Katty Kay in Washington and Christian Fraser in London return to report on the events that are shaping the world.
It is the first of the semi-finals in the University Challenge Christmas quiz for grown-ups.
Ray Mears looks at how the landscapes of America's five great deserts challenged the westward push of the early pioneers.
As Ray travels through the cold high mountain Great Basin desert and the hot Sonoran desert of southern Arizona, he discovers how their hostile geography and rich geology shaped the stories of fortune hunting and lawlessness in the Wild West, and were the setting for the last wars between the US Army and the Apache warrior tribes.
Ray's journey begins in Monument Valley, whose dramatic desert landscape has become synonymous with the Wild West years. He explores how plants and animals survive in this waterless climate and how the Navajo Indian people adapted to the conditions. In Tucson, he meets up with desert coroners Bruce Anderson and Robin Reineke, who show him how the desert still kills people today.
He explores how the Apache adapted their warfare methods to the desert and how the US cavalry struggled in the hot arid landscape. In Tombstone, he gets to grips with the myths around lawmakers and lawlessness and how it flourished in the remote desert regions of the Old West. He discovers how this forbidding landscape was the perfect refuge for bandits and pursues the outlaw trail to Butch Cassidy's hideout at Robber's Roost. His journey ends with the story of Geronimo's surrender which marked the end of the Indian Wars, and of the Old West.
Professor Alice Roberts explores some of this year's most exciting archaeological finds from the north of Britain. Each discovery comes straight from the site, filmed by the archaeologists themselves. Alice discovers the well-preserved writing tablets, swords and domestic items left by Romans at Vindolanda during a time of British rebellion. On the Scottish island of Iona, there are traces of a long-lost monastery and pilgrimage site that was originally built by the legendary Saint Columba, and has been compared to Jerusalem. In the east of Scotland, a weapons hoard belonging to a wealthy Bronze Age warrior is unearthed.
Andy and Lance become eco-warriors when they find their beloved oak tree is due to be felled. But a 24-hour helpline turns out to be more of a hindrance. Andy stumbles upon treasure when, for once, he wasn't even looking.
Black comedy series about small-town life. It seems that Mike and Cheryl may have made a mistake in allowing Geoff to be their best man.
Following the death of one of Britain's greatest satirists, Peter Cook, in 1995, his widow Lin locked the door of his house and refused all access to the media - until more than twenty years later, when she invited her friend Victor Lewis-Smith and a BBC crew inside to make a documentary about the man she knew and loved, with unprecedented access to Peter's private recordings, diaries, letters, photographs and much more.
A compilation of sketches from Spike Milligan's pioneering sketch shows - surreal, influential, controversial and sublime.
A further selection of sketches from the legendary Spike Milligan's irreverent sketch shows. Alternative comedy before alternative comedy.
Series in which conductor Sir Antonio Pappano (music director of the Royal Opera House since 2002) explores the great roles and the greatest singers of the last hundred years through the prism of the main classical voice types - soprano, tenor, mezzo-soprano, baritone and bass. Through discussion, demonstrations and workshops, Pappano explores every aspect of the art of great singing.
The lowest female voice type, and the one closest to a woman's natural speaking voice, the mezzo-soprano only rarely plays the name part. But when she does - in Carmen, Samson et Dalila, and La Cenerentola - the fireworks begin. More often, she is the rival, and the villainess.
Antonio explores the particular effect the mezzo voice has on the audience. Her low, sultry tones make her voice perfect for the earth goddess, but also the enchantress, the siren. But she has to sing nearly as high as the soprano. So how does she do it? What is the 'chest voice' and what effect does it have? How do you sing ugly to convey the evil of a character without destroying your voice, and at the same time unearth some redeeming qualities?
Antonio finds out what makes the mezzo tick by looking at great performances from Giulietta Simionato, Kathleen Ferrier, Marian Anderson, Shirley Verrett, Cecilia Bartoli and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, and taking soundings from Janet Baker, Christa Ludwig, Joyce DiDonato, Felicity Palmer and Sarah Connolly.
THURSDAY 07 DECEMBER 2017
THU 19:00 Beyond 100 Days (b09hdkz7)
Katty Kay in Washington and Christian Fraser in London return to report on the events that are shaping the world.
