Clutching his 1930s Bradshaw’s Guide, Michael Portillo reaches Bodmin en route to Totnes as he explores the West Country from St Ives to Salisbury Plain.
Out on the rugged moor, Michael hears how the celebrated author Daphne du Maurier captivated readers between the wars with her tales of smuggling at the Jamaica Inn.
In Devon, Michael takes the plunge at Plymouth’s beautiful art deco Tinside Lido. At Ivybridge, he boards a vehicle like no other to cross the causeway to Burgh Island, where a 1930s playboy built a splendid art deco party palace.
One stop further on the line, Michael arrives in Totnes, at the medieval Dartington Hall, which at the time of his guidebook became a haven for artists seeking refuge from the dictatorships of Europe. Michael discovers the wealthy couple who owned the estate drew many musicians and controversial choreographers to it. The spirit of modern dance is hard to resist.
Bob Ross creates a wonderful scene in an oval painting where an old fence follows a trail to the edge of the woods.
The Fake or Fortune team takes on a doubly challenging investigation as they try to prove that not one but two paintings are missing works by one of Britain's best-loved artists - John Constable.
Gillie Dance used to keep her painting of Yarmouth Jetty under the bed in her London home, never quite believing it could be by Constable - but Fiona Bruce starts to get excited when a previous owner turns out to have a close connection to the artist's family.
The other picture, A Sea Beach Brighton, used to hang in the prestigious Boston Museum of Fine Arts - until they mysteriously sold it off at a fraction of its value as a recognized Constable in the early 90s. American attorney Tom Toppin and his wife Bernie snapped it up - but they've been struggling to prove its authenticity ever since. Philip Mould has a hunch that the proof they seek lies in other Constable paintings in US galleries - but will the experts agree?
The trouble for the team is that Constable is one of Britain's most widely faked artists and there are surprises in store when paint analysis suggests one picture has a murky past, while an x-ray provokes screams from Fiona and owner Gillie when it reveals one of the biggest shocks of the series.
In the first episode, Simon explores Spain's early years, its emergence as the battleground of empires and its golden age under the Cordoba Caliphate.
Lost Hearts is a classic Ghost Story for Christmas by MR James, adapted by Robin Chapman. Orphaned Stephen goes to live with his uncle Abney and finds himself haunted by the ghosts of two children.
A look at the history of the ghost story, from tradition and folklore via the Gothic novel to the present, offering insights into the work of some of the genre's greatest writers.
After Dan Brown's publishing phenomenon The Da Vinci Code was cleared of plagiarism charges, this documentary explores the climate which has permitted a fictional story to make such an effective challenge to conventional history that it has forced a counter-attack from the Church, the art world and academics. Has Brown cracked the most difficult code of all our 21st-century cultural DNA?
Contributors include Richard Leigh, author of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, art critic Brian Sewell, novelist Sarah Dunant, columnist David Aaronovitch and Opus Dei director Jack Valero.
From earthquakes to tsunamis to volcanic eruptions, natural disasters are both terrifying and fascinating - providing endless fresh material for documentary makers. But how well do disaster documentaries keep pace with the scientific theories that advance every day?
To try and answer that question, Professor Danielle George is plunging into five decades of BBC archive. What she uncovers provides an extraordinary insight into one of the fastest moving branches of knowledge. From the legendary loss of Atlantis to the eruption that destroyed Pompeii, Danielle reveals how film-makers have changed their approach again and again in the light of new scientific theories.
While we rarely associate Britain with major natural disaster, at the end of the programme Danielle brings us close to home, exploring programmes which suggest that 400 years ago Britain was hit by a tidal wave that killed hundreds of people, and that an even bigger tsunami could threaten us again.
TUESDAY 16 NOVEMBER 2021
TUE 19:00 Great British Railway Journeys (m000dbnl)
Paignton to Tiverton
Michael Portillo's exploration of the West Country continues in south Devon. Guided by his 1930s Bradshaw’s, Michael arrives in Paignton to investigate an extraordinarily high murder rate in the literature of the 1930s! The Dartmouth Steam Railway conveys him in style to the beautiful home of Agatha Christie, in the company of her great-grandson, James Prichard.
