Witness History

History as told by the people who were there.


  • Festival of Light

    Sep 23 2022

    In September 1971, Christians from all over the UK held the Nationwide Festival of Light to protest against what they saw, as increasingly liberal attitudes to sex and the change in traditional family values. Katie Edwards hears from three people who attended the event - organiser Peter Hill, Christian activist Celia Bowring and LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell who protested against the event. A Made in Manchester production for BBC World Service. (Photo: Nationwide Festival of Light. ...more

  • Iran-Iraq War begins

    Sep 22 2022

    The Iran-Iraq war began on 22 September 1980. It lasted for eight years and became one of the bloodiest wars in recent history. Pooneh Ghoddoosi was just a child when it started - a teenager when it ended. She told her story to Alan Johnston in 2010. (Photo: Iranian artillery, tanks, arms and munitions. Credit: AFP via Getty Images)

  • The first Pope to visit Africa

    Sep 21 2022

    In the 1960s, popes rarely left the Vatican City. So it was a major event when Pope Paul VI accepted an invitation to visit Uganda in 1969. Hugh Costello talks to Mobina Jaffer, whose Ismaili Muslim family played an enthusiastic role in welcoming the Pope to the family’s hotel. A Whistledown production for BBC World Service. (Photo: Pope Paul VI meets President of Uganda Apollo Milton Obote. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Ancient fossils give new insight

    Sep 20 2022

    In 1967, a major breakthrough was made in our understanding of the evolution of the world. A student discovered fossils at Mistaken Point in Newfoundland, Canada. The fossils give us a record of the oldest multi-cellular organisms to inhabit the earth. Catherine Harvey has been speaking to Dr Shiva Balak Misra about his ground-breaking find. A Made in Manchester production for BBC World Service. (Photo: Image of Newfoundland's shores. Credit: Getty Images)

  • The child evacuees of World War Two

    Sep 19 2022

    The 1 September 1939 was Kitty Baxter’s ninth birthday, it was also the day her life and millions of other people’s changed with the beginning of World War Two. Kitty was among the hundreds of thousands of children taken out of UK cities and into the countryside, away from the risk of German bombs. She’s been speaking to Laura Jones. (Photo: child evacuees leaving a London train station. Credit: Getty Images)

  • The last days of Queen Victoria

    Sep 16 2022

    Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901. In this programme from 2010, Claire Bowes looks back on the monarch’s last days. She speaks to the author Tony Rennell and hears recollections from the BBC archive. (Photo: Queen Victoria. Credit: BBC/Public Domain)

  • When the Queen opened Buckingham Palace

    Sep 15 2022

    Queen Elizabeth II first opened her London home to the paying public on 7 August 1993. Tourists were allowed to look round Buckingham Palace while the Royal family was staying elsewhere for the summer. In 2018, Ashley Byrne spoke to former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter. This is a Made in Manchester production for BBC World Service. (Photo: Buckingham Palace. Credit: BBC)

  • Windsor Castle fire

    Sep 14 2022

    In November 1992, a fire devastated Windsor Castle - a symbol of the British monarchy and Queen Elizabeth II’s weekend home. Coming at the end of a year of family problems, the blaze upset the Queen deeply and led her to declare 1992 her ‘annus horribilis’. In 2012, Simon Watts spoke to Sir Hugh Roberts, one of Her Majesty’s art experts. (Photo: Windsor Castle on fire. Credit: Press Association)

  • Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Derby

    Sep 13 2022

    A few days after Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, she had her best chance of owning the winner of the Derby, but first the horse would have to beat the British public’s favourite jockey. Peter O’Sullevan talked to Julian Bedford in this programme first broadcast in 2012. (Photo: Champion jockey Sir Gordon Richards being led in after winning the Coronation Derby on 'Pinza'. Credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images)

  • The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

    Sep 12 2022

    In June 1953, the young Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at Westminster Abbey. Two of her Maids of Honour, Lady Anne Glenconner and Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart, share their memories of Coronation Day. This programme, presented by Claire Bowes, was first broadcast in 2013. (Photo: Queen Elizabeth II in a carriage during the Coronation. Credit: Getty Images)

  • The car that charmed Brazil

    Sep 10 2022

    Since its launch in the 1950s, the Brazilian version of the VW Beetle has had a special place in the nation's heart. Cheap, charismatic and virtually indestructible, it was many Brazilians' first car and is affectionately known as the Fusca. The Fusca played a key role in the development of Brazil's economically and politically vital national car industry. In 2014, Candace Piette spoke to two Fusca superfans, Silio Boccanera and Edivaldo Fernandes. (Photo: A Fusca in the colonial town of ...more

  • The Candelaria child massacre

    Sep 08 2022

    In 1993, eight homeless children were murdered outside the Candelaria church in Rio De Janeiro. The murders caused international outrage and put a spotlight on corrupt policing in Brazil. Matt Pintus has been speaking to Yvonne Bezerra de Mello, a social worker and teacher who had worked with the Candelaria children for years before the massacre. (Photo: Yvonne Bezerra de Mello with the Candelaria children, Credit: courtesy of Yvonne Bezerra de Mello)

  • Building of Brasilia

    Sep 07 2022

    In 1960, Brazil opened a new capital city in its remote central plains. The city was designed by modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer and was supposed to symbolise Brazil's future ambitions. In 2014, Claire Bowes spoke to Osorio Machado, an engineer who worked on the city's construction. (Photo: The building of Brasilia. Credit: Getty Images)

  • The murder that shocked Brazil

    Sep 06 2022

    In 2002, an investigative journalist called Tim Lopes was brutally killed by a drug gang in Rio de Janeiro. The murder sent shockwaves throughout Brazil. His son, Bruno Quintella, spoke to Mike Lanchin in 2014. This programme contains descriptions of violence and some listeners may find parts of it distressing. (Photo: Tim Lopes and his son, Bruno, courtesy of the family)

  • Doomed hero of Brazilian democracy

    Sep 05 2022

    In March 1985, Brazil experienced the most traumatic moment in its transition to democracy when the first civilian president-elect in more than 20 years was rushed to hospital on the eve of his inauguration. Tancredo Neves, who had led political opposition to military rule in Brazil, eventually died 38 days later. He is now regarded as a hero in Brazil. In 2018, Simon Watts spoke to Tancredo Neves' press secretary, Antonio Britto. (Photo: Tancredo Neves, centre, on a visit to Spain. Credit:...more

  • Mikhail Gorbachev: Release of Irina Ratushinskaya

    Sep 02 2022

    Mikhail Gorbachev - the last leader of the Soviet Union - has died aged 91. On the eve of an important summit on nuclear disarmament between the Soviet Union and America in October 1986, Gorbachev ordered the release of a dissident poet called Irina Ratushinskaya. In 2012, Louise Hidalgo spoke to Irina about her imprisonment, her poetry, and the day she was set free. (Photo: Irina and her husband Igor, arriving in London in December 1986. Credit: Topfoto)

  • Mikhail Gorbachev: Perestroika

    Sep 01 2022

    Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, has died aged 91. Gorbachev came to power in 1985 at a time when the Soviet economy was on the brink of collapse. He introduced a radical reform programme called Perestroika. 25 years on from Perestroika, in 2012, Louise Hidalgo spoke to three people who remembered those exciting days in Moscow. (Photo: Mikhail Gorbachev (centre right) meets with participants of the Warsaw Pact Foreign Ministers' Committee in Moscow on March 25, 1987 C...more

  • Princess Diana dances with John Travolta

    Aug 31 2022

    It's the 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in an underground tunnel in central Paris on the 31st August 1997. She was one of the most famous and glamorous women in the world - a mega star. In 1985, Princess Diana and Prince Charles made their first joint visit to the US. The highlight of the tour was a gala dinner at the White House where the young princess danced with the star of Saturday Night Fever John Travolta. Speaking in 2011, the Daily Mi...more

  • The 'Last Indian'

    Aug 30 2022

    In 1911, a mysterious Native American man called Ishi emerged from the North Californian forest after more than three decades in hiding. He is thought to be the last survivor from the Yahi tribe. Ishi became a tourist attraction in San Francisco and many recordings were made of his stories and music. In 2012, Louise Hidalgo retraced his story. She spoke to the author Ursula Le Guin and filmmaker Jed Riffe. (Photo: Ishi. Credit: Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California...more

  • Marikana Massacre

    Aug 29 2022

    On 16 August 2012, police shot dead 34 striking miners at a platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa. It was one of the bloodiest police operations since apartheid. Rachel Naylor speaks to one of the survivors, Mzoxolo Magidiwana, who was shot nine times. (Photo: Miners on strike in Marikana, demanding a pay rise, on 16 August 2012. Credit: AFP/GettyImages)

  • India's onion election

    Aug 26 2022

    In January 1980, Indira Gandhi's Congress (I) party was voted into power in India. Before the election, inflation meant that onions were unaffordable for many Indians and became a big election issue. Indira Gandhi used the issue to appeal to voters during her campaign which would help to secure her victory that year. Reena Stanton-Sharma speaks to Suda Pai, a former professor of political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Image: Vendor Pushing Cart With Onions On Road. Credit: Venk...more

  • The 'Nixon Shock' and the end of the Gold Standard

    Aug 25 2022

    In 1971, inflation was a huge problem in the USA so the President, Richard Nixon, made one of the most drastic moves in economic history: abandoning the Gold Standard. It became known as the 'Nixon Shock' and nearly caused a trade war between America and its allies. But, it also saved the US' economy from a crisis. Ben Henderson spoke to Bob Hormats, an economic adviser in the Nixon administration, who was at the heart of decision-making. (Picture from Bettmann via Getty Images: President Nixon ...more

  • The Gay Games

    Aug 24 2022

    It has been 40 years since the first ever Gay Games were held in San Francisco. Attracting a large crowd and featuring more than 1,000 athletes from more than 100 countries, the event was organised by a group of LGBT activists, including former Olympians, to raise awareness about homophobia in sport. The Gay Games are now held every four years at venues around the world. In 2019, Ashley Byrne spoke to organiser Sara Waddell Lewinstein and athlete Rick Tomin. A Made in Manchester production for B...more

  • Hundreds die in Darayya

    Aug 23 2022

    Ten years ago, Syrian government soldiers surrounded Darayya, a suburb of Damascus, bombing buildings and searching for people opposed to President Assad. Hundreds of people died over four days. Mohamad Zarda was there and has been speaking to Laura Jones. This episode contains descriptions of violence. (Image shows a Syrian government tank in Darayya in 2016 during the four year siege. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Bulgaria's cash crisis

    Aug 22 2022

    In 1997, Bulgaria was in financial meltdown with hyperinflation making money in the country worth a lot less. Bulgaria had emerged out of communism following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. Like other post-Soviet regimes in eastern Europe, the country found the transition from communism to capitalism harder than expected. The President of Bulgaria, Petar Stoyanov, knew he had to do something and a recovery plan from one of Ronald Reagan’s former economic advisers was on the table. But wo...more

  • The Bard of Bengal

    Aug 19 2022

    In August 1941, one of the greatest poets India has ever produced died. Known as the "Bard of Bengal", Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-European to win a Nobel Prize for Literature. Farhana Haider spoke to Professor Bashabi Fraser, Director of the Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies, in 2017. Photo: June 1921, Indian poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore in London. Credit: Getty Images

  • The death of Jawaharlal Nehru

    Aug 18 2022

    In May 1964 India's first prime minister and the man who led India to independence, Jawaharlal Nehru, died. On the 50th anniversary of his death in 2014, Nehru's niece, the writer Nayantara Sahgal, shared memories of her famous uncle with Louise Hidalgo. Photo: Indira Gandhi paying her respects at the body of her father, Jawaharlal Nehru.(AFP/Getty Images)

  • The last Viceroy of India

    Aug 17 2022

    The daughter of the last British Viceroy in India, Lord Mountbatten, remembers the transfer of power in 1947. Lady Pamela Hicks accompanied her father as he attended celebrations in both Karachi and Delhi. She remembers encounters both with Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan, and Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India. Lady Hicks spoke to Louise Hidalgo in 2012. Photo shows Lord and Lady Mountbatten travelling by carriage and shaking hands with crowds...more

  • India's Partition - Part Two

    Aug 16 2022

    The partition of India led to millions of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs fleeing their homes during horrific religious violence. This is the second of two programmes remembering that time. Lucy Williams spoke to Chandra Joashi, was only 12-years-old when his family was caught on the wrong side of the dividing line. This episode was first broadcast in 2010. Photo: Millions of families became refugees after the partition of India in 1947 Credit: Keystone-France / Contributor

  • India's Partition - Part One

    Aug 15 2022

    The partition of India led to millions of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs fleeing their homes amid horrific violence. This is the first of two programmes remembering that time. Listen to the story of Saleem, who was only five-years-old when his family tried to escape to the new Muslim country of Pakistan. This programme was first broadcast in 2010. Photo: Wrecked buildings after communal riots in Amritsar, Punjab, during the Partition of British India, March 1947 Credit: Keystone Features / Stringer...more

  • The nightclub that changed Ibiza

    Aug 12 2022

    In June 1973, the nightclub Pacha opened in Ibiza. Other clubs with the capacity to fit thousands of people on the dancefloor opened in the years after, turning Ibiza into a destination for music and party lovers from around the world. Vicky Carter speaks to Carlos Martorell who organised Pacha’s opening party and Francis Van Orden, a Dutch hippy who danced all night on the opening night. (Photo: Sunset over the sea with boats in the distance. Credit: BBC and Minnow Films)

  • Discovering Hale Bopp

    Aug 11 2022

    Hale Bopp is one of the most widely observed comets of the 20th century. Its discovery in 1995 resulted in huge advances in science. Russell Crewe spoke to astronomer Dr Alan Hale who discovered the comet alongside Tom Bopp. This is a Made in Manchester production for the BBC World Service. (Photo: Hale Bopp Comet in the night sky. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Indonesia's forest fires

    Aug 10 2022

    Twenty five years ago in Indonesia, some of the worst forest fires in history devastated the environment and resulted in a smog which engulfed South East Asia for months. The fires, which were set deliberately, burned out of control for months. Mesdiono Matali Samad, known as Memes, worked on the Indonesian Red Cross relief effort helping people in East Kalimantan, Borneo. He's been speaking to Laura Jones.

  • Sweden’s pronoun battle

    Aug 09 2022

    Sweden has a long history of championing LGBTQ+ rights. But campaigners spent years battling to get the gender-neutral personal pronoun ‘hen’ included in Swedish dictionaries. The word was finally added in 2015. Maddy Savage spoke to Nasim Aghili from the "queer" art collective Ful, which rallied to get the word recognised. This is a Bespoken Media production for the BBC World Service. (Photo: Nasim Aghili. Credit: Thomas Straub)

  • The resignation of President Nixon

    Aug 08 2022

    On 8 August 1974 Richard Nixon became the first US president in history to resign from office, following the Watergate scandal. In 2014, Farhana Haider spoke to journalist Tom DeFrank, who watched the drama unfold minute by minute. (Photo: Nixon announces his resignation on national television. Credit: Getty Images)

  • The return of Asians to Uganda

    Aug 05 2022

    When President Yoweri Museveni came to power in 1986, he encouraged exiled Asians to return to Uganda and reclaim their homes and businesses to help rebuild the country. The economy had collapsed under the dictator Idi Amin after he expelled the Asian population in 1972. Dr Mumtaz Kassam went back to Uganda years after arriving in the UK as a refugee. She talks to Reena Stanton-Sharma about returning to her birthplace. Caption: Dr. Mumtaz Kassam receiving a Golden Jubilee Presidential medal at t...more

  • The city shaped by Ugandan Asians

    Aug 04 2022

    Thousands of Asians who were expelled from Uganda in 1972, settled in the UK and many made Leicester their home. Their arrival in the East Midlands helped to shape its identity and now Leicester plays host to the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India. Nisha Popat was nine-years-old when she arrived in the city with her family who later opened up a restaurant in the area that became known as the Golden Mile. Reena Stanton-Sharma spoke to her about moving there in the 70s as a child. This p...more

  • The exodus of Asians from Uganda

    Aug 03 2022

    In 1972, the dictator Idi Amin announced that all Asians had just 90 days to leave Uganda. Teacher Nurdin Dawood, who had a young family, didn't at first believe that Amin was serious. But soon he was desperately searching for a new country to call home. Farhana Dawood spoke to her father Nurdin Dawood in 2011. This programme contains descriptions of racial discrimination. Caption: President of Uganda Idi Amin. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images

  • When Asians were forced to leave Kenya

    Aug 02 2022

    Many South Asians migrated to Kenya in the early 20th century. They lived in a society divided by race and experienced discrimination from the white rulers, and after Independence, from black Kenyans too. Saleem Sheikh’s parents fled South Asia for Kenya to escape the violence of partition. His family joined a thriving Asian community there. But, they were forced to leave in 1967 after a rise in violence against the Asian population. This programme contains descriptions of racial discrimination....more

  • Why Asians came to Uganda

    Aug 01 2022

    In the early 20th century, South Asians migrated to Uganda in search of a better life. Jamie Govani’s grandparents married in Gujarat, India, in the 1920s. They were excited by the economic prospects in Uganda so they moved there with their young family. Jamie told Ben Henderson how it was a wonderful place to grow up, but racial segregation lingered in the background, and things began to change after Ugandan independence in 1962. (Picture of Jamie Govani's family in Uganda in the 1950s) The fol...more

  • The Leaflet Bomber

    Aug 01 2022

    In 1971, young communist Bob Newland left the UK and headed to South Africa to take part in a secret mission to support the African National Congress. Known as one of the London Recruits, he took gunpowder from the UK to make bombs that would scatter leaflets on the streets containing information that a post Apartheid South Africa was possible. Bob has been speaking to Alex Collins.