THU 19:30 University Challenge (b06ts1z1)
Second semi-final in the University Challenge Christmas quiz for grown-ups.
Jeremy Paxman asks the questions.
THU 20:00 The Secrets of Quantum Physics (b04tr9x9)
Professor Jim Al-Khalili traces the story of arguably the most important, accurate and yet perplexing scientific theory ever - quantum physics.
The story starts at the beginning of the 20th century with scientists trying to better understand how light bulbs work. This simple question led them deep into the hidden workings of matter, into the sub-atomic building blocks of the world around us. Here they discovered phenomena unlike any encountered before - a realm where things can be in many places at once, where chance and probability call the shots and where reality appears to only truly exist when we observe it.
Albert Einstein hated the idea that nature, at its most fundamental level, is governed by chance. Jim reveals how, in the 1930s, Einstein thought he had found a fatal flaw in quantum physics, because it implies that sub-atomic particles can communicate faster than light in defiance of the theory of relativity.
For 30 years, his ideas were ignored. Then, in the 1960s, a brilliant scientist from Northern Ireland called John Bell showed there was a way to test if Einstein was right and quantum mechanics was actually mistaken. In a laboratory in Oxford, Jim repeats this critical experiment. Does reality really exist or do we conjure it into existence by the act of observation?
The results are shocking!
THU 21:00 Inside Chernobyl's Mega Tomb (b08650s6)
Documentary which follows the construction of a trailblazing 36,000-tonne steel structure to entomb the ruins of the nuclear power plant destroyed in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. It films close up with the team of international engineers as they race to build the new structure before Chernobyl's original concrete sarcophagus - the hastily built structure that covers the reactor - collapses.
Built to last just 30 years, the temporary sarcophagus is now crumbling, putting the world at risk of another release of radioactive dust. Radiation levels make it impossible for workers to build the new shelter directly over the old reactor, so engineers are erecting the new megastructure - taller than the tower of Big Ben and three times heavier than the Eiffel Tower - to one side and will then face the challenge of sliding the largest object ever moved on land into place over the old reactor.
THU 22:00 Inside Porton Down: Britain's Secret Weapons Research Facility (b07hx40t)
Dr Michael Mosley investigates Britain's most secretive and controversial military research base, Porton Down, on its 100th anniversary. He comes face to face with chemical and biological weapons old and new, reveals the truth about shocking animal and human testing, and discovers how the latest science and technology are helping to defend us against terrorist attacks and rogue nations.
THU 23:00 Storyville (b09hx3x0)
When Rock Arrived in North Korea: Liberation Day
To the surprise of a whole world, the ex-Yugoslavian now Slovenian cult band Laibach became the first rock group ever invited to perform in the dictatorially repressed state of North Korea. Under the firm guidance of an old fan turned director and cultural diplomat, Laibach must deal with strict ideology, cultural differences and many technological difficulties in order just to perform. Struggling to get their songs through rigorous censorship, they race against the clock so they can be unleashed on an audience never before exposed to alternative rock'n'roll.
THU 00:00 Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World (b00qfylw)
In the third programme in this epic four-part series on how the Navy has shaped modern Britain, Dan Snow sheds light on the evolution of Nelson's navy in the late 18th century. It was the most powerful maritime fighting force in the world, with highly trained crews and ambitious officers. He explores the national enterprise which supported it, and explains how the empire it helped create put Britain on the path to war with France.
Through the stories of naval heroes like Captain Cook, naval administrators like Charles Middleton and of course Admiral Nelson, Snow explores the elite training, the growing naval meritocracy and the years of tough experience which created a ruthless and professional 'band of brothers'. He looks at the impact of innovations such as the copper bottoming of the navy's ships and the introduction of a new tax - income tax - to pay for the fleet.
Pushing back the boundaries of the known world, the Navy's highly trained crews and ambitious officers laid claim to a burgeoning empire, but at a huge price. By 1800, Britain had been dragged into the greatest sequence of wars the nation had ever seen.
THU 01:00 Pappano's Classical Voices (b0638jby)
Baritone and Bass
Series in which conductor Sir Antonio Pappano explores the great roles and the greatest singers of the last hundred years through the prism of the main classical voice types - soprano, tenor, mezzo-soprano, baritone and bass. Through discussion, demonstrations and workshops, Pappano explores every aspect of the art of great singing.
