Episodes

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The story of our times told by the people who were there.

History as told by the people who were there

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Abolishing The Army20190404

After a brief civil war in March-April 1948, the new president of Costa Rica, Jose Figueres, took the audacious step of dissolving the Armed Forces. Since then Costa Rica has been the only Latin American nation without a standing army. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from 94-year-old Enrique Obregon, who served in the military before its dissolution.

Photo: Costa Rican soldiers in San Jose after the end of the civil war, April 1948 (Credit:Getty Images)

Costa Rica dissolved its Armed Forces after a brief civil war in 1948

History as told by the people who were there

An Ethiopian War Hero20190916

In the early 1950s the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie, sent thousands of Ethiopian troops to fight in the Korean war. They were called the Kagnew Battalions and they formed part of the American-led UN force supporting South Korea against communist North Korea and their Chinese allies.
Alex Last spoke to Captain Mamo Habtewold who won his country's highest honour.

This programme is a rebroadcast.

Photo: The Captain as a young man. Courtesy of Mamo Habtewold.

Ethiopia sent soldiers to fight alongside the United Nations during the Korean War

History as told by the people who were there

Apollo 1320190718

The 1970 Moon mission that almost ended in tragedy after an explosion on board the spaceship. Fred Haise was one of the Apollo 13 astronauts. In 2010 he spoke to Richard Howells about how they managed to get back to Earth despite the odds.

Photo: The Apollo 13 astronauts after they were picked up from the Pacific. Left to right: Fred Haise, Jim Lovell and Jack Swigert. Credit: SSPL/Getty Images.

The Moon mission that almost ended in tragedy after an explosion on board the spaceship.

History as told by the people who were there

Around The World In 20 Days20190327

In March 1999 Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard made the first non-stop flight around the world in a balloon. Beginning in Switzerland and finishing over Africa, the record-breaking trip took just 20 days. Pilot Brian Jones has been telling Mike Lanchin about the highs and lows of the amazing and dangerous journey.

(Photo credit BBC)

The record-breaking balloon flight

History as told by the people who were there

Autism And The Mmr Vaccine20190321

A British doctor published an article in the leading medical journal The Lancet in 1998 that led to a global panic over the triple vaccine protecting children against measles, mumps and rubella.

Dr Andrew Wakefield linked the MMR vaccine with autism. He advocated the use of single vaccines instead while the link was explored.

Meanwhile many parents stopped vaccinating their children entirely, leading to outbreaks of measles.

In 2010 the General Medical Council in the UK found Dr Wakefield 'dishonest' and 'irresponsible' and struck him off the medical register.

Photo: Dr Andrew Wakefield arrives at the General Medical Council in London to face a disciplinary panel, July 16th 2007
(Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

How a British doctor misled the world by linking the MMR vaccine with autism.

History as told by the people who were there

Auto-destructive Art20190417

In 1959 the German artist Gustav Metzger came up with a new and subversive form of art. He called it auto-destructive art. It was art as a political weapon and a challenge to the established status quo. Metzger, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, organised a series of events in London, called the Destruction in Art Symposium, DIAS, and invited radical artists from all over the world, including a relatively unknown young Japanese American, Yoko Ono.
Mike Lanchin has been hearing from Welsh artist Ivor Davies, who helped Metzger launch the events and was himself an early pioneer of auto-destructive art.

Photo: Gustav Metzger demonstrates his auto-destructive art at London's South Bank, July 1961 (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Gustav Metzger and the birth of the radical new art form in the 1960s

History as told by the people who were there

Ayatollah Khomeini Returns From Exile20190129

In February 1979 an Islamic revolution began to unfold in Iran. The Islamic leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who had been in exile for 14 years, flew back to Tehran from Paris on the 1st of February. Mohsen Sazegara was close to the heart of events and in 2011 he spoke to Louise Hidalgo for Witness.

Photo: Ayatollah Khomeini leaving the Air France Boeing 747 jumbo that flew him back from exile in France to Tehran.(Credit: Gabriel Duval, AFP/Getty Images.)

In February 1979 an Islamic revolution began when Iran's exiled religious leader returned

History as told by the people who were there

Behind The Scenes On Sesame Street20190530

A TV show for young children, Sesame Street aimed to educate and promote tolerance at the same time. It was first broadcast in 1969 and went on to become one of the most popular children's shows ever made. Sonia Manzano starred as Maria on Sesame Street for 44 years and she has been speaking to Ned Carter Miles about how the show's ethos shaped its characters and storylines.

Photo: Three of the Sesame Street puppets. Credit: Getty Images.

The inside story of one of the most popular children's TV shows ever made

History as told by the people who were there

Being Black In Nazi Germany20190924

Theodor Wonja Michael was a child when Hitler came to power in Germany. The son of a German mother and a Cameroonian father he faced discrimination and danger under Nazi rule. He has been speaking to Caroline Wyatt about how working as a film actor helped him to survive World War Two.

Photo: Theodor Wonja Michael at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2013. Credit: Alamy

History as told by the people who were there

Bokassa's Massacre Of The Children20190528

Protests about expensive school uniforms in the Central African Republic eventually led to Jean-Bédel Bokassa's fall from power in 1979. The demonstrations started with school children, but soon widened to involve university students. Bokassa ordered brutal reprisals and within months his regime had lost its international support and French troops had invaded. André Nalke Dorogo was a university student at the time and he as been speaking to Ashley Byrne about the events of that year.

Image: Jean-Bédel Bokassa on the day he crowned himself Emperor in 1977. Credit:Pierre Guillaud/AFP/Getty Images.

How protests by young people led to Jean-B\u00e9del Bokassa's fall from power in C.A.R

History as told by the people who were there

Britain's First Female Black Headteacher20190308

Yvonne Conolly was appointed head of Ringcross Primary school in North London in 1969. She had moved to the UK from Jamaica just a few years earlier and quickly worked her way up the teaching profession. She faced racist threats when she first took up the post but refused to allow them to define her relationship with the children she taught.

Photo: Yvonne Conolly in a classroom. Copyright: Pathe.

History as told by the people who were there

Britain's First Muslim Woman In Government20190304

Sayeeda Warsi made history when she was appointed to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government's Cabinet in May 2010, and was also made Conservative party co-chair. The daughter of working-class Pakistani immigrants, she walked up Downing Street for her first Cabinet meeting dressed in a traditional South Asian salwar-kameez; it was a landmark moment in British politics. Sayeeda Warsi talks to Farhana Haider about her journey into government and about Islamophobia in politics.

(Photo: Baroness Sayeeda Warsi outside 10 Downing Street in London, May 2010. Credit: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

Sayeeda Warsi was appointed to the coalition government's Cabinet in May 2010

History as told by the people who were there

Britain's First Vegans20190423

The Vegan Society was established in 1944 by British 'non-dairy vegetarians'. They wanted to persuade other people not just to give up meat, but milk and eggs too. But the first vegans often got ill, because there was one vital element missing from their diets - vitamin B12. Kirsty Reid has been speaking to former Chair of the Vegan Society, George Rodger, about the history of vegans in the UK.

Photo: Fruit, vegetables, nuts and pulses. Credit: Getty creative stock.

History as told by the people who were there

Britain's World War Two 'brown Babies'20191011

The US first began sending troops to the UK in 1942 to help in the war effort. It is estimated that at least two million American servicemen passed through the UK during World War Two and tens of thousands of them were black. The African-American GIs stationed in Britain were forced by the American military to abide by the racial segregation laws that applied in the deep south of the US. But that didn't stop relationships developing between British women and the black soldiers, some of whom went on to have children. Babs Gibson-Ward was one those children. She has been speaking to Farhana Haider about the stigma of growing up as mixed raced child in post-war Britain.

(Photo: Hoinicote House children, c.1948. Boys and girls whose parents of mixed ancestry met during WWII. Credit: Lesley York)

The stigma of growing up as a mixed race child in post-war Britain

History as told by the people who were there

Britain's Worst Nuclear Accident20191017

Things started to go wrong at the Windscale nuclear plant in October 1957. A reactor was overheating and workers were rushed in to help. In 2011 Chris Vallance spoke to Vic Goodwin and John Harris, two of the men who helped bring things under control during Britain's worst nuclear accident.

Photo: the Windscale nuclear plant. Credit: Getty Images.

A reactor caught fire at the Windscale nuclear plant in the north of England in 1957

History as told by the people who were there

British Cameroons' Historic Referendum20190213

In 1961, the British run territories of Northern and Southern Cameroons in West Africa were given a vote to decide their future. They could choose either to become part of Nigeria, or to become part of Cameroon. They were not given the choice of becoming their own country. The decision taken in that referendum would lay the seeds for the conflict which erupted in Cameroon's English speaking region in 2016. Alex Last spoke to the Cameroonian historian Prof. Verkijika Fanso about his memories of the crucial vote which decided the fate of his country.

The 1961 vote lies at the heart of the violent conflict in Cameroon's Anglophone region

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times told by the people who were there.

British Troops Take To The Streets Of Northern Ireland20190808

In August 1969 the British Army was first deployed in Northern Ireland. Their job was to keep the peace on the streets of Londonderry where sectarian violence had broken out. To begin with the soldiers were welcomed by residents, but attitudes soon changed and what became known as 'The Troubles' got underway.

Picture: Armed British soldiers on the streets of Northern Ireland, 15th August 1969 (Credit: Press Association)

In August 1969 the British Army was deployed on the streets of Londonderry

History as told by the people who were there

Broadcasting D-day20190606

Hear how the BBC reported the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France on June 6th 1944. The operation was a crucial step in the liberation of western Europe. Using original BBC reports from the time - from Chester Wilmot, Richard Dimbleby, Robin Duff, Ward Smith and Alan Melville - we tell the story of D-Day.
Photo: D-Day Landings: US troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Omaha Beach in Colleville Sur-Mer, France, on June 6th 1944 (US National Archives)

How the BBC reported the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France, 6 June 1944

History as told by the people who were there

Carl Gustav Jung20190618

One of the most influential figures in modern psychoanalysis, the Swiss thinker and writer, Carl Gustav Jung, died in June 1961. Although he had worked alongside Sigmund Freud in the early years of the 20th Century, Jung created a different style of psychoanalysis which acknowledged spiritual elements to the human psyche.

Photo: Carl Gustav Jung at home in Switzerland in 1959. Copyright: BBC.

One of the most influential figures in psychoanalysis died in June 1961

History as told by the people who were there

Catch-2220190625

Joseph Heller's funny, tragic satirical anti-war novel was published in 1961 and sold millions. For many it epitomised the growing anti-establishment mood of the 1960s. Heller had served in a bomber squadron during World War Two. Though his experiences provide the setting for the book, its target was actually the America of the 1950s. Using interviews with the author from the BBC archive, Alex Last tells the story behind Catch-22.

(Photo: A first edition of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, published by Simon and Schuster. Credit: Abe Books)

The story behind Joseph Heller's acclaimed, satirical anti-war novel which sold millions

History as told by the people who were there

Catching 'carlos The Jackal'20190815

In the 1980s Ilich Ramírez Sánchez known as 'Carlos the Jackal' was seen as the world's most-wanted terrorist. He had carried out bombings, killings and kidnappings and had been on the run for decades. He was finally arrested in Khartoum in August 1994. Alex Last spoke to former CIA operative, Billy Waugh, who tracked him down.

Photograph: Rare photo of Carlos the Jackal, taken in the 1970s (AFP/Getty Images)

How the CIA tracked down one of the world's most wanted men

History as told by the people who were there

China Opens Up To Capitalism20191004

In May 1980 China allowed capitalist activity for the first time since the Communist Revolution, in four designated cities known as the Special Economic Zones. The most successful was Shenzhen, which grew from a mainly rural area specialising in pigs and lychees to one of China's biggest cities. In 2017 Lucy Burns spoke to Yong Ya, a musician who has lived in Shenzhen since the 1980s, and to ethnographer Mary Ann O'Donnell.

IMAGE: Pedestrians and cars stream by a giant poster of Chinese patriarch Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen, the first of China's special economic zones. TOMMY CHENG/AFP/Getty Images

How China's Communist rulers established the country's first Special Economic Zones

History as told by the people who were there

China Puts Tampons On Sale20190709

Tampons first went on sale in China in 1985. But many Chinese women, especially in rural areas still didn't have access to basic sanitary products. Even now only a tiny percentage of Chinese women use tampons on a regular basis.
Yashan Zhao has been talking to the man behind the first advertising campaign for tampons in China, and to a woman from the countryside where sanitary products were not widely available until the late 1980s.

Photo: Chinese women looking at educational material about tampons in a Beijing store, in 1985 (Courtesy of Ren Xiaoqing)

Women in China got access to tampons for the first time in 1985

History as told by the people who were there

China's Breakthrough Malaria Cure20190313

Chinese scientists used ancient traditional medicine to find a cure for malaria in the 1970s. Artemisinin was discovered by exploring a herbal remedy from the 4th century, a small team of scientists managed to harness the medicinal properties from the Artemisa Annua plant. It can cure most forms of malaria with very few side effects and has saved millions of lives all over the world. Professor Lang Linfu was one of the scientists involved, he told Rebecca Kesby how they made the discovery in the laboratory as China's Cultural Revolution raged across the country.

(Photo; Professor Lang Linfu. Family archives)

Chinese scientists used ancient traditional medicine to find a cure for malaria.

History as told by the people who were there

China's One Child Policy20190516

The Chinese Communist Party started ruthlessly enforcing birth control in the early 1980s. People with more than one child faced fines, or lost their jobs, or had children forcibly adopted. Yashan Zhao has been speaking to Zhou Guanghong who experienced the policy first-hand, both as a father and as a birth control official.

