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The BBC Collection - History

'If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree.' -- Michael Crichton. Discover the rich history of a multitude of subjects.



  • European Volunteer Workers
    by Mark Whitaker
    Narrated by Mark Whitaker
    0.00 (0 ratings)
    Between 1947 and 1949 the British government, desperately short of workers in the 'essential' industries of agriculture, coal mining and textiles, turned to the millions of East Europeans living in Displaced Persons camps in Germany.
  • Lucy Kellaway's History of Office Life
    by Somethin' Else
    Narrated by Lucy Kellaway
    4.50 (2 ratings)
    In today's Britain, more and more people spend longer at an office than ever before. It dominates lives. It's made more people middle class, transformed the lot of women, raised standards in education and been the reason for many technological advances. But the office itself seems to have no history and people accept without question the way they work now. They endure the charade of the annual appraisal, gawp at endless PowerPoint presentations in interminable meetings and work in open plan offices where colleagues' phone calls to their plumber can be heard.
  • Occupation
    by Mark Whitaker
    Narrated by Mark Whitaker
    0.00 (0 ratings)
    An examination of the Bush Administration's claim that the post-WW2 occupations of Japan and Germany are a good historical analogy for the occupation of Iraq today.
  • Squatters' Paradise
    by Mark Whitaker
    Narrated by Mark Whitaker
    0.00 (0 ratings)
    Lack of housing was perhaps the most urgent social problem facing post-war Britain. In the summer of 1946 tens of thousands of people took the situation - and the law - into their own hands, squatting first military camps and then luxury flats and hotels in London.
  • The London Nobody Knows
    by Dan Cruickshank, Geoffrey Fletcher
    Narrated by Dan Cruickshank
    3.30 (3 ratings)
    Geoffrey Fletcher's London was not the big landmarks, but rather 'the tawdry, extravagant and eccentric'. He wrote about parts of the city no-one ever had before. This could be an art nouveau pub, a Victorian music hall, a Hawksmoor church or even a public toilet in Holborn in which the attendant kept goldfish in the cisterns. He was drawn to the corners of the city where 'the kids swarm like ants and there are dogs everywhere'.
  • The People's Post
    by Dominic Sandbrook
    Narrated by AudioGO Ltd
    3.70 (3 ratings)
    A 15-part BBC Radio 4 series exploring the origins of the Post Office, how it became a cherished national institution, and how it adapted to globalisation and commercialisation. It’s called Royal Mail but it should be known as the People s Post. Launched in 1516 by Henry VIII, it was intended to support royal communications and bolster intelligence.
  • 6 Minute English: British Life
    by BBC Learning English
    Narrated by BBC Learning English
    3.00 (1 ratings)
    Learn and improve your English with the BBC. Collected here for the first time are 12 episodes from BBC Learning English's popular 6 Minute English series. Aimed at intermediate level learners of English, each programme examines a different topic which is discussed and explained to help learners increase their knowledge of the English language.
  • 6 Minute English: Science and Technology
    by BBC Learning English
    Narrated by BBC Learning English
    0.00 (0 ratings)
    Learn and improve your English with the BBC. Collected here for the first time are 12 episodes from BBC Learning English's popular 6 Minute English series. Aimed at intermediate level learners of English, each programme examines a different topic which is discussed and explained to help learners increase their knowledge of the English language. Over the course of 70 minutes our helpful guides will steer you through the language used and provide you with a better understanding of the vocabulary of Science and Technology. Topics discussed include Social Network Scams, E-Wars, Citizen Journalism, Movie Science and Mobile Phones. Produced by BBC Learning English.
  • John Mortimer Presents 'The Trials of Marshall Hall' (Unabridged)
    by Michael Butt
    Narrated by Michael Butt
    4.60 (22 ratings)
    Edward Marshall-Hall, who was born in Brighton in 1858, became perhaps the country's most successful advocate of all time, building his reputation on a phenomenal talent for acquitting defendants in murder trials where a guilty verdict had seemed a foregone conclusion. Given that murder during this period carried a sentence of execution by hanging, he can be said to have saved a considerable number of souls, male and female, from the horrors of the noose.
  • The Invention of Childhood
    by Hugh Cunningham
    Narrated by Michael Morpurgo
    4.30 (21 ratings)
    Presented by award-winning children's writer Michael Morpurgo, this genuinely ground-breaking history of British childhood from the year 1000 to the present explores, through a wide and colourful range of primary sources, how the idea of childhood has been constantly reinvented down through the centuries, and why the role of children in society continues to obsess us today. Fascinating and thought-provoking, it will appeal to parents, grandparents, and anyone who has ever been a child.
  • Radio 4's A History of Private Life
    by Amanda Vickery, Simon Tcherniak
    Narrated by Deborah Findlay, John Sessions, Jasmine Hyde, Jeremy Young, Madeleine Brolly
    4.20 (66 ratings)
    An engrossing BBC Radio 4 series spanning the history of the home and domestic relationships over the past 500 years, presented by Amanda Vickery. Professor Vickery is one of the most charismatic historians in Britain today. In 'A History of Private Life' she reveals the intimate secrets of life at home, from the Tudor mansion to the modern bedsit.Through letters, diaries and other first-person accounts, we hear the voices of men and women from very different backgrounds telling their stories.