Gods, demons, drunks, lechers, silly old codgers, double-dyed villains - life on stage for the bass is rarely dull. The baritone, meanwhile, is the most common male voice type, and yet the parts he sings - especially in the operas of Verdi - are anything but.
Pappano explores the lowest male voice types, and the roles they play, in comedy as well as tragedy. How do basses sing so low? What different qualities does a baritone bring to a Schubert song? He meets the Russian 'oktavists', who sing a whole octave lower than the standard bass. With the help of leading practitioners - Bryn Terfel, John Tomlinson, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Christian Gerhaher, Alessandro Corbelli and Willard White - Pappano uncovers the tricks of the trade. He examines in detail some key performances from the legendary basses and baritones of the past - Feodor Chaliapin, Tito Gobbi, Paul Robeson, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Boris Christoff , Nicolai Ghiaurov and Ezio Pinza.
THU 02:00 Inside Chernobyl's Mega Tomb (b08650s6)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today
THU 03:00 Gaga for Dada: The Original Art Rebels (b07w6j9h)
On the 100th anniversary of Dada, Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) goes on an irreverent trip into the world of the influential avant-garde art movement.
Absurd, provocative and subversive, Dada began as a response to the madness of World War I. But its radical way of looking at the world inspired generations of artists, writers and musicians, from Monty Python to punk, Bowie to Banksy.
Jim restages an early Dada performance in Zurich's Cabaret Voltaire, where the movement began. Among those joining him in his playful celebration of the Dadaists and their impact are Armando Iannucci, Terry Gilliam, designer Neville Brody and artists Michael Landy and Cornelia Parker.
FRIDAY 08 DECEMBER 2017
FRI 19:00 World News Today (b09hdkzd)
The latest national and international news, exploring the day's events from a global perspective.
FRI 19:30 University Challenge (b06ts202)
The Grand Final
It is the grand final of this seasonal competition for alumni from some of the UK's top universities - which university will be Christmas University Challenge champions?
Jeremy Paxman asks the questions.
FRI 20:00 Top of the Pops (b06vkg5r)
1981 - Big Hits
A bumper crop of hits from the Top of the Pops archive showcasing an exciting year on the pop charts. 1981 embraced disco and ska, new wave punk, the burgeoning New Romantic scene and the rise of synthpop, with some prog quirkiness and good old rock 'n' roll thrown in.
Performances from big-hitter soloists Phil Collins, Shakin' Stevens and Kim Wilde are featured alongside the exuberant chaos of groups like Tenpole Tudor, Adam and the Ants and The Teardrop Explodes. It's party time as Odyssey fill the dancefloor with the infectious Going Back to My Roots and Clare Grogan adopts some unorthodox shapes for Altered Images' Happy Birthday. And The Specials' 2 Tone social-commentary classic Ghost Town vies with Ultravox's Vienna and The Human League's Don't You Want Me for song of the year.
FRI 21:00 Tales from the Tour Bus: Rock 'n' Roll on the Road (b05rjc9c)
Rock legend and tour bus aficionado Rick Wakeman takes us on a time-travelling trip through the decades in this first-hand account of rockers on the road from the late 1950s to the 80s and beyond.
It's an often bumpy and sometimes sleepless ride down the A roads and motorways of the UK during the golden age of rock 'n' roll touring - a secret history of transport cafes, transit vans, B&Bs, sleepless roadies and of loved ones left at home or, on one occasion, by the roadside. And it's also a secret history of audiences both good and bad, and the gigs themselves - from the early variety package to the head clubs, the stadiums and the pubs.
This is life in the British fast lane as told by Rick and the bands themselves, a film about the very lifeblood of the rock 'n' roll wagon train. With members of Dr Feelgood, Suzi Quatro, The Shadows, The Pretty Things, Fairport Convention, Happy Mondays, Aswad, Girlschool, The Damned and many more.
