The Scots have a reputation as brave, ferocious warriors. Despite a troubled history with England, history shows that more of Scotland’s young men sign up to fight for the crown than anywhere else in Britain. Rory Bremner, whose own father and great grandfather were distinguished Scottish soldiers, sets out to discover why rebel clansmen became loyal servants of the military establishment. His story takes him to Culloden, Crimea and northern France. As the sound of the pipes floats over Scottish military camps in Afghanistan he asks if, after 250 years, the Scottish soldier’s loyalty to Queen and country is running out?
This series, first aired in 2011, marks a decade of fighting in Afghanistan with a unique insight into the war told through films shot by the soldiers themselves. The BBC was given unprecedented access by the Ministry of Defence to thousands of hours of footage shot on helmet cameras and personal video cameras by soldiers. With the raw honesty of first person stories of life on the front line, the series offers a gripping and poignant insight into every side of the young soldiers’ experience, the average age is 21, from fear to boredom, grief to bravery, the camaraderie of the platoon and the return home. Episode 2 The Invisible Enemy – Follows the plight of the first troops sent to Helmand Province in 2006 and shows how, three years later, Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs had changed the war. A small platoon entered the town of Sangin in 2006 equipped to stay for a few days but ended up staying months, under heavy bombardment. As they struggle to survive, a supply drop off lands behind enemy lines by mistake. Later, in 2009, Captain Alex Rawlins films his men from 1st Battalion, the Grenadier Guards under threat from the increasing number of IEDs in Helmand Province. They lost of one their mates, 23 year old Guardsman Jamie Janes, who stood on a landmine during a patrol. The film shows how Jamie Janes’s death became a turning point in the British public’s awareness of the human cost of IEDs and how a misspelled letter turned into a political storm for the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
From Wales to Timbuktu is a two part series about the meeting of two cultures through the eyes and words of teenagers from mid Wales. In February 2009, four specially selected students travelled to Mali in Africa, on a 10 day literary adventure. Their aim was to immerse themselves in the culture of Timbuktu, Hay-on-Wye’s twin town. They recorded their experiences, observations and revelations by keeping diaries and writing notes. Key to their experience was the guidance of a writing mentor Tom Bullough a published author from Powys. Hay-on-Wye and Timbuktu are twinned not just as municipalities but also through their fundamental association with literature and the world of books. Timbuktu is the oldest home of the written word in Africa.
Scottish movie star Alan Cumming returns to his homeland to take a tour of the locations of some classic Scottish movies. He celebrates some of the weird and wonderful movies inspired by Scotland, such as The Wicker Man, which was filmed in Dumfries and Galloway. Film experts and actors, including Peter Mullen and David Hayman, compare the blockbusters Braveheart and Rob Roy, while Edinburgh’s contribution to Scottish cinema is celebrated by the contrasting films The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Trainspotting. Director Bill Forsyth meets Cumming in Cumbernauld – the setting of Forsyth’s film Gregory’s Girl – and explains why the new town was such a fitting location for his enduringly popular film.
Being a royal mistress really isn’t easy. It’s a tightrope walk between satisfying the king, keeping your husband happy and avoiding any whiff of scandal. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall got it right … in the end. She is the only royal mistress ever to marry her Prince Charming. But then she did learn from a real expert, her own great grandmother Mrs. Alice Keppel, the long term mistress of King Edward VII. Alice was hailed as one of the great beauties of the Naughty Nineties, renowned for her narrow waist and ample bosom. She was the perfect royal mistress charming, intelligent, gorgeous and above all else, discrete. Set against a scintillating background of aristocratic adultery, historian Kate Williams uncovers Alice’s incredible story, investigating the magical childhood in Scotland that honed her ambition and the marriage to George Keppel that actually thrived on infidelity.
Tony Robinson embarks on spectacular walks through some of Britain’s most historic landscapes in search of the richest stories from it’s past. Episode 1 Stonehenge – Tony embarks on another expedition through some of Britain’s most historic landscapes. He begins with a 45 mile walk across Wiltshire, from Avebury to Stonehenge, telling the story of the remarkable development that occurred in the latter days of the Neolithic era. His route over chalk downlands and Salisbury Plain takes him through one of the greatest concentrations of prehistoric sites in Europe.
