Ray’s History Radio and TV Picks. No.19. 10 June 2015.

Castles: Britain’s Fortified History

BBC Four: Thu 11 June 2015, 20.00 -21.00. 3/3: Defence of the Realm.

Sam Willis charts how castles came under threat from cannon during the Wars of the Roses, and how some were transformed into palaces during the Tudor era: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04v85sy

 Tales of Irish Castles.

Yesterday: Thu 11 June 2015, 21.00-22.00. New Series, Episode 2.

Simon Delaney examines the key knioghts whose influence and power helped alter the landscape of Ireland. http://yesterday.uktv.co.uk/tales-irish-castles/article/about-tales-irish-castles/

Conspiracy: The Death of Hitler

Channel 5: Fri 12 June 2015, 20.00-21.00. New series 1/6

Exploring surprising theories that seek to undermine what we are told is ‘history’ but which may not be true. In the first episode, did Hitler really die in 1945? http://www.channel5.com/shows/conspiracy/episodes/nazi

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

BBC 1: Sun14 June 2015, 21.00 – 22.00. 5/7: Arabella

Jonathan Strange’s remarkable magic helps England win the Battle of Waterloo, after which Strange returns home hoping for a peaceful new life: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05zq7yx

The BBC at War.

BBC 2: Sun 14 June 2015, 21.00 – 22.00. 1/2: The War of Words.

The first of two programmes which show how the BBC fought not only Hitler but also the British government to become the institution it is today. Jonathan Dimbleby reveals how in 1939 the BBC prepared for the first broadcast war:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05zqtkn

Drama on 3: Napoleon Rising

BBC Radio 3: Sun 14 June 2015, 22.00 – 00.00. Repeat of part of Radio 3’s 2012 Napoleon season.

An epic drama charting Napoleon Bonaparte’s meteoric rise in the early years of the French revolution, set against his tumultuous relationship with Josephine. Written by Anthony Burgess but never performed in his lifetime and now adapted for radio by Anjum Malik.http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p2q2c

Napoleon: the Man and the Myths.

BBC Radio 4: Mon 15 – Fri June 2015, 13.45- 14.00. New daily 5 part series:

Historian Andrew Roberts presents a series, recorded partly on location in Paris, which dispels some myths about Napoleon Bonaparte. Programme & episode details: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05zzlb4

The Essay: Napoleon and Me.  .

BBC Radio 3: Mon 15 to Wed 17 June 2015, 22.45 – 23.00. First 3 of 5 episodes.

1/ Julia Blackburn tells an extraordinary tale of sleuthing for the ghost of Napoleon on St Helena, his last island and his final unsought home. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p2qpb

2/ Andrea Stuart, biographer of Napoleon’s first wife, Josephine, explores what it is like to write about one of the most misunderstood women in history. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p2sjn

3/ Adam Nicolson recalls his teenage years when his father was writing about Napoleon. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p2sjq

Waterloo: the Ball at Brussels. Radio drama by Mike Walker.

BBC Radio 4: Wed 17 June 2015, 14.15- 15.00.

Two days before the Battle of Waterloo, the Duchess of Richmond decides to give a grand ball. Against all seeming common sense, the Duke of Wellington agrees. Mike Walker’s new play, based on historical fact, delves into the hearts and minds of the Ball’s participants to give a vivid portrait of those about to embark on one of the most famous battles in history. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05y0p8v


BBC 2:  Wed 17 June 2015, 21.30- 22.30. 2/3

1805: Napoleon, now Emperor of the French and King of Italy, is at the height of his power.  British historian Andrew Roberts visits the battlefield of Austerlitz, one of his greatest military victories. Roberts also examines the compromises the dictator was forced to make to maintain his global power.



Ray’s History Radio & TV Picks. No.17. 28 May 2015.

Castles: Britain’s Fortified History
BBC Four: Thu 28 May 2015, 20.00 -21.00. 1/3: Instruments of Invasion.
Sam Willis looks at the history of the castle from its first appearance with the Normans in 1066 to the longest siege on English soil at Kenilworth Castle 200 years later. Tingtagel Castle is on the itinerary in this episode..