Photo: a propaganda poster extolling the virtues of China's "One Child Family" policy. (Credit:Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket/GettyImages)

History as told by the people who were there

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome20190412

Diners at Chinese restaurants in America in the 1960's began to report unusual symptoms, including headaches, flushing, numbness at the back of the neck.

It was linked to the man-made flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate or MSG – but it was also part of wider attitudes towards Chinese restaurants at the time.

Lucy Burns speaks to restaurateurs Philip Chiang and Ed Schoenfeld about their memories of what became known as 'Chinese restaurant syndrome'.

Photo credit: Plates of Chinese food (Dean Conger/Corbis via Getty Images)

In the 1960's American diners began to worry that Chinese food was making them ill.

History as told by the people who were there

Confessions Of A Soviet Alcoholic20190214

In 1969, homeless Russian alcoholic Venedikt Yerofeev wrote a hugely popular book which was passed illegally from person to person. The book gave voice to a generation of Soviet intellectuals who were unable to fit into mainstream Soviet society. The author's friend poet Olga Sedakova shared her memories with Dina Newman.

Photo: Venedikt Yerofeev. Credit: Olga Sedakova archive.

How a homeless Russian drunk wrote a secret classic

History as told by the people who were there

In 1969, a homeless Russian alcoholic Venedikt Yerofeev wrote a hugely popular book which was passed illegally from person to person. The book gave voice to a generation of Soviet intellectuals who were unable to fit into mainstream Soviet society.

How a homeless Russian drunk wrote a secret classic.

Conflict Timber In Liberia's Civil War20190912

How the timber industry fuelled a brutal civil war in West Africa. In the late 1990s, timber companies worked closely with Liberia's warlord-turned-president, Charles Taylor. In return for money and support for his militias, the regime allocated huge swathes of the country's valuable rainforest to timber companies for logging. A group of young Liberians started to document what was happening. Alex Last has been speaking to the award winning activist, Silas Siakor, whose work led to a UN ban on Liberian timber exports.

(Photo: Timber near Buchanan in LIberia in 2010. Credit: Getty Images)

History as told by the people who were there

Criminals In The Community20190807

In the 1970s the UK tried to reduce its growing prison population. An experimental new punishment was introduced for convicted criminals. It was called Community Service. The scheme was soon copied around the world. Witness History speaks to John Harding, a former Chief Probation Officer, who was in charge of the introduction of Community Service in one of the first pilot schemes.

Photo: BBC

How Britain pioneered Community Service as an alternative to prison in the 1970s

History as told by the people who were there

Cs Lewis And The Chronicles Of Narnia20190919

The first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series by the English writer CS Lewis was published in autumn 1950. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would go on to become one of the great classics of children's literature. CS Lewis's stepson, Douglas Gresham, talks to Louise Hidalgo about the academic and theologian who created Narnia's magical world.

Picture: CS Lewis, the children's and theological author, seated in his Cambridge study in the early 1950s (Credit: Camera Press/Arthur Strong)

The first book in CS Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series was published in autumn 1950

History as told by the people who were there

Cuba Executes Top Military Officers20190711

Four army officers were sentenced to death for drug trafficking by the Castro government in July 1989. Critics accused the communist authorities of carrying out a show trial of opponents of President Fidel Castro. In 2016, Mike Lanchin spoke to Ileana de la Guardia, daughter of one of the four men executed.

Photo: Col Antonio de la Guardia and his daughter Ileana, Cuba 1986 (AFP)

History as told by the people who were there

D-day20190604

Eyewitness accounts of the Allied landings on the coast of Normandy during World War Two on 6 June 1944. The massive operation was a crucial step in the liberation of western Europe from years of Nazi rule and the defeat of Hitler's Germany. In this episode, we present the accounts of veterans held in the BBC archive.

Photo: The photo titled "The Jaws of Death" shows a landing craft disembarking US troops on Omaha beach, 6th June 1944 ( Robert Sargent / US COAST GUARD)

Eyewitness accounts of the Allied landings in Normandy during WW2 on 6 June 1944.

History as told by the people who were there

Defending A British Serial Murderer20190628

**Warning: Some listeners might find parts of this programme disturbing**

In June 1994 Fred and Rosemary West were charged with a series of gruesome murders of young women and girls, committed over a twenty-year period in the south of England. Among the victims were the couple's 16 year-old daughter. Mike Lanchin speaks to Leo Goatley, Rosemary West's defence lawyer.

(Photo: Composite image of victims of Fred and Rosemary West)

The lawyer of serial killer Rosemary West recalls the gruesome details of the case

History as told by the people who were there

Dennis Tito - The First Space Tourist20190415

In April 2001 an American multi-millionaire paid Russia's space agency millions of dollars to blast him into space. He spent time on the International Space Station and returned to earth after eight days in space. Dennis Tito, who was 60 years old at the time of his space flight, spoke to Louise Hidalgo in 2011 about his experiences. (This is a rebroadcast)

Photo: Dennis Tito immediately after his return to earth. Credit: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images.)

In April 2001 an American multi-millionaire paid Russia to send him into space

History as told by the people who were there

Disney Goes To Europe20190207

In 1992 Disney opened its first theme park in Europe. But it had taken years of delicate negotiations and diplomacy get it off the ground. In 2013 Rebecca Kesby spoke to Robert Fitzpatrick who had the job of bringing the magic of Mickey Mouse to France.

Photo: Celebrations during the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris at the park in Marne-la-Vallee in April 2017.(Credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

The first Disney theme park in Europe took years of negotiations to get off the ground.

History as told by the people who were there

Dr Seuss: The Man Who Taught America To Read20190816

The Dr Seuss books revolutionised the way American children learnt to read in the 1950s. Books like 'The Cat in the Hat' were designed to help young children enjoy reading simple words and sentences using rhymes, anarchic characters and lively illustrations. Claire Bowes spoke to Christopher Cerf who knew Theodor Geisel, the author of the books.

Photo: Author and illustrator Ted Geisel sits at his drafting table with a copy of his book, 'The Cat in the Hat' in 1957. (Gene Lester/Getty Images)

The Dr Seuss books revolutionised reading in America in the 1950s.

History as told by the people who were there

Drama In The British Parliament20190326

In March 1979, the British Prime Minister James Callaghan was struggling desperately to govern with a parliamentary majority of just three. When the Conservative opposition tabled a motion of no-confidence, his party whips fought a furious - and ultimately unsuccessful - battle to keep him in power. Simon Watts listens through the BBC's archives to tales from the collapse of the Callaghan government.

Picture: James Callaghan outside 10 Downing Street (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Jim Callaghan's desperate attempts to survive a no-confidence vote in 1979

History as told by the people who were there

Ellen Comes Out20190429

Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian publicly in April 1997 – and so did the fictional character she played in her self-titled sitcom. The Puppy Episode would be watched by more than 40 million people and represented a milestone for LGBT representation in popular culture.

Lucy Burns speaks to the episode’s writer and executive producer Dava Savel.

Picture: Comedian Ellen DeGeneres and actress Anne Heche attend the 49th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 14, 1997 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. (Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian on primetime American television in April 1997.

History as told by the people who were there

Emdr: The Eye-movement Therapy20190402

EMDR is a form of psychotherapy which works for many sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder. The 'eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing' technique was first developed in the USA in the late 1980s by Francine Shapiro. She set up an EMDR Institute and Ashley Byrne has been speaking to psychologist Dr Gerald Puk, one of its senior trainers.

(Picture: a model looking downwards. Credit: Getty Images.)

A therapy which seems to work for post-traumatic stress was developed in the late 1980s

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times told by the people who were there.

Fighting The Islamic State Group Online20190925

When the Islamic State group took over Mosul in Iraq in 2014 they flooded the internet with propaganda, claiming life under IS was fantastic. One historian living in the city decided to post a counter-narrative online. Omar Mohammed set up "Mosul Eye" to expose the atrocities and failings of IS fighters, but it was at great risk to his own safety. Omar tells Rebecca Kesby how he posted news from Mosul to the outside world from right under the noses of the Islamic State group. He says he felt it was his duty to tell the real story.

(Photo: Mosul Eye website. BBC)

How one historian living in Mosul took aim at the Islamic State group on the internet.

History as told by the people who were there

Fighting Uganda's Anti-gay Laws20190522

In 2009 Ugandan MPs tried to introduce new laws against homosexuality that would include life imprisonment and even the death penalty. Homophobia was rife in the media with tabloid papers printing the names and addresses of gay men and lesbians. Many activists suffered intimidation and assault. The law was eventually overturned by the Constitutional Court in 2014 but homosexuality is still illegal in Uganda. Victor Mukasa shares his story of fighting for LGBT rights in Uganda, first as a lesbian woman and then as a trans man.

(Photo: Ugandan LGBT Activist Victor Mukasa May 2019. BBC)

When MPs tried to toughen the laws against homosexuality, LGBT activists took a stand.

History as told by the people who were there

Finding El Salvador's Missing Children20190820

At the end of El Salvador's civil war human rights investigators began the search for hundreds of children reportedly kidnapped by the army during anti-guerrilla operations. In early 1994, two years after the end of the conflict, the first six children were located in an orphanage in the capital San Salvador. Among them was Maria Elsy Dubon, who had been seized by soldiers who killed her father in May 1982. Mike Lanchin has been hearing about Maria Elsy's distressing ordeal and about the difficult reunion she later had with her biological family, who believed that she was dead.

(Photo: Peasants who lost their children during military operations in the civil war at a rally in March 2006 (YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

The search for hundreds of children kidnapped by the Salvadoran army during the civil war

History as told by the people who were there

Free Breakfast With The Black Panthers20190918

The Black Panther Party hit the headlines in the late 1960s with their call for revolution. But they also ran a number of "survival programmes" to help their local communities - the biggest of which was a project providing free breakfasts for schoolchildren.

Reverend Earl Neil was one of the organisers of the first Free Breakfast for Children programme at St Augustine's Church in Oakland, California. He speaks to Lucy Burns.

(IMAGE: Shutterstock)

The revolutionary Black Panther Party provided free breakfasts for local schoolchildren.

History as told by the people who were there

Germans Kidnapped By Nicaragua's Rebels20190702

In the 1980s thousands of young activists from around the world flocked to Nicaragua to support the fledgling left-wing Sandinista revolution. They came to build houses, pick coffee, or work in local health centres. Some of the foreigners were caught in the middle of the ongoing civil war between the Sandinista government and right-wing rebels, or Contras, supported by the US government. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to two Germans who were kidnapped by the Contras in the summer of 1986 and held in the jungle for 25 days.

Photo: Anti-Sandinista Contras practice military drills and exercises at military bases in Honduras (Getty Images)

Two German left-wing activists recall their ordeal as hostages of Nicaragua's Contras

History as told by the people who were there

Happy Beer Day!20190301

On March 1st 1989 Icelanders were allowed to buy beer for the first time in decades

History as told by the people who were there

Hitler's Stolen Children20190517

During the Second World War Nazi officials searched for blonde blue-eyed children in the countries they had occupied. The children were removed from their families as part of a plan to build an Aryan master race. Ingrid Von Oelhafen grew up in Germany and only found out in her 50's that she had been born to Slovenian parents. At nine months old she was taken away and sent to a 'Lebensborn' children's home. She has been speaking to Kate Bissell about what happened during her childhood, and the effect it still has on her life.

Photo: Ingrid Von Oelhafen aged about two. Courtesy of Ingrid Von Oelhafen.

During WW2 the Nazis abducted blonde blue-eyed children to build an Aryan master race

History as told by the people who were there

How America 'lost' China2019061320190614 (WS)

After the end of WW2 the US feared its wartime ally, China, would become communist. In 1946 after the end of Japanese occupation China returned to a civil war which had been fought on and off for years. America saw China as a future ally in business and politics and sent General George Marshall to broker peace between the nationalists and the communists. But just as the communist leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, was advising the Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong to enter into a truce, the British leader Winston Churchill gave his famous speech about an 'iron curtain' descending over Europe and the Cold War began to take hold. Daniel Kurtz Phelan tells Claire Bowes about this largely forgotten pivotal moment in world history.

Photo: General George C. Marshall in the War Department in Washington DC in 1943 (Getty Images)

Archive material: Courtesy of the George C Marshall Foundation

How an American war hero was sent to stop China becoming communist and failed.

History as told by the people who were there

How Environmental Campaign Group Greenpeace Was Formed20190523

The environmental campaign group, Greenpeace, was formed in 1971 in western Canada, after a group of activists met in a Vancouver kitchen and decided to sail an old fishing boat to Alaska to stop a US nuclear test. Greenpeace is today one of the biggest environmental organisations in the world, known for its direct action, with offices in over 39 countries. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to one of the founders of Greenpeace, Rex Weyler, about that first campaign.

Picture: Members of the original Don't Make a Wave Committee with Greenpeace skipper John McCormack preparing to sail to Amchitka island to try to stop a US nuclear test, 1971 (Credit: Getty Images)

The story of how environmental campaign group Greenpeace was formed

History as told by the people who were there

How Little America Was Built In Afghanistan20190315

In the 1950s, US engineers were sent to Afghanistan to build a dam.

History as told by the people who were there

How Organic Farming Started20190418

In the aftermath of World War Two pesticides and chemical fertilisers started to become more widespread in the UK. Worries about the effect this would have on soil quality led Lady Eve Balfour to establish the Soil Association to promote natural farming techniques. John Butler has been a farmer all his life and he has been speaking to Dina Newman about Lady Eve and the early days of Britain's organic farming movement.

