Documentaries

Documentaries

United Kingdom

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

Episodes

Freedom and Fear in Myanmar  

Jonah Fisher travels across Myanmar and into neighbouring Bangladesh to investigate claims that Burmese Muslims have suffered rape and murder at the hands of the military.

It's a Dog's Life  

There is unique and ancient bond between humans and dogs, from its early beginnings to the modern day. Ayo Akinwolere explores this bond by visiting 'The Land of the Mutts' - an extraordinary refuge for dogs in Costa Rica, where dogs outnumber people by 100 to one. He investigates the science behind the the bonding and hears individual stories of canine-human relationships.

The Stem Cell Hard Sell  

Pioneering stem cell research is giving hope to patients with incurable conditions from multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer’s that treatment might one day be possible. It is early days but already some clinics are charging sick patients to take part in experimental therapies, including in the United States. Phil Kemp investigates one Florida-based stem cell study and asks if enough is being done to protect vulnerable people in search of a cure. Produced by Anna Meisel (Photo: Assistant Professor of Genetics and Developmental Biology Stormy Chamberlain holds a tray of stem cells at the University of Connecticut`s (UConn) Stem Cell Institute at the UConn Health Center, Credit: Getty Images)

Songs for the Dead  

Keeners were the women of rural Ireland who were traditionally paid to cry, wail and sing over the bodies of the dead at funerals and wakes. With emotions raw from her own recent experience of grief, broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir asks what has been lost with the passing of the keeners.

Breaking News  

The media in the United States is broken. Most journalists and media organisations dismissed the possibility of Trump Presidency. Many backed Hillary Clinton to win. It has left them in a precarious position with serious questions about their credibility, fuelled by the president and his inner circle who have branded them ‘enemies of the state’. Kyle Pope, editor of the Columbia Journalism Review asks how the media should respond to a hostile administration and more importantly how can they gain the trust of the vast numbers of people who think they are hopelessly biased.

Dying for a Song  

The musicians being persecuted for raising their voices against political, cultural or religious repression. Rex Bloomstein talks to artists whose songs have led to their imprisonment, torture and to the continuing threat of violence; artists who have been driven from their homelands, artists who, literally, risk dying for a song. In one recent year alone 30 musicians were killed, seven abducted, and 18 jailed by regimes, political and religious factions and other groups determined to curb the power of music to rally opposition to them. In Syria, singer Ibrahim Quashoush, was found dead in the Orontes River, his vocal chords symbolically ripped out. Rex hears stories of tremendous courage and determination not to be intimidated and silenced. Egyptian singer Ramy Essam tells of how he was brutally tortured after his songs rallied the crowds in Tahir Square during the Arab Spring. Two weeks later, after recovering from his injuries, he was back performing his songs aimed at bringing down the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Iranian singer Shahin Najafi continues to perform around the world despite a fatwa calling for his death, after his songs upset the religious leaders in his home country. He says: "At night I turn to the wall and slowly close my eyes and wait for someone to slit my throat". Amid tales of musical repression in Sudan, Tunisia, Burkina Faso and Lebanon, come stories, more surprisingly, from Norway. Deeyah Kahn reveals how she was forced to flee the country in the face of violent threats aimed at stopping her singing and Sara Marielle Gaup talks of her struggle against repression of the music of the indigenous Sami people in the north of the country - labelled "the devil’s music". Photo: Iranian musician Shahin Najafi, Credit: EPA

In Search of Henk and Ingrid  

Why is the tolerant Netherlands home to a major anti-immigration, anti-Islamic party?

Where Are You Going?  

Catherine Carr travels to Tijuana in Mexico, and asks strangers - where are you going?

Poland and the Mysterious Murder of Jola Brzeska  

The Polish property scandal now being linked to a brutal and unsolved murder

The World According to Studs Terkel - Part One  

Who didn't Studs Terkel interview during his tenure as America's leading radio host and oral historian? And where didn't he visit, in reality or in his imagination. For 45 years, Studs hosted a radio show on Chicago's WFMT, interviewing all the key figures in cultural life in the latter half of the 20th Century. His passion for music, theatre and literature was matched only by his engagement with politics and the social upheavals of the era, particularly civil rights. Black-listed for his association with Martin Luther King, he was an early champion of artists such as Mahalia Jackson, Maya Angelou and a young Bob Dylan and of ‘under-dogs’ and outsiders, ranging from Muhammad Ali to Woody Allen to Simone De Beauvoir. But Studs Terkel was more than a celebrated chronicler of American life – in books of oral history about music, the world of work, race relations and the American Dream. As is revealed through extracts from his archive and from interviews recorded by Alan Hall in the years before his death in 2008, Studs came to embody the liberal conscience of America, extolling a worldview that feels strikingly relevant in the era of President Trump. Part one focusses on Studs’ interest in social action and political commitment including Martin Luther King, Bertrand Russell and Simone De Beauvoir. Image: Studs Terkel, Credit: Falling Tree Productions

World Mayor  

We visit the mayors of cities from Helsinki to Bogota, from Los Angeles to Rotterdam and Cape Town to discover why citizens are putting their faith in the ability of local government and a charismatic mayor to deliver a better quality of life and solutions to 21st Century problems.

