Witness History [World Service]

Episodes

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20190228
2020040620200407 (WS)

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

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

20200408
20200409
2020041020200411 (WS)

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

History as told by the people who were there

20200413
A Ground-breaking Change To Treating Breast Cancer20191105

In 1975 the Canadian oncologist Dr Vera Peters released ground-breaking data to prove that breast-conserving surgery could at times be as effective as having a radical mastectomy. Her findings were received with lukewarm support and even open opposition from many of her colleagues in the male-dominated medical profession. Mike Lanchin hears from Dr Peters' daughter, Dr Jennifer Ingram, about her mother's tenacious attempt to improve the well-being of
breast-cancer sufferers.

Photo:Dr Vera Peters (courtesy of the family)

How a Canadian oncologist proved the effectiveness of breast-conserving surgery

History as told by the people who were there

A Sitcom That Changed Britain2020010220200103 (WS)

Desmond's was the most successful black sitcom in British TV history. It ran on Channel 4 for over five years, attracting millions of viewers. Trix Worrell, the man who wrote it, believes that Desmond's changed attitudes to race in the UK. Trix has been speaking to Sharon Hemans about the show, and the people who inspired it.

Image: Ram John Holder, Norman Beaton and Gyearbuor Asante (Credit: Courtesy of Channel 4)

History as told by the people who were there

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 Antarctic Mystery2020022420200225 (WS)

In 1985, human remains were found by chance on a remote island in Antarctica by Chilean biologist Dr Daniel Torres. But whose were they? It would take years to determine their remarkable origin. We speak to Dr Torres about his discovery and how it revealed an unknown chapter of indigenous South American history.

Photo: Skull discovered on LIvingstone Island, Antarctica in 1985 (D.Torres/INACH)

Human remains were found on a remote island in Antarctica in 1985 but whose were they?

History as told by the people who were there

In 1985, human remains were found by chance on a remote island in Antarctica by Chilean biologist Dr Daniel Torres. But whose were they? It would take years to determine their remarkable origin. We speak to Dr Torres about his discovery and how it revealed an unknown chapter of indigenous South American history.

Photo: Skull discovered on LIvingstone Island, Antarctica in 1985 (D.Torres/INACH)

Human remains were found on a remote island in Antarctica in 1985 but whose were they?

History as told by the people who were there

In 1985, human remains were found by chance on a remote island in Antarctica by Chilean biologist Dr Daniel Torres. But whose were they? It would take years to determine their remarkable origin. We speak to Dr Torres about his discovery and how it revealed an unknown chapter of indigenous South American history.

Photo: Skull discovered on LIvingstone Island, Antarctica in 1985 (D.Torres/INACH)

Human remains were found on a remote island in Antarctica in 1985 but whose were they?

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

Avenging The Amritsar Massacre2020040120200402 (WS)

A former governor of Punjab, Sir Michael O'Dwyer, was killed by an Indian immigrant in London in 1940. The assassin, Udham Singh, said he was avenging the deaths of hundreds of civilians who had been fired on by colonial troops in Amritsar in India in April 1919. When he was put on trial at the Old Bailey, he gave a defiant speech against colonial rule. Sajid Iqbal has been speaking to Avtar Singh Jouhal who campaigned to have Udham Singh's courtroom speech made public.

Photo:An Indian man takes a photograph of a painting depicting the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar. The Amritsar massacre, also known as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, took place on April 13, 1919 when British Indian Army soldiers on the direct orders of their British officers opened fire on an unarmed gathering killing at least 379 men, women and children, according to official records. (Credit: NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

A former British governor of Punjab was shot in 1940 as revenge for killings in Amritsar

History as told by the people who were there

A former governor of Punjab, Sir Michael O'Dwyer, was killed by an Indian immigrant in London in 1940. The assassin, Udham Singh, said he was avenging the deaths of hundreds of civilians who had been fired on by colonial troops in Amritsar in India in April 1919. When he was put on trial at the Old Bailey, he gave a defiant speech against colonial rule. Sajid Iqbal has been speaking to Avtar Singh Jouhal who campaigned to have Udham Singh's courtroom speech made public.

Photo:An Indian man takes a photograph of a painting depicting the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar. The Amritsar massacre, also known as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, took place on April 13, 1919 when British Indian Army soldiers on the direct orders of their British officers opened fire on an unarmed gathering killing at least 379 men, women and children, according to official records. (Credit: NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

A former British governor of Punjab was shot in 1940 as revenge for killings in Amritsar

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

Battling Soviet Psychiatric Punishment20200305

The story of Dr. Semen Gluzman, a Ukrainian psychiatrist, who took a stand against the psychiatric abuse of political dissidents in the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, Soviet authorities had many dissidents declared mentally ill and confined them to special psychiatric hospitals for 'treatment'. In the 1970s, a young Ukrainian psychiatrist, decided to write a counter-diagnosis of one of the most famous of these incarcerated dissidents. For this, he would pay a high price. Alex Last speaks to Dr Semen Gluzman about his struggle to oppose Soviet punitive psychiatry.

Photo: Semen Gluzman in 1989.(Gluzman)

One man's stand against the psychiatric abuse of political dissidents in the Soviet Union

History as told by the people who were there

The story of Dr. Semen Gluzman, a Ukrainian psychiatrist, who took a stand against the psychiatric abuse of political dissidents in the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, Soviet authorities had many dissidents declared mentally ill and confined them to special psychiatric hospitals for 'treatment'. In the 1970s, a young Ukrainian psychiatrist, decided to write a counter-diagnosis of one of the most famous of these incarcerated dissidents. For this, he would pay a high price. Alex Last speaks to Dr Semen Gluzman about his struggle to oppose Soviet punitive psychiatry.

Photo: Semen Gluzman in 1989.(Gluzman)

One man's stand against the psychiatric abuse of political dissidents in the Soviet Union

History as told by the people who were there

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

The story of Dr. Semen Gluzman, a Ukrainian psychiatrist, who took a stand against the psychiatric abuse of political dissidents in the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, Soviet authorities had many dissidents declared mentally ill and confined them to special psychiatric hospitals for 'treatment'. In the 1970s, a young Ukrainian psychiatrist, decided to write a counter-diagnosis of one of the most famous of these incarcerated dissidents. For this, he would pay a high price. Alex Last speaks to Dr Semen Gluzman about his struggle to oppose Soviet punitive psychiatry.

Photo: Semen Gluzman in 1989.(Gluzman)

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

History as told by the people who were there

Bee Crisis: Colony Collapse Disorder20191219

In 2007, the mysterious loss of commercial honey bees in the United States made headlines around the world. Researchers called the phenomenon Colony Collapse Disorder. The sudden loss of bee colonies had serious implications for modern agriculture as the commercial honey bees were used to pollinate many crops. The crisis served to highlight the broader threat to bees and other crucial pollinators from disease, pesticides and the destruction of habitat. Alex Last has been speaking to Dr Dennis vanEngelsdorp, who studied Colony Collapse Disorder.

Photo:Honey bees on a hive. (Getty Images)

Why the mysterious loss of honey bees in the US triggered a global panic.

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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 A Chinese Muslim2020040320200404 (WS)

Practising a religious faith in communist China has always been hard. Uighur Muslims face incarceration in re-education camps. But other Muslims have seen repression under communism too.Things were particularly tough in the 1960s during Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution. Then there was a brief period in the 1980s when the state seemed to ease its pressure on believers. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to two Chinese Muslims about their lives and worship.

Photo: A child waits during prayers at a ceremony to mark the Eid-al-Fitr Festival in the Niujie Mosquein in Beijing, China. The Niujie Mosque is the largest mosque in China's capital and dates back to the 10th century. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

It has never been easy to practice a religious faith in communist China

History as told by the people who were there

Practising a religious faith in communist China has always been hard. Uighur Muslims face incarceration in re-education camps. But other Muslims have seen repression under communism too.Things were particularly tough in the 1960s during Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution. Then there was a brief period in the 1980s when the state seemed to ease its pressure on believers. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to two Chinese Muslims about their lives and worship.

Photo: A child waits during prayers at a ceremony to mark the Eid-al-Fitr Festival in the Niujie Mosquein in Beijing, China. The Niujie Mosque is the largest mosque in China's capital and dates back to the 10th century. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

It has never been easy to practice a religious faith in communist China

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

Black Gis During World War Two20191216

For much of World War Two African-American soldiers were relegated to support roles and kept away from the fighting. But after the Allies suffered huge losses during the Battle of the Bulge, they were called on to volunteer for combat. Janet Ball has been speaking Reverend Matthew Southall Brown who saw action in Europe towards the end of the war. He fought in the US Army's 9th Division, 60th Regiment, Company E.

Photograph:Volunteer combat soldiers from the 9th Division prepare for shipment to front lines in Germany. Credit: US Government Archives.

How soldiers who had been relegated to support roles were asked to volunteer for combat

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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 First Woman Judge2020033020200331 (WS)

Rose Heilbron was a trailblazer for women in the legal profession in Britain. She was made the first woman judge in the UK in the 1950s and made headlines around the world when she became the first to sit at the world famous criminal court, London's Old Bailey. Her daughter, Hilary Heilbron QC remembers how hard she fought to be accepted.

Photo: English KC (King's Counsel) Rose Heilbron (1914 - 2005) arrives at the House of Lords in London, for the traditional champagne breakfast hosted by the Lord Chancellor at the start of the Michaelmas Term for the law courts, 2nd October 1950. (Credit William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

History as told by the people who were there

Rose Heilbron was a trailblazer for women in the legal profession in Britain. She was made the first woman judge in the UK in the 1950s and made headlines around the world when she became the first to sit at the world famous criminal court, London's Old Bailey. Her daughter, Hilary Heilbron QC remembers how hard she fought to be accepted.

Photo: English KC (King's Counsel) Rose Heilbron (1914 - 2005) arrives at the House of Lords in London, for the traditional champagne breakfast hosted by the Lord Chancellor at the start of the Michaelmas Term for the law courts, 2nd October 1950. (Credit William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

History as told by the people who were there

Britain's National Trust20200113

The National Trust was founded in 1895, and initially focused on preserving Britain's rural heritage. But their mission expanded in the 1930s to include protecting stately homes - the grand old houses of the British aristocracy - which were under threat. Higher taxation meant many landowners were struggling to maintain their properties while sweeping social changes made it harder for them to find servants.

James Lees Milne worked for the National Trust's Country House Scheme, travelling around the country to see which houses the Trust should acquire, and writing a diary about his experiences which paints a vivid picture of a disappearing world of elderly aristocrats living in genteel poverty in crumbling country houses.

Lucy Burns presents interviews with James Lees Milne from the BBC archive.

(Photo: The National Trust country house Kingston Lacy. Credit: Loop Images/Universal Images Group /Getty Images)

How some of the great stately homes of Britain were saved from demolition and decay

History as told by the people who were there

Britain's Secret Propaganda War20191106

How sex, jazz and 'fake news' were used to undermine the Nazis in World War Two. In 1941, the UK created a top secret propaganda department, the Political Warfare Executive to wage psychological warfare on the German war machine. It was responsible for spreading rumours, generating fake news, leaflet drops and creating fake clandestine German radio stations to spread misinformation and erode enemy morale. We hear archive recordings of those involved and speak to professor Jo Fox of the Institute of Historical Research about the secret history of British "black propaganda".

(Photo: The actress and singer Agnes Bernelle, who was recruited to be a presenter on a fake German radio station during the war)

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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

Cap Anamur: A Rescue That Led To Jail20191112

In 2004, a German aid agency ship, Cap Anamur, was sailing to the Suez Canal, when it came across 37 Africans on a sinking rubber boat. The captain, Stefan Schmidt, rescued the men and headed for a port in Sicily to drop them off. But for almost 2 weeks, Italy blocked the ship from entering port and when the ship was finally granted permission to dock, Captain Schmidt and two others were arrested and prosecuted by Italian authorities for aiding and abetting illegal immigration. The case made headlines around the world and was a foretaste of an increasingly hostile European policy towards refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. Alex Last has been speaking to Captain Schmidt about his memories of the incident.

