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The Documentary Podcast

Author: BBC World Service

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Download the latest documentaries Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.
785 Episodes
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Who will shape the future of the hurricane-hit, tropical isle of Barbuda? In 2017, category-5 hurricane Irma devastated much of Barbuda’s ‘paradise’ landscape, and its infrastructure. The national government – based on the larger, neighbouring island of Antigua – evacuated the population of some 1800 people. But within days, although the people weren’t allowed to return, bulldozers were clearing ancient forest to build an international airport. Critics called this another case of, ‘disaster capitalism’ – governments and business taking advantage of catastrophe to make a profit. Barbuda has long been viewed as ripe for more tourism – Hollywood actor Robert De Niro is part of a commercial enterprise working on the opening of an exclusive resort. One of the obstacles to widespread development has been the island’s unique system of tenure – all land has been held in common since the emancipation of Barbuda’s slave population in the 19th century. But last year the government repealed the law guaranteeing those communal rights, partly to attract investment to the island. Meanwhile, although the hurricane season began on June 1st, families are still living in tents.(Image:The remains of a luxury resort on Barbuda reveal the power of hurricane Irma. Credit: BBC/Linda Pressly)
On 16 August 1819, troops charged the crowds in St Peter's Field - 18 people lost their lives and around 700 were injured. Within days, the press were referring to it as "The Peterloo Massacre" after the battle of Waterloo just four years earlier. The events shocked the nation and eventually led to widespread change. Katharine Viner meets descendants of those there that day, she looks at the background and build up, hears graphic accounts of the slaughter, death and injury and examines how the events would revolutionise what was meant by democracy.
Vaira Viķe-Freiberga became the first female president of Latvia in 1999, just eight months after returning to the country she left 54 years earlier. A dramatic childhood saw her leave Riga with her family in 1944, aged seven, after the Soviet invasion. After a spell in German refugee camps and some schooling in French Morocco, she and her family moved to Canada when she was 15. After returning to her homeland she became president a mere eight months later.
Genoa's Broken Bridge

Genoa's Broken Bridge

2019-08-0800:27:035

An icon of Italian design; a centrepiece of a community; a tragedy waiting to happen? When the Morandi bridge opened in 1967, it was one of the longest concrete bridges in the world, connecting the port of Genoa with the rest of Italy and Italy with northern Europe. Built during the post-war economic boom, it was the centrepiece of Italy’s plans to modernise its roads and was a proud symbol of the country’s engineering and architectural expertise. But all that came to a tragic end in August last year when a section of the bridge collapsed killing 43 people and leaving 600 people without a home. Helen Grady speaks to people whose lives have been touched by the bridge from the moment it was built to the moment it collapsed. And she asks how such a vital piece of infrastructure, carrying thousands of cars and lorries every day, could be allowed to fail. Producer Alice Gioia (Image: Flowers placed on railings near the collapsed Morandi Bridge in Genoa. Credit: BBC/Alice Gioia)
Black girls don't swim

Black girls don't swim

2019-08-0600:27:497

Seren Jones swam competitively for 13 years in the UK and in the US collegiate system. But in that time she only ever saw six other black girls in the pool. Why so few? A survey published by the University of Memphis and USA Swimming found that black respondents were significantly more concerned about getting their hair wet, and about the negative impact of chemicals on their appearances, than white respondents. Seren explores whether maintaining ‘good’ hair really is the leading factor behind why black women do not take part in competitive swimming.
America's Hospital Emergency

America's Hospital Emergency

2019-08-0100:27:453

A small town goes on life-support after its lone hospital closes. The story of Jamestown, Tennessee, recorded in the emotional hours and days after its 85-bed facility shut. Rural hospitals are closing across the United States, leaving patients dangerously exposed. Can Jamestown buck the trend and reopen? Produced and presented by Neal Razzell. Image: Montage – 1960s headline announcing hospital opening with sign announcing the 2019 closure of Jamestown Regional Medical Centre. Credit: BBC/Neal Razzell
The spy of Raspberry Falls

The spy of Raspberry Falls

2019-07-3000:27:5510

Kevin Mallory lived a double life - he helped people on his street with yard work, went to church and showed off his dogs. Yet at home he communicated with Chinese agents through social media and sold them US secrets. Tara McKelvey tells the story of how Mallory was recruited, deployed and eventually caught by the FBI. It is a very human story of a man who thought he had found an answer to his problems only to find himself trapped. We hear about simple mistakes he made which blew his cover. We hear from his neighbours how he disintegrated under the pressure, to the point of beating the dogs he loved.
When Africa meets China

