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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.
1170 Episodes
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Saving the vaquita

Saving the vaquita

2021-05-1328:42

Jacques Cousteau called Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, ‘the aquarium of the world’. It is home to one of the most critically endangered species on earth. The vaquita is a small porpoise facing total extinction, whose numbers have dwindled to less than a dozen. In particular, the vaquita get caught in the nets used to catch totoaba. Casting nets for this large marine fish is illegal. But the totoaba’s swim bladder is believed to have potent medicinal properties in China, and sells for thousands of dollars in a trade controlled by Mexican organised crime. So efforts to save the vaquita have brought conflict to poor fishing communities in northern Baja California – people who often rely on an illicit income from totoaba. On New Year’s Eve, 2020 one fisherman was killed and another seriously injured in an altercation between local boats and an NGO ship patrolling to stop the sinking of illegal nets that kill the vaquita. Linda Pressly reports from the coast of Baja California on a dangerous clash of interests. Can the vaquita be saved? Producer: Michael Gallagher Producer in Mexico: Ulises Escamilla Haro (Image: Illustration of a vaquita in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Credit: Greenpeace/Marcelo Otero)
Forty years after the death of reggae singer Bob Marley, British writer and dub poet, Benjamin Zephaniah, remembers the day Jamaica came to a standstill for the singer’s funeral. Bob Marley was laid to rest on the 21 May 1981, 11 days after dying from skin cancer. The extraordinary day saw the island come together to mourn their most famous son – and to celebrate his life and work.. Among those remembering this extraordinary day – I3s singer Judy Mowatt, reggae musician Michael Ibo Cooper, reporter Robin Denselow and Edward Williams who was a 13-year-old boy living in Kingston at the time.
Our story

Our story

2021-05-0850:30

For the past seven years, Marlo has been making a podcast about life as a single mum raising her transgender daughter. In this programme Marlo reaches out to parents of transgender children and adults from around the world, who she has connected with through her podcast. From the mother of a Fa’afafine girl in Samoa, to a single mother who had to move her family from Italy to Spain to keep them safe from transphobia, to a father in India who supported his daughter who suffered from depression before she was able to transition.
The pandemic has caused millions of job losses during the past year. The travel industry is one area that has been badly affected as many countries closed their borders or restricted entry. As a result, thousands of pilots are no longer flying and are out of work. Host Nuala McGovern hears from two pilots in Canada and the UK about what it’s like to lose a job that’s part of your identity and what the future has in store. We also return to the emergency situation in India. Medical students and junior doctors are having to delay internships, training and graduations to treat Covid patients. They tell us about the emotional strain when they find themselves in a situation of “playing God” and having to decide whose lives to try and save.
More than 750 people have been killed by the Myanmar military since they seized power in a coup three months ago. Mass protests demanding a return to democracy and the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi have been met with brutal force. Borders are closed and the internet effectively blocked. This is a story the military does not want the world to hear. But people are bravely documenting their resistance. We follow three young activists now in a fight for their future. As their options close…Can they win back democracy? Produced and presented by Rebecca Henschke with Kelvin Brown Reporting team: Banyol Kong Janoi, Phyu Zin Poe and Zarchi (Image: Bhone at a pro-democracy demonstration in Myanmar. Credit: BBC)
Where is Jack Ma?

Where is Jack Ma?

2021-05-0427:368

On the eve of what would have been the world's largest share listing, Ant Financial founder Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire mysteriously disappeared. Things started to go wrong for Ma after he told a room full of banking regulators that their methods were out of date and not fit for purpose. Shortly afterwards, the Chinese government cancelled the listing and Jack went silent. So what has happened to Jack Ma? Journalist Celia Hatton, who spent 15 years living and reporting in China, investigates.
Our story

Our story

2021-05-0150:476

For the past seven years, Marlo has been making a podcast about life as a single mum raising her transgender daughter. In the first programme, Marlo explains why she put her daughter’s story out for the world to hear. She says she felt compelled to tell their story, and to show people that ‘we exist’.
Coronavirus: India