(Photo: the German aid agency ship Cap Anamur in 2004. Credit: Antonello NUSCA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Why a captain was arrested after saving shipwrecked Africans in the Mediterranean in 2004

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

Chairman Mao's Little Red Book20200210

In 1966, the collected thoughts of China's communist leader became an unexpected best-seller around the world. A compendium of pithy advice and political instructions from Mao Zedong, it was soon to be found on student bookshelves everywhere.Vincent Dowd has been speaking to Alexander Cook, who edited a collection of essays about the famous book.

(Photo: Front cover of Mao's Little Red Book)

The collected thoughts of China's communist leader that became an unexpected best-seller

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

Cirque Du Soleil2019122620191227 (WS)

The global circus phenomenon Cirque du Soleil was born in 1984 when a group of street performers in Quebec bought a big top tent and went on tour.

Lucy Burns speaks to Cirque du Soleil co-founder Gilles Ste-Croix, who walked 56 miles on stilts to raise money for the show.

Picture: Cirque du Soleil acrobats perform during the dress rehearsal of Kooza at the Royal Albert Hall in January 2013 in London, England. (John Phillips/UK Press via Getty Images)

The ground-breaking circus was formed by a group of street performers in Quebec in 1984.

History as told by the people who were there

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

Picture: Cirque du Soleil acrobats perform during the dress rehearsal of Kooza at the Royal Albert Hall in January 2013 in London, England. (John Phillips/UK Press via Getty Images)

Cixi: China's Most Powerful Woman20200204

The Empress Dowager Cixi ruled China for 47 years until her death in 1908. But it wasn't until the 1970s that her story began to be properly documented. She'd been vilified as a murderous tyrant, but was that really true or was she a victim of a misogynistic version of history? Prof Sue Fawn Chung was the first academic to go back to study the original documents, and found many surprises. She tells Rebecca Kesby the story of "the much maligned Empress Dowager".

(Photo: Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi, portrait c1900. Credit: Ullstein bild/Getty Images)

The Empress Dowager Cixi ruled for 47 years until her death in 1908.

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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

Desmond's: A Sitcom That Changed Britain20200102
Diary Of Life In A Favela20200212

A poor single mother of three, Carolina Maria de Jesus lived in a derelict shack and spent her days scavenging for food for her children, doing odd jobs and collecting paper and bottles. Her diary, written between 1955 and 1960, brought to life the harsh realities faced by thousands of poor Brazilians who arrived in cities like São Paulo and Rio looking for better opportunities. Her daughter, Vera Eunice de Jesus Lima, speaks to Thomas Pappon about how the book changed her family's life.

(Photo: Carolina Maria de Jesus in the Canindé Favela. Credit: Archive Audálio Dantas)

A shocking account of the realities of the slums of S\u00e3o Paulo

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

East German Refugees In The Prague Embassy20191023

Thousands of East Germans fled to the West in the summer and autumn of 1989, before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Many of them sought refuge in the West German embassy in Prague, where they camped in the grounds and slept in stairwells and corridors, fed by the Red Cross. On September 30th, West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher announced that they were free to travel to West Germany.

Hubert and Susanne Kuhn lived in the embassy with their three children for three months. They spoke to Lucy Burns about their experiences.

Photo: a crowd of East-German refugees in Prague wait to be transferred to West Germany after East Germany lifted restrictions on emigration (PASCAL GEORGE/AFP via Getty Images)

Thousands of East Germans sought refuge in the West German embassy in Prague in 1989.

History as told by the people who were there

East Germany's Punks20200103

In the early 1980s, thousands of young people in communist East German became punks, attracted by the DIY culture and anti-establishment attitude.

But the East German secret police the Stasi believed the subculture represented an existential threat to the state and tried to crush the movement.

Lucy Burns speaks to former punk Jürgen Gutjahr, aka Chaos, and Tim Mohr, author of "Burning Down The Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution and the Fall of the Berlin Wall."

Photo: Young punks posing in Lenin Square (now United Nations Square), East Berlin. 1982. (Credit: Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

How the communist secret police, the Stasi, tried to crush a youth subculture.

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.

Exploring Arabia's Empty Quarter20191122

In the 1940s, British gentleman explorer Wilfred Thesiger travelled extensively in one of the world's harshest environments - the Empty Quarter of Arabia. Thesiger lived with nomads in order to cross a desert that was then considered a place of mystery and death. He captured a final glimpse of their way-of-life before the arrival of the oil industry, and was inspired to write the classic travel book Arabian Sands. Simon Watts introduces recordings of Wilfred Thesiger in the BBC archive.

PHOTO: Wilfred Thesiger (Pitt Rivers Museum via Bridgeman Images)

How Wilfred Thesiger travelled in one of the world's harshest environments in the 1940s.

History as told by the people who were there

Fighting Cancer2019122320191224 (WS)

In the 1960s doctors began ground-breaking work into using several toxic chemicals at once to treat cancer. Combination chemotherapy, as it was called, would revolutionise cancer survival rates, particularly for Hodgkin Lymphoma, until then a virtual death sentence. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to the doctor who played a key part in that breakthrough, clinical oncologist, Vincent DeVita who has spent his more than 50-year career trying to cure cancer.

Picture: Vincent DeVita (centre) and colleagues George Canellos and Bob Young circa 1971 (Credit: Joel Carl Freid)

Pioneering work in the 60s into combination chemotherapy to try to find a cure for cancer

History as told by the people who were there

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

Picture: Vincent DeVita (centre) and colleagues George Canellos and Bob Young circa 1971 (Credit: Joel Carl Freid)

Fighting Oil Pollution With Art In Nigeria20200219

"Battle Bus" was a sculpture made by Sokari Douglas Camp in memory of Nigerian environmentalist Ken Saro Wiwa and eight other activists who were controversially executed in 1995. The sculpture was seized and impounded by Nigerian port authorities in 2015 when the art work was shipped to Nigeria. Sokari Douglas Camp talks to Rebecca Kesby about growing up in the Niger Delta and how it's shaped her art work.

PHOTO: "Battle Bus" by Sokari Douglas Camp on show in London in 2015 (Sam Roberts Photography).

Battle Bus" was a sculpture in memory of Nigerian environmentalist Ken Saro Wiwa

History as told by the people who were there

"Battle Bus" was a sculpture made by Sokari Douglas Camp in memory of Nigerian environmentalist Ken Saro Wiwa and eight other activists who were controversially executed in 1995. The sculpture was seized and impounded by Nigerian port authorities in 2015 when the art work was shipped to Nigeria. Sokari Douglas Camp talks to Rebecca Kesby about growing up in the Niger Delta and how it's shaped her art work.

PHOTO: "Battle Bus" by Sokari Douglas Camp on show in London in 2015 (Sam Roberts Photography).

Battle Bus" was a sculpture in memory of Nigerian environmentalist Ken Saro Wiwa

History as 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

Freeing American Prisoners From Iran20200228

In 2009, three American hikers were arrested and jailed after they crossed an unmarked border into Iran while on holiday in Iraqi Kurdistan. Sarah Shourd was released first and fought a long campaign to get her friends Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal released from prison in Teheran. Their freedom was eventually brokered by diplomats from Oman – opening up a diplomatic channel between Iran and the US which was later used in their nuclear negotiations. Sarah Shourd talks to Simon Watts.

PHOTO: Sarah Shourd, centre, with the mothers of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal (Getty Images)

The diplomacy behind the release of three US citizens who unknowingly hiked into Iran.

History as told by the people who were there

In 2009, three American hikers were arrested and jailed after they crossed an unmarked border into Iran while on holiday in Iraqi Kurdistan. Sarah Shourd was released first and fought a long campaign to get her friends Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal released from prison in Teheran. Their freedom was eventually brokered by diplomats from Oman – opening up a diplomatic channel between Iran and the US which was later used in their nuclear negotiations. Sarah Shourd talks to Simon Watts.

PHOTO: Sarah Shourd, centre, with the mothers of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal (Getty Images)

The diplomacy behind the release of three US citizens who unknowingly hiked into Iran.

History as told by the people who were there

From Cakes To Computers2019112720191128 (WS)

In the early 1950s, the leading British catering firm, J Lyons & Co, pioneered the world's first automated office system. It was baptised LEO - the Lyons Electronic Office - and was used in stock-taking, food ordering and payrolls for the company. Soon it was being hired out to UK government ministries and other British businesses. Mary Coombs worked on the first LEO and was the first woman to become a commercial computer programmer. She tells Mike Lanchin about her memories of those heady days when computers were still in their infancy.

Photo:LEO 2 in operation, 1957 (credit: The LEO Computers Society)

How the Lyons catering company pioneered LEO, the first electronic office system

History as told by the people who were there

German Atrocities In Poland During Ww220200106

Towards the end of World War Two in Europe, Polish civilians suffered terribly at the hands of retreating German troops. But many never received any reparations for what they’d been through. Kevin Connolly has been speaking to one survivor who was a child in those final brutal days of the war in Europe.

Photo: Undated image of Nazi soldiers travelling by motorcycle and car stop to watch a Polish village burn to the ground. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images)

The memories of a survivor of Nazi atrocities in the final months of the war in Europe

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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

Handing Back Uluru2019112820191129 (WS)

In 1985 Australia's most famous natural landmark, Uluru, the huge ancient red rock formerly known as Ayers Rock, was handed back to its traditional owners, the indigenous people of that part of central Australia, the Anangu. But as one of the government officials involved in the negotiations for the transfer, former private secretary for aboriginal affairs, Kim Wilson, tells Louise Hidalgo, not everyone in Australia was pleased.

Picture: Uluru, formerly Ayers Rock, in Kata Tjuta National Park, the world's largest monolith and an Aboriginal sacred site (Credit: Jeff Overs/BBC)

In 1985 Australia's famous natural landmark Uluru was returned to aboriginal ownership

History as told by the people who were there

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

Picture: Uluru, formerly Ayers Rock, in Kata Tjuta National Park, the world's largest monolith and an Aboriginal sacred site (Credit: Jeff Overs/BBC)

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

Hong Kong's Abandoned Children2020032320200324 (WS)

In the 1950s and 60s, hundreds of thousands of Chinese fled to the British colony of Hong Kong to escape from the Great Famine. Conditions for the new arrivals were so desperate that some families chose to abandon their children in the streets so they would be taken in by orphanages. Their plight made headlines around the world and many were adopted in homes in Britain and other English-speaking countries. Laura FitzPatrick talks to one of the adopted children, now known as Debbie Cook.

PHOTO: The young Debbie Cook (Family Archive)

The Chinese babies left on the streets of 1960s Hong Kong in the hope they'd be adopted.

History as told by the people who were there

In the 1950s and 60s, hundreds of thousands of Chinese fled to the British colony of Hong Kong to escape from the Great Famine. Conditions for the new arrivals were so desperate that some families chose to abandon their children in the streets so they would be taken in by orphanages. Their plight made headlines around the world and many were adopted in homes in Britain and other English-speaking countries. Laura FitzPatrick talks to one of the adopted children, now known as Debbie Cook.

PHOTO: The young Debbie Cook (Family Archive)

The Chinese babies left on the streets of 1960s Hong Kong in the hope they'd be adopted.

History as told by the people who were there

In the 1950s and 60s, hundreds of thousands of Chinese fled to the British colony of Hong Kong to escape from the Great Famine. Conditions for the new arrivals were so desperate that some families chose to abandon their children in the streets so they would be taken in by orphanages. Their plight made headlines around the world and many were adopted in homes in Britain and other English-speaking countries. Laura FitzPatrick talks to one of the adopted children, now known as Debbie Cook.

PHOTO: The young Debbie Cook (Family Archive)

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

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 Meditation Changes Your Brain20200218

In 2002, scientists in the US began performing a landmark series of experiments on Buddhist monks from around the world. The studies showed that the brains of experienced meditators alter, allowing them to focus better and manage their emotions. Alejandra Martins talks to Professor Richard Davidson of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

PHOTO: A monk taking part in the experiment (Center for Healthy Minds).

