United Kingdom

The best of BBC World Service documentaries and other factual programmes.


Armenia’s Daredevils  

A group of war veterans who stormed a police station in Armenia call themselves the Daredevils of Sassoun, inspired by an 8th century poem, but are they heroes or terrorists?

Scenes in and Around Kyoto  

What would it be like to walk the streets of 17th Century Kyoto? Cathy FitzGerald explores a sumptuous pair of Japanese screens that depict the historic city in incredible detail. Temples, shrines, castles, shops and homes - the image is crammed with tiny scenes.

Dreaming the Wrong Dream?  

Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock visits Nigeria, the birthplace of her father, to look at why African nations are apparently so keen to journey into the future as a space-going continent. She explores the passionate desire among some to fly against the continent’s impoverished stereotype and join the space race.

Losing My Sight and Learning to Swim  

Singer and broadcaster Mônica Vasconcelos is slowly losing her sight. As her vision gradually fades, she goes in search of people who may show her new possibilities – new ways of being.

Die Klassen: Waiting and Hoping  

It is now a year since the German Chancellor Angela Merkel threw Germany’s borders open to thousands of stranded Syrian refugees. We follow five of them and for most it has been a year of uncertainty, a year of unending bureaucratic hurdles, and a year of struggle with German grammar.

Mexico: The Town that Said ‘No’  

The story of Cheran – a Mexican town that chased out the cartels, and the police and politicians who collaborated with them.

America Revisited: The Discussion  

The final programme in the series brings together five of the speakers from the road trip

A Flower Painting by Rachel Ruysch  

What's hiding in the undergrowth of Rachel Ruysch's bold and beautiful flower painting? This is a world where buds hiss like snakes, poppies twirl and tiny insects devour - a vibrant, fecund jungle, full of uncanny life. Cathy FitzGerald hears how this great Dutch artist was influenced by her unusual childhood as the daughter of Frederik Ruysch, maker of one of the world's great curiosity cabinets.

Drugs and the Dentist  

Drugs like crystal meth and opiates wreck the teeth as well as the mind. In America, more than just about any country, good teeth are a sign of success and so dentists like Dr Bob Carter are helping fix addicts’ teeth.

America Revisited: The Discussion  

In the final programme we bring together six of the exciting speakers from the road trip

Africa’s Ivory Dilemma  

Elephant populations are being decimated but the conservation world remains divided over how best to deal with it.

The Harvesters by Pieter Bruegel the Elder  

Cathy FitzGerald invites us to discover new details in three old masterpieces, beginning with Pieter Bruegel the Elder's masterpiece The Harvesters.

The Harvesters by Pieter Bruegel the Elder  

Cathy FitzGerald invites us to discover new details in three old masterpieces beginning with Pieter Bruegel the Elder's masterpiece The Harvesters.

Going Hungry in Venezuela  

Vladimir Hernandez returns home to oil-rich Venezuela, which is struggling to feed its own people in the midst of a spiralling economic crisis.

They Call Us Viet Kieu  

For Anna Ngyuen, a second-generation British Vietnamese theatre producer, fear and unexplained inherited traumas are what she associated with Vietnam all her life. Her parents fled the war-torn country in 1975 in the mass exodus that followed the Vietnam war. Does the Vietnam her mother feared still exist?

The Forgotten Prisoners of Apartheid  

South Africa became a democratic country in 1994 after years of racial oppression. Thousands of men and women sacrificed their lives to bring that brutal system down. They finally won when Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected president. But many of them are still in jail – even though the country went through a much celebrated Truth and Reconciliation process. So why are they not free?

America Revisited: The East  

Michelle Fleury and Ben Crighton travel from Louisville in Kentucky to New York on the East Coast. Along the way they speak to miners, environmentalists, food bank volunteers, drug addicts and former school students about President Obama’s legacy. Although the economy seems to have recovered from the global financial crisis, they encounter anger and disillusionment, and find that much of the optimism that swept Obama into office in 2008 has been replaced by division in Washington and across the country. In the weeks before the 2008 US election, the BBC drove a bus coast to coast across the US asking people about their lives and their hopes and fears for the future. In the four-part series America Revisited we meet some of those same people again to find out why the country seems more divided than ever.

A Home for Black History  

In what is described as the fitting coda to his administration, President Obama will cut the ribbon of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture on 24 September. Journalists Jesse J Holland and Robin N Hamilton are onsite in Washington DC for BBC World Service to hear from the architects, curators, donors, and expectant visitors who have travelled hundreds of miles to celebrate its grand opening. Taking the last spot on America’s National Mall, the museum – a beautiful three-tiered structure sheathed in bronze metalwork - will open after what’s described as the hardest curatorial job in history. It has been more than ten years in the making. It’s a museum that will explain, celebrate and confront the African American experience. At a time of racial tension, its mission to heal is seen as vital too. Museum director Lonnie Bunch, congressman John Lewis and judge Robert Wilkins describe the challenges of creating a museum which aims to tell the story of America through the lens of the African American experience. A story which is bound to provoke distress and anger as well as joy and admiration - something the museum’s 250 volunteers are being specially trained to deal with. We hear from two founding donors, Samuel L Jackson and General Colin Powell about the importance of having a national museum dedicated to African American history and culture. From locations across the USA - Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, St Louis, Nashville - we uncover stories behind the museum’s varied new acquisitions, largely told by the donors themselves: from Harriet Tubman’s Hymn book to Lauren Anderson’s ballet shoes, protest banners from Ferguson, the late music producer J Dilla’s synthesizer, and a former slave’s printing press. And we follow inspirational young divers in South Florida working in partnership with the museum to locate long-lost slave wrecks.

Basques Face the Future  

Five years after one of the longest armed struggles in modern Western Europe, Maria Margaronis travels to Spain ahead of important elections in the Basque Autonomous region. Hundreds of people died in the Basque conflict which finally came to an end when the separatist group ETA announced a permanent ceasefire. Now there is peace. But what has happened to the Basque dreams of an independent state? The issue hasn’t gone away: Arnaldo Otegi, a former member of ETA who helped broker the peace, has been banned from standing in the elections, to the outrage of his supporters. Produced by Mark Savage

Blind Man Roams the Globe: Rio  

When Peter White jets, sails or walks into a new city, it is the sounds, not the sights, which assail him. He sets off to Rio on the eve of the Paralympics. In Rio he finds a city poised with excitement as the Paralympics are set to begin. Like some of the arriving athletes, he is forced to navigate a strange environment without being able to see his way around.

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