Photo: Lady Eve Balfour with some of her friends. Copyright: The Soil Association.

Worries about the industrialisation of farming post-WW2 led some farmers to go organic.

History as told by the people who were there

How Science Ended The Search For Josef Mengele20190222

An international panel of experts gathered in Brazil in 1985 to identify the remains of a man thought to have been the infamous doctor from Auschwitz.
'To see that this man was finally in his grave was important' says Eric Stover, part of the team of American and German experts who examined the body from a cemetery near São Paulo. Mengele's family in Germany claimed that it was his. Thomas Pappon has spoken to Eric Stover about the efforts to prove that one of the most wanted war criminals of the 20th century was dead.
Image: Josef Mengele with his skull superimposed on top. Used by German forensic scientist Richard Helmer. (Credit: Brazilian Institute Medico-Legal)

A panel of scientists went to Brazil to identify the remains of the infamous Nazi in 1985

History as told by the people who were there

Humanity's Earliest Ancestor20190726

In July 2001 a team of palaeontologists led by Michel Brunet discovered a seven million year-old fossilised skull in the Djurab desert in Chad. Ahounta Djimdoumalbaye was the member of the team who first uncovered the skull which has been nicknamed Toumai. Freddy Chick has been speaking to Professor Brunet about his hunt for hominid fossils in West Africa. Photo: French palaeontologist Professor Michel Brunet, holding Toumai's skull along with Ahounta Djimdoumalbaye who discovered the skull. (Photo credit Patrick ROBERT/Corbis via Getty Images)

A fossilised skull found in Chad is thought to be the earliest-known ancestor of humans

History as told by the people who were there

I Helped Liberate Paris From The Nazis20190821

On August 25 1944 General Charles De Gaulle, who had been in exile in London for the majority of World War 2, finally entered Paris at the head of the Free French forces. But the French capital was far from secure. Ashley Byrne hears from Charles Pegulu de Rovin, who as an 18-year-old student fought with other resistance fighters against the Nazis in the final battle for Paris.

(Photo by Pierre Jahan/Roger Viollet via Getty Images)

A former member of the French resistance remembers the drama of August 1944

History as told by the people who were there

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings20190405

Maya Angelou's iconic first memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in spring 1969. The book was an instant best-seller, and was one of the first literary accounts of growing up as a black girl in the southern states of America, including graphic depictions of rape and racism. Louise Hidalgo talks to Maya Angelou's friend and biographer, former magazine editor, Marcia Gillespie, about the book and how it helped to establish Maya Angelou as one of the great voices of her generation.

Picture: Maya Angelou holding a copy of her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in 1971 (Credit: BBC/WF/AP/Corbis)

Maya Angelou's iconic memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in 1969

History as told by the people who were there

Iceland Jails Its Bankers20190211

The 2008 global economic crisis hit hard in Iceland. Its three major banks and stockmarket collapsed and it was forced to seek an emergency bail-out from the IMF. But unlike many other countries affected by the global downturn, Iceland decided to prosecute its leading bankers. Around forty top executives were jailed. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from Special Prosecutor, Olafur Hauksson, who led the investigations.

Photo: Protesters on the streets of Reykjavik demand answers from the government and the banks about the country's financial crisis, Nov. 2008. (HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images)

The man who jailed forty top bankers in Iceland after the 2008 global credit crunch.

History as told by the people who were there

(Photo: Protesters on the streets of Reykjavik demand answers from the government and the banks about the country's financial crisis, Nov. 2008. (Halldor Kolbeins/AFP/Getty Images)

The man who jailed 40 top bankers in Iceland after the 2008 global credit crunch

India's Affirmative Action Controversy20190911

In 1990 the Indian government introduced an affirmative action plan that had been lying unimplemented for a decade. The Mandal Commission recommended guaranteeing a percentage of government jobs to lower caste Hindus. It's implementation was an attempt by the government to quell the rise of Hindu nationalism. But the move proved controversial from the outset and led to weeks of student protests across India.  Farhana Haider has been speaking to a retired superintendent of police, Dilip Trivedi who remembers the implementation of the report and its aftermath.

Photo Students protesting Mandal Commission proposal for quotas on govt. jobs for so called backward castes 1990. Credit Getty Images.

Why guaranteeing government jobs to lower caste Hindus led to weeks of student protests.

History as told by the people who were there

India's First Call Centre20190121

Pramod Bhasin returned home to India in 1997 after working abroad for years. He spotted an opportunity to start a new industry that would revolutionise the country's economy. He tells Witness how he set up India's first call centre in spite of telecom challenges that might have put most entrepreneurs off.

Photo: Pramod Bhasin in one of the call centres he started. Credit: BBC.

In the late 1990s a businessman started a new industry in India

History as told by the people who were there

Inside Lunar Astronaut Quarantine20190904

When the crew of Apollo 11 returned to earth after their historic mission to the Moon, they were immediately placed in quarantine for 3 weeks. It was done to protect the Earth from the dangers of possible lunar alien life. Dr William Carpentier was the flight surgeon for the Apollo 11 mission and was placed in quarantine with the crew to monitor their health and check for any signs of alien life. He talks to Alex Last about his memories of working with the Apollo programme and life in quarantine.

Photo: Apollo 11 astronauts (left to right): Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin peer from window of the Mobile Quarantine Facility aboard the U.S.S. Hornet after their July 24th recovery.

Apollo 11's doctor tells how NASA tried to protect Earth from possible lunar alien life

History as told by the people who were there

Iran Hostage Crisis20190130

In 1979 young revolutionaries stormed the US Embassy in Tehran. 52 Americans were taken captive and held hostage for 444 days. Barry Rosen was one of the hostages. In 2009 he told his story to Alex Last.

This programme is a rebroadcast.

Photo: Boy in camouflage points a toy pistol at an effigy of US President Carter during a demonstration outside the US Embassy, 18 November 1979. (Credit:STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Barry Rosen was one of the Americans held hostage for 444 days in Tehran.

History as told by the people who were there

Iran Hostage Rescue Mission20190131

In April 1980, the US launched Operation Eagle Claw - a daring but ultimately disastrous attempt to free dozens of hostages held captive in the US Embassy in Tehran. The rescue mission ended in tragedy almost as soon as it began. Rob Walker spoke to Mike Vining, a member of the US special forces team in 2015.

This programme is a rebroadcast

(Photo:Special forces troops returning from the failed mission. Credit: US Army)

The US sent special forces to try to rescue hostages from their Embassy in Tehran in 1980

History as told by the people who were there

Jack Ma: The Founder Of Alibaba20190506

The Chinese billionaire set up his online shopping site in 1999. When Alibaba first started, Jack Ma and his team were working out of a small flat in Hangzhou. The BBC's Michael Bristow has been hearing from Duncan Clark, who first worked with the internet entrepreneur in those early days.

Photo: Jack Ma attends the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 2019. (Credit: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)

History as told by the people who were there

Kenya's Ivory Inferno20190712

Twelve tonnes of ivory was set alight by President Daniel Arap Moi in Nairobi National Park in July 1989, to highlight the threat from poaching.The ivory burn was organised by conservationists who wanted to save the world's elephants. Alice Castle has been speaking to Richard Leakey, former head of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

(Photo: Ivory tusks arranged in a pile and set alight. Credit: Andrew Holbrooke/Corbis/Getty Images)

How a dramatic bonfire in Nairobi National Park highlighted the threat from poaching

History as told by the people who were there

Laika, The First Dog In Space20190715

The Russian stray was the first dog to orbit the Earth. She was sent into space in November 1957 in a flight which had been timed to mark the anniversary of the Russian Revolution. She died after orbiting the Earth four times. Professor Victor Yazdovsky's father was in charge of the dogs in the Russian space programme. Professor Yazdovsky tells Olga Smirnova about playing with Laika, before her flight, when he was just nine years old.

Photo: Laika. Credit: Keystone/Hulton/Getty Images.

The Russian stray was the first dog to be sent into orbit around the earth

History as told by the people who were there

Learie Constantine - Fighting Racism In The Uk20191007

The great West Indian cricketer, lawyer and member of the House of Lords took a London hotel to court when it refused to let him and his family stay there in 1943. Susan Hulme brings us his story from the BBC archives.

Photo: Sir Learie Constantine outside Westminster Abbey in 1966. Credit: Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty Images.

The great West Indian cricketer who fought against racism in the UK

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times told by the people who were there.

History as told by the people who were there

Lenin And The Deadly Mushrooms20190312

As communism was crumbling in the early 1990s a spoof made for Soviet TV, persuaded some Russians that Vladimir Lenin's personality had been seriously affected by hallucinogenic mushrooms. The mushrooms in question were the deadly poisonous fly agaric fungi which the programme alleged Lenin had eaten whilst in exile in Siberia. Dina Newman has spoken to journalist Sergei Sholokhov who presented the TV spoof.

Photo: two fly agaric toadstools. Copyright: BBC.

A spoof TV show persuaded some Russians that Lenin took too many hallucinogenic mushrooms

History as told by the people who were there

Lgbt 'cooperative' Marriages In China20190723

LGBT people in China sometimes arrange fake marriages to hide their sexuality. In 2005 Lin Hai set up a website to allow lesbians and gay men to get in touch with each other. He came up with the idea to stop his family from putting pressure on him to get married. Homosexuality is not illegal in China but there is discrimination against LGBT people.

(Photo: Lin Hai and his partner on holiday in Thailand in 2014. Credit: Lin Hai)

How LGBT people in China started arranging fake marriages to hide their sexuality

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times told by the people who were there.

Maastricht: The Birth Of The European Union20190215

In February 1992, European ministers from 12 countries signed a treaty that would lead towards greater economic and political unity. The European Union would become the biggest free trading bloc in the world, but over the years it has survived several rocky moments as individual countries have questioned whether they want to be included. Senior EU Official Jim Cloos was one of those involved in drafting the Maastricht Treaty, and he explained to Rebecca Kesby how exciting it was to be involved in the project in those early days.

(Photo: The flag logo of The European Union)

In 1992 European ministers signed a treaty towards greater economic and political unity.

History as told by the people who were there

Magellan And The First Voyage Around The World20190913

In September 1519, a fleet led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan set off on what would be the first circumnavigation of the world. Magellan was the first navigator to find a route round South America, but he had to quell several attempted mutinies and he was eventually killed by tribesmen in what is now the Philippines. His circumnavigation was completed in 1522 by one of his subordinates, Juan Sebastian Elcano. Simon Watts tells Magellan’s story through the book published by his on-board chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta.

PHOTO: Magellan's fleet (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In 1519, the Portuguese explorer set off on the first circumnavigation of the globe.

History as told by the people who were there

Mamma Mia!20190722

The hit musical Mamma Mia opened in London's West End in 1999. Using the songs of the Swedish pop group ABBA, the stage show was followed in July 2008 by Mamma Mia the movie and ten years after that by a sequel, both of which have broken musical box-office records. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to Mamma Mia's creator Judy Craymer about how it all began.

Picture: Mamma Mia the musical West End promotional poster (Credit: Littlestar Services)

The story of the hit musical Mamma Mia from the woman who created it

History as told by the people who were there

The hit musical Mamma Mia! opened in London's West End in 1999. Using the songs of the Swedish pop group ABBA, the stage show was followed in July 2008 by Mamma Mia! the movie and ten years later by a sequel, both of which have broken musical box-office records. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to Mamma Mia's creator Judy Craymer about how it all began.

Picture: Mamma Mia! the musical West End promotional poster (Credit: Littlestar Services)

The story of the hit musical Mamma Mia! from the woman who created it

Mao's Cultural Revolution20191002

In 1966 Chairman Mao declared the start of the Cultural Revolution in Communist China, a radical and brutal attempt to reshape Chinese society. Saul Yeung was 20 years old at the time and in 2016 he spoke to Lucy Burns about his decision to join the Red Guards, tasked with carrying out Mao's revolution.

Photo: Chinese Red Guards reading from Chairman Mao's Little Red Book (Getty Images)

We hear from one man who took part in China's brutal Cultural Revolution.

History as told by the people who were there

Mexico City Slashes Car Use20191015

By the 1980s a deadly cocktail of factory fumes and car exhausts had turned Mexico City into the world's most polluted city. Hundreds of thousands of people were falling ill each month, many of them children. The Mexican authorities came up with an ambitious plan to curb the use of each of the city's two million cars for one day a week. The scheme was an immediate success and has been copied in other major cities around the world. Ramon Ojeda Mestre, the environmentalist behind the Mexican initiative spoke to Mike Lanchin about overcoming fierce opposition to the plan.

Photo: Cars driving through Mexico City. Credit: Alamy

How Mexico City cut its dangerously high air pollution levels

History as told by the people who were there

Mexico's Murdered Women20190827

In 1993 young women began disappearing in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juarez. Since then hundreds are reported to have been kidnapped and killed. Mike Lanchin has spoken to a forensic scientist who used to work in the city; and to the mother of one of the murdered girls. This programme was first broadcast in 2013.

Photo: Jorge Uzon. AFP/Getty Images

How young women began disappearing in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juarez in 1993

History as told by the people who were there

Mindfulness For The Masses20190329

In 1979 scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn opened the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, pioneering a meditative approach to treat pain and depression.  In a few decades mindfulness has gone from being a specialist element of Buddhist teaching to a billion dollar industry. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Dr Kabat-Zinn about the popularising of mindfulness to tackle the stresses of modern life.

