Multilingual societiesThe Documentary Podcast add
What is it like to live in a place where you have to speak several languages to get by? Simon Calder travels to India, where a top university only teaches in English, the one language that the students from all over the country have in common. And he meets people who use four different languages with their friends and family, depending on whom they are talking to. In Luxembourg, it is not so much family, but other situations that require four languages, such as going shopping, watching TV, or school lessons.
The Dyatlov Pass mysteryThe Documentary Podcast add
In 1959, a group of nine Russian students met a mysterious death in the Ural mountains. Experienced cross-country skiers, their bodies were found scattered around a campsite, their tent cut from the inside, as they seemingly panicked to escape from someone – or something. Sixty years on, Lucy Ash traces their footsteps to try to find out what happened.
Germany’s climate change frontlineThe Documentary Podcast add
The beautiful Hambacher Forest is disappearing. Over the past four decades, it has been slowly devoured by a voracious coalmine in the German Rhineland. The forest has become a powerful symbol of climate change resistance. Protesters have been staging a last stand to protect the trees. But they have arrived too late to prevent the demolition of two villages that also stand in the way of the mine’s relentless progress.
Manheim has become a ghost village. Most of the 1600 residents have now moved out. Many of the houses have already been pulled down. But a few people still live there against a backdrop of diggers pulling their village apart. Some are sad that the kart track where local boy Michael Schumacher learned to drive is likely to fall victim to the excavators. And many felt threatened last year by the protesters, in hoodies and face masks, when they moved into to occupy empty houses.
Yet the protesters seem to have the German government on their side. It recently commissioned a report, which recommended Germany stop burning coal by 2038 in order to meet emissions targets. That’s a problem for RWE, the company that owns the mine and nearby power stations. It’s going to keep digging for as long as it can. Tim Mansel joins the protesters for their monthly gathering on the forest edge; meets the villagers who simply want a quiet life, away from the front line; and asks RWE if it will ever stop mining.
(Photo: Protesters defending the Hambacher Forest. Credit: Tim Mansel/BBC)
The Superlinguists: How to learn a languageThe Documentary Podcast add
Simon Calder asks how to go about acquiring a new tongue. He gets tips from those who know - innovative teachers and polyglots. The answers are surprising. At school, it is repetitive drills, shouted out loud by the whole class, that seem to lodge the grammar and pronunciation in the pupils’ brains. But if you are an adult learning by yourself, then, on the contrary, don’t stress about grammar and pronunciation, there are better, and more fun things to focus on.
Denmark's Migrant GhettosThe Documentary Podcast add
Denmark's efforts to better integrate its migrant population are attracting controversy at home, and abroad. Twenty nine housing districts, known as 'migrant ghettos', are now subject to special measures to tackle crime and unemployment, and encourage greater mixing between migrants and wider Danish society. In the run-up to Denmark's recent landmark election, Sahar Zand travelled to Copenhagen and witnessed immigration shaping the campaign debate, and questioned the country's politicians and migrants about these controversial policies.
(Image: Muslim immigrants cross the street in Copenhagen city centre. Credit: Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
The Superlinguists: The polyglotsThe Documentary Podcast add
Simon Calder meets people who keep learning new languages not because they have to, but because they want to. What motivates them? Situations like this - an immigrant hotel cleaner who is moved to tears because you speak to her in her native Albanian; A Nepalese Sherpa family that rolls about laughing in disbelief at hearing their foreign guest speak Sherpa. But do polyglots have a different brain from the rest of us? Simon travels to a specialised lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and undergoes a brain-scan himself, to find out.
Interview with the Dalai LamaThe Documentary Podcast add
In a wide ranging interview the Dalai Lama talks to the BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan about President Trump and his America First agenda, Brexit, the EU, and China’s relationship with the world. The interview also challenges some of the Buddhist spiritual leader’s more controversial statements and explores his views on the institution of the Dalai Lama.
Training to save the treasures of Iraq - part twoThe Documentary Podcast add
Shaimaa Khalil is reunited with eight women from Mosul after their training in London. She hears about the work the archaeologists are doing now to assess the damage to Iraq's heritage sites like the iconic Al Nuri mosque and minaret, which Islamic State militants blew up at the end of their occupation. Perhaps the greatest damage of all is to the people of Mosul and their culture. The women share stories of their city and what life was like under IS and now, and the work they hope to do to rebuild both its buildings and its community.
Marching to the coolest beatThe Documentary Podcast add
An unlikely pageant takes place every year in the American Rust Belt town of Dayton Ohio. Three hundred teams of high school and college students have made it to the finals of a national competition known as the Colour Guard. In a giant sports arena, they throw, spin, and twirl flags, sabers and wooden rifles. It requires risk, skill, attentive teamwork, dramatic storylines and soundtracks. The subjects of performances this year ranged from the death of a pet to tornados to women in rock music history to bullying. Each group has about seven minutes to impress the judges. The competitors have practised for six months. Many travel across America in buses. Most come from small towns and the activity is not well funded by schools. Yet these young people insist that this is the high point of their lives.
Marseille: France’s Crumbling CityThe Documentary Podcast add
On the 5th November last year, two apartment buildings collapsed in Marseille’s historic centre. Eight people died in a tragedy which has sent shockwaves through France’s second city, and the country.
The accident shed light on something that residents have been saying for years: Marseille’s city centre is falling apart. After decades of neglect by slum landlords, the poor, multi-ethnic area in the heart of the city is in a desperate state of disrepair. In a frantic attempt to avoid further disasters, the local government has evacuated thousands of residents from the area - and hundreds are still staying in hotels.
