy which haunts Sivananda Yoga, one of the world’s most revered yoga schools.
22/06/2126m 41s

The life of Kenneth Kaunda

Kenneth Kaunda, the first President of Zambia was a unique African leader. He led the African continent’s fight against Apartheid, gaining a peaceful transition to power in his own country. He was influenced by reading Mahatma Gandhi yet ruled with ‘an iron fist in a velvet glove’. He loved to sing and play guitar, particularly to his wife of many years Betty and in his 27 years as president. In the end he was voted out of office but left with dignity when he admitted defeat in a multi-party election. Audrey Brown charts the rise and fall of former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda.
20/06/2126m 40s

Deepwater Horizon oil spill

In the evening of 20 April 2010 disaster struck at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig when a blowout caused by a surge in methane gas from the oil well exploded engulfing the platform. For the next 87 days, BP engineers tried to staunch the flow of crude oil gushing out of the well on the ocean floor. An estimated 184 million gallons were spilt, 18 times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez, making it the largest accidental marine oil spill in the world, and the largest environmental disaster in US history.
19/06/2150m 48s

Women in Iran

Iran has voted for a new president and BBC Persian Service presenter, Rana Rahimpour, hears from different women in conversation on what life is like in the country. Three young women, including one 17-year-old, join Rana to discuss their fears, frustrations and hopes for the future. A pharmacist and doctor share their experiences in two hospitals after the country underwent a fourth wave of infections. They describe the long days and the financial challenges in the health sector, including the relatively low pay. Rana is also joined by two of her colleagues from BBC Persian to discuss the difficulties of reporting on your homeland from thousands of miles away in London.
19/06/2124m 11s

Syria’s decade of conflict: The many colours of Raqqa

Syrian born reporter Lina Sinjab presents a special series from Assignment’s award winning archive on the ten years of civil war in her country. In the final programme from the season Lina hears from BBC foreign correspondent Tim Whewell who spoke to Abood Hamam, perhaps the only photojournalist to have worked under every major force in Syria's war - and lived to tell the tale. At the start of the uprising he was head of photography for the state news agency, SANA, taking official shots of President Assad and his wife Asma by day - and secretly filming opposition attacks by night. Later he defected and returned to his home town, Raqqa, where various rebel groups were competing for control. Other journalists fled when the terrorists of so-called Islamic State (IS) took over, but Abood stayed - and was asked by IS to film its victory parade. He sent pictures of life under IS to agencies all over the world - using a pseudonym. As the bombing campaign by the anti-IS coalition intensified, Abood moved away - but returned later to record the heartbreaking destruction - but also the slow return of life, and colour, to the streets. For months, he roamed through the ruins with his camera, seeing himself as ”the guardian of the city." Raqqa's future is still very uncertain, but Abood now wants everyone to see his pictures, which he posts on Facebook, and know his real name. He hopes the colours he's showing will tempt the thousands of families who've fled Raqqa to return home, and rebuild their lives, and their city. Producer: Mohamad Chreyteh Sound mix: James Beard Production coordinator: Gemma Ashman Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Children running in Raqqa, 2019. Credit: Abood Hamam)
17/06/2127m 1s

Guru: Living a lie

For the last year, BBC journalist and passionate yoga teacher Ishleen Kaur has been investigating allegations of sexual and emotional abuse at the heart of an organisation she once called home. Fellow practitioners share with her their stories of cruelty, rape and even the sexual assault of a child - but she wasn't prepared for what she uncovered next. Ishleen takes us on a deeply personal journey into the dark legacy which haunts Sivananda Yoga, one of the world’s most revered yoga schools.
15/06/2126m 41s

When Kissinger went to China

In July 1971, Kissinger, then US National Security Advisor, made a clandestine visit to the People’s Republic of China – then America’s sworn enemy. At the time China was isolated from the outside world amidst the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. America was looking for a way out of the Vietnam war. Both countries had had no contact for over 20 years. Fifty years on, the US and China are at a historic crossroads. So what happened since Kissinger stepped on Chinese soil in that summer half a century ago? How did we get to where we are today?
12/06/2150m 29s

When Kissinger went to China

In July 1971, Kissinger, then US National Security Advisor, made a clandestine visit to the People’s Republic of China – then America’s sworn enemy. At the time China was isolated from the outside world amidst the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. America was looking for a way out of the Vietnam war. Both countries had had no contact for over 20 years. The 48-hour mission paved the way for President Richard Nixon’s historic handshake with Chairman Mao a few months later. It changed the geometry of the Cold War. So what has happened since Kissinger stepped on Chinese soil in that summer half a century ago? How did we get to where we are today?
12/06/2150m 29s

Life in Iran

As Iran prepares to hold its presidential election to select a replacement for Hassan Rouhani, BBC Persian presenter Rana Rahimpour brings together Iranians, both in the country and living abroad, to hear about their lives and thoughts. Three young Iranians discuss what it’s like to live in a country where many people want to leave and need two jobs to make ends meet. Plus two sisters - one in London and the other still living in Iran with their parents - discuss the emotional difficulties of separation.
12/06/2123m 57s

Syria’s decade of conflict: Islamic State’s most wanted

Syrian born reporter Lina Sinjab presents a special series from Assignment’s award winning archive on the ten years of civil war in her country. This week Chloe Hadjimatheou tells the astonishing story of a group of young men from Raqqa, Syria, who chose to resist the so-called Islamic State, which occupied their city in 2014 and made it the capital of their ‘Caliphate’. These extraordinary activists risked everything to oppose ISIS; several were killed, or had family members murdered. ISIS put a bounty on the resistance leaders’ heads forcing them to go into hiding. But the group continued its work, under the banner Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently. Chloe met the group’s founders, who were organising undercover activists in Raqqa from the relative safety of other countries. As reporter Chloe Hadjimatheou tells Lina, despite the passing of the years these men are still in hiding from the militants who occupied their city in 2014. (Photo: Four activists from the group working under the banner Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently)
10/06/2127m 10s

Being mum

Are children always better off in a two-parent family? Ateira Griffin, daughter of a single mother and the director of non-profit organisation that supports black single mothers and their daughters, explores what it is like for a family to be headed by a mum without a dad, a family structure that is on the rise in her native United States. In fact children in single mum households account for half of all African-American kids growing up in America and Ateira explores the context for this historically and in terms of contemporary social policy.
08/06/2127m 27s

Bonus: The Lazarus Heist Episode 1

Introducing our new original podcast. Here’s episode 1: Hacking Hollywood. A movie, Kim Jong-un and a devastating cyber attack. The story of the Sony hack. How the Lazarus Group hackers caused mayhem. And this is just the beginning…Search for The Lazarus Heist wherever you get your podcasts. #LazarusHeist
05/06/2134m 20s

Introducing: The Lazarus Heist

Hacking Hollywood and the billion-dollar plot. Hear all about our new original podcast. Search for The Lazarus Heist wherever you find your podcasts. #LazarusHeist
05/06/213m 1s

Coronavirus: The Olympics

The Olympic Games now look certain to go ahead in Japan in July. However, some people in the country are against holding the event, as it tackles a fourth wave of coronavirus cases, low vaccination and the extension of a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas. Two doctors in Tokyo share their observations, experiences and concerns. As some countries, including Japan, struggle to vaccinate older members of their populations, host Nuala McGovern also hears from two 12-year-olds in Canada and the United States. They were among the first children in the world to receive a Covid vaccine.
05/06/2123m 51s

Syria’s decade of conflict: Syria's secret library

Syrian born reporter Lina Sinjab presents a special series from Assignment’s award winning archive on the 10 years of civil war in her country. This week an extraordinary story from 2016, reported by Mike Thomson, about a secret library stored in the basement of a crumbling house in the besieged Syrian town of Darayya. The library was home to thousands of books rescued from bombed-out buildings by local volunteers, who daily braved snipers and shells to fill its shelves. In the town gripped by hunger and death after three years without food aid, Mike Thomson revealed how this literary sanctuary proved a lifeline to a community shattered by war. And now, 10 years on, Mike brings Lina up to date on the fate of some of those volunteers. Produced by Michael Gallagher and additional research and translation by Mariam El Khalaf. (Image: 14 year-old Chief Librarian Amjad in the Secret Library, Credit: Daraya Council Media Team)
03/06/2127m 12s

Globalisation in reverse

Globalisation is about open trade, open doors and open borders. It is the way that Asia has grown its economy for the better part of the last half century. But the pandemic and tensions between the US and China have seen globalisation go into reverse - with many now saying it hasn’t benefited everyone. One of the biggest beneficiaries of globalisation has been Singapore. But the city-state is now an increasingly lonely voice calling for economies to stay open. It is being forced to reinvent itself and find new ways to grow its trade dependent and global economy. What lessons does Singapore have for the rest of us? Join Karishma Vaswani as she explores that question and many others in a wide-ranging interview with Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong
01/06/2127m 17s

The Tulsa tragedy that shamed America

Alvin Hall tells the story of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst episodes of racial violence in US history. In the early 20th Century, Tulsa was a wild west town which became a boom city. But the oil capital of the world was also home to the thriving and prosperous district of Greenwood - nicknamed 'Black Wall Street' by Booker T Washington - because it was a mecca for Black entrepreneurs. On 30 May, a young Black shoe shiner Dick Rowland, was wrongly accused of attacking a white elevator operator Sarah Paige (the girl later recanted her story). This was the trigger, on 31 May and 1 June, for an armed white mob to loot and burn Greenwood, in a violent 16-hour attack. Many estimate up to 300 Black citizens were killed. Over 1200 homes were destroyed, every church, hotel, shop, and business was completely wiped off the map.
29/05/2150m 14s

Hip-hop and healing: Commemorating Tulsa

A century ago, one of the worst episodes of racial violence in US history took place - the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Greenwood was a prosperous and thriving district, nicknamed 'Black Wall Street' because it was a mecca for Black entrepreneurs and businesses. Dick Rowland, was wrongly accused of attacking a white girl in an elevator - a charge she would quickly recant. But after a sensationalist newspaper report, a mob gathered outside the courthouse. Violence broke out, many of the white mob were deputised and given arms. During the evening of 31 May 1921 and 1 June, 35 square blocks of Greenwood were looted and burned to the ground. Jerica D Wortham is an author, poet, and publisher, born and raised in Greenwood. Jerica invites us to witness how the community is marking the centennial.
29/05/2150m 39s

Coronavirus: Getting Covid after vaccination

Vaccines are seen as a way out of the coronavirus pandemic; a way to stop transmission and have fewer patients in hospital. Host Nuala McGovern shares different experiences of vaccination and hospitalisation. For some who have been vaccinated, infection is still possible, but hospitalisation is expected to be less likely. Two guests describe their reactions to getting a positive test, after having Covid jabs, and how the virus affected them. We consider too those who are hesitant about the Covid vaccine, despite the dangers of catching the disease.
29/05/2123m 42s

Syria’s decade of conflict: The battered champions of Aleppo

Syrian born reporter Lina Sinjab presents a special series from Assignment’s award winning archive on the ten years of civil war in her country. This week she introduces Tim Whewell’s programme from 2016 about what happened to a local football team in Aleppo province in the early years of the civil war: A fuzzy team photo from the 1980s sent Tim on a journey to track down the football players in the picture; the men who were once the champions of Aleppo province. Mare’a, their small hometown in northern Syria, had by then become a war zone - bombed by the Assad regime, besieged by Islamic State, even subjected to a mustard gas attack. And the civil war had torn through what was once a close knit band of friends - some had become pro-rebel, some pro-regime. They were scattered across Syria and beyond, some were fighting near Mare'a, some were living in refugee camps abroad. In this moving story about how war fractures and divides a community, Tim hears about the ordeals the men had suffered since they won that football cup and asks whether they could ever be reunited? At the end of the programme, Lina catches up with Tim to find out what’s happened to the team members since 2016. (Image: Mare’a’s cup-winning football team, 1983. Credit: Mare'a football team’s archive)
27/05/2127m 7s

Reaching back to Hands Across America

On 25 May 1986, 6.5 million people did the impossible; they joined hands to form the world’s longest human chain, from New York to Los Angeles. But far from being a simple stunt, Hands Across America was raising money to fight hunger and homelessness in the world’s richest country. Did it succeed? Aleks Krotoski was 11 years old when she stood in the sunshine between her mother and a stranger and held their hands for those 15 minutes 35 years ago. She speaks with the organisers, the people who participated, and the people who received the donations, and discovers that Hands Across America didn’t just feed the hungry, but led the social networking revolution as well.
25/05/2127m 4s

Vaccinating the world

Now that scientists have created a Covid-19 vaccine in record time, the race is on to vaccinate the world. Public health professor Devi Sridhar follows the journey of the Covid vaccine from factory to arm as she goes behind the scenes of the rollout. Speaking to health leaders, politicians and experts, we see how the world is responding and look at how long it might take to vaccinate enough people.
22/05/2150m 11s

Gagarin and the lost Moon

On 12 April 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became an explorer like none other before him, going faster and further than any human in history, into what had always been the impenetrable and infinite unknown. Raised in poverty during the World War Two, the one-time foundry worker and a citizen of the Soviet Union became the first human to fly above the Earth. Dr Kevin Fong tells the story of how 27-year-old Yuri Gagarin came to launch a new chapter in the history of exploration and follows the cosmonaut’s one hour flight around the Earth.
22/05/211h 1m

Israel and Gaza

After 11 days of conflict, a ceasefire has been agreed between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The violence in that time killed more than 250 people, most of them in Gaza. During this past week, host Nuala McGovern has been hearing conversations from both Palestinians and Israelis about what it has been like to be living under bombardment. They talk about their lives and hopes for the future.
22/05/2123m 8s

Syria’s decade of conflict: Damascus diary

Syrian born reporter Lina Sinjab presents a special series from Assignment’s award winning archive on the 10 years of civil war in her country. In 2013 Lina recorded an audio diary of her final days in Damascus where she was working for the BBC. In this intimate and revealing programme, she combines dramatic scenes and interview material with her own story as she discusses her thoughts, feelings and encounters before she left the country. Ten years on, series producer Lucy Ash interviews Lina on what it felt like to listen back to those stories. (Image: Lina Sinjab. Credit: Sima Ajalyakin)
20/05/2126m 46s

Speaking out

London-based broadcaster Edward Adoo and US DJ T Storm team up to discuss the experiences of black people who are stopped and searched in their countries. Together they hear the personal stories of others from all over the world who’ve suffered the humiliation of what many who have been stopped say is apparent racial stereotyping. They also talk to researchers and policy makers about the psychological trauma suffered by those subjected to stop and search; and also look at arguments for the practice and ask whether its ever fair to stop and search.
18/05/2127m 31s

Coronavirus: Healthcare workers and burnout

Dr Solelwa Sifumba in Johannesburg, South Africa, recently left the profession after experiencing such chronic anxiety that it even led to her considering taking her own life. She is joined by two fellow doctors in the UK, as they discuss burnout and the mental health challenges of working in constant crisis mode since the pandemic began. They tell host Nuala McGovern about the difficulty in their profession to say they are not ok. We also talk to two therapists in the United States and UK.
15/05/2124m 4s

Saving the vaquita

Jacques Cousteau called Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, ‘the aquarium of the world’. It is home to one of the most critically endangered species on earth. The vaquita is a small porpoise facing total extinction, whose numbers have dwindled to less than a dozen. In particular, the vaquita get caught in the nets used to catch totoaba. Casting nets for this large marine fish is illegal. But the totoaba’s swim bladder is believed to have potent medicinal properties in China, and sells for thousands of dollars in a trade controlled by Mexican organised crime. So efforts to save the vaquita have brought conflict to poor fishing communities in northern Baja California – people who often rely on an illicit income from totoaba. On New Year’s Eve, 2020 one fisherman was killed and another seriously injured in an altercation between local boats and an NGO ship patrolling to stop the sinking of illegal nets that kill the vaquita. Linda Pressly reports from the coast of Baja California on a dangerous clash of interests. Can the vaquita be saved? Producer: Michael Gallagher Producer in Mexico: Ulises Escamilla Haro (Image: Illustration of a vaquita in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Credit: Greenpeace/Marcelo Otero)
13/05/2128m 22s

Bob Marley: An extraordinary day

Forty years after the death of reggae singer Bob Marley, British writer and dub poet, Benjamin Zephaniah, remembers the day Jamaica came to a standstill for the singer’s funeral. Bob Marley was laid to rest on the 21 May 1981, 11 days after dying from skin cancer. The extraordinary day saw the island come together to mourn their most famous son – and to celebrate his life and work.. Among those remembering this extraordinary day – I3s singer Judy Mowatt, reggae musician Michael Ibo Cooper, reporter Robin Denselow and Edward Williams who was a 13-year-old boy living in Kingston at the time.
11/05/2127m 35s

Our story: Part two

For the past seven years, Marlo has been making a podcast about life as a single mum raising her transgender daughter. In this programme Marlo reaches out to parents of transgender children and adults from around the world, who she has connected with through her podcast. From the mother of a Fa’afafine girl in Samoa, to a single mother who had to move her family from Italy to Spain to keep them safe from transphobia, to a father in India who supported his daughter who suffered from depression before she was able to transition.
08/05/2150m 9s

Coronavirus: Pilots and trainee doctors

The pandemic has caused millions of job losses during the past year. The travel industry is one area that has been badly affected as many countries closed their borders or restricted entry. As a result, thousands of pilots are no longer flying and are out of work. Host Nuala McGovern hears from two pilots in Canada and the UK about what it’s like to lose a job that’s part of your identity and what the future has in store. We also return to the emergency situation in India. Medical students and junior doctors are having to delay internships, training and graduations to treat Covid patients. They tell us about the emotional strain when they find themselves in a situation of “playing God” and having to decide whose lives to try and save.
08/05/2123m 38s

Myanmar: The spring revolution

More than 750 people have been killed by the Myanmar military since they seized power in a coup three months ago. Mass protests demanding a return to democracy and the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi have been met with brutal force. Borders are closed and the internet effectively blocked. This is a story the military does not want the world to hear. But people are bravely documenting their resistance. We follow three young activists now in a fight for their future. As their options close…Can they win back democracy? Produced and presented by Rebecca Henschke with Kelvin Brown Reporting team: Banyol Kong Janoi, Phyu Zin Poe and Zarchi (Image: Bhone at a pro-democracy demonstration in Myanmar. Credit: BBC)
06/05/2126m 28s

Where is Jack Ma?

On the eve of what would have been the world's largest share listing, Ant Financial founder Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire mysteriously disappeared. Things started to go wrong for Ma after he told a room full of banking regulators that their methods were out of date and not fit for purpose. Shortly afterwards, the Chinese government cancelled the listing and Jack went silent. So what has happened to Jack Ma? Journalist Celia Hatton, who spent 15 years living and reporting in China, investigates.
04/05/2127m 10s

Our story: Part one

For the past seven years, Marlo has been making a podcast about life as a single mum raising her transgender daughter. In the first programme, Marlo explains why she put her daughter’s story out for the world to hear. She says she felt compelled to tell their story, and to show people that ‘we exist’.
01/05/2150m 22s

Coronavirus: India

A second coronavirus wave is ravaging many parts of India and the health services continue to struggle. Two doctors in Delhi and Mumbai share their experiences of working under increasingly difficult circumstances. They tell us about the hurt they are feeling as they try to do their jobs and save lives. And three BBC journalists in India reveal what it’s like to report on the ground in Ahmedabad, Delhi and Mumbai as their family and friends are infected by Covid-19.
01/05/2123m 55s

The Battle of Palma

At the end of March, hundreds of militants linked to the Islamic State group overran a small, but strategic coastal town in northern Mozambique. The bloody surprise attack on Palma marked a significant escalation in a shadowy conflict that began in 2017 and has already driven hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans from their homes. Some of the heaviest fighting in Palma centred on a hotel where many foreign workers spent days under siege, before attempting a daring escape. Helicopters and boats were also used to try to rescue those trapped by the militants. For Assignment, Andrew Harding tells the story of Palma’s days of terror. Produced by Becky Lipscombe (Image: Mozambican soldiers on a motorbike in the streets of Palma, April 2021. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency/Joao Relvas)
29/04/2126m 28s

Don't log off: My life, my world

Alan Dein follows Rohan, a young Jamaican farmer over the past 12 months as he is faced by the twin challenges of drought and the pandemic.
27/04/2127m 26s

Dance Divas: 1988-1998

Sampling technology created new opportunities for producers but raised questions of authenticity and authorship in the industry. Some of the biggest dance music hits of the early '90s used uncredited vocals belonging to Loleatta Holloway, Jocelyn Brown and Martha Wash. After the Paradise Garage closed, New Jersey’s Zanzibar club became the breaking ground for dance music in the New York area. Abbie Adams had a record store around the corner which became Movin’ Records, introducing the world to the ‘Jersey Sound’. We also meet legendary talent scout Gladys Pizarro who co-founded Strictly Rhythm.
24/04/2149m 50s

Coronavirus: Sudan

Sudan has recorded only 32,000 cases of coronavirus infections and just 2,300 Covid-19 related deaths so far. It is also rolling out vaccines. But the numbers are thought to be much higher and host Nuala McGovern hears from three women living in the capital, Khartoum, about how their experiences of family and friends dying differs greatly from the official Covid-19 figures. We also return to intensive care units in the UK, US and South Africa to hear from the specialist doctors who are responsible for patients on ventilators and pain management.
24/04/2124m 9s

Prince belong Vanuatu

Villagers believe Prince Philip is returning to his ancestral home on their Pacific island. In a handful of villages on the island of Tanna, in Vanuatu, he has been revered as an ancestral spirit and son of their mountain god, and they have been waiting for him to return to them, either in person during his lifetime or in spirit form after his death. It is thought the religious movement started after the 1974 royal tour of the Pacific, during which the Queen and Prince Philip visited Vanuatu, then known as the New Hebrides.
23/04/2127m 40s