(Photo Jon Kabat-Zinn teaching MBSR at the University of Massachusetts Medical School 1992, Credit Jon Kabat-Zinn)

Scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn pioneered a meditative approach to treat pain and depression.

History as told by the people who were there

Musicians Of The Iranian Revolution20190128

During the heat of Iran's revolution the country's top musicians decided to join the popular uprising. After the massacre of demonstrators by the Shah's armed forces in Jaleh Square in September 1978, state employed musicians went underground and started recording revolutionary songs. These songs became some of the most iconic in recent Iranian history. In 2015 Golnoosh Golshani heard from Bijan Kamkar about the musicians of the revolution.

This programme is a re-broadcast.

(Photo: Bijan Kamkar, on the far left, with a group of Iranian musicians. Courtesy of Bijan Kamkar)

How Iran's state employed musicians started recording revolutionary songs.

History as told by the people who were there

My Memories Of Chairman Mao20191001

American Sidney Rittenberg first met Mao Zedong in the 1940s during the final years of China's civil war and before Mao's victory over the Nationalist forces. Already a committed socialist, Rittenberg had been stationed in China during WW2 but decided to stay on and fight alongside Mao's Communists. In 2013 he spoke to Rebecca Kesby about his memories of one of the world's great revolutionaries.

Photo: a poster of Chairman Mao in Beijing in the 1960s. Credit: AFP.

China's legendary Communist leader in the words of an American who knew him well

History as told by the people who were there

Nato Bombs Serbian Tv20190422

In April 1999 Nato bombed the Serbian state TV station in Belgrade, killing 16 people. It was part of a military campaign to force Serbia to withdraw from Kosovo. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to one of the survivors, Dragan Suchovic, a TV technician, who was working at the station that night.

Photo: The damage caused by the Nato bombing on the TV station in Belgrade (courtesy of Duco Tellegen, 2015)

A survivor from the April 1999 bombing in Belgrade that killed 16 people.

History as told by the people who were there

Nina Simone Moves To Liberia20190829

The great African-American jazz singer Nina Simone moved to the Liberian capital Monrovia in September 1974. Simone was famous for her vocal support for the civil rights movement in the USA as well as for songs like I'm Feeling Good, Mississippi Goddam and I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, and she was invited to the West African republic by her friend the singer Miriam Makeba.

Lucy Burns speaks to Nina Simone's friend James C Dennis Sr.

Picture: Nina Simone performs on stage at Newport Jazz Festival on July 4th 1968 in Newport, Rhode Island (David Redfern/Redferns)

The great African-American jazz singer moved to West Africa in 1974.

History as told by the people who were there

Patty Hearst The Rebel Heiress20190401

Patty Hearst was kidnapped by an extreme left-wing group called the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974. She had been held hostage for two months when, in April of that year, she announced that she had come to share their beliefs. She would go on to take part in an attempted bank robbery before being arrested and put on trial. Louise Hidalgo spoke to two women who remember the impact of her kidnapping in California in 1974.

Photo: Patty Hearst posing with a machine gun in front of a Symbionese Liberation Army flag in 1974. (Credit: Getty Images.)

In April 1974 the heiress announced she supported her kidnappers' beliefs

History as told by the people who were there

Predicting The Financial Crash20190514

In the early 2000s, a handful of experts warned that the world was sleep-walking towards a financial crisis. Among them were South-African born political economist Ann Pettifor and the IMF's chief economist at the time, Raghu Rajan. But their warnings were ignored, and instead in 2008 the world plunged into the worst financial crash since the Great Depression, whose shadow still hangs over our politics. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to the Cassandras of the crash.

Picture: Traders at the New York Stock Exchange watch as the Dow Jones share index plunges following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 (Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The economists who predicted the 2008 financial crash but whose warnings were ignored

History as told by the people who were there

Proving Climate Change: The Keeling Curve20191014

How a young American scientist began the work that would show how our climate is changing. His name was Charles Keeling and he meticulously recorded levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. His wife Louise and son Ralph spoke to Louise Hidalgo about him in 2013.

(Photo: Thick black smoke blowing out of an industrial chimney. Credit: John Giles/PA)

An American scientist began recording carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere in 1958

History as told by the people who were there

Rupert Brooke20190430

In April 1915, Britain mourned when poet and national hero Rupert Brooke died on a troopship in the Dardanelles during World War One. Often compared to a Greek god because of his blond good looks, Brooke had written a series of famous sonnets that reflected the optimistic mood at the beginning of a conflict that would claim tens of millions of lives. Simon Watts introduces the memories of three of Brooke's friends, as recorded in the BBC archives.

(Photo: Rupert Brooke. Credit: Culture Club/Getty Images)

The English poet whose death at the start of World War One was mourned by millions

History as told by the people who were there

Sir Anthony Blunt - Soviet Spy20190920

Sir Anthony Blunt, a distinguished British art historian and curator of the Queen's pictures was exposed as a former Soviet spy in the autumn of 1979. He was stripped of his knighthood and publicly shamed as a traitor for being part of the Cambridge spy ring. Susan Hulme has been speaking to Christopher Morris who was the BBC reporter sent to interview Blunt when the story broke.

Photo: Sir Anthony Blunt at the press conference in which he explained his motivation in 1979 (Credit: Aubrey Hart/Getty Images)

The distinguished art historian was exposed as a former Soviet spy in the autumn of 1979.

History as told by the people who were there

Sister Lotus - Early Chinese Online Star20190620

Sister Lotus was an early online celebrity in China. She first became famous in 2004 after posting pictures of herself on China's early social media sites.
But she was a slightly unlikely star because she became famous not for being exceptional, but for being very ordinary. She has been speaking to Yashan Zhao about the online bullying she experienced and how she got through it.

(Photo: Sister Lotus in a park near Peking University 2003. Credit: Sister Lotus)

Sister Lotus was an unlikely online celebrity because she was famous for being ordinary.

History as told by the people who were there

Six Degrees - The First Online Social Network20190531

Six Degrees was the first online social network, allowing users to connect with their real-world contacts by creating a profile within a database.

It was created by entrepreneur Andrew Weinreich.

But Six Degrees never achieved the scale of later social networks like Facebook or MySpace, and Weinreich sold the site in 1999. He speaks to Lucy Burns about the challenges and adventures of setting it up.

Andrew Weinreich founded the first online social network in 1997.

History as told by the people who were there

Slaughterhouse-five20190314

In March 1969, the cult American author, Kurt Vonnegut, published his famous anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. The novel is a mixture of science fiction and Vonnegut's experiences as a prisoner-of-war during the fire-bombing of the German city of Dresden at the end of World War Two. Simon Watts introduces the memories of Kurt Vonnegut, as recorded in the BBC archives.

PHOTO: Kurt Vonnegut in the 1980s (Getty Images)

In March 1969, American author Kurt Vonnegut published his cult anti-war novel.

History as told by the people who were there

South Africa's First Free Elections20190424

After Apartheid all South Africans, regardless of race, were finally able to vote for the first time in April 1994. Organising the elections was a huge logistical challenge, white supremacists staged terror attacks to try to sabotage the vote and violent clashes between rival political groups threatened to disrupt voting day. Rev Frank Chikane was on the Independent Electoral Commission, the body charged with running the elections, and he explained to Rebecca Kesby how much stress, and joy there was the day all South Africans finally got democracy.

(Photo: Nelson Mandela, leader of the ANC (African National Congress) and presidential candidate, voting in the 1994 general election in South Africa. Copyright: BBC)

After Apartheid all South Africans regardless of race finally won the right to vote.

History as told by the people who were there

Speaking Out Against My Abuser: Daniel Ortega20190306

In March 1998 Zoilamérica Narváez publicly accused her step-father, Nicaragua's revolutionary leader, Daniel Ortega of having sexually abused her since she was a child. The 31-year-old Narváez said that the abuse had continued for almost twenty years. Ortega, who was re-elected as Nicaragua's president for a third consecutive term in 2016, has consistently denied the accusations. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to Zoilamérica Narváez about her disturbing story.

Photo: Zoilamerica Narváez announces in a press conference that she is filing a law suit against her stepfather Daniel Ortega, March 1998 (RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)

How Nicaragua's president was accused of sexual abuse by his step-daughter

History as told by the people who were there

Sri Lanka: A Journalist's Editorial From The Grave20190425

The assassination of newspaper editor, Lasantha Wickramatunga, shocked the world in 2009. Sri Lanka's civil war between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority was nearing its climax when he was shot dead by gunmen on motorbikes. After his murder his newspaper, the Sunday Leader, printed his final article in which he predicted his own death and wrote that the government would be behind his killing. Farhana Haider has been speaking to his widow, Sonali Samarasinghe, about press freedom in Sri Lanka.

(Photo: Journalists and well wishers light candles in front of a photograph of murdered editor Lasantha Wickramatunga on the first anniversary of his death 8 Jan, 2010. Credit: Getty images)

The assassination of newspaper editor, Lasantha Wickramatunga, in 2009 shocked the world

History as told by the people who were there

Strictly Come Dancing20190510

One of the most successful TV formats in the world started back in May 2004, bringing ballroom dancing to a new generation. Its format has been sold around the world under the title 'Dancing With The Stars'. Co-creator and executive producer of Strictly, Karen Smith, has been speaking to Ashley Byrne about the show.

Photo: Celebrities and professional dancers from Strictly Come Dancing 2018. Credit: BBC.

History as told by the people who were there

Sucked Out Of A Plane20190227

Nine passengers were sucked out of a plane when a cargo door opened mid-flight over the Pacific.

United Airlines Flight 811 was flying from Hawaii to New Zealand in February 1989 when the accident happened.

In 2012 Claire Bowes heard from two passengers on board the plane. This programme is a rebroadcast.

Photo: The damaged side of the plane. Credit: Courtesy of Bruce Lampert.

Nine people died when a cargo door opened mid-flight over the Pacific in February 1989

History as told by the people who were there

Surviving Cambodia's 'killing Fields'20190703

Extremist communists, the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975 and began a social engineering project displacing millions to forced labour camps, and committing class genocide. Conditions in the camps were so appalling they became known as 'the killing fields'. Sokphal Din survived four years in one and told Rebecca Kesby what it was like.

(PHOTO: CHOEUNG EK, CAMBODIA - 1993/02/01: Skulls are piled up at a monument situated outside Phnom Penh to serve as a constant reminder of the genocide under the Khmer Rouge during the Pol Pot years.. (Photo by Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Khmer Rouge took power in 1975, starting their four year genocidal rule.

History as told by the people who were there

Swine Flu Shuts Down Mexico City20190226

Mexico City, the world's third largest metropolis, was effectively shut down when a new and deadly virus, swine flu appeared. Soon the virus started to spread and was seen as a massive threat to global health. Experts feared millions of people could become infected and many countries began screening airline passengers for symptoms and suspending flights to Mexico.

Photo: People wear surgical masks as they ride the subway in Mexico City (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

A highly infectious virus appeared in Mexico in 2009 and rapidly spread round the world

History as told by the people who were there

The 1967 Hong Kong Riots20191003

Throughout much of 1967 striking workers and students filled the streets of Hong Kong. They were inspired by the Cultural Revolution in China and demanded an end to colonial British rule. Jasper Tsang Yok-sing was then an idealistic young student and he spoke to Rebecca Kesby in 2014.

(Photo: Left wing workers put up anti-British posters in Hong Kong outside Government House. Credit: Central Press/Getty Images)

How workers and students filled the colony's streets, pressing for an end to British rule

History as told by the people who were there

The Acid Survivors Foundation20190524

In 1999 a charity was founded in Bangladesh that was dedicated to treating and rehabilitating the survivors of acid violence. The majority of the attacks were against young women, the acid was usually thrown at their faces causing life-altering disfigurement and long-term psychological issues. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Monira Rahman who help set up the charity.

Photo: Monira Rahman with survivors of acid attacks 2011. Credit Monira Rahman)

The Bangladesh charity dedicated to treating the survivors of acid attacks.

History as told by the people who were there

The Al-yamamah Arms Deals20190426

A record series of arms sales from the UK to Saudi Arabia was worth tens of billions of dollars. The first al-Yamamah deal was agreed between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. But the deals were dogged by allegations of corruption. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to Jonathan Aitken who was involved in later al-Yamamah deals.

(Photo: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and King Fahd in London in 1987. Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images)

A record series of arms sales by the UK to Saudi Arabia began in the 1980s

History as told by the people who were there

The Amritsar Massacre Of 191920190409

On 13 April 1919, British Indian troops fired on an unarmed crowd at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in the Punjab. Hundreds were killed. The massacre caused an outcry in India and abroad, and would be a turning point for the growing Indian nationalist movement. Lucy Burns brings you eye-witness testimony from the time.

Photo: Indian visitors walk past the Flame of Liberty memorial at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. Credit:Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images.

In April 1919 British Indian troops opened fire on protestors in the city of Amritsar

History as told by the people who were there

The Anfal Genocide20190627

In June 2007, an Iraqi court ruled that a 1980s campaign by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds was genocide. More than 100,000 Kurds were killed in chemical attacks and mass executions, and their villages destroyed, during the five-month Anfal campaign. Saddam Hussein's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who was the architect of the campaign, was executed for his part in it in 2010.

Picture: Ali Hassan al-Majid in court during the Anfal trial in Baghdad, November 2006 (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Saddam Hussein's war on the Kurds in the 1980s

History as told by the people who were there

The Anti-nuclear Protesters Who Won20190731

In 1980 the Bavarian government announced plans to build a nuclear reprocessing plant in Wackersdorf in southern Germany. Eight years later construction on the plant was halted after a sustained protest campaign which saw tens of thousands of demonstrators and sometimes violent clashes with the police.