This tragedy has morphed into a political scandal which is shaken Marseille to the core – and anger at the local authorities is still palpable.
Presenter: Lucy Ash
Producer: Josephine Casserly
(Image: Graffiti in the neighbourhood of Noailles, Marseille. Credit: BBC)
The magic fingers of Rashid KhanThe Documentary Podcast add
Rashid Khan was born in Nangarhar in Eastern Afghanistan in 1998 but his early life was spent in a refugee camp in Pakistan away from the conflict that has swept across his homeland for decades. He grew up playing cricket with his ten siblings eventually returning to Afghanistan to complete his schooling. And now he is named for the second year running as the leading Twenty20 cricketer in the world. Is Khan really the finest spin bowler on the planet?
A History of Music and Technology: The FutureThe Documentary Podcast add
Pink Floyd's Nick Mason ends his series by exploring where music technology is heading and discovers how innovation is shaping the way we make, listen and interact with music.
He reveals how artificial intelligence is taking human input out of musical composition and how virtual reality is reshaping the recording studios of tomorrow.
But in an age where everyone can have access to music-making technology, how do you stand out? And has the internet made it too easy to copy what has come before us, rather than create something which is completely brand-new?
Training to save the treasures of IraqThe Documentary Podcast add
For three years Mosul was occupied by the extremist group known as the Islamic State. During the occupation which lasted until July 2017, the group destroyed many important ancient sites with hammers, bulldozers and explosives. Work is now beginning to assess the damage, but in order to undertake this vital work, Iraqi archaeologists are in need of training and equipment. Shaimaa Khalil meets the women in London as they participate in the British Museum’s ‘Iraq Scheme’.
Dying from mistrust in UkraineThe Documentary Podcast add
Until recently, health authorities in developed countries appeared to be well on the way to wiping out measles – a highly contagious disease that’s one of the leading causes of vaccine-preventable deaths, particularly in children. But now measles is on the rise again, and Ukraine is worst-hit. More than 100,000 people have caught the disease since 2017, and 15 have died already this year.
Parents who could have protected their children often failed to do so – mainly because of a mass mistrust of vaccine, spread partly by doctors, including leading medical specialists. Tim Whewell travels to Ukraine to meet bereaved parents and worried health chiefs - and find out why vaccination rates fell so abruptly in just a few years. It’s a story of lack of confidence in the state, inadequate medical training, government complacency and political manipulation that’s had deadly consequences.
(Image: One-year-old girl being given a measles vaccine shot in Kiev health clinic, 2019. Credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Vaccination: The global pictureThe Documentary Podcast add
The Wellcome Trust reveals how attitudes towards vaccinations vary around the world in its Global Monitor. The most vaccine-sceptical country is France – because of scares around vaccines. In neighbouring Germany one state has approved plans to make vaccinations compulsory because of low rates. But in Madagascar where more than 1200 children have died since last autumn from measles, parents walk for miles to have their children inoculated. What can be done to persuade people to vaccinate?
Destination educationThe Documentary Podcast add
Despite the political uncertainty in the UK at the moment the country’s reputation for top-class education, if you can afford it, is still on the rise. Liyang Liu meets two very different school children who have travelled thousands of miles to go to private boarding school in the UK. Recorded over six months she finds out what happens when they get there.
A History of Music and Technology: The Studio Part 2The Documentary Podcast add
Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason continues the story of the recording studio, exploring how bands such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys brought avant-garde production techniques into the mainstream during the 1960s.
The programme also charts the role jazz and dub reggae played in advancing studio production, and how increasingly sophisticated studio technology slowed down the recording process.
But the advent of portable tape recorders – and then digital technology - saw the studio begin to shrink in size, while at the same time expanding access to the recording process.
With it came a boom in in alternative music which was previously ignored by the major record labels, and bedroom producers making music on home computers kick-started an explosion in electronic dance music.
Today, digital studio technology has become so sophisticated that it can help even the shakiest of singers deliver the perfect performance.
The series is produced in association with the Open University.
A History of Music and Technology: The Studio Part 1The Documentary Podcast add
The recording studio has changed dramatically since the advent of sound recording - as has our understanding of the ‘perfect take’.
In the first of two programmes about the history of the studio, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason explores the limitations of the acoustic era, and how the switch to electrical recording ushered in the age of more intimate recording, giving rise to the superstar crooner.
We look at the how, after World War 2, a boom in independent recording studios run by army-trained communications engineers helped to drive the birth of rock n roll, and how technology developed during the war made it possible for musicians to start recording music that was physically impossible to play, using techniques pioneered by a man better known for his guitars – Les Paul.
The series is produced in association with the Open University.
A History of Music and Technology: Samplers and Drum MachinesThe Documentary Podcast add
Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason explores how samplers and drum machines created new musical genres.
During the 1980s, samplers and drum machines fuelled a new wave of music from hip hop to house to techno.
In this programme we hear from the inventors behind this landmark technology and reveal how it first found traction with millionaire rock stars, rather than hip young DJs, due to its huge expense.
We learn how cheaper Japanese products – first deemed a commercial flop - were then re-discovered, re-used and abused by dance floor innovators who created new musical genres which could never have existed without this technology.
A History of Music and Technology: The SynthesizerThe Documentary Podcast add
The first synthesizer was so big, it filled an entire room, but during the 1960s inventors built downsized machines which would go on to revolutionise pop music.
Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason charts the work of synth pioneers Bob Moog, Don Buchla and Dave Smith in the story of one of the most influential electronic instrument of all time.
We learn how the synth came to sing with multiple voices, and how Japanese giants came to dominate the market - but arguably at a cost to creativity.