History as told by the people who were there.
In October 1984, Margaret Thatcher survived a bomb attack on the hotel where she was staying on the south coast of England. Five people were killed and more than 30 others injured in the explosion, which was carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). In 2009, Lucy Williamson spoke to Michael Dobbs, who was a government official in the hotel at the time. Photo: The Grand Hotel in Brighton after the IRA bombing (John Minihan/Express/Getty Images)
On 30 January 1972 British troops opened fire on a civil rights march in Northern Ireland. Thirteen people were killed that day, which became known as Bloody Sunday. Tony Doherty was nine years old at the time. In 2012 he spoke to Mike Lanchin about his father and the events that changed his life forever. PHOTO: A British soldier grabs hold of a protester by the hair. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
In August 1969 the British Army was first deployed in Northern Ireland. Their job was to keep the peace on the streets of Londonderry where sectarian violence had broken out. To begin with the soldiers were welcomed by residents, but attitudes soon changed and what became known as 'The Troubles' got underway. Louise Hidalgo reports. Picture: Armed British soldiers on the streets of Northern Ireland, 15th August 1969 (Credit: Press Association)
The East German authorities built the Berlin Wall in 1961 to keep their people in. Thousands had been streaming westwards. But a few people went the other way. Frauke Naumann was one of them. She grew up in West Germany but fell love with her cousin who lived on the other side of the border. So, in 1986, at the age of 22 she left home to join him. Frauke tells Tim Mansel about the joys and the miseries of making a new life in a foreign country under the watchful eye of the secret police. PHOTO: The Brandenburg Gate in the 1980s with the Berlin Wall passing in front (BBC)
In the mid-1960s a Dutch engineer called Luud Schimmelpennink came up with a scheme to share bikes, and cut pollution. He collected about ten old bicycles, painted them white and left them at different points around Amsterdam. The first scheme didn't last, but it was hugely influential and became part of popular culture; Luud Schimmelpennink himself would go on to invent an early computerised sharing scheme for cars, and to consult on the bike-sharing schemes we see around the world today. In 2019, he spoke to Janet Ball. Photo: Activists with one of the original white bikes from the first scheme. Credit: Luud Schimmelpennink.
This week Americans have been observing the Martin Luther King Jr Day national holiday, which marks the birthday of the late civil rights leader. The campaign to have Dr King formally recognized in the US was led by his widow, Coretta Scott King. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Dr King's youngest daughter, Dr Bernice King, about the long and fraught campaign, and the crucial role her mother played in supporting her father's legacy. Photo: Coretta Scott King speaking at the White House. (Credit: White House)
How a small Nigerian Islamist group launched one of the deadliest insurgencies in Africa. In 2002, a new radical sect emerged in Maiduguri in north eastern Nigeria led by a charismatic preacher, Mohammed Yusuf. He preached against anything he deemed un-Islamic or having a western influence. Locals gave the group a nickname, Boko Haram - meaning "western education is forbidden". In 2009, the group launched co-ordinated attacks on police across northern Nigeria. Maiduguri saw the fiercest fighting. It was the start of an insurgency that would devastate the region. We hear from Bilkisu Babangida who was the BBC Hausa service reporter in the city at the time. Photo: A suspected Boko Haram house in Maiduguri set ablaze by Nigerian security forces, 30th July 2009 (AFP/Getty Images)
30-year-old Texan Timmie Jean Lindsey was the first woman in the world to have silicone breast implants. In 1962, she was offered the operation free of charge by two pioneering surgeons. It's gone on to become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the world. In 2012, Timmie Jean Lindsey spoke to Claire Bowes. PHOTO: A silicone breast implant (Getty Images)
Costa Concordia hit submerged rocks off the Italian island of Giglio in January 2012, leaving a fifty-metre-long gash in the hull. More than four thousand passengers and crew were on board. Ian and Janice Donoff were hoping to get away in a lifeboat, but it got stuck as it was being lowered into the sea, so they had to find another way off. Thirty-two people died in the disaster. The captain was later found guilty of manslaughter for needlessly navigating the ship too close to the shore of an island it was sailing past. Produced and presented by Nick Holland PHOTO: The Costa Concordia lying aground off Giglio (2012)
