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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.
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In February this year, a Chechen blogger in hiding in Sweden was viciously assaulted by a man with a hammer as he slept. In the fight that followed, Tumso Abdurakhmanov managed to grab the hammer and defend himself, and filmed the aftermath of the attack and his interrogation of his assailant. Tumso was the third Chechen to be attacked in Europe in just a few months; he was the only one to survive. All three men were critics and opponents of the pro-Moscow regime in Chechnya, an area in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus mountains where the authorities are accused of serious human rights abuses and violations. For Assignment, Nick Sturdee investigates who may have sent Tumso’s attacker, and explores the blogger’s relations with the Chechen government and leader Ramzan Kadyrov. What are the parallels with another recent attack, in Berlin, where former Chechen fighter Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was shot dead? A case where the Bellingcat investigative team has identified the killer and revealed his close connections to the Russian Security Services, the FSB. Produced and presented by Nick Sturdee (Image: Tumso Abdurakhmanov takes a selfie in Stockholm. Credit: Tumso Abdurakhmanov)
Abortion under lockdown

Abortion under lockdown

2020-06-0227:401

Abortion clinics in Texas were forced to close their doors during the coronavirus lockdown. For several weeks, women wanting abortions could not get them. So what happened, and how did medical staff help? And, with a major Supreme Court decision on access to abortion due this summer, Philippa Thomas hears from the activists concerned that this period, with abortion unavailable for thousands of Texan women, could be a harbinger of the future.
The Covid generation

The Covid generation

2020-05-3150:461

Tens of millions of young people are leaving school and university only to find themselves job hunting in what could be one of the worst recessions in living memory. With widespread recruitment freezes and redundancies, what hope is there of the class of 2020 finding employment? Ruth Alexander speaks to young people from all over the world about their struggle to find work,
What is the pandemic like for people with autism? We hear from three parents in Chile, Spain and India who discuss the impact lockdown has had on their children with autism. They explain how their children seem happier away from the social environment of school, but that they are also concerned about the impact on their social skills. Plus, three American editors who work on newspaper pages writing obituaries of people who have died with coronavirus.
The orgasm gap

The orgasm gap

2020-05-3051:097

What did you learn about sexual pleasure when you were growing up? Chances are, you didn't learn much in school. And if the latest research is anything to go by, we still have a lot to learn now. According to a US based study, 90% of heterosexual men said they climaxed during sex, while only 60% of heterosexual women said the same. In the UK, when the new sex education guidelines are introduced in September 2020, pleasure will remain off the agenda. In this programme, we talk to people in the UK and Rwanda to explore how society and culture influence how we experience pleasure. We look at what we were, or weren't, taught about sex at school and meet a man who is finding ways to close the gender pleasure gap outside of the classroom. In Rwanda we find out about a cultural practice that allegedly puts female pleasure first, but is also linked to a controversial form of female genital modification. The World Health Organisation does not explicitly mention labial elongation as a form of female genital mutilation. It periodically reviews the typology and classification of certain practices and the next review is envisioned for 2020-2021. In this documentary, we look at competing attitudes when it comes to female sexual pleasure and explore the collision zone between individual rights and preserving cultural practices.
The Miracle of Istanbul

The Miracle of Istanbul

2020-05-3052:102

The 2020 Champions League final was due to be held at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium on Saturday 30 May, exactly 15 years after the most extraordinary night in the competition's history, when Liverpool completed “The Miracle of Istanbul”. AC Milan had a star-studded line up and were overwhelming favourites, especially after they raced into a 3-0 lead. However Liverpool launched the most amazing second-half comeback that culminated in winning the trophy in a penalty shootout. To mark that anniversary, we take you back to that iconic night with those who were there - including penalty-saving hero, Jerzy Dudek.
Alan Dein connects with people who are experiencing sleepless nights during the coronavirus pandemic. Salina is a Nepalese student stranded in Bangkok after the borders were closed. With no income, she’s kept awake in her stifling, windowless room as her money runs out. Meanwhile, Keenya is a hairdresser in Detroit, anxious about feeding her seven children as Covid-19 spreads through her community. And Mursalina in Afghanistan worries about increasing poverty on the streets of Kabul in the midst of the pandemic.
Belarus’s all-powerful President has focused global attention on his country by ostentatiously downplaying the coronavirus pandemic. Alexander Lukashenko has allowed shops, markets and restaurants and football stadiums to remain open and is encouraging people to go out to work. In early May he laid on a grand military spectacle celebrating victory in WW2, in defiance of social distancing advice. He told Belarussians they could stay healthy by drinking vodka and driving tractors in the fields and dismissed concerns over the virus as “psychosis.” But medics and bereaved families say otherwise. And with a doubling of infections every two or three days, there is not much to laugh about in Belarus. Medical staff have allegedly been sacked and even detained for speaking out about poor conditions in hospitals and the inaccurate death certificates. Assignment explores what lies behind President Lukashenko’s position. We hear from community activists, war veterans, tech-wizards and many other diverse people in Belarus. Lucy Ash pieces it all together with reporting by Ilya Kuziatsou. Produced by Monica Whitlock (Image: Jana Shostak’s Angry Mask. Human Constanta, a Belarusian human rights organisation, asked eight artists to design facemasks focusing on the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Jakub Jasiukiewicz)
The Death Row book club

