Katty Kay in Washington and Christian Fraser in London report on the events that are shaping the world.
Formed to fight against the monarchy during the English Civil War, the Coldstream Guards now serve as a bodyguard to the Queen. This film reveals how their history continues to motivate them to this day.
Dr Sam Willis tells the story of the Barbary Corsaire pirates, who made their HQ on Lundy Island, and brings together the evidence of the little-known tale of King Louis the Lion. This French king invaded Britain in the 13th century after being invited to do so by plotting nobles. He was even crowned at St Paul's, but politely retreated when asked. Sam also looks at one day in 1687 when a huge Dutch task force sped up the River Medway, and plots the progress of perhaps one of the most audacious attempted invasions ever - by the imposter Perkin Warbeck.
Base jumper Felix Baumgartner embarks on an historic journey to the edge of space. His mission is to complete the highest and fastest free-fall ever, becoming the first person to skydive through the sound barrier. But he can't do it alone. The man who has held the record for over 50 years, retired Colonel Joe Kittinger, will train Felix to overcome his fears and break the record he set as a test pilot taking one of mankind's first steps towards space.
Over the last two years, the BBC's science strand Horizon has been behind the scenes at London's Natural History Museum, following the dramatic replacement of the iconic Dippy the Dinosaur skeleton cast with the real skeleton of a blue whale - the world's biggest animal.
Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, this special film follows the teams involved in what has to be one of the world's most unique engineering challenges.
Replacing Dippy is brave and bold - it is the first thing visitors see when they enter the grand Hintze Hall, but the Natural History Museum is changing, and the installation of the colossal blue whale skeleton is the start of a new chapter. The largest animal ever to have lived, blue whales were driven to the brink of extinction by hunting and were the first species humans decided to save, telling an inspiring story of hope for the natural world.
What is it about stories of magic, epic adventure, and imaginary worlds that has turned fantasy fiction into one of the world's most popular forms of storytelling, regularly filling the bestseller lists and entrancing adults and children alike?
In the second episode of his series that deconstructs the books we (really) read, Andrew Marr argues that these stories are filled with big ideas. Yes, there may be wizards with pointy hats as well as the odd dragon, but what fantasy novels are really good at is allowing us to see our own world in a surprising way, albeit through a twisted gothic filter.
The current leading exponent of fantasy fiction is a bearded Texan, George RR Martin, whose A Game of Thrones began a bookshelf-buckling series of novels, and spawned a vast TV empire. But Andrew reminds us that this is a genre whose origins are British, and at its heart is still a quest to reconnect readers with the ancient ideas and folk beliefs of the world before the Enlightenment.
Andrew breaks down fantasy books into a set of conventions that govern the modern genre - he looks at the intricacy with which imaginary worlds are built (as seen in George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series), the use of portals that are able to bridge this world and another (most famously, the wardrobe in CS Lewis's Narnia books), as well the concept of 'thinning' - these novels are typically set in a world in decline. In fantasy fiction, winter is always coming.
To help him understand these books, Andrew meets bestselling fantasy writers and the programme includes interviews with Neil Gaiman, Alan Garner and Frances Hardinge.
As well as profiling key figures such as CS Lewis and Sir Terry Pratchett, Andrew considers the spell that medieval Oxford has cast on generations of authors from Lewis Carroll to Philip Pullman. And he gets to grips with the legacy of JRR Tolkien, a figure so important that his influence pops up everywhere 'like Mount Fuji in Japanese prints', according to Pratchett. Tolkien's predominance would not go unchallenged, and Andrew shows how writers like Ursula K Le Guin confronted Tolkien's rather European notions of what an imaginary world should be.
Professor Mark Miodownik concludes his odyssey of the stuff of modern life. This time he looks at how materials have enabled us to indulge our curiosity about the world around us. To go further and travel faster. He looks at how the bicycle suddenly stirred our national gene pool, why we should all be grateful for exploding glass and what levitation has to do with discovering your inner self. On the road and in the lab with dramatic experiments, Mark reveals why the everyday and even the mundane is anything but.
'My father shook up the establishment', claims Rupert Murdoch in this hour-long special that tells the true story behind the Gallipoli letter written in September 1915 by a young Australian journalist - Keith Murdoch.
According to journalistic legend, Keith Murdoch's letter toppled a general, shook a government and ended the bloodbath that was Gallipoli, one of the most infamous calamities of World War I. But the truth is far more complex.
