The latest national and international news, exploring the day's events from a global perspective.
Have you ever dreamed of travelling through space? Sir Patrick Moore takes us on an epic journey to the ends of our known universe, stopping en-route to take in the view. The team engage the warp drive and celebrate 55 years of The Sky at Night - at the speed of light.
The surprising story of how Britain entered a new age of steam railways after the Second World War and why it quickly came to an end.
After the war, the largely destroyed railways of Europe were rebuilt to carry more modern diesel and electric trains. Britain, however, chose to build thousands of brand new steam locomotives. Did we stay with steam because coal was seen as the most reliable power source or were the railways run by men who couldn't bear to let go of their beloved steam trains?
The new British locomotives were designed to stay in service well into the 1970s, but in some cases they were taken off the railways and scrapped within just five years. When Dr Richard Beeching took over British Railways in the 1960s the writing was on the wall, and in 1968 the last steam passenger train blew its whistle.
But while steam use declined, steam enthusiasm grew. As many steam engines lay rusting in scrapyards around Britain, enthusiasts raised funds to buy, restore and return them to their former glory. In 2008, the first brand new steam locomotive to be built in Britain in nearly 50 years rolled off the line, proving our enduring love of these machines.
In a story that combines scandal and revolution, cultural correspondent Stephen Smith explores how Vienna's artists rebelled against the establishment in the late 19th century and brought their own highly sexed version of art nouveau to the banks of the Danube.
Looking at the eye-watering work of Gustav Klimt, Smith discovers that Viennese 'Jugenstil' was more than just a decorative delight but saw artists struggle to bring social meaning to the new style. Revealing the design genius of Josef Hoffman, the graphic work of Koloman Moser and the emergence of the enfant terrible Egon Schiele, Smith unpacks the stories behind a style that burned brightly but briefly at the fin de siecle.
FRIDAY 06 APRIL 2012
FRI 19:00 The Lark Ascending (b019c9t9)
Dame Diana Rigg explores the enduring popularity of The Lark Ascending by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, which was recently voted Britain's favourite piece of classical music by listeners to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4.
Composed at a key turning point in world history, The Lark Ascending represents music for all occasions. It is used in rites of passage such as births, deaths and marriages, and is a favourite for film-makers looking to create that quintessential English pastoral feel. Fans of the work include actor Peter Sallis, who wants a copy of The Lark Ascending to be buried with him, top violinist Tasmin Little, who has played the piece as part of the BBC Proms, and music critic Michael Kennedy, who was a personal friend of Vaughan Williams.
The programme includes a beautiful new performance of the work in the same village hall where it was heard for the first time in December 1920. The Lark Ascending is performed by 15-year-old violin prodigy Julia Hwang and pianist Charles Matthews, using the original arrangement for violin and piano.
FRI 19:30 Angelic Voices: The Choristers of Salisbury Cathedral (b01f6tb8)
Child choristers have been singing at Salisbury for 900 years. This film - an observational portrait, history and musical immersion in one of Britain's most distinctive and beloved cultural traditions - follows Salisbury Cathedral's choristers over Easter and through the summer term of 2011.
Salisbury Cathedral's separate boy and girl choirs each contain 16 of the most musically gifted eight- to 13-year-olds in the country. Their role, now as always, is to sing some of the most sublime music ever written in one of Britain's most beautiful buildings. Indeed there are many who believe the chorister's pure, clear, treble voice is the finest instrument in all music.
The film spends four months with the choristers as they go about their day-to-day lives, discovering their own history and singing some of the most loved music from a sacred canon spanning six centuries from medieval plainsong to the present day. Under the direction of indefatigable choir master David Halls, they rehearse and perform works by Sheppard, Byrd, Purcell, Handel, Mozart, Stanford, Parry, Alcock and Rutter.
Lining up in his black cloak, ten-year-old Alex says he feels like Harry Potter while Freddie, 12, admits, 'Other children think we are weird and actually we are not.' Yet few children perhaps have the poise or conviction of Susanna, 10, who explains, 'Singing for choristers is part of them. If you said to me "You're not allowed to sing anymore", it would be just like me telling you that you can't see your child anymore.' It is doubtful that Salisbury's early choristers, often so hungry they were forced to beg for bread, thought so fondly of their work. But when plainsong turned to polyphony the choristers' plight was transformed - with the top cathedrals in the late middle ages known to pay Premiership-style transfer fees for the most musically gifted boys, some of whom were even kidnapped by rival cathedrals.
Today's top trebles at Salisbury are seen competing for one of the most famed solos in a chorister's repertoire. Will Finnbar, Freddie or Noah be picked for Stanford's Mag in G?