America’s solitary inmates

Since the pandemic struck, millions around the world have endured lockdowns, with many finding it hard to tolerate long periods indoors. But what if lockdown meant years on end spent entirely alone, in a single room, sometimes no bigger than a large elevator? In many US states, jails and prisons routinely use solitary confinement to enforce discipline and indeed, sometimes to quarantine inmates for health reasons. Officials say it’s essential to ensure safety behind bars. Prisoners can be segregated for serious and violent offences, but also for infringing minor rules. And some have spent decades in isolation, despite the United Nations defining a stretch of more than fifteen days as torture. As one of the most prominent states, New York, now moves to accept the UN limit and reform the use of segregation, Hilary Andersson meets inmates and prison staff to understand what this draconian punishment is like, and what its psychological effects can be upon those affected, who include children as young as thirteen. Produced for radio by Michael Gallagher If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this programme, you can contact help at Befrienders International: (Image: A juvenile inmate in a cell seen through the door hatch. Credit: Richard Ross)
22/04/2126m 28s

Don't log off: My life, my world

Alan Dein hears how the pandemic year has affected the life of 19-year-old student Mursalina in Kabul, Afghanistan. She has been studying at home online, but has become increasingly aware of the impact of Covid-19 on the city's poorest people who come knocking on her door for food donations. She also fears for the health of her father who works in a hospital. At the same time, she is keen to keep her young people's group active, promoting education and independence for women in her community.
20/04/2127m 41s

Dance divas: 1978-1988

We meet Yvonne Turner, Rebecca Mackenzie, Carol Cooper, Gail Sky King and Sharon White who were all Paradise Garage regulars from its opening in the late 70s. We follow their first steps in the music business, after the death of disco. But in a cut-throat music industry, many women, including Martha, had to fight to get proper credit for their work and recognition for their achievements is long overdue. Now in their 60s, we follow their remarkable stories over several decades, as underground dance music evolved from disco into house, striving for success in an environment which was often hostile to women.
17/04/2149m 41s

Dance divas: 1978-1988

Meet the pioneering women DJs, producers, vocalists and remixers who were part of the New York underground dance scene from disco onwards. Presented by the Queen of Clubland herself, Martha Wash, whose vocals feature on 12 number one Billboard Dance chart hits to date. All the women are linked by one nightclub, the Paradise Garage, which alongside underground clubs in Chicago and Detroit would help lay the foundation for modern dance music. Underground DJ's, clubs, and producers were not only important in breaking mainstream hits, they were also a safe haven for LGBTQ+ People of Colour. We meet Yvonne Turner, Rebecca Mackenzie, Carol Cooper, Gail Sky King and Sharon White, who were all Paradise Garage regulars from its opening in the late 70s. We follow their first steps in the music business, after the death of disco. In a cut-throat music industry, many women, including Martha, had to fight to get proper credit for their work, and recognition for their achievements is long overdue. Now in their 60s, we follow their remarkable stories over several decades, as underground dance music evolved from disco into house, striving for success in an environment which was often hostile to women. At the same time, the NYC underground scene was hit by the Aids crisis, gentrification, and the rise of hip-hop. Presenter: Martha Wash Producer: Victoria Ferran
17/04/2149m 41s

Coronavirus: Surviving isolation

The pandemic has caused many people to feel lonely and isolated. For three women, the isolation is as a result of travelling and having to quarantine in hotels on arrival - Michelle in Australia, Amanda in Indonesia and Charlotte in New Zealand. They tell host Nuala McGovern how they are passing the time and share recommendations. It’s not just people living alone who can feel isolated, of course, and three single parents from the Philippines, the United States and the UK share their experiences - both the highs and lows - of living with their children 24/7. For theatre artist Floyd in Manila, it has resulted in singing regularly with his ten year old son.
17/04/2123m 37s

The day I met Prince Philip

Over his seven decades of service to Queen Elizabeth the Second, to the United Kingdom, her 15 other realms, and to the Commonwealth, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, met many millions of people. They all have stories to tell about those meetings and in this special programme Winifred Robinson hears some of them. The stories reflect on the Prince’s many passions, the charities he was involved with, his commitment to individuals and causes and also his support for the Queen and the Commonwealth. We also hear about his sharp wit and sense of humour.
17/04/2148m 34s

Sexual healing in the Israeli military

Soldiers returning from the line of duty with injuries affecting sexual performance are universal to all militaries around the world, but Israeli psychologist Dr Ronit Aloni set about making hers the only nation that offers a unique therapeutic approach to restoring the sexuality of their troops as a matter of course: surrogate partner therapy (SPT), or sexual surrogacy. After studying the niche treatment in the US in the early nineties, Dr Aloni conducted studies, lobbied the government and met with religious leaders in order to make this therapy, considered fringe and often taboo in other nations, available to those who need it via Ministry of Defense funding. But why is Israel alone in this? The therapy is best described as traditional psychotherapy combined with intimate sexual therapy with a surrogate lover, in every form that can mean, and it was Dr Aloni’s dogged belief in its life-changing benefits for her clients that caused her to pursue provision for the troops. For Assignment, Yolande Knell tells the story of that policy through Dr Aloni’s work and her Tel Aviv clinic, the work of surrogate partner Seraphina, and two military veterans who have accessed the service: one of the first to be offered it on the Defense Ministry’s time in the late nineties, and one a conscripted young man paralysed by his injuries who after years of begging for death, says the therapy “restored his humanity.” Producer: Philip Marzouk Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Hand being held in a gesture of comfort. Credit: PeopleImages via Getty)
15/04/2126m 28s

Don't log off: My life, my world

Alan Dein follows 25-year-old entrepreneur Fahad in Dhaka, Bangladesh who has to deal with the pressures of running multiple businesses during the pandemic – and has over 200 employees depending on him for their livelihoods.
13/04/2127m 5s

Coronavirus: Loss of smell and taste

The loss of smell and taste is now considered one of the major symptoms of Covid-19 and it can have a huge impact on people’s lives - especially when these senses do not return after someone has recovered from the disease. Host Nuala McGovern hears from people in Costa Rica, the US and the UK about how it has affected their lives - from coffee that has become too pungent to drink and steak that tastes metallic - to being unable to smell fresh paint or the natural scent of a child.
10/04/2123m 40s

The other caliphate

For five brutal months in 2017 the black flag of so-called Islamic State fluttered over a captured city, and thousands of lives were destroyed. But rather than Iraq or Syria, this was a reality in Marawi, in the Philippines. Anna Foster travels to the heart of a devastated community - still off-limits to most - where ruined buildings cut through with shrapnel and bullet-holes are all that’s left of a once-thriving city.
10/04/2150m 17s

HRH Prince Philip: A celebration of a life

Buckingham Palace has announced the death of Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. He was 99 years old. Tuppence Middleton presents a celebration of his life, and looks back through the BBC archive to find out more about the projects and causes to which he was dedicated.
10/04/2149m 27s

HRH Prince Philip: Links with the armed forces

Jonny Dymond looks back at Prince Philip's links with the armed forces, and his time as an officer in the Royal Navy. He tells the story of the Duke of Edinburgh's lifelong love of the sea, and his service during World War Two.
10/04/2126m 28s

HRH Prince Philip: His work with charity

Kate Humble looks at the impact Prince Philip made on the world through his work with international charities. She learns how the Duke of Edinburgh's Award championed youth achievement, and how he promoted conservation of the environment through his work with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.
10/04/2126m 28s

The life of Prince Philip

Buckingham Palace has announced the death of Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. He was 99 years old. Edward Stourton tells the story of his life.
10/04/2149m 28s

Denmark: Goodbye to mink

Can Denmark's mink industry rise again? Denmark was the world's top producer of mink for the luxury market. Last year a coronavirus variant was found in the animals, and transmitted to people. There was a fear the variant - Cluster 5 - might interfere with the efficacy of any vaccine developed for humans. So in November, the Danish government ordered a cull of all 17 million farmed mink. But questions have continued to be asked about the decision to effectively end production. Was it driven by an anti-fur, political agenda? Was the science reliable? For Assignment Linda Pressly and Danish journalist, Rikke Bolander, meet some of those with skin in the game. What are the chances of a revival of Denmark's mink business? Producers/presenters: Linda Pressly and Rikke Bolander Editor, Bridget Harney (Image: A mink in a cage on a Danish fur farm. Credit: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)
08/04/2127m 53s

Don’t log off: My life, my world

Alan Dein follows Margaret in Uganda, who cares for nine children orphaned by Aids and who has HIV herself. Told through interviews and her own smartphone recordings, it’s an inspiring story of hope and resilience as Margaret deals with lockdown and the loss of loved ones.
06/04/2127m 9s

Coronavirus: Brazilian doctors

Brazil's health service has been pushed to the brink as coronavirus cases continue to climb. Some 66,570 people died of Covid-19 in March, more than double the previous monthly record, and the total number of Covid-19 related deaths is over 320,000. Yet President Jair Bolsonaro continues to oppose lockdowns and has been heavily criticised for his handling of the pandemic. There have also been problems with the rollout of Covid vaccines. Two Brazilian doctors, in Sao Paolo and the southern city of Porto Alegre, share their experiences during these challenging times.
03/04/2123m 39s

Namibia: The price of genocide

More than a century after its brutal colonisation of Namibia, including what it now accepts was the genocide of the Herero and Nama peoples, Germany is negotiating with the country’s government to heal the wounds of the past. The eventual deal may set a precedent for what other nations expect from former colonisers. But how do you make up for the destruction of entire societies? Germany has agreed to apologise - but Namibia also wants some form of material compensation. What should that be, and who should benefit? Namibians are now divided about how the talks are being conducted - and some in the country’s German-speaking minority, descendants of the original colonists, question the very idea of compensation. Tim Whewell travels to Namibia to ask how far full reconciliation - with Germany, and within the country - is possible. Producer and presenter: Tim Whewell Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Laidlaw Peringanda at the Swakopmund Genocide Memorial. Credit: Tim Whewell/BBC)
01/04/2126m 28s

Women dying for work

Karoshi, or death from overwork, has been common in Japan for decades. It is often seen as part of ‘salary man’ culture where men commit themselves above all else to their employer. However little is ever said about women who die from Karoshi. Now the plight of women is coming more into focus following high profile deaths and signs more women are suffering. Yoshie Matsumoto examines how an overwork culture is affecting women in Japan. It is not just about climbing the corporate ladder but also about upholding traditions, including managing the home, prioritising male domestic needs and rearing children responsibly. If you have been affected by the issues in this programme, there is information at
30/03/2127m 11s

The coronavirus and your money

After a year of lockdowns and Covid restrictions, Manuela Saragosa and Devina Gupta take a global look at jobs, pay and financial wellbeing. They look at the support packages from governments around the world and revisit some of those who spoke to the programme a year ago. How have they fared in the past 12 months?
28/03/2150m 15s

Joe Biden's border challenge

As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden promised a more humane approach to migration on the US-Mexico border. But right now, more than 17,000 unaccompanied children are being held in migration facilities. Ros Atkins considers the challenge facing the Biden administration (Photo: Dareli Matamoros, a girl from Honduras, holds a sign asking President Biden to let her in during a migrant demonstration demanding clearer United States migration policies.
27/03/219m 39s

Coronavirus: Homelessness

The coronavirus has changed almost everyone’s lives and for some losing their jobs has led to homelessness. Edward in the United States had to sleep in the New York subway and train stations before finding help from a mission, while Walter spent five months homeless in South Africa - even for a stint, on the famous Table Mountain. Host Nuala McGovern also hears how families in Rome are approaching the renewed restrictions. Nuala also considers the future workplace and how the pandemic has been good for robots.
27/03/2123m 38s

Shipping’s dirty secret

The shipping industry is worth millions to the world economy and we depend on it for most of our goods. Assignment lifts the lid on the dangerous and polluting world of shipbreaking and investigates why ships once owned by UK companies end their lives on beaches in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. (Image: Bangladeshi labourers and docked ships at a shipbreaking yard. Credit: Farjana Khan Godhuly/AFP via Getty Images)
25/03/2126m 28s

A constitutional conversation

How do you solve a problem like America? A land where speech is free - but hate rules the airwaves. A land of opportunity - where 40 million people live in poverty. A land of democracy - where the majority of Americans are under-represented in national government. Award winning journalist Brian Palmer asks if the near sacred text is fit for modern governance. Does the electoral college deliver adequate representation for everybody? Is the Constitution key to solving America’s ills?
23/03/2127m 7s

World of wisdom: Love

Eckhart Tolle, Dr Shefali Tsabary and Sister Dang Nghiem offer advice to members of the public from across the world as they respond to the challenge of the pandemic. In a series of intimate pone explore more life-lessons in this series of two programmes. In a series of intimate one to one conversations presented by the BBC’s Nuala McGovern, for the BBC World Service Festival they explore life-lesson on recovering from trauma, coping with kids in lockdown, personal growth after bereavement and learning to love yourself.
21/03/2150m 19s

World of wisdom: Breathe

Eckhart Tolle, Dr Shefali Tsabary and Sister Dang Nghiem offer advice to members of the public from across the world as they explore life-lessons in this series of two programmes. The last year has brought challenges like no other year, leading to dramatic personal changes all over the world. People struggle to endure the restrictions, or to cope with grief, or perhaps they wonder suddenly see their life in a new way. In a series of intimate conversations presented by Nuala McGovern, people ask for guidance on anxiety, recovering from illness, children’s screen dependence and how to learn from lockdown.
20/03/2150m 17s

What happened with the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Some of the European Union's biggest nations have restarted their roll-out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after the medicines regulator concluded it was safe and effective. Ros Atkins considers how a vaccine initially hailed as a "gamechanger", has ended up in the middle of a scientific and political storm.
20/03/219m 40s

Coronavirus: Reporting Covid-19

During the last year hundreds of people across the globe have shared their experiences on the programme about living during a pandemic. This time, we view this challenging situation through a journalist’s lens. Reporters from India, Brazil, the United States, Italy, South Africa, Rwanda and New Zealand share, with host Nuala McGovern, what it’s like to work on possibly the most important story of their careers. They reveal the difficulties of obtaining accurate information, the influence of governments, and how they now deal with misinformation.
20/03/2150m 11s

Scotland's contested identity

For over three hundred years the union of England and Scotland has held firm through war and poverty but in recent years some people north of the border have asked for a divorce. Elections in May to Scotland’s devolved parliament could return a majority for the ruling Scottish National Party which is seeking a mandate for a second referendum on seceding from the UK. Only seven years ago those wanting independence failed to win a poll on the issue but since then Brexit and the handling of the Covid pandemic have radicalised some voters, especially the young. For Assignment, Lucy Ash visits several communities in Scotland to hear their new arguments for and against the union, and to learn about the differing interpretations of Scottish history, identity and political culture that underpin them. From the east coast city of Dundee which voted so decisively for independence in the last referendum that it was dubbed the “Yes City” she travels to Stirling, the so-called Gateway to the Highlands. Finally, she flies to the isles of Orkney, which have vowed to become independent themselves if the rest of the country does secede from the UK – a sign that the centrifugal forces at work all over Europe could well apply to Scotland itself. Producer: Mike Gallagher Editor: Bridget Harney (Demonstrator, with a Saltire bodysuit and flag, at a Pro-Scottish Independence rally in Glasgow, 05 February 2021. The Scottish National Party has adopted the Saltire as its symbol but Unionists say they have just as much ownership of the country’s blue and white flag, also known as the St Andrew’s Cross. Credit: Reuters)
18/03/2126m 43s

What does the future hold? Covid, women and the US economy

From women in senior management positions, to women-owned start-ups, to low income families, Covid poses difficult questions about how to adapt to an uncertain future. Nada Tawfik explores some of the strategies being adopted by women in the US economy to adjust to a vastly changed economic landscape.
16/03/2127m 1s

The Royal Family’s missed chance

It has been a turbulent week for the British royal family following Harry and Meghan's explosive sit-down with Oprah Winfrey. On Thursday, Prince William said the British Royal family is not racist - in his first public response to allegations made in the US television interview, where the Duchess of Sussex claimed her husband had been asked how dark the skin of their first baby might be. Ros Atkins looks at the fallout from the interview and asks if the rift marks a missed opportunity for the Royal family?
13/03/219m 39s

Coronavirus: Resilience during a year of the pandemic

One year ago, the World Health Organisation announced that Covid-19 was spreading across different countries at such an alarming rate that it needed to be classed as a pandemic. It has been a challenging year for everyone and host Nuala McGovern shares conversations with people who perhaps don’t always receive public recognition for their work or actions. This includes one of the researchers who helped make the first vaccine to be approved for use around the world and two of the volunteers who took part in successful vaccine trials. We also hear from supermarket workers in South Africa, the US and the UK about the stress keeping shelves full while working with hundreds of customers - some of whom don’t always respect their jobs or safety during a pandemic.
13/03/2150m 14s

The disinformation dragon

Prior to the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement and the Covid 19 pandemic, China’s presence on social media was largely to promote a positive image of its country – trying to ‘change the climate’ rather than seeking to sow confusion and division. But this is changing. In this investigation for Assignment Paul Kenyon and Krassimira Twigg examine China’s new strategy of aggressively pushing disinformation on social media platforms through the use of ‘wolf warrior’ diplomats, internet bots, ‘the 50-cent army’ of loyal Chinese netizens and a longer term goal of inventing a new type of internet where authoritarian governments can control its users. Editor: Lucy Proctor (Image: Checking a smartphone, lit-up against a dark background. Credit:d3sign/Getty)
11/03/2127m 2s

The empty desk: Women, Covid and the US economy

A year ago American women out-numbered men in the workforce for the first time. Now, after a year of Covid pandemic that process has gone into reverse with more women than men leaving the workforce. Nada Tawfik hears how women are experiencing disproportionate job losses due to Covid recession and hears how working from home has changed work for many women.
09/03/2127m 0s

The Saudis and the superpower

Joe Biden promised to be tough on Saudi Arabia. But this week, he stopped short of punishing the kingdom's crown prince despite US intelligence holding him responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Ros Atkins looks at the President's first foreign policy test, and the Washington-Riyadh alliance.
06/03/219m 49s

Coronavirus: War and Covid trauma

We hear from two US veterans who served during the war in Vietnam about the similarities between their experiences and the trauma experienced by many during the pandemic. Covid vaccines are bringing renewed hope across the world when it comes to Covid-19 but thousands of people are continuing to die from the disease on a daily basis. The emotional toll of losing loved ones is being felt by so many around the world. Three people struggling with grief - from Bangladesh, Sweden and the United States - share their experiences.
06/03/2123m 11s

Biden's world

President Biden claims “America is back”. He plans to put diplomacy first and restore long-standing American alliances. His predecessor, President Trump, left behind a very different world from the one he greeted in 2016. Fresh crises confront the Biden Administration, including the Myanmar coup and political unrest in Russia. And climate change is now an urgent global problem. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki are tasked with repositioning America in that shifting world. Can they bring America back, to assume a leadership role in this complex new world?
04/03/2127m 14s

A year of Covid

In March 2020 the UK was gearing up to face the Covid-19 pandemic. Cases were increasing rapidly and by the end of month the country was in full lockdown with medics facing their toughest ever test. A group of doctors and nurses in intensive care units recorded audio diaries for the BBC which illustrated the true scale of the professional and personal challenge they faced. The UK was to become one of the worst hit countries for Covid-19 deaths in Europe. One year on – in the midst of a second wave - and a third lockdown - reporter Jane Deith revisits some of those doctors and nurses to find out how they are surviving the biggest challenge of their careers. Producer: Rob Cave
02/03/2127m 11s

Facebook's global power and influence

After a series of damaging scandals, many critics believe the social media giant has become too powerful and should be broken up. This week, Ros Atkins will consider Facebook's influence in Myanmar, its role in the storming of the Capitol building in Washington, and its decision to temporarily ban news in Australia.
27/02/2110m 5s

Coronavirus: Venezuela's hospitals

Venezuela’s hospitals are dealing with a pandemic at a time when the country is already in an economic crisis. Many hospitals don’t have running water and there are shortages of oxygen and other medical supplies to treat Covid patients. Two doctors in the capital Caracas share their stories with host Nuala McGovern. In the United States, more than 500,000 lives have now been lost due to Covid-19. A reverend and deacon from a baptist church in New York, at one point the epicentre of the disease, reflect on how their community is coping almost a year after the pandemic was first declared.
27/02/2124m 10s

Kenya’s unhappy doctors and nurses

All over the world, frontline health workers have paid the ultimate price during the coronavirus pandemic. But in Kenya the story of one young doctor’s heroism has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Twenty eight year-old Stephen Mogusu died from Covid 19 in December 2020, after working on an isolation ward and complaining that he lacked adequate protective clothing. Despite his vital service, he hadn’t been paid a salary for five months. Stephen’s tragedy also exposes a wider malaise in Kenya’s health provision: A corruption scandal involving overpriced masks, aprons and other protective clothing. Meanwhile, across the country, a series of on-off strikes have disrupted care, as doctors, nurses and clinicians have made sporadic protests against alleged mismanagement and a devolved power structure they say is dysfunctional. For Assignment, Lucy Ash finds out what’s ailing Kenya’s healthcare system. Producer: Michael Gallagher Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Healthcare workers light candles next to a photograph of Doctor Stephen Mogusu. Credit: Dennis Sigwe/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
25/02/2126m 43s

I am Robert Chelsea

Robert Chelsea suffered horrific burns after his stationary car was hit by a truck with a drunk driver at the wheel, in Los Angeles in 2013. He survived and went ahead with a series of demanding surgical operations at a Boston hospital in an attempt to restore his appearance. A shortage of black donors meant it was a long wait for his doctors to find even a partial match for his skin colour. The operation was a success. Although he still has difficulty speaking, he can now eat and drink without difficulty. In a moving narrative, Robert, his friends, family and doctors reflect on his remarkable journey.
23/02/2127m 34s

How the Irish shaped Britain

With migration, integration and assimilation dominating much public debate, Fergal Keane explores the profound influence, over many centuries, of the Irish in Britain. Whether it is 19th Century theatre or verse, or today’s pop culture, Irish migrants and their descendants have deeply influenced and steered the UK’s literature and arts. Fergal Keane examines the impact of the longest and biggest immigrant story in the history of the United Kingdom.
21/02/2150m 57s

Covid-19: The cost of keeping schools closed during a pandemic

With thousands of schools still closed around the world, there are increasingly urgent warnings about the impact this pandemic is having on millions of children. Ros Atkins looks at risks of reopening classrooms and the consequences of not doing so.
20/02/219m 10s

Coronavirus: Living in a refugee camp

Tasneem recently graduated from university. Like everyone else, her future is on hold because of coronavirus. But for Tasneem it is a particularly uncertain time, as she has been living in Jordan at one of the world’s largest refugee camps, since leaving Syria with her family in 2013. Host Nuala McGovern has a conversation with her and her father about life in a refugee camp during the pandemic. We also hear why Tanzania is denying its people are dying from Covid-19; and how sniffer dogs in Finland can be trained to detect the virus among passengers arriving at Helsinki airport - with unprecedented success.
20/02/2123m 8s

Drug-free in Norway?

