OUR PROGRAMMES

Pandemic 1918

As the coronavirus affects the whole world, leading virologist Professor John Oxford presents a three part series on the origin, spread and reaction to the Pandemic that devastated much of the planet just over 100 years ago. The so-called Spanish flu of 1918/19 is estimated to have killed more than 50 million of the 500 million people it infected, including 228,000 in the UK. It was the planet's biggest single natural human catastrophe - a flu pandemic that killed more people than both world wars put together in a fraction of the time. And yet this huge moment in history remains largely under the radar. Despite massive advances in health care and medical science, the parallels to today are stark. Professor John Oxford has warned of a similar kind of pandemic for years and has continually argued such a threat should be at the very heart of disaster planning for all governments. In three programmes, he charts the story of how the 1918/19 flu pandemic affected the UK and the world. Produced by Ashley Byrne and Iain Mackness. An MIM production for BBC Radio 4

Sporting Witness: Defying the Taliban

In December 2012, Maria Toorpakai Wazir reached the top 50 of women’s squash after an extraordinary struggle to become a professional player. Born in the tribal areas of Pakistan, Maria’s family disguised her as a boy until she was a teenager so she could try sport. After the Taliban discovered her true identity, Maria was threatened and she went into hiding until a Canadian former squash champion got her out of Pakistan. She talks to Ashley Byrne. An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: Maria Toorpakai Wazir (Getty Images)

Pandemic: The Story of the 1918 Flu

As the world battles the coronavirus pandemic, Professor John Oxford, one of the world’s leading virologists, examines how the last truly global pandemic affected every corner of the world. It’s estimated between 50 and 100 million people died in three outbreaks of the so-called ‘Spanish Flu’ which hit in 1918 and 1919. It remains the most devastating pandemic in modern history and to this day, scientists are still trying to pinpoint its origins. More people died than perished in World War One and Two combined. It even killed more than the bubonic plague, yet in many parts of the world it is virtually forgotten. But now the story of 1918/19 pandemic is more relevant than ever! We hear how otherwise healthy soldiers returning safely from war would be dead within three or four days, how whole families would be wiped out in a week and how the authorities in different parts of the world struggled to cope with looking after the sick and burying their dead on such a huge scale. The deadly flu was different but yet similar to the coronavirus in the way it affected the respiratory system. People would turn blue or purple and often succumb to pneumonia in a time before the discovery of antibiotics. Many nurses and doctors became part of the death toll. John looks through the archives and traces its emergence and spread through every continent. We hear real and dramatized testimony from people who lived through it in countries like South Africa, Britain, France, Germany, America and New Zealand. An MIM production for the BBC World Service

Photo: Nurses care for victims of an influenza epidemic outdoors in Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1918. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images 

Sporting Witness: The perfect bull-ride

In 1991, Wade Leslie stunned the world of professional rodeo by becoming the first – and only – cowboy to achieve a perfect score of 100 points for a bull-ride. Leslie stayed in full control of an angry 1500-pound bull called Wolfman at a meeting in Oregon. He talks to Jonathan Holloway.  An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: Wade Leslie (courtesy Wade Leslie)

The Tragic Life, and Death of Timothy Evans

25 year old Timothy Evans from Merthyr Tydfil was hanged in March 1950 after being falsely convicted of the murder of his daughter at their flat in Rillington Place in London's Notting Hill district. Three years after his execution, his downstairs neighbour John Christie was found to be a serial killer who had killed six women in the same house. Criminologist Harriet Pierpoint looks back at the life, trial and execution of Timothy Evans and its subsequent impact. The case generated much controversy and debate and along with that of Derek Bentley and Ruth Ellis, played a major role in the abolition of capital punishment in the United Kingdom for murder in 1965. The documentary includes the dramatic reconstruction of elements of the trial and hears from historians, crime writers and Harold Evans, the former Sunday Times editor who raised the Evans case and campaigned for his conviction to be overturned alongside broadcaster and human rights campaigner Ludovic Kennedy. This programme assesses the case's significance, its role in the abolition of the death penalty and Timothy Evans's place in history. The actors are Dyfan Rees (Timothy Evans), Rowe David McClelland (John Christie), Stephanie Turner (Ethel Christie), Christopher Strauli (Mr Justice Lewis), Andy Hill (Clerk of the court) and Jonathan Kydd (Malcolm Morris KC and Christmas Humphreys). An MIM Production for BBC Radio Wales.

From Ivor to Sam: The Art of Kids TV

Former Blue Peter presenter Tim Vincent who was born and grew up in North Wales takes a nostalgic look back at 60 years of children's TV - from shows set in Wales like Ivor the Engine to those made in Wales like Fireman Sam and Super Ted. Tim travels back six decades to remember the very first outing for the animation series Ivor the Engine, then in black and white, which was first broadcast on ITV in 1959. Programme creator Oliver Postgate's son Daniel tells us where the inspiration for Ivor first came from. The series was updated for 70s and 80s viewers and produced in colour on the BBC. And Daniel tells us how he's really keen to revive Ivor the Engine for 21st Century kids.  Growing up as a kid in the 70s, Tim couldn't escape the BBC's school holidays offering 'Why Don't You?'. The series which encouraged children to switch the TV off and do other things was loved and loathed by kids in equal measure. Cities around the UK would take it in turns to host the show and it provided early experimental turf for celebrated Welsh TV writer and the man who revived Dr Who, Russell T Davies. Russell and Tim worked on Granada TV show Children's Ward and are reunited for this programme which also looks at the birth of shows like Fireman Sam and Super Ted which sprang from the arrival of S4C in 1982. We hear how Sam became a runaway hit in both English and Welsh. Tim hears how HTV blazed a trail for kids TV and kept the BBC on its toes for many years while we recall other Welsh characters which emerged in shows not produced in Wales - like Fenela the witch and her 'headaches' in Cosgrove Hall's popular Chorlton and the Wheelies series. And the programme is on location at the Cloth Cat Studios in Cardiff as we look ahead to the future of children's TV production in Wales.
An MIM production for BBC Radio Wales.