When Africa meets China

2019-07-2800:51:579

Everyone knows how China is changing Africa but what is less well known is how Africa is changing China. Linda Yueh uncovers the growing number of African’s who are moving to work and live in China. She investigates problems some African’s are having obtaining Chinese visas, and instances of perceived racism. She also hears success stories of African businessman now employing local Chinese workers and reasons why Africans prefer China over western countries to make their life. But are the Chinese willing to accept living side by side with a new African community keen to explore opportunities in their homeland?
The Spy in Your Pocket

The Spy in Your Pocket

2019-07-2500:26:4216

Anti-obesity campaigners in Mexico, human rights advocates in London, and friends of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi all claim they’ve been targeted by surveillance software normally used by law enforcement to track drug-dealers and terrorists. Assignment reveals compelling evidence that software is being used to track the work of journalists, activists and lawyers around the world. Paul Kenyon investigates the multi-billion pound “lawful surveillance” industry. Sophisticated software can allow hackers to remotely install spyware on their targets’ phones. This gives them access to everything on the devices – including encrypted messages – and even allows them to control the microphone and camera. So what are the options for those who are targeted and is there any way to control the development and use of commercially available software? Presenter: Paul KenyonProducer: Joe Kent(Image: Electronic eye. Photo credit Valery Brozhinsky\Getty)
Monolingual societies

Monolingual societies

2019-07-2300:28:007

Simon Calder meets speakers of indigenous languages (like Welsh in Britain), of dialects (like Moselfrankish in Germany) and vernaculars (like African-American Vernacular English, in the US). These speakers all use the mainstream language every day, but code-switch to their variants, questioning whether their societies are monolingual. Is there even something sinister and oppressive to the idea of monolingualism?
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Comments (79)

Mmm Taylor

I'm looking for a swim cap. I had dreads for 12 years and died my hair. the color would bleed in the shower so I knew it would bleed in the pool. I never went but would love to be able to swim like a fish as a way to exercise.

Aug 8th
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RAXXIC

Still finding it hard to listen to documentary type audio without actually seeing visual

Aug 5th
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Michael Rhino

Great episode!!!! I wish he would do a Smackdown/Raw, AEW, recap every week. i'd pay to hear that.

Aug 1st
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Natalie

Michael Rhino 😃😃good idea

Aug 1st
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enrico alfarano

Why the “A History of Music and Technology “ episodes have been removed??

Jul 25th
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Denise Cornish

mk

Jul 21st
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Marcel Sbk

"To have another language is to possess another soul." Gosh, this quote talked to me so much. It's exactly what it feels like.

Jul 16th
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Francis Olajide

are there transcripts to the show?

Jul 4th
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Greg Barnett

enjoyable but the timeline stopped before Moog, Mellotron etc.. Tech and exponents hopefully covered in a later episode?

Jun 30th
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Greg Barnett

enjoyable. would have been good to have explained the relative pros/cons of the different media from wax to MP3 for making and listening

Jun 30th
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Elif

Is there an episode about Julian Assange that i missed? Media coverage about him and wikileaks is very limited. I am very concerned about that issue.

Jun 9th
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Mmm Taylor

I only knew of the sex trafficking happening in my province in Canada. wow

May 31st
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JR Fox

Mmm Taylor it is rampant here in the US... human trafficking's cost/benefit ratio has exceeded the trafficking of guns and drugs.... though often the three are intertwined. So, the money traffickers make exponentially exceeds the risk of punishment....and the legal system is (purposely perhaps) so unorganized and lax that jail time for offenders can be 4-8 years in selected cases (due to California prison overcrowding the sentence may be even shorter time or no time served). it is a rampant systemic problem the goes from the bottom of our societal structure all the way to the top.

Jun 4th
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afrlncy

Podcast should be named as "migrants world". or there are other topics?

May 29th
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Mudassir Shakoor

please make an update in castbox to show subtitle with audio it will help alot.

May 10th
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ram raghuwanshi

Typical propaganda by bbc

Apr 14th
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Katie Hone

Anything produced by the BBC I really like. such a great podcast.

Apr 14th
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Katie Hone

I love the "Where Are You Going" podcasts. everyone is interesting.

Apr 14th
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Riandhy

yeah

Apr 6th
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Teresa

interesting

Apr 3rd
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Francesca Wang

I would say the Assassination sits on top of the Pyramids comfortably.It is the best in a lot of ways. you can feel the proud voice of the author. Why not, after 10 years of secret investigations. I know in some ways the former PM was beatified, but in that part of the world which politicians is not corrupted.Wow

Apr 2nd
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Ugochukwu Amadi

it's insightful as it is educating yet it's incomplete without the views from the old Eastern block of Nigeria.

Mar 19th
Reply

Oluwole Ajewole

Ugochukwu Amadi Yeah, incomplete.

Jun 4th
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