At Dawlish, Michael discovers violets were so prized between the wars they had their own train to London and that the flower trade continues to flourish at Whetman Pinks, established in the same year as Michael’s Bradshaw’s.
Exeter Station takes centre stage as Michael hears from the granddaughter of publisher Allen Lane how he was inspired to invent the Penguin paperback.
Striking north to Tiverton, in the pretty Culm Valley, Michael traces the origins of a national institution, the Young Farmers’ Clubs, and sees how the organisation has evolved.
TUE 19:30 The Joy of Painting (m0011mrl)
Drive through mountain country with Bob Ross and happen upon a ridge of thick, rich evergreens gracing the hollow below.
TUE 20:00 Keeping Up Appearances (b007bk0z)
The first episode of the comedy series about fastidious housewife Hyacinth Bucket sees Hyacinth's father have a nasty accident with a milk bottle.
TUE 20:30 One Foot in the Grave (b007b8bs)
In Luton Airport No-One Can Hear You Scream
The Meldrews return from a disastrous Greek holiday to discover that their home has burnt down. Six months and a pile of insurance headaches later, they are ensconced in their new home and decide to throw a house-warming party. What could possibly go wrong?
TUE 21:00 dinnerladies (p00fcrm6)
Jean prepares for her daughter's wedding, Bren and Dolly discuss the weekend's television and the new HR head tries to rope everyone into a group Scottish country dancing session.
TUE 21:30 dinnerladies (p00fcrp9)
The dinner ladies are very excited about an impending visit from The Duke of Danby. Stan isn't, having had a previous run-in with him at Catterick Garrison army base.
TUE 22:00 In Conversation (b05y3nhw)
Julie Walters in Conversation with Richard E Grant
Julie Walters has been one of Britain's best-loved actresses since her award-winning big screen debut in Educating Rita. Her film career has since ranged from the song and dance of Mamma Mia! to the tragicomedy of Calendar Girls via a long-running role in the Harry Potter series. In this exclusive and revealing conversation, recorded in front of a live audience at the BFI Southbank, Julie discusses her movie career with Richard E Grant, who directed her in his own feature debut Wah-Wah.
TUE 23:00 Some People with Jokes (b037c5yn)
Some Boffins with Jokes
Some of the nation's sharpest scientific minds and keenest brains tell their favourite jokes. Do boffins find the same things funny as us regular citizens? Let the nation decide.
TUE 23:30 Britain in Focus: A Photographic History (b08k0srb)
In the final episode, Eamonn McCabe traces the story of British photography from the explosion of colour images in the late 1950s to the ongoing impact of the digital revolution.
Eamonn enters the colourful Britain of postcard producer John Hinde, whose postwar experiments with colour photography captured a new mood of optimism and leisure in the country. He sees how colour snaps began to replace black-and-white prints in the family album as cheaper cameras and new processing techniques allowed ordinary people to record the world around them in colour. Eamonn meets John Bulmer, who broke new ground by using colour for documentary photography in his striking images of the north of England for the Sunday Times colour magazine. And he finds out why Jane Bown refused to follow the trend by sticking to black and white for her striking portraits of the era's most memorable faces.
Eamonn explores how a new, independent movement in photography emerged in the 1970s, fostering talents like Peter Mitchell, who used colour photography to comment on a changing urban Britain. Eamonn sees how this new movement encouraged Fay Godwin to infuse her poetic landscapes with political and environmental concerns, and meets Birmingham-based photographer Vanley Burke, whose work chronicled the growing African-Caribbean community in Handsworth. And Eamonn joins one of today's best-known British photographers, Martin Parr, to find out how he has trained a satirical eye on modern society.
Assessing the impact of the 'big bang' of digital photography, Eamonn goes back to his roots as a sports photographer - covering boxing in the East End of London. He reflects on how technology has developed from when he started in the 1970s, with manual cameras and rolls of film, to the digital cameras of today. Eamonn then sees how the digital revolution has shaped a new generation of practitioners - in whose hands a thoroughly 21st-century British photography is being created.