Sporting Witness: Colin McRae - Rally Legend

In 1995, the Scottish driver Colin McRae became the youngest ever winner of the World Rally Championship after a dramatic victory in the last race of the season in North Wales. McRae’s no-holds-barred driving style later inspired a video game that brought rallying to a wider audience. He died in a helicopter crash in 2007. His brother, Alistair McRae, talks to Jonathan Holloway.  An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: Colin McRae (Getty Images)

The Day The Sea Came In

Three decades after devastating floods wreaked havoc in North Wales, journalist Tracy Cardwell returns to the epicentre to recall the events of February 26th 1990 with local people. Up to 6,000 residents were forced from their homes in Kinmel Bay and Towyn when the sea flooded the area in a catastrophic combination of high winds and high tides.n this programme Tracy, who worked as a young reporter for a local paper meets some of the people affected as well as a local photographer who captured images of the event close up. Nearly 3000 homes and businesses had to be evacuated and the disaster had a big impact on local people - affecting them economically as well as leaving lasting physical and mental scars. Photographer Bob Hewitt remembers rescuing an elderly woman in a canoe while Elwyn Edwards talks about being trapped in a caravan park for 9 hours when the floods first hit. In Abergele Tracy meets Darren Millar, AM for Clywd West who was a young boy at the time. He recalls being called out of school and the stress and anxiety the events caused his family and others over the long term. Tracy also meets Mike Peters, lead singer of The Alarm who helped to raise money for the victims of the flood and Dr Lynda Yorke, a Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography at Bangor University who discusses the likelihood of a repeat of the events of 1990. An MIM Production for BBC Radio Wales.

Witness History: The Pale Blue Dot

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. An MIM production for the BBC World Service.

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

The Likely Dads

Former Blue Peter presenter Tim Vincent hosts a new late-night frank and funny conversation programme with several fathers discussing what it's like to be a dad in 21st century Britain. In this pilot episode, comedians Russell Kane, Sean Hegarty and Mick Ferry, as well as voiceover artist and actor Jonathan Kydd, join Tim to talk about everything from sleep (or lack thereof), pregnancy and toilet training, to dealing with children in restaurants, being the only dad at playgroup and whether there's anything that dads do better than mums. An MIM production for BBC Radio 4

Sporting Witness: Nancy Greene - The 'Tiger' of Women's skiing

In February 1968, the Canadian skier Nancy Greene pulled off a flawless performance at the Winter Olympic Games, winning the Giant Slalom by a record-breaking margin of 2.6 seconds. Greene was nicknamed “Tiger” because of her attacking style, and the commanding victory made her one of the most popular Canadian sportswomen of all time. Nancy Greene talks to Freddy Chick.   An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: Nancy Greene is cheered by her Canadian team-mates in 1968. Credit: Getty Images

Witness History: The story of George Stinney Jr

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. An MIM production for the BBC World Service

Photo: George Stinney Jr in 1944. Credit Alamy

Sporting Witness: Togo Bus Attack

In January 2010, a guerrilla group in Angola opened fire on the buses carrying the Togo football team as they travelled to the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. The machine-gun fire lasted 30 minutes and killed two members of the Togolese delegation. Ashley Byrne talks to Kodjo Lanou Elitsa, the Togo team’s technical director about a day that changed football in Africa.   An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: Togolese soldiers carrying the coffin of a victim of the attack (AFP/Getty Images)

Sporting Witness: The Shot Heard Around The World

In November 1989, the USA qualified for the football World Cup for the first time in the modern era with a nail-biting 1-0 away win in Trinidad and Tobago. The winning goal was a 30-yard screamer scored by Paul Caligiuri, one of the few professionals in the American team. It is credited with boosting the popularity of the game in the US, and was nicknamed “The Shot Around the World”. Paul Caligiuri talks to Ashley Byrne.  An MIM production for the BBC World Service

PHOTO: The US team at the 1990 World Cup (Getty Images)

Giving Peace a Chance

Francine Jones was a young attaché at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal when John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their week-long bed in for peace there 50 years ago. She was one of dozens of young people who were inspired by the bed in protest and here she hears from several who joined John and Yoko for that week in spring 1969. She returns to the actual bedroom suite and reunites with others in the very room where the now famous peace anthem Give Peace a Chance was penned and first performed. The protest happened during the height of the Vietnam War and followed a replica event at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam two months earlier. We hear the voices of John and Yoko recalling their earliest musical memories in a lost and only recently re-discovered interview with young Radio Quebec reporter Gilles Gougeon who managed to record an extra-long discussion with the couple during the bed in. Francine hears from Andre Perry who explains how, as a young 20-something, he ended up recording Give Peace a Chance. Legendary British singer Petula Clark tells of her role in the recording too. Then 20 year old Allan Rock describes the surreal moment, having met John and Yoko at the bed in, he finds himself driving them around Canada's capital, Ottawa, singing Beatles’ songs and stopping off to pin a note on the door of flamboyant Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's official residence at 24 Sussex Drive. An MIM production for the BBC World Service

Photo: John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "bed-in for peace" protest, at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, 1969. Credit: Queen Elizabeth Hotel

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