The desert city of Meybod in southern Iran is famous for its ceramics and Abdol Reza Aghaei's family have been potters there for generations. This beautifully observed film follows Abdol and his father making a simple decorated water jug. Competing with cheap Chinese imports, they sometimes struggle to make a living, but share a dedication to keeping their traditions alive. And with Abdol's father teasing his son about who makes the best pots, the film also offers a touching, intimate portrait of two master craftsmen at work.
In the final episode, Anita Rani, potter Keith Brymer Jones, and arts and crafts expert and dealer Patch Rogers set the 21st-century crafters their toughest set of challenges so far. Concentrating on the communal areas of the house they are have to craft from scratch a heavy metal weather vane, a decorative mirror, write, publish and print their own magazine and create a decorative pergola for the front of the house. All within a week.
Working together as a group they will see if the arts and crafts philosophies of John Ruskin and William Morris have sunk in, and if living the 1890's communal has helped them to better understand the depth and scale of the arts and crafts movement both as a power for artistic and social change. But will they get it all done in time to celebrate with a ball and fireworks display at the end of their month in the house and will they have learnt anything about what it means to be a creative crafter from their time as a Victorian?
In 1928 and at the age of eleven, Harry Birrell was given his first cine camera. ‘The greatest toy a child could ever receive,’ he would say. His obsession with making movies would span the rest of his life, despite the onset of blindness.
In love, war and other adventures, Harry recorded everything with a wonderfully cinematic eye on thousands of feet of high-quality 16mm film. From commanding a battalion of Gurkhas in the Indian army at the start of WWII to dangerous sorties deep behind enemy lines in Burma at its end, and from the ballroom dances of his youth in the 30s to teaching his children how to dance the twist in the 60s, Harry’s entertaining and errant adventures are filmed with the intimacy of home movies but on the scale of Lawrence of Arabia.
Today, his granddaughter Carina uncovers a lifetime of memories all spliced together in over 400 films, personal diaries (narrated by Richard Madden) and countless photographs that have previously lain unseen.
Five-part series and winner of the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary chronicling the rise and fall of OJ Simpson.
In January 1995, the trial of the century took place. It would be like nothing before it, nor anything that's come since, and reshape the landscape of the media and, truly, American culture along the way. Over the better part of ten months, there would be dozens of dramatic twists and turns, revelations and surprises, accusations and betrayals. The recollections of so many of the case's protagonists make for section after section of riveting film, all bringing back to life a trial that somehow evolved into a phenomenon that left the brutal murders of two people deep in forgotten shadows.
Nothing, though, proved larger than the context - of everything that came before in the Los Angeles that OJ Simpson never knew. And in the trial's closing arguments, the dividing line of race - in Los Angeles, and America - was never starker.
Five-part series and winner of the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary chronicling the rise and fall of OJ Simpson.
On the morning of October 3rd 1995, it was announced that OJ Simpson had been found not guilty of all charges. To many Americans, it was a stunning, almost explicable miscarriage of justice; a tragedy; a disturbing example of what money and power could buy in America. But to another group, it was an historic victory - payback for all the losses and all the injustice that they'd incurred over generations of history.
As black America rejoiced, OJ went home, beginning what would become the strange, next phase of his life, a life lived in a form of celebratory purgatory - in many quarters shunned, scorned, and mocked, but in others, welcomed as a character in the circus that his saga had undeniably helped to create.
From running from a guilty verdict in a wrongful death suit to working on a book that was a 'hypothetical conviction', his existence became more and more outlandish, until it all came crashing down on a night in 2007 in Las Vegas, a night that left Simpson where he is today, in prison for perhaps the rest of his life.
Dr Sam Willis charts the impact of gunpowder on the battlefield, from cannons to the first handheld weapons.
His journey starts in the 13th century with Oxford scientist and monk Roger Bacon, believed to be the first Englishman to write down a recipe for gunpowder. Sam sees one of the largest surviving medieval cannons still in existence - Mons Meg in Edinburgh Castle. He examines a primitive 1400s 'handgonne' in the Tower of London Armouries that seems more like a mini cannon, with no trigger.