TUE 00:30 Secrets of Skin (m000cdz8)
How does a giraffe stay cool? What are different porcupine quills teaching us about medicine? What makes some people more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than others? All the answers and more lie in the secrets of how skin protects us from a hostile world. When it comes to protecting our delicate insides, skin is like an external suit of armour. Animals have adapted ways of protecting themselves from everything a hostile planet has to throw at them.
Hippos produce their own sunscreen to protect themselves against the dangers of UV rays from the sun. Only recently discovered by science, is the truth behind a giraffe’s spots, a network of blood vessels that they use to cool themselves down in the blazing heat of the African savannah.
Professor Ben Garrod discovers how. He tests the limitations of human skin by plunging himself into a deep freezer to demonstrate how human skin just isn’t well insulated enough to cope with extreme cold. He discovers how human skin is an entire ecosystem for bugs and bacteria as he comes face to face with what is growing on his skin. And he gets bitten by mosquitoes and stable flies as he learns that disease-carrying insects have evolved to pierce everything from human skin to horse hide.
TUE 01:00 Secrets of Skin (m000cf0y)
Why are male mandrill faces (big bold primates from West Africa) red and blue? How are birds' feathers so colourful? What do ringtail lemurs do to talk to one another? Their skin holds the key. As Professor Ben Garrod explores how animals communicate with one another, he uncovers a myriad more wonderful ways.
Skin has evolved in some remarkable ways to enable animals to communicate with each other, from vibrant displays of colour to skin pouches to amplify sound. Ben shows how animals have evolved to use skin to make themselves heard loud and clear. Birds are notable for their use of coloured feathers to attract mates, show status and as displays of aggression. But, as Ben discovers, long before birds evolved their unrivalled use of colour, it is now believed that their ancestors, the dinosaurs, could well have been using colour to communicate. Ben also uncovers how one species of fish communicates using electricity, and a common British bird has been secretly communicating for years, without us ever knowing.
TUE 01:30 Inside Museums (m000ngbs)
St Fagans National Museum of History
Arts enthusiast Cerys Matthews is given an ‘access-all-areas’ pass to her favourite museum, St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff for the BBC's #MuseumPassion season.
Home to more than 40 faithfully re-erected historical buildings, it’s one of the UK's most visited heritage attractions and, as a living history museum, it lives, breathes and embodies the culture and identity of Wales. Cerys steps back in time, yet also draws powerful parallels with the present and our current circumstances as we cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
St Fagans is steeped in Welsh history, yet the buildings and objects that are housed there also have a powerful contemporary relevance. They speak of the vital importance and occasional perils of community life.
In its early 20th-century, miners’ cottages, Cerys discovers how a previous generation coped with the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Did close-knit community life help, or were there drawbacks?
Community spirit has many strengths, then and now, and grassroots pubs where people gathered to socialise could provide a central support hub, like the Vulcan Pub, built in 1853 in Cardiff. It has been saved from destruction by the museum and is being rebuilt, brick by brick, on the St Fagans site.
Cerys unpacks the stories behind centuries-old buildings and crafts and reveals the secrets of a selection of objects - from a 1950s caravan to the skull of a 6,000-year-old man. But today, museums also capture history as it happens. Cerys meets Curator of Black History Nasir Adam to find out more about some items that were made and, only recently, donated by the public. They will soon form part of a new exhibition.
St Fagans’ ethos is that theirs is a museum made with and by the people of Wales. It is shot through with community strength and spirit. Craft, industry, passion and pride can all be seen here. Their labours continue to bear fruit and their rich history is held in trust for future generations.
Cerys discovers that we can take comforting lessons for the future from time spent in the past. Objects, architecture and human stories that reveal, however daunting the challenges we might face, they can be overcome. Our history shows us that. The people of the past serve as a reminder. And they beckon us onwards and offer us hope.
