Witness History

Witness History

By BBC World Service

History as told by the people who were there.


Hong Kong: Abandoned children

In the 1950s and '60s hundreds of thousands of Chinese people fled to the British colony of Hong Kong to escape famine. Conditions for the arrivals were so desperate that some families chose to abandon their children in the streets so they would be taken in by orphanages. Many were adopted in homes in Britain and other English-speaking countries. Laura FitzPatrick talks to one of the adopted children, now known as Debbie Cook. (Photo: The young Debbie Cook with kind permission from the family)
30/06/228m 59s

Hong Kong - Kowloon Walled City

A unique way of life came to an end in Hong Kong in 1993 when Kowloon Walled City was demolished. When the rest of Hong Kong was a British colony, the seven acres of the Walled City were still nominally under the control of mainland China - but it became a lawless world of its own. At one point it was one of the most of the most densely populated places the world has ever seen. Lucy Burns speaks to Albert Ng, who grew up in Kowloon Walled City, and urban designer Suenn Ho, who studied it before its demolition. (Photo: Credit: Getty Images)
30/06/229m 5s

Hong Kong: The 5-19 football riot in China

In May 1985 Hong Kong inflicted an unexpected footballing defeat on their neighbours and rivals China in a World Cup qualifying game in Beijing. The disappointed Chinese fans rioted and the Hong Kong team had to flee to the safety of their hotel. They later returned home to a heroes welcome. Ashley Byrne talks to Hong Kong manager, Lawrence Kee Yu Kam. (Photo: Lawrence Kee Yu Kam with a photo of his team celebrating in their hotel in 1985. Credit: Private Collection of Lawrence Kee Yu Kam) A Made in Manchester production for BBC World Service
29/06/228m 57s

Hong Kong: Democracy campaigner

In 1997 Hong Kong was handed back to China after more than 150 years of British rule. There were ceremonies and fireworks to celebrate the end of colonialism - but some residents were not happy. Emily Lau was a leading democracy campaigner at the time and tells Mike Gallagher about that day. (Photo: Getty Images)
28/06/229m 2s

Hong Kong: The handover

In 1997 Hong Kong was a buzzing hub of capitalism surrounded by a communist state. It was also a colonial relic - still ruled largely from Britain. It was the job of former Governor General, Chris Patten, to hand it over to China. He tells Louise Hidalgo about it. (Photo of Chris Patten handing over flag at ceremony in Hong Kong. Credit: Getty Images)
27/06/228m 56s

The UK's first official gay Pride March

The UK’s first official gay Pride march took place 50 years ago - 1st July 1972. Alex Collins talks to Ted Brown who took part in the London march. Photo - Ted Brown taken in 1971
24/06/228m 58s

Egypt's first democratic presidential election

In June 2012, Egypt held its first ever free democratic presidential election. Mohamed Morsi, representing the Muslim Brotherhood, emerged victorious. Ben Henderson spoke to Rabab El-Mahdi, Chief Strategist to one of Morsi’s rival candidates. She described what it was like to be involved in the first election of its kind, how Morsi tried to recruit her, and the personal impact of political campaigning in such a polarised country. (Photo of Mohamed Morsi in 2012 by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
23/06/2210m 14s

The killing of Vincent Chin

In June 1982 a young Chinese-American engineer was murdered with a baseball bat by two white men in the US city of Detroit. The lenient sentences the perpetrators received sparked an Asian-American civil rights movement with protests across the US. At the time, America was going through an economic depression and many were blaming Japan which was perceived to be flooding the US with its cars. For Asian-Americans it was a time of fear. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Helen Zia, one of the activists leading the fight for justice. This programme was first broadcast in 2017. Photo: Helen Zia addressing a 10th anniversary commemoration event New York City, 1992. Credit: Helen Zia.
22/06/2212m 25s

Robot Surgeon

In 1985 the first robot-assisted medical surgery took place in Vancouver, Canada. It’s now become a standard feature of operating theatres worldwide. The original gadget was named Arthrobot. A key member of the original project team Geof Auchinleck tells his story to Kurt Brookes. A Made in Manchester production. Photo: Arthrobot in action (Credit: Geof Auchinleck)
21/06/229m 3s

India's surrogacy capital

In 2003 Dr Nayana Patel, who ran her own fertility clinic in the state of Gujarat in India, carried out her first surrogacy procedure. It was a purely altruistic case and involved a surrogate mother and her own daughter. Dr Patel's clinic would go on to become one of the biggest in India attracting Western couples in a country where women were paid to become surrogates. It was legalised in 2002 but due to growing criticism, the government banned couples from the West from paying Indian surrogates to bear their children in 2015, arguing that the industry was exploiting poor women. Reena Stanton-Sharma spoke to Dr Nayana Patel.
20/06/2210m 13s

Cambodia war crimes

In 2009, a UN-backed war crimes tribunal opened in Cambodia to try the senior Khmer Rouge commanders responsible for the genocide of an estimated two million people during Pol Pot’s regime in the late 1970s. Josephine McDermott talks to New Zealander Rob Hamill, who testified against the notorious prison camp chief known as Comrade Duch. Rob Hamill’s brother Kerry was killed by the Khmer Rouge after mistakenly sailing into Cambodian waters. (Photo: Kerry Hamill aboard his boat. Credit: Rob Hamill)
17/06/229m 1s

James Joyce and Ulysses

This year is the 100th anniversary of Ulysses by James Joyce, a landmark modernist novel and one of the most influential works of the 20th century. Ulysses is the story of one day in the life of a young Irishman in Dublin; that day, June the 16th, is now known as Bloomsday. To mark Bloomsday, Simon Watts brings together the memories of some of Joyce’s friends, as recorded in the BBC archives. The programme was first broadcast in 2012. PHOTO: James Joyce in 1930 (Roger Viollet via Getty Images)
16/06/228m 58s

New York's LGBT High School

In 1985, a unique High School opened in New York to provide a safe environment for LGBT students needing specialised education. The publicly-funded Harvey Milk High School was founded by former social worker, Steve Askinazy. Initially, it faced some opposition from the media and Christian groups, but the school eventually expanded and currently takes about 60 students a year. Alex Collins talks to Steve Askinazy. PHOTO: A protest outside the Harvey Milk High School in 1985 (Getty Images)
15/06/229m 9s

Vietnam's 'Napalm Girl'

It’s 50 years since Kim Phuc's village in Vietnam was bombed with napalm. The photograph of her, running burned and crying away from the attack, became one of the iconic images of the Vietnam War. Christopher Wain was one of the journalists who witnessed the attack, and who helped save her. This programme brings Kim Phuc and Christopher Wain together in conversation. It is a Made in Manchester production. Photo: Vietnamese-Canadian Phan Thi Kim Phuc delivers her speech before her June 8, 1972 Pulitzer-Prize-winning photograph during the Vietnam war, during a lecture meeting in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture on April 13, 2013. Credit: AFP/Getty Images.
14/06/2210m 21s

Holy Cross school dispute

A violent sectarian dispute took place outside Holy Cross primary school in Belfast in 2001. Loyalist protesters tried to block Catholic pupils and their parents going to school for months. Rachel Naylor spoke to one of the parents, Elaine Burns. (Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Image)
13/06/228m 58s

The Gulabi Gang

In the early 2000s, Sampat Pal Devi, a villager from a remote part of India's Uttar Pradesh state, started a women's rights group which now has thousands of followers across the country. The Gulabi Gang were originally vigilantes who fought back with sticks against wife-beaters, rapists and corrupt police officers. Now a more mainstream organisation, the Gulabi Gang are known for wearing pink saris and have even inspired a Bollywood film. Sampat Pal Devi talks to Reena Stanton-Sharma.
10/06/229m 7s

How Sri Lanka's president survived a suicide bombing

In 2006, Sri Lanka’s current president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, came within metres of death when he was targeted in a suicide bomb attack in Colombo. The attack was orchestrated by the Tamil Tigers during what was supposed to be a ceasefire in Sri Lanka’s long-standing civil war. Matt Pintus has been speaking to former Sri Lankan foreign minister, Pali Palihakkara, who was injured in the blast. Photo: Burning car after explosion (Getty Images)
09/06/229m 0s

Saving Gabon's rainforest

In 2002 Omar Bongo, the president of Gabon, set up a network of national parks to protect the country's forests from logging and help save its population of forest elephants. He was responding to pressure from campaigners worried by a surge in logging over the previous decade. Among them was a British biologist called Lee White, who went on to become Gabon's Minister of Forests and the Environment. Lee White talks to Laura Jones. Photo: A forest elephant in Gabon (Getty Images)
08/06/2210m 20s

The Diary of Anne Frank

In June 1947, one of the most powerful accounts of the Holocaust - the Diary of Anne Frank - was published for the first time. In her diary, the teenager described her life in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands up until shortly before she was arrested and sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. In 2012, Mike Lanchin spoke to Anne Frank's cousin, the late Buddy Elias. PHOTO: Anne Frank (Press Association)
07/06/229m 4s

The assassination of Bobby Kennedy

In June 1968, US presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy was assassinated shortly after addressing his supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. It was less than five years after his older brother, President John F Kennedy, had also been assassinated. Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of the crime, but many - including Kennedy's friend Paul Schrade - suspect a second gunman was involved. Schrade was shot himself that night and he told Rebecca Kesby about why he’s campaigning for the case to be reopened. PHOTO: Robert Kennedy speaking at the Ambassador Hotel shortly before his assassination (Getty Images)
06/06/2213m 17s

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

As the Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee weekend, Claire Bowes takes us back to her Coronation in London's Westminster Abbey in June 1953. In 2013, she brought together the memories of two of the Maids of Honour, Lady Anne Glenconner and Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart. (Photo by Bela Zola/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
03/06/229m 1s

Sarin attack in Syria

In 2013, more than a thousand people are thought to have died in a chemical weapons attack on a suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus called Ghouta. It was the single deadliest attack of the Syrian civil war and the UN later confirmed that the nerve agent Sarin had been used. Louise Hidalgo speaks to Angela Kane, the former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Her team of chemical weapons inspectors reached the site in Ghouta just days after the attack. PHOTO: A UN inspector at work in Ghouta in August 2013 (AFP/Getty Images)
02/06/228m 58s

Life in the biggest Syrian refugee camp in the world

It's 10 years since Za’atari refugee camp was set up in Jordan to take in the thousands of people fleeing Syria because of the civil war. It's now the biggest camp for Syrian refugees. Mayada Masalmeh and her family arrived in 2013 from their hometown just over the border, thinking it would be a short stay. Laura Jones hears from Mayada and her daughter. With thanks to BBC Arabic's Diala Al-Azzeh and Randa Darwish. Photo: Za'atari Refugee Camp in 2021 by Getty Images.
01/06/2210m 17s

Civil Rights activist Ida B Wells

In March 2022 a law was passed in the United States making lynching a federal crime - nearly 120 years after the first attempts to introduce legislation. The pioneering African-American journalist Ida B Wells first campaigned for the change in the 1890s after realising the horror of lynching taking place across the country. Laura Jones has been speaking to her great-granddaughter Michelle Duster. PHOTO: Ida B Wells in 1920 (Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)
31/05/229m 1s

The attack on Lod Airport

In May 1972, Japanese gunmen attacked Lod airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. They were left-wing militants working for a Palestinian organisation. Twenty-six people were killed that day and more than 70 others were injured. In 2011, Simon Watts spoke to Ros Sloboda, one of the survivors of the shooting. PHOTO: Kozo Okamoto, one of the Japanese gunmen, on trial in Israeli in 1972 (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
30/05/229m 1s

Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe was one of the world's most influential female artists - in 2014, her painting "Jimson Weed" sold for the highest price ever paid for a work by a woman. Famous for her vivid oil paintings of flowers, landscapes and animal skulls, she lived and worked in the wild dry canyons and deserts of New Mexico in the southern United States. Lucy Burns speaks to her former assistant Agapita Judy Lopez. PHOTO: Georgia O'Keeffe's "Cow skull" on display at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014 (Getty Images)
27/05/229m 2s

The World Festival of Black Arts

in April 1966 thousands of artists and performers from all over Africa descended on the Senegalese capital, Dakar, for the first World Festival of Black Arts. Ibrahim el-Salahi and Elimo Njau are two leading African artists who took part in that first festival. The spoke to Ashley Byrne in 2016 Photo: Poster from the first World Festival of Black Arts.
26/05/229m 7s

The museum of banned Russian art

In 1966, a Russian painter and archaeologist, Igor Savitsky, created a museum in the remote desert of Uzbekistan, where he stored tens of thousands of works of art that he had saved from Stalin's censors. The Savitsky museum, in Nukus, is now recognised as one of the greatest collections of Russian avant-garde art in the world. In 2016, Louise Hidalgo spoke to the son and grandson of one of the artists, Alexander Volkov, whose work Savitsky saved. (Photo:the Karakalpak Museum of Art, home of the Savitsky art collection. Credit: Chip HIRES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
25/05/229m 2s

The last days of Frida Kahlo

The great Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, died in 1954, at the age of 47. The art critic, Raquel Tibol, lived in Frida's house during the last year of the artist's life. In 2014 she spoke to Mike Lanchin about the pain and torment of Kahlo's final days. PHOTO: Frida Kahlo at her home in Mexico City in 1952 (Getty Images)
24/05/229m 1s

Meeting Picasso

In the summer of 1951 a young art historian called John Richardson met one of the greatest painters of the modern era. Richardson was part of Picasso's circle in the South of France for the rest of the 1950s and then spent the rest of his life writing the definitive biography of the Spanish artist. John Richardson spoke to Laura Sheeter in 2011. He died in 2019. PHOTO: Pablo Picasso in Cannes in 1955 (Getty Images)
23/05/229m 2s

The murder of Kelso Cochrane

In May 1959, Kelso Cochrane, a carpenter who'd emigrated to Britain from Antigua, was knifed to death by a gang of white youths in West London. The unsolved murder came at a time of racial tension in the area and led to the first official inquiry into race relations in British history. For its part, the large Caribbean community in West London responded by creating the cultural festival that became the Notting Hill Carnival. Claire Bowes talks to Victoria Christian, a friend of Kelso Cochrane. PHOTO: The funeral of Kelso Cochrane in 1959 (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
20/05/228m 58s

Chasing the Marcos millions

The former president of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos Senior is thought to have plundered a huge amount of public money during military rule in the 1970s and '80s. He spent the fortune on foreign properties and the luxury lifestyle enjoyed by his wife, Imelda Marcos. American lawyer Robert Swift has spent decades trying to recover that money so it can paid out as compensation to the thousands of Filipinos who were imprisoned or tortured during martial law. He spoke to Matt Pintus. (Photo: Imelda Marcos and Ferdinand Marcos Senior in Manila in 1977. Credit: Getty Images)
20/05/228m 59s

Shanghai at War

In 1937, Japanese forces entered Shanghai - spelling the end of a period when the Chinese city had been a thriving commercial centre governed by international powers and known as the "Paris of the East". During the eight-year Japanese occupation, local people in Shanghai endured starvation and brutal treatment; while foreigners scrambled to escape as their lifestyle of servants and glamourous parties slowly disappeared. Josephine McDermott speaks to Liliane Willens, who lived through the invasion and occupation of Asia's most international city. PHOTO: Japanese troops in Shanghai in 1937 (Ullstein Bild via Getty Images)
19/05/229m 3s

The first McDonald's in Moscow

Following the closure of McDonald’s in Russia, we’re going back to January 1990 when the global fast food giant opened its first restaurant in Moscow. In 2015, Mike Lanchin spoke to George Cohon, the man who brought the Big Mac to what was then the communist USSR, and to Sveta Polyakova, one of the first locals to work there. PHOTO: A Soviet police officer outside the first McDonald's (Getty Images)
18/05/229m 2s

People Power in the Philippines

In 1986, four days of huge public protests brought down President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. Kate McGowan, in Manila, talks to the leading Filipino novelist, Jose Dalisay, about the demonstrations. This edition of Witness History was first broadcast in 2011. PHOTO: Filipino troops celebrating the fall of President Marcos (Getty Images)
16/05/229m 1s

The war in Transnistria

With speculation mounting that President Putin might mount an attack on Moldova, we're going back to the early 1990s and a war between the Moldovans and Russian-backed separatists in the disputed region of Transnistria. Several hundred people died in a conflict which ended in a stalemate in 1992. Matt Pintus speaks to former journalist and Moldovan defence minister, Viorel Cibotaru. PHOTO: Russian-speaking Transnistrian fighters during the war (Getty Images)
13/05/229m 2s

Eyjafjallajökull: The volcano that stopped Europe

In 2010, a previously little-known Icelandic volcano erupted twice, sending a huge plume of volcanic ash all over Europe. The ash cloud grounded flights for days, causing inconvenience for millions of passengers. Reena Stanton-Sharma talks to Icelandic geophysicist and Eyjafjallajökull-watcher, Sigrun Hreinsdottir. (Photo: The awesome power of Eyjafjallajökull. Credit: Getty Images)
11/05/228m 59s

China opens up to capitalism

In May 1980 China allowed capitalist activity for the first time since the Communist Revolution, in four designated cities known as the Special Economic Zones. The most successful was Shenzhen, which grew from a mainly rural area specialising in pigs and lychees to one of China's biggest cities. In 2017 Lucy Burns spoke to Yong Ya, a musician who has lived in Shenzhen since the 1980s, and to ethnographer Mary Ann O'Donnell. PHOTO: A giant poster of Chinese patriarch Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen, the first of China's special economic zones (Getty Images)
10/05/229m 2s

Soviet nuclear missile alert

In 1983, during a tense period of the Cold War, Soviet nuclear officials received a computer warning suggesting that the United States had fired five nuclear missiles towards Moscow. Fortunately, the officer on duty, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov, realised the warning was a false alarm and advised his commanders against a retaliatory strike against America. Alex Last hears his story, as told in 2008 to the BBC's Jonathan Charles. Stanislav Petrov died in 2017. PHOTO: Stanislav Petrov pictured in 2004 (Getty Images)
09/05/229m 26s

Fighting for Uyghur rights in China

In the 1980s, the minority Uyghur community in China staged some of the first protests against the all-powerful Communist Party. The Uyghurs were demanding that the Chinese government keep its promises to protect their culture and grant them political autonomy in Xinjiang region. In 1989, many Uyghur students enthusiastically supported the pro-democracy demonstrations centred on Beijing's Tiananmen Square. One of them was Aziz Isa Elkun, who talks to Josephine McDermott. PHOTO: A Uyghur yurt on the Xinjiang steppe (Getty Images)
06/05/229m 1s

The chemistry of cannabis

The Israel scientist Raphael Mechoulam has been researching what’s thought to be the world’s most popular drug since the 1960s. In 1964, he isolated Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC – the compound that gets cannabis-users high. Later, professor Mechoulam discovered another compound called CBD, or Cannabidiol, which has medical benefits without any kind of psychoactive effect. Recently, CBD has had a revolutionary impact on treating health conditions such as epilepsy. Prof Mechoulam talks to Claire Bowes. (Photo: A marihuana plant in India. Credit: Getty Images)
05/05/228m 58s

Roe v Wade

In 1973, a landmark decision was made in the US Supreme Court which made abortion legal. The late Sarah Weddington brought the case, even though she was fresh out of law school at the time. She spoke to Chloe Hadjimatheou in 2012. Sarah Weddington died in December 2021. (Photo: Sarah Weddington pictured in 1979. Credit: Getty Images)
04/05/229m 2s

Surviving the Falkands War

In 1982 British soldier Simon Weston was severely burned when Argentine planes bombed his ship, the Sir Galahad, as it unloaded troops in the Falkland Islands. Scott Wright hears how Weston was not initially expected to survive, and how he later met and forgave one of the Argentine pilots who caused his life-changing injuries. The interview was produced by Alan Hamilton and the programme is a Moon Road Production. PHOTO: Simon Weston (Getty Images)
03/05/228m 58s

The sinking of the Belgrano

The Argentine ship, General Belgrano, was sunk by a British submarine during the Falklands War on 2nd of May 1982. 323 people died in the attack. Dario Volonte, now an opera singer, was one of the survivors and in 2014 he spoke to Louise Hidalgo about the attack. Photo: The General Belgrano. (Credit: Getty Images)
02/05/229m 3s

Algeria's rebel footballers

During Algeria's War of Independence, a group of Algerian players secretly left their clubs in France to form their own national team. Some had already been selected to play for France in the upcoming World Cup Finals in 1958. In 2014, Saint Etienne striker, Rashid Mekhloufi, spoke to Mike Lanchin about the day that changed his footballing life. Photo: The 1958 Algerian revolutionary team, reunited 30 years later. Rashid Mekhloufi is second from the right, front row
29/04/229m 1s

The Algerians who fought for France

More than 200,000 Algerians fought for France during the war of independence, becoming known as Harkis. After Algeria's independence in 1962, the Harkis were treated badly by both the Algerians and the French. The FLN regarded the Harkis as traitors; while the French washed their hands of them after losing the war. Brahim Sadouni was one of the Harkis. He spoke to Louise Hidalgo in 2010 about how he was rejected by his own father. PHOTO: Harki forces in 1959 (Jean-Louis SWINERS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
28/04/229m 8s

Algeria: The Massacre in Paris

During their country's War of Independence, Algerian fighters from the FLN also targeted the French mainland, killing police officers in Paris and other cities. In October 1961, French police turned against Algerian demonstrators in the capital who'd been called out onto the streets by the FLN. Dozens were shot, others drowned in the River Seine. For decades, the killings were not officially acknowledged. In 2011, Jannat Jalil heard from one man whose sister died that day. Photo: Algerian demonstrators under arrest after a rally in Paris in October1961 (AFP/Getty Images)
27/04/229m 3s

The War in Algeria: A French soldier's experience

In the late 1950s a young Frenchman, who now goes by the name Ted Morgan, was conscripted to fight for France against Algeria's independence fighters. He served as an intelligence officer during the Battle of Algiers, and over sixty years later he is still haunted by what he saw, and did. This included involvement in the systematic torture by the French of members of Algeria's National Liberation Front or FLN. Ted Morgan spoke to Roger Hardy in 2010. (Photo: French soldiers in the Casbah of Algiers in 1960. Credit: Getty Images)
26/04/229m 5s

Algeria’s Milk Bar Bomber

Zohra Drif was 21 years old when she planted a bomb that exploded at a busy ice-cream parlour in Algiers. The Algerian student targeted the venue in 1956 during her country’s war of independence with France, because she knew it would be frequented by European settlers. Dozens of civilians were maimed by the blast, which marked the start of a new phase of urban conflict known as the Battle of Algiers. Nick Holland hears from Zohra Drif about what happened that day, and from Danielle Chich, who was enjoying a cold treat at the café when the bomb went off. PHOTO: Zohra Drif after her arrest in 1957 (AFP/Getty Images)
25/04/229m 0s

The battle for Kinder Scout

It's 90 years since hundreds of walkers organised a mass trespass on a mountain in the English Peak District called Kinder Scout. It was a major step in the fight by workers in the northern industrial city of Manchester for access to the surrounding countryside, much of which was in private hands. In 2012, Simon Watts brought together the memories of survivors of the Trespass as recorded in the BBC archives. PHOTO: The countryside around Kinder Scout (Getty Images)
22/04/229m 4s

Iranian revolution: The Kurdish uprising

The story of a boy caught up in the forgotten war for Kurdish autonomy in Iran in 1979. During the Iranian revolution, Kurdish groups had joined the struggle to end the rule of the Shah. They wanted greater autonomy for Iran's Kurdish minority. But after the revolution, the new Islamic regime rejected that demand. A conflict erupted between government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, which lasted for years and left thousands dead. Kameel Ahmady is an anthropologist and researcher. At the time he was a boy living in the ethnically-mixed town of Naqadeh in northwest Iran. He tells Alex Last how, as demands for autonomy grew, his town became the scene of bitter ethnic fighting. Photo: Armed Kurdish villagers after the revolution in Iran, March 1979. (François LOCHON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
21/04/2213m 42s

Britain's Soviet spy scandal

In 1971 during the Cold War, the UK expelled 90 Soviet diplomats suspected of spying. They'd been allowed into Britain in an attempt to improve relations, but it was later discovered that they'd been carrying out espionage instead. George Walden was a young diplomat working on the Soviet Desk in the Foreign Office at the time. He spoke to Dina Newman in 2018. PHOTO: British Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Home (left) shakes hands with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko (right) at Heathrow Airport, 26th October 1970. (credit: Ian Showell/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
20/04/229m 2s

Women's rights in Basra

In 2006 after the US-led invasion of Iraq, women in the southern city of Basra were persecuted by militant Islamists forcing them to cover up, stay at home, and adopt an ultra-conservative Islamic code of behaviour, banning them from driving or going out alone. Some women were even killed. Mike Lanchin has spoken to one of the Basra women affected. The producer in Baghdad was Mona Mahmoud. The programme is a CTVC production. PHOTO: Women queuing to vote in Basra in 2005 (Getty Images)
19/04/228m 56s

Erasmus: Europe's student exchange scheme

Since 1987, million of students have been able to live and study in other countries in Europe thanks to the Erasmus student exchange programme. The scheme was the result of 18 years of campaigning by Italian academic, Sofia Corradi, who saw the benefits of studying abroad herself back in the 1950s. Sofia Corradi, now known as "Mamma Erasmus", talks to Rachel Naylor, along with Lucio Picci, one of the first students to go on the programme. PHOTO: Erasmus students based in Italy at a celebration in Rome in 2017 (Getty Images)
18/04/229m 0s

The World Wide Web

The World Wide Web was created in 1989 by a young British computer scientist called Tim Berners-Lee. It's been called one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century and has revolutionised the way we live and interact with each other and the world, and share information and knowledge. Louise Hidalgo talks to fellow computer scientists Ben Segal and Jean Francois Groff who worked at the European scientific research centre, Cern, where Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web, and helped him realise his vision. Picture: abstract world map with glowing networks (credit: Imaginima/Getty Images)
15/04/228m 58s

