Sri Lanka: The new climate of fear
Dec 5, 2019 1598
There’s a new climate of fear in Sri Lanka. This time it’s the Muslim community who are fearful of the future. The Easter bomb attacks in Sri Lanka - targeting churches and international hotels - horrified the island. It’s suffered civil war but never known jihadi violence. But the attacks also intensified a creeping campaign by the Sinhala Buddhist majority against the Muslim community - with Muslims murdered, their businesses burned or boycotted. Jill McGivering investigates the growing climate of fear now driving many Muslims to emigrate and casting a shadow over those left behind.
Producer: Caroline Finnigan
(Image: Muslim boy on a bicycle in Kattankudy, Sri Lanka. Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
How Scarborough saved the world
Dec 4, 2019 1665
The work of GCHQ started just after the end of World War One as telegraph became a vital means of military communications. We hear from people who worked at the listening station in the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough during World War Two and the Cold War. BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera reveals how Government Communications Headquarters – GCHQ - has been listening in for 100 years.
Giving peace a chance
Dec 3, 2019 1940
John Lennon and Yoko Ono's bed-in for peace protest and the people who witnessed it
The man who laughed at al-Qaeda
Nov 28, 2019 1642
Raed Fares, founder of Syria's legendary Radio Fresh FM, was mowed down by unknown gunmen as he left his studios in rebel-held Idlib in November 2018. The death of the man who fought hatred with humour and laughed in the faces of President Assad, ISIS and al-Qaeda, sent shockwaves way beyond his troubled homeland. When ordered by Islamist extremists to stop broadcasting music he had replied with bird song and clucking chickens. On being told to take his female presenters off air, he put their voices through software to make them sound like men. In tribute to its founder, Raed Fares's radio station has refused to die with him. One year on from his killing it continues to broadcast the comedy programmes he loved, as Assad's troops close in and bombs fall around it.
Presenter: Mike Thomson
Producer: Joe Kent
(Image: Raed Fares standing outside Radio Fresh. Credit: Radio Fresh)
Nov 26, 2019 1664
In the span of five years, Chairman Huang turned farmland in China’s Sichuan province into Seaside City. The ocean-themed town, which Huang says was inspired by Dubai and Disneyland, is now home to more than 400,000 people. In the city centre, numerous maritime spectacles attract visitors from afar. The crown jewel is the world’s largest aquarium with several whale sharks and a community of sea turtles. But is Seaside City a forward-thinking economic experiment or the personal fiefdom of a megalomaniac? What do former peasants in the area think of the city?
The Malawi tapes
Nov 24, 2019 3022
A race is on to save thousands of tapes of traditional Malawian music in danger of disintegrating in the archives of state broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. The old reel-to-reel tapes date back to the 1930s, '40s, '50s and '60s and were recorded in towns and villages all over Malawi and in the MBC studios. The folk songs, traditional chants, dances and contemporary music of the time all provide a snapshot of Malawi’s social and musical history.
Russian women fight back
Nov 21, 2019 1609
Domestic abuse in Russia is endemic with thousands of women dying at the hands of their partners every year. Despite this a controversial law was passed in 2017, which scrapped prison sentences for first-time abusers. Beatings that do not cause broken bones or concussion are now treated as administrative offences rather than crimes. As one activist puts it: “the punishment for beating your wife now feels like paying a parking ticket.”
But Russian society is waking up to the crisis. The case of three girls - the Khachaturyan sisters - who face long prison sentences for murdering their tyrannical father, has sparked mass protests. More than 300,000 people have signed an online petition urging prosecutors to drop the murder charges. The girls’ mother tells reporter Lucy Ash that her daughters were acting in self-defence against a man who had abused them physically, emotionally and sexually for years.
Lucy also meets the mother of a woman stabbed to death by her husband who was discovered in her blood soaked bed by her seven year old son. In all three cases, the frightened women had appealed to the police but to no avail. These tragedies might have been averted if only the authorities had taken earlier warnings seriously.
In Moscow, Lucy talks to activists who are fighting back by supporting victims, pushing for legal reforms and drawing attention to the cause through art, video games and social media. And she meets a lone feminist MP in the Russian Duma who is trying to bring in restraining orders for violent husbands, boyfriends and family members. Today Russia has no such laws and domestic violence is not a standalone offence in either the criminal or the civil code.
(Image: Woman holding sign saying “What is it for? Stop violence!” at a rally in support of the Khachaturyan sisters. Credit: Sergei Konkov\TASS via Getty Images)
Sierra Leone: The price of going home
Nov 14, 2019 1630
Fatmata, Jamilatu and Alimamy all see themselves as failures. They’re young Sierra Leoneans who risked everything for the sake of a better life in Europe. Along the way, they were imprisoned and enslaved. They saw friends die. Eventually, they gave up. Now, they’re home again - facing the devastating consequences of what they did to their families before they left, actions that have left them ostracised by their nearest and dearest. Who will help them to survive back home? Can they rebuild their lives, and achieve any reconciliation with their parents? And if they can’t, will they be tempted to set off again, to seek their fortunes abroad?
Reporter: Tim Whewell
(Photo: An awkward embrace - Jamilatu Sheriff is reunited with her mother Maryatu after two years absence. Credit: Sayoh Kamara/BBC)
Hong Kong: Love in a divided city
Nov 12, 2019 1665
Unprecedented mass protests have caused chaos in Hong Kong’s public sphere – but what has it meant for private life? How have they affected the increasing number of couples who have married across the divide, with one partner from Hong Kong and another from the Chinese mainland? BBC World Affairs correspondent Paul Adams hears from one such couple, for whom the political has become personal.
Nov 10, 2019 3119
How Communist East Germany tried to influence Africa via radio, during the Cold War. The West often saw the GDR as a grim and grey place, so it’s something of a surprise to find a radio station based in East Berlin playing swinging African tunes. Yet Radio Berlin International (RBI), the ‘voice of the German Democratic Republic’, made it all happen over the many years it broadcast to Africa. It built on the little known strong bonds between East Germany and several large states in Africa such as Tanzania and Angola during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s
Albania’s Iranian guests
Nov 7, 2019 1683
Who are Albania’s Iranian guests? In July, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani visited an Albanian village just outside Tirana. At a tightly-guarded encampment, he addressed the Iranian group who live there - the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), or People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI). MEK has been a leading opposition voice against the Islamic Republic of Iran for decades.
Following the revolution of 1979, MEK fell out with the Iranian government – members were persecuted, and the organisation moved to Iraq for around three decades. Migration to Albania was facilitated by the United States, and more than 3,000 members have arrived.
But in Albania – a fragile democracy - there’s disquiet. Critics claim MEK’s presence compromises Albania’s security, and is fuelling a crack-down on the press. Meanwhile, dozens of Iranian MEK members have defected but find themselves living a precarious existence in Tirana because they are stateless, without passports.
Assignment investigates the improbable relationship between Albania and MEK.
Presenter: Linda Pressly
Producer: Albana Kasapi
(Photo: Gholam Mirzai has left the MEK. He would like to return to Iran. Credit: BBC Credit)
Moondog: Sound of New York
Nov 6, 2019 1638
New Yorker Huey Morgan examines the life, work and enduring appeal of the musician known as Moondog, who lived and worked on the city's streets in the 1950s and '60s. Born Louis Thomas Hardin in Kansas in May 1916, he played musical instruments from an early age and lost his sight in an accident when he was 16. He went on to teach himself music and composition by ear, as well as music theory through books in braille. His music would take inspiration from street sounds like the subway and foghorns, and his compositions were a combination of classical, traditional jazz and American vernacular. He became a pioneer with a unique attitude to composition and melody, and also invented instruments.
Cameroon's MMA champion
Nov 5, 2019 1638
By the age of 10 Francis Ngannou was working in a sand quarry, where he dreamed of becoming a world class boxer. As a young man he traversed the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea to find himself homeless in Paris. From there, within an extraordinarily short amount of time, he exploded through the ranks to the highest echelons of the fastest growing sport in the world, mixed martial arts.
He is now a leading contender for heavyweight champion of the world and a global star. He returns to his village in western Cameroon, where he is investing in the next generation. Zak Brophy travels to Cameroon to hear the story of his incredible life, and his dreams of becoming a role model within his community.
The Zogos of Liberia
Oct 31, 2019 1612
When Miatta was 14 years old, armed rebels stormed into her classroom and forcibly recruited her and her classmates. They were trained to use machine guns and then sent to the front line to fight in Liberia’s devastating civil war.
Nineteen years later, Miatta is what many Liberians would call a Zogo. The Zogos are Liberia’s underclass: jobless, homeless and addicted to drugs. They’re a menace on the streets of the capital, Monrovia, where many make their living by snatching purses and phones from passers-by.
In this Assignment, Lucy Ash follows a projects aiming to rehabilitate hundreds of Liberia’s Zogos – including Miatta.
Producer: Josephine Casserly
(Image: A mural in the Liberian capital called Female Zogos of Monrovia. They are sitting on gravestones because many are homeless and seek refuge in cemeteries. Credit: James Giahyue)
Northern Ireland 1969: The violence spreads
Oct 30, 2019 1685
Ruth Sanderson grew up in Northern Ireland yet never really understood how the Troubles started. In the second programme, looking back at Scarman testimonies and talking to her parents who were caught up in events, Ruth is trying to work out how Northern Ireland spiralled out of control. Fifty years on and with her first baby on the way, Ruth wants to know if the legacy of the Troubles will ever be lifted in a Northern Ireland which is still divided today.
Uganda's war in the bush
Oct 27, 2019 3028
Alan Kasujja tells the story of the guerilla war in Uganda which began nearly 40 years ago and led to the current President Yoweri Museveni taking power. After the fall of Idi Amin there was a power vacuum in Uganda which led up to a general election. The former President Milton Obote returned from exile and was declared the winner. But amidst accusations of gerrymandering and intimidation, opposition groups claimed the 1980 election had been rigged. A young politician, Yoweri Museveni, had promised to fight an armed uprising in the bush if Obote won, and in 1981 he began a protracted guerrilla war.
Being black in Italy
Oct 24, 2019 1588
Dickens Olewe meets Italy’s first and only black senator, Tony Iwobi, and hears how a new generation of black Italians are fighting to claim their place in a society that’s still very white.
Born and raised in Nigeria, Senator Iwobi moved to Italy as a young man and carved out a successful career in business. Now he’s immigration spokesperson for the right-wing Lega party and wants to stop the illegal flow of migrants coming to Italy from Africa. BBC Africa journalist Dickens Olewe follows Iwobi in the Senate in Rome and finds out what it’s like to be black in a party that’s widely perceived as racist.
At a festival on the bank of the River Tiber, Dickens meets aspiring politician Paolo Diop from the Far-Right Brothers of Italy. Diop moved to Italy from Senegal as a baby and describes himself as “an Italian nationalist and an African nationalist” who wants to “make Africa great” by sending migrants home.
We also meet the young black activists coming of age in the midst of the migrant crisis and the rise of the political right. Born and bred in Italy, they feel deeply Italian but are not always recognised as such - among them the rapper Tommy Kuti whose work explores his Afro-Italian identity, the founder of Milan’s Afro Fashion Week Michelle Francine Ngonmo and the writer Igiaba Scego, whose parents grew up in one of Italy’s African colonies.
Producer: Helen Grady
(Image: Afro-Italian rapper and musician Tommy Kuti in Milan. Credit: Helen Grady/BBC)
Northern Ireland 1969: Battle lines
Oct 23, 2019 1642
Ruth Sanderson grew up in Northern Ireland, yet never really understood how the Troubles started. Although the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement effectively brought peace in 1998, Ruth believes the fallout from the violence continues to cast a long shadow over a society which is still divided. Now Ruth returns to the same courtroom in Belfast where the Scarman Tribunal sat, and begins to piece together the events of August 1969, when Northern Ireland spiralled out of control.
Looking for love: The Zoroastrian way
Oct 22, 2019 1645
The Zoroastrian community has given the world Freddie Mercury, produced some of India’s richest businessmen and practises one of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism. Yet the community faces extinction: there are less than 200,000 Zoroastrians left worldwide. Shazneen is one of them. She is 31, lives in London and is on the lookout for someone to settle down with. The problem? Members of her small community can only marry other Zoroastrians.
Oct 20, 2019 3038
In 1979 a young girl named Melissa Rich asked her mother Lois why there were no women trading cards. So Lois decided to produce her own set called “supersisters”, 72 trading cards highlighting inspirational women, many of whom were athletes. Exactly forty years later we reunite Melissa, Lois and some of the supersisters together for a discussion based on the cards and the importance - and establishment - of icons in women’s sport in front of a live audience at the Lower Eastside Girls Club of New York.
Argentina’s ‘white gold’ rush
Oct 17, 2019 1626
Are lithium-powered electric vehicles as ‘green’ as we think they are? With the advent of electric cars, manufacturers tell us we’re racing towards a clean-energy future. It’s lithium that powers these vehicles. Most of the world’s stocks of this lightest of metals are found in brine deep beneath salt flats, high in the Andes.In Argentina, in Jujuy - the province with the highest percentage of indigenous households in the country - massive projects are underway. But in a super-dry region, with water the most precious resource, and lithium extraction demanding huge quantities of it, there’s anxiety - and outright opposition.
Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly Producer in Argentina: Gert De Saedeleer
(Image: Tomasa Soriano keeps goats and llamas – she believes there’s less water locally since the lithium miners arrived. Credit: BBC/Linda Pressly)
The Gospel of Wealth
Oct 16, 2019 1656
What should billionaires do with their money? The world’s greatest philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie said they should give it all away. Andrew Carnegie was born in Scotland and moved to America where he became a steel magnate and the richest man in the world. In his guidebook to philanthropy, The Gospel of Wealth, he challenged people who acquired great wealth to give it back to the community. He also believed the most important cause to support was education. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown asks why today’s billionaire philanthropists aren’t giving away more money and why education is no longer the top priority.
My personal history of sormeh
Oct 15, 2019 1650
The eyes have always been a focal point of Persian beauty for men and women and they have always been embellished with sormeh, or thick black eyeliner. Presenter Nassim Hatam's grandmother taught her mother how to apply sormeh, which originates from a 4000-year-old recipe, and when the family was scattered to the four winds by revolution she made it her responsibility to supply the family women with their sormeh wherever they had settled. Now for Nassim, and millions of modern Persian women, the wearing of sormeh or black eye makeup has become something much bigger than make-up – it is an important part of their resistance to oppression.
Cuba's digital revolution
Oct 13, 2019 2996
A revolution is underway in Cuba. The country’s communist leaders, who normally retain tight control of the media, have encouraged Cubans to become more connected online. Internet access used to be the preserve of a privileged (and relatively rich) few. But prices have come down, public wifi spots are popular, and less than a year ago 3G data access became available on Cuban phones. Along with a huge uptake in the internet has come a flood of Cubans signing up to social media accounts. Even President Miguel Diaz-Canel is on Twitter. And unlike staid and traditional state-run media, Cuban social media is relatively open, freewheeling, full of jokes, criticism of the government and, of course, memes. Prices are still high and the government keeps a close eye on dissidents or “counter-revolutionaries”. But online, Cubans are exploring new ways to communicate that would have been unheard of just a few years ago. The BBC’s Cuba correspondent Will Grant and BBC Trending reporter Reha Kansara have been meeting the Cubans at the forefront of their country’s digital revolution. They meet political podcasters, a lesbian activist, a pro-government blogger, a gamer-turned-protester, a dissident journalist and one of Cuba’s biggest YouTube stars. How are Cubans making their voices heard in a way they never have before – and how might social media transform the country?
Nigeria: sex for grades
Oct 10, 2019 1598
University lecturers sexually harassing and blackmailing their students. It's a problem which plagues West Africa but it's almost never proven. Until now. This week Assignment teams up with the World Service investigative series, Africa Eye, which sent female journalists posing as students inside a top university in Nigeria to secretly record men who sexually harass and abuse young women. A year-long investigation reveals how lecturers - who can make or break academic careers - groom victims in academic settings; abusing their power to try to get what they want. Sex for grades is described as being so normalised it has become an epidemic, where vast numbers of young women have been harassed and abused.
Presenter: Kiki Mordi
Producer: Jim Frank
Editor: Hugh Levinson
(Image: Presenter - Kiki Mordi. Credit: Charlie Northcott/BBC)
Translating for mum and dad
Oct 9, 2019 1636
Across the UK, in supermarkets, hospitals, council houses and solicitors’ offices, children and young people are doing vital unpaid work: interpreting for their parents. Psychologist and former child migrant Humera Iqbal takes us inside the lives of Britain’s young translators as they try to make the most of their childhood and teenage years while shouldering adult responsibilities – from dealing with the landlord to taking mum for a smear test.
Passport to paradise
Oct 8, 2019 1636
Citizenship is changing; and half the world’s governments are making money through citizenship schemes. In Vanuatu, a tiny Pacific Island Nation, a blossoming and controversial passport scheme is in place. Vanuatu’s government says it needs the revenue to boost the weak economy, but many are asking why the money from passport sales does not seem to have trickled down, while growing Chinese influence in the region is becoming a common cause of concern.
Undercover with the clerics: Iraq’s secret sex trade
Oct 3, 2019 1588
Muslim men and women are forbidden to sleep together outside marriage, but in Iraq, it’s possible for men to find a way round this obstacle to sexual freedom through a deeply controversial custom. So-called 'pleasure marriages' allow time-limited wedlock, sometimes for as little as half an hour, and with no commitment whatsoever. The practice is illegal, though some Shi’a clerics nevertheless claim it is permitted under Sharia, and offer to oversee pleasure marriages in return for payment.
As Nawal al-Maghafi of BBC Arabic discovers in this disturbing story, the clerics’ lucrative business comes at enormous personal cost to many women, who are often tricked and coerced into marrying, only to be dumped shortly afterwards. Worse, their life-chances and even their lives are put at risk, because virginity is a prerequisite for proper marriage. Using undercover reporting and secret recording, the programme also finds clerics willing to supply women for sex, and even to officiate for men who want to have sex with children.
How to buy your own country
Oct 1, 2019 1667
Citizenship is changing; and half the world’s governments are making money through citizenship schemes. We investigate the booming trade in passports, and in a rare interview with the boss of the world’s biggest citizenship brokerage, we hear how easy it can be to get a second – or third – passport, for the right price.
America's child brides
Sep 29, 2019 3065
A tense debate is taking place in states across America. At what age should someone be allowed to marry? Currently in 48 out of 50 states a child can marry, usually with parental consent or a judge's discretion. In 17 states there is no minimum age, meaning in theory, a two year old could marry. But there is a campaign to change the law and raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 without exceptions across all American states.
Chile’s Stolen Babies
Sep 26, 2019 1622
A Chilean man - adopted at birth and sent overseas - searches for the mother forced to give him up. He is among thousands now finding out the truth about their past. Many mothers were pressurised into giving up their children during General Pinochet’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and 80s. A government investigation is gathering evidence from judges, socials workers, medical staff and nuns who are all thought to be involved. Families are meeting after decades. And mothers are being reunited with children they were told were dead. (Image Mans Backman. Credit: Family photo)
The imam and the artist
Sep 24, 2019 1684
On 27 September 1969, Imam Abdullah Haron – an outspoken Muslim cleric in South Africa – died in police detention. Abdullah Haron was the only Muslim cleric in Cape Town who used his sermons to speak out against apartheid policies and laws. His family do not accept the official conclusion that he fell down the stairs. And, to mark 50 years of his death, they want the government to commission a new inquest, which they say will uncover torture and murder. At the centre of the family’s renewed push for justice will be a series of artworks by visual artist Haroon Gunn-Salie.
World War Two: The economic battle
Sep 22, 2019 3021
The story of World War Two is usually told in terms of heroism on the battlefield, but perhaps the most important struggle was the economic battle. Across the world countries were fighting to feed their populations, maximise production from their factories and fund their armies. To mark the 80th anniversary of the start of World War Two, economist Duncan Weldon examines how the economies of the European powers, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Soviet Union, set the scene for the conduct of the war in 1939 and 1940.
The bitter song of the hazelnut
Sep 19, 2019 1588
Every August tens of thousands of Kurdish migrant workers, including children, toil long hours for a pittance in the mountains of northern Turkey picking hazelnuts for the spreads and chocolate bars the world adores. Turkey provides 70% of all hazelnut supplies – and the biggest buyer is Ferrero, maker of Nutella and Kinder Bueno. The confectionery giant says it’s committed to ethical sourcing, and aiming for its hazelnuts to be 100% traceable next year. But how is that possible in Turkey, with its half a million tiny family orchards, where child labour is rife? Tim Whewell investigates Ferrero’s complex supply chain and finds that while hazelnuts are celebrated in Turkish culture and song, it’s a sector where workers and farmers feel increasingly unhappy and reform is very hard to achieve.
(Image: Hazelnut picker on Turkey’s Black Sea coast. Credit: Reyan Tuvi)
Living with leprosy
Sep 17, 2019 1600
When Aleks Krotoski was six years old she lived in a world surrounded by people with leprosy, or Hansen's Disease as it's officially known. Both her dad and step mum worked at the US's last leper home, the National Hansen's Disease Centre in Carville Louisiana, tucked away in a bend of the mighty Mississippi. Today she makes a return journey to find out if the stigma of leprosy still exists and how the disease is being treated.
The Sunscreen Song: The class of '99
Sep 15, 2019 2970
Twenty years ago the music track, Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) became a global hit. It featured a wise-sounding man giving a graduation-style speech addressed to the Class of ‘99, set to an uplifting backing track. It was the work of Australian filmdirector Baz Luhrmann, using music from his film Romeo and Juliet. But those facts do not tell the whole story. Far from it. In this programme Lee Perry (the wise-sounding man himself) tells the strange story of The Sunscreen Song; who really wrote the words, how Baz Luhrmann came to them – and why the song made such a deep and lasting impression on so many people.
Colombia’s kamikaze cyclists
Sep 12, 2019 1597
Precipitous mountain roads, specially-modified bikes, and deadly consequences. Simon Maybin spends time with the young men who race down the steep roads of Colombia’s second city Medellin. Marlon is 16 and he’s a gravitoso - a gravity biker. He hooks onto the back of lorries or buses climbing the precipitous roads to reach high points around the city. Then, he lets gravity do its thing and - without any safety gear - hurtles back down the roads, trying to dodge the traffic. This year, two of his friends have died gravity biking and Marlon has had a near-fatal accident. But he’s not quitting. So what drives young men like him to take their lives into their own hands? And what’s being done to stop more deaths?
Presenter/producer: Simon Maybin
(Image: Marlon with his bike ready to ride back down into Medellín. Credit: Simon Maybin/BBC)
Sep 10, 2019 1604
(This programme contains audio effects that may cause discomfort to people living with hearing conditions. There is a modified version of this programme, with quieter effects, on this page https://bbc.in/2TrInga) What does life sound like for someone whose hearing has suddenly changed?
Robert Mugabe, a Life
Sep 6, 2019 1589
Audrey Brown looks back at the life of the former Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, who has died in Singapore aged 95.
Marawi: The story of the Philippines’ Lost City
Sep 5, 2019 1588
Marawi in the southern Philippines is a ghost town. In 2017, it was taken under siege for five months by supporters of Islamic State who wanted to establish a caliphate in the predominantly Muslim city. After a fierce and prolonged battle, the Philippine army regained control – but Marawi was left in ruins. Two years on, reconstruction has barely begun and over 100,000 people are yet to return home. Philippines correspondent Howard Johnson tells the story of Marawi from the siege to the present day, through the eyes of two of its residents: a Muslim who risked his life to save his community and a Catholic priest who was held hostage by extremists.
Producer: Josephine Casserly
(Photo: Marawi's Grand Mosque pockmarked by bullet holes and small artillery fire - in the area that the authorities call the Most Affected Area (MAA) or Ground Zero of the siege of Marawi. Credit: Howard Johnson/BBC)
Detours 5: The last cola in the desert
Sep 4, 2019 1639
A small Costa Rican surfing city is the unexpected final home for people leaving Asia and Africa in search of a better life in the US. Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentary film-maker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna, Diego Maradona), this is the last episode in a five-part series from BBC World Service in collaboration with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Detours takes us off the main roads of our lives, following people who didn’t end up where they expected.
Detours 4: Imran is stateless
Sep 4, 2019 1638
Imran fled violence in Myanmar – now he is in detention on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, with no papers and no idea what will happen to him. Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentary film-maker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna, Diego Maradona), this is the fourth episode in a five-part series from BBC World Service in collaboration with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Detours takes us off the main roads of our lives, following people who didn’t end up where they expected.
Detours 3: Eighteen Greeks a week
Sep 4, 2019 1638
Follow the dead bodies – 18 each week – that travel along the mountain passes in northern Greece for cremation in another country. Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentary film-maker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna, Diego Maradona), this is the third episode in a five-part series from BBC World Service in collaboration with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Detours takes us off the main roads of our lives, following people who didn’t end up where they expected.
Detours 2: Where the homeless elephants go
Sep 4, 2019 1637
Wild elephants surround a village in Assam, India. And they’re hungry. Spend time with the night watch, trying to keep people safe. Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentary film-maker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna, Diego Maradona), this is the second episode in a five-part series from BBC World Service in collaboration with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Detours takes us off the main roads of our lives, following people who didn’t end up where they expected.
Detours 1: Doctor Fake News
Sep 4, 2019 1639
Fake news pays. Medical student Elena ran out of money, so she joined her friends in Veles, North Macedonia, writing fake stories for cash. Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentary film-maker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna, Diego Maradona), this is the first episode in a new five-part series from BBC World Service in collaboration with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Detours takes us off the main roads of our lives, following people who didn’t end up where they expected.
Michelle Bachelet: Chile's first female president
Sep 3, 2019 1640
Michelle Bachelet's father died after being detained and tortured during the first year of General Pinochet's dictatorial rule in Chile. More than 40 years later, Michelle became Chile's first female president. Lyse Doucet hears the story of her remarkable life.
Museum of Lost Objects: The fire that scorched Brazil’s history
Sep 1, 2019 3554
It’s been a year since Brazil’s National Museum burned down in a fire. Not only was its collection one of the most extraordinary in the world, but Brazil’s entire history ran through the museum. On the second floor you could meet the prehistoric skeleton that was the ‘mother’ of all Brazilians; on the third, listen to Amazonian folklore about exploding jaguars; and downstairs, slide into the slippers of a slave king. Now, the only intact artefact on site is a huge iron rock from outer space – the Bendego meteorite.
The National Museum and its precious archive of Brazil’s past may be in ruins, but amongst the ashes there’s a battle to revive it.
Presenter: Kanishk Tharoor
Producer: Maryam Maruf
With thanks to Roberta Fortuna
Picture: Brazil’s National Museum – or Museu Nacional – on fire September, 2018
Credit: Getty Images
Lethal Force in Rio’s Favelas
Aug 29, 2019 1588
Brazil’s party capital, Rio de Janeiro, is witnessing a killing spree. Nothing new there, you might think – it’s long suffered from violent crime. Yet in this case, it’s the police who stand accused of perpetrating much of the bloodshed. The city’s impoverished informal townships - known as favelas - are home to criminal gangs with whom security forces are doing battle on a daily basis, using armoured vehicles, high velocity firearms and even helicopter gunships. This year an average of five people have lost their lives every single day. Many of the dead are not even lawbreakers, but entirely innocent civilians. For Assignment, Hugo Bachega enters Rio’s favelas to meet those who believe the authorities are complicit in extra-judicial assassinations. But as he discovers, the police themselves are both afraid and ill-equipped for their task, while investigatory authorities freely admit that they are incapable of properly investigating suspected illegal killings. What’s more, plenty of people outside the favelas approve of the hardline police tactics, and sympathy for victims is qualified by the pervading fear of crime.
Reporter, Hugo Bachega
Producer, Michael Gallagher
Image: A military policeman takes part in an operation at Cidade de Deus favela in Rio de Janeiro
Credit: MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP/Getty Images
Why Woodstock still matters
Aug 29, 2019 2975
The Woodstock myth is a potent and evocative symbol of the '60s utopian hippie dream – the ultimate example of the unifying power of music, peace and love. To mark the 50th anniversary of one of the festival, this programme explores the impact of the now legendary celebration and why the spirit of Woodstock still carries important social lessons, providing evidence that the power of ordinary people can effect change.
Musicians, artistes and organisers who were there, including John Sebastian, Roger Daltrey, Carlos Santana, Michael Lang, Michael Wadleigh, Arlo Guthrie, David Crosby, Richie Havens, Eddie Kramer and Stephen Stills, explain how the pinnacle of the optimism that they all shared as a generation included 500,000 young people enjoying three days of what was billed as "an Aquarian Exposition". Presenter: Arlo Guthrie
Afghan Star 2: Music, tradition and the Taliban
Aug 28, 2019 1666
The TV talent show Afghan Star has been running for 14 years, and has never been won by a woman singer. This year one of the two finalists is an 18-year-old girl – if she wins, it will be a historic breakthrough for the country. Sahar Zand meets finalist Zahra Elham, who has received death threats for singing on the show, and Afghanistan's most famous woman pop star Aryana Sayeed, a judge in the competition, who is constantly accompanied by an armed guard. She also visits the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, which is defying tradition as well as the Taliban in teaching musical instruments to young women.
Afghan Star is much like any other TV talent show – except that its context is a war zone. The studios are guarded by bomb-proof gates and snipers, and the participants arrive by armoured vehicle. It is watched by millions throughout the country – and has led the way in a resurgence of music in Afghanistan despite constant threats.
Maria Ressa: The Filipino-American journalist combating fake news
Aug 27, 2019 1664
Maria Ressa, the Filipino-American journalist and author was included in Time's Person of the Year 2018 as one of a collection of journalists from around the world combating fake news. Earlier this year she was arrested for "cyber libel" amid accusations of corporate tax evasion. As an outspoken critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, her arrest was seen by the international community as a politically motivated act by the government.
My very extended family
Aug 24, 2019 3031
Two years ago Julia, a high school student from Ohio, received an email from a woman in New York she had never met, claiming that her daughter and Julia shared the same biological father. The phone call that followed changed her life forever, as she discovered that she had not only one half-sibling, but more than she could ever have anticipated.
Julia grew up with her two mums Betsy and Kathleen and her adopted sister Sarah. She always knew she was donor conceived – what she never expected was to discover more than 20 donor half siblings. Julia tells us her own story as she prepares to meet some of her siblings for the very first time
Romania's killer roads
Aug 22, 2019 1845
Everybody in Romania knows someone who has died in a road accident. The country has the highest road death rate in the European Union – twice the EU average and more than three times that in the UK. A young businessman, Stefan Mandachi, has built a metre long stretch of motorway near his home in the rural north-east of the country, as a visual protest against political inaction and corruption. For Assignment,Tessa Dunlop travels to one of Romania’s poorest regions, Moldova, to meet this new champion of road safety, and the families who have paid the highest price for the country’s poor transport networks. Producer, John Murphy (Image: In Romania horse and carts share the roads with fast moving cars – not always happily. Credit : BBC/John Murphy)
Afghan Star 1: A TV talent show
Aug 21, 2019 1652
Sahar Zand is in Kabul for the finals of Afghan Star, a TV talent show that is on the front line of the fight to keep music alive in Afghanistan, following the years of the Taliban regime, when music was banned. She hears from a singer who has been targeted by extremists, meets one of the Taliban’s senior figures to explore the reasons behind the cultural conflict, and follows the votes as the TV audience chooses between the two young finalists. Afghan Star is much like any other TV talent show – except that its context is a war zone.
Her Story 2: Betty Bigombe, Ugandan peace negotiator
Aug 20, 2019 1649
Betty Bigombe spent much of her career trying to negotiate peace with the notorious warlord Joseph Kony. She was born in northern Uganda as one of 11 children. Betty focused on her education from an early age. She won a fellowship at Harvard where she received an MA in Public Administration. On returning to Uganda, she was asked by the newly-installed president to go back to the north of the country, where she grew, up to try and stop the war raging there. The only way to do that was to convince Joseph Kony to engage in peace talks.
Barbuda: Storms, recovery and ‘land grabs’
Aug 15, 2019 1641
Who will shape the future of the hurricane-hit, tropical isle of Barbuda? In 2017, category-5 hurricane Irma devastated much of Barbuda’s ‘paradise’ landscape, and its infrastructure. The national government – based on the larger, neighbouring island of Antigua – evacuated the population of some 1800 people. But within days, although the people weren’t allowed to return, bulldozers were clearing ancient forest to build an international airport. Critics called this another case of, ‘disaster capitalism’ – governments and business taking advantage of catastrophe to make a profit.
Barbuda has long been viewed as ripe for more tourism – Hollywood actor Robert De Niro is part of a commercial enterprise working on the opening of an exclusive resort. One of the obstacles to widespread development has been the island’s unique system of tenure – all land has been held in common since the emancipation of Barbuda’s slave population in the 19th century. But last year the government repealed the law guaranteeing those communal rights, partly to attract investment to the island. Meanwhile, although the hurricane season began on June 1st, families are still living in tents.
(Image:The remains of a luxury resort on Barbuda reveal the power of hurricane Irma. Credit: BBC/Linda Pressly)
Peterloo: The massacre that changed Britain
Aug 14, 2019 1656
On 16 August 1819, troops charged the crowds in St Peter's Field - 18 people lost their lives and around 700 were injured. Within days, the press were referring to it as "The Peterloo Massacre" after the battle of Waterloo just four years earlier. The events shocked the nation and eventually led to widespread change. Katharine Viner meets descendants of those there that day, she looks at the background and build up, hears graphic accounts of the slaughter, death and injury and examines how the events would revolutionise what was meant by democracy.
Vaira Viķe-Freiberga: The first female president of Latvia
Aug 13, 2019 1656
Vaira Viķe-Freiberga became the first female president of Latvia in 1999, just eight months after returning to the country she left 54 years earlier. A dramatic childhood saw her leave Riga with her family in 1944, aged seven, after the Soviet invasion. After a spell in German refugee camps and some schooling in French Morocco, she and her family moved to Canada when she was 15. After returning to her homeland she became president a mere eight months later.
Genoa's Broken Bridge
Aug 8, 2019 1604
An icon of Italian design; a centrepiece of a community; a tragedy waiting to happen? When the Morandi bridge opened in 1967, it was one of the longest concrete bridges in the world, connecting the port of Genoa with the rest of Italy and Italy with northern Europe. Built during the post-war economic boom, it was the centrepiece of Italy’s plans to modernise its roads and was a proud symbol of the country’s engineering and architectural expertise. But all that came to a tragic end in August last year when a section of the bridge collapsed killing 43 people and leaving 600 people without a home. Helen Grady speaks to people whose lives have been touched by the bridge from the moment it was built to the moment it collapsed. And she asks how such a vital piece of infrastructure, carrying thousands of cars and lorries every day, could be allowed to fail. Producer Alice Gioia (Image: Flowers placed on railings near the collapsed Morandi Bridge in Genoa. Credit: BBC/Alice Gioia)
Black girls don't swim
Aug 6, 2019 1653
Seren Jones swam competitively for 13 years in the UK and in the US collegiate system. But in that time she only ever saw six other black girls in the pool. Why so few? A survey published by the University of Memphis and USA Swimming found that black respondents were significantly more concerned about getting their hair wet, and about the negative impact of chemicals on their appearances, than white respondents. Seren explores whether maintaining ‘good’ hair really is the leading factor behind why black women do not take part in competitive swimming.
America's Hospital Emergency
Aug 1, 2019 1589
A small town goes on life-support after its lone hospital closes. The story of Jamestown, Tennessee, recorded in the emotional hours and days after its 85-bed facility shut. Rural hospitals are closing across the United States, leaving patients dangerously exposed. Can Jamestown buck the trend and reopen? Produced and presented by Neal Razzell.
Image: Montage – 1960s headline announcing hospital opening with sign announcing the 2019 closure of Jamestown Regional Medical Centre.
Credit: BBC/Neal Razzell
The spy of Raspberry Falls
Jul 30, 2019 1661
Kevin Mallory lived a double life - he helped people on his street with yard work, went to church and showed off his dogs. Yet at home he communicated with Chinese agents through social media and sold them US secrets. Tara McKelvey tells the story of how Mallory was recruited, deployed and eventually caught by the FBI. It is a very human story of a man who thought he had found an answer to his problems only to find himself trapped. We hear about simple mistakes he made which blew his cover. We hear from his neighbours how he disintegrated under the pressure, to the point of beating the dogs he loved.
When Africa meets China
Jul 28, 2019 3055
Everyone knows how China is changing Africa but what is less well known is how Africa is changing China. Linda Yueh uncovers the growing number of African’s who are moving to work and live in China. She investigates problems some African’s are having obtaining Chinese visas, and instances of perceived racism. She also hears success stories of African businessman now employing local Chinese workers and reasons why Africans prefer China over western countries to make their life. But are the Chinese willing to accept living side by side with a new African community keen to explore opportunities in their homeland?
The Spy in Your Pocket
Jul 25, 2019 1589
Anti-obesity campaigners in Mexico, human rights advocates in London, and friends of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi all claim they’ve been targeted by surveillance software normally used by law enforcement to track drug-dealers and terrorists. Assignment reveals compelling evidence that software is being used to track the work of journalists, activists and lawyers around the world. Paul Kenyon investigates the multi-billion pound “lawful surveillance” industry. Sophisticated software can allow hackers to remotely install spyware on their targets’ phones. This gives them access to everything on the devices – including encrypted messages – and even allows them to control the microphone and camera. So what are the options for those who are targeted and is there any way to control the development and use of commercially available software?
Presenter: Paul Kenyon
Producer: Joe Kent
(Image: Electronic eye. Photo credit Valery Brozhinsky\Getty)
Jul 23, 2019 1669
Simon Calder meets speakers of indigenous languages (like Welsh in Britain), of dialects (like Moselfrankish in Germany) and vernaculars (like African-American Vernacular English, in the US). These speakers all use the mainstream language every day, but code-switch to their variants, questioning whether their societies are monolingual. Is there even something sinister and oppressive to the idea of monolingualism?
Music to land on the Moon by
Jul 21, 2019 3041
On the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landings, Beatriz De La Pava researches how real life events are reflected in the lyrics of popular songs, and shows how music can paint a vivid picture of the social, political, economic, and cultural landscape. She plays the music that chronicles the history of the space race, and speaks to the people who knew it, made it and loved it.
Jul 20, 2019 2965
Oliver Mtukudzi was loved by people all over the world for his unique melodies – and by Zimbabweans for the messages of hope contained in his lyrics. There was a huge outpouring of grief when he died on 23 January 2019. His songs spoke out against women who were thrown out of homes when their husbands died, the stigma of HIV/Aids and spoke up for children suffering at the hands of alcoholic, abusive fathers. To the chagrin of some, he steered clear of direct political confrontation with former president Robert Mugabe. But his 2001 song Wasakara, meaning "You Are Too Old", was banned as it was seen as a coded reference to Mugabe. The BBC’s Kim Chakanetsa paints an intimate portrait of one of Africa's musical giants
Jul 18, 2019 1588
With the rise in ethical consumerism, Assignment explores the hidden suffering of tea workers in Africa. Attacked because of their tribal identity, reporter Anna Cavell hears harrowing stories of murder, rape and violence and asks whether more could, or should, have been done to protect them when trouble broke out.
Producer: Nicola Dowling
Reporter: Anna Cavell
Editors: Gail Champion & Andrew Smith
(Photo: Freshly plucked tea leaves. Credit: Getty Creative Stock)
The Superlinguists: Multilingual societies
Jul 16, 2019 1657
What is it like to live in a place where you have to speak several languages to get by? Simon Calder travels to India, where a top university only teaches in English, the one language that the students from all over the country have in common. And he meets people who use four different languages with their friends and family, depending on whom they are talking to. In Luxembourg, it is not so much family, but other situations that require four languages, such as going shopping, watching TV, or school lessons.
The Dyatlov Pass mystery
Jul 14, 2019 3010
In 1959, a group of nine Russian students met a mysterious death in the Ural mountains. Experienced cross-country skiers, their bodies were found scattered around a campsite, their tent cut from the inside, as they seemingly panicked to escape from someone – or something. Sixty years on, Lucy Ash traces their footsteps to try to find out what happened.
Germany’s climate change frontline
Jul 11, 2019 1589
The beautiful Hambacher Forest is disappearing. Over the past four decades, it has been slowly devoured by a voracious coalmine in the German Rhineland. The forest has become a powerful symbol of climate change resistance. Protesters have been staging a last stand to protect the trees. But they have arrived too late to prevent the demolition of two villages that also stand in the way of the mine’s relentless progress.
Manheim has become a ghost village. Most of the 1600 residents have now moved out. Many of the houses have already been pulled down. But a few people still live there against a backdrop of diggers pulling their village apart. Some are sad that the kart track where local boy Michael Schumacher learned to drive is likely to fall victim to the excavators. And many felt threatened last year by the protesters, in hoodies and face masks, when they moved into to occupy empty houses.
Yet the protesters seem to have the German government on their side. It recently commissioned a report, which recommended Germany stop burning coal by 2038 in order to meet emissions targets. That’s a problem for RWE, the company that owns the mine and nearby power stations. It’s going to keep digging for as long as it can. Tim Mansel joins the protesters for their monthly gathering on the forest edge; meets the villagers who simply want a quiet life, away from the front line; and asks RWE if it will ever stop mining.
