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BBC World Service - Documentary Archive

The Documentary Podcast

Download the latest documentaries investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

The Documentary Podcast

  • Bonus podcast: Goodbye to All This
    Introducing a new podcast from the BBC World Service called Goodbye to All This. It’s a powerful memoir by Australian writer Sophie Townsend, who lost her husband Russell to cancer. It’s the intimate journey of learning to navigate grief while bringing up two daughters. It reflects on life, love, loss and coming back out the other side – mostly intact. This is the first episode. You can find Goodbye to All This wherever you get your podcasts.

  • 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.