FRI 21:00 Queen - Days of Our Lives (b011pwd9)
In 1971, four university students got together to form a band. Since then, that certain band called Queen has released 26 albums and sold over 300 million records worldwide. The popularity of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon is stronger than ever. Their story is a remarkable one, a narrative that covers early struggles, huge obstacles, success, arguments, breakups, triumph, tragedy and an enduring legacy - all against a backdrop of brilliant music and stunning live performances from every corner of the globe.
In this film, for the first time, it is the band that tells their story. Guiding us through an extensive archive full of hitherto unseen footage, the documentary reveals how four strong-minded individuals, all capable of writing massive hit songs, worked together so successfully for four decades. Queen never did anything by halves - meaning their highs were massive, but their lows catastrophic. It is a compelling story told with intelligence, wit, plenty of humour and painful honesty.
FRI 22:00 Queen - Days of Our Lives (b011r4gs)
The story of British rock band Queen, formed in 1971. The second half of this documentary sees Queen at the peak of their powers. With the ultimate showman in Freddie Mercury and a string of rock anthems to their name, Queen smashed attendance records with a series of stadium shows across South America.
But the band quickly learned that if reaching the top is tough, staying there is the biggest challenge of all. With a loss of focus in the studio, the decline in popularity in North America, increasing internal tension and a desire to pursue solo projects, it seemed as if the band had had its day. Then came the performance from Mercury at Live Aid and their record breaking Magic tour in 1986. Queen were back amongst the very best. They were rejuvenated and once again had the world at their feet, but then tragedy struck and threatened to tear the band apart.
Featuring musical performances, previously unseen and rare footage, and intimate interviews.
FRI 23:00 Queen: The Legendary 1975 Concert (b00p4hgm)
On Christmas Eve 1975, Queen crowned a glorious year with a special concert at London's Hammersmith Odeon. The show on the final night of their triumphant UK tour was broadcast live on BBC TV and radio, and has become a legendary event in Queen's history.
Featuring stunning renditions of early hits Keep Yourself Alive, Liar and Now I'm Here alongside Brian May's epic guitar showcase Brighton Rock, a rip-roaring version of the then new Bohemian Rhapsody and the crowd-pleasing Rock 'n' Roll Medley, this hour-long concert shows Queen at an early peak and poised to conquer the world.
FRI 23:50 The Old Grey Whistle Test (b014vzy3)
The Old Grey Whistle Test was launched on 21 September 1971 from a tiny studio tucked behind a lift shaft on the fourth floor of BBC Television Centre. From humble beginnings, it has gone on to provide some of the best and most treasured music archive that the BBC has to offer.
This programme takes us on a journey and celebrates the musically mixed-up decade that was the 1970s, and which is reflected in the OGWT archive. There are classic performances from the glam era by Elton John and David Bowie, an early UK TV appearance from Curtis Mayfield, the beginnings of heavy metal with Steppenwolf's iconic Born to Be Wild anthem and the early punk machinations of the 'mock rock' New York Dolls. Archive from the pinnacle year, 1973, features Roxy Music, The Wailers and Vinegar Joe. The programme's finale celebrates the advent of punk and new wave with unforgettable performances from Patti Smith, Blondie, Iggy Pop and The Jam.
Artists featured are Elton John, Lindisfarne, David Bowie, Curtis Mayfield, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Steppenwolf, Vinegar Joe, Brinsley Schwarz, New York Dolls, Argent, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Captain Beefheart, Johnny Winter, Dr Feelgood, Gil Scott Heron, Patti Smith, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Cher & Gregg Allman, Talking Heads, The Jam, Blondie, Iggy Pop and The Specials.
FRI 01:20 When Rock Goes Acoustic (b0141myx)
The cliche of classic rock guitar is one of riffs, solos and noise. But write a list of great guitarists and their finest moments and a quieter, more intense playing comes to the fore. The acoustic guitar is the secret weapon in the armoury of the guitar hero, when paradoxically they get more attention by playing quietly than being loud.
This documentary takes an insightful and occasionally irreverent look at the love affair between rock and the humble acoustic guitar. Exploring a much less celebrated, yet crucial part of the rock musician's arsenal, contributors including Johnny Marr, Keith Richards, Ray Davies, James Dean Bradfield, Biffy Clyro, Joan Armatrading, Donovan and Roger McGuinn discuss why an instrument favoured by medieval minstrels and singing nuns is as important to rock 'n' roll as the drums, bass and its noisy sister, the electric guitar.
FRI 02:20 Angelic Voices: The Choristers of Salisbury Cathedral (b01f6tb8)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today