Lucy Burns speaks to local district administrator Hans Schuierer, who became a figurehead for the protests.

Picture: demonstrators fight against police during a protest at the Wackersdorf construction site (Istvan Bajzat/DPA/PA Images)

The eight year protest campaign which stopped a nuclear plant at Wackersdorf in Germany.

History as told by the people who were there

The Arctic African20190501

Tété-Michel Kpomassie, grew up in West Africa but he was obsessed with the Arctic.
When he was 16 years old he ran away from his village in Togo determined to reach Greenland..
It took him eight years but in 1965, he finally arrived. He then went north to fulfil his dream of living among the indigenous people.
Years later, he wrote an award-winning account of his odyssey, An African in Greenland, which has been translated into eight languages.
Photo: Tété-Michel Kpomassie in Greenland in 1988.(BBC)

Why a boy ran away from West Africa to live in the Arctic in the 1960s.

History as told by the people who were there

The Assassinaton Of Medgar Evers20190619

In June 1963 the murder of a prominent black civil rights activist and war hero in Mississippi shook the civil rights movement. Medgar Evers was working to overturn the racist policies in the American south which made him a target for white supremacists. His death caused national outrage and he was given a military funeral at the US national cemetery in Arlington as Farhana Haider reports.

Photo: Roy Wilkins and Medgar Evers Being Arrested 1st June 1963 in Jackson, Mississippi. Credit Getty

The American civil rights activist and war hero who was murdered in 1963 in Mississippi.

History as told by the people who were there

The Asteroid That Killed The Dinosaurs20190521

65 million years ago an asteroid hit the earth, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs along with three quarters of all species on earth at the time.

The crater where it hit was discovered on the Yucatan peninsula in 1978 during a geological survey for the Mexican state oil company Pemex. It was named Chicxulub.

Lucy Burns speaks to Glen Penfield, who first identified the crater, and Alan Hildebrand, whose research confirmed the discovery.

Image: NASA high resolution topographical map of the Yucatan Peninsula created with data collected in the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and released on March 7, 2003 in Washington, D.C. In the upper left portion of the peninsula, a faint arc of dark green is visible indicating the remnants of the Chicxulub impact crater. (Photo by NASA/Getty Images)

The Chicxulub impact crater was discovered in 1978.

History as told by the people who were there

The Bauhaus20190508

The groundbreaking Bauhaus school of art and design was founded in Germany in 1919. It would go on to have a huge impact on architecture and design around the world, with the clean lines and minimalist elegance of its distinctive modernist aesthetic influencing everything from skyscrapers to smartphones.

In this interview from the BBC archive, Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius explains his goals for the school - and the challenges involved in setting it up.

(Photo: View of one of the wings of the Bauhaus building in Dessau, taken on 30 January 2019. Credit: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images)

The groundbreaking school of art and design was founded in 1919

History as told by the people who were there

The Beagle 2 Mission To Mars20190719

On Christmas Day 2003, a British spacecraft was due to land on Mars and begin searching for signs of life. The late Professor Colin Pillinger was the man behind the mission, his daughter Shusanah spoke to Rob Walker about Beagle 2 in 2015. This programme is a rebroadcast.

Photo:Lead scientist Colin Pillinger poses with a model of Beagle 2 in November 2003. (Credit: Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

A failed attempt to search for signs of life on Mars

History as told by the people who were there

The Beatles' Last Gig20190124

In January 1969, the Beatles played together in public for the last time. Their impromptu gig happened on the roof of their offices in London. Filmmaker Michael Lindsay-Hogg was there with them and he has been speaking to Witness.

(Photo:Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison performing, with Yoko Ono and others in the background. 30 January 1969. Credit: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

*This programme is not available as a download for copyright reasons*

In 1969, the Beatles played together in public for the last time, on a London rooftop.

History as told by the people who were there

The Birth Of The People's Republic Of China20190930

On 1 October 1949 Chairman Mao declared China to be a communist state. Zhu Zhende was a young recruit in the People's Liberation Army who marched in the celebrations in Beijing that day. He has been speaking to Yashan Zhao about the optimism and excitement of that time.

Photo: An officer reads a newspaper to soldiers while they are waiting for the announcement of the foundation of the People's Republic of China on Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949 in Beijing, China. (Credit: Visual China Group via Getty Images)

On 1 October 1949 Chairman Mao declared China a communist state

History as told by the people who were there

The Bombardment Of Baghdad20190208

The people of Baghdad faced death when the US and its allies began their invasion of Iraq

History as told by the people who were there

The Bristol Bus Boycott20191010

In 1963 a small group of British black activists started a pioneering protest against racism within the local bus company in Bristol. It had specified that it did not want to employ black bus drivers. Inspired by the example of the US Civil Rights Movement the boycott ended in victory and led to the passage of Britain's first anti-discrimination laws.

Paul Stephenson and Roy Hackett spoke to Louise Hidalgo in 2013 about their part in the protest.

Photo: Park Street in Bristol in the early 1960s. (Credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images)

How British black activists fought for employment rights in the 1960s

History as told by the people who were there

The Businessman Who Defied The Italian Mafia20190906

In 1991, Palermo businessman Libero Grassi published an open letter in Sicily’s main newspaper denouncing the Mafia for constantly demanding extortion payments. Grassi was hailed as a hero, but his public refusal to pay was intolerable to the Mafia and a few months later he was executed in person by one of Cosa Nostra’s top bosses. Libero Grassi’s defiance is credited with inspiring a new grass-roots movement among businesses in Sicily that stands up to the Mafia. Simon Watts talks to his daughter, Alice Grassi.

PHOTO TO COME

In 1991 Libero Grassi was killed in Sicily for publicly refusing to pay protection money.

History as told by the people who were there

The Capture Of Che Guevara20190205

In October 1967 the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara was captured and killed in Bolivia. Mike Lanchin spoke to former CIA operative, Felix Rodriguez, who helped track him down.

(Photo: Felix Rodriguez (left) with the captured Che Guevara, shortly before his execution on 9 October 1967. Courtesy of Felix Rodriguez)

How the Marxist revolutionary was captured and killed in Bolivia.

History as told by the people who were there

The Carry On Films20190122

The comic film franchise which churned out movie after movie mocking British stereotypes and pomposity. The first Carry On film hit cinema screens in 1958 and the team behind it would go on to make more than 30 movies using slapstick comedy and sexual innuendo to win fans around the world.
Ashley Byrne has spoken to writer John Antrobus and actor Valerie Leon. It was a Made in Manchester Production.

Photo: Two of Carry On's biggest stars, Kenneth Williams(l) and Sid James (r) filming Carry On At Your Convenience in 1971. (Credit: Larry Ellis Collection/Getty Images)

The British comic film franchise which found fans around the world

History as told by the people who were there

The Chappaquiddick Incident20190724

In July 1969, United States Senator Edward Kennedy was involved in a car accident on Chappaquiddick Island in which a young woman named Mary Jo Kopechne died. Around 10 hours elapsed before the politician reported the incident to police. In 2014 Paul Schuster spoke to retired police chief Jim Arena who investigated the accident.

(Photo: US Senator Edward Kennedy. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

The car accident involving US Senator Edward Kennedy which left a young woman dead

History as told by the people who were there

The Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster20190219

The US space shuttle Columbia broke up on its way back to Earth on February 1, 2003. It had been in use since 1981. Iain Mackness has spoken to Admiral Hal Gehman who was given the job of finding out what went wrong. His final report led to the winding-up of the American space shuttle programme in 2011.

Photo: The space shuttle Columbia during take-off. Credit: NASA.

The US space shuttle disintegrated on its way back to Earth on February 1, 2003.

History as told by the people who were there

The Columbine Massacre20190419

On April 20th 1999 a mass shooting in the USA shocked the world and started a devastating trend of violence in American schools. 13 people were killed and more than 20 were injured by two armed school students. Ashley Byrne has been speaking to Craig Scott, who survived the Columbine massacre but whose sister Rachel was killed that day.

Photo: Students from Columbine High School run under cover from police, following a shooting spree by two masked teenagers. April 20th 1999. Credit: Mark Leffingwell/AFP/Getty Images.

13 people were killed and more than 20 injured in the school shooting on April 20th 1999

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times told by the people who were there.

The Common Cold Unit20190710

The Common Cold Unit was created after World War Two to find the cause of the illness. Its work depended on thousands of volunteers who came to the unit to catch a cold. Given food, accommodation and some pocket money, many volunteers regarded it as a holiday and came back year after year. Witness spoke to eminent virologist, Professor Nigel Dimmock who worked at the Common Cold Unit in the 1960s.
Photo: Two volunteers take part in the clinical trial at the Common Cold Unit in Salisbury, 1958 (PATHE)

The remarkable UK research centre where thousands went on holiday to catch a cold

History as told by the people who were there

The Coup, The President And The Embassy20190909

In September 2009 the deposed president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, made a sudden return from exile, seeking refuge in the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital. Zelaya had been whisked out of the country at gunpoint after a military coup three months earlier. His unexpected return took the coup leaders totally by surprise. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from two men who spent several months holed up inside the embassy building alongside the Honduran leader.

Photo: Manuel Zelaya with supporters inside Brazil's embassy (Credit should read ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

How the deposed Honduran president spent months holed up in the Brazilian embassy

History as told by the people who were there

The Creation Of The Barbie Doll20190305

Hear from the woman who created the most famous doll in the world.

History as told by the people who were there

The Curse Of Agent Orange20190220

Millions suffered from exposure to toxic chemicals sprayed by US forces during the Vietnam war. The chemicals were defoliants and herbicides designed to destroy jungles and vegetation which provided cover for communist guerrillas. But the defoliants contained dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals known to man. The most notorious defoliant was called Agent Orange. Decades later, Vietnamese are still being affected. Witness speaks to Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong about her struggle against the toxic legacy of the war.
Photo: Child suffering from spinal deformity in rehabilitation centre in Saigon.

One woman's battle against the toxic legacy of the Vietnam War

History as told by the people who were there

The Daily Disposable Contact Lens20190813

The contact lens was once a precious and expensive piece of eyewear which had to be looked after and carefully cleaned every night. But that all changed in the 1990s. Ron Hamilton was involved in developing lenses and packaging which could be made so cheaply they could be worn just once and then thrown away. He has been speaking to Ashley Byrne.

Photo: Ron Hamilton (l) with his business partner Bill Seden (r) and their wives with their original contact lens machine. Courtesy of Ron Hamilton.

How the contact lens became cheap enough to throw away after a day

History as told by the people who were there

The Death Of A Matador2019092720190928 (WS)

In September 1984, the famous Spanish matador, Francisco Rivera, also known as Paquirri, was gored to death by a bull during a fight in the small town of Pozoblanco. The bravery he showed during his final moments turned Paquirri into a legend. In 2013 Simon Watts spoke to El Soro, a matador who shared the bill that fateful day, and to Muriel Finer, an American journalist married to a Spanish bullfighter.

Photo: A recent bullfight (Getty Images).

The fatal goring of the legendary bullfighter Francisco Rivera P\u00e9rez - "Paquirri".

History as told by the people who were there

In September 1984, the famous Spanish matador, Francisco Rivera, also known as Paquirri, was gored to death by a bull during a fight in the small town of Pozoblanco. The bravery he showed during his final moments turned Paquirri into a legend. In 2013 Simon Watts spoke to El Soro, a matador who shared the bill that fateful day, and to Muriel Finer, an American journalist married to a Spanish bullfighter.

Photo: A recent bullfight (Getty Images).

The fatal goring of the legendary bullfighter Francisco Rivera P\u00e9rez - "Paquirri".

History as told by the people who were there

In September 1984, the famous Spanish matador, Francisco Rivera, also known as Paquirri, was gored to death by a bull during a fight in the small town of Pozoblanco. The bravery he showed during his final moments turned Paquirri into a legend. In 2013 Simon Watts spoke to El Soro, a matador who shared the bill that fateful day, and to Muriel Finer, an American journalist married to a Spanish bullfighter.

Photo: A recent bullfight (Getty Images).

The fatal goring of the legendary bullfighter Francisco Rivera P\u00e9rez - "Paquirri".

History as told by the people who were there

The Death Of Brazil's Getulio Vargas20190823

In August 1954 the President of Brazil took his own life rather than quit his post. Getulio Vargas had been one of Brazil’s most influential leaders. But by 1954 the country was saddled with hundreds of millions of dollars of overseas debt and inflation was high. Worse, Vargas had been accused of involvement in the attempted assassination of a political opponent. Julian Bedford spoke to his granddaughter Celina Vargas do Amaral Peixoto. This programme was first broadcast in 2012.

Photo: Getulio Vargas, 1930 (Getty Images)

How the influential Brazilian leader took his own life rather than submit to the military

History as told by the people who were there

The Death Of David Kelly20190729

How the death of a UK weapons inspector intensified arguments over Britain's involvement in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to one of the doctors who signed a letter calling for further investigation of the circumstances surrounding Dr Kelly's death.

Photo: Dr David Kelly during questioning by the Commons select committee, in London in July 2003. Credit: Press Association.

The weapons inspector's death deepened the row over the UK's part in the invasion of Iraq

History as told by the people who were there

The Death Of Hitler20190204

A first-hand account of Hitler from our archives. Traudl Junge worked as a secretary for the German Nazi leader. She was in the bunker in Berlin when he killed himself in 1945 as the Red Army closed in. She spoke to Zina Rohan for the BBC in 1989.

