Singing for Survival in CucutaThe Documentary Podcast add
Down but not out in a Colombian border town, four Venezuelans pin their hopes on music. Cucuta is a desperate place, overflowing with Venezuelans who are streaming across the nearby border, fleeing economic collapse. In among the desperation are glimmers of hope, like the four young musicians busking their way round the city’s restaurants to earn money. Karenina Velandia, who grew up in Venezuela, follows her compatriots’ highs and lows as they try to scrape together enough to survive - not just for themselves, but for the parents, wives, and children they’ve left behind. Presenter: Karenina Velandia Producer: Simon Maybin
(Image: The four young musicians who busk round Cucuta. Credit: BBC)
Africa's Big Philanthropy: Agriculture and Food SecurityThe Documentary Podcast add
Around one in four people in sub-Saharan Africa is malnourished, and tackling food insecurity is a huge challenge. Alan Kasujja explores how big philanthropy is putting a lot of money into supporting agriculture to improve livelihoods. He talks to farmers in Kenya about the development of new seeds and scientific solutions like fortified crops. But he also discovers that not all farmers are happy about it.
Everyday Americans: Meet the Opioid 'Demon'The Documentary Podcast add
The opioid epidemic in America is hurting all levels of society – in this three part documentary series we explore its impact, in real-time, on people in one city, Louisville, Kentucky. We work with a team of reporters on the Louisville Courier Journal as they follow opioid stories across the community – in particular, how it is affecting schools and colleges, as well as health care, law and order and prisons.
Paralympics – Gaming the System?The Documentary Podcast add
Last year, Assignment investigated whether some athletes and coaches game the Paralympic classification system in order to win medals.
We heard allegations that some competitors had gone to astonishing lengths such as taping up their arms to make their disability appear worse. A parliamentary select committee hearing looked into the way British Paralympic athletes are classified and questions were raised over whether the system was fit for purpose.
In this programme, we examine fresh claims of athletes exaggerating or even faking a disability to get ahead in para sports. We look at the case of an athlete where concerns have been raised after they competed in several different disability classifications.
A Paralympic gold medallist tells Assignment that he believes that gaming the system in para sports is at a similar level to cheating in able bodied sports and reveals the tell-tale signs that athletes may be trying to get into an easier classification.
Reporter Simon Cox speaks to a former international classifier – the people responsible for ensuring athletes are placed in the right category – who reveals how it is possible for classifiers to be fooled.
But the head of the British Paralympic Association says he does not believe cheating happens at any meaningful level.
The concerns raised by the programme come as a report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee into sports governance which has examined classification in para sports is due to be published in the UK.
(Image: Paralympic Games Gold medal. Credit: Press Association)
Africa's Big Philanthropy: HealthThe Documentary Podcast add
In 2016 The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to invest five billion dollars in poverty reduction and health in Africa. Other big givers like the Rockefeller Foundation have spent billions on health, agriculture and livelihood programmes. Some say governments and global agencies have come to depend on the donations of big philanthropic donors for their programmes, but how much influence do they have, and with the rise of home-grown African wealth what is the future is for philanthropy here?
After SuicideThe Documentary Podcast add
When someone takes their own life, how does it affect those left behind? Suicide claims the life of someone, somewhere in the world, approximately every 40 seconds, according to the World Health Organisation. And that rate is increasing. The devastating effects on those left behind can go on for generations, especially where suicide is taboo or difficult to talk about. Mark Dowd hears the stories of people bereaved by suicide and reflects on his own experience following the suicide of his brother Chris.
Don't Shoot, I'm DisabledThe Documentary Podcast add
Hundreds of people are killed by the police in the US each year. Much of the media attention has been on the race of victims, but there is another disturbing pattern to the deaths. A large number of those killed in interactions with police have a disability, with some research suggesting the figure is as much as half of the total number. Many of the dead had been living with mental illness, learning difficulties or a physical disability and recent incidents include those involving police officers shooting dead people with schizophrenia, autism, Down's Syndrome and deafness. North America Correspondent, Aleem Maqbool dissects some of these cases - reconstructing events, speaking to eye-witnesses and to officers involved in such fatal incidents - to ask why they happen so frequently. What are revealed are some deep-rooted issues concerning not just police culture, but also concerning the attitudes of society as a whole towards the disabled.
Producers: Josephine Casserly and Haley Thomas
(Image: A collection of pictures of Ethan Saylor, a twenty-six year old man with Down Syndrome, who died of asphyxiation after three off-duty deputies restrained him. Credit: Getty Images)
A Life AloneThe Documentary Podcast add
Christopher de Bellaigue presents an exploration of loneliness – told through a conversation with one woman – his 94 year old aunt, Diana. As she follows her usual routine at her home on Vancouver Island, Diana charts her life story, recounting her abandonment by her parents in the 1920s, her reunion with them years later, a life full of transitory friendships but extraordinary determination and independence.
The Children of BelsenThe Documentary Podcast add
In April 1945 a 15-year-old Dutch Jewish girl, Hetty Werkendam, was interviewed by the BBC in the Nazi concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen shortly after its liberation by the British. Mike Lanchin travels to the site of Bergen-Belsen in Germany with the now 88-year-old Hetty and her family. Hetty vividly recalls the deprivations of the camp, and of seeing the dead bodies piling up outside the children’s barracks. Hetty says its a story that needs to be told again and again in order not to be forgotten by the next generation.
Zika Love StoriesThe Documentary Podcast add
Three years ago, doctors in the north-east of Brazil noticed a worrying new trend - a spate of babies being born with abnormally small heads, or microcephaly. The cause was traced to an outbreak of the Zika virus earlier in 2015. More than 3,000 babies were born with significant disabilities. BBC Brasil’s Julia Carneiro goes back to the state of Pernambuco to meet children affected by congenital Zika syndrome, who are now toddlers. She finds families who have been rocked by adversity but are sustained by a strong sense of solidarity, resilience and love.