(Photo: Protesters defending the Hambacher Forest. Credit: Tim Mansel/BBC)
The Superlinguists: How to learn a language
Jul 9, 2019 1654
Simon Calder asks how to go about acquiring a new tongue. He gets tips from those who know - innovative teachers and polyglots. The answers are surprising. At school, it is repetitive drills, shouted out loud by the whole class, that seem to lodge the grammar and pronunciation in the pupils’ brains. But if you are an adult learning by yourself, then, on the contrary, don’t stress about grammar and pronunciation, there are better, and more fun things to focus on.
Denmark's Migrant Ghettos
Jul 4, 2019 1588
Denmark's efforts to better integrate its migrant population are attracting controversy at home, and abroad. Twenty nine housing districts, known as 'migrant ghettos', are now subject to special measures to tackle crime and unemployment, and encourage greater mixing between migrants and wider Danish society. In the run-up to Denmark's recent landmark election, Sahar Zand travelled to Copenhagen and witnessed immigration shaping the campaign debate, and questioned the country's politicians and migrants about these controversial policies.
(Image: Muslim immigrants cross the street in Copenhagen city centre. Credit: Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
The Superlinguists: The polyglots
Jul 2, 2019 1602
Simon Calder meets people who keep learning new languages not because they have to, but because they want to. What motivates them? Situations like this - an immigrant hotel cleaner who is moved to tears because you speak to her in her native Albanian; A Nepalese Sherpa family that rolls about laughing in disbelief at hearing their foreign guest speak Sherpa. But do polyglots have a different brain from the rest of us? Simon travels to a specialised lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and undergoes a brain-scan himself, to find out.
Interview with the Dalai Lama
Jun 30, 2019 1588
In a wide ranging interview the Dalai Lama talks to the BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan about President Trump and his America First agenda, Brexit, the EU, and China’s relationship with the world. The interview also challenges some of the Buddhist spiritual leader’s more controversial statements and explores his views on the institution of the Dalai Lama.
Training to save the treasures of Iraq - part two
Jun 30, 2019 3066
Shaimaa Khalil is reunited with eight women from Mosul after their training in London. She hears about the work the archaeologists are doing now to assess the damage to Iraq's heritage sites like the iconic Al Nuri mosque and minaret, which Islamic State militants blew up at the end of their occupation. Perhaps the greatest damage of all is to the people of Mosul and their culture. The women share stories of their city and what life was like under IS and now, and the work they hope to do to rebuild both its buildings and its community.
Marching to the coolest beat
Jun 29, 2019 3057
An unlikely pageant takes place every year in the American Rust Belt town of Dayton Ohio. Three hundred teams of high school and college students have made it to the finals of a national competition known as the Colour Guard. In a giant sports arena, they throw, spin, and twirl flags, sabers and wooden rifles. It requires risk, skill, attentive teamwork, dramatic storylines and soundtracks. The subjects of performances this year ranged from the death of a pet to tornados to women in rock music history to bullying. Each group has about seven minutes to impress the judges. The competitors have practised for six months. Many travel across America in buses. Most come from small towns and the activity is not well funded by schools. Yet these young people insist that this is the high point of their lives.
Marseille: France’s Crumbling City
Jun 27, 2019 1588
On the 5th November last year, two apartment buildings collapsed in Marseille’s historic centre. Eight people died in a tragedy which has sent shockwaves through France’s second city, and the country.
The accident shed light on something that residents have been saying for years: Marseille’s city centre is falling apart. After decades of neglect by slum landlords, the poor, multi-ethnic area in the heart of the city is in a desperate state of disrepair. In a frantic attempt to avoid further disasters, the local government has evacuated thousands of residents from the area - and hundreds are still staying in hotels.
This tragedy has morphed into a political scandal which is shaken Marseille to the core – and anger at the local authorities is still palpable.
Presenter: Lucy Ash
Producer: Josephine Casserly
(Image: Graffiti in the neighbourhood of Noailles, Marseille. Credit: BBC)
The magic fingers of Rashid Khan
Jun 25, 2019 1692
Rashid Khan was born in Nangarhar in Eastern Afghanistan in 1998 but his early life was spent in a refugee camp in Pakistan away from the conflict that has swept across his homeland for decades. He grew up playing cricket with his ten siblings eventually returning to Afghanistan to complete his schooling. And now he is named for the second year running as the leading Twenty20 cricketer in the world. Is Khan really the finest spin bowler on the planet?
A History of Music and Technology: The Future
Jun 24, 2019 3004
Pink Floyd's Nick Mason ends his series by exploring where music technology is heading and discovers how innovation is shaping the way we make, listen and interact with music.
He reveals how artificial intelligence is taking human input out of musical composition and how virtual reality is reshaping the recording studios of tomorrow.
But in an age where everyone can have access to music-making technology, how do you stand out? And has the internet made it too easy to copy what has come before us, rather than create something which is completely brand-new?
Training to save the treasures of Iraq
Jun 23, 2019 3072
For three years Mosul was occupied by the extremist group known as the Islamic State. During the occupation which lasted until July 2017, the group destroyed many important ancient sites with hammers, bulldozers and explosives. Work is now beginning to assess the damage, but in order to undertake this vital work, Iraqi archaeologists are in need of training and equipment. Shaimaa Khalil meets the women in London as they participate in the British Museum’s ‘Iraq Scheme’.
Dying from mistrust in Ukraine
Jun 20, 2019 1588
Until recently, health authorities in developed countries appeared to be well on the way to wiping out measles – a highly contagious disease that’s one of the leading causes of vaccine-preventable deaths, particularly in children. But now measles is on the rise again, and Ukraine is worst-hit. More than 100,000 people have caught the disease since 2017, and 15 have died already this year.
Parents who could have protected their children often failed to do so – mainly because of a mass mistrust of vaccine, spread partly by doctors, including leading medical specialists. Tim Whewell travels to Ukraine to meet bereaved parents and worried health chiefs - and find out why vaccination rates fell so abruptly in just a few years. It’s a story of lack of confidence in the state, inadequate medical training, government complacency and political manipulation that’s had deadly consequences.
(Image: One-year-old girl being given a measles vaccine shot in Kiev health clinic, 2019. Credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Vaccination: The global picture
Jun 19, 2019 3022
The Wellcome Trust reveals how attitudes towards vaccinations vary around the world in its Global Monitor. The most vaccine-sceptical country is France – because of scares around vaccines. In neighbouring Germany one state has approved plans to make vaccinations compulsory because of low rates. But in Madagascar where more than 1200 children have died since last autumn from measles, parents walk for miles to have their children inoculated. What can be done to persuade people to vaccinate?
Jun 18, 2019 1689
Despite the political uncertainty in the UK at the moment the country’s reputation for top-class education, if you can afford it, is still on the rise. Liyang Liu meets two very different school children who have travelled thousands of miles to go to private boarding school in the UK. Recorded over six months she finds out what happens when they get there.
A History of Music and Technology: The Studio Part 2
Jun 18, 2019 3017
Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason continues the story of the recording studio, exploring how bands such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys brought avant-garde production techniques into the mainstream during the 1960s.
The programme also charts the role jazz and dub reggae played in advancing studio production, and how increasingly sophisticated studio technology slowed down the recording process.
But the advent of portable tape recorders – and then digital technology - saw the studio begin to shrink in size, while at the same time expanding access to the recording process.
With it came a boom in in alternative music which was previously ignored by the major record labels, and bedroom producers making music on home computers kick-started an explosion in electronic dance music.
Today, digital studio technology has become so sophisticated that it can help even the shakiest of singers deliver the perfect performance.
The series is produced in association with the Open University.
A History of Music and Technology: The Studio Part 1
Jun 18, 2019 3034
The recording studio has changed dramatically since the advent of sound recording - as has our understanding of the ‘perfect take’.
In the first of two programmes about the history of the studio, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason explores the limitations of the acoustic era, and how the switch to electrical recording ushered in the age of more intimate recording, giving rise to the superstar crooner.
We look at the how, after World War 2, a boom in independent recording studios run by army-trained communications engineers helped to drive the birth of rock n roll, and how technology developed during the war made it possible for musicians to start recording music that was physically impossible to play, using techniques pioneered by a man better known for his guitars – Les Paul.
The series is produced in association with the Open University.
A History of Music and Technology: Samplers and Drum Machines
Jun 18, 2019 3028
Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason explores how samplers and drum machines created new musical genres.
During the 1980s, samplers and drum machines fuelled a new wave of music from hip hop to house to techno.
In this programme we hear from the inventors behind this landmark technology and reveal how it first found traction with millionaire rock stars, rather than hip young DJs, due to its huge expense.
We learn how cheaper Japanese products – first deemed a commercial flop - were then re-discovered, re-used and abused by dance floor innovators who created new musical genres which could never have existed without this technology.
A History of Music and Technology: The Synthesizer
Jun 18, 2019 3011
The first synthesizer was so big, it filled an entire room, but during the 1960s inventors built downsized machines which would go on to revolutionise pop music.
Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason charts the work of synth pioneers Bob Moog, Don Buchla and Dave Smith in the story of one of the most influential electronic instrument of all time.
We learn how the synth came to sing with multiple voices, and how Japanese giants came to dominate the market - but arguably at a cost to creativity.
A History of Music and Technology: The Hammond Organ
Jun 18, 2019 2991
Pink Floyd's Nick Mason tells the story of Laurens Hammond and the musical legacy of the instrument which bears his name.
The Hammond Organ is arguably the first mass-market electronic instrument and in this episode we head to the heart of the Hammond Organ story: Chicago.
One of the most familiar and versatile instruments to emerge in the 20th Century, the Hammond Organ’s reach ranges from the gospel of African-American churches, to jazz and reggae, to the swirling sound of progressive rock.
The series is produced in association with the Open University.
A History of Music and Technology: The Electric Guitar
Jun 18, 2019 3000
Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason tells the story of the electric guitar, revealing how a frying pan, a railroad track and the paradise island of Hawaii all played a role in its evolution.
He charts how the desire to get louder fundamentally altered the instrument’s sound - and while it has a reputation for turning men into semi-mythical figures, the programme reveals how women are now playing the lead when it comes to the electric guitar today.
The series is produced in association with the Open University.
A History of Music and Technology: Electronic Music Pioneers
Jun 18, 2019 3036
For centuries music was made by strumming strings, blowing horns and banging drums - but at the turn of the 20th Century, the harnessing of electricity meant artists and inventors could create all-new tones and timbres.
In this programme, Pink Floyd's Nick Mason tells the story of some of electronic music's pioneers - from the eerie sound of the Theremin, to German avant-garde experimentation and the automatic music-making machines of Raymond Scott.
While electronic music might be deemed to be a thoroughly modern genre, we remember its history goes back over a hundred years.
The series is produced in association with the Open University.
A History of Music and Technology: Sound Recording
Jun 18, 2019 3023
Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason tells the story of how we first captured sound, giving birth to a global recording industry.
While music has advanced in its complexity over the millennia, the means of recording it remained the same: it had to be written down.
It took until the back-half of the 19th Century before credible attempts were made to bottle sound for the first time, and in 1877 Thomas Edison produced the Phonograph.
Over the next century, major advances were made in recording formats, recording duration, and sound quality, from the Gramophone record to the cassette tape to the compact disc.
But as this programme reveals, cost and convenience played a major role in this progress, rather than the quality of technology - sometimes the best inventions didn't win out.
The series is produced in association with the Open University.
Remembering Afghanistan's Elvis
Jun 16, 2019 3032
Ahmad Zahir with his dark shock of hair, sultry voice and overwhelming stage presence more than earned the nickname "The Afghan Elvis". He remains Afghanistan’s most beloved musician even though he died at the age of 33 after a short, dazzling career. Ahmad Zahir was killed in a mysterious car crash in the terrible year of 1979. Monica Whitlock hears a new generation of musicians interpret some Ahmad Zahir classics and explores the life and lasting impact of the "Afghan Elvis".
Morocco’s hash trail to Europe
Jun 13, 2019 1588
In Amsterdam’s cafes, you can buy hashish openly, over the counter. But go around back to see how the drug comes in, and you’ll get a lot of smoke blown in your face. The entire supply chain is illegal. BBC Arabic’s Emir Nader holds his breath and traces it thousands of kilometres back to the mountains of Morocco, where cannabis is grown and processed into bricks of hash. There, he finds farmers in poverty and officials claiming "there is no organised crime" in the country. In between, he joins Spanish police as they knock down doors looking for the drug and meets a former smuggler who explains how for years he eluded Europe’s authorities to bring in millions of dollars’ worth of Moroccan hash.
Producer: Neal Razzell
(Image: Spanish police conduct a series of raids hoping to disrupt hash smuggling from Morocco. Credit: BBC)
Jun 11, 2019 1634
Jacob Rosales, a 20-year-old student at Yale, takes a closer look at some of the varied challenges facing Native American young people today. With alarmingly high rates of alcohol abuse, suicide and unemployment, Jacob delves behind the stats to reveal human stories of both suffering and hope.
Ticket to a new life
Jun 9, 2019 3032
Ana is a winner in the annual Pacific Access Category ballot. It is a visa lottery. Each year, Tonga gets up to 250 places, Fiji the same, and there are up to 75 each for Tuvalu and Kiribati. In a separate draw, 1100 visas are available in the Samoan Quota ballot. But it is not as simple as a ticket to a new life. If you win, you have around 9 months to find a job in New Zealand. And that’s not easy. The system is open to bogus job offers and corruption. And what of those who make it? Many find it hard to make the transition. And the ballot itself: is the system fair?
Praying for petrol
Jun 8, 2019 2963
In a country infamous for its drug cartels, Mexico has another booming black market - petrol. Starting out as just a few individuals tapping lines to sell to their local communities, petrol theft has now attracted the heavyweights of organised crime who see the appeal in peddling a product that is used by more of the population, and that does not even need to cross a border to be sold. Yet, as the government and gas company Pemex race to find a way to stop the fuel thieves, known throughout Mexico as huachicoleros, there is more evolving than confrontation.
Turkey’s political football
Jun 6, 2019 1622
Football in Turkey's biggest city always means colour, passion and noise, but this season has an added edge. The big three Istanbul clubs, which have generally had a vice-like grip on the Super Lig crown are this year facing a new challenger, another city club, Basaksehir. This club has been assembled with international stars thanks to the money of close business associates of the President Erdogan himself. The political symbolism of the title race has not been lost on many football fans in Istanbul, especially as the city prepares for a controversial re-run of Istanbul's Mayoral election in late June. Judges have just overturned the declared victory of an opposition candidate, thanks to ill-specified irregularities. There have been public protests over that decision. But then as President Erdogan often says: "He who wins Istanbul, wins Turkey". How has the rivalry on the football field reflected the political division of the city and the country?
Reporter/producer: Ed Butler
(Image: Fans at a Galatasaray home match, May 2019. Credit: Reuters/Murad Sezer)
Don't hide my son
Jun 4, 2019 1633
The Tanzanian mothers forced to hide their children with Down syndrome due to social stigma and their defiant determination to change this.
Sudan’s white-coated uprising
May 30, 2019 1602
Sudan’s doctors on the frontline. When ongoing street protests finally pushed Sudan’s repressive president from power last month, it was the country’s doctors many thanked. Ever since Omar al-Bashir’s successful coup in 1989 they had defied him. Staging strikes, organising demonstrations, and campaigning for human rights, the country’s white-coated men and women opposed all he stood for. In the last few months alone scores of them were jailed, beaten, tortured and some deliberately gunned down. Through the eyes of a murdered medic’s family, Mike Thomson looks at the extraordinary role these unlikely revolutionaries have played in Sudan’s uprising.
Produced by Bob Howard
(Image:Sudanese doctors protesting in Khartoum. Credit: Mike Thomson/BBC)
After the boats
May 29, 2019 1660
During the migrant crisis, thousands of Nigerian women were trafficked into Italy for sexual exploitation. In 2016 alone, 11,000 made the perilous journey through lawless Libya and then in flimsy boats across the Mediterranean. Naomi Grimley asks what became of them when they got to Europe.
Beyond Borders: Seeking safety
May 26, 2019 3076
For over five years, British-Lebanese journalist Zahra Mackaoui has been following the stories of a group of Syrians, who have scattered across the world in search of safety. She originally met and interviewed them in the early years of the long-running civil war in Syria.
Zahra travels to rural Sweden to meet Doaa Al-Zamel, who survived the sinking of a boat in the Mediterranean by floating on an inflatable ring. Her story has now been optioned for a film by Steven Spielberg. Also in Europe, Fewaz and his family have found refuge near Bremen – and though he is grateful for Germany’s hospitality, he is finding it difficult to integrate. She ends the series with Faysal, who escaped to Turkey before returning to his home city of Kobani in Syria. The war there has finished but danger remains – and he himself was critically wounded.
(Photo: Doaa al-Zamel. Credit: Elena Dorfman, Archive: UNHCR)
Amar: Alone in the world
May 25, 2019 2976
He was known as “the little boy who lost everything”. In 1991, Amar Kanim’s disfigured face was shown on newspaper front pages around the world, an innocent young victim of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime. His entire family, it was reported, had died in a napalm attack. The British politician Emma Nicholson found him “alone in the world” during a visit to an aid camp. She took him to the UK. He was, the world assumed, an orphan. So who was the woman claiming he is her son?
The undercover migrant
May 23, 2019 1597
The extraordinary story of an undercover migrant and his ‘secret spectacles’.
When Azeteng, a young man from rural Ghana, heard stories on the radio of West African migrants dying on their way to Europe, he felt compelled to act. He took what little savings he had and bought glasses with a hidden camera – his ‘secret spectacles.’
Then he put himself in the hands of people smugglers and travelled 3,000 miles on the desert migrant trail north, aiming to document the crimes of the traffickers. Along the way he saw extortion, slavery, and death in the vast stretches of the Sahara.
For Assignment, reporter Joel Gunter tells the story of his journey – a journey that thousands of young Africans like him attempt each year.
Producer, Josephine Casserly
(Image: Azeteng's secret spectacles. Credit: BBC, taken by Joel Gunter)
Robots on the road
May 21, 2019 1597
The world’s biggest car makers and technology companies are investing billions of dollars in autonomous vehicles. They believe it is just a few years before computers with high-tech sensors do the driving for us, filling our roads with robot cars ferrying human passengers from A to B. But is a driverless future really just around the corner?
Bonus: 13 Minutes to the Moon
May 20, 2019 325
Introducing the new podcast about how humans reached the moon. Theme music by Hans Zimmer.
Search for 13 Minutes to the Moon or go to www.bbcworldservice.com/13Minutes
Beyond Borders: Seeking Safety
May 19, 2019 3098
The Syrian war has created one of the largest human displacements in history – with millions of people on the move seeking safety. For over five years, British-Lebanese journalist Zahra Mackaoui has been following the stories of a group of Syrians, who have scattered across the world in search of safety. She hears about the challenges they have faced, the choices they have made and how they have managed to survive and on occasion, to thrive.
Me, the refugee
May 19, 2019 3105
What is it like to be taken away from your childhood home, to be brought to a strange new country where you are locked away? That is what happened to reporter Sahar Zand when she became a refugee from her home country of Iran at the age of 12. She had to leave with her mother and sister after her father got into political trouble with the regime. Sahar explores the complex and often painful role reversals, deceptions and sacrifices that the three of them experienced during those often desperate days.
Bolivia’s Mennonites, Justice and Renewal
May 16, 2019 1654
In 2009, Mennonite women in a far-flung Bolivian colony reported mass rape. Now leaders of this insular, Christian community with its roots in Europe are campaigning to free the convicted men. More than 100 women and children were attacked in the colony of Manitoba, and their courage in telling their stories secured penalties of 25 years for the rapists. But within Mennonite circles, doubts continue to be aired about the imprisonment of the men. They too protest their innocence, claiming their initial confessions in Manitoba were forced under threat of torture. The culture of abuse in the old colonies – physical and sexual – has often been commented on. And it’s partly this that gave the impetus for the foundation of one of Bolivia’s newest Mennonite communities. Hacienda Verde has been hacked out of virgin forest, and is home to 45 families. These are people who were ex-communicated in their old colony homes, often because they would not live by the harsh rules of conservative Mennonites – rules that govern every facet of life, from the clothes and hairstyles that are allowed, to the rejection of any kind of technology.
Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly
(Photo: Bolivia Mennonite colony, Belice, Girl at school. Photo Credit: @jordibusque)
Slavery's untold story
May 14, 2019 1715
In Oklahoma, Tayo Popoola discovers the story of the slaves owned by the Cherokee Indian tribe. Since the emancipation of the slaves in the 19th Century, there has been an often uneasy relationship between the so called “Freedmen” and their former masters, both racial minorities with long histories of persecution in the US. In 2017 the Freedmen won a long battle to be admitted as full members of the Cherokee tribe.
May 12, 2019 3039
This is the flipside of migration. Migrants make headlines all the time, but what about those they leave behind? The so-called ‘motherless villages’ of Indonesia; rural Senegal where not enough men are left to work the fields and the Guatemalan parents who risk their children’s lives, sending them on the perilous journey to the US. Stories of deserted families and communities, revealing the bigger picture of the country that has been abandoned.
Guyana - bracing for the oil boom
May 8, 2019 1594
South America’s second poorest nation is about to get very rich - but will the prosperity be shared? A series of oil discoveries in Guyanese waters has revealed almost unimaginable riches beneath the seabed; enough oil to catapult Guyana to the top of the continent’s rich list. Next year, the oil - and cash - is due to start flowing. The major new industry could help solve two of Guyana’s big problems: high youth unemployment and the emigration of most of its graduates. But as young Guyanese prepare for a future in oil and dream of lives transformed, some fear the so-called oil curse will see a corrupt elite squander and steal the country’s newfound wealth. Presenter/producer: Simon Maybin (Photo: Kiwana Baker, right, hopes that a career in oil will give her opportunities that her mother, Marslyn Pollard, left, never had. Credit: BBC)
The populist curtain: Austria and Italy
May 8, 2019 1647
Political scientist Yascha Mounk travels through countries which were on the West of the former Iron Curtain. Graz in Austria is the birthplace of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Here, populists have been brought into the fold – with the coalition between the centre-right Austrian People's Party and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria running the country. His journey ends in Italy where a peculiar coalition between the Five Star and Lega parties is accused of attacking minorities and immigrants.
When the things start to talk
May 7, 2019 1650
The internet of things, devices that communicate with each other across networks are becoming increasingly part of everyday life – controlling the heating systems in our houses, or entertainment provided by voice activated assistants. What is the potential, and what are the potential pitfalls, of living in this world of ‘things’ which talk to each other, as well as to us? Are we just beginning to understand the broader implications of what happens when the ‘things’ start to talk?
May 2, 2019 1614
It’s over two years since the authorities in France closed down the Jungle, the large migrant camp in Calais on the French coast. At its height more than 9,000 people from around the world lived in the camp while attempting to make it across to the UK, often hiding in the back of lorries or packed into small boats. It was hoped the camp's closure would stem the number of people risking their lives to try to get to Britain. But has it worked? In December, Britain’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, declared the number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel in boats a 'major incident' and since then more than 100 people have been picked up in 2019. For Assignment, Paul Kenyon investigates the British gangs making big money and risking migrants' lives smuggling them across the Channel and reports on the attempts to break up their networks.
Reporter: Paul Kenyon
Producer: Ben Robinson
(Image: An aerial photo shows a boat carrying stranded migrants. Credit: MARCOS MORENO/AFP/Getty Images)
The Populist Curtain: Poland and Hungary
May 1, 2019 1627
Political scientist Yascha Mounk travels from Szczecin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, the route of the former "Iron Curtain" and finds out what is changing under the new populist governments that been elected. He begins in the north in the Polish city of Szczecin (Stettin) – where Solidarity was originally created. Today the PIS party governs the country, with its appeal to traditional religious values and social conservatism. Critics say it is attacking independent institutions, especially the judiciary. He then heads on to Sopron, Hungary. Here Victor Orban’s Fidesz party is accused of attacking civil society and the freedom of the press in his pursuit of an “illiberal democracy” – but there are forces fighting back locally.
Dark fibres and the frozen north
Apr 30, 2019 1614
If data is the new oil, are data centres the new oil rigs? Far into the north of Norway are some of the biggest data centres in the world. As a more internet enabled future, with AI and the internet of things, becomes reality – data more than ever needs a physical home. Inside a former mineral mine lies a huge data mine, next to a deep fjord, and the data is pinged back and forth across the globe. But the Sami, the traditional people of the region, have found traditional lands in some parts spoiled by huge hydroelectric dams.
Flat 113 at Grenfell Tower
Apr 28, 2019 3006
On 14 June 2017, a fire broke out in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of flats in West London; it caused 72 deaths and more than 70 others were injured and 223 people escaped. On the fourteenth floor of Grenfell Tower, firefighters moved eight residents into one flat – 113. Only four would survive. Piecing together evidence from phase one of the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry, Katie Razzell tries to understand what went wrong that night in flat 113.
Bangladesh versus Yaba
Apr 25, 2019 1655
Thousands of Bangladeshi addicts are hooked on Yaba - a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine. It's a powerful drug that gives big bangs for small bucks. The Yaba epidemic has ripped through the population of Bangladesh, urban and rural, poor, middle-class and rich. This is a drug that's manufactured in industrial quantities in the jungles of neighbouring Myanmar. As the economy of Bangladesh has boomed, drug lords have worked to create new markets for their product. And the Rohingya crisis - when nearly a million fled Myanmar for Bangladesh - has created further opportunities for the traffickers, as desperate refugees have been employed as drug mules. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, declared a 'war on drugs' last May. Thousands have been arrested. But critics see a disturbing trend - hundreds of suspected Yaba dealers have been killed by law enforcement.
Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly with Morshed Ali Khan
(Image: Yaba pills being held by a drug-user. Credit: Ye Aung THU / AFP)
Apr 24, 2019 1624
From a US president who is turning the world upside down – with a relish for dismantling global agreements – the message is clear: it’s America first. But where does that leave old European allies? Few expect the transatlantic relationship to go back to where it was before Trump. Europe, says Angela Merkel, now has to shape its own destiny. James Naughtie explores the uncertain future for America's friends.
South Africa's Born Frees at 25
Apr 23, 2019 1626
There's a generation in South Africa who are known as the Born Frees. They were born in 1994, the year of the elections in which black citizens were allowed to vote for the first time.
The Born Frees are 25 years old now – graduating from universities, getting established in their careers, or still living in enduring poverty, which has reduced since 1994 but is still profound. The government estimates that 13 million South Africans still live in what they call 'extreme poverty.' This is a major disappointment to many who queued for hours to vote in the 1994 election which brought Nelson Mandela to power. Despite spending twenty-seven years in an Apartheid gaol, Mandela was dedicated to creating a 'rainbow nation', with dignity and opportunity for everyone, regardless of race.
BBC correspondent Hugh Sykes has visited South Africa regularly since 1994, and in this programme he tells us about the politics of the country, education, corruption and poverty.
10, 9, 8, 7
Apr 21, 2019 2994
Taking place over just eight months, four perilous and eventful space missions laid the foundations for a successful Moon landing. Each pushed the boundaries of technology and revealed new insights into our own planet. As we count down to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, astronaut Nicole Stott tells the story of the build-up to mankind’s giant leap.
Restoring Brazil's National Treasure
Apr 18, 2019 1588
Brazilians wept when their 200-year-old National Museum went up in flames last September. Twenty million items, many of them irreplaceable, were thought to have been reduced to ash when it was gutted by a massive fire. Staff said the loss to science and history was incalculable - and the tragedy, possibly caused by faulty wiring in the long-underfunded institution, led to much national heart-searching about the country's commitment to its heritage. The museum, housed in Brazil's former Imperial Palace in Rio de Janeiro, held unique collections of fossils, animal specimens, indigenous artefacts, as well as Egyptian and Greek treasures - and the oldest human skull found in the Americas. Some scientists, who saw their entire life's work go up in flames, were in despair - but others vowed to work to rebuild and restock the museum. Now, months on, painstaking archaeological work in the debris has uncovered items that can be restored, while other specialists are setting out on expeditions to acquire new specimens. Tim Whewell reports from Rio on the agonies - and occasional small triumphs - of the slow, exhausting effort to bring a great national institution back to life.
(Image: A Brazilian firefighter attempts to extinguish flames during a fire at the National Museum of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Sept 2018. Credit: Getty Images)
Snooker: Young, cool and Chinese
Apr 16, 2019 1567
Once a game associated with the backrooms of British pubs, snooker is now a global sport, with most of its growth coming from China. Seven-time world snooker champion Stephen Hendry presents this exploration into how snooker became so popular in China, and why its future is looking young, cool and Chinese.
Apr 14, 2019 3029
As the 2019 Indian election campaign kicks off, BBC World Service follows journalists from the daily Mumbai Mirror newspaper to get under the skin of the stories that matter to Mumbaikers. From daily editorial meetings to exclusive investigations, this ‘fly-on-the-wall’ radio documentary offers insight into how a newspaper covers the life and news of India’s largest city.
New York City’s pirates of the air
Apr 13, 2019 3042
As the workday winds down across New York, you can tune in to a clandestine world of unlicensed radio stations; a cacophonous sonic wonder of the city. As listeners begin to arrive home, dozens of secret transmitters switch on from rooftops in immigrant enclaves. These stations are often called ‘pirates’ for their practice of commandeering an already licensed frequency.
These rogue stations evade detection and take to the air, blanketing their neighbourhoods with the sounds of ancestral lands blending into a new home. They broadcast music and messages to diverse communities – whether from Latin America or the Caribbean, to born-again Christians and Orthodox Jews.
Reporter David Goren has long followed these stations from his Brooklyn home. He paints an audio portrait of their world, drawn from the culture of the street. Vivid soundscapes emerge from tangled clouds of invisible signals, nurturing immigrant communities struggling for a foothold in the big city.
With thanks to KCRW and the Lost Notes Podcast episode Outlaws of the Airwaves: The Rise of Pirate Radio Station WBAD.
Producer/Presenter: David Goren
Apr 13, 2019 1647
The BBC’s parliamentary correspondent Mark D’Arcy reviews the bizarre twists and turns of the extraordinary and chaotic past few weeks of debates and voting on Brexit in the British Parliament, from the record-breaking defeat for the government to the crucial vote prevented by procedural rules dating from 1604. And he examines the role played by the personalities of the controversial characters in this drama, including prime minister Theresa May and the House of Commons speaker John Bercow.
Poland's Partisan Ghosts
Apr 11, 2019 1595
For some in Poland the Cursed Soldiers are national heroes; for others they are murderers. A march in celebration of a group of Polish partisans fighting the Soviets has become the focus of tension in a small community in one of Europe’s oldest forests. Those taking part believe the partisans – known as the Cursed Soldiers – were national heroes, but others remember atrocities committed by them 70 years ago. Some partisans were responsible for the burning of villages and the murder of men, women and children in and around Poland’s Bialowieza forest. The people living the forest are Orthodox and Catholic, Belorussian and Polish; this march threatens to revive past divisions between them. Many believe that far-right groups have hijacked this piece of history to further their nationalist agenda. For Assignment, Maria Margaronis visits the forest to find out why this is causing tensions now; why the locals feel the march is making them feel threatened; and how this reflects wider political rifts in Poland today.
Produced by Charlotte McDonald.
(Image: March through the town of Hajnowka to celebrate the Polish partisans known as the Cursed Soldiers. Copyright: BBC)
India's forbidden love
Apr 9, 2019 1647
At a time when religious extremism and honour killings have been dominating the political and social discourse, we take a look at the issues surrounding marriages between inter-faith and inter-caste couples ahead of India’s parliamentary elections. Divya Arya, the BBC’s Women’s Affairs journalist in India tells the story of couples who have fled their homes and communities in fear of their lives in the name of love.
Will AI kill development?
Apr 6, 2019 3035
Ian Goldin asks if robotisation will prevent poorer countries taking the traditional route to prosperity. Since World War Two, nation after nation has more or less followed the same growth path. As the workforce has moved away from farming, they have created low-skilled industrial jobs, utilising their advantage of cheap labour. Gradually they have moved up the value chain, producing more and more sophisticated goods, before moving towards a service economy. But robots can now can replace even a low-paid factory workforce. So what does that mean for countries still struggling near the bottom of the development ladder?
Nepal Fights Foreign Paedophiles
Apr 4, 2019 1612
Hunting western paedophiles is a priority for a new police unit tasked with safeguarding children in Nepal.
Mired in poverty and still recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2015, Nepal is increasingly being targeted by foreign paedophiles who recommend it as a destination when they share child abuse tips on the dark web.
In recent years a series of western men have been charged with raping or sexually assaulting Nepali boys.
Jill McGivering follows the under-resourced police unit, hears the stories of victims and perpetrators and examines what makes Nepal so vulnerable to abuse by western men.
This programme contains descriptions of child sexual abuse which some listeners may find distressing.
Producer: Caroline Finnigan
(Photo: Nepalese children play in Kathmandu. Credit: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
Will China and America go to war?
Apr 3, 2019 1652
Will the growing competition between China and the United States inevitably lead to military conflict?
One leading American academic created huge attention when in 2017 when he posed the idea of what he called a "Thucydides Trap". Drawing on the work of the ancient Greek historian, he warned that when a rising power (Sparta) threatens an existing power (Athens) they are destined to clash, unless both countries change their policies. He warned that the same pattern could play out with the US and China.
Since then, President Trump has engaged in combative rhetoric over trade, while China has fast been modernising and upgrading its military.
BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Jonathan Marcus considers whether Washington and Beijing can escape the trap, or whether the growing economic, strategic and technological rivalry between the two nations will inevitably end in conflict.
(Photo: US and Chinese freight containers crash into each other. Credit: Getty Images)
Not #MeToo, I'm French
Apr 2, 2019 1647
In 2016 when #MeToo spread around the world, thousands of women followed in France using the hashtag #balancetonporc (expose your pig). Some criticised the aggressive wording of the hashtag itself, others didn’t agree with the call to name perpetrators. Why was #MeToo so controversial in France? Was it lost in translation?
Unrest in Ukraine’s Little Hungary
Mar 28, 2019 1603
Eastern Ukraine has been under assault from Russian backed rebel forces for the past five years, but few have heard of a smaller conflict, which could be brewing in the west of the country, between Ukraine and Hungary. Some have accused the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban of trying to create a breakaway state in impoverished Transcarpathia, once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Ukraine and Hungary both expelled diplomats from each other’s nations, following a row over passports and a Hungarian cultural centre has been repeatedly firebombed. Lucy Ash meets people in the Ukrainian border town of Berehove and investigates whether deepening tensions could destabilise the region and further dash Ukraine’s hopes of being a unified country inside NATO and the EU.
Producer: Josephine Casserly
(Image: Pupil at a Hungarian-language secondary school in Berehove in Western Ukraine walks down a corridor bearing a portrait of Lajos Kossuth, the 19th Century political reformer after whom the school is named. Credit: Balint Bardi)
The Romanian Wave
Mar 27, 2019 1619
Romanians are the second largest foreign nationality in the UK. Why did they come and will they stay? One politician famously once said he "would not like to live next door to Romanians." But now they work in the health service, they teach in British universities, pick fruit on farms and wash cars. Yet sensational headlines have described them as "criminal gangs" and "begging Roma." Tessa Dunlop, a Romania-phile historian, uncovers a misunderstood, multi-layered immigrant community and asks why so many now call Britain home.
Where are you going? - London
Mar 26, 2019 1613
Catherine Carr talks to people on the move in London. From the American who left her young children on the other side of the Atlantic, and the Russian buying Soviet propaganda posters at a tube station, to a ‘born and bred’ Londoner who protests that “we all voted out, we should be out”. With the original date for Brexit just days away, we find out what is really on people’s minds.
Mar 24, 2019 3042
Mariko Oi has young children starting school in Singapore, where robots are increasingly being used in education, and ageing parents back in her home country Japan, where they are now assisting in elderly care. She has some understandable concerns about the future, and is setting off to find out just what these machines are being used for, why we need them, and what they’re really capable of.
The crypto factor: the winners and losers in virtual investment
Mar 21, 2019 1588
You can't take money with you when you die.... or can you? In this episode of Assignment the stranger than fiction story that's the latest cryptocurrency scandal to leave tens of thousands of people out of pocket. The news about QuadrigaCX broke almost to the day that crypto-currencies celebrated a decade in existence. On this anniversary, we investigate the current state of the market and uncover how these sometimes tragic events have unfolded both here in the UK and across the world. With the UK government and other countries now considering attempting to regulate the market, we ask if these scandals could have been prevented and could now be avoided in the future.
Reporter: Paul Connolly
Producer: Kate West
Editor: Gail Champion
(Image: A broken Bitcoin. Credit: Reuters)
India and how it sees Britiain
Mar 20, 2019 1655
Neil MacGregor visits different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain. In India, Neil meets Gaj Singh, the former Maharaja of Jodhpur; Ram Narasimhan, proprietor of The Hindu Newspaper; professor Kavita Singh of Jawaharlal Nehru University; former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar; and the president of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Shobana Kamineni.
Where are you going? - Belfast
Mar 19, 2019 1652
One question – Where are you going? – reveals hidden truths about the lives of strangers around the world. In this new series, with Brexit fast approaching, Catherine Carr talks to people on the move in Cardiff. Are the people she meets downcast, delighted, or disinterested? At a time of political and social upheaval, we find out what is really on their minds
Can you murder a robot?
Mar 17, 2019 3040
A couple of years ago a cute little robot was sent out to hitchhike, to prove how well humans and robots could get on. It was an exercise in trust, and it went very wrong. Hitchbot was found decapitated, slumped next to some bins in Philadelphia. The robot’s head has never been found. Neither has the “killer”. We explore robot torture, and whether there is an ethical issue with harming a machine, other than damage to property.
Abandoned in the Amazon
Mar 14, 2019 1603
When a light aircraft carrying two families from local Indian tribes disappeared over the Amazon recently, relatives scoured the rainforest for weeks, until hunger and illness forced them to give up. Why did the Brazilian authorities ignore appeals for an official, properly-resourced ground search? And why was there no flight plan to indicate where the plane might have gone? Tim Whewell reports on the dangers of flying in the world’s greatest remaining wilderness - where most flights are clandestine – and the fears of indigenous communities that the government is increasingly indifferent to their needs.
(Image: Before the tragedy - Jeziel Barbosa de Moura, pilot of the vanished plane, minutes before he took off on the doomed flight. Credit: Family archive)
Canada and how it sees Britain
Mar 13, 2019 1663
Neil MacGregor visits different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain. In Canada, Neil hears from French-Canadian film director, Denys Arcand; writer and Booker Prize nominee, Madeleine Thien; and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland.
Where are you going? - Cardiff
Mar 12, 2019 1662
Cardiff in early February is freezing cold but the people have a warm welcome. Catherine Carr meets strangers in the city of Cardiff to find out what people here feeling in the weeks before Brexit. What’s on their minds? At a time of such unprecedented political flux, the simple device of her one question - where are you going? - will work to uncover some of that in people's lives.
The Slumlords of Nairobi
Mar 10, 2019 3047
In Nairobi’s slums, more than 90% of residents rent a shack from a slum landlord. These so-called slumlords have a less than shining reputation in the popular media, for exploiting the lives of the some of the poorest people in Kenya. Who are the faceless figures who own hundreds of shacks and make massive tax-free profits? Who is bulldozing whole areas of Kibera and leaving hundreds homeless? BBC reporter Anne Soy investigates.
Mar 7, 2019 1607
How did a priest of the Church of Denmark manage to sexually abuse children for a decade without being detected? Gry Hoffmann investigates the case of Dan Peschack, who is now serving a ten year prison sentence for the abuse of eight children.
Through interviews first recorded for Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s P1 Documentary, she discovers a man who used his charisma and the power of his position in the Evangelical Lutheran state church to seduce children in the village of Tømmerup near Kalundborg on the west coast of Denmark. When Peschack was first arrested in 2016, many of the locals didn’t want to believe it, while others had been carrying a terrible secret for years.
In graphic accounts, which some listeners may find upsetting, victims describe their experience of Peschack’s abuse. One speaks of his shock at discovering the extent of the assaults and of his anger at the betrayal by a man who he thought was his friend. Parents who were suspicious regret their failure to act, while others realise they were duped into trusting their children to a paedophile.
Peschack’s appeal against his sentence has been rejected and he’s been banned from working as a priest, but have lessons been learned by the church authorities, whose priest inflicted on his victims such devastating harm?
Reporter: Gry Hoffmann
Producer: Sheila Cook
Editor: Bridget Harney
(Image: Tommerup town name road-sign with church in background. Credit: Gry Hoffmann)
Nigeria and how it sees Britain
Mar 6, 2019 1668
Neil MacGregor visits different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain. Neil visits Nigeria to meet Nobel Laureate for Literature, Wole Soyinka; Yeni Kuti, dancer, singer and eldest child of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti; and Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano.
Where Are You Going? - Glasgow
Mar 5, 2019 1663
With Brexit fast approaching, Catherine Carr talks to people on the move in Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast and London. Are the people she meets downcast, delighted, or disinterested? At a time of political and social upheaval, we find out what is really on their minds. In Glasgow, the first programme in the series, we find a city with a festive hangover, still counting the cost of Christmas and facing a cold January.