Ten thought – provoking episodes bring a fresh perspective to Scotland’s past and challenges many of the perceived notions of Scottish history. Using the very latest in historical research A History of Scotland is a sweeping and insightful chronicle of an often turbulent, but continuingly fascinating nation.
A frank and moving film about Jonny Kennedy, an extraordinary man with a terrible condition, Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), which means his skin literally falls off at the slightest touch, leaving his body covered in agonising sores and leading to a final fight against skin cancer. But, despite all the challenges Jonny faced in his life, he was determined to make the best of it. He had a very cheeky sense of humor and was not afraid to tell you what he was feeling straight out. When he found out that he had developed skin cancer he was approached about allowing the last months of his life to be filmed for a documentary. Channel 4, helped make the end of his life a grand adventure. Jonny decided to spice things up and he made a bucket list. He went hang gliding, flew on the Concorde, sailed on the QEII, got his own apartment and decided to organize an unforgettable funeral, which he hoped would bring a smile to people’s faces.
Across the U.K., fewer and fewer youngsters want to study chemistry and physics, so with the help of physics teacher Andy Smith, Rocket Science sets out to convert a small sample by teaching them everything safe there is to know about fireworks. Kids? Fireworks? It’s a health and safety nightmare. But once Andy has grabbed their attention with a few flashes and bangs, he shows the class how much serious science is involved in the creation of the average rocket. Episode 1 – Physics teacher Andy Smith tries to convert his pupils to physics and chemistry. at the beginning Andy is in for a rough ride. Pupil Chantelle, for instance, thinks science is just copying answers from a textbook, while Taz wants to be Kate Moss, and Charlie can do the work but won’t behave. To engage the children, Andy has to battle short attention spans and the fact that most chemicals in the school storeroom are well past their sell by date.
Tony Robinson embarks on spectacular walks through some of Britain’s most historic landscapes in search of the richest stories from it’s past. Episode 3 Cornwall – Tony takes a four day trek along the coastline between Plymouth in Devon and Falmouth, learning about the thriving smuggling trade in Cornwall during the late 18th century. The area’s tiny secretive harbours, beaches and secluded coves were ideal for illicit imports such as tobacco and brandy, and the business was so huge it threatened the national economy. Along his route, visiting such beauty spots as Lantic Bay and Polperro, he encounters all sorts of reminders of the trade and meets descendants of those involved.
In his first BBC TV appearance for almost a decade, legendary Glaswegian entertainer Stanley Baxter chats to Scotland’s Broadway superstar Alan Cumming. There was something quite charming in this old-fashioned chat between showbiz chums, When Alan Cumming Met Stanley Baxter, even though it was an unashamed mutual admiration society. A more ruthless editor might have taken all this out, but it was kind of the point, a gentle encounter between an old ham and a younger one framed as his heir.
A tsunami in the Bristol Channel could have caused the deaths of up to 2,000 people in one of Britain’s greatest natural disasters, experts have said. For centuries, it has been thought that the great flood of January 1607 was caused by high tides and severe storms. Two experts have argued a tsunami could have caused the devastation. Eyewitness accounts of the disaster, published in six different pamphlets of the time, told of “huge and mighty hills of water” advancing at a speed “faster than a greyhound can run” and only receding 10 days later. Dr Roger Musson, head of seismic hazards at the British Geological Survey, said there were other examples of earthquakes in the area caused by an ancient fault off south west Ireland. One magnitude 4.5 earthquake was recorded there on 8 February 1980. “The idea of putting a large historical earthquake in this spot is not so fanciful,” he said. “We know from seismological evidence, that we have actually had an earthquake here, so there is a fault and it is moving, it is active.” Other UK tsunamis include a 70 feet high wave that hit Scotland 7,000 years ago, following a massive landslip in Norway.
