About this podcast
History as told by the people who were there.
About this podcast
History as told by the people who were there.
Discovering the Jet Stream
The Jet Stream is formed by powerful high-altitude rivers of air which circle the globe and help determine our climate. The existence of these winds was first documented in Japan in the 1920s, but only became more widely known during World War Two, when American airmen encounter high-speed winds on bombing missions over Japan. At the same time, the Japanese military also began to use these powerful transcontinental winds to carry innovative balloon bombs all the way to the West Coast of America. Using archive recordings we tell the story of the discovery and speak to Professor Tim Woollings from Oxford University, the author of Jet Stream: A Journey Through Our Changing Climate. Photo: B-29 bombers passing Mount Fuji on their way to Tokyo, April 1945 (Getty Images)
From Leningrad to St Petersburg
As the communist system in the former Soviet Union was collapsing in 1991, the people of Leningrad voted to drop Vladimir Lenin's name abandoning the city's revolutionary heritage and returning to its historic name of St Petersburg. Dina Newman spoke to Ludmilla Narusova, wife of the first St Petersburg mayor, Anatoli Sobchak, who campaigned for the hugely symbolic change. This programme is a rebroadcast - it was first aired in 2018. Photo: Communist campaigners demonstrate against the name change in Leningrad in 1991. Credit: Sobchak Foundation.
David Attenborough's first expedition
In 1954, the BBC broadcast a new television programme in Britain. It was called Zoo Quest and it launched the career of a man who has since brought the natural world into millions of homes around the world, the broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. Louise Hidalgo has been listening back through the BBC archives to Sir David telling the story of the first natural history expedition for Zoo Quest, to Sierra Leone in West Africa. Picture: David Attenborough, producer of the BBC wildlife documentary series Zoo Quest, and Jack Lester (right), curator of London Zoo's reptile house, planning their next expedition with the help of Gregory the parrot, March 1955 (Credit: William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Mexico's female serial killer
Former female wrestler Juana Barraza was found guilty in March 2008 of murdering at least eleven elderly women in Mexico city over a period of seven years. Barraza, who became known as the "little old lady killer", admitted to murdering three women, and told investigators that it was because of her lingering resentment for the abuse that she'd suffered as a child at the hands of her alcoholic mother. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from Mexican neuro-psychologist Dr Feggy Ostrosky, who spent days interviewing Barraza in jail, trying to understand what had turned her into a serial killer. (Photo credit DAVID DEOLARTE/AFP via Getty Images)
The women who reclaimed the night
How women in the North of England took to the streets in the late 1970s to protest against a serial killer dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper. Police advised them to stay indoors to avoid being attacked but the feminist protestors wanted greater protection for women and girls. Rebecca Kesby has been hearing from Al Garthwaite one of the organisers of Britain's first "Reclaim the Night" march. Photo: women taking part in a Reclaim the Night march. Credit: BBC
On Easter Sunday 1967 the Reverend Albert Cleage renamed his church in Detroit the Shrine of the Black Madonna. He preached that if man was made in God's image there was little chance that Jesus was white as most of the world's population is non-white. Reverend Cleage also pointed to the many depictions of black madonnas all over the world throughout history. Claire Bowes has been speaking to his daughter Pearl Cleage, a writer and activist, about her father's belief in black representation and self-determination. Photo: Black Madonna and Child courtesy of BLAC Detroit. Archive: Thanks to the Chicago History Museum and WFMT for the Studs Terkel Radio Archive.
Kidnapped on an orchid hunt
In March 2000, two young English travellers, Tom Hart-Dyke and Paul Winder, were kidnapped by Colombian guerrillas while attempting to cross the notoriously dangerous Darien Gap region on the border with Panama. Hart-Dyke is a gardener who was on a mission to collect orchids, and he survived a nine-month ordeal by building a nursery in the cloud forest and planning his own dream garden for the family castle back home in Kent. He talks to Simon Watts. PHOTO: Tom Hart-Dyke (l) with Paul Winder shortly after their release (Press Association)
Mrs Thatcher’s ground-breaking Soviet TV interview
How Mrs Thatcher shook up the Soviet media with a landmark interview in Moscow in 1987 focusing on nuclear disarmament. It was broadcast unedited and helped bring in the era of “glasnost.” Bob Howard talks to Boris Kalyagin, one of the three Soviet journalists who interviewed the British prime minister. Margaret Thatcher, circa 1993. copyright Jeff Overs / BBC
When the prisoners ran the prison
In March 1973 guards went on strike at Walpole maximum security prison in the US state of Massachussetts, and the prisoners took over. For the next three months the inmates, organised in the National Prisoners Reform Association, ran daily life in the prison. They were helped by a group of outside observers, drawn from members of the community. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from the organiser of the observer teams, Rev. Ed Rodman, about his memories of this unique, but ultimately doomed, experiment in prison reform. (Photo credit: The Boston Globe)
The American singer, Karen Carpenter, died in 1983 of anorexia nervosa. She was one half of a world famous brother and sister duo called The Carpenters. She was aged just 32. Up until then anorexia nervosa had often been referred to in the media as the "slimmer's disease". Skinny celebrities were seen as both beautiful and successful and anorexia was somewhat glamorised. Claire Bowes has been speaking to Dr Pat Santucci, a psychiatrist who helped set up the world's first national organisation dealing with eating disorders, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Eating Disorders, known as ANAD. Dr Santucci says wherever western culture has an influence, you will find anorexia nervosa. Photo: courtesy of Science Photo Library
South Africa takes on big pharma
At the end of the 1990s, tens of millions of people across Africa had been infected with HIV and in South Africa hundreds of thousands of people were dying from AIDS. People were demanding cheaper drugs, but the big pharmaceutical companies didn’t want to play ball. They took the South African to court over the right to import cheap drugs in a case which would last three years and which would pit the big pharmaceutical companies against Nelson Mandela and the rainbow nation. Bob Howard talks to Bada Pharasi, a former negotiator at South Africa’s department of health. SANDTON, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 17: HIV/AIDS activists demonstrate in front of the American consulate on June 17, 2010. Credit: Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.
