It’s one of the largest festivals in Europe and it celebrates the best of Welsh culture. The Eisteddfod is the natural showcase for music, dance, visual arts, literature, original performances and much more. Jason Mohammad heads north to Llanrwst in the Conwy Valley to bring all the highlights and stories from the National Eisteddfod of Wales and discovers how this most ancient of festivals continues to evolve as a relevant cultural force. The week-long festival starts with a high-flying musical extravaganza. Folk and contemporary music performers are joined by an Irish company specialising in aerial acrobatics. It is one of the Eisteddfod’s most ambitious projects and Jason goes backstage to talk to the performers.
He catches up with Wales rugby stars Jonathan Davies and Ken Owens as well as broadcaster and comedian Tudur Owen, who are all being honoured at the Eisteddfod this year. Jason discovers more about Llanrwst’s failed attempt to gain a seat on the United Nations in 1947, claiming to be independent from the rest of Wales! He visits the Lle Celf, the largest temporary modern art exhibition in Europe, to enjoy the work of a multitude of different artists including the gold medal winners in fine art, contemporary art and craft and design. Eisteddfod 2019 with Jason Mohammad brings the best stories and performances from this truly unique event.
Neil Oliver charts the 13th century story of the two ruthless men who helped transform the Gaelic kingdom of Alba into the Scotland we recognise today.
While Alexander II forged Scotland in blood and violence, William Wallace's resistance to the nation-breaking King Edward I of England hammered national consciousness into the Scots.
Dr Lucy Worsley's story of the first Georgian kings reaches the final years of George II's reign. With extensive access to artworks in the Royal Collection, she shows how Britain's new ruling family fought the French, the Jacobites and each other, all at the same time. But while George very publicly bickered with his troublesome son Frederick, Prince of Wales, he also led from the front on the battlefield - the last British king to do so - and helped turn his adopted nation into a global superpower.
What would have seemed an unlikely outcome when the Georges first arrived from Hanover was achieved on the back of a strong navy, a dubious slave trade and a powerful new entrepreneurial spirit that owed much to the influence of the Scottish Enlightenment.
In the fourth and final episode, Mary tackles the biggest puzzle of all: why, and how, did the Roman Empire fall? Surveying the massive walls and fortifications of Britain and Germany, she discovers an empire under pressure, struggling to control its borders.
Mary seeks to redefine our understanding of the so-called 'Barbarian Invasions', but also shows that the Roman Empire was facing even greater challenges from within. Maverick emperors upset all the assumptions of right-thinking Romans, while the traditional religion and beliefs of the Roman state came head to head with the absolute conviction of Jews and Christians. Ultimately, Mary asks whether the Roman Empire was transformed rather than destroyed, and indeed lives on in the world we still see all around us - in our institutions and infrastructure, in the aspirations, methodology and symbolism of many empires since.
Susan Calman’s Fringe Benefits is the place to enjoy all the best entertainment and chat from this year’s Edinburgh Festivals.
Joining Susan for a natter are special guests Frank Skinner, Larry Dean, Iain Stirling, Desiree Burch and many more, plus performances from Jo Caulfield and Stuart Mitchell.
The surprising story of how Britain entered a new age of steam railways after the Second World War and why it quickly came to an end.
After the war, the largely destroyed railways of Europe were rebuilt to carry more modern diesel and electric trains. Britain, however, chose to build thousands of brand new steam locomotives. Did we stay with steam because coal was seen as the most reliable power source, or were the railways run by men who couldn't bear to let go of their beloved steam trains?
The new British locomotives were designed to stay in service well into the 1970s, but in some cases they were taken off the railways and scrapped within just five years. When Dr Richard Beeching took over British Railways in the 1960s the writing was on the wall, and in 1968 the last steam passenger train blew its whistle.
But while steam use declined, steam enthusiasm grew. As many steam engines lay rusting in scrapyards around Britain, enthusiasts raised funds to buy, restore and return them to their former glory. In 2008, the first brand new steam locomotive to be built in Britain in nearly 50 years rolled off the line, proving our enduring love of these machines.