TUE 02:00 Great British Railway Journeys (m000dbnl)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
TUE 02:30 In Conversation (b05y3nhw)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 today
WEDNESDAY 17 NOVEMBER 2021
WED 19:00 Great British Railway Journeys (m000dblt)
Taunton to Salisbury Plain
Michael Portillo crosses the county line from Devon into Somerset on his rail exploration of the West Country steered by his 1930s Bradshaw's guide.
He sees first-hand how willow farmers sought to overcome the challenge from the production of synthetic plastics during the 1930s. He hears how tourism for all budgets spread across the region, especially amongst the young, for whom youth hostels sprang up, with good wishes from none other than the prime minister of the day, Stanley Baldwin.
In the city of Bath, Michael visits the former home of a refugee emperor, whose country was invaded by the Italian dictator Mussolini, and in whose name a religious movement began, which now flourishes worldwide.
Travelling east into Wiltshire, Michael reaches the largest training area of the British Army, Salisbury Plain, where the Royal Tank Regiment, established in 1939, is on manoeuvres with its awesome Streetfighter tank.
WED 19:30 The Joy of Painting (m0011mtt)
Bob Ross invites you for a walk along the shore, with soothing waves rolling in from the sea to the palm trees – all captured within a delightful seashell shape on canvas.
WED 20:00 Earth: The Power of the Planet (b008g1kt)
Documentary series in which Dr Iain Stewart reveals the natural forces that have shaped the earth's development. Ice isn't just something to put in a gin and tonic - it has carved out landscapes, unleashed catstrophes and shaped human evolution. Now it could cause the destruction of our civilisation. Iain visits the Jacobshavn glacier in Greenland which has retreated 10km in the last few years because of global warming.
WED 21:00 Charley Boorman: Sydney to Tokyo by Any Means (b00nj7xd)
Charley Boorman embarks on his second series of By Any Means, this time starting his adventure in Sydney and travelling up the Pacific Rim through Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and eventually finishing in Tokyo, Japan.
Charley, crushed by the disappointment of not being able to get into West Papua on foot, is forced to take a series of commercial flights in order to resume his journey north to Tokyo.
Picking up his route in Indonesia, Charley is excited about a new country and a new adventure ahead.
Beginning in Makassar in South Sulawesi, Charley travels up the island and drops in on a Muslim wedding. There he sees another side to how the ceremony is celebrated and even enjoys the delights of home-cooked food.
After getting back in the saddle with the Indonesian Harley Davidson club, Charley samples the interesting local cuisine - bat and dog meat.
WED 22:00 Rise of the Clans (b0bt7wsr)
The Bruce Supremacy
Neil Oliver travels back in time to reveal the real life Game of Thrones - the story of Scotland's ancient clans. A blood-soaked saga of battles and feuds, loyalty and betrayal, love and death set against the country's wild mountains and glens. In this first episode, Neil follows the clans as they rallied behind Robert the Bruce in his against-all-odds bid to win Scotland's crown. After their crucial role in crushing the English at Bannockburn in 1314, Bruce rewarded the loyal chiefs with land and titles. They rise to shape the fate of kingdom in the centuries to come.
WED 23:00 Rich Hall's Countrier Than You (b08j8lqb)
Award-winning comedian Rich Hall takes a country music journey from Tennessee to Texas to look at the movements and artists that don't get as much notoriety but have helped shape the genre over the years.
With the help of prominent performers and producers including Michael Martin Murphey, Robbie Fulks and Ray Benson, Rich explores the early origins of country music in Nashville and Austin. He visits the rustic studios where this much-loved sound was born and discovers how the genre has reinvented itself with influences from bluegrass, western swing and Americana.
Rich also explores how the music industries differ between these two cities and how they each generated their own distinct twist on the genre, from cosmic country and redneck country to the outlaw artists of the 1970s. Through Working Dog, a three-minute self-penned soap opera about a collie dog, Rich illustrates how different styles can change.
As he unearths the roots and inner workings of country music, Rich finds it's more than just music - it's a lifestyle.