In 2002, a landmark study on Buddhist monks showed that meditation can alter the brain.

History as told by the people who were there

In 2002, scientists in the US began performing a landmark series of experiments on Buddhist monks from around the world. The studies showed that the brains of experienced meditators alter, allowing them to focus better and manage their emotions. Alejandra Martins talks to Professor Richard Davidson of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

PHOTO: A monk taking part in the experiment (Center for Healthy Minds).

In 2002, a landmark study on Buddhist monks showed that meditation can alter the brain.

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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

How The Dodo Died Out20200121

A flightless bird, the dodo became extinct just decades after being discovered on the uninhabited island of Mauritius by European sailors. Because dodos couldn't fly they, and their eggs, were eaten by explorers and the cats and rats that came with them on board their ships. By the late 1600s there were none left. Simon Watts charts the demise and subsequent popularisation of the dodo.

Image: An engraving of a dodo. Credit: Science Photo Library.

A flightless bird, the dodo was extinct just decades after being discovered by Europeans

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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

I Saw The Soldiers Who Killed El Salvador's Priests20191120

In November 1989 Salvadoran government soldiers dragged six Jesuit priests from their beds and murdered them along with their housekeeper and her teenage daughter. The Salvadoran government tried to blame the killings on left-wing rebels, but one woman provided key testimony that contradicted the official version, at great personal danger. Lucia Cerna tells her story to Mike Lanchin

(Photo: a plaque commemorating the murdered priests in San Salvador- courtesy of David Mee)

Lucia Cerna was the only witness to a murder that shocked El Salvador in November 1989

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 Economic Revolution2019112620191127 (WS)

In the 1990s India began to open up its state-controlled economy

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 Crisis: The Humanitarian Delegation20191104

On November 4th 1979 revolutionary students overran the US Embassy in Tehran and took everyone inside hostage. In February 1980 the students invited a humanitarian delegation from the US to visit them in Iran. The group were shown around Tehran to highlight the country's poverty. They were also allowed to meet some of the American hostages. Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe was a member of the delegation and Masoumeh Ebtekar was the spokesperson for the students.
Rachael Gillman reports on a crucial moment in the relationship between the US and Iran, as part of the BBC Crossing Divides season, which brings people together across divides.

How Iranian students invited a group of Americans to Iran to meet the hostages

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

'jane' - The Underground Abortion Service20191031

A group of feminists working under the name “Jane” carried out underground abortions in 1960s Chicago – when abortions were still illegal in most of the US.

Initially they gave abortion counselling and put women who wanted to terminate their pregnancies in touch with doctors who would perform the procedure. But when they discovered that one doctor they had been working with was not medically qualified, the women started to perform the abortions themselves.

Martha Scott was a member of the group – she received an abortion through the service, learned to perform abortions, and was one of the Janes arrested when they were busted by the police. She tells Lucy Burns about her experiences.

Photo courtesy of Martha Scott

An underground feminist network performed illegal abortions in 1960s Chicago.

History as told by the people who were there

Jaslyk - Uzbekistan's Infamous Prison20191205

A prison camp called Jaslyk opened in the desert in western Uzbekistan in 1999. Even by the standards of the Uzbek prison system it would become notorious for torture and human rights abuses, including reports of a prisoner being boiled alive. Journalist Muhammad Bekjanov was imprisoned in Jaslyk during the 18 years he spent in Uzbek jails. He speaks to Lucy Burns along with independent human rights observer Acacia Shields.

PHOTO: Muhammad Bekjanov in Istanbul, 1995 (courtesy of Muhammad Bekjanov)

A prison camp in the Uzbek desert became notorious for torture and human rights abuses.

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.

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.

London's First Black Policeman20200203

Norwell Roberts joined the Metropolitan police in 1967. He was put forward as a symbol of progressive policing amid ongoing tensions between the police and ethnic minorities in the capital. But behind the scenes, he endured years of racist abuse from colleagues within the force. Norwell Roberts QPM spoke to Alex Last about growing up in Britain and his determination to be a pioneer in the police force.

Photo: London's first black policeman PC Norwell Roberts beginning his training with colleagues at Hendon Police College, London, 5th April 1967. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Norwell Roberts endured years of racist abuse within the Metropolitan police

History as 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

Marburg Virus20200313

A deadly new form of haemorrhagic fever was discovered in the small town of Marburg in West Germany in the summer of 1967. The first patients all worked at a factory in the town which made vaccines. In the course of their work they had all come into contact with blood or tissue from monkeys from East Africa who were infected with a disease similar to Ebola. Lucy Burns speaks to virologist Werner Slenczka and former laboratory worker Frederike Moos about their experiences of the outbreak.

Photo: A Grivet monkey looks out from an enclosure at Egypt's Giza Zoo in Cairo on August 1, 2017 (Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images)

A deadly new disease infected laboratory workers in a small town in West Germany in 1967.

History as told by the people who were there

A deadly new form of haemorrhagic fever was discovered in the small town of Marburg in West Germany in the summer of 1967. The first patients all worked at a factory in the town which made vaccines. In the course of their work they had all come into contact with blood or tissue from monkeys from East Africa who were infected with a disease similar to Ebola. Lucy Burns speaks to virologist Werner Slenczka and former laboratory worker Frederike Moos about their experiences of the outbreak.

Photo: A Grivet monkey looks out from an enclosure at Egypt's Giza Zoo in Cairo on August 1, 2017 (Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images)

A deadly new disease infected laboratory workers in a small town in West Germany in 1967.

History as told by the people who were there

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

A deadly new form of haemorrhagic fever was discovered in the small town of Marburg in West Germany in the summer of 1967. The first patients all worked at a factory in the town which made vaccines. In the course of their work they had all come into contact with blood or tissue from monkeys from East Africa who were infected with a disease similar to Ebola. Lucy Burns speaks to virologist Werner Slenczka and former laboratory worker Frederike Moos about their experiences of the outbreak.

Photo: A Grivet monkey looks out from an enclosure at Egypt's Giza Zoo in Cairo on August 1, 2017 (Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP via Getty Images)

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

History as told by the people who were there

Margaret Thatcher's Anti-europe Speech20191028

The British Prime Minister started expressing doubts about the European Union during a speech in the Belgian city of Bruges in 1988. The now famous "Bruges speech" is seen by many as the spark which ignited the anti-European movement within Britain's Conservative party. Susan Hulme has been speaking to Sir Stephen Wall who wrote an early version of the speech and to David McWilliams who was a student in the audience at the College of Europe when Mrs Thatcher spoke.

(Photo: Margaret Thatcher giving her "Bruges speech" at the College of Europe in 1988. Credit: Press Association/Fiona Hanson)

The British Prime Minister started expressing doubts about the European Union in 1988

History as told by the people who were there

Memories Of Wilfred Owen20191111

Wilfred Owen died just a few days before the end of World War One but his poetry ensured he would be remembered. Little is known about the man behind the poems but his younger brother Harold spoke to the BBC about him in the 1960s. Vincent Dowd pieces together a picture of the young soldier-poet using the BBC's archive, Owen's letters home, and by speaking to Jean Findlay, biographer of CK Scott Moncrieff, the translator of Proust, who fell in love with Wilfred Owen.

(Photo: Wilfred Owen in 1916. Credit: Getty Images)

The British war poet's younger brother Harold Owen spoke to the BBC in the 1960s

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

Negotiating An End To El Salvador's Civil War2019123120200101 (WS)

On December 31 1991 the two warring parties in El Salvador's brutal civil war agreed to end the fighting. Left-wing FMLN rebels pledged to disarm and demobilise all their fighters, in exchange for the US-backed government and military carrying out sweeping political and security reforms. The Salvadoran peace process was heralded as a major victory for UN diplomacy. Its top negotiator, the Peruvian Alvaro de Soto, tells Mike Lanchin about his role in the long road to peace in El Salvador.

Photo: Rebels celebrate the end of the war in El Salvador (Jason Bleibtreu/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

The UN's top negotiator Alvaro de Soto recalls his part in bringing peace to El Salvador

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

Red Hollywood20200318

In 1950, a 200-page-long directory called "Red Channels " was published in America. It was a list of people working in the media who were suspected of being Communists or Communist sympathisers. It ruined careers and sent actors, writers and directors into exile. Most of the people named in it are no longer alive. But Vincent Dowd has been speaking to former Hollywood actress Marsha Hunt who is still with us, aged 102.

PHOTO: Marsha Hunt in 1938 (Getty Images)

Former actress Marsha Hunt remembers the anti-Communist witch-hunt of the late 1940s.

History as told by the people who were there

In 1950, a 200-page-long directory called "Red Channels " was published in America. It was a list of people working in the media who were suspected of being Communists or Communist sympathisers. It ruined careers and sent actors, writers and directors into exile. Most of the people named in it are no longer alive. But Vincent Dowd has been speaking to former Hollywood actress Marsha Hunt who is still with us, aged 102.

PHOTO: Marsha Hunt in 1938 (Getty Images)

Former actress Marsha Hunt remembers the anti-Communist witch-hunt of the late 1940s.

History as told by the people who were there

Reforming India's Rape Laws20200128

In January 2013 the Indian government began to overhaul the country's laws on rape following the brutal gang rape and killing of a 23 year old physiotherapy student in Delhi. The public outcry across India forced the government to commission a legal review. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Gopal Subramanium, one of the three senior lawyers tasked with reforming the way India tackled violence against women.

(Photo: Justice Leila Seth. Justice J Verma and Justice Gopal Subramanium and team deliver their report. January 2013. Credit: Permission of Gopal Subramanium)

The overhaul of India's rape laws followed the fatal gang rape of a student in Delhi.

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

Saddam Hussein's 'supergun'20200220

An insider's account of Project Babylon, the plan to build the largest gun in the world for Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The "Supergun" was the brainchild of Canadian artillery maverick, Dr Gerald Bull. He'd long wanted to build a gun capable of launching satellites into space. In the 1980s Saddam Hussein agreed to fund this plan. But was it a science project or a weapon? In 1990, the "Supergun" hit the headlines and it became an international scandal. Alex Last spoke to Chris Cowley an engineer who worked on Project Babylon,. Appropriately enough he has also become an author of thrillers. His latest book is called Without A Shadow.

Photo: UN inspectors visit the site of the 350mm (baby) Super Gun in Iraq. After the Gulf War, the gun components were broken up and destroyed.(UN)

Building the largest gun in the world for Saddam Hussein's Iraq

History as told by the people who were there

An insider's account of Project Babylon, the plan to build the largest gun in the world for Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The "Supergun" was the brainchild of Canadian artillery maverick, Dr Gerald Bull. He'd long wanted to build a gun capable of launching satellites into space. In the 1980s Saddam Hussein agreed to fund this plan. But was it a science project or a weapon? In 1990, the "Supergun" hit the headlines and it became an international scandal. Alex Last spoke to Chris Cowley an engineer who worked on Project Babylon,. Appropriately enough he has also become an author of thrillers. His latest book is called Without A Shadow.

Photo: UN inspectors visit the site of the 350mm (baby) Super Gun in Iraq. After the Gulf War, the gun components were broken up and destroyed.(UN)

Building the largest gun in the world for Saddam Hussein's Iraq

History as told by the people who were there

Saving Antarctica20200221

In October 1991, an international protocol to protect the world’s last wilderness, Antarctica, from commercial exploitation was agreed at a summit in Madrid. The agreement was the result of a long campaign by environmental organisations to stop oil and gas companies being allowed to explore the continent. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to Kelly Rigg from Greenpeace.

Picture: Blue icebergs in Antarctica (Credit: Getty Images)

A 1980s campaign to preserve Antarctica for science.

History as told by the people who were there

In October 1991, an international protocol to protect the world’s last wilderness, Antarctica, from commercial exploitation was agreed at a summit in Madrid. The agreement was the result of a long campaign by environmental organisations to stop oil and gas companies being allowed to explore the continent. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to Kelly Rigg from Greenpeace.

Picture: Blue icebergs in Antarctica (Credit: Getty Images)

A 1980s campaign to preserve Antarctica for science.