  • The Invention of Germany
    by Misha Glenny
    Narrated by Misha Glenny
    3.90 (11 ratings)
    'Germany as we understand it, unified and strong, only came into existence a mere 140 years ago. Before then? Well, there was Bavaria and Prussia, Saxony, Baden Wurttemberg, Pomerania, Westfalia, Schleswig Holstein - this list is extremely long. And defining where one bit ended and the next began - well, it was utterly bewildering.' Misha Glenny presents a three-part history of Germany before the world wars.
  • The Lady Behind the Daily Service
    by Mike Hally, Square Dog Radio
    Narrated by Judy Merry
    0.00 (0 ratings)
    An account of the astonishing exchange of letters between a very determined lady from Watford and some of the highest officials in the BBC that led on 2 January, 1928, to the first of 75 years of Daily Services.
  • The Last Day of JFK
    by BBC
    Narrated by Alistair Cooke
    5.00 (2 ratings)
    Two BBC Radio programmes exploring President John F. Kennedy's shocking assassination on 22 November 1963. In Something Is Terribly Wrong, first broadcast in 2003, Alan Thompson charts the confusion and disbelief after the assassination. He returns to key sites in Dallas, and talks to eyewitnesses including Nellie Connally (ex-First Lady of Texas), Jim Leavelle (ex-Dallas detective), Jim Ewell (ex-Dallas Morning News correspondent), Aubry Rike (ambulance driver/witness).
  • 6000 Postcards
    by Chris McManus
    Narrated by Chris McManus
    4.00 (1 ratings)
    Chris McManus uncovers the secrets of a collection of 6000 dusty old postcards that turned up in a forgotten cupboard in the Psychology Department of University College London. It started with two medium-sized cardboard boxes. When Richard Rawles of the Department opened them, he found the cards, with postmarks dating from August 1953.
  • Dear Philip, Dear Kingsley: The Letters of Phillip Larkin & Kingsley Amis
    by Philip Larkin
    Narrated by Alan Bennett, Robert Hardy
    4.50 (19 ratings)
    A meeting at Oxford University during World War II signalled the beginning of a lifelong friendship between two outstanding contributors to 20th century English literature: Philip Larkin, poet, and Kingsley Amis, the prolific novelist. Selected from correspondence written between 1943 and 1985, these letters offer an entertaining and illuminating insight into the prejudices, exasperations and in-jokes of two literary greats. A linking commentary complements the writers' own words.
  • Remembrance Day: The Collection
    by Mike Hally
    Narrated by Mike Whitaker
    5.00 (1 ratings)
    Includes two programmes: 'Poppies are Red, Cornflowers are Blue' and 'The Art of Remembrance'. Poppies are Red, Cornflowers are Blue: It's not just about how the Poppy became the symbol of remembrance in Britain - though that is a fascinating story, rarely told in full - this is also a deeper analysis of why it rapidly became such a strong and enduring symbol, to the point where some fear it is becoming over-exploited. Plus we look at France's rather less ubiquitous flower of remembrance, the blue cornflower... The Art of Remembrance: Mark Whitaker looks at some of the more unusual ways that artists remembered the Great War, through the works of a painter, an architect, a film-maker, a sculptor and a poet.
  • Russia: Part One: From Rulers to Revolutions
    by Martin Sixsmith
    Narrated by Martin Sixsmith
    4.50 (59 ratings)
    The first 25 episodes from the landmark BBC Radio series. Martin Sixsmith brings his first-hand experience of reporting from Russia to this fascinating narrative, witnessing the critical moment when the Soviet Union finally lost its grip on power. Power struggles have a constant presence in his story, from the Mongol hordes that invaded in the 13th century, through the iron autocratic fists of successive Tsars.
  • The Idylls of the King (BBC Radio 3: Drama on 3)
    by Lord Alfred Tennyson
    Narrated by Tim Pigott-Smith
    0.00 (0 ratings)
    A BBC Radio 3 adaptation by Michael Symmons of Alfred Lord Tennyson's ‘The Idylls of the King’, narrated by Tim Pigott-Smith and broadcast on 12 July 2009 to mark the bicentenary of the poet's birth.In this extraordinary epic poem, Tennyson transforms Malory's ‘Le Morte d'Arthur’, infusing the legend of King Arthur with a passionate intensity.
  • I Confess: The Power of Confession (Radio 3: The Essay)
    by Kathryn Tempest, John Arnold
    Narrated by John Arnold
    0.00 (0 ratings)
    The Essay is a BBC Radio series exploring cultural topics. In these five episodes, I Confess: The Power of the Confession looks at the history of confessions, which links the legal world of Cicero to our own. In Episode one, Dr Kathryn Tempest of Roehampton University excavates the roots of one of the most powerful legal concepts of all time.