Can Norwegians with psychosis benefit from radical, drug-free treatment? In a challenge to the foundations of western psychiatry, a handful of Norway’s mental health facilities are offering medication-free treatment to people with serious psychiatric conditions. But five years after the scheme began it is still being questioned by the health establishment. For Assignment, Lucy Proctor hears the testimony of Norwegian psychiatric patients, and the doctors who have aligned themselves on either side of the debate. Why is this happening in Norway? And how much power should people with debilitating psychosis have over their own lives? Presenter: Lucy Proctor Producer: Linda Pressly (Image: Artwork depicting a young woman, with her head in her hands. Credit: Malin Rossi)
18/02/2126m 28s

Inside the brain of Jeff Bezos

David Baker reveals the thinking and the values that made Jeff Bezos the richest man on the planet, and Amazon the most wildly successful company, even in a year when the global economy faces catastrophe. Speaking to senior colleagues within his businesses, longstanding business partners and analysts, David Baker learns the secrets to Amazon's success. As the billionaire creates a huge philanthropic foundation, the programme examines the impact of Jeff Bezos' ideas on the fight against global climate change and the exploration of the solar system, as well as his impact on the media.
16/02/2127m 38s

World Wide Waves: The sounds of community radio

We may think we live in a digital age, but only half the world is currently online. Across the globe, small radio stations bind remote communities, play a dazzling array of music, educate, entertain and empower people to make change. Cameroon’s Radio Taboo, Radio Civic Sfantu Gheorghe in the Danube Delta, Tamil Nadu’s Kadal Osai (“the sound of the ocean”), Radio Pio Doce in Bolivia and KTNN, the Voice of the Navajo Nation continue to lift their listeners' spirits up.
14/02/2151m 6s

The slow search for the origin of Covid-19

As scientists from the World Health Organisation release the findings of their latest visit to Wuhan, Ros Atkins looks at the reasons why so much remains unknown about the start of the pandemic, and the central role China is playing in shaping the investigations.
13/02/219m 10s

Coronavirus: The vaccinated

Around the world, millions of people are receiving their first dose of vaccines against Covid-19. Healthcare workers are often prioritised and today we introduce two hospital workers; a porter here in the UK and a cleaner in the US. They share their feelings about what it’s like doing a job that comes with a high risk of catching Covid-19. We also hear from two young adults in the UK. They have just received their first vaccine because they are clinically vulnerable. Meanwhile, Israel extended its vaccinations to 16-18-year-olds to enable them to return to school. We hear from two teenagers about the growing prospect of going back to some form of normality.
13/02/2123m 8s

Unmasked: Stories from the PPE frontline

Personal protective equipment like masks and gloves are the last line of defence for healthcare workers on the frontline, preventing them from getting infected by the Covid patients they care for. But how protected are the factory workers who make these products? Phil Kemp investigates claims that exhausted migrant workers in Malaysia have worked up to 12 hours a day, 29 days a month to produce the gloves so desperately needed in hospitals around the world, with some exposed to outbreaks themselves at work. Reporter: Phil Kemp Producer: Anna Meisel (Image: A worker inspects newly-made gloves. Credit: Reuters/Lim Huey Teng)
11/02/2126m 28s

Coronavirus Front Line: The search for a vaccine - part two

The medical teams at Bradford investigate the hesitancy over the Covid-19 vaccine. A team of young ambassadors is recruited to help build trust locally and medical teams follow up with those who appear reluctant for a variety of reasons. Abdul Majeed is one of those doubters, even though his uncle, Nawab Ali, has died from Covid and his father, Abdul Saboor, had been gravely ill in intensive care with Covid-19 for two months.
09/02/2126m 37s

Coronavirus: Guilty mums

Many parents are finding it hard to be a teacher and a parent at the same time during this pandemic. Two mums - Priya in India and Mputle in South Africa - share their experiences. Host Nuala McGovern also hears the urgent appeal being sent to medics to help in Portugal’s intensive care units, as the country undergoes a worrying spike in cases. “We need you,” is the message sent to one nurse, who is being drafted into ICU for the first time. Plus, three women in Germany, Australia and the United States come together to explain why the pandemic has led them to sell naked images and videos of themselves online.
06/02/2124m 15s

Trump impeachment: The Republicans' dilemma

As Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial approaches, Ros Atkins looks at the decisions that Republicans face over the former US president’s role in the storming of the Capitol and in the future of their party.
06/02/2110m 10s

Europe’s most dangerous capital

Bucharest, in Romania, is arguably Europe’s most dangerous capital city. It’s not the crime that’s the problem – it’s the buildings. Many of them don’t comply with basic laws and building regulations. Permits are regularly faked. And yet Bucharest is the most earthquake prone European capital. A serious quake would cause many of the buildings to collapse, with a potential loss of life into the thousands. Some years ago a red dot was put on a number of buildings in the city which were in danger of collapse. Nothing else has happened since. A microcosm of the problem is a type of building called ‘camine de nefamilisti’, or ‘homes for those without families’. These were built during the Ceaucescu era to temporarily house workers brought in from the countryside and people who were still single after university. The single room flats, the size of a prison cell, with a communal shower and toilet on each floor were never meant for families. But after the fall of Communism many of these ‘matchboxes’ ended up in private hands and conditions deteriorated, with whole families moved into spaces designed for a single person. Simona Rata grew up in one of these buildings. For Assignment, she returns to the ‘camine de nefamilisti’ and finds little has changed since her childhood. Reporter and producer: Simona Rata Assistant editor: John Murphy Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Abandoned building on Calea Mosilor, a busy street in the centre of Bucharest. Credit: Simona Rata/BBC)
04/02/2126m 28s

Coronavirus Front Line: The search for a vaccine

Over the last few months the race has been on to create and test a vaccine for Covid -19. Over 200 are in development and some are now licensed and given to protect some of the most vulnerable in society and those caring for them. Winifred Robinson has been alongside medical teams at a UK hospital recording as events unfold. She tracks vaccine development through the trial stages and examines what happens when it comes to eventual distribution.
02/02/2127m 43s

Compassion fatigue

Compassion fatigue has long been an issue for people in the medical and humanitarian professions. People often enter those worlds because of a desire to care, and to be compassionate towards others, but often compassion is tested to the limits. What does compassion fatigue mean for both those suffering from emotional burnout, and those on the receiving end? We hear from doctors, humanitarians, and experts who explain why compassion is a finite resource.
31/01/2150m 22s

Coronavirus: Vaccine hesitancy among ethnic minorities

Millions of people across the world are currently being vaccinated against Covid-19. Black, Asian and Latino groups have been the hardest hit by the first wave of the pandemic and yet people within these groups are more reluctant to take up the offer of the coronavirus vaccine. Two doctors in the United States and the United Kingdom counteract the misinformation and share their experiences of patients’ vaccine mistrust with host Nuala McGovern.
30/01/2123m 57s

The exiles: Hong Kong at a crossroads

Over a year ago, two young men who met over the internet as Hong Kong was gripped by months of pro-democracy protests. They shared a common interest in martial arts and a burning desire to resist China’s tightening grip on their lives. Now in the wake of a sweeping national security law, imposed by Beijing, they need to decide… are they going stay and continue to protest or flee to the United Kingdom, a country offering them a way out. In a move that infuriated China, Britain has introduced a new visa that will give 70% of its former colony’s population – 5.4m people - the right to live in the UK, and eventually become citizens. So what will they decide? Grace Tsoi, Wei Wang and Rebecca Henschke follow their story. Produced and presented by Rebecca Henschke in London and Grace Tsoi in Hong Kong Sound recordings by Wei Wang Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: A Hong Kong pro-democracy protestor who has decided to flee to the United Kingdom. Credit: BBC/Wei Wang)
28/01/2126m 28s

Donald Trump and me

In one of America’s reddest states, Idaho, local Republicans reflect on Donald Trump’s rise to the White House. What were their hopes for the most unconventional president in living history, what was gained over the past four years – and what has now been lost? Presenter Heath Druzin is a reporter with Boise State Public Radio who covers conservative politics, guns and far right movements in the American West. How are the 74 million people who voted for Donald Trump now coming to terms with the fact that the person who championed their vision of America has now been dethroned?
26/01/2127m 19s

Voices from the Ghetto

Codenamed Oyneg Shabbat (Joy of the Sabbath), a team of 'researchers' wrote and collected documents detailing life and death inside the ghetto. The secret project was conducted inside the Warsaw Ghetto during World War Two. Led by the historian, Emanuel Ringelblum, the archive included surveys on schooling, smuggling, the life of the streets, the bitter jokes, the price of bread. Members of the project gathered posters, songs, newspapers, pamphlets and even tram tickets that together convey the essence of the Ghetto.
24/01/2154m 5s

President Biden: Call for unity

The new US President Joe Biden inherits a deeply divided country - whether by politics, race or religion. We hear from evangelical Christians in Ohio and Seattle about whether the church can support a president who’s a practising Catholic and about the rifts within their faith. Nuala McGovern also hosts conversations with a Republican couple in Nevada and with Black Lives Matter supporters in Kentucky and North Carolina about the challenges that lie ahead for the Biden presidency.
23/01/2124m 18s

Lisa Montgomery: The road to execution

Lisa Montgomery’s crime was an especially abominable murder: In 2004 in the small mid-West American town of Skidmore, she strangled an expectant mother, Bobbie Jo Stinnett. She then cut open her victim’s womb and kidnapped her baby, who survived the ordeal. Her lawyers argued that she was mentally ill at the time – as a consequence of appalling abuse she had suffered in childhood, including gang rape and torture. They said she was also brain-damaged and delusional. Nevertheless, in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency, she paid for her actions with her own life - the first female to be executed by the US federal government in almost seven decades. As a new President assumes office, promising reform of America’s criminal justice system, Hilary Andersson charts the story of this unsettling case, from Lisa Montgomery’s tragic beginnings to her final moments, and finds a nation deeply divided over the issue. Warning: Disturbing content Producer: Michael Gallagher Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Lisa Montgomery. Credit: Wyandotte County Sheriff / via EPA)
21/01/2126m 28s

President-elect Joe Biden

On Wednesday, 20 January Joe Biden will be sworn in as America’s 46th president of the United States, after scoring a record-breaking victory on his third attempt at winning the White House. After 36 years in the Senate, and Barack Obama’s VP for eight more, Joe Biden is Washington Man epitomised – though has always presented himself as the common man. BBC special correspondent James Naughtie charts Joe Biden’s blue-collar roots and political career, and asks what can he and the Democratic Party offer America, following one of the most divisive periods in American history.
19/01/2127m 46s

My viral video and me

Colm Flynn tracks down the internet's original viral video superstars and reveals how becoming an online sensation changed their life. So many people spend their time chasing the allure of fame, however, very few ever reach the level of world-wide recognition that viral phenomena obtain almost overnight. Colm tracks down the people he watched online growing up, to find out what happened to them after their initial viral fame faded.
17/01/2150m 33s

Coronavirus: Young widows

Each Covid-19 death has a tremendous personal impact on loved ones. Host Nuala McGovern talks to three women who have lost their husbands to the disease. Their Facebook group 'Young Widows and Widowers of Covid-19’ is supporting others in the same situation. They call it “the club that nobody wants to join”. We also hear from three people in South Africa, Australia and the US who share the unexpected social consequences - both positive and negative - of wearing face masks when you have a facial disfigurement or difference.
16/01/2123m 58s

Social influencers and the perfect body

In the age of social media and the selfie, the perfect look is everything. That's what online influencers tell their followers. Some are also happy to provide a 'how-to’ guide to obtaining the perfect body through cosmetic surgery. Often though, they are cashing in – taking payment and perks to promote certain clinics – and not always declaring the fact. Those who read their reviews and watch their videos can easily be misled into thinking that their recommendations are impartial. What’s more, the surgical procedures that influencers push can be risky or even downright dangerous. For Assignment, Joice Etutu hears from women whose lives have been changed after booking surgery in Turkey through one clinic where procedures have gone wrong – and where influencers themselves regret ever getting involved. Producer: Kate West Reporter: Joice Etutu Editor: Gail Champion (Image: Plastic surgeon marking a woman’s body for plastic surgery. Credit: Getty Images)
14/01/2126m 28s

The digital human: Sacred

Sacred objects and places are often imbued with memories - memories we cherish, which define who we are. Aleks Krotoski asks if technology can be a conduit for sacredness and give us a greater understanding of our relationship with the sacred.
13/01/2126m 34s

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

The California senator has made history in three ways – as the first woman, first black person and first person of Indian origin to be elected as vice president. Many observers believe she will be one of the most influential vice presidents in recent history. But what makes Kamala Harris tick? Mark Coles presents a profile of a leader who has been praised for her determination to address social injustice – but has also faced criticism for her sometimes tough policies on law and order.
12/01/2127m 26s

Coronavirus: Intensive care

As vaccines begin to be administered in several countries, many places are experiencing worrying rises in cases and deaths from Covid-19. One effect is that hospitals have to try and cope with the increasing number of patients. Host Nuala McGovern hears from three doctors working in ICUs in South Africa, Brazil and the United States on the stressful frontline of intensive care.
09/01/2123m 47s

Libya's Brothers from Hell

Amid the anarchy of post-Revolution Libya, seven brothers from an obscure background gradually took over their home town near Tripoli. They're accused of murdering entire families to instill fear and to build power and wealth. They created their own militia which threw in its lot, at different times, with various forces in Libya's ongoing conflict. And they grew rich by levying taxes on the human and fuel traffickers crossing their territory. Now, the full horror of their reign of terror is being exposed: since they were driven out in June, more and more mass graves are being discovered. The Libyan authorities - and the International Criminal Court - are investigating what happened. But the four surviving Kani brothers have fled. Will they ever face justice? And what does their story tell us about why the 2011 overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi brought not democracy, but chaos, to Libya? Tim Whewell reports. Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: A defaced mural depicting Mohsen al-Kani in the town of Tarhuna. Credit: Mahmud Turkia/AFP via Getty Images)
07/01/2126m 34s

The Digital Human: Ghoul

Violent content online has rightly been condemned, yet while we criticise those facilitating the supply we rarely talk about the demand. Aleks Krotoski asks who views it and why.
06/01/2127m 11s

Donald Trump: The political record

What is Donald Trump’s political and policy legacy? Nada Tawfik explores how four years of the Trump presidency has challenged US policy conventions and re-written the narrative of American political discourse. The audio for this podcast was updated on 8 January 2021.
05/01/2126m 38s

Donald Trump: The man

Donald Trump was the businessman and TV show host who became the 45th President of the United States, with huge power and resources at his fingertips. Rob Watson tells the life story of one of the most extraordinary people to occupy the Oval Office.
05/01/2126m 36s

Coronavirus: Forgotten voices

Host Nuala McGovern checks in with two so-called Covid-19 ''long-haulers'', who are still enduring symptoms several months after catching the disease. We also hear from residents living in some of the world’s poorest communities in Kenya, India and Brazil, and a parent living in Chile who is bringing up a child with autism. Three mothers from three different countries also speak to Nuala again. They faced the daunting prospect of giving birth in 2020, as medical staff were under pressure due to the virus. The women reflect on their birth experiences, the first few months with their new babies and how the current situation has left them feeling more isolated. Thanks to BBC OS Conversations, they have now formed their own virtual support group
02/01/2124m 13s

BBC correspondents' look ahead

There were times in 2020 when the world felt like an out of control carousel and we could all have been forgiven for just wanting to get off and to wait for normality to return. But will 2021 be any less dramatic? Joe Biden will be inaugurated in January but will Donald Trump have left the White House by then? And vaccines are promised to help tackle the Covid19 pandemic but how successful will they be and how do global leaders go about trying to repair the economic damage the virus has caused? So many big questions but luckily we have some big hitters to provide plenty of answers. Presenter: Lyse Doucet Panel: Anne Soy, Gabriel Gatehouse, Larry Madowo, Vincent Ni and Yogita Limaye Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Ravin Sampat
01/01/2150m 27s

Breakthrough: The race for the Covid vaccine

Dr Kevin Fong talks to the people who have seemingly achieved the impossible and created a coronavirus vaccine in a matter of months. Speaking to the scientists who’ve spent the past 12 months with the eyes of the world on them, Kevin wants to know how they tackled the science and what are the biggest barriers they’ve faced. There have been tensions along the way between science and politics, science and morality. But through it all, do we enter a new year with our faith in science been renewed?
01/01/2150m 46s

Searching for Wisdom in Lagos

A young woman is desperately searching for her brother in Lagos. On the night of 20th October, Nigerian soldiers opened fire at a peaceful demonstration camped at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos. The government say they fired into the air, but witnesses insist that unarmed protesters came under deliberate attack. Amnesty International says that 12 people died. The incident has traumatised a highly popular political reform movement that began as a demand to close down the S.A.R.S., a notoriously corrupt and brutal police squad. In the aftermath, many of the movement’s young supporters are keeping a low profile. Some have had their bank accounts frozen and passports seized. Others have even fled overseas, in fear of their lives. The BBC’s Nigeria correspondent Mayeni Jones has been talking to some of them, including a witness to the Lekki shooting, and Peace, who is tirelessly searching for her brother, Wisdom, who is still missing after attending the demonstration. Mayeni finds a country whose traditionally deferential society and elderly leadership seem suddenly vulnerable; shaken by a perfect storm of youthful idealism, social media activism, and the crippling economic fallout of the Covid pandemic. Producers: Naomi Scherbel-Ball & Michael Gallagher With additional research by Jonelle Awomoyi Editor: Bridget Harney
31/12/2026m 28s

The Digital Human: Subservience

Aleks Krotoski finds out if how we treat our subservient robots impacts how we treat one another. As with any new invention, domestic robots illuminate issues within human society that we may not have noticed before. Are we projecting old social norms of hierarchy and gender onto this new technology?
30/12/2027m 43s

The Hindu bard

In 1914 a 19-year-old Indian student caused a sensation when she was awarded the top prize - the bardic chair - at the 1914 University College of Wales Eisteddfod held in Aberystwyth. All the entries in the prestigious Welsh language and literature contest were submitted under pseudonyms. When the winner was awarded to "Shita", for an ode written in English, Dorothy Bonarjee revealed herself as the author, and received a "deafening ovation". It was the first time ever that the competition had been won by a non-European, or even by a woman.
29/12/2035m 51s

Revolution of the senses

Four radio producers present intimate stories of people across Europe, revealing the effect of Covid 19 on their experience of touch, sight, sound, smell and taste. In a year where movement was restricted, physical contact was prevented (or fraught with risk) and screens mediated our social interactions, our new conditions for living have created new relationships with our senses. From Italy, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Scotland and beyond, we hear individuals and communities as they try to make sense of these new circumstances, and to rebuild and redefine their relationship with the external world and the people in it.
27/12/2050m 37s

Coronavirus: Surviving the pandemic

After hearing so many incredibly moving stories since the pandemic was first declared, we’ve decided to return to some of those people to hear how their lives have changed - from two residents in Wuhan, China - to the English couple who had a lockdown wedding and decided to ‘elope’ to save guests from getting the virus. Two women in Canada and the United States share how they’ve been faring without human contact and how appearing on BBC OS produced the start of a blossoming friendship. Host Nuala McGovern also talks to two chaplains who share their experiences of the meaning and purpose of life and how to grasp small moments of joy.
26/12/2024m 28s


In April 2015, more than 1000 refugees and migrants drowned when the old fishing boat they were travelling on sank in the Mediterranean. It was the area's worst shipwreck since World War Two. But the people who died are not forgotten. Not by their families and friends, and not by a professor of forensic pathology at the University of Milan. “There’s a body that needs to be identified, you identify it. This is the first commandment of forensic medicine,” says Dr Cristina Cattaneo. Assignment tells the story of the raising of the fishing boat from the Mediterranean's seabed, and Dr Cattaneo's efforts to begin to identify the people who lost their lives on that moonless night on the edge of Europe. Producer/presenter: Linda Pressly (Image: Ibrahima Senghor, a survivor of the tragedy of 18 April, 2015 - he was prevented from boarding the boat in Libya. Credit: Ibrahima Senghor)
24/12/2027m 11s

The Digital Human: Messiah

Why do so many of us treat Silicon Valley billionaires like our new messiahs? For some, people like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and engineer Elon Musk are the charismatic high priests for this new dark age. But how did we get to this point? And where will our adoration for technologies and those who create them lead us?
23/12/2027m 55s

