Katty Kay in Washington and Christian Fraser in London report on the events that are shaping the world.
This historic coastal walk takes artist Shanaz Gulzar along a stretch of the 109-mile Cleveland Way. Starting in Runswick Bay, and armed only with a handheld 360-degree selfie-style camera, Shanaz climbs the steep steps to the cliff top before strolling the coastal path, absorbing the beautiful landscape and its industrial past, before finishing at Whitby for sunset.
Meeting fellow walkers along the way, Shanaz finds inspirational spots to sketch and recite poetry.
Neil Oliver examines how the creation of saints by the early church led to a new generation of sacred wonders across Britain. On Iona, in the Inner Hebrides, Neil discovers the traditional resting place of Macbeth. He also delves back through time to discover how St Columba sanctified the island with a tough brand of monasticism all the way from the Egyptian desert. On Lindisfarne, Neil sees how the epic journey of St Cuthbert led to the writing of the extraordinary Lindisfarne Gospels and the building of Durham Cathedral.
At Canterbury Cathedral, Neil learns how St Thomas Becket's grisly murder was harnessed to build its nave, one of the great glories of medieval architecture, and on Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, he investigates layer after layer of powerful legend in the story of the Holy Grail, the sacred cup of everlasting life.
In this episode covering the south of Britain, we find out how a lobster led archaeologists to the discovery of an 8000-year-old neolithic underwater settlement, go to a secret location in Dorset to witness the excavation of an Iron Age crouched burial, and in London’s East End, location reporter Naoise Mac Sweeney visits a modern construction site as it gives up the secrets of an Elizabethan playhouse.
Also, archaeologists return to a Roman site, first dug in the late 1700s when a series of stunning mosaics were found. But archaeology in the past paid little attention to what the building actually was. A team from Bournemouth University is determined to add to the story of Roman Britain and find out more. And Digging for Britain joins Ministry of Defence archaeologist Richard Osgood on an island near Portsmouth with members of Operation Nightingale, a military initiative using archaeology to aid in the recovery of service personnel injured in conflict. Together they make some grizzly discoveries.
A welcome return for Novelty Island, a special rendition of That's Magic as well as an appearance from Michael Portillo as you've never seen him before.
In the beautiful Monsal Valley in Derbyshire, Paul teaches Bob how to fly-fish for wild rainbow trout. While fishing, they discuss their humble beginnings in show business and have a good gossip about their contemporaries. Bob cooks Paul his very personal recipe of 'tuna Melanie' on the river bank, and it soon transpires his cooking is a lot more successful than his fishing.
Paul and Bob fish the beautiful river Wensum in search of the equally beautifully roach. Struggling up and down the riverbanks, they realise how age is starting to take its toll on their physicality. But Bob has a plan to help Paul recapture his youth.
They stay overnight in a disused train station and visit the local pub with Paul showing off his new look, courtesy of Bob.
They decide to challenge each other to a fishing competition where the winner gets a very special culinary treat, and be warned, their dinner table conversation is not for the faint hearted.
Southern Thailand is the Thailand we think we all know. It is a place of both spectacular natural beauty and of wild parties, but behind this well-known image is also a place where spirituality pervades every bit of life. For the animals that live here, this is a natural wonderland.
Two-part documentary in which archaeologist Dr Jago Cooper explores the extraordinary and resilient culture of the American north west, revealing one the most inspiring stories in human history.
1,400 miles of rugged, windswept and rocky coastline in what is now the Alaskan panhandle, British Columbia and Washington state have been home to hundreds of distinct communities for over 10,000 years. Theirs is the longest continuing culture to be found anywhere in the Americas. They mastered a tough environment to create unique and complex communities that have redefined how human societies develop. They produced art infused with meaning that ranks alongside any other major civilisation on earth. And they were very nearly wiped out - by foreign disease, oppression and theft of their lands. But a deep connection to the environment lies at the heart of their endurance, and - unlike many indigenous cultures annihilated following European contact - their culture sustains and has much to offer the rest of the world today.
In the second episode, Jago reveals how a cultural tradition that began over 10,000 years ago managed to survive against the odds. Following European contact, the indigenous peoples of what is now south east Alaska, British Columbia and Washington state suffered disease, theft of their land and oppression. But Jago argues that northwest coast culture has an extraordinary resilience. Its connection to the land has been developed over thousands of years, which meant that it was able to adapt and transform when faced with threats and disruption. These qualities make it one of the longest continuous cultures in the Americas.