Photo: Hitler and some of his officers. Credit: Getty Images.

A first-hand account of Hitler from one of his secretaries who was there at the very end

History as told by the people who were there

The Death Of Jawaharlal Nehru20190527

The man who led India to independence and its first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, died on May 27th 1964. His niece Nayantara Sahgal spoke to Louise Hidalgo about the great activist and intellectual in 2014.

This programme is a rebroadcast.

Photo: Jawaharlal Nehru, 1958 (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

The man who led India to independence died on May 27th 1964

History as told by the people who were there

Photo: Indira Gandhi paying her respects at the body of her father, Jawaharlal Nehru.(Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

The Death Of Neda Soltan20190617

In June 2009 after the presidential elections in Iran, millions took to the streets to dispute Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory. A young woman, Neda Agha Soltan, became a symbol of the protest movement after she was shot dead at a demonstration in Tehran. Her death was captured on a mobile phone and uploaded on to the internet. That footage was seen around the world within hours. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Arash Hejazi who tried to save Neda's life as she bled to death on the streets.

(Photo: Supporters of then-defeated Iranian presidential candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, attend a rally in Tehran on June 18th 2009. Credit: Reuters)

How a young woman became a symbol of anti-government protest in Iran

History as told by the people who were there

The Discovery Of The Aztec Moon Goddess20190320

Electricity workers in Mexico City accidentally uncovered a massive stone sculpture in 1978. It turned out to be the Aztec Goddess of the Moon, Coyolxauhqui.
The sculpture was found in an area where the Aztecs, 500 years earlier, had built the capital of their empire: the city of Tenochtitlán. The discovery changed the face of the Mexican capital.

María Elena Navas spoke to Raúl Arana, one of the archaeologists who identified the sculpture as the Moon Goddess.

Photo: The sculpture of Coyolxauhqui, the Aztec Moon Goddess (Getty Images)

How an accidental discovery in Mexico led to the uncovering of the Aztecs\u00b4 Great Temple.

History as told by the people who were there

The Division Of Kashmir20190812

In October 1947, an invasion of Kashmir by tribal fighters led to the division of the state between India and Pakistan. Andrew Whitehead speaks to victims of the invasion and political leaders in Kashmir to find out more about the roots of a crisis that endures to this day.

PHOTO: Indian troops arriving in Kashmir in October 1947 (Getty Images)

The October 1947 crisis which led to the partition of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times told by the people who were there.

The End Of The War In Kosovo20190610

Hundreds of thousands of Kosovan Albanians were forced to leave their homes when NATO started bombing Serb targets in the former Yugoslavia in 1999. By the time the bombing stopped, on June 10th 1999, over 800,000 people had been displaced. Qerim Nuridhini is a Kosovan Albanian refugee who fled first to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and then to the UK. He's been speaking to Rachel Wright.

A refugee from Kosovo confronting a Macedonian Policeman at Blace, Macedonia, April 5th 1999.(Photo By Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Hundreds of thousands of Kosovans fled when NATO began bombing former Yugoslavia in 1999

History as told by the people who were there

The Fall Of Singapore20190311

In 1942, during the Second World War, the British colony of Singapore fell to Japanese forces. Its capture marked the start of Japan's three-and-a-half year occupation of the island state, during which many ethnic Chinese living in Singapore were rounded up and killed. Louise Hidalgo has been listening to the memories of some of those who lived through that time.

Picture: British soldiers surrender to Japanese forces in Singapore in 1942. (Credit: Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Image)

Life under Japanese occupation in Singapore during World War Two.

History as told by the people who were there

The Fat Acceptance Movement20190624

The National Association to Aid Fat Americans, NAAFA, held its first meeting in June 1969. Its first president was Bill Fabrey, a thin man married to an overweight woman who had realised how difficult life was for fat people in the USA. One of NAAFA's first members Sue Morgan, and Bill Fabrey, have been speaking to Lucy Burns about the early days of fat acceptance.

Photo: Participants in the Million Pound March, 1998 in Santa Monica, California. Sponsored by NAAFA. (Credit: Gilles Mingasson/Liaison/Getty Images)

History as told by the people who were there

The Final Days Of Sri Lanka's Civil War20190515

In May 2009 the Sri Lankan army finally crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels, ending 25 years of bloody civil war. In the final weeks of the conflict, thousands of civilians were trapped alongside the rebels under heavy shelling as the government forces closed in. Journalists and aid workers were prevented from reaching the war zone. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from one Tamil woman trapped in the siege zone, and from the former UN spokesman in Sri Lanka, Gordon Weiss, who watched on from the capital Colombo as the fighting came to an end.

Photo: Tamil civilians standing on the roadside after crossing to a government-controlled area 2kms from the front-line (Getty Images)

How the army finally crushed Tamil Tiger rebels after 25 years of bloody civil war

History as told by the people who were there

The First All-women Peacekeeping Unit20190903

The UN deployed its first all-female contingent of peacekeepers in Liberia in West Africa. The country was still recovering from its long civil war when the Indian policewomen arrived in 2007. Jill McGivering has been hearing from Seema Dhundia of India's Central Reserve Police Force who led the unit.

Image: Seema Dhundia in front of her contingent of Indian policewomen on their arrival in Monrovia, Liberia, in January 2007. (Credit:Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

The UN deployed its first all-female peacekeepers in Liberia in 2007.

History as told by the people who were there

The First Anti-psychotic Drug2019061120190612 (WS)

In the first half of the 20th century, most mentally ill patients were locked away in psychiatric hospitals and asylums. Those suffering from severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia, were often sedated or restrained. Shock therapies were standard treatments. Then in France in the 1950s, a new drug was discovered which dramatically reduced psychotic symptoms in many patients. It was called Chlorpromazine. Soon it was being used around the world. Alex Last has been speaking to the psychiatrist Dr Thomas Ban, emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, who witnessed the introduction of Chlorpromazine first-hand in the 1950s.

Photo:Nurses prepare a patient for electric shock treatment in a psychiatric hospital. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Getty Images)

How a 1950s drug helped revolutionise the treatment of mental illness

History as told by the people who were there

The First Black Woman Mp In Britain20191008

In 1987 Diane Abbott became the first black woman elected to the British Parliament. The daughter of first generation immigrants she was one of only four black MPs elected that day. In 2015 Diane Abbott spoke to Farhana Haider about her journey into the political history books.

Photo: Diane Abbott in 1986. Copyright: BBC

In 1987 Diane Abbott became the first black woman to be elected to the British Parliament

History as told by the people who were there

The First Democratic Elections In The Ussr20190319

On March 26th 1989, Soviet citizens were given their first chance to vote for non-communists in parliamentary elections. Democrats led by Boris Yeltsin won seats across the country. Dina Newman spoke to Sergei Stankevich who was one of the successful candidates.
This programme was first broadcast in 2014.

(Photo: Boris Yeltsin on the campaign trail. Credit: Vitaly Armand. AFP/Getty Images)

Soviet citizens voted in democratic elections for the first time in March 1989.

History as told by the people who were there

The First Gay Marriage In The Usa20190614

Long before same-sex marriage became legal in the USA in 2015, one gay couple in Minneapolis got married in 1971. Their names were Jack Baker and Mike McConnell. They'd been issued with a marriage licence and the man who held their wedding ceremony was Methodist pastor Roger Lynn. He spoke to Claire Bowes in 2013. This programme is a rebroadcast.

Photo: Jack Baker and Mike McConnell, photographed by R. Bertrand Heine. Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society.

One gay couple in Minneapolis had a same-sex wedding back in the 1970's

History as told by the people who were there

The First Home Pregnancy Test20190325

A female designer working for an American pharmaceutical company came up with the idea in the 1960s, but her bosses didn't like it at first. Margaret Crane has been telling Maria Elena Navas how she had to develop her designs on her own after being told that women couldn't be trusted to use a home testing kit properly.

Photo: Margaret Crane's first home testing kit. Credit: National Museum of American History.

A female designer working for a pharmaceutical company came up with the idea in the 1960s

History as told by the people who were there

The First Human Cyborg20190819

In 1998, a transponder or silicon chip was surgically implanted into the forearm of a British scientist. It sent identifying signals to a central computer that tracked his movements and allowed him access to his workplace, by opening doors and switching on lights. Professor Kevin Warwick has been speaking to Farhana Haider about becoming a more enhanced version of himself and as a result the world's first Cyborg: a man-machine hybrid.

Photo: Professor Kevin Warwick with chip transponder Credit: Science Photo Library

In 1998 a transponder was implanted into the body of British scientist, Kevin Warwick.

History as told by the people who were there

The First Play On Broadway Written By A Black Woman20190416

'A Raisin in the Sun' opened on Broadway in 1959. It had an almost exclusively black cast and a black director too. The playwright, Lorraine Hansberry, based it on her own family's story of being forced out of a white neighbourhood in Chicago. The title is from a poem by African American poet Langston Hughes about a dream deferred - 'does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?'.

Photo: Still from the 1961 film version of the play A Raisin in the Sun featuring Sidney Poitier (Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

Audio: With thanks to WFMT radio and the Studs Terkel radio archive.

'A Raisin in the Sun' by Lorraine Hansberry had an almost exclusively black cast too.

History as told by the people who were there

The Gurkha Soldiers Fight For Equality20190607

For over 200 years soldiers from Nepal have fought in a special regiment in the British army called the Gurkhas. In 2009 all retired Gurkhas won the right to live in Britain, following a high profile media campaign. The announcement by the British government reversed previous guidelines that prevented all but a small number of Gurkha veterans being granted the right to settle in the UK. Farhana Haider has been speaking to retired Major Tikendra Dal Dewan who was instrumental in the Gurkhas campaign for equality.

(Photo: Tikendra Dewan, chairman of the British Gurkha Welfare Society addresses hundreds of Gurkha soldiers outside the immigration office in Liverpool 01/09 2004. Credit PA)

A Nepalese regiment of the British army won the right to settle in Britain in 2009.

History as told by the people who were there

The Holocaust Denial Trial20190905

The controversial historian, David Irving, tried to sue Penguin Books and professor Deborah Lipstadt for libel after she called him a Holocaust denier in one of her books. The case drew intense media interest. Deborah Lipstadt told Rebecca Kesby what it was like to have to defend her work and the memories of survivors of the Holocaust at the High Court in London in 2000. History was on trial.

(Photo: American academic Deborah Lipstadt (C) exults 11 April 2000 at the High Court in London after winning a libel case brought against her and Penguin publications by British revisionist historian David Irving. Credit: Martyn Hayhow/AFP/Getty Images)

The libel case that put history itself in the dock in 2000

History as told by the people who were there

The Indigenous Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Disposal20190705

In 1995 a group of senior, indigenous Australian women started a campaign to halt the construction of a nuclear waste facility in a remote part of South Australia.
Karina Lester, a granddaughter of one of the women and a translator for the campaign, spoke to Rachael Gillman about their unlikely victory against the Australian government.

Photo: Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, the group of senior aboriginal women who led the campaign (Umoona Aged Care)

How a group of senior, indigenous Australian women fought to save their land.

History as told by the people who were there

The Invasion Of Kuwait20190802

Thousands of Iraqi troops and tanks began pouring into Kuwait on 2 August 1990. The tiny, oil-rich Gulf state was immediately taken over by Saddam Hussein's military. Sumaya Bakhsh has spoken to Sami al-Alawi who joined the Kuwaiti underground resistance trying to free the country.

Photo: Soldiers shelter behind a tank during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2nd 1990. Credit: REUTERS.

History as told by the people who were there

The Karakoram Highway20190513

In 1979 one of the great engineering feats of the 20th Century was completed and the Karakoram highway between Pakistan and China was finally opened. The highway, known as the Friendship Highway in China, was started in 1959. Due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions under which it was constructed, it is also sometimes referred to as the 'Eighth Wonder of the World'. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Major General Pervez Akmal who worked on the construction and maintenance of the highway.

(Photo: The majestic Karakoram mountains on the border of Pakistan and China. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

The road between Pakistan and China took 20 years to complete

History as told by the people who were there

The Kindertransport Children Who Fled The Nazis20190828

In the months leading up to outbreak of World War Two in September 1939, some 10,000 unaccompanied children were sent by their parents out of Germany and Austria, to safety in the UK. Many of them never saw their families again. Dame Stephanie Shirley was just five years old when she and her older sister were put on a train by their mother in Vienna. She has been telling Mike Lanchin about arriving in a foreign land as a little girl.

Photo:Getty Images

How thousands of unaccompanied children were sent to safety by their desperate parents

History as told by the people who were there

The Large Hadron Collider20190926

In September 2008, the world's biggest science experiment, the Large Hadron Collider, was started up for the first time at the European Organisation For Nuclear Research, or CERN, in Geneva. Simon Watts talks to Paul Collier, a British engineer whose team built the multi-billion dollar machine designed to investigate the structure of the universe.

PHOTO: Inside the Large Hadron Collider (Getty Images)

In September 2008, the world's biggest science experiment was switched on.

History as told by the people who were there

The Launch Of The Walkman20190704

The portable cassette player that brought us music on the move was launched in July 1979. By the time production of the Walkman came to an end thirty years later, Sony had sold more than 220 million machines worldwide. Farhana Haider has been hearing from Tim Jarman, who purchased one of the original blue-and-silver Walkmans.