WED 00:30 Emmylou Harris's Ten Commandments of Country (b0081mbk)
Live performance in which Emmylou Harris presents her ten rules of what makes a great country song, personally chosen from her own extensive repertoire. Filmed in Los Angeles in an intimate venue, the show features songs with Emmylou accompanied by her blue grass band. Each track illustrates one of her ten commandments, with a short introduction to explain why it was chosen and what element of country music it best represents.
WED 01:30 Great British Railway Journeys (m000dblt)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
WED 02:00 Earth: The Power of the Planet (b008g1kt)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
WED 03:00 Rise of the Clans (b0bt7wsr)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 today
THURSDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2021
THU 19:00 Great British Railway Journeys (m000dl5b)
Canterbury to Alexandra Palace
Steered by his 1930s Bradshaw’s guidebook, this week Michael Portillo explores the east of England in the interwar period.
Beginning in Canterbury in Kent, Michael treads the boards as he uncovers the political message behind a play, published in 1936, inspired by the 12th-century murder of Archbishop Thomas à Becket.
In Maidstone, Michael learns of the international origins of the most British symbol of remembrance, before paying his respects at a war memorial based on London’s Cenotaph.
Outside Sevenoaks, Michael visits the country home of one of his political heroes, Sir Winston Churchill, and discovers how the 1930s were wilderness years at Chartwell, as Churchill warned against Nazi German appeasement.
As Michael enters the capital, there is a visit to the brand new London Bridge station before he heads to Alexandra Palace, the birthplace of television.
THU 19:30 The Joy of Painting (m000qcwy)
Soft colours flow from the magnificent brushes of Bob Ross in this lovely, warm winter painting. Don’t miss seeing this pretty scene unfold.
American painter Bob Ross offers soothing words of encouragement to viewers and painting hobbyists in an enormously popular series that has captivated audiences worldwide since 1982. Ross is a cult figure, with nearly two million Facebook followers and 3,000 instructors globally. His soothing, nurturing personality is therapy for the weary, and his respect for nature and wildlife helps heighten environmental awareness.
In the series, Ross demonstrates his unique painting technique, which eliminates the need for each layer of paint to dry. In real time, he creates tranquil scenes taken from nature, including his trademark ‘happy’ clouds, cascading waterfalls, snow-covered forests, serene lakes and distant mountain summits.
Many of Bob’s faithful viewers are not painters at all. They are relaxing and unwinding with Bob’s gentle manner and encouraging words, captivated by the magic taking place on the canvas.
THU 20:00 Walt Disney (b08605f7)
Documentary about the life and legacy of Walt Disney, featuring archival footage only recently released from the Disney vaults, alongside scenes from some of his greatest films and the sketches from which they were created.
Those who helped turn his dreams into reality - his friends, family, animators and designers - reveal the real man behind the legend. They disclose the previously unknown processes, single-mindedness and sometimes sheer unpleasantness and discrimination that lay behind his seemingly effortless masterpieces.
Through bankruptcy, strikes, great risk and more, Disney's refusal to accept failure and his determined pursuit of his creative vision produced cartoons and movies that would define an entire industry. Both an inspiring story and a cautionary tale about the price of ambition, this film offers an unprecedented look at the man who created a world and built an empire.
Part one explores Disney's early days, when he created Mickey Mouse, through to the triumph of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated film.
THU 21:00 Escape from Alcatraz (b007c244)
Fact-based story set in America's former maximum-security prison, from which escape was supposed to be impossible. For habitual jailbreaker Frank Morris, Alcatraz is just another set of bars and walls that will never hold him.
THU 22:50 On the Town (b00789db)
Oscar-winning musical following three sailors on shore leave. Determined to enjoy their freedom, the young men embark on whirlwind romances. Starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.