Warrior elephant guardians

In a remote part of Northern Kenya, former Samburu warriors have become elephant keepers, rescuing and raising baby elephants in what’s thought to be Africa’s first community owned and run elephant sanctuary. At Reteti Elephant Sanctuary they rescue baby elephants that have been injured, orphaned or abandoned. They look after them, rehabilitate them and release them back to the wild. It is transforming the way local communities relate to elephants, and is a catalyst for peace, bringing tribes together from all over Northern Kenya, that normally fight over land and resources.
22/12/2027m 57s

Coronavirus: Spikes and Santas

We are in the biggest holiday season for large parts of the world but many countries are experiencing a rise in Covid cases. It’s worrying for those in South Korea's capital Seoul, where around half the country’s 52 million population live. So far there has not been a national lockdown, but this may be about to change as the authorities deal with a third spike in cases. Since around one in three South Koreans are Christians, Christmas will bring potential risks. Host Nuala McGovern hears from three people who live in South Korea about their experiences during the pandemic. Also, ski instructors in Europe discuss the uncertainty of resort closures during the winter season. And three Santas from Finland, the UK and the United States discuss how they are safely dispensing Christmas cheer during a pandemic.
19/12/2024m 8s

Darfur: A precarious peace

After 17 years of conflict costing 300,000 lives, a peace agreement offers new hope to Sudan’s troubled Darfur region. It comes as UNAMID, the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force, prepares to finally pull out at the end of December. But with nearly two million displaced people still living in camps and some armed groups yet to sign the agreement, who will protect civilians if the peace fails? For Assignment, Mike Thomson gains rare access to Darfur to hear the stories of those still living with deep uncertainty. Producer: Bob Howard Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: UN peacekeepers on patrol in Darfur, Sudan. Credit: Bob Howard/BBC)
17/12/2026m 28s

Don't Log Off: Opportunity

Alan hears stories from people who’ve transformed their lives and are helping others to do the same against the backdrop of the pandemic. He speaks to Alhaji in Sierra Leone who’s building a house for his parents from the money he’s earned working in the United States. He hears from Tiffany in India who helps visually impaired people become more independent, after her own challenging childhood. Alan also connects with Al in the United States who aims to inspire young people in a tough area of Chicago. And he catches up with Ibrahim who, at the start of the pandemic, was homeless on the streets of Athens.
16/12/2027m 36s

Coronavirus: Vaccines, frustrations and hope

Two doctors in Nairobi tell host Nuala McGovern why conditions for health workers in Nairobi are leading to calls for a strike. They include rising death rates, unpaid salaries and lack of a comprehensive medical insurance. We’ll also hear from two members of US President-elect Joe Biden’s Covid task force about combatting vaccine hesitancy after the United States recorded the highest daily death toll in the world so far. And as vaccines make people think about a possible return to normality, we hear from those who have had to move in with their parents during the pandemic
12/12/2024m 1s

Syria's soldiers of fortune

The bitter war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasian region of Nagorno Karabakh may have come to an end, but the business of fighting may continue for at least some of its combatants. There’s growing evidence that hundreds of soldiers in this war were mercenaries recruited from mostly rebel-held regions in northern Syria - even though that's strongly denied by Azerbaijan. In this week’s Assignment Ed Butler hears testimony from a number of young Syrians, who say they fought in a war which in most cases they didn't realise they were signing up for. Some speak of shame at having to work this way – a symptom of the increasing economic desperation that's affecting the embattled regions of northern Syria where they live. Produced and presented by Ed Butler. (Image: Men in the same fatigues as SNA fighters photographed in Azerbaijan stand in front of a border sign written in Armenian, Russian and English. Credit: Telegram channel of Jarablus News)
10/12/2027m 13s

Don't log off: Grounded

Alan Dein searches for the nspiring and moving stories of how the pandemic has changed people's lives on every continent. Today, airline pilot Peter in Australia talks about deciding to become a bus driver after the pandemic forced him to stop flying. And wedding planner Vithika in India discusses the dramatic impact of the pandemic on her industry. Plus, Chun Wing, a ballet dancer at the Paris Opera shares the frustrations of not being able to perform. Alan also speaks to Shira who lives in an orthodox community in Israel and he catches up with doctor Ahmed in Sudan who’s just made a major life decision.
09/12/2027m 37s

Belarus across the barricades - part two

For 100 days and counting protesters are calling for an end to the 26-year long rule of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. Poet Valzhyna Mort records first-hand stories from her friends who are out protesting week after week; ordinary people making extraordinary choices. Obsessively, she reads the social media posts flooding her phone. In her hands, these tiny messages are poetry themselves, the oral history of our time captured on thousands of phones
08/12/2027m 29s

Back down to Earth

Since November 2000, humans have been living in space on the International Space Station (ISS). Although the ISS is a remarkable engineering achievement, human space exploration has proven dangerous and costly. There is no air, gravity or food, and water has to be recycled from sweat, stale breath and urine. As we return to the Moon and aim for Mars, some argue that space colonisation is also immoral, psychologically and socially damaging and unnecessarily expensive. Beatriz De La Pava talks to astronauts, anthropologists, scientists, doctors and philosophers to investigate if it is time to abandon the dream of human space travel and come back down to Earth.
05/12/2050m 16s

Coronavirus: Vaccine approved

Nuala McGovern talks to Kerry. She has muscular dystrophy and has been shielding, or isolating, at home in England since March. We also hear from Dr Joseph Varon, Chief of Critical Care at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas. He has been working without a break for 258 days. A photo of him cradling an elderly man on a Covid ward went viral this week. He explains the picture and shares his experiences of working non-stop due to the virus. Joe Biden has this week called on Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days as US president. Nuala also talks to two campaigners in the US who are sceptical of face coverings and other coronavirus restrictions.
05/12/2024m 1s

Me and my trolls

Internet trolls are harassing and bullying people like never before. That’s according to research carried out in the UK which found abuse rising as the world spends more and more time online thanks to the Covid pandemic. But who are the people behind these often anonymous attacks? How do they get involved in persecuting people they don’t even know? And what can their victims do about it? British Journalist, Sali Hughes, has been a target herself. In this edition of Assignment, she sets out to discover how trolls justify their actions, and what motivates them. She speaks to other women who have suffered online abuse and hears about the devastating impact it can have. And, she goes face to face with one of her own former tormentors to make a sobering discovery: those provoking conflict in cyberspace include the most normal people in real life. Producer: Paul Grant (Image: Anonymous internet-user in a mask. Credit: Peter Dazeley/Getty)
03/12/2026m 28s

The state of the planet

Ahead of a crucial year in the battle to control climate change, presenter Lucy Hockings is joined by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. He is warning that "our planet is broken". We'll hear a live discussion as he answers questions from activists around the world and talks solutions to the problems we face.
02/12/2053m 0s

Don't Log Off: Searching for hope

Alan Dein searches for the stories that connect us in a changed world. Inspiring and moving stories of how the pandemic has changed people's lives on every continent. Today, Liana in Armenia celebrates her 30th birthday as her country finds itself at war with Azerbaijan - as well as Covid-19. We also catch up with 25-year-old entrepreneur Fahad in Bangladesh, who Alan first spoke to in March when it looked like he might lose his hard-earned fortune. Plus, Ugandan midwife Marion faces the toughest year of her career and Fish in China describes how lockdown is affecting her fellow students’ mental health
02/12/2027m 31s

Belarus across the barricades - part one

Lucy Ash explores the world of the security forces that keep Lukashenko in power, peeling back the ubiquitous balaclavas to find the men and women beneath. Minsk, early December. A wall of masked men in black body armour, beating their truncheons on steel shields. In front of them stand women bundled in winter coats and teenagers wrapped in red and white flags. They are singing a protest song once heard in the revolutionary shipyards of Gdansk a generation before - an anthem for democracy and change.
01/12/2027m 31s

100 Women: Women in power

Mary Ann Sieghart asks what it takes to be a powerful woman and what holds so many back. Sexism, appearance and encouraging fathers are all up for discussion as Mary Ann talks to former Prime Ministers Jadranka Kosor and Julia Gillard, former Chair of the US Federal Reserve Janet Yellen, architect Yasmeen Lari, author Bernardine Evaristo and many others.
29/11/2049m 34s

Coronavirus: Festive celebrations

The arrival of winter for many countries brings the threat of increased infections as people gather indoors to escape the cold. It’s also a time for celebrating religious festivals and holidays. Host Nuala McGovern shares conversations with an American family in Indiana about Thanksgiving, and two young women in Gaza relate their experiences of curfew during the pandemic. Plus, three people living in Japan discuss why they think cases are rising, the implications for Japanese New Year and whether the Olympics should still go ahead in 2021.
28/11/2023m 59s

The Mapuche – fighting for their right to heal

The Mapuche are Chile’s largest indigenous group – a population of more than 2 million people. And, they are fighting for their right to heal. They want Chileans to value their unique approach to healthcare and give them control of land and their own destiny. But, it’s a tough sell when there’s so much distrust and violence between the two communities. Jane Chambers travels to their homeland in the Araucania region in the south of Chile, where she’s given rare access to traditional healers and political leaders. Presenter / producer: Jane Chambers Producer in London: Linda Pressly Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Machi Juana at her home by her sacred altar. Credit: Jane Chambers/BBC)
26/11/2026m 28s

Don't Log Off: Resilience

Throughout the pandemic Alan Dein has been hearing inspiring and moving accounts of how people’s lives have been transformed by the pandemic. Today, Alan connects with Sakie in Myanmar, who tells of a heroic 24-hour journey from his remote village in order to save his mother’s life. He also catches up with Maria Ester in Ecuador, who he first spoke to six months ago when it looked as if her family business was on the verge of collapse. Alan also connects with Mursalina in Afghanistan, Mohammed in Gaza and wildlife photographer Jahawi who describes the wonders of the underwater world.
25/11/2027m 28s

100 Women: The mushroom woman

This is the story of Chido Govera aka The Mushroom Woman. It is a story about her home, Zimbabwe. And it is also a story about mushrooms. It never should have happened. Chido, an orphan, became the provider in her family aged seven. At 10 she was destined to marry a man 30 years older than her. But a chance encounter led her to discover the almost magical science of mushroom cultivation at a local university, and set her life on a very different course.
23/11/2027m 29s

Coronavirus: Mental and physical toll

Women in Ecuador, Peru and Brazil reveal the frightening effect of the pandemic and lockdowns on women in Latin America. Many are living with their aggressors and are unable to escape to a safe place. Many countries are now dealing with a new rise in coronavirus cases. Host Nuala McGovern hears from medical professionals from Madrid, Paris and New York, as they share how the stress of dealing with patients is taking its toll on the mental health of doctors, nurses and paramedics. Plus, two Swedes offer different views on how the outbreak has been handled in their country.
21/11/2024m 34s

Martinique: The poisoning of paradise

“First we were enslaved. Then we were poisoned.” That’s how many on Martinique see the history of their French Caribbean island that, to tourists, means sun, rum, and palm-fringed beaches. Slavery was abolished in 1848. But today the islanders are victims again – of a toxic pesticide called chlordecone that’s poisoned the soil and water and been linked by scientists to unusually high rates of prostate cancer. For more than 10 years chlordecone was authorised for use in banana plantations – though its harmful effects were already known. Now, more than 90% of Martinicans have traces of it in their blood. The pollution means many can't grow vegetables in their gardens - and fish caught close to the shore are too dangerous to eat. French President Emmanuel Macron has called it an ‘environmental scandal’ and said the state ‘must take responsibility’. But some activists on the island want to raise wider questions about why the pesticide was used for so long – and on an island divided between a black majority and a small white minority, it’s lost on no-one that the banana farmers who used the toxic chemical and still enjoy considerable economic power are, in many cases, descendants of the slave owners who once ran Martinique. Reporting from the island for Assignment, Tim Whewell asks how much has changed there. Is Martinique really an equal part of France? And is there equality between descendants of slaves and the descendants of their masters, even now? Produced and presented by Tim Whewell Editor, Bridget Harney (Image: Sunset on a beach in Martinique. Credit: DeAgostini/Getty Images)
19/11/2026m 28s

The five-day election

Philippa Thomas hears from voters across the United States on the agony and ecstasy of waiting for results of the unusually protracted presidential election.
18/11/2028m 2s

Obesity crisis In Thai temples

Obesity is a growing problem in Thailand. As the country becomes more affluent, its citizens are working more and cooking less which means that they are buying more convenience foods containing high levels of fat and sugar. In the Thai population at large, one in three men is obese but the numbers are worse in Thai temples where one in two Buddhist monks is obese. They eat the same food as the Thai population and they only eat in the mornings so what is the problem? Sucheera Maguire has been to Bangkok to talk to those who give and receive alms and she takes a look at some of the ingenious solutions that Thai nutritionists have come up with to combat the obesity crisis in Thai temples.
17/11/2028m 3s

Blood lands

At dusk on a warm evening in 2016, two men arrive, unexpectedly, at a remote South African farmhouse. The frenzy that follows will come to haunt a community, destroying families, turning neighbours into "traitors", prompting street protests and threats of violence, and dividing the small farming and tourist town of Parys along racial lines. Correspondent Andrew Harding has followed every twist of the police’s hunt for the killers, the betrayals that opened the door to an explosive trial, and the fortunes of all those involved – from the dead men’s families to the handful of men controversially selected for prosecution.
15/11/2050m 34s

US election: A test of democracy

Joe Biden is the projected winner of the race to be the next president of the United States. Donald Trump, however, refuses to concede the election and many of his supporters continue to believe that he will remain in power after the inauguration in January. Host Ben James shares conversations among Trump supporters in Georgia, Florida and Washington DC, who believe President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voting fraud. One of them changed from a Democrat because she felt Trump treated immigrants better. Plus women from both political sides come together to consider the impact of Kamala Harris as America’s first female Vice-President elect.
14/11/2024m 9s

The burning scar

Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of palm oil, a product found in everything from shampoo to soup; in the last two decades vast areas of forests have been cleared to make way for plantations. The remote province of Papua, home to Asia’s largest remaining rainforests has escaped fairly untouched...until now. It's the new frontier for unfair palm oil expansion. In this remote region Rebecca Henschke and Ayomi Amindoni investigate allegations of unfair land deals, violations of indigenous rights and illegal burning. (Image: Tadius Butipo, 30 years old, with his son, in a oil palm plantation. Credit: Albertus Vembrianto/BBC)
12/11/2026m 28s

India's missing children

In India, a child goes missing every eight minutes. BBC South Asia Correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan meets the family of one of those children and follows their attempts to trace their daughter. It’s a journey that takes us into the murky world of human trafficking, where children are bought and sold as commodities – forced to work long hours in factories, brothels or as domestic servants. And far from slowing the trade, the Coronavirus has fuelled demand for child labour and led to an increase in child trafficking as ‘middle-men’ target communities worst-hit by the pandemic.
10/11/2027m 40s

US election: Divided nation

The US election has amplified political and racial divisions across the nation, so how do voters feel about the splits in their society? Host Nuala McGovern is in Reno, Nevada, speaking to people across the political spectrum to hear how they feel about the vote and the state of their nation. In this election assumptions have been overturned and expectations upended. Double the number of Black voters are believed to have supported President Trump at the polls compared to 2016, and several prominent Republicans publicly declared they were voting for Joe Biden, instead of the leader of their own party. Among our conversations, we hear from three Black Trump supporters about why they voted for him, and two women from opposing sides of the political fence on the controversy surrounding the voting and counting.
07/11/2024m 12s

Sicily’s prisoner fishermen

Eighteen fishermen from Sicily are in jail in Benghazi, accused of fishing in Libya’s waters. And in this part of the Mediterranean, rich in the highly-prized and lucrative red prawn, these kinds of arrests are frequent. Usually the Libyans release the men after negotiations. This time it’s different. General Khalifa Haftar – the warlord with authority over the east of Libya – is demanding a prisoner swap: the freeing of four Libyans in jail in Sicily convicted of human trafficking and implicated in the deaths of 49 migrants, in return for the fishermen. For Assignment, Linda Pressly explores a little-known conflict in the Mediterranean - the so-called, ‘Red Prawn War’ and its fall-out. (Image: Domenico Asaro, a third generation fishermen from Mazara del Vallo who has been arrested at sea by Libya three times. Credit: BBC)
05/11/2026m 59s

Missing and murdered: America’s forgotten native girls

Native American women are trafficked, murdered and raped at five to ten times the national rate of other American women. The figures are gruelling. Each year, hundreds of girls and women go missing. Many end up dead. A complex system of tribal, state and federal law means many of these women are often failed by law enforcement when it comes to investigating their disappearances. LeAndra Nephin, from the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, tells the story of America’s forgotten native girls, and how a new generation of warrior women is fighting back against abuse. Developed from a story outline by Melissa Olson.
03/11/2027m 41s

US election: Race and policing

As the presidential election campaign nears its conclusion, another American city witnesses protests for racial justice after police officers shoot dead a black man on the streets of Philadelphia. Host Nuala McGovern shares several conversations on the prominence of race in this election campaign including two police officers from New York and Missouri and several Black Lives Matter protesters in Charlotte, North Carolina. After the presidential debates promoted controversy around white supremacy groups, we also hear the individual stories of a man and woman who joined Neo Nazi groups in the US and their fears for post-election America.
31/10/2025m 36s

Bonus podcast: Goodbye to All This

Introducing a new podcast from the BBC World Service called Goodbye to All This. It’s a powerful memoir by Australian writer Sophie Townsend, who lost her husband Russell to cancer. It’s the intimate journey of learning to navigate grief while bringing up two daughters. It reflects on life, love, loss and coming back out the other side – mostly intact. This is the first episode. You can find Goodbye to All This wherever you get your podcasts.
30/10/2022m 4s

US election: Socially distant

Ahead of the US presidential election on 3 November, two socially distanced views of the pre-election political landscape of America, explore different perspectives on key issues and themes from the last four years of the Trump presidency and a campaign curtailed by Covid-19 restrictions. Susan Glasser writes a Letter from Trump’s Washington column for the New Yorker magazine. She has been critical of the way Donald Trump has governed. Joe Borelli is a New York City Council member, a Republican who represents Staten Island. He is a regular contributor to talk radio and TV and is an outspoken critic of the Covid-19 policies of the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio and New York’s Governor Cuomo.
29/10/2028m 23s

China's rocket man

Qian Xuesen is widely celebrated in China as the father of the country’s rocket programme, and the man who kick-started its exploration of space. China is now second only to the US in terms of its dominance among the stars. But Qian also had an important part to play in the early scientific advances, before World War Two, that would eventually take the US to the moon. However, he is almost entirely forgotten by the country that nurtured his talent for decades, before anti-communist persecution sent him back to China, the land of his birth. Kavita Puri traces the rise and fall - and rise again - of an extraordinary life.
27/10/2028m 44s

Fighting together in Korea

Seventy years ago tens of thousands of North Korean troops invaded South Korea. Over the next three years one of the bloodiest conflicts of the 20th Century claimed millions of lives. On a more positive note, though, the Korean War helped precipitate social change in the United States. Following President Truman’s Executive Order 9981, the Korean conflict became the first in which US armed forces were desegregated. It was not a smooth process but it did precede civil rights advances back home where segregation was still widespread, especially in the southern states. This is the story of why President Truman, who had himself expressed clear racist views earlier in his career, took the decision to issue his executive order to desegregate the armed forces.
25/10/2051m 18s

US election: Trucking and farming

Nuala McGovern speaks with truck drivers and farmers in the United States as they share their thoughts on how their lives and livelihoods have been under the past four years of the Trump presidency. Wisconsin is known as America’s Dairyland. It’s an important state in this election, where the vote could go either way, and where more than one in ten of the electorate are farmers. Three farmers in Wisconsin explain how trade deals by the US have impacted what happens on their farms and how that affects their votes this time. And three truckers -Michael in Arizona, Pat in Indianapolis and Sunny in California - describe what they have seen driving across the country over the past four years.
24/10/2024m 29s

The British and their fish

By the middle of the 20th century, the English town of Grimsby was the biggest fishing port in the world. When the catch was good “fishermen could live like rock stars”, says Kurt Christensen who first went to sea aged 15. He was instantly addicted to a tough and dangerous life on the waves. But from the 1970s onwards, the industry went into decline. Today it contributes just a tenth of one percent to Britain’s GDP – less than Harrods, London best known department store. So how can such a tiny industry cause so much political havoc and threaten to scupper a post Brexit deal with Europe? Fishing communities have often blamed EU membership - and the foreign boats that have arrived as a result - for a steep fall in catches over the last half century. Many coastal towns voted overwhelmingly for Britain to leave the European Union. Now, Grimsby’s recently-elected Conservative MP – the first non-socialist the town has sent to Westminster in nearly 100 years - has spoken of a modern fleet and fresh opportunities. For Assignment, Lucy Ash travels to Grimsby to hear how fishing towns like this, ignored for decades by London’s political elite, now hope finally to turn a corner. She explores the huge place fishing plays in the British psyche and asks if the cold, stormy seas around Britain really can make coastal communities rich once again. Producer Mike Gallagher (Image: A trader examines a haddock at the daily Grimsby Fish Market auction. Credit: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)
22/10/2026m 54s

A perfect match

Thirteen years ago, journalist Ibby Caputo underwent a bone marrow transplant in the US to treat an aggressive form of leukaemia. Because she is of Northern European descent, she believes she had a greater chance of survival, after finding a donor who was "a perfect match." Her friend, Terika Haughton, who was Jamaican, died of transplant-related causes in 2017. Terika did not have a perfect match, and after she died, Ibby explores how much that lack of a perfect match may have played a part in her death. Through these contrasting stories, Ibby explores race and ethnic disparities in healthcare.
20/10/2028m 33s

The TikTok election

TikTok has become one of the political stories in the run up to the US elections, exposing America's distrust of China. But its users and influencers could help decide who takes the White House. Journalist Sophia Smith Galer enters the hype houses of TikTok to find out how influential it really is.
18/10/2052m 4s