Coronavirus: India

2021-05-0124:21

A second coronavirus wave is ravaging many parts of India and the health services continue to struggle. Two doctors in Delhi and Mumbai share their experiences of working under increasingly difficult circumstances. They tell us about the hurt they are feeling as they try to do their jobs and save lives. And three BBC journalists in India reveal what it’s like to report on the ground in Ahmedabad, Delhi and Mumbai as their family and friends are infected by Covid-19.
The Battle of Palma

The Battle of Palma

2021-04-2926:494

At the end of March, hundreds of militants linked to the Islamic State group overran a small, but strategic coastal town in northern Mozambique. The bloody surprise attack on Palma marked a significant escalation in a shadowy conflict that began in 2017 and has already driven hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans from their homes. Some of the heaviest fighting in Palma centred on a hotel where many foreign workers spent days under siege, before attempting a daring escape. Helicopters and boats were also used to try to rescue those trapped by the militants. For Assignment, Andrew Harding tells the story of Palma’s days of terror. Produced by Becky Lipscombe (Image: Mozambican soldiers on a motorbike in the streets of Palma, April 2021. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency/Joao Relvas)
Alan Dein follows Rohan, a young Jamaican farmer over the past 12 months as he is faced by the twin challenges of drought and the pandemic.
Dance Divas: 1988-1998

Dance Divas: 1988-1998

2021-04-2450:134

Sampling technology created new opportunities for producers but raised questions of authenticity and authorship in the industry. Some of the biggest dance music hits of the early '90s used uncredited vocals belonging to Loleatta Holloway, Jocelyn Brown and Martha Wash. After the Paradise Garage closed, New Jersey’s Zanzibar club became the breaking ground for dance music in the New York area. Abbie Adams had a record store around the corner which became Movin’ Records, introducing the world to the ‘Jersey Sound’. We also meet legendary talent scout Gladys Pizarro who co-founded Strictly Rhythm.
Coronavirus: Sudan

Coronavirus: Sudan

2021-04-2424:311

Sudan has recorded only 32,000 cases of coronavirus infections and just 2,300 Covid-19 related deaths so far. It is also rolling out vaccines. But the numbers are thought to be much higher and host Nuala McGovern hears from three women living in the capital, Khartoum, about how their experiences of family and friends dying differs greatly from the official Covid-19 figures. We also return to intensive care units in the UK, US and South Africa to hear from the specialist doctors who are responsible for patients on ventilators and pain management.
Prince belong Vanuatu

Prince belong Vanuatu

2021-04-2328:04

Villagers believe Prince Philip is returning to his ancestral home on their Pacific island. In a handful of villages on the island of Tanna, in Vanuatu, he has been revered as an ancestral spirit and son of their mountain god, and they have been waiting for him to return to them, either in person during his lifetime or in spirit form after his death. It is thought the religious movement started after the 1974 royal tour of the Pacific, during which the Queen and Prince Philip visited Vanuatu, then known as the New Hebrides.
Since the pandemic struck, millions around the world have endured lockdowns, with many finding it hard to tolerate long periods indoors. But what if lockdown meant years on end spent entirely alone, in a single room, sometimes no bigger than a large elevator? In many US states, jails and prisons routinely use solitary confinement to enforce discipline and indeed, sometimes to quarantine inmates for health reasons. Officials say it’s essential to ensure safety behind bars. Prisoners can be segregated for serious and violent offences, but also for infringing minor rules. And some have spent decades in isolation, despite the United Nations defining a stretch of more than fifteen days as torture. As one of the most prominent states, New York, now moves to accept the UN limit and reform the use of segregation, Hilary Andersson meets inmates and prison staff to understand what this draconian punishment is like, and what its psychological effects can be upon those affected, who include children as young as thirteen. Produced for radio by Michael Gallagher If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this programme, you can contact help at Befrienders International: www.befrienders.org (Image: A juvenile inmate in a cell seen through the door hatch. Credit: Richard Ross)
Alan Dein hears how the pandemic year has affected the life of 19-year-old student Mursalina in Kabul, Afghanistan. She has been studying at home online, but has become increasingly aware of the impact of Covid-19 on the city's poorest people who come knocking on her door for food donations. She also fears for the health of her father who works in a hospital. At the same time, she is keen to keep her young people's group active, promoting education and independence for women in her community.
Dance divas: 1978-1988