The Death Row book club

2020-05-2627:516

When Anthony Ray Hinton was sentenced to death for a double murder, he used his time behind bars to create a book club for his fellow death row inmates. It was to get him through 28 years of solitary confinement. Now a free man after the State of Alabama dropped all charges against him, he takes listeners back to the echoing corridors of death row and introduces them to his book club.
Giving birth is an emotional experience, but what about during this pandemic? And then there is bringing a baby into a world of lockdowns and restrictions. We hear from new mums in New York, Dublin and London. What is it like to be in prison and pregnant?
Leena Vuotovesi, the leader of environmental work in Europe’s greenest town, Ii in Finland, travels to Chile and Spain to compare recycling practices. First she visits La Pintana - Chile’s unlikely climate champion: an impoverished neighbourhood plagued by crime and violence that recycles more than any other town in Chile. Leena then goes to a pristine part of southern Spain - a country where municipal recycling rates lag way behind EU targets. She speaks to children, teachers and waste management experts to find out why Spanish people don’t appear to care about recycling and to see what could be done to reduce environmental and economic damage.
In Mumbai, Chinu has been has been providing food to the city’s migrant and daily labourers who have been unable to work since the country’s lockdown. Getting up at 4.30am each day, he has served over 415,000 hot meals so far. In Nigeria, optometry student Ismail has been sleeping in a mosque since his college closed its doors three and a half months ago, but is holding on to his dreams of working for the WHO or UN. And deep in the Amazon rainforest, Tatiana, a state politician and academic forecasts trouble ahead.
The story of how chef Marcus Samuelsson made Harlem his home is nothing short of remarkable. He was born in a tiny village in Ethiopia, too small to even appear on maps. Aged two, he contracted TB. His mum carried him for 75 miles to the capital for treatment. She died, but he survived and was adopted by a Swedish family who taught him a love of cooking. Marcus is now a leading light of New York cuisine running an international restaurant chain but with his heart firmly grounded in the stories of Harlem. Jaylene Clark Owens is a spoken word artist, actor and born and bred Harlemite. She’s woven the story of her changing neighbourhood into a play - Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale. Cultural historian John T Reddick gives us a personal tour of his neighbourhood. And Martina da Silva and John Thomas share their musical tribute to Harlem.
People crossing the Central Mediterranean in rubber boats are always putting their lives in danger. Now a bleak situation is made worse by Covid 19 as ports in Malta and Italy are closed to migrants and coastguards are reluctant to mount rescue operations. Over the Easter weekend several boats set out from the Libyan coast. Some made it to Sicily themselves. Two others drifted for days. The engines were broken and the people, including children and babies, ran out of food and water. Twelve people died. Dozens of others were picked up and taken back to Libya where they now languish in hellish detention centres. Others made it to Europe. This is the story of that weekend, told through recordings of distress calls from the boats and the testimony of a network of activists as they monitored the desperate situation. Producer and presenter: Lucy Proctor (Image: Migrants in a dinghy at sea. Credit: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)
Migrant medics

Migrant medics

2020-05-2027:56

More than 17,000 people have died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus. Among them are frontline medical staff. Dr Adil El Tayar, a British-Sudanese doctor, became the first working medic to die of coronavirus in the UK. His story is illustrative of the many international medics who even now are battling Covid-19. A vast number of doctors, nurses and others have come to Britain and other Western countries after training in the developing world. Naturally, they want to improve their standards of living and work in more sophisticated medical systems. But is it fair for the rich world to benefit by effectively cherry-picking the brightest and best from poorer countries?
Lina Mounzer in Lebanon speaks about the protests which have seen people take to the streets despite lockdown. John McRae shares some good news from Australia and Matthew Krupczak from Atlanta, Georgia, tells us why he is worried that the easing of restrictions in his neighbourhood could mean the sacrifices so far could be for nothing. And Rajesh Kumar Shaw gives us his insights from The Sundarbans in India, where the return of migrant labourers could mean the spread of Covid -19 in an area with only basic medical help.
On Monday 5 August last year the Chicago Sun Times newspaper carried this headline: “Seven deaths, 46 wounded in Chicago Weekend Shootings.” It was referring to the casualty list after one summer weekend in Chicago. This programme reconstructs those three days. Narrated by Clarke Peters (The Wire’s Detective Lester Freamon), and with a specially composed music and sound design, this immersive documentary uses the words of the city newspaper updates on the violence, alongside eyewitness accounts and the sad personal stories of relatives and friends who lost loved ones.
We speak to comedian Sarah Cooper in New York - her President Trump lip-syncs have gone viral on TikTok. Also, Waylene Beukes in Namibia and Anna Piper Scott in Melbourne, who was about to start a full-time comedy career as the pandemic hit. We also hear about the impact of lockdown restrictions for those living alone. Three people: in Manitoba, Canada; Perth, Australia; and New Orleans in the United States come together and tell us how they are miss human touch.
How does the financial help on offer where you are compare to other parts of the world? Listeners share their stories and get expert advice on how to survive the financial fallout from Covid-19: The partners separated by lockdown, the divorcing couple forced into quarantine together and marital tips from a lawyer in India. Plus how to adapt your business during the pandemic and where to turn if you can’t afford to pay your bills.
Alan Dein connects with people who are anxious about their family business during the coronavirus pandemic. Maria Ester in Ecuador is worried about her family’s heavy machinery business while trying to keep her 81-year-old mother safe in one of the Latin America’s worst affected cities. And young farmer Rohan in Jamaica recalls his late father’s wisdom as he tries to keep the family farm running in the midst of a drought and Covid-19. Meanwhile, Sami in Iraq misses his beloved bookshop which has had to close its doors because of lockdown. Plus, Alan speaks to a woman working in one place on earth which is free from the virus - Antarctica.
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Comments (141)