Andrew Graham-Dixon shows how the art of Renaissance Flanders evolved from the craft of precious tapestries within the Duchy of Burgundy into a leading painting school in its own right. Starting his journey at the magnificent altarpiece of Ghent Cathedral created by the Van Eyck brothers, Andrew explains their groundbreaking innovation in oil painting and marvels at how the colours they obtained can still remain so vibrant today.
Andrew describes how, in the early Renaissance, the most urgent preoccupation was not the advancement of learning, humanist or otherwise, but the Last Judgment. People believed they were living in the end of days; a subject popular with preachers and artists and intensely realised in swarming microscopic detail by Hieronymus Bosch.
THURSDAY 05 DECEMBER 2019
THU 19:00 Beyond 100 Days (m000byqm)
Katty Kay in Washington and Christian Fraser in London report on the events that are shaping the world.
THU 19:30 Yorkshire Walks (m000brvk)
Bolton Abbey to Simon's Seat
The Bolton Abbey Estate provides the picturesque location for this Yorkshire Walk. Beginning at Bolton Priory, and armed with her handheld 360-degree selfie-style camera, artist Shanaz Gulzar meanders along the banks of the treacle-coloured River Wharfe before climbing up through the Valley of Desolation. She later heads onwards over moorland to Simon’s Seat and its breathtaking views across Wharfedale, Nidderdale and beyond.
Meeting fellow walkers along the way, Shanaz finds inspirational spots to sketch and recite poetry, while discovering Yorkshire’s hidden woodlands and waterfall.
THU 20:00 Wonders of the Solar System (b00rtg5k)
Dead or Alive
Professor Brian Cox visits some of the most stunning locations on Earth to describe how the laws of nature have carved natural wonders across the solar system.
The worlds that surround our planet are all made of rock, but there the similarity ends. Some have a beating geological heart, others are frozen in time. Brian travels to the tallest mountain on Earth, the volcano Mauna Kea on Hawaii, to show how something as basic as a planet's size can make the difference between life and death. Even on the summit of this volcano, Brian would stand in the shade of the tallest mountain in the solar system, an extinct volcano on Mars called Olympus Mons, which rises up 27 km.
Yet the fifth wonder in the series isn't on a planet at all. It's on a tiny moon of Jupiter. The discoveries made on Io have been astonishing. This fragment of rock should be cold and dead, yet, with the volcanic landscape of eastern Ethiopia as a backdrop, Brian reveals why Io is home to extraordinary lakes of lava and giant volcanic plumes that erupt 500 km into the sky.
THU 21:00 Wild Weather with Richard Hammond (b04v5lng)
Water: The Shape Shifter
Richard Hammond investigates the crucial role water plays. Without water there would be almost no weather: no rain, no snow, no hail, no clouds. So Richard goes in pursuit of water in all its forms. He tries to weigh a cloud, finds out how rain could crush a car, and gets involved in starting an avalanche.
Along the way, he tries to find out why clouds float by building his own cloud with the aid of a cattle trough, some humidifiers and atmospheric scientist Dr Jim McQuaid. But will their cloud float in the air like a real cloud?
He also drops in on renowned hail scientist Charles Knight in his lab in Boulder, Colorado, to discover that there is far more to hail than meets the eye. In a scientific first, and with the help of Jim Stratton and Craig Zehrung from Purdue University, Richard sets about firing ice and hail at a board to find out which does the most damage.
Finally, in conjunction with the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos, Richard joins Walter Steinkogler as he starts an avalanche in an attempt to find out how something as delicate and fragile as a snowflake can travel at extraordinary speeds of up to 250mph on the ground.
THU 22:00 Horizon (b0813b03)
The Wildest Weather in the Universe
We love talking about the weather - is it too hot or too cold, too wet or too windy? It's a national obsession. Now scientists have started looking to the heavens and wondering what the weather might be like on other planets. Today, we are witnessing the birth of extra-terrestrial meteorology, as technology is allowing astronomers to study other planets like never before. They began with our solar system, sending spacecraft to explore its furthest reaches, and now the latest telescopes are enabling astronomers to study planets beyond our solar system.