Art of China.
BBC Four: Fri 29 May 2015, 00.45 – 01.45. Repeat of 2014 series. 2/3.
Andrew Graham-Dixon looks at the period from the 10th to the 15th century – the golden age of art in China: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04cryjg

Britain’s Greatest Generation.
BBC 2: Fri 29 May 2015, 21.30 – 22.30. 4/4: A Better World.
This final episode follows the lives of some of the servicemen and women of the Second World War across seventy years of British history, from 1945 up to the present day: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05xbv48
Episodes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05v3q9l/episodes/guide

Anzac Girls
More 4, Fri 29 May 2015, 21.00 – 22.00. 5/6
This Australian World War I period drama is based on real letters and diaries of five young women from Australia and New Zealand in the First World War. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/anzac-girls

BBC Four: Sat 30 May 2015, 21.00 – 23.00. Episodes 5 & 6. Danish with English subtitles.
Danish drama which weaves personal stories with the wider political rumblings of a conflict fought over the Schleswig-Holstein question, a diplomatic dispute between Denmark and Prussia. Following the shaming evacuation of Danevirke, Danish troops retreat:. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05xgj03
The Danish forces are bogged down in the town of Dybbol: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05xgj05

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
BBC 1: Sun 31 May 2015, 21.00 – 22.00. 3/7: The Education of a Magician
Jonathan Strange accesses ancient and troubling magic as he fights the Napoleonic armies, while Mr Norrell battles to keep his secrets hidden: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05xzwg6

Armada: 12 Days to Save England.
BBC 2: Sun 31 May 2015, 21.00 – 22.00. Repeated Mon 23.30 – 00.30. 2/3: The Battle for England
In the second part of a major three-part drama-documentary series, Anita Dobson stars as Elizabeth I, and Dan Snow takes to the sea to tell the story of how England came within a whisker of disaster in summer 1588. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05xj5t4

Flashman at the Charge
BBC Radio 4 Extra: Mon 1 & Tue 2 June 2015, 10.00 – 11.00, repeated 15.00 – 16.00.
A dramatisation of George Macdonald Frazer’s novel; Joss Ackland plays the renowned cad Sir Harry Flashman who must face the might of Imperial Russia in the Crimea. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lh5th

Incarnations: India in 50 Lives.
BBC Radio 4: Mon 1 – Fri 5 June 2015, 13.45 – 14.00. Episodes 16-20 of new daily series.
Professor Sunil Khilnani profiles Akbar, Malik Ambar, Dara Shikoh, Shivaji and Nainsukh:
Series details: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05rptbv

Inside the Medieval Mind
BBC Four: Mon 1 June 2015, 20.00 – 21.00. Repeat of 2008 series. 3/4: Belief.
Robert Bartlett examines thought during medieval times. As the church’s grip on our beliefs increased, men and women were dragged before religious courts and multitudes were killed in the name of God. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00b413s

Rome’s Invisible City.
BBC 1: Mon 1 June 2015, 21.00 – 22.00.
With the help of a team of experts using the latest in 3D scanning technology, Alexander Armstrong explores the hidden underground treasures that made Rome the powerhouse of the ancient world. With Dr Michael Scott:

The Last Explorers: Thomas Blake Glover
BBC 4: Mon 1 June 2015, 22.00 – 23.00. 4/4: Thomas Blake Glover
Neil Oliver tells the story of a rogue trader who helped rebel samurai clans overthrow the Japanese shogun and lay the foundations for one of the powerful economies in the world. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017zqnn

Music of the American Civil War
BBC Radio 2, Tue 2 June 2015, 22.00-23.00. 1/2:
To mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War, Kris Kristofferson looks back over the music and musical legacy of the Civil War era. In episode one and in the company of historians, music experts, songwriters and musicians, Kris explores the history of the conflict through its music and discovers how and why the Civil War generated so many of the songs and musical styles found in American music today.

Shadow of the Sun King
BBC Radio 4, Wed 3 June 2015: 11.00-11.30
As we approach the 300th anniversary of the death of Louis XIV, Professor Julian Swann assesses the Sun King’s life and achievements – and also examines his key role in unwittingly spurring Britain to become a global super-power. In the first of two programmes, Swann travels to Paris to visit many of the sites that can claim to be haunted by Louis XIV’s legacy – from Versailles and the Louvre to the Palais Royal and Les Invalides.