Ada Lovelace was a most unlikely computer pioneer. In this film, Dr Hannah Fry tells the story of Ada's remarkable life. Born in the early 19th century, Ada was a countess of the realm, a scandalous socialite and an 'enchantress of numbers'. The film is an enthralling tale of how a life infused with brilliance, but blighted by illness and gambling addiction, helped give rise to the modern era of computing.
Hannah traces Ada's unlikely union with the father of computers, Charles Babbage. Babbage designed the world's first steam-powered computers - most famously the analytical engine - but it was Ada who realised the full potential of these new machines. During her own lifetime, Ada was most famous for being the daughter of romantic poet Lord Byron ('mad, bad and dangerous to know'). It was only with the advent of modern computing that Ada's understanding of their flexibility and power (that they could be far more than mere number crunchers) was recognised as truly visionary. Hannah explores how Ada's unique inheritance - poetic imagination and rational logic - made her the ideal prophet of the digital age.
This moving, intelligent and beautiful film makes you realise we nearly had a Victorian computer revolution.
THURSDAY 15 AUGUST 2019
THU 19:00 Beyond 100 Days (m0007njw)
The latest news, exploring the day's events from a global perspective.
THU 19:30 The Sky at Night (m0007n0j)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 on Sunday
THU 20:00 Skies Above Britain (b07tj8vp)
Beneath the Clouds
For thousands of recreational pilots, uncontrolled airspace - the skies beyond commercial routes - are a place of freedom and adventure and for many, flying in them can become an obsession.
Al Coutts and Willie Cruikshank are the Wildcats, two former RAF pilots who perform aerobatic stunts at air displays across the UK. With several recent tragedies at air shows, Al and Willy must finish their display season safely.
Julia Foxwell is a champion skydiver who relinquished her crown after having her first child. Now she is juggling motherhood with an intense training schedule as she attempts to win again at the National Skydiving Championships.
Pete Dolby has been flying balloons for over a quarter of a century - now he is attempting to fly Britain's first solar balloon, powered using just the sun's energy. The experimental balloon will be launched at Europe's biggest ballooning event - the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.
Elsewhere, Ady Dolan, NATS air traffic controller at Heathrow, works the most congested and highly regulated patch of sky in the UK - the congested skies above the capital.
THU 21:00 Operation Wild (b04dvt5p)
In a world first, vets call on a plastic surgeon to give a rhino a skin graft operation. Plus, Rosemary the blind orangutan has microsurgery to try to restore her sight so she can see her daughter again, and a seal with a mystery illness is diagnosed using the kind of scanner usually seen in a human hospital.
THU 22:00 From Ice to Fire: The Incredible Science of Temperature (b09sc7yj)
A Temperature for Life
Physicist Dr Helen Czerski explores the narrow band of temperature that has led to life on Earth. She reveals how life began in a dramatic place where hot meets cold, and how every single living creature on Earth depends on temperature for its survival. She uncovers the extraordinary natural engineering that animals have evolved to keep their bodies at the right temperature. And she witnesses the remarkable surgery that's using temperature to push the human body to the very brink of life.
THU 23:00 Immortal Egypt with Joann Fletcher (b06wj4bw)
In the second episode, Joann explores how the Pyramid Age ended in catastrophe. In one of Saqqara's last pyramid complexes, Joann uncovers evidence of famine as the young Egyptian state suffered a worsening climate and political upheaval. With depleted coffers, Egypt was plunged into the dark ages and civil war. With the land fractured into many small states, Joann tells the story of small-town leaders rising through the ranks.
In a little-known tomb in Thebes, Joann uncovers stories of warriors who fought in the bloody battle which eventually would mark the reunification of Egypt. This burial represents the world's first recorded war cemetery and the rise of Thebes. The country was reborn, resuming grand building projects for Egypt's mighty kings and bejewelled queens.
Joann reveals how settlers known as the Hyksos tried to infiltrate the government and take the throne. But their rule was short-lived as they were ousted by southern rulers who laid the groundwork for Egypt's largest empire.