THU 00:25 The Sky at Night (m0011mtx)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:30 on Sunday
THU 00:55 Drama Shorts: BBC Introducing Arts (m0011mtz)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:35 on Sunday
THU 01:55 Great British Railway Journeys (m000dl5b)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
THU 02:25 The Culture Show (b00ttbnb)
[Repeat of broadcast at 23:35 on Sunday
FRIDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2021
FRI 19:00 Country Queens at the BBC (p028vwnv)
Classic female country stars in action on a variety of BBC studio shows and featuring Bobbie Gentry, Anne Murray, Emmylou Harris, Tammy Wynette, Billie Jo Spears, Crystal Gayle, Taylor Swift, Lucinda Williams with Mary Chapin Carpenter and more. A chronological celebration of country queens at the BBC whether on Top of the Pops, OGWT, Later with Jools Holland, Parkinson or their own entertainment specials.
FRI 20:00 Top of the Pops (m0011myb)
Mark Franklin and Elayne Smith present the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 5 December 1991 and featuring Shades of Rhythm, Erasure, Simply Red, Guns N' Roses, Diana Ross, Cliff Richard, The KLF featuring Tammy Wynette, and George Michael and Elton John.
FRI 20:30 Top of the Pops (m0011myd)
Tony Dortie and Claudia Simon present the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 12 December 1991 and featuring Cathy Dennis, Digital, Cliff Richard, Kym Sims, Salt 'N' Pepa, Right Said Fred, Martika, and George Michael and Elton John.
FRI 21:00 Kenny Rogers: Cards on the Table (b04pl3kw)
Examining the life and career of the artist who 'knows when to hold 'em and knows when to fold 'em', this documentary chronicles Kenny Rogers's remarkable rise to the top of his game and the golden era of country music he ushered in.
With an exclusive, candid interview from Rogers himself and performance footage gathered on his recent Through the Years tour, this honest and eye-opening film provides a backstage pass to a remarkable 50-year career of performing and recording.
Associates and luminaries provide personal insight into how the poor, music-obsessed boy from Houston, Texas went on to become a superstar with over 120 million albums sold worldwide. Singer, songwriter and producer Kim Carnes recalls how the New Christy Minstrels folk group - of which she and Kenny were members in the late 1960s - was like a 'school on the road' that provided them both with a springboard from which to explore other musical ambitions. Actor and musician Mickey Jones recounts his time with Kenny in the band The First Edition, whose hit single Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) made Kenny an unlikely poster boy for the psychedelic generation. Longtime friend Lionel Richie reveals how a trip to the bathroom played a crucial role in the recording session for Lady, one of Kenny's biggest hits.
Away from music, the programme reveals how Kenny's drive and ambition - what he describes as his 'impulsive-obsessive' nature - led to success in other fields: according to the renowned photographer John Sexton, the country music legend was determined to master the art of photography (Kenny was recently awarded an honorary Master of Photography degree by the Professional Photographers Association).
For over half a century, Kenny has kept us entertained with some of the best-known and best-loved music ever recorded. With a career spanning everything from jazz to folk, 60s psychedelia to R&B, perhaps his real legacy lies in the fact that he introduced a trailblazing pop sensibility to country music.
FRI 22:00 Country Music Awards (m0011myg)
The best bits from country music's biggest night of the year.
FRI 23:00 The Old Grey Whistle Test (m000vsgf)
Innovative country legend Emmylou Harris and The Hot Band perform in a special concert recorded for The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1977. The set includes Luxury Liner and Tulsa Queen as well as other old favourites.
FRI 23:40 Arena (b073rgy1)
Loretta Lynn - Still a Mountain Girl
Legendary country music singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn is loved by fans from across the world. She has sold over 45 million albums worldwide and won more awards than any other female country music star. With affectionate and irreverent contributions from her extended family of self-confessed rednecks, now in her early eighties and still going strong, Loretta looks back at her long and extraordinary life, from being born a coal miner's daughter in Kentucky to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2013. Featuring Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Jack White, Sissy Spacek and, of course, Loretta herself.
FRI 01:10 Top of the Pops (m0011myb)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
FRI 01:40 Top of the Pops (m0011myd)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:30 today
FRI 02:10 Country Queens at the BBC (p028vwnv)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today