  • The Tangshan Earthquake

    Jul 28 2022

    On 28 July 1976, one of the deadliest earthquakes in modern history hit the city of Tangshan in north-eastern China - killing hundreds of thousands of people. Lucy Burns spoke to eye-witness Yu Suyun in 2016. (Photo: A building in Tangshan after the earthquake. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

  • Inventing nicotine patches

    Jul 27 2022

    By the 1990s, nicotine patches became commercially available all over the world but their origins go back to the early 1980s, when Dr Daniel Rose suggested to his brother Professor Jed Rose, to look into creating a nicotine patch. The idea turned into an invention with the help of Murray Jarvik. Professor Rose tells his story to Ashley Byrne. A Made in Manchester production for BBC World Service. (Photo: image of a nicotine patch on a man's chest. Credit: Getty Images)

  • The Surkov leaks

    Jul 26 2022

    In 2016, Ukrainian hackers leaked thousands of emails belonging to Russian President Vladimir Putin's right hand man, Vladislav Surkov. They provided a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Kremlin and fresh insight into the invasion in Ukraine. Rachel Naylor speaks to Alya Shandra, the journalist who read them all. (Photo: Vladislav Surkov in 2008. Credit: DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Ukraine's Revolution on Granite

    Jul 25 2022

    In 1990, Ukrainian students went on a hunger strike that helped bring down the Soviet regime there. It took place in Kyiv’s central square and inspired later protests against Russian influence in Ukraine: the 2004 Orange Revolution and the 2014 Maidan Revolution. The granite floor of the square provided its name: the ‘Revolution on Granite’. Ben Henderson spoke to Oksana Zabuzhko, an award-winning Ukrainian author, who participated in the protest when she was a recent university graduate. (Photo...more

  • Nigerian sitcom Papa Ajasco

    Jul 22 2022

    In 1996, sitcom Papa Ajasco first hit Nigerian TV screens. Following the ups and downs of the Ajasco family – it quickly became one of the most successful TV shows in Nigerian history. Alex Collins speaks to its creator Wale Adenuga ( photo - The cast of Papa Ajasco - credit Wale Adenuga.)

  • The Soviet James Bond

    Jul 21 2022

    The most successful TV spy series ever to be broadcast in the USSR, went on air in 1973. The central character was a Soviet secret agent in Nazi Germany, Max Otto von Stierlitz. In 2017, Dina Newman spoke to actor Eleonora Shashkova who played Stierlitz's wife. (Photo: the script-writer Julian Semenov (l) and actor Vyacheslav Tikhonov, who played Stierlitz (r), on set in Moscow in 1972. Credit: courtesy of Julian Semenov Foundation.)

  • Who shot JR?

    Jul 20 2022

    Dallas was already a hit American TV series in 1980. But when its leading man, JR, was shot, the reaction worldwide was extraordinary. Claire Bowes spoke to Larry Hagman, who played JR, in 2010. (Picture: Larry Hagman leaning out of a car window. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Indian Cookery’

    Jul 19 2022

    A ground-breaking Indian cookery programme broadcast on the BBC, launched 40 years ago. It was presented by actor turned food writer, Madhur Jaffrey. She’s been speaking to Farhana Haider about the programme. (Photo: Madhur Jaffrey in front of a table of food. Credit: BBC)

  • The school for telenovela stars

    Jul 18 2022

    In 1987, broadcaster Televisa set up a drama school in Mexico City to train actors for its hugely popular telenovelas, Mexican soap operas. The Centro de Educación Artística became one of the most successful drama schools in Latin America. Rachel Naylor speaks to the founder and director, Eugenio Cobo, and one of its first students, Alexis Ayala. (Image: Eugenio Cobo. Credit: Televisa)

  • Fighting for the pill in Japan

    Jul 15 2022

    The contraceptive pill first was approved for use in the US in 1960. But it wasn't until 1999, that women in Japan were allowed to take oral contraceptives. In 2020, Rebecca Kesby spoke to politician Yoriko Madoka, who fought for the right for Japanese women to take the pill. (Photo: A collection of contraceptive pills. Credit: Getty Images)

  • The man who invented the Pill

    Jul 14 2022

    In 1951, in a lab in Mexico City, Austrian chemist Dr Carl Djerassi created a synthetic hormone from wild yams. It would go on to become the Pill's active ingredient. Rachel Naylor brings together archive interviews with Dr Djerassi. PHOTO: Carl Djerassi in 1992 (BBC Copyright)

  • When Tunisia led on women's rights

    Jul 13 2022

    In 1956, Tunisia became the first country in the Muslim world to legalise civil divorce and abortion. President Bourguiba also gave women the vote and widened access to education. In 2019, Nidale Abou Mrad spoke to Saida El Gueyed, a founding member of the Tunisian Women's Union. (Image shows Tunisian Women’s Union speaking at an event. Credit: Courtesy of Saida El Gueyed)

  • Poland's strict abortion law

    Jul 12 2022

    In 1993 Poland introduced some of the most stringent abortion laws in Europe. It followed the fall of Communism in 1989. Ewa Kowaleska was among those who campaigned for the new law, she’s been speaking to Laura Jones. (Image: Ewa Kowaleska speaking at an event. Credit: Ewa Kowaleska)

  • How abortion was legalised in Great Britain

    Jul 11 2022

    In the 1960s, a young mother, Diane Munday became well-known in Britain for her work demanding abortion rights for women. She and others in the campaign faced fierce opposition, but in 1967 abortion was legalised in England, Scotland and Wales under certain circumstances. Diane has been speaking to Laura Jones. (Image: Diane Munday at her desk in the 1960s. Credit: Diane Munday)

  • The US’s first gay election candidate

    Jul 08 2022

    In 1961 the first openly gay person ran for public office in the United States. He was called Jose Sarria and he was a drag queen. He was determined that gay people would no longer be second-class citizens and paved the way for future openly gay candidates, such as Harvey Milk. Josephine McDermott speaks to Jose’s friend and fellow drag performer Mike Michelle. (Photo: Jose Sarria in drag. Credit: The Jose Sarria Foundation) Credits: Jose Sarria archive material from the documentary, Nelly Qu...more

  • How the smear test was invented

    Jul 07 2022

    In 1928 Dr George Papanicoloau, a Greek immigrant living in New York, discovered he could detect pre-cancerous cell changes in the cervix. This led to the development of the smear test which has meant millions of women worldwide have not had to face cancer. Dr Papanicoloau's great niece Olga Stamatiou speaks to Laura Jones. (Image shows Dr Papanicoloau examining a slide in a laboratory. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Escaping Nigeria’s Civil War

    Jul 06 2022

    The south-east region of Nigeria declared itself to be the independent state of Biafra. In response, Nigerian forces invaded the state on 6 July 1967, beginning the Nigerian civil war. More than a million people died before the fighting stopped. We bring you one child’s story of getting caught up in the frontline. In 2021 Paul Waters spoke to Patricia Ngozi Ebigwe, now better known as TV and music star Patti Boulaye, who was 13 years old when she had to try to escape the conflict. (Photo: The ...more

  • Japanese university student riots

    Jul 05 2022

    In 1968 and early 1969 university students across Japan fought pitched battles with riot police after they barricaded themselves into their lecture halls and went on strike. They were protesting about the poor quality of their education and the inequalities of Japanese society in a period of rapid economic change. Emily Finch talks to Kazuki Kumamoto who was a young student who joined the protests. This is a Whistledown production for BBC World Service. (Photo of a policeman looking at Tokyo Un...more

  • The Higgs Boson: A scientific discovery that explains how the universe works

    Jul 04 2022

    It is 10 years since scientists in Geneva said they believed they had found the Higgs boson - known by some as the God particle. In July 2012 after more than 40 years of searching, two teams on different experiments at the Large Hadron Collider confirmed the existence of the particle which gives everything mass. Dr André David from CERN speaks to Laura Jones. (Image: Artistic view of the Brout-Englert-Higgs Field. Credit: CERN)

  • Hong Kong - Kowloon Walled City

    Jun 30 2022

    A unique way of life came to an end in Hong Kong in 1993 when Kowloon Walled City was demolished. When the rest of Hong Kong was a British colony, the seven acres of the Walled City were still nominally under the control of mainland China - but it became a lawless world of its own. At one point it was one of the most of the most densely populated places the world has ever seen. Lucy Burns speaks to Albert Ng, who grew up in Kowloon Walled City, and urban designer Suenn Ho, who studied it before ...more

  • Hong Kong: Abandoned children

    Jun 30 2022

    In the 1950s and '60s hundreds of thousands of Chinese people fled to the British colony of Hong Kong to escape famine. Conditions for the arrivals were so desperate that some families chose to abandon their children in the streets so they would be taken in by orphanages. Many were adopted in homes in Britain and other English-speaking countries. Laura FitzPatrick talks to one of the adopted children, now known as Debbie Cook. (Photo: The young Debbie Cook with kind permission from the family)

  • Hong Kong: The 5-19 football riot in China

    Jun 29 2022

    In May 1985 Hong Kong inflicted an unexpected footballing defeat on their neighbours and rivals China in a World Cup qualifying game in Beijing. The disappointed Chinese fans rioted and the Hong Kong team had to flee to the safety of their hotel. They later returned home to a heroes welcome. Ashley Byrne talks to Hong Kong manager, Lawrence Kee Yu Kam. (Photo: Lawrence Kee Yu Kam with a photo of his team celebrating in their hotel in 1985. Credit: Private Collection of Lawrence Kee Yu Kam) A M...more

  • Hong Kong: Democracy campaigner

    Jun 28 2022

    In 1997 Hong Kong was handed back to China after more than 150 years of British rule. There were ceremonies and fireworks to celebrate the end of colonialism - but some residents were not happy. Emily Lau was a leading democracy campaigner at the time and tells Mike Gallagher about that day. (Photo: Getty Images)

  • Hong Kong: The handover

    Jun 27 2022

    In 1997 Hong Kong was a buzzing hub of capitalism surrounded by a communist state. It was also a colonial relic - still ruled largely from Britain. It was the job of former Governor General, Chris Patten, to hand it over to China. He tells Louise Hidalgo about it. (Photo of Chris Patten handing over flag at ceremony in Hong Kong. Credit: Getty Images)

  • The UK's first official gay Pride March

    Jun 24 2022

    The UK’s first official gay Pride march took place 50 years ago - 1st July 1972. Alex Collins talks to Ted Brown who took part in the London march. Photo - Ted Brown taken in 1971

  • Egypt's first democratic presidential election

    Jun 23 2022

    In June 2012, Egypt held its first ever free democratic presidential election. Mohamed Morsi, representing the Muslim Brotherhood, emerged victorious. Ben Henderson spoke to Rabab El-Mahdi, Chief Strategist to one of Morsi’s rival candidates. She described what it was like to be involved in the first election of its kind, how Morsi tried to recruit her, and the personal impact of political campaigning in such a polarised country. (Photo of Mohamed Morsi in 2012 by Ed Giles/Getty Images)

  • The killing of Vincent Chin

    Jun 22 2022

    In June 1982 a young Chinese-American engineer was murdered with a baseball bat by two white men in the US city of Detroit. The lenient sentences the perpetrators received sparked an Asian-American civil rights movement with protests across the US. At the time, America was going through an economic depression and many were blaming Japan which was perceived to be flooding the US with its cars. For Asian-Americans it was a time of fear. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Helen Zia, one of the act...more

  • Robot Surgeon

    Jun 21 2022

    In 1985 the first robot-assisted medical surgery took place in Vancouver, Canada. It’s now become a standard feature of operating theatres worldwide. The original gadget was named Arthrobot. A key member of the original project team Geof Auchinleck tells his story to Kurt Brookes. A Made in Manchester production. Photo: Arthrobot in action (Credit: Geof Auchinleck)

  • India's surrogacy capital

    Jun 20 2022

    In 2003 Dr Nayana Patel, who ran her own fertility clinic in the state of Gujarat in India, carried out her first surrogacy procedure. It was a purely altruistic case and involved a surrogate mother and her own daughter. Dr Patel's clinic would go on to become one of the biggest in India attracting Western couples in a country where women were paid to become surrogates. It was legalised in 2002 but due to growing criticism, the government banned couples from the West from paying Indian surrogate...more

  • Cambodia war crimes

    Jun 17 2022

    In 2009, a UN-backed war crimes tribunal opened in Cambodia to try the senior Khmer Rouge commanders responsible for the genocide of an estimated two million people during Pol Pot’s regime in the late 1970s. Josephine McDermott talks to New Zealander Rob Hamill, who testified against the notorious prison camp chief known as Comrade Duch. Rob Hamill’s brother Kerry was killed by the Khmer Rouge after mistakenly sailing into Cambodian waters. (Photo: Kerry Hamill aboard his boat. Credit: Rob Hami...more

  • James Joyce and Ulysses

    Jun 16 2022

    This year is the 100th anniversary of Ulysses by James Joyce, a landmark modernist novel and one of the most influential works of the 20th century. Ulysses is the story of one day in the life of a young Irishman in Dublin; that day, June the 16th, is now known as Bloomsday. To mark Bloomsday, Simon Watts brings together the memories of some of Joyce’s friends, as recorded in the BBC archives. The programme was first broadcast in 2012. PHOTO: James Joyce in 1930 (Roger Viollet via Getty Images)

  • New York's LGBT High School

    Jun 15 2022

    In 1985, a unique High School opened in New York to provide a safe environment for LGBT students needing specialised education. The publicly-funded Harvey Milk High School was founded by former social worker, Steve Askinazy. Initially, it faced some opposition from the media and Christian groups, but the school eventually expanded and currently takes about 60 students a year. Alex Collins talks to Steve Askinazy. PHOTO: A protest outside the Harvey Milk High School in 1985 (Getty Images)

  • Vietnam's 'Napalm Girl'

    Jun 14 2022

    It’s 50 years since Kim Phuc's village in Vietnam was bombed with napalm. The photograph of her, running burned and crying away from the attack, became one of the iconic images of the Vietnam War. Christopher Wain was one of the journalists who witnessed the attack, and who helped save her. This programme brings Kim Phuc and Christopher Wain together in conversation. It is a Made in Manchester production. Photo: Vietnamese-Canadian Phan Thi Kim Phuc delivers her speech before her June 8, 1972 P...more

  • Holy Cross school dispute

    Jun 13 2022

    A violent sectarian dispute took place outside Holy Cross primary school in Belfast in 2001. Loyalist protesters tried to block Catholic pupils and their parents going to school for months. Rachel Naylor spoke to one of the parents, Elaine Burns. (Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Image)

  • The Gulabi Gang

    Jun 10 2022

    In the early 2000s, Sampat Pal Devi, a villager from a remote part of India's Uttar Pradesh state, started a women's rights group which now has thousands of followers across the country. The Gulabi Gang were originally vigilantes who fought back with sticks against wife-beaters, rapists and corrupt police officers. Now a more mainstream organisation, the Gulabi Gang are known for wearing pink saris and have even inspired a Bollywood film. Sampat Pal Devi talks to Reena Stanton-Sharma.