THU 00:00 Constable: A Country Rebel (b04gv42q)
The Haywain by John Constable is such a comfortingly familiar image of rural Britain that it is difficult to believe it was ever regarded as a revolutionary painting, but in this film, made in conjunction with a landmark exhibition at the V&A, Alastair Sooke discovers that Constable was painting in a way that was completely new and groundbreaking at the time.
Through experimentation and innovation he managed to make a sublime art from humble things and, though he struggled in his own country during his lifetime, his genius was surprisingly widely admired in France.
THU 01:00 Unsung Heroines: Danielle de Niese on the Lost World of Female Composers (b0b6znwz)
Danielle de Niese explores the lives and works of five female composers - from the Middle Ages to the late 20th century - who were famous in their lifetimes, but whose work was then forgotten.
Western classical music has traditionally been seen as a procession of male geniuses, but the truth is that women have always composed. Hildegard of Bingen, Francesca Caccini, Clara Schumann, Florence Price and Elizabeth Maconchy - all these women battled to fulfil their ambitions and overcome the obstacles that society placed in their way. They then disappeared into obscurity, and only some have found recognition again.
THU 02:00 A Brief History of Graffiti (b067fxfr)
Dr Richard Clay goes in search of what it is that has made us scribble and scratch mementoes of our lives for more than 30,000 years. From the prehistoric cave paintings of Burgundy in France, through gladiatorial fan worship in Roman Lyons to the messages left on the walls of Germany's Reichstag in 1945 by triumphant Soviet troops, time and again we have wanted to leave a permanent record of our existence for our descendants. And it may be that this is where what today we call art comes from - the humble scratch, graffiti.
THU 03:00 From Ice to Fire: The Incredible Science of Temperature (b09sc7yj)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 today
FRIDAY 16 AUGUST 2019
FRI 19:00 World News Today (m0007n1y)
LIST OF THIS WEEK'S PROGRAMMES
The latest news, exploring the day's events from a global perspective.
FRI 19:30 BBC Proms (m0007n20)
Pappano and the National Youth Orchestra of the USA
Suzy Klein introduces America’s most talented young musicians in an ambitious concert from the National Youth Orchestra of the USA. Sir Antonio Pappano conducts the UK premiere of Benjamin Beckman’s new work, Occidentalis and mezzo Joyce DiDonato sings Berlioz's beautifully crafted miniatures Les nuits d’été. The impressive programme culminates with Richard Strauss’s epic work, An Alpine Symphony.
FRI 21:30 Top of the Pops (m0007n22)
Mike Read and Simon Mayo present the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 12 May 1988 and featuring Harry Enfield, Prince, the Adventures, Narada, Liverpool FC, Belinda Carlisle, Derek B, Prefab Sprout, Star Turn On 45 Pints, Wet Wet Wet, Fairground Attraction and Kylie Minogue.
FRI 22:00 Woodstock - Three Days that Defined a Generation (m0007n24)
For three days in August 1969, half a million people from all walks of life converged on a small dairy farm in upstate New York. They came to hear the concert of their lives, but most experienced something far more profound: a moment that came to define a cultural revolution.
This documentary tells the story of the lead-up to those three historic days, through the voices of those who were there and the music of the time. It includes extraordinary moments from the concert itself, iconic images of both performers and festival goers, and tells how this groundbreaking event, pulled off right at the last minute, nearly ended in disaster and put the ideals of the counterculture to the test.
FRI 23:25 Jimi Hendrix: The Road to Woodstock (b03p7p6v)
The definitive documentary record of one of Jimi Hendrix's most celebrated performances, now digitally remastered and featuring footage never seen on television before. It includes such signature songs as Purple Haze, Voodoo Child (Slight Return) and his rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, as well as interviews with Woodstock promoter Michael Lang and Hendrix band members Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Larry Lee and Juma Sultan among others.
FRI 00:25 Hits, Hype & Hustle: An Insider's Guide to the Music Business (b09mbfjx)
Making a Star
In the first programme of the series, music agent Emma Banks looks at how the music business finds talent and creates superstars.
