Iain Stewart journeys across the oceans to explore the most powerful giant waves in history, with ten remarkable stories about tsunamis.
These massive waves can be taller than the biggest skyscraper, travel at the speed of a jet plane and when they reach land, rear up and turn into a terrifying wall of water that destroys everything in its path. These unstoppable, uncontrollable forces of nature caused the ruin of an entire ancient civilization, may have played a small part in the demise of the dinosaurs, and in World War II were used as a weapon. Yet astonishingly, two men who surfed the tallest wave in history - half a kilometre high - survived.
In the heady years following World War II, Britain was a nation in love with aviation. Having developed the jet engine in wartime, British engineers were now harnessing its power to propel the world's first passenger jets. By 1960 the UK's passenger airline industry was the largest in the world, with routes stretching to the furthest-flung remnants of Empire.
And the aircraft carrying these New Elizabethans around the globe were also British - the Vickers Viscount, the Bristol Britannia and the world's first pure jet-liner, the sleek, silver De Havilland Comet, which could fly twice as high and twice as fast as its American competitors. It seemed the entire nation was reaching for the skies to create the shape of things to come for air travel worldwide. But would their reach exceed their grasp?
Simon Sebag Montefiore charts Rome's rise from the abandonment and neglect of the 14th century into the everlasting seat of the papacy recognised today. His story takes us through the debauchery and decadence of the Renaissance, the horrors of the Sack of Rome and the Catholic Reformation, through to the arrival of fascism and the creation of the Vatican State. By taking us inside Rome's most sensational palaces and churches and telling the stories behind some of the world's most beloved art, Sebag Montefiore's final instalment is a visual feast.
In the fine tradition of American Jewish humour, a group of pensioners from all walks of life gather together to tell their favourite jokes. Remember, laugh loud. They don't hear so good.
Punk had shown what it was against - now what was it for? In the wake of the Pistols' demise a new generation of musicians would re-imagine the world they lived in through the music they made. Freed up by punk's DIY ethos, a kaleidoscope of musical influences broke three chord conformity.
Public Image Limited allowed Johnny Rotten to become John Lydon the artist. In Manchester, Magazine would be first to record in the wake of the Pistols' split, Mark E Smith made street poetry while Ian Curtis turned punk's external rage into an existential drama. A raft of left-wing art school intellectuals like Gang of Four and Wire imbued post-punk with a sense of radical politics and conceptualism while the Pop Group infused funk with anti-capitalist sentiment in the early days of Thatcher. Flirting with fascism and violence, the working class Oi! movement tried to drag punk from the Kings Road into the heart of the East End whilst Anarcho punks Crass embarked on the most radical vision of any.
In a time beset by dread and tension perhaps the biggest paranoia was Mutually Assured Destruction essayed perfectly by Young Marble Giants' Final Day. Released in the height of Thatcherism, Ghost Town by The Specials marked a parting of the post-punk waves. Some would remain avowedly uncommercial whilst others would explore pop as a new avenue in the new decade. The song that perhaps summed up post-punk's journey was Orange Juice's Rip It Up and Start Again.
With John Lydon, Howard Devoto, Mark E Smith, Peter Hook, Jerry Dammers, The Raincoats, Wire, Jah Wobble, Mark Stewart, Edwyn Collins, Young Marble Giants and many more.
THURSDAY 20 DECEMBER 2012
THU 19:00 Tails You Win: The Science of Chance (p00yh2rc)
Smart and witty, jam-packed with augmented-reality graphics and fascinating history, this film, presented by professor David Spiegelhalter, tries to pin down what chance is and how it works in the real world. For once this really is 'risky' television.
The film follows in the footsteps of The Joy of Stats, which won the prestigious Grierson Award for Best Science/Natural History programme of 2011. Now the same blend of wit and wisdom, animation, graphics and gleeful nerdery is applied to the joys of chance and the mysteries of probability, the vital branch of mathematics that gives us a handle on what might happen in the future. Professor Spiegelhalter is ideally suited to that task, being Winton professor for the public understanding of risk at Cambridge University, as well as being a recent Winter Wipeout contestant on BBC TV.