Across the U.K., fewer and fewer youngsters want to study chemistry and physics, so with the help of physics teacher Andy Smith, Rocket Science sets out to convert a small sample by teaching them everything safe there is to know about fireworks. Kids? Fireworks? It’s a health and safety nightmare. But once Andy has grabbed their attention with a few flashes and bangs, he shows the class how much serious science is involved in the creation of the average rocket. Episode 2 – The kids finally mount their own triumphant firework display for the retiring head, and we see how practical work makes all the difference. They are involved and excited as they do kitchen chemistry, measure the speed of sound, and even take on the atomic basics of how coloured light is created. To show how firework science connects to the real world, Mr Smith organises field trips to where the chemicals that colour fireworks actually come from Nevada, Scotland and China.
Who Do You Think You Are? is a British genealogy documentary series. In each episode, a celebrity traces their family tree. Alan Cumming was determined to learn more about his maternal grandfather, Tom Darling. His mother had a number of mementoes from her father’s military career, including a bravery medal, and believed he died in an accident in Malaya (now called Malaysia). In finding the truth, Alan uncovered a story of courage, heartbreak and raw emotion. The actor met a historian in Edinburgh to learn more about Tom’s first years in the Army. He discovered he served as a motorbike despatch rider during World War II, carrying messages between different units in northern France.
The story follows the life of gay school teacher Bob who is fed up with the shallowness of dating on the gay club scene in Manchester. A romantic at heart Bob yearns to meet the right person and settle down. After yet another unsuccessful gay date he meets Rose while they are both waiting for a taxi cab. Rose is disenchanted with her down-to-earth boyfriend and is smitten with Bob but she does not initially realise he is gay. Subsequent episodes chart their on-off love affair.
Dukedoms are created by the monarch for reasons ranging from a grateful nation rewarding a major war leader to a king acknowledging his illegitimate son. The last dukedom to be created was by Queen Victoria. As they gradually become extinct, what will become of those that remain? Do they still have power and wealth? What is it to be a duke in the 21st century? Answers come from a surprising variety of extraordinary character.
Across the U.K., fewer and fewer youngsters want to study chemistry and physics, so with the help of physics teacher Andy Smith, Rocket Science sets out to convert a small sample by teaching them everything safe there is to know about fireworks. Kids? Fireworks? It’s a health and safety nightmare. But once Andy has grabbed their attention with a few flashes and bangs, he shows the class how much serious science is involved in the creation of the average rocket. Episode 3 – Charlie and friends are off to China, to the the birthplace of the banger. Every evening in Liuyang, there is a huge display as firework manufacturers show off their latest designs, and the kids learn how the precision and power of physics is used to create the fantastic sky writing fireworks. Back home, Mr Smith takes the class to witness the extraordinary power of expanding gases with the Royal Artillery. Finally, the whole class are invited behind the scenes at one of the biggest firework displays the U.K. has ever seen. Has the Rocket Science project made any difference to the kids’ interest and appreciation of the science that fills the world around them?
For the better part of a millennium, Windsor Castle has been at the heart of British history the awesome fortress, family home, treasure trove and burial ground for the Royal dynasty who went on to take its name. But there is another side to the Castle that tourists never see. It is the real Windsor, a beloved home not only to the Royal family but to more than 400 people who live and work there year round. Windsor Castle A Royal Year provides a fascinating, insider’s look at this grand landmark, where crown and community live and work side by side. Episode 1 The Banquet – After six months of planning and preparation, France’s President and Madame Chirac arrive to mark the centenary of Entente Cordiale. In addition to an official state dinner, guests will be treated to an abridged version of Les Miserables, to be performed in the Waterloo Chamber. But, as protesters gather outside the Castle and producer Sir Cameron Macintosh copes with last minute delays, unexpected glitches could upset all of the hard work and planning.
