In 1999 a charity was founded in Bangladesh that was dedicated to treating and rehabilitating the survivors of acid violence. The majority of the attacks were against young women, the acid was usually thrown at their faces causing life-altering disfigurement and long-term psychological issues. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Monira Rahman who help set up the charity. Photo: Monira Rahman with survivors of acid attacks 2011 . Credit Monira Rahman)
The environmental campaign group, Greenpeace, was formed in 1971 in western Canada, after a group of activists met in a Vancouver kitchen and decided to sail an old fishing boat to Alaska to stop a US nuclear test. Greenpeace is today one of the biggest environmental organisations in the world, known for its direct action, with offices in over 39 countries. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to one of the founders of Greenpeace, Rex Weyler, about that first campaign. Picture: Members of the origin...more
In 2009 Ugandan MPs tried to introduce new laws against homosexuality that would include life imprisonment and even the death penalty. Homophobia was rife in the media with tabloid papers printing the names and addresses of gay men and lesbians. Many activists suffered intimidation and assault. The law was eventually overturned by the Constitutional Court in 2014 but homosexuality is still illegal in Uganda. Victor Mukasa shares his story of fighting for LGBT rights in Uganda, first as a lesbian...more
65 million years ago an asteroid hit the earth, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs along with three quarters of all species on earth at the time. The crater where it hit was discovered on the Yucatan peninsula in 1978 during a geological survey for the Mexican state oil company Pemex. It was named Chicxulub. Lucy Burns speaks to Glen Penfield, who first identified the crater, and Alan Hildebrand, whose research confirmed the discovery. Image: NASA high resolution topographical map of th...more
It took 508 days for three friends to complete the first trek along the entire length of the ancient structure, well over 8000 kms. They began in May 1984 and finally reached their destination at the Jiayu Pass on September 24th 1985, having documented the condition of the wall every step of the way. The three men became national heroes as the press followed their progress. Yaohui Dong spoke to Rebecca Kesby in 2017 about what inspired him to make the journey. This programme is a rebroadcast. ...more
During the Second World War Nazi officials searched for blonde blue-eyed children in the countries they had occupied. The children were removed from their families as part of a plan to build an Aryan master race. Ingrid Von Oelhafen grew up in Germany and only found out in her 50's that she had been born to Slovenian parents. At nine months old she was taken away and sent to a 'Lebensborn' children's home. She has been speaking to Kate Bissell about what happened during her childhood, and the ef...more
The Chinese Communist Party started ruthlessly enforcing birth control in the early 1980s. People with more than one child faced fines, or lost their jobs, or had children forcibly adopted. Yashan Zhao has been speaking to Zhou Guanghong who experienced the policy first-hand, both as a father and as a birth control official. Photo: a propaganda poster extolling the virtues of China's "One Child Family" policy. (Credit:Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket/GettyImages)
In May 2009 the Sri Lankan army finally crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels, ending 25 years of bloody civil war. In the final weeks of the conflict, thousands of civilians were trapped alongside the rebels under heavy shelling as the government forces closed in. Journalists and aid workers were prevented from reaching the war zone. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from one Tamil woman trapped in the siege zone, and from the former UN spokesman in Sri Lanka, Gordon Weiss, who watched on from the capital...more
In the early 2000s, a handful of experts warned that the world was sleep-walking towards a financial crisis. Among them were South-African born political economist Ann Pettifor and the IMF's chief economist at the time, Raghu Rajan. But their warnings were ignored, and instead in 2008 the world plunged into the worst financial crash since the Great Depression, whose shadow still hangs over our politics. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to the Cassandras of the crash. Picture: Traders at the New ...more
In 1979 one of the great engineering feats of the 20th Century was completed and the Karakoram highway between Pakistan and China was finally opened. The highway, known as the Friendship Highway in China, was started in 1959. Due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions under which it was constructed, it is also sometimes referred to as the 'Eighth Wonder of the World'. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Major General Pervez Akmal who worked on the construction and maintenance of the ...more
One of the most successful TV formats in the world started back in May 2004, bringing ballroom dancing to a new generation. Its format has been sold around the world under the title 'Dancing With The Stars'. Co-creator and executive producer of Strictly, Karen Smith, has been speaking to Ashley Byrne about the show. Photo: Celebrities and professional dancers from Strictly Come Dancing 2018. Credit: BBC.
The first 'war on drugs' was launched by US President Richard Nixon in 1971. He described drug abuse as a 'national emergency' and asked Congress for nearly four hundred million dollars to tackle the problem. Claire Bowes has been speaking to one of Nixon's policy advisors, Jeffrey Donfeld, about an approach to drugs which he describes as more 'find them and help them' than 'find them and lock them up'. And how he convinced the President to roll out a nationwide programme of methadone treatment...more
The groundbreaking Bauhaus school of art and design was founded in Germany in 1919. It would go on to have a huge impact on architecture and design around the world, with the clean lines and minimalist elegance of its distinctive modernist aesthetic influencing everything from skyscrapers to smartphones. In this interview from the BBC archive, Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius explains his goals for the school - and the challenges involved in setting it up. (Photo: View of one of the wings of the...more
On May 7th 1954, French forces surrendered after a bloody 56-day siege of their base at Dien Bien Phu in the north of Vietnam. Their defeat by the communist independence movement, the Viet Minh, signalled the end of French colonial rule in Indochina. We hear from two veterans who fought on opposing sides in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. (Photo: A French military Red Cross helicopter preparing to land, while French soldiers try to defend their positions in Dien Bien Phu against the Viet Minh, 1954...more
The Chinese billionaire set up his online shopping site in 1999. When Alibaba first started, Jack Ma and his team were working out of a small flat in Hangzhou. The BBC's Michael Bristow has been hearing from Duncan Clark, who first worked with the internet entrepreneur in those early days. Photo: Jack Ma attends the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 2019. (Credit: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)
In 1948, British colonial authorities declared a State of Emergency in the territory of Malaya, now part of Malaysia. It was in response to the start of a Communist rebellion. From their bases in the jungle, Communist fighters carried out hundreds of guerrilla attacks across the country, targeting Malaya's valuable rubber estates, tin mines, and infrastructure. Alex Last speaks to Gus Fletcher, a decorated former Special Branch officer in Malaya, about his memories of Britain's attempt to combat...more
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 he spoke to Louise Hidalgo about the attack. Photo: The General Belgrano. Credit: Getty Images
Tété-Michel Kpomassie, grew up in West Africa but he was obsessed with the Arctic. When he was 16 years old he ran away from his village in Togo determined to reach Greenland.. It took him eight years but in 1965, he finally arrived. He then went north to fulfil his dream of living among the indigenous people. Years later, he wrote an award-winning account of his odyssey, An African in Greenland, which has been translated into eight languages. Photo: Tété-Michel Kpomassie in Greenland in 1988.(...more
In April 1915, Britain mourned when poet and national hero Rupert Brooke died on a troopship in the Dardanelles during World War One. Often compared to a Greek god because of his blond good looks, Brooke had written a series of famous sonnets that reflected the optimistic mood at the beginning of a conflict that would claim tens of millions of lives. Simon Watts introduces the memories of three of Brooke's friends, as recorded in the BBC archives. (Photo: Rupert Brooke. Credit: Culture Club/Get...more
Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian publicly in April 1997 – and so did the fictional character she played in her self-titled sitcom. The Puppy Episode would be watched by more than 40 million people and represented a milestone for LGBT representation in popular culture. Lucy Burns speaks to the episode’s writer and executive producer Dava Savel. Picture: Comedian Ellen DeGeneres and actress Anne Heche attend the 49th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 14, 1997 at the Pasadena Civic A...more
A record series of arms sales from the UK to Saudi Arabia was worth tens of billions of dollars. The first al-Yamamah deal was agreed between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. But the deals were dogged by allegations of corruption. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to Jonathan Aitken who was involved in later al-Yamamah deals. (Photo: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and King Fahd in London in 1987. Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images)
The assassination of newspaper editor, Lasantha Wickramatunga, shocked the world in 2009. Sri Lanka's civil war between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority was nearing its climax when he was shot dead by gunmen on motorbikes. After his murder his newspaper, the Sunday Leader, printed his final article in which he predicted his own death and wrote that the government would be behind his killing. Farhana Haider has been speaking to his widow, Sonali Samarasinghe, about press freedom in ...more
After Apartheid all South Africans, regardless of race, were finally able to vote for the first time in April 1994. Organising the elections was a huge logistical challenge, white supremacists staged terror attacks to try to sabotage the vote and violent clashes between rival political groups threatened to disrupt voting day. Rev Frank Chikane was on the Independent Electoral Commission, the body charged with running the elections, and he explained to Rebecca Kesby how much stress, and joy there...more
The Vegan Society was established in 1944 by British 'non-dairy vegetarians'. They wanted to persuade other people not just to give up meat, but milk and eggs too. But the first vegans often got ill, because there was one vital element missing from their diets - vitamin B12. Kirsty Reid has been speaking to former Chair of the Vegan Society, George Rodger, about the history of vegans in the UK. Photo: Fruit, vegetables, nuts and pulses. Credit: Getty creative stock.
In April 1999 Nato bombed the Serbian state TV station in Belgrade, killing 16 people. It was part of a military campaign to force Serbia to withdraw from Kosovo. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to one of the survivors, Dragan Suchovic, a TV technician, who was working at the station that night. Photo: The damage caused by the Nato bombing on the TV station in Belgrade (courtesy of Duco Tellegen, 2015)
On April 20th 1999 a mass shooting in the USA shocked the world and started a devastating trend of violence in American schools. 13 people were killed and more than 20 were injured by two armed school students. Ashley Byrne has been speaking to Craig Scott, who survived the Columbine massacre but whose sister Rachel was killed that day. Photo: Students from Columbine High School run under cover from police, following a shooting spree by two masked teenagers. April 20th 1999. Credit: Mark Leffi...more
In the aftermath of World War Two pesticides and chemical fertilisers started to become more widespread in the UK. Worries about the effect this would have on soil quality led Lady Eve Balfour to establish the Soil Association to promote natural farming techniques. John Butler has been a farmer all his life and he has been speaking to Dina Newman about Lady Eve and the early days of Britain's organic farming movement. Photo: Lady Eve Balfour with some of her friends. Copyright: The Soil Associ...more
In 1959 the German artist Gustav Metzger came up with a new and subversive form of art. He called it auto-destructive art. It was art as a political weapon and a challenge to the established status quo. Metzger, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, organised a series of events in London, called the Destruction in Art Symposium, DIAS, and invited radical artists from all over the world, including a relatively unknown young Japanese American, Yoko Ono. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from Welsh artist...more
'A Raisin in the Sun' opened on Broadway in 1959. It had an almost exclusively black cast and a black director too. The playwright, Lorraine Hansberry, based it on her own family's story of being forced out of a white neighbourhood in Chicago. The title is from a poem by African American poet Langston Hughes about a dream deferred - 'does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?'. Photo: Still from the 1961 film version of the play A Raisin in the Sun featuring Sidney Poitier (Photo by George Rinhar...more
In April 2001 an American multi-millionaire paid Russia's space agency millions of dollars to blast him into space. He spent time on the International Space Station and returned to earth after eight days in space. Dennis Tito, who was 60 years old at the time of his space flight, spoke to Louise Hidalgo in 2011 about his experiences. (This is a rebroadcast) Photo: Dennis Tito immediately after his return to earth. Credit: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images.)
Diners at Chinese restaurants in America in the 1960's began to report unusual symptoms, including headaches, flushing, numbness at the back of the neck. It was linked to the man-made flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate or MSG – but it was also part of wider attitudes towards Chinese restaurants at the time. Lucy Burns speaks to restaurateurs Philip Chiang and Ed Schoenfeld about their memories of what became known as 'Chinese restaurant syndrome'. Photo credit: Plates of Chinese food (Dea...more
In 1990 the president of Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, LK Advani, embarked on a political and religious rally called the Rath Yatra or chariot march. Championing a politics based on Hindutva or militant Hinduism. Farhana Haider has been speaking to RK Sudhaman a journalist who covered the journey and followed the rise of the BJP. Photo LK Advani during rath yatra 15/10/1990 Credit: Getty Image
The wingsuit is the ultimate in extreme sports clothing. An aerodynamic outfit for BASE jumpers and skydivers it allows them to free-fall for longer before opening a parachute. Skydiver Jari Kuosma developed the first commercial wingsuits and he has been speaking to Jonathan Coates about how exciting, but also how dangerous they can be. Photo: Jari Kuosma. Copyright: BBC
On 13 April 1919, British Indian troops fired on an unarmed crowd at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in the Punjab. Hundreds were killed. The massacre caused an outcry in India and abroad, and would be a turning point for the growing Indian nationalist movement. Lucy Burns brings you eye-witness testimony from the time. Photo: Indian visitors walk past the Flame of Liberty memorial at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. Credit:Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images.
Choreographer Jack Cole had a huge influence on musical theatre and Hollywood films - most memorably with Marilyn Monroe in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. But much of his inspiration came from Indian dance. Vincent Dowd has been speaking to the American actress and singer, Chita Rivera, who danced with him.
Maya Angelou's iconic first memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in spring 1969. The book was an instant best-seller, and was one of the first literary accounts of growing up as a black girl in the southern states of America, including graphic depictions of rape and racism. Louise Hidalgo talks to Maya Angelou's friend and biographer, former magazine editor, Marcia Gillespie, about the book and how it helped to establish Maya Angelou as one of the great voices of her generation...more
After a brief civil war in March-April 1948, the new president of Costa Rica, Jose Figueres, took the audacious step of dissolving the Armed Forces. Since then Costa Rica has been the only Latin American nation without a standing army. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from 94-year-old Enrique Obregon, who served in the military before its dissolution. Photo: Costa Rican soldiers in San Jose after the end of the civil war, April 1948 (Credit:Getty Images)
In 1628, at the height of Sweden’s military expansion, the Swedish Navy built a new flagship, the Vasa. At the time it was the most heavily armed ship in the world. But 2 hours into its maiden voyage, it sank in Stockholm's harbour. It remained there for more than three hundred years, until its discovery in 1961. Tim Mansel hears from the former Swedish naval officer, Bertil Daggfeldt, about the day that the warship was recovered in near-perfect condition. Image: The Vasa after its recovery (T...more
EMDR is a form of psychotherapy which works for many sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder. The 'eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing' technique was first developed in the USA in the late 1980s by Francine Shapiro. She set up an EMDR Institute and Ashley Byrne has been speaking to psychologist Dr Gerald Puk, one of its senior trainers. (Picture: a model looking downwards. Credit: Getty Images.)