  • How Sri Lanka's president survived a suicide bombing

    Jun 09 2022

    In 2006, Sri Lanka’s current president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, came within metres of death when he was targeted in a suicide bomb attack in Colombo. The attack was orchestrated by the Tamil Tigers during what was supposed to be a ceasefire in Sri Lanka’s long-standing civil war. Matt Pintus has been speaking to former Sri Lankan foreign minister, Pali Palihakkara, who was injured in the blast. Photo: Burning car after explosion (Getty Images)

  • Saving Gabon's rainforest

    Jun 08 2022

    In 2002 Omar Bongo, the president of Gabon, set up a network of national parks to protect the country's forests from logging and help save its population of forest elephants. He was responding to pressure from campaigners worried by a surge in logging over the previous decade. Among them was a British biologist called Lee White, who went on to become Gabon's Minister of Forests and the Environment. Lee White talks to Laura Jones. Photo: A forest elephant in Gabon (Getty Images)

  • The Diary of Anne Frank

    Jun 07 2022

    In June 1947, one of the most powerful accounts of the Holocaust - the Diary of Anne Frank - was published for the first time. In her diary, the teenager described her life in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands up until shortly before she was arrested and sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. In 2012, Mike Lanchin spoke to Anne Frank's cousin, the late Buddy Elias. PHOTO: Anne Frank (Press Association)

  • The assassination of Bobby Kennedy

    Jun 06 2022

    In June 1968, US presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy was assassinated shortly after addressing his supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. It was less than five years after his older brother, President John F Kennedy, had also been assassinated. Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of the crime, but many - including Kennedy's friend Paul Schrade - suspect a second gunman was involved. Schrade was shot himself that night and he told Rebecca Kesby about why he’s campaigning for the case to ...more

  • The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

    Jun 03 2022

    As the Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee weekend, Claire Bowes takes us back to her Coronation in London's Westminster Abbey in June 1953. In 2013, she brought together the memories of two of the Maids of Honour, Lady Anne Glenconner and Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart. (Photo by Bela Zola/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

  • Sarin attack in Syria

    Jun 02 2022

    In 2013, more than a thousand people are thought to have died in a chemical weapons attack on a suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus called Ghouta. It was the single deadliest attack of the Syrian civil war and the UN later confirmed that the nerve agent Sarin had been used. Louise Hidalgo speaks to Angela Kane, the former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Her team of chemical weapons inspectors reached the site in Ghouta just days after the attack. PHOTO: A UN inspector at work...more

  • Life in the biggest Syrian refugee camp in the world

    Jun 01 2022

    It's 10 years since Za’atari refugee camp was set up in Jordan to take in the thousands of people fleeing Syria because of the civil war. It's now the biggest camp for Syrian refugees. Mayada Masalmeh and her family arrived in 2013 from their hometown just over the border, thinking it would be a short stay. Laura Jones hears from Mayada and her daughter. With thanks to BBC Arabic's Diala Al-Azzeh and Randa Darwish. Photo: Za'atari Refugee Camp in 2021 by Getty Images.

  • Civil Rights activist Ida B Wells

    May 31 2022

    In March 2022 a law was passed in the United States making lynching a federal crime - nearly 120 years after the first attempts to introduce legislation. The pioneering African-American journalist Ida B Wells first campaigned for the change in the 1890s after realising the horror of lynching taking place across the country. Laura Jones has been speaking to her great-granddaughter Michelle Duster. PHOTO: Ida B Wells in 1920 (Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

  • The attack on Lod Airport

    May 30 2022

    In May 1972, Japanese gunmen attacked Lod airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. They were left-wing militants working for a Palestinian organisation. Twenty-six people were killed that day and more than 70 others were injured. In 2011, Simon Watts spoke to Ros Sloboda, one of the survivors of the shooting. PHOTO: Kozo Okamoto, one of the Japanese gunmen, on trial in Israeli in 1972 (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

  • Georgia O'Keeffe

    May 27 2022

    Georgia O'Keeffe was one of the world's most influential female artists - in 2014, her painting "Jimson Weed" sold for the highest price ever paid for a work by a woman. Famous for her vivid oil paintings of flowers, landscapes and animal skulls, she lived and worked in the wild dry canyons and deserts of New Mexico in the southern United States. Lucy Burns speaks to her former assistant Agapita Judy Lopez. PHOTO: Georgia O'Keeffe's "Cow skull" on display at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014...more

  • The World Festival of Black Arts

    May 26 2022

    in April 1966 thousands of artists and performers from all over Africa descended on the Senegalese capital, Dakar, for the first World Festival of Black Arts. Ibrahim el-Salahi and Elimo Njau are two leading African artists who took part in that first festival. The spoke to Ashley Byrne in 2016 Photo: Poster from the first World Festival of Black Arts.

  • The museum of banned Russian art

    May 25 2022

    In 1966, a Russian painter and archaeologist, Igor Savitsky, created a museum in the remote desert of Uzbekistan, where he stored tens of thousands of works of art that he had saved from Stalin's censors. The Savitsky museum, in Nukus, is now recognised as one of the greatest collections of Russian avant-garde art in the world. In 2016, Louise Hidalgo spoke to the son and grandson of one of the artists, Alexander Volkov, whose work Savitsky saved. (Photo:the Karakalpak Museum of Art, home of t...more

  • The last days of Frida Kahlo

    May 24 2022

    The great Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, died in 1954, at the age of 47. The art critic, Raquel Tibol, lived in Frida's house during the last year of the artist's life. In 2014 she spoke to Mike Lanchin about the pain and torment of Kahlo's final days. PHOTO: Frida Kahlo at her home in Mexico City in 1952 (Getty Images)

  • Meeting Picasso

    May 23 2022

    In the summer of 1951 a young art historian called John Richardson met one of the greatest painters of the modern era. Richardson was part of Picasso's circle in the South of France for the rest of the 1950s and then spent the rest of his life writing the definitive biography of the Spanish artist. John Richardson spoke to Laura Sheeter in 2011. He died in 2019. PHOTO: Pablo Picasso in Cannes in 1955 (Getty Images)

  • The murder of Kelso Cochrane

    May 20 2022

    In May 1959, Kelso Cochrane, a carpenter who'd emigrated to Britain from Antigua, was knifed to death by a gang of white youths in West London. The unsolved murder came at a time of racial tension in the area and led to the first official inquiry into race relations in British history. For its part, the large Caribbean community in West London responded by creating the cultural festival that became the Notting Hill Carnival. Claire Bowes talks to Victoria Christian, a friend of Kelso Cochrane. ...more

  • Chasing the Marcos millions

    May 20 2022

    The former president of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos Senior is thought to have plundered a huge amount of public money during military rule in the 1970s and '80s. He spent the fortune on foreign properties and the luxury lifestyle enjoyed by his wife, Imelda Marcos. American lawyer Robert Swift has spent decades trying to recover that money so it can paid out as compensation to the thousands of Filipinos who were imprisoned or tortured during martial law. He spoke to Matt Pintus. (Photo: Im...more

  • Shanghai at War

    May 19 2022

    In 1937, Japanese forces entered Shanghai - spelling the end of a period when the Chinese city had been a thriving commercial centre governed by international powers and known as the "Paris of the East". During the eight-year Japanese occupation, local people in Shanghai endured starvation and brutal treatment; while foreigners scrambled to escape as their lifestyle of servants and glamourous parties slowly disappeared. Josephine McDermott speaks to Liliane Willens, who lived through the invasio...more

  • The first McDonald's in Moscow

    May 18 2022

    Following the closure of McDonald’s in Russia, we’re going back to January 1990 when the global fast food giant opened its first restaurant in Moscow. In 2015, Mike Lanchin spoke to George Cohon, the man who brought the Big Mac to what was then the communist USSR, and to Sveta Polyakova, one of the first locals to work there. PHOTO: A Soviet police officer outside the first McDonald's (Getty Images)

  • People Power in the Philippines

    May 16 2022

    In 1986, four days of huge public protests brought down President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. Kate McGowan, in Manila, talks to the leading Filipino novelist, Jose Dalisay, about the demonstrations. This edition of Witness History was first broadcast in 2011. PHOTO: Filipino troops celebrating the fall of President Marcos (Getty Images)

  • The war in Transnistria

    May 13 2022

    With speculation mounting that President Putin might mount an attack on Moldova, we're going back to the early 1990s and a war between the Moldovans and Russian-backed separatists in the disputed region of Transnistria. Several hundred people died in a conflict which ended in a stalemate in 1992. Matt Pintus speaks to former journalist and Moldovan defence minister, Viorel Cibotaru. PHOTO: Russian-speaking Transnistrian fighters during the war (Getty Images)

  • Eyjafjallajökull: The volcano that stopped Europe

    May 11 2022

    In 2010, a previously little-known Icelandic volcano erupted twice, sending a huge plume of volcanic ash all over Europe. The ash cloud grounded flights for days, causing inconvenience for millions of passengers. Reena Stanton-Sharma talks to Icelandic geophysicist and Eyjafjallajökull-watcher, Sigrun Hreinsdottir. (Photo: The awesome power of Eyjafjallajökull. Credit: Getty Images)

  • China opens up to capitalism

    May 10 2022

    In May 1980 China allowed capitalist activity for the first time since the Communist Revolution, in four designated cities known as the Special Economic Zones. The most successful was Shenzhen, which grew from a mainly rural area specialising in pigs and lychees to one of China's biggest cities. In 2017 Lucy Burns spoke to Yong Ya, a musician who has lived in Shenzhen since the 1980s, and to ethnographer Mary Ann O'Donnell. PHOTO: A giant poster of Chinese patriarch Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen, t...more

  • Soviet nuclear missile alert

    May 09 2022

    In 1983, during a tense period of the Cold War, Soviet nuclear officials received a computer warning suggesting that the United States had fired five nuclear missiles towards Moscow. Fortunately, the officer on duty, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov, realised the warning was a false alarm and advised his commanders against a retaliatory strike against America. Alex Last hears his story, as told in 2008 to the BBC's Jonathan Charles. Stanislav Petrov died in 2017. PHOTO: Stanislav Petrov pict...more

  • Fighting for Uyghur rights in China

    May 06 2022

    In the 1980s, the minority Uyghur community in China staged some of the first protests against the all-powerful Communist Party. The Uyghurs were demanding that the Chinese government keep its promises to protect their culture and grant them political autonomy in Xinjiang region. In 1989, many Uyghur students enthusiastically supported the pro-democracy demonstrations centred on Beijing's Tiananmen Square. One of them was Aziz Isa Elkun, who talks to Josephine McDermott. PHOTO: A Uyghur yurt on...more

  • The chemistry of cannabis

    May 05 2022

    The Israel scientist Raphael Mechoulam has been researching what’s thought to be the world’s most popular drug since the 1960s. In 1964, he isolated Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC – the compound that gets cannabis-users high. Later, professor Mechoulam discovered another compound called CBD, or Cannabidiol, which has medical benefits without any kind of psychoactive effect. Recently, CBD has had a revolutionary impact on treating health conditions such as epilepsy. Prof Mechoulam talks to Claire B...more

  • Roe v Wade

    May 04 2022

    In 1973, a landmark decision was made in the US Supreme Court which made abortion legal. The late Sarah Weddington brought the case, even though she was fresh out of law school at the time. She spoke to Chloe Hadjimatheou in 2012. Sarah Weddington died in December 2021. (Photo: Sarah Weddington pictured in 1979. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Surviving the Falkands War

    May 03 2022

    In 1982 British soldier Simon Weston was severely burned when Argentine planes bombed his ship, the Sir Galahad, as it unloaded troops in the Falkland Islands. Scott Wright hears how Weston was not initially expected to survive, and how he later met and forgave one of the Argentine pilots who caused his life-changing injuries. The interview was produced by Alan Hamilton and the programme is a Moon Road Production. PHOTO: Simon Weston (Getty Images)

  • The sinking of the Belgrano

    May 02 2022

    The Argentine ship, General Belgrano, was sunk by a British submarine during the Falklands War on 2nd of May 1982. 323 people died in the attack. Dario Volonte, now an opera singer, was one of the survivors and in 2014 he spoke to Louise Hidalgo about the attack. Photo: The General Belgrano. (Credit: Getty Images)

  • Algeria's rebel footballers

    Apr 29 2022

    During Algeria's War of Independence, a group of Algerian players secretly left their clubs in France to form their own national team. Some had already been selected to play for France in the upcoming World Cup Finals in 1958. In 2014, Saint Etienne striker, Rashid Mekhloufi, spoke to Mike Lanchin about the day that changed his footballing life. Photo: The 1958 Algerian revolutionary team, reunited 30 years later. Rashid Mekhloufi is second from the right, front row

  • The Algerians who fought for France

    Apr 28 2022

    More than 200,000 Algerians fought for France during the war of independence, becoming known as Harkis. After Algeria's independence in 1962, the Harkis were treated badly by both the Algerians and the French. The FLN regarded the Harkis as traitors; while the French washed their hands of them after losing the war. Brahim Sadouni was one of the Harkis. He spoke to Louise Hidalgo in 2010 about how he was rejected by his own father. PHOTO: Harki forces in 1959 (Jean-Louis SWINERS/Gamma-Rapho via ...more

  • Algeria: The Massacre in Paris

    Apr 27 2022

    During their country's War of Independence, Algerian fighters from the FLN also targeted the French mainland, killing police officers in Paris and other cities. In October 1961, French police turned against Algerian demonstrators in the capital who'd been called out onto the streets by the FLN. Dozens were shot, others drowned in the River Seine. For decades, the killings were not officially acknowledged. In 2011, Jannat Jalil heard from one man whose sister died that day. Photo: Algerian dem...more

  • The War in Algeria: A French soldier's experience

    Apr 26 2022

    In the late 1950s a young Frenchman, who now goes by the name Ted Morgan, was conscripted to fight for France against Algeria's independence fighters. He served as an intelligence officer during the Battle of Algiers, and over sixty years later he is still haunted by what he saw, and did. This included involvement in the systematic torture by the French of members of Algeria's National Liberation Front or FLN. Ted Morgan spoke to Roger Hardy in 2010. (Photo: French soldiers in the Casbah of Al...more

  • Algeria’s Milk Bar Bomber

    Apr 25 2022

    Zohra Drif was 21 years old when she planted a bomb that exploded at a busy ice-cream parlour in Algiers. The Algerian student targeted the venue in 1956 during her country’s war of independence with France, because she knew it would be frequented by European settlers. Dozens of civilians were maimed by the blast, which marked the start of a new phase of urban conflict known as the Battle of Algiers. Nick Holland hears from Zohra Drif about what happened that day, and from Danielle Chich, who wa...more

  • The battle for Kinder Scout

    Apr 22 2022

    It's 90 years since hundreds of walkers organised a mass trespass on a mountain in the English Peak District called Kinder Scout. It was a major step in the fight by workers in the northern industrial city of Manchester for access to the surrounding countryside, much of which was in private hands. In 2012, Simon Watts brought together the memories of survivors of the Trespass as recorded in the BBC archives. PHOTO: The countryside around Kinder Scout (Getty Images)

  • Iranian revolution: The Kurdish uprising

    Apr 21 2022

    The story of a boy caught up in the forgotten war for Kurdish autonomy in Iran in 1979. During the Iranian revolution, Kurdish groups had joined the struggle to end the rule of the Shah. They wanted greater autonomy for Iran's Kurdish minority. But after the revolution, the new Islamic regime rejected that demand. A conflict erupted between government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, which lasted for years and left thousands dead. Kameel Ahmady is an anthropologist and researcher. At the t...more

  • Britain's Soviet spy scandal

    Apr 20 2022

    In 1971 during the Cold War, the UK expelled 90 Soviet diplomats suspected of spying. They'd been allowed into Britain in an attempt to improve relations, but it was later discovered that they'd been carrying out espionage instead. George Walden was a young diplomat working on the Soviet Desk in the Foreign Office at the time. He spoke to Dina Newman in 2018. PHOTO: British Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Home (left) shakes hands with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko (right) at Heathrow Ai...more

  • Women's rights in Basra

    Apr 19 2022

    In 2006 after the US-led invasion of Iraq, women in the southern city of Basra were persecuted by militant Islamists forcing them to cover up, stay at home, and adopt an ultra-conservative Islamic code of behaviour, banning them from driving or going out alone. Some women were even killed. Mike Lanchin has spoken to one of the Basra women affected. The producer in Baghdad was Mona Mahmoud. The programme is a CTVC production. PHOTO: Women queuing to vote in Basra in 2005 (Getty Images)

  • Erasmus: Europe's student exchange scheme

    Apr 18 2022

    Since 1987, million of students have been able to live and study in other countries in Europe thanks to the Erasmus student exchange programme. The scheme was the result of 18 years of campaigning by Italian academic, Sofia Corradi, who saw the benefits of studying abroad herself back in the 1950s. Sofia Corradi, now known as "Mamma Erasmus", talks to Rachel Naylor, along with Lucio Picci, one of the first students to go on the programme. PHOTO: Erasmus students based in Italy at a celebration...more

