Episodes
In 1992, Guarani was designated an official language in Paraguay’s new constitution, alongside Spanish. It is the only indigenous language of South America to have achieved such recognition and ended years of rejection and discrimination against Paraguay’s majority Guarani speakers. Mike Lanchin hears from the Paraguayan linguist and anthropologist David Olivera, and even tries to speak a bit of the language. A CTVC production for the BBC World Service. (Photo: A man reads a book in Guarani....
Published 03/13/24
In 1992 off the coast of Ireland, a Swiss geology student accidentally discovered the longest set of footprints made by the first four-legged animals to walk on earth. They pointed to a new date for the key milestone in evolution when the first amphibians left the water 385 million years ago. The salamander-type animal which was the size of a basset hound lived when County Kerry was semi-arid, long before dinosaurs, as Iwan Stössel explains to Josephine McDermott. (Picture: Artwork of a...
Published 03/12/24
A regular morning turned into a day of nightmares for Spanish commuters on 11 March 2004. In the space of minutes, 10 bombs detonated on trains around Madrid, killing nearly 200 people and injuring more than 1,800. With a general election three days away, the political fall-out was dramatic. In 2014, two politicians from opposite sides told Mike Lanchin about that terrible day – and what happened next. (Photo: The wreckage of a commuter train. Credit: Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)
Published 03/11/24
On 8 March 2014, a plane carrying 239 passengers and crew disappeared. What happened to missing flight MH370 remains one of the world's biggest aviation mysteries. Ghyslain Wattrelos’ wife Laurence and teenage children Ambre and Hadrien were on the plane, which was on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. He was on a different flight at the time and only found out the plane was missing when he landed. A decade on, Ghyslain tells Vicky Farncombe how he’s no closer to knowing what happened to...
Published 03/08/24
In 2002, a Catholic nun arrived in Gulu, a town in northern Uganda, to help set up a sewing school for locals. For years, the town had been the target of brutal attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army, led by the warlord Joseph Kony. The rebel group was known for kidnapping children and forcing them into becoming soldiers. As the LRA was being chased out of Uganda, those who were captured arrived at the school seeking refuge. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe shares the shocking stories of...
Published 03/07/24
25 April is Freedom Day in Portugal. Five decades ago on that date, flowers filled the streets of the capital Lisbon as a dictatorship was overthrown. Europe’s longest-surviving authoritarian regime was toppled in a day, with barely a drop of blood spilled. In 2010, Adelino Gomes told Louise Hidalgo what he witnessed of the Carnation Revolution. (Photo: A young boy hugs a soldier in the street. Credit: Jean-Claude Francolon/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images)
Published 03/06/24
In August and September 1939, tens of thousands of children began to be evacuated from Paris. The move, part of France's 'passive defence' tactic, aimed to protect children from the threat of German bombardment. Colette Martel was just nine when she was taken from Paris to Savigny-Poil-Fol, a small town more than 300km from her home. She’s been speaking to her granddaughter, Carolyn Lamboley, about how her life changed. She particularly remembers how she struggled to fit in with her host...
Published 03/05/24
Uruguay was one of the first countries in the world to introduce anti-smoking laws. But in 2010, the tobacco giant Philip Morris took the country to court claiming the measures devalued its investments. The case pitted the right of a country to introduce health policies against the commercial freedoms of a cigarette company. Uruguay’s former Public Health Minister María Julia Muñoz tells Grace Livingstone about the significance of the ban and its fallout. (Photo: An anti-tobacco installation...
Published 03/04/24
In 1984, a diplomatic dispute broke out between Canada and Denmark over the ownership of a tiny island in the Arctic. The fight for Hans Island off the coast of Greenland became known as the Whisky War. Both sides would leave a bottle of alcohol for the enemies after raising their national flag. What could be the friendliest territorial dispute in history came to an end in 2022, with the agreement held up as an example of how diplomacy should work. Janice Fryett hears from Tom Hoyem and Alan...
Published 03/01/24
In 1987, Peruvian archaeologist Walter Alva received a call from the police urging him to look at ancient artefacts confiscated from looters. The seized objects were so precious that Walter decided to set up camp in Sipan, the site where they were found. There, he dug and researched what turned out to be the richest tomb found intact in the Americas: the resting place of an ancient ruler, the Lord of Sipan. Walter tells Stefania Gozzer about the challenges and threats he and his team faced to...
Published 02/29/24
On 5 February 1964, an unusual delivery was made to a synagogue in London. More than 1,500 Torah scrolls, lost since the end of World War Two, were arriving from Czechoslovakia. The sacred Jewish texts had belonged to communities destroyed by the Nazis. Alex Strangwayes-Booth talks to 91-year-old Philippa Bernard about the emotional charge of that day. A CTVC production for the BBC World Service. (Photo: Philippa beside the scrolls in Westminster Synagogue. Credit: BBC)
Published 02/28/24
Artek, on the shores of the Black Sea in Crimea, was a hugely popular Soviet holiday camp. Maria Kim Espeland was one of the thousands of children who visited every year. In 2014, she told Lucy Burns about life in the camp in the 1980s. (Photo: A group of children attending Artek. Credit: Irina Vlasova)
Published 02/27/24
In 2014, Russia annexed the strategic Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, a move seen by Kyiv and many other countries as illegal. The crisis it caused was so acute the world seemed on the brink of a new cold war. In 2022, one Crimean woman told Louise Hidalgo what it was like to live through. (Photo: A soldier outside the Crimean parliament in 2014. Credit: Getty Images)
Published 02/26/24
In 2003, Whistler Blackcomb won its bid to host the Winter Olympic Games for the first time. It was sixth time lucky for the Canadian ski resort which had been opened to the public in 1966. The mountain – which is named after the high-pitched whistle of the native marmot – has been through a lot of iterations and one man has been there to see nearly all of them. Hugh Smythe, known as one of the ‘founding fathers’ of Whistler, has been sharing his memories of the mountain with Matt...