Sam tells the story of the Earl of Moray James Stewart who was regent of Scotland having ejected Mary Queen of Scots from the throne in 1570.
Sam next tells the story of the gunpowder plot. He includes lesser-known details of the 1605 attempted attack. For example, Guy Fawkes was discovered not just once but twice. Also the amount of gunpowder is thought to have been far more than was required. Another strange side to gunpowder's story is revealed - the saltpetre men. Gunpowder requires three ingredients - charcoal, sulphur and saltpetre. In the 17th century chemistry was primitive. Saltpetre or potassium nitrate forms from animal urine and the saltpetre men would collect soil where animals had urinated. This meant they dug up dovecots, stables and even people's homes. They had sweeping powers to come onto people's property and take their soil. They abused these heavily and one of the grievances against King Charles I was the heavy handedness of the saltpetre men.
Eventually, the conflict with the king would turn into the English Civil War. A key weapon is this war was the musket. It was so basic blacksmiths could churn it out by the dozen. Sam fires one with the help of expert gunsmith Robert Tilney. He shows both the musket's power and the lack of accuracy. Muskets were inaccurate but the tactic used was to wait until opponents were very close and then fire one huge volley. Sam shows that the musket would then be used as a heavy club.
Gunpowder weapons gave different injuries to swords and arrows. This led to changes in battlefield surgery, and one who was a key influence was surgeon Richard Wiseman. Sam shows that Wiseman had learnt that any cloth or fragment left from a bullet wound could cause infection and kill the patient.
Finally, Sam travels to Saint Malo in France to tell the story of a frightening attack by the British. In 1693, France and Britain were at war and French pirates had been attacking English ships. Captain John Benbow was asked to launch an attack using a ship crammed with gunpowder. Benbow put 20,000 pounds of gunpowder into the ship as well as many other inflammable ingredients - pitch, straw, sulphur, mortars and grenades. He planned to put this 'Infernal', as it was known, right next to the harbour walls of Saint Malo. But as the ship came near it struck a rock and held fast, within a pistol shot of the town. Then the ship exploded. The sound was heard 100 miles away yet a witness claimed 'no life was lost except a cat in a gutter.' The explosion was 'terrible beyond description' and it shows how far the English were prepared to go in the name of national security.
THURSDAY 26 MARCH 2020
THU 19:00 BBC News (m000h2y9)
Twenty-four hours a day, the latest national and international stories as they break.
THU 19:30 The Wonder of Animals (b04fmg8d)
Chris Packham delves beneath the skin of the big cats to explore what makes them such good hunters, and he reveals that it is not all about brawn.
New scientific research shows how subtle adaptations in their anatomy and physiology contribute to the success of all stages of a big cat hunt: the stalk, the capture and the kill.
Leg hairs help the leopard to stalk, and intricate muscle fibres drive the snow leopard to capture its prey. For the jaguar, jaw muscles and whiskers combine to give it a precision bite that can take down a caiman, and an enlarged area of the lioness's brain gives it the edge over all their big cat cousins.
THU 20:00 Shipwrecks: Britain's Sunken History (b03lytyp)
Civilising the Sea
Shipwrecks are the nightmare we have forgotten - the price Britain paid for ruling the waves from an island surrounded by treacherous rocks. The result is a coastline that is home to the world's highest concentration of sunken ships. But shipwrecks also changed the course of British history, helped shape our national character and drove innovations in seafaring technology, as well as gripping our imagination.
The terrible toll taken by shipwrecks was such that in the winter of 1820 some 20,000 seaman lost their lives in the North Sea alone. That's 20 jumbo jets. But in the final part of his series, maritime historian Sam Willis tells the stirring story of how the Victorians were finally driven into action, finding various ingenious solutions - from rockets that could fire rescue lines aboard stricken vessels to lifejackets, lifeboats and the Plimsoll Line, which outlawed overloading.
In Africa, he traces the legend of the Birkenhead Drill - the origin of 'women and children first'. Decorum even in disaster was the new Victorian way and it was conspicuously on hand to turn history's most iconic shipwreck - Titanic - into a tragic monument to British restraint.