  • The World Wide Web

    Apr 15 2022

    The World Wide Web was created in 1989 by a young British computer scientist called Tim Berners-Lee. It's been called one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century and has revolutionised the way we live and interact with each other and the world, and share information and knowledge. Louise Hidalgo talks to fellow computer scientists Ben Segal and Jean Francois Groff who worked at the European scientific research centre, Cern, where Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web, and helped him ...more

  • How Tinder changed the dating game

    Apr 14 2022

    It’s 10 years since the dating app Tinder was set up. It sparked a revolution in online romance by offering singletons a swipe function and the possibility of viewing the profiles of potential soulmates based nearby. The app has now been downloaded by tens of millions of users worldwide. Rachel Naylor speaks to Chris Gulczynski, one of the co-founders of Tinder.   Image: The Tinder logo on a billboard in the US in 2016 (Getty Images)

  • Greece's Great Famine

    Apr 13 2022

    In 1941, Greece was occupied by Germany and its allies. The economy quickly collapsed and food shortages spread across urban areas with terrifying speed. By the winter of that year tens of thousands were dying. Rob Walker speaks to 94 year old Athina Cacouri who was living in Athens at the time, and to the historian, Mark Mazower.   PHOTO: Two starving boys eating out of a can in Athens in 1943 (Getty Images)

  • The largest war crimes trial in history

    Apr 12 2022

    In 2002 the former Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, went on trial at the International Criminal Court in the Hague on war crimes charges relating to the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. The man once known as the 'Butcher of the Balkans' would die in prison before the trial had concluded. In 2017, Louise Hidalgo spoke to two lawyers, Zdenko Tomanovic and Steven Kay QC, who worked on Slodan Milosevic's defence. PHOTO: Slobodan Milosevic on trial in The Hague in 2002 (PAUL VREEKER/AFP/Get...more

  • Nato intervenes in Kosovo

    Apr 11 2022

    When war broke out in Kosovo in 1998, Nato intervened with air strikes to prevent atrocities by Serbian forces. The late Madeleine Albright was then the US Secretary of State and the main proponent of action. In 2018, she explained to Rebecca Kesby why she argued for military intervention, and how it was motivated, in part, by her family's experiences as Jews in Czechoslovakia during World War Two. PHOTO: An F-16 jet at Nato's Aviano base in Italy during the air strikes on Kosovo (Getty Images)...more

  • The Great American Grain Robbery

    Apr 08 2022

    With fears rising that the war in Ukraine might spark a big rise in global food prices, we're going back 50 years to the story of how a drought in the bread basket of the Soviet Union led to a catastrophic trade deal between Moscow and Washington. The Nixon White House unwittingly signed a grain financing contract that crippled American farmers, fuelled inflation and sent world cereal prices through the roof. Laura Jones speaks to investigative journalist Martha Hamilton and former Soviet crop s...more

  • The handshake in Space

    Apr 07 2022

    In 1975, Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts met up in space and shook hands. Millions watched on TV as the two spacecraft docked together and the door between the ships opened. The handshake between the two Cold War superpowers was hailed as a symbol of efforts towards peace and stability. Nick Holland tells the story with the help of former NASA chief historian, Bill Barry. (Photo The Handshake in Space. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

  • The Soviet Afghan War Begins

    Apr 06 2022

    In late December 1979, the world held its breath as thousands of Soviet troops were sent into Afghanistan. Moscow said the troops would be there six months, to help bring peace to the country. In fact, the Soviet army stayed almost ten years, and Afghanistan came to be seen as the Soviet Union's Vietnam. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to journalist Andrei Ostalski and former soldier Vyacheslav Ismailov about that time. Picture: Soviet tanks in front of the Darulaman Palace in Kabul (Credit: He...more

  • The Falklands War - an Argentine account

    Apr 05 2022

    In our second programme on the Falklands War, Witness History hears from an Argentine soldier who fought in the conflict. Miguel Savage recalls the atrocious weather conditions faced by Argentine conscripts, as well as their mistreatment by officers. And he remembers a terrifying final attack by British troops shortly before the Argentine surrender. Presented by Simon Watts; original interview conducted in 2012 by Tim Sturtridge. PHOTO: Argentine troops in the Falklands shortly after the invasi...more

  • Escaping a Maoist cult

    Apr 01 2022

    In 2013, three women escaped from a cult that had been based in an ordinary house in Brixton, South London, since the 1970s. The cult was led by Aravindan Balakrishnan, a former student at the London School of Economics, who claimed to be a Maoist revolutionary, but actually brainwashed his followers and kept them prisoner in cruel and violent conditions. The Metropolitan Police said it was the worst case of its kind they had ever seen. Reena Stanton-Sharma talks to Katy Morgan-Davies, one of th...more

  • Selling Van Gogh's Sunflowers

    Mar 31 2022

    Vincent Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" was sold at auction at Christie's in London in March 1987 for 39.9 million dollars - then a world record and more than double the previous top price paid for an artwork at auction. The sale made front-page headlines and is now seen as the moment the international art market went through the roof. Uma Doraiswamy talks to Lord Charles Hindlip, then the chairman of Christie's and the man who auctioned the painting. PHOTO: "Sunflowers" arriving in Japan in 1987 afte...more

  • Afghanistan's women's newspaper

    Mar 30 2022

    Aina-E-Zan, the first women's newspaper in Afghanistan, was launched in 2002. Edited by Shukria Barazkai, the newspaper covered women's rights issues in depth, as well as criticizing the warlords who controlled much of the country at the time. Even though this was a relatively open period in Afghan history, the women journalists still faced death threats and at one point Aina-E-Zan was even banned by the Afghan parliament after it printed an article about a woman being stoned. Shukria Barazkai t...more

  • Banksy’s first street art mural

    Mar 29 2022

    World-renowned street artist Banksy started spray-painting the walls of his home city of Bristol in the 1990s. It is widely believed that his first large mural was a piece called Mild, Mild West painted on a wall next to a record shop. Jim Paine owned the shop and has been telling Bethan Head how he played a pivotal role in getting Banksy to do the artwork in the first place. (Graffiti street art, entitled Mild, Mild West, by British street artist Banksy, is pictured on the side of a building ...more

  • The 'Snow Revolution' against Vladimir Putin

    Mar 28 2022

    Starting in late 2011, tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets to try to stop what they saw as a power grab by Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The demonstrators wanted to stop what they considered a fraudulent parliamentary election and a surprise announcement that Putin would run for president for a third time. The movement was not successful, but analysts say it worried the Russian leader so much that he launched a crackdown on dissent that has lasted to this day. Rachel Naylor talk...more

  • Soviet holidays in Crimea

    Mar 25 2022

    Artek, on the shores of the Black Sea in Crimea, was the Soviet Union's most popular holiday camp. Thousands of children visited every year. Maria Kim Espeland went there in the 1980s. She spoke to Lucy Burns in 2014. Photo: Group of children attending Artek. (Credit: Irina Vlasova)

  • Ukraine's Babi Yar massacre

    Mar 24 2022

    During World War Two, Ukraine was occupied by Nazi Germany and on 29th September 1941, the organised massacre of Ukrainian Jews began. In the capital Kyiv, most of the victims were taken to a ravine on the outskirts of the city called Babi Yar, and shot. In 2011, David Stern spoke to Raissa Maistrenko, who escaped the shooting as a three-year-old girl, and to Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny, whose mother survived the Holocaust outside the city. PHOTO: The memorial at the Babi Yar site near Kyiv (Getty...more

  • The Budapest Memorandum

    Mar 22 2022

    Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited the Soviet-era atomic weapons on its soil and became - for a few years - the world's third biggest nuclear power. After months of tense diplomacy, the newly independent Ukraine agreed to give up the weapons in return for what were termed "assurances" about its future security and territorial integrity. These "assurances" were agreed by Russia, the USA and Britain in the Budapest Memorandum, signed in December 1994. They are now cont...more

  • The Chernobyl nuclear disaster

    Mar 21 2022

    In April 1986 a reactor exploded at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, in the USSR, causing the worst nuclear accident ever. Sergii Mirnyi was in charge of a monitoring unit which measured radiation levels in the 30 km exclusion zone around the plant. (Photo: The Chernobyl plant shortly after the explosion in 1986. Credit: Getty Images)

  • The Shard

    Mar 18 2022

    The Shard - one of the dominant features of the London skyline - opened to the public in February 2013. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the skyscraper divided public opinion: it features tall, fractured slivers of glass rising in a pyramid-like shape to a jagged spire. The Shard is also home to London's highest viewing gallery. Reena Stanton-Sharma talks to engineer, Roma Agrawal, who helped build the Shard. PHOTO: The Shard towering over South London (Getty Images)

  • Zaha Hadid's Cincinnati Arts Center

    Mar 17 2022

    When the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati opened to the public in 2003 it wowed both the public and critics. With its undulating curves and galleries that interlock, it was the first major project that the renowned architect had completed, and also the first American museum to be designed by a woman. The New York Times hailed the Contemporary Arts Center as the most important building to be completed in the US since the Cold War. Farhana Haider has been listening to archive interviews with...more

  • Teheran's Freedom Tower

    Mar 16 2022

    A vast new monument was opened to the public in Tehran in early 1972. It was called Shahyad and was dedicated to centuries of Iranian royalty. After the Islamic revolution of 1979 the monument's name changed to the Azadi or Freedom Tower, but it has remained a centrepiece for public events and demonstrations in the city. In 2016, Rozita Riazati spoke to Hossein Amanat, the young architect hired to design it. PHOTO: The Azadi tower in 2016 (Getty Images)

  • Chandigarh: India's city of the future

    Mar 15 2022

    After the trauma of Partition in 1947, India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru persuaded the maverick Swiss-French architect, Le Corbusier, to build a new capital city for the province of Punjab. He hoped the project would symbolise a newly-independent, forward-looking India. Le Corbusier had revolutionised architecture and urban planning in the first half of the twentieth century. He was loved and hated in equal measure for his modernist approach, favouring flat roofs, glass walls and con...more

  • The Frauenkirche - Dresden's symbol of war and reconstruction

    Mar 14 2022

    In 2005 Dresden’s Lutheran church, the Frauenkirche, opened its doors to the public for the first time in 60 years. The Frauenkirche in the East German city of Dresden was destroyed in 1945 by British and American bombing. The church remained in ruins for over 40 years. Then, in 1993, a painstaking project began to piece the church back together and restore it to its former glory. Josephine Casserly talks to Thomas Gottschlich who was one of the architects leading the reconstruction. PHOTO: Rui...more

  • The Wages for Housework campaign

    Mar 11 2022

    They called it "The only work you never retire from, the only work you never get paid for" and in 1972 the Italian Marxist Feminist group Lotta Feminista tried to change that. Inspired by the work of feminist theorist Mariarosa Dalla Costa, they launched an international campaign for women to be paid for housework. The movement argued that if home-making stopped, our entire economic system would grind to a halt. Claire Bowes speaks to one of the leaders of Wages for Housework, Leopoldina Fortuna...more

  • Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi

    Mar 10 2022

    In 2003, human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi became the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Six years later, she was forced into exile from Iran. Dr Ebadi has been talking to Louise Hidalgo about the award, her work and the personal price she's had to pay for it. Picture: Dr Shirin Ebadi arriving back at Tehran airport after hearing that she'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, October 2003 (credit: Mohamad Eslami Rad/Getty Images)

  • The Australian women who protested against the Vietnam war

    Mar 09 2022

    Five Australian women made front-page news when they were sent to Melbourne's Fairlea Prison for protesting against the Vietnam War in 1971. The women were part of the Save Our Sons movement, which campaigned to stop Australians being conscripted to fight in the conflict. Their jailing sparked protests outside the prison and across Australia, and is credited with helping turn public opinion against conscription. Jean McLean -- nicknamed the "Blonde Bombshell" by the Australian tabloids -- was o...more

  • Russia's war in Georgia in 2008

    Mar 04 2022

    In August 2008, Russia went to war with another former Soviet republic, Georgia. The conflict began after Georgia attempted to recapture the breakaway region of South Ossetia, which had fought a separatist war with Tbilisi during the 1990s. As fighting escalated, Russia sent in troops - seizing control of South Ossetia and also of Georgia's other breakaway region, Abkhazia. The five-day war ended in humiliation for Georgia - several towns, a Black Sea port and military airfields were bombed by t...more

  • The takeover of NTV in Russia

    Mar 03 2022

    NTV, the only nationwide independent TV channel in Russia, was taken over in April 2001. It lost its independence despite a vigorous protest campaign mounted by its staff. In 2017, Dina Newman spoke to the head of NTV at the time, Yevgeny Kiselev. PHOTO: An NTV broadcast in 2001 (Getty Images)

  • Boris Yeltsin's surprise resignation

    Mar 02 2022

    On New Year's Eve 1999 the Russian President went on TV and announced he was leaving office. Tired and emotional, he apologised to the people for the state of the country. Boris Yeltsin's departure paved the way for his chosen successor, Vladimir Putin. Dina Newman spoke to the former Russian president's widow, Naina Yeltsina, about that day. PHOTO: Boris Yeltsin in 1999 (Getty Images)

  • Putin's war in Chechnya

    Mar 01 2022

    When Vladimir Putin was appointed prime minister in August 1999, he was a political unknown. He quickly made his name by ordering Russian Federation forces to re-take control of the breakaway republic of Chechnya, which just years earlier had fought and won autonomy from Moscow. It would herald the start of a brutal conflict known as the Second Chechen war. We hear an eyewitness account of the war and its brutal aftermath. Photo: A Russian soldier walks through the streets of the destroyed Ch...more

  • Economic 'shock therapy' in Russia

    Feb 28 2022

    President Vladimir Putin came onto the Russian political scene in 1999 after a decade of chaos following the collapse of the Soviet Union. This included a disastrous experiment with free market reforms in 1992, which led to an increase in poverty for ordinary Russians and the emergence of an elite of super-wealthy Oligarchs. In 2018, Dina Newman spoke to one of the architects of this “shock therapy” - Andrei Nechaev, who was then the Minister for Economic Development. (Photo: Old women selling ...more

  • The 2014 annexation of Crimea

    Feb 25 2022

    In 2014, Russia annexed the strategic Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. Although Crimea was also home to a large Russian naval base, the annexation was seen by Kyiv and the world as illegal. The crisis it caused was so acute, the world seemed on the brink of a new cold war. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to one Crimean woman who lived through it. PHOTO: A soldier without identifying insignia outside the Crimean parliament in 2014 (Getty Images)

  • The death of Trayvon Martin

    Feb 24 2022

    In February 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead by a member of a Neighbourhood Watch group who claimed he was acting suspiciously. The unarmed black teenager was returning to a gated community in Florida after buying some snacks from a nearby convenience store His death sparked national outrage in the US over racial profiling and the first use of the slogan "Black Lives Matter". Rachel Naylor talks to Trayvon Martin's high school friend, Ashley Burch. PHOTO: A protest demanding ju...more

  • The Navajo Code Talkers in World War 2

    Feb 23 2022

    In World War 2, US Marines fighting in the Pacific needed to be able to communicate securely on the battlefield. Early in the war, the Japanese had been able to decode some of their encrypted messages. So the Marines turned to members of the Navajo tribe. An unbreakable code based on the Navajo language was quickly developed. And the Navajo Code Talkers went on to participate in all the major Marine operations in the Pacific, helping the Allies to victory. Rob Walker has been listening back...more

  • Nixon in China

    Feb 22 2022

    It is 50 years since US President Richard Nixon's historic visit to China in February 1972. The visit - which included a meeting with Chairman Mao - normalised relations between the two countries for the first time in a quarter of a century. American diplomat Winston Lord was there when the two leaders came face-to-face. He spoke to Lucy Williamson for Witness History in 2009. PHOTO: President Nixon during his visit to China (Getty Images)

  • The first sex worker strike

    Feb 21 2022

    In 1975 hundreds of French sex workers took refuge in churches across France to protest against police harassment, in their first ever collective action. The strike began at Saint Nizier church in Lyon but spread to other cities, including Paris, where it was reported that all sex workers were on strike. In Lyon police had begun systematically issuing fines in a crackdown on the women who found customers on the streets. Those who couldn't pay were often imprisoned for days at a time and separa...more