(Photo by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The advent of music on the move in July 1979

History as told by the people who were there

The Legalisation Of Solidarity20191021

When the banned Polish trade union organisation, Solidarity, was legalised in April 1989 it was one of the first signs that communism was about to collapse in Eastern Europe. Within months Solidarity was leading a coalition government in Poland and soon afterwards the Berlin Wall fell. In 2015 Tom Esslemont spoke to the former Solidarity spokesman Janusz Onyszkiewicz about the events of that historic year.

This programme is a rebroadcast.

Photo: The Solidarity logo (Credit: BBC)

The Polish trade union organisation was banned by the communists until April 1989

History as told by the people who were there

The Little Prince20190605

In July 1944, a plane piloted by the author of the world famous children's story The Little Prince, disappeared over the south of France. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, an experienced aviator, was on a reconnaissance mission for the Free French airforce fighting Nazi Germany. No one knew how or where his plane had come down. French diver Luc Vanrell has been telling Mike Lanchin about finding the wreckage of the missing aircraft off the coast of Marseille almost sixty years later.

Photo: The Folio Society

The mystery surrounding the death of the author of the world famous children's tale

History as told by the people who were there

The Malayan Emergency20190503

In 1948, British colonial authorities declared a State of Emergency in the territory of Malaya, now part of Malaysia. It was in response to the start of a Communist rebellion. From their bases in the jungle, Communist fighters carried out hundreds of guerrilla attacks across the country, targeting Malaya's valuable rubber estates, tin mines, and infrastructure. Alex Last speaks to Gus Fletcher, a decorated former Special Branch officer in Malaya, about his memories of Britain's attempt to combat the communist threat, which became seen by some, as a model for counter-insurgency.
Photo: A photograph taken by a British sergeant on patrol in the Malayan jungle.. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

The struggle against a Communist insurgency in Malaya in the 1950s

History as told by the people who were there

The Man Who Fed The World20191016

In 1970 the American scientist, Norman Borlaug, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his pioneering work developing disease-resistant crops. At the time famine and malnutrition were claiming millions of lives across the world, particularly in South Asia. Dr Borlaug’s work meant countries like India were able to become self-sufficient. Critics said the new grain varieties were too reliant on chemical fertilizers, but it’s thought millions of lives were saved. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to Professor Ronnie Coffman, student and friend of Norman Borlaug.

(Photo: Dr Norman Borlaug in a field of wheat. Credit CIMMYT International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre)

Dr Norman Borlaug's pioneering work on disease-resistant grains saved millions.

History as told by the people who were there

The Man Who Invented Wingsuits20190410

The wingsuit is the ultimate in extreme sports clothing. An aerodynamic outfit for BASE jumpers and skydivers it allows them to free-fall for longer before opening a parachute. Skydiver Jari Kuosma developed the first commercial wingsuits and he has been speaking to Jonathan Coates about how exciting, but also how dangerous they can be.

Photo: Jari Kuosma. Copyright: BBC

The wingsuit is the ultimate in extreme sports clothing, for BASE jumpers and skydivers

History as told by the people who were there

The Man Who Made Marilyn Monroe Dance20190408

Choreographer Jack Cole had a huge influence on musical theatre and Hollywood films - most memorably with Marilyn Monroe in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. But much of his inspiration came from Indian dance. Vincent Dowd has been speaking to the American actress and singer, Chita Rivera, who danced with him.

History as told by the people who were there

The Mass Exodus Of Algeria's 'pieds Noirs'20190805

Hundreds of thousands of French people who'd been living in Algeria for generations fled for safety to France in the summer of 1962. It was in the last days of the war of independence in the North African nation. Known as the 'Pieds Noirs', the new arrivals were not generally well-received back in France. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to Michelle Hensel, who left Algeria for France as a small child.

Photo: French repatriates leaving Algeria May 1962. (Photo by REPORTERS ASSOCIES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

How thousands of French families fled from Algeria as it won independence

History as told by the people who were there

The Men Who Tried To Warn Us About Smoking20190221

British doctors produced an alarming report in 1962 warning that 1 in 3 smokers would die before the age of 65. The doctors suggested restrictions on advertising and on smoking in public places but the UK government did little except launch a health education campaign.

Credit: Interviews with Sir George Godber and Charles Fletcher courtesy of the Medical Sciences Video Archive, part of a project run by Oxford Brookes University and the Royal College of Physicians.

Photo: 1956 (Thurston Hopkins/Picture Post/Getty Images)

When doctors said cigarette smokers were dying prematurely the UK government did little.

History as told by the people who were there

The Millionaire Nazi War Criminal20190318

The story of how one of the wealthiest men in the Netherlands was exposed as a Nazi war criminal. In the 1970s, Pieter Menten was a respected art dealer, but it was revealed that during the Second World War, he had led mass killings in eastern Poland. We hear from Dutch journalist, Hans Knoop, whose investigation into Menten caused a national scandal and finally led to the millionaire's arrest.

Photo: Pieter Menten photographed in 1977.(credit: National Archives of the Netherlands)

How the Dutch art collector Pieter Menten was exposed as a war criminal in the 1970s

History as told by the people who were there

How the Dutch art collector Pieter Menten was exposed as war criminal in the 1970s

The Moon Landing20190717

In July 1969, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the Moon.

History as told by the people who were there

The Murder Of Black Teenager Emmett Till20190826

Emmett Till was an African-American teenager from Chicago who was brutally murdered in Mississippi in America's deep south in August 1955. His lynching was one of the key events that energized the American civil rights movement. An all-white jury acquitted the two white suspects. Emmett Till's mother insisted on an open casket funeral to let everyone see how her son had been brutally killed. Farhana Haider has been listening through interviews with some of Emmett's family to tell the story of the young boy who became an icon in the struggle against racism in America.

Photo: Emmett Till lying on his bed. Chicago US, 1955 (Credit: Getty Images)

How the lynching of an African-American teenager galvanised the civil rights movement.

History as told by the people who were there

The Notting Hill Riots20191009

In August 1958 Britain was shocked by nearly a week of race riots in the west London district of Notting Hill. The clashes between West Indian immigrants and aggressive white youths known as Teddy Boys led to the first race relations campaigns and the creation of the famous Notting Hill Carnival. Using voices from the BBC archives Simon Watts tells the story.

Photo: Street scene in Notting Hill at the time the race riots broke out in 1958. Credit: Getty Images.

Inter-racial violence broke out in west London in the summer of 1958

History as told by the people who were there

The Outbreak Of World War Two20190902

On September 1st 1939 German forces invaded Poland. Douglas Slocombe, a British cameraman, was there at the time and filmed the build-up to the war. In 2014 he spoke to Vincent Dowd about what he saw in Gdansk and Warsaw, before escaping from the country.

This programme is a rebroadcast

(Image: German citizens in Gdansk (also known as Danzig) welcoming German troops during the invasion of Poland on September 3rd 1939. Credit:EPA/National Digital Archive Poland.)

On September 1st 1939 German troops invaded Poland. Cameraman Douglas Slocombe was there.

History as told by the people who were there

The Paedophile Identified By His Hands20190830

In 2009 a paedophile was convicted with the help of a new form of identification - hand analysis. Dame Sue Black of Lancaster University explains how her team developed this tool and how criminal courts in Britain first responded to the evidence. She says vein patterns as well as scars and skin creases suggest hands may eventually be found to be as identifiable as fingerprints.

Photo: Courtesy of Lancaster University

The first conviction of a paedophile using hand analysis.

History as told by the people who were there

The Publisher Who Tried To Change The World20190125

Virago Press opened as a feminist publisher in 1972 to promote women's writing. Its founder, Carmen Callil, says she wanted both men and women to benefit from the female perspective. She tells Witness how she hoped to put women centre stage at a time when she and many other women felt sidelined and ignored at work and at home.

Photo: Carmen Callil, 1983 (Photo by Peter Morris/Fairfax Media)
Music: Jam Today by Jam Today courtesy of the Women’s Liberation Music Archive.

History as told by the people who were there

Photo: Carmen Callil, 1983 (Photo by Peter Morris/Fairfax Media)
Music: Jam Today by Jam Today courtesy of the Women’s Liberation Music Archive.

The Reburial Of A Hungarian Hero20191022

In 1989 the body of Imre Nagy, Prime Minister during the 1956 Hungarian uprising, was reburied in a public ceremony in Budapest. He had been executed on the orders of Moscow. It marked the beginning of the end of communism in Hungary. Nick Thorpe spoke to Ivan Baba who was master of ceremonies at the 1989 funeral.

Photo: Imre Nagy's coffin and mourners in June 1989.(Credit: Jean Francois Luhan/AFP/Getty Images)

The body of Imre Nagy who had led the Hungarian Uprising was reburied in 1989

History as told by the people who were there

The Repeal Of 'don't Ask, Don't Tell'20190917

LGBT servicemen and women in the US armed forces had to keep their sexuality secret until the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy was repealed in 2011. Lieutenant Colonel Heather Mack served under the policy for most of her military career. She has been speaking to Rachael Gillman about her experiences.

Photo: Lieutenant Colonel Heather Mack (l) with her wife Ashley (r) and their two children. Courtesy of Heather Mack

Until 2011 LGBT service people in the US armed forces had to keep their sexuality secret

History as told by the people who were there

The Return Of The Wolf20190822

Wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park in 1995. It was the start of one of the most famous and controversial wildlife restoration projects in the United States. Beginning in the late 19th century wolves had been subjected to a mass extermination programme as ranchers feared the wolf was a threat to their livestock. By the mid 20th century, wolves had effectively been wiped out across the country except for a few isolated pockets in the far north. But the loss of this key predator had a profound impact on the ecosystem. Alex Last has been speaking to Doug Smith, Senior Biologist at Yellowstone National Park, and Wolf Project Leader about the return of the wolf.

Photo:.A Yellowstone wolf watches biologists after being tranquilized and fitted with a radio collar during wolf collaring operations in Yellowstone National Park (William Campbell/Sygma via Getty Images)

Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone decades after they were wiped out in the US.

History as told by the people who were there

The Rise Of Hindu Nationalism20190411

In 1990 the president of Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, LK Advani, embarked on a political and religious rally called the Rath Yatra or chariot march. Championing a politics based on Hindutva or militant Hinduism. Farhana Haider has been speaking to RK Sudhaman a journalist who covered the journey and followed the rise of the BJP.

Photo LK Advani during rath yatra 15/10/1990 Credit: Getty Image

The consolidation of the BJP as one of the major powers in Indian politics.

History as told by the people who were there

The Rise Of Viktor Orban20190322

Viktor Orban, now the populist Hungarian Prime Minister, was an anti-communist youth leader in 1988. Over the years his party has become increasingly nationalist. His former friend and fellow activist Gabor Fodor shared personal memories of Viktor Orban with Dina Newman.

Photo: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers his annual state of the nation speech in Budapest, Hungary, 10 February 2019. Credit: European Press Agency.

Viktor Orban, now the populist Hungarian Prime Minister led a democratic movement in 1988

History as told by the people who were there

The Secret Diaries Of 'gentleman Jack'20190708

The discovery of the diaries of 19th-century Englishwoman Anne Lister, who wrote in secret code about her love affairs with women and has been called the first modern lesbian. A landowner and a businesswoman, she defied the conventions of the time and was nicknamed by local people in the Yorkshire town of Halifax where she lived 'Gentleman Jack' because of the way she dressed and acted. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to Helena Whitbread, who discovered Anne Lister's diaries in 1983 and spent five years decoding them.

Picture: portrait of Anne Lister, of Shibden Hall, Halifax (credit: Alamy)

The secret diaries of 19th-century Englishwoman Anne Lister, the 'first modern lesbian'

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times told by the people who were there.

The Secret Nazi Past Of Kurt Waldheim20190328

Witness History talks to the American lawyer who led the investigation into the secret Nazi past of former United Nations Secretary-General, Kurt Waldheim. Kurt Waldheim was standing for election to the Austrian presidency when the allegations first emerged in the New York Times in March 1986. Lawyer Eli Rosenbaum, on whose information the New York Times story was based, tells Louise Hidalgo how he helped to expose the truth about Waldheim's wartime record and how UN war crimes files naming Kurt Waldheim had lain hidden for decades in the vaults while Waldheim was UN Secretary General.

Picture: Kurt Waldheim talking to voters in Vienna in 1986 during his campaign for the Austrian presidency (credit: Jacques Langevin/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

How former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim's secret Nazi past was exposed

History as told by the people who were there

The Siege Of Dien Bien Phu20190507

On May 7th 1954, French forces surrendered after a bloody 56-day siege of their base at Dien Bien Phu in the north of Vietnam. Their defeat by the communist independence movement, the Viet Minh, signalled the end of French colonial rule in Indochina. We hear from two veterans who fought on opposing sides in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. (Photo: A French military Red Cross helicopter preparing to land, while French soldiers try to defend their positions in Dien Bien Phu against the Viet Minh, 1954 Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

The French surrender at the siege of Dien Bien Phu ended their colonial rule of Vietnam

History as told by the people who were there

The Sinking Of The Belgrano20190502

The Argentine ship, General Belgrano, was sunk by a British submarine during the Falklands War on 2nd of May 1982. 323 people died in the attack. Dario Volonte, now an opera singer, was one of the survivors and he spoke to Louise Hidalgo about the attack.

Photo: The General Belgrano. Credit: Getty Images

The Argentine ship was sunk by a British submarine during the Falklands war

History as told by the people who were there

The Sound Of Music On Broadway20190923

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was first performed on stage in New York in 1959, several years before it was made into a film. Vincent Dowd has been speaking to two people with connections to the original Broadway production. Tim Crouse is the son of Russel Crouse who wrote the book for "The Sound of Music". Lauri Peters played the eldest daughter of the von Trapp family on stage.