History as told by the people who were there

Saving The Great Barrier Reef20191101

In the 1960s conservationists began a campaign to prevent the Queensland government from allowing mining and oil drilling on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Eddie Hegerl told Claire Bowes that he and his wife were prepared to sacrifice everything to protect the world's biggest coral reef from destruction.

Photo: Science Photo Library

The 1960s campaigners who fought the government to save the world's biggest coral reef.

History as told by the people who were there

Sequencing The 1918 Influenza Virus2020032420200325 (WS)

Over 50 million people died from influenza during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. Scientists trying to understand why that particular strain of flu was so virulent, dug into Alaska's permafrost to find traces of it to study. Kate Lamble has been speaking to Dr Jeffery Taubenberger who sequenced the genome of the so-called "Spanish" flu virus.

Photo: an influenza ward in 1918. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Over 50 million people are thought to have died from influenza around the world in 1918

History as told by the people who were there

Over 50 million people died from influenza during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. Scientists trying to understand why that particular strain of flu was so virulent, dug into Alaska's permafrost to find traces of it to study. Kate Lamble has been speaking to Dr Jeffery Taubenberger who sequenced the genome of the so-called "Spanish" flu virus.

Photo: an influenza ward in 1918. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Over 50 million people are thought to have died from influenza around the world in 1918

History as told by the people who were there

Over 50 million people died from influenza during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. Scientists trying to understand why that particular strain of flu was so virulent, dug into Alaska's permafrost to find traces of it to study. Kate Lamble has been speaking to Dr Jeffery Taubenberger who sequenced the genome of the so-called "Spanish" flu virus.

Photo: an influenza ward in 1918. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

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

History as told by the people who were there

Shackleton20191203

Hear first hand accounts from the doomed Antarctic expedition which became a legendary story of survival. In 1914, polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton led an expedition to become the first to cross the Antarctic continent. But before they could land, their ship, SS Endurance, became trapped in pack ice and sank. Marooned on a floating ice field, Shackleton and his men, embarked on an epic odyssey to reach safety. Alex Last has been listening to BBC archive interviews with the survivors.

Photo: Return of the sun over the 'Endurance' after the long winter darkness during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-17, led by Ernest Shackleton. (Photo by Frank Hurley/Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge/Getty Images)

How a doomed Antarctic expedition in 1914 became a legendary story of survival

History as told by the people who were there

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

Silent Spring: A Book That Changed The World20200122

Silent Spring, written by marine biologist Rachel Carson, looked at the effect that synthetic pesticides were having on the environment. Within years of its publication in 1962, the widespread use of DDT had been outlawed in the USA. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to Carson's adopted son Roger Christie about the author and her work.

Image: A copy of Silent Spring (Credit: Science Photo Library)

Silent Spring examined the effect of pesticides on the environment

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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

Storming The Stasi Hq20200114

Just weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall East Germans found themselves able to walk into the communist secret police headquarters in Berlin. The much-feared Stasi agents had kept files on millions of their fellow citizens. Soon people were searching the archives. Jim Frank has spoken to Bert Konopatzky who took part in the demonstration which led to the Stasi opening its gates.

Photo:East Germans streaming into the secret police headquarters in Berlin on the night of January 15th 1990. Credit: Zöllner/ullstein bild/Getty Images.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall East German citizens stormed the secret police HQ

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

Strikers In Saris20200304

In 1976 South Asian women workers who had made Britain their home, led a strike against poor working conditions in a British factory. Lakshmi Patel was one of the women who picketed the Grunwick film-processing factory in north London for two years, defying the stereotype of submissive South Asian women. They gained the support of tens of thousands of trade unionists along the way. Lakshmi talks to Farhana Haider about how the strike was a defining moment for race relations in the UK in the 1970s.

(Photo: Jayaben Desai, leader of the Grunwick strike committee holding placard 1977 Credit: Getty images)

How South Asian women workers won the support of the British trade unionist movement

History as told by the people who were there

In 1976 South Asian women workers who had made Britain their home, led a strike against poor working conditions in a British factory. Lakshmi Patel was one of the women who picketed the Grunwick film-processing factory in north London for two years, defying the stereotype of submissive South Asian women. They gained the support of tens of thousands of trade unionists along the way. Lakshmi talks to Farhana Haider about how the strike was a defining moment for race relations in the UK in the 1970s.

(Photo: Jayaben Desai, leader of the Grunwick strike committee holding placard 1977 Credit: Getty images)

How South Asian women workers won the support of the British trade unionist movement

History as told by the people who were there

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

In 1976 South Asian women workers who had made Britain their home, led a strike against poor working conditions in a British factory. Lakshmi Patel was one of the women who picketed the Grunwick film-processing factory in north London for two years, defying the stereotype of submissive South Asian women. They gained the support of tens of thousands of trade unionists along the way. Lakshmi talks to Farhana Haider about how the strike was a defining moment for race relations in the UK in the 1970s.

(Photo: Jayaben Desai, leader of the Grunwick strike committee holding placard 1977 Credit: Getty images)

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

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 Aids Memorial Quilt2020032720200328 (WS)

In 1985 activists hand-stitched a giant quilt to commemorate friends and relatives killed by AIDS, and to campaign for more funding and research into the disease. It was the brain child of Cleve Jones, who explains to Rebecca Kesby what it was like to live through the HIV/AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. How the LGBT community had to pull together, as victims of AIDS were ostracised by the wider community during their worst moment of suffering.

(Photo: A section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Getty Images)

In 1985 activists made a giant quilt to commemorate those killed by AIDS in the USA.

History as told by the people who were there

In 1985 activists hand-stitched a giant quilt to commemorate friends and relatives killed by AIDS, and to campaign for more funding and research into the disease. It was the brain child of Cleve Jones, who explains to Rebecca Kesby what it was like to live through the HIV/AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. How the LGBT community had to pull together, as victims of AIDS were ostracised by the wider community during their worst moment of suffering.

(Photo: A section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Getty Images)

In 1985 activists made a giant quilt to commemorate those killed by AIDS in the USA.

History as told by the people who were there

In 1985 activists hand-stitched a giant quilt to commemorate friends and relatives killed by AIDS, and to campaign for more funding and research into the disease. It was the brain child of Cleve Jones, who explains to Rebecca Kesby what it was like to live through the HIV/AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. How the LGBT community had to pull together, as victims of AIDS were ostracised by the wider community during their worst moment of suffering.

(Photo: A section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Getty Images)

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

History as told by the people who were there

The Algerians Who Fought With France20191030

The Harkis were Algerian Muslims who volunteered to fight with France in Algeria's war of independence. When the conflict came to an end in 1962 and France was forced to abandon its former colony, thousands of its Harki allies were left to face persecution and brutal repression. Serge Carel was an Algerian Harki who joined the French army when he was just 18 years old. When the independence war ended, he was imprisoned and tortured by the country's new rulers. He's been telling Mike Lanchin about his ordeal.

Photo: Harki recruits in the French army in Algeria (courtesy of Serge Carel)

When Algeria won independence in 1962 thousands of local French allies faced persecution

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 Ancient Oak Tree That Taught The World A Lesson20200129

The remarkable Turner's oak in Kew Gardens in London not only survived the Great Storm that ravaged the south of England in 1987, but also changed the way that trees are cared for around the world.

Alejandra Martins has been speaking to Tony Kirkham, head of the Arboretum at Kew. (Photo: Turner's oak. Credit: Alejandra Martins)

A tree in Kew Gardens survived the storm of 1987 and revolutionised gardening.

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 'awakenings' Medical Experiment20191211

In the 1920s a strange epidemic claimed the lives of around a million people. Encephalitis Lethargica or ‘sleepy sickness’ left nearly four million more in what seemed to be a catatonic state for decades - unable to speak or move independently, as if asleep. In the late 1960s British neurologist, Oliver Sacks, tried a new drug that was being used for Parkinson’s disease and brought some patients briefly back to consciousness. What he learned changed our understanding of such neurological conditions and revolutionised patient care. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to leading music therapist, Concetta Tomaino, who worked with Dr Sacks and his patients, in the experiment that became known as “The Awakenings”.

(Photo: Dr Concetta Tomaino (center) with Dr Oliver Sacks (right) and patient (left). Credit: The American Music Therapy Association.)

In the 1960s a new drug briefly woke up patients who'd been catatonic for decades.

History as told by the people who were there

The Battle For Fallujah20200110

A US Marine's account of the massive US-led assault on the Iraqi city in November 2004. Amid post-invasion chaos in Iraq, the city was seen as a stronghold of insurgents. It was hoped the battle would be a turning point in the fight against the Iraqi insurgency. Alex Last spoke to Colonel Andrew Milburn, author of When The Tempest Gathers, who served as a US military advisor to a frontline Iraqi army unit during the battle.

Photo: US Marines of the 1st Battalion 3rd Marines, clear a houses held by insurgents during the battle for Fallujah November 23, 2004,(Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images)

A US Marine's account of the massive operation against Iraqi insurgents in 2004

History as told by the people who were there

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

The Battle Of The Louvre Pyramid20191209

In 1983 French president Francois Mitterand commissioned a major renovation of Paris' most famous art museum, the Louvre. But the resulting great glass pyramid, designed by American architect IM Pei, caused a storm of controversy, dividing Parisian public opinion as the Eiffel Tower had done a century earlier. Louise Hidalgo talks to IM Pei's colleague and friend, Yann Weymouth, who worked with him on what is now recognised as one of the great landmarks of the city.

Picture: the Louvre pyramid shortly after its opening in 1989 (Credit: Jarry/Tripelong/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

How Paris was eventually won round to the Louvre museum's great glass pyramid

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 Best-seller Fear Of Flying20200213

Erica Jong's best-selling book about sex, creativity and love, published in 1973

History as told by the people who were there

The Bhagalpur Blindings20191107

WARNING: This programme contains distressing descriptions of violent torture from the beginning.

In 1980 police in a small city in the Indian state of Bihar were revealed to be torturing petty criminals. Iknoor Kaur has been talking to several people with first-hand experience of the disturbing events that came to be known as the Bhagalpur blindings. Ram Kumar Mishra was the lawyer who represented the victims, Amitabh Parashar made a documentary film about what happened, and Umesh Yadav was one of the victims who lost his sight at the hands of the police.

(Photo: Victim of the Bhagalpur blindings, Umesh Yadav. Copyright: Amitabh Parashar)

How Indian police tortured petty criminals, blinding them permanently

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 Book That Predicted An End To Civilisation2020010120200102 (WS)

The Limits to Growth was published in 1972 and predicted global decline from 2020. It was based on a computer model which analysed how the Earth would cope with unrestricted economic growth. Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology fed in huge amounts of data on population, pollution, industrialisation, food production and resources. They found that if the trends continued, the result would be a sudden and uncontrollable downturn beginning around 2020. Claire Bowes hears from one of the authors of the book, Professor Dennis Meadows.

Image: Front cover of The Limits to Growth, published in 1972

The Limits to Growth was published in 1972 and suggested global decline from 2020

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 British Sculptor Who Won Over The World20191204

During the 20th century a British coal miner's son changed the world of art. Henry Moore revolutionised sculpture, altering the way we view the human figure and setting his works in natural landscapes. He became internationally renowned and by the 1970s hundreds of his sculptures could be seen outside government buildings, universities and museums around the world. His daughter, Mary Moore, remembers how initially his work shocked his teachers and art critics.

Photo: BBC Henry Moore 1960

With thanks to the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens at Perry Green, Hertfordshire
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2019 / www.henry-moore.org

Henry Moore revolutionised sculpture by creating immense works and setting them outside.

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 Cheonan Sinking2020032620200327 (WS)

On March 26th 2010 a South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan, sank after an explosion on board. 48 sailors were killed in an alleged torpedo attack carried out by North Korea. The North Korean authorities have always denied any involvement. Bugyeong Jung has been speaking to a survivor of the attack about what happened that night.