How Tinder changed the dating game

It’s 10 years since the dating app Tinder was set up. It sparked a revolution in online romance by offering singletons a swipe function and the possibility of viewing the profiles of potential soulmates based nearby. The app has now been downloaded by tens of millions of users worldwide. Rachel Naylor speaks to Chris Gulczynski, one of the co-founders of Tinder.   Image: The Tinder logo on a billboard in the US in 2016 (Getty Images)
14/04/229m 1s

Greece's Great Famine

In 1941, Greece was occupied by Germany and its allies. The economy quickly collapsed and food shortages spread across urban areas with terrifying speed. By the winter of that year tens of thousands were dying. Rob Walker speaks to 94 year old Athina Cacouri who was living in Athens at the time, and to the historian, Mark Mazower.   PHOTO: Two starving boys eating out of a can in Athens in 1943 (Getty Images)
13/04/2210m 31s

The largest war crimes trial in history

In 2002 the former Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, went on trial at the International Criminal Court in the Hague on war crimes charges relating to the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. The man once known as the 'Butcher of the Balkans' would die in prison before the trial had concluded. In 2017, Louise Hidalgo spoke to two lawyers, Zdenko Tomanovic and Steven Kay QC, who worked on Slodan Milosevic's defence. PHOTO: Slobodan Milosevic on trial in The Hague in 2002 (PAUL VREEKER/AFP/Getty Images)
12/04/229m 0s

Nato intervenes in Kosovo

When war broke out in Kosovo in 1998, Nato intervened with air strikes to prevent atrocities by Serbian forces. The late Madeleine Albright was then the US Secretary of State and the main proponent of action. In 2018, she explained to Rebecca Kesby why she argued for military intervention, and how it was motivated, in part, by her family's experiences as Jews in Czechoslovakia during World War Two. PHOTO: An F-16 jet at Nato's Aviano base in Italy during the air strikes on Kosovo (Getty Images)
11/04/229m 2s

The Great American Grain Robbery

With fears rising that the war in Ukraine might spark a big rise in global food prices, we're going back 50 years to the story of how a drought in the bread basket of the Soviet Union led to a catastrophic trade deal between Moscow and Washington. The Nixon White House unwittingly signed a grain financing contract that crippled American farmers, fuelled inflation and sent world cereal prices through the roof. Laura Jones speaks to investigative journalist Martha Hamilton and former Soviet crop scientist, Dr Felix Kogan, about what became known as "The Great Grain Robbery". PHOTO: Golden wheat on a farm in the US state of Nebraska in the 1970s (Denver Post/Getty Images)
08/04/229m 3s

The handshake in Space

In 1975, Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts met up in space and shook hands. Millions watched on TV as the two spacecraft docked together and the door between the ships opened. The handshake between the two Cold War superpowers was hailed as a symbol of efforts towards peace and stability. Nick Holland tells the story with the help of former NASA chief historian, Bill Barry. (Photo The Handshake in Space. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
07/04/228m 58s

The Soviet Afghan War Begins

In late December 1979, the world held its breath as thousands of Soviet troops were sent into Afghanistan. Moscow said the troops would be there six months, to help bring peace to the country. In fact, the Soviet army stayed almost ten years, and Afghanistan came to be seen as the Soviet Union's Vietnam. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to journalist Andrei Ostalski and former soldier Vyacheslav Ismailov about that time. Picture: Soviet tanks in front of the Darulaman Palace in Kabul (Credit: Henri Bureau/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
06/04/229m 2s

The Falklands War - an Argentine account

In our second programme on the Falklands War, Witness History hears from an Argentine soldier who fought in the conflict. Miguel Savage recalls the atrocious weather conditions faced by Argentine conscripts, as well as their mistreatment by officers. And he remembers a terrifying final attack by British troops shortly before the Argentine surrender. Presented by Simon Watts; original interview conducted in 2012 by Tim Sturtridge. PHOTO: Argentine troops in the Falklands shortly after the invasion (Getty Image)
05/04/229m 2s

Escaping a Maoist cult

In 2013, three women escaped from a cult that had been based in an ordinary house in Brixton, South London, since the 1970s. The cult was led by Aravindan Balakrishnan, a former student at the London School of Economics, who claimed to be a Maoist revolutionary, but actually brainwashed his followers and kept them prisoner in cruel and violent conditions. The Metropolitan Police said it was the worst case of its kind they had ever seen. Reena Stanton-Sharma talks to Katy Morgan-Davies, one of the women who escaped the cult. PHOTO: Aravindan Balakrishnan in 2015 (Getty Images)
01/04/229m 0s

Selling Van Gogh's Sunflowers

Vincent Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" was sold at auction at Christie's in London in March 1987 for 39.9 million dollars - then a world record and more than double the previous top price paid for an artwork at auction. The sale made front-page headlines and is now seen as the moment the international art market went through the roof. Uma Doraiswamy talks to Lord Charles Hindlip, then the chairman of Christie's and the man who auctioned the painting. PHOTO: "Sunflowers" arriving in Japan in 1987 after its sale at Christie's (Getty Images)
31/03/228m 59s

Afghanistan's women's newspaper

Aina-E-Zan, the first women's newspaper in Afghanistan, was launched in 2002. Edited by Shukria Barazkai, the newspaper covered women's rights issues in depth, as well as criticizing the warlords who controlled much of the country at the time. Even though this was a relatively open period in Afghan history, the women journalists still faced death threats and at one point Aina-E-Zan was even banned by the Afghan parliament after it printed an article about a woman being stoned. Shukria Barazkai talks to Laura Jones. PHOTO: Shukria Barazkai in 2005 (Getty Images)
30/03/229m 1s

Banksy’s first street art mural

World-renowned street artist Banksy started spray-painting the walls of his home city of Bristol in the 1990s. It is widely believed that his first large mural was a piece called Mild, Mild West painted on a wall next to a record shop. Jim Paine owned the shop and has been telling Bethan Head how he played a pivotal role in getting Banksy to do the artwork in the first place. (Graffiti street art, entitled Mild, Mild West, by British street artist Banksy, is pictured on the side of a building in Bristol, south west England, on May 8, 2019.. Credit: Geoff Caddick/Getty Images)
29/03/228m 59s

The 'Snow Revolution' against Vladimir Putin

Starting in late 2011, tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets to try to stop what they saw as a power grab by Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The demonstrators wanted to stop what they considered a fraudulent parliamentary election and a surprise announcement that Putin would run for president for a third time. The movement was not successful, but analysts say it worried the Russian leader so much that he launched a crackdown on dissent that has lasted to this day. Rachel Naylor talks to Russian rock journalist, Artemy Troitsky, who composed a song that became an anthem of what was sometimes called the "Snow Revolution". (Photo: An anti-Putin rally in Moscow in December 2011. Credit: Getty Images)
28/03/229m 1s

Soviet holidays in Crimea

Artek, on the shores of the Black Sea in Crimea, was the Soviet Union's most popular holiday camp. Thousands of children visited every year. Maria Kim Espeland went there in the 1980s. She spoke to Lucy Burns in 2014. Photo: Group of children attending Artek. (Credit: Irina Vlasova)
25/03/229m 10s

Ukraine's Babi Yar massacre

During World War Two, Ukraine was occupied by Nazi Germany and on 29th September 1941, the organised massacre of Ukrainian Jews began. In the capital Kyiv, most of the victims were taken to a ravine on the outskirts of the city called Babi Yar, and shot. In 2011, David Stern spoke to Raissa Maistrenko, who escaped the shooting as a three-year-old girl, and to Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny, whose mother survived the Holocaust outside the city. PHOTO: The memorial at the Babi Yar site near Kyiv (Getty Images)
24/03/229m 3s

The Budapest Memorandum

Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited the Soviet-era atomic weapons on its soil and became - for a few years - the world's third biggest nuclear power. After months of tense diplomacy, the newly independent Ukraine agreed to give up the weapons in return for what were termed "assurances" about its future security and territorial integrity. These "assurances" were agreed by Russia, the USA and Britain in the Budapest Memorandum, signed in December 1994. They are now controversial given the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014 and then the rest of Ukraine in 2022. Louise Hidalgo talks to Steven Pifer, a senior American diplomat involved in the talks. PHOTO: Pro-Ukrainian demonstrators in London in 2022 (Getty Images)
22/03/229m 9s

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster

In April 1986 a reactor exploded at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, in the USSR, causing the worst nuclear accident ever. Sergii Mirnyi was in charge of a monitoring unit which measured radiation levels in the 30 km exclusion zone around the plant. PHOTO: The Chernobyl plant shortly after the explosion in 1986 (Getty Images)
21/03/229m 8s

The Shard

The Shard - one of the dominant features of the London skyline - opened to the public in February 2013. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the skyscraper divided public opinion: it features tall, fractured slivers of glass rising in a pyramid-like shape to a jagged spire. The Shard is also home to London's highest viewing gallery. Reena Stanton-Sharma talks to engineer, Roma Agrawal, who helped build the Shard. PHOTO: The Shard towering over South London (Getty Images)
18/03/228m 58s

Zaha Hadid's Cincinnati Arts Center

When the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati opened to the public in 2003 it wowed both the public and critics. With its undulating curves and galleries that interlock, it was the first major project that the renowned architect had completed, and also the first American museum to be designed by a woman. The New York Times hailed the Contemporary Arts Center as the most important building to be completed in the US since the Cold War. Farhana Haider has been listening to archive interviews with the late Zaha Hadid and speaking to Jay Chatterjee, Dean Emeritus at the college of Design Architecture, Art and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. He was on the panel that chose her ground-breaking design. Photo Credit Courtesy of the Contemporary Arts Center
17/03/2211m 10s

Teheran's Freedom Tower

A vast new monument was opened to the public in Tehran in early 1972. It was called Shahyad and was dedicated to centuries of Iranian royalty. After the Islamic revolution of 1979 the monument's name changed to the Azadi or Freedom Tower, but it has remained a centrepiece for public events and demonstrations in the city. In 2016, Rozita Riazati spoke to Hossein Amanat, the young architect hired to design it. PHOTO: The Azadi tower in 2016 (Getty Images)
16/03/229m 1s

Chandigarh - India's city of the future

After the trauma of Partition in 1947, India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru persuaded the maverick Swiss-French architect, Le Corbusier, to build a new capital city for the province of Punjab. He hoped the project would symbolise a newly-independent, forward-looking India. Le Corbusier had revolutionised architecture and urban planning in the first half of the twentieth century. He was loved and hated in equal measure for his modernist approach, favouring flat roofs, glass walls and concrete. In 2016, Claire Bowes spoke to Sumit Kaur, former Chief Architect and lifelong resident of Chandigarh, about the legacy left by Le Corbusier. PHOTO: The Chandigarh Legislative Assembly building. 1999 (AFP PHOTO / John Macdougall)
15/03/229m 4s

The Frauenkirche - Dresden's symbol of war and reconstruction

In 2005 Dresden’s Lutheran church, the Frauenkirche, opened its doors to the public for the first time in 60 years. The Frauenkirche in the East German city of Dresden was destroyed in 1945 by British and American bombing. The church remained in ruins for over 40 years. Then, in 1993, a painstaking project began to piece the church back together and restore it to its former glory. Josephine Casserly talks to Thomas Gottschlich who was one of the architects leading the reconstruction. PHOTO: Ruins of the Frauenkirche in Dresden, Germany after the WWII bombing in 1945. (Probst/Ullstein Bild via Getty Images)
14/03/229m 6s

The Wages for Housework campaign

They called it "The only work you never retire from, the only work you never get paid for" and in 1972 the Italian Marxist Feminist group Lotta Feminista tried to change that. Inspired by the work of feminist theorist Mariarosa Dalla Costa, they launched an international campaign for women to be paid for housework. The movement argued that if home-making stopped, our entire economic system would grind to a halt. Claire Bowes speaks to one of the leaders of Wages for Housework, Leopoldina Fortunati, about their revolutionary campaign and how its roots go back as far as the 19th century. PHOTO: Wages for Housework leaders Mariarosa Dalla Costa (left) and Leopoldina Fortunati (centre) at a rally in the 1970s.
11/03/2211m 55s

Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi

In 2003, human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi became the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Six years later, she was forced into exile from Iran. Dr Ebadi has been talking to Louise Hidalgo about the award, her work and the personal price she's had to pay for it. Picture: Dr Shirin Ebadi arriving back at Tehran airport after hearing that she'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, October 2003 (credit: Mohamad Eslami Rad/Getty Images)
10/03/229m 35s

The Australian women who protested against the Vietnam war

Five Australian women made front-page news when they were sent to Melbourne's Fairlea Prison for protesting against the Vietnam War in 1971. The women were part of the Save Our Sons movement, which campaigned to stop Australians being conscripted to fight in the conflict. Their jailing sparked protests outside the prison and across Australia, and is credited with helping turn public opinion against conscription. Jean McLean -- nicknamed the "Blonde Bombshell" by the Australian tabloids -- was one of the Fairlea Five. She tells Josephine McDermott about their campaign - and the time she and a would-be conscript got in a car chase with military security. PHOTO: A protest by the Save Our Sons movement (Getty Images)
09/03/229m 1s

Russia's war in Georgia in 2008

In August 2008, Russia went to war with another former Soviet republic, Georgia. The conflict began after Georgia attempted to recapture the breakaway region of South Ossetia, which had fought a separatist war with Tbilisi during the 1990s. As fighting escalated, Russia sent in troops - seizing control of South Ossetia and also of Georgia's other breakaway region, Abkhazia. The five-day war ended in humiliation for Georgia - several towns, a Black Sea port and military airfields were bombed by the Russian air force. Several hundred people were killed and thousands of ethnic Georgians displaced. Nick Holland reports. PHOTO: Russian troops on their way to South Ossetia in 2008 (Getty Images)
04/03/229m 55s

The takeover of NTV in Russia

NTV, the only nationwide independent TV channel in Russia, was taken over in April 2001. It lost its independence despite a vigorous protest campaign mounted by its staff. In 2017, Dina Newman spoke to the head of NTV at the time, Yevgeny Kiselev. PHOTO: An NTV broadcast in 2001 (Getty Images)
03/03/229m 4s

Boris Yeltsin's surprise resignation

On New Year's Eve 1999 the Russian President went on TV and announced he was leaving office. Tired and emotional, he apologised to the people for the state of the country. Boris Yeltsin's departure paved the way for his chosen successor, Vladimir Putin. Dina Newman spoke to the former Russian president's widow, Naina Yeltsina, about that day. PHOTO: Boris Yeltsin in 1999 (Getty Images)
02/03/229m 11s

Putin's war in Chechnya

When Vladimir Putin was appointed prime minister in August 1999, he was a political unknown. He quickly made his name by ordering Russian Federation forces to re-take control of the breakaway republic of Chechnya, which just years earlier had fought and won autonomy from Moscow. It would herald the start of a brutal conflict known as the Second Chechen war. We hear an eyewitness account of the war and its brutal aftermath. Photo: A Russian soldier walks through the streets of the destroyed Chechen capital Grozny, February 25, 2000. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)
01/03/2210m 25s

Economic 'shock therapy' in Russia

President Vladimir Putin came onto the Russian political scene in 1999 after a decade of chaos following the collapse of the Soviet Union. This included a disastrous experiment with free market reforms in 1992, which led to an increase in poverty for ordinary Russians and the emergence of an elite of super-wealthy Oligarchs. In 2018, Dina Newman spoke to one of the architects of this “shock therapy” - Andrei Nechaev, who was then the Minister for Economic Development. (Photo: Old women selling cigarettes on the streets of Moscow in 1992. Credit: BBC)
28/02/229m 0s

The 2014 annexation of Crimea

In 2014, Russia annexed the strategic Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. Although Crimea was also home to a large Russian naval base, the annexation was seen by Kyiv and the world as illegal. The crisis it caused was so acute, the world seemed on the brink of a new cold war. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to one Crimean woman who lived through it. PHOTO: A soldier without identifying insignia outside the Crimean parliament in 2014 (Getty Images)
25/02/229m 20s

The death of Trayvon Martin

In February 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead by a member of a Neighbourhood Watch group who claimed he was acting suspiciously. The unarmed black teenager was returning to a gated community in Florida after buying some snacks from a nearby convenience store His death sparked national outrage in the US over racial profiling and the first use of the slogan "Black Lives Matter". Rachel Naylor talks to Trayvon Martin's high school friend, Ashley Burch. PHOTO: A protest demanding justice for Trayvon Martin in 2013 (Getty Images)
24/02/228m 59s

The Navajo Code Talkers in World War 2

In World War 2, US Marines fighting in the Pacific needed to be able to communicate securely on the battlefield. Early in the war, the Japanese had been able to decode some of their encrypted messages. So the Marines turned to members of the Navajo tribe. An unbreakable code based on the Navajo language was quickly developed. And the Navajo Code Talkers went on to participate in all the major Marine operations in the Pacific, helping the Allies to victory. Rob Walker has been listening back to the story of one of the Code Talkers, Samuel Tso, and also speaking to Laura Tohe who is the daughter of a Code Talker and who has written a book about them, ‘Code Talker Stories’. The interview with Samuel Tso was reproduced with the kind permission of George Colburn. Details of his documentary about the Code Talkers can be found here: https://www.thenavajocodetalkers.com/ The full interview with Samuel Tso is available on C-SPAN, along with interviews with other Code Talkers: https://www.c-span.org/video/?459728-1/navajo-code-talker-samuel-tso-oral-history-interview Photo: 'Code Talker' U.S. Marines George H. Kirk (left) of Ganado, Arizona and John V. Goodluck (right) of Lukachukai, Arizona, both of the Navajo Nation, are photographed before their shelter on a hillside following the American victory of the Battle of Guam, September 1944. (Photo by: Pictures from History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
23/02/2211m 4s

Nixon in China

It is 50 years since US President Richard Nixon's historic visit to China in February 1972. The visit - which included a meeting with Chairman Mao - normalised relations between the two countries for the first time in a quarter of a century. American diplomat Winston Lord was there when the two leaders came face-to-face. He spoke to Lucy Williamson for Witness History in 2009. PHOTO: President Nixon during his visit to China (Getty Images)
22/02/228m 59s

The first sex worker strike

In 1975 hundreds of French sex workers took refuge in churches across France to protest against police harassment, in their first ever collective action. The strike began at Saint Nizier church in Lyon but spread to other cities, including Paris, where it was reported that all sex workers were on strike. In Lyon police had begun systematically issuing fines in a crackdown on the women who found customers on the streets. Those who couldn't pay were often imprisoned for days at a time and separated from their children. Claire Bowes has been speaking to Pere Christian Delorme who helped the women and stayed with them at Saint Nizier church till police forced the women to leave after ten days protest. Photo: June 1975, Lyon, a hundred women prostitutes occupy the church of Saint-Nizier (Alain Nogues/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)
21/02/229m 58s

The world's first civil union

In 1989, Denmark became the first country to celebrate same-sex civil unions. In 2014, Farhana Haider spoke to Ivan Larsen and Ove Carlsen, who were one of the first couples to sign on the dotted line
18/02/229m 22s

Bollywood's pioneering lesbian drama

The Bollywood film "Fire" was the first in Indian history to depict a lesbian relationship. Released in 1998, the movie sparked a row over censorship and then a wider debate about LGBT rights in a country where homosexuality was then illegal. In 2015, Lucy Burns met Bollywood superstar, Shabana Azmi, who played a lesbian in "Fire". PHOTO: Shabana Azmi (AFP)
17/02/229m 1s

The Berlin Patient

In the 1990s, doctors in Berlin began a cutting-edge treatment programme that led to a patient being cured of HIV/AIDS. The so-called "Berlin patient" was Timothy Ray Brown: he was suffering from leukemia as well as HIV/AIDS, and was given a bone marrow transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation which killed off the HIV virus. Timothy Ray Brown was a campaigner for AIDS research until his death, from leukemia, in 2020. Ashley Byrne speaks to his partner, Tim Hoeffgen. PHOTO: Timothy Ray Brown in 2012 (Getty Images)
16/02/228m 59s

"Don't ask, don't tell" in the US Armed Forces

LGBT servicemen and women in the US armed forces had to keep their sexuality secret until the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy was repealed in 2011. Lieutenant Colonel Heather Mack served under the policy for most of her military career. She spoke to Rachael Gillman about her experiences. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Lieutenant Colonel Heather Mack (l) with her wife Ashley (r) and their two children. (Courtesy of Heather Mack)
15/02/229m 4s

The first LGBT film in war-torn Yugoslavia

How the ground-breaking film "Marble Ass" was made amid the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Petra Zivic talks to acclaimed Serbian director Zelimir Zilnik about his film which played a role in the struggle for greater recognition and rights for the LGBT community in the war-torn country. Photo: The Serbian trans star Merlinka with Nenad Rackovic as Johnny in the Serbian film "Marble Ass" in 1994 (Credit: Zelimir Zilnik)
14/02/229m 4s

The 1972 mass killings in Burundi

In late April 1972, Hutu rebels launched an insurgency in the south of Burundi with the aim of overthrowing the Tutsi led government. They brutally murdered government officials and civilians, targeting mostly Tutsi. Estimates from the time suggest at least a thousand people were killed. The army quickly contained the insurgency but then began reprisals against Hutu civilians. Hutu elites in particular were targeted – those with education or with government jobs. The killing lasted for more than 3 months. Human Rights Watch estimates as many as 200,000 were killed. Rob Walker speaks to Jeanine Ntihirageza who was an 11-year-old schoolgirl at the time and whose father went missing at the start of the reprisals. (Photo: National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation officials inspect remains of people at a mass grave existing from 1972 in Mwaro, Burundi. Credit: Renovat Ndabashinze/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
11/02/2213m 19s

Ukraine's 'Maidan Revolution'

Throughout the winter of 2013/14 protesters built barricades and camped out in the centre of Kyiv demanding change. The focus was the Maidan, Kyiv's central Square of Independence. The demonstrators wanted the government of Viktor Yanukovych to move politically towards the EU and away from Russia, but when he refused to sign an agreement with the EU tensions spilled over. In February government forces, and snipers, shot dead 103 protesters and injured many others. Shortly afterwards President Yanukovych fled Ukraine and went to Russia. Elvira Bulat was a businesswoman from Crimea when the protests began. She tells Rebecca Kesby why she packed up her business, to spend that snowy winter in the barricades of the Maidan, and why she still believes Ukraine belongs in Europe. Photo: Kyiv, Ukraine - December 9th 2013. Anti-government protesters stand guard at one of the barricades defending Maidan Square against police. Credit: Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images.
10/02/2210m 25s

Shoe designer Manolo Blahnik

How a young designer from the Canary Islands became one of the most famous shoe-makers in the world. Manolo Blahnik was studying art and set design in Paris when in 1969 he was introduced to the editor of American Vogue, who said he should concentrate on shoes. He got his first break in fashion three years later, and so began a 50 year career that has seen his name become synonymous with what have been described as the sexiest shoes in the world. In 2012, Louise Hidalgo spoke to Manolo Blahnik about his life and work. Picture: Manolo Blahnik at the opening of a new boutique in Dublin (credit: PA)
09/02/228m 58s

The invention of Google Maps

In 2005, a revolutionary online mapping service called Google Maps went live for the first time. It introduced searchable, scrollable, interactive maps to a wider public, but required so much computing power that Google's servers nearly collapsed under the strain. Lars Rasmussen, one of the inventors of Google Maps, talks to Ashley Byrne. The programme is a Made-in-Manchester Production. PHOTO: Google Maps being used on a mobile phone (Getty Images)
08/02/228m 59s

The demise of the Soviet Union

In December 1991 the leaders of three Soviet Republics - Russia, Ukraine and Belarus - signed a treaty dissolving the USSR. They did so without asking the other republics, and against the wishes of the USSR's overall President Mikhail Gorbachev. By the end of the year, Gorbachev had resigned and the Soviet Union was no more. In 2016, Dina Newman spoke to the former President of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, and former President of Belarus, Stanislav Shushkevich, who signed that historic document alongside Boris Yeltsin. PHOTO: The breakaway leaders signing the treaty the dissolved the Soviet Union (Getty Images)
07/02/229m 2s

The first Emirati female teacher

In the 1960s, it was extremely rare for women in what is now the United Arab Emirates to go to school. At the time the future country was a collection of Emirates under British protection. The Trucial states, as they were known, were run by Sheikhs. The Sheikdoms were acutely traditional societies. This is the story of a young woman who was among the first to graduate from high school. She went on to become the first teacher there. Nama bint Majid Al Qasimi, has been telling Farhana Haider about her trailblazing experience. Image: Nama bint Majid Al Qasimi with her students at Fatima Al Zahra School, Sharjah, 1970. Credit: Shaikha Nama bint Majid bin Saqr Al Qasimi
03/02/229m 30s

The day the world looked up

In June 2012 one of the solar system’s rarest of astronomical events took place, when it was possible to see the planet Venus fly past the face of the Sun. It appears when the orbits of Earth and Venus momentarily line up, but that happens only four times every 243 years. Astronomers in Australia, London and Hawaii tell Nick Holland what it was like watching the sight, one they will never get to see again because they won’t be alive when it next reappears in the year 2117. (Image: SDO satellite captures an ultra-high definition image of the transit of Venus. Credit Nasa/Getty Images)
02/02/228m 59s

The murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl

In February 2002 a videotape was released by extremists in Pakistan showing the murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter. Daniel Pearl had been investigating the 9/11 attacks. He was kidnapped in Karachi while on his way to interview a radical cleric. In 2015 Farhana Haider spoke to Asra Nomani, Daniel Pearl's friend and colleague. PHOTO: Daniel Pearl and Asra Nomani in 1995. (Credit: Asra Nomani)
01/02/229m 8s