Patty Hearst was kidnapped by an extreme left-wing group called the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974. She had been held hostage for two months when, in April of that year, she announced that she had come to share their beliefs. She would go on to take part in an attempted bank robbery before being arrested and put on trial. Louise Hidalgo spoke to two women who remember the impact of her kidnapping in California in 1974. Photo: Patty Hearst posing with a machine gun in front of a Symbionese...more
In 1979 scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn opened the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, pioneering a meditative approach to treat pain and depression. In a few decades mindfulness has gone from being a specialist element of Buddhist teaching to a billion dollar industry. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Dr Kabat-Zinn about the popularising of mindfulness to tackle the stresses of modern life. (Photo Jon Kabat-Zinn teaching MBSR at the Univers...more
Witness History talks to the American lawyer who led the investigation into the secret Nazi past of former United Nations Secretary-General, Kurt Waldheim. Kurt Waldheim was standing for election to the Austrian presidency when the allegations first emerged in the New York Times in March 1986. Lawyer Eli Rosenbaum, on whose information the New York Times story was based, tells Louise Hidalgo how he helped to expose the truth about Waldheim's wartime record and how UN war crimes files naming Kurt...more
In March 1999 Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard made the first non-stop flight around the world in a balloon. Beginning in Switzerland and finishing over Africa, the record-breaking trip took just 20 days. Pilot Brian Jones has been telling Mike Lanchin about the highs and lows of the amazing and dangerous journey. (Photo credit BBC)
In March 1979, the British Prime Minister James Callaghan was struggling desperately to govern with a parliamentary majority of just three. When the Conservative opposition tabled a motion of no-confidence, his party whips fought a furious - and ultimately unsuccessful - battle to keep him in power. Simon Watts listens through the BBC's archives to tales from the collapse of the Callaghan government. Picture: James Callaghan outside 10 Downing Street (Fox Photos/Getty Images)
A female designer working for an American pharmaceutical company came up with the idea in the 1960s, but her bosses didn't like it at first. Margaret Crane has been telling Maria Elena Navas how she had to develop her designs on her own after being told that women couldn't be trusted to use a home testing kit properly. Photo: Margaret Crane's first home testing kit. Credit: National Museum of American History.
Viktor Orban, now the populist Hungarian Prime Minister, was an anti-communist youth leader in 1988. Over the years his party has become increasingly nationalist. His former friend and fellow activist Gabor Fodor shared personal memories of Viktor Orban with Dina Newman. Photo: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers his annual state of the nation speech in Budapest, Hungary, 10 February 2019. Credit: European Press Agency.
A British doctor published an article in the leading medical journal The Lancet in 1998 that led to a global panic over the triple vaccine protecting children against measles, mumps and rubella. Dr Andrew Wakefield linked the MMR vaccine with autism. He advocated the use of single vaccines instead while the link was explored. Meanwhile many parents stopped vaccinating their children entirely, leading to outbreaks of measles. In 2010 the General Medical Council in the UK found Dr Wakefield 'di...more
Electricity workers in Mexico City accidentally uncovered a massive stone sculpture in 1978. It turned out to be the Aztec Goddess of the Moon, Coyolxauhqui. The sculpture was found in an area where the Aztecs, 500 years earlier, had built the capital of their empire: the city of Tenochtitlán. The discovery changed the face of the Mexican capital. María Elena Navas spoke to Raúl Arana, one of the archaeologists who identified the sculpture as the Moon Goddess. Photo: The sculpture of Coyol...more
On March 26th 1989, Soviet citizens were given their first chance to vote for non-communists in parliamentary elections. Democrats led by Boris Yeltsin won seats across the country. Dina Newman spoke to Sergei Stankevich who was one of the successful candidates. This programme was first broadcast in 2014. (Photo: Boris Yeltsin on the campaign trail. Credit: Vitaly Armand. AFP/Getty Images)
The story of how one of the wealthiest men in the Netherlands was exposed as a Nazi war criminal. In the 1970s, Pieter Menten was a respected art dealer, but it was revealed that during the Second World War, he had led mass killings in eastern Poland. We hear from Dutch journalist, Hans Knoop, whose investigation into Menten caused a national scandal and finally led to the millionaire's arrest. Photo: Pieter Menten photographed in 1977.(credit: National Archives of the Netherlands)
In the 1950s, US engineers were sent to Afghanistan to build a huge dam. The aim was to irrigate the deserts of Helmand. The town of Lashkar Gah was built to house the workers. Photo: Lashkar Gah from the air, 1957.
In March 1969, the cult American author, Kurt Vonnegut, published his famous anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. The novel is a mixture of science fiction and Vonnegut's experiences as a prisoner-of-war during the fire-bombing of the German city of Dresden at the end of World War Two. Simon Watts introduces the memories of Kurt Vonnegut, as recorded in the BBC archives. PHOTO: Kurt Vonnegut in the 1980s (Getty Images)
Chinese scientists used ancient traditional medicine to find a cure for malaria in the 1970s. Artemisinin was discovered by exploring a herbal remedy from the 4th century, a small team of scientists managed to harness the medicinal properties from the Artemisa Annua plant. It can cure most forms of malaria with very few side effects and has saved millions of lives all over the world. Professor Lang Linfu was one of the scientists involved, he told Rebecca Kesby how they made the discovery in t...more
As communism was crumbling in the early 1990s a spoof made for Soviet TV, persuaded some Russians that Vladimir Lenin's personality had been seriously affected by hallucinogenic mushrooms. The mushrooms in question were the deadly poisonous fly agaric fungi which the programme alleged Lenin had eaten whilst in exile in Siberia. Dina Newman has spoken to journalist Sergei Sholokhov who presented the TV spoof. Photo: two fly agaric toadstools. Copyright: BBC.
In 1942, during the Second World War, the British colony of Singapore fell to Japanese forces. Its capture marked the start of Japan's three-and-a-half year occupation of the island state, during which many ethnic Chinese living in Singapore were rounded up and killed. Louise Hidalgo has been listening to the memories of some of those who lived through that time. Picture: British soldiers surrender to Japanese forces in Singapore in 1942. (Credit: Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Image)
Yvonne Conolly was appointed head of Ringcross Primary school in North London in 1969. She had moved to the UK from Jamaica just a few years earlier and quickly worked her way up the teaching profession. She faced racist threats when she first took up the post but refused to allow them to define her relationship with the children she taught. Photo: Yvonne Conolly in a classroom. Copyright: Pathe.
Melina Mercouri, famous actress turned politician, visited Britain in 1983 as Greek Minister of Culture and made the first official request for the return of the Parthenon marbles. The marbles were removed in 1801 by Lord Elgin, who was the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time. Lord Elgin, who was based in Istanbul sent his agents to Athens to remove the marbles which he claimed were at risk of destruction. He later sold them to the British parliament who in turn entrusted them ...more
In March 1998 Zoilamérica Narváez publicly accused her step-father, Nicaragua's revolutionary leader, Daniel Ortega of having sexually abused her since she was a child. The 31-year-old Narváez said that the abuse had continued for almost twenty years. Ortega, who was re-elected as Nicaragua's president for a third consecutive term in 2016, has consistently denied the accusations. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to Zoilamérica Narváez about her disturbing story. Photo: Zoilamerica Narváez announc...more
The first Barbie doll was sold in 1959. Ruth Handler, one of the founders of the Mattel toy company who created Barbie, describes how it took years to convince her male colleagues that it would sell. Picture: Ruth and Elliot Handler, creators of Barbie. Courtesy of Mattel Inc.
Sayeeda Warsi made history when she was appointed to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government's Cabinet in May 2010, and was also made Conservative party co-chair. The daughter of working-class Pakistani immigrants, she walked up Downing Street for her first Cabinet meeting dressed in a traditional South Asian salwar-kameez; it was a landmark moment in British politics. Sayeeda Warsi talks to Farhana Haider about her journey into government and about Islamophobia in politics. ...more
On March 1st 1989 Icelanders were allowed to buy full-strength beer for the first time in decades. Beer had been outlawed in the country since 1915. Roger Protz has been looking into the history of prohibition in Iceland. Photo: A bartender pouring beer. Credit: Getty Creative Stock/iStock.
Armed left-wing extremists held off Japanese police for 10 days during a hostage crisis in the mountains in February 1972. Young members of the so-called United Red Army had hoped to bring about a communist revolution in Japan. Their hideout was discovered and most of them were arrested but five extremists took over a mountain lodge and held a woman hostage in a final stand-off. Ashley Byrne has been speaking to Michinori Kato one of the five who took part in the shoot-out. Photo: The police ...more
Nine passengers were sucked out of a plane when a cargo door opened mid-flight over the Pacific. United Airlines Flight 811 was flying from Hawaii to New Zealand in February 1989 when the accident happened. In 2012 Claire Bowes heard from two passengers on board the plane. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: The damaged side of the plane. Credit: Courtesy of Bruce Lampert.
Mexico City, the world's third largest metropolis, was effectively shut down when a new and deadly virus, swine flu appeared. Soon the virus started to spread and was seen as a massive threat to global health. Experts feared millions of people could become infected and many countries began screening airline passengers for symptoms and suspending flights to Mexico. Photo: People wear surgical masks as they ride the subway in Mexico City (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)
Rocketing oil prices in the mid 1970s fuelled massive consumer and government spending in Venezuela, earning the South American country the nickname "Saudi" Venezuela. Buoyed by the extra revenue, the government moved to nationalise the iron and oil industries. But by the end of the decade, corruption and nepotism had set in and the economic bubble burst. Mike Lanchin hears from the former Venezuelan oil executive, Luis Giusti and the artist and photographer Frank Balbi, about their memories of ...more
An international panel of experts gathered in Brazil in 1985 to identify the remains of a man thought to have been the infamous doctor from Auschwitz. 'To see that this man was finally in his grave was important' says Eric Stover, part of the team of American and German experts who examined the body from a cemetery near São Paulo. Mengele's family in Germany claimed that it was his. Thomas Pappon has spoken to Eric Stover about the efforts to prove that one of the most wanted war criminals of th...more
British doctors produced an alarming report in 1962 warning that 1 in 3 smokers would die before the age of 65. The doctors suggested restrictions on advertising and on smoking in public places but the UK government did little except launch a health education campaign. Credit: Interviews with Sir George Godber and Charles Fletcher courtesy of the Medical Sciences Video Archive, part of a project run by Oxford Brookes University and the Royal College of Physicians. Photo: 1956 (Thurston Hopkins...more
Millions suffered from exposure to toxic chemicals sprayed by US forces during the Vietnam war. The chemicals were defoliants and herbicides designed to destroy jungles and vegetation which provided cover for communist guerrillas. But the defoliants contained dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals known to man. The most notorious defoliant was called Agent Orange. Decades later, Vietnamese are still being affected. Witness speaks to Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong about her struggle against the toxi...more
The US space shuttle Columbia broke up on its way back to Earth on February 1, 2003. It had been in use since 1981. Iain Mackness has spoken to Admiral Hal Gehman who was given the job of finding out what went wrong. His final report led to the winding-up of the American space shuttle programme in 2011. Photo: The space shuttle Columbia during take-off. Credit: NASA.
Alfonso Cuarón's critically acclaimed film Roma portrays a student massacre that took place in México City in 1971. The Corpus Christi massacre, known locally as the Halconazo, sent shock waves throughout México. A paramilitary group trained by the Army attacked students as they demonstrated against the government, leaving about 120 people dead. María Elena Navas speaks to Rosa Maria Garza Marcué and Jesús Martín del Campo, who were among the protesters that day. Photo: The massacre scene in Ro...more
In February 1992, European ministers from 12 countries signed a treaty that would lead towards greater economic and political unity. The European Union would become the biggest free trading bloc in the world, but over the years it has survived several rocky moments as individual countries have questioned whether they want to be included. Senior EU Official Jim Cloos was one of those involved in drafting the Maastricht Treaty, and he explained to Rebecca Kesby how exciting it was to be involved...more
In 1969, homeless Russian alcoholic Venedikt Yerofeev wrote a hugely popular book which was passed illegally from person to person. The book gave voice to a generation of Soviet intellectuals who were unable to fit into mainstream Soviet society. The author's friend poet Olga Sedakova shared her memories with Dina Newman. Photo: Venedikt Yerofeev. Credit: Olga Sedakova archive.
