True life stories. Join Matthew Bannister, Monday to Thursday. Includes our daily history programme Witness. Or join us for the best of Outlook on Saturdays.

True life stories. Join Matthew Bannister, Monday to Thursday. Includes our daily history programme Witness. Or join us for the best of Outlook on Saturdays.
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True life stories. Join Matthew Bannister, Monday to Thursday. Includes our daily history programme Witness. Or join us for the best of Outlook on Saturdays.






BBC World Service Bush House Strand London WC2B 4PH


The Retiree who Broke the Lottery

After Jerry Selbee retired in 2002, he found a way to crack the lottery in the US state of Michigan. He and his wife Marge ended up making millions of dollars. Jo Fidgen takes up the story. (Image: Jerry and Marge Selbee. Photo credit: Rachel Koenig.)


The Homeless Woman Scouted as a Model

From being a drug-addicted teenager living on the streets of London - to directing documentaries for the big screen, Lorna Tucker has trodden an unusual path to success. Having realised a passion for telling other people’s stories, she’s now telling her own extraordinary tale. (Photo courtesy of Lorna Tucker.)


Greg Louganis: the Death-Defying Diver

Blood, gold and secrets at the Olympic pool. Before Greg Louganis was a diver, he was a dancer. Tap dancing to Gene Kelly routines, he learned timing and rhythm. These skills would ultimately help him become one of the most celebrated divers in the world, and a record-breaking athlete. But Greg is also famous for one of the biggest shocks in Olympic history – cutting his head on a diving board, and the revelations that followed. Presenter: Sofia Bettiza Producer: Maryam Maruf Image: Greg...


From Prison to Rock God Video Director

William McLellan is an English artist and director. He's best known for his music videos with some of the industry’s biggest names, including Lou Reed, The Eurythmics and George Harrison. But back when he was younger, in the 1970s, he was in a self-destructive spiral. The turning point came when he stole a scooter in Barcelona, and got into a fight with the police. His time in prison led to deep introspection. Image and credit: William McLellan


Asked to Prove My Loyalty with Murder

Sonja Larsen dedicated her teenage years to working for a communist revolution in the United States. It was being planned by a shadowy organisation, and scheduled for February 18th, 1984. Sonja wanted to belong in the group, so considered committing terrible crimes - even murder. Image: Sonja Larsen in 1979 Credit: Sonja Larsen


Confronting The Nun Who Despised Me

69-year-old Elizabeth Coppin lived through prison-like conditions when she attended so-called industrial schools and worked in the notorious Magdalene laundries in Ireland. The institutions were run by the Catholic church and there have been many stories of women who got out about the brutal way they were treated. Now Elizabeth has been given a hearing at the United Nations Committee Against Torture. Image and credit: Elizabeth Coppin


The Locksmith and the Love Letters

Humberto Restrepo from Medellin in Colombia is a locksmith by day, but outside his working hours he plays Cupid by writing love letters for other couples. Outlook's Clayton Conn went to meet him and find out more. Image: Humberto Restrepo Credit: Clayton Conn


Adventures of the Counterfeit Catching Brothers

Rob and Jason Holmes were first recruited as undercover agents when they were children. They were in Atlantic City on the lookout for black market goods - like replica designer clothes, sunglasses, watches. Their employer was their private detective dad and their fee was ice cream. Now they take on some of the world’s biggest counterfeiters. It’s all raids, Russian gangs, and (fake) Rolexes. Presenter: Emily Webb Producer: Maryam Maruf Image: Rob and Jason Holmes in their youth Credit: Rob...


Spying on My Estranged Father

Artist Jessamyn Lovell turned her camera on her estranged father. She told Jo Fidgen why she decided to become a private investigator. Image: Jessamyn Lovell with her camera Credit: Noor-un Nisa Touchon


Winning a Boxing Title while on the Run

Martin Murray is a boxer, with British and Commonwealth titles to his name, and an eye on the world title in his category. But back when he was younger he used to get into a lot of trouble. When he won his first big title, fifteen years ago, he was on the run from the law. He had been convicted of street robbery, and was serving the last part of his sentence at home when he decided to give the police the slip. He has since written a book about how he turned his life around called Sinner and...