With interviews and testimony from Rupert Murdoch, Sir Max Hastings, Sir Hew Strachan and other experts, plus dramatic reconstructions based on Keith Murdoch's own writings, the documentary tells the story of a young, ambitious journalist who visits the killing fields of Gallipoli and becomes embroiled in a scheme to evade the military censor. But when top-brass generals, cabinet ministers and press barons get involved, the scene is set for a political struggle in which reputations are destroyed, careers are made and the foundations for a new journalistic empire are laid.
THURSDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2018
THU 19:00 Beyond 100 Days (b0bqw570)
Katty Kay in Washington and Christian Fraser in London report on the events that are shaping the world.
THU 19:30 Top of the Pops (b0bs47xf)
Peter Powell and Stevie Wright present the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 18 September 1986. Featuring Eurythmics, Michael McDonald, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Cameo, The Communards and Five Star.
THU 20:00 The Real Versailles (b07dprr6)
As BBC Two premieres its lavish new period drama set in the sumptuous surroundings of Versailles, Lucy Worsley and Helen Castor tell the real-life stories behind one of the world's grandest buildings. They reveal in vivid detail the colourful world of sex, drama and intrigue that Louis XIV and his courtiers inhabited.
As chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy Worsley untangles Louis XIV's complex world of court etiquette, fashion and feasting, while court politics expert Helen Castor delves into the archives and unpicks the Machiavellian world that Louis created.
Our historians meet the real people behind the on-screen characters. They discover what drove Louis XIV to glorify his reign on a scale unmatched by any previous monarch, examine the tension between Louis and his only brother Philippe, an overt homosexual and battle hero, and they meet the coterie of women who competed for Louis's attention.
As Lucy and Helen show, Louis XIV was ruthless in his pursuit of glory and succeeded in defeating his enemies. In his record-breaking 72-year reign, France became renowned for its culture and sophistication.
THU 21:00 Our Classical Century (b0bs6xv8)
1918 - 1936
Our Classical Century brings together the greatest moments in classical music in Britain over the last 100 years in a four-part series that celebrates moments of extraordinary music ambition and excellence, deep emotion and of great pleasure, and the artists who have brought audiences this music. Over the course of the series, viewers see and hear how, over the past one hundred years, classical music has shown dazzling virtuosity and innovation, and how music provided a unifying soundtrack to the times when national identity and destiny was at stake.
Presented by Suzy Klein and Sir Lenny Henry, this first programme captures the profound influence of the First World War on our classical music - how it affected a generation of musicians and composers and how the music they created became a crucial part of the nation’s sense of identity. From the martial might of Mars in Gustav Holst’s The Planets to the pastoral beauty of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ much-loved The Lark Ascending, this film tells the story of the music which brought together the United Kingdom.
Suzy and Lenny reveal the phenomenal popularity of the musical extravaganza Hiawatha by the now relatively unknown Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and examine the enduring impact of the American Jazz Age with George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. They also look at how Hubert Parry’s wartime composition to William Blake’s poem Jerusalem became the anthem of the Suffragette movement and at how the opening of Glyndebourne saw the start of a new chapter for opera in Britain.
THU 22:00 Alex Higgins: The People's Champion (b00tmzfb)
One man transfixed television viewers during snooker's golden age - Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins. This poignant documentary charts the remarkable rise and fall of the snooker genius, from his early days growing up in Belfast to his climb to the top of the sport as two-time world champion.
Higgins was pure showbiz, a mercurial talent at the table who played the game like nobody had done before. Boxing had Muhammad Ali, football was blessed by George Best - snooker had Alex Higgins. Yet like Best, Higgins's brilliance was flawed by his demons. We chart the depressing lows - the alcohol abuse, threatening to have fellow Ulsterman Dennis Taylor shot, headbutting a senior member of snooker's hierarchy and falling out of a top floor window and living to tell the tale after a row with his then-girlfriend.
The Higgins story is completed with the final chapter of his life spent battling throat cancer; desperate hours spent in pubs and working men's clubs trying to rekindle his halcyon days; finally unable to eat properly because he'd lost his teeth and in the end, ultimately found dead alone in sheltered accommodation.
At times uplifting, but at other moments very sad - this is a rollercoaster journey charting the life of snooker's 'rock and roll star'.
Contributors include Jimmy White, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Dennis Taylor, Barry Hearn, Steve Davis, Ray Reardon and members of the Higgins family.
THU 23:00 Arena (b07ltm21)
1966 - 50 Years Ago Today
Based on Jon Savage's book 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded, Arena marks the year pop music and popular culture ripped up the rule book in articulate, instinctive and radical new ways.