The Response USA: The return

As an election approaches in America, we return to a unique experiment which took the temperature of the USA after the surprise election of Donald Trump. In 2016 the BBC World Service, in association with American Public Media, focused on areas which the media had neglected – but made all the difference. We asked for smartphone voice recordings from key areas in the middle of America about their lives now, about why they voted the way they did, and their hopes for the future. Now, in 2020, we return to those contributors to see how their lives changed in the last four years. What do they want to happen now?
17/10/2051m 13s

US election: Losing your job

Our conversations reflect the impact Covid-19 has had on the US economy and on people’s jobs and wellbeing. We hear from a cook in northern California and a PBX switchboard operator in Massachusetts, who both lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet and pay the bills. They talk about how they feel forgotten, how the social system isn’t working for them, and how the main presidential candidates are not talking to them. And we hear from three flight attendants, who all lost their jobs after an economic relief plan in Congress stalled. One of them, Breaunna Ross, posted a video of her emotional farewell to passengers on her final flight, which has been viewed more than two million times on YouTube.
17/10/2025m 22s

Reza's story

A death-defying migrant's story... Said Reza Adib was a TV journalist in Afghanistan. In 2016, about to break a story about the sexual abuse of children by Afghan men in authority, he received a threat to his life. Reza fled across the border to Iran. But journalism was in his blood, and in Iran he began to investigate sensitive stories related to the war in Syria. When Iranian authorities confiscated his laptop, he knew his life was again in danger. That same day, with his wife and two small children, he began a perilous journey to safety in Finland – an odyssey that would last four years. The family would survive shooting on the Turkish border, a voyage across the Aegean Sea on an overcrowded makeshift vessel with fake lifejackets, and then the nightmare of refugee camps in Greece. It was here that Chloe Hadjimatheou met Reza, and for Assignment she tells the story of a remarkable journalist who’s continued to ply his trade - in spite of the odds stacked against him. Producer: Linda Pressly (Image: Said Reza Adib. Credit: Sayed Ahmadzia Ebrahimi)
15/10/2027m 8s

Dyslexia: Into adulthood

Stella Sabin, who has dyslexia herself, looks at the impact of the condition in adult life, and asks what difference does it make to know the name of what you are experiencing? Dyslexic people are disproportionally represented in low paying jobs and in the US and the UK 50% of the prison population are dyslexic. She visits the intelligence and security organisation GCHQ who are positively recruiting dyslexic thinkers, who are able to find unusual and imaginative solutions to complex problems…like cracking codes.
13/10/2028m 51s

Spitfire stories

In September 1940, in two factories in Southampton, one of the most iconic planes of World War Two was being painstakingly assembled, piece by piece. This sleek and beautiful fighter, with record breaking top speeds and a deadly reputation for precision, was to be Britain’s most notorious weapon against the Nazi air invasion. But, the factory making them was about to be destroyed by devastating German bombing raids. How could the Battle of Britain be fought without the Spitfire? With the factory a smoking ruin, a plan was hatched to keep the planes coming, against some pretty extraordinary odds
11/10/2050m 59s

US election: Testing positive for Covid-19

The President of the United States is recovering from Covid-19, after a week when the world watched him leaving hospital briefly in a motorcade to wave supporters and - on his return to the White House - moving his mask on a balcony. Donald Trump then told the country there was nothing to fear from the disease. So how were his words received by the Americans across the country? Nuala McGovern hears from those in California, Iowa and Alabama who were thrilled by the president's show of strength against Covid-19 and from others less enamoured by his attitude.
10/10/2024m 21s

Portland, prisons and white supremacy - part two

The second part of this two-part documentary continues the story of Portland, Oregon and its struggle with white supremacists. Portland has a reputation as one of the United States’ most liberal and tolerant cities. Since the death of George Floyd, it has been at the forefront of protests and violence as anti-racist demonstrators and far right groups have battled with each other and with the police. Yet, in 2016, the killing of a young black man sparked a national debate about race hatred. Nineteen year old Larnell Bruce died after a white man called Russell Courtier drove his car at him. A trial for murder and a hate crime followed, and exposed a culture of white supremacy in Oregon, rooted in the state’s history and which endures today despite its easy-going image. In this two-part documentary for Assignment, Mobeen Azhar follows the trial of Russell Courtier and investigates the issues it exposed. Part Two follows Mobeen as he leaves the courtroom to meet Portland’s white supremacists and find out how they operate. He discovers that violent gangs are thriving because of the very institution meant to prevent crime – the prison system. Then, it is time for the verdict. (This programme was adapted for radio from the feature-length TV documentary, “A Black & White Killing: The Case That Shook America”, made by Expectation Entertainment.) (Photo: Prisoner being escorted by guards. Credit: BBC)
08/10/2026m 28s

Dyslexia: Language and childhood

Toby Withers who is dyslexic himself, reveals the challenges of learning English, with all its inconsistent rules and odd spellings. He talks to the subject of a ground-breaking study into bilingual dyslexic children – Alex - who is dyslexic in English but not in Japanese. From Hong Kong University he discovers how dyslexia in character-based language systems is different to dyslexia in English.
06/10/2027m 51s

US Election 2020: Trump and coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 200,000 lives in the US and there are more than 7 million confirmed cases. President Trump, whose approach to the virus divides opinion, has now himself tested positive. As Americans prepare to vote for a new president or give Donald Trump four more years, coronavirus is one of the issues that will inform voters' thinking. During the election campaign Nuala McGovern will be hearing from those Americans right across the country.
05/10/2023m 40s

Portland, prisons and white supremacy - part one

Portland, Oregon, has a reputation as one of the United States’ most liberal and tolerant cities. Since the death of George Floyd, it has been at the forefront of protests and violence as anti-racist demonstrators and far right groups have battled with each other and with the police. Yet these tensions are nothing new. In 2016, the killing of a young black man sparked a national debate about white supremacy. Nineteen year old Larnell Bruce died after a white man called Russell Courtier deliberately drove his car at him. A trial for murder and a hate crime followed, and exposed a culture of white supremacy in Oregon, rooted in the state’s history and thriving today despite its easy-going image. In this two-part documentary for Assignment, Mobeen Azhar follows the trial of Russell Courtier and investigates how the prison system has become a recruitment ground for racist gangs. Part one reveals the disturbing details of what happened to Larnell Bruce when he encountered Russell Courtier outside a convenience store in one of Portland’s most deprived neighbourhoods. Then, as the murder trial gets underway, we learn that Russell Courtier had once joined a white supremacist gang and continued to bear its insignia on his clothes, and tattooed on his body. However, new evidence emerges to suggest that the case might not be as straightforward as it first appeared. (Image: Safely behind bars? Some white prisoners have found themselves targeted by gangs. Image: Prisoner being escorted by guards. Credit: BBC)
01/10/2026m 28s

Songs of the Humpback Whale

Songs of the Humpback Whale was released in 1970 and went multi-platinum, becoming the best selling environmental album of all time. But it also became emblematic of the West’s shifting attitudes towards environmentalism, inspiring a global movement to save the whales which continues to this day. Marking the 50th anniversary of bio-acoustician Roger Payne’s unlikely smash hit, this programme considers the legacy of sounds that caught the imagination of the world. With contributions from the world of music, science and ecology, including the folk singer Judy Collins, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Willie Mackenzie, Greenlandic musician Peter Tussi Motzfeldt, marine biologist and electronic musician Sara Niksic, music writer Simon Reynolds and Roger Payne.
29/09/2027m 0s

What has Nobel done for the World?

Brilliance is a must to win a Nobel Prize, but is that the only requirement? What else does it take to become a laureate? Ruth Alexander tells the stories of those who have been overlooked – in some instances, astonishingly so. Why do some countries, and some academic institutions have a bountiful number of laureates and others none at all?
27/09/2049m 41s

Coronavirus: Back to normal in Wuhan?

What is life like now in the Chinese city where Covid-19 was first detected? Officials have declared Wuhan virus-free. Lots of people have been sharing pictures from bars in the city, which suggest life has gone back to the way it was before. Two people who live in Wuhan tell Nuala McGovern about their newly restored freedoms. In the Czech Republic, "farewell" to coronavirus parties were held at the end of June. As cases surge again, one of the organisers of that party talks about their tolerance for restrictions and how their lives have been changed. Meanwhile, people in Panama have just emerged from one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, which had one unusual feature. Men and women were allowed out of their homes on alternate days. We hear how three Panamanians feel about what they've been through and the implications for the future.
26/09/2023m 40s

Poland's gay pride and prejudice

A number of small towns in Poland have been campaigning against what they call 'homosexual ideology'. Local authorities in the provinces have passed resolutions against perceived threats such as sex education and gay rights. LGBT activists complain that they are stoking homophobia and effectively declaring ‘gay-free zones’. Both sides argue that they are protecting the universal values of free speech and justice. But the row has attracted international condemnation. The European Union has withheld funds to six of the towns involved, and some of their twinning partners in Europe have broken off ties. Meanwhile, politicians within Poland’s conservative ruling coalition stand accused of exploiting the divisions to further a reactionary social agenda. Presenter: Lucy Ash Producer: Mike Gallagher (Image: A woman wears a rainbow face mask at a pro-LGBT demonstration in Poland. Credit: European Photopress Agency/Andrzej Grygiel Poland Out)
24/09/2026m 28s

Coronavirus: Friendships during lockdown

Covid-19 is affecting our relationships - some are better, others are more challenging. A jewellery designer in India and a lawyer in the United States share their experiences and discover they have a lot in common when it comes to changing friendships and building your ‘Covid tribe’. For those wishing to meet someone special, this is an especially difficult time. Three single people from Zimbabwe and the US discuss dating during a pandemic. And an Israeli doctor airs concerns about the social effects of isolation, as the country becomes the first in the world to undergo a second national lockdown.
19/09/2023m 10s

The trouble with Dutch cows

The Netherlands - small and overcrowded - is facing fundamental questions about how to use its land, following a historic court judgment forcing the state to take more urgent action to limit nitrogen emissions. Dutch nitrogen emissions - damaging the climate and biodiversity - are the highest in Europe per capita. And though traffic and building are also partly to blame, farmers say the government is principally looking to agriculture to make the necessary reductions. They've staged a series of protests - what they call a farmers' uprising - in response to a suggestion from a leading politician that the number of farm animals in the country should be cut by half. This is meant to bring down levels of ammonia, a nitrogen compound produced by dung and urine. The proposal comes even though their cows, pigs and chickens have helped make the tiny Netherlands into the world's second biggest exporter of food. Farmers think they're being sacrificed so that the construction industry, also responsible for some nitrogen pollution, can have free rein to keep building, as the country's population, boosted by immigration, grows relentlessly. What do the Dutch want most - cows or houses? Will there be any room in the future for the ever-shrinking patches of nature? And in a hungry world, shouldn't the country concentrate on one of the things it's best at - feeding people? Tim Whewell travels through a country that must make big choices, quickly. (image: Dutch dairy farmer Erik Luiten feeds a new calf. Credit: Tim Whewell/BBC)
17/09/2026m 35s

The shepherd and the settler

Muhammad is a Bedouin shepherd in a remote corner of the West Bank called Rashash. His family has been herding sheep and goats in Rashash for 30 years and in Palestine for generations. But since Israeli settlers recently moved in nearby it has become difficult for Muhammad to graze his flock undisturbed. When producer Max Freedman visits Rashash, he sees this conflict in action. One settler tries to scatter the sheep by driving towards them in an all-terrain vehicle. Another chases after the flock on horseback. An Israeli activist tries to use his body as a human shield. After leaving Rashash, Max sets out to understand what he saw there. Presenter/reporter: Max Freedman Producer: Max Freedman, Ilana Levinson, and Emily Bell Editor: Ilana Levinson
16/09/2026m 43s

Remembering those lost to Covid-19

It is six months since the outbreak of a new coronavirus was declared a global pandemic. Very few lives around the world have not been affected by Covid-19. More than 27 million people have been infected. More than 900,000 have died with the virus and the numbers increase daily. Behind every case, there is a story. Since March, BBC OS has been hearing those stories. Presenter Nuala McGovern guides you through the personal tributes and remembers the names and the stories of those we have lost, through the words of those who love them.
11/09/2049m 15s

South Africa moonshine

Pineapple beer is the universal homebrew in South Africa and pineapple prices trebled when the government imposed a ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco during the coronavirus pandemic. South Africa has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in Africa and the government introduced the ban to ease the pressure on hospitals. With the infection rate now falling the ban has been lifted although some restrictions remain in place. Ed Butler and Vauldi Carelse have been hearing from the brewers, both legal and illegal, on the impact the ban has had on their livelihoods and on people’s health, and since the ban has ended, from those considering what lessons the nation might learn from its experiment with being ‘dry’. (Image: Barman working at a bar which has re-opened under new regulations in Val, South Africa, 07 August 2020. Credit: EPA/Kim Ludbrook)
10/09/2027m 15s

Accused of hacking the Pentagon

Seven years ago in a sleepy English village a doorbell rang. In that moment, Lauri Love’s life changed completely. Lauri was arrested at the door. He was accused of hacking into US government websites and sharing employee data as part of an Anonymous protest. He faced extradition and 99 years in US jail. That extradition request was denied seven years ago, but the allegation against him still stands. Producer Alice Homewood first met Lauri Love through friends in 2013. Alice tries to understand how her gentle friend came to be accused of one of the biggest cyber-crimes in history.
09/09/2027m 33s

Why India is mad for motorbikes

What is behind the deep-seated and increasing passion for motorcycling in India?The hosts of the podcast Biker Radio Rodcast, explore what drives the love for the two-wheeler. Sunny and Shandy travel from a republic day parade in Delhi to a biker festival in Goa, meeting motor cycle enthusiasts along the way. Through the adventures of these motorcyclists, from mass breakfast rides and long distance tours, to races against the odds and nostalgia, we learn how this generation are taking to motorcycling in their own unique way.
08/09/2027m 33s

BBC OS Conversations: Covid-free nations

Vanuatu, Micronesia and the Solomon Islands are among a handful of nations that have no registered coronavirus cases. Yet, despite this enviable status, the pandemic is introducing other problems with people suffering from economic and psychological distress. But for two couples in the United States, the pandemic has produced an unexpected positive. Chloe Tilley meets those who found love during lockdown. In Europe, the recent rise in coronavirus cases across the continent is causing some doctors to be concerned about a second wave. We share conversations with doctors in Italy and France, who are especially worried about the number of young people now being infected.
07/09/2023m 9s

Naziha Syed Ali: Pakistan’s fearless female reporter

Journalist Naziha Syed Ali has made a career out of investigating sometimes scandalous abuses of power in her native Pakistan. Publishing in the country’s main English-language daily newspaper, “Dawn”, she has reported – often undercover – on land confiscation, illegal organ harvesting and sectarian violence. Her work has prompted significant action against wrongdoers, most notably when she exposed malpractice in a major Karachi property development, resulting in a Supreme Court case and payments worth billions of dollars. Being female, she says, can help - if only because Pakistan’s patriarchal society is so sceptical about women’s ability to make an impact, which can lull male subjects into a false sense of security. Nevertheless, her job is arduous and frequently dangerous. In this interview for Assignment with Owen Bennett-Jones, she explains what drives her to work in one of the world’s toughest journalistic beats. Producer: Michael Gallagher Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Naziha Syed Ali gives an interview at a journalism conference in 2017. Credit: Glenn Chong)
03/09/2026m 28s

Rulebreakers: A beautiful prison

Greenland has been detangling its colonised relationship with Denmark since World War Two. Along the way, each state service and law needs to be rewritten. In 1948, three young Danes were sent to research and write Greenland’s first Criminal Law. They hoped they were writing a blueprint for the world’s first modern prison-less society. Instead their social experiment put the nation in a 70-year-long limbo.
02/09/2027m 29s

The Soviet Feminist Army

The Soviet women spreading ideas on women’s equality in Afghanistan They were highly trained, focused on their mission and dedicated to their goal of promoting women’s equality in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, they found women activists who had already taken up the struggle for female education and women’s rights.
01/09/2027m 28s

Coronavirus: Children with special needs

Children around the world are starting to return to school after months of absence because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nuala McGovern talks to Unathi in South Africa and Jamie in the US - both have a child with special educational needs - about the unique challenges their families have faced during this period. They are joined by Tzofia, a teacher at a special education high school in Jerusalem. We also hear a conversation with mental health professionals from the US, Canada and Sweden about how school closures have affected children.
30/08/2024m 4s

August in Minsk

August in Minsk tells the story of the popular uprising in Belarus this August; a fast-changing revolt against the Soviet-style regime of Alexander Lukashenko. He’s been in power for 26 years and claimed victory in yet another election on August 9th. We're telling the story as it happens, with Minsk reporter Ilya Kuzniatsou.
29/08/2024m 7s

Hugh Sykes: Reporting from the frontlines

Hugh Sykes has reported for the BBC since the 1970s and has travelled far and wide to witness some of the most significant events of our age. Here, in conversation with Owen Bennett-Jones, he discusses what some of those stories mean to him, and explains the journalistic values he applied to them. From the historic British coal miners’ strike of 1984-5 to the insurgency in Iraq, Sykes has faced down danger, surviving respectively an attack by angry strikers who threatened to throw him into a canal, and a roadside bomb. Yet he has always insisted on keeping his own feelings out of the story, in order to let his subjects communicate directly to listeners. Meanwhile, we hear too about his love of Iran, formed by years spent there as a child, about his preference for the medium of radio over television – and about how high spirits in the studio once nearly landed him in trouble with BBC bosses. Producer: Michael Gallagher Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Hugh Sykes files a report on location – watched by a donkey. Credit: Hugh Sykes’ collection)
27/08/2026m 28s

Rulebreakers: Veteran on the tracks

There is a secret map passed down from hobo to hobo. You can’t buy it in stores or download it online but if you’re lucky enough to get a copy you can travel anywhere in America by freight train. They call it The Crew Change Guide and it is a sacred document for those who still ride in boxcars like the hobos looking for work in the great depression. This state by state guide has grown from one man’s obsession into a network of everything you need to get from Aliceville, Alabama to Wendover, Wyoming - all for “low or no dollars”.
26/08/2027m 34s

Red State refugees

President Trump has dramatically reduced the numbers of refugees arriving in the United States, vowing to protect native-born Americans’ interests. But there’s a catch - some of the nation’s reddest communities may not survive without them. Katy Long telsl the story of one small, poor, conservative town — Cactus, Texas — where hundreds of refugees have settled, drawn by the well-paid jobs in meatpacking, shifting the demographics of the community, shaping the refugees’ perspective and saving the town from disaster. Cactus is a town which would have died altogether, taking the meatpacking plant and the jobs there with it, had it not been for these refugees. And so this story begs the question: if you drastically reduce immigration and stop refugee resettlement – as the Governor of Texas has recently announce – what happens to these towns, to the meatpacking industry, and to the idea of beef-and-oil-Texas?
25/08/2027m 37s

BBC OS Conversations: Covid-19 'long-haulers'

Thousands of people across the globe are experiencing a worrying cycle of Covid-19 symptoms months after recovering from the disease. Four of the so-called 'Covid long-haulers’ - from South Africa, Canada, Bangladesh and New Zealand - share their persistent symptoms, from dizziness to brain fog, with Nuala McGovern. Education is also a long-term concern and US parents discuss the different paths they’ve chosen for returning their children to school during a pandemic. For one teacher in Arizona, however, it resulted in a difficult decision to resign rather than return to the classroom.
23/08/2024m 25s

Barbara Demick: True stories from North Korea

North Korea and Tibet are two of the most tightly-controlled societies on earth, and as a consequence their peoples are often misunderstood by the world’s media, caricatured respectively as aggressive communists and spiritual hermits. But Barbara Demick, former Los Angeles Times correspondent in Seoul and Beijing, confesses that she likes a challenge, and so set out to build a more nuanced picture of individuals’ real lives in both places. Moreover, she did this with minimal location reporting; indeed in the case of North Korea, she never visited the city she wrote about at all. Using an almost forensic level of investigation, Demick conducted lengthy and highly detailed interviews with people who had left both places, cross-referencing testimonies and drawing on additional research to corroborate their accounts. She then used the resulting material to inform a vivid, factual storytelling style that she calls narrative non-fiction. As she explains in conversation with Owen Bennett-Jones, it is a difficult process, but one that yields fascinating insight into places whose repressive leaders would rather we knew far less about. Producer: Michael Gallagher Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Soldiers at a military parade in North Korea. Credit: EPA/How Hwee Young)
20/08/2026m 28s

Rulebreakers: How I disappear

In Japan, if you want to disappear from your life, you can just pick up the phone and a ‘night moving company’ will turn you into one of the country’s ‘johatsu,’ or literally ‘evaporated people.’ You can cease to exist. Meet the people who choose to disappear and the people who are left behind.
19/08/2027m 52s

Vaccines, money and politics

Sandra Kanthal looks at what strategies are being put in place to transport a vaccine to countries around the world, who will be the first in those countries to get the vaccine, and, once it is available, how to convince people to take it.
18/08/2027m 50s

BBC OS Conversations: Addiction during a pandemic

Nuala McGovern considers alcohol and drug addiction relapse during the pandemic. We hear from two men, in Kenya and the United States, about how they have fought their addictions while under lockdown. Nuala also talks about the importance of family in these times and hears how one man travelled more than 2,000 km across the US to play his trombone for his brother, who was recovering in a rehab centre after a fall. She also talks about how hobbies are helping us and joins a wrestler, a dancer and a musician in conversation about social distancing.
16/08/2024m 34s

Stitching souls

The women of Gee’s Bend have held on to their creative traditions, passed down from mother to daughter: spine-tingling gospel singing, and a unique style of bold, improvised quilting. Made from old clothes out of necessity for generations, used for insulation and burned to keep off mosquitoes, the quilts brought Gee’s Bend fame after they were “discovered” by an art collector in the 1990s and shown in major museums in Houston and New York. Maria Margaronis hears the voices of this small community.
16/08/2050m 52s