In 1961, the British run territories of Northern and Southern Cameroons in West Africa were given a vote to decide their future. They could choose either to become part of Nigeria, or to become part of Cameroon. They were not given the choice of becoming their own country. The decision taken in that referendum would lay the seeds for the conflict which erupted in Cameroon's English speaking region in 2016. Alex Last spoke to the Cameroonian historian Prof. Verkijika Fanso about his memories of t...more
Airlines in America finally allowed women to pilot passenger planes in the 1970's. But women like Bonnie Tiburzi and Lynn Rippelmeyer had been fighting for years to be allowed to train as pilots. They tell Maria Elena Navas about their early days in a male-dominated industry. Photo: Bonnie Tiburzi, 24, is shown in a cockpit of an aircraft shortly after receiving her wings in 1974 when she became the first female pilot for American Airlines. (Getty Images)
The 2008 global economic crisis hit hard in Iceland. Its three major banks and stockmarket collapsed and it was forced to seek an emergency bail-out from the IMF. But unlike many other countries affected by the global downturn, Iceland decided to prosecute its leading bankers. Around forty top executives were jailed. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from Special Prosecutor, Olafur Hauksson, who led the investigations. (Photo: Protesters on the streets of Reykjavik demand answers from the governmen...more
When the US and its allies began their invasion of Iraq in 2003 the population of Baghdad faced three weeks of bombing and fear. Hear what life was like for one ordinary family in the capital. This programme is a rebroadcast (Photo: Baghdad, March 20 2003, AFP/Getty Images)
In 1992 Disney opened its first theme park in Europe. But it had taken years of delicate negotiations and diplomacy get it off the ground. In 2013 Rebecca Kesby spoke to Robert Fitzpatrick who had the job of bringing the magic of Mickey Mouse to France. Photo: Celebrations during the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris at the park in Marne-la-Vallee in April 2017.(Credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)
A former schoolgirl remembers the children's demonstration against having to study in Afrikaans that sparked the Soweto Uprising against South Africa's apartheid regime. Bongi Mkhabela spoke to Alan Johnston in 2010 about her memories of the protest. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Schoolchildren demonstrating on June 16th 1976 in Soweto. (Credit:Bongani Mnguni/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
In October 1967 the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara was captured and killed in Bolivia. Mike Lanchin spoke to former CIA operative, Felix Rodriguez, who helped track him down. (Photo: Felix Rodriguez (left) with the captured Che Guevara, shortly before his execution on 9 October 1967. Courtesy of Felix Rodriguez)
A first-hand account of Hitler from our archives. Traudl Junge worked as a secretary for the German Nazi leader. She was in the bunker in Berlin when he killed himself in 1945 as the Red Army closed in. She spoke to Zina Rohan for the BBC in 1989. Photo: Hitler and some of his officers. Credit: Getty Images.
Many women supported Iran's 1979 Revolution against the monarchy but some later became disillusioned. Islamic rules about how women dressed were just one of the things that women objected to. Sharan Tabari spoke to Lucy Burns in 2014 about her experiences during, and after, the Iranian Revolution. Photo: Women on the streets during a May 1st demonstration in 1979.(Credit: Christine Spengler/Getty Images.)
In April 1980, the US launched Operation Eagle Claw - a daring but ultimately disastrous attempt to free dozens of hostages held captive in the US Embassy in Tehran. The rescue mission ended in tragedy almost as soon as it began. Rob Walker spoke to Mike Vining, a member of the US special forces team in 2015. This programme is a rebroadcast (Photo:Special forces troops returning from the failed mission. Credit: US Army)
In 1979 young revolutionaries stormed the US Embassy in Tehran. 52 Americans were taken captive and held hostage for 444 days. Barry Rosen was one of the hostages. In 2009 he told his story to Alex Last. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Boy in camouflage points a toy pistol at an effigy of US President Carter during a demonstration outside the US Embassy, 18 November 1979. (Credit:STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)
In February 1979 an Islamic revolution began to unfold in Iran. The Islamic leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who had been in exile for 14 years, flew back to Tehran from Paris on the 1st of February. Mohsen Sazegara was close to the heart of events and in 2011 he spoke to Louise Hidalgo for Witness. Photo: Ayatollah Khomeini leaving the Air France Boeing 747 jumbo that flew him back from exile in France to Tehran.(Credit: Gabriel Duval, AFP/Getty Images.)
During the heat of Iran's revolution the country's top musicians decided to join the popular uprising. After the massacre of demonstrators by the Shah's armed forces in Jaleh Square in September 1978, state employed musicians went underground and started recording revolutionary songs. These songs became some of the most iconic in recent Iranian history. In 2015 Golnoosh Golshani heard from Bijan Kamkar about the musicians of the revolution. This programme is a re-broadcast. (Photo: Bijan Kamk...more
Virago Press opened as a feminist publisher in 1972 to promote women's writing. Its founder, Carmen Callil, says she wanted both men and women to benefit from the female perspective. She tells Witness how she hoped to put women centre stage at a time when she and many other women felt sidelined and ignored at work and at home. Photo: Carmen Callil, 1983 (Photo by Peter Morris/Fairfax Media) Music: Jam Today by Jam Today courtesy of the Women’s Liberation Music Archive.
Pope John XXIII wanted to modernise the Catholic Church. In January 1959 he announced a council of all the world's Catholic bishops and cardinals in Rome. It led to sweeping reforms, including allowing the Mass to be said in languages other than Latin and an attempt to build relationships with other denominations and faiths. But not everyone was happy with the changes. Msgr John Strynkowski was a student priest in Rome at the time and told Rebecca Kesby about the excitement and controversy su...more
The comic film franchise which churned out movie after movie mocking British stereotypes and pomposity. The first Carry On film hit cinema screens in 1958 and the team behind it would go on to make more than 30 movies using slapstick comedy and sexual innuendo to win fans around the world. Ashley Byrne has spoken to writer John Antrobus and actor Valerie Leon. It was a Made in Manchester Production. Photo: Two of Carry On's biggest stars, Kenneth Williams(l) and Sid James (r) filming Carry On A...more
Pramod Bhasin returned home to India in 1997 after working abroad for years. He spotted an opportunity to start a new industry that would revolutionise the country's economy. He tells Witness how he set up India's first call centre in spite of telecom challenges that might have put most entrepreneurs off. Photo: Pramod Bhasin in one of the call centres he started. Credit: BBC.
How one of the most notorious murderers in Edwardian London was captured as he fled to Canada. Listen to an astonishing BBC archive account of his arrest and hear from Dr Cassie Watson, a historian of forensic medicine and crime, about why the case of Dr Crippen lived so long in the public's memory. Photo: Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen (Getty Images)
In January 2006, London was entranced by the appearance of a large bottlenose whale in the Thames – the first such sighting for more than a century. Large crowds gathered to watch the whale swimming in front of the Houses of Parliament and many of the city’s most famous landmarks. But the whale’s health began to deteriorate and a team of specialist divers were called in to try – unsuccessfully – to save its life. Simon Watts talks to Mark Stevens, the man who organised the rescue attempt. PHOT...more
In 1976 South Asian women workers who had made Britain their home, led a strike against poor working conditions in a British factory. Lakshmi Patel was one of the South Asian women who picketed the Grunwick film-processing factory in north London for two years, defying the stereotype of submissive South Asian women. They gained the support of tens of thousands of trade unionists along the way. Lakshmi talks to Farhana Haider about how the strike was a defining moment for race relations in the U...more
Thousands of people flocked to the village of Tlacote in central Mexico in 1991. They were hoping to be cured by 'magical' water after rumours spread that it had healing powers. Maria Elena Navas has been speaking 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. Photo: Hands under a stream of water (Getty Images)
Judy Garland ended her long and glitzy stage and screen career at a London theatre club in January 1969. She was booked for five weeks of nightly shows at the 'Talk of the Town', but by that time, the former child star of the 'Wizard of Oz' was struggling with a drug and drink addiction. Mike Lanchin has been hearing the memories of Rosalyn Wilder, then a young production assistant, whose job was to try to get Judy Garland on stage each night. Photo: Judy Garland on stage in London, December 1...more
Susie Orbach's best-selling book Fat is a Feminist Issue led many in the Women's Liberation Movement of the 1970s to rethink body-image from a feminist perspective. Millions of people have read the book, which is still in print four decades later. Susie Orbach explained to Rebecca Kesby how she came up with the idea, and why she is devastated that it is still selling copies. (Photo: Susie Orbach, author of Fat is a Feminist Issue. Credit: Getty Images)
A poor single mother of three, Carolina Maria de Jesus lived in a derelict shack and spent her days scavenging for food for her children, doing odd jobs and collecting paper and bottles. Her diary, written between 1955 and 1960, brought to life the harsh realities faced by thousands of poor Brazilians who arrived in cities like São Paulo and Rio looking for better opportunities. Her daughter, Vera Eunice de Jesus Lima, speaks to Thomas Pappon about how the book changed her family's life. Pict...more
In the last year of his rule Stalin ordered the imprisonment and execution of hundreds of the best Soviet doctors accusing them of plotting to kill senior Communist officials. Several hundred doctors were imprisoned and tortured, many of them died in detention. Professor Yakov Rapoport was among the few survivors of what was known as the 'Doctors' Plot'. His daughter Natasha remembers her family's ordeal in an interview with Dina Newman. Photo: Professor Yakov Rapoport, 1990s. Credit: family a...more
On January 8 1959 Fidel Castro and his left wing guerrilla forces marched triumphantly into the Cuban capital, ending decades of rule by the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. It was the beginning of communist rule on the Caribbean island. Mike Lanchin spoke to Carlos Alzugaray, who was a 15-year-old school boy when he joined the crowds in the Cuban capital that turned out to watch the rebel tanks roll into town. (Photo: Fidel Castro speaks to the crowds in Cuba after Batista was forced to f...more
In January 2008, seeds began arriving at the world's first global seed vault, buried deep inside a mountain on an Arctic island a-thousand kilometres north of the Norwegian coast. The vault was built to ensure the survival of the world's food supply and its agricultural history in the event of a global catastrophe. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to the man whose idea it was, American agriculturalist Cary Fowler. (Photo: journalists and cameramen outside the entrance of the Svalbard Global See...more
The discovery that proved Vikings had crossed the Atlantic 1000 years ago. In 1960, a Norwegian couple, Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad arrived in the remote fishing village of L'Anse aux Meadows on the tip of Newfoundland in Canada. They were searching for evidence of the Norse settlement of North America which had been described in ancient Norse sagas. What they found would make headlines around the world, and turn L'Anse aux Meadows into a World Heritage Site. Alex Last spoke to Loretta Decker w...more
In the early 1980s the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu ordered the construction of a massive building in central Bucharest. Dubbed the "House of the People", it was to become the world's 2nd largest building. Now, decades after the fall of Communism, the building remains a lasting monument to the excesses of the dictator's totalitarian rule. Robert Nicholson speaks to Eliodor Popa, one of the architects behind the building. (Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images)
Dame Barbara Cartland was best known for her historical romances and is thought to have sold hundreds of millions of books around the world. She was step-grandmother to Princess Diana and was at her most prolific in the 1970s and 80s when she appeared regularly on British television. Kirsty Reid has been listening to some of her interviews from the BBC archives and hearing what it was like to meet her in person from Joe McAleer, author of Call of the Atlantic: Jack London's Publishing Odyssey Ov...more
In September 1987, fishermen and surfers in the states of Rio and São Paulo started spotting mysterious tin cans floating in the sea. Soon those tins became a talking point across the country, because they were packed full of high quality marijuana. The tin cans inspired books, fashion, poems, films and many songs. Thomas Pappon has been speaking to two Brazilians who remember that summer well. Photo: Tin cans picked up by the Brazilian police in Rio. Credit: Agência Estado/AFP
On December 30 1983 Marxist rebels in El Salvador attacked and occupied the El Paraiso army base in the north of the country. It was the first time an important military installation had fallen to the guerrillas and dealt a humiliating blow to the Army and its US backers. Mike Lanchin has spoken to a former rebel fighter who took part in the operation, and to Todd Greentree who worked at the US Embassy in San Salvador. Photo: Damage caused to the El Paraiso military base in El Salvador after th...more
In December 1943, a British charity created the Dickin Medal to honour the bravery of animals serving in war. The first medals went mainly to pigeons used in World War Two, although dogs and one cat were also among the winners. Simon Watts tells the story of the Dickin Medal using recordings from the BBC archive. PHOTO: Winkie the Pigeon receives a Dickin Medal in 1943 (Getty Images)
'I like it, carry on', said Joseph Goebbels, after listening to the trautonium, invented in Berlin. It was used first in classical music in the early 1930s. Paul Hindemith composed pieces for it. For decades it was played by one man only, Oskar Sala. Thomas Pappon spoke to him in 1997, and to Peter Pichler, who still performs on the trautonium. Picture: Alfred Hitchcock observes Oskar Sala playing the trautonium in the latter's studio, Berlin, in 1962. Credit: Heinz Koester/ Ullstein Bild via G...more
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
At Christmas 1980 strange objects and lights were seen over a US military base in Suffolk, England, for three consecutive nights. Several military service people reported seeing them, including the deputy commander of the base, Lt Colonel Charles Halt. He explains what he saw to Rebecca Kesby, and why the experience changed his opinion on the existence of UFOs. (Photo: Computer illustration of UFOs - Unidentified Flying Objects)
On Christmas Eve 1950 four young Scottish students took the 'Stone of Destiny' from Westminster Abbey. The symbolic stone had been taken from Scotland to England centuries earlier and had sat beneath the Coronation Chair in the Abbey ever since. Anya Dorodeyko has been speaking to Ian Hamilton who took part in the daring escapade in order to draw attention to demands for Scottish Home Rule. Photo: Ian Hamilton. Credit: BBC
On December 22 2001 a British-born man tried to bring down American Airlines flight 63 from Paris to Miami. His plan failed when the bomb didn't go off. He was then overpowered by a group of passengers and tied to his seat. Former professional basketball player, Kwame James, was among those who helped subdue Reid. He has been telling Mike Lanchin about the drama on board. Photo: One of the shoes worn by Richard Reid on the American Airlines flight to Miami (ABC/Getty Images)
Writer PL Travers created a children's classic when she invented the magical English nanny. But was the character built around her own personality? Vincent Dowd has been speaking to PL Travers' granddaughter. Photo: Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins in Disney's original musical MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS (credit: Walt Disney)
Scientists at MIT in the 1960s had to share computer time. They were given passwords to access the computer and could not use more than their allowance. But one man, Allan Scherr, hacked the system by working out the master password. He has been talking to Ashley Byrne. Photo: Allan Scherr at his workstation connected to the MIT central system in 1963. Courtesy of Allan Scherr
Theatre director Peter Brook led a troupe of actors on a three-month-long journey across the Sahara Desert starting in December 1972. They performed improvised pieces to local villagers. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to author and journalist John Heilpern who went with them. Photo: Peter Brook in the 1990s. (Credit: Jean Pimentel/Kipa/Sygma via Getty Images)
Japanese troops reached the Chinese city of Nanjing in December 1937. The violence that followed marked one of the darkest moments in a struggle that continued throughout WW2. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to former General Huang Shih Chung, who survived the slaughter in Nanjing as a boy and then fought in China's war of resistance against the Japanese. Photo: Huang Shih-Chung as a young soldier.
