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.

    China's 'Kingdom of women'

    China's 'Kingdom of women'

    The Mosuo community in China’s Himalayan foothills is matrilineal, so a family’s ‘bloodline’, inheritance and power is passed down through the female side. There is no such thing as marriage and monogamy is actively discouraged. The women rule and the men don’t mind. Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to Choo Wai Hong, a Singaporean corporate lawyer who came across the community as she travelled through her ancestral homeland of China. She liked it so much she learnt the language and built a house there.
    (PHOTO: Mosuo Women. Credit Patrick AVENTURIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

    • 11 min
    The vultures saved from extinction

    The vultures saved from extinction

    South Asian vultures started dying in huge numbers in the 1990s but no one knew why. They were on the verge of extinction before scientists worked out what was killing them. Bob Howard has been hearing from Munir Virani of the Peregrine Fund, who discovered that the vultures’ livers were being damaged when they fed on the carcasses of cattle which had been treated with a widely-used painkiller.

    White-backed vultures in their enclosure at the Vulture Conservation Centre run by World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) in Changa Manga. September 20, 2017. Credit: ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images

    • 6 min
    Fighting for Castro at the Bay of Pigs

    Fighting for Castro at the Bay of Pigs

    On April 17 1961 a group of Cuban exiles launched an invasion of communist-ruled Cuba in a failed attempt to topple Fidel Castro. After 72 hours of fighting many of the invaders were captured or killed. Gregorio Moreria was a member of the local communist militia who fought against the US-backed invaders. He was injured and briefly captured during the fighting. He spoke to Mike Lanchin for Witness History in 2016.

    (Photo: Members of Castro's militia during the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion. Credit: Three Lions/Getty Images)

    • 8 min
    How a worm helped explain human development

    How a worm helped explain human development

    After the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA in the 1950s, South African biologist Sydney Brenner was searching for a model animal to help him tease out the genes involved in human behaviour and human development from egg to adult. Brenner chose a tiny nematode worm called caenorhabditis elegans (c.elegans for short), whose biological clockwork can be observed in real time under a microscope through its transparent skin. The worm has since been at the heart of all sorts of discoveries about how our bodies work and fail. Sue Armstrong has been speaking to people who knew and worked with Sydney Brenner.

    This programme is a Ruth Evans Production.

    Photo: the c. elegans worm. Credit: Science Photo Library

    • 8 min
    The US Supreme Court's first woman justice

    The US Supreme Court's first woman justice

    In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman judge to be appointed to the US Supreme Court. She was nominated by newly-elected Republican president Ronald Reagan, who'd made the pledge to appoint a woman part of the campaign that led to his landslide victory. Justice O'Connor served for 24 years and had the decisive vote in many landmark cases. Her friend and former law clerk, Ruth McGregor, has been talking to Louise Hidalgo.

    Picture: Sandra Day O'Connor is sworn in at the Senate confirmation hearing on her selection as a US Supreme Court justice, September 1981 (Credit: Keystone/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)

    • 9 min
    Discovering the Jet Stream

    Discovering the Jet Stream

    The Jet Stream is formed by powerful high-altitude rivers of air which circle the globe and help determine our climate. The existence of these winds was first documented in Japan in the 1920s, but only became more widely known during World War Two, when American airmen encounter high-speed winds on bombing missions over Japan. At the same time, the Japanese military also began to use these powerful transcontinental winds to carry innovative balloon bombs all the way to the West Coast of America. Using archive recordings we tell the story of the discovery and speak to Professor Tim Woollings from Oxford University, the author of Jet Stream: A Journey Through Our Changing Climate.
    Photo: B-29 bombers passing Mount Fuji on their way to Tokyo, April 1945 (Getty Images)

    • 11 min

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