We find Britain's only colony of scorpions and Nick Crane finds out why the sea is salty.
Tony Jordan, chief scriptwriter on EastEnders for 15 years and creator of Life on Mars and Hustle, brings his writer's insight to a popular classic - Charles Dickens's Great Expectations.
Dickens serialised his novels and, says Jordan, his brilliant characterisation and cliffhangers make him a godfather to contemporary television writers: 'He's a populist, through and through. He wrote for a mass audience - and they adored him for it'.
Jordan investigates why Dickens decided to change the ending of Great Expectations and what this decision reveals about the writer and the man.
By examining original texts and manuscripts to piece together Dickens's troubled life at the time, Jordan discovers how the author's own personal story may have influenced whether his hero Pip would have a future with Estella.
Bob Ross paints a group of tall trees that almost seem to be floating in the hazy foothills of a distant, blue-grey mountain set against a soft purple sky.
The practice in Darrowby goes from strength to strength - unlike James's private life. Tristan decides to remedy matters and arranges a double blind date.
On the eve of his return from his studies in London to Bechuanaland where he is to become king, Prince Seretse Khama falls in love and marries Ruth Williams, a white woman from south London. Bringing Ruth home causes a major international outcry, not least with the British Protectorate, who are concerned not to upset the neighbouring country of South Africa, who are about to implement apartheid, but with his uncle - the regent who is horrified by the break in his countries tradition. Facing obstacles from all sides, the couple find comfort in the love they share for each other. Based on a true story.
British Ghanaian director Amma Asante talks to Edith Bowman about the films that have helped shape her life and career. Her selection ranges from epic classics like Goodfellas and The Color Purple to intimate, emotional greats like Damage and Hidden.
Amma also discusses her international breakthrough film Belle and the process she adopts when choosing and making the film projects she is renowned for.
The ancient and the modern clash deliciously in Japan while the Terracotta army and the Great Wall of China boast the brilliance of ancient imperial China – Dan Cruickshank embarks on the fourth leg of his journey round the world to map man's greatest creations in history.
The sword of a Samurai warrior is his first and slightly menacing choice, but Dan is captivated by the artistry employed in making this most beautiful instrument of death. By contrast, he finds solace and tranquillity in a Japanese temple and meditation garden.
In China, the tension of war and peace reasserts itself as he walks the Great Wall of China and contemplates the massed ranks of the Terracotta Army – 8,000 soldiers all individually modelled on real people from 2,000 years ago. Again, he finds peace in a unique creation – the empress of China's marble boat – a miraculous and surreal vision on the waters of the Summer Palace lake.
As the smog of modern China descends, Dan finds his attempts to see the ancient porcelain of the Forbidden City challenged before making his escape to the space age world of high-rise Shanghai.
FRIDAY 05 MARCH 2021
FRI 19:00 Classic Albums (b08pg5tq)
Carly Simon: No Secrets
Carly Simon is one of the most influential singer-songwriters of her generation. The classic album that made her a global star was No Secrets, which included the enigmatic song You're So Vain. The album spent five weeks at number one in the US chart.
In this new interview Carly ties together her life and work on No Secrets - she is at her most honest, sometimes defiant, but with a wit and wisdom that comes from her rich and turbulent life. She tells of how the second single from the album, Right Thing to Do, was a refreshingly realistic love song, choosing to ignore her lover's problems. That lover was James Taylor; Carly wrote the lyrics on a plane after looking over at James and thinking 'there's nothing you can do to turn me away.'
The album's title track, We Have No Secrets, struck a chord with a generation trying to reconcile honesty in relationships with the emotional consequences that followed. Carly had a number of highly public affairs in the early 70s and her experience fed into the album's most famous song, the global hit You're So Vain. She performs the missing fourth verse on the piano, the first time she has ever sung it along with the melody.
Carly tells of how her producer made her do the vocal track on 'Vain' over and over, and how Mick Jagger ended up on backing vocals. The film has access to the master tapes and we hear Jagger's vocal track. Her producer reveals Carly was 'so turned on' after singing with Jagger that she recorded the whole vocal again - and that is the one on the album.
Finally, the film includes footage of Taylor Swift and Carly Simon performing You're So Vain together, and extracts from an interview where Swift herself talks about her love for the song.
FRI 20:00 Top of the Pops (m000st47)
Nicky Campbell presents the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 20 September 1990 and featuring The Farm, The Charlatans and Snap!
FRI 20:30 Top of the Pops (m000st49)
Anthea Turner presents the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 27 September 1990 and featuring The Wedding Present, Maria McKee and Bass-O-Matic.
FRI 21:00 Joan Armatrading: Me Myself I (m0008rm4)
Joan Armatrading is one the most influential singer-songwriters in Britain. A national icon, she is known for her singular vision, both as a writer and as a performer. She has performed around the world to sell-out stadiums, releasing records and touring almost constantly from the early 70s to the present day.
In this documentary Joan talks about her self-belief and her unique ability to craft songs that have spoken to millions. Known for her reclusiveness, Joan has, for the first time, granted access to her life and music. Joan tells her story from Caribbean émigré to becoming one of the most revered songwriters of our generation.