  • The world's first civil union

    Feb 18 2022

    In 1989, Denmark became the first country to celebrate same-sex civil unions. In 2014, Farhana Haider spoke to Ivan Larsen and Ove Carlsen, who were one of the first couples to sign on the dotted line

  • Bollywood's pioneering lesbian drama

    Feb 17 2022

    The Bollywood film "Fire" was the first in Indian history to depict a lesbian relationship. Released in 1998, the movie sparked a row over censorship and then a wider debate about LGBT rights in a country where homosexuality was then illegal. In 2015, Lucy Burns met Bollywood superstar, Shabana Azmi, who played a lesbian in "Fire". PHOTO: Shabana Azmi (AFP)

  • The Berlin Patient

    Feb 16 2022

    In the 1990s, doctors in Berlin began a cutting-edge treatment programme that led to a patient being cured of HIV/AIDS. The so-called "Berlin patient" was Timothy Ray Brown: he was suffering from leukemia as well as HIV/AIDS, and was given a bone marrow transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation which killed off the HIV virus. Timothy Ray Brown was a campaigner for AIDS research until his death, from leukemia, in 2020. Ashley Byrne speaks to his partner, Tim Hoeffgen. PHOTO: Timothy ...more

  • "Don't ask, don't tell" in the US Armed Forces

    Feb 15 2022

    LGBT servicemen and women in the US armed forces had to keep their sexuality secret until the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy was repealed in 2011. Lieutenant Colonel Heather Mack served under the policy for most of her military career. She spoke to Rachael Gillman about her experiences. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Lieutenant Colonel Heather Mack (l) with her wife Ashley (r) and their two children. (Courtesy of Heather Mack)

  • The first LGBT film in war-torn Yugoslavia

    Feb 14 2022

    How the ground-breaking film "Marble Ass" was made amid the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Petra Zivic talks to acclaimed Serbian director Zelimir Zilnik about his film which played a role in the struggle for greater recognition and rights for the LGBT community in the war-torn country. Photo: The Serbian trans star Merlinka with Nenad Rackovic as Johnny in the Serbian film "Marble Ass" in 1994 (Credit: Zelimir Zilnik)

  • The 1972 mass killings in Burundi

    Feb 11 2022

    In late April 1972, Hutu rebels launched an insurgency in the south of Burundi with the aim of overthrowing the Tutsi led government. They brutally murdered government officials and civilians, targeting mostly Tutsi. Estimates from the time suggest at least a thousand people were killed. The army quickly contained the insurgency but then began reprisals against Hutu civilians. Hutu elites in particular were targeted – those with education or with government jobs. The killing lasted for more than...more

  • Ukraine's 'Maidan Revolution'

    Feb 10 2022

    Throughout the winter of 2013/14 protesters built barricades and camped out in the centre of Kyiv demanding change. The focus was the Maidan, Kyiv's central Square of Independence. The demonstrators wanted the government of Viktor Yanukovych to move politically towards the EU and away from Russia, but when he refused to sign an agreement with the EU tensions spilled over. In February government forces, and snipers, shot dead 103 protesters and injured many others. Shortly afterwards President...more

  • Shoe designer Manolo Blahnik

    Feb 09 2022

    How a young designer from the Canary Islands became one of the most famous shoe-makers in the world. Manolo Blahnik was studying art and set design in Paris when in 1969 he was introduced to the editor of American Vogue, who said he should concentrate on shoes. He got his first break in fashion three years later, and so began a 50 year career that has seen his name become synonymous with what have been described as the sexiest shoes in the world. In 2012, Louise Hidalgo spoke to Manolo Blahnik a...more

  • The invention of Google Maps

    Feb 08 2022

    In 2005, a revolutionary online mapping service called Google Maps went live for the first time. It introduced searchable, scrollable, interactive maps to a wider public, but required so much computing power that Google's servers nearly collapsed under the strain. Lars Rasmussen, one of the inventors of Google Maps, talks to Ashley Byrne. The programme is a Made-in-Manchester Production. PHOTO: Google Maps being used on a mobile phone (Getty Images)

  • The demise of the Soviet Union

    Feb 07 2022

    In December 1991 the leaders of three Soviet Republics - Russia, Ukraine and Belarus - signed a treaty dissolving the USSR. They did so without asking the other republics, and against the wishes of the USSR's overall President Mikhail Gorbachev. By the end of the year, Gorbachev had resigned and the Soviet Union was no more. In 2016, Dina Newman spoke to the former President of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, and former President of Belarus, Stanislav Shushkevich, who signed that historic document alo...more

  • The first Emirati female teacher

    Feb 03 2022

    In the 1960s, it was extremely rare for women in what is now the United Arab Emirates to go to school. At the time the future country was a collection of Emirates under British protection. The Trucial states, as they were known, were run by Sheikhs. The Sheikdoms were acutely traditional societies. This is the story of a young woman who was among the first to graduate from high school. She went on to become the first teacher there. Nama bint Majid Al Qasimi, has been telling Farhana Haider abou...more

  • The day the world looked up

    Feb 02 2022

    In June 2012 one of the solar system’s rarest of astronomical events took place, when it was possible to see the planet Venus fly past the face of the Sun. It appears when the orbits of Earth and Venus momentarily line up, but that happens only four times every 243 years. Astronomers in Australia, London and Hawaii tell Nick Holland what it was like watching the sight, one they will never get to see again because they won’t be alive when it next reappears in the year 2117. (Image: SDO satellite...more

  • The murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl

    Feb 01 2022

    In February 2002 a videotape was released by extremists in Pakistan showing the murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter. Daniel Pearl had been investigating the 9/11 attacks. He was kidnapped in Karachi while on his way to interview a radical cleric. In 2015 Farhana Haider spoke to Asra Nomani, Daniel Pearl's friend and colleague. PHOTO: Daniel Pearl and Asra Nomani in 1995. (Credit: Asra Nomani)

  • The Good Friday Agreement

    Jan 28 2022

    In 1998, the political parties in Northern Ireland reached a peace agreement that ended decades of war. But the Good Friday Agreement, as it became known, was only reached after days of frantic last-minute negotiations. In 2012, Louise Hidalgo spoke to Paul Murphy, the junior minister for Northern Ireland at the time. PHOTO:Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern (L) and British Prime Minister Tony Blair (R) pose with the mediator of the agreement, Senator George Mitchell. (AFP/Getty Images)

  • IRA gun-running in America

    Jan 27 2022

    How an undercover FBI agent bust an IRA gun-running plot in New York in 1981. We hear from retired FBI agent, John WInslow, who posed as a gun dealer to infiltrate a network of Americans supplying weapons to the Northern Irish paramilitary group, the IRA. The United States was a key source of money and guns for the Irish republican cause. Photo:

  • Bloody Sunday

    Jan 25 2022

    On 30 January 1972 British troops opened fire on a civil rights march in Northern Ireland. Thirteen people were killed that day, which became known as Bloody Sunday. Tony Doherty was nine years old at the time. In 2012 he spoke to Mike Lanchin about his father and the events that changed his life forever. Photo: A British soldier grabs hold of a protester by the hair. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

  • British troops in Northern Ireland

    Jan 24 2022

    In August 1969 the British Army was first deployed in Northern Ireland. Their job was to keep the peace on the streets of Londonderry where sectarian violence had broken out. To begin with the soldiers were welcomed by residents, but attitudes soon changed and what became known as 'The Troubles' got underway. Louise Hidalgo reports. Picture: Armed British soldiers on the streets of Northern Ireland, 15th August 1969 (Credit: Press Association)

  • A Cold War love affair

    Jan 21 2022

    The East German authorities built the Berlin Wall in 1961 to keep their people in. Thousands had been streaming westwards. But a few people went the other way. Frauke Naumann was one of them. She grew up in West Germany but fell love with her cousin who lived on the other side of the border. So, in 1986, at the age of 22 she left home to join him. Frauke tells Tim Mansel about the joys and the miseries of making a new life in a foreign country under the watchful eye of the secret police. PHOTO:...more

  • The first bicycle-sharing scheme

    Jan 20 2022

    In the mid-1960s a Dutch engineer called Luud Schimmelpennink came up with a scheme to share bikes, and cut pollution. He collected about ten old bicycles, painted them white and left them at different points around Amsterdam. The first scheme didn't last, but it was hugely influential and became part of popular culture; Luud Schimmelpennink himself would go on to invent an early computerised sharing scheme for cars, and to consult on the bike-sharing schemes we see around the world today. In 20...more

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day

    Jan 20 2022

    This week Americans have been observing the Martin Luther King Jr Day national holiday, which marks the birthday of the late civil rights leader. The campaign to have Dr King formally recognized in the US was led by his widow, Coretta Scott King. The holiday was finally signed into law in 1983. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Dr King’s youngest daughter, Dr Bernice King, about the long and fraught campaign, and the crucial role her mother played in supporting her father’s legacy. Photo: Co...more

  • The rise of Boko Haram

    Jan 17 2022

    How a small Nigerian Islamist group launched one of the deadliest insurgencies in Africa. In 2002, a new radical sect emerged in Maiduguri in north eastern Nigeria led by a charismatic preacher, Mohammed Yusuf. He preached against anything he deemed un-Islamic or having a western influence. Locals gave the group a nickname, Boko Haram - meaning "western education is forbidden". In 2009, the group launched co-ordinated attacks on police across northern Nigeria. Maiduguri saw the fiercest fighting...more

  • The first silicone breast implants

    Jan 14 2022

    30-year-old Texan Timmie Jean Lindsey was the first woman in the world to have silicone breast implants. In 1962, she was offered the operation free of charge by two pioneering surgeons. It's gone on to become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the world. In 2012, Timmie Jean Lindsey spoke to Claire Bowes. PHOTO: A silicone breast implant (Getty Images)

  • Costa Concordia

    Jan 13 2022

    Costa Concordia hit submerged rocks off the Italian island of Giglio in January 2012, leaving a fifty-metre-long gash in the hull. More than four thousand passengers and crew were on board. Ian and Janice Donoff were hoping to get away in a lifeboat, but it got stuck as it was being lowered into the sea, so they had to find another way off. Thirty-two people died in the disaster. The captain was later found guilty of manslaughter for needlessly navigating the ship too close to the shore of an i...more

  • Malick Sidibé: Mali's superstar photographer

    Jan 12 2022

    The Malian photographer, Malick Sidibé, is one of Africa’s most celebrated artists. His most famous photographs show black and white scenes of young people partying in the capital Bamako in the joyful, confident era after Mali got its independence from France in 1960. In the 1990s, a chance encounter with a French curator brought Sidibé’s work international acclaim. The wider world had been used to seeing a narrow range of images from Africa, so when Sidibé’s work went up on show in Western art ...more

  • Kazakhstan's nuclear legacy

    Jan 11 2022

    After its independence, Kazakhstan had to deal with the legacy of being one of the centres of the Soviet Union's huge nuclear arsenal and nuclear weapons industry. There were particular concerns about the former nuclear testing site at Semipalatinsk, a vast swathe of contaminated land where there were tunnels with spent plutonium. When the Soviet Union ended in 1991, the site was left open to scavengers. Louise Hidalgo talks to the former head of America's nuclear weapons laboratory, Dr Siegfrie...more

  • India's freedom fighter: Subhas Chandra Bose

    Jan 10 2022

    In 2022, India is holding a series of events to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of the independence campaigner, Subhas Chandra Bose. Unlike Mahatama Ghandi, Bose believed violence against the British Empire could be justified, and during World War Two he supported an alliance with Nazi Germany and Japan. Claire Bowes speaks to Bose’s great-niece, Madhuri Bose, about why many think he could have changed the course of India’s history. She also hears from Mihir Bose, author of Raj, Sec...more

  • Mozambique's Eduardo Mondlane: From professor to freedom fighter

    Jan 06 2022

    On February 3rd 1969, Eduardo Mondlane - the founder of FRELIMO, Mozambique’s Liberation Front against Portuguese colonial rule - was assassinated in a bomb attack in Tanzania. Mondlane started out as a teacher and academic, but his daughter Nyeleti Brooke Mondlane has been telling Rebecca Kesby why he swapped the university library for guerrilla warfare - and how it cost him his life. PHOTO: Eduardo Mondlane in 1966 (Getty Images)

  • Marcel Proust

    Jan 05 2022

    In 2022, France is marking the centenary of the death of the novelist Marcel Proust, the author of the 20th century masterpiece Remembrance of Things Past. In this archive edition of Witness History, Proust's friend, Prince Antoine Bibescu, recalls his conversations with the author, and Proust's maid, Celeste Albaret, remembers his final hours. The programme also hears from Professor Michael Wood, an expert on Proust at Princeton University. PHOTO: Marcel Proust (Getty Images)

  • The end of Stalinist rule in Albania

    Jan 04 2022

    In 1990 Albania’s communist government agreed to allow independent political parties following a wave of protests. Lea Ypi was an 11 year old schoolgirl at the time and watched events with consternation – she was a firm believer in what she had been taught about communism at school, and an admirer of Stalin. But she soon discovered that her parents had a secret past that they had been afraid to reveal to her before 1990. Lea talks to Rob Walker about her life growing up inside the world’s last S...more

  • The secret history of Monopoly

    Dec 31 2021

    In 1904, a left-wing American feminist called Lizzy Magie patented a board game that evolved into what we now know as Monopoly. But 30 years later, when Monopoly was first marketed in the United States during the Great Depression, it was an out-of-work salesman from Pennsylvania who was credited with inventing it. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to American journalist Mary Pilon about the hidden history of one of the world's most popular board games, and to the economics professor Ralph Anspach ...more

  • Lego

    Dec 30 2021

    The Lego brick, one of the world's most popular toys, was invented in the small Danish town of Billund in 1958. Created by Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, the plastic bricks can be combined in countless combinations and have sold in the billions. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the inventor's son, was ten at the time. He used to play in the company workshop and helped test early Lego models. Olga Smirnova spoke to Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen for Witness History. PHOTO: A boy playing in a Lego display in 1981 (G...more

  • Tetris

    Dec 29 2021

    In 1984 Tetris, one of the most popular computer games ever, was invented in Moscow. Chloe Hadjimatheou speaks to its creator, Alexey Pajitnov, and to Henk Rogers, an American businessman who helped bring Tetris to the world. This programme was first broadcast in 2011. PHOTO: Tetris being played on a mobile phone (Getty Images)

  • Grand Theft Auto

    Dec 29 2021

    A new action-adventure computer game - designed in Scotland - became a surprise global hit in 1997. But Grand Theft Auto also courted controversy and sparked debate over violence and drugs in video games. Paul Schuster spoke to Brian Baglow - one of the original team behind the launch. PHOTO: A gamer using a Playstation controller (Getty Images)

  • Pong and the birth of computer games

    Dec 27 2021

    In 1973, a video game was invented which would change the way we play. An on screen version of table tennis, Pong was initially only played in arcades. But later a home version was created which gamers could plug into their televisions. Louise Hidalgo spoke to Nolan Bushnell, one of the creators of Pong. Photo credit: BBC.

  • The home of Santa Claus

    Dec 24 2021

    Rovaniemi, a small town in Lapland, is home to dozens of Christmas tourist attractions and is widely considered the unofficial home of Santa Claus. The town had to re-invent itself after being flattened during the Arctic campaign in World War Two, and was inspired to become a Christmas destination by a visit from the American first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. Rovaniemi now gets more than half a million visitors a year. Petra Zivic talks to two local residents. PHOTO: Father Christmas in his "offic...more

  • Bahrain's 2011 protests

    Dec 23 2021

    In 2011, thousands of protestors occupied Pearl Roundabout near the centre of Bahrain’s capital, Manama. Many of them were from the country's Shia religious majority. They were demanding political freedoms and calling for an end to what they said was years of discrimination by the Sunni monarchy that rules the country. Rob Walker spoke to Asma Darwish, a 20 year old student who joined the protests. Photo: Demonstrators in Manama. Credit: Reuters/Caren Firouz.