We Intend to Cause Havoc
Mar 2, 2019 2906
In the wake of independence an explosive music scene gripped the southern African country of Zambia. Mixing western rock 'n' roll with traditional sounds, enterprising young musicians kick-started a raucous movement that came to be known as Zamrock. Leading this charge was the charismatic frontman Emmanuel 'Jagari' Chanda with his band W.I.T.C.H. Join Jagari as he takes to the streets of Lusaka to tell his remarkable story as Zambia’s first ever rock star, why he is one of the last standing and why, in his advancing years, he is happy to give Mick Jagger a run for his money.
Empty Spain and the Caravans of Love
Feb 28, 2019 1635
How does a lonely, Spanish shepherd find love when single women have left for the city? Antonio Cerrada lives north of Madrid, in the heart of what’s been nicknamed the, "Lapland of Spain" because its population density is so low. With only a handful of families left in his village, and people continuing to leave for the cities, Antonio struggled to find a partner. Then Maria Carvajal arrived. She came in a bus full of single women – a ‘caravana’ - to attend an organised party with men like Antonio.
The Caravans of Women - or Caravans of Love as they are known - began as a response to Spain’s epic story of rural depopulation. More than half the country is at risk, and in nearly 600 municipalities there isn’t one resident under the age of 10. And as Linda Pressly finds out, there are many initiatives now to reverse the decline of the Spanish countryside, including a movement of young people – the "neo-rurales" – who have begun to occupy abandoned villages.
Presenter and producer: Linda Pressly
Producer in Spain: Esperanza Escribano
(Image: Antonio Cerrada, a shepherd who found love. Credit: BBC, Esperanza Escribano)
Egypt and how it sees Britain
Feb 27, 2019 1667
Neil MacGregor visits different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain. In Egypt, Neil hears from political historian Said Sadek; magazine publisher and editor Yasmine Shihata; and writer and activist Ahdaf Soueif.
Feb 26, 2019 1667
(This programme contains audio effects that may cause discomfort to people living with hearing conditions. There is a modified version of this programme, with quieter effects, on this page https://bbc.in/2TrInga)
What does life sound like for someone whose hearing has suddenly changed? Carly Sygrove is a British teacher living in Madrid. She was sitting in her school’s auditorium when suddenly her head was filled with a loud screeching sound. Diagnosed as sudden sensorineural hearing loss, Carly no longer has any functional hearing in her left ear, and battles with the whoops, squeals and ringing that comes from having tinnitus. Carly shares her personal story and speaks honestly about how life with hearing in only one ear is far from quiet.
The Miracle of St Anthony's
Feb 24, 2019 3016
In the late 1960s, parole officer Bob Hurley became basketball coach at St Anthony’s High School in Jersey City, New Jersey. In the years that followed, as the city got poorer and its streets more dangerous, Hurley’s infamously exacting coaching style turned class after class of young men into championship material and put St Anthony’s—a school that didn’t even have its own gym—on the basketball map, winning multiple state championships and hundreds of games. Former NBA basketball player and one-time Democratic Party politician Terry Dehere tells the story of this very special high school with help from several generations of St. Anthony’s players and supporters.
Malawi: Life After Death Row
Feb 21, 2019 1614
Byson expected to be dead long ago. Now in his sixties, he was given a death sentence quarter of a century ago. But instead of being executed, he’s found himself back at home, looking after his elderly mother, holding down a job, and volunteering to help other prisoners leaving jail.
His release was part of a re-sentencing project in Malawi. Anyone who was given the death penalty automatically for killing someone can have their case re-examined. What is known as a mandatory death sentence was ruled to be unconstitutional, so now judges are giving custodial sentences instead, or in some cases inmates are even being freed.
Charlotte McDonald travels to the small town of Balaka to visit the Halfway House where Byson mentors former inmates. She visits someone who came out of jail a few years ago and now runs her own business in the village where she was born. And she speaks to one of the last remaining people on death row about their upcoming re-sentencing hearing.
Many of those former death row inmates are now back in their communities living and working – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that ordinary Malawians are ready for the death penalty to be abolished.
(Image: Former inmate Byson sits with his mother, Lucy, outside her house. Credit: BBC)
As the World Sees Britain: Germany and how it sees Britain
Feb 20, 2019 1622
Neil MacGregor visits different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain.
In Germany, Neil talks to Wolfgang Schäuble, the president of the Bundestag; TV host, writer and cultural commentator Thea Dorn; and Hartmut Dorgerloh, the new director of Berlin's Humboldt Forum.
As the UK prepares to place itself on the world stage as an independent power, he explores the relationship between Germany and Britain.
George Weah: The footballing president
Feb 19, 2019 1621
George Weah, former World Footballer of the Year and star of AC Milan, Chelsea and Monaco, was elected president of Liberia in a landslide victory just over a year ago. Having been raised in one of Liberia’s worst slums, many saw him as a man who understood the needs of the poor. But some now doubt that he will deliver on campaign promises to help lift people out of poverty. Mike Thomson, who was granted a rare interview with the President, reports from Monrovia.
Can we fix it? The inside story of match fixing in tennis
Feb 14, 2019 1615
Last month, law enforcement officials in Spain said they had broken up a major match fixing ring in tennis. The Guardia Civil said 28 players competing at the lower levels of tennis were implicated. It's alleged that a group of Armenians had bribed the players to fix matches.
Assignment reveals the inside story of how players and betting gangs are seeking to corrupt the lower tiers of the sport. In many cases, a player only has to lose a set or certain games - not the whole match - to get paid. Players and fixers communicate on social media as matches get underway to ensure the correct outcome is achieved. The rewards can be significant with players sometimes being paid thousands of pounds - often much more than they can earn in prize money. For the betting gangs who have placed money on a guaranteed outcome, the pay off can be much greater.
Two years after the BBC first revealed concerns about match fixing in the game, Assignment looks at how the tennis authorities have responded to the issue and examines the measures put forward by an independent panel to reduce the risk of corruption.
Reporter: Paul Connolly
Producer: Paul Grant
(Image: A tennis ball on a tennis court. Photo credit: AFP / Getty Images)
The Trumped Republicans
Feb 13, 2019 1631
Republican insider Ron Christie discovers how Donald Trump's presidency is changing his party. Trump arrived in the White House offering a populist revolt in America, promising to drain what he calls "the swamp that is Washington D.C". So what does his own Republican Party - traditionally a bastion of the nation’s establishment - really make of him? Where is he taking them and what will he leave behind?
So where are the aliens?
Feb 12, 2019 1647
Vulcans, Daleks, Martians, Grays - our culture is pervaded by alien beings from distant worlds – some benevolent…most not so much. In our galaxy alone, there should be tens of billions of planets harbouring life, but we have not heard any broadcasts or seen any flashing lights from distant civilisations. Chief astronomer for SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), Seth Shostak, has devoted his career to searching for signs of alien life. In this programme he tackles the fundamental question about whether we are alone in the universe.
The Ballads of Emmett Till
Feb 10, 2019 4118
**Some listeners may find parts of this programme upsetting** Emmett Till, fourteen and black, was put on the train from Chicago by his mother Mamie in August 1955. She got his corpse back, mutilated and stinking. Emmett had been beaten, shot and dumped in the Tallahatchie River for supposedly whistling at a white woman. His killers would forever escape justice. What Mamie did next helped galvanise the Civil Rights Movement and make Emmett the sacrificial lamb of the movement.
Feb 7, 2019 1589
On college campuses across the United States, students die every year as a result of “hazing” - sometimes violent and dangerous rituals designed to initiate new members into a group to which they pledge loyalty.
In 2011, Pam and Robert Champion Sr. lost their son Robert to a hazing incident. Robert was a student at Florida A&M University and a drum major in the college’s prestigious marching band, the Marching 100. He was brutally beaten to death by his fellow band members in an initiation rite known as "Crossing Bus C." Even though this ritual was prohibited, it was widely condoned, accepted, even encouraged, and going through it was considered an essential part of band membership.
Today hazing remains rife in all types of groups, from sports teams to all-male fraternities and all-female sororities, the so-called “Greek Letter Organisations” since the names of these social groups are taken from the Greek alphabet.
With around 220 deaths attributed to hazing since records began, producer and presenter Nicolas Jackson asks why so many are willing to risk so much in order to become members of a group, and just what can be done to stop it.
Producer and presenter: Nicolas Jackson
“The Pledge” is an Afonica production for BBC World Service
(Image: Family and friends Of Armando Villa call for an end to fraternity "hazing." Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
My Brexit Dilemma
Feb 6, 2019 1684
Adrian Goldberg is a BBC reporter. His father was German and came to the UK on Kindertransport just before the start of the Second World War. For Adrian, Brexit has raised a dilemma: should he get a German passport?
Sweeping the World
Feb 5, 2019 1682
In Sweeping the World, award-winning poet, Imtiaz Dharker presents a reflective evocation in words, sound and music of the broom in many cultures. Whether it’s dust, spirits or the mythic power of the broom to break free and cause havoc, this programme takes a sweeping look at a never-ending story.
The Politics of Mongolian Hip Hop
Feb 2, 2019 2944
MC Dizraeli hears how Mongolia’s massive hip hop scene is shaping the country’s future. He finds surprising lyrics that dispense moral advice, worry about alcoholism or praise the taste of fresh yoghurt on the Mongolian steppe. Freestyles and conversations across Ulaanbaatar reveal global hip hop influences and deep resonances with Mongolia’s musical heritage. Hip hop is so popular that Mongolian politicians try to buy up rappers to support their campaigns. However, in the midst of a changing Ulaanbaatar Dizraeli listens to lyrics that are critical of politicians, asking who or what is holding Mongolia back?
Japan's Elderly Crime Wave
Jan 31, 2019 1620
Elderly pensioners in Japan are committing petty crimes so that they can be sent to prison. One in five of all prisoners in Japan are now over 65. The number has quadrupled in the last two decades, a result it seems of rising elderly poverty and loneliness, as seniors become increasingly cut-off from their over-worked offspring. In jail old people at least get a bed, a routine and a hot meal, and for many, as Ed discovers, the outside world can seem like a threatening place. For the prison authorities it means an increasingly ageing population behind bars and the challenges of dealing with a range of geriatric health issues.
Produced and reported by Ed Butler.
(Image: Elderly Inmate "Kita-san" at Fuchu Prison, Tokyo. Credit: BBC)
Solving Alzheimer's: Living and Dying with Alzheimer's
Jan 29, 2019 1661
In the Netherlands, people with dementia can legally chose euthanasia but the debate is going back and forth there. When can dementia patients consent to euthanasia? The answer it turns out - is ethically very complicated and a Dutch doctor is now being prosecuted for performing euthanasia on a patient with advanced Alzheimer’s. In South Korea and the UK we hear from some of the most promising initiatives; and how a dementia friendly society is possible, with action not just from governments and NGOs but crucially from all of us.
Songs from the Depths of Hell
Jan 27, 2019 3052
Aleksander Kulisiewicz spent six years in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, imprisoned soon after the Nazi invasion and their attempted destruction of Poland. In the camp he found a unique role both as a composer and living tape recorder of the world of the unfree and the damned. Blessed with a photographic memory prisoners, many of whom knew they were to be killed, would ask him to remember their songs. Songs of resistance and defiance, songs of love and home, songs that captured the brutality of life and death in the camps. He would also write 50 of his own songs. Performances would take place in secret, at night, away from the eyes of the SS. Kulisiewicz survived a death march at the war’s end and recovered to become the foremost chronicler, in song, of the world of the Concentration Camps. He would obsessively document memories and songs until the end of his life in 1982. In the 1960s he became an unlikely attraction in festivals of folk song for youth rebelling against the silence of their parents generation. Strumming his guitar liberated from Sachsenhausen, performing in his camp uniform, Kulisiewicz would sing his songs from the depths of hell. Oral historian Alan Dein explores his life and musical legacy.
Closing Uganda’s Orphanage
Jan 24, 2019 1589
Uganda is a country that has seen massive growth in the number of ‘orphanages’ providing homes to children, despite the number of orphans there decreasing.
It is believed 80% of children now living in orphanages have at least one living parent. The majority of the hundreds of orphanages operating in Uganda are illegal, unregistered and now are in a fight with the government trying to shut them down.
Dozens on the government's list for closure are funded by overseas charities and church groups, many of which are based in the UK.
With widespread concerns about abuse, trafficking and exploitation of children growing up in orphanages are funders doing enough to make sure their donations aren't doing more harm than good?
Reporter: Anna Cavell
Producer: Kate West
(Image: Ugandan children stand on the banks of the Kagera River. Credit: ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Solving Alzheimer's: The Trillion Dollar Disease
Jan 22, 2019 1677
Dementia is now a trillion-dollar disease, and with the numbers of patients doubling every 20 years, the burden will fall unevenly on developing countries where the growth rate is fastest. We travel to South Korea, the fastest ageing country in the world, where the country’s president has declared the challenge of Alzheimer’s to be a national crisis. We meet families struggling to look after loved ones with Alzheimer’s and visit the Netherlands, where an innovative approach to Alzheimer’s care offers hope for the future.
The Assassination - Part Two
Jan 20, 2019 3045
It is one of the world's great unsolved murders. Ten years ago, Pakistan's most prominent politician, a woman people would form human chains to protect from assassins, died in a suicide blast. The intervening years have brought allegations, arrests and a UN inquiry – but not one murder conviction. The victim was Benazir Bhutto.
France, Algeria and the battle for truth
Jan 17, 2019 1597
President Emmanuel Macron has recently done something unusual for a French President – he made a declaration recognising that torture was used by the French military during the Algerian War of Independence.
He described a system that allowed people to be arrested, interrogated and sometimes killed. Many families still don’t know what happened to their loved ones.
At 87, Josette Audin, has campaigned for more than 60 years for the French state to take responsibility for the disappearance of her husband, Maurice Audin, during the Algerian War.
Charlotte McDonald hears Josette’s story and discovers that the Algerian War has had a lasting impact on many more in France.
She speaks to historians Malika Rahal and Fabrice Riceputi about their website 1000autres.org, and to war veteran Rémi Serres about his association 4ACG.
Producer, Josephine Casserly
Editor: Bridget Harney
(Image: File photo of Maurice Audin, circa 1950. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
Africa’s Drone Experiment
Jan 16, 2019 1662
While the idea of retail giants like Amazon dropping parcels from the sky via drone may be a long way off, in East Africa momentum is building over the idea of drone delivery in hard to reach places. In the island of Juma near Mwanza, one of hundreds of remote inhabited islands in the vast expanse of Lake Victoria, an ambitious new drone project called the Lake Victoria Challenge is taking place. Technology reporter Jane Wakefield visits Juma to see first-hand how the concept could work.
Solving Alzheimer's: Fear and Stigma
Jan 15, 2019 1669
Few of us will escape the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease. The grim pay-back from being healthy, wealthy or lucky enough to live into our late 80s and beyond is dementia. One in three - maybe even one in two of us - will then get dementia and forget almost everything we ever knew. But it is far more than just a personal family tragedy. We explore how fear in some parts of the world is stigmatising those who have it, and denying help to those who need it.
The Assassination - Part One
Jan 13, 2019 3049
Ten years ago, Benazir Bhutto, a woman people would form human chains to protect from assassins, died in a suicide blast. The intervening years have brought allegations, arrests and a UN inquiry – but not one murder conviction. It is one of the world's great unsolved murders. Through the mystery of this murder Owen Bennett Jones reveals a little of how Pakistan works.
Balkan Border Wars - Serbia and Kosovo
Jan 10, 2019 1661
Old enemies Serbia and Kosovo discuss what for some is unthinkable - an ethnic land swap. This dramatic proposal is one of those being talked about as a means of normalising relations between these former foes. Since the bloody Kosovo war ended with NATO intervention in 1999, civility between Belgrade and Pristina has been in short supply. Redrawing borders along ethnic lines is anathema to many, but politicians in Serbia and Kosovo have their eyes on a bigger prize... For Serbia, that is membership of the European Union. But the EU will not accept Serbia until it makes an accommodation with its neighbour. Kosovo wants to join the EU too, but its immediate priority is recognition at the United Nations, and that is unlikely while Serbia's ally, Russia, continues to thwart Kosovo's ambitions there. Both of these Balkan nations want to exit this impasse. And a land-swap, giving each of them much-coveted territory, might just do it. For Assignment, Linda Pressly and producer, Albana Kasapi, visit the two regions at the heart of the proposal - the ethnically Albanian-majority Presevo Valley in Serbia, and the mostly Serb region north of Mitrovica in Kosovo.
(PHOTO: Hevzi Imeri, an ethnic Albanian and Danilo Dabetic, a Serb, play together at the basketball club Play 017 in Bujanovac – one of very few mixed activities for young people in Serbia’s Presevo Valley. BBC photo.)
Jan 8, 2019 1664
Ordinary Cubans reveal what their lives have really been like under Castro’s socialism and, more recently, its transformation into a more capitalistic economy. For some, the Cuban Revolution was the last bastion of the communist dream; for others, a repressive, authoritarian regime. Largely missing from those debates were the voices of ordinary Cubans. Almost 60 years on from the Revolution, professor Elizabeth Dore discovers how people from different walks of life and generations have experienced life, work, housing, racism, sexism and corruption on the island.
From the Ground Up
Jan 5, 2019 2973
The Central African Republic is one of the least developed countries on earth. Years of conflict have left hundreds of thousands of people displaced. Sexual violence is rife and extreme poverty is endemic. Yet despite this dire humanitarian situation, reporting from CAR is rare. Anna Foster explores the challenges facing this nation from the inside, and hears from those trying to improve its fortunes.
The Brazilian Footballer Who Never Was
Jan 3, 2019 1605
At 12, Douglas Braga arrived in Rio de Janeiro, a wide-eyed boy, ready to live out the Brazilian dream and become a professional footballer. At 18, he was signed by one of the country’s top teams - but was also starting to realise he couldn’t be true to himself and be a footballer. By 21, he’d quit the game. He knew he was gay and felt there was no place for him in a macho culture where homophobia is commonplace and out gay men are nowhere to be seen. Now, at 36, Douglas lives in a country that just elected a self-styled “proud homophobe” as president, which some football fans have taken as a licence to step up their homophobic abuse and threats. But Douglas is back on the pitch and - with a growing number of other gay footballers - fighting back. Reporter David Baker Producer: Simon Maybin
(Image: Footballer’s legs with rainbow socks. Credit: BBC)
New York's Flower Market: Things my Father Loved
Jan 1, 2019 1666
New York’s historic 28th Street flower market opens early. The sidewalk is a rush of colour by 5am, packed with cheerful yellow sunflowers, frothy lime-white hydrangeas and vibrant lilies. Office workers pick their way to work round tropical plants and tall leafy palms sway in the city breeze. Cathy FitzGerald hears the market’s stories, and finds out what it takes to make it in this very beautiful - and very tough - business.
Childish Gambino: This is 2018
Dec 30, 2018 3043
In May 2018 the American actor and singer Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) released what has been described as “the most talked about music video in recent history”. The controversial video of This is America addresses the issues of gun violence, mass shootings, racism and discrimination in the US. It has been viewed more than four hundred million times on YouTube. It has also spawned covers of the song and, importantly, the video across the world, which have also garnered millions of views. Why and how did This is America become so popular across the globe?
Armenia: Return to a Town that Died
Dec 27, 2018 1617
Thirty years on from the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, what’s happened to the devastated town of Spitak? Rescuers from all over the world came to help search for survivors – among them a team of British firefighters. Now, with reporter Tim Whewell, two of those men are returning - to see how the town’s been rebuilt - and to remember a rescue effort that marked a turning point in East-West relations. The disaster came as Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was developing his policy of glasnost (openness) – and his request for foreign assistance was the first such appeal the Kremlin had made in decades. The firefighters relive the drama, grief and courage of those days – and renew old friendships. They discover that Spitak has still not fully recovered from the quake, with many living to this day in squalid temporary housing. Reporter Tim Whewell.
(Image: Reginald Berry and Paul Burns – two retired UK firefighters – revisit Armenia, 30 years after taking part in rescue and recovery efforts after the 1988 earthquake. Credit: BBC/Hakob Hovhannisyan)
Christmas with Melania
Dec 25, 2018 1462
Melania Trump is the second foreign-born First Lady and Donald Trump’s third wife; an ex-model, 24 years his junior, who once posed pregnant in a gold bikini on the steps of her husband’s jet. It was modelling – for GQ, Sports Illustrated and others – that took Melania from small-town Slovenia to New York and her fateful first encounter with the future President. The most notable thing about Melania Trump as First Lady has so far been her absence. It took her five months to relocate from New York to the White House. Friends have described her as someone who likes to stay at home, who often retires early from events and who dislikes being the centre of attention. Some unkind commentators have speculated that she is a kind of hostage, shackled by marriage to Donald and a role in public life which she did not seek and does not enjoy. But others have claimed that far from being a victim of her husband’s success and inimitable style, she is a formidable force in her own right.
So who is Melania? What does she believe? And what might she do on the global stage which – however improbably, given her origins in far away Slovenia – she now shares with the President of the United States? Lizzie O’Leary speaks to people who know and who follow one of the most recognisable women in the world.
Carols of the Times
Dec 23, 2018 2977
From the age of eight, Bob Chilcott sang with the world renowned King's College Choir in Cambridge. Every Christmas Eve the choir gather in the chapel to sing for a service that is known and loved across the globe. At 3pm a boy chorister steps forward to sing the opening verse of Once in Royal David City and so begins the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. To mark the centenary of this Christmas tradition, composer Bob Chilcott returns to King's College Chapel to explore the history of the service, to meet the people involved and to reflect on why this sequence of carols and readings has had such a major impact.
DNA, Me and the Family Tree
Dec 20, 2018 1602
Where do you come from? Tracing your ancestry in the USA is one of the most popular hobbies along with gardening and golf. TV is awash with advertising for the do-it-yourself genetic testing kits which have become much sought after gifts, especially at Christmas time. The kits have revolutionised family tree research and gone are the days of sifting through old documents. But, as Lucy Ash reports, the DNA results are now revealing far more than many had bargained for. How do you react when you find out your mother had a secret affair half a century ago…and the man who raised you isn’t your dad? Produced by Charlotte McDonald.
(Image: This chip holds samples of 24 people’s DNA – one in each box. Credit: BBC)
Spy Ship: The Capture of the USS Pueblo
Dec 18, 2018 1641
It was a brazen and violent attack by North Korean forces on an American ship sailing in international waters, leading to the death of one sailor and the imprisonment of the remaining 82 crewmen who were confined and tortured for 11 long months. Yet the capture of the spy ship the USS Pueblo, the only active-duty vessel of the US Navy still held captive by a foreign government, remains a largely forgotten chapter in American naval history.
Congo: A River Journey
Dec 15, 2018 2997
A journey in sound along the mighty Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This adventure transports you to the heart of the country on the eve of long-delayed elections. You’ll encounter busy ports, vibrant markets and rare gorillas. You’ll learn why this mineral-rich country the size of western Europe is so poor. You’ll ride on the river to the soundtrack of its music, meet its wrestlers, its acrobatic fishermen and explore how history has shaped what the Congo is today.
China's Hidden Camps
Dec 13, 2018 1618
China is accused of locking up as many as a million Uighur Muslims without trial across its western region of Xinjiang. The government denies the claims, saying people willingly attend special "vocational schools" to combat "terrorism and religious extremism". But a BBC investigation has found important new evidence of the reality - a vast and rapidly growing network of detention centres, where the people held inside are humiliated and abused. Using detailed satellite analysis and reporting from a part of the country where journalists are routinely detained and harassed; China correspondent John Sudworth offers his in-depth report on China's Hidden Camps.
(Image credit: BBC)
Stories on the Rocks
Dec 12, 2018 1634
Somaliland’s rich archaeological heritage was practically unknown 15 years ago. Now thanks to Dr. Sada Mire, Somali archaeologist and author, medieval Islamic towns, pre-Islamic Christian burial sites, and pre-historic cave paintings have been uncovered. One of them, Laas Geel, has been described as one of the most important rock-art sites in eastern Africa. Dr Sada Mire takes us there to see astonishing rock paintings more than 5000 years old in near perfect condition.
When You Tire of Tech
Dec 11, 2018 1627
Our lives are consumed more and more by the online world whether it be for entertainment or every day activities. For some people it becomes too much – and here, musician turned broadcaster Ana Matronic meets some young people whose online use has quite literally taken over their lives. She visits a centre in Seattle, Washington, near where she grew up, which has been set up to help people, mainly young men, who feel their relationship with the online and tech world has become too stifling.
India's battle with online porn
Dec 9, 2018 3016
Access to pornography though mobile phones has been sudden and widespread in India: some say way too sudden for a conservative society, and blame this for the sexual violence against women.
But when legal attempts are made to ban pornography, a strong resistance emerges in the name of freedom of expression, including sexual expression. Others argue that online pornography is the wrong target, pointing out that around a third of porn viewers in India are women.
But what do Indian men themselves make of this? The BBC’s India Women Affairs correspondent Divya Arya travels the country to meet men from all backgrounds to find out.
Inside Burundi’s Killing Machine
Dec 6, 2018 1620
An investigation into the 'killing machine' of one of Africa's most repressive and secretive countries. Three years ago there was widespread unrest in the East African country of Burundi when the country’s president ran for a third term. Protestors said he was violating the constitution that limits presidential terms to just two. Since then street protests have ended but a BBC investigation has now uncovered evidence of government sponsored torture and killings designed to silence dissent. The government has always denied any human rights violations, and declined to comment on the allegations in this programme. Reporter Maud Jullien. Producers Charlotte Atwood and Michael Gallagher.
*This programme contains graphic scenes of torture and killing.
(Image: A computer generated image of an alleged detention house in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura. A red liquid, which looked like blood, was seen pouring from its gutter. Credit: BBC)
Vicky Phelan: The Woman who Changed Ireland
Dec 5, 2018 1634
This is the story of Vicky Phelan, a mother of two from Limerick, Ireland. Vicky has cancer of the cervix and in 2017 she was given just six months to live. As she battled to save her own life, Vicky uncovered a scandal that rocked the Irish establishment and exposed a country still coming to grips with radical social upheaval. As part of the ‘BBC 100 Women’ season, Helen Devlin meets the woman who changed Ireland.
Radio La Colifata
Dec 5, 2018 1634
How is a radio station in an Argentinian psychiatric hospital changing the way people view mental illness? Radio La Colifata - slang for loon, or crazy person - airs from Hospital Jose Borda in Buenos Aires every Saturday afternoon. In-patients produce and present the shows, discussing everything from Argentinean politics and the economy to their own mental health and treatment. Millions of Argentinians tune in and interact with the show as it goes out live, encouraging a dialogue between the La Colifata team and the outside world which otherwise might not happen.
A Stark Choice for Cambodia's Surrogates
Nov 29, 2018 1617
In a Cambodian hospital, a group of terrified new mothers nurse tiny babies under the watch of police guards. They're surrogates, desperately poor women promised $10,000 to bear children for parents in China. But they were arrested under new anti-trafficking rules, and now they face an agonising choice: either they agree to keep children they didn't want and can't easily afford to bring up, children who aren't genetically theirs - or they honour their surrogacy contracts, and face up to 20 years in jail. Tim Whewell reports on the suffering as country after country in Asia cracks down on commercial surrogacy - and asks whether the detained mothers are criminals - or victims.
(Image: Former Cambodian surrogate Va-Tei: "I feel really sad that I had to give the baby away." Credit: BBC)
Migrants Mean Business
Nov 28, 2018 1659
Kim Tserkezie explores how migrants have used their entrepreneurial skills to become part of British communities, and finds out whether the experiences of successful businesses accrued over generations still resonate with migrants arriving today.
Kim begins her journey by the golden sands of England’s North East coast, where we hear the Italian family history of England’s ice cream champions. Michael Minchella shares the experiences and struggles of generations of his family setting up and running their seaside business. Some 75 years later, Michael now leads their much loved ice cream empire.
We then head to North Yorkshire to meet one of the 8000 Syrian refugees who have arrived in the UK in recent years. Razan, a pharmacist from Syria, explains how she is making a new life as a traditional Yorkshire cheese maker.
Kim also travels over the border to Edinburgh to meet Talal and Nour, two Syrians who met for the first time in Edinburgh and went on to recreate a facsimile of the baker’s shop that Noor was forced to leave behind when fleeing Aleppo.
The Surrogates Club
Nov 27, 2018 1658
In Canada many women volunteer to give birth to a stranger's child and do not get paid in return. Under Canadian laws, gestational surrogates receive only expenses in exchange for getting pregnant and carrying a baby for nine months. But, why do they do it? We meet the surrogate women to find out. We follow them as they navigate the emotional challenges of giving life to a baby that they will say goodbye to after birth, and we meet the families who will welcome home these special babies.
Nov 25, 2018 2997
Women make up roughly 50% of the world but is the media reporting the issues that matter to them? Do women want to hear more debate around taboo subjects like abortion and domestic violence or do they want to hear more success stories about women in the media? How could the media’s reporting of rape cases be improved? And, as news sources become more diverse, how can the mainstream media reflect the stories being discussed by women on social media?
The Carnival: 50 Years in St Pauls
Nov 24, 2018 3024
Narrated by Bristol’s first poet laureate Miles Chambers, from costumes to sound systems this tale looks at the history of the St Pauls Carnival, meets the family of four generations who all have a stake in it, and follows the new organisation grappling to appease a fractured community in order to put this year’s event on. Failure to do so “will spell the end of carnival forever.”
Nigeria's Patient 'Prisoners'
Nov 22, 2018 1636
Nigerian patients held in hospital because they can’t pay their medical bills.
In March 2016, a young woman went into labour. She was rushed to a local, private hospital in south-east Nigeria where she gave birth by caesarean section. But when the hospital discovered this teenage mother didn’t have the money to pay for her treatment, she and her son were unable to leave. They remained there for 16 months – until the police arrived and released them.
This is not an isolated case. In Nigeria, very few health services are free of charge, and campaigners estimate that thousands have been detained in hospitals for failing to pay their bills. It’s become an increasingly high-profile issue – one couple have been awarded compensation after going through the courts.
For Assignment, Linda Pressly explores a widespread abuse – meeting victims, and the hospital managers attempting to manage their budgets in a health system under enormous pressure, where only 5% of Nigerians are covered by health insurance.
Producer: Josephine Casserly
(Photo: Ngozi Osegbo was awarded compensation by a court after she and her husband were detained in a hospital because they couldn't pay their medical bills. BBC PHOTO)
The Number One Ladies’ Landmine Agency
Nov 21, 2018 1632
We follow a unique group of Sahrawi women working alongside the world’s longest minefield, the 2,700km sand wall or berm built by Morocco across the region. Baba, Minetou, Nora and the team work in temperatures exceeding 42°c (107°f), hundreds of miles from even rudimentary medical care, risking their lives in Western Sahara’s so-called “Liberated Territories” east of the Berm, clearing some of the seven million landmines and unexploded bombs left over from the still unresolved conflict between Morocco and the ethnic Sahrawi liberation movement, the Polisario Front.
Argentina’s Feminist Tango
Nov 20, 2018 1634
Argentina is on the brink of a female-led revolution, and in Buenos Aires women are fighting for an equal footing everywhere from the institutions of government to the Tango hall. Since 2015 political pressure around women’s rights has peaked, following a string of horrifying femicides. It spawned a social media movement #NiUnaMenos, and continent wide strikes and protests. Katy Watson speaks to the activists who started this latest feminist wave and how tango is being re-interpreted with equality in mind.
The Eternal Life of the Instant Noodle
Nov 18, 2018 3027
What is the most traded legal item in US prisons? Instant Noodles. Celia Hatton explores the story behind instant noodles. It's a journey that starts in Japan, at the nation's instant noodle museum, and then takes her to China, still the world's number one market for "convenient noodles" as they're known there. And she hears why instant noodles have emerged as the prisoners' currency of choice.
Everyday Americans 1: The Opioid ‘Demon’
Nov 16, 2018 3095
The opioid epidemic in America is hurting all levels of society – in this three part documentary series we explore its impact, in real-time, on people in one city, Louisville, Kentucky. We work with a team of reporters on the Louisville Courier Journal as they follow opioid stories across the community.
Everyday Americans 2: Law and Order and Opioids
Nov 16, 2018 2950
Exploring how the opioid epidemic in America is impacting the criminal justice system. Through reporters on the Louisville Courier Journal we meet the drug court judge who tells us about her hopes for those going through the court. We attend the drug court graduation ceremony and follow the police as they search for drugs. And, we assess the impact on Louisville's city jail, which runs the state Kentucky's biggest detox centre.
Everyday Americans 3: Opioids and the Next Generation
Nov 16, 2018 4011
In Louisville, Kentucky, drug overdose related deaths are twice the national average. What will the impact be on the next generation? This fly-on the-wall documentary series follows the work of a team of reporters from the Louisville Courier Journal. We hear of babies born addicted as a result of their mothers’ drug use, an inspiring school choir and the families finding ways to face up to the epidemic. A mother is campaigning to hold pharmaceutical companies to account and citizens, faith groups and politicians are responding to the crisis.
The Last Long Journey of the Herero
Nov 14, 2018 1637
In 1904 the Herero people of South West Africa made their final stand against German Colonial troops with their backs against the slopes of Waterberg mountain in today’s Namibia. The battle marked the beginning of what has been called the first genocide of the 20th Century as tens of thousands were killed, driven into the desert to die and thousands more held in concentration camps.
The Nama, another indigenous group suffered the same fate soon after. And their deaths fed a bizarre and gruesome trade in body parts, driven by racial anthropologists in Germany intent on proving the superiority of their own race.
From Truman to Trump
Nov 13, 2018 1614
The final interview with the veteran American politician Senator Joe Tydings, with his vivid memories of working with the Kennedy dynasty - and his unhappy relationship with Donald Trump. He recalls the protests, assassinations and political upheaval which marked the 1960s. And we find out why Senator Tydings never forgave Donald Trump for pinching the family crest.
Saudi's Crown Prince in the spotlight
Nov 8, 2018 1587
Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has come under intense scrutiny since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with many believing he may have been behind it. Mohammed bin Salman has condemned the act. But a secret source has told the BBC that they believe Khashoggi’s killing wasn’t the first to be carried out by people close to the Crown Prince. With BBC Arabic we investigate these allegations and ask if Mohammed bin Salman can survive the furore over Jamal Khashoggi’s killing.
(Image: A protester wears a mask depicting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman with red painted hands. Credit: Yasin AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images)
George Ellery Hale: Prince of the Sun
Nov 7, 2018 1635
A celebration of the amazing work of the little known astronomer (the world’s first astrophysicist) George Ellery Hale. He covered the peak of Mount Wilson with a constellation of instruments for observing the sky. His first objective - to study one particular star, our Sun. Hale’s monumental discovery in 1908 – that the Sun generated powerful magnetic fields - has been a source of inspiration for the world’s astronomer's
The Unknown Soldier
Nov 6, 2018 1602
Moira Stuart tells the astonishing story of the idea of the Unknown Soldier - a powerful prism for national grief, a brilliant interplay between anonymity and universal recognition, an icon which spread across the globe. But even from the beginning the concept of the Unknown Soldier was not without its critics. Some saw it as emblematic of the callousness of states and their governments in wartime - the Unknown could be read as figure of righteous anger, of the terrible, mass anonymity of countless young men lost without trace.
The Greyhound Diaries
Nov 3, 2018 3023
Singer-songwriter Doug Levitt hears the stories of America’s struggling people as they ride across the country on long-haul coaches – and turns their tales into songs. For 12 years and 120,000 miles, he has crossed the United States by Greyhound, guitar on his back, and notebook in his pocket. The people on the margins ride Greyhound, the only form of long distance travel they can afford. It makes for a singular community of people on the move, looking for work, dealing with family emergencies and taking leaps of faith in pursuit of transformation, redemption and healing.
West Africa’s Fish Famine
Nov 2, 2018 1634
Overfishing is blighting traditional livelihoods along the coast of Senegal. Fish catches are collapsing there after years of overfishing, mainly by foreign trawlers, some of whom are fishing illegally. Meanwhile, Senegal’s traditional fishermen have been evicted from the rich waters of neighbouring Mauritania, leading to a vicious circle of rapidly falling catches, economic desperation and yet more overfishing. Some have continued crossing the border, provoking an armed response from Mauritania’s coastguard. Senegal’s main traditional fishing port St Louis has seen anti-Mauritanian violence break out as a result. Alfonso Daniels travels to St Louis to find a community in despair, with some young men now seeing no choice but to join the exodus of migrants trying to reach Europe. He also gains rare access to Mauritania – usually off-limits to foreign journalists – and discovers an insatiable onshore fish processing industry now being encouraged across the region, and consuming catches on a vast scale. Much of the industry is fed by big foreign trawlers, and the end product, known as fishmeal, exported to wealthier countries to feed livestock and aquaculture. At the centre of this story is the humble sardinella, a small oily fish which migrates up and down the West African coast, breeding and supporting other species as it moves across borders. With bigger and more nutritious fish routinely exported, sardinella is a staple for several West African countries whose people cannot afford meat. It is also the stock that fishmeal factories typically utilise. Its increasing scarcity threatens millions with malnutrition. As fish stocks collapse and powerful interests vie for those that remain, ordinary Africans are paying the price.
Producer: Michael Gallagher
(Photo: Artisanal fishermen unload their catch on the beach at Nouadhibou, Mauritania's only fishing port. Credit: BBC)
The Dark Sides of American Democracy
Oct 30, 2018 1623
Giles Edwards travels to North Carolina to investigate whether new voting laws and partisan district maps could swing November’s elections. Over the last two decades the controversy over voting laws has become increasingly bitter. President Trump regularly complains about unfair rules and illegal votes, and North Carolina has become a key location where these arguments play out.
Everyday Americans: Opioids and the Next Generation
Oct 28, 2018 2962
The opioid epidemic in America is hurting all levels of society. In Louisville, Kentucky, drug overdose related deaths are twice the national average. What will the impact be on the next generation? We hear of babies born addicted as a result of their mothers’ drug use, an inspiring school choir and the families finding ways to face up to the epidemic. A mother is campaigning to hold pharmaceutical companies to account and citizens, faith groups and politicians are responding to the crisis.
Young, Cool and Kazakhstani
Oct 27, 2018 3023
More than 25 years after independence, young Kazakhstanis are still trying to make sense of their dark history and their place in the new world order. At least half of the 18 million population of Kazakhstan is under 30 - born and raised in the post-Soviet era. Russian journalist Tatyana Movshevich goes to Almaty, the cultural capital of Kazakhstan to meet young Kazakhs and find out how they are moving their country forward, how they navigate their lives under an authoritarian regime and play their part in a global world.
Serbia’s Femicide Crisis
Oct 25, 2018 1588
Violence against women is a persistent problem in Serbia. The numbers aren’t clear, but in the last decade more than 330 women have been murdered by men, mostly partners or close family members. Already this year, more than twenty women have been murdered and countless others abused. According to some studies, 1 in 3 women has experienced physical violence, and almost half of all women have endured psychological violence.
In November 2016 the Serbian Parliament adopted a new law on the Prevention Of Domestic Violence, introducing a series of legal and protection measures. The legal aspects were aimed at meeting the standards set by the Council Of Europe Convention On Domestic Violence, ratified by Serbia in 2013. Despite the new law coming into force in June 2017, reported gender-based violence is on the rise.
As Serbia continues its negotiations to join the European Union, Nicola Kelly reports from Belgrade on the progress to address violence against women. She speaks to victims of abuse and relatives of those killed and asks what more can be done to address what critics say are systemic institutional failings.
Reporter: Nicola Kelly
Image: Red shoes in the green meadow, the symbol of the violence against women.
What Happened Last Night in Sweden?
Oct 24, 2018 1631
In February 2017, President Trump made a speech to his supporters. He moved on to the topic of immigration and Sweden. "You look at what's happening last night in Sweden," he told the crowd at a rally in Florida. "They took in large numbers; they're having problems like they never thought possible". This confused the Swedes because they had not noticed anything happening that Friday night in their country. But since then there has been a spate of violent crime in Sweden. Ruth Alexander investigates.
Africa's Big Philanthropy: Home-Grown
Oct 23, 2018 1635
With the rise of a wealthy class of high net worth individuals in Africa, home-grown philanthropy is on the rise. We meet some of these rich givers to find out what motivates them. The concept of philanthropy among communities is not new here, but as the economic landscape changes Alan Kasujja looks at what impact Africa’s new wealth might have, the impact of social media on how people donate, and what the future might hold for the concept of philanthropy in Africa.
Everyday Americans: Law and Order and Opioids
Oct 21, 2018 3000
The opioid epidemic in America is impacting the criminal justice system. We meet the drug court judge who tells us about her hopes for those going through the court. We attend the drug court graduation ceremony and follow the police as they search for drugs. And, we assess the impact on Louisville's city jail, which runs the state Kentucky's biggest detox centre.
Singing for Survival in Cucuta
Oct 18, 2018 1624
Down but not out in a Colombian border town, four Venezuelans pin their hopes on music. Cucuta is a desperate place, overflowing with Venezuelans who are streaming across the nearby border, fleeing economic collapse. In among the desperation are glimmers of hope, like the four young musicians busking their way round the city’s restaurants to earn money. Karenina Velandia, who grew up in Venezuela, follows her compatriots’ highs and lows as they try to scrape together enough to survive - not just for themselves, but for the parents, wives, and children they’ve left behind. Presenter: Karenina Velandia Producer: Simon Maybin
(Image: The four young musicians who busk round Cucuta. Credit: BBC)
Africa's Big Philanthropy: Agriculture and Food Security
Oct 16, 2018 1631
Around one in four people in sub-Saharan Africa is malnourished, and tackling food insecurity is a huge challenge. Alan Kasujja explores how big philanthropy is putting a lot of money into supporting agriculture to improve livelihoods. He talks to farmers in Kenya about the development of new seeds and scientific solutions like fortified crops. But he also discovers that not all farmers are happy about it.