Milton Nkosi: The apartheid child who changed Africa’s story

As a child of Soweto, apartheid South Africa’s most notorious black township, Milton Nkosi could easily have become an embittered adult; in June 1976 he witnessed the Soweto uprising in which white police brutally suppressed protests by black schoolchildren, leading to many deaths. Yet, as apartheid began to collapse in the early 1990s, Milton found himself drawn into TV journalism; enabling him to question his former tormentors and helping viewers around the world to see the moral case for change. So began a career that took him from translator and fixer to producer and eventually, the head of bureau for the BBC’s news operation in South Africa, where he then sought to diversify coverage of a fast-changing continent. As Milton explains in this conversation with Owen Bennett-Jones, his humble beginnings turned out to be an asset: Among his childhood neighbours in Soweto were anti-apartheid activists including Nelson Mandela’s wife and children, many of whom would become valuable contacts. However, after the transition to democracy in 1994, Milton also had to ask uncomfortable questions of some of them, as claims of corruption emerged within the ANC government. Moral dilemmas such as this defined his working life: Is it even possible to be an impartial reporter when your subject might be a close associate? For Milton, the issues need to be seen in context. As he points out: “Nobody can ever justify apartheid based on the mistakes of the post-apartheid leaders”. Produced by Michael Gallagher Editor Bridget Harney Image: (Milton Nkosi) Christian Parkinson
13/08/2026m 28s

Fighting talk: How language can make us better

When we talk about cancer it’s often hard to find the right words. As we search for the perfect thing to say, we find ourselves reaching for familiar metaphors; the inspiring people fighting or battling their cancer. Cara Hoofe is currently in remission from Stage 3 bowel cancer, she says it would be easy for her to say she has beaten cancer. Cara asks experts what impact these militaristic metaphors actually have on those living with cancer, and asks current and former patients what we should talk about when we talk about cancer.
12/08/2027m 55s

Introducing The Bomb

Emily’s grandad worked on the bomb that fell on Hiroshima. Could another man – Leo Szilard - have stopped it? This is the new series from the BBC World Service – search for The Bomb wherever you get your podcasts.
12/08/202m 55s

Vaccines, money and politics

Nearly every person on the planet is vulnerable to the new coronavirus, SarsCoV2. That’s why there are more than 100 projects around the world racing towards the goal of creating a safe and effective vaccine for the disease it causes, Covid-19, in the next 12 to 18 months. But this is just the first part of a long and complex process, working at a pace and scale never attempted before. In Vaccines, Money and Politics, Sandra Kanthal looks at the vast ecosystem needed to deliver a vaccination programme to the world in record time.
11/08/2027m 56s

BBC OS Conversations: After the Beirut explosion

Beirut has been left destroyed by this week’s massive explosion: more than a hundred are dead; thousands injured and hundreds of thousands have been left homeless. It has devastated lives, belongings, buildings, businesses. Lebanon was already struggling from challenges on several fronts, including Covid-19. With many questions still to be answered, it is unclear what the longer term effect of this week’s tragedy will be. Nuala McGovern talks to people in Beirut. She hears from eye witnesses who experienced the blast, three young adults who share their fears for the future of Lebanon, and the doctor who helped a mother give birth after the hospital was badly hit by the blast.
09/08/2024m 10s

Worlds Apart

The pandemic has accelerated de-globalisation. Governments worry now about the length and strength of medical supply chains and cross-border trade and travel. But globalisation has had its critics for quite a time. Nationalism has been powered in many countries by the belief that a globalised world has led to rising inequality and fewer middle income jobs in richer countries. And our global institutions - the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation - are under attack too. Philip Coggan considers the long view, looking back to the last great wave of globalisation that ended abruptly with the Great War of 1914-1918.
09/08/2050m 27s

Soft Jihad Assignment

In the United States a small but increasingly vocal group of people believe that members of the country's Muslim community are working from within to turn America into an Islamic state. This group of right wing thinkers believe this so-called 'Soft Jihad' is being carried out in schools, universities and other institutions across the country and they want to put a stop to it. In Assignment, Pascale Harter travels to America to find out how this fear is finding a foothold in public opinion there and hears from some of those accused of being the 'soft jihadists'.
07/08/2022m 31s

Algeria's plague revisited

A mysterious illness appears out of nowhere. The number of cases rises exponentially, as the authorities attempt to downplay the severity of the disease. There is a shortage of medical staff, equipment and arguments about whether people should wear masks. People are forbidden to leave their homes and many are left stranded in unfamiliar places, separated from loved ones. Albert Camus’ novel The Plague set in the Algerian city of Oran under French colonial rule was published more than 70 years ago. But today it almost reads like a current news bulletin and seems more relevant than ever. This edition of Assignment revisits Oran in the age of the coronavirus and investigates the parallels between now and then. For the time being, it seems the pandemic has achieved something the authorities have tried but failed to do for the past year – clear the streets of protesters. Lucy Ash investigates Algeria’s plague of authoritarianism and finds that the government has been using Covid-19 as an excuse to crack down harder on dissent. Reporter: Lucy Ash Producer: Neil Kisserli Editor: Bridget Harney (Photo: Man using an Algerian flag as a mask at an anti-government demonstration in Algiers on 13 March, 2020. Credit: Ryad Kramdi/AFP/Getty Images)
06/08/2026m 28s

Karachi's ambulance drivers

In Karachi, with a population of around 20 million people, ambulance drivers are on the front lines of this megacity’s shifting conflicts. Samira Shackle joins one of these drivers, Muhammad Safdar, on his relentless round of call-outs. As a first-responder for more than 15 years, Safdar has witnessed Karachi wracked by gang wars, political violence and terrorism. At the height of the unrest, the number of fatalities was often overwhelming. With no state ambulance service in Pakistan, the Edhi Foundation, set up by the late Abdul Sattar Edhi in 1954, stepped in to offer services to the poor. Safdar drives one of its fleet of 400 ambulances: rudimentary converted vans with basic emergency provision. His missions bring him to many of Karachi’s most deprived and troubled areas, revealing the complex social and economic problems at the heart of the country.
04/08/2027m 37s

BBC OS Conversations: Spain's tourism industry

During a period of huge uncertainty, Spain's tourism industry suffers a setback while musicians in South Africa, Denmark and the United States share creative challenges and how they are reconnecting with audiences during the coronavirus pandemic
01/08/2024m 10s

Venezuela's 'Bay of Piglets'

A failed coup in Venezuela - a story of hubris, incompetence, and treachery… At the beginning of May, the government of Nicolas Maduro announced the armed forces had repelled an attempted landing by exiled Venezuelans on the coast north of Caracas. Some were killed, others captured. This was Operation Gideon – an incursion involving a few dozen, poorly-equipped men, and two former US Special Forces soldiers. The hair brained plan to depose Nicolas Maduro, and force a transition in Caracas was conceived by Venezuela's political opposition in neighbouring Colombia, the United States and Venezuela. Command and control of Operation Gideon allegedly lay with another former US Special Forces soldier, Jordan Goudreau. But why would men with decades of military experience between them join a plan that, from the outset, looked like a suicide mission? For Assignment, Linda Pressly goes in search of answers. Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly Producer in Venezuela: Vanessa Silva Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Jordan Goudreau and Javier Nieto address the Venezuelan people on 3 May, 2020. Credit: Javier Nieto)
30/07/2027m 12s

Ingenious: The milkshake and the cyclops gene

The Milkshake Gene - (LCTL) - More than 90% of people in some parts of the world are unable to properly digest milk, cheese and other dairy products. Most other animals are also unable to drink milk once they leave babyhood behind. So why did some of us evolve the ability to tuck into cheese, butter and cream with a vengeance? The answer lies in the history of human evolution and the early days of farming. The Cyclops Gene - (SHH) Building a baby is a complicated business, with thousands of genes to be turned on or off at exactly the right time and in the right place. One of them is Sonic Hedgehog – named after the computer game character – which has its genetic fingers in all kinds of developmental processes. Sonic Hedgehog helps to decide how many bits you have, where they go, and whether you’re symmetrical, so it’s not surprising that any mistakes can have potentially devastating consequences.
29/07/2027m 41s

Karachi's ambulance drivers

In Karachi, with a population of around 20 million people, ambulance drivers are on the front lines of this megacity’s shifting conflicts. Samira Shackle joins one of these drivers, Muhammad Safdar, on his relentless round of call-outs. As a first-responder for more than fifteen years, Safdar has witnessed Karachi wracked by gang wars, political violence and terrorism. At the height of the unrest, the number of fatalities was often overwhelming.
28/07/2027m 34s

Death of Elijah McClain

Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old black man, was killed after an encounter with police in Colorado last year. He had been put in a chokehold and injected with ketamine. No-one has been punished over what happened. Following the outcry over the killing of George Floyd, a petition gathered millions of signatures calling for justice for Elijah McClain. The state of Colorado has now said it is re-examining what happened. Elijah's mother, Sheneen McClain, explains what happened to her son. And a conversation with two women - both white - with a shared experience of adopting a black child
26/07/2024m 12s

The most important, least important thing

Why is watching sport so important to us as a species? And what happens when that experience is taken away from us? Award-winning sports journalist and broadcaster Clare Balding explores why sport plays such a crucial role in shaping society, speaking to a field of global experts and elite sportspeople, including the sociologists Akilah Carter-Francique, Mahfoud Amara and Ramachandra Guha; anthropologist Leila Zaki Chakravarty; and philosophers Heather Reid and Andy Martin.
26/07/2050m 10s

The many colours of Raqqa

The untold story of Abood Hamam, perhaps the only photojournalist to have worked under every major force in Syria's war - and lived to tell the tale. At the start of the uprising he was head of photography for the state news agency, SANA, taking official shots of President Assad and his wife Asma by day - and secretly filming opposition attacks by night. Later he defected and returned to his home town, Raqqa, where various rebel groups were competing for control. Other journalists fled when the terrorists of so-called Islamic State (IS) took over, but Abood stayed - and was asked by IS to film its victory parade. He sent pictures of life under IS to agencies all over the world - using a pseudonym. As the bombing campaign by the anti-IS coalition intensified, Abood moved away - but returned later to record the heartbreaking destruction - but also the slow return of life, and colour, to the streets. For months, he roamed through the ruins with his camera, seeing himself as ”the guardian of the city." Raqqa's future is still very uncertain, but Abood now wants everyone to see his pictures, which he posts on Facebook, and know his real name. He hopes the colours he's showing will tempt the thousands of families who've fled Raqqa to return home, and rebuild their lives, and their city. Reporter: Tim Whewell Producer: Mohamad Chreyteh Sound mix: James Beard Production coordinator: Gemma Ashman Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Children running in Raqqa, 2019. Credit: Abood Hamam)
23/07/2026m 50s

Ingenious: The ginger gene and breast cancer gene

A particular version of the ginger gene MC1R underpins the fiery hair and freckled complexion of redheads, famed and feared in many cultures. But it is also linked to increased pain sensitivity and skin cancer risk. So where did it come from? And are redheads really endangered? As far back as the 19th Century, doctors realised that some types of cancer seemed to run in families, but it was not until the last decades of the 20th Century that scientists started to pin down the genetic culprits. Faults in two of these genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, significantly increase the chances of developing breast, ovarian or prostate cancer.
22/07/2027m 44s

The confined: A story of hidden children

In 1942 in Nazi occupied France Jews were hunted and those helping them could be sent to concentration camps. Despite the dangers a Catholic nun took a stand that saved the lives of 82 Jewish children. Led by Sister Denise Bergon they hid the children for two years in the convent boarding school of Notre Dame de Massip. Out of around 15 nuns, only four knew the identities of the children taking shelter. Three survivors talk of their unique bond with Sister Denise and how they escaped the clutches of French collaborators and an SS Division which would become notorious for its massacres in the area.
21/07/2027m 42s

South Africa’s alcohol ban

For the second time during its Covid-19 outbreak, South Africa has decided to ban sales of alcohol. How does that have an impact on the workload of doctors in hospitals treating coronavirus patients? In Colombia, the economic impact of the pandemic is so desperate in poorer neighbourhoods that some people are hanging red flags outside their homes as a cry for help. Bergamo in Italy was once at the epicentre of the global outbreak as coronavirus spread into Europe. But after 137 days, the intensive care unit at one of the main hospitals now has no Covid-19 patients. We speak to the doctor in charge.
19/07/2028m 8s

Embankment baby

Tony May was only weeks old when he was abandoned as a baby on the Victoria Embankment in London in 1942. There was no clue to who he was or why he was left by the river Thames in the middle of World War Two. Raised by loving adopted parents who named him, Tony has never been able to discover the identity of his birth parents. Now in his 70s, Tony may finally be able to solve the mystery thanks to advances in DNA testing and painstaking detective work by genealogist Julia Bell. Will Tony be happy with the answers he finds?
19/07/2051m 36s

Coronavirus and Africa

The terrible choice between hunger and infection, police imposing lockdowns with brutality and the unexpected positives to come out of the pandemic in Africa. Presenter Toyosi Ogunseye in Lagos examines these issues with panellists Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa; Bright Simons, social entrepreneur based in Congo and president of mPedigree, Ghana; Sabina Chege MP, Health Select Committee Chair, Kenya; Ralph Mathekga, political analyst and writer, South Africa.
18/07/2050m 46s

What the sediment revealed in Lebanon

The discovery of a mysterious delivery of defective, sediment-heavy fuel intended to generate electricity in Lebanon has sparked a huge scandal in the country. More than two dozen people, including senior officials, have been charged with various alleged crimes including bribery, fraud, money-laundering and forging documents. Lebanon has already been in uproar since last autumn, with hundreds of thousands of people involved in street protests demanding the overthrow of the entire political elite – and now the country’s suffering its worst economic crisis in decades. The national currency has collapsed and more than a third of the workforce is unemployed. Electricity shortages – long a problem in Lebanon - have become still more acute, with whole towns plunged into darkness for long periods – and the row over the suspect oil delivery has exacerbated the problem. Now the investigation into the tainted fuel has raised questions about the original deal to import heavy fuel oil – and Lebanese hope it will eventually help explain why they’ve suffered black-outs for so long. Did officials try to cover up the presence of sediment in the shipment? How did the original much-criticised 2005 fuel contract come about? And what do the revelations tell us about the shadowy world of oil trading that the world relies on? Reporters Tim Whewell and Mohamad Chreyteh investigate. (Image: Zouk power station, Lebanon – where the tainted fuel shipment was first discovered. Credit: Joseph Eid/AFP via Getty Images)
16/07/2026m 28s

DNA and me

Want to know who you really are? Take an at-home DNA test, just like over 26 million others have around the globe. But the question is: why? For many, it’s just a bit of fun; for others it might be for medical insight. But for everyone, it promises to tell you who you really are – and for many, those results might come as a surprise. For BBC reporter Sophia Smith Galer and her father, an innocent at-home kit led to a series of shocking discoveries about their family
14/07/2027m 36s

Black America speaks

We listen in to four black-owned radio stations in the United States to find out how they are covering the killing of George Floyd and the waves of protest since. From Philadelphia, Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago, we hear discussions on preparing young people for encounters with police, on access to finance and housing and on black identity and activism. We also bring the hosts together, in conversation with Chloe Tilley, to find out what it means to be behind the mic on a black-owned station. How is it different to working elsewhere in the US media?
12/07/2050m 33s

The Coronavirus Frontline special

This series comes from the Bradford Royal Infirmary, in the North of England, with recordings made by Dr John Wright, who works there. He is an epidemiologist and as he helps the hospital prepare and cope with a huge influx of patients, he’s also searching for answers about Covid-19.
12/07/2050m 49s

The missing bodies of Guayaquil

In March and April, Guayaquil in Ecuador was the epicentre of the Covid pandemic in Latin America. The city’s health services began to collapse fast – hospitals, cemeteries and morgues were overwhelmed. As the bodies of the dead were not collected, hundreds of desperate families kept the remains of their loved ones at home, or deposited them on the streets. Eventually they were picked up. But in the chaos, some corpses went missing. For Assignment, Mike Lanchin teams up with Guayaquil journalist Blanca Moncada, to follow the story of one woman in her dramatic search for the body of her late husband. (Image: Funeral workers with a coffin in the back of a pick-up truck outside Los Ceibos hospital in Guayaquil. Credit: Reuters/Santiago Arcos)
09/07/2027m 37s

Unmapped world

Maps are the scaffolding of the digital age. Without them, and their associated data, a technological revolution is impossible. Vast swathes of Africa are still not mapped to a true local scale. That means governments face huge problems when tackling rapid urbanisation on this fast changing continent – they simply don’t know where people are. It also means that when outbreaks of disease occur, mapping the spread of infections is all but impossible. Katie Prescott travels to Rwanda, to Kigali, which is rapidly changing its layout and erasing signs of the past, to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the maps just seem to stop, and to Tanzania’s commercial hub of Dar Es Salaam, to hear how community mapping projects run by students are helping to tackle flooding, and outbreaks of cholera.
07/07/2027m 53s

Race in America: My enslaved ancestors

As Americans call for change following the killing of George Floyd, three women share the history of slavery in their families and discuss its impact on society today. Sharon Leslie Morgan in Mississippi is the founder of Our Black Ancestry Foundation, which provides resources for African American genealogical research. She's also co-written a book on the subject called Gather at the Table. Bernice Alexander Bennett is a blogger and radio host in Silverspring, Maryland. Shonda Brooks is a therapist in New Jersey. They've been reflecting with Nuala McGovern on what they uncovered when they researched their own family trees.
04/07/2027m 42s

Wuhan: City of silence

The BBC’s China correspondent, John Sudworth, travels to Wuhan – the city on the banks of the Yangtze river where Covid-19 first emerged. As the city returns to life, he examines one of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind: did the virus emerge naturally or could it have been leaked, as the US alleges, from a Wuhan lab, where work was being carried out to research bat viruses? As John and his team discover, asking questions and getting answers in Wuhan is no easy task. Reporter: John Sudworth Producer: Kathy Long Photo: Two motorcyclists in Wuhan, China - June 2020 Credit: Getty Images
02/07/2026m 29s

The 'grandma benches' of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has over 14 million people but fewer than 20 psychiatrists. After years of economic turmoil, unemployment and HIV, mental health is a huge challenge and doctors estimate one in four Zimbabweans battles with depression or anxiety. Lucia is one of the 700 grandmothers in the country turning the nation around. She sits on a wooden bench using a gentle form of cognitive behavioural or talking therapy with her community. This is one of 250 Friendship Benches set up by Zimbabwean psychiatrist Dr Dixon Chibanda, who believed that after a few weeks of simple training, grandmothers could become lay health workers for their communities. Lucia has the time, wisdom and respect to help the people who come to her. She understands them and has direct experience of their problems. Presenter Kim Chakanetsa hears the grandmothers are having astounding results. They have helped over 50,000 people and are breaking down the stigma around mental health. Dixon Chibanda explains how he is facing up to the pandemic, moving his idea online and giving the world access to a virtual Friendship Bench.
30/06/2027m 3s

Coronavirus: The economic shock

In a few short months the coronavirus has turned the world upside down. Alongside the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of deaths, the world is now bracing itself for a brutal economic impact. Whether it is components for manufacturing, our food and medical supplies or the contents of our shop shelves and our fridges we depend on complex global economic relationships which now look shakier than ever. The BBC’s business editor Simon Jack talks to some of the world’s most influential economic and business thinkers on how they think the Covid-19 crisis is changing the worldwide business and economic landscape and what they think the world might be like when the crisis is over.
28/06/2050m 35s

Coronavirus conversations: What next?

Health experts and listeners from Ghana, the US, Canada, China, Switzerland and Italy share their views of life in a post-pandemic world.
28/06/2024m 16s

World debate: Re-engineering the future

All over the world engineers are being called on to re-purpose and solve the problems the global pandemic creates. We bring together an audience of engineers and the general public from six continents to share insights to inspire innovation worldwide. How are engineers reinventing our world to fight the virus? What can they do to re-imagine the everyday and make life safer and easier across the globe? Presenter Kevin Fong is joined by a panel of four leading engineers from around the world who respond to questions, comments and first-hand accounts from a global audience linked by Zoom. The panel: Luke Leung: Director of Sustainability at international architecture and engineering firm SOM Linda Miller: Transport infrastructure engineer at the major engineering and construction firm Bechtel Rebecca Shipley: Director of UCL’s Institute for Healthcare Engineering Carlo Ratti: Director of MIT’s Senseable Lab This is a special edition of an annual event series staged in partnership with the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.
27/06/2050m 42s

Kenya’s locust hunters

East Africa has seen the worst invasion of desert locusts for decades and there are warnings of even larger swarms to come. Millions of people across the region, who are already feeling the impact of coronavirus and floods, will now face increased hunger and poverty. Just an average swarm can eat the same in a day as 2,500 people for a year. For Assignment, the BBC’s Senior Africa Correspondent Anne Soy joins Albert the Samburu herdsman turned locust hunter as he struggles to track the pests who have been decimating crops and pastures across his native northern Kenya. It is a race against time to exterminate this generation before they breed another, larger, more voracious generation. Producer: Charlotte Atwood Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Man chasing away a swarm of desert locusts in Samburu County, Kenya. Credit: Fredrik Lerneryd/Getty Images)
25/06/2026m 29s

New York Covid-19 diary

Public health leader Dr Tom Frieden reflects on the ongoing global pandemic. An expert on infectious disease, Dr Frieden is a former director of the US States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He was a leading figure in the global response to the Ebola outbreak and he now heads Resolve to Save Lives, an Initiative of Vital Strategies, an organisation dedicated to the prevention of epidemics. From his New York apartment, Dr Frieden provides his unique insight on the unfolding international situation. He records his response to key moments in the development of the pandemic and the measures being taken to face it in the United States, Africa and across the world.
23/06/2027m 42s

Rethink: The edge of change

BBC Media editor Amol Rajan and a panel of guests analyse how the coronavirus pandemic has created new opportunities to change our world. They range across topics including geopolitics and the rise of China; the role of technology and ownership of information; and perceived and genuine inequality. Guests will include: Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile George Osborne, former UK chancellor Zoltan Kovacs, Hungarian secretary of state for public diplomacy
22/06/2050m 42s

Reporting Covid-19

As the pandemic continues to impact the world, BBC World Service's Nina Robinson, talks to journalists from two daily newspapers in India and the United States as we explore its impact on people in their regions. Working with experienced editors and reporters from the daily Mumbai Mirror and Kentucky’s Courier Journal, this documentary gets under the skin of two newsrooms during this time of great uncertainty as each country comes to terms with coronavirus, handling lockdowns, hospital admissions and the unequal impact the virus is having on the poor and on ethnic minorities.
21/06/2050m 33s

Rethink: Class of Covid-19 - Should I go to university?