Dance divas: 1978-1988

2021-04-1750:193

We meet Yvonne Turner, Rebecca Mackenzie, Carol Cooper, Gail Sky King and Sharon White who were all Paradise Garage regulars from its opening in the late 70s. We follow their first steps in the music business, after the death of disco. But in a cut-throat music industry, many women, including Martha, had to fight to get proper credit for their work and recognition for their achievements is long overdue. Now in their 60s, we follow their remarkable stories over several decades, as underground dance music evolved from disco into house, striving for success in an environment which was often hostile to women.
The pandemic has caused many people to feel lonely and isolated. For three women, the isolation is as a result of travelling and having to quarantine in hotels on arrival - Michelle in Australia, Amanda in Indonesia and Charlotte in New Zealand. They tell host Nuala McGovern how they are passing the time and share recommendations. It’s not just people living alone who can feel isolated, of course, and three single parents from the Philippines, the United States and the UK share their experiences - both the highs and lows - of living with their children 24/7. For theatre artist Floyd in Manila, it has resulted in singing regularly with his ten year old son.
Over his seven decades of service to Queen Elizabeth the Second, to the United Kingdom, her 15 other realms, and to the Commonwealth, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, met many millions of people. They all have stories to tell about those meetings and in this special programme Winifred Robinson hears some of them. The stories reflect on the Prince’s many passions, the charities he was involved with, his commitment to individuals and causes and also his support for the Queen and the Commonwealth. We also hear about his sharp wit and sense of humour.
Soldiers returning from the line of duty with injuries affecting sexual performance are universal to all militaries around the world, but Israeli psychologist Dr Ronit Aloni set about making hers the only nation that offers a unique therapeutic approach to restoring the sexuality of their troops as a matter of course: surrogate partner therapy (SPT), or sexual surrogacy. After studying the niche treatment in the US in the early nineties, Dr Aloni conducted studies, lobbied the government and met with religious leaders in order to make this therapy, considered fringe and often taboo in other nations, available to those who need it via Ministry of Defense funding. But why is Israel alone in this? The therapy is best described as traditional psychotherapy combined with intimate sexual therapy with a surrogate lover, in every form that can mean, and it was Dr Aloni’s dogged belief in its life-changing benefits for her clients that caused her to pursue provision for the troops. For Assignment, Yolande Knell tells the story of that policy through Dr Aloni’s work and her Tel Aviv clinic, the work of surrogate partner Seraphina, and two military veterans who have accessed the service: one of the first to be offered it on the Defense Ministry’s time in the late nineties, and one a conscripted young man paralysed by his injuries who after years of begging for death, says the therapy “restored his humanity.” Producer: Philip Marzouk Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Hand being held in a gesture of comfort. Credit: PeopleImages via Getty)
Alan Dein follows 25-year-old entrepreneur Fahad in Dhaka, Bangladesh who has to deal with the pressures of running multiple businesses during the pandemic – and has over 200 employees depending on him for their livelihoods.
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Comments (178)

Ingrid Linbohm

children suffer from mental illness and adults abuse them with ideas of gender dysphoria. A three year needs to be protected not destroyed by their mad parents who want to destroy them with transgender nonsence.

May 11th
Reply

abiola shadrack

tell me when next you got a real podcast and not this. cheers.