The Pull of Putin  

Why do populist politicians across the West want warmer relations with Russia? Are they just Kremlin agents? Or are they tapping into a growing desire to find common cause with Moscow – and end East-West tension? Tim Whewell travels from Russia to America and across Europe to unravel the many different strands of pro-Moscow thinking, and offer a provocative analysis which challenges conventional thinking about the relationship between Russia and the West.

Greece’s Forgotten Teenagers  

Phil Kemp meets some of the hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children stranded in Greece in camps and shelters on the islands and the mainland.

Greece’s Forgotten Teenagers  

There are an estimated two thousand three hundred unaccompanied migrant children in Greece, most of whom arrived from Syria and Afghanistan via Turkey. Like the thousands of other migrants there they had no intention of staying but saw Greece as a stopping off point en-route to the rest of Europe. But all that changed in March 2016 when Greece closed its borders following a deal struck between the EU and Turkey. It meant that Greece and other EU countries could return to Turkey migrants whose asylum claims were rejected. But almost a year on critics say the plan isn’t working and that many migrants now find themselves in limbo and living in miserable conditions. Phil Kemp heads to Greece in search of the teenagers living by their wits in the desolate and ill equipped refugee camps and on the streets of Athens. Producer: Sally Chesworth

Dalida - A Life Unbearable  

Over her 40-year-career Dalida sold 170 million records, won 55 Gold Record awards and had 19 number one singles in Europe, Middle East, Canada, Russia and Japan. Despite her success, the former Miss Egypt is remembered for a personal life mired in tragedy. In 1987, following the death of her beloved bulldog, Dalida took her own life. Her suicide note read - "La vie m'est insupportable...pardonnez-moi." - Life has become unbearable for me..Forgive me.

Michelle Obama: 'Black Like Me'  

Have you ever heard a woman being described as “pretty for a dark skinned girl”? This podcast hears frank and often painful first-hand stories about 'shadeism' or 'colourism' – discrimination based on skin tone. We are told how decades ago, some African American organisations used the “brown paper bag test” to decide who could become members, with those with darker skins excluded. And we investigate how this prejudice is still affecting people, including in their relationships. For many, the former First Lady, Michelle Obama, has become a role model. By being married to a man with lighter skin, has she changed how black women and girls see themselves? Contributors include the singer-songwriter India Arie.

Desperate for Meds in Egypt  

A crash in the Egyptian currency has left a critical lack of drugs, and left thousands desperate for help. For some of those in need, it’s a race against time.

Hope Speaks Out  

Media headlines often fuel fear about refugees and amongst refugees. But what happens when refugees pick up the microphones and tell their own stories? Refugee Radio Network, in the German city of Hamburg, is a project that is tapping the power of community radio stations and the internet to give voice to refugees from wherever they have come.

Living Water  

Aboriginal people from across Australia share their words, wisdom and concern for the future of that crucial resource, water. Watched by crocodiles on the bank of a tropical Northern Territory stream; sitting in a peaceful desert water dreaming place; interpreting a significant rock art site; dancing and singing the country back to life - water is embedded in identity, culture, spirituality and survival. Brad Moggridge, a Murri from the Kamilaroi Nation, is a hydrogeologist who’s passionate about promoting Aboriginal ecological knowledge and he links the traditional with a contemporary scientific take on water management. In this, the driest inhabited continent on earth, understanding water has been essential for tens of thousands of years. Today, as Brad says, "Mobs all over the country still talk about water places, dream about water places, have laws about water places and teach the next generation about water places. Water is a key part of who we are". Image: Water at Bermagui Yuin Country, Credit: BBC

Hans Rosling - the Extraordinary Life of a Statistical Guru  

A master communicator with a passion for global development, the world has lost a legend with the death of the Swedish statistician Han Rosling. He had the ear of those with power and influence. His friend Bill Gates said Hans "brought data to life and helped the world see the human progress it often overlooked". In a world that often looks at the bad news coming out of the developing world, Rosling was determined to spread the good news with his captivating presentations about extended life expectancy, falling rates of disease and infant mortality. He was fighting what he called the ‘post-fact era‘ of global health. He was passionate about global development and before he became famous he lived and worked in Mozambique, India and the Democratic Republic of Congo using data and his skills as a doctor to save lives. Despite ill health he also travelled to Liberia during the Ebola outbreak in 2014 to help gather and consolidate data to help fight the outbreak. On a personal level he was warm, funny and kind and will be greatly missed by a huge number of people. This podcast first broadcast on 10 February in the series More or Less. Image: Hans Rosling, Credit: Associated Press

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