Download the latest documentaries investigating global developments, issues and affairs.
US election: Socially distant
Ahead of the US presidential election on 3 November, two socially distanced views of the pre-election political landscape of America, explore different perspectives on key issues and themes from the last four years of the Trump presidency and a campaign curtailed by Covid-19 restrictions. Susan Glasser writes a Letter from Trump’s Washington column for the New Yorker magazine. She has been critical of the way Donald Trump has governed. Joe Borelli is a New York City Council member, a Republican who represents Staten Island. He is a regular contributor to talk radio and TV and is an outspoken critic of the Covid-19 policies of the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio and New York’s Governor Cuomo.
China's rocket man
Qian Xuesen is widely celebrated in China as the father of the country’s rocket programme, and the man who kick-started its exploration of space. China is now second only to the US in terms of its dominance among the stars. But Qian also had an important part to play in the early scientific advances, before World War Two, that would eventually take the US to the moon. However, he is almost entirely forgotten by the country that nurtured his talent for decades, before anti-communist persecution sent him back to China, the land of his birth. Kavita Puri traces the rise and fall - and rise again - of an extraordinary life.
Fighting together in Korea
Seventy years ago tens of thousands of North Korean troops invaded South Korea. Over the next three years one of the bloodiest conflicts of the 20th Century claimed millions of lives. On a more positive note, though, the Korean War helped precipitate social change in the United States. Following President Truman’s Executive Order 9981, the Korean conflict became the first in which US armed forces were desegregated. It was not a smooth process but it did precede civil rights advances back home where segregation was still widespread, especially in the southern states. This is the story of why President Truman, who had himself expressed clear racist views earlier in his career, took the decision to issue his executive order to desegregate the armed forces.
US election: Trucking and farming
Nuala McGovern speaks with truck drivers and farmers in the United States as they share their thoughts on how their lives and livelihoods have been under the past four years of the Trump presidency. Wisconsin is known as America’s Dairyland. It’s an important state in this election, where the vote could go either way, and where more than one in ten of the electorate are farmers. Three farmers in Wisconsin explain how trade deals by the US have impacted what happens on their farms and how that affects their votes this time. And three truckers -Michael in Arizona, Pat in Indianapolis and Sunny in California - describe what they have seen driving across the country over the past four years.
The British and their fish
By the middle of the 20th century, the English town of Grimsby was the biggest fishing port in the world. When the catch was good “fishermen could live like rock stars”, says Kurt Christensen who first went to sea aged 15. He was instantly addicted to a tough and dangerous life on the waves. But from the 1970s onwards, the industry went into decline. Today it contributes just a tenth of one percent to Britain’s GDP – less than Harrods, London best known department store. So how can such a tiny industry cause so much political havoc and threaten to scupper a post Brexit deal with Europe? Fishing communities have often blamed EU membership - and the foreign boats that have arrived as a result - for a steep fall in catches over the last half century. Many coastal towns voted overwhelmingly for Britain to leave the European Union. Now, Grimsby’s recently-elected Conservative MP – the first non-socialist the town has sent to Westminster in nearly 100 years - has spoken of a modern fleet and fresh opportunities. For Assignment, Lucy Ash travels to Grimsby to hear how fishing towns like this, ignored for decades by London’s political elite, now hope finally to turn a corner. She explores the huge place fishing plays in the British psyche and asks if the cold, stormy seas around Britain really can make coastal communities rich once again.
Producer Mike Gallagher
(Image: A trader examines a haddock at the daily Grimsby Fish Market auction. Credit: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)
A perfect match
Thirteen years ago, journalist Ibby Caputo underwent a bone marrow transplant in the US to treat an aggressive form of leukaemia. Because she is of Northern European descent, she believes she had a greater chance of survival, after finding a donor who was "a perfect match." Her friend, Terika Haughton, who was Jamaican, died of transplant-related causes in 2017. Terika did not have a perfect match, and after she died, Ibby explores how much that lack of a perfect match may have played a part in her death. Through these contrasting stories, Ibby explores race and ethnic disparities in healthcare.