Over 25 years as one of the top agents in the business, Emma has worked with some of the world's most famous artists, including Katy Perry, Kanye West and Red Hot Chili Peppers. She's seen first-hand the fine line between success and failure, following the careers of hundreds of acts - from geniuses who never quite made it to megastars who conquered the world.
The secret to success and stardom is an elusive formula of luck, timing and of course talent. But as Emma explores in this film, it's also about the team behind the talent - the record execs, label bosses and A&R gurus who find, develop and make a star. From Motown's musical finishing school to Damon Dash's dogged promotion of Jay-Z, the missed potential of sixties group The Zombies to Blur's record label steering their career from one-hit wonders towards chart domination, this film offers an entertaining behind-the-scenes peek into the peaks and pitfalls of making a musical superstar.
Contributors include Motown's Martha Reeves, Blur's Alex James, record producing legend Clive Davis, Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell and Labelle's Nona Hendryx. And we follow Emma as she works with new grime star Lady Leshurr to take her career to the next level.
FRI 01:25 Top of the Pops (m0007n22)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:30 today
FRI 01:55 The Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E Smith (b0074r00)
A profile of one of England's truly unique and underrated bands, The Fall. One of the most enigmatic, idiosyncratic and chaotic garage bands of the last 30 years, The Fall are led by the belligerent and poetic Mark E Smith and grew out of the fringe of the Manchester punk scene. By 2005, they had released in excess of three dozen albums, toured relentlessly, inspired two successful stage plays, recorded 24 Peel Sessions, and performed with contemporary ballet dancer Michael Clark along with various spoken word events.
All this has happened under the guidance of Smith with various line-ups totalling over 40 different members. They have never conformed to fashion or musical trends and when asked why they were his favourite band, John Peel replied 'they are always different, they are always the same'.
This is the first time that Mark E Smith has agreed to the story being told on television and he along with many of the major players take us through this unique English rock 'n' roll story. It is told alongside footage of their most recent and sadly now last Peel Session recorded in August 2004 at the BBC Maida Vale studios, and there is also film of John playing out the session at Peel Acres a week later.
Contributors include past and present band members such as Marc Riley, Una Baines, Steve Hanley, Ben Pritchard and Eleni Smith, plus thoughts from key fans/critics including Paul Morley, Tony Wilson, Stewart Lee, promoter Alan Wise, original Buzzcocks manager Richard Boon, and Franz Ferdinand.
FRI 02:55 Singer-Songwriters at the BBC (b00tzpbq)
Compilation which unlocks the BBC vaults to explore the burgeoning singer-songwriter genre that exploded at the dawn of the 1970s and became one of the defining styles of that decade.
Featuring Elton John's Your Song, whose line 'My gift is my song and this one's for you' helps define this new, more personal style of songwriting, alongside an eclectic selection of classic artists and songs. James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Harry Nilsson, Sandy Denny, Steve Goodman, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Judee Sill, Jackson Browne, Neil Diamond, Tim Hardin, Joan Armatrading, Tom Waits all feature next to more commercial hits from the likes of Terry Jacks and Gilbert O'Sullivan.
Programme sources include The Old Grey Whistle Test, In Concert, Top of the Pops, The Shirley Bassey Show and Twiggy's Show of the week.