THU 21:00 Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema (m000gp05)
British History Movies
‘History,’ says Mark Kermode, ‘is the quintessential British film genre.’ America may have its great outdoors for road movies and westerns, and teeming cities for cop and crime sagas. But there is more than enough in two millennia of British history to provide a bottomless well of story material.
To prove the point, Mark looks at some of the best films about British history in the order of when they are set, tracing the story of Britain from the Roman invasion to the modern era, via medieval times, the Tudors, the English Civil War and the 18th and 19th centuries. He shows, from action and adventure to political intrigue, and from forest-dwelling outlaws to embattled kings and queens, that British history encompasses a remarkable range of styles and situations. Each period is almost a genre in itself, with its own particular themes and characters. And facts are rarely allowed to stand in the way of a good story or striking image.
THU 22:00 Cromwell (b00h4hm9)
Epic retelling of the clash between two great historical figures in the English Civil War. Oliver Cromwell and the enigmatic, forceful Charles I fought in castle corridors, in Parliament and finally in a fierce battle between their two armies.
THU 00:15 An Art Lovers' Guide (b0b0g5cj)
In the final episode of the series, Janina Ramirez and Alastair Sooke set off on their most adventurous trip yet - to Baku, capital of Azerbaijan.
A former Soviet state, bordering the Caspian Sea, Baku offers a tantalising mix of the ancient and modern - at the crossroads of east meets west, on the ancient silk trading route. It is also an authoritarian state, where cultural life is tightly controlled. So, not their regular city break...
But it is a city looking westwards, eager to turn itself into a tourist destination. They discover a city for which oil has been both a blessing and a curse. The profits from oil transformed its architecture twice - first in the late nineteenth century, and again in the twentieth.
As a result, Baku is full of buildings that feel like 19th-century Paris, but also gleaming new structures by architectural stars like Zaha Hadid. And all around, the traces of Soviet rule offer other surprising clashes of art and architecture.
Nina and Alastair pick their way through this maze of influences and travel back in time, seeking the roots of Azerbaijani identity. Alastair visits the world's first museum devoted entirely to rugs while Nina marvels at stunning prehistoric rock art on the city's outskirts. Together they wander the medieval old city, discovering the early impact of Islamic culture.
And in the stunning Heydar Aliyev Centre designed by Zaha Hadid, they discover an exhibition devoted to Heydar Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan, whose government exerts a strong influence on the city's art and culture. But Alistair also meets Sabina Shikhlinskaya, an artist with a truly independent voice.
As night falls they discover why Azerbaijan is known as the 'Land of Fire' when they visit Yanar Dag, a spectacular 10-metre long natural gas fire which blazes continuously. And they end their visit to Baku with a performance of Maugham, Azerbaijan's ancient, haunting folk music as they reflect on their time in a city that has fascinated and surprised them both.
THU 01:15 Our Classical Century (m00041tg)
1953 - 1971
From the films Brief Encounter and Bridge on the River Kwai, to the glamorous classical stars Jacqueline du Pré and Daniel Barenboim, this is the story of how classical music thrived in post-war Britain and found vast popular audiences. Suzy Klein and broadcaster and music lover Joan Bakewell explore a new world of musical collaborations with classical music – from Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar, Rick Wakeman and David Bowie, and Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic.
Elizabeth II’s coronation was a remarkable showcase for British classical music. It was watched by millions on their new TV sets. Suzy explores how the BBC transformed the Last Night of the Proms into a live TV extravaganza under the baton of the dynamic ‘Flash Harry’, Malcolm Sargent. Joan Bakewell meets Sylvia Darley, his private secretary for 20 years, who reveals the ‘love affair’ between Sir Malcolm and the promenaders.