The film covers Joan’s childhood growing up in Birmingham, and how she began writing songs from a young age. Joan met some of the key people in her life when she joined the rock musical Hair in 1968. She left home to go on tour and forged a musical partnership with songwriter Pam Nestor. Their collaboration led to a major record deal and an opportunity to work with Elton John’s producer, Gus Dudgeon. Her album, Whatever’s for Us, received rave reviews and chimed with the burgeoning songwriting movement on the west coast of America. The album signalled a new energy and freedom taking shape in the 70s in Britain among the black population. Joan was propelled into the musical stratosphere, signing with major American label A&M for over ten years. She created her own genre of songwriting, defying stereotypes and breaking barriers, becoming one of the first black singer-songwriters in Britain.
Joan went on to forge an unbeatable dynamic with rock producer Glyn Johns, who had produced seminal albums with the Rolling Stones, the Eagles and the Who. She created one of the most-loved and iconic songs of the 70s when she wrote Love and Affection in 1976. She was 26 years old. It was a song that took simple emotional fragility and made it somehow both sensuous and raunchy.
Joan made three more hit albums in three years with Glyn and her music would become anthemic to the feminist movement gathering pace since the early 70s. Despite her gold records, international status and touring worldwide, Joan had to overcome misogyny in the music studio and fight racism in the music business.
In 1978, Bob Dylan asked her to play at his festival BlackBushe. Joan, the only woman on the bill, played alongside rock gods such as Eric Clapton. Ask her how she felt, being up there, and you will hear Joan’s fearlessness - ‘The Rock Gods don’t scare me!’ - showing the determination and strength that contributed to her success.
By the 80s, Joan refused to be pigeonholed into a 70s guitar sound and she would diversify her style, experimenting with synths and finding a new direction to create music without a producer. Joan was also one of the first black British musicians to appear on MTV, creating innovative music videos and capturing the imagination of younger artists in the States who had never seen a British black woman play and sing like her before.
Joan was nominated for a Grammy three times, one of which was for the song How Cruel, a song that articulated the racism that many black British people encountered in the UK at the time. Notably, it highlighted to African-Americans that the same problems with race were happening on both sides of the Atlantic.
Songs like Me Myself I and Drop the Pilot became overnight hits in the 80s, testimony to Joan’s consummate songwriting ability. By the late 80s, Joan was one of the first women to write, arrange and produce all her albums, building a music studio at her home and working with the likes of Elton John, Pino Palladino and Mark Knopfler.
As well as unprecedented access to Joan, watching her play a sold-out tour, the film features exclusive, previously unseen archive and interviews with key collaborators from music producers Glyn Johns and Steve Lillywhite to musician Pino Palladino. The film also features interviews and cover versions of Joan’s songs, from Martha Wainwright singing Me Myself I and Meshell Negeocello covering How Cruel to Shingai Shoniwa from the Noisettes performing Love and Affection.
FRI 22:00 The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill (b04dzswb)
Documentary exploring Kate Bush's career and music, from January 1978's Wuthering Heights to her 2011 album 50 Words for Snow, through the testimony of some of her key collaborators and those she has inspired.
Contributors include the guitarist who discovered her (Pink Floyd's David Gilmour), the choreographer who taught her to dance (Lindsay Kemp) and the musician who she said 'opened her doors' (Peter Gabriel), as well as her engineer and ex-partner (Del Palmer) and several other collaborators (Elton John, Stephen Fry and Nigel Kennedy).
Also exploring their abiding fascination with Kate are fans (John Lydon, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui) and musicians who have been influenced by her (St Vincent's Annie Clark, Natasha Khan (aka Bat for Lashes), Tori Amos, Outkast's Big Boi, Guy Garvey and Tricky), as well as writers and comedians who admire her (Jo Brand, Steve Coogan and Neil Gaiman).
FRI 23:00 Aretha Franklin: Respect (b0bht4g1)
This tribute pays respect to the voice and life of Aretha Franklin who died on Thursday at 76. The daughter of legendary preacher C.L. Franklin who hailed from the same Deep South as many of the blues legends, Aretha was raised in Detroit where her father preached at the New Bethel Baptist Church and where she grew up singing gospel. She had two children in her early teens, signed to Columbia in 1960 and her career ignited when she signed to Atlantic in 1967. Global hits such as I Say A Little Prayer and Respect then quickly established her as The Queen of Soul while her majestic delivery and regal presence made her an iconic figure in the emerging Civil Rights movement. Aretha enjoyed renewed success in the 1980s when collaborating with Luther Vandross, cameoing in The Blues Brothers and then duetting with the likes of Annie Lennox and George Michael. Franklin was the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and has sold over 75 million records. As recently as 2015 she stunned audiences at the with her extraordinary performance of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman in front of President Barack Obama and its co-writer Carole King at the Kennedy Center.
Contributors include Sir Tom Jones, Beverly Knight, Clarke Peters and Trevor Nelson.
FRI 23:30 TOTP2 (b01d7k4q)
From the pop-soul vocal groups and all-female rock and roll bands of the 60s, to the 90s ladettes with attitude and doll domination of the noughties - welcome to woman's hour, Top of the Pops style. Celebrating a gaggle of girls in performance at the BBC, from the Spice Girls to The Supremes, Labelle to TLC, and The Pointer Sisters to B*Witched. Stand up and salute Girl Power with the groups of girls who run the pop world.
FRI 00:30 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 01:30 Classic Albums (b08pg5tq)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
FRI 02:30 Joan Armatrading: Me Myself I (m0008rm4)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today