Our exploration of the universe is revealing alien worlds with weather stranger than anyone could ever have imagined - we've discovered gigantic storm systems that can encircle entire planets, supersonic winds, extreme temperatures and bizarre forms of rain. On some planets, the temperatures are so hot that the clouds and rain are believed to be made of liquid lava droplets, and on other planets it is thought to rain precious stones like diamonds and rubies.
We thought we had extreme weather on Earth, but it turns out that it is nothing compared to what's out there. The search for the weirdest weather in the universe is only just beginning.
THU 23:00 Wild West - America's Great Frontier (b07zc4gg)
This legendary land of red rocks and vast canyons, outlaws and gunslingers is a brutally tough place to live. But nature has found some extraordinary ways to win through, forging a pioneering spirit found nowhere else on earth.
Discover the amazing ways that mustangs and coyotes, Hopi farmers and even desert tortoises have found to survive in this extremely testing land.
THU 00:00 Letters from Baghdad (b095vnm7)
The extraordinary and dramatic story of Gertrude Bell, the most powerful woman in the British Empire in her day. She shaped the modern Middle East after World War I in ways that still reverberate today. More influential than her friend and colleague Lawrence of Arabia, Bell helped draw the borders of Iraq and established the Iraq Museum.
Using never-seen-before footage of the region, the film chronicles Bell's extraordinary journey into both the uncharted Arabian desert and the inner sanctum of British male colonial power. With unique access to documents from the Iraq National Library and Archive and Gertrude Bell's own 1,600 letters, the story is told entirely in the words of the players of the day, excerpted verbatim from intimate letters, private diaries and secret communiques. It is a unique look at both a remarkable woman and the tangled history of Iraq.
THU 01:30 Handmade in the Pacific (b0bjj2r8)
In Arnhem Land in the remote tropical north of Australia, the Gurruwiwi family of the Yolngu Aboriginal people, reveal the world of the 'yidaki', a sacred instrument better known to outsiders as the didgeridoo.
Believing the yidaki can heal people, control the weather, and summon ancestral spirits, the Yolngu place great importance on the making and playing of this instrument. The yidaki is a key feature of local ceremonial life and is used to play 'songlines', the stories of ancestors that the Yolngu communicate through music and dance.
Beginning with a 'hunt' for suitable stringybark trees, the tree is then hollowed out, shaped, and given sacred ceremonial paintings with ochres. The film culminates in a 'bunggul', a ceremonial dance where the yidaki is given its first outing.
Many of the beliefs expressed by the Gurruwiwi family have remained unchanged for tens of thousands of years. Yet, the modern world has definitely arrived.
THU 02:00 Handmade in the Pacific (b0bkyt27)
Mama is one of the last traditional weavers from the South Seas island of Rurutu, French Polynesia and one of the last to make the 'taupoo', the traditional ceremonial hats woven from dried pandanus tree leaves.
Taking five weeks to make, these hats were originally introduced to the island by British missionaries in the early 1800s. Now, they're worn to church and given as wedding gifts. But the knowledge of how to make them is dying out. For each hat, 30 or more long pandanus leaves have to be cut down, spliced together, hung, dried, rolled, sorted, dyed and bleached. And that's all before the weaving actually begins. Without a template or stitches or any thread, Mama almost magically weaves the dried leaves into a hat.
Touching upon the island's Christian history, local myths and legends, and offering a unique sense of this island idyll in a moment of flux, this film is a rare visual treat and a chance to enjoy the last vestiges of an ancient tradition.
THU 02:30 Wonders of the Solar System (b00rtg5k)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
FRIDAY 06 DECEMBER 2019
FRI 19:00 World News Today (m000bypk)
The news programme for audiences who want more depth to their daily coverage. With a focus on Europe, Middle East and Africa.
FRI 19:30 Top of the Pops (m000bypm)
Bruno Brookes and Mike Read present the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 1 December 1988 and featuring Rick Astley, Michael Jackson, Pet Shop Boys, George Michael, Angry Anderson, Cliff Richard, Phil Collins, Bros, Robin Beck and Humanoid.
FRI 20:00 Sound of Song (b050rbz8)
Mix It Up and Start Again
Composer and musician Neil Brand's series exploring the alchemy that creates great songs reaches the modern era, when a revolution in how they were made took place. From the synthesisers of symphonic rock to the mixes of disco and the samplings of hip hop, music was transformed by the arrival of digital technology and the computer, which gave some songwriters more power but others much less. Along the way Neil talks synths with Rick Wakeman from Yes, samples with Public Enemy's Hank Shocklee, uncovers the surprising lo-fi origins of Bruce Springsteen's stadium-busting Born in the USA, and finds out how Cher changed the sound of her voice on the smash hit Believe.