Photo: A giant floating crane lifts the stern of the South Korean warship to place it on a barge on April 15, 2010. The 1,200-tonne patrol combat corvette PCC-772 Cheonan was split in two by a big external explosion on March 26 2010, near a disputed Yellow Sea border. Credit: HONG JIN-HWAN/AFP via Getty Images

On March 26th 2010 a South Korean naval ship sank after an explosion - 48 sailors died

History as told by the people who were there

On March 26th 2010 a South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan, sank after an explosion on board. 48 sailors were killed in an alleged torpedo attack carried out by North Korea. The North Korean authorities have always denied any involvement. Bugyeong Jung has been speaking to a survivor of the attack about what happened that night.

Photo: A giant floating crane lifts the stern of the South Korean warship to place it on a barge on April 15, 2010. The 1,200-tonne patrol combat corvette PCC-772 Cheonan was split in two by a big external explosion on March 26 2010, near a disputed Yellow Sea border. Credit: HONG JIN-HWAN/AFP via Getty Images

On March 26th 2010 a South Korean naval ship sank after an explosion - 48 sailors died

History as told by the people who were there

On March 26th 2010 a South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan, sank after an explosion on board. 48 sailors were killed in an alleged torpedo attack carried out by North Korea. The North Korean authorities have always denied any involvement. Bugyeong Jung has been speaking to a survivor of the attack about what happened that night.

Photo: A giant floating crane lifts the stern of the South Korean warship to place it on a barge on April 15, 2010. The 1,200-tonne patrol combat corvette PCC-772 Cheonan was split in two by a big external explosion on March 26 2010, near a disputed Yellow Sea border. Credit: HONG JIN-HWAN/AFP via Getty Images

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

History as told by the people who were there

The Chinese Cure For Malaria2020032020200321 (WS)

In the 1970s, scientists in China used ancient traditional medicine to find a cure for malaria. Artemisinin was discovered by exploring a herbal remedy from the 4th century, and can cure most forms of malaria with very few side effects. It has saved millions of lives all over the world. Rebecca Kesby talks to Professor Lang Linfu, one of the scientists involved.

PHOTO: Professor Lang Linfu (family archives)

How scientists in the 1970s discovered an anti-malarial drug using a traditional remedy.

History as told by the people who were there

In the 1970s, scientists in China used ancient traditional medicine to find a cure for malaria. Artemisinin was discovered by exploring a herbal remedy from the 4th century, and can cure most forms of malaria with very few side effects. It has saved millions of lives all over the world. Rebecca Kesby talks to Professor Lang Linfu, one of the scientists involved.

PHOTO: Professor Lang Linfu (family archives)

How scientists in the 1970s discovered an anti-malarial drug using a traditional remedy.

History as told by the people who were there

In the 1970s, scientists in China used ancient traditional medicine to find a cure for malaria. Artemisinin was discovered by exploring a herbal remedy from the 4th century, and can cure most forms of malaria with very few side effects. It has saved millions of lives all over the world. Rebecca Kesby talks to Professor Lang Linfu, one of the scientists involved.

PHOTO: Professor Lang Linfu (family archives)

How scientists in the 1970s discovered an anti-malarial drug using a traditional remedy.

History as told by the people who were there

The Chippendales2019123020191231 (WS)

The Chippendales nightclub in downtown Los Angeles was looking for ways to attract customers on a weeknight – when they hit upon the idea of male strippers. The Male Exotic Dance Night for Ladies Only became wildly successful and inspired imitators all over the world. But there was a dark side to the Chippendales’ story.

Lucy Burns speaks to Chippendales co-founder Bruce Nahin.

Picture: Actress Linda Blair with Chippendales dancers, 1984 (Ann Clifford/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

The male stripper troupe was founded in Los Angeles in 1979

History as told by the people who were there

Picture: Actress Linda Blair with Chippendales dancers, 1984 (Ann Clifford/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

The story of our times 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 Computers For Schools Revolution20200109

In 2009, Uruguay became the first country in the world to give a laptop computer to every child in state primary schools. At the time, only 10 per cent of poor Uruguayan children had access to IT, and the Plan Ceibal initiative is credited with transforming the lives of the students and teachers. Alejandra Martins talks to Miguel Brechner, the man behind Plan Ceibal, and Rocio Martinez, one of the first children to get a computer.

PHOTO: Two Uruguayan children enjoying their laptops (courtesy Plan Ceibal)

In 2009, Uruguay became the first country to give every schoolchild a laptop computer.

History as told by the people who were there

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

The Concert That Rocked The Berlin Wall20191108

Former Berlin resident David Bowie was among the performers at a pop concert in West Berlin in 1987 credited with helping to create the atmosphere that led, two years later, to the fall of the Berlin Wall. During the three-day concert, there were riots in East Berlin as East Berliners were prevented by police from gathering near the Berlin Wall to listen. And German journalist Christoph Lanz tells Louise Hidalgo it was the first time shouts were heard of 'the wall must go'.

Picture: David Bowie during the concert beside the Reichstag in West Berlin in June 1987 (Credit:Scherhaufer /Ullstein Bild via Getty Images)

The 1987 rock concert that led to the first shouts in East Berlin of 'the wall must go'

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 Abuja20191220

Why Nigeria came to build a brand new capital from scratch.and created one of the world 's fastest growing cities. During the 1970s oil boom, Nigeria's military rulers wanted to create a new symbol of national unity and decided to spend billions on constructing a new capital in the geographic centre of the country. Alex Last speaks to Professor John Paden of George Mason University, a veteran political scientist and expert on Nigeria who was hired to advise the American consortium tasked with planning the new city.

Photo: Getty Images

Why Nigeria built a brand new capital city from scratch.

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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 Cuban Writer Who Defied Fidel Castro20191206

On 7 December 1990 the dissident Cuban novelist and poet Reinaldo Arenas killed himself in New York after years of suffering from AIDS. Before fleeing Cuba, Arenas had been jailed for his homosexuality, sent to re-education camps and prevented from writing. He left behind his autobiography - Before Night Falls - a powerful denunciation of Fidel Castro’s regime which later became a successful film. Simon Watts talks to Arenas’ friend and fellow writer, Jaime Manrique.

The recordings of Reinaldo Arenas in this programme are taken from BBC archive, and the documentaries Conducta Impropria and Seres Extravagantes.

(Photo: Reinaldo Arenas. Credit: Sophie Bassouls/Sygma/Sygma/Getty Images)

In 1990 Reinaldo Arenas died of Aids in New York, leaving behind a powerful autobiography

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

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 Demolition Of The Babri Masjid20191113

Hindu extremists demolished a 16th century mosque in the Indian city of Ayodhya in December 1992 prompting months of communal violence across India. Photojournalist Praveen Jain witnessed rehearsals for the demolition the day before the activists stormed the mosque. He has been talking to Iknoor Kaur about what he saw. On November 9th this year the Indian Supreme Court ruled that a Hindu temple can be built on the disputed site.

Photo: Hindu extremists rehearsing the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Copyright:Praveen Jain.

How Hindu extremists demolished a mosque in India prompting months of communal violence

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 Discovery Of Whalesong20200123

Whales were being hunted to extinction, when in 1967, a biologist called Dr Roger Payne realised they could sing. It changed the perception of whales and helped found the modern conservation movement. Claire Bowes spoke to Dr Payne about his discovery in 2017. This programme is a rebroadcast.

(Photo: Humpback Whale, courtesy of Christian Miller of Ocean Alliance)

In the 1960s whales were being hunted to extinction.

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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 Ebola Virus20200310

Some 300 people died during the first documented outbreak of the deadly disease occurred in the 1970s in the Democratic Republic of Congo - then known as Zaire. The virus was named after the river which flowed close to the village where it was discovered. Two doctors, Dr Jean Jacques Muyembe and Dr David Heymann, were among those who worked to bring the outbreak under control. They spoke to Claire Bowes in 2009.

This programme is a rebroadcast.

Image: The Ebola virus under a microscope. Credit: Science Photo Library

The first documented outbreak of the deadly disease occurred in the 1970s in Zaire

History as told by the people who were there

Some 300 people died during the first documented outbreak of the deadly disease occurred in the 1970s in the Democratic Republic of Congo - then known as Zaire. The virus was named after the river which flowed close to the village where it was discovered. Two doctors, Dr Jean Jacques Muyembe and Dr David Heymann, were among those who worked to bring the outbreak under control. They spoke to Claire Bowes in 2009.

This programme is a rebroadcast.

Image: The Ebola virus under a microscope. Credit: Science Photo Library

The first documented outbreak of the deadly disease occurred in the 1970s in Zaire

History as told by the people who were there

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

Some 300 people died during the first documented outbreak of the deadly disease occurred in the 1970s in the Democratic Republic of Congo - then known as Zaire. The virus was named after the river which flowed close to the village where it was discovered. Two doctors, Dr Jean Jacques Muyembe and Dr David Heymann, were among those who worked to bring the outbreak under control. They spoke to Claire Bowes in 2009.

This programme is a rebroadcast.

Image: The Ebola virus under a microscope. Credit: Science Photo Library

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

History as 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 Exodus Of Kashmiri Hindus20200107

In January 1990 over 100,000 Hindus fled the Kashmir valley after an increase in tension between the Indian military and Muslim independence activists. Iknoor Kaur has been speaking to Utpal Kaul one of the so-called 'pandits' who was displaced.

Photo: Indian Border Security Forces in Srinigar in 1993. Credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Liaison/Getty Images.

In January 1990 over 100 000 Hindus fled the Kashmir valley

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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 Fall Of The Berlin Wall20191025

The border between communist East Germany and the West opened on November 9th 1989. It marked the beginning of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Michaela Graichen spoke to two East Germans who believe they were the first people to cross from East to West on the night of November 9th.

(Photo: East Germans climbing onto the top of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate after the opening of the East German border was announced in Berlin. November 9, 1989. Credit: REUTERS/Staff/Files)

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 Fight To Make Sexual Harassment A Crime20200317

In 1986, the US Supreme Court heard a landmark case which would define sexual harassment as a crime in America. The lawsuit, brought by bank clerk Mechelle Vinson, established that abuse in the workplace was a breach of civil rights. It was built on pioneering legal scholarship by feminist lawyer Catharine MacKinnon, who talks to Sharon Hemans.

PHOTO: Mechelle Vinson in 1986 (Getty Images)

The story of a landmark ruling for women's rights in the United States.

History as told by the people who were there

In 1986, the US Supreme Court heard a landmark case which would define sexual harassment as a crime in America. The lawsuit, brought by bank clerk Mechelle Vinson, established that abuse in the workplace was a breach of civil rights. It was built on pioneering legal scholarship by feminist lawyer Catharine MacKinnon, who talks to Sharon Hemans.

PHOTO: Mechelle Vinson in 1986 (Getty Images)

The story of a landmark ruling for women's rights in the United States.

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 Confirmed Case Of Hiv In America20191129

Robert R was a teenager who died of a mysterious illness in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1969. It was only in the 1980s that doctors studying the Aids epidemic realised Robert had died of Aids. Ned Carter Miles has been speaking to Dr Memory Elvin Lewis was one of the doctors who treated Robert R. She was so intrigued by his case that she kept tissue samples after his death, which later proved that he had contracted HIV/Aids.

Photo: HIV particles, computer artwork. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Credit: Science Photo Library

Robert R was a teenager who died of an undiagnosed illness in Missouri in 1969

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 Indian To Win Miss World20191115

Reita Faria was the first Indian to win the Miss World beauty competition in 1966. She was studying medicine in Mumbai when a spur of the moment decision to take part in the contest turned her life upside down. Orna Merchant has been speaking to Reita Faria about her win, and whether she believes there is still a place for beauty contests in the 21st Century.

Photo: Reita Faria wearing the Miss World crown in November 1966. Credit: Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

History as told by the people who were there

The First Mobile Phone Call2020022520200226 (WS)

In 1973, an engineer called Marty Cooper made the world’s first mobile phone call from a street in New York City. Cooper worked for a then tiny telecoms company called Motorola, but he had a vision that one day people would all want their own personal phone that could be reached anywhere. He talks to Louise Hidalgo.