The Good Friday Agreement

In 1998, the political parties in Northern Ireland reached a peace agreement that ended decades of war. But the Good Friday Agreement, as it became known, was only reached after days of frantic last-minute negotiations. In 2012, Louise Hidalgo spoke to Paul Murphy, the junior minister for Northern Ireland at the time. PHOTO:Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern (L) and British Prime Minister Tony Blair (R) pose with the mediator of the agreement, Senator George Mitchell. (AFP/Getty Images)
28/01/229m 2s

IRA gun-running in America

How an undercover FBI agent bust an IRA gun-running plot in New York in 1981. We hear from retired FBI agent, John WInslow, who posed as a gun dealer to infiltrate a network of Americans supplying weapons to the Northern Irish paramilitary group, the IRA. The United States was a key source of money and guns for the Irish republican cause. Photo:
27/01/2213m 16s

The Grand Hotel Bombing

In October 1984, Margaret Thatcher survived a bomb attack on the hotel where she was staying on the south coast of England. Five people were killed and more than 30 others injured in the explosion, which was carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). In 2009, Lucy Williamson spoke to Michael Dobbs, who was a government official in the hotel at the time. Photo: The Grand Hotel in Brighton after the IRA bombing (John Minihan/Express/Getty Images)
26/01/222m 27s

Bloody Sunday

On 30 January 1972 British troops opened fire on a civil rights march in Northern Ireland. Thirteen people were killed that day, which became known as Bloody Sunday. Tony Doherty was nine years old at the time. In 2012 he spoke to Mike Lanchin about his father and the events that changed his life forever. Photo: A British soldier grabs hold of a protester by the hair. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
25/01/229m 2s

British troops in Northern Ireland

In August 1969 the British Army was first deployed in Northern Ireland. Their job was to keep the peace on the streets of Londonderry where sectarian violence had broken out. To begin with the soldiers were welcomed by residents, but attitudes soon changed and what became known as 'The Troubles' got underway. Louise Hidalgo reports. Picture: Armed British soldiers on the streets of Northern Ireland, 15th August 1969 (Credit: Press Association)
24/01/229m 3s

A Cold War love affair

The East German authorities built the Berlin Wall in 1961 to keep their people in. Thousands had been streaming westwards. But a few people went the other way. Frauke Naumann was one of them. She grew up in West Germany but fell love with her cousin who lived on the other side of the border. So, in 1986, at the age of 22 she left home to join him. Frauke tells Tim Mansel about the joys and the miseries of making a new life in a foreign country under the watchful eye of the secret police. PHOTO: The Brandenburg Gate in the 1980s with the Berlin Wall passing in front (BBC)
21/01/228m 57s

The first bicycle-sharing scheme

In the mid-1960s a Dutch engineer called Luud Schimmelpennink came up with a scheme to share bikes, and cut pollution. He collected about ten old bicycles, painted them white and left them at different points around Amsterdam. The first scheme didn't last, but it was hugely influential and became part of popular culture; Luud Schimmelpennink himself would go on to invent an early computerised sharing scheme for cars, and to consult on the bike-sharing schemes we see around the world today. In 2019, he spoke to Janet Ball. Photo: Activists with one of the original white bikes from the first scheme. Credit: Luud Schimmelpennink.
20/01/229m 56s

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

This week Americans have been observing the Martin Luther King Jr Day national holiday, which marks the birthday of the late civil rights leader. The campaign to have Dr King formally recognized in the US was led by his widow, Coretta Scott King. The holiday was finally signed into law in 1983. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Dr King’s youngest daughter, Dr Bernice King, about the long and fraught campaign, and the crucial role her mother played in supporting her father’s legacy. Photo: Coretta Scott King speaking at the White House. (Credit: White House)
20/01/2214m 10s

The rise of Boko Haram

How a small Nigerian Islamist group launched one of the deadliest insurgencies in Africa. In 2002, a new radical sect emerged in Maiduguri in north eastern Nigeria led by a charismatic preacher, Mohammed Yusuf. He preached against anything he deemed un-Islamic or having a western influence. Locals gave the group a nickname, Boko Haram - meaning "western education is forbidden". In 2009, the group launched co-ordinated attacks on police across northern Nigeria. Maiduguri saw the fiercest fighting. It was the start of an insurgency that would devastate the region. We hear from Bilkisu Babangida who was the BBC Hausa service reporter in the city at the time. Photo: A suspected Boko Haram house in Maiduguri set ablaze by Nigerian security forces, 30th July 2009 (AFP/Getty Images)
17/01/2214m 47s

The first silicone breast implants

30-year-old Texan Timmie Jean Lindsey was the first woman in the world to have silicone breast implants. In 1962, she was offered the operation free of charge by two pioneering surgeons. It's gone on to become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the world. In 2012, Timmie Jean Lindsey spoke to Claire Bowes. PHOTO: A silicone breast implant (Getty Images)
14/01/229m 4s

Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia hit submerged rocks off the Italian island of Giglio in January 2012, leaving a fifty-metre-long gash in the hull. More than four thousand passengers and crew were on board. Ian and Janice Donoff were hoping to get away in a lifeboat, but it got stuck as it was being lowered into the sea, so they had to find another way off. Thirty-two people died in the disaster. The captain was later found guilty of manslaughter for needlessly navigating the ship too close to the shore of an island it was sailing past. Produced and presented by Nick Holland PHOTO: The Costa Concordia lying aground off Giglio (2012)
13/01/228m 58s

Malick Sidibé: Mali's superstar photographer

The Malian photographer, Malick Sidibé, is one of Africa’s most celebrated artists. His most famous photographs show black and white scenes of young people partying in the capital Bamako in the joyful, confident era after Mali got its independence from France in 1960. In the 1990s, a chance encounter with a French curator brought Sidibé’s work international acclaim. The wider world had been used to seeing a narrow range of images from Africa, so when Sidibé’s work went up on show in Western art galleries, audiences were stunned by the exuberant world they revealed. Viv Jones talks to someone who knew Sidibé back when he was a roving nightlife photographer - Manthia Diawara, Malian filmmaker and Professor at New York University. (Photo: Malick Sidibé. Photo by BILLY FARRELL/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
12/01/228m 59s

Kazakhstan's nuclear legacy

After its independence, Kazakhstan had to deal with the legacy of being one of the centres of the Soviet Union's huge nuclear arsenal and nuclear weapons industry. There were particular concerns about the former nuclear testing site at Semipalatinsk, a vast swathe of contaminated land where there were tunnels with spent plutonium. When the Soviet Union ended in 1991, the site was left open to scavengers. Louise Hidalgo talks to the former head of America's nuclear weapons laboratory, Dr Siegfried Hecker, about the secret operation by Russian and American scientists to make the site safe; it's been called the greatest nuclear non-proliferation story never told. PHOTO: The Semipalatinsk site in 1991 (Getty Images)
11/01/229m 5s

India's freedom fighter: Subhas Chandra Bose

In 2022, India is holding a series of events to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of the independence campaigner, Subhas Chandra Bose. Unlike Mahatama Ghandi, Bose believed violence against the British Empire could be justified, and during World War Two he supported an alliance with Nazi Germany and Japan. Claire Bowes speaks to Bose’s great-niece, Madhuri Bose, about why many think he could have changed the course of India’s history. She also hears from Mihir Bose, author of Raj, Secrets, Revolution: A Life of Subhas Chandra Bose. PHOTO: Subhas Chandra Bose giving a speech in Nazi Germany in 1942.
10/01/2210m 10s

Mozambique's Eduardo Mondlane: From professor to freedom fighter

On February 3rd 1969, Eduardo Mondlane - the founder of FRELIMO, Mozambique’s Liberation Front against Portuguese colonial rule - was assassinated in a bomb attack in Tanzania. Mondlane started out as a teacher and academic, but his daughter Nyeleti Brooke Mondlane has been telling Rebecca Kesby why he swapped the university library for guerrilla warfare - and how it cost him his life. PHOTO: Eduardo Mondlane in 1966 (Getty Images)
06/01/2212m 8s

Marcel Proust

In 2022, France is marking the centenary of the death of the novelist Marcel Proust, the author of the 20th century masterpiece Remembrance of Things Past. In this archive edition of Witness History, Proust's friend, Prince Antoine Bibescu, recalls his conversations with the author, and Proust's maid, Celeste Albaret, remembers his final hours. The programme also hears from Professor Michael Wood, an expert on Proust at Princeton University. PHOTO: Marcel Proust (Getty Images)
05/01/229m 1s

The end of Stalinist rule in Albania

In 1990 Albania’s communist government agreed to allow independent political parties following a wave of protests. Lea Ypi was an 11 year old schoolgirl at the time and watched events with consternation – she was a firm believer in what she had been taught about communism at school, and an admirer of Stalin. But she soon discovered that her parents had a secret past that they had been afraid to reveal to her before 1990. Lea talks to Rob Walker about her life growing up inside the world’s last Stalinist state. Picture: Lea Ypi as a child in Albania with her grandmother. (Credit: Photo provided by Lea Ypi)
04/01/228m 59s

The secret history of Monopoly

In 1904, a left-wing American feminist called Lizzy Magie patented a board game that evolved into what we now know as Monopoly. But 30 years later, when Monopoly was first marketed in the United States during the Great Depression, it was an out-of-work salesman from Pennsylvania who was credited with inventing it. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to American journalist Mary Pilon about the hidden history of one of the world's most popular board games, and to the economics professor Ralph Anspach who unearthed the story. Picture: A family playing a game of Monopoly in the 1930s (Credit: SSPL/Getty Images)
31/12/219m 4s


The Lego brick, one of the world's most popular toys, was invented in the small Danish town of Billund in 1958. Created by Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, the plastic bricks can be combined in countless combinations and have sold in the billions. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the inventor's son, was ten at the time. He used to play in the company workshop and helped test early Lego models. Olga Smirnova spoke to Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen for Witness History. PHOTO: A boy playing in a Lego display in 1981 (Getty Images)
30/12/2110m 1s

Grand Theft Auto

A new action-adventure computer game - designed in Scotland - became a surprise global hit in 1997. But Grand Theft Auto also courted controversy and sparked debate over violence and drugs in video games. Paul Schuster spoke to Brian Baglow - one of the original team behind the launch. PHOTO: A gamer using a Playstation controller (Getty Images)
29/12/2110m 0s


In 1984 Tetris, one of the most popular computer games ever, was invented in Moscow. Chloe Hadjimatheou speaks to its creator, Alexey Pajitnov, and to Henk Rogers, an American businessman who helped bring Tetris to the world. This programme was first broadcast in 2011. PHOTO: Tetris being played on a mobile phone (Getty Images)
29/12/2110m 1s

Pong and the birth of computer games

In 1973, a video game was invented which would change the way we play. An on screen version of table tennis, Pong was initially only played in arcades. But later a home version was created which gamers could plug into their televisions. Louise Hidalgo spoke to Nolan Bushnell, one of the creators of Pong. Photo credit: BBC.
27/12/2110m 1s

The home of Santa Claus

Rovaniemi, a small town in Lapland, is home to dozens of Christmas tourist attractions and is widely considered the unofficial home of Santa Claus. The town had to re-invent itself after being flattened during the Arctic campaign in World War Two, and was inspired to become a Christmas destination by a visit from the American first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. Rovaniemi now gets more than half a million visitors a year. Petra Zivic talks to two local residents. PHOTO: Father Christmas in his "office" near Rovaniemi (Getty Images)
24/12/219m 2s

Bahrain's 2011 protests

In 2011, thousands of protestors occupied Pearl Roundabout near the centre of Bahrain’s capital, Manama. Many of them were from the country's Shia religious majority. They were demanding political freedoms and calling for an end to what they said was years of discrimination by the Sunni monarchy that rules the country. Rob Walker spoke to Asma Darwish, a 20 year old student who joined the protests. Photo: Demonstrators in Manama. Credit: Reuters/Caren Firouz.
23/12/218m 57s

The right to drive in Saudi Arabia

In 2011, cybersecurity expert Manal Al-Sharif helped found the Women2Drive movement. It was designed to force the Saudi Arabian government to overturn its ban on women driving cars - one of the many restrictions on women in the Kingdom. Inspired by the mood of the Arab Spring, Saudi women got behind the wheel and then posted videos of themselves all over social media. The movement attracted international attention and the ban on women drivers was eventually lifted in 2017. Manal Al-Sharif talks to Petra Zivic. PHOTO: Manal Al Sharif in Dubai in 2013 (Getty Images)
22/12/219m 0s

Rudolf Nureyev defects

In 1961 the great ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev stunned the world by defecting from the Soviet Union. Nureyev escaped his KGB minders at an airport in Paris - with the help of French dancer Pierre Lacotte. Pierre Lacotte spoke to Louise Hidalgo in 2011. PHOTO: Rudolf Nureyev at a press conference in the 1960s (Getty Images)
21/12/2110m 0s

Tanzania's first elected albino MP

How opposition politician Salum Barwany overcame discrimination and fear to become the first albino elected to office in Tanzania in 2010. Albinism is a genetic condition caused by a lack of the pigment Melanin, which affects the colour of the skin, hair and eyes. Though rare it is more common in parts of Africa, and particularly in Tanzania. There, albinos have long faced social stigma but in recent years many have been brutally murdered. The killings are carried out to harvest their body parts for witchdoctors who claim they can be used in magic potions to bestow wealth. Salum Barwany MP talks about growing up with albinism and his struggle to change attitudes. This episode is produced by Alex Last and Esther Namuhisa Photo: Tanzania's first elected albino lawmaker Salum Khalfan Barwany gets a hug from a supporter as he walks through the town market in Lindi, just days after winning office in 2010. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)
20/12/2110m 21s

Bangladesh wins independence

In December 1971, Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan after nine months of war. Dr Kamal Hossain, a leading political figure, was jailed during the conflict and only released shortly after the Bengali fighters claimed victory. Dr Hossain told Farhana Haider his feelings as his country won its freedom. Photo: Kamal Hossain (l) with the founder of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Credit Dr Kamal Hossain collection.
17/12/219m 6s

On the front line in Bangladesh

When Bangladesh fought for independence from Pakistan, thousands of Pakistani troops were sent to fight in what was then called East Pakistan. In 1971, Shujaat Latif was sent to the town of Jassore where he fought, and then surrendered. He spent two and a half years as a prisoner-of-war. Hear his story. Photo: Indian army soldiers fire on Pakistani positions, December 15th 1971. Credit: AFP/Getty Images.
16/12/219m 7s

Rape as a weapon in Bangladesh

During the war of independence in Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistani troops and their local collaborators used systematic rape as deliberate tactic. It's estimated that hundreds of thousands of Bengali women were victims of one of the worst instances in the 20th century of rape being used as a weapon of war. Farhana Haider speaks to one of the women, and to the Bengali playwright and filmmaker Leesa Gazi, who has documented their suffering in her work. PHOTO: Filmmaker Leesa Gazi with a ‘Birangona', one of the women who was raped during Bangladesh’s war of independence (Leesa Gazi/ Shihab Khan)
15/12/2110m 30s

The birth of Bangladesh

In December 1970, Pakistan held its first democratic elections since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. The results would lead to war, the break-up of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh. Farhana Haider spoke to Rehman Sobhan, an economist and leading figure in the Bengali independence movement. (Image: The flag of Bangladesh is raised at the Awami League headquarters in 1971. Credit: Getty Images)
15/12/219m 6s

The Bengali language movement

In February 1952 thousands of people marched in Dhaka in defence of the Bengali language. Eight of the protesters were shot dead by police. It became known as Bangladesh's Language Movement Day. We hear from Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, one of the demonstrators, whose song about the protests became the anthem of the movement. (Photo: Student demonstrators gather by Dhaka University, February 1952. Courtesy of Prof Rafiqul Islam and Liberation War Museum).
13/12/219m 3s

The explosion heard by millions

In 2005 thousands of tonnes of petrol ignited at a fuel depot 40 kilometres North-West of London. The explosion was the largest in the UK since the end of the WWII. The blast, which severely damaged surrounding homes and properties, was reportedly heard in Holland. Despite the enormous amount of damage, nobody was killed. The fire destroyed large parts of the depot, leading to shortages of fuel at petrol stations in the weeks that followed. Five firms were eventually fined millions of dollars for safety failures that led to the blast. Greg Smith tells Witness History what it was like to be inside the depot at the time of the explosion. Produced and presented by Nick Holland. Image: Fire at Buncefield oil depot on 12th December 2005. Credit: Peter MacDiarmid/Getty Images
10/12/219m 1s

The Aldi kidnap

The abduction of Theo Albrecht, who co-founded the discount supermarket chain ALDI with his brother Karl. The brothers shunned publicity and there were few photos of them. So, when two armed men confronted Theo outside his company headquarters in late 1971, they demanded to see ID. They needed to be sure they were taking the right man. Albrecht later tried to claim tax back on the ransom paid to secure his release. He died in 2010, worth an estimated 16 billion dollars. Image: Theo Albrecht in 1971. Credit: EPA
09/12/218m 59s

Spies or plane-spotters?

In November 2001 a group of British aircraft enthusiasts were arrested and put on trial in Greece. Unfamiliar with their hobby, the Greek authorities had assumed they must be spies. The plane-spotters were initially jailed but later released after their case turned into a diplomatic incident. In 2011, Chloe Hadjimatheou talked to Paul Coppin, who was one of the group. PHOTO: The plane-spotters returning to the UK (PA)
08/12/219m 1s

The V2 rocket

Using eyewitness accounts from the BBC archives, we hear how the Nazis developed the world's first modern ballistic missile that killed thousands during World War Two. The Nazi rocket scientist Wernher von Braun was the principal architect of this revolutionary secret weapon. After the war he was recruited to work for the United States to develop its own missile programme and famously built the NASA rockets which put men on the Moon. Photo: The launch of a captured German V2 rocket at the US military test site at White Sands, Nevada in 1946 (PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
07/12/2114m 50s

Fighting 'virginity tests' in the Indonesian police

In the early 2000s, Sri Rumiati, a brigadier-general in the Indonesian police, began campaigning against intrusive examinations of female recruits to her force. Rumiati had experienced a so-called "virginity test" herself when she joined up two decades earlier. She spoke to Petra Zivic. (Photo: Indonesian policewomen in 2007. Credit: Getty Images)
06/12/218m 59s

Derek Jarman

One of the first high-profile artists to speak openly about having Aids was the British experimental film-maker, Derek Jarman. Jarman had made his name in the 1970s by directing Sebastiane, the first openly gay film in British cinema history. Vincent Dowd speaks to Keith Collins who lived with Jarman during his final years, and cared for him up to his death in 1994. (Photo: Derek Jarman. Credit: Getty Images)
03/12/2110m 8s

South Africa and Aids drugs

At the end of the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of people in South Africa were still dying from HIV/Aids because effective drug treatments were prohibitively expensive for a developing country. Under pressure from Aids activists, the government of Nelson Mandela took the big international pharmaceutical companies to court over the right to import cheaper versions of Aids drugs. Bob Howard talks to Bada Pharasi, a former negotiator at South Africa’s department of health. (Photo: HIV/Aids activists demonstrate in front of an American consulate in South Africa in 2010. Credit: Getty Images)
02/12/2110m 7s

AZT: The breakthrough treatment for Aids

In 1987 the first successful drug treatment was developed for Aids. AZT went from initial test to approval in just over two years - at the time it was the fastest approval in US history. Claire Bowes talks to Dr Samuel Broder, the co-developer of AZT. Picture: Dr Samuel Broder and President Ronald Reagan. Credit: Ronald Reagan Library
01/12/2110m 14s

The early days of HIV/Aids

The HIV virus was first identified by medical experts in a journal article in 1981. In the early days of the epidemic, carriers of the virus were stigmatised and treatment was in its infancy. Alan Johnston talks to Ugandan-born Winnie Ssanyu Sseruma about her experiences of having HIV back in the 1980s. PHOTO: Winnie Ssanyu Sseruma
30/11/2110m 7s

The Aids 'patient zero' myth

In the early days of Aids, a misunderstanding made one man the face of the epidemic. Canadian air steward Gaetan Dugas developed the symptoms of HIV/Aids in the early 1980s, but a misreading of scientific data led to him being identified as 'patient zero', giving the mistaken impression he was responsible for the spread of the disease. Lucy Burns speaks to researcher William Darrow, who worked on the epidemic, and to Gaetan Dugas' friend Rand Gaynor. Photo: Gaetan Dugas. (Credit: Rand Gaynor)
29/11/2110m 3s

The assassination of the Mirabal sisters

The three Mirabal sisters were leading figures in the Dominican Republic's opposition movement against the dictator, General Rafael Trujillo. Patria, Maria Teresa and the most prominent of the three, Minerva, were all killed on the 25th of November 1960. They were dragged from their car and beaten to death on the orders of General Trujillo. Their murders sparked outrage in the Caribbean country, and are thought to have been a motivating factor in the assassination of Trujillo himself six months later. In 2016, Rebecca Kesby spoke to Minerva's daughter, Minou Tavarez Mirabal, who explained why her mother and aunts were called 'the butterflies' and how to this day people still decorate their houses with three butterflies in tribute to them. Photo: The three Mirabal Sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa (Credit: Mirabal family collection)
26/11/218m 58s

Estonia’s internet ‘Tiger Leap’

Estonia started connecting all its schools to the internet very early. In 1996 less than two percent of the world’s population had access to the web but Estonia’s initiative, known as ‘Tiger Leap’ captured the imagination and the hopes of the whole country. Estonians became early adopters of all sorts of digital services, from online banking to digital ID cards. However, a decade later Estonia was one of the first places in the world to suffer a sustained cyber attack. Caroline Bayley has been speaking to one of the founders of ‘Tiger Leap’- former government minister Jaak Aaviksoo. Photo credit: Getty images
25/11/218m 57s

The doctor who helped her mother to die

In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise voluntary euthanasia: although the new law was ground-breaking, it was based in part on the result of a dramatic criminal trial that happened nearly three decades earlier, in 1973. The case concerned a doctor who helped her elderly and terminally ill mother to die after her mother had repeatedly begged her to do so. Dr Truus Postma was put on trial for carrying out voluntary euthanasia and was facing a sentence of up to 12 years if found guilty. Her dilemma as both a doctor and a daughter triggered a national debate about whether her actions were murder or mercy. The case broke taboos and led to the founding of the NVVE, a Dutch organisation which began to campaign for voluntary euthanasia to be made legal. Viv Jones speaks to Dr Postma’s daughter, Marga Postma, and to Klazien Albeda, founder of the NVVE. (Photo: Dr Truus Postma outside court. Bert Verhoeff / Anefo. National Archives of the Netherlands.)
24/11/219m 43s

Europe's last smallpox epidemic

Eighteen million people were vaccinated against smallpox in the former communist Yugoslavia in only a month and a half in 1972. The mass vaccination campaign succeeded in containing the last smallpox epidemic in Europe. Dr Ana Gligic was a virologist who detected the first cases of the disease and helped tackle the outbreak. PHOTO: A smallpox patient in Yugoslavia in 1972 (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
23/11/219m 42s

The Woman in Gold by Gustav Klimt

'The Woman in Gold' was one of Gustav Klimt's most famous paintings. It was a portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, but it was taken from her family by the Nazis and only returned to them after a long legal battle. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to Randol Schoenberg the young lawyer who took on the case. Picture: Adele Bloch-Bauer I, or 'The Woman in Gold', painted in 1907 by Gustav Klimt, from the collection of the Neue Galerie in New York. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
22/11/219m 45s

Sudan's October Revolution

A first-hand account of how Sudanese civilian protesters first brought down a military regime in 1964. The protests began after a student was shot and killed by police during a confrontation at the prestigious University of Khartoum. Demonstrations and a nationwide general strike followed which forced the military to hand over power. Alex Last hears from historian Professor Abdullahi Ibrahim who was a prominent member of the Student's Union at Khartoum University at the time. Photo: People celebrate the fall of the military regime in Khartoum, November 1964 (Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
18/11/2110m 17s

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

How a particular form of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, became a common treatment for anxiety and depression. CBT was first developed by Professor Aaron T Beck in the USA. It has been rolled out as an option for people with mental health problems in the UK. Professor David Clark has been speaking to Kirsty Reid about why, and how, it works. Photo credit: Getty Images.
17/11/219m 40s

The capture of war criminal Radovan Karadzic

In 2008, one of Europe’s most wanted fugitives, the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, was arrested in Belgrade for war crimes. Karadzic had been in hiding for more than a decade, pretending to be an alternative medicine healer called "Dr Dabic". Serbia’s former war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vuckevic remembers the tense days that led to Karadzic’s capture. PHOTO: Radovan Karadzic in 1992 (Getty Images)
16/11/219m 41s

Kuwaiti oil fires of 1991

After the end of the Gulf War in 1991, retreating Iraqi forces set light to oil wells in the desert. Specialist firefighters were drafted in by the Kuwaiti government to help put them out. Simon Watts spoke to one of those firefighters, Richard Hatteberg, in 2010. This is a rebroadcast. Photo: an oil fire in Kuwait. March 1991. Credit:Getty Images.
15/11/219m 43s

Shoot: A milestone in performance art

In November 1971 a young American artist decided to get a friend to take a shot at him - in the name of art. His name was Chris Burden and the shooting would go down in the history of performance art. He spoke to Lucy Burns in 2012 about the ideas behind the event. This programme is a rebroadcast. (Photo: Chris Burden just after being shot. Courtesy of Chris Burden)
15/11/218m 57s

The South African football star murdered for being a lesbian

Eudy Simelane was a star of the South African women's national football team and a gay rights activist. In 2008, she was pursued by a group of men after leaving a pub close to her home in the township of Kwa-Thema. She was gang raped and stabbed to death. She was 31 years old. Her family, friends and campaigners say that her sexuality made her a target for this brutal hate crime. Viv Jones speaks to Mmapaseka 'Steve' Letsike, an LGBTI activist who was a friend of Eudy’s. They became friends when they played football together as teens. Steve describes how Eudy's murder became the focus of a campaign to draw attention to attacks on gay South Africans, and black lesbians in particular. It also started a national conversation about the horrific crime of so-called 'corrective rape', where lesbians are raped to ‘cure’ or punish them. Photo: Eudy Simelane’s parents sat at the bridge named in their daughter’s honour. Credit: BBC
11/11/218m 55s