In 1988 President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act which gave a presidential apology and compensation to Japanese Americans interned during World War II. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Norman Mineta a former congressman who was instrumental in pushing through the landmark legislation and was himself incarcerated as a child. Image: Japanese-American child waits with luggage to be transported to internment camps for the duration of WWII 01/07/1942 Copyright Getty Images
In 1942, a Dutch secret agent was captured by German military intelligence in the Netherlands. The agent's name was Haub Lauwers and he worked for the Special Operations Executive, a secret organisation set up by the British to wage a guerrilla war against the Nazis in Europe. So began, the Englandspiel, the England Game, a German counter-intelligence operation that led to the capture and deaths of dozens of Dutch agents. Photo: Haub Lauwers identity card when he joined the Dutch army in exile.
In 1967, Dame Cicely Saunders opened the first modern hospice in South London. St Christopher's inspired the creation of thousands of similar hospices around the world and its scientific research helped establish the modern discipline of palliative medicine. Simon Watts introduces archive interviews with Dame Cicely, who died in 2005. PHOTO: Dame Cicely Saunders (BBC)
The biggest audience in TV history watched NASA's Apollo 8 mission beam back the first pictures from an orbit around the moon at Christmas 1968. The broadcast captured the world's imagination and put the Americans ahead of the Soviet Union in the Cold War battle to make the first lunar landing. Simon Watts talks to Apollo 8 commander, Frank Borman. Picture: The Earth as seen from the Moon, photographed by the Apollo 8 crew (NASA)
China had to relax its strict communist system to join the World Trade Organisation. Charlene Barshefsky was the US trade negotiator looking after American interests at the time. Freddie Chick has been hearing from Ms Barshefsky about the years of negotiations that led to the final deal. This is a Made in Manchester production. Beijing China: US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky (2nd Left), Chinese Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Shi Guangsheng (Right) toast with ch...more
Angela Merkel rose to power in German politics after the fall of her mentor, Helmut Kohl. He had accepted secret donations on behalf of their political party the CDU. After the scandal erupted in December 1999 Angela Merkel wrote a newspaper article condemning his actions. Soon she was the party's new leader. Tim Mansel has been speaking to her biographer Evelyn Roll. Photo: Angela Merkel in 1999. Credit: Getty Images.
Ramiro Osorio Cristales was just five years old when his family was murdered by the Guatemalan army, along with more than 200 other civilians from the Mayan village of Dos Erres. One of the soldiers who participated in the killings, Santos Lopez, took Ramiro with him and later adopted him. In November 2018, Ramiro gave evidence in the trial against his adoptive father for his part in the massacre. He has been telling Mike Lanchin about his horrific ordeal. (This programme contains disturbing ac...more
A catastrophic earthquake hit northern Armenia on the morning of December 7th 1988. At least 20,000 people were killed and thousands more injured. Anahit Karapetian was in school when the tremors hit her hometown of Spitak close to the epicentre. She was trapped in the rubble for hours, surrounded by injured and dead classmates. She has been speaking to Dina Newman about what she went through. Photo: Ruins in Armenia in 1988. Credit: Getty Images
Jean-Bédel Bokassa crowned himself Emperor of the Central African Republic in a lavish ceremony on the 4th of December 1977. He'd already been President for several years since taking power in a military coup - but he wanted more. Janet Ball has spoken to one of his sons, Jean-Charles Bokassa, and to a French journalist, about the events of that day. Photo: Jean-Bédel Bokassa, stands in front of his throne after crowning himself. 04 December 1977 in Bangui. (Credit: Pierre Guillaud/AFP/Getty I...more
At the end of WW2 much of Germany's capital had been destroyed by bombing and artillery. Almost half of all houses and flats had been damaged and a million Berliners were homeless. Caroline Wyatt has been speaking to Helga Cent-Velden, one of the women tasked with helping clear the rubble to make the city habitable again. Photo: Women in post-war Berlin pass pails of rubble to clear bombed areas in the Russian sector of the city. (Photo by Fred Ramage/Keystone/Getty Images)
At the end of November 1994, Norway voted in a referendum not to join the European Union. The issue had split the country, and Norway was the only one of four countries that had referendums on EU membership that year to vote against. A senior member of the Yes campaign, former Norwegian foreign minister and Labour politician, Espen Barth Eide, tells Louise Hidalgo about the night they lost. Picture: fishing vessels with banners reading "No to EU" in the harbour of Tromso two weeks before the re...more
The discovery of a nest of complete dinosaur eggs in Mongolia in 1923 provided the first proof that the prehistoric creatures hatched out of eggs rather than giving birth to live young. The American explorer who found them, Roy Chapman Andrews, became a legend and many consider him the inspiration for the film hero Indiana Jones. Claire Bowes spoke to his granddaughter, Sara Appelbee. Photo: Roy Chapman Andrews examining first find of dinosaur eggs by George Olsen, Mongolia, 1925 (courtesy of ...more
In 1982, Terrence Higgins became the first known British victim of a frightening new disease called HIV/AIDS. In his memory, his friends set up the Terrence Higgins Trust - now Europe's leading charity in the area. Simon Watts talks to his former partner, Dr Rupert Whitaker. PHOTO: Terrence Higgins (Courtesy: Dr Rupert Whitaker)
A personal account of the huge Antarctic industry which left whales on the brink of extinction. For centuries, whaling had been big business. Whale products were used in everything from lighting, to food and cosmetics. Hunting had decimated the whale population in the north Atlantic so in the early 20th century, Britain and Norway pioneered industrialised whaling in the Antarctic. Soon other nations joined in. At the time, there was little public concern about the morality of hunting whales and ...more
In the early 1990s, Saddam Hussein ordered the draining of southern Iraq's great marshes. It was one of the biggest environmental disasters of the twentieth century and an ancient way of life, dating back thousands of years, was almost wiped out. In 2014 Louise Hidalgo spoke to Iraqi environmentalist Azzam Alwash, and to journalist Shyam Bhatia, who knew the area well. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photograph: An Iraqi Marsh Arab looks out across a barren stretch of the marshes of southern ...more
In 1957, just four years after Stalin's death, 30,000 students from 130 countries attended the 6th International Youth Festival in Moscow, a two week celebration of 'Peace and Freedom' with music, dance, theatre and sports. British student Kitty Hunter-Blair remembers a unique moment for young Russians, who were allowed, for the first time, to talk freely to foreigners. Picture: Participants in the 6th International Youth Festival in Mayakovsky Square, on their way to Lenin stadium for the ope...more
The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died in November 2004. French doctors treating him at the military hospital in France where he died said Arafat had an unidentified blood disorder and gave the cause of death as a stroke. Since then there have been allegations that he was poisoned. Leila Shahid was the Palestinian ambassador to France in 2004, and was with Yasser Arafat during his final days. She's been talking to Louise Hidalgo about that time. Picture: Yasser Arafat attending Friday prayer...more
What did Lee Harvey Oswald do for two years in the Soviet city of Minsk? And why did the American authorities let him return without any fuss in 1963? A few months later he would be arrested for shooting the US President. Vincent Dowd has been listening to archive accounts of Oswald's time in the USSR and speaking to Anthony Summers who has written about the assassination of President Kennedy. Photo: Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22,1963, during a press conference after his arrest in Dallas. Cr...more
During the last years of World War Two, the American government began hiring poor Mexicans to come to work legally on US farms. The scheme was known as the 'Bracero' programme and lasted until 1964. Mike Lanchin presents archive recordings of some of those involved in the programme, using material collected by the University of Texas at El Paso. Photo: A group of Mexican Braceros picking strawberries in a field in the Salinas Valley, California in June 1963 (Getty Images)
A man recorded by the BBC shares his memories of the funeral of the Duke of Wellington in 1852. The Duke was given a state funeral after defeating Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. The British General was credited with preventing Napoleon Bonaparte from establishing a European empire. Frederick Mead was just five when he went with his parents to watch the funeral procession go by. PICTURE: The Duke of Wellington. Oil on canvas (photo by Imagno/Getty Images)
For decades disabled people in the UK were offered tiny, three-wheeled, turquoise cars as their main form of transport. They were known as Invacars and they were provided, free of charge, to people who couldn't use ordinary vehicles.They were phased out in the 1970s because they were accident-prone and people were given grants to adapt conventional cars instead. Daniel Gordon has been hearing from Colin Powell, who was issued with his first Invacar at the age of 16. Photo: an Invacar. Credit:...more
When WW2 was over, a fanatical group of Japanese immigrants living in Brazil refused to believe that Japan had lost the war. They decided to punish their more prominent compatriots who accepted that Japan had lost. The extremists killed 23 people. Aiko Higuchi remembers the tragic day in February 1946 when her father became their first victim. Photo: Some members of Shindo Renmei (Tokuichi Hidaka is the first from the right) in picture taken by Masashigue Onishi in Tupã, state of São Paulo, Bra...more
In November 1979, Iranian students seized the American embassy in Tehran after Washington agreed to allow the deposed Shah into the US for medical treatment. It would be more than a year before the US embassy hostages were released and the crisis irreparably damaged American-Iranian relations. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to diplomat Henry Precht, head of the Iran desk at the US state department during those tumultuous months who argued against letting the exiled Shah enter America. Picture:...more
Pearl Unikow was a young woman who grew up in a segregated Jewish community in Russia before WW1. Her stories, recorded in Yiddish in the 1970s, provide a rare account of traditional Jewish life. Her granddaughter Lisa Cooper wrote a book based on those recordings. Dina Newman has been listening to the tapes and spoke to Lisa Cooper. Photo: Pearl Unikow (in the middle of the back row) with her cousins, circa 1920. Credit: family archive.
On a hot summer day in 1971, six armed men invaded the house of former Congressman Rubens Paiva in Rio de Janeiro. He was taken from his wife and children, never to be seen again. Paiva was one of the most famous Brazilians to disappear during the military dictatorship. His son, writer Marcelo Rubens Paiva, tells how his family coped with decades of lies, uncertainty and, finally, the truth. Photo: Rubens Paiva surrounded by his family (his son, Marcelo, is seated cross-legged). Credit: Famil...more
After four years of war Germany was on the verge of defeat. Its armies were exhausted and in retreat, its civilian population enduring hardship and hunger. As unrest grew at home, the German government and military struggled to maintain control. The German Kaiser was forced to abdicate. Germany became a republic. Hear first-hand accounts from the BBC archive of how the disastrous end to the First World War provoked revolution in Germany. Photo: Revolutionaries in a truck with machine guns in...more
During World War One, two British nurses set up a first aid station just a few hundred metres behind the trenches of the Western Front. Mairi Chisholm and Elsie Knocker became known as 'the Madonnas of Pervyse'. Mairi Chisholm spoke to the BBC in 1977, Lucy Burns has been listening to her story. (Photo: Mairi Chisholm (left) and Elsie Knocker. Courtesy of Dr Diane Atkinson, author of Elsie and Mairi Go To War)
At the start of World War One, British and German colonial forces went into battle in East Africa. Tens of thousands of African troops and up to a million porters were conscripted to fight and keep the armies supplied. Alex Last brings you very rare recordings of Kenyan veterans of the King's African Rifles, talking about their experiences of the war. The interviews were made in Kenya in the early 1980s by Gerald Rilling with the help of Paul Kiamba. Photo: Locally recruited troops under Germ...more
It was one of the defining battles of the First World War. Britain and its allies had ambitious plans to break through German lines - but they ended up mired in mud. Listen to the voices of soldiers who took part - from the BBC archive. Photo: Getty Images.