FRI 21:00 Top of the Pops (m000bypp)
Nicky Campbell and Caron Keating present the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 8 December 1988 and featuring Status Quo, Angry Anderson, Phil Collins, Petula Clark, New Order, Inner City, Erasure, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, Cliff Richard and Bananarama.
FRI 21:30 Country Music by Ken Burns (m000bypr)
The Sons and Daughters of America (1964-1968)
The mid to late 60s were a time of cultural upheaval and country, as much as other genres of music, reflected the profound changes in American society.
Loretta Lynn wrote and performed songs that spoke to women everywhere, Charley Pride rose to stardom, when people responded to his voice instead of the colour of his skin, and Merle Haggard left prison to become the ‘Poet of the Common Man’.
Johnny Cash’s life and career descended into the chaos of addiction, but he found salvation thanks to the intervention of June Carter and a landmark album.
FRI 22:20 Country Music by Ken Burns (m000bypt)
Will the Circle Be Unbroken (1968-1972)
As the Vietnam War intensified, America became more and more divided and country music was not immune. Kris Kristofferson, a former Rhodes scholar and army captain, reinvented himself as a writer whose lyricism set a new standard for country songs. And a hippie band from California, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, arrived in Nashville to create a landmark album that bridged the gap between generations.
In 1969, Johnny Cash made a triumphant return to the Ryman Auditorium, a venue that had kicked him out years earlier for breaking the footlights. To celebrate, he brought an eclectic range of guests with him from folk, pop, and jazz as well as country music.
Also profiled, the tormented early lives but uplifting careers of George Jones and Tammy Wynette, later known as 'Mr and Mrs Country Music'.
FRI 23:15 Country Kings at the BBC (p028vxj4)
Classic male country singers from the BBC vaults, journeying from The Everly Brothers and Jerry Lee Lewis to Garth Brooks and Willie Nelson, and featuring classic songs and performances by Glen Campbell, Charley Pride, George Hamilton IV, Kenny Rogers, Clint Black, Johnny Cash, Eric Church and more. This 50 years-plus compilation is a chronological look at country kings as featured on BBC studio shows as varied as In Concert, Wogan, The Late Show and Later with Jools Holland, plus early variety shows presented by the likes of Lulu, Harry Secombe and Shirley Abicair.
FRI 00:15 ... Sings Stevie Wonder (b07jlzkd)
Compilation celebrating over 50 years of covers of Stevie Wonder's classic songbook filmed at BBC studio shows over the years. Featuring Cilla Black, Jimmy Helms, Dionne Warwick, The Osmonds, India Arie, James Morrison and a storming performance of Ed Sheeran with Jools and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra taking on Master Blaster (Jammin') on Hootenanny. Expect a special emphasis on Wonder's bank of classic ballads which include Isn't She Lovely, Love's in Need of Love Today, For Once in My Life, You Are the Sunshine of My Life and many more.
FRI 01:15 Top of the Pops (m000bypm)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today
FRI 01:45 Sound of Song (b050rbz8)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
FRI 02:45 Tunes for Tyrants: Music and Power with Suzy Klein (b097ts08)
Suzy Klein reaches the 1930s, when the totalitarian dictators sought to use and abuse music for ideological ends. She looks at the lives of Richard Strauss, Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev, who produced some of the 20th-century's best-loved music whilst navigating the precarious tightrope of working for perhaps the most terrifying music lovers ever - Hitler and Stalin.
The political message of the classic musical fairytale Peter and the Wolf is revealed as well as the secret code hidden in Shostakovich's quartets and Strauss's deeply personal reasons for trying to please the Nazis.
Suzy also uncovers why Hitler adored Wagner but banned Mendelssohn's Wedding March, how Stalin used music to subtly infiltrate minds and why Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, a Nazi favourite, appeals to our most primitive senses.
Suzy also raises some intriguing questions: can we pin meaning onto music? What are the moral responsibilities of artists? And did the violence and tyranny of those regimes leave an indelible stain on the music they produced?
The stories are brought to life by performances from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and its chorus - demonstrating Suzy's argument that music's incredible power to bypass our brains and reach for our hearts makes it a potent and dangerous force.