Spying in Berlin

At the height of the Cold War the German city of Berlin was known as the spy capital of the world. Spies were operating on both sides of the Berlin Wall as tensions between democratic West Germany and communist East Germany meant governments on both sides of the ideological divide were desperate to find out what the other side was planning. In the early 1980s Nina Willner became the first female US army officer to lead intelligence missions into East Germany. For her there was an added poignancy to her work, as her mother’s family were living in East Germany while Nina was operating in East Berlin. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 the divided family was reunited and Nina wrote a memoir, ‘Forty Autumns’ about their very different lives. Caroline Bayley spoke to Nina Willner for Witness History about her experiences of the Cold War in Berlin. Photo by Régis BOSSU/Sygma via Getty Images - The frontier between West and East Berlin.
10/11/218m 57s

Chanel No. 5

In 1921, one of the most famous perfumes in the world was launched in France. Chanel No. 5 was created for Coco Chanel, the fashion designer and good-time girl, who wanted something modern and fresh to suit the times. (Photo: A young Coco Chanel. Credit: Getty images)
09/11/219m 40s

Britain's Black Schools

In 1960s mainstream schooling in Britain was failing many black immigrant children. A disproportionate number were being sent to schools for those with low intelligence. Black educationalists like Gus John and others set up supplementary Saturday schools for black children to try to mitigate the problem. Claire Bowes has been hearing how some police and headteachers tried to shut them down. Photo: photo of an early black supplementary school courtesy of the George Padmore Institute, London.
08/11/2111m 29s

When Eritrea silenced its critics

In 2001, the Eritrean government suddenly arrested prominent critics and journalists, and shut down the country's independent press. None of those detained have been seen since. Eritrea, once hailed as a model for Africa, was accused of becoming one of the most repressive states in the world. We hear the story of Eritrean journalist Semret Seyoum, who'd set up the country's first private newspaper. He went into hiding and later tried to escape. Photo: Getty Images
05/11/2112m 23s

The end of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising

On November 4th 1956 Soviet tanks rolled into the Hungarian capital Budapest, crushing the country's short-lived popular uprising against Soviet rule. Nick Thorpe spoke to Miklos Gimes who was just six years old when the end of the revolution sent his father to his death, and Miklos and his mother into exile. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Soviet tanks on the streets of Budapest. Credit: Getty Images.
04/11/2110m 5s

The enduring legend of Fu Manchu

The evil criminal mastermind Fu Manchu was a recurring character in Hollywood films for decades. He epitomised racist stereotypes about China and the Chinese which shaped popular thinking in the West. Vincent Dowd has been talking to writer Sir Christopher Frayling and academic Amy Matthewson about his long-lasting influence. Photo: Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu in film The Vengeance of Fu Manchu. 1967.
03/11/218m 59s

Judgement at Nuremberg

It's 75 years since verdicts were delivered on leading German Nazis at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg for their instrumental role in the Second World War and the killing of millions of Jews. The trial, which lasted almost a year, made history and the principles of international criminal law first established there are still fundamental to international justice today. Robby Dundas is the daughter of the British judge at the trial, Sir Geoffrey Lawrence. She was in court, watching the proceedings and talks to Caroline Bayley about her memories of the trial. (Photo: View of the judges bench in Nuremberg International Military Tribunal (IMT) court in September 1946. Credit AFP/Getty Images)
02/11/218m 58s

The miracle of walking

An American doctor, Ignacio Ponseti, revolutionised the treatment of children born with 'club foot' - where their feet are turned in and under, and which had previously been treated with surgery. His method, which relied on physiotherapy and the use of braces, was less invasive and more successful long-term. Caroline Wyatt has been hearing from one of Dr Ponseti's early patients. This is a CTVC production. Photo: Dr Ignacio Ponseti.
01/11/219m 57s

Kilimanjaro: Africa’s disappearing glaciers

The mountains of East Africa are losing their glaciers. At 5,895 metres, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the continent, but it has lost about 90% of its glacial ice in the past 100 years, and scientists believe the process is accelerating. They say climate change is the cause, and that some glaciers could disappear completely within the next few years. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to Prof Clavery Tungaraza from Tanzania, and Dr Doug Hardy from the US, who was one of the first scientists to research Kilimanjaro. Simon Mtuy has climbed the mountain many times, and his family has farmed on its slopes for centuries. He tells Rebecca that, within his own life time, he has witnessed massive changes in the mountain and the climate. (Photo: Giraffes, fog, Kilimanjaro and acacia trees in the morning. Credit: Getty Images)
29/10/2113m 20s

The child climate activist of the 1990s

Long before Greta Thunberg, there was 12-year-old Severn Cullis-Suzuki, the girl who stood in front of world leaders and implored them to take action to save our environment. Speaking at the 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro, Severn caught the attention of the media with her passion and anger. Severn has been speaking to Phil Marzouk about her feelings then and how they’ve changed over the intervening decades. Photo: Severn Cullis-Suzuki (2nd left) and her friends at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Courtesy of Severn Cullis-Suzuki.
28/10/219m 37s

How the world woke up to climate change

Professor James Hansen finally got US politicians to listen to his warnings about climate change in June 1988 after years of trying. He and fellow NASA scientists had first predicted global warming almost a decade earlier. Professor Hansen spoke to Ashley Byrne about his discoveries in 2018. This programme is a rebroadcast.It is a Made in Manchester production. Image: Map of the world. Credit: Science Photo Library.
27/10/219m 36s

The world's first environment conference

The first international conference on the problems of the environment took place in Stockholm in 1972. It didn't concentrate on climate change but on the damage that was being done to animals and forests by the encroachment of humans and industry. It also highlighted some of the splits between rich and poor nations over who should make the greatest changes to save the planet. Maurice Strong, who organised the gathering, spoke to Claire Bowes about why it was so difficult to get the countries of the world to agree on change. Photo: Maurice Strong (right) shakes hands with Brazilian indigenous chief Kanhok Caiapo. AFP/Getty.
26/10/218m 59s

Proving climate change: the 'Keeling Curve'

A young American scientist began the work that would show how our climate is changing in 1958. His name was Charles Keeling and he started meticulously recording levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. He would carry on taking measurements for decades. His wife Louise and son Ralph spoke to Louise Hidalgo about him and his work. (Photo: Thick black smoke blowing out of an industrial chimney. Credit: John Giles/PA)
25/10/218m 49s

Britain’s lesbian families ‘scandal’

In January 1978 a London newspaper revealed how several British lesbians had conceived babies using donor sperm with the help of a respected gynaecologist. The doctor hadn’t broken any laws in providing the fertility treatment but the stigma surrounding homosexuality at the time meant the revelations started a media frenzy and a heated national debate. There were discussions in the press, in the streets and in Parliament. One MP called for a ban on the practice and called it ‘evil’, ‘selfish’ and ‘horrific’. Dr Gill Hanscombe had used artificial insemination to start a family with her two lesbian partners. When the press found out about them she was terrified that they were about to lose their jobs, and potentially their child. Produced and presented by Viv Jones. (PHOTO: Gill Hanscombe (left) with her partners Dee and Pru, and their son. Courtesy of Gill Hanscombe.)
22/10/218m 58s

The Greenham Common women's peace camp

The anti-nuclear weapons protest was the biggest women-led movement in the UK since the Suffragettes. It began in 1981 when Ann Pettitt from Wales organised a women-led peace march from the Welsh capital Cardiff to the airbase at Greenham Common, where American nuclear-tipped cruise missiles were being kept. A small group of women decided to set up camp outside the fences of Greenham Common to continue their protest. Women from all over the UK joined the demonstrations, some travelled from Europe and beyond to lend their support. At its peak, thousands of women camped around the base, and some form of protest camp remained for 19 years until all the nuclear weapons were moved and the airbase was decommissioned. It's now an open nature reserve. Ann Pettitt has been telling Rebecca Kesby why the women were prepared to leave jobs and families to sleep out in the cold to try to stop a nuclear war. Photo: Women from the Greenham Common peace camp blocking Yellow Gate into RAF Greenham Common , 1st April 1983 . (Photo by Staff/Reading Post/MirrorpixGetty Images)
21/10/2114m 45s

Polish refugees in Africa

During World War Two, close to 20,000 Polish people found refuge in Africa. They arrived after surviving imprisonment in Soviet labour camps and a harrowing journey across the Soviet Union to freedom. Casimir Szczepanik arrived as a child in a refugee camp in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia). He talks to Rob Walker about his life there and the impact the war still has on him. Photo:Casimir Szczepanik and his mother in the refugee camp. Credit:Casimir Szczepanik
20/10/218m 58s

The mysterious death of Samora Machel

When the socialist leader of Mozambique and some of his senior advisers were killed in a plane crash on the border with South Africa, many were suspicious. It was 19 October 1986 and the two countries were divided over Apartheid. The plane made a sudden direct turn straight into a range of mountains, and one of the air crash investigators at the scene, Dr Alan Diehl, told Rebecca Kesby there are reasons to suspect the plane was deliberately diverted off course. (Photo: The socialist leader of Mozambique Samora Machel delivers a speech. Credit: Getty Images.)
19/10/219m 7s

The first transgender minister in the Church of England

Sarah Jones is the first person who had undergone a gender change to be ordained in the Church of England. She has been talking to Phil Marzouk about her journey towards the priesthood. She says that in her early life she knew that although she had been born a boy, she wasn’t one. She also knew that she wanted to work in the church. She transitioned as a woman in 1991, and was first ordained as a deacon in the Church of England in 2004. Photo: Sarah Jones.
18/10/219m 3s

The doctor killed by an anti-abortion extremist

In America, there are few issues as controversial as abortion. It’s a major fault line that runs through society, dividing families and even influencing elections. In the 1980s and 1990s, some groups within America’s anti-abortion movement became militant. There were hundreds of bombing and arson attacks on clinics. Some groups began to argue that to save the lives of what they called ‘pre-born babies’, it was morally justifiable to murder abortion providers. Journalist Amanda Robb tells Viv Jones how her uncle, Dr Barnett Slepian, was killed in 1998. An anti-abortion extremist shot him through his kitchen window in front of his wife and four young sons. His shooting followed years of harassment and intimidation. (Photo: Portrait of Doctor Barnett Slepian, his wife and his four sons. Getty/Liaison)
15/10/218m 47s

The Pakistani law that jailed rape survivors

Under legislation known as the Hudood Ordinances introduced in 1979, a nearly blind teenage girl who'd been raped by two men and then became pregnant, was jailed herself for having sex outside marriage. In 1983 Safia Bibi was sentenced to three years imprisonment, 15 lashes and a fine. There was public outrage and anger from Pakistani women against the verdict and draconian punishment. Farhana Haider has been speaking to leading Pakistani lawyer and human rights advocate, Hina Jilani, who helped overturn the verdict.
14/10/2112m 50s

The story of 'Baby Jessica'

Eighteen-month-old Jessica McClure fell down a well-shaft while playing with other children in Texas in October 1987. It took almost three days to free her, and as the rescue effort got underway the American media became transfixed by her story. Susan Hulme has been talking Joe Faulkner, a neighbour who watched the drama unfold. Photo: a policeman carries Jessica away from the well shaft. Credit: Barbara Laing/Liaison Agency/Getty Images.
13/10/218m 59s

Colin Jordan and the British Nazi rally

In 1960s Britain extreme right-wing groups were on the rise. A schoolteacher called Colin Jordan led a Nazi rally in Trafalgar Square in central London. He openly praised Hitler and called for Britain to be freed from what he called 'Jewish control'. He was also a white supremacist who called for the repatriation of black people. Claire Bowes has been speaking to Gerry Gable, a Jewish anti-fascist activist who helped infiltrate Jordan's National Socialist Movement as well as helping secure the arrest of his former wife, Francoise Dior, for inciting arson attacks on two London synagogues. (Photo: British neo-Nazi politician Colin Jordan and French socialite Francoise Dior, UK, 7 October 1963; she is wearing a swastika shaped pendant and behind them, a portrait of Adolf Hitler. Credit: Felkin/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
12/10/2110m 35s

Winning the Arabic Booker prize

Saudi author Raja Alem was a voracious reader from an early age and thanks to her liberal-minded father, grew up immersed in books. She was in her early teens when she began to write novellas and then articles in the cultural supplements of newspapers in her native Saudi Arabia. In 2011, she became the first woman to win the prestigious international Booker prize for Arabic fiction for her novel The Dove's Necklace - a murder mystery set in modern-day Mecca. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to Raja about her writing and the influences that have made her unique among Saudi authors. Photo by Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images
11/10/218m 58s

Clyde Best - A black footballing pioneer

Bermuda-born Clyde Best came to England as a teenager in 1968 and went on to play for West Ham United alongside the likes of Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst. Best made a name for himself as a talented goal-scorer in more than 200 appearances for the Hammers, but he faced constant racist abuse from fans, and on occasion, from opposition players. Clyde Best told Mike Lanchin about how he stood up to the racists in English soccer. (Photo: Clyde Best on the ball, 4 March 1972. Credit: Mirror Group Newspapers/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
08/10/2110m 16s

The unlawful death of Christopher Alder

In 1998, Christopher Alder, a black former soldier, choked to death in handcuffs on the floor of a British police station. CCTV footage showed the 37-year-old father-of-two gasping for air as officers chatted and joked around him. It took 11 minutes for him to stop breathing. An inquest found Christopher Alder was unlawfully killed but no-one has ever been held accountable for his death. Farhana Haider spoke to Janet Alder about her long fight to get justice for her brother. Photo:Christopher Alder (Alder family handout)
07/10/2113m 20s

A Somali sailor in 1920s Britain

In the early 20th century, many Somali seafarers made their way to Britain on merchant ships, establishing communities in cities such as Cardiff. One of them, Ibrahim Ismaa'il, made his way to the UK from the port of Aden. He then struck up an unlikely friendship with an eminent anthropologist who lived in an alternative community in the Cotswolds. The anthropologist later recorded Ismaa'il's remarkable life-story. Chloe Hadjimatheou reports. PHOTO: A British liner in the port of Aden in the 1920s (Getty Images).
06/10/2110m 9s

Britain's World War Two 'Brown Babies'

During World War Two, tens of thousands of African-American US servicemen passed through the UK as part of the war effort. The black GIs stationed in Britain were forced by the American military to abide by the racial segregation laws that applied in the deep south of the US. But that didn't stop relationships developing between British women and the black soldiers, some of whom went on to have children. Babs Gibson-Ward was one those children. She spoke to Farhana Haider about the stigma of growing up as mixed raced child in post-war Britain. (Photo: Hoinicote House children, c.1948. Boys and girls whose parents of mixed ancestry met during WWII. Credit: Lesley York)
05/10/2110m 45s

London's first black policeman

Norwell Roberts joined the Metropolitan police in 1967. He was put forward as a symbol of progressive policing amid ongoing tensions between the police and ethnic minorities in the capital. But behind the scenes, Norwell endured years of racist abuse from colleagues within the force. Norwell Roberts spoke to Alex Last about growing up in Britain and his determination to be a pioneer in the police. (Photo: London's first black policeman PC Norwell Roberts beginning his training with colleagues at Hendon Police College, London, 5 April 1967. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
04/10/2110m 10s

The Tanker War

In November 1987, the Romanian cargo ship, the Fundulea, was attacked by an Iranian gunboat in the Persian Gulf. It was just one of hundreds of merchant ships hit by missiles or mines in the Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war, as both sides sought to damage each other's oil exports and trade. The conflict at sea became known as the Tanker War. Major naval powers deployed to the Gulf to protect their shipping, but many ships, like the Fundulea, ran the gauntlet unescorted. Alex Last has been speaking to Florentin Dacian Botta, who was on board the Fundulea when it was attacked. Photo: Tug boats spray water to extinguish fires onboard the stricken Romanian freighter, the Fundulea, after it was attacked by an Iranian gunboat, 23rd November 1987 ( NORBERT SCHILLER/AFP via Getty Images)
01/10/2110m 1s

Petra Kelly and the German Greens

In the early 1980s in West Germany, a radical new political party was on the rise. Die Grünen - the Greens - championed protecting the environment, scrapping nuclear power plants and nuclear missiles, and stopping pollution. A movement as well as a party, the Greens brought together disparate groups of environmentalists, conservative farmers and youthful anti-nuclear activists. Petra Kelly, the party’s most prominent spokesperson, was a charismatic speaker who became an international name. Her life was cut short when she was killed by her partner in 1992. Sara Parkin, friend and biographer of Petra Kelly, shares her memories of the Greens’ early successes and reflects on Kelly’s legacy today. Image: Petra Kelly. Credit: Mehner/ullstein bild via Getty Images
30/09/218m 57s

'Mad cow disease' and CJD

In 1996 the UK government said there was a link between BSE in cattle and Variant CJD in humans. It's believed that more than 100 people contracted the debilitating and ultimately fatal disease after eating infected beef during an outbreak in the 1980s and 1990s. Initially scientists had no idea what was causing their strange symptoms, until a link was found that traced CJD back to BSE or 'mad cow disease', as it became known, in cattle. Millions of cows were destroyed and feeding practices were changed to contain the outbreak. Roger Tomkins and Sarah Shadbolt both lost family members to Variant CJD and share their stories with Rebecca Kesby. Photo: Cows. BBC.
29/09/219m 14s

Photographing Brazil's Yanomami

In 1971 photographer Claudia Andujar began documenting the lives of a remote indigenous tribe in the Brazilian Amazon jungle. Claudia went on to take thousands of unique images of Yanomami men, women and children. Her photographs helped the campaign for recognition of the Yanomami's rights over their own land. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from Claudia, now in her 90s, about how she was received by the indigenous group when she first arrived in the Amazon, and how she won them over with her smile, and her camera. Photo:Antônio Korihana thëri, a young man under the effect of the hallucinogenic powder yãkoana, Catrimani, 1972-1976. © Claudia Andujar
28/09/219m 40s

The rise of the Taliban

The Taliban first started to gather support in the south of Afghanistan in the early 1990s. By September 27th 1996 they had taken control of the country's capital Kabul. Journalist and writer Ahmed Rashid watched their rise, from the religious schools in refugee camps on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, to their ultimate victory over the American-led coalition forces. He's been speaking to Zak Brophy. Photo:Taliban fighters on the back of a vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2021. Credit: EPA/STRINGER
27/09/219m 40s

Kenya: Westgate Mall attack

Gunmen from the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabab attacked a shopping centre in Nairobi taking hundreds hostage. The group claimed it was in retaliation for Kenyan military action against them in southern Somalia. The siege lasted four days in September 2013 and more than 60 people were killed, but hundreds more were injured and traumatised. Daniel Ouma was a paramedic on duty at the scene and explains to Rebecca Kesby how his team tried to help people affected. PHOTO: A police officer during a rescue operation at the site of the terrorist attack, Westgate Mall, on September 21, 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya. Gunmen from the extremist group Al-Shabab entered the mall and opened fire at random on shoppers; 68 deaths have been confirmed. (Photo by Jeff Angote/Nation Media/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
24/09/219m 24s

James Bond on screen

As the 25th James Bond film hits cinema screens we look at the lasting appeal of the franchise. The original author, Ian Fleming, died in the 1960s but other writers took on the challenge of keeping Britain's most famous secret agent alive. Photo:Daniel Craig as James Bond in No Time To Die. Credit: Nicola Dove/PA Wire.
23/09/2110m 5s

The poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko

Alexander Litvinenko was a former colonel in the Russian secret service and a critic of Vladimir Putin's government. He fled to London seeking political asylum in 2000. In November 2006 he was poisoned with the highly radioactive substance Polonium-210. Rebecca Kesby spoke to his wife Marina, about his life and excruciating death. This programme is a rebroadcast (PHOTO: Alexander Litvinenko in a London hospital a couple of days before his death in November 2006. Credit Getty Images.) Show less
22/09/219m 1s

Mexico's miracle water

Thousands of people flocked to the village of Tlacote in central Mexico in 1991. They hoped to be cured by 'magical' water after rumours spread about its healing powers.Maria Elena Navas spoke to Edmundo Gonzalez Llaca who was an official in the local environment ministry in 1991 and who was sent to Tlacote to check out what all the fuss was about. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Hands under a stream of water (Getty Images)
21/09/218m 58s

Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis

In the late 1960s, the widow of President Kennedy had a secret romance with Aristotle Onassis, who was then the richest man in the world. Simon Watts spoke to Nico Mastorakis, a Greek journalist who visited Onassis’s yacht in disguise to confirm the relationship and secure a sensational scoop. Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis would go on to marry in October 1968 in a spectacular ceremony on the private island of Skorpios. PHOTO:Jackie Kennedy with Aristotle Onassis in 1968. Credit: David Cairns/Getty Images.
20/09/2110m 31s

The Peter Principle

In 1969 a satirical book, The Peter Principle, suggested that promotion led to incompetence. Written by a Canadian Professor of Education, Dr Laurence J. Peter and playwright Raymond Hull, the book was a parody of management theory but it's core message struck a chord with many. It became an instant classic, selling millions of copies around the world. We present a rare archive recording of Dr Peter, explaining his theory that “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence". Photo: Dr Laurence J. Peter on the BBC in 1974 (BBC)
17/09/2110m 32s

Christiania: Copenhagen’s hippy commune

In 1971 a group of squatters, artists and activists took over a disused military barracks on the edge of Copenhagen. They established a self-governing hippy commune called Freetown Christiania, after the surrounding district of Christianshavn. Residents began to build houses along their own experimental designs and soon Christiania had its own theatre, bakery and kindergarten. The semi-autonomous enclave is still there today and is one of the oldest and largest communes in the world. Viv Jones speaks to Danish filmmaker Jon Bang Carlsen, one of Christiania’s first settlers. Photo: Christiania (Getty Images)
16/09/2110m 5s

The earthquake that devastated Haiti

In 2010 the Haitian capital and surrounding areas were hit by a catastrophic earthquake. Much of Port Au Prince was flattened and more than a hundred thousand people were killed. Amid the destruction and death people's first instinct was to pull together and help one another. Zak Brophy has been speaking to Kinsley Jean who was just a teenager when his family home collapsed around him. Photo: Men gather to try to reach those still buried in the rubble beneath the Haitian Department of Justice building in January 2010.(Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
15/09/219m 19s

The lost king of France

King Louis XVI of France and his queen, Marie Antoinette, were killed during the French Revolution. Their son and heir was said to have died in prison in 1795 but did he in fact escape? The 10-year-old spent his last two years of life in solitary confinement with no human contact. During his final few months he neither talked nor walked, rumours spread that this was an imposter and that the real dauphin had been smuggled out in a laundry basket and replaced with another boy. Years later, dozens of men from all over the world were claiming they were Louis-Charles, the rightful heir to the French throne. It could never be proven one way or the other, but in 2000 a team of scientists took DNA samples from the heart of the boy, which had been recovered and kept in a royal crypt. Claire Bowes has been speaking to professor Jean Jacques Cassiman and historian Deborah Cadbury about the mystery. (Photo: Illustration of Louis XVII - formally Louis-Charles, Dauphin of France in prison.Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
14/09/219m 25s

The Attica prison rebellion

In September 1971 prisoners in a high security jail in the USA turned on their guards taking 42 people hostage. After 4 days of negotiations, armed police retook the jail. By the time the siege ended 39 people were dead. Rebecca Kesby spoke to Carlos Roache, a former prisoner who took part in the uprising. PHOTO: Attica prisoners making the black power salute (Getty Images)
13/09/2112m 5s

9/11: The backlash against American Muslims

In the Aftermath of the Al Qaeda attacks against America on September 11th 2001, many Muslims living in the US had their allegiance to America questioned. In the days after 9/11 all over America hate crimes against Muslims and anyone perceived to be Muslims soared. In 2001, according to crime statistics by the FBI, hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs in the US increased by 1,700 percent. Stories about Muslim women in hijabs and Muslim men with beards being attacked became commonplace. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Kevin James, a Muslim first responder who was at Ground Zero in New York immediately after the attacks. Photo: Nadia Nawaz holds a sign remembering the victims of the attack. Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images
10/09/2111m 55s

America attacks Afghanistan

In October 2001, just a month after the 9/11 attacks, the first airstrikes against Afghanistan began in what the US and its allies called Operation Enduring Freedom. The country was being targeted because it had provided a haven for al-Qaeda. In 2011 Louise Hidalgo spoke to two Afghans who were in Kabul the night the bombing started. (Photo: The aftermath of a US airstrike on Kandahar. Credit: Getty Images)
09/09/219m 57s

With the president on 9/11

The al-Qaeda attacks against America took place on the morning of September the 11th 2001. The news was broken to the US President, George W Bush by his Chief of Staff Andrew Card, as he was on a visit to an elementary school. Simon Watts reports. This programme was first broadcast in 2020. (Photo: President George W. Bush shortly after learning of the 9/11 attacks. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
08/09/2110m 3s

The killing of Ahmed Shah Massoud

On the 9th of September 2001 the Afghan fighter Ahmed Shah Massoud who led the opposition to Taliban rule, was killed by a suicide bomber. Just two days later, Al Qaeda carried out their attacks in the USA. In 2011 Louise Hidalgo spoke one of Ahmed Shah Massoud's friends who was with him the day he died. PHOTO: Ahmed Shah Massoud (Getty Images)
07/09/219m 58s