Everyday Americans: Meet the Opioid 'Demon'
Oct 12, 2018 3028
The opioid epidemic in America is hurting all levels of society – in this three part documentary series we explore its impact, in real-time, on people in one city, Louisville, Kentucky. We work with a team of reporters on the Louisville Courier Journal as they follow opioid stories across the community – in particular, how it is affecting schools and colleges, as well as health care, law and order and prisons.
Paralympics – Gaming the System?
Oct 11, 2018 1606
Last year, Assignment investigated whether some athletes and coaches game the Paralympic classification system in order to win medals.
We heard allegations that some competitors had gone to astonishing lengths such as taping up their arms to make their disability appear worse. A parliamentary select committee hearing looked into the way British Paralympic athletes are classified and questions were raised over whether the system was fit for purpose.
In this programme, we examine fresh claims of athletes exaggerating or even faking a disability to get ahead in para sports. We look at the case of an athlete where concerns have been raised after they competed in several different disability classifications.
A Paralympic gold medallist tells Assignment that he believes that gaming the system in para sports is at a similar level to cheating in able bodied sports and reveals the tell-tale signs that athletes may be trying to get into an easier classification.
Reporter Simon Cox speaks to a former international classifier – the people responsible for ensuring athletes are placed in the right category – who reveals how it is possible for classifiers to be fooled.
But the head of the British Paralympic Association says he does not believe cheating happens at any meaningful level.
The concerns raised by the programme come as a report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee into sports governance which has examined classification in para sports is due to be published in the UK.
(Image: Paralympic Games Gold medal. Credit: Press Association)
Africa's Big Philanthropy: Health
Oct 9, 2018 1623
In 2016 The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to invest five billion dollars in poverty reduction and health in Africa. Other big givers like the Rockefeller Foundation have spent billions on health, agriculture and livelihood programmes. Some say governments and global agencies have come to depend on the donations of big philanthropic donors for their programmes, but how much influence do they have, and with the rise of home-grown African wealth what is the future is for philanthropy here?
Oct 6, 2018 2925
When someone takes their own life, how does it affect those left behind? Suicide claims the life of someone, somewhere in the world, approximately every 40 seconds, according to the World Health Organisation. And that rate is increasing. The devastating effects on those left behind can go on for generations, especially where suicide is taboo or difficult to talk about. Mark Dowd hears the stories of people bereaved by suicide and reflects on his own experience following the suicide of his brother Chris.
Don't Shoot, I'm Disabled
Oct 4, 2018 1629
Hundreds of people are killed by the police in the US each year. Much of the media attention has been on the race of victims, but there is another disturbing pattern to the deaths. A large number of those killed in interactions with police have a disability, with some research suggesting the figure is as much as half of the total number. Many of the dead had been living with mental illness, learning difficulties or a physical disability and recent incidents include those involving police officers shooting dead people with schizophrenia, autism, Down's Syndrome and deafness. North America Correspondent, Aleem Maqbool dissects some of these cases - reconstructing events, speaking to eye-witnesses and to officers involved in such fatal incidents - to ask why they happen so frequently. What are revealed are some deep-rooted issues concerning not just police culture, but also concerning the attitudes of society as a whole towards the disabled.
Producers: Josephine Casserly and Haley Thomas
(Image: A collection of pictures of Ethan Saylor, a twenty-six year old man with Down Syndrome, who died of asphyxiation after three off-duty deputies restrained him. Credit: Getty Images)
A Life Alone
Oct 2, 2018 1640
Christopher de Bellaigue presents an exploration of loneliness – told through a conversation with one woman – his 94 year old aunt, Diana. As she follows her usual routine at her home on Vancouver Island, Diana charts her life story, recounting her abandonment by her parents in the 1920s, her reunion with them years later, a life full of transitory friendships but extraordinary determination and independence.
The Children of Belsen
Sep 30, 2018 3014
In April 1945 a 15-year-old Dutch Jewish girl, Hetty Werkendam, was interviewed by the BBC in the Nazi concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen shortly after its liberation by the British. Mike Lanchin travels to the site of Bergen-Belsen in Germany with the now 88-year-old Hetty and her family. Hetty vividly recalls the deprivations of the camp, and of seeing the dead bodies piling up outside the children’s barracks. Hetty says its a story that needs to be told again and again in order not to be forgotten by the next generation.
Zika Love Stories
Sep 29, 2018 3010
Three years ago, doctors in the north-east of Brazil noticed a worrying new trend - a spate of babies being born with abnormally small heads, or microcephaly. The cause was traced to an outbreak of the Zika virus earlier in 2015. More than 3,000 babies were born with significant disabilities. BBC Brasil’s Julia Carneiro goes back to the state of Pernambuco to meet children affected by congenital Zika syndrome, who are now toddlers. She finds families who have been rocked by adversity but are sustained by a strong sense of solidarity, resilience and love.
Macedonia: What’s in a Name?
Sep 27, 2018 1773
The name ‘Macedonia’ is hotly disputed by two neighbouring nations. The Greek province of Macedonia and the country calling itself the Republic of Macedonia border Lake Prespa. The villagers on the lake’s shores share a language and a culture, but it’s impossible to cross or drive around the lake because of the dispute with Greece over the Republic’s name. After years of stalemate, the governments of the two countries have agreed on a new name, the Republic of Northern Macedonia. But this has sparked angry protests by nationalists on both sides of the border. As The Republic of Macedonia prepares to hold a referendum on its name on 30 September, Maria Margaronis visits both sides of the lake to find out why this issue is so contentious - and how a painful history is being exploited by the far-right, politicians, and other interests on both sides. What do local people - and the lake stand to gain once the dispute is settled? And what’s holding them back?
Producer: Chloe Hadjimatheou
(Image: Greek protest against Macedonia name change. Credit: Giorgos Georgiou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Sep 25, 2018 1625
In Paris, aspiring models have to adjust to rather spartan conditions - from sharing a flat with strangers to moving around an unknown city all alone and surviving on a mere 80 euros a week. Despite their best efforts to get a job, most of the girls will leave Paris with empty pockets. Former model and now BBC journalist, Alina Isachenka, follows 17-year-old schoolgirl Anna Vasileva from the city of Nizhny Novgorod in Russia on her challenging journey through tough competition and over-demanding casting directors to the top of the fashion industry.
Sep 20, 2018 1600
Simon Cox is in Austria where the authorities have launched an unprecedented operation against a new far right youth organisation, Generation Identity. They prosecuted members of the group including its leader, Martin Sellner, for being an alleged criminal organisation. They are currently appealing the judge's not guilty verdict. The Austrian group is at the heart of a new pan European movement that is vehemently opposed to Muslims and immigration. GI says it is not racist or violent. In Germany more than 100 offences have been committed by its members in just over a year. And the group's co leader in Britain stepped down after he was revealed to have a Neo Nazi past.
Reporter: Simon Cox
Producer: Anna Meisel
Image: Martin Sellner demonstrating at Kahlenberg Vienna
Credit: David Speier/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: National International
Sep 19, 2018 1620
Editor David Cannadine delves into stories about some of the colourful figures who lurk in the holdings of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, from Archibald Stansfeld Belaney, alias Grey Owl, the impostor conservationist of the early 20th century, to Alice Lucas, the earliest female UK parliamentary candidate, and recent figures from popular culture like Amy Winehouse.
The Changing Face of Procreation: Assisted Reproduction
Sep 18, 2018 1633
How humans make babies could be about to change, thanks to advances in IVF and reproductive technology. Krupa Padhy meets the new kinds of families that could become the norm, and explores how reproductive technology may soon alter the way all of us make babies.
Iceland: What Happened Next?
Sep 16, 2018 3018
Iceland is a small island nation of just 340,000 people, but at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008, it was the scene of one of the biggest banking collapses in history.
Ten years on the economy has recovered, thanks to the millions of tourists who now visit every year. But what scars have been left on this close-knit island nation’s collective psyche?
Edwin Lane speaks to the Icelanders hit hardest by the crisis, the small-town chief of police charged with pursuing the errant bankers, the new wave of Icelandic politicians agitating for change, and the Icelanders who fear that the lessons of the past haven’t been learned.
Chile - Sexual Abuse, Secrets and Lies
Sep 13, 2018 1639
Dark secrets of Chile's Catholic Church - one of South America's devout congregations
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Lasting Fame
Sep 12, 2018 1649
Editor David Cannadine takes us behind the scenes at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) to examine why this late Victorian institution, with thousands upon thousands of detailed and vivid entries about the great and the good, is still relevant in the internet age. We hear the processes by which candidates are selected for inclusion, how the style and content have changed over the years, and why, in a period which tries to look beyond the praise of famous men and women, there is still a place for a publication that unashamedly does just that.
The Changing Face of Procreation: Part One
Sep 11, 2018 1648
Krupa Padhy examines where we have got to after 40 years of IVF. In England, she visits a family made up of white British parents and their three boys, plus a ‘snow baby’: created during an IVF cycle for her Indian-American genetic parents, but adopted as an embryo by her birth family. She hears from ethicists and law makers from around the world about how countries have struggled to adapt to new technological realities, and discovers stories that challenge ideas of what IVF is for, like that of an Indian woman who used her dead son’s sperm to create grandchildren.
Nevada’s Brothels Face the Axe
Sep 6, 2018 1647
In parts of Nevada, prostitution is legal - the only such state in the US. The 'live and let live' mentality is a hangover from the gold rush days; in certain counties, brothels have been officially licensed since 1971.
Today, no fewer than seven of them are owned by one man: Dennis Hof, a gun-toting restaurateur, entrepreneur and reality TV star. He calls himself the 'Trump from Pahrump', after a town where he recently won the Republican primaries for the Nevada State Legislature.
Now, though, there is a backlash from religious and social activists, who have managed to get a referendum on the ballot during this November’s mid-term elections. Voters in Lyon County will be asked if the legal brothels there should be allowed to continue to operate.
Ultimately, the campaigners aim to end legal sex work across the whole state. They say it is an exploitative, abusive trade, and prevents other businesses from investing in the area. But some sex workers are worried that a ban could push them onto the streets, where they would face potential danger.
Lucy Ash talks to Dennis Hof, the women who work for him, and those who are pushing for change.
Producer: Mike Gallagher
Image: Dennis Hof poses outside the Moonlite BunnyRanch (Credit: Reuters)
Sep 4, 2018 1642
How has comedy helped Northern Ireland cope with conflict and move on?
-- An atheist is driving in Belfast and he gets stopped by a paramilitary road block. A paramilitary walks up to the window and asks him "Catholic or Protestant?" The atheists looks at him and says "well I'm an atheist" The paramilitary nods "Ah okay, but are you a Catholic or a Protestant atheist?" --
Northern Ireland is renowned for its friendliness and sense of humour but after 40 years of violence how do you keep laughing? The conflict has brought out a very particular brand of humour unique to the country, much darker than the Irish humour and sharper than the Scottish.
Comedian Diona Doherty (star of Derry Girls and Soft Border Patrol) finds out what comedy can tell us about healing in conflict and what young people think of the future of NI post Brexit and without a government.
Speaking with stars of the past and future she hears how the jokes have changed even if some of the issues haven’t. Along with her former comedy partner Jordan Dunbar they set out to find the man with the darkest sense of humour in Belfast.
How has comedy evolved and what can it tell us about how to live in a country without a government?
Uganda's Prison Farms
Sep 3, 2018 1653
'He was using prisoners like oxen for ploughing for his own gain'. An ex-convict in Uganda recalls the prison officer in charge of the prison farm he worked on. Uganda has one of the most overcrowded prison systems in Africa. It also has one of the continent’s most developed systems of prison labour.
Ed Butler reports from Uganda where most of the country’s 54,000 inmates are now serving an economic purpose, working for the benefit of an elite collection of private farmers and other business interests – even though half of them have not been convicted of any crime. He speaks to current and former prisoners to find out how the system works, and asks: is the country breaking its international pledges on prisoner treatment?
Presented and produced by Ed Butler.
(Image: Prisoners at Patongo Prison, Uganda. Credit: David Brunetti)
Neighbourhood: The Battle for the Future of Lagos
Aug 29, 2018 1638
The story of one of the most ambitious, privatised cities in West Africa, which involves dredging up millions of tons of sand to build 10 square kilometres of land off the coast of Lagos. Reporters Katie Jane Fernelius and Ishan Thakore look at Eko Atlantic City, a city with its own private electricity, water supply and sewage system that works to make Lagos the Dubai of Africa, and fight coastal erosion. But the construction of the city displaced the residents and patrons of what remained of Bar Beach, a neighbourhood that is tangled up in the history of Lagos. At one time it was a popular destination for Sunday picnics, the setting for variety television shows, a place where criminals were publicly executed by firing squad and is still a place of worship for Pentecostal Nigerians. Bar Beach had been eroded by the ocean for years – the small area that remained was nevertheless home to tens of thousands who lived on plank houses on the water. In 2008, with one day’s notice, residents say police evicted them with tear gas and fire. That same year, a famous developer broke ground on Eko Atlantic City. The developers claim that they offer a vision for the future of Lagos. But those evicted, who are among the 14 million urban poor in the African megacity, worry that they won’t be included in that future.
The Life and Times of Senator John McCain
Aug 28, 2018 1592
Few American politicians have carved such a distinctive career as the late John McCain, the Republican Senator for Arizona. Anthony Zurcher, the BBC's North America reporter, looks back at his life, including his military service, during which he endured five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and his two unsuccessful bids for the American presidency. He also examines how McCain gained a reputation as a political maverick, and inflicted one of the most high-profile policy defeats of Donald Trump's presidency to date.
Featuring interviews with political journalist and author Elizabeth Drew, political adviser Mark McKinnon, and Brooke Buchanan, Sen. McCain's former press secretary and communications director.
Aug 28, 2018 1622
Over the last seven years as many as a million people in Syria lived under siege, 400,000 of them in Eastern Ghouta alone. Some were trapped for more than four years of bombardment, sniping and near starvation. The walls that stopped them fleeing also prevented many of their stories leaking to the outside world. They could not leave and journalists, along with aid workers and human rights groups, could not get in. Over recent years, Mike Thomson has been using internet links and social media to get inside these isolated and often forgotten places. He has garnered compelling and moving interviews with residents in some of the hardest to reach places. We hear from long besieged Daraya, Eastern Ghouta, and IS surrounded Yarmouk to Eastern Aleppo, Madaya, Homs and Raqqa. With great fortitude and bravery many people told Mike their stories as bombs shook the walls around them. The result is extraordinary picture of everyday life in some of the most frightening and devastated places on earth. Yet amid the grim accounts of death, loss and destruction are inspiring examples of resilience, courage and hope. Most of these besieged areas have now been overrun and evacuated, but this programme ensures that what they went through will not be forgotten.
The Benefits of Nakedness
Aug 26, 2018 3031
Some people just love to be naked in public. Dr Keon West travels far and wide to speak to those who enjoy taking their clothes off to find out why they do it, and what the benefits – and disadvantages – might be. His work showed that those of us who are naked in public are more likely to be happier not just with our bodies, but also with our lives more generally.
'Gone to Foreign' from Jamaica
Aug 23, 2018 1637
When someone in Jamaica emigrates to the UK, it is said they have 'gone to foreign'. Over the past 70 years several hundred thousand Jamaicans have done this, following in the footsteps of the so-called 'Windrush generation' who first arrived in Britain in the late 1940s. But the spirit of adventure and optimism those early pioneers bought with them has changed over the years and a recent political scandal now finds some of them unwanted and rejected by Britain. Following changes to immigration law and failing to comply with citizenship requirements, they have been designated illegal immigrants. On returning from holiday in the Caribbean, some of the children of the Windrush generation (now in their 50s and 60s) have been refused entry back to Britain, and others have been deported from Britain back to the Caribbean. For Crossing Continents, Colin Grant travels to Jamaica to meet two men who, despite having lived in the UK for decades, working and paying taxes, find themselves in limbo, trapped and unable to return to the place they call home. What happens when you are stranded in a place you were never really familiar with, an island which you have little memory of, and may not have returned to for half a century? Grant hears of their endeavour to return to the UK and how they have struggled to keep up hope in the face of a very painful and public rejection.
Colin Grant reporting and producing.
(Image: West Indian mother keeps the rain off her child with an umbrella, as they depart the Spanish passenger vessel Montserrat at Southampton docks Oct 1961 / Credit: Press Association)
Neighbourhood: How a Garden Grows
Aug 22, 2018 1642
Lowell has seen better days. Once a bustling mill town, in the 1920s and 30s it was hit hard by broad shifts in manufacturing that rocked the northeast United States. In the decades since, an influx of immigrants from all over the world has moved in, making Lowell a vibrant place to live despite the departure of industry. However, it remains a largely low-income city, and in the past few years an effort to address urban access to fresh food has brought community gardens to some of the poorest neighbourhoods.
Leonard Bernstein and Me
Aug 21, 2018 1641
Composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein is perhaps the most influential American musician of all time. A champion of cultural inclusivity, he tore down musical barriers to declare the symphony hall open to all and offered the classical music world a dynamic new model of what a maestro could be. As a conductor he achieved early worldwide acclaim, as a composer his work defied genre divisions and brought him popular and critical success, notably with his most well-known work West Side Story. As an educator, he opened up the world of classical music to generations of American children through his long running series of television lectures. On the centenary of his birth, musician and broadcaster Jon Tolansky meets the people who continue to be inspired by Leonard Bernstein’s all-embracing approach to music and life.
Not Making Babies in South Korea
Aug 16, 2018 1591
Why does South Korea have the lowest fertility rate in the world? The average South Korean woman is expected to have 1.05 children in her life - exactly half the rate needed to maintain a population. That means a shrinking workforce paying less taxes and more elderly people who will need expensive care. South Korea's government has pumped tens of billions of pounds into dealing with the problem over the past decade, but the fertility rate is still going down. In this whodunnit, Simon Maybin finds out who's not doing it - and why.
Producer: John Murphy Presenter: Simon Maybin.
(Image: South Korean school children in class with teacher. Copyright: BBC)
Neighbourhood: At Conscience Point
Aug 15, 2018 1667
The Hamptons in the East End of Long Island, New York, is the playground of the super-rich, the epicentre of a luxury property boom, with developers scheming for any scrap of land on which to make millions. Meanwhile the original inhabitants of this beautiful peninsula, the Shinnecock Indians, find themselves pushed to a point of near extinction, squeezed onto a tiny 1000-acre reservation. Over hundreds of years the Shinnecock have seen their ancient burial grounds ploughed up unceremoniously for the widening of roads, golf courses and new mansions.
Where are You Going? Seoul
Aug 14, 2018 1839
Catherine Carr travels to the South Korean city of Seoul and invites passers-by to stop for a moment and answer one question - Where are you going? She meets a Korean-American who regrets her decision to move to Seoul – a place her parents call ‘Hell City’ - to a wannabe author with a dark past. And she talks to a political refugee stuck in a passport-less limbo, and a couple in love, who simply cannot live together.
Mo Salah: Football is Life
Aug 12, 2018 3014
The Liverpool and Egypt footballer Mo Salah became a phenomenon last season; breaking records and winning almost every award going in the English Premier League. In his adopted city of Liverpool, football fans of different faith, nationality and club allegiance describe how Salah has broken down the boundaries that divide them. Reporter Nick Garnett travels from the back-streets surrounding Liverpool’s stadium at Anfield to the Pyramids of Egypt to uncover how Salah’s exploits off the pitch may even eclipse his achievements on it.
Euthanasia - Aurelia's Story
Aug 9, 2018 1655
In January, Aurelia Brouwers – a 29 year old Dutch woman, with a history of severe mental illness – lay down on her bed to die. She had been declared eligible for euthanasia a month earlier - Dutch law permits the ending of a life where there is, ‘unbearable suffering’ without hope of relief. Aurelia’s death provoked an outpouring on social media, and widespread discussion within the Netherlands… What if a death wish is part of someone’s illness? And does someone with serious mental health challenges have the capacity to make a decision about their own demise? These are questions now being debated in the Netherlands as a result of Aurelia’s death. Crossing Continents features recordings of Aurelia made in the two weeks before she died, hears from some of the friends closest to her, and explores the complex terrain of euthanasia for people with psychiatric problems in Holland.
Reported and produced by Linda Pressly.
(Image: Aurelia Brouwers. Credit: RTL Nieuws, Sander Paulus)
We Might as Well be Finnish
Aug 8, 2018 1636
How has Finland been shaped by its two very different neighbours, Sweden and Russia? These days, Finland is considered to be one of the best governed, least corrupt, most educated nations in the world. It has even earned itself the title of 'World’s Happiest Country'. Yet the self-deprecating Finns have long seen Finland as a scrappy underdog wedged between two much bigger countries, Sweden and Russia. How has this Nordic nation has been profoundly shaped by its two much bigger - and very different - neighbours?
Where are you going? Hanoi
Aug 7, 2018 1836
An interrupted journey is like a portal into somebody else’s life. In this programme, Catherine Carr invites strangers to pause on their way from A to B and asks them one simple question: ‘Where Are You Going?’ In the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, Catherine meets the feminist teenagers who dream of equality and a jet-setting seven-year-old who is already worried about college. She meets a depressed new mother struggling to cope, and a teenager praying for good exam grades.
Bonus Podcast: My Indian Life Preview
Aug 3, 2018 214
Introducing Kalki Presents: My Indian Life - our new podcast with Bollywood actor, Kalki Koechlin. This preview tells you all about it. It’s raw, it’s painful, it’s joyful. It’s real life in India in the 21st century. Episode 1 will be available from 4 August 2018.
Norway's Silent Scandal
Aug 2, 2018 1606
The conviction for child porn of a prominent expert in Norway's troubled child protection system has put the organisation under scrutiny once again. In April this year a child psychiatrist was convicted of downloading thousands of child pornography images on his computer. Up until his arrest he played a key role in decisions about whether children should be separated from their parents for their own good. But there has been no public discussion in Norway about the implications of his conviction, no outrage in the newspapers, no plans to review cases he was involved in - even though the country's child protection agency, Barnevernet, has been much criticised in recent years for removing children from their families without justification. In April 2016 Tim Whewell reported on the story for Crossing Continents after Barnevernet attracted an international storm of protest over its child protection policies. Tim now returns to Norway to report on this extraordinary twist in the story and to find out why child protection in one of the world’s wealthiest countries appears to be in crisis. Produced and Reported by Tim Whewell.
(Image: A row of family shoes. Credit: BBC)
Fake Marriages for Real Homes
Aug 1, 2018 1620
In Mumbai, young couples struggle to rent a flat unless they are married. Nicole and Ajit, both in their mid 20s, met in Mumbai, the city of dreams. They began dreaming of wanting to live together. But as a couple not married to each other, the housing system does not allow them to find a flat to rent together.
Where Are You Going?: Tokyo
Jul 31, 2018 1807
Catherine Carr invites strangers to pause on their way from A to B and asks them one simple question: ‘Where Are You Going?’ She heads to Tokyo where she meets a professional pick up artists of Shibuya, an ageing, peace-seeking anarchist, and a couple who love to dress identically in public. The conversations which follow reveal what really keeps people awake at night. Stories of love and loss, regret, ambition and joy.
Central Park Calling
Jul 29, 2018 3009
Is being disagreeable a good thing? Is how we identify becoming more complex? And what is the one thing conservative Republicans are wishing President Trump would do next? They are all topics that were under discussion at this year’s OZY Fest – a summer festival of ideas, music, comedy and food held in New York’s Central Park. This is the best of the two day fest with Lizzie O’Leary.
The Life, Death and Life of Arkady Babchenko
Jul 27, 2018 1588
The resurrection of a murdered Kremlin critic in Ukraine.
Harold Evans at 90
Jul 25, 2018 1632
At a time of unprecedented change and scrutiny of the media, Razia Iqbal interviews and listens again to the archive from British newspaper man Harold Evans, whose name has become a byword for serious investigative journalism. From his flat in New York, she speaks to Sir Harry about giving voice to the voiceless, risking going to prison and changing British law in his lifelong pursuit of the truth.
Crypto Rico: Blockchain for a Broken Paradise
Jul 25, 2018 2149
Hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico is becoming an unlikely launchpad for a blockchain boom. Whilst many thousands of Puerto Ricans are leaving the island after the devastation of hurricane Maria, a small group of wealthy ‘crypto-preneurs’, are moving to th.is US territory. They harbour hopes to reboot paradise using blockchain technology, the revolutionary idea which helped create digital currencies like bitcoin, and bring prosperity back to this financially struggling island
Skateboarding is 60
Jul 24, 2018 2981
Sixty years ago, a man wandered into a surf shop on the beach in Southern California with a homemade wooden board with four roller-skate wheels attached. An insignificant beginning for a culture that would eventually influence communities all around the world.
Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Jul 19, 2018 2962
The US is the home of the perfect Hollywood smile, but in one of the world’s richest countries tens of millions of people struggle to pay for a dentist. Natalia Guerrero goes on a dental voyage of discovery across America to investigate the relationship between cavities and cash.
Kansas Child Politics
Jul 19, 2018 1588
There’s an unlikely election campaign underway in the American state of Kansas where several teenagers have joined the race to be Governor. Kansas is the only place in the US with no lower age limit on running for the state’s top job and the youngsters say they want to energise other young people and boost youth involvement in politics. They come from Republican, Democratic and Independent backgrounds but their views, in a very conservative state, range far and wide across the ideological spectrum. On taxes, spending, environmental laws and even gun control, the teenagers often break with party orthodoxy and look for compromise. All this at a time when school children are leading the grass-roots movement against guns, taking on their political elders for the first time in decades. For Assignment, Claire Bolderson travels to Kansas to meet the aspiring politicians, too young to vote even for themselves, to assess the shifting sands of youth politics.
Producer: Michael Gallagher
(Image: 17 year old Tyler Ruzich believes he can become Governor of Kansas. Credit: BBC)
The Private Cities of Honduras
Jul 18, 2018 1639
Luis Fajardo examines a controversial plan to create privatised cities in the impoverished Central American country of Honduras. Nearly a decade ago a US star economist, Paul Romer, proposed “charter cities” as a model for developing countries to escape poverty and violence; new cities with Western-style institutions and laws, to be built and managed by foreigners in semi-autonomous enclaves carved out of the country.
Soft Power Seduction: China Lures Taiwan’s Youth
Jul 17, 2018 1641
Young Taiwanese entrepreneurs working in a start-up hub are offered attractive sweeteners. But this isn’t in California or even Taipei, it’s on the outskirts of Shanghai. The People’s Republic of China is setting its sights on Taiwan’s youth by encouraging them to relocate to the ‘mainland’.
In Every Dream Home a Heartache
Jul 15, 2018 3034
Over the last twenty years or so hundreds of mansions have appeared in the Kharian region of the Punjab. Each mansion represents a successful migration to the West – some to the UK but mostly to Norway. For three or four weeks a year the mansions are holiday homes to the returning migrants and their Norwegian born children. This is often a time when differences and rifts in extended families emerge and a time when young people must assess their futures.
The Thailand Cave Rescue
Jul 14, 2018 1421
The miraculous rescue of the 12 boys and their young football coach, trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand, has been followed around the world. It was a global operation with divers from several different counties. Its chances of success or failure were finely balanced. In the end there was jubilation, tinged with some sadness. The BBC minute team take you back to each day of the past three weeks and reflect on how the drama unfolded.
The Mafia Under the Spotlight
Jul 12, 2018 1588
It is thought to be the most powerful Mafia organisation in the world and yet few people have heard of it. The ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate has used the enormous wealth derived from its control of Cocaine smuggling to spread its tentacles far and wide around the world. The crime organisation began as bandits in the late 19th century in Calabria in southern Italy and is now thought to be operating in 50 countries. The ‘Ndrangheta shuns the limelight but earlier this year a brutal murder brought it unwelcome attention. Investigative reporter Jan Kuciak was shot dead while investigating possible links between the ‘Ndrangheta and the government in his native Slovakia. Suddenly the Mafia was in the news. For Assignment Andrew Hosken travels to Slovakia and Italy to investigate the killing and the ‘Ndrangheta’s global reach and power.
Producer: Albana Kasapi
(Image: Candles placed in front of a portrait of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova. Credit:AFP/Getty Images)
Inside the World of the Financial Dominatrix
Jul 11, 2018 1639
Financial domination, or findom, is an increasingly popular sexual fetish revolving around money and power. In this internet-based world, submissives (subs) are known as cash slaves and pay pigs. The financial dominatrices (dommes) humiliate, manipulate, seduce or even blackmail their willing “fiscal slaves” into sending them money or gifts – most have an Amazon wish list connected to their social media profiles. Who engages in such a fetish? How does a dominatrix build her online persona in order to be successful?
Nye Bevan: The Man Who Made the NHS
Jul 11, 2018 1637
The man who built Britain’s world famous and highly regarded National Health Service, Anuerin Bevan, often known as Nye Bevan is retold by Welsh actor Michael Sheen. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the service which granted health care free at the point of delivery for every citizen in the United Kingdom. The first NHS hospital was opened by Anuerin Bevan near Manchester, England in July 1948. But despite years of planning, Doctors had largely been opposed to its birth and Bevan fought a tough battle in the last few months to make it happen.
Back Home from ISIS
Jul 6, 2018 1618
For years, the so-called Islamic State has managed to attract thousands of would-be jihadis and jihadi brides to join their caliphate. The extremist propaganda, online videos and recruiters have seen thousands of people from all over the world flock to Iraq and Syria to join IS; including 850 men, women and children from the UK. The brutality of the terror group is now well known, partly due to their own publicity online. Videos and stories of beheadings, floggings and sex slaves have been released to the public, drawing in a new wave of foreign fighters. It's thought 50% of UK citizens who left to join IS, have now returned home- the rest are dead, detained or missing. What happens to these returnees when they come back? With only a minority being prosecuted and imprisoned, what efforts are being made to de-radicalise the rest? This investigation explores the danger posed by UK returnees, the efforts to de-radicalise and reintegrate them and the difficulties of proving they were ever part of the caliphate once they've returned home.
Reporter: Paul Kenyon
Producer: Kate West
(Illustration: A woman wearing a hijab)
Winning it Big
Jul 5, 2018 1628
Most people have dreamed of winning the lottery. It’s a dream that has become ever more common around the world as jackpots get bigger and lotteries more numerous. But does money really make us happy, and how much does this depend on where we live and how we spend it? To find out the BBC’s, Mike Thomson meets lottery winners from around the globe.
Only Not Lonely
Jul 3, 2018 1624
Even today the stereotype continues that only children are selfish, spoiled and lonely – it’s the so-called “only child syndrome”. But around the world one-child families are becoming more common. So why do some parents decide to have only one child? And how much does it have to do with circumstance and economics?
Outsider's View of the NHS
Jul 1, 2018 2992
The National Health Service is the largest and the oldest single payer healthcare system in the world. It is the largest public employer in England and Scotland with around 1.5 million staff and is constantly in the political spotlight. As it reaches its 70th birthday we explore how it is viewed by those who work within it but trained in another country. Doctors, nurses and administrators give the listeners their view of the unique organisation that is the NHS.
Back from the Brink
Jul 1, 2018 2934
Meet the entrepreneurs facing the toughest of tests. In three vivid stories from across the globe, we hear from individuals who have created businesses and watched them fail. Now, they are picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and starting all over again.
Seaweed, Sex and Liberation
Jun 28, 2018 1593
In a conservative corner of east Africa, thousands of women have gained more control over their lives thanks to seaweed. In a traditional island village there is a surprisingly high divorce rate and women have safeguarded their interests with earnings from this salty crop which has given them a much needed income and new independence. At first the husbands were outraged – they complained that seaweed farming made women too tired for their matrimonial duties. The women eventually prevailed but their hard won freedom is now threatened by climate change. Lucy Ash meets the seaweed farmers of Paje village and looks at the ways they are fighting to save their livelihood and raise their families.
Image Credit: Chloe Hadjimatheou
Money Clinic: Nairobi
Jun 28, 2018 1623
Life coach and author Jennie Karina talks love and money with two couples in Nairobi, Kenya. Weddings, loans, family pressure - it’s all up for discussion in the BBC Money Clinic. It can be hard to talk about money, even with those we’re closest to. And yet with financial disagreements being a major cause of divorce, it’s critical that we do.
Money Clinic: Miami
Jun 26, 2018 1642
It can be hard to talk about money, even with those we’re closest to. And yet with financial disagreements being a major cause of divorce, it’s critical that we do. The BBC Money Clinic is inviting couples to talk honestly and openly about their finances and their relationship with an expert. Financial therapist Jean Theurer will coach two couples in South Florida who want to stop arguing about money.
Presenter: Ruth Alexander
Producer: Karen Griggs
(Photo: Susan and Martin Spinnato Credit: BBC)
Jun 21, 2018 1618
So-called ‘citizenship-by-investment’ – the selling of passports - is a global industry worth billions of dollars and it’s completely legal. The idea is simple – invest huge sums of money in a country you want a passport from and in return acquire residency rights or citizenship, even visa-free access to all European member states. The UK offers residency in exchange for an investment of £2 million / $2.6 million – or for £10 million, the possibility of British citizenship within two years. And across the world, countries are vying to attract the super-rich through these schemes. But they are attracting attention for the wrong reasons.
European MEPs have launched an investigation into 'Golden Passport' programmes across Europe - including the UK - amid concerns that they pose a corruption risk. In the US, government financial investigators say individuals are buying citizenship to hide their true identity, in an attempt to flout economic sanctions against Iran. Alys Harte reporting.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
Uganda: The Price of Marriage
Jun 20, 2018 1638
In a quest to show off new-found wealth or social status, and in a race to out-do their neighbours, people are going to extremes to put on the most lavish wedding. Ugandan nuptials are now big business with big dresses, big venues and big bills. Having reached marrying age British-Ugandan journalist Mugabi Turya travels to Uganda to find what it really costs to get married.
What Would You Do With $100?
Jun 19, 2018 1628
What do our plans for spending $100 reveal about us and the buying power of money? Lesley Curwen travels to Washington DC where the $100 note is printed. She also meets a former drug user, a former scientist turned entrepreneur, a hospital doctor in Zimbabwe and a maid to find out how they would spend $100.
What's Mine is Yours?
Jun 17, 2018 3012
What does the way you handle your finances say about your relationship?
Guatemala – After the Fire
Jun 14, 2018 1588
On 8th March, 2017 a fire engulfed part of the Virgen de la Asuncion children’s home on the outskirts of Guatemala City. 41 teenaged girls died. A further 15 were seriously injured, and are still recovering from burns. The President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, declared 3 days of national mourning. But the story that soon emerged revealed a child protection crisis of epic proportions.
Virgen de la Asuncion was supposed to be a refuge for children affected by abuse, neglect or who had become entangled in Guatemala’s gang culture. Often girls were placed in the home for their own protection, to keep them from the clutches of traffickers and drug dealers who operate with impunity in poor neighbourhoods. But conditions at the home were appalling. Designed for 400, it was home to hundreds more boys and girls. And far from being a sanctuary for the children, there was a terrifying culture of abuse – sexual and physical. On 7th March, 2017 more than 100 of the children and young people broke out. Most were rounded up in the local area by the police. As punishment, they were locked up. And in protest, in the room where the girls were corralled, one of them set fire to a mattress.
Assignment meets families, explores the fate of others who lived at the home, and talks to welfare workers. Why did no one heed the loud warning bells about Virgen de la Asuncion?
Presenter Linda Pressly
Producer Georgina Hewes
Photo title: Heidi Hernandez – her daughter survived the fire with life-changing injuries / Credit: Georgina Hewes BBC
Sounds of the City
Jun 13, 2018 1641
Peter White, who was born without sight, tours the world, navigating primarily with his ears. Where most travellers store up visual images of the places they visit, Peter takes his tape recorder and relies on everything except eyes to guide him. Peter's latest spot of tourism takes him to Moscow, a city he describes as "satisfyingly noisy:"
Jun 12, 2018 1642
President John F. Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas on 22nd November 1963. Shortly afterwards the 24-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested, initially for the murder of a police officer. Within hours he was charged with assassinating the president. Two days later, although in police custody, Oswald was shot dead by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. The new President Lyndon B. Johnson quickly set up a commission under US Chief Justice Earl Warren. Its job was to investigate the murder of the president and circumstances surrounding it. Burt Griffin, Sam Stern and Howard P.Willens, worked on the report now openly consider its merits and whether it uncovered the truth.
You Can Handle The Truth
Jun 10, 2018 3025
Students in Uganda are the guinea pigs for a new scientific discipline – researchers are teaching them to be the first firewall against alternative facts. Academics from Uganda and Norway worked with 10,000 students in classrooms across Kampala to find out how well children can fight back against false information, in this case about health care.
Jun 7, 2018 1607
A new smuggling route has opened up on the edge of Europe. Every week hundreds of Syrians are risking their lives to leave the continent and return home. Nawal Al-Maghafi joins refugees on the migration route to discover why so many people are choosing life in a warzone over the safety of Europe.
Producer: Ben Allen
Photo credit: Ben Allen / BBC
Jun 5, 2018 1642
In the US, the National Park Service is leading a project to bring a little hush back to the wild. Cathy FitzGerald hears more on a hike with soundscape specialist, Davyd Betchkal, in Denali National Park, Alaska – a 6,000,000 acre wilderness bisected by a single road. Davyd is part of the Natural Sounds Division, a special team within the National Park Service, tasked with preserving the soundscapes of natural habitats.
The Witch Hunts of Papua New Guinea
May 31, 2018 1623
In Papua New Guinea, people live in fear of persecution. They might be turned on by relatives, chased off their land by neighbours or brutally attacked by a mob. Why? They’re believed to be witches.
Assignment, this week, is in the province of Chimbu in the highlands – a witch hunt hotspot. It’s a place where revenge attacks can lead to full-blown tribal warfare and where one accusation can destroy a family for generations. Why do so many people here believe in witchcraft and what is being done to change that?
Emily Webb follows one local man – whose motive is intensely personal – on his difficult mission to save the “witches” of Papua New Guinea.
Presented by: Emily Webb
Photo credit: BBC / Emily Webb
Is Eating Plants Wrong?
May 30, 2018 1632
Plant scientists from around the world are coming up with mind-blowing findings, and claiming that plants cannot just sense, but communicate, learn and remember. In an experiment in Australia, plants appeared to learn to associate a sound with a food source, just like the proverbial Pavlovian dogs linked the sound of a bell with dinner. Botanist James Wong explores these findings and asks whether, if plants can do all these things, and if, as one scientist says, they are a "who" and not a "what", then is it wrong to eat them?
Triple Score Wellington
May 29, 2018 1632
In 2015 Wellington Jighere, a 34-year-old from Nigeria, became Africa’s ‘man of the moment’ when he won the World Scrabble Championship, the first ever African to do so. The youngest of 20 siblings from a rural village in Delta State, Wellington now has bold dreams of how the board game can transform other’s lives in the way it did his own - and even help to remedy the nation’s developmental problems.
The Day Hope Died: Remembering Robert Kennedy
May 27, 2018 3028
Why did Bobby Kennedy leave such a lasting impression on US politics and society? Revered equally across the political spectrum today, his rise to prominence was controversial. He became Attorney General at just 35 and gained a reputation as a tough operator during his brother JFK’s time in the White House. But when he was gunned down in 1968, America was riven by racial and class division as well as doubts over the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Senator Robert Kennedy came to embody the hopes and dreams of a generation seeking a fairer and more peaceful country. Fifty years after becoming the target of an assassin in the Ambassador’s Hotel in Los Angeles, Stephen Sackur speaks to some of the people whose lives were changed forever that day. Close aide Paul Schrade, who was himself hit in the skull by one of the assassin’s bullets and Vincent Di Pierro who found himself covered in the senator’s blood as he slumped to the ground give the closest accounts of RFK’s final moments. Others painting a picture of Kennedy, the man include Peter Edleman, the policy director for his presidential campaign and speechwriters Adam Walinsky and Jeff Greenfield. Meanwhile RFK’s daughter Kerry Kennedy who was eight when her father died, gives us a rare insight into their home life and his role as a husband and father Legendary British interviewer David Frost (famed for his interrogation of Richard Nixon after Watergate) talks about the impact RFK had on him. And contributors speculate if another Kennedy may soon run for the White House with all eyes on RFK’s charismatic grandson, congressman Joe Kennedy who represents Massachusetts.
Zimbabwe - Where's Itai Dzamara?
May 24, 2018 1588
On 9 March 2015, one of Zimbabwe's most prominent critics of the Mugabe government, Itai Dzamara, was abducted from a barber shop in broad daylight. He hasn't been seen since - and his body hasn’t been discovered. Adding to the mystery is a series of text messages sent to Itai's brother claiming Itai was taken to various locations, then killed, then buried and then exhumed before being dumped in a dam.
For Assignment, Kim Chakanetsa chronicles his forced disappearance and asks the new government how the people of Zimbabwe can ever trust that the days of disappearances are over unless this high-profile case is resolved.