The pandemic has led to job cuts and reduced salaries, so does going to university still make financial sense? And if you took a cut in wages during lockdown but are now back at work, how should you talk to your boss about pay? Listeners share their stories and get expert advice on managing money in the time of coronavirus, including: - How to increase your chances of getting a job in the post-pandemic world. - Whether a change of career is a good idea right now. - And where you can get financial help if you are struggling to survive.
20/06/2050m 39s

Coronavirus conversations: Another Beijing lockdown

We speak to people in China's capital, Beijing, where a fresh spike of Covid-19 cases has been detected. Fan Fan and Richard tell us what it feels like to go through lockdown all over again. Meanwhile, the most intense outbreaks are now in Latin America. We hear accounts of how communities in countries including Peru and Colombia are dealing with the disease. As restrictions ease elsewhere, businesses are preparing to open again in a very different world. We bring together business owners in Botswana, Turkey and the United States to talk about the challenges they face and their hopes for the future.
20/06/2027m 43s

The 5G con that could make you sick

Since the outbreak of coronavirus something strange has been happening – attacks on telephone masts and telecom workers are being reported all across the world. That’s because some people think that 5G can make you sick – from coronavirus to cancer and a whole host of other symptoms. Even more worryingly, some scientists say they can prove that it’s harmful. But at a time when many businesses are struggling, could this apparent threat be helping to fuel a whole industry of strange and expensive products? And worse, could stoking these fears actually be damaging people’s health? Assignment investigates how bad science could be making you sick. Presenter: Tom Wright Producer: Chloe Hadjimatheou (Image: A banner draped across a Place Royale statue during an anti-5G protest in Nantes, France. Credit: Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
18/06/2026m 37s

My fake news whodunnit

When a name very similar to journalist Michelle Madsen’s was used as the cover for a fake news hatchet job on a Senegalese politician, she found herself entangled in a web of deception that she is seeking to unravel.
14/06/2051m 43s

Coronavirus and Latin America

How has Latin America dealt with the pandemic? The lockdown, the needs of the economy, cash pay-outs to the poor, culture, tradition and safety in a time of crisis are all discussed with an expert panel and questions from the public across the region. Presenter Jonny Dymond is joined by Dr Denise Dresser - political scientist, Mexico. Luiz Philippe de Orleans e Braganca - Chamber of Representatives, Social Liberal Party, Brazil, Laura Alonso - former head of Argentina's Anti-Corruption office. Margarita Lopez Maya - Venezuelan historian and Dr Marcus Espinal - Pan American Health Organisation.
13/06/2050m 34s

Conversations on race and change

In the days since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May, we have witnessed many things from police officers marching alongside protesters; to the political debate about US police reform; to the toppling of statues that symbolise the history of slavery and racism. Nuala McGovern takes you through conversations with some of the people involved in the global discussion that is taking place.
13/06/2024m 19s

The seafarers stranded on the high seas

There are currently 200,000 seafarers stuck working on vessels across the globe and unable to be relieved of their duties. These are the men and women responsible for transporting 90% of the world's trade, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. While goods are still flowing, the people transporting these goods are struggling. Every month, 100,000 seafarers leave their ships and are replaced by others. But due to covid-19, most of these crew changes have been cancelled for several months. Seafarers are in effect prisoners unable to leave the ship. Maritime unions and ships owners are warning that covid-19 restrictions could lead to a “humanitarian crisis” as seafarers’ mental health and performance worsen in the face of increasing fatigue – in a profession, which already had a high prevalence of accidents, depression and suicide pre-pandemic. What will it take to bring seafarers home? Assignment hears from the men and women stuck on board and those trying to help them; offering a unique insight into the often-forgotten human story of the global sea trade. Presented and produced by Estelle Doyle (Image: Seafarer looking out to sea. Credit: Artem Radchenko)
11/06/2026m 28s

Lockdown: Tales from Panama and Brazil

There is a sense of fatigue around the lockdown. Ray Gillenwater owns a gym, and explains that if he’s ordered to close down again – he will civilly resist. Kody Siegal explains how the tight restrictions of Panama are not quite as tough as you would expect, and Luiza Marchiori from Florianopolis returns to explain how the worst case scenario predicted by many in Brazil appears to be coming true.
09/06/2027m 46s

Killer Mike - The rapper turned speech maker

Riots and protests have broken out in cities across the USA following the death of George Floyd after his arrest by white police officers in Minneapolis. But one black American’s impassioned plea for calm has gone viral in the midst of the violence. Atlanta-based rapper Killer Mike made an impromptu speech calling on his fellow citizens not to burn their city but to organise and mobilise and to use their votes to bring about change. Mark Coles has been speaking to people who know Killer Mike well, and finding out more about his past, his music and his life in Atlanta.
07/06/2023m 41s

In my present isolation

Six authors on different continents, write across distances, to convey thoughts and preoccupations, during their present isolation. While the world is held in the grip of this pandemic, there's nowhere to go, no escape, all the exterior space has been taken. The only refuge is inside, a home, a room.. in the interior of the psyche, surfing the seas and landscapes of the mind. In this moment of social distancing and reliance on social media, a group of writers are reverting to an earlier form of communication – to letter writing.
06/06/2050m 8s

Conversations about race in America

The death of George Floyd has provoked a global response and galvanised opinion. We bring together African Americans to discuss race and share experiences of racism in the US. We hear from people who have sought justice from police aggression, from those attempting reconciliation and from police officers themselves. What changes do they want to see to move America in the right direction?
06/06/2023m 39s

America beyond black and white

With America engulfed again by protests against police brutality and racial discrimination, Rajini Vaidyanathan brings together a group of African-American thinkers to discuss how America might move beyond its current racial turmoil. In 2016 Rajini travelled the United States to report, for BBC World Service, on America’s problem with racism. In this discussion Rajini brings together people to find out how much has changed, and how little; and to ask how Americans might come together to heal the wounds of racism.
06/06/2048m 57s

The Chechen blogger on the run

In February this year, a Chechen blogger in hiding in Sweden was viciously assaulted by a man with a hammer as he slept. In the fight that followed, Tumso Abdurakhmanov managed to grab the hammer and defend himself, and filmed the aftermath of the attack and his interrogation of his assailant. Tumso was the third Chechen to be attacked in Europe in just a few months; he was the only one to survive. All three men were critics and opponents of the pro-Moscow regime in Chechnya, an area in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus mountains where the authorities are accused of serious human rights abuses and violations. For Assignment, Nick Sturdee investigates who may have sent Tumso’s attacker, and explores the blogger’s relations with the Chechen government and leader Ramzan Kadyrov. What are the parallels with another recent attack, in Berlin, where former Chechen fighter Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was shot dead? A case where the Bellingcat investigative team has identified the killer and revealed his close connections to the Russian Security Services, the FSB. Produced and presented by Nick Sturdee (Image: Tumso Abdurakhmanov takes a selfie in Stockholm. Credit: Tumso Abdurakhmanov)
04/06/2026m 28s

Abortion under lockdown

Abortion clinics in Texas were forced to close their doors during the coronavirus lockdown. For several weeks, women wanting abortions could not get them. So what happened, and how did medical staff help? And, with a major Supreme Court decision on access to abortion due this summer, Philippa Thomas hears from the activists concerned that this period, with abortion unavailable for thousands of Texan women, could be a harbinger of the future.
02/06/2027m 11s

The Covid generation

Tens of millions of young people are leaving school and university only to find themselves job hunting in what could be one of the worst recessions in living memory. With widespread recruitment freezes and redundancies, what hope is there of the class of 2020 finding employment? Ruth Alexander speaks to young people from all over the world about their struggle to find work,
31/05/2050m 13s

Coronavirus Global Conversations: Life in lockdown with autism

What is the pandemic like for people with autism? We hear from three parents in Chile, Spain and India who discuss the impact lockdown has had on their children with autism. They explain how their children seem happier away from the social environment of school, but that they are also concerned about the impact on their social skills. Plus, three American editors who work on newspaper pages writing obituaries of people who have died with coronavirus.
31/05/2027m 33s

The orgasm gap

What did you learn about sexual pleasure when you were growing up? Chances are, you didn't learn much in school. And if the latest research is anything to go by, we still have a lot to learn now. According to a US based study, 90% of heterosexual men said they climaxed during sex, while only 60% of heterosexual women said the same. In the UK, when the new sex education guidelines are introduced in September 2020, pleasure will remain off the agenda. In this programme, we talk to people in the UK and Rwanda to explore how society and culture influence how we experience pleasure. We look at what we were, or weren't, taught about sex at school and meet a man who is finding ways to close the gender pleasure gap outside of the classroom. In Rwanda we find out about a cultural practice that allegedly puts female pleasure first, but is also linked to a controversial form of female genital modification. The World Health Organisation does not explicitly mention labial elongation as a form of female genital mutilation. It periodically reviews the typology and classification of certain practices and the next review is envisioned for 2020-2021. In this documentary, we look at competing attitudes when it comes to female sexual pleasure and explore the collision zone between individual rights and preserving cultural practices.
30/05/2050m 42s

The Miracle of Istanbul

The 2020 Champions League final was due to be held at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium on Saturday 30 May, exactly 15 years after the most extraordinary night in the competition's history, when Liverpool completed “The Miracle of Istanbul”. AC Milan had a star-studded line up and were overwhelming favourites, especially after they raced into a 3-0 lead. However Liverpool launched the most amazing second-half comeback that culminated in winning the trophy in a penalty shootout. To mark that anniversary, we take you back to that iconic night with those who were there - including penalty-saving hero, Jerzy Dudek.
30/05/2051m 33s

Don't log off - part eight

Alan Dein connects with people who are experiencing sleepless nights during the coronavirus pandemic. Salina is a Nepalese student stranded in Bangkok after the borders were closed. With no income, she’s kept awake in her stifling, windowless room as her money runs out. Meanwhile, Keenya is a hairdresser in Detroit, anxious about feeding her seven children as Covid-19 spreads through her community. And Mursalina in Afghanistan worries about increasing poverty on the streets of Kabul in the midst of the pandemic.
30/05/2024m 5s

Belarus: Masking the virus

Belarus’s all-powerful President has focused global attention on his country by ostentatiously downplaying the coronavirus pandemic. Alexander Lukashenko has allowed shops, markets and restaurants and football stadiums to remain open and is encouraging people to go out to work. In early May he laid on a grand military spectacle celebrating victory in WW2, in defiance of social distancing advice. He told Belarussians they could stay healthy by drinking vodka and driving tractors in the fields and dismissed concerns over the virus as “psychosis.” But medics and bereaved families say otherwise. And with a doubling of infections every two or three days, there is not much to laugh about in Belarus. Medical staff have allegedly been sacked and even detained for speaking out about poor conditions in hospitals and the inaccurate death certificates. Assignment explores what lies behind President Lukashenko’s position. We hear from community activists, war veterans, tech-wizards and many other diverse people in Belarus. Lucy Ash pieces it all together with reporting by Ilya Kuziatsou. Produced by Monica Whitlock (Image: Jana Shostak’s Angry Mask. Human Constanta, a Belarusian human rights organisation, asked eight artists to design facemasks focusing on the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Jakub Jasiukiewicz)
28/05/2027m 0s

The Death Row book club

When Anthony Ray Hinton was sentenced to death for a double murder, he used his time behind bars to create a book club for his fellow death row inmates. It was to get him through 28 years of solitary confinement. Now a free man after the State of Alabama dropped all charges against him, he takes listeners back to the echoing corridors of death row and introduces them to his book club.
26/05/2027m 28s

Coronavirus Global Conversations: Giving birth during a pandemic

Giving birth is an emotional experience, but what about during this pandemic? And then there is bringing a baby into a world of lockdowns and restrictions. We hear from new mums in New York, Dublin and London. What is it like to be in prison and pregnant?
24/05/2027m 48s

Recycling Chile, recycling Spain

Leena Vuotovesi, the leader of environmental work in Europe’s greenest town, Ii in Finland, travels to Chile and Spain to compare recycling practices. First she visits La Pintana - Chile’s unlikely climate champion: an impoverished neighbourhood plagued by crime and violence that recycles more than any other town in Chile. Leena then goes to a pristine part of southern Spain - a country where municipal recycling rates lag way behind EU targets. She speaks to children, teachers and waste management experts to find out why Spanish people don’t appear to care about recycling and to see what could be done to reduce environmental and economic damage.
23/05/2050m 35s

Don't log off - part seven

In Mumbai, Chinu has been has been providing food to the city’s migrant and daily labourers who have been unable to work since the country’s lockdown. Getting up at 4.30am each day, he has served over 415,000 hot meals so far. In Nigeria, optometry student Ismail has been sleeping in a mosque since his college closed its doors three and a half months ago, but is holding on to his dreams of working for the WHO or UN. And deep in the Amazon rainforest, Tatiana, a state politician and academic forecasts trouble ahead.
23/05/2024m 12s

New York stories with Joe Pascal

The story of how chef Marcus Samuelsson made Harlem his home is nothing short of remarkable. He was born in a tiny village in Ethiopia, too small to even appear on maps. Aged two, he contracted TB. His mum carried him for 75 miles to the capital for treatment. She died, but he survived and was adopted by a Swedish family who taught him a love of cooking. Marcus is now a leading light of New York cuisine running an international restaurant chain but with his heart firmly grounded in the stories of Harlem. Jaylene Clark Owens is a spoken word artist, actor and born and bred Harlemite. She’s woven the story of her changing neighbourhood into a play - Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale. Cultural historian John T Reddick gives us a personal tour of his neighbourhood. And Martina da Silva and John Thomas share their musical tribute to Harlem.
23/05/2048m 58s

SOS from the Mediterranean

People crossing the Central Mediterranean in rubber boats are always putting their lives in danger. Now a bleak situation is made worse by Covid 19 as ports in Malta and Italy are closed to migrants and coastguards are reluctant to mount rescue operations. Over the Easter weekend several boats set out from the Libyan coast. Some made it to Sicily themselves. Two others drifted for days. The engines were broken and the people, including children and babies, ran out of food and water. Twelve people died. Dozens of others were picked up and taken back to Libya where they now languish in hellish detention centres. Others made it to Europe. This is the story of that weekend, told through recordings of distress calls from the boats and the testimony of a network of activists as they monitored the desperate situation. Producer and presenter: Lucy Proctor (Image: Migrants in a dinghy at sea. Credit: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)
21/05/2027m 4s

Migrant medics

More than 17,000 people have died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus. Among them are frontline medical staff. Dr Adil El Tayar, a British-Sudanese doctor, became the first working medic to die of coronavirus in the UK. His story is illustrative of the many international medics who even now are battling Covid-19. A vast number of doctors, nurses and others have come to Britain and other Western countries after training in the developing world. Naturally, they want to improve their standards of living and work in more sophisticated medical systems. But is it fair for the rich world to benefit by effectively cherry-picking the brightest and best from poorer countries?
20/05/2027m 43s

Lockdown: Tales from Lebanon, Australia, Atlanta and India

Lina Mounzer in Lebanon speaks about the protests which have seen people take to the streets despite lockdown. John McRae shares some good news from Australia and Matthew Krupczak from Atlanta, Georgia, tells us why he is worried that the easing of restrictions in his neighbourhood could mean the sacrifices so far could be for nothing. And Rajesh Kumar Shaw gives us his insights from The Sundarbans in India, where the return of migrant labourers could mean the spread of Covid -19 in an area with only basic medical help.
19/05/2027m 46s

Seven dead, 46 injured: One Chicago weekend

On Monday 5 August last year the Chicago Sun Times newspaper carried this headline: “Seven deaths, 46 wounded in Chicago Weekend Shootings.” It was referring to the casualty list after one summer weekend in Chicago. This programme reconstructs those three days. Narrated by Clarke Peters (The Wire’s Detective Lester Freamon), and with a specially composed music and sound design, this immersive documentary uses the words of the city newspaper updates on the violence, alongside eyewitness accounts and the sad personal stories of relatives and friends who lost loved ones. ** This programme audio has been updated to reflect the latest events - 28 July 2020
17/05/2049m 23s

Coronavirus Global Conversations: Making people laugh

We speak to comedian Sarah Cooper in New York - her President Trump lip-syncs have gone viral on TikTok. Also, Waylene Beukes in Namibia and Anna Piper Scott in Melbourne, who was about to start a full-time comedy career as the pandemic hit. We also hear about the impact of lockdown restrictions for those living alone. Three people: in Manitoba, Canada; Perth, Australia; and New Orleans in the United States come together and tell us how they are miss human touch.
17/05/2027m 43s

Stimulus cheques and sending money home

How does the financial help on offer where you are compare to other parts of the world? Listeners share their stories and get expert advice on how to survive the financial fallout from Covid-19: The partners separated by lockdown, the divorcing couple forced into quarantine together and marital tips from a lawyer in India. Plus how to adapt your business during the pandemic and where to turn if you can’t afford to pay your bills.
16/05/2050m 31s

Don't log off - part six

Alan Dein connects with people who are anxious about their family business during the coronavirus pandemic. Maria Ester in Ecuador is worried about her family’s heavy machinery business while trying to keep her 81-year-old mother safe in one of the Latin America’s worst affected cities. And young farmer Rohan in Jamaica recalls his late father’s wisdom as he tries to keep the family farm running in the midst of a drought and Covid-19. Meanwhile, Sami in Iraq misses his beloved bookshop which has had to close its doors because of lockdown. Plus, Alan speaks to a woman working in one place on earth which is free from the virus - Antarctica.
16/05/2023m 50s

Boris Johnson and Britain’s Covid-19 crisis

Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has led his country’s efforts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. At one level it turned into a very personal mission. At the beginning of April he was hospitalised having tested positive for the virus and spent three days in intensive care fighting for his life. Jonny Dymond asks how this happened and what it reveals about Mr Johnson’s style of leadership and politics. (Image: Boris Johnson as he gives a statement outside 10 Downing Street on 27 April 27 2020 on his return to work after being hospitalised with the Covid-19 virus. Credit: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty Images)
14/05/2026m 28s

Wuhan: The beginning of coronavirus Covid-19

It is week one of the coronavirus. In this critical time, decisions were made that set the entire trajectory of the crisis. The program uses exclusive interviews with a cast of characters who were on the ground at the hospital in the very beginning. Their stories, combined with striking audio from the heat of the moment, brings listeners into the critical turning-points that defined the crisis to come. We meet Dr Li, the head of the ICU in Wuhan and one of the first doctors to intubate a patient with Covid-19. As his hospital became overrun with patients, he and his colleagues debated just how contagious the virus was, what should be told to the general populace, and the proper government response.
12/05/2027m 42s

One hundred days of Brexit

How ‘get Brexit done’ turned into ‘StayatHome’ through the experiences of four first time MPs. They represent constituencies across the North of England – places where voters had switched traditional allegiances in great numbers. Conservative MP Simon Fell, won in Barrow-in-Furness, Olivia Blake, the newly elected Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, Charlotte Nichols who held on narrowly against the Brexit tide in Warrington North and Richard Holden who took the North West Durham seat from Labour.
10/05/2050m 37s

Coronavirus Global Conversations: Haircuts after lockdown

We bring together three hairdressers from around the world to talk about how their lives have changed because of the pandemic. Marcel in Jerusalem and Marion in Berlin can cut their clients' hair again - but with restrictions. Tamsyn in Johannesburg has only been allowed to open her salon to sell hair products so far. So what is the future of cutting hair while the world is dealing with Covid-19?
10/05/2027m 43s

Coronavirus and Asia

The impact of Covid-19 on Asia is explored with a panel of leading public health experts, politicians and analysts from across the region. What can be done to slow down the spread of the virus? And how should countries balance the needs of their economies with the need to save lives?
09/05/2050m 47s

Don't log off - part five

Across every continent, people are trying to make sense of a new world – one that happens mostly behind closed doors and often alone. Alan Dein connects with seven individuals whose lives have shifted under the coronavirus pandemic as they nervously anticipate what will come next in an uncertain future.
08/05/2024m 11s

Hanging by a thread: Bangladesh’s garment workers

In March, Aafiyah was told the garment factory where she worked would be closing. And like many other garment workers, she was left destitute in the slums of Dhaka. Bangladesh’s garment industry employs millions of workers, mainly women, who make clothes for high street brands in Europe and the US. Western retailers, who have seen sales plummet due to the pandemic, have cancelled or suspended more than 3 billion dollars’ worth of orders from Bangladeshi garment factories. Over a million jobs in the sector could now be at risk. For Assignment, Caroline Bayley and Morshed Ali Khan hear Aafiyah’s story, and talk to factory owners and the British Retail Consortium about the huge challenges facing Bangladesh's main export industry. Producer: Josephine Casserly (Image: Women, wearing masks, work in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain)
07/05/2027m 10s

