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The Documentary Podcast


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

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


London, United Kingdom




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




Extreme weather

In recent weeks the world has seen floods in Europe and China and devastating wildfires in Canada, the United States and Siberia. It’s difficult to link single events to global warming but climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events. Host Nuala McGovern hears from those affected by flooding in Germany and Belgium as well as people in the city of Zhengzhou, in Henan, China, which recently recorded the equivalent of a year’s average rainfall in just three...


Rebuilding Beirut’s village in a city

A year ago Johnny Khawand saw the home he grew up in ripped apart by the massive explosion in a chemical dump in the port of Beirut, Lebanon – one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history. For hours Johnny fought to save neighbours trapped in the rubble, seeing some die in front of him. Now, after months of restoration work, he’s coming back to try to rebuild his life, hoping that the unique spirit of his close-knit, multi-faith neighbourhood – Karantina – will survive. As he enters his...


A tale of two Tokyos

The wait is finally over for the Tokyo Olympics, 2020. Ken Nishikawa and Nick Luscombe take inspiration and hope from the Tokyo Olympics of 1964, which kick-started a new internationalism in Japan as the first Olympic games to be held in Asia. Together they meet the designer of the new grand stadium Kengo Kuma and many more Tokyo residents whose lives were touched by the games in 1964 to contrast the Tokyo of the past with the city and its people today.


Two smiley faces: Episode four

So how do you get an emoji added to the list? We hear from the women who have had hundreds of emoji approved between them, from the sari, to the mirror, to the one-piece bathing suit. How did they do it? And will Amy and Rachel finally get their drone emoji? We ask the woman who is in charge of it all.


The road to rock'n'roll

In a segregated US, black audiences, entertainers and entrepreneurs established their own network of live performance venues known as the Chitlin’ Circuit. Concentrated primarily in the Deep South, it provided many pioneers of modern music with the platform to hone their craft and perfect their style as they travelled the country. Virtually every notable African-American performer from the '30s to the '60s graced the circuit. From famous urban institutions like The Apollo Theater in New York...


The Tokyo Olympics

A year later than planned, due to the pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics are underway. Yet Covid cases in the capital are rising, and a recent poll showed that 55% of people in Japan were opposed to the Games being held in Tokyo with fears that it could become a super spreader event. For the athletes, it’s business as usual, albeit under extraordinary circumstances. Host Nuala McGovern hears from 19 year old US-born Joseph Fahnbulleh, who is representing Liberia on the athletics track in the 200...


Dangerous liaisons in Sinaloa

The Mexican state of Sinaloa is synonymous with drug trafficking. With the profits from organised crime a driver of the local economy, the tentacles of ‘narco cultura’ extend deep into people’s lives – especially those of women. In the city of Culiacan, plastic surgeons service demand for the exaggerated feminine silhouette favoured by the men with guns and hard cash. Often women’s surgery will be paid for by a ‘sponsor’ or ‘godfather.’ Meanwhile, a group of women trackers spend their...


Lex Gillette: A leap in the dark

Lex Gillette was seven years old when his eyes stopped working. At first, things were a little blurry, a little distorted. Then, after 10 operations to treat the retinas that kept detaching in both his right and his left, he saw nothing but darkness. But that did not stop him: Lex learned to ride a bike. He learned to run around. And eventually, he learned to to jump - jump farther than any other blind person in the world. Lex Gillette - world record long jumper, four time Paralympic medal...


Two smiley faces: Episode three

We travel to California to find out who controls the emoji available on every single smartphone in the world - the mysterious Unicode Consortium. This secretive organisation decides what is included and what is left off the official emoji keyboard. But are they up to the job? Not everyone is convinced. Presenter: Sarah Treanor and Vivienne Nunis Producer: Sarah Treanor


China in slogans

As the Chinese Communist Party celebrates its 100th anniversary, Celia Hatton looks at how party slogans reveal the turbulent history of modern China. Throughout its existence, the party has used key slogans to communicate policy and mobilise the country's vast population. These messages reflect not just the ambitions of party leaders but also have a profound impact on the lives of millions. Using the BBC archive Celia examines the story behind eight key Communist Party slogans, from their...