Eddie Redmayne looks at war from the point of view of the war artists; eyewitnesses to war affected by issues of subject matter. Broadcast Sun 24 May 2015. Catch-up on ITV Player:

Ray’s History Radio & TV Picks.      No.13.          30 April 2015.


BBC Radio 4 Extra, Thu 30 April, 15.00 -14.00, rptd Fri 03.00 – 04.00.

David Robb stars in this 2010 adaption of John Buchan’s 1916 spy story.

Episode 1 – November 1915:  Richard Hannay is summoned to the War Office to foil German plans to create holy war in the East. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tkllp

BBC Radio 4 Extra, Fri 1 April 10.00 – 11.00. rptd 15.00 -14.00, Sat 03.00 – 04.00.

Episode 2 – January 1916: Hannay reaches Constantinople, but is he in time to defeat the German plans?



The Buchan Tradition

The writer Nicholas Rankin examines Buchan’s literary legacy. It includes a discussion on the BBC decision to delay the above broadcast of Greenmantle. Originally planned for 2005, but dealing with the topic of Jihad, broadcast was quietly postponed in the light of the 7/7 bombings in London.

Broadcast Thu 16 Apr 2015. Now on iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05qjq6h


The Vietnam War

Discovery Channel, Thu 30 April 2015, 21.00 – 22.00. New three-part series, 1/3

The story goes from Vietnam’s early history – its people, dynastic struggles and invasions, and the rise of communism in 1941, explaining the impact of Christian missionaries & French colonialism, to Japan’s invasion during WWII, and the rise of Ho Chi Minh. http://www.discoveryuk.com/web/the-vietnam-war/



BBC 4: Thu 30 April 2015, 22.00 – 00.25.

Oscar nominated film drama that re-creates the final days of the Third Reich in 1945. Hitler’s decline is seen through the eyes of Traudl Junge, his innocent and deluded young secretary. German + subtitles:



The Plantagenets

BBC 4: Thu 30 April 2015, 00.25 – 01.25. Repeat series. The Death of Kings, 3/3.

In the last century of their rule, four Plantagenet kings are violently deposed and murdered. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03zrdw3    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b042yyhx/episodes/guide


Secrets of Great British Castles

Channel 5: Fri 1 May 2015, 20.00 – 21.00. 5/6. Stirling Castle, with historian Dan Jones




Anzac Girls

More 4, Fri 1 May 2015, 21.00 – 22.00. 1/6

This new Australian World War I period drama is based on real letters and diaries of five young women from Australia and New Zealand in the First World War. In the first episode the antipodean nurses arrive in Egypt in 1915 to care for convoys of injured men from the Gallipoli campaign. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/anzac-girls

Further programme information: http://www.channel4.com/info/press/news/more4-enlists-the-anzac-girls

1914-1918: The Cultural Front

BBC Radio 4: Sat 2 May 2015, 10.30-11.00. 3/3. War on the Mind:

In the last in the series covering 1915, Francine Stock looks at how the harrowing effects of World War I began to make themselves apparent in art, music and poetry. For the first time, the condition which would become known as ‘shellshock’ was becoming apparent. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05spjym


Tommies: Mon 4 May 1915

BBC Radio 4: Mon 4 May 2015, 14.15 – 15.00. 2/5

Based on unit war diaries and eye-witness accounts, each drama traces one real day at war, exactly 100 years ago. A day of rest behind the lines is not easy for Mickey Bliss and his Signals colleagues from the Lahore Division of the British Indian Army. Writer Nick Warburton. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05sst61

Previous episode from 1914 (2014)  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04l902x/broadcasts/2015/04


Book at Bedtime: The History of the Peloponnesian War

BBC Radio 4 Extra: Sun 3 May 2015, 14.30 – 15.45. Previous week’s Radio4 five episodes combined.

Ancient Greek historian Thucydides’ spellbinding first-hand account chronicles the devastating 27-year-long war between Athens and Sparta during the 5th century BC. Abridge and translated by Tom Holland. Read by David Horovitch. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05s2pbm


VE Day 70: Remembering Victory

BBC1:  Mon 4 May 2015, 20.30 – 22.00.