The Real Da Vinci Code ought to be the last word among plentiful video debates over the validity of startling claims in Dan Brown’s bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. Produced by Britain’s Channel Four Television and broadcast on the Discovery Channel in the U.S., the irreverent but no-nonsense documentary systematically dismantles so called historical facts Brown embraced (not only in his story, but in interviews) to support the idea that the Holy Grail is actually the blood lineage of Jesus, carried by descendants of his child by Mary Magdalene. Hosted by Tony Robinson (Blackadder’s Baldrick), The Real Da Vinci Code hopscotches through France, Scotland, Israel, Italy, Spain, and America to investigate evidence that the major historical players in Brown’s alternative Grail legend, the heretical Cathars, the wealthy but persecuted Knights Templar, the secretive Priory of Sion, did the things Brown (and his research sources) said they did.
Stardate presents and examines the most intriguing planets, asteroids, stars and astrological phenomena in precise detail with the help of scientists and experts. This award winning series is a reliable source for information and trivia about the galaxy and is used in some astronomy classes. Some of the programs funded by the US government and produced with NASA, give the viewers a better grasp on the concepts of space. Episode Stardate: Mysteries of Venus – As the Venus Express spacecraft approaches its destination this documentary examines this most intriguing of planets and help find the answers to why a planet the same size, age and of similar composition to Earth has become our almost exact opposite. Why is it so hot? Could Venus’s runaway greenhouse effect one day happen on Earth? Why does the entire surface of the planet seem to have been resurfaced in one go? And do the opaque clouds which surround Venus host an even greater mystery: alien life? Presenter Adam Hart-Davis reports from a tense mission control in Germany as the spacecraft is manouvered into orbit.
For the better part of a millennium, Windsor Castle has been at the heart of British history the awesome fortress, family home, treasure trove and burial ground for the Royal dynasty who went on to take its name. But there is another side to the Castle that tourists never see. It is the real Windsor, a beloved home not only to the Royal family but to more than 400 people who live and work there year round. Windsor Castle A Royal Year provides a fascinating, insider’s look at this grand landmark, where crown and community live and work side by side. Episode 2 Four Seasons – Rituals and events mark the calendar year for the Castle and its staff. Two of the year’s largest events take place in June, as The Queen returns for The Order of the Garter ceremony, an annual celebration of Britain’s oldest and highest order of chivalry. Also in June, the biggest event in the racing calendar, the Royal Ascot, assembles high society on the Castle’s impressive grounds.
Series detailing the lives of 12 significant English rulers between 1066 and the present day. From William the Conqueror via Richard III to Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II, presenter Dr. in a thousand years, the British monarchy has evolved from divinely appointed warrior kings to benign political figureheads. Among them are some of the most fascinating historical figures conquerors, murderers, lovers and schemers. Their gripping stories are at the heart of the nation’s history. From this millennium of violence, romance, intrigue and controversy, Cambridge University’s Dr Nigel Spivey tells the stories of twelve great kings and queens. At the scenes of the decisive moments in British history, accompanied by dramatic reconstructions, he pieces together the incidents, battles and motivations that shaped our lives. Episode 12 Elizabeth the Second, 1952 – Present – The final programme in the series brings the history of the British monarchy up to date with a profile of Queen Elizabeth II. Given that Britain has lost an empire and no longer rules the waves, Nigel Spivey reflects on how much influence the Queen retains, especially when celebrities such as the Beckhams live in equal luxury and inspire greater public fascination.
For years, thousands of paintings owned by the British public have been hidden away and inaccessible, until now. Thanks to the work of the Your Paintings project, over 200,000 works in our national collections have been painstakingly uncovered, photographed and put online, some for the very first time, allowing art experts and amateur sleuths alike to make connections and discoveries that wouldn’t have been possible before. Alastair Sooke teams up with art detective Dr. Bendor Grosvenor to unearth some hidden gems and find out what the paintings say about British society.
A major two part documentary series offers a unique and personal insight into the life and work of The Duke of Edinburgh. He has been a constant figure in the lives of the British people, a fixed point in a changing landscape. But he still remains something of an enigma. Bombastic and autocratic say his critics. Colourful and stimulating say his admirers. Famous for his so called gaffes, while some of his initiatives have shown him to be a man ahead of his time. Granted unparalleled access over recent months, this documentary has followed the Duke, producing a fascinating chronicle of the role HRH has carved out for himself.