Itai Dzamara came to the attention of the authorities in 2014 when he started a protest in Harare's Africa Unity Square and delivered in person a petition to the president's office. His demand was simple but blunt: go now Mugabe.
We retrace what happened; we find out more about Itai the man from his friends; we explore the impact of his disappearance on his wife and children; we hear from lawyers how the initial police investigation took them on a wild goose chase. We question the police on what's the latest on the investigation and ask government how it can hope to restore faith without telling the people of Zimbabwe where Itai is.
Producer: Penny Dale
Editor: Penny Murphy
May 22, 2018 1638
Many Filipina women working overseas have left children behind and now watch their children grow up over a screen, but does this virtual mothering help maintain their relationship while they spend years apart? Filipina migrant workers in the UK and their children back in the Philippines tell their stories.
The Royal Wedding: The Story of the Day
May 19, 2018 2995
Nuala McGovern brings you highlights from Windsor on the day that saw Prince Harry marry Meghan Markel. From the royal wedding build-up and anticipation to the ceremony and the celebrations beyond.
The World’s Marriage Story
May 18, 2018 3005
As Britain hosts the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markel, The World's Marriage Story asks why so many people across the world continue to place their faith in this old-age institution. While rates are falling across Europe, in south Asia and China, marriage is near-universal. Mary-Ann Ochota asks, are today’s weddings are a one-to-one expression of romantic love? An explicit message to offspring already born? A sign that cultural and religious orthodoxy is being adopted by today’s young? Or are marriages a desire to please parents and wider family?
Shades of Jewish in Israel
May 17, 2018 1592
Israel gives all Jews the right to citizenship – but has it become less welcoming to African Jews?
Since its founding in 1948, after the horrors of the Holocaust, Israel has seen itself as a safe haven for Jews from anywhere in the world to come to escape persecution. But now that policy is under threat. As Jewish communities in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya are finding, a debate has arisen about who is “Jewish enough” to qualify. David Baker investigates claims that decisions are being made not on the basis of ancestry or religious observance but on the colour of people’s skin.
Producer: Simon Maybin
Presenter: David Baker
The Macron Effect
May 15, 2018 1622
When Emmanuel Macron followed up his victory in France’s presidential election with another win in the parliamentary elections, he looked set to carry out his promise to change France. Journalists wrote articles on how the Macron 'effect' was going to make France one of the world’s major powers and end Germany’s economic dominance of Europe. But the reality of enacting painful economic reforms has led to protests on the streets and a plummeting popularity rating. Lucy Williamson, looks at Macron’s first 12 months in office.
My Mixed Up World
May 13, 2018 3026
Meghan Markle, the Royal bride to be, has spoken of her confusion as a child when asked to describe her race and the impact that has endured as she entered acting - not white enough for the white roles and never black enough for the black ones. Broadcaster Nora Fakim, of Moroccan and Mauritius descent, explores her own experiences and meets others struggling to fit into a particular community.
China’s World Cup Dreams
May 10, 2018 1603
China’s football-loving President Xi Jinping says he wants his country to qualify for, to host and to win the football World Cup by 2050. The men’s national team has recently been defeated 6-0 by Wales, so there’s some way to go yet. But they’re spending billions trying to boost football in the country. Chinese entrepreneurs are also spending vast sums investing in local and foreign clubs, partly to help create a passion for playing football in the Chinese and to bring the latest training techniques back home.
For Assignment, Celia Hatton visits a special primary school in Gansu, in China’s far west, which is setting out to turn those World Cup dreams into reality. Made up of “left-behind children,” whose parents have migrated to the cities for work, the school drills the children in football skills each day, to give them direction and purpose, but also in the hope that some of them will use football as route out of poverty and to garner Chinese success on the pitch.
Producer: John Murphy
(Image Credit: John Murphy BBC)
May 9, 2018 1634
A new digital currency gold rush is sweeping the world but is the bubble about to burst?
The Voices of the Amazon
May 8, 2018 1635
Many anthropologists and researchers have visited the indigenous peoples of the Amazon to analyse their ways of life and culture. But what would these people want to say to us? Tribal leader Takuma Kuikuro guides us through a day in the life of his village, from dawn to dusk. He shares his vision of the future for the Kuikuro people who live in the upper reaches of the Xingu River.
The Invisible Man of Britain’s Far Right
May 3, 2018 1588
Simon Cox investigates the anti-immigration, anti-Muslim organisation Knights Templar International – not to be confused with the medieval Knights Templar organisation. In a recent interview its front man Jim,Dowson described KTI as a "militant Christian organisation". KTI posts regular ads on social media to recruit new members and seek donations to fight what Dowson calls the "war between militant Islam and Christianity". In a recent interview he warned "we are going towards a war in the West. We want to make sure when people hit the streets, militias will form. The Templar way is to train men up in everything - we have training course in video journalism, military stuff". With the money raised KTI buys paramilitary equipment which is sent to places like Northern Kosovo where British troops are still stationed to keep the peace between the Muslim Kosovo Albanian community and Orthodox Christian Serbians. Last year Dowson was banned from Hungary for being a threat to national security. The British anti-racism NGO Hope not Hate warns “he (Dowson) and his organisation tread a very fine line between antagonising people’s fears, stirring up and stoking people’s fears. He is the ‘Mr Slippery’ of the far-right world in Europe”. Within the far right community Dowson is a familiar figure but more generally he has kept a fairly low profile and has been dubbed in media reports "the invisible man of Britain's far right". Concern about the activities of Dowson and Knights Templar International is growing across Europe as the organisation recruits more members to its cause and threatens the peace in some of the most volatile regions.
Producer: Anna Meisel
What Men Think: India
Apr 29, 2018 3017
In Delhi, Tim Samuels finds an Indian city where masculinity plays out against a backdrop of class, caste and a rapidly changing economy. It is also a country that is searching its soul after a serious of notorious sexual assaults against women. Swati Maliwal from the Delhi Commission for Women reveals how she does not feel safe in her city - where there are six rapes in the capital every day. Meanwhile, a group of men tell Tim how they have faced hardships due to false dowry accusations and a divorce lawyer discloses that the courts are saddled with 50 cases of divorce every day.
Image: Sanju (with friends), is one of the men featured in the programme. He was a child worker making electric switches and has had "100 odd jobs since then". He now drives a battery operated free wheeler. Credit: Reduced Listening
Western Sahara’s Champion Athlete
Apr 26, 2018 1617
In the wind-swept desert of south-west Algeria, thousands of athletes prepare to run a marathon through the forgotten land of Western Sahara.
The runners will pass through six refugee camps; home to over 200,000 indigenous Saharawi people living under Moroccan occupation.
Nicola Kelly travels to the remote outpost of Tindouf to meet champion runner Salah Ameidan.
Identified at a young age as a talented cross-country athlete, Salah was forced to run under the Moroccan flag. At the end of a crucial race, victorious, he waved the Saharawi flag – illegal in Morocco – and was immediately exiled from the country.
Nicola follows Salah as he returns home to be reunited with his family and friends, many of whom he hasn’t seen since he left several years ago.
Through him, she explores the complexities of living under occupation and in exile. She meets landmine victims, youth leaders and members of the Saharawi independence movement, the POLISARIO and asks how running can help its people gain a sense of freedom.
Reporter: Nicola Kelly
**Podcast has been updated**
Apr 25, 2018 1638
With the closing ceremonial of the 2018 London Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting barely over, BBC radio’s Royal Correspondent Jonny Dymond excavates the Commonwealth of Nation’s 19th Century origins in the British Empire and its formal institution in 1949 as a post-colonial worldwide network of states ‘free and equal’ within the organisation.
Some have joked that the long shadow of its colonial origins has made it the ‘after-care service of Empire’. And with Her Majesty the Queen as its Head, the Commonwealth in the 1980s and 1990s became a powerful tool in the pursuit of majority rule in Zimbabwe and South Africa. But since then it has struggled to clearly define itself for the closely interconnected 21st Century.
Jonny Dymond samples the colour and the conversation of the London summit, visits the institution’s palatial London home, Marlborough House, and talks to Secretary General Patricia Scotland about the Commonwealth’s value in the modern world.
(Photo: Prime Minister Theresa May chairs a meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) in London, 2018. Credit: Getty Images)
The Response: China
Apr 24, 2018 1603
No reporters, no studios. The Response China hears directly from the citizens of the most populous county on the planet - using the recording power of smartphones. The contributors are normal working people, students, telling stories about the world of work in China, about their relationships, and the influence of family members on their lives. Hear how an online gamer nearly derailed his education, how a young worker in a big company struggled with full time employment, about coping with bipolar disorder and how one woman’s love for a Northern Irish actor has opened up new horizons. The programme was compiled using an initial prompt on social media and all stories were submitted directly from smartphones.
Presented by Howard Zhan
Photo: The Phoenix Tower which is the highest building inside Shenyang Imperial Palace, China. Credit: Feng Li/Getty Images
What Men Think: USA
Apr 22, 2018 3042
In North Carolina presenter Tim Samuel finds the contradictions and cultural clashes that are playing out across the US – with men often in the middle of the fallout. Heading through the Appalachian mountains – where traditional blue-collar jobs have collapsed - he sees the social ravages of opioid addiction. Indeed, a doctor reveals that for the first time in generations male mortality is starting to move in the wrong direction; we are in the midst of a man crisis, he says.
Corruption Incorporated: The Odebrecht Story
Apr 21, 2018 3075
Odebrecht was one of Brazil’s premier companies – the largest construction firm in Latin America. But some of its success in securing multi-million dollar contracts across the region was built on a policy of colossal bribery. The testimony of Odebrecht executives in plea-bargain agreements with prosecutors continues to have fall-out, especially with former President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva now in jail on charges related to Brazil’s wider corruption scandal. Across the region, heads have rolled in the wake of the revelations. Peru’s president was recently forced to resign and Ecuador’s vice-president is in prison. Linda Pressly visits Panama, where Odebrecht remains in the headlines, and where there are demands to terminate the company’s on-going contracts.
The Mystery of Russia’s Lost Jihadi Brides
Apr 19, 2018 1588
Thousands of young Russian Muslim men were lured to join so-called Islamic State - taking their wives and children with them. But since the "caliphate" fell last year, those families have vanished - and grandmothers back in Russia are desperate for news. The Kremlin wants to bring the children home. It says they've committed no crimes. But finding them and their mothers is hugely difficult. Iraqi authorities say they're holding many IS families - but they won't name them. Gradually though, dramatic scraps of information are emerging - a scribbled note from a prison, whispered phone messages, photos and videos on social media. For months, Tim Whewell has been talking to the grandmothers as they've gathered such clues - and now he travels to Iraq in search of more information, tracing the route the fighters and their families took when they were defeated - and trying to solve the mystery of what happened to them. What was the fate of the men after they surrendered at a remote village school? And what of the reports that many of the women and children were subsequently abducted by a militia? As the story unfolds, Tim confronts a powerful Shia warlord. Will the jihadis' children be released? What kind of justice will their mothers face? And what will the grandmothers - convinced of their daughters' innocence - do to try to get them back?
Presenter Tim Whewell
Producers Nick Sturdee & Mike Gallagher
Bermuda's Change of Heart
Apr 18, 2018 1645
In a radical turn of events – Bermuda has become the first country in the world to repeal same-sex marriage. In May 2017, Bermudian lawyer Mark Pettingill and his client Winston Godwin won a case in the Bermuda Supreme Court for marriage equality for all people in the LGBTQ+ community. However, less than a year later – a new government introduced the Domestic Partnership Act - taking away the rights of gay couples to marry, and given them instead the option of civil partnerships.
Islands on the Front Line
Apr 17, 2018 1633
Regina Lepping travels around her homeland – the Solomon Islands – to discover how this remote Commonwealth country in the Pacific is on the front line of climate change. Sea levels here are rising three times faster than the global average, some islands have already been lost and people have had to relocate their homes.
What Men Think: Nigeria
Apr 15, 2018 3035
In Lagos, the sprawling city in Nigeria, presenter Tim Samuels heads to a city that some describe as ‘the best place to be a man’; the ultimate playground for playboys. But is this only for the super-wealthy of the city? At the other end of the economic spectrum, he speaks to men who feel emasculated by their lack of work – and heads to an area that’s the world’s biggest floating slum. There a local fisherman regrets taking on his third wife, while the chief reveals the unusual punishment that is given to men who cheat on their wives. Tim also delves into areas that have traditionally been taboo for Nigerian men: homosexuality and mental health. A gay designer describes how he keeps his sexuality under wraps – to avoid potential jail time – and a doctor reveals that men are finally starting to admit to having mental health issues. Throughout, Tim meets Nigerian women to get their perspective on how men are changing (or not). One female journalist reveals the perils – and prayers of her mother – of the local dating scene.
Men might still the dominant gender – but for a lot of individual men these are troubling and confusing times. To see what’s really going on in men’s lives and minds, award-winning journalist and author Tim Samuels goes in search of modern masculinity in three very different cultures. He finds that the old certainties have been battered by job security collapsing, rising inequality and waves of feminism and political correctness. Across the world, men are way more likely to take their own lives, end up in jail or on the streets, or do something self-destructive or violent. Being a man is no longer
Image: A man, Credit: Getty Images
The King and Kennedy Assassinations
Apr 14, 2018 3050
On the 50th anniversary of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, presenter Michael Goldfarb tells the story of how they came to be murdered. He speaks with their children and close associates about how the pair’s lives and deaths affected their own pathway. And he looks at how their words and deeds continue to shape America.
The Child Saver of Mosul
Apr 12, 2018 1589
A one-woman whirlwind of passion and energy, Sukayna Muhammad Younes is a unique phenomenon in Iraq. A council official in the half-destroyed city of Mosul, former stronghold of so-called Islamic State, she's on a mission to find and identify the thousands of children who went missing during the conflict – and reunite them with their families. It’s a massive task – and deeply controversial because Sukayna makes no distinction between children who are victims of IS – and those who belonged to IS families. “They're all just children - all innocent,” she says.
Tim Whewell follows Sukayna through the rubble of the city, visiting her orphanage, trying to find missing parents, meeting families who want to reclaim children. Can she solve the mystery of Jannat – an abandoned fair-haired girl who may be the daughter of a foreign IS family? Can she help Amal, sister of a dead IS fighter, to adopt her baby niece? How can families afford the expensive DNA tests the authorities require before families can be reunited? As she tries to solve these problems Sukayna also has to look after her own family of six children - and cope with personal tragedy. Two of her brothers were killed by jihadis; her family home, used as an IS base, is now in ruins. Highly charismatic - Sukayna now wants to go into politics. "I am a mini-Iraq,” she says – her family includes members of many communities - and she believes the country desperately needs more dynamic, tolerant people like her, to bring real change and overcome divisions. But it’s hard to be a high-profile, energetic woman in patriarchal Iraq – and she’s faced death threats both from remaining IS supporters - and those who think she’s too ready to help “terrorist” families.
Presenter Tim Whewell
Producers Nick Sturdee & Mike Gallagher
Lusaka Fire and Rescue
Apr 10, 2018 1652
Lusaka, capital of Zambia, has a population of 2.5 million people, and one central fire station to serve them. The city of Paris – of a similar size – has over 80. Nick Miles explores how Zambia’s firefighters try and make that work, in this city of ignored safety regulations and combustible shanty homes.
Following them on their daily missions, from house fires in the compounds to industrial accidents in the factories, he finds a fire service capable of some real heroics. Yet it is also burdened with a terrible, city-wide reputation – responsible for all of Lusaka, they simply cannot move fast enough.
And while Lusaka’s firefighters are used to the abuse they receive on arrival – from insults to thrown stones – they now find themselves on the frontline of a national political scandal too. For Zambians are protesting on the streets, demanding an explanation for the government’s purchase of 42 new fire trucks - for $42 million dollars.
Photo: Firefighters put out flames, Credit: Lusaka Fire Station
The King and Kennedy Assassinations
Apr 9, 2018 3050
On the 50th anniversary of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, presenter Michael Goldfarb tells the story of how they came to be murdered. He speaks with their children and close associates about how the pair’s lives and deaths affected their own pathway. And he looks at how their words and deeds continue to shape America.
(Photo: Clergyman and civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King (1929-1968). Credit:Keystone/Getty Images)
Greece's Haven Hotel
Apr 5, 2018 1588
In a rundown neighbourhood in Athens there is a hotel with 4,000 people on its waiting list for rooms. But the roof leaks and the lifts are permanently out of action. None of the guests pay a penny, but everyone's supposed to help with the cooking and cleaning.
City Plaza is a seven-storey super squat housing 400 refugees from 16 different countries and the volunteers who support them.
The hotel went bankrupt during the financial crisis. It remained locked and empty until 2015, when Europe closed its borders leaving tens of thousands of refugees trapped in Greece. Then a group of activists broke in, reconnected the electricity and water and invited hundreds of migrants from the streets to take up residence with them.
The leftist Greek government has so far turned a blind eye and now mainstream NGOs like MSF and even the UNHCR have started cooperating this illegal project. For Crossing Continents, Maria Margaronis finds out how the hotel operates and get to know the people inside.
Producer: Chloe Hadjimatheou.
Photo Credit: Maria Margaronis / BBC
Telling Tales: The Odyssey
Apr 4, 2018 1642
Homer’s epic spoken poem The Odyssey was composed 3000 years ago. It is a tale of Odysseus's ten year long journey home after the battle of Troy with its countless trials and adventures along the way. And alongside the story of Odysseus we hear from contemporary refugees, currently caught in limbo, living in camps in modern day Greece, who speak of their own experiences and challenges as they leave one home and hope to find another.
Poking the Establishment
Apr 3, 2018 1645
Syrian police arrest a number of dead people in a cemetery. Laugh out loud, sharp intake of breath, or both? This is the sort of uncomfortable material produced by young Arab satirists. Since the Arab Spring, hopes for change have been dashed across much of the Arab world, but the revolts have unleashed online satire targeting social injustice, corruption and political leaders.
In this programme, journalist Magdi Abdelhadi – himself from Egypt – takes a closer look at satire in the Arab World. Among its rising stars are Andeel, a young Egyptian satirist angrily taking aim at the patriarchal order; the TV show Scenario, made by Syrians in Turkey, which lampoons the Assad regime, with President Assad himself often portrayed as a village fool; and Al Hudood, a satirical news website produced from London and Jordan, responsible for that cemetery sketch. We hear samples of these young satirists’ work, but also discover where the boundaries lie: when asked whether they can ridicule the Jordanian royal family, there’s a lot of squirming among Al Hudood’s journalists…
Arabic satire has a long tradition, rooted amongst other things in poetry using ordinary ‘street Arabic’ to lampoon public figures. Together with expert Clive Holes from Oxford University, Magdi explores some of those traditions and hears some of the most famous sketches of the genre. And he meets one of the biggest names in Arab satire, Karl Sharro from Lebanon, who works in English – taking the genre to the world stage.
Image: A man's face behind a printed smile, Credit: Getty Images
Digging up the past in Catalonia
Apr 3, 2018 1625
Why is troubled Catalonia now opening up civil war mass graves?
Spain has the second largest amount of mass graves in the world after Cambodia. Over 100,000 people disappeared during the 1930s civil war and the ensuing Franco dictatorship. Decades later, the vast majority are still unaccounted for.
Forgetting Spain's painful past and the disappeared is what allowed democracy and peace to flourish, the argument has long gone.
But many have not forgotten - including in the region of Catalonia, where bitter memories of Franco’s rule are just beneath the surface. Before Madrid imposed direct rule last October, the pro-independence Catalan government began an unprecedented plan to excavate civil war mass graves and collect DNA from families looking for their lost relatives.
Estelle Doyle travels to the politically troubled region and finds out how, despite direct rule, those seeking answers are more determined than ever to recover the past and to confront Spain's painful history. Others worry that their actions will only but reopen old wounds and further divide the country.
Presenter: Estelle Doyle
Producer: John Murphy
Photo credit: BBC John Murphy - 'Exhuming a mass grave in El Soleras, Catalonia, Spain'
**This podcast has been changed: Correction: El Soleras is in the West of Catalonia, while Catalonia itself is in the North East of Spain**
The Great Egg Freeze
Apr 1, 2018 3042
Freezing one's eggs seems the ultimate in planning a family and a career. It is now being offered as a benefit by a growing number of companies including Apple and Facebook, and some UK tech companies are discussing the option. So is this empowering or sinister? Is egg freezing a solution to what is often a social problem? And what do we really know about success rates? This is a complex story – morally and medically.
Fi Glover speaks to women who have frozen their eggs - both privately and through a company scheme. She follows the experience of Brigitte Adams, a marketing executive who froze her eggs at 39 and is about to have one of them fertilized and implanted at 45. Brigitte explains how the marketing of egg freezing took the fear out of it, but she has words of warning for women considering this route. We also hear from a former Apple employee who froze her eggs via the company's benefit scheme.
Professor Geeta Nargund is an expert in reproductive medicine and the director of Europe’s largest private fertility clinic. She explains why she views egg freezing as the second wave of emancipation for women after the contraceptive pill. Critics suggest though that employer-funded egg freezing sends a message that the corporate preference is for women to delay childbearing. Fi also speaks to obstetrician Susan Bewley who believes encouraging women to freeze their eggs is making risky and unreliable options seem desirable and routine.
Fi Glover is personally very familiar with the issues in this documentary. She considered freezing her own eggs and when she was living in the US almost a decade ago when it was still a niche technology.
Image: Human egg cell, Credit: Getty Images
Telling Tales: The Sultan's Son and the Rich Man's Daughter
Mar 28, 2018 1644
The retelling of an ancient story from the African Islands of Zanzibar. It is a tale packed with intrigue and death defying ingenuity in which a young wife has to use her determination and magical powers to save her own life and persuade her husband of the error of his ways.
And in the light of this story, we also hear from modern day Zanzibaris, who reflect on love and marriage, then and now, and share their own personal experiences.
Skiing Mount Lebanon
Mar 27, 2018 1645
Karl Sharro experiences the Middle East from the unique perspective of a Lebanese ski resort, an eye in the hurricane of the surrounding conflicts. Here, different nationalities and religions escape the politics and differences to enjoy a shared passion – winter sports – in mountainous regions that are laden with sacred symbolism for the Lebanese.
Sisters of the Troubles
Mar 25, 2018 2984
The whole world saw the picture of Father Edward Daly waving a bloodied handkerchief as he escorted a dying teenager out of the line of fire on Bloody Sunday; many books have been written about the role of Catholic priests and Protestant clergy during 30 years of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. But the stories of Catholic Sisters working in schools or living on the Peace Line in Belfast, have not been heard. These are stories of trauma, anger and shaken faith but tales too of laughter, hope and reconciliation.
Norway - A Community in Recovery
Mar 22, 2018 1633
In November 2017, Norwegian police published a report about sexual abuse in a remote municipality north of the Arctic Circle. It made for shocking reading. Tysfjord has a population of just 2,000 people. But after investigating for more than a year, the police identified 151 cases of sexual abuse. The earliest dated from the 1950s, the most recent from 2017. Around two-thirds of the victims and alleged abusers were of indigenous, Sami origin. For Assignment, Linda Pressly travelled to Tysfjord to find out what went wrong, and how this tiny community is recovering in the wake of such devastating revelations.
(Photo: Inga Karlsen outside the Lule Sami Cultural Centre in Drag, Tysfjord)
Telling Tales: The Tohono O’odham Nation
Mar 21, 2018 1645
A retelling of an ancient Native American story from the Tohono O’odham Nation, whose traditional lands straddle the border between the United States and Mexico. The story encapsulates the tribe’s close relationship with their land, plants and animals. But their ancient way of life is now under threat from President Trump’s plans to build a fortified wall across their sacred lands. Penny Boreham explores the power of ancient stories by taking three traditional tales and juxtaposing them with contemporary experiences and issues.
The Magic of Fireflies
Mar 21, 2018 1650
Fireflies lit up the evenings of Kashif Qamar’s childhood in Karachi. With his friends he’d collect ‘jugnu’ as they are called in Urdu into a large jar which then became a living lamp in the intense darkness. But the fireflies have gone – artificial light means they disappear and Kashif’s young daughters will never see their flickering magic. Kashif sets out to make a present for his daughters - a collection of memories from history, poetry and music all of which have the jugnu or firefly at their centre.
India’s Infamous Hospital
Mar 16, 2018 1588
On the night of August 10 2017, India went into mourning. 30 patients lost their lives in 24 hours when the oxygen supply to a hospital in Uttar Pradesh was suddenly cut. Images of the dead children and stories of parents trying to resuscitate their loved ones became emblematic of corruption and mismanagement in the country’s public health system. BRD hospital where the tragedy took place is no stranger to high rates of infant mortality. The hospital’s catchment includes some of India’s poorest and most medically vulnerable citizens. A primary centre for treating encephalitis, it’s common to see up to 400 children dying per month in the peak monsoon season. But the events of August 10th were different. With the state authorities now having made arrests and vowing to punish those responsible for the hospital’s lethal dysfunction, Assignment tracks down those who witnessed the original tragedy, to build an illuminating picture of what happened on one infamous night.
Reporter: Krupa Padhy
Producer: Mike Gallagher
From the Steppes to the Stage
Mar 15, 2018 1643
Internationally-acclaimed opera star Ariunbaatar Ganbaataar was born into a family of nomadic herders on the immense Mongolian steppe. In this hypnotic audio portrait, journalist Kate Molleson visits his family's ger to discover whether Mongolia's unique traditional culture – perhaps even its landscape itself – is the secret of his extraordinary vocal alchemy. Kate is treated to a performance of Mongolian longsong - the nation's traditional classical singing art - as well as joining Ariunbaatar on horseback to hear the songs he sang as a young boy, alone in the vast wilderness.
Stephen Hawking's Life and Thought
Mar 15, 2018 1597
A look back at the life and thoughts of one of the greatest theoretical physicists of our age, Professor Stephen Hawking
(Photo: British scientist Stephen Hawking attends the launch of The Leverhulme Centre 2016. Credit: Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images)
Grandma, Guyana and Me
Mar 14, 2018 1646
Habula Karamat is 81 years old and lives in Guyana. She has eight children – but none of them live in her home country. All eight emigrated, in search of a better life overseas. They include the mother of BBC reporter Tiffany Sweeney, who was born and brought up in the UK. For the first time as an adult, Tiffany travels to Guyana with her mother. She learns about what impelled her mother to leave and what she gained by the transition - but also what was lost.
Russia’s ‘Fake’ Election
Mar 9, 2018 1588
Ksenia Sobchak is young, wealthy and famous. Her father helped bring down the Soviet Union. Now she’s challenging ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin for the Russian presidency. A perfect pedigree? Perhaps. But some say she’s a fake candidate, running a no-hope race to boost the Kremlin’s democratic credentials. Gabriel Gatehouse travels to Russia to unravel a tale of family loyalties, a death in suspicious circumstances, and double dealings in the quest for power.
Producer: Mike Gallagher
Her Story Made History: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Mar 7, 2018 1653
Lyse Doucet travels to Liberia to talk to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was the first elected female head of state in Africa.
Mar 7, 2018 1659
South African journalist Gavin Fischer gets exclusive access to newly available recordings from one of the most significant trials in modern political history – The Rivonia Trial. He has a personal connection. His great-uncle Bram Fischer led the defence of Nelson Mandela and his co-accused during the trial in the early 1960s. Gavin looks back on the trial and Bram’s decision to use his white privilege to fight apartheid – rather than be part of it – with Denis Goldberg, one of the last survivors of the trial.
The Swedish Ambassador's Guide to Britain
Mar 4, 2018 3052
Nicola Clase, Swedish Ambassador to the UK for six years until 2016, is fascinated by the British mindset and, unusually for a diplomat, goes out to meet ordinary people in an attempt to understand it better. She travels to all four countries in the UK, talking to farmers, postmen, writers and to some about to adopt British citizenship for the very first time.
Sierra Leone: Blood Mining
Mar 2, 2018 1588
In 2010, a UK-listed company began developing a mining concession in Sierra Leone it said could transform the economic fortunes of the local population. But instead of benefiting the most immediate communities, hundreds found their homes destroyed, their livelihoods uprooted. And among the people who protested, many found themselves violently beaten and detained, and in one or two cases shot at and killed. Ed Butler investigates some of the untold stories of one of west Africa’s most dramatic recent abuses of corporate power. We hear from those who suffered, investigate allegations of police brutality, and look at the supposedly well-regulated system of corporate governance which was supposed to prevent abuses taking place.
Presenter: Ed Butler
Producer: Anna Meisel
Editor: Penny Murphy
Her Story Made History: Shukria Barakzai
Feb 28, 2018 1658
Lyse Doucet meets the redoubtable Shukria Barakzai, Afghanistan's ambassador to Norway. Shukria was appointed a member of the 2003 loya jirga, a body of representatives from all over Afghanistan that was nominated to discuss and pass the new constitution after the fall of the Taliban. In the October 2004 elections she was elected as a member of the House of the People or Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the National Assembly of Afghanistan. She was one of only a handful of female MPs to speak up for women's rights, and faced death threats for her views.
Japan: New Ways to Grow - Part Two
Feb 28, 2018 2036
Could living in a home designed to deliberately demand more effort from you each day help you stay fitter and more alert in your later years? And could people living with dementia be better integrated in the community through work? Aki Maruyama Leggett examines some of the novel ideas for senior housing and social care emerging in Japan.
The Lost World of the Suffragettes
Feb 25, 2018 3044
In the 1970s, historian Sir Brian Harrison embarked on a huge project to record the experiences of women who had been part of the UK suffrage movement in the early part of the 20th Century. Now in the 100th anniversary year of women in Britain finally being granted the vote, journalist Jane Garvey listens through some of the 205 tapes to get an idea of their lives as well as the risks and sacrifices the women made in their fight for equality.
Crushing Dissent in Egypt
Feb 23, 2018 1622
A well-known blogger and activist jailed for a peaceful protest, a young man imprisoned and tortured for wearing the wrong T- shirt, a young woman abducted by masked police, and now among more than a thousand people who have been forcibly disappeared – these are just some of the alarming stories from the new Egypt.
Orla Guerin has spent the last four years reporting from Cairo where she has witnessed a systematic assault on freedoms and human rights. The country's ruler, former army chief, President Abdel Fatah al Sisi is standing for re-election (next month) in a climate of fear and intimidation. Seven years after the euphoria in Tahrir Square, Orla asks what happened to the hope born during the revolution, and reports on the abuses which campaigners say are at the heart of the Sisi regime.
Her Story Made History: Vigdis Finnbogadottir
Feb 21, 2018 1654
In 1980, the tiny country of Iceland did something no other nation had done. They elected a female head of state. BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet travels to Reykjavik to meet Vigdis Finnbogadottir. Now 87, she was president for exactly 16 years and remains the longest-serving elected female head of state of any country to date. "That’s what I have given to the girls of this country," she says: “If she can, I can.”
Japan: New Ways to Grow Old - Part One
Feb 21, 2018 1809
Japan has the fastest ageing society in the world with more than a quarter of its population over the age of 65. It currently has 66,000 centenarians, more than any other country. Toshiko Katayose and Aki Maruyama Leggett explore some of the innovative ways in which Japanese people are adapting to living longer.
For over 20 years Toshiko Katayose edited Japan’s most popular magazine for senior readers. Now 67 and facing retirement, she reveals how her generation of baby-boomers born after World War Two, are overturning stereotypes about old age and how businesses are responding to these more demanding silver consumers. She visits Japan’s first supermarket built specifically to serve older shoppers which offers everything from crystal-studded walking sticks to try-before-you-buy coffin experiences.
(Photo: A cornucopia of stylish walking sticks at Japan’s first supermarket for older consumers. Credit: Mukti Jain Campion)
China's Generation Gap: Part Two
Feb 18, 2018 3042
Chinese reporter Haining Liu was born into the ‘one-child generation’ in the early 1980s. She explores how these political, social and economic changes have affected the relationship between old and young in China. Haining looks at family life, marriage, divorce, dating, opportunities for women, and how being from the one-child generation has affected her and her peers.
Cyril Ramaphosa: Son of Soweto
Feb 17, 2018 1448
Becky Milligan looks back at the extraordinary life of South Africa’s new president. From humble beginnings, he became a lawyer, established the country’s most powerful trade union organisation and was a key player in negotiating the end of apartheid. After losing out at an earlier attempt to become president, he turned to business and rapidly became one of South Africa’s richest men – while also attracting controversy over allegations about his role during the Marikana massacre of striking miners. As he takes power, what really makes him tick?
Ukraine’s Stolen Billions and the Riddle of the Helipad
Feb 16, 2018 1607
The Parkovy Conference and Exhibition Centre, a huge modernist structure of concrete and glass, stands boldly on the banks of the Dnieper River in central Kiev, a helipad on the roof. It hosted the official after party for last year’s Eurovision Song Contest and was meant to be a symbol of Ukraine’s economic development. Instead, four years after President Yanukovych was overthrown by a people sick of corruption, it has become a focus of efforts to reclaim the billions of dollars said to have been stolen by the ex-president’s regime. In this edition of Assignment, Tim Whewell attempts to unpick the tangled global web of companies behind the building’s ownership. Who does the helipad actually belong to and what does it tell us about Ukraine’s attempts to bring its corrupt politicians to account?
Her Story Made History: Madeha al-Ajroush
Feb 14, 2018 1659
Lyse Doucet travels to Saudi Arabia to meet Madeha al-Ajroush, who battled for 30 years to get women the right to drive. It is a battle she has now won, as women in the kingdom will legally be allowed to drive later this year. As a Saudi woman, she says, "you’ll always be treated like a child and never like an adult. And that was a problem, and it continued till this day - but things are opening up now."
Feb 14, 2018 1686
Goodpath was once an agricultural village but is now home to 61 massive factories and 40,000 migrant workers who came from rural China to better their lives. The migrants work very long hours in poor conditions and then spend the rest of their time in cramped rooms, often sharing living space and beds. However most have been able to buy smart phones from the local mobile phone shop and have set up social media accounts on platforms like QQ, the social media giant in China that provides instant messaging, online social games, music, shopping, microblogging, movies, and group and voice chat software. It is in these online worlds that the rural migrants come close to the modern China they came for.
China's Generation Gap: Beijing
Feb 11, 2018 3071
Chinese reporter Haining Liu travels to Beijing and finds out what it was like for people who grew up during the Cultural Revolution and how those who lived under strict communism relate to their children who have had much more material, individualistic lives. And she hears about new attitudes to work and education as more people choose to study and work and outside the state system.
Madness of War
Feb 9, 2018 1588
In a small cold courtyard in Herat in Afghanistan, two former enemies sit chained together. One is a former warlord, the other a Taliban fighter. Both men are dangerous. Both men are suffering from severe psychiatric conditions. The courtyard is where all 300 inmates of Afghanistan’s only secure psychiatric spend their day; men and women who are too dangerous to be treated in a general hospital. Nearly four decades of war have left a terrible legacy of mental health problems in Afghanistan. In a country where mental illness is often viewed with suspicion and stigma, the challenges of dealing with it are immense. For Assignment, Sahar Zand, gains unprecedented access to the institution, the only one of its kind in the country, where she meets the medical staff trying to deal with Afghanistan’s mental health emergency and the patients, traumatised by decades of conflict.
Her Story Made History: Monica McWilliams
Feb 7, 2018 1654
Monica McWilliams was one of only two local women who were at the table during negotiations which led to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet visits Belfast to hear her story.
Three Pillars of Trump: Healthcare Reform
Feb 7, 2018 1663
Donald Trump campaigned on numerous issues, but when it came time for action in the early days of his administration, healthcare reform was his top legislative priority. “Repealing and replacing” the Democrats’ Obamacare system has proven harder than it seems. Time and time again the Republican-controlled Congress was unable to pass sweeping changes. Anthony Zurcher, examines the challenges facing Donald Trump’s Administration, including efforts to replace Obamacare as well as his handling of the opioid addiction epidemic and efforts to reform the medical system for US veterans.
Escape from Croatia’s Asylums
Feb 2, 2018 1625
Unlike many other nations of Europe, thousands of people with mental illness still live in asylums in Croatia. But not in Osijek… In this small city in the far east, dozens of people have moved from mental institutions into regular apartments in the community. One of the asylums has closed completely. The other has become a centre for recovery and respite, with just a few elderly residents. This process is called ‘de-institutionalisation’: a recognition that people with mental health challenges have human rights too, and are not usually dangerous maniacs who need to be locked away. In Croatia, in spite of a government commitment to change the situation for the thousands still residing in institutions, only Osijek has made this radical move. So what’s life like now for those who have been, ‘liberated’? And does life outside an asylum suit everybody?
Photo: Branka Reljan and Drazenko Tevelli outside the abandoned institution of Cepin, where they lived for more than a decade.
Moving Pictures: The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Joos van Craesbeeck
Jan 31, 2018 1656
Explore the dark, demonic landscape of a 17th Century Flemish masterpiece - The Temptation of Saint Anthony - by Joos van Craesbeeck (Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe). A giant screaming head dominates the painting; from its mouth pour tiny devils and the forehead has been peeled back to reveal a miniature artist working inside the brain. Cathy FitzGerald takes a closer look at Craesbeeck’s strange critters in the context of the early modern fascination with curiosity cabinets, monsters – and the devil.
Three Pillars of Trump: The State Department
Jan 31, 2018 1647
What is happening to American diplomacy? It is the job of the State Department to explain to the world what America stands for, and manage the nuts and bolts of its international relations. But President Trump is uninterested in the diplomatic arts; he has proposed drastic cuts to the department and tweets foreign policy pronouncements seemingly on a whim. What does this mean for the way US foreign policy is run, and for American influence in the world?
The End Zone
Jan 28, 2018 3040
Concussion is taking much of the sheen off America’s behemoth national sport and leading to many parents forbidding their children from taking it up. Bill Littlefield asks whether this multi-billion dollar business can survive if so many players turn their backs on the sport. Where will the next generation of players needed come from?
Oprah – Global Icon
Jan 28, 2018 1450
Following her barn-storming speech about sexual harassment at the Golden Globe awards earlier this month, Mark Coles charts the rise of talk show host, philanthropist, media proprietor and actress Oprah Winfrey. With calls urging Winfrey to run for President, close friends and former colleagues recount their favourite moments with her on-set and at home. We learn about the woman behind the screen and her remarkable tale of rags to riches, from clothes made out of potato sacks to one of the richest black women in the world.
Paralympic Sport – Fair Play?
Jan 26, 2018 1588
At its heart is the classification system designed to ensure people of equal impairment compete against each other. The International Paralympic Committee has warned that some athletes are exaggerating their disability - known as intentional misrepresentation - in order to get into a more favourable class. For Assignment, Jane Deith hears from athletes, coaches and officials who are concerned that the system is being abused. Is doubt about the current system threatening trust in the Paralympic movement.
Moving Pictures: Men of the Docks
Jan 24, 2018 1640
Cathy FitzGerald takes us to the Brooklyn docks in New York on an icy day in 1912. That is the setting for George Bellow’s Men of the Docks, an extraordinary masterpiece from the collection of The National Gallery, London. The picture shows longshoremen waiting for work in the steely shadow of a cargo ship. Get up close and see how Bellows creates his cold and misty world - working quickly and fearlessly and using brushes, knives, even his fingers to manipulate the paint. Cathy hears why the artist wanted his masterpiece on display to greet the arrival in New York of the greatest ship in the world – The Titanic.
Three Pillars of Trump:US Defence
Jan 24, 2018 1649
Donald Trump came to office insisting he would end America’s mismanaged wars and invest in defence. In an unusual breach with past practice he chose a general to head up the Pentagon. But how far has defence policy changed in Trump’s first year? Is he likely to take US forces into new confrontations? And what of those who see Mr Trump as having a potentially irresponsible finger on the nuclear button? BBC Defence and Diplomatic correspondent, Jonathan Marcus, examines the relationship between Trump and the Generals.
Trump: A Year in Tweets
Jan 21, 2018 2991
In January it will be 12 months of tweets from Donald Trump since his inauguration last January – a year of tweeting dangerously for his opponents, and potentially for himself. The president has posted about stopping North Korea’s ‘Rocket Man’ leader from acquiring nuclear missiles. At home he has rallied his supporters and lashed out at his critics – as well as his own intelligence services. Some suggest that forthright remarks on Twitter could cause the President legal problems from on-going investigations into Russia’s involvement in last year’s election. The BBC’s Anthony Zurcher reviews a year of the president’s tweets and asks what has been the impact of the way Donald Trump has used Twitter during his first year as president. What can the tweets tell us about the Trump presidency, America and its relationship with the world?
Degrees of Deception
Jan 19, 2018 1588
An investigation into one of the world’s biggest degree mills, a Pakistani company, that has sold over 200,000 bogus qualifications.
IT company Axact has created hundreds of websites purporting to be online universities offering a range of academic qualifications from degrees to doctorates. However while a degree can cost just a few thousand dollars this BBC investigation has discovered customers are also being blackmailed for buying them and some have paid over more than $500,000.
Moving Pictures: Ann West's Patchwork
Jan 17, 2018 1656
Cathy FitzGerald invites you to discover new details in old masterpieces, using your phone, tablet or computer. In episode one, stroll along the highstreet of a market town in Regency England – as imagined in a one-of-a-kind patchwork bedcover, held in the collection of the V&A Museum. This needlework masterpiece features tiny applique scenes of everyday life: children flying kites, chimney sweeps heading home from work, a fishwife off to market.