On 8 May 1945, Churchill broadcast the long-awaited announcement that the war in Europe was over. To celebrate, Britain threw the biggest street party the country had ever seen. Members  of the “Victory Generation” recall memories with the help of archive footage: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05tr0py


24 Hours in the Past

BBC1:  Tue 5 May 2015, 21.00 – 22.00. 2/ 4

New series where six celebrities travel back in time to Victorian Britain, spending four days in four different 19th-century workplaces. Their second 24 hours finds them in a 19th century rural coaching inn.



Rude Britannia: Presents Bawdy Songs and Lewd Photographs

BBC4:  Tue 5 May 2015, 00.00 – 01.00. A popular culture of rudeness managed to survive and even thrive in the long era of Victorian values, from the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837 until the 1950s.


Ray’s History Radio & TV Picks.      No.12.          22 April 2015. 

The Last Days of Charles I

Channel 5: Thu 23 April 2015, 20.00 – 21.00. 3/6.  http://www.channel5.com/shows/the-last-days-of/episodes


The Plantagenets

BBC 4: Thu 23 April 2015, 23.00 – 00.00. An English Empire, 2/3.  Repeat series.

Robert Bartlett continues the story of the Plantagenets, who expand their power across the British Isles

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03zdm4b  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b042yyhx/episodes/guide


Secrets of Great British Castles

Channel 5: Fri 24 April 2015, 20.00 -21.00. 4/6. Caernarfon Castle in Snowdonia

Historian Dan Jones http://www.channel5.com/shows/secrets-of-great-british-castles/episodes


Sex and the Church

BBC 2:  Fri 24 April 2015, 21.00 – 22.00. 3/3. Christianity v the West:

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch explores how the offical Christian Church and Western society have moved apart on issues of sex and gender over the last 300 years.. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05s7w9f


World War One Remembered: Gallipoli

BBC1:  Sat 25 April 2015, 10.10 – 12.05.

Her Majesty the Queen leads tributes from the cenotaph memorial in London in a service to commemorate those who died in the Battle of Gallipoli. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05sz6cp


World War One Remembered: Gallipoli – Highlights

BBC 2:  Sat 25 April 2015, 17.30 – 18.30.

Highlights of the cenotaph memorial servicehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05sz6s4


Gallipoli: When Murdoch Went to War

BBC 2:  Sat 25 April 2015, 20.30 – 21.30

‘My father shook up the establishment’, claims Rupert Murdoch in this hour-long special that tells the true story behind the Gallipoli letter written in September 1915 by a young Australian journalist – Keith Murdoch.



1914-1918: The Cultural Front

BBC Radio 4: Sat 25 April 2015, 10.30-11.00. 2/3.A Cubist War:

In episode 2 of The Cultural Front, Francine Stock explores a fragmented world through the prism of the art it created.. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05rk5tj


The Blast of War

BBC Radio 4 Extra: Sat 25 April 2015, 13.00 – 14.10. Combined episodes of radio drama by Michael SymmonsRoberts; British soldier fighting in Afghanistan is sent on a time-travelling journey of atonement; Helmand, GallipoliWaterloo, Agincourt. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qy2s/episodes/guide


In Their Own Write: Notes from the Congress of Vienna

BBC Radio 3: Sun 26 April 2015, 18.45 – 19.30

200 years ago the crowned heads of Europe and their top ministers met in Vienna to redraw the map of Europe and restore the status quo before Napoleon and the French Revolution. Michael Goldfarb tells the story using the diaries and memoirs of those who attended and the music they danced to.



BBC4:  Sun 26 April 2015, 21.30 – 23.15

2012 period drama film, based on the real-life story of painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, his film-maker son Jean and their shared muse Andree Heuschling: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03lzmqx


Vive l’Empereur!

BBC Radio 4: Mon 27 April 2015, 11.00 – 11.30

As thousands of men and horses gear up to recreate the Battle of Waterloo for its bicentenary in June, Max Cotton goes inside the world of Napoleonic re-enactment. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05rnx7p


Tommies27 April 1915

BBC Radio 4: Mon 27 April 2015, 14.15  15.00. 1/5 

Based on unit war diaries and eye-witness accounts, each drama traces one real day at war, exactly 100 years ago. Under the constant threat of gas attack in the village of La Brique just north of Ypres, BEF signalers are trying to work out why the enemy is always one step ahead. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03thc6p

Previous episode from 1914 (2014)  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04l902x/broadcasts/2015/04


Book at Bedtime: The History of the Peloponnesian War 

BBC Radio 4: Mon 27 – Fri 1 May 2015, 22.45 – 23.00. Five daily episodes.