The warnings before 9/11

Throughout 2001 the US authorities were being given warnings that a terror attack was imminent. A Congressional Commission, FBI officers and the CIA were all worried. There were even specific warnings about planes being flown into buildings. Louise Hidalgo spoke to former Senator Gary Hart who co-chaired the Congressional Commission that tried to convince the government to take action. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Smoke pours from the World Trade Centre after it was hit by two passenger planes on September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Credit: Robert Giroux/Getty Images)
06/09/219m 59s

North Korea's founding father

When World War Two ended and the Korean peninsula was divided, Soviet soldiers occupied the North, and US soldiers occupied the South. So how did one man, Kim Il-sung, take control of communist North Korea and create the long-lasting dynasty that still runs the country today? Kevin Kim has been hearing from Professor Kim Hyung-suk about his meeting with Kim Il-sung, and about the mystery behind his rise to power. Photo: North Korean illustration of Kim Il-sung surrounded by happy citizens.
03/09/218m 57s

The businessman who defied the Mafia

Palermo businessman Libero Grassi published an open letter in Sicily’s main newspaper denouncing the Mafia for constantly demanding extortion payments. Grassi was hailed as a hero, but his public refusal to pay was intolerable to the Mafia and a few months later, in the summer of 1991, he was executed in person by one of Cosa Nostra’s top bosses. Libero Grassi’s defiance is credited with inspiring a new grass-roots movement among businesses in Sicily that stands up to the Mafia. Simon Watts spoke to his daughter, Alice Grassi. This programme is a rebroadcast
02/09/218m 59s

Surviving the fall of Saigon

When South Vietnam fell in 1975, most could not escape. In the last days, the US airlifted its remaining personnel and some high ranking Vietnamese officials - but millions were left behind to await their fate. This is the account of one South Vietnamese veteran who remained in Saigon as North Vietnamese forces took the city. Dr Tran Xuan Dung served as a doctor in the South Vietnamese Marines. He would spend three years imprisoned in a "re-education" camp before fleeing with his family in 1978. Photo: A South Vietnamese soldier helps his wounded friend during fighting with communist forces in Saigon, 28th April 1975 (Bettmann/Getty Images)
01/09/2113m 49s

The first modern electric car

This electric car revolution is finally on the horizon: many car manufacturers have promised to make only electric vehicles in the near future, in response to the climate emergency. But the first mass-produced modern electric car, the General Motors EV1, was launched back in 1996. Within a few short years it was scrapped: almost every vehicle was recalled and crushed, and the car of the future disappeared in history’s rear-view mirror. Viv Jones hears the story from one of the car’s creators, research engineer Wally Rippel. Photo: The GM EV1 (Kim Kulish/Sygma via Getty Images)
31/08/218m 58s

Nigeria's 'War Against Indiscipline'

Muhammadu Buhari's military government launched an unusual campaign to clean up Nigeria in August 1984. Under the policy, Nigerians were forced to queue in an orderly manner, to be punctual and to obey traffic laws. The punishments for infractions could be brutal. Veteran Nigerian journalist Sola Odunfa spoke to Alex Last about the reaction in Lagos to the War Against Indiscipline. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: The Oshodi district of Lagos, 2008 (AFP/Getty Images)
27/08/2110m 15s

Syria's rebel poet

The Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani was one of the most influential and famous Arab cultural figures of the 20th century. His enduring legacy has become contested territory in the conflict that has torn his homeland apart.
26/08/218m 58s

Campaigning for Mexico's women with disabilities

In the mid 2000s disability campaigners in Mexico were stepping up their efforts to secure changes in laws and attitudes in their country. They faced indifference from politicians and business leaders, and stereotypical portrayals in the media. For the estimated 4.3 million women with disabilities in Mexico, the situation was even more difficult. Maryangel Garcia-Ramos, who has become one of her country's leading disability activists, tells Mike Lanchin about her own personal struggle and the battle for recognition for women with disabilities, who she calls "the forgotten sisters." Photo:Maryangel Garcia-Ramos at UN headquarters, New York, June 2019 (courtesy of Maryangel Garcia-Ramos)
25/08/2110m 3s

My father survived the sinking of the Titanic

When the RMS Titanic sank in 1912, after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, roughly 700 passengers survived by escaping in the ship's lifeboats. Among them were six Chinese sailors travelling in third class. Unlike other survivors, their stories remained untold for decades. They faced racism and a hostile immigration system when they reached America. Viv Jones speaks to Tom Fong, the son of one of the Chinese sailors. He only found out what had happened to his father after his death. Photo: Tom’s father, Fang Lang. Credit: LP Films.
24/08/218m 55s

John Maynard Keynes

The economist John Maynard Keynes transformed 20th century economic policy. Considered one of the great minds of his age, his seminal work The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, sought to diagnose and find solutions to the misery and mass unemployment of the Great Depression. For decades his ideas were central to economic policy adopted across the western world and have made a comeback after the financial crash of 2008. Alex Last presents rare recordings of Keynes from the BBC archive and speaks to Lord Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at Warwick University and biographer of Keynes. Photo :John Maynard Keynes, the famous economist pictured at his home in London, 1929 (Getty Images)
23/08/2113m 10s

When The Queen met Ceaușescu

Nicolae Ceaușescu was the first communist leader to be given a full state visit to the UK, but it was controversial from the outset. The Romanian president was a known dictator who ran a brutal regime, but Britain was still cash-strapped after World War Two and was desperate to build new trading partners. Dorian Galbinski was one of the main translators for the visit and he explains to Rebecca Kesby some of the background to the event. (Photo: June 1978: Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu rides in the state carriage with Queen Elizabeth II on his official visit to Britain. Credit: Central Press/Getty Images)
20/08/2112m 17s

Saddam Hussein's foreign hostages

In August 1990 following the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of neighbouring Kuwait hundreds of foreign nationals were held hostage by the Iraqi government. Among them were the Rahims, a British Muslim family who had been in Iraq on a religious pilgrimage. Sameer Rahim has been speaking to Farhana Haider about his time as Saddam's prisoner. Image: Saddam Hussein with western hostages, Iraq 1990 Credit: Shutterstock
19/08/2112m 15s

India's secret freedom radio

When Indian independence leaders, including Gandhi, were jailed in 1942, activists set up a secret radio station to carry the message of rebellion against British rule. Among the campaigners who worked at the station was Usha Mehta, who was later imprisoned for broadcasting anti-British news and playing patriotic music. Claire Bowes has been listening to archive material of Usha Mehta and speaking to her nephew, Indian film-maker Ketan Mehta. Image: Usha Mehta Credit:Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Mumbai
18/08/219m 52s

US withdrawal: The fall of Saigon

The last remaining US forces pulled out of Vietnam on April 30th 1975 as communist North Vietnamese troops took control of the country. There was a desperate scramble to evacuate US personnel and some Vietnamese colleagues who feared brutal reprisals at the hands of the communists for having helped the Americans. With the airport destroyed, they had to use helicopter airlifts from inside the US embassy compound to transport people to the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier waiting offshore. Rebecca Kesby speaks to two former US servicemen, Stu Herrington and Vern Jumper, who were involved in the mission. (Photo: A CIA employee helps Vietnamese evacuees onto an Air America helicopter from the top of 22 Gia Long Street, a half mile from the U.S. Embassy. April 1975. Getty Images.)
17/08/2114m 34s

The man who coined the term genocide

Genocide has a long and grim history, but until the 1950s, the mass extermination of a people or a group was an atrocity without a name, a definition or an international law against it. One man did more than anyone else to change that: the Polish Jewish lawyer, Raphael Lemkin. He coined the term genocide and fought for decades to stop it. He also survived it, but lost his whole family in the Holocaust. Viv Jones hears his story from Israeli journalist Lili Eylon, who met him at the United Nations and witnessed his one-man lobbying campaign. Photo: Raphael Lemkin in 1950 Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images.
16/08/218m 58s

Inside an East German jail

Vera Lengsfeld was a prominent human rights activist in East Germany who was arrested and jailed for taking part in a peaceful protest. She was sent to Hohenschönhausen, the main political prison of the former East German Communist Ministry of State Security, the Stasi. There she was kept in solitary confinement until shortly before the Berlin Wall came down. Vera Lengsfeld spoke to Lucy Williamson about her time in jail. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: A cell inside Hohenschönhausen Prison which has now been made into a museum. Credit: Flickr Commons.
13/08/218m 57s

East Germany's nudists

For years Germans have been bathing nude at the beach. Many are members of a naturist movement called the FKK, which was banned under the Nazis and faced official disapproval during the early years of communist rule in East Germany. Mike Lanchin spoke to one East Berliner who recalled the heyday of naked sunbathing beside the Baltic Sea. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Bathers enjoying the beach at Baerwalder See, Eastern Germany (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
12/08/218m 58s

Exiled from East Germany: Wolf Biermann

East Germany's most famous singer-songwriter was exiled to the West in November 1976, causing an international outcry. Wolf Biermann was stripped of his GDR citizenship while on tour in West Germany. Wolf Biermann spoke to Lucy Burns about his political songs and his fame on both sides of the Berlin Wall. This programme is a rebroadcast Picture: Wolf Biermann in concert. Credit: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
11/08/218m 57s

Escaping from East Berlin

How a young West German student helped East Berliners escape communism at the height of the Cold War. Volker Heinz told Robin Lustig how he worked with a Syrian diplomat to smuggle people across the Berlin Wall in the boot of the diplomat's car. From March to September 1966 the pair managed to help more than 60 people to make the crossing. This programme is a rebroadcast (Photo: East German border guards in 1966 scanning the Berlin Wall. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images)
10/08/218m 59s

The building of the Berlin Wall

In August 1961, communist East Germany began building the Berlin Wall, which divided the city for nearly three decades and became a symbol of the Cold War. Simon Watts introduces the memories of Germans from both sides of the Wall. PHOTO: Soldiers at the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s (Getty Images)
09/08/219m 5s

Gay activism in 1990s India

In the early 1990s, when homosexuality was still a criminal offense in India, a group of gay men and lesbian women set up the Counsel Club in the city of Kolkata. It was one of the first queer support groups in India. Their first meetings took place in secret at the home of one of the members. Later, the group campaigned for gay rights in India and helped other gay people with family problems or anxieties over coming out. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to Pawan Dhall, one of the club's founding members. Photo credit: REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw
06/08/218m 57s

Afghanistan's battle of the airwaves

When the US led invasion of Afghanistan ousted the repressive Taliban regime in 2001, it was no longer illegal to listen to music or news on the radio. Afghan businessman Saad Mohseni returned to his home town of Kabul to launch Arman FM, a new radio station which played modern music and comedy programmes amongst other things which had been banned under the Taliban. He tells Rebecca Kesby why he wanted to help rebuild the cultural life of Afghanistan, how one radio station expanded into a multimedia company, and how persistent security problems have impacted his staff. (Photo: Afghan radio DJ, Seema Safa, talks on Arman FM radio station in Kabul in 2014. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)
05/08/219m 49s

Escaping Nigeria’s Civil War

When the south-east region of Nigeria declared itself to be the independent state of Biafra, civil war broke out. More than a million people died before the fighting stopped. We bring you one child’s story of getting caught up in the frontline. Paul Waters hears from Patricia Ngozi Ebigwe, now better known as TV and music star Patti Boulaye, who was 13 years old when she had to try to escape the conflict. ‘We were told: Careless talk kills‘ Patricia remembers. ‘When you walked past dead bodies in the street, I didn’t want to look at their faces, because maybe it was someone I knew.’ Photo: 13-year-old Patricia Ngozi Ebigwe (Courtesy of Patti Boulaye)
04/08/218m 58s

Chipko: India’s tree-hugging women

The 1970s were a time of rapid development in the Indian Himalayas. New roads had recently been built, allowing logging companies greater access to the region’s vast, remote forests. Local people made a subsistence livelihood from these woods, and when the trees were cut down they endured erosion, poor farming conditions and catastrophic floods. A resistance movement was formed, named Chipko – Hindi for ‘hugging’ – after its trademark protest tactic of embracing the trees. Many of its first organisers were women. Environmentalist and ecological activist, Dr Vandana Shiva was a young student when she first learnt about Chipko. She tells Viv Jones how she was inspired to volunteer for the movement. (Photo by Bhawan Singh/ The India Today Group via Getty Images)
03/08/218m 58s

Dorothy Butler Gilliam: American news pioneer

In 1961, the Washington Post newspaper hired an African American woman as a reporter for the first time. Dorothy Butler Gilliam was only 24 when she got the job. At the time there were hardly any women or minorities working in newsrooms. Most of her white colleagues wouldn’t speak to her, taxis wouldn’t stop for her. Dorothy has been speaking to Farhana Haider about the difficulties she faced as a black woman journalist in 1960s America and her fight to diversify the media in the US. (Photo Dorothy Butler Gilliam Washington Post newsroom 1962. Copyright Harry Naltchayan, The Washington Post.)
02/08/2112m 49s

The Tsunami and Fukushima

Remembering the earthquake and tsunami which devastated Japan and triggered a nuclear emergency in 2011. Max Pearson, who reported from Japan at the time, presents eyewitness accounts of the disaster which left thousands dead and led to many questioning the future of the country's nuclear industry. Photo: Tsunami smashes into the city of Miyako in Iwate prefecture shortly after an earthquake hit the region of northern Japan, 11th March 2011 (JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)
30/07/219m 12s

Fighting for the pill in Japan

After decades of campaigning in Japan, the pill was finally legalised in 1999. In contrast, the male impotency drug Viagra was approved for use in just six months, and legalised before the contraceptive pill for women. Politician Yoriko Madoka pushed hard for the right to take the pill and told Rebecca Kesby that sexism and male dominance in Parliament is why it took so long. (Photo: A collection of contraceptive pills. Getty Images)
29/07/219m 0s

The soldier who never surrendered

In January 1972 a Japanese soldier was found hiding in the jungle on the Pacific island of Guam. He had been living in the wild there for almost 30 years unaware that World War Two had ended. His name was Shoichi Yokoi. Mike Lanchin spoke to his nephew and biographer. This programme is a rebroadcast Photo: Shoichi Yokoi on his arrival back in Japan in 1972. Credit: Getty Images.
28/07/219m 52s

The birth of Karaoke

Daisuke Inoue was playing keyboards in a band in Kobe, Japan, when he invented the Karaoke machine in 1971. He had a customer who wanted to impress business clients by singing along to his favourite songs. Ashley Byrne spoke to Daisuke Inoue about his invention in 2015. (Photo: A group of women sing karaoke. Credit: Getty Images)
27/07/219m 39s

Japan's Bullet Train

On 1 October 1964, the fastest train the world had ever seen was launched in Japan. The first Shinkansen, or bullet train, ran between Tokyo and Osaka, and had a top speed of 210km per hour. Lucy Burns spoke to Isao Makibayashi, one of the train's first drivers. This is a rebroadcast (Photo: Shinkansen, or bullet train. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images)
26/07/218m 58s

When war came to Darfur

In the early 2000s, rebels in Sudan's Darfur region took up arms against the government. In response, the Khartoum regime launched a scorched earth campaign along ethnic lines. The Sudanese military allied to a local militia, the Janjaweed, laid waste to villages across the region, killing and raping as they went. Some 300,000 people are believed to have been killed in the conflict, more than 2 million displaced from their homes. We hear the story of Debay Manees, a young boy at the time, who's life was changed by the war. Photo: A young Darfurian refugee walks past a Sudan Liberation Army Land Rover filled with teenage rebel fighters on October 14 2004 in the violent North Darfur region of Sudan. (Photo by Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images)
22/07/2111m 34s

Surviving Norway's day of terror

On 22 July 2011 Norway suffered its worst terror attacks in recent history. A far-right extremist, Anders Breivik, launched a bomb attack on government offices in Oslo, and then, two hours later, attacked a summer camp for young political activists on the island of Utøya, 38 kms from the Norwegian capital. In total 77 people were killed that day - the majority on the island. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to one of the camp's leaders Lisa Husby, who was 19-years-old at the time . Lisa hid under a bed in a small cabin as the gunman roamed the island looking for his next victim. 'It was 50-50 that day', she says. 'Either you found a good hiding place, or you didn't...it was just random'. Photo:A wounded young woman is brought ashore after the attacks on Utøya island. (Credit: Svein Gustav Wilhelmsen/AFP via Getty Images)
21/07/219m 2s

The Battle of Gondar

In 1941, Italian colonial rule in East Africa ended when Mussolini’s soldiers made a dramatic final stand in the northern Ethiopian town of Gondar. After a bloody battle, General Guglielmo Nasi surrendered to troops from the British empire and Ethiopian fighters loyal to Emperor Haile Selassie. Simon Watts listens to an account in the BBC archive from Rene Cutforth, who was then a British army officer and later became a distinguished BBC war correspondent. PHOTO: Italian soldiers surrendering in the build-up to the Battle of Gondar (Getty Images)
20/07/219m 49s

Domestic violence in Brazil

Ground-breaking legislation came into effect in Brazil in 2006. For the first time the courts were ordered to recognise different forms of domestic violence. The 'Maria da Penha law' was named after a women's rights activist who was left paralysed by her abusive husband. Maria told Mike Lanchin her chilling story. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Maria da Penha now.
19/07/219m 50s

England's summer of riots

In the summer of 2001 race riots gripped towns in the north of England. They began in Oldham in late May 2001, spreading to Burnley in June, and Bradford in July. All had their own specific local triggers, but all involved clashes between men of white and of South Asian background. A report into the violence found communities were living in complete segregation, brewing suspicion and hatred. Barnie Choudhury reported on the riots for the BBC. He speaks to Farhana Haider about how they unfolded and their repercussions for the UK today. Photo: Two youths pass by a burnt out car wreck, Oldham 29 May 2001. (Credit: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)
16/07/2112m 35s

When the Taliban took Kabul

Taliban fighters first took control of Afghanistan's capital city Kabul in late September 1996. They imposed their strict interpretation of Islam on Afghans, outlawing music and TV, banning the education of girls, and requiring men to grow beards. The Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan until 2001 when, following the 9/11 attacks against America, a US-led coalition drove them out of power. Photo: Taliban gunners outside Kabul in November 1996.(Credit: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images)
15/07/218m 59s

Jane Goodall and chimpanzees

In the 1960s a young Englishwoman made a discovery that changed our understanding of animal behaviour. Jane Goodall was living among wild chimpanzees in Tanzania when she observed them using sticks and grasses as tools to get food. Farhana Haider spoke to her about her life in 2014. This programme is a rebroadcast. (Photo: Jane Goodall with chimpanzeess. Credit: AFP)
14/07/218m 59s

Prisoner of the Cultural Revolution

As a schoolboy in communist China, Kim Gordon took part in huge rallies to praise Chairman Mao. But when Mao's so-called Cultural Revolution began to target intellectuals and foreigners, Kim's British parents came under suspicion despite being convinced communists. When they tried to leave the country they were arrested with Kim and locked up in a hotel room for two years. Monica Whitlock has been listening to Kim's story. Photo: Kim Gordon as a schoolboy in China. Courtesy of Kim Gordon.
13/07/218m 59s

The race for the jet engine

Using eyewitness recordings from the BBC archive we hear from the pioneers of the jet engine, Sir Frank Whittle and Hans von Ohain, about the struggle to develop a revolutionary new engine in the 1930s. An invention which would change the world. Photo: Sir Frank Whittle (1907-1996) is pictured here with the Whittle WV engine at the Science Museum in London c 1988 (Getty Images)
12/07/2113m 39s

The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior

On 9 July 1985 the Greenpeace campaign ship was bombed by French secret agents in Auckland, New Zealand. One environmental campaigner was killed and the Rainbow Warrior was sunk. Claire Bowes heard from the ship's captain Pete Willcox who was on board when the attack took place. This programme is a rebroadcast (Photo: Captain Pete Willcox, courtesy of Greenpeace)
09/07/219m 37s

The first World Romani Congress

Roma people from all over Europe met in England for a conference in 1971. The Roma, who migrated from India over a thousand years ago, often used to be called gypsies. Many Roma led a travelling life, moving from place to place doing seasonal work. They suffered persecution and prejudice for centuries, and many died in the Holocaust during World War Two. But their common language and culture brought them together. Claire Bowes has been speaking to Grattan Puxon who organised the Congress. Image: First World Romani Congress
08/07/219m 8s

The famine in North Korea

Communist North Korea suffered a devastating famine in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union which had been one of the country's main supporters. Hundreds of thousands of people died of starvation. Some estimates put the death toll at more than two million. Josephine Casserly has been hearing from Joseph Kim, who was a child in North Korea in the 1990s, about the struggles of his family. Joseph has written a book about his experience called Under the Same Sky. Photo: North Korean boys at a kindergarten in Pyongyang pose for a World Food Programme Emergency Food Assistance photographer in 1997. Their thin arms and legs, knobby knees and distended abdomens show that they are seriously malnourished. (Credit: Susan North/AFP/Getty Images)
07/07/218m 59s

Britain's wartime gold

When Britain went to war with Germany in 1939 it had to find somewhere to keep its money. Because of the risk of invasion, a decision was made to send the country's gold reserves to Canada. Vincent Dowd reports on what became known as 'Operation Fish'. Photo: Gold ingots. Credit: Science photo library
06/07/219m 40s

Cuba's blindness epidemic

As Cuba faced a devastating economic crisis in the early 1990s, leading to severe food shortages and malnutritiion, some 50,000 Cubans were inexplicably struck down with sight loss. But health officials on the communist-led island as well as experts at WHO initially believed it was caused by a viral infection spreading through the population. Despite hostile relations between his country and Cuba, the American eye specialist Dr Alfredo Sadun was asked to go to the island in May 1993 to investigate. He tells Mike Lanchin about his meetings with Fidel Castro, and how he helped solve the mystery of what was termed the Cuban epidemic of optic neuropathy. Photo: A doctor examines a patient affected by sight loss at a clinic in Havana, Cuba, May 1993 (ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP via Getty Images)
05/07/219m 48s

China's trailblazing foreign students

China has the largest number of overseas students in the world but when students first started venturing out of Communist China it was still a country feeling the aftereffects of the Cultural Revolution. Launched in 1966 by Communist leader Mao Zedong the Cultural Revolution plunged China into a decade of chaos. The education of millions of young people were disrupted and China was cut off from the rest for world. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Chinese American writer Zha Jianying, one of the first batch of Chinese students to arrive in the US in the early 1980s. Image: Chinese writer Zha Jianying, July 2015 Credit: Simon Song/ Getty Images
02/07/2113m 20s

The Chinese Communist Party

A small group of revolutionaries formed the Chinese Communist Party in July 1921. Led by Chairman Mao, they fought their way to power in the world's most populous nation and have stayed in control since the end of China's civil war in 1949. Zhu Zhende was a young recruit in the People's Liberation Army who marched in front of Chairman Mao at celebrations in Beijing when the communists took power. He spoke to Yashan Zhao about the optimism and excitement of that time, and about how the Communist Party changed his life. The programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: a communist statue in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. Credit: BBC.
01/07/219m 29s

The Syrian playwright who challenged the regime

An experimental play staged in Damascus in 1971 undermined official Syrian propaganda. Simply by stating that the Arab nations had been defeated by Israel during the Six Day War its author, Sadallah Wannous, identified himself as an opposition figure. Zak Brophy spoke to his widow, Faizah Shawish, about the play and its place in Syrian theatre. Photo: Sadallah Wannous with his parents and daughter in 1988. With the permission of the Wannous family.
29/06/218m 58s

Zimbabwe's mass UFO sightings

It was one of the most reported UFO sightings in recent history. Local people in the quiet rural town of Ruwa in Zimbabwe reported a 'strange craft' and lights in the sky. Around 60 children said they'd seen a 'space ship' and 'aliens' in bush land near their school playground in September 1994. The children drew pictures of what they'd seen, and despite differences in quality, the details and proportions were very similar. A BBC TV crew were among the first on the scene, Rebecca Kesby looks back through the archive of 'the Ruwa School incident'. (Photo: Child's impression of UFO Zimbabwe 1994)
28/06/2110m 19s

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

LGBT servicemen and women in the US armed forces had to keep their sexuality secret until the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy was repealed in 2011. Lieutenant Colonel Heather Mack served under the policy for most of her military career. She spoke to Rachael Gillman about her experiences. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Lieutenant Colonel Heather Mack (l) with her wife Ashley (r) and their two children. Courtesy of Heather Mack
25/06/219m 27s

China's LGBT 'cooperative marriages'

LGBT people in China sometimes arrange fake marriages to hide their sexuality. Homosexuality is not illegal in China but there is discrimination against LGBT people. In 2005 Lin Hai set up a website to allow lesbians and gay men to get in touch with each other. He came up with the idea to stop his family from putting pressure on him to get married. He spoke to Yashan Zhao in 2019 for Witness History. This programme is a rebroadcast. (Photo: Lin Hai and his partner on holiday in Thailand in 2014. Credit: Lin Hai) Show less
24/06/218m 58s

The secret diaries of 'Gentleman Jack'

The discovery of the diaries of 19th-century Englishwoman Anne Lister, who wrote in secret code about her love affairs with women and has been called the first modern lesbian. A landowner and a businesswoman, she defied the conventions of the time and was nicknamed 'Gentleman Jack' in the Yorkshire town of Halifax where she lived, because of the way she dressed and acted. Louise Hidalgo spoke to Helena Whitbread, who discovered Anne Lister's diaries in 1983 and spent five years decoding them. This programme is a rebroadcast. Picture: portrait of Anne Lister, of Shibden Hall, Halifax (credit: Alamy)
23/06/218m 54s

Woubis, yossis and travestis: LGBT activism in Côte d’Ivoire

Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire has a buzzing LGBT scene and the country is regarded as one of the more tolerant nations in West Africa. In this Witness History, Josephine Casserly speaks to Barbara, a trans, LGBT activist. In 1992, Barbara was among a group of protesters who stormed the office of a national newspaper, to protest against their depiction of LGBT people. (Image: Barbara. Credit: From Barbara's personal collection)
22/06/219m 6s