The End of Innocence in Venezuela
Jan 17, 2018 1655
Through the chilling testimonies of two ex-gang members and one school teacher, Margarita Rodriguez of the BBC World Service explores how criminal gangs in Venezuela use children and teenagers as young as 10 years old to fight their wars. Some kids are attracted by what gangs offer them: security, friendships, respect, motorbikes, women, and guns.
Pandemic: The Story of the 1918 Flu
Jan 14, 2018 3040
Professor John Oxford, one of the world’s leading virologists, looks at how the 1918-19 flu pandemic affected every corner of the world. Over 50 million people died in the three outbreaks which hit in 1918 and 1919. It is one of the most devastating pandemics in history and to this day scientists are still trying to pin point its origins in the hope of learning lessons for fighting such catastrophic epidemics in the future.
Celebrating Life at 117
Jan 14, 2018 1626
This is an affectionate portrait of Elizabeth Gathoni Koinange - a woman who celebrated her 117th birthday last year. Her story, and that of her family, is told by Elizabeth's own great granddaughter Priscilla Ng'ethe. The joy of family life is captured when many generations come together.
Ukraine's Frontline Bakery
Jan 11, 2018 1588
Lucy Ash meets the staff and customers of a bakery which is the one bright spot in war-torn east Ukraine. The war there between Russian-backed rebels and the Ukrainian army has dropped out of the headlines and there seems to be little political will to make peace.
More than 10,000 people have been killed and as it enters its fourth year, this has become one of the longest conflicts in modern European history. But in the frontline town of Marinka there's one bright spot amidst the gloom - the bakery. It's the first new business in the town since the fighting began and it is bringing some hope and comfort to its traumatised citizens. We meet staff and customers from the bakery to explore a community living on the edge. "The aroma of fresh bread," says the man behind the enterprise, " gives people hope. It smells like normal life."
(Photo Credit: Photography by Frederick Paxton)
The Hackers of Siberia
Jan 10, 2018 1644
Since the time of the Tsars intellectuals were banished to the vast inhospitable lands of Siberia. And so was created an astonishing pool of creativity and talent. Generations of such people have been perfecting their skills here ever since. These days the reputation of Russian hackers has reached every corner of the world and Siberian hackers are the best. Are these hackers likely to work for the Russian state? Or is Silicon valley a place to aspire to? Olga Smirnova finds out how these talented young people see their future.
Black and Proud in Brazil
Jan 5, 2018 1660
How black Brazilians are asserting their rights thanks to a controversial education law
Sarah Marquis, Explorer
Jan 3, 2018 1637
In a classic Aboriginal walkabout, Swiss explorer Sarah Marquis fished, foraged and gathered food from the wild. She discusses her Australian odyssey with Steve Backshall – himself a world-class adventurer.
In 2015, Sarah spent three months walking across the Kimberley region of Western Australia. In the first few weeks she lost 12 kilos, and realised that she had to prioritise eating over anything else. This was until she struggled to find fresh water and her sense of hunger disappeared as she coped with the severe discomfort of thirst.
Sarah was alone until the last week when she was joined by Krystle Wright, a photographer sent to record her adventure. Krystle describes Sarah’s suspicion of her and the frustration of watching her eat the food she had brought along.
Image: Sarah Marquis, Credit: Krystle Wright
Taming the Pilcamayo
Dec 29, 2017 1676
A journey up the 'suicidal' Pilcomayo river that separates Paraguay from Argentina... The Pilcomayo is the life-force of one of Latin America's most arid regions. But it is also one of the most heavily silted rivers of the world. As it courses down from the Bolivian Highlands in the months of December and January, half is water, half sand. This means it often causes flooding. Or, it changes course, failing to deliver water to those who depend on it. So in order to benefit communities, this is a river system that needs careful management, and a lot of human input to ensure the water flows. Compounding the fickleness of the Pilcomayo are 3 years of drought in the region. Gabriela Torres travels north from Asuncion up the course of the Pilcomayo during the dry season, visiting communities where the wildlife is dying and the economy under threat. How will the people - and animals - cope this year?
(Photo: Feliciano Loveda standing in the dry channel of the Pilcomayo river next to his home – he hasn’t used his boat for five years. Credit: Gabriela Torres)
Leo Houlding, Rock Climber
Dec 27, 2017 1659
Leo Houlding is one of the most famous rock-climbers in the world. He tells adventurer Steve Backshall about the most bizarre and unforgettable experience of his life.
In 2012, Leo travelled to a remote corner of Venezuela to make an attempt on the unforgiving table-top mountain Cerro Autana. It’s considered sacred by the local Pieroa people on whose land it stands. They were suspicious of Leo’s motives; they couldn’t understand why he would travel so far simply to climb. Leo says they suspected him of prospecting for diamonds. So, it was important for him to gain their trust - partly because he needed their help to carry equipment and break through the impenetrable rainforest that stood between his team and the mountain.
Trust was gained by undertaking a frightening and dangerous ‘yopo’ ceremony. Yopo is a powerful hallucinogenic drug, used in shamanic ritual; it sent Leo on what he describes as a terrifying exorcism.
Following the ceremony, Leo – in a fragile state – continued into the jungle on his expedition. The local people, who had been doubtful of him and his motives, were suddenly warm, friendly and helpful. Having battled plague proportions of insects, and hacked their way through almost impenetrable undergrowth, Leo and his team were finally able to attempt to scale this 1220 metre mountain.
Image: Leo Houlding, Credit: Alastair Lee
Mugabe's Last Days
Dec 26, 2017 1693
An extraordinary ten days as Robert Mugabe stepped down after four decades as president. When it comes to holding onto power few can match the record of the Zimbabwean politician. He famously said, “I’ll leave the presidency when God calls me.” In the end it was the army, the people and his own party that forced him out. It didn’t go as smoothly as they hoped.
Image: Robert Mugabe, Credit: Getty Images
Your Life in a Cup of Coffee
Dec 25, 2017 1646
An exploration of the mysterious, fragrant world of fortune-telling with Turkish coffee grounds, a practice popular across the Middle East. The BBC's Nooshin Khavarzamin discovers the history, culture, Sufism and the mystic world of coffee fortune tellers.
As a young, stylish, modern and educated woman, Sengel might not fit the stereotypical image of a fortune teller but her accurate readings have made her one of the most famous coffee fortune tellers in Istanbul. Her clients include politicians and world-renowned celebrities. How does she do it?
In a backroom of a local public baths, we meet a handful of women who are using their break time to drink Turkish coffee and read each other’s fortunes. This is where we learn that coffee cup reading is not exclusive to people with special powers, but is in fact a pivotal point to gatherings amongst almost all Turkish women - although there are some heated debates about the Islamic morals of this kind of 'superstition'.
Meanwhile, Sufi master Musa Dede explains where the first coffee drinkers came from and how coffee cup reading came into existence.
Produced by Sahar Zand for BBC World Service.
Image: A coffee cup and saucer with coffee grounds, Credit: Getty Images
Russia's Exit Dilemma
Dec 24, 2017 3075
Stay or go? That's the choice facing Russia’s brightest and best. As the first generation born under Putin approaches voting age, many of Russia's young people are voting with their feet. Lucy Ash meets émigrés, exiles and staunch remainers in London and Berlin, Moscow and Saint Petersburg to weigh up the prospects for the ambitious in Putin's Russia.
The push and pull of Russia's exit dilemma plays out in galleries and start-ups, architecture practices and universities. Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova, is now campaigning for prison reform, and says her spell behind bars only fuels her sense of mission. "I really do love to be inside of this courageous community, risking their lives by trying to change their country. It gives sense to my life." But others - from Herzen to Lenin to Khodorkovsky - have tried to influence the Russian condition from abroad. Life outside the motherland isn't always the easy option; many struggle with feeling superfluous, with indifference or competition.
Although the biggest country on earth, space for freedom of expression in Russia has been shrinking. Recently, a propagandist pop song has been urging students to mind their own business. Its lyrics include: "Kid, stay out of politics, and give your brain a shower!", a symptom of the claustrophobic atmosphere that is encroaching on public space and personal life. Some make an exit in search of a reliable environment for their business or propaganda-free schools for their children; others are fleeing homophobia or political danger.
Contributors include best-selling author Boris Akunin; the rising star of Russian architecture Boris Bernaskoni; techno producer Philipp Gorbachev; exiled oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky; Nonna Materkova, director of Calvert 22 Foundation; young entrepreneur Asya Parfenova; experimental linguist Natalia Slioussar; Nadya Tolokonnikova from Pussy Riot; Russia's best-known music critic Artemy Troitsky; and curators Dishon Yuldash and Alexander Burenkov.
Producer: Dorothy Feaver
Image: Lucy Ash in St Petersburg, Credit: BBC
Thirty-Three Ways to Dispel a Chinese Mistress
Dec 22, 2017 1609
There are 33 ways to dispel a mistress according to one of China's top love detectives. An unusual new industry has taken hold in some of the country's top cities. It is called "mistress-dispelling", and it involves hired operatives doing what it takes to separate cheating husbands from their mistresses. With the surge in super-affluent families in China, there has also been an apparent upsurge in the number of men choosing to keep a concubine. And for wives who see divorce as a humiliating option, almost no expense is sometimes spared in seeing off the rival. Ed Butler meets some of these private detectives and "marriage counsellors", heads off on a mistress "stake-out", and asks whether this is all a symptom of a deeper crisis in gender relations in China. Producer: Ed Butler.
(Photo: Asian woman with red lipstick and finger showing hush silence sign, isolated on white background Credit: Shutterstock)
Rite of Passage
Dec 20, 2017 1662
No institution defines Israel, inside and out, like the formidable Israeli defence force (IDF). Robert Nicholson explores how military service helps shape Israeli society, and the role the army has to play in Israel’s future. Unlike most modern armies, which tend to be professional armies composed of career soldiers and volunteers, the IDF is comprised mostly of conscripts doing compulsory military service. We hear how the IDF looks to steward their young conscripts – and what happens when this attempt at a national project meets areas of national division, inequality and controversy.
Tanya Streeter: Free-Diver
Dec 20, 2017 1657
Tanya Streeter made a remarkable dive – on just one breath of air – to the unimaginable depth of 160 metres. This was a dive that nearly went very badly wrong. As Tanya tells Steve Backshall – himself a world-class adventurer – she blacked-out seconds before she began the dive; she developed nitrogen narcosis – almost like being drunk – and struggled to remember how to release the pin that would return her to the surface. On the way back up she thinks she blacked out for a second time.
Who Killed the Circus?
Dec 17, 2017 3030
It began in 1871 as P.T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Hippodrome. It survived the Depression and two world wars as well as rival entertainment such as film, television and radio. But, in January this year, the world’s most historic circus, Ringling, Barnum and Bailey, announced it was closing, sending hundreds of circus performers looking for jobs. Writer and former circus artiste, Dea Birkett, goes behind the scenes with the performers.
Art for the Millions
Dec 17, 2017 3041
In the middle of the greatest crisis it had faced since the Civil War, the American government looked to the arts to both help lift the national spirit and spread the message of the New Deal. That collectively the people could renew American democracy and create a better tomorrow. More practically it was an extension of Federal Relief for 40,000 unemployed actors, musicians, writers and artists across the nation. On the government payroll and under the auspices of Federal One, a host of talents from Jackson Pollock to Arthur Miller, Orson Welles to Zora Neale Hurston helped democratise art; for the people, by the people with the people. The writer Marybeth Hamilton begins her journey through this remarkable but short lived experiment with the fine arts. Across the nation artists painted epic murals in small towns and vast cities that valorised work and workers or America's democratic past. Community art centres brought artists, students and the public together to learn, experiment and explore the possibilities of art for all. You could find art going on at subway stations, sewerage works and public schools and a hospital, school or public institution could loan a work for a few dollars. All of this was to provide employment in a time of crisis and renew American democracy but it raised deep questions about the role of art and who got to own it or see it. For its many critics, programmes like Federal One bred radicalism and dissent- subverting a nation. But for the many touched by those days, it was an unforgettable experiment in art and democracy.
Daphne and the Two Maltas
Dec 14, 2017 1584
A brutal killing and a divided island. Tim Whewell asks what the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia reveals about Malta.
Dec 13, 2017 1656
Dr Arian fled the war in Afghanistan at the age of 15 and travelled to London. He won a place at Cambridge University and studied medicine, qualifying as a doctor. Just two years from becoming a consultant in radiology, he chose to take a career break so he could help those back home. He has established a network of around 100 volunteer doctors and consultants in the West, who give free advice to hospitals in war zones, by text, What’s App, Skype and email.
Make America Great Again
Dec 13, 2017 1648
For many within the US the word America means one thing - the United States of America. But President Trump’s use of it as a campaign tool sparked anger to the south of the US border. For those from Mexico to Chile “America” is the continent and they too are Americans. Katy Watson explores why the US became America and what it tells us about relations with the rest of the continent in the Trump era.
The Odyssey of General Anders' Army
Dec 10, 2017 3534
By the summer of 1940, a quarter of a million Polish prisoners of war had already been sent to Soviet prison camps. More than a million civilians deemed undesirable by Stalin were packed aboard cattle trucks to the far east of the Soviet Union. Many died on the journey, many more would die in the harshest conditions, toiling, starving and freezing on collective farms or labour camps in Siberia, the Urals or Kazakhstan. But then unlikely salvation came with the opportunity to join Anders' Army.
Return to China
Dec 8, 2017 1626
For years China’s one-child policy meant that many pregnancies were terminated, some people did break the law and had second children, we hear Kati’s story.
Neurolaw and Order
Dec 6, 2017 1688
The latest findings in neuroscience are increasingly affecting the justice system in America. Owen Jones, professor of law and biology at Vanderbilt University, explores where neurolaw is making its mark and where the discipline is heading.
One significant finding from MRI scanners is that the adolescent brain continues to develop right into the early- and mid-twenties. The fact that we are not ‘adults’ at age 18 is having big repercussions in the legal system.
In San Francisco, the entire way that young offenders of crimes such as armed robbery up to the age of 25 are treated is adapting to the brain data.
More and more, neuroscientists are testifying in courts, often to mitigate sentences including the death penalty in juveniles. Other times, they highlight rare brain abnormalities that cause violent and antisocial behaviour, which helps justify a lighter sentence.
However, young brains are still malleable. In Wisconsin, brain imaging of juvenile prisoners can detect psychopathic markers. Once identified, staff can employ techniques to de-programme those antisocial traits and rehabilitate prisoners to ready them for, they hope, a crime-free life outside.
And this is simply the first generation of neurolaw – where to next?
(Photo: Human head scan, coloured magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of healthy brain. Credit: Getty Images)
The Face of China
Dec 6, 2017 1693
Xinyuan Wang looks at the evolving magazine scene in China. With traditional news stands disappearing, what future is there for the many publications in the Chinese market? Xinyuan also looks at what political content is permitted in magazines, and which subjects are considered sensitive. She asks younger readers how they search for material on political topics, and discovers that magazines are unlikely to be their first choice.
The CIA's Secret War in Laos
Dec 3, 2017 3678
Radio producer Peter Lang-Stanton thought his father was a paper-pushing bureaucrat in the State Department. Then one day, his father revealed his double- life as a spy. Much of his father’s past was a lie; he never fought in the Vietnam War, as he said. Instead, he was involved in a covert mission in 1960s Laos under his codename: Pig-Pen. Through deep interviews with ex-CIA and a former Laotian soldier, Peter Lang-Stanton tells a story of lies and half-truths, of pride and regret.
Produced by Peter Lang-Stanton and Nick Farago.
Symphony of the Stones
Dec 3, 2017 2970
Ancient history was not silent, so why is our study of it? The oldest-known musical instruments – bone flutes found in southern Germany – date back a little over 40,000 years. But how long humans have been making music in one form or another is a matter of great speculation. What did ‘music’ mean in the context of our Palaeolithic and Neolithic forebears? And, how did the human voice, archaeological artefacts and ancient sites themselves affect the sounds of their world.
Pride, Passion and Palestinian Horses
Dec 1, 2017 1622
Political differences are put to one side as a love for Arabian horses unites Israelis and Palestinians
Offence, Power and Progress
Nov 29, 2017 1627
In 2017, it’s easier than ever to express offence. The angry face icon on Facebook, a sarcasm-loaded tweet or a (comparatively) old fashioned blog post allow us to highlight the insensitivity of others and how they make us feel – in a matter of moments. Increasingly, offence has consequences - people are told what they can and cannot wear, comedy characters are put to bed. So are these new idealists setting a fresh standard for cultural sensitivity?
Nov 29, 2017 1591
Ever since the Vikings, Norwegians have exported stockfish, cod that has been dried on huge wooden frames out in the cold, crisp winter air. Dry as a tree bark but rich in protein and low in fat, it has been the perfect travelling - and trading companion. Today, the top destination for stockfish is, perhaps surprisingly, Nigeria. So why do Nigerians spend millions of dollars each year on Norwegian cod?
The Tula Toli Massacre
Nov 24, 2017 1671
The chilling story of a massacre of Rohingya muslims in a small village in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. On 30 August government soldiers swept through the village setting fire to homes, raping and killing dozens, possibly hundreds of its muslim inhabitants. An ongoing military crackdown in the state has seen more than 500,000 Rohingya muslims flee to neighbouring Bangladesh since late August.
The government of Aung San Suu Kyi has faced international condemnation over the crisis. She says the military is responding to attacks by Rohingya militants. But the Rohingya have long been persecuted in Myanmar: denied citizenship, decent healthcare and education.
For Assignment, Gabriel Gatehouse investigates the massacre in Tula Toli. Speaking to survivors in camps in Bangladesh, he pieces together a picture of horrific violence, perpetrated in what has been described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” And he hears evidence that suggests the violence may have been planned in advance.
Produced by John Murphy
Blind Man Roams the Globe: Christchurch
Nov 22, 2017 1665
Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. As it strives to recover from the devastation caused by two earthquakes, blind broadcaster Peter White has taken his microphone to the city. He listens to stories of loss, but also of dramatic escapes and the sounds that continue to endure, like the trams and the trains. He explores new buildings, including a paper Cathedral and given the local appetite for dare devil adventures, he agrees to roll up his trousers in search of marine life!
Europe's Illiberal Democrats: Poland
Nov 22, 2017 1647
Is Poland sliding towards autocracy, or just on a different democratic path? The government has been accused of a “systemic threat to the rule of law” and of undermining other democratic values which it signed up to when it joined the European Union in 2004. Earlier this year thousands took to the streets to protest over government plans to reform the judiciary. Critics say the independence of the courts is under threat but the governing Law and Justice Party argues it is simply clearing out the old order, left over from Communist times.
The Judgement on Mladic
Nov 17, 2017 1657
Mark Urban returns to Bosnia to examine the impact Serb General Ratko Mladic had on the lives of thousands of people.
Blind Man Roams the Globe: Berlin
Nov 16, 2017 1651
Peter White explores Berlin through the sounds of a city that is finding new and imaginative ways to mark its troubled past and plan for its fast expanding future. He is struck by how much it is still haunted by the past. He idles on street corners to absorb the voices around him and he is struck by a familiar lament: people worrying about how much longer they will be able to afford to live in a city with fast rising property prices prompted in part by an influx of foreign investors. His guide is a fellow blind-man, entrepreneur Erich Thurner, who shares the concerns as he contemplates his own future in Berlin.
Europe's Illiberal Democrats: Hungary
Nov 15, 2017 1664
Hungary is becoming an “illiberal democracy”, in the words of its Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The government has changed the constitution, electoral law, and refused to take its EU-allocated quota of refugees, while warning of a “Muslim invasion”. The European parliament is so concerned about the perceived breaches of EU values that it has launched a procedure that could culminate in Hungary’s EU voting rights being withdrawn. Yet Hungary feels it is on the right path, a path that others should follow.
Nov 11, 2017 2936
Five Solidarity members reflect on the movement that ended communist rule in Poland
Namibia’s Missing Millions
Nov 10, 2017 1588
David Grossman on the trail of Namibia’s missing tax millions revealed in the massive leak of financial data known as the Paradise Papers.
The Invisible Hand of Donald Trump
Nov 9, 2017 1669
Donald Trump’s surprise elevation to the office of president last November stunned the world and electrified the financial markets. Promises to cut red tape, bring huge infrastructure projects to life, and sort out the byzantine American tax system propelled Wall Street to record highs. He has vowed to build a wall, bring jobs home and tear up trade treaties. Will these promises still be delivered? If they are, what might follow?
The Last Kamikazes
Nov 8, 2017 1635
Mariko Oi meets two of the very last surviving men to have been trained to fly their airplanes straight into enemy ships, ensuring certain death. Ninety-one-year-old Keiichi Kuwahara says “I kept looking back, thinking that it was the last time I would see the land. And as I was doing so, the sun came out and made the horizon shine light pink. And I thought that I have to go in order to defend this beautiful land. That was what I told myself.”
Nov 5, 2017 3026
Donald Trump celebrated a remarkable Presidential election victory a year ago on 8 November 2016. Anthony Zurcher revisits that dramatic night – and asks could he do it again in 2020?
The Lost Children of ISIS
Nov 3, 2017 1588
In Iraq, thousands of children held captive by so-called Islamic State are now being reunited with their families– but many are still missing.
Before I Go
Nov 1, 2017 1649
Four British men and women share something in common with every single one of us across the globe - one day they will die. Alongside the fear and grief that accompanied their diagnosis, these illnesses have also brought reflection, wisdom, opportunities and unexpected happiness. They are helping others, or living their dreams, changing lives and making a difference in the world. In their words, they explain what it means to have a life-limiting condition and approach the end of your time on Earth.
The Red and the White: Retribution
Nov 1, 2017 1723
After the multinational force sailed away from Arkhangelsk, it was payback time for the Whites. Once the Red Army arrived in February of 1920, the mass executions of those who sided with the Allies began. Lucy Ash visits a 17th Century convent outside Arkhangelsk where thousands of so called counter revolutionaries were slaughtered during the Red Terror.
AKA Mystery Island
Oct 28, 2017 3046
What is the fastest growing sector in tourism? It is cruise ship holidays, increasing exponentially and globally. Twenty-five million cruise vacations were taken this year and that will double very soon. International cruise lines want remote, pristine and idyllic places to satisfy the appetite of passengers to be somewhere beautiful, especially in the Pacific.
In a remote, tiny community in the southern tip of Vanuatu in the South-West Pacific, a village is earning more than ever through hosting gleaming white giant cruise ships that regularly appear over the horizon. Most months more than 25,000 visitors step ashore. The attraction is Inyeug, marketed to tourists as Mystery Island - a tiny offshore reef-ringed island, fringed by a beautiful beach and surrounded by sparkling clear turquoise shallow water.
Susie Emmett listens to villagers as they prepare souvenirs and village tours. She asks the captain of a cruise ship about the effects of the ships on the environment. And she joins tourists as they explore and meets the teams dealing with the debris after their departure.
(Photo: Locals hold up their catch from fishing in the island of Inyeug. Credit: Green Shoots)
Sweden’s Child Migrant Mystery
Oct 26, 2017 1617
Why do asylum-seeking children in Sweden withdraw from the world & how can they recover?
Nigeria: Shooting it Like a Woman
Oct 25, 2017 1676
Award-winning screen director Tope Oshin celebrates a new generation of Nigerian women film-makers who are currently reinventing Nollywood, the largest and most prolific film industry in Africa. She explores their distinctive approach to telling screen stories that better represent women’s lives and aspirations in Nigeria today.
The Red and the White: Britain’s Arctic Prison
Oct 25, 2017 1683
Back in the Soviet era, boatloads of day-trippers went to the island of Mudyug in the White Sea, to visit a museum. It was based around the remains of a prison camp - and one that is very different from the decaying Gulag camps scattered across north Russia and Siberia. For one thing, it was set up as far back as 1918. Even more remarkably, many jailors were not Russian. They were foreign troops. Bizarrely one French officer at the camp later created the world's most famous scent, Chanel No 5, inspired by his experiences in the Russian Arctic.
A New Church for the Red State
Oct 22, 2017 3037
The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought a radical political change. But at the same time, a lesser-known group of religious reformers were busy plotting a better future for Russia’s souls – and a new, more democratic, Orthodox Church, closer to the people. Caroline Wyatt explores whether they were simply being used by the Bolsheviks, or was there a chance that the Revolution’s answer to Martin Luther could prompt a real Russian Reformation.
Zanzibar: Spirits and Psychiatry
Oct 19, 2017 1632
Thousands of mentally-sick patients in Zanzibar turn to profiteering exorcists for treatment, leaving the island’s only local psychiatrist struggling to cope.
Oct 18, 2017 1618
Brazil is the C-section capital of the world. In a country where caesareans account for over half of all births and 88% in the private sector. BBC correspondent Julia Carneiro investigates what some call the “C-section epidemic” and examines recent government measures to counter a C-section culture which remains dangerously strong.
The Red and the White: Intervention
Oct 18, 2017 1738
In 1918, towards the end of World War One, tens of thousands of foreign troops, Americans and British among them, were ordered to Russia in what became known as the Allied Intervention. Winston Churchill saw the foreign troops as anti-Communists, on a crusade to “strangle at birth the Bolshevik State". Lucy Ash travels to the Arctic port of Archangel to look for evidence of a conflict which took place a century ago and transformed Russia's relations with the West for decades to come.
I Speak Navajo
Oct 14, 2017 3022
"Growing up and not speaking the language, I felt this loss or this void," Nanobah Becker explores what "I Speak Navajo" means today.
Nanobah Becker discovered that the voices of her grandfather and great-grandfather were among a collection of recordings in the ethnomusicology department, while she was studying at Columbia University. Knocking on the door that day and asking for them back began a process of cultural realisation for her whole family.
Nanobah is a Navajo film maker who didn't learn Navajo. For her parents generation, those who did speak their own language at school were beaten, had their mouths washed out with soap and forced to wear signs around their necks, "I speak Navajo".
Today though, "I speak Navajo" is a sign of honour. This resurgence of Navajo culture has created a new pride amongst the Navajo nation, but it is still in a precarious position. With the loss of speaking generations, it is now imperative that this youngest generation learn and pass on to their children to ensure the survival of the Navajo language. Those of Nanobah’s generation that are struggling the most; without their own language they are often considered “not Navajo enough” by their own clans.
She travels from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Window Rock and Tahajilee in the Navajo Nation, to ask what "I speak Navajo" means to remaining generations. They meet musicians, artists and native speakers from a variety of backgrounds, learning along the way that there is real power of language and music.
Picture: The landscape at Window Rock, Credit: Hana Walker-Brown
Behind Closed Doors: Solutions to Domestic Abuse in Indonesia
Oct 12, 2017 1629
Indonesia has just conducted its first ever national survey on domestic violence. It found that 41% of women had experienced some form of domestic abuse. We hear about the work of a pioneering crisis and counselling centre offering holistic support, the first organisation of its kind in Indonesia.
In Behind Closed Doors Claire Bolderson reports from three different countries: Kenya, Peru and Indonesia.
The issue that unites them all is domestic violence. It’s not that the problem is unique to these countries - the World Health Organisation estimates that one third of women worldwide suffer physical or sexual violence by a partner - but in each of the three countries, we hear about different and often inspiring solutions aimed at combating it.
Image: Ibu Yanti at her roadside foodstall, Credit: Claire Bolderson
Behind Closed Doors: Solutions to Domestic Violence in Peru
Oct 12, 2017 1628
Rates of domestic violence in the Peruvian Andes are particularly high - nearly double the national average. The shocking case of violence against Arlette Contreras Bautista, was caught on hotel security cameras, led to calls for greater action against domestic violence. In August 2016, tens of thousands of people marched through the Peruvian capital, Lima to protest against the country’s shockingly high rates of violence against women. We hear how some inspiring women are working together to raise awareness about domestic violence and putting pressure on their government to act.
In Behind Closed Doors Claire Bolderson reports from three different countries: Kenya, Indonesia and Peru.
The issue that unites them all is domestic violence. It’s not that the problem is unique to these countries - the World Health Organisation estimates that one third of women worldwide suffer physical or sexual violence by a partner - but in each of the three countries, we hear about different and often inspiring solutions aimed at combating it.
Image: Peruvian women of the Andes, Credit: BBC
Behind Closed Doors: Solutions to Domestic Abuse in Kenya
Oct 11, 2017 1629
Unity is a village without men set up by Samburu women in response to domestic abuse.
Claire Bolderson reports from three different countries: Peru, Indonesia and Kenya. The issue that unites them all is domestic violence. It is not that the problem is unique to these countries - the World Health Organisation estimates that one third of women worldwide suffer physical or sexual violence by a partner - but in each of the three countries, we hear about different and often inspiring solutions aimed at combating it.
Pakistani Media in the UK
Oct 5, 2017 1589
Manveen Rana uncovers hate speech, sectarianism and support for Pakistani militant groups in some of Britain's Urdu language newspapers, radio stations and TV channels.
Oct 4, 2017 1654
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. His face can still be seen all over Cuba. For the Cuban Government, he is a symbol of rebellion and revolution, an icon of socialism and sacrifice. A doctor from Argentina, Guevara fought in the Cuban revolution and became a member of the government. But he left to spread socialist revolution first in the Congo, then in Bolivia where he was executed by a soldier on 9 October 1967. Five decades after his death, how important is El Che for young Cubans today?
The Silent Forest - Part Two
Oct 1, 2017 3029
The Siamese Rosewood tree is now so valuable that two small pieces carried in a rucksack are worth $500. This kind of money means that armed criminal gangs up to a hundred strong have stripped the forests of Thailand bare of the Rosewood. Nearly all of it is destined for the Chinese rosewood ‘hongmu’ furniture market. And, in the north-west of Thailand, the Karen people are trying to create a 'peace park' to preserve their natural habitat. Can they stem the storm of exploitation and destruction and keep their forests alive and vibrant?
The Fish that Ate Florida
Oct 1, 2017 3023
As part of the BBC Life Stories season, exploring our relationship with the natural world, we travel under the sea in pursuit of a major ecological threat to Western Atlantic coasts - the Lionfish. The species, which recently spread from its natural territory in the Pacific to Atlantic waters, is aggressive, exotic and very, very hungry. How did the lionfish go from being an aquarium favourite to the scourge of an aquatic ecosystem that eats everything in its path?
Africa’s Billion Pound Migrant Trail
Sep 28, 2017 1638
Countries from Europe and Africa are joining forces to stop the migrant trade. Can they succeed? And at what human cost?
Making the Grade
Sep 27, 2017 1646
British music schools run the largest instrumental exams around the world, with well over a million candidates each year taking grades from Trinity College London and the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Russell Finch follows an examiner to one of the fastest growing markets for music exams -Thailand - where he meets some of the candidates taking British music exams today. He hears their stories and finds out what they want to get out of their music learning, and why the grading system is important. He explores the reasons why British institutions are dominating music education internationally and the effect of this worldwide, homogenised approach to music learning.
The Avocado Wall
Sep 26, 2017 1649
The avocado is the food that unites a nation but could it be facing the political fight of its life? From guacamole and chips at fast food chains to wellness bloggers and movie stars – avocados are eaten by all demographics in the US. The little fruit are big big business with about four billion consumed a year. But, the US consumer’s appetite depends on imports and the biggest producer is directly south of the border – Mexico. With uncertainty over Nafta (North America Free Trade Agreement) and no weakening of President Trump’s rhetoric over the douthern Border, is the avocado facing a less certain future.
The Silent Forest - Part One
Sep 24, 2017 3035
It is Saturday morning in Pontianak in West Kalimantan in Indonesia, at a songbird competition. In every district across Indonesia you will find these, large and small. This passion for birdsong has swept the country since it was encouraged in the 1970s, by a government keen to build a new leisure activity for Indonesians. But what was once a solitary and poetic pastime, having a songbird in your house or garden, has become an industry in which real money can be made by training a winning bird. It is one of the biggest threats to Indonesia’s forests which have gradually fallen silent as millions of birds every year are trapped and sold illegally. Can the forest survive without birds?
Life After Life
Sep 24, 2017 2912
The United States is the only country to sentence children to full life terms in prison. In many states, until recently, under-18s convicted of certain crimes were automatically locked up for life without the possibility of parole. But the US Supreme Court has now banned those mandatory sentences – and the approximately 2,000 Americans who were given them stand a chance of getting out. Elizabeth Davies travels to the United States to meet some of those given life sentences as teenagers. How are they dealing with the prospect of freedom after believing they’d spend their entire lives in prison?
Panama's Vanishing Islands
Sep 21, 2017 1662
Panama’s idyllic islands are threatened by a rising sea, but one community has a plan. Could their efforts provide a model for other communities?
Sep 20, 2017 1647
In 2015 Liz Parrish performed a risky experiment - on herself. She took a gene therapy entirely untested on humans in the hope of “curing” what she says is a disease: ageing. Her gamble was criticised by some in the scientific community, but she is not the only one that thinks scientific advances will help humans live longer healthier lives.
My First Period
Sep 19, 2017 1631
Periods are a taboo subject in many parts of the world. But for some Tanzanians, like BBC reporter Tulanana Bohela, a girl’s first period is celebrated. When she got her first period her female relatives gathered round to shower her with gifts. They sat her down and gave her life lessons on how to be a woman. One of those lessons was that she must keep her periods secret.
Beats, Rhymes and Justice: Hip Hop on Rikers Island
Sep 17, 2017 3043
MC and producer Ryan Burvick takes us behind bars on Rikers Island, New York’s largest and troubled Jail. He leads a music production programme there called Beats, Rhymes and Justice, which helps inmates write rhymes, make music and imagine their future off the island in a different light. We hear from three of its students, all aged between 18-21 and awaiting trial.
Starting from Scratch in Uganda
Sep 14, 2017 1617
Last year Uganda took in more refugees than any other country. But how do the South Sudanese, fleeing civil war, transform the African Bush into a new home? Ruth Alexander reports
The Flying Colombians
Sep 13, 2017 1644
Colombia is a country of passionate cyclists. The first bike races took place in Bogota in 1894 and by 1898 it was one of the first countries to have two purpose built velodromes. In the 1950s the great Vuelta a Colombia, a tour of Colombia, was born - 35 cyclists covered an extraordinary 779 miles in 10 stages. All over the country people listened to the commentary on radios and it began to link up Colombians in a common cause.
The Gardeners of Kabul
Sep 12, 2017 1643
We are all familiar with the picture of the Afghan man with his large beard and Kalashnikov rifle - now meet the men with secateurs and watering cans. Gardening is in their blood and it has been forever. You can see this in Babur’s Garden, which was laid out in the early 16th Century by the man who established the Mughal dynasty in India. Largely destroyed during the civil war of the 1990s, the garden is once more a notable feature of the city, its largest public space.
Seeking Refuge in Houston
Sep 10, 2017 1658
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, refugees and undocumented immigrants, already scared about deportation and the risks of interacting with government, must seek help from the same authorities they fear might seek to look into their immigration status. As Houston comes together, the city’s mosques and Islamic centres have opened their doors to all who need shelter. Volunteers from all backgrounds have been helping those who need rescue and immediate relief. For a brief moment, prejudices seem to melt away. But can it last through what will be a long process of rebuilding?
Lonely in Lagos
Sep 8, 2017 3038
Poet and journalist Wana Udobang travels round her home city, Lagos, speaking to people who are lonely and isolated in Africa's most populous city. She meets a young gay man who opens up about his feelings of isolation in the light of strict laws on homosexuality, meets a group of displaced women who are coming together to combat loneliness in poverty, and visits a cycling club and an elderly community centre.
Bulgaria on a Cliff Edge
Sep 7, 2017 1642
What’s it like to live in the country with the fastest-shrinking population in the world? Ruth Alexander reports.
The Hundred Million Dollar Question - Part Two
Sep 6, 2017 1591
What’s the best way to spend $100 million to fix one huge problem in the world today? That is the challenge laid down by the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, distributors of the “genius grant”. Ed Butler and a panel of expert guests hear the details of four of the final eight challengers, with ideas to transform the quality of the food we eat and to train eye surgeons to restore sight to vast numbers in Nepal, Ethiopia and Ghana. Is $100 million enough to tackle these challenges and what are the consequences, intended or not, of philanthropy on such a big scale?
Die Klassen: Die Trennung
Sep 5, 2017 1629
In the summer of 2015 tens of thousands of Syrians left their war torn homeland and put their lives in the hands of the smugglers who would help them navigate the hazardous route to Europe. Among the new arrivals were Mohammed Dallal, a man in his late 40s and his 16-year-old daughter Noor. Amy Zayed and Laura Graen have accompanied Mohamed and Noor for nearly two years through the emotional and bureaucratic vagaries of the refugee life. In this programme, we hear whether the family is, at last, together again.
Abdi in America
Sep 1, 2017 1622
A young Somali refugee struggles to live the American dream in the USA's whitest state, during the rise of Donald Trump. Is the dream still possible? In December 2014, in 'Abdi and the Golden Ticket,' the BBC's Leo Hornak followed Somali refugee Abdi Nor Iftin as he battled to make it to America through the US green card lottery. Since then, Abdi been trying to make a new life for himself in the US state of Maine, striving to become a 'real American'. He hopes to get educated and start a career, but the pressures of supporting a family in Mogadishu make this seem ever more difficult. And then there is the plan to have his brother Hassan join him. The state of Maine remains almost entirely white, and amid growing public fear of Muslims and immigration, Abdi's American dream runs into obstacles that he never expected. Using personal conversations and audio diaries recorded over three years, 'Abdi in America' documents the highs and lows of one man's struggle to become American. (Photo: Somali refugee Abdi Nor, in Maine, standing next to a United States flag)
The Hundred Million Dollar Question - Part One
Aug 30, 2017 1592
What is the best way to spend $100 million to fix one huge problem in the world today? That is the challenge laid down by the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, distributors of the “genius grant”. They created the 100&Change competition to inspire solutions for some of the looming disasters facing people, places or the planet. The prize is one colossal grant of $100 million for the project which can make the most lasting difference to people’s lives.
South America in the South Atlantic
Aug 29, 2017 1591
Britain and Argentina’s competing claims over a small group of islands in the South Atlantic go back almost 250 years. In English they’re known as the Falkland Islands, after the 17th-century British lord Falkland. Matthew Teller explores the enduring connections of history, culture and identity that link the Falkland islands and the continent of South America.
Aug 27, 2017 2966
Chris Bowlby visits Wittenberg, where Martin Luther started it all in 1517. He discovers how the Reformation transformed life in many different ways, and helped make Germany a nation of singers and book-lovers. But amidst all the culture and kitsch Germany's also grappling with a darker legacy - Luther's anti-Semitism and exploitation by dictators and populists.
Counting Babies in Niger
Aug 24, 2017 1589
Women in Niger have more children, on average, than anywhere else in the world. The government of Niger can’t support such a fast growing population and wants traditions to change
Going Green in the Oil State
Aug 23, 2017 1592
Why has a heavily Republican city in Texas, chock full of climate change sceptics, become the first city in the South to be powered entirely by renewable energy? And why, just a few miles away, has a small town consisting of a lone truck stop and a deserted dirt road they call Main Street, become the richest area in the entire United States? As Donald Trump pulls the US out of the Paris Climate Accords, and talks up the use of fossil fuels, we explore the unexpected reality of the energy industry in the “oil state”.
Darkness at Noon
Aug 20, 2017 1592
Eclipses have inspired dread and awe since antiquity. The earliest Chinese mythology saw solar eclipses as dragons eating the sun. We speak to native American astronomer Nancy Maryboy who tells us about the Navajo and Cherokee beliefs, many of which are still held today. We visit Stonehenge to examine theories that the ancient Aubrey holes, burial pits on the outer edge of the monument, were used to predict eclipses. And, psychologist Dr Kate Russo looks at her own and others obsession with eclipses to examine the reactions so many people report.
Venezuela - A Week In The Life Of A Country In Chaos
Aug 20, 2017 1592
Venezuela has some of the largest oil reserves in the world but incredibly, around four in five Venezuelans live in poverty. The BBC's South America correspondent, Katy Watson, went to cover the unfolding political and economic crisis in Venezuela and found a country divided.
(Photo: Anti-government graffiit. Credit: Katy Watson/BBC)
Romania’s Webcam Boom
Aug 17, 2017 1690
Inside Romania’s live, web-camming world – the engine of the online sex industry… Assignment explores the fastest growing sector of so-called, ‘adult’ entertainment.
Partion Voices: Aftermath
Aug 16, 2017 1452
On the 70th anniversary of the partition of India, Kavita Puri hears remarkable testimonies from people who witnessed the drama first hand - and even took part in it. They speak with remarkable clarity about the tumultuous events, whose legacy endures to this day. Witnesses describe the immediate aftermath of partition itself. As the former British territories were divided into two new dominions of India and Pakistan, millions on both sides of the new border found themselves in the wrong place – and fled. Intercommunal violence spread rapidly among Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, and news of the atrocities sparked revenge attacks. Yet even as this brutality shocked the world, some of those who bore witness to it recall many individual acts of courage and humanity.
Partition Voices: Division
Aug 15, 2017 1513
On its 70th anniversary, Kavita Puri hears the untold stories of those who witnessed India’s partition in 1947. The years leading up to partition was a time in which many Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus recalled living together harmoniously. We hear about the calls for independence; the rising clamour for an independent Pakistan; the dread as communal rioting gripped ever more of the sub-continent; how the movement of people began prior to independence; and how independence day was marked on both sides of the border.