  • The right to drive in Saudi Arabia

    Dec 22 2021

    In 2011, cybersecurity expert Manal Al-Sharif helped found the Women2Drive movement. It was designed to force the Saudi Arabian government to overturn its ban on women driving cars - one of the many restrictions on women in the Kingdom. Inspired by the mood of the Arab Spring, Saudi women got behind the wheel and then posted videos of themselves all over social media. The movement attracted international attention and the ban on women drivers was eventually lifted in 2017. Manal Al-Sharif talks ...more

  • Rudolf Nureyev defects

    Dec 21 2021

    In 1961 the great ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev stunned the world by defecting from the Soviet Union. Nureyev escaped his KGB minders at an airport in Paris - with the help of French dancer Pierre Lacotte. Pierre Lacotte spoke to Louise Hidalgo in 2011. PHOTO: Rudolf Nureyev at a press conference in the 1960s (Getty Images)

  • Tanzania's first elected albino MP

    Dec 20 2021

    How opposition politician Salum Barwany overcame discrimination and fear to become the first albino elected to office in Tanzania in 2010. Albinism is a genetic condition caused by a lack of the pigment Melanin, which affects the colour of the skin, hair and eyes. Though rare it is more common in parts of Africa, and particularly in Tanzania. There, albinos have long faced social stigma but in recent years many have been brutally murdered. The killings are carried out to harvest their body parts...more

  • Bangladesh wins independence

    Dec 17 2021

    In December 1971, Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan after nine months of war. Dr Kamal Hossain, a leading political figure, was jailed during the conflict and only released shortly after the Bengali fighters claimed victory. Dr Hossain told Farhana Haider his feelings as his country won its freedom. Photo: Kamal Hossain (l) with the founder of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Credit Dr Kamal Hossain collection.

  • On the front line in Bangladesh

    Dec 16 2021

    When Bangladesh fought for independence from Pakistan, thousands of Pakistani troops were sent to fight in what was then called East Pakistan. In 1971, Shujaat Latif was sent to the town of Jassore where he fought, and then surrendered. He spent two and a half years as a prisoner-of-war. Hear his story. Photo: Indian army soldiers fire on Pakistani positions, December 15th 1971. Credit: AFP/Getty Images.

  • Rape as a weapon in Bangladesh

    Dec 15 2021

    During the war of independence in Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistani troops and their local collaborators used systematic rape as deliberate tactic. It's estimated that hundreds of thousands of Bengali women were victims of one of the worst instances in the 20th century of rape being used as a weapon of war. Farhana Haider speaks to one of the women, and to the Bengali playwright and filmmaker Leesa Gazi, who has documented their suffering in her work. PHOTO: Filmmaker Leesa Gazi with a ‘Birangona',...more

  • The birth of Bangladesh

    Dec 15 2021

    In December 1970, Pakistan held its first democratic elections since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. The results would lead to war, the break-up of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh. Farhana Haider spoke to Rehman Sobhan, an economist and leading figure in the Bengali independence movement. (Image: The flag of Bangladesh is raised at the Awami League headquarters in 1971. Credit: Getty Images)

  • The Bengali language movement

    Dec 13 2021

    In February 1952 thousands of people marched in Dhaka in defence of the Bengali language. Eight of the protesters were shot dead by police. It became known as Bangladesh's Language Movement Day. We hear from Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, one of the demonstrators, whose song about the protests became the anthem of the movement. (Photo: Student demonstrators gather by Dhaka University, February 1952. Courtesy of Prof Rafiqul Islam and Liberation War Museum).

  • The explosion heard by millions

    Dec 10 2021

    In 2005 thousands of tonnes of petrol ignited at a fuel depot 40 kilometres North-West of London. The explosion was the largest in the UK since the end of the WWII. The blast, which severely damaged surrounding homes and properties, was reportedly heard in Holland. Despite the enormous amount of damage, nobody was killed. The fire destroyed large parts of the depot, leading to shortages of fuel at petrol stations in the weeks that followed. Five firms were eventually fined millions of dollars fo...more

  • The Aldi kidnap

    Dec 09 2021

    The abduction of Theo Albrecht, who co-founded the discount supermarket chain ALDI with his brother Karl. The brothers shunned publicity and there were few photos of them. So, when two armed men confronted Theo outside his company headquarters in late 1971, they demanded to see ID. They needed to be sure they were taking the right man. Albrecht later tried to claim tax back on the ransom paid to secure his release. He died in 2010, worth an estimated 16 billion dollars. Image: Theo Albrecht in 1...more

  • Spies or plane-spotters?

    Dec 08 2021

    In November 2001 a group of British aircraft enthusiasts were arrested and put on trial in Greece. Unfamiliar with their hobby, the Greek authorities had assumed they must be spies. The plane-spotters were initially jailed but later released after their case turned into a diplomatic incident. In 2011, Chloe Hadjimatheou talked to Paul Coppin, who was one of the group. PHOTO: The plane-spotters returning to the UK (PA)

  • The V2 rocket

    Dec 07 2021

    Using eyewitness accounts from the BBC archives, we hear how the Nazis developed the world's first modern ballistic missile that killed thousands during World War Two. The Nazi rocket scientist Wernher von Braun was the principal architect of this revolutionary secret weapon. After the war he was recruited to work for the United States to develop its own missile programme and famously built the NASA rockets which put men on the Moon. Photo: The launch of a captured German V2 rocket at the US m...more

  • Fighting 'virginity tests' in the Indonesian police

    Dec 06 2021

    In the early 2000s, Sri Rumiati, a brigadier-general in the Indonesian police, began campaigning against intrusive examinations of female recruits to her force. Rumiati had experienced a so-called "virginity test" herself when she joined up two decades earlier. She spoke to Petra Zivic. (Photo: Indonesian policewomen in 2007. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Derek Jarman

    Dec 03 2021

    One of the first high-profile artists to speak openly about having Aids was the British experimental film-maker, Derek Jarman. Jarman had made his name in the 1970s by directing Sebastiane, the first openly gay film in British cinema history. Vincent Dowd speaks to Keith Collins who lived with Jarman during his final years, and cared for him up to his death in 1994. (Photo: Derek Jarman. Credit: Getty Images)

  • South Africa and Aids drugs

    Dec 02 2021

    At the end of the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of people in South Africa were still dying from HIV/Aids because effective drug treatments were prohibitively expensive for a developing country. Under pressure from Aids activists, the government of Nelson Mandela took the big international pharmaceutical companies to court over the right to import cheaper versions of Aids drugs. Bob Howard talks to Bada Pharasi, a former negotiator at South Africa’s department of health. (Photo: HIV/Aids activist...more

  • AZT: The breakthrough treatment for Aids

    Dec 01 2021

    In 1987 the first successful drug treatment was developed for Aids. AZT went from initial test to approval in just over two years - at the time it was the fastest approval in US history. Claire Bowes talks to Dr Samuel Broder, the co-developer of AZT. Picture: Dr Samuel Broder and President Ronald Reagan. Credit: Ronald Reagan Library

  • The early days of HIV/Aids

    Nov 30 2021

    The HIV virus was first identified by medical experts in a journal article in 1981. In the early days of the epidemic, carriers of the virus were stigmatised and treatment was in its infancy. Alan Johnston talks to Ugandan-born Winnie Ssanyu Sseruma about her experiences of having HIV back in the 1980s. PHOTO: Winnie Ssanyu Sseruma

  • The Aids 'patient zero' myth

    Nov 29 2021

    In the early days of Aids, a misunderstanding made one man the face of the epidemic. Canadian air steward Gaetan Dugas developed the symptoms of HIV/Aids in the early 1980s, but a misreading of scientific data led to him being identified as 'patient zero', giving the mistaken impression he was responsible for the spread of the disease. Lucy Burns speaks to researcher William Darrow, who worked on the epidemic, and to Gaetan Dugas' friend Rand Gaynor. Photo: Gaetan Dugas. (Credit: Rand Gaynor)

  • The assassination of the Mirabal sisters

    Nov 26 2021

    The three Mirabal sisters were leading figures in the Dominican Republic's opposition movement against the dictator, General Rafael Trujillo. Patria, Maria Teresa and the most prominent of the three, Minerva, were all killed on the 25th of November 1960. They were dragged from their car and beaten to death on the orders of General Trujillo. Their murders sparked outrage in the Caribbean country, and are thought to have been a motivating factor in the assassination of Trujillo himself six month...more

  • Estonia’s internet ‘Tiger Leap’

    Nov 25 2021

    Estonia started connecting all its schools to the internet very early. In 1996 less than two percent of the world’s population had access to the web but Estonia’s initiative, known as ‘Tiger Leap’ captured the imagination and the hopes of the whole country. Estonians became early adopters of all sorts of digital services, from online banking to digital ID cards. However, a decade later Estonia was one of the first places in the world to suffer a sustained cyber attack. Caroline Bayley has been s...more

  • The doctor who helped her mother to die

    Nov 24 2021

    In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise voluntary euthanasia: although the new law was ground-breaking, it was based in part on the result of a dramatic criminal trial that happened nearly three decades earlier, in 1973. The case concerned a doctor who helped her elderly and terminally ill mother to die after her mother had repeatedly begged her to do so. Dr Truus Postma was put on trial for carrying out voluntary euthanasia and was facing a sentence of up to 1...more

  • Europe's last smallpox epidemic

    Nov 23 2021

    Eighteen million people were vaccinated against smallpox in the former communist Yugoslavia in only a month and a half in 1972. The mass vaccination campaign succeeded in containing the last smallpox epidemic in Europe. Dr Ana Gligic was a virologist who detected the first cases of the disease and helped tackle the outbreak. PHOTO: A smallpox patient in Yugoslavia in 1972 (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

  • The Woman in Gold by Gustav Klimt

    Nov 22 2021

    'The Woman in Gold' was one of Gustav Klimt's most famous paintings. It was a portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, but it was taken from her family by the Nazis and only returned to them after a long legal battle. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to Randol Schoenberg the young lawyer who took on the case. Picture: Adele Bloch-Bauer I, or 'The Woman in Gold', painted in 1907 by Gustav Klimt, from the collection of the Neue Galerie in New York. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

  • Sudan's October Revolution

    Nov 18 2021

    A first-hand account of how Sudanese civilian protesters first brought down a military regime in 1964. The protests began after a student was shot and killed by police during a confrontation at the prestigious University of Khartoum. Demonstrations and a nationwide general strike followed which forced the military to hand over power. Alex Last hears from historian Professor Abdullahi Ibrahim who was a prominent member of the Student's Union at Khartoum University at the time. Photo: People cele...more

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

    Nov 17 2021

    How a particular form of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, became a common treatment for anxiety and depression. CBT was first developed by Professor Aaron T Beck in the USA. It has been rolled out as an option for people with mental health problems in the UK. Professor David Clark has been speaking to Kirsty Reid about why, and how, it works. Photo credit: Getty Images.

  • The capture of war criminal Radovan Karadzic

    Nov 16 2021

    In 2008, one of Europe’s most wanted fugitives, the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, was arrested in Belgrade for war crimes. Karadzic had been in hiding for more than a decade, pretending to be an alternative medicine healer called "Dr Dabic". Serbia’s former war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vuckevic remembers the tense days that led to Karadzic’s capture. PHOTO: Radovan Karadzic in 1992 (Getty Images)

  • Kuwaiti oil fires of 1991

    Nov 15 2021

    After the end of the Gulf War in 1991, retreating Iraqi forces set light to oil wells in the desert. Specialist firefighters were drafted in by the Kuwaiti government to help put them out. Simon Watts spoke to one of those firefighters, Richard Hatteberg, in 2010. This is a rebroadcast. Photo: an oil fire in Kuwait. March 1991. Credit:Getty Images.

  • Shoot: A milestone in performance art

    Nov 15 2021

    In November 1971 a young American artist decided to get a friend to take a shot at him - in the name of art. His name was Chris Burden and the shooting would go down in the history of performance art. He spoke to Lucy Burns in 2012 about the ideas behind the event. This programme is a rebroadcast. (Photo: Chris Burden just after being shot. Courtesy of Chris Burden)

  • The South African football star murdered for being a lesbian

    Nov 11 2021

    Eudy Simelane was a star of the South African women's national football team and a gay rights activist. In 2008, she was pursued by a group of men after leaving a pub close to her home in the township of Kwa-Thema. She was gang raped and stabbed to death. She was 31 years old. Her family, friends and campaigners say that her sexuality made her a target for this brutal hate crime. Viv Jones speaks to Mmapaseka 'Steve' Letsike, an LGBTI activist who was a friend of Eudy’s. They became friends when...more

  • Spying in Berlin

    Nov 10 2021

    At the height of the Cold War the German city of Berlin was known as the spy capital of the world. Spies were operating on both sides of the Berlin Wall as tensions between democratic West Germany and communist East Germany meant governments on both sides of the ideological divide were desperate to find out what the other side was planning. In the early 1980s Nina Willner became the first female US army officer to lead intelligence missions into East Germany. For her there was an added poignanc...more

  • Chanel No. 5

    Nov 09 2021

    In 1921, one of the most famous perfumes in the world was launched in France. Chanel No. 5 was created for Coco Chanel, the fashion designer and good-time girl, who wanted something modern and fresh to suit the times. (Photo: A young Coco Chanel. Credit: Getty images)

  • Britain's Black Schools

    Nov 08 2021

    In 1960s mainstream schooling in Britain was failing many black immigrant children. A disproportionate number were being sent to schools for those with low intelligence. Black educationalists like Gus John and others set up supplementary Saturday schools for black children to try to mitigate the problem. Claire Bowes has been hearing how some police and headteachers tried to shut them down. Photo: photo of an early black supplementary school courtesy of the George Padmore Institute, London.

  • When Eritrea silenced its critics

    Nov 05 2021

    In 2001, the Eritrean government suddenly arrested prominent critics and journalists, and shut down the country's independent press. None of those detained have been seen since. Eritrea, once hailed as a model for Africa, was accused of becoming one of the most repressive states in the world. We hear the story of Eritrean journalist Semret Seyoum, who'd set up the country's first private newspaper. He went into hiding and later tried to escape. Photo: Getty Images

  • The end of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising

    Nov 04 2021

    On November 4th 1956 Soviet tanks rolled into the Hungarian capital Budapest, crushing the country's short-lived popular uprising against Soviet rule. Nick Thorpe spoke to Miklos Gimes who was just six years old when the end of the revolution sent his father to his death, and Miklos and his mother into exile. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Soviet tanks on the streets of Budapest. Credit: Getty Images.

  • The enduring legend of Fu Manchu

    Nov 03 2021

    The evil criminal mastermind Fu Manchu was a recurring character in Hollywood films for decades. He epitomised racist stereotypes about China and the Chinese which shaped popular thinking in the West. Vincent Dowd has been talking to writer Sir Christopher Frayling and academic Amy Matthewson about his long-lasting influence. Photo: Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu in film The Vengeance of Fu Manchu. 1967.

  • Judgement at Nuremberg

    Nov 02 2021

    It's 75 years since verdicts were delivered on leading German Nazis at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg for their instrumental role in the Second World War and the killing of millions of Jews. The trial, which lasted almost a year, made history and the principles of international criminal law first established there are still fundamental to international justice today. Robby Dundas is the daughter of the British judge at the trial, Sir Geoffrey Lawrence. She was in court, watchin...more

  • The miracle of walking

    Nov 01 2021

    An American doctor, Ignacio Ponseti, revolutionised the treatment of children born with 'club foot' - where their feet are turned in and under, and which had previously been treated with surgery. His method, which relied on physiotherapy and the use of braces, was less invasive and more successful long-term. Caroline Wyatt has been hearing from one of Dr Ponseti's early patients. This is a CTVC production. Photo: Dr Ignacio Ponseti.

  • Kilimanjaro: Africa’s disappearing glaciers

    Oct 29 2021

    The mountains of East Africa are losing their glaciers. At 5,895 metres, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the continent, but it has lost about 90% of its glacial ice in the past 100 years, and scientists believe the process is accelerating. They say climate change is the cause, and that some glaciers could disappear completely within the next few years. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to Prof Clavery Tungaraza from Tanzania, and Dr Doug Hardy from the US, who was one of the first scientist...more

  • The child climate activist of the 1990s

    Oct 28 2021

    Long before Greta Thunberg, there was 12-year-old Severn Cullis-Suzuki, the girl who stood in front of world leaders and implored them to take action to save our environment. Speaking at the 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro, Severn caught the attention of the media with her passion and anger. Severn has been speaking to Phil Marzouk about her feelings then and how they’ve changed over the intervening decades. Photo: Severn Cullis-Suzuki (2nd left) and her friends at the Earth Summit in Ri...more

  • How the world woke up to climate change

    Oct 27 2021

    Professor James Hansen finally got US politicians to listen to his warnings about climate change in June 1988 after years of trying. He and fellow NASA scientists had first predicted global warming almost a decade earlier. Professor Hansen spoke to Ashley Byrne about his discoveries in 2018. This programme is a rebroadcast.It is a Made in Manchester production. Image: Map of the world. Credit: Science Photo Library.