Published 02/23/24
In 1992, Columbus Lighthouse opened in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. It was designed to house the ashes of explorer, Christopher Columbus. The huge memorial is built in the form of a horizontal cross and has 157 searchlight beams that when turned on project a gigantic cross into the sky. The light is so powerful it can be seen from over 300km away in Puerto Rico. Tour guide and historian, Samuel Bisono tells Gill Kearsley about the struggle to get the monument...
Published 02/22/24
In June 2009, transgender sex worker and activist Vicky Hernandez was murdered in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula. The killers were never identified or punished, but in 2021 the Inter-American Human Rights Court found the Honduran state responsible for the crime. It ordered the government to enact new laws to prevent discrimination and violence against LGBT people. Mike Lanchin hears from Claudia Spelman, a trans activist and friend of Vicky, and the American human rights lawyer Angelita...
Published 02/21/24
In October 1975, 90% of women in Iceland took part in a nationwide protest over inequality. Factories and banks were forced to close and men were left holding the children as 25,000 women took to the streets. In 2015, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, later Iceland's first female president, told Kirstie Brewer about the impact of that day. (Photo: Women take to the streets. Credit: The Icelandic Women's History Archives)
Published 02/20/24
In the 1950s, Soviet scientist Dr Vladimir Demikhov shocks the world with his two-headed dog experiments. He grafts the head and paws of one dog onto the body of another. One of his creations lives for 29 days. He wants to prove the possibilities of transplant surgery, which was a new field of medicine at the time. Consultant cardiothoracic surgeon, Igor Konstantinov, tells Vicky Farncombe about the "difficult emotions" he experiences when he looks at photos of the creatures. This programme...
Published 02/19/24
In 1972, a food supplement used by soldiers during the Nigerian civil war was turned into a popular malt drink by a brewery in the Danish town of Faxe. It was called Supermalt and it became so popular that the Nigerian government decided to ban all imports of malt into the country. Peter Rasmussen created the drink and he has been sharing his memories with Matt Pintus. (Photo: Supermalt. Credit: Royal Unibrew Ltd)
Published 02/16/24
Gort in the west of Ireland is known by the nickname ‘Little Brazil’ because it’s home to so many Brazilians. They first came to Ireland in the late 1990s to work in the town’s meat factory. Lucimeire Trindade was just 24-years-old when she and three friends arrived in the town, unable to speak a word of English or Irish. Nearly 25 years later, Lucimeire considers Gort her true home. She tells Vicky Farncombe how being in Ireland changed her outlook on life. “I learned that a woman can have...
Published 02/15/24
The Juliet Club is in Verona, Italy, a place known throughout the world as being the city of love. The club has been replying to mail addressed to Shakespeare’s tragic heroine, Juliet since the early 1990s. The story of the Juliet letters started in the 1930s when the guardian of what is known as Juliet’s tomb began gathering the first letters people left at the grave and answering them. The task was taken on by the Juliet Club which was founded by Giulio Tamassia in 1972. His daughter,...
Published 02/14/24
When wealthy newspaper heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped by far-left militants in February 1974, America saw her as a victim. But two months later, she announced she had decided to join the group. Soon, she was accompanying it on an attempted bank robbery. In 2010, Louise Hidalgo spoke to Carol Pogash, a journalist who followed the story. (Photo: Patty being led to her trial. Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)
Published 02/13/24
In 1940 a daring rescue operation began to help Allied servicemen escape from Nazi-occupied France. French resistance fighter Roland Lepers was among those who guided stranded Allied soldiers and airmen to neutral Spain during World War Two. The 1,000 km route became known as the Pat O’Leary Escape Line - or the Pat Line. It’s estimated 7,000 Allied personnel escaped through this route and similar escape lines, thanks to a network of people who clothed, fed and hid them. Peter Janes was one...
Published 02/12/24
In 1973, a fashion show was held in France which became known as the Battle of Versailles, a duel between designs from modern America and the capital of couture, Paris. Five American designers, including Oscar de la Renta and Halston, were invited to show their work alongside five of France’s biggest names, including Yves Saint Laurent and Hubert de Givenchy. The aim was to raise money to help restore Versailles, a 17th Century palace built by King Louis XIV, but the media billed it as a...
Published 02/09/24
Rosa Parks was brought up in Alabama during the Jim Crow era, when state laws enforced segregation in practically all aspects of daily life. Public schools, water fountains, trains and buses all had to have separate facilities for white people and black people. As a passionate civil rights activist, Rosa was determined to change this. In December 1955, she was travelling home from the department store where she worked as a seamstress. When a white passenger boarded the bus, Rosa was told to...
Published 02/08/24