The Response: Coronavirus - Lockdown tales from Brazil, Germany and Australia

Listeners from Brazil, Germany, Rwanda, Australia and Norway report on their experiences of lockdown, from reaction to Jair Bolsanaro's coronavirus policies to the partial easing of lockdown in Germany, to racial abuse experienced by Chinese residents in Australia. By emailing a voice memo recorded on their smartphones listeners from different countries offer their unique perspectives on a global crisis,
05/05/2027m 40s

Coronavirus Global Conversations: Remembering medics who have died from Covid-19

We hear about Sophie Fagan, a nurse in London for over 50 years; Dr. J Ronald Verrier, a critical care surgeon in New York; and Vicenzo Leone, a beloved GP in Northern Italy. Their relatives talk about their enduring pride, but also the shock of losing them to Covid-19. And hospital chaplains talk to us about the religious, spiritual and emotional support they are providing for patients and their loved ones. Also, mothers in Spain tell us how the 40-day lockdown is emotionally impacting their children.
03/05/2027m 40s

Spain’s care home nightmare

Why did so many people die in just one elderly care home in Madrid? After Covid-19 smashed its way across the globe, Spain - one of the worst-hit nations of Europe - is beginning to take stock of the devastation the virus has left in its wake. Most painful perhaps, will be an assessment of how the deadly contagion was able to rip through Spanish care homes at such speed, killing thousands of elderly people. In March 2020, the alarm was first sounded in a privately run institution, Monte Hermoso in Madrid. It is a story that has stayed with the BBC’s producer in Spain, Esperanza Escribano. She was in the capital when the reports of deaths at Monte Hermoso came to light. For Assignment, she joins Linda Pressly, to piece together the story of what happened within the care home’s red brick walls. Editor: Bridget Harney (Photo: Isabel Costales and her husband Ramon Hernandez. Isabel died during the coronavirus pandemic in a care home in Madrid. Photo Credit: Paula Panera)
30/04/2027m 0s

Universal Basic Income: Alaska style

There is growing interest in the idea of giving every member of society a Basic Income, as a way of tackling extreme poverty and the loss of jobs caused by automation. Pilot projects have been seen across the world - from India to Finland and Namibia to Canada - and there is talk of a one possibly happening here in the UK, in the city of Hull. So, attention is being paid to the Alaskan model. The Arctic American state has been paying out an annual dividend to every one of its permanent residents - man, woman and child - for almost 40 years.
29/04/2037m 49s

Who cares

Well over 400,000 elderly and disabled people in Britain rely on home care, and many of the care workers are from other parts of the world: Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Eastern Europe. Some are highly qualified professionals, but have moved into badly paid care roles because they are finding it hard to gain a foothold in their own professions in the UK. As the population ages, these care workers are providing an ever more vital service. Yet their voices are very rarely heard. Blanche Girouard accompanies some of them on their rounds to hear their stories.
28/04/2027m 42s

Coronavirus Global Conversations - Care home workers and Covid-19 vaccine volunteers

People from all over the world discuss our shared experience of the epidemic; from nurses in intensive care and vaccine researchers, to pregnant women and couples getting married in a lockdown. With host Nuala McGovern, they talk together about how they are living with the impact of these extraordinary times in different countries and how they are trying to get through it. This week: Paramedics and care home workers, living in slums during a pandemic, and the Covid-19 vaccine volunteers hoping to save lives.
26/04/2027m 49s

Don't log off - part four

Alan Dein talks to people around the world about the challenges of family life in lockdown. He connects with Margaret in Uganda who has adopted many children orphaned by HIV. And he reaches out to Alezz in Peru, a trans non-binary person who is confined to their bedroom as their parents struggle to accept them. He also speaks to Pawel who got trapped in Poland at the start of January and does not know when he will be able to return home to his wife in China.
25/04/2027m 49s

Saving Zimbabwe’s forests

Honey bees, cow dung and mulch; how a company in Zimbabwe is protecting forests in order to offset the carbon emissions of people around the world. Even though many flights are grounded at the moment, there is still a need to reduce the amount of carbon we pump into the atmosphere. But what happens when you can’t reduce it any further? You can offset it. Charlotte Ashton discovers a company based in Zimbabwe that runs one of the largest projects of its kind in the world and finds out where your money goes if you choose to offset your carbon emissions. Carbon Green Africa’s project focuses on protecting Zimbabwe’s existing forests, rather than planting new trees and her journey takes her to some surprising places. In a programme recorded last November, Charlotte finds that preventing deforestation not only helps her assuage her flight shame, but helps give people in a remote part of Zimbabwe new jobs, more food and an oven powered by cow dung! Presenter: Charlotte Ashton Producer: Phoebe Keane (Image: Forests in Guruve district, Zimbabwe. Credit: BBC/Phoebe Keane)
23/04/2026m 28s

China and the virus

Has the coronavirus epidemic weakened or strengthened the grip of China’s Communist Party? In the early stages of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan, authorities there downplayed its significance. A doctor who sounded the alarm was forced to contradict himself. He later contracted Covid-19 and died from it. Medical facilities were initially unprepared. Mark Mardell assesses how President Xi and his government will emerge from the crisis.
22/04/2027m 47s

In search of the quarter-life crisis

We’re told that our twenties are a time when we’re meant to be finding ourselves, having fun, living our best lives and making the most of our freedom before settling down. But are the twenties really like this for millennials around the world? You might have heard of the midlife crisis, said to hit anywhere between a person’s forties and early fifties. But in this programme, we’re trying to find out whether there’s such a thing as a quarter-life crisis. We’ll hear from young people about their experiences of the crisis and the pressures they say led them to it, from finding a fulfilling job, to landing the perfect partner, to fears they’ll never be able to buy a house and start to actually ‘adult’. We’ll hear experiences from Moscow, Cairo, New York, and London to see if this really is a worldwide issue. We’ll speak to experts about the evidence for whether it actually exists, including a pscyhologist who calls the quarter-life crisis a ‘global phenomenon’. Is this true, or are millennials just moaning and trying to find a new label for problems every generation has faced? We’ll dig in to the reasons people are feeling in crisis, and hear words of wisdom from those who have overcome it. This documentary is airing as part of Life Changes, a series of programmes and features across the BBC’s global networks exploring the theme of change - how we change ourselves, our lives, and how we respond to changes in the world around us. Reporting from across the world - from Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda and Paraguay to Egypt, the US and Russia – it covers everything from sexuality to sustainability, from peace to war, and from neurodiversity to migration. Presented by Katerina Venediktova. Produced by Eleanor Layhe for BBC World Service.
21/04/2050m 48s

The Response: Coronavirus - Lockdown tales from Riyadh, Hangzhou and Accra

The first episode includes concerns about the impact of a full lockdown in Ghana, the impact of the closure of public buildings on one man in Mississippi, there’s an insight from Hangzhou in China as the restrictions end and a woman in the UK explains how she felt as the symptoms of Covid 19 became clear.
21/04/2027m 44s

Togetherness: Coronavirus Global Conversations - Dealing with grief

Shaye in the US, Ana in Spain and Elliot in the UK remember the parents they have lost to Covid-19 and the impact it is having on their lives. African Americans in New York, Massachusetts and Georgia consider why black communities in the United States are suffering so much during this health emergency. While social distancing meant Liat and Amir in Israel and Emine and Jon in the UK had to rip up their original wedding plans and come up with new ways to get married.
19/04/2027m 18s

Personal finance for the pandemic

As coronavirus spreads people are worrying about their money as well as their health. What can you do to protect your finances and what are governments doing to help? You’ve been sharing your stories and advice with Manuela Saragosa and Paul Lewis who are joined by: Professor Ricardo Reis, from the London School of Economics Professor Ila Patnaik, a former economic advisor to the Indian government Oluwatosin Olaseinde, founder of Money Africa in Nigeria Bola Sokunbi, the founder of Clever Girl finance in the US Jürgen Stock, the Secretary General of Interpol.
18/04/2049m 44s

Don't log off - part three

Across every continent, lives have been put on hold, and people are looking to the day when they can pick up and restart after lockdown. In Mexico, Lucia has spent the past seven years searching for her kidnapped son – one of thousands of disappeared children in the country. For now she has been forced to put that on hold. Captain Jens aboard a vast container ship has not been on land for three months – and does not know when he will next see his family, but he is finding solace in the logs of his ancestors. In Nigeria, student Babatunde Ismail Bale is sheltering in a mosque after his college closed its doors – but is still finding ways to study. And in the Philippine’s capital Manila, armed soldiers on the streets are bringing back fearful memories of martial law in the 1970s.
18/04/2027m 17s

Chile: An education for all

A much anticipated referendum in Chile on a new constitution has been postponed till the autumn amid safety concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. President Sebastian Piñera had agreed to the vote and a range of reforms following months of civil unrest. Since last autumn, the country has been experiencing a wave of protests with people on the streets angry at the level of inequality in the country. Amongst them thousands of university students, teachers and school children – who have been prepared to face tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets – in a bid to change the education system in Chile. They say a privileged few have access to all the best jobs and the rest are given a substandard schooling with leaky roofs in winter, boiling hot classrooms in summer and inadequate teaching. For Assignment, Jane Chambers spent time with the protestors calling for a fairer education for all. Presented and produced by Jane Chambers Edited by Bridget Harney (Image: A demonstrator kicks a tear gas canister at a police car during a protest about the education system in Chile. Credit: Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)
16/04/2027m 4s

What we can do with our waste

Every year we produce over 2 billion tonnes of solid waste worldwide. Most of it ends up in dumps or landfills, or is thrown into the oceans, or is burned. Only a small fraction is ever recycled. But are there other, more creative uses for all that rubbish? To try and find some answers, BBC Mundo reporter Lucia Blasco visits Paraguay to meet the inspiring young musicians of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, whose instruments are made out of rubbish from the city's main landfill; and she travels to the city of Linköping in southern Sweden, where almost all the houses are heated by energy produced by incinerating waste. This documentary is airing as part of Life Changes, a series of programmes and features across the BBC’s global TV, radio, social and online networks exploring the theme of change - how we change ourselves, our lives, and how we respond to changes in the world around us. Reporting from across the world - from Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda and Paraguay to Egypt, the US and Russia – the documentaries and digital stories will cover a diverse range of topics, from sexuality to sustainability, from peace to war, and from neurodiversity to migration.
14/04/2050m 19s

Togetherness: Coronavirus Global Conversations

A place to talk about the impact of the disease on you, your family and your communities.
12/04/2023m 38s

Coronavirus and Europe

Experts discuss the challenges posed by and the consequences of the outbreak of Covid-19 in Europe. BBC correspondent Jonny Dymond is joined by a panel of experts from across the continent who answer questions from the public. The panel: Dunja Mijatovic: Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe Margaret Harris: World Health Organisation Richard Horton: Editor in Chief of The Lancet Nathalie Tocci: Political analyst and Director of the Institute of International Affairs Danae Kyriakopoulou: Economist from OMFIF, the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, an independent financial think tank BBC World Questions is a series of international events created in partnership with the British Council.
11/04/2050m 13s

Women of the World

Kim Chakanetsa for an hour of conversation with the acclaimed authors Isabel Allende and Edna O’Brien. Isabel talks about finding love in her 70s and how she is coping with isolation and Covid-19. Edna, now 89, talks about her latest Novel, Girl, which took her to Nigeria - and she too discusses dealing with loneliness and the power of literature in the midst of crisis.
11/04/2050m 6s

Don't log off - part two

Alan Dein connects with people around the world trying to find moments of calm during the coronavirus pandemic. He speaks to Jens, the captain of a container ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean who is unsure when he may be able to get his crew back home, and Sujatha, an 85-year-old in India who is philosophical about being confined to her home in Delhi. South of Delhi, Alan reaches out to Chinu who is feeding Mumbai's urban poor as the Indian government imposes a lockdown. And he speak to Benedetta, who is eight months pregnant in an anxious and eerily quiet Rome. He also catches up with 16-year-old Ibrahim who was homeless on the streets of Athens when they last spoke - but now has some good news to share.
11/04/2027m 5s

Extreme measures

Can extremists be de-radicalised? For Assignment, Adrian Goldberg, hears from the ‘intervention providers’ in the United Kingdom tasked with turning offenders away from violence. Usman Khan was released from prison in 2018 for plotting a terror attack. He’d undertaken two de-radicalisation programmes designed to turn him away from violent extremism. Yet despite efforts to rehabilitate him, Khan launched an attack near London Bridge, in the capital, killing two people – one of them was Jack Merritt. It was the first of two violent attacks involving convicted extremists in the space of two months. So just how effective are these schemes designed to de-radicalise extremists? We hear from closely people involved in them. Some say offenders can cheat the system and convince the authorities they’ve changed their ways. A serving prisoner in a maximum security jail tells Adrian that convicted terrorists are ‘gaming’ the system by pretending to comply and he warns that non terrorist offenders are being dangerously radicalised. Reporter: Adrian Goldberg Researcher: Luke Radcliff Producer, Helen Clifton Editor: Carl Johnston (Photo: Jack Merritt courtesy of the Merritt family)
09/04/2026m 28s

ADHD and me

For many years ADHD was dismissed by sceptics as a dubious condition. Later, when it achieved recognition, if not acceptance, the focus was very much on the negative impact it had on the lives of people it affected and their close ones. As Saeedeh Hashemi - herself diagnosed with ADHD - will show, there is now increasing understanding that living with the condition also brings positives. Saeedeh will meet others who, for all the downsides of the disorder, feel that life without it would be like “living cramped within a frame” and who would not give it up as it has fundamentally shaped their personalities. She will also talk to top medical professionals to hear how they are seeking to recognise the positive potential of ADHD and what innovative ways of treating the condition they’re suggesting. The modern working environment has shifted and employers are finally embracing neuro-diversity as a vital tool in building effective teams. Saeedeh will explore what it actually means, how the thinking about workflow, work space and team work reflects the needs of people with the condition and allows them to grow to the best of their potential and to the benefit of business. The programme, of course, certainly won’t suggest that ADHD is entirely a gift. It will, however, seek to emphasise that alongside negatives come strengths and qualities that can help propel individuals to enormous personal success, and how society and businesses are beginning to see it as an opportunity rather than a disadvantage. This documentary is airing as part of Life Changes, a series of programmes and features across the BBC’s global TV, radio, social and online networks exploring the theme of change - how we change ourselves, our lives, and how we respond to changes in the world around us. Reporting from across the world - from Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda and Paraguay to Egypt, the US and Russia – the documentaries and digital stories will cover a diverse range of topics, from sexuality to sustainability, from peace to war, and from neurodiversity to migration.
08/04/2027m 17s

Melbourne: The sounds of the city

Peter's latest spot of tourism takes him to Melbourne. As a huge sports fan, he is used to listening on his crackly radio to cricket commentaries. So he heads to the Melbourne cricket ground, as a first stop. In the spirit of the Ashes, he went with David, another blind cricket nut and a native of the city. His next stop is Melbourne’s version of the golden mile, where Peter indulged another obsession - funfairs. But the real joy of Melbourne is the outdoors, and the delight of wandering around with a microphone chatting to people.
07/04/2027m 8s

Togetherness: Coronavirus Global Conversations

Coronavirus Global Conversations is a place to talk about the impact of the disease.
05/04/2023m 38s

Germany's refugee teachers

Five years on from the refugee crisis of 2015, Germany is now home to over a million refugees. Naomi Scherbel-Ball explores a classroom experiment with a difference: a scheme to retrain refugee teachers and place them in German schools, to help the country with a shortage of 40,000 teachers. Naomi visits a school in Mönchengladbach in Western Germany, where Mustafa Hammal teaches English. Mustafa, an English teacher with eight years of experience, fled the civil war in Syria with his family in 2015. Arriving in Germany, he discovered a teacher retraining programme designed to harness the skills that refugee teachers bring with them. Miriam Vock, an educational psychologist at Potsdam University, transports us back to the summer of 2015. Amidst the chaos of the refugee crisis, she wondered if there might be some teachers among the refugees arriving in Germany. A year later, the first refugee teacher retraining course was launched - an idea that inspired a number of other pilot courses across Germany. Retraining as a teacher in a system with rigid set qualifications is particularly challenging, however, and graduates are finding it difficult to find work. The success of the far-right Alternative for Germany, now the country’s main opposition party, has raised the stakes for refugees trying to integrate. As Germany struggles with an ageing population and a severe labour shortage, Naomi asks if refugees can fill the gap. This documentary is airing as part of Life Changes, a series of programmes and features across the BBC’s global TV, radio, social and online networks exploring the theme of change - how we change ourselves, our lives, and how we respond to changes in the world around us. Reporting from across the world - from Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda and Paraguay to Egypt, the US and Russia – the documentaries and digital stories will cover a diverse range of topics, from sexuality to sustainability, from peace to war, and from neurodiversity to migration.
04/04/2050m 10s

Don't Log Off

Alan Dein connects with seven individuals whose lives have shifted under the coronavirus pandemic as they nervously anticipate what will come next in an uncertain future. In Tehran, Golnar, an Iranian who describes herself as ‘constant traveller’ is inside her apartment – all future trips postponed. Across the town is the hostel she set up with a friend. Forced to close in the city’s lockdown it is now serving a crucial role. In Dhaka, as the pandemic takes hold, entrepreneur Fahad worries for the successful delivery business he has spent years building up and the future for his parents. In Greece, Ibrahim is homeless, sheltering in an abandoned building. His friend Mikki is self-isolating and cannot help him.
04/04/2027m 9s

The man who died for trees

Romania's forests are the Amazon of Europe - with large wilderness areas under constant pressure from loggers. For years, corrupt authorities turned a blind eye to illegal felling. But now a series of killings in the woods has intensified demands across the continent to end the destruction. Six rangers - who defend forests from illegal cutting – have been killed in as many years. Two died in the space of just a few weeks late last year. The latest victim, Liviu Pop, father of three young girls, was shot as he confronted men he thought were stealing timber. But the men weren’t arrested. They say the ranger shot himself. And in the remote region of Maramures, where many people are involved in logging, that version is widely believed. Locals are afraid to talk about what happened. Is the lucrative logging business protected by powerful interests who turn a blind eye to murder? And are rangers sometimes complicit in the rape of the forest? For Assignment, Tim Whewell tries to find out exactly how a young man employed to protect nature met his death. And he asks how Romania can save its wilderness when more than half the trees cut down are felled illegally? Reporter: Tim Whewell Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Forest guards stand next to wooden crosses bearing the names of their killed colleagues, including Liviu Pop. Credit: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images)
02/04/2026m 28s

Miami: The sounds of the city

Peter White, who was born without sight, takes a tour of Miami, navigating primarily with his ears. Peter joins a new blind friend, George, who takes him on a relaxed stroll around a well-heeled area on a sunny afternoon. Peter talks to Carlos, a homeless man trudging the streets each day looking for work. And, on the outskirts of Miami, Peter meets his first alligator.
31/03/2027m 25s

Ethiopia and Eritrea: Rebirth at the border

In September 2018, the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea was opened for the first time in 20 years. Physical travel between the two countries and even telephone communication had been next to impossible, separating families and devastating businesses in borderland towns such as Zalambessa in Ethiopia. The communities on either side have had the opportunity to reconnect, rebuild and move on with their lives. The town is undergoing a transformation. Now, family events and religious ceremonies are celebrated with renewed joy as relatives come together to mark life’s milestones. In this programme, we immerse ourselves in the baptism of a new baby boy, born to first-time parents, and find out if their Eritrean relatives are able to cross the border to join the celebrations as they hope. But there’s a twist. While informal cross border movement continues on foot, the official border checkpoint in the town is closed again for trade and vehicles due to political uncertainty. There’s a construction boom in the region because of the optimism that once prevailed, but for many, their hope has been replaced by despair as business is stagnating once again. This is a programme about how lives are changing in all kinds of ways, and about the hope people hold on to for a better future. We share in both joy and frustration; a conflicted situation that remains to be resolved.
30/03/2050m 10s

North Korea's celebrity defectors

According to South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, there are more than 30,000 North Korean defectors living in the South. The lack of access to North Korea makes defectors one of the few windows to what life is like in the secretive regime. As a result, the defectors and their stories have become a hugely valuable commodity in South Korea’s popular culture and media. There are a number of popular reality TV programmes starring North Korean defectors. Hyun-joo Yu is one of the most established stars on Now on My Way to Meet You, a popular and long running variety programme. The show features emotional North Korean defectors sharing their stories and performing to dramatic music. At the same time, the South Korean celebrity guests provide commentary and sometimes jokes. Meanwhile, on the Internet, dozens of North Korean defectors have gained popularity through live streaming, telling stories about their lives in the North on YouTube and Instagram. These defector-celebrities, like 21-year-old Nara Kang, are mostly young, attractive women. Representing a younger generation of defectors, Nara Kang is tapping into an audience with no living memory of the North. Capitalising on their status as defectors to gain fame, these celebrities cannot move on from being defined by their past. They strive to fit into South Korean society, while emphasising their otherness to South Korean audiences.
26/03/2050m 4s

Indonesia: Not cool to date

Saying no to dating is part of a growing ultraconservative social movement in Indonesia being spread through Instagram and WhatsApp. “When I look at couples, I see my old self, how I used to be affectionate in public, holding hands, hugging,” says 23-year-old Yati, “and now I think that’s disgusting.” When Yati broke up with her ex, she didn’t just swear off dating; she joined Indonesia’s anti-dating movement - Indonesia Without Dating. Its leaders say dating is expensive, gets in the way of study, and - most importantly - is against religious teaching. For Assignment, Simon Maybin discovers it is part of a wider youth-led surge in conservative Islam in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Opponents see the phenomenon as a backwards step for women and a threat to Indonesia’s religious pluralism. Presenter: Simon Maybin Producer: Josephine Casserly Editor: Bridget Harney Music at the end of the programme was Tubuhku Otoritasku by Tika and The Dissidents (Image: Yati at an “Indonesia Without Dating” demo. Copyright: Simon Maybin/BBC)
26/03/2026m 52s
Heart UK