The History Hour

The History Hour

United Kingdom

Using interviews and archive material from WW2 to the Arab Spring, the people who witnessed history tell us their stories. Presented by Max Pearson.


Charlie Chaplin Returns to America from Exile  

Charlie Chaplin's son on his father's political views and his rocky relationship with his one-time adopted home, America. Plus the Hubble telescope produces the first clear pictures of the furthest galaxies; shaking off colonialism with the world's first festival for black artists; Japan launches a new way of learning the violin and tragedy in Latin America when American missionaries flying over Peru were mistaken for drug-runners. (Photo: Charlie Chaplin as the Tramp in the 1925 film, The Gold Rush. Credit: Getty Images)

The Takeover of Russia's NTV  

NTV was Russia's only nationwide independent TV station until it was taken over in April 2001. We hear from the head of the station at the time. Plus, Ethiopia's Red Terror; the Katyn massacre during WW2; a breakthrough for disability rights in the US with the 504 sit-in; and Sikh bus drivers in the UK win the right to wear turbans to work. Photo: Life size puppets of Russian political leaders including President Putin, on the set of NTV's popular satirical television show "Puppets"; June 29, 2000. Credit: Oleg Nikishin/Newsmakers/Getty

How Princess Diana changed the perception of AIDS  

The royal handshake that changed attitudes to AIDS, America enters WW1, plus Egypt's Facebook girl, Nagorno Karabakh and remembering Jane Fonda's workout (Photo: Princess Diana with an AIDS patient at the Middlesex Hospital April 1987. Credit REX/Shutterstock)

The Flavr Savr Tomato - The World's First Genetically Engineered Food  

In 1994 the world's first genetically-engineered food went on sale in the US. It was a tomato, called the 'Flavr Savr' which stayed fresh for up to 30 days. Plus, a mysterious anthrax outbreak in the Soviet Union; the murder of a Catholic archbishop in El Salvador; and the Teletubbies turn 20. Photo: Roger Salquist, former Chairman and CEO of Calgene (courtesy of Roger Salquist)

Ayn Rand  

An influential "objectivist" philosopher, a political assassination in Colombia, the deportation of Estonians to Siberia, the killing of King Faisal and the courageous submariners of World War 1. Photo: Ayn Rand in New York in 1962. Credit: AP.

The First Russian Revolution of 1917  

100 years since the Russian Revolution, Imperial Russia in colour, AIDS and the mystery of 'Patient Zero', when Indian sex workers marched for employment rights and the British Lord who fled the Nazis in Czechoslovakia as a six year old on the Kindertransport. Photo: 12th March 1917: Barricades across a street in St Petersburg, as a red flag floats above the cannons, during the Russian Revolution. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Kuwaiti Women Secure the Vote  

Women in Kuwait win the right to vote, and the only women on the front line on the Western Front in World War One; battling smog in Mexico City in the 1980s, the artist Georgia O'Keeffe, and America's first incident of Islamic terror forty years ago. Photo: the first women candidates for parliamentary elections in Kuwait in 2006, Aisha al-Rashid (R) and Rola Dashti (C) (Credit: Yasser al-Zayya/AFP/Getty Images)

Mother Teresa - The Nun Who Became A Saint  

Life with Mother Teresa among the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, how the World Health Organisation came to realise that obesity was a global problem and Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House. Plus the immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks - a remarkable story of one woman's impact on medical research. (PHOTO: AP Mother Teresa holds a child in 1978)

The German American Bund  

In the 1930s, a group of German-American Nazi sympathisers known as the German American Bund held rallies and summer camps across the US. Also, the lawyers who helped Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic defend himself against war crimes charges and how vandals attacked Denmark's famous Little Mermaid Statue.

Love and Marriage  

From speed-dating to gay romance, from divorce to bigamy we look at recent changes in the way society perceives love and marriage. Plus - an expert view on how to make sure your love endures. Photo: A heart hanging over Carnaby Street in London. Credit: BBC.