This was the year of Jonathan Miller's Alice in Wonderland, Morgan - A Suitable Case for Treatment, and the year that Strawberry Fields Forever was recorded. Television was still in black and white, but the world outside was bursting with colour and controversy. In America, in London, in Amsterdam, in Paris, revolutionary ideas slow-cooking since the late 1950s reached boiling point. In popular culture and the mass media, 1966 was a year of restless experimentation and the search for new forms of expression - particularly in pop music.
Written by Savage and director Paul Tickell, Arena's film takes viewers back to that moment in a vivid celebration of the music, films and TV that shaped the 1960s.
THU 00:05 Top of the Pops (b0bs47xf)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today
THU 00:35 Tunes for Tyrants: Music and Power with Suzy Klein (b097f2gv)
In the first episode of this fascinating and entertaining series exploring the politics of music, Suzy Klein takes us back to the volatile years following the Russian Revolution and World War I, when music was seen as a tool to change society.
Suzy explores the gender-bending cabarets of 1920s Berlin, smashes a piano in the spirit of the Bolshevik revolution, and discovers that playing a theremin is harder than it looks. She also reveals why one orchestra decided to work without a conductor, uncovers the dark politics behind Mack the Knife and probes the satirical songs which tried to puncture the rise of the Nazis. Finally, she tells the story of the infamous Horst Wessel song, which helped bring Hitler to power.
Suzy's musical stories are richly brought to life with the help of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and its Chorus, as well as wonderful solo performers. This was a golden age for music, and its jazz, popular songs, experimental symphonies and classics like Rachmaninoff all provoke debate - what kind of culture do we want? Is music for the elite or for the people? Was this a new age of liberal freedom to be relished - or were we hurtling towards the apocalypse?
With music's incredible power to bypass our brains and get straight to our hearts, it can at once invoke the very best in us and, Suzy argues, inflame the very worst. Music lovers beware!
THU 01:35 The Secret Science of Pop (b08gk664)
Evolutionary biologist Professor Armand Leroi believes data science can transform the pop world. He gathers a team of scientists and researchers to analyse over 50 years of UK chart music. Can algorithms find the secret to pop success?
When the results are in, Armand teams up with hit producer Trevor Horn. Using machine-learning techniques, Armand and Trevor try to take a song by unsigned artist Nike Jemiyo and turn it into a potential chart-topper.
Armand also takes a scientific look at pop evolution. He hunts for the major revolutions in his historic chart data, looking for those artists who transformed the musical landscape. The outcomes are fascinating and surprising, though fans of the Fab Four may not be pleased with the results. As Armand puts it, the hallmark of The Beatles is 'average'.
Finally, by teaming up with BBC research and development, Armand finds out if his algorithms can discover the stars of the future. Can he predict which of thousands of demo tracks uploaded to BBC Introducing is most likely to be a hit without listening to a note?
This is a clash of science and culture and a unique experiment with no guarantee of success. How will the artists react to the scientist intruding on their turf? And will Armand succeed in finding a secret science of pop?
THU 02:35 Invasion! with Sam Willis (b09j2vwt)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 on Wednesday
FRIDAY 16 NOVEMBER 2018
FRI 19:00 World News Today (b0bqw57m)
The latest national and international news, exploring the day's events from a global perspective.
FRI 19:30 Top of the Pops (b0bs48gl)
Janice Long presents the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 25 September 1986. Featuring Amazulu, Huey Lewis and the News, Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk, Genesis, Loose Ends, The Communards and Run DMC.
FRI 20:00 Vocal Giants and Beyond with Beverley Knight and James Morrison (b0brzps6)
Beverley Knight and James Morrison select their all-time favourite vocalists in a playlist packed with some of the world's greatest singers. They celebrate incredible voices and track their influence in an hour of astonishing archive performances.
James picks Tina Turner's epic Proud Mary rendition as one of his all-time greats, and Beverley introduces him to Big Mama Thornton - a woman who taught Elvis a thing a two.
What is it like to sing with your 'idol of idols'? Beverley reveals how she felt when this opportunity presented itself.
Experience the raw stadium-rock vocal of Steve Tyler and the soaring acoustic purity of Eva Cassidy, the intensity of Otis Redding and the passion of Prince. Whitney Houston sings live to an audience of millions and Sir Tom Jones returns to the green grass of Wales to deliver one of his classic hits. Finally, a pitch-perfect George Michael blows the roof off Wembley stadium in this feel-good hour of dazzling show-stoppers.
FRI 21:00 Primal Scream: The Lost Memphis Tapes (b0brzps8)
The programme shows Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie's fascination with music from an early age, listening to the sounds of Elvis and Aretha Franklin before graduating to punk. He talks about his passion for music and how to keep creativity on the right track. In the early 90s the UK music scene was changing - with Oasis and Blur emerging, this alternative rock band was recording in Memphis but suddenly sounded out of step with the music scene.