Photo: The original Broadway cast of "The Sound of Music" in 1959. Lauri Peters is at the top of the stairs. Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was performed on stage before it became a movie.

History as told by the people who were there

The Soweto Uprising20190206

A former schoolgirl remembers the children's demonstration against having to study in Afrikaans that sparked the Soweto Uprising against South Africa's apartheid regime. Bongi Mkhabela spoke to Alan Johnston in 2010 about her memories of the protest.

This programme is a rebroadcast.

Photo: Schoolchildren demonstrating on June 16th 1976 in Soweto. (Credit:Bongani Mnguni/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

A former schoolgirl remembers the demonstration that sparked an uprising in South Africa.

History as told by the people who were there

The Stonewall Riot20190626

In June 1969, the gay community in New York responded to police brutality and harassment by rioting outside the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. The protest sparked the creation of the modern LGBT rights movement and the first Gay Pride events. Simon Watts talks to Stonewall veteran, John O'Brien.

PHOTO: The Stonewall Inn today (Getty Images).

How a protest outside New York's Stonewall Inn inspired the modern gay rights movement.

History as told by the people who were there

The Treasures Of Sutton Hoo20190730

One of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries in British history was made in the summer of 1939, when a huge hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold was found at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. Lucy Burns presents material from the BBC archives.

Picture: the Sutton Hoo Helmet on display at the British Museum on March 25, 2014 in London, England (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

A huge hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold was discovered in southern England in 1939.

History as told by the people who were there

The True Story Of Roma20190218

Alfonso Cuarón's critically acclaimed film Roma portrays a student massacre that took place in México City in 1971. The Corpus Christi massacre, known locally as the Halconazo, sent shock waves throughout México. A paramilitary group trained by the Army attacked students as they demonstrated against the government, leaving about 120 people dead. María Elena Navas speaks to Rosa Maria Garza Marcué and Jesús Martín del Campo, who were among the protesters that day.

Photo: The massacre scene in Roma (Netflix)

The student massacre in M\u00e9xico portrayed in Alfonso Cuar\u00f3n's award-winning movie.

History as told by the people who were there

The Tv Series Friends20190910

A new show called Friends hit American TV screens in September 1994. It was based on the lives of six young New Yorkers and became one of the most successful comedies of all time. It sold around the world. Farhana Haider spoke to one of the show's creators, Kevin Bright.

Photo: The cast of Friends in 1994. Copyright: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.

One of the most successful TV comedy shows of all time hit US screens in September 1994

History as told by the people who were there

The Us Judge Accused Of Sexual Harassment20190701

In 1991 the US Supreme Court nominee Judge Clarence Thomas was publicly accused of sexual misconduct by a law professor, Anita Hill. She was called to testify in front of a Senate committee, where her explosive testimony sent shock waves across America. Katy Fallon has been speaking to a close friend of Anita Hill, Shirley Wiegand.

Photo: Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearing. (Credit: Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

How Supreme Court nominee Judge Clarence Thomas was publicly accused of sexual misconduct

History as told by the people who were there

The War On Drugs20190509

The first 'war on drugs' was launched by US President Richard Nixon in 1971. He described drug abuse as a 'national emergency' and asked Congress for nearly four hundred million dollars to tackle the problem. Claire Bowes has been speaking to one of Nixon's policy advisors, Jeffrey Donfeld, about an approach to drugs which he describes as more 'find them and help them' than 'find them and lock them up'. And how he convinced the President to roll out a nationwide programme of methadone treatment for heroin addicts.

Photo: US President Richard Nixon (BBC)

History as told by the people who were there

The Warnings Before 9/1120190814

Throughout 2001 the US authorities were being given warnings that a terror attack was imminent. A Congressional Commission, FBI officers and the CIA were all worried. There were even specific warnings about planes being flown into buildings. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to former Senator Gary Hart who co-chaired the Congressional Commission that tried to convince the government to take action.

Photo: Smoke pours from the World Trade Centre after it was hit by two passenger planes on September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Credit: Robert Giroux/Getty Images)

Throughout 2001 the US authorities were given warnings that a terror attack was imminent

History as told by the people who were there

The Warsaw Uprising20190801

On 1 August 1944, resistance fighters in the Polish capital rose up against German occupying forces. The uprising lasted for 63 days and some 200,000 people were killed, Warsaw itself was largely destroyed. Zbigniew Pelczynski was one of the young Poles fighting to free Warsaw from the Nazis, in 2014 he spoke to Louise Hidalgo about the battle.

(Photo: Zbigniew Pelczynski in 1946)

On August 1st 1944, Polish resistance fighters rose up against German occupying forces

History as told by the people who were there

The Warship Lost For More Than 300 Years20190403

In 1628, at the height of Sweden’s military expansion, the Swedish Navy built a new flagship, the Vasa. At the time it was the most heavily armed ship in the world. But 2 hours into its maiden voyage, it sank in Stockholm's harbour. It remained there for more than three hundred years, until its discovery in 1961. Tim Mansel hears from the former Swedish naval officer, Bertil Daggfeldt, about the day that the warship was recovered in near-perfect condition.

Image: The Vasa after its recovery (The Vasa Museum)

The discovery of a 17th century Swedish warship, the Vasa, in near perfect condition

History as told by the people who were there

The Woman Who Asked Britain To Return The Parthenon Marbles20190307

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.

Photo: The Greek Minister for Culture, Melina Mercouri, inspects the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum in May 1983

Melina Mercouri asked Britain to return the Parthenon marbles removed by Lord Elgin.

History as told by the people who were there

The Yangtze Incident20190809

In 1949 a British warship, HMS Amethyst, launched a daring escape after it was held captive for months by Chinese Communists on the Yangtze river. The ship had been badly damaged when it was fired on by Communist forces as it sailed up the river to help evacuate British citizens from Nanking during the final months of China's civil war. Using eyewitness accounts in the BBC Archive, we tell the story of HMS Amethyst.

Photo: The HMS Amethyst (F116) arrives in Hong Kong after it's epic escape down the Yangtse. (Photo Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

How a British warship escaped from Chinese Communists on the Yangtze river in 1949

History as told by the people who were there

The Yoga Teacher And The Violinist20190621

To mark world yoga day, how a chance encounter between the great violinist Yehudi Menuhin and the yoga teacher, BKS Iyengar in 1952 led to a life-long friendship and played a crucial role in bringing the ancient Indian tradition of yoga to the West. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to Iyengar teacher and friend of the Iyengar family, Rajvi Mehta, and listening back to archive of BKS Iyengar himself talking about that first meeting.

Picture: BKS Iyengar teaching yoga to Yehudi Menuhin, circa 1954 (Credit:Yehudi Menuhin Saanen Center)

How violinist Yehudi Menuhin and yoga teacher BKS Iyengar helped bring yoga to the West

History as told by the people who were there

Tiananmen Square Escape20190529

On the evening of June the 3rd 1989, the Chinese People’s Army opened fire on thousands of students who had been campaigning for democracy in the middle of Beijing.

Dan Wang was a 20-year-old student leader from the elite Peking University and was one of the most high profile democracy activists. He says the demonstrators never thought their protests would end in bloodshed. He spoke to Witness History about how the Tiananmen Square crackdown changed his life.

(Photo: Dan Wang speaking in Tiananmen Square. Credit: Peter Turnley/Corbis/Getty Images)

Dan Wang was the most wanted student leader after the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times told by the people who were there.

Under The North Pole20190806

In 1958 the nuclear submarine USS Nautilus travelled under the North Pole.

History as told by the people who were there

Valentina Tereshkova, Cosmonaut20190716

In June 1963 Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova was sent into orbit around the Earth, in a solo voyage which lasted for nearly three days. Lucy Ash went to Russia to find out more about her.

Photo: Valentina Tereshkova before boarding Vostok 6, at Baikonur cosmodrome, on June 16, 1963. Credit:AFP/TASS

The Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to be sent into space

History as told by the people who were there

In June 1963 Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova was sent into orbit around the Earth, in a solo voyage which lasted for nearly three days. Lucy Ash went to Russia to find out more about her.

Vatican Ii: Reforming The Catholic Church20190123

Pope John XXIII wanted to modernise the Catholic Church. In January 1959 he announced a council of all the world's Catholic bishops and cardinals in Rome. It led to sweeping reforms, including allowing the Mass to be said in languages other than Latin and an attempt to build relationships with other denominations and faiths. But not everyone was happy with the changes. Msgr John Strynkowski was a student priest in Rome at the time and told Rebecca Kesby about the excitement and controversy surrounding the council that became known as 'Vatican II'.

(Photo; Pope John XXIII at the Vatican. Credit: Getty Images)

Pope John XXIII wanted to modernise the Catholic Church, reforms took place in the 1960s.

History as told by the people who were there

Venezuela's Oil Bonanza20190225

Rocketing oil prices in the mid 1970s fuelled massive consumer and government spending in Venezuela, earning the South American country the nickname "Saudi" Venezuela. Buoyed by the extra revenue, the government moved to nationalise the iron and oil industries. But by the end of the decade, corruption and nepotism had set in and the economic bubble burst. Mike Lanchin hears from the former Venezuelan oil executive, Luis Giusti and the artist and photographer Frank Balbi, about their memories of those days.

(Photo by Seidel/United Archives/UIG via Getty Images)

The boom and bust years of ""Saudi"" Venezuela in the 1970s

History as told by the people who were there

Vikings In York20190603

When archaeologists uncovered perfectly preserved evidence of domestic life in Viking York in the 1970s, it changed the way the Vikings were viewed. No longer just violent pirates who terrorised communities all over Europe, they were revealed to be merchants and craftsmen who mostly led peaceful lives. Dr Peter Addyman and Professor Julian Richards worked on the dig in the 1970s and told Rebecca Kesby the significance of what they found.

(PHOTO: The Sea Stallion Timewatch - Viking Voyage follows the world's largest reconstructed Viking ship on its 1,000 mile journey from Denmark to Dublin. BBC)

Archaeologists uncovered perfectly preserved domestic Viking life in York in the 1970s

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times told by the people who were there.

Walking The Great Wall Of China20190520

It took 508 days for three friends to complete the first trek along the entire length of the ancient structure, well over 8000 kms. They began in May 1984 and finally reached their destination at the Jiayu Pass on September 24th 1985, having documented the condition of the wall every step of the way. The three men became national heroes as the press followed their progress. Yaohui Dong spoke to Rebecca Kesby in 2017 about what inspired him to make the journey.

This programme is a rebroadcast.

(PHOTO: Yaohui Dong, Wu Deyu and Zhang Yuanhua. Courtesy of Yaohui Dong)

Three friends set off on an epic trek along the Great Wall of China in May 1984

History as told by the people who were there

Wangari Maathai Nobel Prize-winning Environmentalist20191018

Kenyan Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. She was an environmentalist and human rights activist who founded the Green Belt Movement in the 1970s. She focused on the planting of trees, conservation, and women's rights but repeatedly clashed with the government while trying to protect Kenya's forest and parks. She was arrested and beaten on several occasions. Witness speaks to her daughter, Wanjira Mathai.

(Photo: Kenya's Wangari Maathai (L) challenging hired security people working for developers in the Karura Forest, in Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images)

Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai fought to save forests and protect human rights

History as told by the people who were there

When Tunisia Led On Women's Rights20190725

When Tunisia achieved independence it brought in a new equality law that revolutionised women's lives. In August 1956 under the socialist President Habib Bourguiba, the north African country became the first in the muslim world to legalise civil divorce and abortion and to ban polygamy. He also gave women the vote and widened access to education. Nidale Abou Mrad spoke to Saida El Gueyed a founding member of the Tunisian Women's Union who was asked by President Bourguiba to help both men and women understand how the new law would change their lives.

Photo: Courtesy of Saida El Gueyed

When Tunisia introduced divorce, abortion and votes for women ahead of much of the world.

History as told by the people who were there

Winning The Campaign To Stop Nuclear Waste Disposal20190705
Women Airline Pilots20190212

Airlines in America finally allowed women to pilot passenger planes in the 1970's. But women like Bonnie Tiburzi and Lynn Rippelmeyer had been fighting for years to be allowed to train as pilots. They tell Maria Elena Navas about their early days in a male-dominated industry.

Photo: Bonnie Tiburzi, 24, is shown in a cockpit of an aircraft shortly after receiving her wings in 1974 when she became the first female pilot for American Airlines. (Getty Images)

Two of the first female airline pilots in the US remember their struggle

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times told by the people who were there.

Women And The Iranian Revolution20190201

Many women supported Iran's 1979 Revolution against the monarchy but some later became disillusioned. Islamic rules about how women dressed were just one of the things that women objected to. Sharan Tabari spoke to Lucy Burns in 2014 about her experiences during, and after, the Iranian Revolution.

Photo: Women on the streets during a May 1st demonstration in 1979.(Credit: Christine Spengler/Getty Images.)

Many women supported Iran's 1979 Revolution but some later became disillusioned

History as told by the people who were there

Wrapping The Reichstag2019061220190613 (WS)

In June 1995 artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin in fabric.

The former German parliament building sat on the border between East and West Berlin. It had been gutted by fire in 1933 and extensively damaged during the Second World War.

The monumental public art project was seen by more than five million people and became a symbol for Berlin’s renewal after the fall of the Wall and the collapse of communism.

Christo talks about the motivation behind the project and explains how they made it happen.

Picture: view of west and south facades of Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin 1971-1995 by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Photo by Wolfgang Volz, copyright Christo.

How a huge public art project entranced post-Cold War Berlin

History as told by the people who were there