Sanctuary Cities in the USA  

This week how American cities like San Francisco became safe havens for undocumented immigrants, the story of Tilikum and first recorded killing of a human by an orca whale, discovering DNA, the ship wreck that gave locals whiskey galore and Kenya's smash hit song - that got everyone singing in Swahili. (Photo: Supporters of Sanctuary Cities demonstrating in San Francisco, January 2017. Credit: AP)

The End of Apartheid  

Former South African police minister on ending apartheid, eyewitness to Black Hawk Down, landmark sexual harassment case in India, the last South American war and a record breaking solo trek across the Antarctic Picture: Anti-apartheid protestors demonstrate in Cape Town on the same day that President de Klerk announced the lifting of the ban on the ANC and the release of all political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela (Credit: RASHID LOMBARD/AFP/Getty Images)

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy  

On 26 January 1972 four Aboriginal men began a protest outside Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. They erected a beach umbrella on the grass and called it an 'embassy'. Plus, the murder of five lawyers in Madrid in 1977, which became a turning point in Spain's return to democracy; the invention of the microwave oven; Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; and 75 years of the BBC's longest-running programme, Desert Island Discs.

Roots - The TV Series  

The epic mini-series about slavery in the US hit TV screens in January 1977. We hear from actor Leslie Uggams, who played the character Kizzy, recalling how "Roots" revolutionised perceptions about African-American history. Plus: when peace deal ended El Salvador's brutal civil war, the murder of prominent Turkish Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, life in the world's largest refugee camp, and how Dungeons and Dragons came about. (Photo: Actors LeVar Burton, Todd Bridges and Robert Reed in Roots. Credit: Alamy)

Princess Diana's Minefield Walk  

In 1997, the Princess of Wales made a high-profile visit to a landmine clearance programme in Angola. Her trip is credited with boosting the campaign for a global landmine treaty signed later that year. Also, the man who rewrote the rules on transitions of power in the USA, the first woman to wear a headscarf into the Turkish parliament and the triumph of British espionage that changed the course of World War One. PHOTO: Princess Diana in Angola in 1997 (Credit: Alamy)

American Communists  

The early American Communists, a North Vietnamese tunneler who helped outsmart the Americans and win the war in Vietnam, plus the pyramid scheme failure in Albania which left gun-toting children on the streets. Also how five American missionaries paid the ultimate price after seeking out a remote tribe in Ecuador but left a lasting legacy, and the petition signed in Czechoslovakia which helped bring about the end of communism. Photograph: Ella and Bert Wolfe (courtesy of the Hoover Institution Archives

The Break-Up of the Soviet Union  

December 1991 saw the end of 70 years of communist rule and the collapse of the Soviet Union. We hear from two of the key signatories of the dissolution treaty, a witness to the ensuing crisis in one of the newly independent states, and from an American nuclear expert who helped clean-up the former USSR. Also, the performance artist protesting about the growing divide between rich and poor, and the first editor of Vogue magazine in Russia. Photo: The leaders of Ukraine and Belorussia, alongside Russian leader Boris Yeltsin, at the ceremony formally dissolving the USSR in December 1991, Credit: AP

Death of an Anarchist  

The controversial death in police custody of Italian anarchist, Giuseppe Pinelli, the Irish playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett how Greece and Turkey almost came to war over a tiny rocky island in the Aegean sea, also the experimental film-maker Derek Jarman and how on Christmas day in 1968 Apollo 8 became the first spacecraft to leave the Earth's orbit and travel to the moon. Photo:Giuseppe 'Pino' Pinelli, with his wife Licia and his daughters Silvia and Claudia. Credit: The Pinelli Family.

Yoyes, ETA's female icon  

The life and untimely death of a Basque separatist fighter, resisting the Nazis in Lithuania, a medical breakthrough that prevented babies from dying in their cots, the grand old lady of Brazilian TV soaps, and the Hindu milk miracle. Photograph: Maria Dolores Gonzalez Katarain, known as Yoyes, who was the first woman to join the leadership of the separatist group, ETA

100 Women History Hour  

A special edition of the programme remembering some of the women that history has overlooked. From women warriors to women scientists. From rural women, to factory workers we bring you the stories of women who made a contribution to history - and who deserve to be remembered.

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