The Malian photographer, Malick Sidibé, is one of Africa's most celebrated artists. His most famous photographs show black and white scenes of young people partying in the capital Bamako in the joyful, confident era after Mali got its independence from France in 1960. In the 1990s, a chance encounter with a French curator brought Sidibé's work international acclaim. The wider world had been used to seeing a narrow range of images from Africa, so when Sidibé's work went up on show in Western art galleries, audiences were stunned by the exuberant world they revealed. Viv Jones talks to someone who knew Sidibé back when he was a roving nightlife photographer - Manthia Diawara, Malian filmmaker and Professor at New York University. (Photo: Malick Sidibé. Photo by BILLY FARRELL/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
After its independence, Kazakhstan had to deal with the legacy of being one of the centres of the Soviet Union's huge nuclear arsenal and nuclear weapons industry. There were particular concerns about the former nuclear testing site at Semipalatinsk, a vast swathe of contaminated land where there were tunnels with spent plutonium. When the Soviet Union ended in 1991, the site was left open to scavengers. Louise Hidalgo talks to the former head of America's nuclear weapons laboratory, Dr Siegfried Hecker, about the secret operation by Russian and American scientists to make the site safe; it's been called the greatest nuclear non-proliferation story never told. PHOTO: The Semipalatinsk site in 1991 (Getty Images)
In 2022, India is holding a series of events to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of the independence campaigner, Subhas Chandra Bose. Unlike Mahatama Ghandi, Bose believed violence against the British Empire could be justified, and during World War Two he supported an alliance with Nazi Germany and Japan. Claire Bowes speaks to Bose's great-niece, Madhuri Bose, about why many think he could have changed the course of India's history. She also hears from Mihir Bose, author of Raj, Secrets, Revolution: A Life of Subhas Chandra Bose. PHOTO: Subhas Chandra Bose giving a speech in Nazi Germany in 1942.
On February 3rd 1969, Eduardo Mondlane - the founder of FRELIMO, Mozambique's Liberation Front against Portuguese colonial rule - was assassinated in a bomb attack in Tanzania. Mondlane started out as a teacher and academic, but his daughter Nyeleti Brooke Mondlane has been telling Rebecca Kesby why he swapped the university library for guerrilla warfare - and how it cost him his life. PHOTO: Eduardo Mondlane in 1966 (Getty Images)
In 2022, France is marking the centenary of the death of the novelist Marcel Proust, the author of the 20th century masterpiece Remembrance of Things Past. In this archive edition of Witness History, Proust's friend, Prince Antoine Bibescu, recalls his conversations with the author, and Proust's maid, Celeste Albaret, remembers his final hours. The programme also hears from Professor Michael Wood, an expert on Proust at Princeton University. PHOTO: Marcel Proust (Getty Images)
In 1990 Albania's communist government agreed to allow independent political parties following a wave of protests. Lea Ypi was an 11 year old schoolgirl at the time and watched events with consternation – she was a firm believer in what she had been taught about communism at school, and an admirer of Stalin. But she soon discovered that her parents had a secret past that they had been afraid to reveal to her before 1990. Lea talks to Rob Walker about her life growing up inside the world's last Stalinist state. Picture: Lea Ypi as a child in Albania with her grandmother. (Credit: Photo provided by Lea Ypi)
In 1904, a left-wing American feminist called Lizzy Magie patented a board game that evolved into what we now know as Monopoly. But 30 years later, when Monopoly was first marketed in the United States during the Great Depression, it was an out-of-work salesman from Pennsylvania who was credited with inventing it. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to American journalist Mary Pilon about the hidden history of one of the world's most popular board games, and to the economics professor Ralph Anspach who unearthed the story. Picture: A family playing a game of Monopoly in the 1930s (Credit: SSPL/Getty Images)