  • The world's first environment conference

    Oct 26 2021

    The first international conference on the problems of the environment took place in Stockholm in 1972. It didn't concentrate on climate change but on the damage that was being done to animals and forests by the encroachment of humans and industry. It also highlighted some of the splits between rich and poor nations over who should make the greatest changes to save the planet. Maurice Strong, who organised the gathering, spoke to Claire Bowes about why it was so difficult to get the countries of...more

  • Proving climate change: the 'Keeling Curve'

    Oct 25 2021

    A young American scientist began the work that would show how our climate is changing in 1958. His name was Charles Keeling and he started meticulously recording levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. He would carry on taking measurements for decades. His wife Louise and son Ralph spoke to Louise Hidalgo about him and his work. (Photo: Thick black smoke blowing out of an industrial chimney. Credit: John Giles/PA)

  • Britain’s lesbian families ‘scandal’

    Oct 22 2021

    In January 1978 a London newspaper revealed how several British lesbians had conceived babies using donor sperm with the help of a respected gynaecologist. The doctor hadn’t broken any laws in providing the fertility treatment but the stigma surrounding homosexuality at the time meant the revelations started a media frenzy and a heated national debate. There were discussions in the press, in the streets and in Parliament. One MP called for a ban on the practice and called it ‘evil’, ‘selfish’ an...more

  • The Greenham Common women's peace camp

    Oct 21 2021

    The anti-nuclear weapons protest was the biggest women-led movement in the UK since the Suffragettes. It began in 1981 when Ann Pettitt from Wales organised a women-led peace march from the Welsh capital Cardiff to the airbase at Greenham Common, where American nuclear-tipped cruise missiles were being kept. A small group of women decided to set up camp outside the fences of Greenham Common to continue their protest. Women from all over the UK joined the demonstrations, some travelled from Eur...more

  • Polish refugees in Africa

    Oct 20 2021

    During World War Two, close to 20,000 Polish people found refuge in Africa. They arrived after surviving imprisonment in Soviet labour camps and a harrowing journey across the Soviet Union to freedom. Casimir Szczepanik arrived as a child in a refugee camp in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia). He talks to Rob Walker about his life there and the impact the war still has on him. Photo:Casimir Szczepanik and his mother in the refugee camp. Credit:Casimir Szczepanik

  • The mysterious death of Samora Machel

    Oct 19 2021

    When the socialist leader of Mozambique and some of his senior advisers were killed in a plane crash on the border with South Africa, many were suspicious. It was 19 October 1986 and the two countries were divided over Apartheid. The plane made a sudden direct turn straight into a range of mountains, and one of the air crash investigators at the scene, Dr Alan Diehl, told Rebecca Kesby there are reasons to suspect the plane was deliberately diverted off course. (Photo: The socialist leader of M...more

  • The first transgender minister in the Church of England

    Oct 18 2021

    Sarah Jones is the first person who had undergone a gender change to be ordained in the Church of England. She has been talking to Phil Marzouk about her journey towards the priesthood. She says that in her early life she knew that although she had been born a boy, she wasn’t one. She also knew that she wanted to work in the church. She transitioned as a woman in 1991, and was first ordained as a deacon in the Church of England in 2004. Photo: Sarah Jones.

  • The doctor killed by an anti-abortion extremist

    Oct 15 2021

    In America, there are few issues as controversial as abortion. It’s a major fault line that runs through society, dividing families and even influencing elections. In the 1980s and 1990s, some groups within America’s anti-abortion movement became militant. There were hundreds of bombing and arson attacks on clinics. Some groups began to argue that to save the lives of what they called ‘pre-born babies’, it was morally justifiable to murder abortion providers. Journalist Amanda Robb tells Viv Jon...more

  • The Pakistani law that jailed rape survivors

    Oct 14 2021

    Under legislation known as the Hudood Ordinances introduced in 1979, a nearly blind teenage girl who'd been raped by two men and then became pregnant, was jailed herself for having sex outside marriage. In 1983 Safia Bibi was sentenced to three years imprisonment, 15 lashes and a fine. There was public outrage and anger from Pakistani women against the verdict and draconian punishment. Farhana Haider has been speaking to leading Pakistani lawyer and human rights advocate, Hina Jilani, who helped...more

  • The story of 'Baby Jessica'

    Oct 13 2021

    Eighteen-month-old Jessica McClure fell down a well-shaft while playing with other children in Texas in October 1987. It took almost three days to free her, and as the rescue effort got underway the American media became transfixed by her story. Susan Hulme has been talking Joe Faulkner, a neighbour who watched the drama unfold. Photo: a policeman carries Jessica away from the well shaft. Credit: Barbara Laing/Liaison Agency/Getty Images.

  • Colin Jordan and the British Nazi rally

    Oct 12 2021

    In 1960s Britain extreme right-wing groups were on the rise. A schoolteacher called Colin Jordan led a Nazi rally in Trafalgar Square in central London. He openly praised Hitler and called for Britain to be freed from what he called 'Jewish control'. He was also a white supremacist who called for the repatriation of black people. Claire Bowes has been speaking to Gerry Gable, a Jewish anti-fascist activist who helped infiltrate Jordan's National Socialist Movement as well as helping secure the ...more

  • Winning the Arabic Booker prize

    Oct 11 2021

    Saudi author Raja Alem was a voracious reader from an early age and thanks to her liberal-minded father, grew up immersed in books. She was in her early teens when she began to write novellas and then articles in the cultural supplements of newspapers in her native Saudi Arabia. In 2011, she became the first woman to win the prestigious international Booker prize for Arabic fiction for her novel The Dove's Necklace - a murder mystery set in modern-day Mecca. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to Raj...more

  • Clyde Best - A black footballing pioneer

    Oct 08 2021

    Bermuda-born Clyde Best came to England as a teenager in 1968 and went on to play for West Ham United alongside the likes of Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst. Best made a name for himself as a talented goal-scorer in more than 200 appearances for the Hammers, but he faced constant racist abuse from fans, and on occasion, from opposition players. Clyde Best told Mike Lanchin about how he stood up to the racists in English soccer. (Photo: Clyde Best on the ball, 4 March 1972. Credit: Mirror Group New...more

  • The unlawful death of Christopher Alder

    Oct 07 2021

    In 1998, Christopher Alder, a black former soldier, choked to death in handcuffs on the floor of a British police station. CCTV footage showed the 37-year-old father-of-two gasping for air as officers chatted and joked around him. It took 11 minutes for him to stop breathing. An inquest found Christopher Alder was unlawfully killed but no-one has ever been held accountable for his death. Farhana Haider spoke to Janet Alder about her long fight to get justice for her brother. Photo:Christopher ...more

  • A Somali sailor in 1920s Britain

    Oct 06 2021

    In the early 20th century, many Somali seafarers made their way to Britain on merchant ships, establishing communities in cities such as Cardiff. One of them, Ibrahim Ismaa'il, made his way to the UK from the port of Aden. He then struck up an unlikely friendship with an eminent anthropologist who lived in an alternative community in the Cotswolds. The anthropologist later recorded Ismaa'il's remarkable life-story. Chloe Hadjimatheou reports. PHOTO: A British liner in the port of Aden in the 19...more

  • Britain's World War Two 'Brown Babies'

    Oct 05 2021

    During World War Two, tens of thousands of African-American US servicemen passed through the UK as part of the war effort. The black GIs stationed in Britain were forced by the American military to abide by the racial segregation laws that applied in the deep south of the US. But that didn't stop relationships developing between British women and the black soldiers, some of whom went on to have children. Babs Gibson-Ward was one those children. She spoke to Farhana Haider about the stigma of gro...more

  • London's first black policeman

    Oct 04 2021

    Norwell Roberts joined the Metropolitan police in 1967. He was put forward as a symbol of progressive policing amid ongoing tensions between the police and ethnic minorities in the capital. But behind the scenes, Norwell endured years of racist abuse from colleagues within the force. Norwell Roberts spoke to Alex Last about growing up in Britain and his determination to be a pioneer in the police. (Photo: London's first black policeman PC Norwell Roberts beginning his training with colleagues a...more

  • The Tanker War

    Oct 01 2021

    In November 1987, the Romanian cargo ship, the Fundulea, was attacked by an Iranian gunboat in the Persian Gulf. It was just one of hundreds of merchant ships hit by missiles or mines in the Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war, as both sides sought to damage each other's oil exports and trade. The conflict at sea became known as the Tanker War. Major naval powers deployed to the Gulf to protect their shipping, but many ships, like the Fundulea, ran the gauntlet unescorted. Alex Last has been speaking ...more

  • Petra Kelly and the German Greens

    Sep 30 2021

    In the early 1980s in West Germany, a radical new political party was on the rise. Die Grünen - the Greens - championed protecting the environment, scrapping nuclear power plants and nuclear missiles, and stopping pollution. A movement as well as a party, the Greens brought together disparate groups of environmentalists, conservative farmers and youthful anti-nuclear activists. Petra Kelly, the party’s most prominent spokesperson, was a charismatic speaker who became an international name. Her l...more

  • 'Mad cow disease' and CJD

    Sep 29 2021

    In 1996 the UK government said there was a link between BSE in cattle and Variant CJD in humans. It's believed that more than 100 people contracted the debilitating and ultimately fatal disease after eating infected beef during an outbreak in the 1980s and 1990s. Initially scientists had no idea what was causing their strange symptoms, until a link was found that traced CJD back to BSE or 'mad cow disease', as it became known, in cattle. Millions of cows were destroyed and feeding practices ...more

  • Photographing Brazil's Yanomami

    Sep 28 2021

    In 1971 photographer Claudia Andujar began documenting the lives of a remote indigenous tribe in the Brazilian Amazon jungle. Claudia went on to take thousands of unique images of Yanomami men, women and children. Her photographs helped the campaign for recognition of the Yanomami's rights over their own land. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from Claudia, now in her 90s, about how she was received by the indigenous group when she first arrived in the Amazon, and how she won them over with her smil...more

  • The rise of the Taliban

    Sep 27 2021

    The Taliban first started to gather support in the south of Afghanistan in the early 1990s. By September 27th 1996 they had taken control of the country's capital Kabul. Journalist and writer Ahmed Rashid watched their rise, from the religious schools in refugee camps on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, to their ultimate victory over the American-led coalition forces. He's been speaking to Zak Brophy. Photo:Taliban fighters on the back of a vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 202...more

  • Kenya: Westgate Mall attack

    Sep 24 2021

    Gunmen from the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabab attacked a shopping centre in Nairobi taking hundreds hostage. The group claimed it was in retaliation for Kenyan military action against them in southern Somalia. The siege lasted four days in September 2013 and more than 60 people were killed, but hundreds more were injured and traumatised. Daniel Ouma was a paramedic on duty at the scene and explains to Rebecca Kesby how his team tried to help people affected. PHOTO: A police officer during ...more

  • James Bond on screen

    Sep 23 2021

    As the 25th James Bond film hits cinema screens we look at the lasting appeal of the franchise. The original author, Ian Fleming, died in the 1960s but other writers took on the challenge of keeping Britain's most famous secret agent alive. Photo:Daniel Craig as James Bond in No Time To Die. Credit: Nicola Dove/PA Wire.

  • The poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko

    Sep 22 2021

    Alexander Litvinenko was a former colonel in the Russian secret service and a critic of Vladimir Putin's government. He fled to London seeking political asylum in 2000. In November 2006 he was poisoned with the highly radioactive substance Polonium-210. Rebecca Kesby spoke to his wife Marina, about his life and excruciating death. This programme is a rebroadcast (PHOTO: Alexander Litvinenko in a London hospital a couple of days before his death in November 2006. Credit Getty Images.) Show le...more

  • Mexico's miracle water

    Sep 21 2021

    Thousands of people flocked to the village of Tlacote in central Mexico in 1991. They hoped to be cured by 'magical' water after rumours spread about its healing powers.Maria Elena Navas spoke to Edmundo Gonzalez Llaca who was an official in the local environment ministry in 1991 and who was sent to Tlacote to check out what all the fuss was about. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Hands under a stream of water (Getty Images)

  • Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis

    Sep 20 2021

    In the late 1960s, the widow of President Kennedy had a secret romance with Aristotle Onassis, who was then the richest man in the world. Simon Watts spoke to Nico Mastorakis, a Greek journalist who visited Onassis’s yacht in disguise to confirm the relationship and secure a sensational scoop. Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis would go on to marry in October 1968 in a spectacular ceremony on the private island of Skorpios. PHOTO:Jackie Kennedy with Aristotle Onassis in 1968. Credit: David Ca...more

  • The Peter Principle

    Sep 17 2021

    In 1969 a satirical book, The Peter Principle, suggested that promotion led to incompetence. Written by a Canadian Professor of Education, Dr Laurence J. Peter and playwright Raymond Hull, the book was a parody of management theory but it's core message struck a chord with many. It became an instant classic, selling millions of copies around the world. We present a rare archive recording of Dr Peter, explaining his theory that “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompet...more

  • Christiania: Copenhagen’s hippy commune

    Sep 16 2021

    In 1971 a group of squatters, artists and activists took over a disused military barracks on the edge of Copenhagen. They established a self-governing hippy commune called Freetown Christiania, after the surrounding district of Christianshavn. Residents began to build houses along their own experimental designs and soon Christiania had its own theatre, bakery and kindergarten. The semi-autonomous enclave is still there today and is one of the oldest and largest communes in the world. Viv Jones s...more

  • The earthquake that devastated Haiti

    Sep 15 2021

    In 2010 the Haitian capital and surrounding areas were hit by a catastrophic earthquake. Much of Port Au Prince was flattened and more than a hundred thousand people were killed. Amid the destruction and death people's first instinct was to pull together and help one another. Zak Brophy has been speaking to Kinsley Jean who was just a teenager when his family home collapsed around him. Photo: Men gather to try to reach those still buried in the rubble beneath the Haitian Department of Justice b...more

  • The lost king of France

    Sep 14 2021

    King Louis XVI of France and his queen, Marie Antoinette, were killed during the French Revolution. Their son and heir was said to have died in prison in 1795 but did he in fact escape? The 10-year-old spent his last two years of life in solitary confinement with no human contact. During his final few months he neither talked nor walked, rumours spread that this was an imposter and that the real dauphin had been smuggled out in a laundry basket and replaced with another boy. Years later, dozens ...more

  • The Attica prison rebellion

    Sep 13 2021

    In September 1971 prisoners in a high security jail in the USA turned on their guards taking 42 people hostage. After 4 days of negotiations, armed police retook the jail. By the time the siege ended 39 people were dead. Rebecca Kesby spoke to Carlos Roache, a former prisoner who took part in the uprising. PHOTO: Attica prisoners making the black power salute (Getty Images)

  • 9/11: The backlash against American Muslims

    Sep 10 2021

    In the Aftermath of the Al Qaeda attacks against America on September 11th 2001, many Muslims living in the US had their allegiance to America questioned. In the days after 9/11 all over America hate crimes against Muslims and anyone perceived to be Muslims soared. In 2001, according to crime statistics by the FBI, hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs in the US increased by 1,700 percent. Stories about Muslim women in hijabs and Muslim men with beards being attacked became commonplace. Farhana...more

  • America attacks Afghanistan

    Sep 09 2021

    In October 2001, just a month after the 9/11 attacks, the first airstrikes against Afghanistan began in what the US and its allies called Operation Enduring Freedom. The country was being targeted because it had provided a haven for al-Qaeda. In 2011 Louise Hidalgo spoke to two Afghans who were in Kabul the night the bombing started. (Photo: The aftermath of a US airstrike on Kandahar. Credit: Getty Images)

  • With the president on 9/11

    Sep 08 2021

    The al-Qaeda attacks against America took place on the morning of September the 11th 2001. The news was broken to the US President, George W Bush by his Chief of Staff Andrew Card, as he was on a visit to an elementary school. Simon Watts reports. This programme was first broadcast in 2020. (Photo: President George W. Bush shortly after learning of the 9/11 attacks. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

  • The killing of Ahmed Shah Massoud

    Sep 07 2021

    On the 9th of September 2001 the Afghan fighter Ahmed Shah Massoud who led the opposition to Taliban rule, was killed by a suicide bomber. Just two days later, Al Qaeda carried out their attacks in the USA. In 2011 Louise Hidalgo spoke one of Ahmed Shah Massoud's friends who was with him the day he died. PHOTO: Ahmed Shah Massoud (Getty Images)

  • The warnings before 9/11

    Sep 06 2021

    Throughout 2001 the US authorities were being given warnings that a terror attack was imminent. A Congressional Commission, FBI officers and the CIA were all worried. There were even specific warnings about planes being flown into buildings. Louise Hidalgo spoke to former Senator Gary Hart who co-chaired the Congressional Commission that tried to convince the government to take action. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Smoke pours from the World Trade Centre after it was hit by two passe...more

  • North Korea's founding father

    Sep 03 2021

    When World War Two ended and the Korean peninsula was divided, Soviet soldiers occupied the North, and US soldiers occupied the South. So how did one man, Kim Il-sung, take control of communist North Korea and create the long-lasting dynasty that still runs the country today? Kevin Kim has been hearing from Professor Kim Hyung-suk about his meeting with Kim Il-sung, and about the mystery behind his rise to power. Photo: North Korean illustration of Kim Il-sung surrounded by happy citizens.