(Note: the times link back to the details; the pids link to the BBC page, including iPlayer)
A Brief History of Graffiti 02:00 THU (b067fxfr)
A History of Scotland 20:00 WED (b00fl9sw)
A History of Scotland 01:45 WED (b00fl9sw)
Africa: A Journey into Music 02:50 MON (b0b624f1)
Art of Spain 01:50 MON (b008yw7p)
BBC Proms 19:00 SUN (m0007n0g)
BBC Proms 19:30 FRI (m0007n20)
Battlefield Britain 01:00 TUE (b0078s6r)
Below the Surface 21:00 SAT (m0007n0l)
Below the Surface 21:45 SAT (m0007n0n)
Beyond 100 Days 19:00 MON (m0007n16)
Beyond 100 Days 19:00 TUE (m0007mzt)
Beyond 100 Days 19:00 WED (m0007ln2)
Beyond 100 Days 19:00 THU (m0007njw)
Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing 00:45 WED (p030s5bx)
Constable: A Country Rebel 00:00 THU (b04gv42q)
Deep Ocean: Lights in the Abyss 21:00 MON (b0bs367k)
Eisteddfod 19:30 WED (m0007nyx)
Farther and Sun: A Dyslexic Road Trip 22:50 MON (b0bm6pdg)
From Ice to Fire: The Incredible Science of Temperature 22:00 THU (b09sc7yj)
From Ice to Fire: The Incredible Science of Temperature 03:00 THU (b09sc7yj)
Hits, Hype & Hustle: An Insider's Guide to the Music Business 00:25 FRI (b09mbfjx)
Horizon 20:50 SUN (p0327fp0)
Horizon 23:00 TUE (b0747199)
How the Celts Saved Britain 23:50 MON (b00kps7h)
Immortal Egypt with Joann Fletcher 23:00 THU (b06wj4bw)
Iolo's Snowdonia 19:30 MON (b09qqnxv)
Iolo's Snowdonia 19:30 TUE (b09qtryj)
James May's Cars of the People 22:30 SUN (b0467lbp)
Jimi Hendrix: The Road to Woodstock 23:25 FRI (b03p7p6v)
Life 21:50 MON (b00p4rl4)
Lost Land of the Volcano 19:00 SAT (b00mq3p1)
Lost Land of the Volcano 01:20 SAT (b00mq3p1)
Mary Beard's Ultimate Rome: Empire Without Limit 22:00 WED (b07cb3y6)
My Astonishing Self: Gabriel Byrne on George Bernard Shaw 00:50 MON (b09ltk1h)
New Zealand: Earth's Mythical Islands 20:00 SAT (b07mh601)
New Zealand: Earth's Mythical Islands 02:20 SAT (b07mh601)
Operation Grand Canyon with Dan Snow 20:00 MON (p01m732z)
Operation Wild 21:00 THU (b04dvt5p)
Perfect Pianists at the BBC 01:05 SUN (b0729r6r)
Revolutions: The Ideas that Changed the World 21:00 TUE (m0007mzw)
Revolutions: The Ideas that Changed the World 03:00 TUE (m0007mzw)
SAS: Rogue Warriors 20:00 TUE (b08g89l7)
SAS: Rogue Warriors 02:00 TUE (b08g89l7)
Singer-Songwriters at the BBC 02:55 FRI (b00tzpbq)
Skies Above Britain 20:00 THU (b07tj8vp)
Storyville 23:30 SUN (m0002k62)
Susan Calman's Fringe Benefits 23:00 WED (m0007gxl)
The Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E Smith 01:55 FRI (b0074r00)
The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain 21:00 WED (p01xtmv7)
The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain 02:40 WED (p01xtmv7)
The Rise and Fall of Nokia Mobile 22:00 TUE (b0b9kj80)
The Riviera: A History in Pictures 02:05 SUN (b01ps9jr)
The Sky at Night 21:00 SUN (b0b3lnks)
The Sky at Night 22:00 SUN (m0007n0j)
The Sky at Night 03:05 SUN (b0b3lnks)
The Sky at Night 19:30 THU (m0007n0j)
The Somme: Secret Tunnel Wars 00:00 TUE (b01skvnh)
The Vietnam War 22:30 SAT (b096k8wz)
The Vietnam War 23:25 SAT (b096k948)
Timeshift 23:45 WED (b00dzzdc)
Top of the Pops 00:20 SAT (m0007f4k)
Top of the Pops 00:50 SAT (m0007f4t)
Top of the Pops 21:30 FRI (m0007n22)
Top of the Pops 01:25 FRI (m0007n22)
Unsung Heroines: Danielle de Niese on the Lost World of Female Composers 01:00 THU (b0b6znwz)
Woodstock - Three Days that Defined a Generation 22:00 FRI (m0007n24)
World News Today 19:00 FRI (m0007n1y)