How can you maximise your chances of living till you're 100? Why do many of us experience so many spooky coincidences? Should I take an umbrella? These are just some of the everyday questions the film tackles as it moves between Cambridge, Las Vegas, San Francisco and... Reading.
Yet the film isn't shy of some rather loftier questions. After all, our lives are pulled about and pushed around by the mysterious workings of chance, fate, luck, call it what you will. But what actually is chance? Is it something fundamental to the fabric of the universe? Or rather, as the French 18th century scientist Pierre Laplace put it, 'merely a measure of our ignorance'.
Along the way Spiegelhalter is thrilled to discover One Million Random Digits, probably the most boring book in the world, but one full of hidden patterns and shapes. He introduces us to the cheery little unit called the micromort (a one-in-a-million chance of dying), taking the rational decision to go sky-diving because doing so only increases his risk of dying this year from 7000 to 7007 micromorts. And in one sequence he uses the latest infographics to demonstrate how life expectancy has increased in his lifetime and how it is affected by our lifestyle choices - drinking, obesity, smoking and exercise.
Did you know that by running regularly for half an hour a day you can expect to extend your life by half an hour a day? So all very well... if you like running.
Ultimately, Tails You Win: The Science of Chance tells the story of how we discovered how chance works, and even to work out the odds for the future; how we tried - but so often failed - to conquer it; and how we may finally be learning to love it, increasingly setting uncertainty itself to work to help crack some of science's more intractable problems.
Other contributors include former England cricketer Ed Smith, whose career was cut down in its prime through a freak, unlucky accident; Las Vegas gambling legend Mike Shackleford, the self-styled 'Wizard of Odds'; and chief economist of the Bank of England, Spencer Dale.
THU 20:00 Top of the Pops (b01phjlp)
Tony Blackburn looks at the weekly pop chart from 1977 and introduces Generation X, Hot Chocolate, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Bonnie Tyler, Graham Parker & the Rumour, the Banned, the Bee Gees, Wings, Bing Crosby and a Legs & Co dance sequence.
THU 20:30 Top of the Pops (b01phjlr)
Guest DJ Elton John looks at the weekly pop chart from 1977 and introduces Carl Douglas, the Emotions, Darts, John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett, the Dooleys, Dooley Wilson, Julie Covington, Wings and a Legs & Co dance sequence to Jonathan Richman.
THU 21:00 Michael Grade's History of the Pantomime Dame (b01pdt40)
Michael Grade explores the rich history of the very British pantomime dame. From the extravagant productions in Drury Lane in the 19th century to the vintage performances by Terry Scott and Arthur Askey, the dame has always been anarchic, witty, vulgar, affectionate and good box office.
Berwick Kaler, who has played the panto dame for 30 years at York's Theatre Royal, and The Good Life star Richard Briers, offer their insights into why the role has remained such a favourite.
Presenter and TV mogul Grade bravely tries on the full make-up and frock to explore what it is that has made the pantomime dame such an enduring feature of British life.
THU 22:00 The Dark Ages: An Age of Light (b01pdt02)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 on Tuesday
THU 23:00 Chas & Dave: Last Orders (b01nkdsv)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 on Sunday
THU 00:00 Tails You Win: The Science of Chance (p00yh2rc)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
THU 01:00 A Very English Winter: The Unthanks (b01pdsvd)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 on Sunday
THU 02:00 Top of the Pops (b01phjlp)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
THU 02:30 Top of the Pops (b01phjlr)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:30 today
THU 03:00 Michael Grade's History of the Pantomime Dame (b01pdt40)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today
FRIDAY 21 DECEMBER 2012
FRI 19:00 Concerto at the BBC Proms (b01k763t)
LIST OF THIS WEEK'S PROGRAMMES
Another chance to hear a live performance from the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A major, considered by some to be his finest work, recorded at the BBC Proms in 2006.