At the Centre of a Match Fixing Scandal

Nchimunya Mweeta is a Zambian footballer who's made headlines for the right and the wrong reasons. He's been playing professionally since he was 15, but when he moved to a Finnish club, he became embroiled in a scandal. He was approached by match fixers and offered money to throw games. He accepted, a decision that would end in disaster for him and his club. He told Jo Fidgen his story. (Photo credit: Kennedy Gondwe.)


The Story of Spain's 'Stolen' Babies

Antonio Barroso and Juan Luis Moreno discovered they'd been bought by their families as babies. When they went public, they discovered that thousands of others had been through the same. They told Neal Razzell their story. (Image: Demonstration against the sale of babies in Spain during Franco's rule. Credit: Oscar Del Pozo/Getty Images.)


The Great Escape of Bonga

Bonga Kuenda is one of Angola’s most notable musicians, a master of the semba - a genre of traditional Angolan music. He was born during Portuguese colonial rule, and before music, Bonga had forged a career in athletics. In the 1960s, he emerged from the shantytowns of Luanda to become the fastest sprinter in the Portuguese Empire, but he was racing for a regime that he despised, one he was secretly trying to bring down. Presenter: Harry Graham Producer: Maryam Maruf With thanks to Edward...


Telling My Dad's Khmer Rouge Story

When filmmaker Neary Adeline Hay was a child, she had so many questions about her father’s past in Cambodia. The story he told her was so shocking she decided the world needed to hear it. The documentary she made is called Angkar. Image: Neary Adeline Hay and her dad Credit: Jeff Perigois


Held Hostage on the Chechen Frontline

Russian woman Elena Nikitina was held hostage on the Chechen frontline during the 1994 war after being kidnapped off the street. Image and credit: Elena Nikitina


Kony 2012: My Breakdown After Viral Fame

Jason Russell was behind the video Kony 2012, which at the time was called the most viral of all time. But with the fame also came the scrutiny that led Jason to have a breakdown. Image: Jason Russell pictured with Jacob, a Ugandan boy who had been abducted by the LRA. Credit: Jason Russell


Coming Out of a Coma to a Media Storm

On New Year's Eve 2013, Dr Kate Stone was out celebrating in rural Scotland when she was gored by a stag. However, when she came out of the coma she had an even greater shock - seeing some of the headlines about her in the national press. Image: Dr Kate Stone Credit: Novalia


The Mafia Bride Who Fought Back

When she was 17 years old, Piera Aiello was forced to marry into a notorious Sicilian Mafia family. After witnessing the murder of her husband, she became a police informant. However the decision meant she had to go into hiding - giving up her name, her family, and wearing a veil when she went outside. Now, after 25 years, Piera has decided to show her face in public for the first time. Presenter: Emily Webb (Image: Piera Aiello. Credit: Alamy.)


The Fraud and the Missing Boy

In 1994, 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay went missing in Texas. Several years later, he apparently resurfaced in Spain, and he was reunited with his family. But all was not as it seemed. Private investigator Charlie Parker knew he had an imposter on his hands. Image: Nicholas Barclay Credit: Courtesy of Barclay Family


Trapped Inside a Flooding Elevator

In August 2018, Toronto experienced severe rains and flooding. Because water was leaking into the basement of their office building, Klever Freire and Gabriel Otrin decided to move their cars. They were heading down in the lift when the elevator stopped, the doors wouldn't open, and water started gushing in. It was a race against time for police officers Constable Ryan Barnett and Constable Josh McSweeney to get them out before they ran out of breathing space. (Picture credit: Dansin/Getty...