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BBC World Service - Documentary Archive

The Documentary

The best of BBC World Service documentaries and other factual programmes.

The Documentary

  • Ann West's Patchwork
    Cathy FitzGerald invites you to discover new details in old masterpieces, using your phone, tablet or computer. In episode one, stroll along the highstreet of a market town in Regency England – as imagined in a one-of-a-kind patchwork bedcover, held in the collection of the V&A Museum. This needlework masterpiece features tiny applique scenes of everyday life: children flying kites, chimney sweeps heading home from work, a fishwife off to market.

  • The End of Innocence in Venezuela
    Through the chilling testimonies of two ex-gang members and one school teacher, Margarita Rodriguez of the BBC World Service explores how criminal gangs in Venezuela use children and teenagers as young as 10 years old to fight their wars. Some kids are attracted by what gangs offer them: security, friendships, respect, motorbikes, women, and guns.

  • Pandemic: The Story of the 1918 Flu
    Professor John Oxford, one of the world’s leading virologists, looks at how the 1918-19 flu pandemic affected every corner of the world. Over 50 million people died in the three outbreaks which hit in 1918 and 1919. It is one of the most devastating pandemics in history and to this day scientists are still trying to pin point its origins in the hope of learning lessons for fighting such catastrophic epidemics in the future.

  • Celebrating Life at 117
    This is an affectionate portrait of Elizabeth Gathoni Koinange - a woman who celebrated her 117th birthday last year. Her story, and that of her family, is told by Elizabeth's own great granddaughter Priscilla Ng'ethe. The joy of family life is captured when many generations come together.

  • Ukraine's Frontline Bakery
    Lucy Ash meets the staff and customers of a bakery which is the one bright spot in war-torn east Ukraine. The war there between Russian-backed rebels and the Ukrainian army has dropped out of the headlines and there seems to be little political will to make peace. More than 10,000 people have been killed and as it enters its fourth year, this has become one of the longest conflicts in modern European history. But in the frontline town of Marinka there's one bright spot amidst the gloom - the bakery. It's the first new business in the town since the fighting began and it is bringing some hope and comfort to its traumatised citizens. We meet staff and customers from the bakery to explore a community living on the edge. "The aroma of fresh bread," says the man behind the enterprise, " gives people hope. It smells like normal life." (Photo Credit: Photography by Frederick Paxton)