The Stonewall Inn

In June 1969, the gay community in New York responded to police brutality and harassment by rioting outside the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. For several days there were battles with the police. The protest sparked the creation of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement and the first Gay Pride events. Simon Watts spoke to Stonewall veteran, John O'Brien. This programme is a rebroadcast. PHOTO: Exterior of the Stonewall Inn, pictured in June 2015 (Credit: Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
21/06/219m 5s

China's 'Economic Miracle'

Since the 1980s China has witnessed massive economic growth. It’s become known as the 'world’s factory'. The driving force behind much of it has been a vast migrant workforce of millions of people, many from the countryside. But at what cost to village life and rural communities? Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to writer Liang Hong about her experience of leaving the Chinese countryside, and why she is determined to document the lives of those living through seismic change. (PHOTO:
18/06/2111m 15s

The Trabant

The iconic East German car dominated the roads of communist Central Europe for decades. The Trabant was made out of resin and cotton waste, had a two-stroke engine and its design remained virtually unchanged for thirty years. Johannes Dell has been hearing from legendary German designer Karl Clauss Dietel who worked for years to make improvements to the Trabant - but his innovations were never implemented. (Photo: a Trabant 601. Credit: BBC)
17/06/218m 58s

The police rape interview that shocked Britain

When the BBC broadcast a documentary called 'A Complaint of Rape' in 1982 the public was shocked. It was part of a fly-on-the-wall series about the police in which officers were filmed aggressively questioning a woman about her allegation of rape. It made news around the world and inspired the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to question the procedure as well as the attitude of those involved. The woman was asked personal questions about her sex life, menstruation and about her mental health. The officers told her directly that they didn't believe her claim. It led individual police forces to reassess the way they investigated allegations of rape. Claire Bowes has been speaking to film-maker Roger Graef about the footage. Photo: an image from the film 'A Complaint of Rape' by Roger Graef and the BBC (1982).
16/06/218m 58s

The Confederate flag and America’s battle over race

In June 2015 an American anti-racist activist climbed a flagpole on the South Carolina state house grounds to take down the Confederate flag. The protest followed the killing of 9 black people at a historic Charleston church by a white supremacist who was pictured holding the flag. The Confederate flag was the battle flag of the troops who fought to retain slavery during America’s civil war. For African Americans the flag is a symbol of slavery, segregation and black subordination. Bree Newsome Bass talks to Farhana Haider about her act of protest. Bree Newsome taking down the Confederate flag at the State House in Columbia, SC, on Saturday 27th June 2015 . She was arrested for her action. (Photo by Adam Anderson / Reuters)
14/06/2114m 20s

Mindfulness for the masses

In 1979 scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn opened the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, pioneering a meditative approach to treat pain and depression. In a few decades, mindfulness has gone from being a specialist element of Buddhist teaching to a billion dollar industry. In 2019, Farhana Haider spoke to Dr Kabat-Zinn about the popularising of mindfulness to tackle the stresses of modern life. (Photo Jon Kabat-Zinn teaching MBSR at the University of Massachusetts Medical School 1992, Credit Jon Kabat-Zinn)
14/06/2111m 5s

The Fall of Madrid

In 1939, the Spanish capital, Madrid, finally fell to the fascist forces of General Franco – spelling the end of a brutal Civil War in which hundreds of thousands of troops and civilians were killed. The city had been under siege for more than two years and had become a symbol of resistance for the defeated Spanish Republic. Simon Watts has been listening to the memories of Rene MacColl and William Forrest, two British war correspondents who reported from Madrid. PHOTO: Franco's troops entering Madrid in 1939 (Getty Images)
11/06/219m 54s

The elections that Hamas won

Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem voted in legislative elections in 2006. The Islamist Hamas movement stood against the Fatah party for the first time - and won. It was an outcome that surprised everyone. Zak Brophy has been hearing from Hazem Balousha who was working for the Palestinian Election Commission at the time. (Image: A Palestinian Hamas activist (L) and Fatah activist (R) stand together outside a polling station on January 25, 2006 in the West Bank Village of Abu Dis. Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.)
10/06/219m 48s

Benjamin Britten's War Requiem

Regarded as one of the most important pieces in 20th Century English music, Benjamin Britten's War Requiem was first played in the newly-built Coventry Cathedral in 1962. The original had been destroyed during World War II. In 2013, Simon Watts spoke to Maggie Cotton, one of the orchestral performers who took part, and to composer Michael Berkeley, Britten's godson. (Photo: Benjamin Britten in 1964 - BBC copyright)
09/06/219m 52s

Tunisia’s legal brothels

For decades, Tunisia has had a system of legal, state-regulated brothels. But in the last ten years they have been under attack and many have been forced to close. Josephine Casserly has been talking to Professor Abdelmajid Zahaf, a Tunisian doctor who has been working with legal sex workers for 35 years. The voice-over of Professor Zahaf is by Raad Rawi.
08/06/218m 58s

When Israel destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor

On 7 June 1981 Israeli fighter jets launched a surprise attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor located outside Baghdad, killing 11 people. The French-built reactor was still under construction and there was no leakage of nuclear material, but the bombing was widely condemned internationally. Israel argued that it had effectively slowed down Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme by ten years, while the Iraqis insisted that the reactor was being built for purely scientific research. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to Dr Fadhil Muslim al Janabi, a former consultant for Iraq's nuclear agency and one of the first people to see the damaged reactor site. Producer in Baghdad: Mona Mahmoud Picture: The Tammuz light-water nuclear materials testing reactor under construction in Al-Tuwaitha, just outside of Baghdad, 1979. (Getty Images)
07/06/219m 49s

How Switzerland defeated its heroin epidemic

In the 1990s, Switzerland decided to tackle one of Europe's worst drugs epidemics by trying radical new policy ideas including providing safe-injection rooms for addicts and even prescribing pure heroin. The new strategy dramatically cut overdoses, HIV infections and the number of new users, and in 2008 the Swiss voted in a referendum to enshrine the changes permanently in law. Zak Brophy talks to Andre Seidenberg, a Swiss doctor who worked with addicts for decades, and to former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss, who campaigned for the change in policy. PHOTO: Drug addicts in a disused railway station in Zurich in the 1990s (Getty Images)
04/06/219m 2s

Afghanistan's poppy problem

Laila Haidari set up Kabul's first independent drug rehabilitation centre in 2010. Having helped her own brother to quit his heroin addiction she wanted to help others. More than 80% of the world's illegal opium and heroin comes from Afghanistan. International criminal groups have exploited years of warfare and lawlessness to expand production, but the insecurity has also led to poverty and increased drug addiction inside Afghanistan. Laila Haidari explains to Rebecca Kesby how local people have been affected. (PHOTO: An Afghan farmer harvests opium sap from a poppy field in the Surkh Rod district of Nangarhar province in 2018. The US government has spent billions of dollars on a war to eliminate drugs from Afghanistan, but the country still remains the world's top opium producer. (Credit NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP via Getty Images)
03/06/2111m 28s

When Peru mistook missionaries for drug traffickers

In April 2001 the Peruvian Air Force mistakenly shot down a small passenger plane as it flew over the Amazon jungle. The Peruvians believed the aircraft was carrying drugs. Onboard was a group of American missionaries. Mike Lanchin spoke to Jim Bowers, who survived the crash, but whose wife and baby daughter were killed. This programme is a rebroadcast Photo: The missionary plane shot down by the Peruvian Air Force lies in shallow waters of the Amazon River. (Photo by Newsmakers)
02/06/219m 44s

The killing of Pablo Escobar

The Colombian drug trafficker, once one of the richest men in the world, was shot dead by police in December 1993. He had been on the run from the authorities for over a year. Jordan Dunbar has been speaking to Elizabeth Zilli who worked for the US Drug Enforcement Agency in Colombia and who helped track down Pablo Escobar. Photo: Colombian forces storm the rooftop where drug lord Pablo Escobar was shot dead on 2nd December 1993. (Credit:Jesus Abad-el Colombiano/AFP/Getty Images)
01/06/219m 42s

The war on drugs

The first 'war on drugs' was launched by US President Richard Nixon in 1971. He described drug abuse as a 'national emergency' and asked Congress for nearly four hundred million dollars to tackle the problem. Claire Bowes spoke to one of Nixon's policy advisors, Jeffrey Donfeld, about an approach to drugs which he describes as more 'find them and help them' than 'find them and lock them up'. And how he convinced the President to roll out a nationwide programme of methadone treatment for heroin addicts. This programme is a rebroadcast Photo: US President Richard Nixon (BBC)
31/05/219m 8s

The Tulsa Race Massacre

Greenwood was a flourishing and prosperous black neighbourhood of Tulsa, often referred to as Black Wall Street. But in May 1921, a white mob descended on the district, destroying homes, businesses and lives. In this Witness History, Josephine Casserly talks to historian John W. Franklin, of Franklin Global, about the story of his grandfather, Buck Franklin, who survived the massacre. The words of Buck Franklin are voiced by Stefan Adegbola. Image: An African-American man with a camera examining the ashes of a burned-out block after the Tulsa Race Massacre. Credit: Oklahoma Historical Society/Getty Images
28/05/219m 8s

Rock concert for Chernobyl

On May 31st 1986 a small group of musicians staged the first charity rock concert ever held in the USSR. It was organised in less than two weeks to raise money for the victims of the Chernobyl disaster. The nuclear reactor accident had happened just a month before in Ukraine. Some of the artists who played at the concert had been previously banned by the Soviet authorities, so the concert was a social revolution, as organiser - Artemy Troitsky explains to Rebecca Kesby. (PHOTO Credit Sputnik: 1986 Charity concert arranged to raise funds for accident management at the Chernobyl power station. Olimpiysky sports complex.)
27/05/219m 10s

Amilcar Cabral: An African liberation legend

In the 1960s and 70s, Amilcar Cabral led the armed struggle to end Portuguese colonial rule in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde in West Africa. Cabral was an unusual rebel leader. He was an agricultural engineer, writer and poet who founded the liberation movement, the PAIGC, in 1956 to end Portuguese rule of his home country. In Guinea Bissau, the PAIGC fought a successful guerrilla war against a much larger Portuguese army. But Cabral was assassinated shortly before Portugal officially conceded independence in 1974. Alex Last spoke to former liberation fighter, Commander Manuel dos Santos about the struggle and his memories of Amilcar Cabral. (Photo: Rebel soldiers on patrol in Guinea Bissau during the Portuguese Colonial War in West Africa, 1972. Credit: Reg Lancaster/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
26/05/2114m 54s

The first Arab woman pilot

Despite opposition from her father, Lotfia Elnadi was determined to realise her dream to fly. With her mother's consent, she secretly took flying lessons from an English instructor at a small airfield in the desert outside Cairo. And in September 1933 she made history by becoming the first female pilot in the Arab world. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from the Egyptian film-maker and writer Wageh George who interviewed Lotfia at the end of her long life for a film about her amazing achievement entitled 'Take Off From The Sand'. Photo credit: Alamy Archive of Lotfia Elnadi from 'Take Off From The Sand'
25/05/219m 36s

The strike that shocked India

When one and a half million Indian railway workers went on strike for 20 days in 1974 it brought the country to a halt. Essential food, goods and workers were unable to reach their destinations. Despite this, the general public were largely sympathetic to the strike as they too felt a sense of anger at the government over the economy and allegations of corruption. Claire Bowes has been talking to union leader Subhash Malgi about why the government attempt to prevent the action with mass arrests and harassment backfired and to author Stephen Sherlock about how it became - what was at the time - the biggest strike in history and led to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's declaration the following year of a national state of emergency. Photo: Train from Darjeeling to Siliguri 1970. Credit: Paolo KOCH/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
24/05/219m 5s

Fighting forced marriage in war

In 2009 a war crimes trial in Sierra Leone ruled that forced marriage was a crime against humanity. It was the first time a court had recognised that charge. The ruling came in a trial of three rebel leaders for crimes committed during Sierra Leone's civil war. The legal turning point came largely as a result of the testimonies of the women who had been victims. The prosecution argued that forced marriage should be considered a crime against humanity distinct from other forms of sexual violence. Farhana Haider has been speaking to the former chief prosecutor Stephen Rapp about the trials. Photo: Sierra Leone, repatriated refugees reaching Freetown January 2001 Credit: Ullstein Bild/Getty Images
21/05/2111m 0s

Saving the world's wetlands

Iran hosted a meeting to save the world's wetlands in 1971. The Ramsar Convention - named after the village on the Caspian Sea where it was originally signed - is seen as the first of the modem global intergovernmental treaties on the sustainable use of natural resources. Claire Bowes has been speaking to the Belgian representative, Eckhart Kuijken, about the battle by conservationists to interest people and governments in the value of wetlands. He describes how his home country had no planning laws protecting natural landscapes until 1962 - so that many were lost to industry and agriculture. Photo: Hawizeh Marsh in Iran. Credit: courtesy of the Convention on Wetlands
20/05/219m 7s

Striking in South Korea in 1980

There were strikes and student protests across South Korea in May 1980. The military government responded with a brutal crackdown in the city of Gwangju and elsewhere striking workers faced arrest and even torture. Heongjun Park has been hearing from one of those strikers, Bae Ok Byoung, who worked in a factory making wigs in Seoul. She, and the other female employees had gone on strike demanding better working conditions, but after the industrial action ended she was jailed, tortured and then blacklisted for decades. This is a 2 Degrees West production. Photo: Labour activist Bae Ok Byoung talking to some of the workers at the wig factory in Seoul where she worked in 1980.
18/05/219m 55s

When Ariel Sharon visited the Al-Aqsa compound

The controversial Israeli opposition leader visited the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jersualem's old city in 2000. His appearance was followed by an upsurge in violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Mike Lanchin spoke to an Israeli, and a Palestinian who were there that day. This programme is a rebroadcast. (Photo: Ariel Sharon at the compound. Credit: AFP/Getty Images.)
17/05/218m 59s

China's Democracy Wall

How a brick wall in Beijing became a beacon for those calling for change. But when Wei Jingsheng posted an essay demanding democracy in 1978, he was arrested and imprisoned for 18 years. He's been telling Rebecca Kesby why he thinks it was worth it. (PHOTO: BEIJING, CHINA: China's prominent dissident Wei Jingsheng (R) laughs as he talks to reporters at his Beijing apartment 20 September 1993. Wei was arrested again shortly after this and eventually released from prison on medical grounds in 1997. He currently lives in the USA. (credit MANUEL CENETA/AFP via Getty Images)
14/05/2112m 21s

The trial of South Africa’s 'Dr Death'

The trial of a South African doctor accused of multiple murders under the Apartheid regime. Wouter Basson, nicknamed 'Dr Death' by the country’s media, was alleged to have run a secret chemical and biological weapons project in the 1980s to eliminate perceived enemies of the government. But after the country’s longest and most expensive trial and despite evidence from 150 witnesses, in 2002 a judge found him not guilty on all 46 charges. Bob Howard talks to Dr Marjorie Jobson, the national director of Khulumani, a group which campaigns for justice on behalf of the victims of apartheid.
13/05/219m 0s

The Jewish exodus from Iraq

In the summer of 1971 around 2,000 Iraqi Jews were forced to flee the country following persistent threats and persecution. The Jewish community in Iraq dated back to the Babylonian times, but by the mid 1950s numbered less than eight thousand. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to Edwin Shuker, who was just 16 years old when he and his family were smuggled over the mountains to safety in neighbouring Iran by members of Iraq’s Kurdish minority. Edwin and his family eventually settled in the UK. Photo: Edwin Shuker and his parents and grandmother at home in Baghdad before they left in 1971 (courtesy of Edwin Shuker)
12/05/218m 59s

Legalising contraception in Ireland

Contraception wasn't easily accessible in Ireland until 1985. Activists spent years fighting for the right to control their fertility but faced opposition from the Roman Catholic church which traditionally played a central role in Irish society. Paul Moss has been hearing from Betty Purcell who was a teenager when she first started campaigning. Photo: a woman holding up a condom and some contraceptive pills. Credit: Getty Images.
11/05/218m 58s

Why a British MP was filmed taking mescaline

# Warning: This programme contains scenes of drug use # In 1955, a British member of parliament, Christopher Mayhew, took the hallucinogenic drug mescaline and had his experience filmed by the BBC. The drug was legal at the time and the experiment was supervised by the pyschiatrist Dr Humphry Osmond. The film was part of a wider public debate about psychedelic drugs following the publication of The Doors of Perception by the writer Aldous Huxley. But the film of the experiment was never broadcast and years later mescaline was put on the banned list of drugs in the UK because of fears of its potential impact on mental health.. Photo: Christopher Mayhew (right) preparing to start the experiment, watched by Dr Humphry Osmond (left), December 1955. (BBC)
10/05/2111m 22s

The Great Wine Fraud

In the early 2000s, Rudy Kurniawan was a newcomer to the hedonistic world of wine auctions in the US. He quickly became well-known for his warm and friendly manner and his profligate spending on wines. But where was all his money coming from? Josephine Casserly tells the story of one of the most high profile cases of wine fraud and speaks to Laurent Ponsot, French winemaker, turned Sherlock Holmes. (Corks, foil capsules and wine labels used as evidence in the trial. Photo: Stan Honda/Getty Images)
06/05/219m 4s

Ursula Le Guin

The American writer, Ursula Le Guin, was one of the most influential authors of the second half of the 20th century, publishing 20 novels in genres from science fiction to young adult. Le Guin pioneered feminist science fiction with The Left Hand of Darkness and created the enduringly popular Earthsea series of fantasy novels. She died in 2018. Simon Watts introduces the memories of Ursula Le Guin, as recorded in the BBC archives. PHOTO: Ursula Le Guin in the 1980s (BBC/Marion Wood Kolisch)
05/05/219m 4s

The IRA hunger strikes

In 1981 the British government was faced with prisoners dying on hunger strike in a jail in Northern Ireland. The Irish republican activists were demanding to be treated as political prisoners not criminals. Several of them died during the hunger strike, the first, Bobby Sands on May 5th 1981. Louise Hidalgo spoke to Laurence McKeown who took part in the protest but survived. (Photo: Protestors wearing balaclavas in support of the hunger strike. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
04/05/219m 33s

How Amsterdam became the cannabis smoking capital of Europe

How Amsterdam became the home of cannabis coffee shops .The Mellow Yellow Café set a pattern in 1973 of attracting customers, which hundreds of others would follow. Although selling and smoking the drug was illegal, possession of small quantities of cannabis was tolerated by the Dutch police. Bob Howard talks to the café’s owner, Werner Bruining. Photo: Mellow Yellow Cafe, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Credit: Alamy
03/05/219m 0s

The killing of Osama Bin Laden

The US tracked down the al-Qaeda leader to a city in northern Pakistan in May 2011. Special operations troops were sent to capture or kill Bin Laden in a top secret raid in the dead of night. The Americans did not tell their Pakistani allies about the raid beforehand. Gabriela Jones spoke to Nicholas Rasmussen who was in the White House situation room with President Barack Obama and US military chiefs as the raid took place. Photo: Osama Bin Laden's fortified compound on the outskirts of Abbottabad in north-west Pakistan. Credit: BBC
30/04/219m 1s

The battle of Tora Bora

When the Taliban were ousted from power in Afghanistan in 2001, the hunt for Osama bin Laden began in earnest. One American in particular led the search. He was CIA commander, Gary Berntsen, who had been tracking the al-Qaeda leader for years. In December 2001 he ordered a small group of special forces soldiers and Afghan fighters into the White Mountains, close to the border with Pakistan, in the hope of cornering bin Laden in the caves of Tora Bora. But as Gary Berntsen tells Rebecca Kesby, in spite of heavy bombardment bin Laden managed to give them the slip. (PHOTO: Local anti-Taliban fighters help US special forces in the assault on the White Mountains and Tora Bora cave complex in Afghanistan, December 2001. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
29/04/2112m 28s

The Nairobi US Embassy bombing

In August 1998, more than 200 people were killed in co-ordinated bomb attacks on two US embassies in East Africa. They were among the first major attacks linked to Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network. We hear from George Mimba who was working inside the embassy in Kenya when the bomb detonated. Photo: Rescue workers at the scene of the Nairobi embassy bombing (AFP/Getty Images)
28/04/2110m 13s

Meeting Osama bin Laden

When the Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan agreed to go and interview Osama bin Laden in 1996 he was apprehensive. By the time he reached the Al-Qaeda leader's mountain hideout - he was shaken and scared - but what was the man himself really like? Claire Bowes reports. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Osama bin Laden. Credit:AFP/Getty Images
27/04/219m 57s

The siege of Mecca

In 1979 Islamist militants seized control of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the holiest site in Islam. Hundreds were killed as Saudi security forces battled for two weeks to retake the shrine. The militants were ultra-conservative Sunni Muslims who believed that the Mahdi, the prophesied Redeemer, had emerged and was a member of their group. The BBC's Eli Melki spoke to eyewitnesses who were inside the Grand Mosque during the siege. Photo: Fighting at the Grand Mosque in Mecca after militants seized control of the shrine, November 1979 (AFP/Getty Images)
26/04/219m 6s

The first space shuttle mission

On 12th April 1981, the space shuttle Columbia made history becoming the first ever reusable space craft to fly into orbit. It marked the start of a 30-year shuttle programme which revolutionised the history of manned space exploration. Using NASA and BBC archive we tell the story of this historic test flight. Photo: NASA photo shows the first launching of the space shuttle from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Columbia carried astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen. (AFP via Getty Images)
23/04/2110m 27s

How the NRA became a US political lobbying giant

The National Rifle Association represents gun owners in the USA. In 1977 it faced a turning point when its members revolted against the organisation’s leadership to concentrate on political lobbying in Washington. Would the gun lobby in America be as strong as it is, without the 1977 turnabout? Bob Howard talks to John Aquilino, a former NRA spokesman, who was at the historic meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio. National Rifle Association Holds Its Annual Conference In Dallas, Texas. DALLAS, TX - MAY 05 2018. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
22/04/218m 58s

The Raymond Davis Incident

In 2011, an American man shot dead two people in the streets of Lahore. The crisis that ensued saw accusations of espionage and US-Pakistani relations brought to the brink. For Witness History, Josephine Casserly tells the extraordinary story of the Raymond Davis incident.
21/04/219m 5s

The return of Blue Lake

In 1970, the Republican president Richard Nixon signed a bill returning a sacred lake to the people of Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. The lake, and surrounding land, had been taken from the Taos people in 1906 and turned into a national forest, even though it was central to their centuries-old cultural rituals and beliefs. The return of the lake was the first time the US government had given land back to a Native American community. Louise Hidalgo talks to Laura Harris and her mother LaDonna Harris, who with her senator husband helped the Taos people get the Blue Lake back. Picture: President Nixon signing the Blue Lake bill in the presence of Taos leaders, 15th December 1970 (Credit: UPI/Getty Images)
20/04/219m 41s

The Eichmann trial

In April 1961, Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi official in charge of concentration camps, was put on trial in Israel.The trial helped reveal the full details of the holocaust in which millions of European jews were killed during World War Two. One of the prosecutors, Gabriel Bach, spoke to Lucy Williamson for Witness History. This programme is a rebroadcast. PHOTO: Eichmann in the dock. (AFP/Getty Images)
19/04/2110m 9s

China's 'Kingdom of women'

The Mosuo community in China’s Himalayan foothills is matrilineal, so a family’s ‘bloodline’, inheritance and power is passed down through the female side. There is no such thing as marriage and monogamy is actively discouraged. The women rule and the men don’t mind. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to Choo Wai Hong, a Singaporean corporate lawyer who came across the community as she travelled through her ancestral homeland of China. She liked it so much she learnt the language and built a house there. (PHOTO: Mosuo Women. Credit Patrick AVENTURIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
16/04/2111m 24s

The vultures saved from extinction

South Asian vultures started dying in huge numbers in the 1990s but no one knew why. They were on the verge of extinction before scientists worked out what was killing them. Bob Howard has been hearing from Munir Virani of the Peregrine Fund, who discovered that the vultures’ livers were being damaged when they fed on the carcasses of cattle which had been treated with a widely-used painkiller. White-backed vultures in their enclosure at the Vulture Conservation Centre run by World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) in Changa Manga. September 20, 2017. Credit: ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images
15/04/218m 57s

Fighting for Castro at the Bay of Pigs

On April 17 1961 a group of Cuban exiles launched an invasion of communist-ruled Cuba in a failed attempt to topple Fidel Castro. After 72 hours of fighting many of the invaders were captured or killed. Gregorio Moreria was a member of the local communist militia who fought against the US-backed invaders. He was injured and briefly captured during the fighting. He spoke to Mike Lanchin for Witness History in 2016. (Photo: Members of Castro's militia during the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion. Credit: Three Lions/Getty Images)
14/04/218m 56s

How a worm helped explain human development

After the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA in the 1950s, South African biologist Sydney Brenner was searching for a model animal to help him tease out the genes involved in human behaviour and human development from egg to adult. Brenner chose a tiny nematode worm called caenorhabditis elegans (c.elegans for short), whose biological clockwork can be observed in real time under a microscope through its transparent skin. The worm has since been at the heart of all sorts of discoveries about how our bodies work and fail. Sue Armstrong has been speaking to people who knew and worked with Sydney Brenner. This programme is a Ruth Evans Production. Photo: the c. elegans worm. Credit: Science Photo Library
13/04/218m 59s

The US Supreme Court's first woman justice

In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman judge to be appointed to the US Supreme Court. She was nominated by newly-elected Republican president Ronald Reagan, who'd made the pledge to appoint a woman part of the campaign that led to his landslide victory. Justice O'Connor served for 24 years and had the decisive vote in many landmark cases. Her friend and former law clerk, Ruth McGregor, has been talking to Louise Hidalgo. Picture: Sandra Day O'Connor is sworn in at the Senate confirmation hearing on her selection as a US Supreme Court justice, September 1981 (Credit: Keystone/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)
12/04/219m 37s