Macedonia: What’s in a Name?The Documentary Podcast add
The name ‘Macedonia’ is hotly disputed by two neighbouring nations. The Greek province of Macedonia and the country calling itself the Republic of Macedonia border Lake Prespa. The villagers on the lake’s shores share a language and a culture, but it’s impossible to cross or drive around the lake because of the dispute with Greece over the Republic’s name. After years of stalemate, the governments of the two countries have agreed on a new name, the Republic of Northern Macedonia. But this has sparked angry protests by nationalists on both sides of the border. As The Republic of Macedonia prepares to hold a referendum on its name on 30 September, Maria Margaronis visits both sides of the lake to find out why this issue is so contentious - and how a painful history is being exploited by the far-right, politicians, and other interests on both sides. What do local people - and the lake stand to gain once the dispute is settled? And what’s holding them back?
Producer: Chloe Hadjimatheou
(Image: Greek protest against Macedonia name change. Credit: Giorgos Georgiou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Model XThe Documentary Podcast add
In Paris, aspiring models have to adjust to rather spartan conditions - from sharing a flat with strangers to moving around an unknown city all alone and surviving on a mere 80 euros a week. Despite their best efforts to get a job, most of the girls will leave Paris with empty pockets. Former model and now BBC journalist, Alina Isachenka, follows 17-year-old schoolgirl Anna Vasileva from the city of Nizhny Novgorod in Russia on her challenging journey through tough competition and over-demanding casting directors to the top of the fashion industry.
Generation IdentityThe Documentary Podcast add
Simon Cox is in Austria where the authorities have launched an unprecedented operation against a new far right youth organisation, Generation Identity. They prosecuted members of the group including its leader, Martin Sellner, for being an alleged criminal organisation. They are currently appealing the judge's not guilty verdict. The Austrian group is at the heart of a new pan European movement that is vehemently opposed to Muslims and immigration. GI says it is not racist or violent. In Germany more than 100 offences have been committed by its members in just over a year. And the group's co leader in Britain stepped down after he was revealed to have a Neo Nazi past.
Reporter: Simon Cox
Producer: Anna Meisel
Image: Martin Sellner demonstrating at Kahlenberg Vienna
Credit: David Speier/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: National InternationalThe Documentary Podcast add
Editor David Cannadine delves into stories about some of the colourful figures who lurk in the holdings of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, from Archibald Stansfeld Belaney, alias Grey Owl, the impostor conservationist of the early 20th century, to Alice Lucas, the earliest female UK parliamentary candidate, and recent figures from popular culture like Amy Winehouse.
The Changing Face of Procreation: Assisted ReproductionThe Documentary Podcast add
How humans make babies could be about to change, thanks to advances in IVF and reproductive technology. Krupa Padhy meets the new kinds of families that could become the norm, and explores how reproductive technology may soon alter the way all of us make babies.
Iceland: What Happened Next?The Documentary Podcast add
Iceland is a small island nation of just 340,000 people, but at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008, it was the scene of one of the biggest banking collapses in history.
Ten years on the economy has recovered, thanks to the millions of tourists who now visit every year. But what scars have been left on this close-knit island nation’s collective psyche?
Edwin Lane speaks to the Icelanders hit hardest by the crisis, the small-town chief of police charged with pursuing the errant bankers, the new wave of Icelandic politicians agitating for change, and the Icelanders who fear that the lessons of the past haven’t been learned.
Chile - Sexual Abuse, Secrets and LiesThe Documentary Podcast add
Dark secrets of Chile's Catholic Church - one of South America's devout congregations
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Lasting FameThe Documentary Podcast add
Editor David Cannadine takes us behind the scenes at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) to examine why this late Victorian institution, with thousands upon thousands of detailed and vivid entries about the great and the good, is still relevant in the internet age. We hear the processes by which candidates are selected for inclusion, how the style and content have changed over the years, and why, in a period which tries to look beyond the praise of famous men and women, there is still a place for a publication that unashamedly does just that.
The New World Of ReproductionThe Documentary Podcast add
Krupa Padhy examines where we have got to after 40 years of IVF. In England, she visits a family made up of white British parents and their three boys, plus a ‘snow baby’: created during an IVF cycle for her Indian-American genetic parents, but adopted as an embryo by her birth family. She hears from ethicists and law makers from around the world about how countries have struggled to adapt to new technological realities, and discovers stories that challenge ideas of what IVF is for, like that of an Indian woman who used her dead son’s sperm to create grandchildren.
Nevada’s Brothels Face the AxeThe Documentary Podcast add
In parts of Nevada, prostitution is legal - the only such state in the US. The 'live and let live' mentality is a hangover from the gold rush days; in certain counties, brothels have been officially licensed since 1971.
Today, no fewer than seven of them are owned by one man: Dennis Hof, a gun-toting restaurateur, entrepreneur and reality TV star. He calls himself the 'Trump from Pahrump', after a town where he recently won the Republican primaries for the Nevada State Legislature.
Now, though, there is a backlash from religious and social activists, who have managed to get a referendum on the ballot during this November’s mid-term elections. Voters in Lyon County will be asked if the legal brothels there should be allowed to continue to operate.
Ultimately, the campaigners aim to end legal sex work across the whole state. They say it is an exploitative, abusive trade, and prevents other businesses from investing in the area. But some sex workers are worried that a ban could push them onto the streets, where they would face potential danger.
Lucy Ash talks to Dennis Hof, the women who work for him, and those who are pushing for change.
Producer: Mike Gallagher
Image: Dennis Hof poses outside the Moonlite BunnyRanch (Credit: Reuters)