  • The businessman who defied the Mafia

    Sep 02 2021

    Palermo businessman Libero Grassi published an open letter in Sicily’s main newspaper denouncing the Mafia for constantly demanding extortion payments. Grassi was hailed as a hero, but his public refusal to pay was intolerable to the Mafia and a few months later, in the summer of 1991, he was executed in person by one of Cosa Nostra’s top bosses. Libero Grassi’s defiance is credited with inspiring a new grass-roots movement among businesses in Sicily that stands up to the Mafia. Simon Watts spok...more

  • Surviving the fall of Saigon

    Sep 01 2021

    When South Vietnam fell in 1975, most could not escape. In the last days, the US airlifted its remaining personnel and some high ranking Vietnamese officials - but millions were left behind to await their fate. This is the account of one South Vietnamese veteran who remained in Saigon as North Vietnamese forces took the city. Dr Tran Xuan Dung served as a doctor in the South Vietnamese Marines. He would spend three years imprisoned in a "re-education" camp before fleeing with his family in 1978....more

  • The first modern electric car

    Aug 31 2021

    This electric car revolution is finally on the horizon: many car manufacturers have promised to make only electric vehicles in the near future, in response to the climate emergency. But the first mass-produced modern electric car, the General Motors EV1, was launched back in 1996. Within a few short years it was scrapped: almost every vehicle was recalled and crushed, and the car of the future disappeared in history’s rear-view mirror. Viv Jones hears the story from one of the car’s creators,...more

  • Nigeria's 'War Against Indiscipline'

    Aug 27 2021

    Muhammadu Buhari's military government launched an unusual campaign to clean up Nigeria in August 1984. Under the policy, Nigerians were forced to queue in an orderly manner, to be punctual and to obey traffic laws. The punishments for infractions could be brutal. Veteran Nigerian journalist Sola Odunfa spoke to Alex Last about the reaction in Lagos to the War Against Indiscipline. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: The Oshodi district of Lagos, 2008 (AFP/Getty Images)

  • Syria's rebel poet

    Aug 26 2021

    The Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani was one of the most influential and famous Arab cultural figures of the 20th century. His enduring legacy has become contested territory in the conflict that has torn his homeland apart.

  • Campaigning for Mexico's women with disabilities

    Aug 25 2021

    In the mid 2000s disability campaigners in Mexico were stepping up their efforts to secure changes in laws and attitudes in their country. They faced indifference from politicians and business leaders, and stereotypical portrayals in the media. For the estimated 4.3 million women with disabilities in Mexico, the situation was even more difficult. Maryangel Garcia-Ramos, who has become one of her country's leading disability activists, tells Mike Lanchin about her own personal struggle and the ba...more

  • My father survived the sinking of the Titanic

    Aug 24 2021

    When the RMS Titanic sank in 1912, after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, roughly 700 passengers survived by escaping in the ship's lifeboats. Among them were six Chinese sailors travelling in third class. Unlike other survivors, their stories remained untold for decades. They faced racism and a hostile immigration system when they reached America. Viv Jones speaks to Tom Fong, the son of one of the Chinese sailors. He only found out what had happened to his father after his death. Pho...more

  • John Maynard Keynes

    Aug 23 2021

    The economist John Maynard Keynes transformed 20th century economic policy. Considered one of the great minds of his age, his seminal work The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, sought to diagnose and find solutions to the misery and mass unemployment of the Great Depression. For decades his ideas were central to economic policy adopted across the western world and have made a comeback after the financial crash of 2008. Alex Last presents rare recordings of Keynes from the BBC arc...more

  • When The Queen met Ceaușescu

    Aug 20 2021

    Nicolae Ceaușescu was the first communist leader to be given a full state visit to the UK, but it was controversial from the outset. The Romanian president was a known dictator who ran a brutal regime, but Britain was still cash-strapped after World War Two and was desperate to build new trading partners. Dorian Galbinski was one of the main translators for the visit and he explains to Rebecca Kesby some of the background to the event. (Photo: June 1978: Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu rid...more

  • Saddam Hussein's foreign hostages

    Aug 19 2021

    In August 1990 following the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of neighbouring Kuwait hundreds of foreign nationals were held hostage by the Iraqi government. Among them were the Rahims, a British Muslim family who had been in Iraq on a religious pilgrimage. Sameer Rahim has been speaking to Farhana Haider about his time as Saddam's prisoner. Image: Saddam Hussein with western hostages, Iraq 1990 Credit: Shutterstock

  • India's secret freedom radio

    Aug 18 2021

    When Indian independence leaders, including Gandhi, were jailed in 1942, activists set up a secret radio station to carry the message of rebellion against British rule. Among the campaigners who worked at the station was Usha Mehta, who was later imprisoned for broadcasting anti-British news and playing patriotic music. Claire Bowes has been listening to archive material of Usha Mehta and speaking to her nephew, Indian film-maker Ketan Mehta. Image: Usha Mehta Credit:Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrah...more

  • US withdrawal: The fall of Saigon

    Aug 17 2021

    The last remaining US forces pulled out of Vietnam on April 30th 1975 as communist North Vietnamese troops took control of the country. There was a desperate scramble to evacuate US personnel and some Vietnamese colleagues who feared brutal reprisals at the hands of the communists for having helped the Americans. With the airport destroyed, they had to use helicopter airlifts from inside the US embassy compound to transport people to the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier waiting offshore. Rebecca ...more

  • The man who coined the term genocide

    Aug 16 2021

    Genocide has a long and grim history, but until the 1950s, the mass extermination of a people or a group was an atrocity without a name, a definition or an international law against it. One man did more than anyone else to change that: the Polish Jewish lawyer, Raphael Lemkin. He coined the term genocide and fought for decades to stop it. He also survived it, but lost his whole family in the Holocaust. Viv Jones hears his story from Israeli journalist Lili Eylon, who met him at the United Nation...more

  • Inside an East German jail

    Aug 13 2021

    Vera Lengsfeld was a prominent human rights activist in East Germany who was arrested and jailed for taking part in a peaceful protest. She was sent to Hohenschönhausen, the main political prison of the former East German Communist Ministry of State Security, the Stasi. There she was kept in solitary confinement until shortly before the Berlin Wall came down. Vera Lengsfeld spoke to Lucy Williamson about her time in jail. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: A cell inside Hohenschönhausen ...more

  • East Germany's nudists

    Aug 12 2021

    For years Germans have been bathing nude at the beach. Many are members of a naturist movement called the FKK, which was banned under the Nazis and faced official disapproval during the early years of communist rule in East Germany. Mike Lanchin spoke to one East Berliner who recalled the heyday of naked sunbathing beside the Baltic Sea. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Bathers enjoying the beach at Baerwalder See, Eastern Germany (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

  • Exiled from East Germany: Wolf Biermann

    Aug 11 2021

    East Germany's most famous singer-songwriter was exiled to the West in November 1976, causing an international outcry. Wolf Biermann was stripped of his GDR citizenship while on tour in West Germany. Wolf Biermann spoke to Lucy Burns about his political songs and his fame on both sides of the Berlin Wall. This programme is a rebroadcast Picture: Wolf Biermann in concert. Credit: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

  • Escaping from East Berlin

    Aug 10 2021

    How a young West German student helped East Berliners escape communism at the height of the Cold War. Volker Heinz told Robin Lustig how he worked with a Syrian diplomat to smuggle people across the Berlin Wall in the boot of the diplomat's car. From March to September 1966 the pair managed to help more than 60 people to make the crossing. This programme is a rebroadcast (Photo: East German border guards in 1966 scanning the Berlin Wall. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images)

  • The building of the Berlin Wall

    Aug 09 2021

    In August 1961, communist East Germany began building the Berlin Wall, which divided the city for nearly three decades and became a symbol of the Cold War. Simon Watts introduces the memories of Germans from both sides of the Wall. PHOTO: Soldiers at the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s (Getty Images)

  • Gay activism in 1990s India

    Aug 06 2021

    In the early 1990s, when homosexuality was still a criminal offense in India, a group of gay men and lesbian women set up the Counsel Club in the city of Kolkata. It was one of the first queer support groups in India. Their first meetings took place in secret at the home of one of the members. Later, the group campaigned for gay rights in India and helped other gay people with family problems or anxieties over coming out. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to Pawan Dhall, one of the club's founding ...more

  • Afghanistan's battle of the airwaves

    Aug 05 2021

    When the US led invasion of Afghanistan ousted the repressive Taliban regime in 2001, it was no longer illegal to listen to music or news on the radio. Afghan businessman Saad Mohseni returned to his home town of Kabul to launch Arman FM, a new radio station which played modern music and comedy programmes amongst other things which had been banned under the Taliban. He tells Rebecca Kesby why he wanted to help rebuild the cultural life of Afghanistan, how one radio station expanded into a multi...more

  • Escaping Nigeria’s Civil War

    Aug 04 2021

    When the south-east region of Nigeria declared itself to be the independent state of Biafra, civil war broke out. More than a million people died before the fighting stopped. We bring you one child’s story of getting caught up in the frontline. Paul Waters hears from Patricia Ngozi Ebigwe, now better known as TV and music star Patti Boulaye, who was 13 years old when she had to try to escape the conflict. ‘We were told: Careless talk kills‘ Patricia remembers. ‘When you walked past dead bodies ...more

  • Chipko: India’s tree-hugging women

    Aug 03 2021

    The 1970s were a time of rapid development in the Indian Himalayas. New roads had recently been built, allowing logging companies greater access to the region’s vast, remote forests. Local people made a subsistence livelihood from these woods, and when the trees were cut down they endured erosion, poor farming conditions and catastrophic floods. A resistance movement was formed, named Chipko – Hindi for ‘hugging’ – after its trademark protest tactic of embracing the trees. Many of its first orga...more

  • Dorothy Butler Gilliam: American news pioneer

    Aug 02 2021

    In 1961, the Washington Post newspaper hired an African American woman as a reporter for the first time. Dorothy Butler Gilliam was only 24 when she got the job. At the time there were hardly any women or minorities working in newsrooms. Most of her white colleagues wouldn’t speak to her, taxis wouldn’t stop for her. Dorothy has been speaking to Farhana Haider about the difficulties she faced as a black woman journalist in 1960s America and her fight to diversify the media in the US. (Photo D...more

  • The Tsunami and Fukushima

    Jul 30 2021

    Remembering the earthquake and tsunami which devastated Japan and triggered a nuclear emergency in 2011. Max Pearson, who reported from Japan at the time, presents eyewitness accounts of the disaster which left thousands dead and led to many questioning the future of the country's nuclear industry. Photo: Tsunami smashes into the city of Miyako in Iwate prefecture shortly after an earthquake hit the region of northern Japan, 11th March 2011 (JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)

  • Fighting for the pill in Japan

    Jul 29 2021

    After decades of campaigning in Japan, the pill was finally legalised in 1999. In contrast, the male impotency drug Viagra was approved for use in just six months, and legalised before the contraceptive pill for women. Politician Yoriko Madoka pushed hard for the right to take the pill and told Rebecca Kesby that sexism and male dominance in Parliament is why it took so long. (Photo: A collection of contraceptive pills. Getty Images)

  • The soldier who never surrendered

    Jul 28 2021

    In January 1972 a Japanese soldier was found hiding in the jungle on the Pacific island of Guam. He had been living in the wild there for almost 30 years unaware that World War Two had ended. His name was Shoichi Yokoi. Mike Lanchin spoke to his nephew and biographer. This programme is a rebroadcast Photo: Shoichi Yokoi on his arrival back in Japan in 1972. Credit: Getty Images.

  • The birth of Karaoke

    Jul 27 2021

    Daisuke Inoue was playing keyboards in a band in Kobe, Japan, when he invented the Karaoke machine in 1971. He had a customer who wanted to impress business clients by singing along to his favourite songs. Ashley Byrne spoke to Daisuke Inoue about his invention in 2015. (Photo: A group of women sing karaoke. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Japan's Bullet Train

    Jul 26 2021

    On 1 October 1964, the fastest train the world had ever seen was launched in Japan. The first Shinkansen, or bullet train, ran between Tokyo and Osaka, and had a top speed of 210km per hour. Lucy Burns spoke to Isao Makibayashi, one of the train's first drivers. This is a rebroadcast (Photo: Shinkansen, or bullet train. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images)

  • When war came to Darfur

    Jul 22 2021

    In the early 2000s, rebels in Sudan's Darfur region took up arms against the government. In response, the Khartoum regime launched a scorched earth campaign along ethnic lines. The Sudanese military allied to a local militia, the Janjaweed, laid waste to villages across the region, killing and raping as they went. Some 300,000 people are believed to have been killed in the conflict, more than 2 million displaced from their homes. We hear the story of Debay Manees, a young boy at the time, who's ...more

  • Surviving Norway's day of terror

    Jul 21 2021

    On 22 July 2011 Norway suffered its worst terror attacks in recent history. A far-right extremist, Anders Breivik, launched a bomb attack on government offices in Oslo, and then, two hours later, attacked a summer camp for young political activists on the island of Utøya, 38 kms from the Norwegian capital. In total 77 people were killed that day - the majority on the island. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to one of the camp's leaders Lisa Husby, who was 19-years-old at the time . Lisa hid under ...more

  • The Battle of Gondar

    Jul 20 2021

    In 1941, Italian colonial rule in East Africa ended when Mussolini’s soldiers made a dramatic final stand in the northern Ethiopian town of Gondar. After a bloody battle, General Guglielmo Nasi surrendered to troops from the British empire and Ethiopian fighters loyal to Emperor Haile Selassie. Simon Watts listens to an account in the BBC archive from Rene Cutforth, who was then a British army officer and later became a distinguished BBC war correspondent. PHOTO: Italian soldiers surrendering i...more

  • Domestic violence in Brazil

    Jul 19 2021

    Ground-breaking legislation came into effect in Brazil in 2006. For the first time the courts were ordered to recognise different forms of domestic violence. The 'Maria da Penha law' was named after a women's rights activist who was left paralysed by her abusive husband. Maria told Mike Lanchin her chilling story. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Maria da Penha now.

  • England's summer of riots

    Jul 16 2021

    In the summer of 2001 race riots gripped towns in the north of England. They began in Oldham in late May 2001, spreading to Burnley in June, and Bradford in July. All had their own specific local triggers, but all involved clashes between men of white and of South Asian background. A report into the violence found communities were living in complete segregation, brewing suspicion and hatred. Barnie Choudhury reported on the riots for the BBC. He speaks to Farhana Haider about how they unfolded ...more

  • When the Taliban took Kabul

    Jul 15 2021

    Taliban fighters first took control of Afghanistan's capital city Kabul in late September 1996. They imposed their strict interpretation of Islam on Afghans, outlawing music and TV, banning the education of girls, and requiring men to grow beards. The Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan until 2001 when, following the 9/11 attacks against America, a US-led coalition drove them out of power. Photo: Taliban gunners outside Kabul in November 1996.(Credit: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images)

  • Jane Goodall and chimpanzees

    Jul 14 2021

    In the 1960s a young Englishwoman made a discovery that changed our understanding of animal behaviour. Jane Goodall was living among wild chimpanzees in Tanzania when she observed them using sticks and grasses as tools to get food. Farhana Haider spoke to her about her life in 2014. This programme is a rebroadcast. (Photo: Jane Goodall with chimpanzeess. Credit: AFP)

  • Prisoner of the Cultural Revolution

    Jul 13 2021

    As a schoolboy in communist China, Kim Gordon took part in huge rallies to praise Chairman Mao. But when Mao's so-called Cultural Revolution began to target intellectuals and foreigners, Kim's British parents came under suspicion despite being convinced communists. When they tried to leave the country they were arrested with Kim and locked up in a hotel room for two years. Monica Whitlock has been listening to Kim's story. Photo: Kim Gordon as a schoolboy in China. Courtesy of Kim Gordon.