Discovering the Jet Stream

The Jet Stream is formed by powerful high-altitude rivers of air which circle the globe and help determine our climate. The existence of these winds was first documented in Japan in the 1920s, but only became more widely known during World War Two, when American airmen encounter high-speed winds on bombing missions over Japan. At the same time, the Japanese military also began to use these powerful transcontinental winds to carry innovative balloon bombs all the way to the West Coast of America. Using archive recordings we tell the story of the discovery and speak to Professor Tim Woollings from Oxford University, the author of Jet Stream: A Journey Through Our Changing Climate. Photo: B-29 bombers passing Mount Fuji on their way to Tokyo, April 1945 (Getty Images)
09/04/2111m 57s

From Leningrad to St Petersburg

As the communist system in the former Soviet Union was collapsing in 1991, the people of Leningrad voted to drop Vladimir Lenin's name abandoning the city's revolutionary heritage and returning to its historic name of St Petersburg. Dina Newman spoke to Ludmilla Narusova, wife of the first St Petersburg mayor, Anatoli Sobchak, who campaigned for the hugely symbolic change. This programme is a rebroadcast - it was first aired in 2018. Photo: Communist campaigners demonstrate against the name change in Leningrad in 1991. Credit: Sobchak Foundation.
08/04/219m 57s

David Attenborough's first expedition

In 1954, the BBC broadcast a new television programme in Britain. It was called Zoo Quest and it launched the career of a man who has since brought the natural world into millions of homes around the world, the broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. Louise Hidalgo has been listening back through the BBC archives to Sir David telling the story of the first natural history expedition for Zoo Quest, to Sierra Leone in West Africa. Picture: David Attenborough, producer of the BBC wildlife documentary series Zoo Quest, and Jack Lester (right), curator of London Zoo's reptile house, planning their next expedition with the help of Gregory the parrot, March 1955 (Credit: William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
07/04/219m 17s

Mexico's female serial killer

Former female wrestler Juana Barraza was found guilty in March 2008 of murdering at least eleven elderly women in Mexico city over a period of seven years. Barraza, who became known as the "little old lady killer", admitted to murdering three women, and told investigators that it was because of her lingering resentment for the abuse that she'd suffered as a child at the hands of her alcoholic mother. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from Mexican neuro-psychologist Dr Feggy Ostrosky, who spent days interviewing Barraza in jail, trying to understand what had turned her into a serial killer. (Photo: Former female wrestler Juana Barraza. Credit: David Deolarte/AFP/Getty Images)
06/04/219m 1s

The women who reclaimed the night

How women in the North of England took to the streets in the late 1970s to protest against a serial killer dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper. Police advised them to stay indoors to avoid being attacked but the feminist protestors wanted greater protection for women and girls. Rebecca Kesby has been hearing from Al Garthwaite one of the organisers of Britain's first "Reclaim the Night" march. Photo: women taking part in a Reclaim the Night march. Credit: BBC
05/04/2112m 48s

Black Jesus

On Easter Sunday 1967 the Reverend Albert Cleage renamed his church in Detroit the Shrine of the Black Madonna. He preached that if man was made in God's image there was little chance that Jesus was white as most of the world's population is non-white. Reverend Cleage also pointed to the many depictions of black madonnas all over the world throughout history. Claire Bowes has been speaking to his daughter Pearl Cleage, a writer and activist, about her father's belief in black representation and self-determination. Photo: Black Madonna and Child courtesy of BLAC Detroit. Archive: Thanks to the Chicago History Museum and WFMT for the Studs Terkel Radio Archive.
02/04/2110m 15s

Kidnapped on an orchid hunt

In March 2000, two young English travellers, Tom Hart-Dyke and Paul Winder, were kidnapped by Colombian guerrillas while attempting to cross the notoriously dangerous Darien Gap region on the border with Panama. Hart-Dyke is a gardener who was on a mission to collect orchids, and he survived a nine-month ordeal by building a nursery in the cloud forest and planning his own dream garden for the family castle back home in Kent. He talks to Simon Watts. PHOTO: Tom Hart-Dyke (l) with Paul Winder shortly after their release (Press Association)
01/04/2110m 2s

Mrs Thatcher’s ground-breaking Soviet TV interview

How Mrs Thatcher shook up the Soviet media with a landmark interview in Moscow in 1987 focusing on nuclear disarmament. It was broadcast unedited and helped bring in the era of “glasnost.” Bob Howard talks to Boris Kalyagin, one of the three Soviet journalists who interviewed the British prime minister. Margaret Thatcher, circa 1993. copyright Jeff Overs / BBC
31/03/218m 58s

When the prisoners ran the prison

In March 1973 guards went on strike at Walpole maximum security prison in the US state of Massachussetts, and the prisoners took over. For the next three months the inmates, organised in the National Prisoners Reform Association, ran daily life in the prison. They were helped by a group of outside observers, drawn from members of the community. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from the organiser of the observer teams, Rev. Ed Rodman, about his memories of this unique, but ultimately doomed, experiment in prison reform. (Photo credit: The Boston Globe)
30/03/219m 0s

Anorexia nervosa

The American singer, Karen Carpenter, died in 1983 of anorexia nervosa. She was one half of a world famous brother and sister duo called The Carpenters. She was aged just 32. Up until then anorexia nervosa had often been referred to in the media as the "slimmer's disease". Skinny celebrities were seen as both beautiful and successful and anorexia was somewhat glamorised. Claire Bowes has been speaking to Dr Pat Santucci, a psychiatrist who helped set up the world's first national organisation dealing with eating disorders, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Eating Disorders, known as ANAD. Dr Santucci says wherever western culture has an influence, you will find anorexia nervosa. Photo: courtesy of Science Photo Library
29/03/2110m 8s

South Africa takes on big pharma

At the end of the 1990s, tens of millions of people across Africa had been infected with HIV and in South Africa hundreds of thousands of people were dying from AIDS. People were demanding cheaper drugs, but the big pharmaceutical companies didn’t want to play ball. They took the South African to court over the right to import cheap drugs in a case which would last three years and which would pit the big pharmaceutical companies against Nelson Mandela and the rainbow nation. Bob Howard talks to Bada Pharasi, a former negotiator at South Africa’s department of health. SANDTON, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 17: HIV/AIDS activists demonstrate in front of the American consulate on June 17, 2010. Credit: Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.
25/03/218m 59s

The woman who got America talking about sex

Dr Ruth Westheimer first became popular on a radio show in New York in the early 1980s. Her frank and open approach to giving advice on all sorts of different questions about sex soon made her a TV personality too. Photo: Dr Ruth Westheimer. Credit: Getty Images
24/03/218m 58s

Jamaica’s ‘drug lord’

The Jamaican government issued a warrant for the arrest and extradition of the drug lord Christopher Coke, otherwise known as “Dudus” in May 2010. The United States wanted him extradited to face charges of racketeering and bringing drugs and guns into America. Coke controlled an area of the Jamaican capital Kingston, called Tivoli Gardens. Dozens of people in the district he dominated were killed as the police and military stormed the stronghold, even using mortar bombs to try and disperse the gunmen protecting Coke. Human rights attorney Jodi-Ann Quarrie talks to Bob Howard about the events and their impact on Jamaica. (Jamaican police on patrol after a frenzy of gang and drug violence in Kingston, May 24 2010. Credit: Anthony Foster/Getty Images)
23/03/218m 59s

The Ulster Workers' Strike

An early attempt at power-sharing in Northern Ireland ended after protestant workers went on strike and bomb attacks killed dozens in the Republic of Ireland in 1974. Matt Murphy has been hearing from Austin Currie, the former SDLP politician, about the events of that time. Photo: Dr Ian Paisley addresses a mass gathering of supporters, in the Protestant Shankhill Road area of Belfast in 1974. The Ulster Workers' Council declared that "everything stops at midnight" in an attempt to bring down Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive brought about by the Sunningdale Agreement. Credit: PA.
22/03/218m 59s

The dirtiest chess match in history

In 1978, the World Chess Championship between the Soviet champion and convinced communist, Anatoly Karpov, and the dissident and defector, Viktor Korchnoi, turned into one of the most infamous clashes in the history of the game. At a time of peak Cold War tension, the two players traded allegations about yoghurts containing messages, the use of psychics and the mysterious appearance of a meditating yoga cult dressed in orange robes. David Edmonds tells the story of the match through the memories of British grandmaster, Michael Stean, PHOTO: Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi squaring up in 1978 (Getty Images)
19/03/219m 2s

Mars-500 isolation experiment

In 2010, six men were locked inside a simulated spacecraft on earth for 520 days. It was part of an experiment to see how humans would cope if cooped up together for the duration of a potential trip to Mars. The crew were monitored throughout and were treated as if they were on a real mission in space, though the spacecraft was actually housed in a warehouse in Moscow. They even performed a simulated space walk on the surface of Mars. The project was set up by Russia, China and the European Space Agency. Alex Last has been speaking to Diego Urbina (@DiegoU) who took part in the mission. Photo: The six crew members of the Mars-500 mission. (From Left) Russia Alexey Sitev, France's Romain Charles, Russia's Sukhrob Kamolov, Russia's Alexander Smoleevskiy, Diego Urbina from Italy and China's Wang Yue. (Getty Images)
18/03/2113m 37s

Alva Myrdal - the woman who made modern Sweden

In 1982, the Swedish social reformer, writer and diplomat, Alva Myrdal, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on nuclear disarmament. She was only the 7th woman in history to win the award, which she received jointly with Mexican diplomat Alfonso Garcia Robles. In the 1930s and 40s, Alva Myrdal had, with her husband Gunnar Myrdal, developed the ideas behind Sweden's famed welfare state which had transformed Sweden into the modern country we know today. She was also the first woman to be given a senior post at the United Nations. Alva Myrdal's daughter Kaj Foelster has been telling Louise Hidalgo about her mother's life and work. Picture: Alva Myrdal in 1976 on the publication of her book The Game of Disarmament (credit: Keystone/Getty Images)
17/03/219m 48s

Paris is Burning

The documentary Paris is Burning was released in 1991 The award winning film showed a glimpse of the thriving underground ballroom and drag scene in New York City in the 1980s and the black and LatinX LGBTQ+ communities at the heart of it. The United States in the 1980s was a difficult place to be different, with homophobia and racism running rife. Pairs is Burning was filmmaker Jennie Livingston’s first documentary and she has been telling Bethan Head about the lengthy process of bringing the film to the screen.
15/03/218m 58s

The woman who asked Britain to return the Parthenon marbles

Melina Mercouri, famous actress turned politician, visited Britain in 1983 as Greek Minister of Culture and made the first official request for the return of the Parthenon marbles. The marbles were removed in 1801 by Lord Elgin, who was the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time. Lord Elgin, who was based in Istanbul sent his agents to Athens to remove the marbles which he claimed were at risk of destruction. He later sold them to the British parliament who in turn entrusted them to the British Museum where they've been exhibited since 1832. This programme was first broadcast in 2019 (Photo: The Greek Minister for Culture, Melina Mercouri, inspects the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum in May 1983)
11/03/218m 59s

Jane: The underground abortion network

A group of feminists working under the name “Jane” carried out underground abortions in 1960s Chicago – when abortions were still illegal in most of the US. Initially they gave abortion counselling and put women who wanted to terminate their pregnancies in touch with doctors who would perform the procedure. But when they discovered that one doctor they had been working with was not medically qualified, the women started to perform the abortions themselves. Martha Scott was a member of the group – she received an abortion through the service, learned to perform abortions, and was one of the Janes arrested when they were busted by the police. She tells Lucy Burns about her experiences. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo courtesy of Martha Scott
10/03/218m 59s

Cixi: China's most powerful woman

The Empress Dowager Cixi ruled China for 47 years until her death in 1908. But it wasn't until the 1970s that her story began to be properly documented. She'd been vilified as a murderous tyrant, but was that really true or was she a victim of a misogynistic version of history? Prof Sue Fawn Chung was the first academic to go back to study the original documents, and found many surprises. She tells Rebecca Kesby the story of "the much maligned Empress Dowager". This programme is a rebroadcast (Photo: Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi, portrait c1900. Credit: Ullstein bild/Getty Images)
09/03/218m 59s

The women of Egypt's Arab Spring

In 2011 Egyptians took to the streets calling for the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, whose regime had been in power for nearly 30 years. Their uprising was part of a wave of pro-democracy protests in the Arab world aimed at ending autocratic rule. Women were at the forefront of protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, many taking part in political demonstrations for the first time in their lives. Student activist Hend Nafea tells Farhana Haider she was campaigning not only for freedom, dignity and social justice, but also for her rights as a woman. Photo: Hend Nafea protesting in Tahrir Square in January 2011. (Copyright Hend Nafea)
08/03/2110m 50s

Churchill's 'Iron Curtain' speech

In March 1946, the UK's former wartime leader, Winston Churchill, gave a historic speech which would come to symbolise the beginnings of the Cold War. Churchill had lost power following a crushing election defeat in Britain in 1945. Encouraged by the US President Harry Truman, Churchill agreed to give a speech on world affairs at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. But why did the speech have such an impact. Alex Last hears from the historian Prof David Reynolds of Cambridge University, author of The Kremlin Letters: Stalin's wartime correspondence with Churchill and Roosevelt. Photo: Winston Churchill at the podium delivering his "Iron Curtain" speech, at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri, 5th March 1946 (PA)
05/03/2114m 6s

The Sharpeville massacre

In March 1960, the South African police opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators in the township of Sharpeville, killing 69 people and injuring nearly 200 more. The massacre outraged black South Africans, leading to a radicalisation of anti-apartheid organisations such as the ANC and a ruthless crackdown on dissent by the whites-only government. Simon Watts hears the memories of Nyakane Tsolo, who organised the demonstration in Sharpeville, and Ian Berry, a photographer whose pictures of the killings caused an international outcry. PHOTO: The crowd fleeing from the police at Sharpeville in 1960 (Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
04/03/219m 3s

When US police dropped explosives on a Philadelphia home

On 13 May 1985 a police helicopter dropped explosives on a house in residential Philadelphia, in an attempt to end a stand-off with radical black activists from an organisaton called MOVE. Fire spread quickly through the surrounding buildings and 11 people died, including five children. All the victims belonged to MOVE. A total of sixty houses in the area were also burnt or badly damaged in the botched police operation. Mike Lanchin speaks to Mike Africa, who lost his great uncle and a cousin in the fire, and to the former Philadelphia reporter, Linn Washington. Photo: Aerial view of smoke rising from smouldering rubble in Osage Avenue, West Philadelphia, May 1985 (Getty Images)
03/03/219m 36s

Refugee Island

In 2001, boats carrying hundreds of, mainly Afghan, refugees arrived on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru. This marked the beginning of the “Pacific Solution” – a policy by the Australian government to establish offshore centres for processing asylum claims. The policy was intended to act as a deterrent, discouraging people from travelling to Australia. Many of the refugees lived in the cramped conditions of Nauru for years. In this Witness History, Josephine Casserly speaks to Yahya, an Afghan refugee who left his home country as a school student when the Taliban gained control of his local area. Yahya was one of the first refugees to arrive at Nauru’s detention centre. Like many, he was hopeful that his stay in the makeshift camp would be a temporary measure, and he’d be quickly resettled in Australia. But that was not to be. (Asylum seekers on their first day in the compound at Nauru after their long voyage, Sept 2001. Credit: Angela Whylie/Getty images)
02/03/219m 6s

The world's deepest dive 11km down

Don Walsh was the first to go to the very bottom of the deepest part of the ocean in 1960 in a specially designed submarine, the Bathyscaphe Trieste. The water pressure was 800 tonnes per square inch, and the successful mission to "Challenger Deep" in the Mariana Trench under the western Pacific, was a technological breakthrough in marine engineering. Don Walsh describes the dive to Rebecca Kesby, and explains why understanding the deep ocean is crucial in the fight to reduce climate change. (Photo: The Bathyscaphe Trieste in 1960. Getty Images)
01/03/2110m 15s

The WW2 airman from Sierra Leone

Johnny Smythe was one of very few West Africans to fly with Britain's air force during WW2. Recruited in Sierra Leone in 1941 he was trained as a navigator and flew 26 missions on RAF bombers before being shot down over Germany and taken prisoner in 1943. His son Eddy Smythe spoke to Tim Stokes about his father’s story. Photo: Johnny Smythe in his RAF uniform. Copyright: Eddy Smythe.
25/02/219m 54s

The fall of Kwame Nkrumah

The Ghanaian president, Kwame Nkrumah, was one of Africa's most famous independence leaders. But in 1966, while he was out of the country, the Ghanaian military and police seized power in a coup. The legendary Ghanaian film maker Chris Hesse worked closely with Nkrumah and was with him at the time. He spoke to Alex Last about his memories of the coup and his friendship with the man who'd led Ghana to independence. Photo: Kwame Nkrumah c 1955 (Getty Images)
24/02/2114m 48s

Ireland's bank bailout

In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis Ireland had to borrow billions to stop its banks from going under and to keep its economy afloat. The IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank provided the money. Matt Murphy has been speaking to Patrick Honahan, who was Ireland's central banker at the time of the bailout. Photo: Protesters take to the streets of Dublin in November 2010 to oppose savage public spending cutbacks needed to secure an international bailout. Credit:Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images
23/02/218m 58s

Acid rain

In the 1960s, Swedish scientists documented how acid rain was poisoning lakes, killing fish, damaging soils and forests. Crucially they said it was an international problem, because the acid rain was caused by industrial pollution being carried on the prevailing winds from countries thousands of miles away. Acid rain is primarily created by the burning of fossil fuels, particularly coal, which releases large amounts of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the air. These particles then mix with moisture in the atmosphere to create sulphuric and nitric acid, which then falls back to earth as acid rain. The phenomenon of acid rain was noticed in the 19th century but the threat was largely ignored. Alex Last spoke to Prof Henning Rodhe of Stockholm University about the research that alerted the world to the dangers of acid rain. Photo: Forest decline caused by acid rain in the Giant Mountains in Poland - 1998 (Getty Images)
22/02/2112m 50s

Mary Wilson

The Motown group The Supremes had a string of number one hits in 1964. They would become the most popular girl group of the 1960s. One of the three original singers, Mary Wilson, spoke to Vincent Dowd about growing up in Detroit, commercial success, and civil rights. Photo: The Supremes, (left to right) Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross, on a visit to London in 1964. Credit: PA Wire.
19/02/218m 58s

Free breakfasts with the Black Panthers

The Black Panther Party hit the headlines in the late 1960s with their call for a revolution in the USA. But they also ran a number of "survival programmes" to help their local communities - the biggest of which was a project providing free breakfasts for schoolchildren. Reverend Earl Neil was one of the organisers of the first Free Breakfast for Children programme at St Augustine's Church in Oakland, California. He spoke to Lucy Burns. (IMAGE: Shutterstock)
18/02/219m 57s

The Immortal Cells of Henrietta Lacks

The story of an African American woman who played a largely unsung role in countless medical breakthroughs over more than half a century. Henrietta Lacks had cells taken from her body in 1951 when she was suffering from cancer. Those cells were found to be unique in a most particular way. They continued to reproduce endlessly in the laboratory. Culture from those cells have since been used in thousands of scientific experiments. But as Farhana Haider reports, Henrietta herself was never asked if her cells could be used in medical research. (Photo: Henrietta Lacks. Copyright: Lacks Family)
17/02/219m 44s

Britain's forgotten slave owners: Part two

How one man used research by historians at University College London into Britain's forgotten slave-owners to track down the descendants of the family who'd owned his ancestors two centuries earlier. Dr James Dawkins tells Louise Hidalgo how his quest led him to the famous evolutionary biologist, Professor Richard Dawkins, author of the Selfish Gene, with whom he shares a name and a past. Picture: slaves unloaded from slave ship at their destination; from Amelia Opie The Black Man's Lament: or How to Make Sugar, London, 1826 (Credit: Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
16/02/219m 13s

Britain's forgotten slave owners: Part one

It wasn't until recently that researchers working in the national archive in London discovered the extent to which ordinary people in Britain had been involved in the slave trade in the 18th and early 19th century. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to Dr Nick Draper, who uncovered volumes of records detailing the thousands of people who claimed compensation when slavery was abolished in Britain in 1834. He and colleagues at University College London set up the Legacies of British Slave-ownership database, documenting this forgotten part of Britain's history. (Photo: Taken from Josiah Wedgwood's medallion, 'Am I Not a Man and a Brother?''. The inscription became one of the most famous catchphrases of British and American abolitionists. Credit: MPI/Getty Images)
15/02/219m 11s

How US 'smart bombs' hit an Iraqi air raid shelter in the first Gulf War

More than 400 civilians were killed when two US precision bombs hit the Amiriya air raid shelter in western Baghdad on the morning of 13 February 1991. The Americans claimed that the building had served as a command and control centre for Saddam Hussein's forces. It was the largest single case of civilian casualities that ocurred during Operation Desert Storm, the US-led campaign to force Iraq to withdraw from neighbouring Kuwait. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from one Iraqi woman whose four children were inside the air raid shelter the day it was bombed. Photo: Inside the Amiriya air-raid shelter following the US bombing (Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)
12/02/219m 51s

A Ghanaian nurse's story

Nurses from outside the UK form a vital part of the country's National Health Service. Many come from African countries. Cecilia Anim - who left Ghana for England in 1972 - became the first black woman to be made president of the Royal College of Nursing. In 2017 she was awarded a CBE by the Queen. She has been speaking to Sharon Hemans for Witness History. Photo: Cecilia Anim as a student nurse in Ghana in the 1960s. Credit: Cecilia Anim.
11/02/218m 59s

The paper that helped the homeless

In 1989 celebrities in New York set up the 'Street News' paper to help the homeless. People living rough sold the paper at a profit instead of begging, initially it was very successful with around 250,000 copies sold per issue and the idea was copied around the world. Lee Stringer was living on the street when he began selling 'Street News', he discovered a talent for writing and went on to be a columnist and then editor of the paper. He told Witness History how living on the streets made him a better writer and how he became a successful author as a result of the chance he was given at 'Street News'. (Photo: A street vendor holds a copy of 'Street News'. Credit CBS)
10/02/2110m 57s

Gay and lesbian support for the British miners' strike

In 1984 a group of lesbians and gay men organised a benefit concert to support striking coal-miners. They sent the money they raised to a mining village in Wales. The miners' strike was the biggest industrial dispute in British history. Hear from Mike Jackson, one of the gay men inspired by the miners' struggle. Photo: Campaign activists on the 1985 Lesbian & Gay Pride march. Credit: Colin Clews
09/02/218m 58s

Francis Bacon in the archives

Francis Bacon painted distorted and disturbing images but his works are now widely considered one of the great achievements of post-war British art. Vincent Dowd has been trawling through the BBC archives listening to Bacon talking about his work, and gaining an insight into his Bohemian, hard-drinking ways. Photo: Francis Bacon in London in 1970. Credit: Press Association
09/02/218m 56s

DES Daughters

DES or Diethylstilbestrol was a form of synthetic estrogen developed in the 1930s, regularly prescribed to pregnant women to prevent miscarriage. But in the 1960s it was discovered that not only did it not prevent miscarriage, it also had dangerous side effects for the daughters of the women who had taken it while pregnant – including reproductive problems and rare gynaecological cancers. Millions of women were exposed all over the world. Lucy Burns speaks to mother and daughter Linda and Katie Greenebaum about their experiences of DES. This programme was made with the help of DES Action in the USA. www.DESAction.org Photo: black and white image of smiling baby (H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images)
08/02/219m 10s

General Robert E Lee: US Civil War rebel

The US Civil War of 1861-65 left 700,000 troops dead. The Southern Confederate states rebelled against the Union of the North because the Confederates wanted to protect the right to own slaves. The hero of the rebel cause, General Robert E Lee, was charged with treason and had his citizenship revoked. So why did Congress reinstate his citizenship in 1975 more than one hundred years after his death? Claire Bowes has been speaking to former Democrat Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman who was one of just ten members of Congress to vote against the rehabilitation of General Lee and to John Reeves author of the book, The Lost Indictment of Robert E Lee. They describe how the proposal, put forward by a pro-segregationist Senator from Virginia, passed without even the mention of slavery. Photo: General Robert E Lee courtesy of the Library of Congress
05/02/2112m 28s

Drugs in the Vietnam War

During the Vietnam war, US commanders grew increasingly concerned about the widespread use of drugs by US troops in Vietnam. Initially the focus was on marijuana. But in the early 1970s, reports began to emerge of the large scale use of heroin by US military personnel. The drug had became widely available in South Vietnam. Alex Last spoke to Dr Richard Ratner, then a psychiatrist in the US army in Vietnam, about his memories of treating soldiers suffering from heroin addiction. Photo: Two soldiers in Vietnam exchange vials of heroin, July 1971 (Getty Images)
04/02/2114m 52s

The Burma uprising of 1988

On August 8th 1988 the Burmese military cracked down on anti-government demonstrators, killing hundreds possibly thousands of people. In the weeks of protest that followed, Aung San Suu Kyi rose to prominence as an opposition figure. The date 8.8.88 has come to symbolise the resistance movement in Myanmar at the time. Ma Thida was a medical student working at Rangoon General Hospital when the dead and injured began to arrive. In 2018 she spoke to Rebecca Kesby about treating gunshot wounds for the first time, and about her political activism and subsequent imprisonment. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Demonstrators in Rangoon in 1988. Credit: Getty Images
03/02/219m 55s

The Moscow State Circus

The biggest circus in Soviet Russia opened in Moscow in April 1971. Circus was considered the “people’s art form” in the USSR and was highly popular. The new Moscow State Circus building on Vernadsky Avenue could seat up to 3400 people and was filled with state of the art technology. Alexander Egorenko was one of the backstage crew, and still works at the circus today. He tells Lucy Burns about his memories of the circus. (Elephant Nicole celebrates her birthday at the Great Moscow State Circus, Jan 18 2021. Photo: Vyacheslav Prokofyev/Getty Images)
02/02/2110m 15s