Ancient Greek historian Thucydides’ spellbinding first-hand account chronicles the devastating 27-year-long war between Athens and Sparta during the 5th century BC. Abridge and translated by Tom Holland. Read by David Horovitchhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05s2pbm


Medieval Dead: The Fortress of Montesegur

Yesterday: Mon 27 April 2015, 20.00 – 21.00. Series 2 | Episode 6

The 1244 massacre of hundreds of Cathars in France. http://yesterday.uktv.co.uk/shows/medieval-dead/


The Great War of Words: Peace Before Annihilation?

BBC Radio 4: Tue 28 April 2015, 9.00 – 9.45, rpt 21.30 – 22.00

Michael Portillo explores the possibilities for peace & protest during the Great War. The war that engulfed the world in the summer of 1914 laid bare the failure of European politicians to negotiate their way out of crisis. 



24 Hours in the Past

BBC1:  Tue 28 April 2015, 21.00 – 22.00. 1/ 4

New series where six celebrities travel back in time to Victorian Britain, spending four days in four different 19th-century workplaces. Their first 24 hours lands them in the filth and grime of the city dump – the dustyard







Ray’s History Radio & TV Picks.      No.11.          15 April 2015. 

The Last Days of Rasputin

Channel 5: Thu 16 April 2015, 20.00 – 21.00. 2/6. 

The downfall and legacy of Rasputin. http://www.channel5.com/shows/the-last-days-of/episodes/rasputin-3


The Plantagenets

BBC 4: Thu 16 April 2015, 23.00 – 00.00. 1/3.  Repeat series.

Professor Robert Bartlett tells the story of England’s most dysfunctional, yet longest-ruling, royal dynasty.http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b042yyhx  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b042yyhx/episodes/guide


Secrets of Great British Castles

Channel 5: Fri 17 April 2015, 20.00 -21.00. 3/6. Warwick Castle

Historian Dan Jones http://www.channel5.com/shows/secrets-of-great-british-castles/episodes/episode-3-673


Sex and the Church

BBC 2:  Fri 17 April 2015, 21.00 – 22.00. 2/3. Sexual Revolution:

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch continues his exploration of how Christianity has shaped western attitudes to sex, gender and sexuality through history.. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05ql6hf


1914-1918: The Cultural Front

BBC Radio 4: Sat 18 April 2015, 10.30-11.00. 1/3. Glimpses of a Modern World:

In the first of the second series on how the Great War changed art, words and society, Francine Stock returns to The Cultural Front looking for glimpses of a modern world. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05qvn32


The Blast of War

BBC Radio 4: Mon 22 to Fri 24 April 2015, 10.45 – 11.00 Rpt daily 19.45 – 20.00.

New radio drama serialBritish soldier fighting in Afghanistan is sent on a time-travelling journey of atonement; GallipoliWaterloo, Agincourt. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qy2s/episodes/guide


Ancient Black Ops: Spartans

Yesterday: Mon 20 April 2015, 23.00 – 00.00.

Within the ranks of the Spartan 300 was a secret death squad, who aimed to kill the Persian king.http://yesterday.uktv.co.uk/shows/ancient-black-ops/episodes/


Railways of the Great War

BBC 4: Mon 20 April 2015, 19.30 – 20.00. Repeat of 2014 series – Episode 5.Railways and Remembrance: Michael Portillo explores the aftermath of the conflict. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04dbt1w


Medieval Dead

Yesterday: Mon 20 April 2015, 20.00 – 21.00. Series 2 | Episode 4

Carbon dating of a skeleton found in East Sussex suggests the bones are from the Norman era. Did this mysterious medieval man fight at the Battle of Hastings? http://yesterday.uktv.co.uk/shows/medieval-dead/


Treasures of Ancient Greece.

BBC 4: Wed 22 April 2015, 21.00 – 22.00. 3/3 

The Long Shadow: Alastair Sooke explores the afterlife of the Greek masterpieces that changed the course of western culture. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05rj5xj