May 3rd
Reply

Doha Hashish

double standards when it comes to Muslims. You should also say that as these terrorists trying to spread Islam by force, Islam is calling for peace and security for all people regardless of race and religion. Those group doesn't present the real Islam and you should say that. Under the realm of Islam in the past Christians, Jews, even Idols worshipers were living in total peace and enjoyed all rights stated in the Quran. Prophet Mohamed PBUH was treating Christians and Jews fairly as Muslims. We have a verse in the holy Quran says "لا إكراه في الدين" i.e. Muslims are NOT allowed to fight any one because they refuse to follow Islam. Those who got battles of the prophet wrong, didn't understand the reasons behind them, and don't understand Quran are the ones we see distorting Islam by going exactly against its teachings. BTW, why do I see BBC reports about Muslim terrorist and don't see Muslim victims!!? Don't you see Muslims in Palestinian and Myanmar?! You just throw my day off! Thank you for the injustice you do!!!!!!!!

May 3rd
Reply

失魂魚🐟

such a beautiful story! And every informative as well! Two 👍👍up!

May 2nd
Reply

Doha Hashish

i just can't believe that sb thinks that sb's else is the source of life! how come! and if the ancestors can do any good, the wouldn't have allowed themselves to die at the first place! it is just nonsense

Apr 26th
Reply

HeyMissK_T ZM

This is so so sad. Why would police feel threatened from someone holding a small pipe. A pipe versus a gun. I mean really?! It’s like their training brainwashes them and they fail to see people as human.

Apr 19th
Reply

Alexa Nebula

Wow, what a compassionate jail guard. She is one in a million. There are not enough like her. I'm not even sure that you could find another line her.

Apr 12th
Reply

Alexa Nebula

"rings around there neck? Maybe, it's all subject to interpretation"..... Haha what the fuck.

Apr 5th
Reply

Edgar

really someone think that Coronavirus was controlable with few cases? Seems unlikely, ofc they could do a better job and slow down cases but I don't think that this virus had some degree of possibility of control.

Mar 25th
Reply

Hammad Ali

loved this...

Jan 3rd
Reply

Yeelun Lai

I haven't checked his background but this Antonio guy sounds like a trump's guy.. spin and spin, read from google search result, make vague description, but no concrete actionable answer

Dec 3rd
Reply (1)

lizzyb

he has evidence of it. he's going to court. that was pretty ignorant to say that he is talking about voter fraud and there is no evidence. That comes out in court. You know, where evidence really matters.

Nov 18th
Reply (4)

Jack Clark

these racist bastards have only been talking race for 10 months this and all of the NPR podcasts have lost their minds . there is more to life than race and politics. we need to keep a careful eye on these types as they won't ever talk about class and how money divides us all. which is the way more real than the vanity of race

Nov 16th
Reply

Alex K.

The guy from Staten Island is really annoyed about the economy closed down. Yes we are all frustrated about this, but there are only 3 things that matter in regard to how badly your economy will be hit, and that is: 1, the level of virus, and 2, the level of virus, and 3, the level of virus. The longer you leave the virus to run uncontained the worst will be the long term effect on your economy. and of course the more people that will die. the United States has roughly 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's deaths and that says it all in regard to the inadequate response of the United States to this virus.

Oct 30th
Reply

Iain Frame

so leukaemia is racist now as well

Oct 20th
Reply

Ahsan Habib

I was listening this podcast on my way back to home from office. Corona cases are rising sharply in Norway and I'd put a mask. I couldn't help shedding tears in the underground Train in front of all people listening to this remarkable story. Thank you...

Oct 15th
Reply

Istvan Veszi

T55t"t5Tt""5 Z" 5""

Oct 13th
Reply

Alex K.

The Trump supporter, Kirsten from Idaho, home schools her kids. Says it all, really. I consider that to be a form of child abuse. Kids need to mix with other kids.

Oct 8th
Reply

Alisha

Judging from this conversations, the US is doomed.

Oct 5th
Reply

trick lee

the first 3 people were pretty ignorant to covid-19 health and politics

Oct 5th
Reply
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