The woman who got America talking about sex
Dr Ruth Westheimer first became popular on a radio show in New York in the early 1980s. Her frank and open approach to giving advice on all sorts of different questions about sex soon made her a TV personality too. Photo: Dr Ruth Westheimer. Credit: Getty Images
Jamaica’s ‘drug lord’
The Jamaican government issued a warrant for the arrest and extradition of the drug lord Christopher Coke, otherwise known as “Dudus” in May 2010. The United States wanted him extradited to face charges of racketeering and bringing drugs and guns into America. Coke controlled an area of the Jamaican capital Kingston, called Tivoli Gardens. Dozens of people in the district he dominated were killed as the police and military stormed the stronghold, even using mortar bombs to try and disperse the gunmen protecting Coke. Human rights attorney Jodi-Ann Quarrie talks to Bob Howard about the events and their impact on Jamaica. (Jamaican police on patrol after a frenzy of gang and drug violence in Kingston, May 24 2010. Credit: Anthony Foster/Getty Images)
The Ulster Workers' Strike
An early attempt at power-sharing in Northern Ireland ended after protestant workers went on strike and bomb attacks killed dozens in the Republic of Ireland in 1974. Matt Murphy has been hearing from Austin Currie, the former SDLP politician, about the events of that time. Photo: Dr Ian Paisley addresses a mass gathering of supporters, in the Protestant Shankhill Road area of Belfast in 1974. The Ulster Workers' Council declared that "everything stops at midnight" in an attempt to bring down Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive brought about by the Sunningdale Agreement. Credit: PA.
The dirtiest chess match in history
In 1978, the World Chess Championship between the Soviet champion and convinced communist, Anatoly Karpov, and the dissident and defector, Viktor Korchnoi, turned into one of the most infamous clashes in the history of the game. At a time of peak Cold War tension, the two players traded allegations about yoghurts containing messages, the use of psychics and the mysterious appearance of a meditating yoga cult dressed in orange robes. David Edmonds tells the story of the match through the memories of British grandmaster, Michael Stean, PHOTO: Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi squaring up in 1978 (Getty Images)
Mars-500 isolation experiment
In 2010, six men were locked inside a simulated spacecraft on earth for 520 days. It was part of an experiment to see how humans would cope if cooped up together for the duration of a potential trip to Mars. The crew were monitored throughout and were treated as if they were on a real mission in space, though the spacecraft was actually housed in a warehouse in Moscow. They even performed a simulated space walk on the surface of Mars. The project was set up by Russia, China and the European Space Agency. Alex Last has been speaking to Diego Urbina (@DiegoU) who took part in the mission. Photo: The six crew members of the Mars-500 mission. (From Left) Russia Alexey Sitev, France's Romain Charles, Russia's Sukhrob Kamolov, Russia's Alexander Smoleevskiy, Diego Urbina from Italy and China's Wang Yue. (Getty Images)
Alva Myrdal - the woman who made modern Sweden
In 1982, the Swedish social reformer, writer and diplomat, Alva Myrdal, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on nuclear disarmament. She was only the 7th woman in history to win the award, which she received jointly with Mexican diplomat Alfonso Garcia Robles. In the 1930s and 40s, Alva Myrdal had, with her husband Gunnar Myrdal, developed the ideas behind Sweden's famed welfare state which had transformed Sweden into the modern country we know today. She was also the first woman to be given a senior post at the United Nations. Alva Myrdal's daughter Kaj Foelster has been telling Louise Hidalgo about her mother's life and work. Picture: Alva Myrdal in 1976 on the publication of her book The Game of Disarmament (credit: Keystone/Getty Images)
Paris is Burning
The documentary Paris is Burning was released in 1990 The award winning film showed a glimpse of the thriving underground ballroom and drag scene in New York City in the 1980s and the black and LatinX LGBTQ+ communities at the heart of it. The United States in the 1980s was a difficult place to be different, with homophobia and racism running rife. Pairs is Burning was filmmaker Jennie Livingston’s first documentary and she has been telling Bethan Head about the lengthy process of bringing the film to the screen.
The woman who asked Britain to return the Parthenon marbles
Melina Mercouri, famous actress turned politician, visited Britain in 1983 as Greek Minister of Culture and made the first official request for the return of the Parthenon marbles. The marbles were removed in 1801 by Lord Elgin, who was the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time. Lord Elgin, who was based in Istanbul sent his agents to Athens to remove the marbles which he claimed were at risk of destruction. He later sold them to the British parliament who in turn entrusted them to the British Museum where they've been exhibited since 1832. This programme was first broadcast in 2019 (Photo: The Greek Minister for Culture, Melina Mercouri, inspects the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum in May 1983)
Jane: The underground abortion network
A group of feminists working under the name “Jane” carried out underground abortions in 1960s Chicago – when abortions were still illegal in most of the US. Initially they gave abortion counselling and put women who wanted to terminate their pregnancies in touch with doctors who would perform the procedure. But when they discovered that one doctor they had been working with was not medically qualified, the women started to perform the abortions themselves. Martha Scott was a member of the group – she received an abortion through the service, learned to perform abortions, and was one of the Janes arrested when they were busted by the police. She tells Lucy Burns about her experiences. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo courtesy of Martha Scott