As the documentary reveals, nine songs were recorded for the band's 1994 album Give Out But Don't Give Up, including Jailbird, Rocks, and Cry Myself Blind, but the album that was released, after further mixes were made to make the new album more contemporary, was not the mix Primal Scream wanted. In the film Bobby Gillespie talks candidly about how this process led him to question his own judgement and that for many years the experience left him feeling that he had failed himself and his audience.
With exclusive, previously unreleased footage of behind-the-scenes studio sessions, this is the story of how the original mixtapes of the album were rediscovered in a basement by Andrew Innes, Primal Scream's rhythm guitarist. The sessions recorded by the band in Memphis with the legendary record producer Tom Dowd, along with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section musicians Roger Hawkins, drums, and David Hood, bass, did not make the light of day, because some of the mixes were not suitable in the musical climate at the time.
Bobby and Andrew go back to Memphis 25 years later to revisit Ardent Studios, where the band first recorded the original album, and meet some of the musicians and engineers involved in the process. It gives Bobby the chance to remaster the album he had originally envisaged all those years ago. The film has new interviews with Bobby, Andrew, David and Jeff Powell, the original engineer, giving their own, unique perspectives of the events of more than 20 years ago. Plus, there are archive interviews with the Memphis Horns, George Clinton and Roger Hawkins.
With the rediscovery of the original session tapes, the band is finally able to release the beautiful music they always wanted the public to hear.
FRI 22:00 Reggae Fever: David Rodigan (b0brzpsb)
David Rodigan's unlikely career as a reggae broadcaster and DJ has developed in parallel with the evolution of Jamaican music in the UK. His passion and his profession have given him a privileged, insiders' view of the UK's love affair with Jamaican music that began in the 1950s. His constant championing of it has afforded him national treasure status with generations of British Jamaicans and all lovers of reggae music.
This is a film about the career of David Rodigan but it's also a window through which to see a wider human story about social change in the UK: a story of immigration and integration, and music's role within it.
The beginning of his career conjures up a forgotten era when reggae was reviled by liberal, hippyish music fans because of its association with skinheads. At one point, his fellow students agreed to share a house with him only if Rodigan agreed not to play reggae. Instead, he would haunt London's specialist record shops and sneak out to Jamaican clubs alone.
His break first came on BBC Radio London, where his knowledge and infectious enthusiasm won him the gig. Since that first break, he's had shows on Capital, Kiss and now BBC Radio 1Xtra and BBC Radio 2. In the 80s, his radio show became such a Sunday lunchtime fixture in London's West Indian households that it was colloquially known as 'rice 'n' peas'. Bob Marley personally chose Rodigan's show to play out the world exclusive of Could You Be Loved.
As well as being a DJ, Rodigan also began to 'soundclash' on a global stage. This musical competition where crew members from opposing sound systems pit their skills against each other involves the playing of records in turn, with the crowd ultimately deciding who has 'killed' the other crew, by playing the better chosen track. But standard versions of tracks don't cut it in a clash, where the true currency is 'dubplates' - versions of tracks recut, often by the original artist, with lyrics changed to praise the playing crew or diss the opposing one.
In Jamaica, after he began clashing live on national radio with DJ Barry G, he became so famous that his name was even adopted by a Kingston gangster. He began competing on the World Soundclash stage alongside the likes of Jamaica's Stone Love and Japan's Mighty Crown as the soundclash became a global phenomenon. David is probably the only person ever to have been awarded an MBE and the title of World Clash Champion.
In recent years, Rodigan's live DJ appearances have started attracting a far younger audience. It can be seen as a reflection of the way different forms of music from the different cultures that have arrived in Britain over the last 70 years have integrated, taken root and spawned new scenes, attitudes and tastes.
As well as appearing at student unions across the country and continuing to clash by himself, he's also now a part of clash crew Rebel Sound, first assembled for Red Bull Culture Clash in 2014. In this environment, David found himself amidst a melting pot of beats, loops and popping, infectious bass-driven riddims - playing to the kids who are discovering him and therefore reggae music through other artists.
Now in his 40th professional year, David is quite rightly celebrating, his passion for the music he loves burning as brightly as ever. This film is a testament to this most unlikely of reggae aficionados - a celebration of a man whose story is strangely intertwined with not only the evolution of music in this country but also the evolution of the culture.
FRI 00:30 Top of the Pops (b0bs48gl)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today
FRI 01:05 Vocal Giants and Beyond with Beverley Knight and James Morrison (b0brzps6)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
FRI 02:05 Primal Scream: The Lost Memphis Tapes (b0brzps8)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today