TV was one medium that had grasped the potential of classical music – now film did too. David Lean had already co-opted Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto to unforgettable effect in Brief Encounter. Suzy reveals how Lean commissioned the piece which brought Oscar glory for Best Score to British composer Malcom Arnold in 1958, for Lean’s cinematic tour de force Bridge on the River Kwai. Arnold – an eclectic, dynamic and prolific composer - produced a powerful score for this film about prisoners in a Japanese camp building a bridge for the Burma Railway. Composer Neil Brand reflects on Arnold’s ability to conjure the pain and hardship of wartime imprisonment and forced labour.
As the Sixties began, a piece deeply inspired by the wartime experience - The War Requiem - helped seal the reputation of composer Benjamin Britten. It was written for Coventry, a city devastated by WW2 bombing. An experiment in the healing power of music, it was a controversial choice for the reopening of Coventry Cathedral, as Britten was a conscientious objector. Against the backdrop of the Cold and fears of apocalyptic nuclear war, Britten created a piece that resounded with his deeply held opposition to war. Joan Bakewell visits the Red House in Aldeburgh where Britten wrote the piece, and examines Britten’s hand-written score that warns of the inhumanity and consequences of war. Suzy meets a member of the original 1962 audience who recalls the stunned silence that greeted its first performance, and Roderick Williams sings a powerful extract.
As the Sixties arrived and classical music thrived on TV, in cinemas, on records – a glamorous new classical star for a new age burst onto the scene – the dynamic, virtuoso Jacqueline du Pré. With cellists Moray Welsh and Julian Lloyd Webber, Joan Bakewell explores the secrets of du Pré’s magnetic style and the piece that she made her own: the Elgar Cello Concerto. Written in the aftermath of WW1, Du Pré invested the piece with a virtuosic romanticism that sold millions of records. Acclaimed young cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays excerpts and reveals the impact Du Pré’s version had on him as a young player.
The sixties saw a new era of musical collaborations, one famously involving Yehudi Menuhin of whom Albert Einstein said, "The day of miracles is not over. Our dear old Jehovah is still on the job." Menuhin’s musical curiosity lead him to collaborate with Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar. Brilliant contemporary musician Nitin Sawhney helps Suzy examine the secrets of Shankar’s brilliance and the ingredients of their memorable collaboration in their legendary album ‘West Meets East’. The record won a Grammy and brought Indian musical tradition to a western audience. On 24th September 1969 another epic musical collaboration took place between Jon Lord with the heavy metal band Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Arnold at the Royal Albert Hall. Ian Gillan describes how the orchestra turned up their noses at a collaboration with a heavy metal band.
This was the era of experimentation, and in 1971 David Bowie – a fan of Stravinsky and Holst – involved classically-trained Rick Wakeman in the classic Life on Mars. With Rick at the keyboard, Suzy explores the making of this revolutionary song, in which classical music collides with pop brilliance.
In the 70s, political uncertainty and industrial disputes dominated. With advertising guru Sir Frank Lowe, Joan Bakewell looks at how classical music was co-opted by advertisers to hark back to more certain times. Lowe explains how he took a brass band version of the theme from Dvorak’s New World Symphony and transformed it into a nostalgic tune to sell Hovis bread. The programme reveals how the piece was written by a middle European as he travelled through the American West, and was deeply influenced by African-American spirituals.
As post-war Britain changed, opened up to new media and new global cultural influences, so Britain fell in love with classical music in new ways
THU 02:15 Shipwrecks: Britain's Sunken History (b03lytyp)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
FRIDAY 27 MARCH 2020
FRI 19:00 BBC News (m000h344)
Twenty-four hours a day, the latest national and international stories as they break.
FRI 19:30 Top of the Pops (m000gp1d)
Anthea Turner and Gary Davies present the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 1 June 1989 and featuring Sinitta, Fuzzbox and Neneh Cherry.
FRI 20:00 Kings of Soul (b05n2bx6)
Celebrating the men whose vocal stylings have carried the torch for soul across six decades. It showcases the rarely seen but infectious Brenton Wood's Gimme Little Sign and offers the velvet voice of Curtis Mayfield singing Keep On Keeping On. There are groundbreaking artists from the '60s to the noughties, with performances from Billy Preston, Bill Withers, Billy Ocean, Alexander O'Neal, Barry White, Bobby Womack and many more.