Gifted English clarinet soloist Julian Bliss, at the time only 17 years old, performs with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of conductor Jirí Behlohlávek.
FRI 19:30 Placido Domingo's Gala Concert from the Royal Opera House (b01pdt87)
From the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Katie Derham introduces a gala concert in celebration of Plácido Domingo, one of the greatest figures in the world of music. On stage with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House conducted by Antonio Pappano are some of the finest singers of today performing selected gems of the operatic repertory. Opera stars Nina Stemme, Joyce DiDonato, Joseph Calleja, Rolando Villazón perform alongside voices new to Covent Garden - Stefan Pop, Julia Novikova and Sonya Yoncheva.
FRI 21:00 It's Slade (b01pf7kr)
They definitely know "IT'S CHRISTMAAAASSSS!"
Top pop documentary, narrated by Radio One's Mark Radcliffe, about one of Britain's greatest and best-loved bands. Slade scored six number ones in the 70s, a feat rivalled only by Abba. Formed in Wolverhampton and led by Noddy Holder, Slade sold over 50 million records worldwide during a 20-year career which saw them re-invent themselves as skinhead yobs, then mirror-hatted platform-shoe-pioneering glam gods, before finally re-emerging as hard rock heroes.
Their poorly-spelled, self-written selection of terrace anthems included Cum on Feel the Noize, Coz I Luv You, Take Me Bak Ome, Mama Weer All Crazee Now and, unforgettably, Merry Xmas Everybody. Apart from Noddy and his bandmates - Dave Hill, Jim Lea and Don Powell - the cast here also includes Noel Gallagher of Oasis (who covered Cum On Feel the Noize), Status Quo, Toyah Wilcox, Suzi Quatro and Ozzy Osbourne.
Altogether now "Are you hanging up your stocking on the wall..........?".
FRI 21:50 Slade at the BBC (b01pdt89)
Don your best platforms and sequinned hat and join Noddy, Jim, Dave and Don aka Slade for a trip down memory lane as we uncover some of Slade's finest appearances from the vaults of the BBC archive, introduced by none other than Noddy Holder himself.
Rock out to the classics of Coz I Luv You, Mama Weer All Crazee Now, Gudbuy T'Jane and C*m On Feel the Noize and see how Slade's all-important look evolves after their first TV appearance on the BBC back in 1969. Most performances come from their 70s heyday and from BBC studio shows like Top of the Pops, Crackerjack, Blue Peter and Cheggers Plays Pop.
Noddy both introduces the compilation and reflects on Slade's glory daze at the BBC.
FRI 22:50 Slade in Flame (b008ptfh)
British glam rock superstars Slade made their collective acting debut in this drama about a pop group's struggles with success. In the late 1960s, Barry, Paul and Charlie are musicians who are barely making a living playing pub dates, weddings, and socials backing up egocentric vocalist Jack Daniels.