FRI 22:00 Classic Albums (b09hqpzz)
Don McLean: American Pie
The story of Don McLean's second album American Pie. Crowned by its titular overture and the song Vincent, McLean's equally moving tribute to Van Gogh, American Pie is a classic of the folk-rock genre, earning its place alongside Carole King's Tapestry, Joni Mitchell's Blue and Neil Young's After The Goldrush as one of the landmark singer-songwriter LPs of 1971, a year recently celebrated in a book by award-winning journalist David Hepworth as 'rock's golden year'. Don McLean features in extensive new interviews, discussing the intricacies of his songs, the sometimes fraught recording process, and the album's legacy.
Forty-five years after its release, there has never been another album quite like American Pie. While a product of its era pinpointing a precise moment of cultural change in the shattered hopes of baby boomers, its impact continues to reverberate down the years with a poignancy and relevance that hasn't diminished.
The questions it raises about its country's past, present and future are as much a part of our cultural dialogue in Trump's 2017 as they were in Nixon's 1971. "I had most of the album written without American Pie," explains McLean. "But I wasn't happy with that. I knew it wasn't finished. I had more to say. I had this this really big song I needed to get out."
Interviewees include producer Ed Freeman and musician Jake Bugg, whose musical path was initiated when hearing Vincent for the first time on the TV, and a poignant archive performance of George Michael performing The Grave.
FRI 23:00 Buddy Holly: Rave On (b08q8f1n)
He was lanky, he wore glasses and he sang as if permanently battling hiccups. Aesthetically, Buddy Holly might have been the most unlikely looking rock 'n' roll star of the 50s. But he was, after Elvis Presley, unquestionably the most influential.
It was an all-too-brief career that lasted barely 18 months from That'll Be The Day topping the Billboard charts to the plane crash in February 1959 in Iowa that took Holly's life. That day was immortalised in Don McLean's 1971 song American Pie, and has become known as 'the day the music died'.
This film tells the story of Buddy Holly's tragically short life and career through interviews with those who knew him and worked with him. This combined with contributions from music fans paints a picture of an artist who changed music. Rock 'n' roll started with Elvis, but pop music started with Buddy Holly and The Crickets.
In an age of solo stars, Holly also led the first recognisable 'pop' group, The Crickets, who in name alone inspired The Beatles. As a songwriter, he revolutionised rock 'n' roll by introducing dynamic new rhythms and unpredictable melodies beyond its traditional blues roots. In his songs, written and recorded in the late 50s, we can already hear the beat group sound of the 60s and beyond.
Buddy Holly's story remains one of the most dramatic tales in rock 'n' roll, one which nearly 60 years after his breakthrough hit That'll Be The Day, deserves to be told again for a new generation. His life was tragically short. His legacy is triumphantly infinite.
FRI 00:00 Rock 'n' Roll America (b0615nmw)
Sweet Little Sixteen
In Cold War mid-1950s America, as the new suburbia was spreading fast in a country driven by racial segregation, rock 'n' roll took the country by surprise. Out of the Deep South came a rhythm-driven fusion of blues, boogie woogie and vocal harmony played by young black pioneers like Fats Domino and Little Richard that seduced young white teens and, pre-civil rights, got black and white kids reeling and rocking together.
This fledgling sound was nurtured by small independent labels and travelled up from the Mississippi corridor spawning new artists. In Memphis, Elvis began his career as a local singer with a country twang who rocked up a blues song and sounded so black he confused his white listeners. And in St Louis, black blues guitarist Chuck Berry took a country song and turned it into his first rock 'n' roll hit, Maybellene.
Movies had a big role to play thanks to 'social problem' films exploring the teenager as misfit and delinquent - The Wild One showed teens a rebellious image and a look, and Blackboard Jungle gave them a soundtrack, with the film's theme tune Rock Around the Clock becoming the first rock 'n' roll Number 1 in 1955.
Featuring Jerry Lee Lewis, Don Everly, Little Richard, Tom Jones, Wanda Jackson, Pat Boone, The Spaniels, PF Sloan, Joe Boyd, Jerry Phillips, Marshall Chess, JM Van Eaton (Jerry Lee Lewis's drummer), Charles Connor (Little Richard's drummer) and Dick Richards (Bill Haley's drummer).
FRI 01:00 Top of the Pops (b06vkg5r)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
FRI 02:00 Classic Albums (b09hqpzz)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 today
FRI 03:00 Buddy Holly: Rave On (b08q8f1n)
[Repeat of broadcast at 23:00 today