FRI 21:00 Top of the Pops (m000gp1h)
Nicky Campbell presents the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 8 June 1989 and featuring The Beautiful South, Guns N' Roses and Jason Donovan.
FRI 21:30 Rock n Roll Island: Where Legends Were Born (m000gp1k)
Award-winning documentary that celebrates the incredible musical history of Eel Pie Island, a small island in the Thames in south west London which became the epicentre of rhythm and blues in the 1960s.
In its heyday, the likes of The Stones, The Yardbirds, The Who, David Bowie, Elton John, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall, Long John Baldry and many others cut their teeth at the venue before becoming legends of the music industry.
Interviewed guests include Rod Stewart from The Faces, Top Topham from The Yardbirds, Mick Avory from The Kinks, Steve Hackett from Genesis, Dave Brock from Hawkwind, Andy Bown from Status Quo, Martin Turner from Wishbone Ash, Phil May from The Pretty Things, Don Craine and Keith Grant from The Downliners Sect, Geoff Cole from the Ken Colyer Band, Bob Dwyer from The Southern Stompers, Cleo Sylvestre from Honey B Mama, Blaine Harrison from The Mystery Jets, Paul Stewart from The Others, Sam Cutler, former tour manager with The Stones, as well as numerous fans known as Eelpilanders and island resident and inventor Trevor Baylis.
Combining these interviews with original black-and-white images and archive footage from the era, the documentary explores the unique experiences of the people who either played at the Eel Pie Island Hotel or went there to listen to music and dance on the famous bouncing dance floor.
Cheryl Robson, who created the project, says, ‘You can feel the incredible fondness for the Eel Pie experience when talking to those who actually went there. There was definitely something in the water in south west London, which affected all those who went, played, sang or danced. The energy was infectious.’
Narrated by actor Nigel Planer, who was once a resident of Eel Pie Island.
FRI 22:30 Sgt Pepper's Musical Revolution with Howard Goodall (b08tb97f)
50 years ago this week, on 1 June, 1967, an album was released that changed music history - The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In this film, composer Howard Goodall explores just why this album is still seen as so innovative, so revolutionary and so influential. With the help of outtakes and studio conversations between the band, never heard before outside of Abbey Road, Howard gets under the bonnet of Sgt Pepper. He takes the music apart and reassembles it, to show us how it works - and makes surprising connections with the music of the last 1,000 years to do so.
Sgt Pepper came about as a result of a watershed in The Beatles' career. In August 1966, sick of the screaming mayhem of live shows, they'd taken what was then seen as the career-ending decision to stop touring altogether. Instead, beginning that December, they immersed themselves in Abbey Road with their creative partner, producer George Martin, for an unprecedented five months. What they produced didn't need to be recreated live on stage. The Beatles took full advantage of this freedom, turning the studio from a place where a band went to capture its live sound, as quickly as possible, into an audio laboratory, a creative launch pad. As Howard shows, they and George Martin and his team constructed the album sound by sound, layer by layer - a formula that became the norm for just about every rock act who followed.
In June 1967, after what amounted to a press blackout about what they'd been up to, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released. It was a sensation, immediately becoming the soundtrack to the Summer of Love - and one of the best-selling, most critically lauded albums of all time. It confirmed that a 'pop music' album could be an art form, not just a collection of three-minute singles. It's regularly been voted one of the most important and influential records ever released.
In this film, Howard Goodall shows that it is the sheer ambition of Sgt Pepper - in its conception, composition, arrangements and innovative recording techniques - that sets it apart.
Made with unprecedented access to The Beatles' pictorial archive, this is an in-depth exploration, in sound and vision, of one of the most important and far-reaching moments in recent music history.
FRI 23:30 Sinatra: All or Nothing at All (b064jgws)
An up-close and personal examination of the life, music and career of the legendary entertainer. In 1971, Frank Sinatra sang his legendary 'retirement concert' in Los Angeles, featuring music which was said to reflect his own life. Told in his own words from hours of archived interviews, along with commentary from those closest to him, this definitive four-part series weaves the legendary songs he chose with comments from friends and family, as well as never-before-seen footage from home movies and concert performances.
