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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

  • My very extended family
    Two years ago Julia, a high school student from Ohio, received an email from a woman in New York she had never met, claiming that her daughter and Julia shared the same biological father. The phone call that followed changed her life forever, as she discovered that she had not only one half-sibling, but more than she could ever have anticipated. Julia grew up with her two mums Betsy and Kathleen and her adopted sister Sarah. She always knew she was donor conceived – what she never expected was to discover more than 20 donor half siblings. Julia tells us her own story as she prepares to meet some of her siblings for the very first time

  • Romania's killer roads
    Everybody in Romania knows someone who has died in a road accident. The country has the highest road death rate in the European Union – twice the EU average and more than three times that in the UK. A young businessman, Stefan Mandachi, has built a metre long stretch of motorway near his home in the rural north-east of the country, as a visual protest against political inaction and corruption. For Assignment,Tessa Dunlop travels to one of Romania’s poorest regions, Moldova, to meet this new champion of road safety, and the families who have paid the highest price for the country’s poor transport networks. Producer, John Murphy (Image: In Romania horse and carts share the roads with fast moving cars – not always happily. Credit : BBC/John Murphy)

  • Afghan Star 1: A TV talent show
    Sahar Zand is in Kabul for the finals of Afghan Star, a TV talent show that is on the front line of the fight to keep music alive in Afghanistan, following the years of the Taliban regime, when music was banned. She hears from a singer who has been targeted by extremists, meets one of the Taliban’s senior figures to explore the reasons behind the cultural conflict, and follows the votes as the TV audience chooses between the two young finalists. Afghan Star is much like any other TV talent show – except that its context is a war zone.

  • Her Story 2: Betty Bigombe, Ugandan peace negotiator
    Betty Bigombe spent much of her career trying to negotiate peace with the notorious warlord Joseph Kony. She was born in northern Uganda as one of 11 children. Betty focused on her education from an early age. She won a fellowship at Harvard where she received an MA in Public Administration. On returning to Uganda, she was asked by the newly-installed president to go back to the north of the country, where she grew, up to try and stop the war raging there. The only way to do that was to convince Joseph Kony to engage in peace talks.

  • Barbuda: Storms, recovery and ‘land grabs’
    Who will shape the future of the hurricane-hit, tropical isle of Barbuda? In 2017, category-5 hurricane Irma devastated much of Barbuda’s ‘paradise’ landscape, and its infrastructure. The national government – based on the larger, neighbouring island of Antigua – evacuated the population of some 1800 people. But within days, although the people weren’t allowed to return, bulldozers were clearing ancient forest to build an international airport. Critics called this another case of, ‘disaster capitalism’ – governments and business taking advantage of catastrophe to make a profit. Barbuda has long been viewed as ripe for more tourism – Hollywood actor Robert De Niro is part of a commercial enterprise working on the opening of an exclusive resort. One of the obstacles to widespread development has been the island’s unique system of tenure – all land has been held in common since the emancipation of Barbuda’s slave population in the 19th century. But last year the government repealed the law guaranteeing those communal rights, partly to attract investment to the island. Meanwhile, although the hurricane season began on June 1st, families are still living in tents. (Image:The remains of a luxury resort on Barbuda reveal the power of hurricane Irma. Credit: BBC/Linda Pressly)