On 9 November1938 Nazis led attacks on Jewish homes and businesses across Germany. Because of the number of windows that were smashed it would be remembered as the 'night of broken glass' or Kristallnacht. Writer and artist Nora Krug investigated what happened in her hometown of Karlsruhe that night and wrote a book, Heimat, about her family's wartime history. She has been speaking to Kirsty Reid about what she uncovered. (Photo: Nora Krug. Credit: Penguin Books)
In November 1968 a young activist hit Germany's leader in public, to draw attention to his Nazi past. The activist was Beate Klarsfeld - the Chancellor was Kurt Georg Kiesinger. Tim Mansel has been listening to Beate Klarsfeld's memories of what happened after she attacked the political leader Photo: Beate Klarsfeld today. Credit: Tim Mansel
In October 1955, Britain was gripped by a romance between the young Princess Margaret and a glamorous, but divorced, ex-fighter pilot called Captain Peter Townsend. The couple had been in love for years, but after opposition from Buckingham Palace courtiers, the princess eventually announced that she would not go ahead with a marriage. Simon Watts talks to Lady Jane Rayne, a former lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret and one of the first to spot the chemistry between the pair. PHOTO: Captain...more
Eldridge Cleaver, one of the leaders of the radical African American Black Panther party, spent more than three years in exile in Algeria in the late 1960s. He set up an international office for the Black Panthers, mingling with dozens of left-wing revolutionary activists who had also sought refuge in north Africa. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to Elaine Klein Mokhtefi, a left-wing American woman who lived and worked in Algiers, and who became Cleaver's fixer and close confidante. Photo: Eld...more
Senior KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin risked his life smuggling thousands of top-secret Soviet intelligence files out of KGB headquarters, and bringing them to the West. His archive was one of the largest hauls of information to leak out of a major intelligence service anywhere in the world. Louise Hidalgo talks to Cambridge historian Professor Christopher Andrew, one of the few people let into Mitrokhin's secret who helped him turn his archive into a book. Picture: Vasili Mitrokhin, taken in...more
An eyewitness account of a discovery that changed Nigerian history. Chief Sunday Inengite was 19 years old when prospectors from the Shell D'Arcy oil company first came to his village of Oloibiri in the Niger Delta in search of crude oil. It was there in 1956, that commercial quantities of oil were first discovered more than 3km below ground. It marked the start of Nigeria's huge oil industry, but it came at a cost for villages in the Niger Delta. Alex Last spoke to Chief Sunday Inengite about h...more
When Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was jailed in 2003, it was the start of President Putin's crackdown on the oligarchs. He shares his memories of that time with Dina Newman. Photo: former head of Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky leaving the courtroom in Moscow, Russia, September 22, 2005. Credit: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images
The former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, was arrested in London in October 1998. Spanish lawyers wanted him extradited to Spain to face charges of torturing and murdering political opponents in Chile. He claimed immunity as a former head of state. He was held under house arrest in the UK for over a year. Lucy Williamson spoke to public relations expert Patrick Robertson about his efforts to get the General back home to Chile. Photo: General Pinochet in 1999. Credit: PA
In October 1984, one of South Africa's most well-known human rights activists, Desmond Tutu, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to apartheid. Two years later he became the first black head of the Anglican church in Southern Africa. Archbishop Tutu's friend and former deputy, Bishop Michael Nuttall, has been telling Louise Hidalgo about those milestones on the road to a new multi-racial South Africa, and about his friend's irrepressible spirit. Picture: Desmond Tutu in Washing...more
In 1999 Belgian teenagers started to become ill after drinking Coca-Cola. Many ended up in hospital and the government banned the sale of all Coca-Cola products. But the fizzy drink was given the all-clear so what was making the children sick? Claire Bowes has been speaking to Belgian toxicologist, Benoit Nemery, about a country in crisis. (Photo: A poster saying 'out of order' is stuck on a Coca Cola vending machine in Mouscron, Belgium in 1999. Credit: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images).
In October 1993 news broke about an arms deal with Malaysia that led to the biggest development aid scandal in British history. It became known as the Pergau Dam Affair. Tim Mansel has been speaking to Tim Lankester, a British civil servant, who found himself caught up in the aid deal. Photo: Roger Briottet, director of the World Development Movement, celebrates with supporters after their High Court victory. The organisation had challenged the right of Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd to autho...more
In the early 1970's, at the peak of political repression and persecution in Brazil, a collection of left-wing students and liberal professionals decided to move to a remote region in the Amazon to fight the military dictatorship. Two survivors from the so-called Araguaia Guerrilla War spoke to Thomas Pappon about how they endured life and war in the jungle. Photo: Two guerrilla fighters after being captured in 1974 (Archive PCdoB)
In October 1973 Arab nations slashed oil production in protest at American support for Israel during it's war against Egypt and Syria. Oil prices sky rocketed. Alex Last heard from former deputy secretary general of OPEC, Dr Fadhil Chalabi, about the struggle for the control of oil in the early 1970s. Photo: Cars queuing at a petrol station in London, during a petrol shortage, November 1973. (Credit: Aubrey Hart/Evening Standard/Getty Images)
The Italian authorities tried to divert the stream of molten lava pouring down the slopes of the Etna volcano on the island of Sicily in 1983. Susan Hulme has been speaking to volcanologist, Dr John Murray, who was there watching their efforts to save homes and businesses from destruction. Photo: Mount Etna erupting in 2017. Credit:Reuters/Antonio Parrinello
The murdered Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, is being made a saint of the Roman Catholic church. He was killed in 1980 by a right-wing death squad as he said mass at the altar. His death pushed El Salvador into its bloody civil war. Mike Lanchin spoke to local journalist, Milagro Granados, who was there at the moment of his assassination. Photo: Archbishop Romero, pictured in July 1979 (Credit: Corbis via Getty Images)
In October 1945, Austria got its first provisional government since its annexation by Nazi Germany a year before the Second World War. Wilfriede Iwaniuk was 14 when Hitler marched into Vienna; she tells Louise Hidalgo about the harshness of the war years and how, after the war too, there was no food and few jobs. Picture: Wilfriede Iwaniuk in 1946.(Credit: the Iwaniuk family)
During World War Two the German secret service compiled a book listing all the people they wanted to arrest in Britain if it fell to the Nazis. The top-secret 'Special Search Index GB' contained details of politicians and intellectuals and people who had fled Germany before the war - but it also included relatively ordinary British citizens. Vincent Dowd has been speaking to someone whose father appeared in the book, and to historian Terry Charman who published a facsimile edition of the so-cal...more
In 1948 racist violence broke out against Romany-speaking traveller people in Sweden. The riots in the town of Jönköping lasted for several days. Birgitta Hellström and Barbro Gustafsson are sisters from the traveller community and they have been speaking to Tim Mansel about the events of that time. (Photo: Birgitta Hellström (L) and Barbro Gustafsson (R). Credit: Tim Mansel)
Britain's Labour government was determined to get rid of the unelected aristocrats sitting in the House of Lords - Parliament's second chamber. But the hereditary peers didn't go without a fight. Susan Hulme has been speaking to Marquis of Salisbury the man at the centre of the backroom deal to keep some seats for the nobility. Photo: Lords at the State Opening of Parliament in Westminster. in 2008. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Allen Ginsberg first read his poem Howl, at an art gallery in San Francisco in October 1955. It marked a turning point in American literature and is credited with starting the "Beat Generation" of American writers. Michael McClure, a fellow poet, took part in the reading that night. The programme was first broadcast in 2012. Photo: Allen Ginsberg, front row centre, with other poets in 1965. Express/Getty Images.
Slava Zaitsev was the first designer to create high fashion collections in the Soviet Union. He tells Dina Newman about the challenges he faced working under communism. Photo: a sketch of a dress designed by Slava Zaitsev; credit: courtesy of Slava Zaitsev.
How a chemist and a surgeon found a way of helping burns to heal. Chemist Ioannis Yannas was working alongside surgeon John Burke when they first made the breakthrough using a membrane made of collagen to cover burns which were too large for skin grafts. Photo: Professor Ioannis Yannas with some of his collagen membrane. Credit: MIT.
On the 2nd and 3rd of October 1968, students from two neighbouring universities in the centre of São Paulo clashed in a battle which left one dead and many injured. Thomas Pappon talked to two former students who were at the so called 'Battle of Maria Antônia'. Photo: the 'Battle of Maria Antonia', São Paulo, 1968. Credit: Agência Estado/AFP
The former West Indies cricketer, Learie Constantine, took the Imperial Hotel in London to court in 1943. It had refused to let him and his family stay because they were black. He won his case. Susan Hulme brings you his story from the BBC Archives. Photo: Sir Learie Constantine and his wife in the 1960s. Credit: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
In 1993 work began to build Europe's longest road and rail bridge. The Oresund Bridge links Sweden to Denmark connecting them by land for the first time in thousands of years. In an unlikely twist, it also inspired a hit TV drama which has been broadcast in more than 150 countries. Claire Bowes spoke to Ajs Dam, head of information at the consortium which built the bridge. Photo: Oresundsbron by night from Lernacken (courtesy of Pierre Mens/Øresundsbron)
The war lasted for eight years. The death toll is estimated at over a million people. It began when Saddam Hussein sent planes and troops into Iran in September 1980. Ahmed Almushatat was a young Iraqi medic who was sent to the front line towards the end of the war. He spoke to Louise Hidalgo. Photo: An Iraqi tank in action. Credit:AFP/Getty Images
How a scientific breakthrough led to the invention of the revolutionary cancer vaccine. In the 1980s, it was established that cervical cancer was caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is usually spread through sexual intercourse. In 1989, scientists Ian Frazer and Jian Zhou at the University of Queensland began working on the basis of a possible vaccine for HPV Their solution was to use parts of the virus's own genetic code to create a virus like particle (vlp) which would trigger an ...more
Sometimes called the 'Mother of Modern Dance' she was born and brought up in the USA. Isadora Duncan performed across Europe in the early 20th Century, and her free-flowing movements caused a sensation among dancers and choreographers alike. Simon Watts brings together archive accounts of the dancer whose private life was almost as controversial as her dancing. Photo: Isadora Duncan. Credit: Getty Images
South Africa sent 600 soldiers into Lesotho to quell political unrest in September 1998. Mamello Morrison was an opposition protestor. She spoke to David Whitty in 2014 about the ensuing violence. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Members of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) deployed in Lesotho. Credit: Walter Dhladhla/AFP
In September of 1987, two waste pickers in the Brazilian town of Goiania broke into a disused medical clinic and stole a radiotherapy machine, triggering the biggest ever radioactive accident outside a nuclear facility.Hundreds of people were contaminated and four people died. Thomas Pappon spoke to one of the victims and the physicist who was the first to assess the scale of the accident. Photo of technicians collecting nuclear waste in the contaminated scrap yard in Goiania. Copyright CN...more
Thousands of Allied troops parachuted into the Nazi-occupied Netherlands in September 1944. At that point, it was the most ambitious Allied airborne offensive of World War Two. British, American and Polish troops were dropped behind German lines in an attempt to capture a series of bridges on the Dutch/German border. Mike Lanchin has spoken to Hetty Bischoff van Heemskerck who, as a young woman, watched the Allied paratroopers come down close to her home in the city of Arnhem. (Photo: Allied pl...more
In September 1966, a film was released that has come to be seen as one of the great political masterpieces of 20th-century cinema. Shot in black-and-white, the Battle of Algiers recreates the turbulent last years of French colonial rule in Algeria. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to former Algerian resistance leader, Saadi Yacef, who plays himself in the film and on whose memoirs the film is largely based. Picture: French paratroop commander Colonel Mathieu (played by actor Jean Martin) in a s...more
Five Cuban spies were arrested in Miami by the FBI in September 1998. After a controversial trial, they were given lengthy jail sentences. The last of the five was released in December 2014 as part of a prisoner swap for an American intelligence officer. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to one of the Cubans, Rene Gonzalez, who was released in 2011. (Photo: Portraits of the Cuban Five. Credit: Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)
The train which marked the end of the steam age on Britain's main-line rail network. The Fifteen Guinea Special was a passenger service which ran from Liverpool to Carlisle on August 11th 1968 to commemorate the withdrawal of steam locomotives from the country's main railways. Steam locomotives had worked on British railways since the early 19th century. Thousands lined the route to see the last locomotives in action. Alex Last speaks to rail enthusiast Mark Smith who was on board the special tr...more
In 1991 a mystery was solved when two English men claimed responsibility for the creation of crop circles. The huge patterns had been appearing on farmland across England for years and had scientists puzzled, with explanations ranging from whirlwinds to UFOs. Despite this admission of guilt, many people still refused to accept this simple explanation. So what is the truth about crop circles? Claire Bowes has been speaking to John Lundberg who knew Doug Bower one of the men who came forward in 1...more
Ricardo Trajano was the only passenger to survive a fire on a plane in 1973. His flight from Brazil was forced to make an emergency landing outside Paris, and 123 people died. But, as he's been telling Thomas Pappon, he stayed alive by ignoring all the official safety advice. Photo: Ricardo Trajano as a young man. Copyright: Ricardo Trajano.
On September 12th 1977 the anti-Apartheid activist and leader of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa died from injuries sustained while in police custody. The South African police claimed that Steve Biko had gone on hunger strike and had starved himself to death. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Peter Jones, a fellow anti-Apartheid activist, who was arrested alongside Biko a few weeks before his brutal death. Photo: Steve Biko Inquest, November 1977 (Credit: Alamy)
In September 1938 Britain's Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew back and forth to Germany to negotiate with Adolf Hitler. He hoped to guarantee "peace for our time". He agreed that Germany could take over the Sudetenland in western Czechoslovakia, as part of a policy known as appeasement. Photo: The Prime Minister meets the press on his return from his first trip to Germany on September 16th 1938. Copyright: BBC.
In 1988 a ship named 'Khian Sea' dumped 4,000 tons of incinerated ash close to the beach in the town of Gonaives, in northern Haiti. The ash had originally come from the city of Philadelphia, and had been aboard the Khian Sea for more than a year, while it searched for a country that would accept it. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to Kenny Bruno, a Greenpeace campaigner who tracked the ship as it sailed across the oceans with its cargo of waste. He recalls the battle to get the ash sent back to ...more
First-hand accounts of the Allied offensive which finally brought the war to an end. The offensive took place on the Western Front in the summer and autumn of 1918. After years of trench warfare, Allied forces managed to break through and force the German army into full retreat. In November 1918, Germany was forced to sign an armistice to end the war. But the human cost of those final battles was immense. The Allies and the German army suffered more than one million casualties each, Using BBC a...more
In 1991 as the communist system was collapsing, in a hugely symbolic act, Leningrad voted to drop Lenin's name abandoning its revolutionary heritage and returning to its historic name of St Petersburg. Dina Newman speaks to Ludmilla Narusova, wife of the first St Petersburg mayor, Anatoli Sobchak, who campaigned for the change. Photo: Communist campaigners demonstrate against the name change in Leningrad in 1991. Credit: Sobchak Foundation.