An unprecedented tribute to the beloved showman, with the full participation of the Frank Sinatra Estate, the opening episode takes us from Sinatra's birth to his early years as a roadhouse performer, revealing the influences behind his meteoric rise.
FRI 00:30 Acoustic at the BBC (b0141mz1)
A journey through some of the finest moments of acoustic guitar performances from the BBC archives - from Jimmy Page's television debut in 1958 to Oasis and Biffy Clyro.
Neil Young - Heart of Gold
David Bowie - Starman
Oasis - Wonderwall
Donovan - Mellow Yellow
Joan Armatrading - Woncha Come on Home
Bert Jansch, Johnny Marr and Bernard Butler - The River Bank
Joni Mitchell - Chelsea Morning
Biffy Clyro - Mountains.
FRI 01:25 Hits, Hype & Hustle: An Insider's Guide to the Music Business (b09q04ts)
Revivals and Reunions
Part three of this entertaining, behind-the-scenes series about how the music business works, explores the phenomenon of band reunions.
With unique revelations, rare archive and backstage access to an impressive line-up of old favourites strutting their stuff once more, music PR legend Alan Edwards tells the story of why so many bands are getting back together, what happens when they do - and how it's changing the music business.
Alan Edwards, who has looked after everyone from Prince to The Rolling Stones, from David Bowie to The Spice Girls, is our musical guide. He's been in the business long enough to see countless acts enjoy pop stardom, split up, fall out, only to re-emerge triumphant decades later, to the joy of their fans.
Alan starts by telling the story of the UK's first revival concert which took place over 40 years ago at Wembley Stadium. Featuring some of the biggest acts from the birth of rock 'n' roll - Bill Haley and the Comets, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis - the concert opened the eyes of promoters to the power of yesterday's hitmakers to reach an audience and make serious money.
From there, Alan takes us on a musical journey through some of the biggest reunions of the last thirty years. Highlights include Glen Matlock, ex-bassist in The Sex Pistols who talks candidly about their 1996 reunion. Called the Filthy Lucre tour, Glen reveals how one section of the band had to travel on a separate tour bus just to keep the fragile band reunion on track so they could finish the tour.
Alan also meets the three remaining members of Blondie, who tell him how they've navigated their reunion. Debbie Harry reveals how she didn't want to get back together with the band at first, had to be persuaded to do it, but then teared up when they first played together - 'when we put the band back together for the first time and everybody started playing I sort of teared up because, oh there really is that sound, that really does exist, we do have an identity and that is probably the really successful band is to have a successful uniqueness to it.'
Stewart Copeland, the drummer in The Police, tells us about their reunion tour, one the most successful of all time. In rare archive of the band's rehearsals, Stewart tells us these 'were hell'. Copeland also reveals how the band had therapy during their comeback tour, 'we started to say things that I, we'd never said. I heard things from him (Sting) that just blew my mind, that's what you've been thinking for thirty years.'
Melanie C talks about The Spice Girls' reunion and reveals which of the girls called to ask her to give it another go. Alex James from Blur gives us the inside track on how Blur's revival happened and Shaun Ryder, with typical bluntness, tells us why he decided to take The Happy Mondays back on the road. We also hear from OMD, who for the first time reveal what really happened during their bitter break-up.
Eighties musical phenomenon Musical Youth take us behind the scenes of their rebirth and tell us why they still do it, and one of the biggest bands of the 60s, The Zombies, tell the remarkable story of how good old-fashioned 'word of mouth' played a big part in their rebirth.
The programme also looks at how to stage a reunion when no members of the band want to get involved. Alan Edwards explores how pop music is increasingly popping up in West End musicals and at how bands are staging their own exhibitions as a way to come back without actually having to stage a reunion.
And finally, Alan ponders the ultimate comeback - from beyond the grave - and asks whether technology and the arrival of hologram performances mean that in the future bands will never really break up, they'll just keep on regenerating.
FRI 02:25 Rock n Roll Island: Where Legends Were Born (m000gp1k)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:30 today