The first Eurostar from England to France

The first Eurostar train left London's Waterloo station heading for the Gare du Nord in Paris in November 1994. It was the first commercial passenger train to travel through the Channel Tunnel which had only been finished a few months earlier. Robert Priston was one of the drivers on that three-hour journey and he has been telling Bethan Head about that day. Photo: one of the first Eurostar trains. Credit: AFP/Getty Images.
01/02/2110m 6s

The anthem of the Arab Spring

In December 2010, anti-government protests broke out in Tunisia after a young fruit-seller called Mohammed Bouazizi set himself alight outside a government office in the south of the country. At one of the huge rallies in Tunis, a young singer called Emel Mathlouthi sang a song called "Kelmti Horra" or "My Word is Free". A video of her passionate performance immediately went viral and inspired protestors to take to the streets in other parts of the Middle East in what became known as the Arab Spring. Emel Mathlouthi talks to Witness History. PHOTO: Emel Mathlouthi performing in 2012 (Getty Images)
29/01/219m 11s

Libya's Arab uprising

In the early months of 2011 demonstrators took to the streets across the Arab world in what became known as the Arab spring. In February, protests in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi soon turned into an armed revolt seeking to overthrow the dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Six months later, following fierce fighting, Libyan rebel forces swept into the capital, Tripoli. After more than 42 years the Libyan leader was forced from power. He was later captured and killed. Farhana Haider has been speaking to BBC Arabic correspondent Feras Kilani, who was detained and beaten while covering the uprising. Photo: Libyan anti-Gaddafi protesters wave their old national flag as they stand atop an abandoned army tank in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on February 28, 2011.(Credit PATRICK BAZ/AFP via Getty Images)
28/01/2114m 0s

Yemen's 2011 uprising

Inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt young Yemenis took to the streets in January 2011. Ishraq al-Maqtari was a lawyer and women's rights activist from the southwestern city of Taiz. She took her two young daughters on the first demonstration in her home town. She has been speaking to Sumaya Bakhsh about how the uprising was an unprecedented opportunity for women to have their voices heard. But in Yemen, war and a humanitarian catastrophe followed the popular uprising, so does Ishraq regret taking part in the protests of the Arab Spring? Photo: Ishraq al-Maqtari in 2011.
27/01/218m 57s

Syria in the Arab Spring

Protests erupted across the Arab world in 2011, people wanted change, an end to tyranny and dictatorship. But in Syria the unrest, and its put down by the authorities, led to civil war, years of violence and the survival of the Assad regime. One eye witness to events was Rami Jarrah, he was at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus when one of the first protests began in Syria. He told Rebecca Kesby how powerful it felt just to even shout the word "freedom" during the protests. (Photo:
26/01/219m 2s

Egypt's Facebook Girl

A wave of popular anti-government uprisings swept through the Arab world in the early months of 2011. Many of the activists who took to the streets were inspired by social media posts. Israa Abd el Fattah was one of the first Egyptian activists to use social media. In April 2008 she tried to organise a general strike in protest at low wages, and rising prices. She was given the nickname "Facebook Girl". In 2011 she used her experiences with Facebook to help mobilise people before the Egypt's Arab Spring uprising. She spoke to Zeinab Dabaa for Witness History in 2017. She has since been detained by the Egyptian authorities. Photo: Israa Abd El Fattah in her office in Cairo in 2011. Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images
25/01/218m 54s

Fighting for justice for India's Sikhs

Anti-Sikh violence erupted in India after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984. Looting, raping and killing broke out in Sikh areas. One of those killed was Nirpreet Kaur's father who was burnt to death by a furious mob in Delhi. She spent decades trying to bring to justice a politician she had seen encouraging the violence. She has been telling her story to Ishleen Kaur. Photo: Nirpreet Kaur's family before the events of 1984. Copyright:Nirpreet Kaur.
22/01/2110m 10s

Kenya's pioneering publisher

When Dr Henry Chakava became Kenya's first African book editor in 1972, there were virtually no books or educational material published in African languages, even in Kiswahili. He made it his priority to translate work by African authors into African languages, he also commissioned original work in several of Kenya's many languages, and published hundreds of textbooks. A champion of cultural diversity across East Africa, Dr Chakava tells Rebecca Kesby why he devoted his life to preserving and enriching the region's languages, and why he believes even more must be done to make sure they survive and thrive in the future. (Photo: Dr Henry Chakava. From his private collection)
21/01/2110m 40s

The Turner Diaries - America's manual of hatred

Following the assault on the US Capitol earlier this month, Amazon banned The Turner Diaries, a racist novel blamed for inciting American neo-Nazis to violence. The book calls for a race war and a coup against the institutions of US democracy. It was the favourite reading of Timothy McVeigh, the white terrorist who blew up a federal government building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people. The Turner Diaries was published in 1978 by a former physics professor and neo-Nazi called William Luther Pierce. Simon Watts has been hearing the memories of his son, Kelvin Pierce. They were recorded as part of the BBC series on the American far-right, Two Minutes Past Nine. PHOTO: Shawn Walker, a former leader of William Pierce's neo-Nazi organisation, the National Alliance, posing with a copy of the Turner Diaries (Getty Images)
20/01/219m 2s

Hitler's beer hall putsch

Adolf Hitler made his first attempt to overthrow democracy in Germany in Munich in 1923. It started at a beer hall called the Bürgerbräu in Munich, so it has become known as the "beer hall putsch" or the "Munich putsch". It ended with 16 Nazis and four policemen dead. Although the coup failed, Hitler's trial allowed him to raise his profile on the national stage, and within ten years he became chancellor of Germany. PHOTO: Nazi members during the Beer Hall Putsch, Munich, Germany 1923 (Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
19/01/218m 59s

Landing on Titan

The story of the remarkable mission to land on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. The large mysterious moon has a thick orange atmosphere. No-one had ever seen the surface. In the late 1990s, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft was sent on a 7 year, 3.5 billion km journey through space to explore Saturn and Titan. Alex Last spoke to Prof. Emeritus John Zarnecki of the Open University who worked on the mission. Photo: A flattened (Mercator) projection of the Huygens probe's view of Titan. Taken by the Huygens probe on 14th January 2005 (ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
14/01/2113m 50s

Cornelia Sorabji: India's first woman lawyer

Cornelia Sorabji was the first woman lawyer working in India. She helped women living in purdah or seclusion in the 19th century who had no access to the law. The women were married into royal families and prevented from seeing men other than their husbands or family. This meant they had no way of seeking justice when they received cruel treatment, attempts on their lives or were disinherited by their husbands' families. Cornelia Sorabji was able to visit these women and often helped free them from violent abuse. She was so successful that some royal families tried to kill her. Claire Bowes has been speaking to her nephew, Sir Richard Sorabji, about her life and how she helped pave the way for women lawyers in Britain. Photo: Cornelia Sorabji in a BBC studio in January1931.
13/01/219m 14s

Puerto Rican attack at the US Capitol

In March 1954, a group of Puerto Rican militants opened fire from the public gallery of the US Congress in an effort to promote their fight for independence for the American territory. Five members of the House of Representatives were wounded in an attack which made headlines around the world and turned its leader, Lolita Lebron, into a nationalist heroine on the Caribbean Island. Simon Watts has been listening to archive accounts of the incident. PHOTO: Lolita Lebron and two Puerto Rican colleagues are arrested after the attack (US Congress/Corbis/Getty Images)
12/01/2110m 14s

When Spain's parliament was stormed

In February 1981 armed Civil Guards tried to take control of the Spanish parliament. For 18 hours they held 350 politicians hostage in the debating chamber. One of those politicians was a young Socialist MP called Joaquin Almunia. Photo: The leader of the coup attempt, Lt Col Antonio Tejero, on the speaker's platform (AFP/Getty Images)
11/01/218m 58s

The book that warned 2020 would bring disaster

The Limits to Growth was published in 1972 and warned of global decline from 2020. Claire Bowes spoke to one of the authors of the book, Professor Dennis Meadows, in 2019. He described how they used computer modelling to analyse how the Earth would cope with unrestricted economic growth. In the early 1970s he and his team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology fed in huge amounts of data on population, pollution, industrialisation, food production and resources. They found that if the trends continued, the result would be a sudden and uncontrollable downturn beginning around 2020. This programme was first broadcast in January 2020 but in this edition we catch up with Professor Meadows for a final thought on the significance of the global pandemic during 2020. Image: Front cover of The Limits to Growth, published in 1972
08/01/2113m 12s

Sequencing the Ebola virus genome

When the deadly Ebola virus broke out in West Africa in 2014, scientists in the USA set to work analysing it. What they discovered would eventually lead to a treatment. Pardis Sabeti is a virologist at Harvard University and leads the team who sequenced the Ebola virus genome - she has been speaking to Ibby Caputo for Witness History. Photo: Pardis Sabeti (front row, right) with some of the team who sequenced the virus in the lab.
07/01/219m 0s

The 'strike' in space

The three astronauts on the Skylab 4 space research mission in 1973 got behind schedule when one of them vomited before they'd even got onto the space station. They felt they were being micromanaged by ground control, and that their workload was unreasonable - and one day, all three of them missed their daily radio briefing. Some people at Nasa thought they'd gone on strike. But what really happened? Lucy Burns speaks to Dr Edward Gibson, the only surviving member of the trio, about an incident that has been misremembered as the Skylab space strike. Photo: Scientist-astronaut Edward G Gibson sailing through airlock module hatch of the Skylab, demonstrating the effects of zero-gravity, February, 1974. (Image courtesy National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa)/Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
06/01/219m 43s

Buddhists and death row

In the 1990s a practising Buddhist called Anna Cox began visiting a murderer called Frankie Parker in jail. After his execution by lethal injection she carried on talking to prisoners on death row in Arkansas. Anna Cox has been speaking to Ibby Caputo for Witness History. Photo: Anna Cox and Frankie Parker.
05/01/219m 3s

The oldest song in the world

A 3,500 year old song was found on a clay tablet by archaeologists in Syria in the 1950s. Often called the Hurrian Hymn, it had been unearthed amid the ruins of an ancient palace which belonged to the ancient Hurrian civilization. It is the oldest complete song ever found. The tablet was inscribed in the Hurrian language but using cuneiform script. Academics have spent decades debating how to interpret the song's ancient musical notation. Alex Last spoke to Richard Dumbrill, a leading archaeomusicologist, who has spent decades studying the tablet and has produced his own interpretation of the song. Photo: The Hurrian song written in cuneiform on the clay tablet H6 (Richard Dumbrill)
04/01/2111m 13s

The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas

In March 2001 the Taliban destroyed huge ancient statues of Buddha in Afghanistan. The statues were carved into the cliffs above the Bamiyan valley. Sayid Mirza Hossein, a local farmer, was taken prisoner by the Taliban and forced to pack explosives around the ancient Buddhas. He told Witness History what it felt like to destroy something that he had seen every day of his life. (Photo: Taliban fighters looking at the Bamiyan cliffs. Credit: Getty Images)
01/01/219m 53s

Saving the Great Barrier Reef

In the 1960s conservationists began a campaign to prevent the Queensland government from allowing mining and oil drilling on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Eddie Hegerl told Claire Bowes that he and his wife were prepared to sacrifice everything, to protect the world's biggest coral reef from destruction. Photo: Science Photo Library
31/12/208m 57s

Le Corbusier and Chandigarh

Shortly after Indian independence Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru persuaded the maverick Swiss-French architect, Le Corbusier, to help reinvent a newly independent India by building a new capital city for the province of Punjab. Le Corbusier had revolutionised architecture and urban planning in the first half of the twentieth century. He was loved and hated in equal measure for his modernist approach, favouring flat roofs, glass walls and concrete. Nehru said this new city would be "symbolic of the freedom of India, unfettered by the traditions of the past". Starting in 1950 the city of Chandigarh was built from scratch on farmland and is unlike any other city in India. The broad boulevards, pedestrianised plazas and green spaces were designed to encourage a feeling of order and of being close to nature. Claire Bowes spoke to Sumit Kaur, former Chief Architect and lifelong resident of Chandigarh, about the legacy left by Le Corbusier. Photo:The Chandigarh Legislative Assembly building. 1999 (AFP PHOTO / John Macdougall)
30/12/2010m 6s

The building of the Aswan Dam

In July 1970, one of the largest dams in the world - the Aswan High Dam in Egypt - was completed. It had taken ten years to build, and was not without controversy. Louise Hidalgo brings us voices from the archives and from one man who was there, Professor Herman Bell, about the cost of the dam to the region's people and its antiquities. This programme is a rebroadcast. (Photo: The Aswan High Dam under construction in southern Egypt in the 1960s. Credit: AFP)
29/12/208m 58s

UNESCO and race and tolerance

UNESCO – the educational, scientific and cultural arm of the United Nations was first established in 1945. Its aim was to use education as a means of sustaining peace after the horrors of the Second World War. Addressing race and racism was a key part of its mission. Caroline Bayley has been speaking to Doudou Diene who spent many years at UNESCO working on anti-racism and tolerance. (Photo: UNESCO logo seen at 39th General Conference of the organization, 2017 in Paris, France. Credit: Chesnot/Getty Images)
28/12/209m 53s

It's a Wonderful Life

In December 1946, the classic Christmas film "It's a Wonderful Life" had its premiere in Hollywood. Starring Jimmy Stewart, the movie's message of hope and redemption is loved by millions. Simon Watts talks to former child star, Karolyn Grimes, who played six-year-old Zuzu Bailey. The programme was first broadcast in 2015. PHOTO: Karolyn Grimes with Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" (Getty Images)
25/12/2010m 22s

Studio Ghibli - Japan's Oscar-winning animators

In August 1986 the first Studio Ghibli film hit the cinema screens. It would go on to bring Japanese animation to a world audience. Hirokatsu Kihara was a young animator who joined the studio to work on Castle in the Sky, its first feature length film. He spoke to Ashley Byrne of Made in Manchester about the early days of the great animation studio. Photo: Oscar-winning animator Hayao Miyazaki, one of the founders of Studio Ghibli. Credit: Getty Images.
24/12/2010m 23s

Satyajit Ray - India's master of film

Bengali film director Satyajit Ray has been described as one of the most influential directors in world cinema, with acclaimed US director Martin Scorsese among those crediting him as an inspiration. Early on in his career, Satyajit Ray released the classic Apu trilogy, which followed the life of a character called Apu from his childhood in rural Bengal to adulthood. Soumitra Chatterjee, the actor who played the title character in the final film, spoke to Farhana Haider. Soumitra Chatterjee died in November 2020. (Photo: Satyajit Ray in 1989: Credit AFP/Getty Images)
23/12/2010m 22s

The Sound of Music

The heart-warming musical, The Sound of Music, was released in 1965 and went on to become one of the most successful films of all time. It was based on the true story of the von Trapp family singers. But was their life really as it was portrayed in the movie? Maria von Trapp's youngest child, Johannes, talks to Louise Hidalgo. The programme was first broadcast in 2015. (Photograph: The Trapp Family Singers, whose story inspired the film The Sound of Music, in Salzburg in 1937. Credit: BBC Photo Archives)
22/12/2010m 23s

The Great Dictator

In late 1940, The Great Dictator was first released in the USA. In his first role in talking movies, Charlie Chaplin satirised Adolf Hitler and his Nazi followers, before America had joined World War II. The film was a commercial success, but at the time, many people thought it should never have been made. Louise Hidalgo hears the memories of Hollywood set designer, Laurence Irving, and Chaplin's official biographer, David Robinson. The programme was first broadcast in 2010. PHOTO: Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator (Bettmann/Getty Images)
21/12/2010m 28s

The GDR's Namibian children

On December 18th 1979 hundreds of Namibian children were taken to East Germany to escape the war in their home country. But after communism in Europe collapsed in 1989 the children were sent back to Africa and an uncertain future. Johannes Dell has been speaking to Selma Kamati who was just four years old when she found herself experiencing a snowy East German Christmas. Photo: Selma Kamati (far right of picture) and some of the of the other Namibian children.
18/12/208m 59s

The blockade of Gibraltar

In December 1982, Spain reopened its border with Gibraltar after a 13-year blockade of the disputed British territory. The border was closed by the dictator General Franco and led to the separation of families as well as a hardening of Gibraltarian attitudes towards Spain. It was only reopened when the new democratic government in Madrid wanted to join the European Union. Simon Watts talks to Tito Vallejo Smith, a retired defence worker and historian. PHOTO: Gibraltarian and Spanish police officers side-by-side in the 1980s (Getty Images)
17/12/2010m 23s

British reality TV is born

The first British fly-on-the-wall documentary series aired on the BBC in 1974. It was called The Family and followed the lives of the Wilkins family in Reading. Marian Wilkins - now Archer - was the eldest daughter in The Family and has been speaking to Bethan Head about what it was like to be followed by cameras and have her wedding broadcast on television. Photo: Screengrab from the first episode of The Family (1974).
16/12/209m 39s

The birth of Bangladesh

In December 1970 Pakistan held its first democratic elections since gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1947. The elections led to war, the break up of Pakistan and the creation of a new country, Bangladesh. Farhana Haider has been speaking to the economist and leading figure in the Bengali independence movement, Rehman Sobhan, about the historic elections and their aftermath. Photo East Pakistan 1971 The flag of Bangladesh is raised at the Awami League headquarters. Credit Getty Images
15/12/2015m 10s

White Christmas

American entertainer Bing Crosby made 'White Christmas' by Irving Berlin, one of the defining songs of World War Two. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to his nephew Howard Crosby about the song and its importance to his uncle. Photo: Bing Crosby in London in 1944 recording a performance for British and American troops. Credit: BBC.
14/12/2013m 17s

The return of the beaver

In 2009, beavers were released into the wild in the Knapdale forest on the west coast of Scotland, some 400 years after they were wiped out in the UK. The Scottish Beaver Trial was the first official beaver re-introduction programme in the UK and was considered a landmark conservation project. The beaver is seen as a keystone species which can help shape and restore the environment. Alex Last spoke to Simon Jones, who was then the project manager of the Scottish Beaver Trial. Photo: A beaver in Knapdale in 2011 © Steve Gardner (courtesy of the Scottish Wildlife Trust)
11/12/2013m 2s

Neanderthal cave mystery

A teenage potholer discovered a cave system near the town of Bruniquel in France in 1990 which contained a mysterious circular structure. It turned out to be nearly 200,000 years old, and built by Neanderthals – transforming our understanding of Neanderthal culture and society. Lucy Burns speaks to Bruno Kowalczewski, who discovered the cave, and geologist Sophie Verheyden, who was part of the research project which discovered the structure’s incredible age. Picture: taking measurements for the archaeo-magnetic survey in the Bruniquel Cave. Image: Etienne Fabre - SSAC via the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
10/12/209m 7s

Chief Albert Luthuli wins the Nobel Prize for Peace

When Chief Albert Luthuli won the Nobel Peace Prize he was living under a banning order in rural South Africa. He won the prize for advocating peaceful opposition to the Apartheid regime. His daughter Albertina spoke to Rob Walker for Witness History in 2010. Also listen to archive recordings of his acceptance speech. (Picture: Albert Luthuli receives the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961. Credit: Keystone/Hulton Archive)
09/12/208m 57s

The pioneer of 'Mountain Filming'

In 1920 a German filmmaker called Arnold Fanck shot his first film - 'Marvels of the Snowshoe' - high in the mountains. He and his team dragged cameras on sledges to reach the highest peaks. They even attached cameras to their skis to make the early action films. Johannes Dell has been watching some of those films and talking to his grandson Matthias Fanck. Photo: A still from one of Fanck's early Mountain Films. Copyright: Matthias Fanck.
08/12/209m 52s

The life and work of Chester Himes

The African-American crime writer Chester Himes first found widespread success in France. Although his early works had been published in the USA it was only after he moved to Europe and started writing crime fiction that he began to sell large numbers of books. Vincent Dowd has been speaking to writer Alex Wheatle, and Himes' biographer, Pim Higginson, about his life and works. Photo: Chester Himes. (Copyright: Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
07/12/209m 57s

The V1 flying bomb

In 1944, Nazi Germany launched the V1s against the UK. The V1 was a pilotless, jet-propelled flying bomb - the first of its kind in the world and a precursor to the modern cruise missile. The V1 was also the first of Hitler's secret "revenge weapons" which he hoped would change the course of the Second World War. Some 10,000 V1s were fired at the UK. They killed more than 6,000 people and injured 20,000 more. Using archive recordings we hear from civilians who survived V1 attacks and from those tasked to stop the flying bombs. Photo:A German V1 or 'Doodlebug' pilotless flying bomb in flight, circa 1944. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
04/12/2012m 1s

The slaves who defeated Napoleon

The first successful slave uprising in modern times happened in present-day Haiti. Former slave, Toussaint Louverture, forced the French colony to abolish slavery in 1794. The rebellion sent shock waves across America and Europe and made its leader famous around the world. France eventually lost its colony completely when its great military leader, Napoleon, was defeated by the former slaves. They then created the world's first black republic, which they named 'Haiti' from the indigenous Taino language. Claire Bowes has been speaking to Sudhir Hazareesingh, who's written a biography of Toussaint Louverture. Image: Toussaint Louverture - portrait after lithograph by Delpech. Courtesy of Culture Club/Getty Images
02/12/2011m 9s

France's Muslim headscarf ban

A controversial law banning Islamic headscarves and other religious symbols from French state schools came into effect in 2004. The ban was designed to maintain France's tradition of strictly separating state and religion. It resulted in many Muslim girls being excluded from the classroom. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Ndella Paye a Muslim mother and activist who campaigned against the law. Photo: 2004 February Demonstration in Paris against the French law forbidding manifestation of religious symbols in schools and workplace. Credit Owen Franken/Corbis via Getty Images
02/12/2011m 12s

Iraq's pioneering feminist

Dr Naziha Al-Dulaimi became the first woman to hold a ministerial office in the Arab world when she was appointed to head Iraq's Municipalities Ministry in 1959. As a minister, Dr Al-Dulaimi set about clearing some of Baghdad's slum areas, creating the first public housing projects. A leading feminist, she was also the driving force behind a secular Civil Affairs Law, that liberalised marriage and inheritance laws for Iraqi women. Mike Lanchin has been hearing about her from Mubejel Baban, a friend and former colleague of Dr Al-Dulaimi - and from her nephew, Dr Layth Al-Delaimy. Photo:Dr Naziha Al-Dulaimi, 1950s (courtesy of the Al-Dulaimi family)
01/12/209m 52s

How Ethiopian rebels took power in 1991

In May 1991, the brutal Ethiopian dictator, Colonel Mengistu and his miltary regime were on the verge of collapse after years of civil war. The end came when a Tigrayan-led rebel movement advanced on the capital Addis Ababa and took power. They would rule for Ethiopia for decades. In 2014, we spoke to an American diplomat who witnessed the end of Ethiopia's civil war. Photo: EPRDF rebels in Addis Ababa, 28 May, 1991. Photo: Rebels in Addis Ababa (BBC)
30/11/2011m 6s

The fight for disabled rights in the UK

The UK government passed the landmark Disability Discrimination Act in November 1995. The legislation made it illegal for employers or service providers to discriminate against disabled people. Campaigners brought London to a standstill in the run up to the passing of the Act. Baroness Jane Campbell was at the forefront of that fight for equality and remembers the time when disabled people seized control of their destiny. Photo: A disabled woman on her mobility scooter is carried away by four policemen after obstructing the traffic outside the Houses of Parliament. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
27/11/209m 47s

Rwanda at the Paralympics

In 2012, the Rwandan sitting volleyball team became the first Paralympians from their country. The sport began in Rwanda after thousands of people were mutilated during the genocide of 1994, and there were emotional scenes in London when the Rwandan side eventually won a match. Bob Nicholson talks to Rwanda’s captain, Emile Vuningabo, and the side’s Dutch coach, Peter Karreman. The programme is a Whistledown Production. PHOTO: The Rwandan team blocking a shot at the 2012 Paralympics (Getty Images)
26/11/209m 13s

India's campaign for disability rights

In December 1995, the first disability rights legislation was passed by India's parliament. An estimated 60 million people, almost six percent of India's population, are affected by physical or mental disabilities. Farhana Haider spoke to Javed Abidi who led the campaign to change the law. Photo: Disability rights campaigners protest in Delhi, December 19th 1995. (Credit: Javed Abidi)
25/11/209m 13s

Britain's little blue disability car

For decades disabled people in the UK were offered tiny, three-wheeled, turquoise cars as their main form of transport. They were known as Invacars and they were provided, free of charge, to people who couldn't use ordinary vehicles. They were phased out in the 1970s because they were accident-prone and people were given grants to adapt conventional cars instead. Daniel Gordon has been hearing from Colin Powell, who was issued with his first Invacar at the age of 16. Photo: an Invacar. Credit: BBC
24/11/209m 53s

Helen Keller

Helen Keller was born in Alabama in the USA in 1880. A childhood illness left her deaf and blind, but she still learned to speak and read and write. She wrote several books, graduated from college, and met 12 US presidents. By the end of her life she was famous around the world. Lucy Burns spoke to her great-niece, Adair Faust for Witness History. This programme is a rebroadcast. (Photo: Helen Adams Keller (1880-1968). Credit: Hulton Archive)
23/11/209m 0s

When the Egyptian president went to Israel

In 1977, Anwar Sadat became the first Egyptian president to visit Israel and address the Israeli parliament the Knesset. At the time, Egypt was still formally at war with Israel - a country which no Arab nation then recognised. Sadat's visit led to a formal peace treaty between the two countries. Louise Hidalgo spoke to the Egyptian cameraman, Mohamed Gohar who knew Sadat. PHOTO: Sadat addressing the Knesset (AFP/Getty Images)
20/11/208m 59s
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