The Lego brick, one of the world's most popular toys, was invented in the small Danish town of Billund in 1958. Created by Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, the plastic bricks can be combined in countless combinations and have sold in the billions. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the inventor's son, was ten at the time. He used to play in the company workshop and helped test early Lego models. Olga Smirnova spoke to Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen for Witness History. PHOTO: A boy playing in a Lego display in 1981 (Getty Images)
In 1984 Tetris, one of the most popular computer games ever, was invented in Moscow. Chloe Hadjimatheou speaks to its creator, Alexey Pajitnov, and to Henk Rogers, an American businessman who helped bring Tetris to the world. This programme was first broadcast in 2011. PHOTO: Tetris being played on a mobile phone (Getty Images)
A new action-adventure computer game - designed in Scotland - became a surprise global hit in 1997. But Grand Theft Auto also courted controversy and sparked debate over violence and drugs in video games. Paul Schuster spoke to Brian Baglow - one of the original team behind the launch. PHOTO: A gamer using a Playstation controller (Getty Images)
In 1973, a video game was invented which would change the way we play. An on screen version of table tennis, Pong was initially only played in arcades. But later a home version was created which gamers could plug into their televisions. Louise Hidalgo spoke to Nolan Bushnell, one of the creators of Pong. Photo credit: BBC.
Rovaniemi, a small town in Lapland, is home to dozens of Christmas tourist attractions and is widely considered the unofficial home of Santa Claus. The town had to re-invent itself after being flattened during the Arctic campaign in World War Two, and was inspired to become a Christmas destination by a visit from the American first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. Rovaniemi now gets more than half a million visitors a year. Petra Zivic talks to two local residents. PHOTO: Father Christmas in his "office" near Rovaniemi (Getty Images)
In 2011, thousands of protestors occupied Pearl Roundabout near the centre of Bahrain's capital, Manama. Many of them were from the country's Shia religious majority. They were demanding political freedoms and calling for an end to what they said was years of discrimination by the Sunni monarchy that rules the country. Rob Walker spoke to Asma Darwish, a 20 year old student who joined the protests. Photo: Demonstrators in Manama. Credit: Reuters/Caren Firouz.
In 2011, cybersecurity expert Manal Al-Sharif helped found the Women2Drive movement. It was designed to force the Saudi Arabian government to overturn its ban on women driving cars - one of the many restrictions on women in the Kingdom. Inspired by the mood of the Arab Spring, Saudi women got behind the wheel and then posted videos of themselves all over social media. The movement attracted international attention and the ban on women drivers was eventually lifted in 2017. Manal Al-Sharif talks to Petra Zivic. PHOTO: Manal Al Sharif in Dubai in 2013 (Getty Images)
In 1961 the great ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev stunned the world by defecting from the Soviet Union. Nureyev escaped his KGB minders at an airport in Paris - with the help of French dancer Pierre Lacotte. Pierre Lacotte spoke to Louise Hidalgo in 2011. PHOTO: Rudolf Nureyev at a press conference in the 1960s (Getty Images)
How opposition politician Salum Barwany overcame discrimination and fear to become the first albino elected to office in Tanzania in 2010. Albinism is a genetic condition caused by a lack of the pigment Melanin, which affects the colour of the skin, hair and eyes. Though rare it is more common in parts of Africa, and particularly in Tanzania. There, albinos have long faced social stigma but in recent years many have been brutally murdered. The killings are carried out to harvest their body parts for witchdoctors who claim they can be used in magic potions to bestow wealth. Salum Barwany MP talks about growing up with albinism and his struggle to change attitudes. This episode is produced by Alex Last and Esther Namuhisa Photo: Tanzania's first elected albino lawmaker Salum Khalfan Barwany gets a hug from a supporter as he walks through the town market in Lindi, just days after winning office in 2010. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)
In December 1971, Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan after nine months of war. Dr Kamal Hossain, a leading political figure, was jailed during the conflict and only released shortly after the Bengali fighters claimed victory. Dr Hossain told Farhana Haider his feelings as his country won its freedom. Photo: Kamal Hossain (l) with the founder of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Credit Dr Kamal Hossain collection.