Rod SS

Really interesting and thought provoking. This would add an extra dimension to any study of the secret war in Laos.

May 27th
Reply

Yasmine C

I would kill for a haircut! But please don't breathe on me. It's nothing personal.

May 13th
Reply

DD

medical personnel are ones to be thankful for yes, they are battling to keep people alive. also remember to give thanks to the IT workers who have to keep networks running 24/7 so information can be sent to doctors, people can work from home, business can still run, children can still learn, the list is endless. we couldn't do it with out those women and men working behind the scenes to make the world go around.

May 4th
Reply

Sya Oberhausen

International Relations Neo colonial Propaganda And lots of innocent blood

Apr 24th
Reply

Andy Lau

A typical western propaganda.

Apr 24th
Reply

Thehubangie

donde esta part one🙄?

Apr 11th
Reply

John Great

Great program, but too much focus on 116 and their rappers. No mention of NF, Flame, Da Truth, Dream Junkies, etc. Yes, I agree 116 might be the biggest right now, but there are other Christian rappers out there. I know you can't cover everything, but most of the rappers here are from 116. Awesome job though. I seriously enjoyed it! And I absolutely love your music Guvna B. Blessings.

Apr 8th
Reply

sara ~

The interviewer is so culturally biased against the democratic movement, she should have excused herself from this interview segment. She is completely unable to report and interview opposing opinions and experiences. She did not investigate or pull together the plethora of hard evidence of police brutality, disappearances, and the breaking of established hong kong/china/UK law which is still (while conflicting and confusing) still very legal. This is disappointing and I hope the BBC and her producer for this segment are called to answer for her unprofessionalism. Absolutely infuriating.

Apr 8th
Reply

Vic Poone

As an onlooker, what I'm hard to be convinced is that how come there are no parents or family members of those so called killed or disappeared by the police come forward to report their loved ones missing. Why does the so called woman blinded by the police refuse to make public her medical report? Her identity is never disclosed. All about her we can hear is from people who claim to be her sister, her cousin, her relative. She rufuses police's investigation. Someone read out a letter for her that she reserved right to sue the police who tried to obtain her medical report. Very strange. Even you want to claim insurance, you need to provide medical report!

Mar 15th
Reply

Maurice Sawyers

Too bad, youll never have what you had

Mar 10th
Reply

Maurice Sawyers

nonsense

Mar 10th
Reply

K Muzaffar

awesome

Mar 10th
Reply

D Neufeld

wow very interesting, as an old guy who believes i am so encouraged to hear of Godly hip hop alternatives! may God bless you as you continue to make him known. peace brother.

Mar 6th
Reply

Yasmine C

How do you say "snitches get stitches" in Italian?

Mar 5th
Reply

A A

Interesting to see people deep rooted racial issues. However I don't understand why people from outside Africa, live in Africa have such views especially none white.

Feb 13th
Reply

Andreja Gradisar

I am sorry for what happened to the author, but sadly the episode is made kind of "panic attack oriented".

Feb 9th
Reply (3)

#Royalebleu

#Recommendation

Jan 26th
Reply

Vernon Shoemaker

Why is the Ottoman so sick?

Jan 25th
Reply

Nalinda Punchihewa

This sounds very biased and focus on the one side victims. it significantly lacks a great balance analysis of both sides to understand the underlying real issues and develop intelligence for the audience.

Jan 21st
Reply

Tousif Azmain

Aung San Suu Kyi is a prime example of how stupidly bias Nobel Peace Prize is. She has maintained silence on the Rohiynga crisis and yet portraited as a key leader(!) in Mayanmar. She is nothing but a puppet of a shitshow.

Jan 20th
Reply
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