Breaking through

Breaking, also known as break-dancing, borne in New York City in the 1970s, is set to make its debut at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. Four-time breaking world champion, BoxWon (Benyaamin Barnes McGee), traces how breaking went from Bronx block parties to NYC’s downtown art scene, to the world. Speaking to legends of the scene, such as Rock Steady Crew's Ken Swift and B-Boy Glyde from Dynamic Rockers, BoxWon reveals how punk impresario, Malcolm McLaren, helped breaking become a...


Coronavirus: England Unlocking

England is about to do what no country has done before during the coronavirus pandemic - open up in the face of rapidly rising infections, driven by the more transmissible Delta variant. Nearly all remaining Covid restrictions will end on 19 July. It will mean an end to legal requirements on social distancing, no limits on how many people can meet and face coverings will no longer be required by law. England has high levels of immunity with significant numbers of the population vaccinated....


Finding Grace

In November 1990 a body of a woman was discovered - near an abandoned farm house in Missouri. The victim had been restrained with six types of rope. Police had no idea who she was, let alone who had killed her. With no clues to go on, and no leads, the police dubbed her ‘Grace’ after one officer said ‘only by the grace of god will she be identified’. For three decades there wasn’t a single lead in the case. However earlier this year, the young woman was identified using a revolutionary...


Sporting heroines of history

Multi Gold-winning Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson explores the role of women in sport through history. She looks at some of the milestones in sport for women and acknowledges several people who were pivotal in helping to make sure women were finally recognised – among them Alice Milliat, the French woman who organised that first international women’s sporting event in Monte Carlo in 1921. She reflects on the achievements of athletes like Dale Greig, the first woman to run a marathon in...


Two smiley faces - part two

The emoji, invented in Japan in the 1990s, and now standardised on every device and platform we have, has become a new type of global communication. Whether you love them or hate them, they stir up surprisingly strong feelings and the fight for representation on the emoji keyboard can get very heated. In episode two, we explore how sometimes, emoji are more than they seem. In fact, for some dating app users, criminal gangs and even human traffickers, emoji take on secret meanings. The BBC's...


The mixed beat

The voices of those from mixed race communities are more frequently heard today and are playing a more central role in shaping discussion around race, identity and what it means to straddle different cultures and experiences. The BBC's Nora Fakim takes this opportunity to reflect on what is happening across the globe and to reflect on what the changes mean across the generations.


Coronavirus: Refusing the vaccine

Official figures suggest the global death toll from Covid-19 now exceeds four million with the virus proliferating in Asia, Africa and South America, where fewer people have been vaccinated. Host James Reynolds brings three doctors together from Namibia, Bangladesh and Russia, which are among the countries struggling to deal with second and third waves of infections. They describe the constant challenge on the hospital wards and highlight the impact of vaccine hesitancy among patients.


Missing from Manhattan

Last spring New York looked like the epicentre of the pandemic with boarded up shops, makeshift morgues in refrigerated trucks and the constant wail of ambulance sirens echoing through the deserted streets. This summer, as America’s biggest city emerges from the coronavirus crisis, what has changed? For Assignment, Lucy Ash focuses on the most dramatically affected area – the Midtown section of Manhattan – and goes on a hunt for the missing people in this once dynamic, densely populated part...


Bats: Friend or foe?

Bats are depicted in some cultures as devil-like vampires through images of death and Halloween. But in others they are the opposite and are believed to bring luck and good fortune in China. Fear of bats has been exacerbated in the past 18 months by the Coronavirus pandemic and a blame game, pointing the finger at bats as a potential source of Covid-19. But environmentalists love them for being natural pest controllers – hoovering up harmful insects. Scientists love them too - as a vital...


Two Smiley Faces

The emoji, invented in Japan in the 1990s, and now standardised on every device and platform we have, has become a new type of global communication. Whether you love them or hate them, they stir up surprisingly strong feelings and the fight for representation on the emoji keyboard can get very heated. In this first episode, we explore how for many of us, these cute symbols have become a natural part of our daily digital lives. We also meet two emoji lovers as they prepare to take on Silicon...