FRI 00:20 It's Slade (b01pf7kr)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today
FRI 01:10 Slade at the BBC (b01pdt89)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:50 today
FRI 02:10 Placido Domingo's Gala Concert from the Royal Opera House (b01pdt87)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today
(Note: the times link back to the details; the pids link to the BBC page, including iPlayer)
... Sings Bond 00:00 SAT (b01p97hr)
10 Things You Didn't Know About... 19:00 MON (b008s99l)
10 Things You Didn't Know About... 01:00 MON (b008s99l)
10 Things You Didn't Know About... 19:00 TUE (b008vrwk)
10 Things You Didn't Know About... 01:00 TUE (b008vrwk)
10 Things You Didn't Know About... 19:00 WED (b008pr87)
10 Things You Didn't Know About... 00:30 WED (b008pr87)
A Very English Winter: The Unthanks 20:00 SUN (b01pdsvd)
A Very English Winter: The Unthanks 01:00 THU (b01pdsvd)
Around the World in 60 Minutes 19:00 SAT (b00ymjkt)
Britain by Bike 20:00 MON (b00t6yhb)
Britain by Bike 00:00 MON (b00t6yhb)
Chas & Dave: Last Orders 21:00 SUN (b01nkdsv)
Chas & Dave: Last Orders 00:25 SUN (b01nkdsv)
Chas & Dave: Last Orders 23:00 THU (b01nkdsv)
Concerto at the BBC Proms 19:00 FRI (b01k763t)
David Attenborough's First Life 20:00 SAT (b00w14gy)
It's Slade 21:00 FRI (b01pf7kr)
It's Slade 00:20 FRI (b01pf7kr)
James Bond 50th Anniversary Gala Concert 01:25 SUN (b01p97hp)
Jet! When Britain Ruled the Skies 20:00 TUE (b01m81f5)
Jet! When Britain Ruled the Skies 00:00 TUE (b01m81f5)
Jet! When Britain Ruled the Skies 20:00 WED (b01m9vjl)
Jet! When Britain Ruled the Skies 23:30 WED (b01m9vjl)
Michael Grade's History of the Pantomime Dame 21:00 THU (b01pdt40)
Michael Grade's History of the Pantomime Dame 03:00 THU (b01pdt40)
Old Jews Telling Jokes 23:00 WED (b017j5jw)
Omnibus 02:55 SUN (b007brkx)
Only Connect 20:30 MON (b01pdsy4)
Only Connect 00:30 MON (b01pdsy4)
Placido Domingo's Gala Concert from the Royal Opera House 19:30 FRI (b01pdt87)
Placido Domingo's Gala Concert from the Royal Opera House 02:10 FRI (b01pdt87)
Punk Britannia 02:00 MON (p00s81jz)
Punk Britannia 02:00 TUE (b01jmwjd)
Punk Britannia 01:30 WED (b01jv7f2)
Rome: A History of the Eternal City 22:00 TUE (b01p96g4)
Rome: A History of the Eternal City 21:00 WED (b01pdt0s)
Rome: A History of the Eternal City 02:30 WED (b01pdt0s)
Slade at the BBC 21:50 FRI (b01pdt89)
Slade at the BBC 01:10 FRI (b01pdt89)
Slade in Flame 22:50 FRI (b008ptfh)
Storyville 22:00 SUN (b01kxx71)
Tails You Win: The Science of Chance 19:00 THU (p00yh2rc)
Tails You Win: The Science of Chance 00:00 THU (p00yh2rc)
The Dark Ages: An Age of Light 21:00 TUE (b01pdt02)
The Dark Ages: An Age of Light 03:00 TUE (b01pdt02)
The Dark Ages: An Age of Light 22:00 THU (b01pdt02)
The Golden Age of Steam Railways 21:00 MON (b01pdsy6)
The Golden Age of Steam Railways 03:00 MON (b01pdsy6)
The Golden Age of Steam Railways 22:00 WED (b01pdsy6)
The Hunter 23:00 SUN (b01c2bjq)
The Killing 21:00 SAT (b01phjf8)
The Killing 22:00 SAT (b01phjfb)
The Killing 23:00 MON (b01phjf8)
The Killing 23:00 TUE (b01phjfb)
The Making of Elton John: Madman Across the Water 23:00 SAT (b00vs4yv)
The Making of Elton John: Madman Across the Water 02:35 SAT (b00vs4yv)
The Roasts of Christmas Past 19:00 SUN (b018l57j)
Timeshift 01:00 SAT (b01p96ly)
Timeshift 22:00 MON (b01n8hl9)
Top of the Pops 02:00 SAT (b01pcpl9)
Top of the Pops 20:00 THU (b01phjlp)
Top of the Pops 20:30 THU (b01phjlr)
Top of the Pops 02:00 THU (b01phjlp)
Top of the Pops 02:30 THU (b01phjlr)