Picture: Martin Cooper in New York City in 1973 with the first prototype mobile phone (Credit: Martin Cooper)

The American inventor who made the first mobile phone and the first mobile phone call

History as told by the people who were there

In 1973, an engineer called Marty Cooper made the world’s first mobile phone call from a street in New York City. Cooper worked for a then tiny telecoms company called Motorola, but he had a vision that one day people would all want their own personal phone that could be reached anywhere. He talks to Louise Hidalgo.

Picture: Martin Cooper in New York City in 1973 with the first prototype mobile phone (Credit: Martin Cooper)

The American inventor who made the first mobile phone and the first mobile phone call

History as told by the people who were there

In 1973, an engineer called Marty Cooper made the world’s first mobile phone call from a street in New York City. Cooper worked for a then tiny telecoms company called Motorola, but he had a vision that one day people would all want their own personal phone that could be reached anywhere. He talks to Louise Hidalgo.

Picture: Martin Cooper in New York City in 1973 with the first prototype mobile phone (Credit: Martin Cooper)

The American inventor who made the first mobile phone and the first mobile phone call

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 First Self-made Female Millionaire20200130

Madam C. J. Walker was the first ever self-made female millionaire. She was born to former slaves in the USA and was orphaned at seven but against all the odds she went on to create her own business selling black hair-care products. By the time of her death in 1919 she'd become a famous philanthropist and civil rights campaigner. Claire Bowes has been speaking to her great great granddaughter A'Lelia Bundles.

Photo: Madam Walker Family Archives/A'Lelia Bundles

Madam C. J. Walker was born to former slaves and created a black beauty business.

History as told by the people who were there

The First Tasers20191118

In the 1970s, an American engineer Jack Cover designed a new experimental stun gun. He called it a Taser. But the device only really became popular when it started to be used by US law enforcement agencies. The Los Angeles Police Department were among the first to use the device. Retired police Captain Greg Meyer was then the young officer given the task of evaluating non-lethal weapons for the LAPD. He tells Alex Last about the origins of the Taser and its dramatic impact on the streets.

Photo: Jack Cover with an early version of his Taser. The gun has a flashlight atop and below are two cartridges each containing two darts which can be fired a distance of 15 feet with a stunning 50,000-volt shock.

Why Los Angeles police began using a new weapon in the early 1980s.

History as told by the people who were there

The Frozen Zoo20200124

In 1975, San Diego Zoo began placing tissue samples of rare animals in cryogenic storage for the benefit of future generations. Called the Frozen Zoo, the refrigeration system now contains the cells of more than 1000 species ranging from the white rhinoceros to the black-footed ferret. Scientists are now using the collection to try to save species threatened by extinction. Simon Watts talks to Dr Oliver Ryder, who has worked at the Frozen Zoo from the very beginning.

PHOTO: Northern White Rhino cells in the Frozen Zoo (San Diego Zoo Institute For Conservation Research)

Since 1975, San Diego Zoo has been deep-freezing cell samples from rare species

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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 'i Love You' Computer Virus20200316

In May 2000, a virus created by a college dropout in the Philippines caused chaos around the world. Millions of people received - and opened - an email titled I Love You, which then jammed computer networks. Gabriela Jones talks to IT security expert, Graham Cluley.

(Photo: The I Love You email. Credit: Getty Images)

How a virus created by a Filipino college dropout sparked global panic in May 2000

History as told by the people who were there

In May 2000, a virus created by a college dropout in the Philippines caused chaos around the world. Millions of people received - and opened - an email titled I Love You, which then jammed computer networks. Gabriela Jones talks to IT security expert, Graham Cluley.

(Photo: The I Love You email. Credit: Getty Images)

How a virus created by a Filipino college dropout sparked global panic in May 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 Afghanistan2019122420191225 (WS)

On 24 December 1979 Soviet troops poured into Afghanistan in support of an anti-government coup. Their first targets were the palace in which the president was staying, and Afghanistan's radio and TV headquarters. Mahjooba Nowrouzi has been speaking to Shahsawar Sangerwal who was a young producer at Afghan National Radio at the time.

Photo: Soviet troops at Kabul Airport in late December 1979. Credit: Getty Images.

On 24 December 1979 Soviet troops started pouring into Afghanistan

History as told by the people who were there

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

Photo: Soviet troops at Kabul Airport in late December 1979. Credit: Getty Images.

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 Ira Siege At Balcombe Street20191210

In December 1975, four members of one of the IRA’s deadliest units were chased by police through the streets of London before hiding out in a small flat owned by a middle-aged couple called John and Sheila Matthews. The resulting six-day siege was covered live on television and radio, and gripped Britain. It ended when Metropolitan Police negotiators persuaded the gunmen to leave the flat peacefully. Simon Watts talks to Steven Moysey, the author of the book and audiobook, The Road to Balcombe Street.

(Photo: Police surrounding the flat in Balcombe Street. Credit: Press Association)

In December 1975, the IRA took a middle-aged couple hostage in Central London.

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 Killing Of Amadou Diallo20191212

When police in New York shot a young immigrant 41 times in 1999, thousands of people took to the streets to protest. But Amadou Diallo's mother Kadiatou wanted her son to be remembered for the way he lived, not the way he died. So she flew to the US to speak on his behalf. She has been telling Sharon Hemans her story.

When New York police shot a young immigrant 41 times, thousands took to the streets

History as told by the people who were there

The Killing Of Osama Bin Laden20200117

The US tracked down the al Qaeda leader to a town in northern Pakistan in May 2011. Special operations troops were sent to capture or kill bin Laden in a top secret raid in the dead of night. The Americans didn't tell their Pakistani allies about the raid beforehand. Gabriela Jones has been speaking to Nicholas Rasmussen who was in the White House situation room with President Barack Obama and US military chiefs as the raid took place.

Photo: Osama bin Laden. Credit:AFP/Getty Images

The US tracked down the al-Qaeda leader to a town in northern Pakistan in 2011

History as told by the people who were there

The US tracked down the al Qaeda leader to a city in northern Pakistan in May 2011. Special operations troops were sent to capture or kill bin Laden in a top secret raid in the dead of night. The Americans didn't tell their Pakistani allies about the raid beforehand. Gabriela Jones has been speaking to Nicholas Rasmussen who was in the White House situation room with President Barack Obama and US military chiefs as the raid took place.

The US tracked down the al-Qaeda leader to a city in northern Pakistan in 2011

The Killing Of Pablo Escobar20191202

The Colombian drug trafficker, once one of the richest men in the world, was shot dead by police on 2nd December 1993. He had been on the run from the authorities for over a year. Jordan Dunbar has been speaking to Elizabeth Zilli who worked for the US Drug Enforcement Agency in Colombia and who helped track down Pablo Escobar.

Photo: Colombian police and military forces storm the rooftop where drug lord Pablo Escobar was shot dead just moments earlier during an exchange of gunfire between security forces and Escobar and his bodyguard on 2nd December 1993. (Credit:Jesus Abad-el Colombiano/AFP/Getty Images)

The Colombian drug trafficker was shot dead by police on December 2nd 1993

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 Last Smallpox Outbreak2020022720200228 (WS)

Thousands of people died in India during the world's last major smallpox epidemic. Individual cases had to be tracked down and quarantined to stop the deadly disease spreading. Ashley Byrne spoke to Dr Mahendra Dutta and Dr Larry Brilliant who took part in the battle to eradicate smallpox once and for all.

Photo: Smallpox lesions on the human body. 1973. Credit: Getty Images.

Thousands of people died in the world's last major smallpox epidemic in India in 1974.

History as told by the people who were there

Thousands of people died in India during the world's last major smallpox epidemic. Individual cases had to be tracked down and quarantined to stop the deadly disease spreading. Ashley Byrne spoke to Dr Mahendra Dutta and Dr Larry Brilliant who took part in the battle to eradicate smallpox once and for all.

Photo: Smallpox lesions on the human body. 1973. Credit: Getty Images.

Thousands of people died in the world's last major smallpox epidemic in India in 1974.

History as told by the people who were there

Thousands of people died in India during the world's last major smallpox epidemic. Individual cases had to be tracked down and quarantined to stop the deadly disease spreading. Ashley Byrne spoke to Dr Mahendra Dutta and Dr Larry Brilliant who took part in the battle to eradicate smallpox once and for all.

Photo: Smallpox lesions on the human body. 1973. Credit: Getty Images.

Thousands of people died in the world's last major smallpox epidemic in India in 1974.

History as told by the people who were there

The Launch Of The Hubble Space Telescope20200319

In 1990, NASA launched the historic mission which put into orbit the Hubble Space Telescope. The orbiting observatory has revolutionized astronomy and allowed us to peer deeper than ever before into the Universe. Alejandra Martins talks to astronaut, Kathryn Sullivan, about the Hubble mission and the telescope's initial teething problems.

PHOTO: The Hubble Space Telescope (NASA)

How NASA put an orbiting observatory into space in 1990.

History as told by the people who were there

In 1990, NASA launched the historic mission which put into orbit the Hubble Space Telescope. The orbiting observatory has revolutionized astronomy and allowed us to peer deeper than ever before into the Universe. Alejandra Martins talks to astronaut, Kathryn Sullivan, about the Hubble mission and the telescope's initial teething problems.

PHOTO: The Hubble Space Telescope (NASA)

How NASA put an orbiting observatory into space in 1990.

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 Leipzig Demonstrations20191024

Mass demonstrations in the East German city of Leipzig in October 1989 shook the communist authorities to their core. The protests are seen as paving the way for the fall of the Berlin Wall just a month later. Lucy Burs spoke to Martin Jankowski who was one of the protesters.

(Photo:A young East German protesting against the communist government flashes the peace sign. Credit: Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

The Berlin Wall fell just a month after mass protests in the East German city of Leipzig

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 Love Canal Disaster20191114

In the late 1970s toxic chemicals were discovered oozing from the ground in a neighbourhood in upstate New York. The neighbourhood was called Love Canal. Hundreds of houses and a school had been built on top of over 20,000 tonnes of toxic industrial waste. The disaster led to the formation in 1980 of the Superfund program, which helps pay for the clean up of toxic sites. Farhana Haider has been speaking to former Love Canal resident and campaigner Luella Kenny about her fight for relocation.

Photo Pres. Jimmy Carter, Love Canal resident Lois Gibbs, Rep. John LaFalce and Senator Jacob Javits signing the superfund legislation 1980. Credit Center for Health, Environment & Justice.

How the Love Canal neigbourhood in the US came to symbolise the dangers of toxic waste

History as told by the people who were there

The Major And The Vw Beetle20200306

The story of how a car that had originally been the idea of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was saved by a British army officer at the end of World War Two. In August 1945 the British Army sent Major Ivan Hirst to take control of the giant Volkswagen plant in Germany, built under the Nazis to produce 'people's cars' for the German masses. Ivan Hirst persuaded the British authorities to allow production to restart of the Volkswagen Beetle, which Hitler had had designed before the war as an affordable car for ordinary Germans and which would become one of the most successful cars in the world. Louise Hidalgo has been listening to archive of Major Hirst talking about that time.

Picture: Major Ivan Hirst (right) driving the 1000th Beetle off the production line at Wolfsburg in March 1946 (Credit: Volkswagen AG)

How a British army officer saved Hitler's Volkswagen Beetle at the end of World War Two

History as told by the people who were there

The story of how a car that had originally been the idea of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was saved by a British army officer at the end of World War Two. In August 1945 the British Army sent Major Ivan Hirst to take control of the giant Volkswagen plant in Germany, built under the Nazis to produce 'people's cars' for the German masses. Ivan Hirst persuaded the British authorities to allow production to restart of the Volkswagen Beetle, which Hitler had had designed before the war as an affordable car for ordinary Germans and which would become one of the most successful cars in the world. Louise Hidalgo has been listening to archive of Major Hirst talking about that time.