In September 1969, a military coup in Libya brought Muammar Gaddafi to power. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to award-winning writer Hisham Matar about life in Libya in the first decade of Gaddafi's rule, his family’s flight from Libya and how his father, Jaballa Matar, became one of Gaddafi's most prominent opponents in exile and paid the ultimate price. Picture: Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli on September 27th 1969, shortly after the bloodless coup that brought him to power (Credit: ...more
In 1978 the racist murder of a young Bangladeshi textile worker in east London galvanised an immigrant community. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Rafique Ullah who took part in the protests and community action that followed the death of Altab Ali. (Photo: Anti-racist protest in east London 1978. Credit: Altab Ali Foundation)
The first magnetic resonance scan of a human body was attempted by Dr Raymond Damadian and two students in 1977. It marked a breakthrough in efforts to develop the medical technology now known as the MRI scanner. MRI uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce images of the inside of the body. Dr Damadian spoke to Ashley Byrne about his early experiments. Photo: Drs Raymond Damadian, Lawrence Minkoff and Michael Goldsmith and the completed Indomitable scanner.(Courtesy: FONAR ...more
During World War Two the Japanese forced prisoners of war to build a 400 kilometre railway from Thailand to Burma. Tens of thousands died during the construction and it became known as the "death railway". A former British prisoner of war, Cyril Doy, told Claire Bowes how he survived sickness, starvation and humiliation while building the famous railway bridge over the River Kwai. (Photo: Allied Prisoners of War in a Japanese prison camp 1945 British Pathé)
In August 1956, a fire at a coal mine in Belgium killed 262 people. The tragedy caused grief across Europe, but particularly in Italy because more than half the dead were Italian migrants. Simon Watts brings together the memories of Lino Rota, a rescue worker at Marcinelle, and Rosaria di Martino, whose family moved to Marcinelle from a village in Sicily. The interview with Lino Rota was conducted by Italian journalist, Paolo Riva. PHOTO: A funeral at Marcinelle in 1956 (Getty Images)
On 21 August 1986 villagers in the north-west of Cameroon awoke to find that many of their friends and neighbours had died in their sleep. More than 1,700 people and much of their livestock are thought to have perished as a result of unexpected volcanic activity under Lake Nyos, which produced a cloud of deadly carbon dioxide. Tim Mansel spoke to two scientists who went to find out how it had happened. Photo: Dead livestock near Lake Nyos (Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
The League of German Girls was the girl's wing of the Nazi party's youth movement, Hitler Youth. Open to girls aged ten years upwards, it was a key part of the Nazi plans to shape a new generation of Germans. Caroline Wyatt travels to Berlin to meet Eva Sternheim-Peters, now 93, who joined the League at the age of ten and rose to be one of its leaders. Photo: Eva Sternheim-Peters at home in Berlin (Credit: Stefan Thissen)
The Spanish town of Benidorm is now one of the world's most popular holiday resorts - receiving more than 10 million visitors a year. The hotels and skyscrapers are the vision of Benidorm's mayor in the 1950s and 60s, Pedro Zaragoza. Zaragoza personally convinced Spain's dictator, General Franco, to allow more tourism - and to allow sunbathers to wear the bikini. Simon Watts introduces the memories of Pedro Zaragoza, as recorded by Radio Elche Cadena Ser shortly before his death. PHOTO: A bus...more
Among the leading Nazi inmates in Berlin’s Spandau prison, which was closed in August 1987, was Hitler's architect and minister of war, Albert Speer. He was the only top Nazi who later apologised for the Holocaust, although he claimed he never knew it was happening. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to the journalist Roger George Clark, who interviewed Speer a decade after his release at his home in West Germany. Picture: Albert Speer standing at the gate of his house near Heidelberg in Decem...more
The story behind the groundbreaking autobiography of a woman who grew up in 19th century pre-colonial Nigeria. The book is the story of Baba a Hausa woman, who lived in the farming hamlet of Karo, when the region was part of the Islamic empire, the Sokoto Caliphate. Baba's account was written down by an English woman, Mary Smith, in 1949, while she was working in northern Nigeria with her husband, the anthropologist, M.G Smith. The book became a key text in studies of pre-colonial Africa. Alex L...more
Sales of alcohol in the USSR were severely limited in 1985 in a bid to fight drunkenness. But the anti-alcohol campaign was abandoned three years later when the Soviet economy was in trouble, and the government need more taxes. Dina Newman discussed the reasons for the campaign's failure with the former advisor to the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Alexander Tsipko. Photo: A Soviet anti-alcohol poster; Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images.
A former student, Olda Cerny, tells Alan Johnston about how he made a desperate appeal for the support of the outside world as invading Soviet tanks rumbled through the streets of the Czechoslovak capital in August 1968. This programme was first broadcast in 2010. Picture: Soviet troops in Prague (Getty Images)
An intriguing story from West Germany in August 1988, of a bank robbery, a three-day car chase that had the country holding its breath, and a journalist who got a little bit too close to the story. Tim Mansel has been hearing from one of the people at the centre of this crisis, journalist Udo Roebel. Photo: Holding a weapon in his hand, kidnapper Hans-Jürgen Rösner calls on journalists and spectators to free the way in the city of Cologne, August 1988 (Press Association)
In August 1958 the Japanese entrepreneur, Momofuku Ando, came up with the idea of a brand new food product that would change eating habits of people across the world. Ashley Byrne has been speaking to Yukitaka Tsutsui, an executive for the company founded by Ando, about the birth of the Instant Noodle. Photo: 'Space Ram' instant noodles for astronauts (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
The apartheid government finally launched a TV service in 1976. For years the Afrikaner dominated government had opposed the introduction of television, believing it would undermine the Afrikaans language, culture and religion. Alex Last has been speaking to two people involved in the launch, presenter Heinrich Marnitz and sound engineer, Dave Keet. Photo: South Africans gather around their new TV set in 1976 (BBC)
In 1969 photo journalist Moneta Sleet became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism. He won for the black and white image of Coretta Scott King the widow of Martin Luther King taken at the funeral of the murdered civil rights leader. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Moneta Sleet's son Gregory Sleet about his father's remarkable career capturing many of the images that defined the struggle for racial equality in America. Photo: Moneta Sleet's Pulitzer Prize winni...more
During WW2 the feminist and writer, Vera Brittain, spoke out against the saturation bombing of German cities. Her stance won her enemies in Britain and the USA. Vincent Dowd has been speaking to her daughter Shirley Williams about the impact of her campaign. Photo: Vera Brittain at Euston Station, London, in 1956. Credit: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
In August 1994 Yitzhak Rabin became the first Israeli leader publicly to visit Jordan. But in fact talks had been going on for years. Former head of Mossad, Ephraim Halevy, was Israel's secret peace envoy. He's been telling Louise Hidalgo about Rabin and King Hussein of Jordan's clandestine meetings during the often fraught road to peace. Picture; US president Bill Clinton looks on as King Hussein and prime minister Yitzhak Rabin shake hands on the White House lawn in July 1994 ahead of a for...more
At a time of a bitter ethnic conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1988, two villages managed to escape violence by swapping homes with each other. Bairam Allazov, an Azeri, and Ishkhan Tsaturian, an Armenian, told the BBC about how they managed to guide their neighbours and families to safety as war broke out in the Caucasus. Photo:Photo: Bairam Allazov (l) and Ishkhan Tsaturian (r). Credit: BBC
In 1954 Guatemala's left-leaning President Jacobo Arbenz was ousted from power by army officers backed by the CIA. In 2016 Mike Lanchin spoke to his son, Juan Jacobo Arbenz, about the events of that time, and the effects on his family. Photo: Jacobo Arbenz and his wife speaking with a group of French reporters in Paris in 1955. Credit: Getty Images
In 2003 Iran agreed to let officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency into the country to look at its nuclear facilities. Olli Heinonen was one of the inspectors tasked with trying to establish whether or not Iran was trying to develop nuclear weapons. He's been speaking to Tim Mansel about what they found. Photo:The Iranian nuclear power plant of Natanz, south of Tehran.(Credit:Henghameh Fahimi/AFP/Getty Images)
In 1998 brown bears were declared a protected species in Bulgaria and the ancient tradition of forcing them to dance for people's entertainment became illegal. Farhana Haider had been speaking to Dr Amir Khalil, a veterinarian who helped establish a bear sanctuary in Bulgaria to look after the retired animals. Photo: Brown Bear. Copyright: EPA
In July 2007, a standoff between monks and the Welsh government made headlines around the world. At issue was the fate of Shambo, a sacred bull which had tested positive for bovine tuberculosis. Shambo was eventually removed by police during a religious ceremony and taken away for slaughter. Simon Watts talks to Swami Suryananda, one of the monks who fought to keep the bull alive. PHOTO: Shambo (Press Association)
In 1916, Britain introduced conscription for the first time. But thousands refused to be part of the war effort. The government allowed people to apply for exemption on the basis of conscience. Those that did faced public hostility and abuse. Many conscientious objectors were pacifists, members of Christian groups, like the Quakers, or those who felt the war was wrong on political or moral grounds. The majority accepted service in non combat roles, But thousands refused to have any part in the w...more
In July 1976, women were admitted to the prestigious West Point military academy in the United States for the first time. Simon Watts talks to Marene Nyberg, one of the first female intake. PHOTO: Women cadets at West Point in 1976 (Getty Images)
In July l945 Britain's great wartime leader, Winston Churchill, was defeated in a general election. The Labour party's landslide came just weeks after the surrender of Nazi Germany and remains one of the greatest shocks in British political history. How did Winston Churchill, a hugely popular national hero, fail to win? Louise Hidalgo has been listening back through the archives. Picture: Winston Churchill makes a speech during the 1945 election campaign (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
When colonial explorers discovered an ancient ruined city in Zimbabwe, they claimed foreigners must have built it. They denied the probability that it was the work of a great African civilisation that dominated southern and east Africa with its trade in gold. After independence Zimbabwe was able to reclaim its full heritage. Rebecca Kesby spoke to Dr Ken Mufuka - the historian who was tasked with rewriting the history books. (Photo; The iconic tower in the Great Enclosure of the Great Zim...more
US Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had an argument about living standards when Nixon visited Moscow in 1959. They spoke at an exhibition of a 'typical' American house full of modern domestic appliances. Photo: The two leaders surrounded by press at the exhibition in Moscow, 1959. (Photo credit: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
At the start of the Korean war in 1950, tens of thousands of suspected communist sympathisers were executed by the South Korean military. The regime feared they might support the North Korean invaders. Many of them were political prisoners, who were taken from their cells and shot dead. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from Gaeseong Lee, whose father was a prisoner at Daejeon jail when he was killed. Photo:Gaeseong Lee as a small child with his parents. Copyright: Gaeseong Lee.
Two IRA bombs were detonated in Hyde Park and Regent's Park in London on 20th July 1982. They left 11 military personnel dead, and injured around 50 people. Seven horses were also killed as the Hyde Park bomb was detonated during the Changing of the Guard procession. Karen Gregor has been speaking to former Army vet, Paddy Davison, who was called to the scene. Photo: The covered bodies of horses lying in the road after the Hyde Park bombing. Credit: BBC
In July 1968 one of the most significant international treaties of the 20th-century was signed. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was aimed at stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, obliging signatories not to pass nuclear technology on to others, and was the result of rare cooperation between Cold War adversaries, the United States and the Soviet Union. Louise Hidalgo talks to former Soviet diplomat, Roland Timerbaev, who helped draft the treaty. Picture: the mushroom cloud created by th...more
On July 22 1946 an armed Jewish group opposed to British rule in Palestine, attacked the iconic hotel in Jerusalem where the British had their headquarters. 91 people were killed in the bombing, dozens of others were injured. Shoshana Levy Kampos was a 21-year-old Jewish woman who worked for the British as a secretary. She tells Mike Lanchin about her lucky escape. Photo: Scene of wrecked King David Hotel in Jerusalem after bombing (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
To fight food shortages in the 1950s the USSR embarked on a major agricultural project to develop vast areas of previously uncultivated land in northern Kazakhstan. The project attracted hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic volunteers, but decades later it led to environmental problems. Dina Newman spoke to an agricultural volunteer, Rimma Busurova. Photo: Rimma Busurova and her classmates outside their dormitory in northern Kazakhstan; credit: Rimma Busurova family archive.
The Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, four daughters and young son, were shot in the cellar of a house in Yekaterinburg on 17 July 1918. Olga Romanoff is his great niece. She spoke to Olga Smirnova about his death and eventual reburial in St Petersburg. (Photo: Nicholas II, Tsar and his family. From left to right - Olga, Maria,Tsar Nicholas II,Tsarina Alexandra, Anastasia, Tsarevitch Alexei and Tatiana. Credit: Press Association
In the summer of 2001, an Italian journalist used an underwater robot to find the remains of a shipwreck off the coast of Sicily which had killed nearly 300 migrants from South Asia. At the time this was the worst disaster of its kind in the Mediterranean but the few survivors had been ignored by officials and dismissed as fantasists. The discovery of the so-called “Phantom Shipwreck” caused an outrage in Italy. Simon Watts talks to Italian journalist Giovanni Maria Bellu and the former Observer...more
In the early 1960s a magazine article about West Germany's defence capabilities led to the imprisonment of seven journalists, a vehement debate about press freedom and a full-blown government crisis. Tim Mansel has been speaking to Franziska Augstein about her father Rudolf Augstein's part in the Spiegel Affair. Photo: Rudolf Augstein, the publisher of the magazine 'Spiegel' is escorted by the police. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images
The inside story of how India secretly developed and exploded an atomic device in 1974. India called it a Peaceful Nuclear Explosion, though the experimental device was in effect a plutonium bomb. The test was seen as a triumph of Indian science and technology, but it led to the suspension of international nuclear co-operation with India, and spurred Pakistan to speed up development of its own nuclear bomb. Alex Last spoke to S.K Sikka, one of India's leading nuclear scientists, about his role i...more
In 1958 Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, published his first book "Things Fall Apart". It was set in pre-colonial rural Nigeria and examines how the arrival of foreigners led to tensions within traditional Igbo society. The book revolutionised African writing, and began a whole new genre of world literature. In 2016 Rebecca Kesby spoke to Achebe's youngest daughter, Nwando Achebe. (Photo: Chinua Achebe in 2002. Photo Credit: Reuters/Ralph Orlowski/Files )
When war broke out in Kosovo in 1998 Nato intervened with air-strikes. US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright was the main proponent for military action. She explains to Rebecca Kesby why she argued for action, and tells her own remarkable story from a childhood in Czechoslovakia to the highest political office ever held by a woman in the United States. (Photo: Madeleine Albright. Credit US Government)
Post-war Britain saw a rise in makeshift adventure playgrounds born out of bomb sites. Children were provided with tools and raw materials, to build whatever they wanted to play with, using their own imagination. Anya Dorodeyko spoke to Tony Chilton, an early "playworker" and champion of adventure playgrounds in the UK about their boom in the 1970s. Picture: children playing on an adventure playground in London in the 1970s (Credit: BBC)
A controversial installation by Russian conceptual artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov offended Russians in 1992, but is now seen as a masterpiece. Emilia Kabakov told Dina Newman that The Toilet is "a metaphor for life." Photo: The Toilet, a model; credit: Kabakov archive
On 3 July 1988, a US Navy warship, the USS Vincennes, shot down an Iranian civilian airliner over the Persian Gulf. All 290 on board the aircraft were killed, among them 66 children. The plane was flying a scheduled service from Bandar Abbas in Iran to Dubai but was mistakenly identified as "hostile" by the US ship. Alex Last has been hearing a rare first-hand account from Rudy Pahoyo, a former US Navy Combat Cameraman who happened to be filming on the USS Vincennes that day. Photo: The USS Vin...more
In July 2005, the identity of one of the most famous informants in American political history was revealed. Deep Throat leaked details of President Nixon's Watergate cover-up to the Washington Post leading eventually to the president's resignation. He was former assistant director at the FBI, Mark Felt. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to the lawyer who helped persuade the elderly Mark Felt to go public after 30 years of silence and speculation. Picture: Bob Woodward (left) and Carl Bernstein...more
Former President George Bush Senior gave up his lifetime membership of the country's most powerful gun-lobby, the NRA, in 1995. Claire Bowes has been speaking to his speechwriter, Jim McGrath, to find out why the 41st President turned his back on the National Rifle Association, a body so closely associated with political power. Photo: Portrait Of President George Herbert Walker Bush in 1991 (credit: Bachrach/Getty Images)
In 1981 a Whiskey-class Soviet submarine became stranded on a rock just off the coast of southern Sweden. For years Sweden had suspected the Soviets of patrolling illegally in their territorial waters. Now they had their proof. It took 11 days of tense negotiation before the submarine was allowed to leave. Tim Mansel speaks to Klas Helmerson, who helped interpret on behalf of the Swedish navy. Photo: The Soviet submarine U-137 that ran aground in Karlskrona archipelago, Sweden in October 1981...more
Early 2003 saw a medical emergency sweep across the world. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome was a deadly virus which had first struck in southern China but soon there were cases as far away as Canada. William Ho and Tom Buckley were at the forefront of the battle against the epidemic. Photo: Image of the SARS virus. Credit: Science Photo Library.
In June 1996, the campaigning Irish journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered by a hit squad as she waited in her car at a set of traffic lights. Guerin had become famous in Ireland for exposing the activities of the country's drug barons. Her life was later turned into a Hollywood film. Simon Watts talks to Guerin's friend and fellow journalist, Lise Hand. (Photo: Veronica Guerin. Credit: Getty Images).
In June 1943 a young Jewish RAF pilot from the East End of London was forced to make an emergency landing on the Italian island of Lampedusa. The Italian forces stationed there promptly surrendered to him. He told his story to the BBC ,and soon he was a hero back home. A musical about his story even became a hit in London. Daniel Gordon has been listening to the BBC's archive, and talking to Arnold Schwartzman who made a film about Flight Sgt Sydney Cohen. Photo: A Swordfish bi-plane, th...more
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 in 1981. Professor Hansen spoke to Ashley Byrne about his discoveries. Image: Map of the world. Credit: Science Photo Library.
Uzi Even is a former Colonel in the Israeli army reserves and a top nuclear scientist. In 1982 he was dismissed from his post after the military discovered he was gay. Ten years later, he went public, forcing the Army to change the law. He later became the first openly gay member of parliament in Israel. He tells Mike Lanchin about his battle for LGBT rights. Photo: Uzi Even in the 1970s (courtesy of Uzi Even)
The town of Wittenoom in Western Australia sprang up around a blue asbestos mine in the 1940s and '50s. Asbestos, a natural fire retardant mineral fibre was then in high demand and used in thousands of products. But in Wittenoom, many residents were unaware that asbestos could be lethal. The fibres can cause lung disease and cancer. Thousands of residents died. The town is now almost completely abandoned. Janet Ball spoke to Bronwen Duke, who lived in the town as a child. She is one of the few m...more
Bata was a Czech company which pioneered assembly line shoemaking and sold affordable footwear around the world. Its factory near London became key to its expansion. Dina Newman speaks to one of its senior engineers, Mick Pinion, about the company's remarkable history and how it shod millions in Africa and Asia. Photo: Bata factory in East Tilbury near London. Credit: Bata Heritage Centre.
An American doctor coined the phrase 'the battered child' to describe unexplained injuries which had been misdiagnosed by paediatricians unwilling or unable to acknowledge abuse. Dr C Henry Kempe published a paper in July 1962 which shocked the medical profession. Some doctors were pleased to finally be able to name child abuse but others refused to believe parents would harm their children that way. Claire Bowes has been speaking to Dr Kempe's daughter, Annie, about the remarkable man who helpe...more
North Korea's communist leader Kim Il-sung died in July 1994. Dr Antonio Betancourt, of the Unification Church, was in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, during the outpouring of national grief. Photo: Dr Antonio Betancourt meeting Kim Il Sung just months before the leader's death. (Courtesy of Dr Antonio Betancourt.)
In 1991, amid escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, Pyongyang and Seoul agreed to field a united Korean table tennis team at the World Championships in Japan. Previously bitter rivals, players from the North and South spent more than a month training together and eventually bonding. Their experience inspired a hit film in South Korea, where ping pong is a very popular sport. Simon Watts spoke to former South Korean women's champion, Hyun Jung-Hwa about being part of that unified team. ...more
When the Korean War ended, a few American prisoners of war chose to go with their captors and try life under communism, instead of heading home to the USA. David Hawkins was one of them. He told his story to Chloe Hadjimatheou in 2012. Photo: American, and South Korean POWs who refused repatriation. An African-American prisoner is singing a Chinese folk song to entertain his companions at the Songgongni camp while they wait. 1954.(Credit: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)
North Korean communist troops invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950. Initially they were very successful until UN forces (mainly American) helped drive them back. The war lasted until a ceasefire was declared in July 1953, millions of Koreans were killed in the fighting. Dr Yoon Goo Lee was living in a town in South Korea when the invasion started. In 2010 he told his story to Louise Hidalgo. Photo: Korean refugees fleeing to the south. Credit: Getty Images
At the end of World War Two with the surrender of Japan in August 1945, Korea was split along the 38th parallel. Soviet forces took control in the North of the peninsula, and the US military took control in the South. Shin Insup was a boy, living the northern city of Pyongyang at the time. In 2015 he spoke to Catherine Davis about what happened next. (Photo: Korea 38th parallel. Credit: Getty Images/AFP)
Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was executed just after midnight on June 1st 1962 in a prison in central Israel. Holocaust survivor Michael Goldmann-Gilead witnessed his execution and was one of two people tasked afterwards with scattering Eichmann's ashes at sea. He had been part of the police investigation collecting evidence against Eichmann before his trial, and had lost his parents and sister in the Holocaust. He has been telling Louise Hidalgo his story. Picture: Nazi war criminal Adol...more
Nigeria's military ruler, General Sani Abacha, died suddenly of an apparent heart attack on 8 June 1998. In 2015 Alex Last spoke to the general's personal doctor, Professor Sadiq Suleiman Wali. Photo: General Abacha in 1997. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
In June 1968, Belgrade University was occupied by students protesting against Yugoslavia's system of 'market socialism'. The occupation lasted seven days and was supported by students in other parts of the country. Dina Newman speaks to Sonja Licht who was one of the organisers. (Photo: Sonja Licht with her fellow protester and later her husband, Milan Nikolic, at the site of the protests. Credit: Nikolic family archive)
In June 1982, the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Shlomo Argov, was shot and critically injured by a Palestinian gunman outside the Dorchester Hotel in London. The attack was the trigger for the start of the devastating war in Lebanon just days later. Simon Watts talks to Shlomo Argov's son, Gideon Argov. (Photo: Shlomo Argov. Credit: Shutterstock)
In 1996 a young TV producer in Boston came up with the idea of a running programme to help people exercise regularly. Couch to 5K running groups now exist all over the world and it has even been endorsed by Britain's National Health Service, the NHS. Elizabeth Davies hears from Josh Clark, who invented the programme. Photo credit: Science Photo Library
In May 2007 a nomadic reindeer herdsman discovered the perfectly preserved body of a 42,000-year-old baby mammoth in Siberia. The creature, which was later named Lyuba, was 130 cm tall and weighed around 50 kilos. Anya Dorodeyko has been speaking to herdsman Yuri Khudi about his amazing find. Photo: Lyuba on display in Hong Kong in 2012. (credit: aaron tam/AFP/Getty Images)
In May 1942, the American Isaac Asimov published the first instalment of the Foundation series, which would go on to become one of the most popular works of science fiction ever written. Foundation asks big and hugely imaginative questions about the predictability of human behaviour in a space-age future. Simon Watts introduces excerpts from BBC archive interviews with Isaac Asimov and an early BBC dramatization of the Foundation series. PHOTO: Isaac Asimov in the 1970s (BBC)
In 1948 the British government carried out an ambitious shake-up of post war society, establishing the foundations of a welfare state. A cornerstone of this new vision was the creation of the National Health Service, the NHS, providing free universal health care for everyone in the UK. Mike Lanchin has been hearing the memories of Olive Belfield, a former nurse and health visitor, and of Dr John Marks, one of the first doctors to qualify to work in the new NHS. Photo: Aneurin Bevan, Minis...more
Executives of Chemie-Grunenthal, the German company that made the drug Thalidomide, went on trial charged with criminal negligence in May 1968. Thalidomide had caused serious, often fatal, birth defects in thousands of babies after their mothers took the drug during pregnancy thinking it was safe. It was one of the biggest pharmaceutical scandals of post-war Europe, and the trial would last more than two years. In 2016 Louise Hidalgo spoke to the wife of the prosecutor in the case, who herself ...more
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. Luud has been speaking to Janet Ball about why that first scheme didn't last, and how he went on to invent an early computerised car-sharing scheme as well. Photo: Activists with one of the original white bikes from the first scheme. Credit: Luud Schimmelpennink.
For 75 years the BBC ran a monitoring service based in an English stately home. Its job was to listen to foreign broadcasts from all around the world. But in 2018 the BBC decided the building was no longer needed. David Sillito spoke to veterans of the monitoring service before Caversham closed its doors. Photo: Inside one of the listening huts at Caversham during WW2. Credit: BBC Monitoring Service.
Shoah, the epic nine-and-a-half hour documentary on the Holocaust by French film director Claude Lanzmann, was first screened in spring 1985. It took Lanzmann 11 years to make, and had taken him to 14 different countries. The film centres on first-hand testimony by survivors, witnesses and by perpetrators and uses no archive footage. On its release, it was hailed as one of the greatest films on the Holocaust ever made. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to Irena Steinfeldt, who worked with Lanzmann...more
On 23 May 1988 a group of lesbian activists invaded a BBC TV news studio as it went live on air. They were protesting against the introduction of new UK laws to limit LGBT rights. Booan Temple was one of the women who took part in the demonstration and she's been speaking to Ruth Evans about what happened that day. Photo: Booan and another protester are led out of the BBC by security guards. Credit: BBC.
In 1984 a group of young people formed the Ajoka theatre group. Created at a time of heightened tensions and censorship due to the state of emergency imposed by the then military dictatorship of General Zia ul-Huq, it pioneered theatre for social change in Pakistan. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Fawzia Afzal-Khan who acted in the company's first original play. (Members of the Ajoka theatre group 1988; Credit Fawzia Afzal-Khan)
On May 21st 1998 the president of Indonesia resigned after 31 years in power. He stood down in the wake of demonstrations and riots across the country. The riots had broken out after the shooting of four student demonstrators by armed police in the capital Jakarta. In 2014 Alex Last spoke to Bhatara Ibnu Reza who took part in the demonstrations and who was with one of the students when he died. Photo: Students celebrate outside the Parliamentary buildings, Jakarta after Indonesian Preside...more
How Lt. Jack ReVelle disarmed two thermonuclear bombs which crashed in Goldsboro, North Carolina in 1961. The bombs had been sucked out of a B-52 bomber which broke up in mid air and crashed on a flight over the eastern United States. Accidents involving nuclear weapons are known as Broken Arrows in US military terminology. At the time, Jack Revelle led a US Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team based in Ohio. Photo: One of the bombs Jack disarmed remained virtually intact.(USAF)
The play Look Back in Anger exploded onto London's cultural scene in May 1956 and helped to change British theatre forever. The play by John Osborne is about a disillusioned university graduate coming to terms with his grudge against middle-class life and values. One writer described it as a cultural landmine. Actress Jane Asher starred in an early production and has been speaking to Louise Hidalgo for Witness. Picture: Jane Asher, Victor Henry and Martin Shaw at a rehearsal for the 1968 revi...more
In May 1968 student demonstrations spread across France and when workers joined the protests the whole country was brought to a standstill. Jean-Claude Pruvost was a young policeman who had to face the violent protests on the streets of Paris as the authorities tried to restore control. He has been speaking to Lisa Louis for Witness. Photo: Protesters face police in front of the Joseph Gibert bookstore, Boulevard Saint Michel in May 1968. (Credit: Jacques Marie/AFP/Getty Images)
In 1907 Italian doctor, Maria Montessori opened a nursery where young children learnt independently, through practical work and playing with educational toys. The revolutionary teaching method soon spread around the world. Anya Dorodeyko spoke to the Italian educator's great granddaughter, Carolina Montessori and teacher Nan Abbott, who was trained by Dr Montessori in the 1940s. Photo: Children develop their problem solving skills through play at a Montessori school in 1919. Credit: Davies/To...more
In 1943, the Royal Air Force attacked a set of dams in Germany's Ruhr valley which were considered indestructible. Flying low and at night, the crews used special bouncing bombs to bring down two of their targets. The Dambusters mission was a huge propaganda success for Britain and later inspired a famous film. In 2013, Simon Watts talked to Johnny Johnson, one of the few survivors of the raid. PHOTO: Johnny Johnson (far left) with members of his crew, part of 617 squadron (DAMBUSTERS) at RAF...more
In 1985 several members of the same American family were arrested for selling Navy secrets to the USSR. The alleged ring leader, John Walker, had been spying for the Soviets for 20 years. But the FBI suspected that John's elder brother Arthur had been involved in spying even earlier. Dina Newman speaks to Arthur Walker's lawyer, Sam Meekings. Photo: the alleged spy ring leader John Walker started his career in the Navy on board the USS Forrestal, a US aircraft carrier. Credit: Keystone/Getty ...more
On the 10th May 1981 a baby was born after having been successfully operated on whilst still in the womb. The paediatric surgeon who developed the technique was Dr Michael Harrison. He has been speaking to Ashley Byrne about the challenges he faced. Photo: an ultrasound of a foetus in the womb. Credit: Science Photo Library.