When Bangladesh fought for independence from Pakistan, thousands of Pakistani troops were sent to fight in what was then called East Pakistan. In 1971, Shujaat Latif was sent to the town of Jassore where he fought, and then surrendered. He spent two and a half years as a prisoner-of-war. Hear his story. Photo: Indian army soldiers fire on Pakistani positions, December 15th 1971. Credit: AFP/Getty Images.
During the war of independence in Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistani troops and their local collaborators used systematic rape as deliberate tactic. It's estimated that hundreds of thousands of Bengali women were victims of one of the worst instances in the 20th century of rape being used as a weapon of war. Farhana Haider speaks to one of the women, and to the Bengali playwright and filmmaker Leesa Gazi, who has documented their suffering in her work. PHOTO: Filmmaker Leesa Gazi with a ‘Birangona', one of the women who was raped during Bangladesh's war of independence (Leesa Gazi/ Shihab Khan)
In December 1970, Pakistan held its first democratic elections since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. The results would lead to war, the break-up of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh. Farhana Haider spoke to Rehman Sobhan, an economist and leading figure in the Bengali independence movement. (Image: The flag of Bangladesh is raised at the Awami League headquarters in 1971. Credit: Getty Images)
In February 1952 thousands of people marched in Dhaka in defence of the Bengali language. Eight of the protesters were shot dead by police. It became known as Bangladesh's Language Movement Day. We hear from Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, one of the demonstrators, whose song about the protests became the anthem of the movement. (Photo: Student demonstrators gather by Dhaka University, February 1952. Courtesy of Prof Rafiqul Islam and Liberation War Museum).
In 2005 thousands of tonnes of petrol ignited at a fuel depot 40 kilometres North-West of London. The explosion was the largest in the UK since the end of the WWII. The blast, which severely damaged surrounding homes and properties, was reportedly heard in Holland. Despite the enormous amount of damage, nobody was killed. The fire destroyed large parts of the depot, leading to shortages of fuel at petrol stations in the weeks that followed. Five firms were eventually fined millions of dollars for safety failures that led to the blast. Greg Smith tells Witness History what it was like to be inside the depot at the time of the explosion. Produced and presented by Nick Holland. Image: Fire at Buncefield oil depot on 12th December 2005. Credit: Peter MacDiarmid/Getty Images
The abduction of Theo Albrecht, who co-founded the discount supermarket chain ALDI with his brother Karl. The brothers shunned publicity and there were few photos of them. So, when two armed men confronted Theo outside his company headquarters in late 1971, they demanded to see ID. They needed to be sure they were taking the right man. Albrecht later tried to claim tax back on the ransom paid to secure his release. He died in 2010, worth an estimated 16 billion dollars. Image: Theo Albrecht in 1971. Credit: EPA
In November 2001 a group of British aircraft enthusiasts were arrested and put on trial in Greece. Unfamiliar with their hobby, the Greek authorities had assumed they must be spies. The plane-spotters were initially jailed but later released after their case turned into a diplomatic incident. In 2011, Chloe Hadjimatheou talked to Paul Coppin, who was one of the group. PHOTO: The plane-spotters returning to the UK (PA)
Using eyewitness accounts from the BBC archives, we hear how the Nazis developed the world's first modern ballistic missile that killed thousands during World War Two. The Nazi rocket scientist Wernher von Braun was the principal architect of this revolutionary secret weapon. After the war he was recruited to work for the United States to develop its own missile programme and famously built the NASA rockets which put men on the Moon. Photo: The launch of a captured German V2 rocket at the US military test site at White Sands, Nevada in 1946 (PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
In the early 2000s, Sri Rumiati, a brigadier-general in the Indonesian police, began campaigning against intrusive examinations of female recruits to her force. Rumiati had experienced a so-called "virginity test" herself when she joined up two decades earlier. She spoke to Petra Zivic. PHOTO: Indonesian policewomen in 2007 (Getty Images)
