300 episodes

History as told by the people who were there.

Witness History BBC

    • History
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

History as told by the people who were there.

    Landing on Titan

    Landing on Titan

    The story of the remarkable mission to land on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. The large mysterious moon has a thick orange atmosphere. No-one had ever seen the surface. In the late 1990s, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft was sent on a 7 year, 3.5 billion km journey through space to explore Saturn and Titan. Alex Last spoke to Prof. Emeritus John Zarnecki of the Open University who worked on the mission.

    Photo: A flattened (Mercator) projection of the Huygens probe's view of Titan. Taken by the Huygens probe on 14th January 2005 (ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

    • 13 min
    Cornelia Sorabji: India's first woman lawyer

    Cornelia Sorabji: India's first woman lawyer

    Cornelia Sorabji was the first woman lawyer working in India. She helped women living in purdah or seclusion in the 19th century who had no access to the law. The women were married into royal families and prevented from seeing men other than their husbands or family. This meant they had no way of seeking justice when they received cruel treatment, attempts on their lives or were disinherited by their husbands' families. Cornelia Sorabji was able to visit these women and often helped free them from violent abuse. She was so successful that some royal families tried to kill her. Claire Bowes has been speaking to her nephew, Sir Richard Sorabji, about her life and how she helped pave the way for women lawyers in Britain.

    Photo: Cornelia Sorabji in a BBC studio in January1931.

    • 9 min
    Puerto Rican attack at the US Capitol

    Puerto Rican attack at the US Capitol

    In March 1954, a group of Puerto Rican militants opened fire from the public gallery of the US Congress in an effort to promote their fight for independence for the American territory. Five members of the House of Representatives were wounded in an attack which made headlines around the world and turned its leader, Lolita Lebron, into a nationalist heroine on the Caribbean Island. Simon Watts has been listening to archive accounts of the incident.

    PHOTO: Lolita Lebron and two Puerto Rican colleagues are arrested after the attack (US Congress/Corbis/Getty Images)

    • 10 min
    When Spain's parliament was stormed

    When Spain's parliament was stormed

    In February 1981 armed Civil Guards tried to take control of the Spanish parliament. For 18 hours they held 350 politicians hostage in the debating chamber. One of those politicians was a young Socialist MP called Joaquin Almunia.

    Photo: The leader of the coup attempt, Lt Col Antonio Tejero, on the speaker's platform (AFP/Getty Images)

    • 8 min
    The book that warned 2020 would bring disaster

    The book that warned 2020 would bring disaster

    The Limits to Growth was published in 1972 and warned of global decline from 2020. Claire Bowes spoke to one of the authors of the book, Professor Dennis Meadows, in 2019. He described how they used computer modelling to analyse how the Earth would cope with unrestricted economic growth. In the early 1970s he and his team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology fed in huge amounts of data on population, pollution, industrialisation, food production and resources. They found that if the trends continued, the result would be a sudden and uncontrollable downturn beginning around 2020. This programme was first broadcast in January 2020 but in this edition we catch up with Professor Meadows for a final thought on the significance of the global pandemic during 2020.

    Image: Front cover of The Limits to Growth, published in 1972

    • 13 min
    Sequencing the Ebola virus genome

    Sequencing the Ebola virus genome

    When the deadly Ebola virus broke out in West Africa in 2014, scientists in the USA set to work analysing it. What they discovered would eventually lead to a treatment. Pardis Sabeti is a virologist at Harvard University and leads the team who sequenced the Ebola virus genome - she has been speaking to Ibby Caputo for Witness History.

    Photo: Pardis Sabeti (front row, right) with some of the team who sequenced the virus in the lab.

    • 9 min

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