In June 2001, more than half a century after being driven into exile by communists, Bulgaria’s former King Simeon II made a dramatic comeback by winning the country’s parliamentary election. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha about his remarkable journey from child king to prime minister. Photo: King Simeon II 1943 Credit: Bulgarian Royal Family
In May 1963, leaders of 32 newly-independent African nations came together for the first time in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. At stake was the dream of a united Africa. Alex Last spoke to Dr Bereket Habte Selassie who took part in that first gathering. Photo: Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie (C) and Ghana's first President Kwame Nkrumah (L) during the formation of the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa in May 1963. Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images
Autism was first described in 1943 by Austrian-American child psychiatrist Leo Kanner. This condition, which makes it difficult for people to communicate and relate to the world around them, was seen as very rare at the time. Anya Dorodeyko has been speaking to Dr James Harris, Professor of Child Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University in America, who was a colleague and a successor to Leo Kanner. Photo: Leo Kanner in 1955. (Credit: Science Photo Library)
The British conservative politician was the first woman elected to lead a Western European country. She came to power on May 4th 1979. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to Caroline Slocock who worked with Mrs Thatcher as her private secretary, while she was Prime Minister. Photo: British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, with husband Denis on May 4th 1979. (Credit: John Minihan/Evening Standard/Getty Images)
A surprise attack, a ship sunk, a crew captured - a veteran of the British Merchant Navy remembers his encounter with a German commerce raider in the South Atlantic in May 1940. At the time, Captain Graeme Cubbin was just a 16-year-old cadet on the British merchant ship, SS Scientist when it became the first victim of the German commerce raider, the Atlantis. The crew of the Scientist spent nine months as prisoners on the German raider, as it wreaked havoc on Allied shipping in the South Atlant...more
The hugely popular game show started on Japanese TV in 1986. Contestants were faced with all sorts of physical challenges which often resulted in slapstick failure. It soon became an international success. Ashely Byrne has been speaking to Hayato Tani who played 'The General' in Takeshi's Castle. Photo: Hayato Tani now. Credit:Yoshie Matsumoto.
Birmingham Alabama was one of the most segregated cities in the USA in 1963. In May that year thousands of black schoolchildren responded to a call from Martin Luther King to protest against segregation at the height of the civil rights movement. It became known as the Children's Crusade. Gwendolyn Webb was 14 years old at the time. In 2013 she spoke to Ashley Byrne about her experiences. Photo: African American children are attacked by dogs and water cannons during a protest against segre...more
The Royal Shakespeare Company opened in Britain in 1961 and changed theatre forever. 400 years after his death, the playwright's work began to be performed in a radical new way. Claire Bowes has been listening to archive of the founder of the theatre company, Sir Peter Hall, and speaking to Britain's longest serving theatre critic, Michael Billington about the move which made Shakespeare more relevant than ever before. Photo: Portrait of English dramatist William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), ci...more
The man that many consider the greatest artist of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso, died in April 1973. Louise Hidalgo talks to Anthony Penrose who knew Picasso as a boy and whose parents, the American photographer, Lee Miller, and the surrealist artist, Roland Penrose, were his friends and biographer. Picture: Pablo Picasso by the photographer Lee Miller, taken in the Villa la Californie, Cannes, in 1956 (Credit: Lee Miller Archives)
A Glasgow jail began offering art therapy and a much more relaxed regime to some of its most violent prisoners in 1973. It was known as the Barlinnie 'special unit' and soon its inmates were painting and writing instead of fighting with prison officers. Hear archive voices from the unit alongside Professor Richard Sparks who was a visitor there in the 1990s. Photo: Barlinnie prison. Credit:PA /David Cheskin.
Top secret negotiations in Norway during 1993 eventually led to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement which became known as the Oslo Accord. Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul was one of the people who helped keep the talks on track. She spoke to Louise Hidalgo for Witness in 2012. (Photo: Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat at the signing ceremony for the Oslo Accord, September 13,1993. Credit: AFP/Getty Images.)
In 1987, an American endurance swimmer called Lynne Cox swam across the "Ice Curtain" between the USA and the Soviet Union. The Diomede Islands in the Bering Strait are only 2.7 miles apart, but divided by near-freezing water and Cold War rivalry. Lynne Cox spoke to Simon Watts about her swim in 2012. This programme is a rebroadcast. PHOTO: Lynne Cox on the Bering Strait. (Copyright Rich Roberts)
Using archive BBC recordings of veterans, we tell the story of one of the most famous figures of World War One. The legendary German air ace Baron von Richthofen who was killed in April 1918. Photo: German First World War air ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as the Red Baron, with a comrade in front of his famous red tri-plane. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
On April the 22 1970, 20 million Americans came out on to the streets to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in the first so-called Earth Day. Mass rallies were held to highlight concerns about pollution and the destruction of America's natural heritage. Some see it as the birth of the modern environmental movement. Farhana Haider spoke to Denis Hayes, the organiser of that first Earth Day. Photo credit: Robert Sabo-Pool/Getty Images
The lighthouse on Skellig Michael off the south west coast of Ireland was continuously occupied by lighthouse keepers for more than 150 years until its automation 1987. Skellig Michael has now become a tourist attraction since its ancient monastery was used as a location in recent Star Wars films. The last keeper of the light there was Richard Foran who has been speaking to Catherine Harvey about life on the remote island. Photo: The lighthouses on Skellig Michael. Credit: Alamy
After the September 11th attacks brought down the Twin Towers, reconstruction began at the devastated area in New York in April 2006. Rachael Gillman spoke to TJ Gottesdiener, who was a managing partner at the architecture firm tasked with designing a new skyscraper on the site. (Photo credit: Robert Sabo-Pool/Getty Images)
In early 1918, Germany launched a huge offensive on the Western Front in a last great gamble to win the war. Following Russia's withdrawal from the war, Germany could move up to a million soldiers from the Eastern Front to the West to launch a decisive attack. Their plan was to break through British and French lines and force an end to the war, before American power could bolster the Allied cause. They came close to succeeding. Using recordings from the BBC Archive, we hear from German and Briti...more
In 1968 Europe was rocked by student demonstrations calling for a revolution. In West Berlin the protests intensified following the shooting of student leader Rudi Dutschke on April 11th 1968. He would become a symbol for a generation of young Germans. In 2013 Lucy Burns spoke to his widow Gretchen Klotz-Dutschke about the attack. (Image: Gretchen Klotz-Dutschke(L) Rudi Dutschke(R) Credit: Keystone/Getty Images)
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 had been discovered that they'd been carrying out espionage instead. George Walden was a young diplomat on the Soviet desk in the British Foreign Office at the time. Photo: British Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Home (left) shakes hands with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko (right) at Heathrow Airport, 26th October 1970. (cre...more
In 1983 Robert Mugabe’s government sent crack troops to put down opposition supporters in western Zimbabwe. The soldiers were nicknamed the Gukurahundi which means 'the wind that blows away the chaff'. Trained by North Koreans, they were zealous in their support for Mugabe and utterly ruthless in their methods. Thousands were killed and many were tortured. For years people were fearful of speaking out. One survivor has been telling Rebecca Kesby what it was like. Photo: Robert Mugabe. Cr...more
Zoe Leyland was born in Australia on April 11th 1984. As an embryo, she'd been frozen for 8 weeks before being successfully implanted into her mother's womb. Dr Alan Trounson was part of the team who pioneered the technology to freeze embryos, he's been speaking to Ashley Byrne. Photo: In vitro fertilisation technician removing frozen embryos from storage. Credit: Science Photo Library
Woodfall Films changed British cinema. First established in 1958, it made films with working class actors about working class lives. The driving force behind it was the producer and director Tony Richardson. Vincent Dowd has been speaking to Rita Tushingham who starred in a classic Woodfall movie 'A Taste of Honey', and to Desmond Davis who filmed 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner'. Photo: Actress Rita Tushingham in 'A Taste of Honey'. (Credit: Woodfall Films)
The 'emergency rescue committee' was set up by a group of American and exiled German liberals during the Second World War to help save some of Europe's leading intellectuals and artists from the Nazis. Among those the group rescued from German-occupied France were artists Marc Chagall and Max Ernst, surrealist leader Andre Breton and German novelist Heinrich Mann. Louise Hidalgo has been hearing from Justus Rosenberg who worked for the committee and had his own narrow escape from the Nazis. P...more
Communist forces overran the key southern city of Hue triggering one of the biggest battles of the war. The attack was part of the Tet Offensive in 1968, when North Vietnam launched surprise assaults on towns and cities across South Vietnam, with the support of its southern based guerrilla force, the Viet Cong. Alex Last spoke to Nguyen Dac Xuan, a former member of the Viet Cong which fought against American and South Vietnamese forces in Hue. Photo: American troops watch as a US plane bombs ...more
In April 1968 Stanley Kubrick's ground-breaking sci-fi movie was released in the US. The film had mixed early reviews but went on to be considered one of the great classics of all-time. Keir Dullea played the starring role of astronaut David Bowman in the film. He tells Mike Lanchin about working with Kubrick and with the famous space computer H.A.L. Photo credit: MGM / EMI
Chaos and hardship hit Russia with the rapid market reforms in early 1992, weeks after the collapse of the USSR. Dina Newman has been speaking to one of the architects of this "shock therapy", the economy minister Andrei Nechaev. Photo: an old woman outside McDonald's in Moscow, circa 1992. Credit: Dina Newman archive.
In April 1996 the so-called UNAbomber was arrested. Ted Kaczynski had been carrying out a campaign of attacks against universities and airlines in the USA. He'd been turned in by his brother David. In 2010 David Kaczynski spoke to Lucy Williamson for Witness. Photo: Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski outside the Federal Courthouse in Sacramento, California. January 1998.(Credit: Bob Galbraith/AFP/Getty Images)
The plastic explosive was malleable, odourless and stable. Created in communist Czechoslovakia in the town of Semtin in 1958, it was once the weapon of choice for those seeking to spread terror. Maria Jevstafjeva has been speaking to the brother of Stanislav Brebera, the chemist who invented it. Photo: Two workers display Semtex, a Czech-made industrial and military plastic explosive at Syntesia chemical plant in Semtin, Credit: Lubomir Kotek/AFP/Getty Images
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)
The publication of a map of the floor of the Atlantic ocean in 1957 by an American female cartographer, Marie Tharp, helped to change forever the way we view our world. Her discovery of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge was eventually taken as evidence of the theory of plate tectonics. Yet her work was initially dismissed as 'girls' talk', her colleague geologist Bill Ryan tells Louise Hidalgo. Picture: Marie Tharp working on a map of the ocean floor at Columbia University in the 1960s. (Credit: Lamont-...more
In 1978 a small community called Wahat al-Salam, Neve Shalom, was founded by four families, Jews and Arabs, on a hill-top between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It was a pioneering experiment in peaceful co-existence in the long Middle East conflict. Four decades on, it is now home to more than 60 families. Mike Lanchin travels to the community and speaks to two of its long-standing residents, Nava Sonnenschein and Daoud Boulus about life in this "oasis of peace." (Photo courtesy of Daoud Boulus)
After the bitter Bosnian war in the 1990's, Catholic Monk, Friar Ivo Markovic, launched a multi-faith choir to bring survivors of the violence together and promote understanding between different ethnic groups. The choir is called "Pontanima", an invented word based on Latin that means, "bridge among souls". Rebecca Kesby spoke to Friar Ivo and saw the choir perform. (PHOTO: Members of the Pontanima Choir of Sarajevo: Courtesy of The Woolf Institute)
London's Stock Exchange, one of the world's oldest, welcomed women as members for the first time in March 1973. It meant they could earn much more money, as partners in their firms. It also meant they were finally allowed to cross the famous trading floor. Hilary Pearson told Claire Bowes how she and a handful of other women made their way in a very traditional man's world. Photo: One of the first women to be admitted to the floor of the London Stock exchange, 26th March 1973. (Credit: Arthur...more
On 23 March 1994 the presidential candidate for Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, was shot dead in the border town of Tijuana. Luis Donaldo Colosio, who was expected to be the country's next leader, was killed when out campaigning. A sole gunman is still in jail for his murder, but Alfonso Durazo, Colosio's former private secretary, tells Mike Lanchin why he believes the murder was part of a wider political plot. Photo taken from Televisa TV broadcast showing amateur vi...more
In March 1968 more than 6,000 sheep died while grazing close to the Dugway Proving Ground, the US military's leading chemical warfare testing site, located in the US state of Utah. One theory was that they were killed by a nerve agent. Deputy Sheriff William Pitt arrived at the scene as some of the sheep were still in convulsions. He has been telling Mike Lanchin about that strange event, which became known as the Skull Valley Sheep Kill. Photo: Two farmers checking the corpses of dead sheep ...more