One of the first high-profile artists to speak openly about having Aids was the British experimental film-maker, Derek Jarman. Jarman had made his name in the 1970s by directing Sebastiane, the first openly gay film in British cinema history. Vincent Dowd speaks to Keith Collins who lived with Jarman during his final years, and cared for him up to his death in 1994. (Photo: Derek Jarman. Credit: Getty Images)
At the end of the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of people in South Africa were still dying from HIV/AIDS because effective drug treatments were prohibitively expensive for a developing country. Under pressure from AIDS activists, the government of Nelson Mandela took the big international pharmaceutical companies to court over the right to import cheaper versions of AIDS drugs. Bob Howard talks to Bada Pharasi, a former negotiator at South Africa's department of health. PHOTO: HIV/AIDS activists demonstrate in front of an American consulate in South Africa in 2010. (Getty Images)
In 1987 the first successful drug treatment was developed for Aids. AZT went from initial test to approval in just over two years - at the time it was the fastest approval in US history. Claire Bowes talks to Dr Samuel Broder, the co-developer of AZT. Picture: Dr Samuel Broder and President Ronald Reagan. Credit: Ronald Reagan Library
The HIV virus was first identified by medical experts in a journal article in 1981. In the early days of the epidemic, carriers of the virus were stigmatised and treatment was in its infancy. Alan Johnston talks to Ugandan-born Winnie Ssanyu Sseruma about her experiences of having HIV back in the 1980s. PHOTO: Winnie Ssanyu Sseruma
In the early days of Aids, a misunderstanding made one man the face of the epidemic. Canadian air steward Gaetan Dugas developed the symptoms of HIV/Aids in the early 1980s, but a misreading of scientific data led to him being identified as "Patient Zero", giving the mistaken impression he was responsible for the spread of the disease. Lucy Burns speaks to researcher William Darrow, who worked on the epidemic, and to Gaetan Dugas' friend Rand Gaynor. Photo: Gaetan Dugas. (Credit: Rand Gaynor)
The three Mirabal sisters were leading figures in the Dominican Republic's opposition movement against the dictator, General Rafael Trujillo. Patria, Maria Teresa and the most prominent of the three, Minerva, were all killed on the 25th of November 1960. They were dragged from their car and beaten to death on the orders of General Trujillo. Their murders sparked outrage in the Caribbean country, and are thought to have been a motivating factor in the assassination of Trujillo himself six months later. In 2016, Rebecca Kesby spoke to Minerva's daughter, Minou Tavarez Mirabal, who explained why her mother and aunts were called 'the butterflies' and how to this day people still decorate their houses with three butterflies in tribute to them. Photo: The three Mirabal Sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa (Credit: Mirabal family collection)
Estonia started connecting all its schools to the internet very early. In 1996 less than two percent of the world's population had access to the web but Estonia's initiative, known as ‘Tiger Leap' captured the imagination and the hopes of the whole country. Estonians became early adopters of all sorts of digital services, from online banking to digital ID cards. However, a decade later Estonia was one of the first places in the world to suffer a sustained cyber attack. Caroline Bayley has been speaking to one of the founders of ‘Tiger Leap'- former government minister Jaak Aaviksoo. Photo credit: Getty images
In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise voluntary euthanasia: although the new law was ground-breaking, it was based in part on the result of a dramatic criminal trial that happened nearly three decades earlier, in 1973. The case concerned a doctor who helped her elderly and terminally ill mother to die after her mother had repeatedly begged her to do so. Dr Truus Postma was put on trial for carrying out voluntary euthanasia and was facing a sentence of up to 12 years if found guilty. Her dilemma as both a doctor and a daughter triggered a national debate about whether her actions were murder or mercy. The case broke taboos and led to the founding of the NVVE, a Dutch organisation which began to campaign for voluntary euthanasia to be made legal. Viv Jones speaks to Dr Postma's daughter, Marga Postma, and to Klazien Albeda, founder of the NVVE. (Photo: Dr Truus Postma outside court. Bert Verhoeff / Anefo. National Archives of the Netherlands.)