Picture: Major Ivan Hirst (right) driving the 1000th Beetle off the production line at Wolfsburg in March 1946 (Credit: Volkswagen AG)

How a British army officer saved Hitler's Volkswagen Beetle at the end of World War Two

History as told by the people who were there

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

The story of how a car that had originally been the idea of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was saved by a British army officer at the end of World War Two. In August 1945 the British Army sent Major Ivan Hirst to take control of the giant Volkswagen plant in Germany, built under the Nazis to produce 'people's cars' for the German masses. Ivan Hirst persuaded the British authorities to allow production to restart of the Volkswagen Beetle, which Hitler had had designed before the war as an affordable car for ordinary Germans and which would become one of the most successful cars in the world. Louise Hidalgo has been listening to archive of Major Hirst talking about that time.

Picture: Major Ivan Hirst (right) driving the 1000th Beetle off the production line at Wolfsburg in March 1946 (Credit: Volkswagen AG)

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

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 First Published Harry Potter20200211

In 1996, after many rejections, author JK Rowling at last finds a publisher for her first Harry Potter novel. Louise Hidalgo hears from editor, Barry Cunningham, who spotted the boy wizard's potential and helped create a phenomenon that would revolutionise childrens' book publishing, selling more than 450 million copies.

Picture: author JK Rowling holds the sixth and penultimate Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. (Credit: AP)
Audio recording © J.K. Rowling

The man who spotted the potential of the boy wizard books in 1996

History as told by the people who were there

The Man Who Gave His Voice To Stephen Hawking2019112520191126 (WS)

American scientist Dennis Klatt pioneered synthesised speech in the 1980s. He used recordings of himself to make the sounds that gave British physicist Stephen Hawking a voice when he lost the ability to speak. Friend and colleague of Dr Klatt, Joseph Perkell, told Rebecca Kesby about the man who gave his voice to Prof Hawking allowing him to educate the world in science.

(Photo: BOMBAY, INDIA: World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking answers questions with the help of a voice synthesiser during a press conference at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Bombay, 06 January 2001. Credit AFP)

American scientist Dennis Klatt pioneered synthesised speech using his own voice.

History as told by the people who were there

The Man Who Got Delhi On Track20191121

India's capital city built a brand new mass transit system to tackle its traffic jams and air pollution. The first section of the Delhi Metro was opened to the public in 2002. E Sreedharan was managing director of the Metro project and he's been speaking to Prabhat Pandey about the challenges he faced.

Photo: the inside of a Delhi Metro carriage. Credit: Getty Images.

India's capital city built a Metro to tackle its traffic and air pollution problems

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 Murder Of Environmentalist Chico Mendes20200108

In December 1988 the Brazilian environmental campaigner, Chico Mendes, was shot dead by cattle ranchers, unhappy at being prevented from exploiting land in the Amazon jungle. The 44-year-old leader of the rubber tappers union had become a powerful symbol of the struggle to save the Amazon and his death sparked renewed interest in environmental issues world-wide. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from the anthropologist Mary Allegretti, who was a close friend of Mendes and worked alongside him in the jungle.

Photo: Chico Mendes and his family. Credit: Str/AFP/Getty Images)

The killing of the man who'd become a powerful symbol of the fight to save the Amazon

History as told by the people who were there

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

The Mystery Of The Disappearing Frogs20200120

How scientists discovered that a deadly fungus was killing off amphibians around the world. The chytrid fungus has caused the greatest loss of biodiversity in our time. Alejandra Martins spoke to biologist Dr. Karen Lips, one of the key scientists who unravelled the mystery of the extinctions. Photo: dead frog infected with chytrid fungus. Credit: Forrest Brem

How scientists discovered that a deadly fungus was killing off amphibians.

History as told by the people who were there

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

The Native American Casino Boom In The Us2020020620200207 (WS)

In February 1987, a small Native American tribe from California won a landmark ruling at the US Supreme Court granting them the right to conduct gambling activities on their reservation. The campaign by the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians led to the creation of a multi-billion-dollar gaming industry on Indian land across the United States. Simon Watts talks to former Cabazon Band president, Brenda Soulliere, and their lawyer, Glenn Feldman.

PHOTO: An Indian-run casino in California (Getty Images)

How a small Californian tribe won the right for Indian communities to host gambling.

History as told by the people who were there

The story of our times 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 Pale Blue Dot20200217

In February 1990, the Nasa space probe Voyager took a famous photo of Earth as it left the Solar System. Seen from six billion kilometres away, our planet appears as a mere dot lit up by the Sun, and the image is credited with giving humanity a sense of our small place in the Universe. Darryll Morris speaks to Nasa planetary scientist, Candice Hansen, who worked on the Voyager programme. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester Production.

Photo: The Earth seen as a pale blue dot in a band of sunlight (Nasa)

How the Voyager space probe captured a famous image of Earth as it left the Solar System.

History as told by the people who were there

The Paris Hotel That Hosted Holocaust Survivors20191029

At the end of the Second World War the grand Parisian hotel, the Lutetia, was allocated to receive thousands of prisoners and Nazi concentration camp survivors returning home from across a ravaged Europe. Louise Hidalgo talks to two people for whom the Hotel Lutetia played a crucial role in 1945: Maurice Cling, a survivor of Auschwitz, and Christiane Umido who, as a young girl, was reunited there with her father.

Picture: concentration camp survivors camps in the Lutetia restaurant in 1945 (credit: STF / AFP Photo )

The Hotel Lutetia became a reception centre for French Holocaust survivors after WW2

History as told by the people who were there

The Petrol That Was Poisoning Children20200303

The UK was one of the first in Europe to declare it would ban lead from petrol after a successful campaign showing it was poisoning children and leaving them permanently brain damaged. But it took until the year 2000 to finally remove leaded petrol from sale. Lead was first added to petrol in the 1920s to make the fuel run more efficiently. The latest figures show only three countries worldwide still sell leaded petrol. Claire Bowes spoke to Dr Robin Russell Jones from the "Campaign for Lead Free Air" about the battle to show that lead from petrol was dangerous.

(Photo: a petrol pump in the UK. Credit: Dr Robin Russell-Jones)

The EU finally banned lead in petrol in 2000 - decades after the US, Canada and Japan.

History as told by the people who were there

The UK was one of the first in Europe to declare it would ban lead from petrol after a successful campaign showing it was poisoning children and leaving them permanently brain damaged. But it took until the year 2000 to finally remove leaded petrol from sale. Lead was first added to petrol in the 1920s to make the fuel run more efficiently. The latest figures show only three countries worldwide still sell leaded petrol. Claire Bowes spoke to Dr Robin Russell Jones from the "Campaign for Lead Free Air" about the battle to show that lead from petrol was dangerous.

(Photo: a petrol pump in the UK. Credit: Dr Robin Russell-Jones)

The EU finally banned lead in petrol in 2000 - decades after the US, Canada and Japan.

History as told by the people who were there

The Polio Vaccine20200311

In 1955 scientists in the US led by Dr Jonas Salk announced they had developed an effective vaccine against polio. The poliomyelitis virus had caused paralysis and death particularly amongst children since time immemorial. Louise Hidalgo spoke to Dr Salk's son Peter, who was one of the first children to be vaccinated by his father, and to a nurse who worked on the polio vaccination programme.

PHOTO: Jonas Salk innoculating his son, Peter (Courtesy of March of Dimes)

Scientists in the US led by Dr Jonas Salk develop an effective vaccine against polio

History as told by the people who were there

In 1955 scientists in the US led by Dr Jonas Salk announced they had developed an effective vaccine against polio. The poliomyelitis virus had caused paralysis and death particularly amongst children since time immemorial. Louise Hidalgo spoke to Dr Salk's son Peter, who was one of the first children to be vaccinated by his father, and to a nurse who worked on the polio vaccination programme.

PHOTO: Jonas Salk innoculating his son, Peter (Courtesy of March of Dimes)

Scientists in the US led by Dr Jonas Salk develop an effective vaccine against polio

History as told by the people who were there

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

In 1955 scientists in the US led by Dr Jonas Salk announced they had developed an effective vaccine against polio. The poliomyelitis virus had caused paralysis and death particularly amongst children since time immemorial. Louise Hidalgo spoke to Dr Salk's son Peter, who was one of the first children to be vaccinated by his father, and to a nurse who worked on the polio vaccination programme.

PHOTO: Jonas Salk innoculating his son, Peter (Courtesy of March of Dimes)

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

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 Rebel Nuns Who Left Their Convent Behind2020022620200227 (WS)

A group of Californian nuns left their convent and set up their own independent community in 1970. They’d been inspired by the social change they saw around them in Los Angeles in the 1960s, and the Pope's promise to modernise the Catholic Church. They wanted to stop wearing their traditional habit and abandon their set prayer times, but their conservative cardinal refused to discuss change. So three hundred of the sisters left to set up their own lay community – the Immaculate Heart Community, which is still running today.

Former Sister Lucia Van Ruiten tells Witness History about the crisis they caused in the Catholic church.

(Photo: Nuns from the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary play guitars at the Mary's Day parade, 1964. Courtesy of the Immaculate Heart Community)

A group of Californian nuns left their convent and set up their own community in 1970

History as told by the people who were there

A group of Californian nuns left their convent and set up their own independent community in 1970. They’d been inspired by the social change they saw around them in Los Angeles in the 1960s, and the Pope's promise to modernise the Catholic Church. They wanted to stop wearing their traditional habit and abandon their set prayer times, but their conservative cardinal refused to discuss change. So three hundred of the sisters left to set up their own lay community – the Immaculate Heart Community, which is still running today.

Former Sister Lucia Van Ruiten tells Witness History about the crisis they caused in the Catholic church.

(Photo: Nuns from the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary play guitars at the Mary's Day parade, 1964. Courtesy of the Immaculate Heart Community)

A group of Californian nuns left their convent and set up their own community in 1970

History as told by the people who were there

A group of Californian nuns left their convent and set up their own independent community in 1970. They’d been inspired by the social change they saw around them in Los Angeles in the 1960s, and the Pope's promise to modernise the Catholic Church. They wanted to stop wearing their traditional habit and abandon their set prayer times, but their conservative cardinal refused to discuss change. So three hundred of the sisters left to set up their own lay community – the Immaculate Heart Community, which is still running today.

Former Sister Lucia Van Ruiten tells Witness History about the crisis they caused in the Catholic church.

(Photo: Nuns from the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary play guitars at the Mary's Day parade, 1964. Courtesy of the Immaculate Heart Community)

A group of Californian nuns left their convent and set up their own community in 1970

History as told by the people who were there

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 Release Of Nelson Mandela20200207

On 11th February 1990 anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela walked free after spending 27 years in a South African jail. It was a day that millions of black South Africans had been waiting for and marked the beginning of the end of white rule. Fellow activist Valli Moosa remembers that day, and the hasty preparations to make it possible and tells Louise Hidalgo how things almost didn't go to plan.

Picture: Nelson Mandela raises his fist in salute as he walks out of Victor Verster prison near Cape Town accompanied by his wife Winnie Mandela (Credit: Reuters/Ulli Michel)

The day that South Africa's anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela was freed

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 Romanian Revolution20191218

Of all the revolutions that swept across Eastern Europe 30 years ago in the winter of 1989, the over throw of Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena was the bloodiest. But few communist regimes had been as brutal as theirs, dominating every aspect of daily life. The uprising began in the western city of Timisoara, where a local pastor, László Tőkés, took a stand against the authorities and his loyal parishioners stood with him. László Tőkés tells Rebecca Kesby about the fall of the Ceaușescus and how the revolution started outside his own house.

(Photo: The army join the revolutionaries in Romania 1989. Credit: Getty Images)

In December 1989 a wave of protests finally deposed communist dictator Nicolae Ceau\u0219escu

History as told by the people who were there

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

The Rules: A Dating Handbook20200214

On Valentine's Day 1995, authors Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein published a dating handbook called The Rules: Time Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr Right. The book advised women that if they wanted to find a husband they should not approach a man first or pay for themselves on dates. Criticised in some quarters as anti-feminist, it soon became a bestseller, with celebrity fans from Beyonce to Meghan Markle. Lucy Burns speaks to Sherrie Schneider about creating a cultural phenomenon.