Resistance and Repression in Venezuela
Aug 10, 2017 1642
Who are the people hoping to overthrow President Maduro? For Assignment, Vladimir Hernandez reports from Caracas.
Pakistan, Partition and The Present, Part Two
Aug 9, 2017 1621
Has Pakistan has lived up to the vision of its founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah - to create a unified national identity for the country with Islam as the great unifying factor? Pakistan was founded as a homeland for the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent, but religion, nationality and gender have caused faultlines in the region.
For women, Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to live in and yet it has also spawned a thriving women’s rights movement with thousands of activists such as Tanveer Jahan, “Societal transformation,” she says, “is a very, very long struggle”.
(Photo: Presenter Shahzeb Jillani standing outside in front of a mosque, Pakistan)
Pakistan, Partition and the Present - Part One
Aug 8, 2017 1627
The mass migration of 1947 and what that version of events says about the country now. In Pakistan they are racing against time to record the memories of those who witnessed Partition: people like Syed Afzal Haider, now in his late 80s, who recalls, as a 15-year-old, creeping through the deserted streets of Lahore and watching dogs sniffing around the scattered corpses.
Hundreds of thousands died in 1947 as Muslims were driven across the partition line into the newly created Pakistan, and Hindus and Sikhs were forced in the opposite direction.
Taha Shaheen and Fakhra Hassan are making sure the stories of 1947 are not forgotten. They are collecting the testimonies of people who remember the carnage. Taha’s grandmother was driven out of her village in the Punjab and could only watch as her mother and brother were cut to pieces on the journey to Pakistan. Fakhra met a man who helped set fire to Sikh houses in Lahore. He was seven years old at the time.
But young Pakistanis learn only a partial version of these events, as Shahzeb discovers at a government school in the walled city of Lahore, a school that once carried the name of a local Sikh ruler. The 14-year-olds in the history class are taught that Muslims were the victims of Partition. There’s no mention of the atrocities committed by Muslim mobs against Sikh and Hindus.
Shahzeb is disappointed by what he hears. How, he asks, can Pakistanis learn to be tolerant of people of different faiths, if history is distorted in this way?
One answer may be the Partition Museum, which will open soon in Lahore, and which will put the stories of Partition on public display. Aaliyah Tayyebi of the Citizens Archive of Pakistan believes this will encourage a true understanding of why Pakistan was created and how it can learn to live at peace with itself and its neighbours.
(Photo: Shahzeb Jillani at Lahore station, Pakistan)
Last Call from Aleppo
Aug 3, 2017 1633
In besieged East Aleppo a terrified mother of three makes one last desperate phone call to BBC reporter Mike Thomson. Silence followed. What happened to Om Modar?
Hadraawi: The Somali Shakespeare
Aug 2, 2017 1591
In Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, everyone knows the nation's most famous living poet - Hadraawi. They call him their Shakespeare. The poetry of Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame 'Hadraawi' holds a mirror up to all aspects of life. Born in 1943 to a nomadic camel-herding family, forged as a poet in Somalia's liberal years pre-1969, jailed in 1973 for 'anti-revolutionary activities' without trial under the military junta, a campaigner for peace, Hadraawi's poetry tells the story of modern Somalia.
(Photo: Hadraawi. Credit: BBC)
Aug 1, 2017 1591
More and more people are identifying as bisexual yet bi-phobia is rife and the world's media remains guilty of regular bi-erasure. Journalist and writer Nichi Hodgson who is openly bisexual herself, examines what it is like to be bisexual for both men and women in different parts of the world.
Inside Transgender Pakistan
Jul 31, 2017 1646
Pakistan's Hijra, or third gender, community are resisting a new and emerging transgender identity which they believe threatens their long established culture.
The Children of Partiition
Jul 31, 2017 2963
BBC correspondent Mark Tully travels through India from north to south in search of the echoes of Partition among successive generations of Indian. He examines the legacy of the Partition of India, comparing contemporary memories of the traumatic events of August 1947 with the personal and political tensions today on both national and international stages.
Who Decides If Gay Is OK?
Jul 30, 2017 2965
Why is it OK to be gay in the UK but not in Zambia? In 1967, a turning point for the gay rights movement in the UK, England and Wales decriminalised sex between men. Fifty years on, four out of five British people say they have no problem with homosexuality. Yet it remains a taboo and a crime in many former British colonies, including Zambia. What brought about the change in the UK and why it has not happened in Zambia, which largely inherited the British legal system?
Yangon Renaissance: Poets, Punks and Painters
Jul 26, 2017 1591
We go inside Yangon's booming counter-cultural art scene to reveal the city as seen through the eyes of the young artists on the front line of change. Until censorship was lifted in 2012, dissident artists, musicians and poets lived with the threat of jail for speaking out against the military regime that had gripped Myanmar, or Burma, since 1962 and turned it into a police state. Now, from modern art to punk rock to poetry, a new vibrant youth culture is flourishing - inconceivable only five years ago, when there was no internet, no mobile phones, no freedom of expression. We meet the emerging artists and performers breaking through and forging a new Myanmar.
Stravinsky in South Africa
Jul 25, 2017 1612
In 1962 Igor Stravinsky, the Russian-born composer and conductor, went to South Africa to conduct the state broadcaster SABC Symphony Orchestra in a series of concerts. It was the height of apartheid – and the regime believed classical music was the domain of white people. But in an extraordinary move Stravinsky insisted on also performing his music for a black audience. The concert took place on 27 May 1962 in a town just outside Johannesburg, Kwa Thema.
Museum of Lost Objects: Delhi's Stolen Seat of Power
Jul 23, 2017 2964
Seventy years ago, India and Pakistan became independent nations - but at a cost. People and lands were partitioned, and a once shared heritage was broken apart.
In part one, Kanishk Tharoor stretches back to stories of empire well before British rule, and looks at how narratives of conquest and loss still have a powerful hold over South Asians. There’s the spectacular creation - and destruction - of the famed Peacock Throne of the Mughal emperors. It took seven years to make, and seven elephants to cart it away forever. And the forgotten world of the Kushan empire in Pakistan, ruled over by the magnificent King Kanishka. We explore the mystery of what happened to his little bronze box that was said to hold the remains of the Buddha himself.
Part two delves into the histories of artefacts and landmarks linked to two of the greatest figures in modern South Asian history – Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and Rabindranath Tagore, the celebrated Bengali writer. Ziarat Residency, the beautiful sanatorium where Jinnah spent the last three months of his life. Four years ago, it was fire-bombed and burnt to the ground by Balochi insurgents. And Tagore’s missing Nobel Prize Medal. In 1913, Tagore made history by becoming the first non-westerner to win a Nobel award. But just over 10 years ago, the medal was stolen – and still hasn’t been found. We explore how Tagore inspired revolutionaries and reformers in South Asia, and how his suspicion of all nationalisms makes his work relevant today.
Produced by Maryam Maruf
Contributors: Yuthika Sharma, University of Edinburgh; Vazira Fazila-Yacoubali Zamindar, Brown University; Nayyar Ali Dada; Saher Baloch; Ayesha Jalal, Tufts University; Pasha Haroon; Arunava Sinha; Rahul Tandon; and Saroj Mukherji
With thanks to Sussan Babaie, The Courtauld Institute of Art; Fifi Haroon; Minu Tharoor; CS Mukherji; and Sudeshna Guha
Image: Persian ruler Nadir Shah on the Peacock Throne after his victory over the Mughals Credit: Alamy
If You're Going to San Francisco
Jul 23, 2017 3772
Fifty years ago, during a few short weeks in the summer of 1967, thousands of hippies descended on San Francisco. The small suburb of Haight-Ashbury became a centre for sexual freedom, freedom to experiment with mind blowing drugs, to debate social and economic utopias and freedom to listen to loud rock music. Marco Werman looks back at those hedonistic times through the music and recollections of people who were there 50 years ago.
The Battle for Raqqa
Jul 20, 2017 1652
On the frontline with the female Kurdish fighters liberating Raqqa from the group that calls itself Islamic State and fighting for recognition of their own rights as women.
The End of Sand
Jul 20, 2017 1611
Yogita Limaye investigates concerns, highlighted in a United Nations study, that vitally important reserves of sand are running out, with serious consequences for human society and the planet. Nearly everything we build in the modern world has a concrete foundation and you cannot make concrete without sand. But it takes thousands of years to form and we’re consuming it faster than it is being replenished.
Jul 20, 2017 1781
Razia wants to win Pakistan’s first Olympic gold medal for women’s boxing; student teacher Iqra is a guide on Karachi’s first tourist bus tour; top boy scout Rizwaan started Pakistan’s Youth Parliament and young lawyer Faiza has created Asia’s first female troupe of improvisational comedians. They are just some of the young people determined to put their home city on the map for good reasons rather than bad.
In 2013 Karachi was described as the most dangerous mega-city in the world where political gang warfare, terrorist bomb blasts, targeted killings, kidnapping and extortion were everyday occurrences. But in the past two years the security situation has been brought under control and citizen-led activities to reclaim Karachi’s public spaces are blossoming again, particularly by young people under 30 who make up two thirds of Pakistan’s population. Walls that were once covered with political slogans and hate speech are now painted over with murals celebrating the city’s history and diversity. Nightlife is once again booming with arts and culture back on the stage. This spring’s annual all-night Aalmi Mushaira, held in the Karachi Expo Centre, attracted thousands of Urdu poetry lovers of all ages and backgrounds. And the comedy scene is thriving, drawing new audiences and challenging stereotypes with internationally successful acts such as Saad Haroon.
Join Karachi radio journalist Noreen Shams Khan to discover a Pakistan that you do not usually hear about.
(Photo: A young pupil at Karachi’s first all-girls boxing club. Credit: Culture Wise Productions)
The Response: America’s Story - My 100 Days
Jul 20, 2017 3222
Harrison is a supporter of Donald Trump and a dinner party is about to go spectacularly downhill. Meanwhile a pagan starts covering her tracks. This is the fourth and final episode of The Response: America’s Story, recorded on smartphones across the USA.
We find out about people's lives during President Trump's first 100 days.
This episode was compiled at Boise State Public Radio, with insights into the city and its politics from KBSX reporters Frankie Barnhill and Samantha Wright.
Presenter: Shaimaa Khalil
Producers: Kevin Core for the BBC World Service with APM’s Laurie Stern
The Response: America's Story - Immigration
Jul 19, 2017 3167
Police raise their guns, but the migrant they are dealing with does not speak English. This is from just one of the smartphone stories submitted to The Response: America’s Story. The theme of the third episode of the series is immigration.
Episode three of four podcasts.
These are first-hand, true stories of journeys to America, compiled and recorded at Texas Public Radio in San Antonio. Reporters: Joey Palacios and Jack Morgan.
Presenter: Shaimaa Khalil
Producers: Kevin Core for the BBC World Service with APM’s Laurie Stern
The Response: America's Story - Health
Jul 18, 2017 3068
Linda discovers she can donate a kidney to her sick partner Reuben and save his life – while taking charge of the TV remote control forever. All the stories to The Response: America's Story were sent via smartphone from across the USA. This is the second of four podcasts and includes insights into the impact of Obamacare.
This episode was compiled and recorded in Kansas City and we hear technology and healthcare insights from KCUR reporters Laura Ziegler and Alex Smith.
Presenter: Shaimaa Khalil
Producers: Kevin Core for the BBC World Service with APM’s Laurie Stern
The Response: America's Story - President Trump
Jul 17, 2017 2827
Americans used smartphones to record their stories from the start of Donald Trump's presidency. A simple conversation in a bar triggers an attack which leads to a prison sentence. This is the first of four podcasts about the real lives of Americans and what they want from their president. The Response: America’s Story is from The BBC World Service with American Public Media.
This episode was compiled and recorded in Charleston West Virginia, with insights from Roxy Todd of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
Presenter: Shaimaa Khalil
Producers: Kevin Core for the BBC World Service with APM’s Laurie Stern
Galapagos Islands: A Little World Within Itself
Jul 16, 2017 2959
When Charles Darwin first saw the Galapagos Islands he was not impressed – he said that “nothing could be less inviting than the first appearance”. But later he recognised the unique nature of these islands, which he called “a little world within itself”. They set him thinking about how animals change and ultimately inspired his theory of evolution. Sarah Darwin follows in the footsteps of her great, great grandfather in this “little world within itself” to see how the Galapagos islands themselves have evolved and changed since he visited in 1835
Museum of Lost Objects: Kashmir’s Palladium cinema
Jul 15, 2017 1739
Kanishk Tharoor explores artefacts and landmarks caught up in India and Pakistan's independence in 1947. In this episode, the life and times of the Palladium cinema. The Palladium was one of Srinagar’s oldest and most popular movie theatres. It was on Lal Chowk, a square in the heart of the city. From the 1940s, the building was the backdrop to many of Kashmir's major political events. Today it stands in ruins, an unexpected casualty of the ongoing conflict, and now, there are no public cinemas left in Srinagar.
Contributors: Neerja Mattoo; Krishna Mishri; Imtiyaz
Presented by Kanishk Tharoor
Produced by Maryam Maruf
With thanks to Andrew Whitehead
Image: Cadets during a National Conference rally at Lal Chowk, Srinagar 1944 Credit: India Picture
Museum of Lost Objects: The Necklace That Divided Two Nations
Jul 15, 2017 1370
Seventy years ago, India and Pakistan became independent nations - but at a cost. People and lands were partitioned, and a once shared heritage was broken apart. Kanishk Tharoor explores the tussle for ancient history and the prized artefacts of the Indus Valley civilization. There was a bureaucratic saga over the fates of the priest-king, the dancing girl, and the jade necklace so precious to both India and Pakistan that neither country could let the other have it whole.
Presented by Kanishk Tharoor
Produced by Maryam Maruf
Contributors: Maruf Khwaja; Saroj Mukherji; Vazira Fazila-Yacoubali Zamindar, Brown University; Sudeshna Guha, Shiv Nadar University
With thanks to Anwesha Sengupta, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata
Image: The Mohenjo Daro jade necklace that was cut in two. India's share on the left, Pakistan's share on the right. Credit: Archaeological Survey of India and Getty Images
Salam to Queen and Country
Jul 13, 2017 1611
When Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi became the first, and now only, British Muslim soldier to be killed in Afghanistan in 2006, there was an outpouring of sympathy from his local community, but there was criticism from some quarters too. His death highlighted the role of Britain's Muslim soldiers and soon afterwards a plot to kidnap and behead a Muslim soldier was discovered in Birmingham. Zubeida Malik meets Muslim soldiers who speak for the first time about what it is like to serve as a Muslim in the British army.
Myanmar’s Drug Vigilantes
Jul 13, 2017 1622
A vigilante drug squad tackles a heroin epidemic in northern Myanmar’s jade mines, conducting door-to-door raids and forcibly detaining drug users in make-shift rehab centres.
The Jewish Queens of Bollywood
Jul 11, 2017 1612
Bollywood is famous for its songs, dancing, long running times, and racy heroines. But at the beginning, Bollywood did not even have heroine. The earliest silent films were all-male productions, with men wearing saris and playing women’s roles. In the 1920s and '30s, Bombay’s Hindu and Muslim women would not act on screen; there was a taboo against women showing their bodies. But another community in Bombay soon stepped in. Noreen Khan explores the untold story of how Jewish women became the first female superstars of Indian cinema.
Looking for Aunt Martha's Quilt
Jul 10, 2017 2991
Beryl Dennis goes in search of a long-lost quilt her relative Martha Ann Erskine Ricks made for the British Queen Victoria. How did a former slave come to meet the most powerful woman in the world 125 years ago? Newspapers of the time followed in great detail the story of the 'queen and the negress' and her hand-stitched quilt in the design of a coffee tree.
Pakistan’s Campus Lynching
Jul 6, 2017 1607
What drives a mob to climb several flights of stairs, break down a dormitory door and kill the young man inside? Secunder Kermani pieces together the last hours of Mashal Khan, the undergraduate beaten to death by vigilantes in April, 2017.
It happened in the small city of Mardan, set on a fertile plain below mountains that form part of the border with Afghanistan. Until recently, this part of Pakistan was officially known as a “frontier”.
Here, as in the rest of this huge Muslim country, blasphemy is a crime. And if the police won’t enforce the law, there’s a code. “If you have to kill someone as a punishment, do it in such a way that all connections to his brain are disconnected and there is no pain,” one local politician explained. “Just bury him afterwards.”
Mashal Khan was not so lucky. His slow, painful death and subsequent mutilation was captured on mobile phones. The shocking footage spread quickly and reignited the controversy over Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.
There have been rallies in support of the victim’s family. His grave is blanketed in tinsel and flowers from sympathisers. But there’ve been rallies for the alleged killers as well.
The BBC’s Secunder Kermani is based in Pakistan and has gone to meet the families and friends on both sides of this story and asks, Who was Mashal Khan? And why did he die?
Give Back the Land
Jul 5, 2017 1612
Give back the Land is the cry from millions of black and brown South African farm workers who have been dispossessed of their land for centuries. They expected to gain an equal share in the wealth of the land when Nelson Mandela was elected in 1994. That has not happened. And their patience is running out, leading to fears of a racial conflagration that the country cannot afford. A white land owner, together with the workers on the farm he inherited, have embarked on a bold project to share ownership of the land they all love and live on.
Jul 3, 2017 1612
Emmanuel Macron has become France's youngest-ever President at the age of 39. He created a new political movement out of nothing and defeated the populist Marine Le Pen of the Front National. But who is the former banker and civil servant and how did he rise so far so fast?
Europe's Drug Wars
Jul 2, 2017 2996
Gangland killings in Ireland and death threats to journalists, more than 20 years after the assassination of crime reporter Veronica Guerin, mask a much bigger problem. The bloodshed in Ireland has its tentacles across Europe where law enforcers struggle to contain an out of control drugs war. Crime reporter Paul Williams looks at the continent’s drug crime hotspots and examines the different policies used to control the illegal sale of drugs across Europe.
Rocking the Stasi
Jul 2, 2017 2995
Did music help bring down the Berlin Wall? In 1969, just a rumour of a Rolling Stones concert in on a tower block next to the Wall sent the East German Government authorities into meltdown. In the 1970s and 80s a bizarre alliance between East German punks and local churches was seen by the regime as a pernicious challenge. When David Bowie played a gig in the West, across the fearsome Wall, and listened to by crowds assembling in the East, it caused the Stasi no end of angst. Chris Bowlby uncovers this unheard part of Cold War history.
Producer Jim Frank
Siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery
Jun 29, 2017 1674
The terrifying ordeal of the siege at Dhaka's Holey Artisan Bakery in July 2016.
Blind Man Roams the Globe: London's Square Mile
Jun 28, 2017 1612
BBC presenter Peter White explores London’s Square Mile, from the drama of the stock exchange, through to the changing fortunes of streets where traditional traders are being replaced by wealthy investors. “Most people assume that vast cities like London are intimidating for blind people like me, with their noise and bustle, but in fact give me a busy city any time to the countryside. Noise, to me, means useful signals to navigate by, bustle means people to ask for help, and cities normally promise decent transport and plenty of places to buy the things you need".
Young in Hong Kong
Jun 28, 2017 1611
They post-1997 generation are young and have only known Hong Kong as part of China. But under ‘one country, two systems’ these millennial Hong Kongers stand apart from their mainland equivalent. So how do they see themselves and the unique territory where they live?
Hong Kong: Twenty Years On
Jun 25, 2017 2980
John Simpson visits Hong Kong 20 years after reunification with China to find out how much has changed. On 1 July 1997, after 150 years of British rule, Hong Kong rejoined China under the “one country two systems” formula whereby the territory would continue to enjoy much of its autonomy. Twenty years on, Hong Kong continues to prosper but amid political unrest and a growing sense that Beijing is trying to influence Hong Kong affairs.
Get Out Of Jail Free
Jun 22, 2017 1653
Each year 35,000 New Yorkers end up in jail because they can’t afford bail. Campaigners want to end cash bail to preserve the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty.
Blind Man Roams the Globe: Marrakesh
Jun 22, 2017 1611
When Peter White jets, sails or walks into a new city, it is the sounds, not the sights, which assail him. In this programme Peter explores the twists and turns of Marrakesh. He listens to local radio; he takes in the sounds of restaurants, travel systems and the voices of the locals. He also meets other blind people and uses their experiences of an area to understand it better and to appreciate the aural clues which help guide them.
Germany – Reluctant Giant
Jun 20, 2017 1611
Why is Germany such a reluctant military power? Germany’s grown in international influence. And its potential military role has been hitting the headlines. US President Donald Trump’s criticised Germany in particular for not spending enough on defence. And Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that Europe can no longer completely depend on the US - or the UK after Brexit. Germany, she argues, must do more in the military sphere.
But Germans themselves are very reluctant to do this. As Chris Bowlby discovers in this documentary, German pacifism has grown since World War Two, when Nazi armies caused such devastation. Today’s German army, the Bundeswehr, was meant to be a model citizen's force. But it’s often poorly funded and treated with suspicion by its own population.
Some now say the world of Trump, Putin and Brexit demands major change in German thinking - much more spending, more Bundeswehr deployments abroad, even German nuclear weapons. But most Germans disagree. So could Germany in fact be trying something historically new - becoming a major power without fighting wars?
Las Vegas Stripped Bare
Jun 18, 2017 2987
With its reputation for glitz, glamour and gambling, Las Vegas has become one of the world’s foremost tourist destinations, with over 40 million visitors a year. But the bright lights and breathtaking architecture conceal a murky past. After gambling was legalised in Nevada in the 1930s, a raft of hotel-casinos sprang up under the control of gangsters such as Bugsy Siegel and Frank Costello – a state of affairs that continued well into the 1960s.
UK Election: Something Happened, but What?
Jun 16, 2017 1612
British politics has become unpredictable. As voters were going to the polls in the UK general election on 8 June, many were contemplating a landslide for the Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May – nearly all polls predicted it. And of course Theresa May and the Conservative Party did win - but they are the largest party in what is a hung parliament - they no longer have overall control, so what happened? Why did people vote the way they did?
Weapons of Mass Surveillance
Jun 15, 2017 1588
Middle Eastern governments are using high tech mass surveillance tools to monitor their citizens. Western companies, including Britain’s largest weapons manufacturer, BAE, are among those selling surveillance technology to these governments. The trade is attracting criticism from human rights organisations who question whether a British company should be selling such equipment, much of it classified, to repressive regimes in the Arab world. BBC Arabic’s Nawal Al-Maghafi investigates.
What Went Wrong with Brazil?
Jun 15, 2017 1610
During Brazil’s boom years the country's rising economy created a new middle class of gigantic proportions - tens of millions escaping from poverty. Brazil felt confident and even rich enough to bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. But then the economy turned. In the last two years the country has endured its worst recession on record. Where did it all go wrong?
The Death of the Cockfighters
Jun 14, 2017 1611
Carlos Dews was brought up in a poor area of rural east Texas, travelling every weekend to cockfighting tournaments across the southern states. “I remember,” he says, “limp necks and the lifeless swaying heads of beautiful birds as they were carried by their feet to barrels for burning. I was told not to cry, not to remember these things. But we always remember what we’re told to forget.”
Return to Aleppo
Jun 11, 2017 3155
Zahed Tajeddin is a sculptor and archaeologist whose family have lived in Aleppo for generations. He owned a beautiful medieval courtyard house in a neighbourhood called Jdeideh, part of the city's historic centre. But Zahed was forced to abandon his house in 2012, when Jdeideh became a battleground between government forces and rebel fighters. He makes the emotional and dangerous journey to see whether his home survived the conflict.
The Driver and the Dictator
Jun 9, 2017 2995
Dictator Fulgencio Batista knew staging a Grand Prix in Havana in 1958 was risky. Sabotage in Cuban cities and guerrilla wars in the mountains were attracting global headlines. Keen to distract from the turmoil, he offers the world’s greatest F1 driver, Juan Manuel Fangio, a huge fee to drive. But the event ended with the kidnapping of Juan Manuel Fangio and the death of six bystanders.
Jun 8, 2017 1592
Nidale Abou Mrad reports from her native Lebanon on a crisis of stinking household waste and how citizen activists are stepping in to do the authorities’ job in cleaning up.
A Very British Election
Jun 6, 2017 1626
When London was attacked by terrorists in the final days of the British general election campaign, it was the second attack to take place during the campaign.
Susan Glasser, the chief international columnist for Politico, has followed politics in Washington DC for over 20 years – in late May she travelled to the UK to bring an American perspective to the election and to present a documentary about it. The assumption was it would focus on the scale of Theresa May’s anticipated landslide for her Conservative Party.
But on May 22nd, as she was packing her bags to fly to London, news began to break of a terrorist attack in the UK that would change all of that. By the time the overnight flight had landed, the campaign had been suspended.
A Very British Election is Susan Glasser’s account of the four days after the Manchester bombing when politics stopped in Britain – and how the campaign re-started with the polls tightening – and what this might mean for politics everywhere.
(Photo: People pass a mock ballot box erected to encourage people to vote, Bristol, 2012. Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Syria’s World Cup Dream
Jun 1, 2017 1634
6 years of war and crippling sanctions, yet Syria’s footballers are still dreaming of World Cup glory in Russia. Richard Conway follows the team’s extraordinary story.
The Origins of the American Dream
May 31, 2017 1609
The American Dream is back, or at least President Donald Trump says so. Once again every American, regardless of background, race, gender or education, can, through sheer hard work, make it to the very top and become rich. Did the idea of the America Dream, in which nothing is impossible as long as you work hard, evolve with the ‘founding fathers’ of the nation? Is it intrinsic to the country’s identity?
Watching my Father
May 30, 2017 1608
Farmers taking their own lives in India has been in the news for quite some time and this story is about how it has impacted on the mental health of communities. As too much rain or droughts continue to destroy crops making farmers unable to pay debts, families fear that their breadwinners could be the next to kill themselves. Navin Singh Khadka follows families in Marathwada, the worst hit district in the state that saw more than 400 farmers kill themselves last year.
May 28, 2017 2978
On 28 January 1986, people watched in horror as Challenger, one of America's four space shuttles, erupted into a ball of flames just over a minute after lift off, killing everyone on board. Sue MacGregor looks back on one of Nasa's darkest tragedies with Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger space shuttle commander Richard "Dick" Scobee; Steve Nesbitt, Nasa chief commentator; astronaut Norman Thagard; and Allan McDonald, former Morton Thiokol director of the Space Shuttle Rocket Booster Project.
The Sex Slaves of Al-Shabaab
May 25, 2017 1660
In an exclusive investigation for the BBC, Anne Soy discovers that Kenyan women are being abducted and trafficked to Somalia to become sex slaves for the militant group al-Shabaab
The Sound of Soweto - Part Two
May 24, 2017 1610
Johannesburg-based poet Thabiso Mohare explores the music of Soweto from the 1970s onwards, through the unrest that led to democracy in 1994, and takes a look at the music scene today. Featuring interviews with Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse, Mandla Mlangeni, BCUC and The Soil.
Inside the Israeli Hospital
May 23, 2017 1609
Tim Samuels spends 24 hours immersed in an extraordinary medical scene - Israeli doctors tending to Syrians who have been smuggled over the border for life-saving treatment into a country Syria is technically still at war with. In the Ziv hospital in the northern Israeli town of Safed, Tim follows two doctors on their rounds as they treat Syrians - both civilians and fighters - who have been seriously wounded in their country's civil war.
The Khan Mutiny
May 21, 2017 2993
Bollywood, the world's biggest film industry had, until recently, largely avoided the inter-faith tensions that surface repeatedly elsewhere in India. Many leading men are Muslims - a fact that has been no apparent impediment to their success. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown explores the history of Muslims in Bollywood through the prism of the number of powerful leading male actors who share the same Muslim surname - Khan. The Khans have quite literally taken over Bollywood. Aamir, Salman, Shah Rukh, Aamer, Saif Ali and Irfan - to name but a few - currently dominate the industry. Almost all are Muslim or of Muslim descent, hugely successful and able to navigate two of the most powerful forces working against them - the puritanism of Islam and the ever-increasing grip of Hindu fundamentalism in India. They are some of the nation's best-loved and most successful actors, brand ambassadors of the official "Incredible India" tourism campaign - and Muslims in a majority-Hindu nation. And many of them are married to Hindus. Prominent actors, writers, directors, producers, composers, film historians, politicians and critics explain how the Khans have managed to successfully carve out their careers as Muslims in a Hindu world, about how they see the future unfolding under the growing Hindu fundamentalist culture of India, as well as against the national and international backdrop of Islamic fundamentalism.
The Sound of Soweto - Part One
May 18, 2017 1611
Johannesburg-based poet Thabiso Mohare looks at the musical heritage of Sophiatown, and talks to Sowetan musicians including Sibongele Khumalo and Jonas Gwangwa, about the intersection in their lives of music and politics, and their memories of streets filled with a rich mix of sounds from gramophones and radios to church choirs, workers choirs, and bands playing music from jazz, mbaqanga and soul to rock.
The Robots' Story
May 16, 2017 1610
How might robots help us live, work and even love in the future? Jane Wakefield meets robots being used in hospitals, factories and even bedrooms and discovers the way humans are using machines. In California, Jane interviews Harmony, a sex robot who will be for sale at the end of the year. She hears how some people are forming relationships with their artificial intelligence, and asks what an increasing dependence on robotics means for our human interaction.
Chaplains of the Sea
May 14, 2017 2997
Port chaplains provide support to the world's 1.5 million merchant seafarers. With the global shipping industry in financial crisis, we join the chaplains on their daily visits to container ships and supply vessels in Antwerp, Immingham and Aberdeen, to find out why the work of chaplains is more crucial than ever.
Elephants, politics and Sri Lanka
May 11, 2017 1621
Religiously and politically potent, elephants in Sri Lanka kill dozens of people each year. How can they live more harmoniously with humans on this small island nation?
A Woman Half in Shadow
May 10, 2017 1610
Zora Neale Hurston was an African-American novelist and folklorist and a queen of the Harlem Renaissance. But when she died in 1960 she was living on welfare and was buried in an unmarked grave. Her name was even misspelt on her death certificate. Scotland's National poet Jackie Kay tells the story of how Zora would later become part of America’s literary canon.
The Silent Wound
May 9, 2017 1609
*** Some viewers may find parts of this report difficult to listen to ***
During Colombia’s 53-year internal conflict, around 15,000 military veterans have lived through their own bodies the heart-breaking consequences of a barbaric war. But a considerable part of that group has also sacrificed their masculinity by suffering different forms of genital or urinary trauma. Natalia Guerrero discovers the profound physical and physiological effect genital injuries can have for generations of Colombian soldiers.
Subversion, Russia and the West
May 7, 2017 2996
Complaints that Russia interfered in America’s presidential election are only the latest chapter in a much longer story. Both Moscow and the West have engaged in political subversion over the last 100 years, in an attempt to undermine the other. This dangerous game has largely been played out in the clandestine world of spies but has burst out into the open at regular intervals.
Coming Out of the Shadows in Kenya
May 4, 2017 1593
For generations those who, for biological reasons, don't fit the usual male/female categories have faced violence and stigma in Kenya. Intersex people - as they are commonly known in Kenya - were traditionally seen as a bad omen bringing a curse upon their family and neighbours. Most were kept in hiding and many were killed at birth. But now a new generation of home-grown activists and medical experts are helping intersex people to come out into the open. They're rejecting the old idea that intersex people must be assigned a gender in infancy and stick to it and are calling on the government to instead grant them legal recognition. BBC Africa’s Health Correspondent Anne Soy meets some of the rural families struggling to find acceptance for their intersex children and witnesses the efforts health workers and activists are making to promote understanding of the condition. She also meets a successful gospel singer who recently came out as intersex and hears from those who see the campaign for inter-sex recognition as part of a wider attack on the traditional Kenyan family.
Helen Grady producing.
(Photo: Apostle Darlan Rukih, an intersex gospel singer)
Strangers for Hire
May 3, 2017 1609
We are getting used to the idea of people renting out their homes for holidays or using their cars as taxis, all via online sites. Perhaps the next wave is going to be hiring people – not just to do work for us, but to do the kinds of things we once expected friends and families to do. Like offering a sympathetic ear to your problems. Nina Robinson reports on some the eyebrow-raising services now available.
Cathedral of the Fallen
May 2, 2017 1610
Giles Tremlett takes us into the fierce battles being fought over The Valle de los Caidos, an enormous memorial to Spain’s civil war dead constructed by the dictator Francisco Franco. For some a great monument, for others a war crime. Today, the battle over how Franco and the Civil War should be remembered is one of the most significant religious and political conflicts in Spain.
Nepal: Banished for Bleeding
Apr 30, 2017 2973
Getting your period in Nepal is a big deal. Menstruating women face many restrictions – they are not allowed to worship or enter the kitchen. Our young Nepali reporters Divya Shrestha and Nirmala Limbu still remember the shock at suddenly being excluded from festivities for being “impure”. Some menstruating women are banished from home for four days and have to sleep in an open hut. Such beliefs are hard to eradicate, but Divya and Nirmala find that some young women are rebelling.
South Sudan: A Failure to Act
Apr 30, 2017 3270
**Some viewers may find parts of this report difficult to listen to**
“Hiding in the bathroom. They’re trying to break down our door. We maybe have about five minutes.” Juba, capital of South Sudan, 11 July 2016. The female aid worker sending this message was among a number of international and local staff taking refuge behind a bullet proof door in the housing compound where they lived. Tensions were running high in South Sudan’s three year civil war and government troops had gone on the rampage attacking the compound. As the soldiers tried to break down the door, the terrified group frantically appealed to United Nations peacekeepers based just over a kilometer away. Using their phones and sending messages via Skype and Facebook their calls for help went unheeded.
Wives Wanted in the Faroe Islands
Apr 27, 2017 1669
The Faroe Islands are facing a shortage of women of marriageable age. Many of them have left and not returned so men are now travelling to South East Asia looking for love.
Me and the President
Apr 26, 2017 1609
Joe Borelli is a New York City councilman who spoke on behalf of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign - he was thrilled when Trump won the election last November, and approached the Trump presidency with high expectations. Over the first 100 days of the Trump Administration Joe recorded his impressions of the new president, starting with a visit to the Inauguration in Washington on 20 January.
Dying to Talk
Apr 23, 2017 2912
There's only one thing in life that's certain: death.
Many people believe that talking about death helps us make more of life.
Thousands of Death Cafés have popped up in countries across the globe, challenging people to open up about the deceased and their own thoughts and fears about dying. Cafes are often over subscribed with organisers having to turn away individuals from sell out events.
Julian Keane visits some of these Death Cafés to explore if a key part of life should be preparing for death. He explores how people across the world deal with death whilst they're living, and if there's really a need for the conversation.
Julian also meets sociologist Bernard Crettaz. He began the concept of Café Mortel (Death Café) at an exhibition called La mort à vivre (Death for life) in his Geneva museum. Bernard shares more about his work, the theories behind his Death Café concept and how he feels knowing the world is embracing his concept.
Apr 23, 2017 3028
Young stars of social media share lessons in life from their grandmothers. What happens when the youth-dominated, image-obsessed world of social media gets a dose of hard-learnt life-advice from older women? The BBC's #GrannyWisdom week will see stars of Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook posting conversations with their grandmothers, getting their wisdom on topics from love to mental health to overcoming adversity. Featuring highlights from those social media posts as well as discussions between the social media stars about what they learned from the older generation, this programme explores the lessons, tensions and reaction to this big, global social media experiment. Presented by YouTuber Hannah Witton, with contributions from social media stars Ross Smith, Taty Ferreira, Anushree Fadnavis, Megan Gilbride, Steven Chikosi and Kubra Sait. Also listen out for Hannah's, Ross's and Anushree's grannies.
Cuba’s Cancer Revolution
Apr 20, 2017 1715
Cuba’s biotech industry is booming. And in a revolutionary first, its lung cancer treatment is being trialled in the US. So with limited resources, how has Cuba done it?
Living with the Dead
Apr 19, 2017 1611
Since the beginning of time, man has lived in awe and fear of death, and every culture has faced its mystery through intricate and often ancient rituals. Few, however, are as extreme as those of the Torajan people on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Here, the dead are a constant presence, with corpses often kept in family homes for many years. When funerals are eventually held, they don’t mean goodbye. Once every couple of years, the dead are dug back out for a big family reunion.
Apr 18, 2017 1611
From childhood to old age, a journey through life reflected in the mirror - via a series of interviews recorded with people as they confront their reflection.
What do they see? How has their face changed? What stories lie behind the wrinkles and scars? We hear the initial wonder of the small child give way to the embarrassment of the teenager and the acceptance of later-life.
Created by multi-award-winning documentary-maker, Cathy FitzGerald, this moving programme hops from home to home in contemporary Britain, catching its subjects in bedrooms and bathrooms and lounges, to hold up a mirror to the ageing process itself.
Image: A face in a mirror, Credit: Getty Images
A Soldier's Eye View of Afghanistan
Apr 16, 2017 2937
Afghanistan, strategically located between South, Central and West Asia has been invaded and fought over by the world’s superpowers for centuries. Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the British Empire, the Soviet Union have all tried and failed to control Afghanistan. And war rages in the country today: the US-led military coalition has been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, and conflict has become the longest war in US history.
Dawood Azami talks to the British, Russian, American and Afghan fighters and soldiers who fought in what some historians have called the Graveyard of Empires. He finds out what drew them to this formidable battlefield, what they found there, how they view their enemy and how their experience changed them as soldiers and as individuals.
Azami looks for patterns in history: the British fought three wars in Afghanistan in the 19th and 20th Century before they sent in troops after 2001. Some of the British servicemen were aware of their predecessor’s defeats as they came up against stiff Afghan resistance; as were the Taliban fighters.
From a US General whose ancestor also governed in Afghanistan in the 19th Century, and an infantryman caught up in a close quarter’s firefight with the Taliban, to a Mujahedeen fighter ambushing a Soviet military convoy in the mountains, Azami follows the twists and turns of conflict in Afghanistan.
Image: Afghan security personnel on a military vehicle, Credit: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images
Walls and Peace
Apr 16, 2017 2993
From internal barriers to border fences, do walls built for political purposes create bigger problems than they solve? And what is it like to live next to them, asks Cathy Gormley-Heenan, of Ulster University. She meets residents and experts in Belfast, Israel-West Bank, and on the US-Mexican border, to find out why we are still building walls and what impact they have.
Extreme Selfies Russian Style
Apr 13, 2017 1594
Lucy Ash meets the young Russians taking death-defying photos on top of skyscrapers to gain internet fame and explores why this is a particularly Russian phenomenon.
Celebrating Life at 117
Apr 12, 2017 1616
This is an affectionate portrait of Elizabeth Gathoni Koinange - a woman who lives a short drive outside Nairobi - and who celebrated her 117th birthday this year. Her story, and that of her family, is told by Elizabeth's own great granddaughter Priscilla Ng'ethe. The joy of family life is captured when many generations come together. But it is also a short mental journey to the past and more turbulent times, when the British were rounding up suspected Mau Mau independence rebels.
Project Le Pen
Apr 11, 2017 1612
What accounts for Marine Le Pen's popularity? As a populist wave sweeps across the Western world, France is emerging as a key battleground and she is scoring record ratings for a leader of an 'outsider' party and looks set to get through to the second round of the presidential elections. How much is it to do with an increasingly familiar politics which blames global elites and immigrants for economic and social woes? And how much is it a distinctively French form, mixing policies of the left and the right in a brew which harks back to previous generations of Gallic leaders? What turns a party previously seen as fascist into one seriously vying for the highest office in the land? Anand Menon examines how Marine Le Pen has detoxified her father's party and asks what its success says about France's future as one of two anchoring states of the EU.
When the Shooting Stops
Apr 9, 2017 2990
Nearly half of all peace agreements fail. What can be done to stop countries from sliding back into civil war? Sri Lanka and Uganda are two countries that have suffered long and brutal civil wars, but have managed, to keep the peace - at least so far. BBC foreign affairs correspondent, Mike Thomson, who has reported from many conflict zones around the world, investigates how well both countries have managed to heal the wounds of war and what their experiences can teach us about winning the peace.
Hong Kong’s Secret Dwellings
Apr 6, 2017 1622
Last summer the emergency services rescued two children from an out-of-control fire in an old industrial building in the commercial area of Hong Kong. The children were living with their mother inside a storage unit in the building. For Assignment, Charlotte McDonald explores the reasons which would drive a family in one of the wealthiest cities in the world to live illegally in a place not fit for human habitation. It's estimated that around 10,000 people live in industrial buildings - although the true number is not known due to the very fact it is not legal. Hong Kong consistently ranks as one of the most expensive places to rent or buy in the world. Already around 200,000 have been forced to rent in what are known as subdivided flats. But now attention has turned to those in even more dire conditions in industrial blocks. From poor government planning, the loss of industry to mainland China and exploitative landlords, we uncover why people are choosing to live in secrecy in neglected buildings.
Charlotte McDonald reporting
Alex Burton producing
(Photo: Construction workers on site in front of a building, in Hong Kong)
Myanmar's Sex Vote
Apr 4, 2017 1611
When political activists like Daw Sander Min were imprisoned for their campaigns on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy they were locked up alongside sex workers like Thuzar Win, criminalised by Myanmar's harsh laws against prostitution. Now Sandar Min is an MP and Thuzar Win addresses parliament on behalf of the Sex Workers in Myanmar network. With Myanmar poised to become the new global centre of sex tourism, Sandar Min and Thuzar Win are adamant that the future of the thousands of young people forced into sex work every year, depends upon the decriminalisation of prostitution.