Eighteen million people were vaccinated against smallpox in the former communist Yugoslavia in only a month and a half in 1972. The mass vaccination campaign succeeded in containing the last smallpox epidemic in Europe. Dr Ana Gligic was a virologist who detected the first cases of the disease and helped tackle the outbreak. PHOTO: A smallpox patient in Yugoslavia in 1972 (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
'The Woman in Gold' was one of Gustav Klimt's most famous paintings. It was a portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, but it was taken from her family by the Nazis and only returned to them after a long legal battle. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to Randol Schoenberg the young lawyer who took on the case. Picture: Adele Bloch-Bauer I, or 'The Woman in Gold', painted in 1907 by Gustav Klimt, from the collection of the Neue Galerie in New York. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
A first-hand account of how Sudanese civilian protesters first brought down a military regime in 1964. The protests began after a student was shot and killed by police during a confrontation at the prestigious University of Khartoum. Demonstrations and a nationwide general strike followed which forced the military to hand over power. Alex Last hears from historian Professor Abdullahi Ibrahim who was a prominent member of the Student's Union at Khartoum University at the time. Photo: People celebrate the fall of the military regime in Khartoum, November 1964 (Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
How a particular form of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, became a common treatment for anxiety and depression. CBT was first developed by Professor Aaron T Beck in the USA. It has been rolled out as an option for people with mental health problems in the UK. Professor David Clark has been speaking to Kirsty Reid about why, and how, it works. Photo credit: Getty Images.
In 2008, one of Europe's most wanted fugitives, the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, was arrested in Belgrade for war crimes. Karadzic had been in hiding for more than a decade, pretending to be an alternative medicine healer called "Dr Dabic". Serbia's former war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vuckevic remembers the tense days that led to Karadzic's capture. PHOTO: Radovan Karadzic in 1992 (Getty Images)
In November 1971 a young American artist decided to get a friend to take a shot at him - in the name of art. His name was Chris Burden and the shooting would go down in the history of performance art. He spoke to Lucy Burns in 2012 about the ideas behind the event. This programme is a rebroadcast. Photo: Chris Burden just after being shot. Courtesy of Chris Burden.
After the end of the Gulf War in 1991, retreating Iraqi forces set light to oil wells in the desert. Specialist firefighters were drafted in by the Kuwaiti government to help put them out. Simon Watts spoke to one of those firefighters, Richard Hatteberg, in 2010. This is a rebroadcast. Photo: an oil fire in Kuwait. March 1991. Credit:Getty Images.
Eudy Simelane was a star of the South African women's national football team and a gay rights activist. In 2008, she was pursued by a group of men after leaving a pub close to her home in the township of Kwa-Thema. She was gang raped and stabbed to death. She was 31 years old. Her family, friends and campaigners say that her sexuality made her a target for this brutal hate crime. Viv Jones speaks to Mmapaseka 'Steve' Letsike, an LGBTI activist who was a friend of Eudy's. They became friends when they played football together as teens. Steve describes how Eudy's murder became the focus of a campaign to draw attention to attacks on gay South Africans, and black lesbians in particular. It also started a national conversation about the horrific crime of so-called 'corrective rape', where lesbians are raped to ‘cure' or punish them. Photo: Eudy Simelane's parents sat at the bridge named in their daughter's honour. Credit: BBC