(Photo: Groom and bride exchanging wedding ring. Credit: Wavebreakmedia/iStock)

The best-selling dating handbook was published on Valentine's Day 1995

History as told by the people who were there

The Sars Epidemic20200312

In early 2003 a medical emergency swept across the world. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, was a deadly virus which had first struck in southern China but soon there were cases as far away as Canada. William Ho and Tom Buckley were at the forefront of the battle against the epidemic.

Photo: The SARS virus (Science Photo Library)

How the world battled a deadly respiratory disease in 2003.

History as told by the people who were there

In early 2003 a medical emergency swept across the world. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, was a deadly virus which had first struck in southern China but soon there were cases as far away as Canada. William Ho and Tom Buckley were at the forefront of the battle against the epidemic.

Photo: The SARS virus (Science Photo Library)

How the world battled a deadly respiratory disease in 2003.

History as told by the people who were there

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

In early 2003 a medical emergency swept across the world. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, was a deadly virus which had first struck in southern China but soon there were cases as far away as Canada. William Ho and Tom Buckley were at the forefront of the battle against the epidemic.

Photo: The SARS virus (Science Photo Library)

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

History as told by the people who were there

The Saudi Bombardment Of Yemen2020032520200326 (WS)

On the night of March 25 2015 Saudi Arabia and its allies launched an intense aerial bombardment of the Yemeni capital Sana'a. The attacks pushed one of the poorest countries in the Arab world to breaking point. Sumaya Bakhsh has been speaking to surgeon, Dr Ali al-Taifi, about his memories of that first night of bombing and the suffering that has carried on in Yemen ever since.

Photo: citizens of Sana'a searching through rubble for survivors on morning of March 26th 2015, after the Saudi bombing. Credit: Getty Images.

In March 2015 Saudi Arabia and its allies began an intense aerial bombardment of Yemen

History as told by the people who were there

On the night of March 25 2015 Saudi Arabia and its allies launched an intense aerial bombardment of the Yemeni capital Sana'a. The attacks pushed one of the poorest countries in the Arab world to breaking point. Sumaya Bakhsh has been speaking to surgeon, Dr Ali al-Taifi, about his memories of that first night of bombing and the suffering that has carried on in Yemen ever since.

Photo: citizens of Sana'a searching through rubble for survivors on morning of March 26th 2015, after the Saudi bombing. Credit: Getty Images.

In March 2015 Saudi Arabia and its allies began an intense aerial bombardment of Yemen

History as told by the people who were there

On the night of March 25 2015 Saudi Arabia and its allies launched an intense aerial bombardment of the Yemeni capital Sana'a. The attacks pushed one of the poorest countries in the Arab world to breaking point. Sumaya Bakhsh has been speaking to surgeon, Dr Ali al-Taifi, about his memories of that first night of bombing and the suffering that has carried on in Yemen ever since.

Photo: citizens of Sana'a searching through rubble for survivors on morning of March 26th 2015, after the Saudi bombing. Credit: Getty Images.

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

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 History Of Monopoly2019122520191226 (WS)

In 1904, a left-wing American feminist called Lizzy Magie patented a board game that evolved into what we now know as Monopoly. But 30 years later, when Monopoly was first marketed in the United States during the Great Depression, it was an out-of-work salesman from Pennsylvania who was credited with inventing it. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to American journalist Mary Pilon about the hidden history of one of the world's most popular board games, and to the economics professor Ralph Anspach who unearthed the story.

Picture: A family playing a game of Monopoly in the 1930s (Credit: SSPL/Getty Images)

The true story of one of the world's most popular board games, Monopoly.

History as told by the people who were there

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

Picture: A family playing a game of Monopoly in the 1930s (Credit: SSPL/Getty Images)

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 'spanish' Flu20200309

In 1918, more than fifty million people died in an outbreak of flu, which spread all over the world in the wake of the first World War. We hear eye-witness accounts of the worst pandemic of the twentieth century.

(Photo: An American policeman wearing a mask to protect himself from the outbreak of Spanish flu. Credit:Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

In 1918 an extremely deadly form of influenza killed millions around the world

History as told by the people who were there

In 1918, more than fifty million people died in an outbreak of flu, which spread all over the world in the wake of the first World War. We hear eye-witness accounts of the worst pandemic of the twentieth century.

(Photo: An American policeman wearing a mask to protect himself from the outbreak of Spanish flu. Credit:Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

In 1918 an extremely deadly form of influenza killed millions around the world

History as told by the people who were there

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

In 1918, more than fifty million people died in an outbreak of flu, which spread all over the world in the wake of the first World War. We hear eye-witness accounts of the worst pandemic of the twentieth century.

(Photo: An American policeman wearing a mask to protect himself from the outbreak of Spanish flu. Credit:Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

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

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 Story Of George Stinney Jr20200116

How a 14-year-old boy became the youngest person to be executed in the USA during the 20th century. George Stinney Jr was sent to the electric chair in 1944. He had been tried for the murder of two young girls, but when the case was reviewed by a court in South Carolina in 2014 his conviction was annulled. Ashley Byrne has been speaking to George Stinney Jr's sister Katherine Robinson, and to Matt Burgess who was one of the team of lawyers who fought to clear his name.

Photo: George Stinney Jr in 1944. Credit Alamy.

How a 14-year-old boy became the youngest person executed in the USA in the 20th century

History as told by the people who were there

The Swedish Warship Restored After 300 Years2020040220200403 (WS)

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 two 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)

A Swedish warship, Vasa, sank in the 17th century but was raised from the seabed in 1961

History as told by the people who were there

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 two 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)

A Swedish warship, Vasa, sank in the 17th century but was raised from the seabed in 1961

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 Treaty Of Rome20200131

The treaty which established the European Economic Community was signed by six countries in 1957 - France, West Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. It was hoped that European countries would never go to war again, if they were tied together by economic interests. The treaty formed the basis for what is now the European Union.

Photo: European leaders at the Palazzo dei Conservatori in Rome. Credit: Keystone/Getty Images

The document which formed the basis for what is now the European Union was signed in 1957

History as told by the people who were there

The Trembling Giant2020033120200401 (WS)

Scientists believe that the biggest living organism on Earth is a fungus. But the heaviest organism, and the most massive organism, is a tree, or rather a giant colony of quaking aspen tree stems which has been growing across a hillside in the west of America for thousands of years. The colony - called Pando - was first discovered in the late 1960s. But it wasn't until many years later that scientists proved it was one genetic entity. Two of the scientists involved in researching Pando's story have been speaking to Louise Hidalgo about what they found out.

Photo: Quaking aspen trees (Populus tremuloides) in autumn colours (Credit: Science Photo Library)

Could the biggest living organism on earth be a colony of quaking aspen trees?

History as told by the people who were there

Scientists believe that the biggest living organism on Earth is a fungus. But the heaviest organism, and the most massive organism, is a tree, or rather a giant colony of quaking aspen tree stems which has been growing across a hillside in the west of America for thousands of years. The colony - called Pando - was first discovered in the late 1960s. But it wasn't until many years later that scientists proved it was one genetic entity. Two of the scientists involved in researching Pando's story have been speaking to Louise Hidalgo about what they found out.

Photo: Quaking aspen trees (Populus tremuloides) in autumn colours (Credit: Science Photo Library)

Could the biggest living organism on earth be a colony of quaking aspen trees?

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 Way Ahead Group: Modernising The Royal Family20200127

Prince Harry and Meghan’s announcement that they will step back from their royal duties is not the first time the British royal family has tried to reform itself from within. In 1992 Queen Elizabeth had what she called her “annus horribilis”. It was the year that her sons Prince Charles and Prince Andrew both separated from their wives, while her daughter Princess Anne got divorced - and it was also the year that Windsor Castle caught fire. The Way Ahead group was set up by senior members of the royal family and some of their closest advisors to make sure that Britain’s monarchy stayed relevant in the modern age. Lucy Burns speaks to Charles Anson, who was the Queen’s press secretary at the time.

(Photo: Queen Elizabeth II makes her "annus horribilis" speech at London's Guildhall, November 1992. Credit: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

The Way Ahead group was set up in the 1990s to make Britain's monarchy more relevant

History as told by the people who were there

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

The 'woman In Gold'20191119

The 'Woman in Gold' was one of Gustav Klimt's most famous paintings. It was a portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, but it was taken from her family by the Nazis and only returned to them after a long legal battle. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to Randol Schoenberg the young lawyer who took on the case.

Picture: Adele Bloch-Bauer I, or 'The Woman in Gold', painted in 1907 by Gustav Klimt, from the collection of the Neue Galerie in New York. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

How one of Klimt's most famous paintings was returned to the family who'd owned it

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 Woman Who Negotiated Peace With A Rebel Group20200115

In January 2014 after decades of violent struggle, a peace deal was agreed in the Philippines between a Muslim separatist organisation and the government. The deal granted largely Muslim areas of the southern Mindanao region greater autonomy in exchange for an end to armed rebellion. Farhana Haider has been speaking to the government's chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer about the difficulties posed by being a woman negotiating with a Muslim rebel group.

(Photo: MILF peace panel chief Mohagher Iqbal hands over signed documents with Government of the Philippines Peace Panel Chief Negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer 27 March, 2014. Credit: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

The female negotiator who agreed a deal with Muslim rebels in the Philippines.

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

Vietnam War: Surviving The 'christmas Bombing' Campaign2019122720191228 (WS)

In December 1972 the US military launched its heaviest bombardment on the Vietnamese city of Hanoi. Around twenty thousand tonnes of explosives were dropped in just a few days. Ha Mi was just ten years old and living in the city with her family when the bombs began to fall. She told Rebecca Kesby what is was like.

(Photo: Ha Mi in the summer of 1972. Credit: Ha Mi's own collection)

In December 1972 the US military launched its heaviest bombardment of Hanoi.

History as told by the people who were there

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

(Photo: Ha Mi in the summer of 1972. Credit: Ha Mi's own collection)

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
Witnessing The Birth Of A New Language2020020520200206 (WS)

In the early 1980s deaf children in Nicaragua invented a completely new sign language of their own. It was a remarkable achievement, which allowed experts a unique insight into how human communication develops. Mike Lanchin has been speaking to American linguist Judy Shepard-Kegl, who documented this process and says "our belief is that you are born with a language-ready brain".

(Photo credit should read INTI OCON/AFP via Getty Images)

In the 1980s deaf children in Nicaragua invented a completely new sign language

History as told by the people who were there

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

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

Women And The Sabarimala Temple20191217

Priests reacted with horror when a South Indian actress, Jayamala, admitted she had inadvertently touched a statue of a god at the Sabarimala temple in Kerala - a Hindu holy site. The priests had purified the temple and said that women of childbearing age were banned from setting foot inside it. But a young lawyer, Bhakti Pasrija, decided to take on the religious authorities in the courts. She has been telling Iknoor Kaur what happened next.

PHOTO: Hindu devotees wait in queues inside the premises of the Sabarimala temple. Credit: REUTERS/Sivaram V

How Indian women fought for the right to be allowed into a Hindu holy site

History as told by the people who were there

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

Womenomics In Japan20200302

One of the toughest challenges facing Japan’s economy is that its population is ageing rapidly and its workforce is shrinking dramatically. But a Japanese investment analyst, Kathy Matsui, came up with a visionary idea to help her country, and she even invented a new word for it: Womenomics. The answer, according to her, was to tap into the talent of half the population. Kathy Matsui speaks to Alejandra Martins.

(Photo: Kathy Matsui. Courtesy of Goldman Sachs)

Japan faces a demographic time-bomb. Could the answer be Womenomics?

History as told by the people who were there

One of the toughest challenges facing Japan’s economy is that its population is ageing rapidly and its workforce is shrinking dramatically. But a Japanese investment analyst, Kathy Matsui, came up with a visionary idea to help her country, and she even invented a new word for it: Womenomics. The answer, according to her, was to tap into the talent of half the population. Kathy Matsui speaks to Alejandra Martins.

(Photo: Kathy Matsui. Courtesy of Goldman Sachs)

Japan faces a demographic time-bomb. Could the answer be Womenomics?

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