300 episodes

History as told by the people who were there.

Witness History BBC World Service

    • History
    • 4.5 • 806 Ratings

History as told by the people who were there.

    Invention of the MP3

    Invention of the MP3

    Professor Karlheinz Brandenburg from Germany spent more than a decade developing MP3 technology, which was developed to convert audio into digital form.

    He had been working on it since 1982.

    It compressed music into a file size that made it easier to transmit, leading to the first MP3 players and fast music sharing.

    Laura Jones has been speaking to Professor Brandenburg.

    (Photo: Karlheinz Brandenburg wearing headphones, with his team. Credit: Fraunhofer IIC)

    • 10 min
    Albert Pierrepoint: Britain's executioner

    Albert Pierrepoint: Britain's executioner

    Using archive recordings, Alex Last tells the story of Britain's most famous hangman.

    During the 1940s and 1950s, Albert Pierrepoint was responsible for the execution of some of Britain's most notorious murderers and was sent to Germany to hang more than 200 Nazi war criminals after World War Two.

    He said he was always determined to treat prisoners with dignity and respect whatever their crime.

    This programme was first broadcast in 2015.

    (Photo: Albert Pierrepoint. Credit: Getty Images)

    • 8 min
    Smolensk air disaster

    Smolensk air disaster

    In 2010, a plane carrying the Polish president, Lech Kaczyński, crashed near the Russian city of Smolensk, killing everyone on board.

    It was one of the most tragic moments in modern Polish history.

    The country’s minister of foreign affairs, Radoslaw Sikorski was one of the first people to hear about it. He’s been sharing his memories of the disaster with Matt Pintus.


    (Photo: Smolensk air crash wreckage. Credit: Getty Images)

    • 9 min
    Japanese death row guard

    Japanese death row guard

    Yoshikuni Noguchi spent time as a guard in one of the prisons in Japan that would carry out the death penalty, and witnessed the hanging of a condemned prisoner in 1971, before going on to become a lawyer. He describes in detail what he saw.

    Yoshikuni began speaking out to cast light on the reality of what death row inmates go through, as Japan continues to resist the calls to ban the practice, which is no longer in use in most countries. He tells his story to Dan Hardoon.

    A Whistledown production for BBC World Service.

    (Photo: Yoshikunu Noguchi. Credit: Alamy)

    • 8 min
    When Britain tried to censor the Troubles in Northern Ireland

    When Britain tried to censor the Troubles in Northern Ireland

    Frontman of punk-rock band The Undertones, Paul McLoone, recalls the “weird, slightly funny, slightly sad, slightly surreal” time he was the voice of IRA commander-turned-politician, Martin McGuinness.

    It was during the so called ‘broadcasting ban’ in the UK which came into force in 1988.

    It saw organisations believed to support terrorism forbidden from directly broadcasting on radio or television.

    Paul tells Alys Harte how the legislation led to extra work for him.

    (Photo: Paul McLoone during a performance. Credit: Getty Images)

    • 9 min
    Swine flu vaccine and narcolepsy

    Swine flu vaccine and narcolepsy

    In 2009, hundreds of teenagers’ lives were changed forever, when a vaccine designed to protect them against swine flu appeared to trigger a sleep disorder.

    It affected people in various countries including Sweden.

    Maddy Savage speaks to Christopher Tyvi from Stockholm, who is one of those who experienced problems.

    A Bespoken Media production for BBC World Service.

    (Photo: Swine flu vaccine. Credit: Getty Images)

    • 9 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
806 Ratings

806 Ratings

vicki mabrey ,

So interesting

I love Witness History, but please stop using that horribly jarring interstitial sound. So annoying.

EdmondsKat ,

Daily cuppa

A necessary part of my day. An intellectual shot of espresso

gabfanatico ,

Excellent about Gorbachev!

Such interesting interviews about Gorbachev! Please bring more!

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