Reflections on Terror: 50 Years Behind the Headlines
Apr 2, 2017 2983
When Peter Taylor stepped nervously onto a plane in 1967, bound for the Middle East, he had no idea it was to be the start of a journalistic mission he would still be pursuing fifty years later. At the time “terrorism” was barely in our vocabulary. In the hundred or so documentaries he has made on the subject since then, Peter has tried to get behind the headlines to understand and explain a phenomenon which has grown to affect us all. Peter has reported the escalation of terrorism from the IRA and its Loyalist counterparts to Al Qaeda and the so called Islamic State. He has met the victims of terror, those involved in perpetrating terrorist acts and members of the intelligence services tasked with stopping them. Revisiting his own extraordinary archive has given Peter the chance to reflect on the evolution of terrorism and to recall some of his most memorable interviews. “There are moments when the interviews are chilling, moments when they're shocking and at other points they provoked a sharp intake of breath – surprising me by how prophetic they were.”
Brazil’s modern-day Captains of the Sands
Apr 1, 2017 1631
Captains of the Sands, a Brazilian novel about street children written 80 years ago, still resonates in the 21st century.
The Web Sheikh and the Muslim Mums
Mar 29, 2017 1610
How much do mums know about the messages being preached to their children? BBC World Service journalist Shaimaa Khalil meets a group of Muslim mums in London to talk about the everyday fears of parents who worry that extreme interpretations of Islam, often via online preachers, may be infecting the minds of their sons and daughters.
A Failed Revolution
Mar 29, 2017 1610
Middle East Correspondent Lina Sinjab – who grew up in Damascus – explores how the initially peaceful protests in Syria six years ago have left a country without hope and a society that is deeply fragmented. Many of the people who ignited the uprising are either dead, in prison or outside of Syria. Lina hears from some of the activists who remain free and asks them what went wrong, whether they have regrets and how their country can rebuild itself.
Horses for Courses
Mar 26, 2017 2974
Horse racing has an ever-growing global following and financial value. For a few days each year the horse racing world descends on a small English town, as it has for over 250 years. Buyers from over 40 countries bid against each other for the best young thoroughbred race horses on earth. Presenter Susie Emmett joins stable hands, breeders sellers, buyers and horses at the Tatersall's Sales.
Freedom and Fear in Myanmar
Mar 23, 2017 1616
Jonah Fisher travels across Myanmar and into neighbouring Bangladesh to investigate claims that Burmese Muslims have suffered rape and murder at the hands of the military.
It's a Dog's Life
Mar 19, 2017 2946
There is unique and ancient bond between humans and dogs, from its early beginnings to the modern day. Ayo Akinwolere explores this bond by visiting 'The Land of the Mutts' - an extraordinary refuge for dogs in Costa Rica, where dogs outnumber people by 100 to one. He investigates the science behind the the bonding and hears individual stories of canine-human relationships.
The Stem Cell Hard Sell
Mar 16, 2017 1624
Pioneering stem cell research is giving hope to patients with incurable conditions from multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer’s that treatment might one day be possible. It is early days but already some clinics are charging sick patients to take part in experimental therapies, including in the United States. Phil Kemp investigates one Florida-based stem cell study and asks if enough is being done to protect vulnerable people in search of a cure.
Produced by Anna Meisel
(Photo: Assistant Professor of Genetics and Developmental Biology Stormy Chamberlain holds a tray of stem cells at the University of Connecticut`s (UConn) Stem Cell Institute at the UConn Health Center, Credit: Getty Images)
Songs for the Dead
Mar 15, 2017 1608
Keeners were the women of rural Ireland who were traditionally paid to cry, wail and sing over the bodies of the dead at funerals and wakes. With emotions raw from her own recent experience of grief, broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir asks what has been lost with the passing of the keeners.
Mar 14, 2017 1611
The media in the United States is broken. Most journalists and media organisations dismissed the possibility of Trump Presidency. Many backed Hillary Clinton to win. It has left them in a precarious position with serious questions about their credibility, fuelled by the president and his inner circle who have branded them ‘enemies of the state’. Kyle Pope, editor of the Columbia Journalism Review asks how the media should respond to a hostile administration and more importantly how can they gain the trust of the vast numbers of people who think they are hopelessly biased.
Dying for a Song
Mar 12, 2017 2968
The musicians being persecuted for raising their voices against political, cultural or religious repression. Rex Bloomstein talks to artists whose songs have led to their imprisonment, torture and to the continuing threat of violence; artists who have been driven from their homelands, artists who, literally, risk dying for a song.
In one recent year alone 30 musicians were killed, seven abducted, and 18 jailed by regimes, political and religious factions and other groups determined to curb the power of music to rally opposition to them. In Syria, singer Ibrahim Quashoush, was found dead in the Orontes River, his vocal chords symbolically ripped out.
Rex hears stories of tremendous courage and determination not to be intimidated and silenced. Egyptian singer Ramy Essam tells of how he was brutally tortured after his songs rallied the crowds in Tahir Square during the Arab Spring. Two weeks later, after recovering from his injuries, he was back performing his songs aimed at bringing down the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Iranian singer Shahin Najafi continues to perform around the world despite a fatwa calling for his death, after his songs upset the religious leaders in his home country. He says: "At night I turn to the wall and slowly close my eyes and wait for someone to slit my throat".
Amid tales of musical repression in Sudan, Tunisia, Burkina Faso and Lebanon, come stories, more surprisingly, from Norway. Deeyah Kahn reveals how she was forced to flee the country in the face of violent threats aimed at stopping her singing and Sara Marielle Gaup talks of her struggle against repression of the music of the indigenous Sami people in the north of the country - labelled "the devil’s music".
Photo: Iranian musician Shahin Najafi, Credit: EPA
In Search of Henk and Ingrid
Mar 9, 2017 1613
Why is the tolerant Netherlands home to a major anti-immigration, anti-Islamic party?
Where Are You Going?
Mar 7, 2017 1608
Catherine Carr travels to Tijuana in Mexico, and asks strangers - where are you going?
Poland and the Mysterious Murder of Jola Brzeska
Mar 2, 2017 1588
The Polish property scandal now being linked to a brutal and unsolved murder
Feb 28, 2017 1611
We visit the mayors of cities from Helsinki to Bogota, from Los Angeles to Rotterdam and Cape Town to discover why citizens are putting their faith in the ability of local government and a charismatic mayor to deliver a better quality of life and solutions to 21st Century problems.
The Pull of Putin
Feb 26, 2017 2972
Why do populist politicians across the West want warmer relations with Russia? Are they just Kremlin agents? Or are they tapping into a growing desire to find common cause with Moscow – and end East-West tension? Tim Whewell travels from Russia to America and across Europe to unravel the many different strands of pro-Moscow thinking, and offer a provocative analysis which challenges conventional thinking about the relationship between Russia and the West.
Greece’s Forgotten Teenagers
Feb 25, 2017 1622
Phil Kemp meets some of the hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children stranded in Greece in camps and shelters on the islands and the mainland.
Dalida - A Life Unbearable
Feb 22, 2017 1611
Over her 40-year-career Dalida sold 170 million records, won 55 Gold Record awards and had 19 number one singles in Europe, Middle East, Canada, Russia and Japan. Despite her success, the former Miss Egypt is remembered for a personal life mired in tragedy. In 1987, following the death of her beloved bulldog, Dalida took her own life. Her suicide note read - "La vie m'est insupportable...pardonnez-moi." - Life has become unbearable for me..Forgive me.
Michelle Obama: 'Black Like Me'
Feb 21, 2017 3001
Have you ever heard a woman being described as “pretty for a dark skinned girl”? This podcast hears frank and often painful first-hand stories about 'shadeism' or 'colourism' – discrimination based on skin tone. We are told how decades ago, some African American organisations used the “brown paper bag test” to decide who could become members, with those with darker skins excluded. And we investigate how this prejudice is still affecting people, including in their relationships. For many, the former First Lady, Michelle Obama, has become a role model. By being married to a man with lighter skin, has she changed how black women and girls see themselves? Contributors include the singer-songwriter India Arie.
Desperate for Meds in Egypt
Feb 16, 2017 1629
A crash in the Egyptian currency has left a critical lack of drugs, and left thousands desperate for help. For some of those in need, it’s a race against time.
Hope Speaks Out
Feb 15, 2017 1699
Media headlines often fuel fear about refugees and amongst refugees. But what happens when refugees pick up the microphones and tell their own stories? Refugee Radio Network, in the German city of Hamburg, is a project that is tapping the power of community radio stations and the internet to give voice to refugees from wherever they have come.
Feb 15, 2017 1612
Aboriginal people from across Australia share their words, wisdom and concern for the future of that crucial resource, water. Watched by crocodiles on the bank of a tropical Northern Territory stream; sitting in a peaceful desert water dreaming place; interpreting a significant rock art site; dancing and singing the country back to life - water is embedded in identity, culture, spirituality and survival.
Brad Moggridge, a Murri from the Kamilaroi Nation, is a hydrogeologist who’s passionate about promoting Aboriginal ecological knowledge and he links the traditional with a contemporary scientific take on water management.
In this, the driest inhabited continent on earth, understanding water has been essential for tens of thousands of years. Today, as Brad says, "Mobs all over the country still talk about water places, dream about water places, have laws about water places and teach the next generation about water places. Water is a key part of who we are".
Image: Water at Bermagui Yuin Country, Credit: BBC
Hans Rosling - the Extraordinary Life of a Statistical Guru
Feb 13, 2017 1609
A master communicator with a passion for global development, the world has lost a legend with the death of the Swedish statistician Han Rosling. He had the ear of those with power and influence. His friend Bill Gates said Hans "brought data to life and helped the world see the human progress it often overlooked".
In a world that often looks at the bad news coming out of the developing world, Rosling was determined to spread the good news with his captivating presentations about extended life expectancy, falling rates of disease and infant mortality. He was fighting what he called the ‘post-fact era‘ of global health. He was passionate about global development and before he became famous he lived and worked in Mozambique, India and the Democratic Republic of Congo using data and his skills as a doctor to save lives. Despite ill health he also travelled to Liberia during the Ebola outbreak in 2014 to help gather and consolidate data to help fight the outbreak. On a personal level he was warm, funny and kind and will be greatly missed by a huge number of people.
This podcast first broadcast on 10 February in the series More or Less.
Image: Hans Rosling, Credit: Associated Press
No Babies in Japan
Feb 12, 2017 2984
Mariko Oi returns to her home country to witness the astonishing incentives encouraging young people to marry and have children. Japan’s birth rate is plummeting, its population is ageing and a demographic disaster is looming. In the next 40 years, Japan’s population is expected to fall from 127 million to 92 million, squeezing the economy and causing national debt to soar.
Killing for Conservation in India
Feb 9, 2017 1616
How one of the world’s greatest wildlife reserves has built its success on a hardline conservation policy that includes shooting suspected poachers
Inside Real Madrid
Feb 8, 2017 1561
Real Madrid are the world's most valuable football club. They're the reigning European champions and have won more European Cups than any other club in history. Now they've opened their doors and their books to outside scrutiny for the first time, giving Columbia Business School professor Steven Mandis unprecedented access to every part of the business.
How does an organisation co-owned by 92,000 fans operate? How was the club transformed from the brink of bankruptcy 16 years ago? What's the relationship between success on the pitch and off the pitch? What role do values play in the business? What lessons are there for other sports teams and for businesses more widely?
Through conversations with fans, players, coaches and board members - including a rare in-depth interview with club president Florentino Perez - Professor Mandis uncovers the secrets of Real Madrid's sporting and financial success.
(Image: Professor Mandis and Real Madrid president Florentino Perez. Credit: Real Madrid)
Feb 7, 2017 1612
Just outside Lynchburg, Virginia, there is a sprawling mental institution on a hill with a sinister history. For decades, the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, (now called Central Virginia Training Center) participated in America’s forgotten eugenics program. In a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court case of Buck v Bell, eugenics became the law of the land, and set a legal precedent for sterilising anyone deemed “unfit”. Thus began one of the darkest chapters in American history; between 60,000 and 70,000 people were forcibly sterilised across the country.
Solving Water Scarcity - Bermuda, My Perfect Country Boxset
Feb 4, 2017 1589
The solution is logical and simple. Bermuda's only source of natural water is rain and so every drop of rainwater is collected from roofs, where it drains into a tank and is then pumped towards taps when it's needed.
1.2 billion people live in areas where water is scarce and experience water shortages. Could Bermuda's harvesting system work elsewhere?
Find more innovative ideas from the first series go to www.bbcworldservice.com/perfectcountry
Cutting Poverty - Peru, My Perfect Country Boxset
Feb 4, 2017 1589
Economic growth benefits the poorest families in Peru. A fast-growing economy provides funds for social projects, such as giving $30 a month to each female head of a household.
The poverty rate in Peru has halved in ten years from 55% in 2005 to 22% in 2015. Can poverty continue to be cut further?
Find more innovative ideas from the first series go to www.bbcworldservice.com/perfectcountry
Gun Control - Japan, My Perfect Country Boxset
Feb 4, 2017 1589
Futons and martial arts-trained police play a part in Japan's low gun crime. Just one person was killed with a gun in 2015 – a mob crime boss – and in the same year, just six shots were fired by the nation's law enforcers.
A pacifist culture and stringent tests, inspections and penalties also contribute to the absence of gun violence.
Find more innovative ideas from the first series go to www.bbcworldservice.com/perfectcountry
'State Feminism' - Tunisia, My Perfect Country Boxset
Feb 4, 2017 1589
A Muslim country with a cosmopolitan outlook, Tunisia is both liberal and conservative. The code of personal status introduced by Tunisia's first president Habib Bourguiba established equality laws for women after Tunisia's independence.
But inequalities and violence towards women persist. How long will it be before there is true equality?
Find more innovative ideas from the first series go to www.bbcworldservice.com/perfectcountry
A Model for Teaching Maths - Shanghai, My Perfect Country Boxset
Feb 4, 2017 1609
Becoming a maths master is within reach for every pupil taught the Shanghai model for teaching maths.
There is no streaming according to ability, a highly trained, specialist teacher moves slowly through topics and does not move on until every single pupil gets it.
But does the method come with too much pressure?
Find more innovative ideas from the first series go to www.bbcworldservice.com/perfectcountry
Australia - Curbing Smoking, My Perfect Country Boxset
Feb 4, 2017 1609
Bollards disguised as cigarette butts indicating smoking areas, high prices, compulsory plain packaging, advertising campaigns showing how smoking damages your health, an app to support giving up, and a culture of shame: anti-smoking messages come at Australians from all angles. Only around 13% of Australians smoke.
Find more innovative ideas from the first series go to www.bbcworldservice.com/perfectcountry
Unarmed Black Male
Feb 2, 2017 1626
Did a white US police officer break the law by shooting dead an unarmed black youth?
Feb 1, 2017 1609
The BBC exposes the illegal trade in baby chimpanzees, captured in Africa and exported to the Gulf or Asia as pets or for private zoos. Capturing a baby chimp means killing the parents and often other adult chimpanzees. The trade is starting to threaten chimp populations in the wild. Reporter David Shukman infiltrates a smuggling ring based in Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast, and discovers the scale of this illegal trade which crosses several continents.
Photo: A captured baby chimpanzee is freed during the police raid of an illegal wildlife smuggling ring, Credit: BBC
Jan 31, 2017 1609
Former US Secretary of Defence William J Perry has spent his entire seven-decade career on the nuclear brink. A brilliant mathematician, he became involved in the development of weapons-related technology in the aftermath of World War Two. He reflects on the nuclear nightmare, and lays out his formula for nuclear security in our changing world.
The Rise of RB Leipzig
Jan 28, 2017 1640
RB Leipzig, the saviour of a city or the unacceptable commercial face of football?
A Little Bit Pregnant
Jan 25, 2017 1608
Malawi’s parliament is now poised to vote on a controversial Termination of Pregnancy Bill after more than two years of fierce debate and consultation. But, as Chipiliro Kansilanga reports, the issue has split Malawian society and put many politicians and health officials at odds with religious leaders.
The Friday Game
Jan 24, 2017 1609
For just a few hours on Friday mornings, Majeed and his friends feel completely at home. Despite the often sweltering conditions in Dubai, the rough, uneven pitch and the stark surroundings, the moment the players walk up to the wicket, they are taken back to their home in Kerala, India - to their childhood, community and families. This is their story - a story of migration and opportunity, loneliness and brotherhood.
Talking Sport - 90 Years of Commentary
Jan 22, 2017 2769
It is 90 years since the first BBC football commentary on radio from a wooden hut in Highbury, England. It brought sports to a much bigger audience and revolutionised overnight our relationship with our favourite games. Nine decades on and sports commentary is a multi-billion dollar business. Icelandic commentator Gudmundur Benediktsson tells the story of how sports commentary developed in different parts of the world.
After Obama Care – Health under Trump
Jan 19, 2017 1625
What will new President Trump do about healthcare in the United States?
Trump Tweet by Tweet
Jan 18, 2017 1609
What do Donald Trump’s tweets reveal about the man who, on 20 January, will be America’s next president? Will he continue to use what he has called his "beautiful Twitter” account to tell the world what he is thinking - and doing?
The President and the Press
Jan 14, 2017 2993
A history of how the White House and the press corps learned how to live with each other. In 1897, when President McKinley was sworn in, there was no working relationship between the office of the US President and the members of the press. McKinley became the first president to allow press briefings, let the reporters into the Oval office and harness the power of the newspapers to affect public opinion.
President Woodrow Wilson treated the press like schoolboys and chatted to them while having his morning shave, but his presidency did establish the principle that journalists could routinely question their country’s leader.
The first televised press conference was with JFK in 1961 and now they are a key part of any US president's relationship with the people who voted for him, with President Obama widening the meaning of the “press” to include Reddit, Google Hangouts and evening chat shows.
As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to move into The White House, we consider how the presidential relationship with the press will change, given his avowed contempt for aspects of the “Fourth Estate”.
Our Washington correspondent Jon Sopel - no stranger to a presidential press conference - looks at the history of the connection between the US president and the press over more than 100 years and speculates on how it is set to change.
(Photo: Donald Trump greets reporters after a debate sponsored by Fox News in Detroit, 2016 . Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery
Jan 12, 2017 1678
One night of terror at Dhaka's Holey Artisan Bakery in July 2016.
The Muhammadan Bean
Jan 11, 2017 1609
Journalist Abdul-Rehman Malik leads us on a journey to Turkey as he investigates the forgotten history of coffee. He discovers that coffee was popularised by Sufi mystics in the Yemen who used the drink as a way of energising themselves during their nocturnal devotions. Originating in Ethiopia, finding its spiritual home in the Yemen, evading zealots and Sultans from Mecca to Constantinople, defying prejudice from Vienna to London – coffee made its mark wherever it went, facilitating radical new forms of social exchange.
Remote Control War
Jan 10, 2017 1609
Vin Ray looks at the challenges facing the drone programme and how drones are fundamentally changing the face of warfare.
Beyond the Pitch
Jan 8, 2017 2982
Dramatic and poignant tales exploring how Africa’s football and politics are bedfellows. As the Africa Cup of Nations celebrates 60 years in January 2017 in Gabon, BBC sport journalist Farayi Mungazi explores the close links between the 'beautiful game' of football and the 'dirty game' of politics.
Poland: Behind the Black Protests
Jan 5, 2017 1613
A hundred thousand women and men took to the streets in Poland recently in protest against attempts to ban all abortions—and the issue seems to have crystallised a growing unease with the country’s move to the right and the power of the Catholic Church. ‘We are not putting our umbrellas away' went one of the slogans as women stood in the pouring rain to voice their concerns. The size of the protest surprised even the participants; organised by the feminist movement, it attracted women and men from many different backgrounds. Where did this surge of activism come from? Some argue that the revolution that began with Solidarnosc in the 1980s ignored the needs and voices of Polish women. Communism may have been defeated, they say, but it’s been replaced by a different kind of repression. Maria Margaronis investigates.
Mark Savage producing.
(Photo: Polish women take part in a nationwide strike and demonstration to protest against a legislative proposal for a total ban of abortion on October 3, 2016 in Warsaw. Credit to: Getty Images)
City of the Future
Jan 3, 2017 1610
How does Houston, Texas, a massive city, deal with the pressures of immigration, an exploding youth population and a widening divide between rich and poor? The answer could be critical to the future success of the USA. Sociologists who have studied the city for decades believe that many US metropolitan areas could look like Houston in 30 years' time. Since the election of Donald Trump, these issues have become even more critical.
Catherine Carr travels to the Texas to see how the city’s authorities and inhabitants are coping with the radical changes to Houston’s demographics and meets the pioneers attempting to intentionally build bridges across city divides.
Picture: Houston's buildings, Credit: Getty Images
The Woman who Exposed Russian Doping
Jan 1, 2017 2987
For the past two years, Russian athlete Yuliya Stepanova, her husband Vitaly and their three year old son, Robert have been on the run. They fear for their lives, after they exposed one of the greatest sporting scandals of all time – the systemic Russian state sponsored doping programme. With very little money or support from any sporting authority, a life of solitude and uncertainty is the prize for the whistleblower who brought down Russian sport.
The Hidden Homeless
Dec 29, 2016 1587
There’s a crisis of homelessness for families in Britain
The Year Everything Changed
Dec 27, 2016 1608
This was the year of 'post-truth' politics, fake news and when some of the foundations of how global politics and trade are determined have been questioned. In many ways this has been a year when the silent majority has become vocal, and when old certainties have been questioned. The BBC’s Allan Little examines what really happened in the last 12 months and asks, what next?
A Song for Syria
Dec 25, 2016 2992
Since war broke out in Syria over a million people have sought refuge in Lebanon - a small country of just over 4 million people. The reporter Lina Sinjab left her home in Damascus in 2013 to live in Beirut, and for her, as for so many Syrians, the poignant music of home has become a crucial source of comfort and resilience. As the war drags on, music and songs provide a strong link to the past and hope for the future.
Lina joins refugee musicians across Lebanon and hears how their music is one of the few things they were able to bring with them. In the Bekaa Valley, close to the border with Syria, she meets an oud player, a percussionist and a piper who arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs and their precious instruments. And she visits a refugee youth choir who have found new joy and hope by singing with others who have been uprooted from their homes.
In Beirut, the Oumi ensemble use music as a counter to religious extremism, taking their inspiration from the peace-loving Sufi poet Mansur Al-Hallaj. The arrival of Syrian musicians has also had a big impact on the cultural scene in Lebanon, and Lina discovers how this has inspired bands and artists in the capital.
Image: Ahmad Turkmany who plays the Mizmar, Credit: Just Radio Ltd
Punk Art and Protest in Malaysia
Dec 22, 2016 1618
Street artist Reza captured public dissatisfaction when he caricatured the PM as a clown
Dec 21, 2016 1611
Why did Indonesians flock to a remote mountain to have sex with strangers? Gunung Kemukus is a hilltop Islamic shrine in Java where, every 35 days, Muslims from across Indonesia arrive to conduct a ritual that involves adulterous sex. As darkness shrouds the hillside, candles are lit and people sit on mats around the sacred dewadaru trees and the twisting roots of massive fig trees. The single grave here is believed to hold a legendary prince and his stepmother. Legend has it that they ran away together and lived at Gunung Kemukus. It is believed that if you do something even more shameful there, like have adulterous sex, then you will be blessed with good fortune. Rebecca Henschke tells the story of this extraordinary ritual.
Open Ear features documentaries from producers across the world being rebroadcast by the BBC World Service. It originally aired as a 360 Documentary on ABC Radio National in Australia.
Photo: A flower on water, Credit: Thinkstock
Burn Slush! The Reindeer Grand Prix
Dec 20, 2016 1611
Competitive reindeer-racing is a popular sport across the Arctic Circle. In Finland, the season runs from November to April and good jockeys are local celebrities. They need strong biceps and serious guts: strapped onto cross-country skis they're hauled behind reindeer at up to 60km/hour. Meanwhile, the animals are trained to peak fitness. Owners give their reindeer massages and whisper last minute instructions in their ears.
Cathy FitzGerald travels to the snowy north of Finland to find out more about the sport. She visits the little town of Inari, where the cappuccinos come with tiny antlers sketched in the foam and the local bar (PaPaNa, ‘The Reindeer Dropping’) serves pizza topped with bear salami. Each year, the top 24 fastest reindeer compete here to be crowned: The Reindeer King. They fly around a two-kilometre race track carved on the surface of icy Lake Inari to the cheers of hundreds of spectators.
There’s a social side to the competition, of course: a winter village grows up around the track, where herders can browse for cow-bells, snow-mobiles and fox-fur hats. And at night, there’s dancing under the northern lights at Hotel Kultahovi, where Eero Magga croons his big hit, ‘Poromiehen Suudelma’ – ‘The Reindeer Herder’s Kiss’ – to an appreciative reindeer-racing crowd.
Picture: Competitors and their reindeer set off across the snow, Credit: Kirsten Foster
The Polygon People
Dec 18, 2016 2994
Between 1949 and 1989 the Soviet Union tested 456 nuclear bombs in Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan. The area the size of Belgium became known as the Polygon and when Kazakhstan became independent – 25 years ago this week - it inherited the world’s fourth biggest nuclear arsenal. The BBC’s Rustam Qobil visits the Polygon to piece together its remarkable story.
The Sunni Traditionalists: Islam, People and Power Boxset
Dec 16, 2016 1589
The anti-government protests that began in the Arab world in 2010 triggered division between the religious scholars of Islam’s largest branch – the traditional Sunnis. Some of the most senior Sunni scholars in the world held fast to the idea that revolution, and even simple protest, was forbidden in Islam. Others decided to back armed groups in Syria, though not the global jihadists of al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Presenter Safa Al Ahmad travels to Egypt to meet Dr Abbas Shouman, one of the most senior scholars at Islam’s most famous seat of learning, Al Azhar University. She also tells the story of Sheikh Ramadan al-Bouti, a famous Syrian Islamic scholar whose stance on the uprisings cost him his life.
(Photo: Anti-Government protesters in Cairo. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
The Salafis: Islam, People and Power Boxset
Dec 16, 2016 1589
Wahhabism is the most misunderstood brand of Islam. It is more correctly called Salafism and is a fundamentalist interpretation of the faith, often associated with Saudi Arabia. The Salafis have long been split between jihadists who justify violently overthrowing their rulers and quietists who believe that even oppressive governments should be obeyed. Since the Arab uprisings, two new groups – Salafi democrats and Salafi revolutionaries – have come to the fore too.
Presenter Safa Al Ahmad talks to representatives of all positions in the current debate within Salafi Islam about the relationship between religion and politics.
(Photo: Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh. Credit: Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images)
The Islamists: Islam, People and Power Boxset
Dec 16, 2016 1589
What should the relationship be between Islam and the state? This is the question which dominates political debate in the Arab world. Many traditional Islamic scholars believe in the separation of religion and politics. For the Muslim Brotherhood though – the Arab world’s foremost social and political movement - the goal is to create an Islamic state.
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was elected to power after the Arab uprisings. But its plans quickly ended in failure. After just a year in office, the Brotherhood government faced mass protests before it was deposed by a military coup.
As presenter Safa Al Ahmad discovers, these events have caused an unprecedented level of debate between members past and present. She talks to a Brotherhood veteran who believes the Brotherhood should have remained a social movement rather than entering politics and to young members who believe it should be more revolutionary.
(Image: Muslim Brotherhood supporter holds a banner with the Arabic slogan 'Islam is the Solution' during a demonstration in Cairo 08 November 2005. Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)
The Shia: Islam, People and Power Boxset
Dec 16, 2016 1589
Within Shi’ism there is a high level disagreement about the role of Islam in government. Shia-dominated Iran is an Islamic republic, led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a senior Islamic cleric. But the Iranian model of government - a theocratic state - is not supported by Shi’ism’s most senior Islamic cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani who is based in the Iraqi city of Najaf.
“Khamenei is the head of Iranian army. Sistani is not the head of Iraqi army,” explains Iraqi politician Walid al-Hilli. But, as presenter Safa al-Ahmad discovers on a visit to Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Sistani has significant influence on the way Iraq is governed.
(Photo: A V-sign for victory is flashed in front of a portrait of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Credit: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)
Reflections: Islam, People and Power Boxset
Dec 16, 2016 1641
Presenter Safa al Ahmad is joined by a panel of experts to reflect on the issues raised in her documentary series 'Islam People and Power'.
Guests in the studio are:
Dr Maha Azzam, former Associate Fellow of Chatham House, now Head of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council
Dr Hazem Kandil, Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and author of Inside The Brotherhood
Hassan Hassan, Fellow of The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy and author of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror
(Image: Safa al Ahmad in the studio. Credit: BBC)
Woman Found Dead by the Lake Shore
Dec 16, 2016 1610
The Kafkaesque story of the brutal killing of a woman who was found dead by the side of a lake in Sweden. Agneta Westerlund had moved some years before to a small village from Stockholm along with her husband Ingemar. The couple had first met as teenagers and had been together for 40 years. Her body had suffered a series of bizarre and horrific injuries: one wound on the side of her back was the size of a wheel. Police arrested Ingemar and accused him of murdering his wife by running over her with a lawnmower and then dumping her body by the lake. So did he really kill Agneta?
Open Ear features documentaries from producers across the world being rebroadcast by the BBC World Service. This episode first aired on Sveriges Radio in Swedish.
(Photo: Lake shore in Sweden. Credit: Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images)
India's Silent Terror
Dec 15, 2016 1602
Protecting cows has now become the focus of armed Hindu vigilante groups intent on asserting Hindu radicalism under India's Hindu nationalist government.
Tito's Tourist Crisis
Dec 13, 2016 1610
Tito worked as an entertainer in Egypt’s hotels. All gone. Now, his livelihood wrecked, he takes us on a personal and moving exploration of his country’s tourist crisis. He introduces us to life inside the tourist resorts that have no tourists, and to the people whose lives have changed forever:
Tito is 30. He has worked as an entertainer in Egypt’s illustrious hotel scene all his working life. He sings, he dances, he is a comedian and he has entertained thousands of western tourists over his 15-year career. Those tourists aren’t there anymore, neither is the work and neither are most of the hotels Tito has worked in.
The historic but violent Egyptian revolution, the bombing of a Russian plane in Egypt, the stabbing of British tourists in Hurgada and most recently the downing of another passenger plane, have left Egypt’s tourist industry beleaguered. What was once a thriving fifteen billion dollar trade in 2010 is now struggling to achieve half that in 2016. But behind the economics are real human stories of despair including Tito’s himself.
Image: An Egyptian guide walks by the pyramids at Giza, Credit: Getty Images
Cricket, Colour and Quotas in South Africa
Dec 8, 2016 1604
Black sporting talent is still struggling to break through into South Africa's top teams.
What My Parents Taught Me
Dec 8, 2016 1610
For the eight-year-old Louisa Smith, a day trip to the beach with her father became an experience which shaped her life. The family car was stopped by an armed man, who makes it clear he is prepared to kill them unless he is driven to where he wants to go. But Louisa’s father is a Vietnam veteran, with a unique insight into how to unsettle their abductor.
Shobande Shina recalls a mistake with money which stayed with him forever, and Nelson Bohorquez from Colombia, offers a unique glimpse of his mother’s sense of humour. And, from Syria, Layal Mahfoud remembers her mother’s lesson in standing up for her future.
Plus, contributions from Debbie Camara, Masiliso Akayombokwa, Dana Silcox, Paola Ribadeneira and Jake Crawford.
The Response is open to all and for the next topic we want you to tell us a story about an inspirational woman. As part of the World Service 100 Women series we are asking for your tales about women who changed your life or your community – or you may be a woman who changed things. How did you do it? Email us a voice memo or message recorded on your phone to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
Picture: A child holding an adult's hand, Credit: Thinkstock
Naija Sexual Desires
Dec 7, 2016 1619
Bola Mosuro explores attitudes towards sex and sexuality in her country of origin, Nigeria. Talking openly about sex, desire and pleasure is still mostly a no-go area - especially if you are a woman. Today, however, women are breaking through religious and cultural barriers to claim equality in the bedroom.
Trolls, 'the Devil', and Death
Dec 6, 2016 2993
President Rodrigo Duterte was elected to power in the Philippines promising to tackle crime and to feed the corpses of drug dealers to the fish. In the months since he took office almost 5,000 people are believed to have been killed by police and vigilantes. The BBC Trending team investigates how Duterte's 'war on drugs' is playing out in real life, and how a sophisticated social media strategy is ensuring support for the controversial policy.
Life, Death and Cheerleading
Dec 4, 2016 2990
Sun City is one of America's biggest retirement communities and home to the Poms, a group of amazing women aged between 55 and 85. We follow the Poms as they rehearse for one of their biggest parades of the year. Their story is one of courage in the face of mortality and a high-kick against ageism.
Albania's Cannabis Boom
Dec 1, 2016 1643
Linda Pressly and Albana Kasapi investigate the 'Green Gold' rush in the Balkan nation
Interview with the CIA Director, John Brennan
Dec 1, 2016 1383
The BBC’s Security Correspondent, Gordon Corera, interviews the CIA Director, John Brennan.
The Taboo of Feminism
Nov 30, 2016 1610
The BBC’s Katy Watson travels to Los Angeles and asks why feminism is still regarded by many as a word to avoid. Despite an ongoing gender pay gap, and a lack of female business-leaders, why does the word continue to raise an eyebrow?
Jobs for the Girls - Part Two
Nov 29, 2016 1609
Divya Arya meets the women from rural parts of India who are bucking the trend and working in jobs traditionally done by men. She meets the 'Solar Mamas' learning solar engineering, a widowed railway porter taking on the tough job her husband used to do, the women in rural Karnataka finding a voice in local radio, and those learning the male-dominated trades of boat building, masonry, carpentry and farm management.
The Life of President Fidel Castro
Nov 29, 2016 1610
Cuba's iconic leader has died - we look back over his life
Checkmate for the King of Chess?
Nov 24, 2016 1592
The bizarre tale of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov - master or pawn in the great game of chess?
Candela: The Lives of Cuban Women
Nov 23, 2016 1610
From a Bolero concert to a cancer ward, and from the apartment of a guy who helps Cubans get foreign visas to an Afro-Cuban Santeria ceremony, reporter Deepa Fernandes finds out how ordinary Cuban women have lived, loved and invented their way through dwindling resources and political isolation.
Jobs for the Girls - Part One
Nov 22, 2016 1609
Unemployment rates in India have shot up in recent years, and around twice as many women are out of work compared with their male counterparts. Divya Arya travels across India meeting some of the women who are challenging gender stereotypes and breaking down social taboos in order to find work in areas traditionally the preserve of men.
Nov 17, 2016 1608
Public employee one day, enemy of the state the next. The post coup reality in Turkey.
Country Down Under
Nov 16, 2016 1611
Country music is commonly associated with downtrodden, lovelorn, white inhabitants of America’s rural south, but it has also long been a significant form of expression for Australia’s Aboriginal peoples. Country music became popular 'down under' during the first half of the 20th Century. Thanks to gramophone recordings, wind-up radios and touring bands, it even reached the bush where most Aboriginals lived, often more or less imprisoned on missions and government-controlled reserves. At a time when their own cultural heritage was being systematically erased, country music became a medium through which they could maintain their practice of sharing stories via the oral tradition. Its resonance was enhanced by melodies which tended towards the melancholic. As one musician put it “country music was all about loss, and we’d lost everything”. Through country music, Aboriginal people were able to give voice to their personal experiences and ongoing struggles for justice. Songs describe, for example, how babies and land were stolen, incidents of racism, poor living conditions, and high levels of incarceration. Country music, far from its origins, has thus become a deeply moving and powerful Aboriginal activism art form. With contributions from Auriel Andrew, Kev Carmody, Roger Knox, Sue Ray, Glenn Skuthorpe and Clinton Walker.
How to Win a US Election
Nov 16, 2016 1610
After one of the most extraordinary and unpredictable US Presidential election campaigns, Americans have voted for their next President, choosing Donald Trump to take his place in the White House.
Before the first Presidential debate, polls indicated that the candidates were neck and neck. Then the momentum of the campaign changed, with Donald Trump rocked by the leaked tape of his lewd comments and repudiation by some Republicans. Following an astonishing second debate, Trump fought to keep his campaign on the road, returning to the tactics which had originally secured his nomination, firing up his core support with anti-Washington rhetoric and increasingly bitter attacks on Hillary Clinton. For Hillary Clinton lingering doubts remained in voters’ minds about her trustworthiness, clouding her bid to become the first woman president.
With the result still resonating, Katty Kay takes a post-election view from the perspective of the winning side. She hears why Trump supporters in the key swing state of Pennsylvania were so motivated to vote for Trump and explores the key moments and turning points from the campaigns.
Searching for Tobias
Nov 15, 2016 1610
In Mississippi in 2008, Chloe Hadjimatheou met a 15-year-old black boy with dreams of being a policeman. Eight years later, Chloe goes in search of him to find what became of him. Did he prosper in Obama's America?
The History of Rhythm
Nov 13, 2016 2988
Acclaimed percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie has a lifelong passion for understanding how we are impacted by rhythm. She explores the evolution of musical rhythm over several millennia through different cultures, demonstrating how migration has impacted many different styles of music across generations and regions, and how the resulting fusions gave rise to new rhythms in contemporary music.
The Story of the Bamboo Club
Nov 13, 2016 2989
The Bamboo club was built for the people of St Pauls, in Bristol, England - the people who were victimised or not welcome elsewhere because of the colour of their skin. We hear from dozens of people who were members, musicians, or simply occasional visitors. They all share the same idea that there were two themes running through the club – community and music.
Prisons for Rent in the Netherlands
Nov 12, 2016 1588
There’s a shortage of criminals in the Netherlands. What are the Dutch doing about it?
The Response - Turning Point
Nov 9, 2016 1612
For Dan Jeffries, an act of kindness proved to be a turning point that saved his own life. Robert Maxim, faced homelessness but found a way to survive for three months, and Alan Pickard turned his social life around – with dance. Also, Festo Michael Kambarangwe who lived with 50 siblings and 14 stepmothers; Oladipupo Adeola meets a Muslim for the first time and Pam Hawley finds love in an unexpected way. With contributions from Alla Salah, Misha Anker, Saba Fahim, Jean Richter.
Nov 8, 2016 1608
A family stranded in a snowfield. A woman with vertigo on a mountain. A hiker falling in lava. These are just some of the jobs for Slysavarnafélagið Landsbjörg (Ice-SAR): the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue. Ice-SAR is an elite national emergency militia with a gallant reputation in Iceland. In place of an army, its skilled volunteers, all unpaid, are expertly trained, well equipped, self-financed and self-sufficient.
Change in America
Nov 6, 2016 2989
How has the US changed since 2008? As the world chews its nails, waiting to see how the US election story ends, Lizzie O’Leary tries to do something a little different: looking at data to figure out how America is different now, in November 2016, from the country which elected its first black president eight years ago. Lizzie – from the US radio show Marketplace – is joined in New York City by the political analyst Amy Holmes, demographer Bill Frey and the journalist Meghan McArdle. She’s also armed with audiographs, illustrating some surprising data in sound.
The last days of the Calais Jungle
Nov 3, 2016 1588
Gavin Lee documents the final days of France’s notorious migrant camp, meeting inhabitants from as far afield as Gambia and Afghanistan to ask what the future holds for them now.
African Books to Inspire
Nov 2, 2016 1611
A panel of writers talk to Audrey Brown about the African books which have had the biggest impact on them, their writing and the wider world. What makes a great book? On the panel are black British rapper-poet Akala; Abdilatif Abdalla, the Kenyan poet and activist; Nigerian novelist Sarah Ladipo Manyika; and Yewande Omotoso, South African poet and academic.
Oklahoma City After the Bomb
Oct 30, 2016 2930
In April 1995 a devastating bomb ripped through the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and 168 people died and many more were injured. Emma Barnett travels to Oklahoma City to find out what happened afterwards. She hears stories of resilience, defiance and success against the odds as the city came together to support and help those who suffered.
'High Way' To Hell
Oct 27, 2016 1588
How synthetic psychoactive drugs produced in China make their way onto Britain’s streets.
Who Are You Again?
Oct 26, 2016 1610
Every day Mary Ann Sieghart blanks friends and colleagues in the street - some people think she is the rudest woman they know. She has prosopagnosia, more commonly known as face blindness. Sufferers have problems perceiving or remembering faces. It is thought around one in 50 of us has the condition - the chances are you or someone you know will have it - but many people do not even realise they have it. Stephen Fry and former UK Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt are two of the well known people who have the condition and here they share how they've found ways of coping with it to get by in their careers. In extreme cases, some sufferers do not recognise family members or even their own reflection. Concerns are rising that it could lead to issues in security, justice and misdiagnoses. Psychologists and psychiatrists are trying to learn more about the condition and its effects, calling for it to be recognised formally and screened for in schools and in jobs. Mary Ann has long dreamed of a solution. Could technology or even hormonal treatments help improve her ability? Or, will the best solution simply be to make people more aware?
Oct 25, 2016 1611
Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock visits Nigeria, her father's birthplace, and asks why African nations are apparently so keen to journey into the future as a space-going continent. Do space programmes restore a continent’s pride or are just vanity projects of the elite?